Sunday, January 30, 2005

What's Good For America Isn't Necessarily What's Good for GM... Or the UAW

Tom Friedman has a nice piece in today's New York Times about how to create real political transformation in the Middle East. His key points:

Yes, there is an alternative to the Euro-wimps and the neocons, and it is the "geo-greens." I am a geo-green. The geo-greens believe that, going forward, if we put all our focus on reducing the price of oil - by conservation, by developing renewable and alternative energies and by expanding nuclear power - we will force more reform than by any other strategy. You give me $18-a-barrel oil and I will give you political and economic reform from Algeria to Iran. All these regimes have huge population bubbles and too few jobs. They make up the gap with oil revenues. Shrink the oil revenue and they will have to open up their economies and their schools and liberate their women so that their people can compete. It is that simple.

By refusing to rein in U.S. energy consumption, the Bush team is not only depriving itself of the most effective lever for promoting internally driven reform in the Middle East, it is also depriving itself of any military option. As Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, points out, given today's tight oil market and current U.S. consumption patterns, any kind of U.S. strike on Iran, one of the world's major oil producers, would send the price of oil through the roof, causing real problems for our economy. "Our own energy policy has tied our hands," Mr. Haass said.

The Bush team's laudable desire to promote sustained reform in the Middle East will never succeed unless it moves from neocon to geo-green.
This is certainly a worthy goal and I am all for it, but it is predicated on, what Dennis Miller once said, "more ifs than a Kippling piece."
UPDATE: See also this piece by Victor Davis Hanson. Particularly the mid portion and ending. The first part, however, was a bit of a head scratcher for me. The subtext of that section seems to me to be: build democracies and productive economies and leave us alone.
UPDATE II: UPDATE BOOGALOO: See also Anthony's post on this subject.


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