By Bill Buchanan
As I write this, we are in what amounts to war with Libya. But we don’t call it that. When we invade another country, we call it a “police action” or “liberation” or use some other lame euphemism. But if a foreign nation parked a submarine off the coast of California and fired a few hundred missiles into Los Angeles, you can bet we would call it something other than “enforcing a no-fly zone.” Why are we doing this? In a word, oil. While it is extremely upsetting to see the reports of Moammar Gadhafi killing his own people, let’s be serious about why we are attacking Libya. We are there to protect oil production. Anyone who says we are there to protect “human rights” is kidding themselves. If we were genuinely interested in protecting human rights, we would have sent troops into places like Darfur or other war-torn African nations where tens of thousands more people have been killed than in Libya’s recent uprising. But the reality is that if 100,000 innocents are murdered in Darfur, gas prices don’t go up 20 percent.Don’t get me wrong. I am not for the United States trying to be the world’s policeman. We do more than enough of that already. And if we are forced to risk American lives, then we certainly need to have our self-interests foremost. And, if told I had to fire missiles at someone, I would be hard pressed to find a more worthy target than Gadhafi. This is the man who, according to reliable sources, was the driving force behind the Lockerbie bombing, the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people.But why, why, why have we not yet weaned ourselves from our dependency on foreign oil? We faced the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Arab nations cut back heavily on production and almost brought this country to its knees. Those of us who were alive then remember how gas shortages abounded. Fuel prices shot up. Many gas stations were closed on Sundays. Lines to fill up gas tanks stretched forever, and some stations ran out of gas completely.Almost 40 years later this country still does not have a comprehensive national energy policy. That is a disgrace and it constitutes a national failure on the part of every administration from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama. Both sides of the aisle are culpable on this one. For instance, “An Inconvenient Truth” allowed Al Gore to garner an Academy Award by preaching about the environment — but only after he left office. The inconvenient truth is that he did little when he was vice president to lead the country to other forms of energy, lessening our dependence upon foreign oil. In 1977, in response to the oil crisis, President Jimmy Carter and Congress rammed through legislation to create the Department of Energy. The main goal of that government entity was to lower our country’s dependence on foreign oil. In another testament to monumental bureaucratic incompetence, the Department of Energy today has thousands of employees and an annual budget of just under $30 billion. Yet we are more dependent upon foreign oil percentage-wise than we were in 1977. As economist Milton Friedman once said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”Energy solutions require tough choices. For instance, the catastrophic problems in Japan have made almost everyone rethink the use of nuclear power. But some things need to be explained to me. We have an abundance of natural gas. Why isn’t every municipal and school bus in this country converted to run on natural gas? Why have we wasted so much time before developing wind and solar power where feasible? If we had the technological expertise to put someone on the moon in 1969, why has it taken so long to develop electric automobiles? The thought of so many young soldiers losing their lives over oil is repugnant. Some of their blood is on the hands of every administration, congressional delegation, and obstructive private company that has failed to make the United States less dependent upon foreign oil.