As we look at the various places in the Middle East that produce oil and an interesting fact should become apparent to all: the three largest Middle Eastern exporters (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait) are all politically stable environments and allies of the United States. Iraq and Iran are actually large exporters as well, but they are massive countries and export very little on a per square mile basis.
In other words, in being economically connected to the outside world via trade, stability is the result. When countries don’t trade, instability has a tendency to rear its ugly head. So while it may be nice to know that North America is now (thanks to hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling) a net exporter of energy, the truth is that we should desire active energy markets whereby the Middle East is encouraged and enticed to trade with us.
Naysayers will say, “but our money will end up in the hands of terrorists that wish to do us harm.” This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for two reasons:
- Why would a country like Saudi Arabia want to destroy the golden goose?
- Box cutters and flight training school are cheap. Accordingly, terrorists don’t need money, all they need is desire.
To be sure, for every dollar of energy we produce at home that’s good news for American industry and prosperity. But if we could snap our fingers and stop purchasing foreign oil, it would devastate otherwise stable nations in a region of the world where we can ill afford more instability. In addition, the more oil that finds its way to the international market the lower the price.
Similarly, to the extent we lifted our export ban, more countries would be inclined to treat us better than if we weren’t trading partners. I would argue that if it wasn’t for the fact that Russia was so important to Europe in terms of energy, what they did in Ukraine would have been far more difficult to get away with.
So the next time you’re driving on the Interstate and one of those tanker-trucks impedes your progress, realize it’s making our way of life possible, even if it’s filled with foreign oil heading to your local service station or domestic oil heading overseas.