April 6th, 2009
12:15 PM ET

On energy, free at last

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Fareed Zakaria
The Washington Post

Energy independence sounds like such a great idea. if only we could be free ... of what, exactly? The single biggest energy exporter to the U.S. is Canada. And even the petrostates we don't like have to sell us oil at whatever price the market sets. We buy lots from Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. He denounces us, we denounce him, but we happily do business together. After all, what else is he going to do with his oil, drink it?

One could make a broader argument: the United States should wean itself off oil in order to diminish its crucial importance in the world of energy. That would make states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and Venezuela less powerful–and less able to fund militias and terrorist groups. This is a worthwhile goal, but let's be realistic. Given the demands for energy over the next few decades, oil is going to be a key part of the mix, which means that these countries will have plenty of cash. After all, Saudi Arabia was funding extremist Islamic groups in the 1990s, when oil was $20 a barrel. The Saudis were budgeting for oil at $35 until a few years ago–and still swimming in money. I would love to see a world in which radical Islam runs out of money, but I think that we will probably have to struggle against these forces for a long time. There is no quick energy fix.


Filed under: Energy • Environmental issues • Fareed Zakaria
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Neo

    His first agenda on the green front is to re-establish a relationship with GM/Saturn and bring the EV back. Makes sense .....

    April 6, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  2. Shivering SUSAN

    Manipulation on TOP of manipulation it SEEMS from the standpoint of the average person in too many cases.

    April 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm |
  3. Shivering SUSAN

    All that OIL stuff is pretty SICKENING ...

    Like a lot of other GREED and FRAUD and whatever ELSE you can imagine in the world.


    April 6, 2009 at 9:13 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    Our dependence on oil and coal is going to be our undoing – both of these energy sources are finite and are dirty to the environment. While everyone quotes the 9 billion population mark, not many take into account the scientific prediction that if we do not get climate change alleviated as best as we can, that 8 billion of those 9 are likely to die of water shortages and food shortages. Guess with those kind of numbers we won't need as much energy.

    April 6, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  5. Julie San Diego, CA

    Our President is committed to green technology. What we need is a stimulus package that gives these green technology jobs to AMERICANS.

    It's time we eliminated the tax break corporations receive for outsourcing American jobs to India and Asia. With no tax write-off for the funds paid to the foreign company, American businesses will realize that it is not cheaper to outsource and they will start to employ Americans again. It's a dirty shame that a college student can commit to four years of expensive schooling and his/her job can be undercut by a foreign worker willing to work for $20K or less.

    Fareed, you have been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's attempts to keep foreigners from capitalizing on the financial stimulus bailout. Consider yourself lucky to be able to be working in a country that you were not born in. If I showed up in Paris demanding a good job paid for by public funds, they'd laugh in my face. Foreign countries do not allow outsiders to take their high paying jobs, they take care of their own people first. The United States must do the same.

    April 6, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  6. Beau Berman

    Anderson. Big fan, big fan of yours.

    When are you going to address the growing phenomenon of Peak Oil?

    Midland, Texas

    April 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  7. Daniel Wood Pittsburgh PA

    There will never be energy independence as long as businessmen make decisions for the government.

    I CAN blame businessmen for wanting to turn a huge profit when the good of the people is at stake.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  8. Kevin Ishpeming

    I would love to see how many fans turn out at a electric drag event, or a nascar race with electric cars......

    April 6, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  9. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    The world will never be independent from using oil and an energy source-–like, dis-likes and personal preferences are personal-–oil is business--and when money talks--the truth remains hidden.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  10. earle,florida

    Sorry,but our energy dependence could vanish within a decade. Every home,apatment complex,municiple building,government facility,and public transport system in america could be retrofitted with duel-system consisting of a wind micro-tirbine/electric solar panels! This state-of art technology is now,but must be implemented by the government ,and also subsidized by the government through tax rebates. Wind farms are a success,and electric solar (panels) roof shingles manufactured by Dow Chemical our already being used. There is much more,and it's all out there!

    April 6, 2009 at 12:35 pm |