Imagine the near future. Iran has become one of the world’s top nuclear powers. Their stockpile of nuclear weapons compares only to that of the U.S. In this era, every decision, every move, every policy that the U.S. or any other western power makes is closely watched and judged by the Iranian government. Iran has the power to annihilate entire nations, and will do so if provoked. The U.S. and the other great nations that make up the free world today are powerless, as Iran has become the major political force of the world. This sounds like the plot of a new season of “24”, except it’s all too realistic, and there’s no Jack Bauer to save the day.
Right now, the U.N. Security Council is considering an idea proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that would place sanctions (economic, military, or other) on Iran for its refusal to cease uranium enrichment and development of nuclear energy. Certainly, sanctions sound like a good tactic to deal with Iran’s uncooperative actions toward the U.N., but two of the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members – Russia and China – are rejecting this idea. Why would these two countries do this? The answer lies in oil and illustrates the broad effects of energy policy and how it relates to security policy.
Russia and China depend so heavily on oil imports from the Middle East that they wouldn’t do anything to alter their financial alliance with Iran. China has recently invested a total of $100 billion to import oil from Iran’s northern oil fields. A single Chinese oil company, Sinopec, alone has invested $2 billion to gain access to Iran’s Yadavaran oil field. Russia has invested billions for preferential access to the Anaran oil field near the Iraqi border. By investing so much in Middle Eastern oil, China and Russia have allowed Iran to heavily influence their own foreign policy decisions. Even when Iran is developing stealth Fajr-3 missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, these two permanent members are still marching to Iran’s beat. If America does not shape its energy and security policy carefully, we may find ourselves making significant concessions to Tehran.
Oil is our primary source of energy, and President Bush has acknowledged that “America is addicted to oil.” However, we cannot let oil dictate our lives and be a tool for political influence. The United States must begin to invest more in alternative energy resources and technology, or suffer the same fate as many of the other countries that are predominantly dependent on Middle Eastern oil (Canada is the number one importer of oil to the U.S). Also, with advances in alternative energy sources such as ethanol and compressed natural gas, the US has the opportunity to begin a reduction in its dependency on imported oil. It is imperative that the U.S. seize and expand on the opportunities in alternative energy, therefore ensuring a better and a more secure life for the average American citizen.
If you would like to learn more about the interdependence of energy, the environment, and security, there is an event hosted by Americans for an Informed Democracy (AID) in the Engineering 100 on Wednesday at 7:30 pm. You will be able to hear from three professors and experts on this and other related topics, and take part in an open, honest, and civil discussion of these broad issues.
CSU Americans for Informed Democracy