CFR Report: National Security Consequences of Oil Dependency

November 27, 2006 at 8:16 pm
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The Council on Foreign Relations has issued a new report entitled “National Security Consequences of Oil Dependency.” I think this is a hugely important development, despite having heard nothing about it in the news. The CFR is one of the most powerful and serious bodies in the world, and has a huge influence on the world’s leaders. The CFR task force who wrote the report was chaired by two former CIA directors, James Schlesinger and John Deutch. (You may have come across similar efforts by another former CIA Director, James Woolsey, who has made national energy security his personal ambition.)

To my pleasant surprise, the task force has come to the correct conclusion: that we have only one choice, which is to power down.

Here’s an excerpt from the foreword (emphasis mine):

The Council on Foreign Relations established an Independent Task
Force to examine the consequences of dependence on imported energy
for U.S. foreign policy. Since the United States both consumes and
imports more oil than any other country, the Task Force has concentrated
its deliberations on matters of petroleum. In so doing, it reaches
a sobering but inescapable judgment: the lack of sustained attention to
energy issues is undercutting U.S. foreign policy and national security.

The Task Force goes on to argue that U.S. energy policy has
been plagued by myths, such as the feasibility of achieving ‘‘energy
independence’’ through increased drilling or anything else
. For the
next few decades, the challenge facing the United States is to become
better equipped to manage its dependencies rather than pursue the
chimera of independence.

The issues at stake intimately affect U.S. foreign policy, as well as
the strength of the American economy and the state of the global
environment. But most of the leverage potentially available to the
United States is through domestic policy
. Thus, the Independent Task
Force devotes considerable attention to how oil consumption (or at
least the growth in consumption) can be reduced and why and how
energy issues must become better integrated with other aspects of U.S.
foreign policy.

Fortunately, they have made the entire 90-page report available for download, for free, along with their charts in a PowerPoint file:

National Security Consequences of Oil Dependency

The Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force

John Deutch and James R. Schlesinger, Chairs

October 2006

Serious reading. If any of you actually read the whole thing, please write me to discuss.


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