New York Times, June 28, 2000:
Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude.
“I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush … told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.”
“Ours is a nation that helped Kuwait and the Saudis, and you’d think we’d have the capital necessary to convince them to increase the crude supplies,” he said.
Asked why the Clinton administration had not been able to use the power of personal persuasion, Mr. Bush said: “The fundamental question is, ‘Will I be a successful president when it comes to foreign policy?'”
The price of crude at that time was around $30 a barrel. Now, it’s at $80.
Great foreign policy.
Of course, high prices for dirty oil and gas wouldn’t be a bad thing, if we had widely accessible and affordable options for clean fuels.
Then we would have the incentive, and the means, to use fuels that strengthen our environment, save our wallets, and stabilize our economy.
But we don’t have the means. Bush’s energy policy was to tell us we’re “addicted to oil”, and then keep the needle in — using our government to subsidize the problem and starve the cure.
But that’s just energy policy. Bush said when it comes to gas prices, to judge him on foreign policy.
Oil surely isn’t the only reason we’re occupying Iraq, but it’s part of the reason.
Ask Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., who said this year that “some level of American military presence” on “temporary or permanent military bases” in Iraq” is needed to “protect oil flows.”
Or ask newly famous Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who said this year that a “premature withdrawal from Iraq could have dire consequences with our economy and energy supply.”
But the opposite has proved true.
The invasion and occupation has so decimated and destabilized Iraq that it’s oil production is still drastically below pre-occupation levels.
And regional destabilization, with fears of an expanded war into Iran, is contributing to higher prices overall.
Great foreign policy.
Our engagement with the world can often seem like a distant issue. Unless you have a friend or family member serving in Iraq, it’s easy to feel detached from the pain and suffering.
But every time you shell out to fill up your gas tank, and every time you map out your family budget not knowing how much more you’ll pay just to commute to work, you can thank this conservative energy policy and conservative foreign policy.
And know that we have options to change these policies.
We can adopt an Apollo Alliance strategy, invest in renewable fuels, and break the oil addiction.
And we can end the occupation and restore stability to the Gulf region.