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America’s Oil Advantage and Strategic Diplomacy

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By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security

According to a June 25 report from CitiGroup, the U.S. could potentially ship 365 million barrels of oil per year near by the start of 2015. The International Energy Agency has called the U.S. the largest oil and natural gas producing state in the world. Bank of America Corporation said the U.S. will continue to hold this first place position beating out Saudi Arabia and Russia till the end of the year.

No matter which report one reads these days, America has a new found wealth in a resurgent and undeniably massive growth oil industry. This petrochemical energy trend has taken the country by surprise, no matter what ones political party affiliation. It helps eliminate American foreign dependency on oil and addresses a wide range of domestic national security concerns (securing and lowering costs in the: ability to produce goods, grow food, transport and defend the country). But economic success and resource advantage is not a political solution to the declining power status America faces abroad or the rising challenger reality America faces. The national economic boost will not in and of itself equate to political power internationally. America still consumes the most oil compared to any state. It also regrettably still imports 7.5 million barrels per day for internal consumption.

Nevertheless, the positive power projecting hypothetical is that: If America can accelerate the use of alternative energies and replace domestic oil consumption and export its own oil and clean industry technologies oversees, it can lead through another strategic diplomacy advantage of the early 21st century as it had in the early 20th century.

First, it must reduce domestic dependence by a massive amount (e.g. by half in the next five to ten years) switching to hybrid only and electric vehicle technologies; and leading with greater alternative renewable infrastructure: solar, wind, hydroelectric systems, geothermal, coal phase-out, plasma gasification; biomass, solid state and hydrogen fuel cells; possible thorium nuclear reactors [using a molten salt reactor] and etc. Conversion to energy diversity is well underway but the reliance on oil and natural gas is still predominant and must be accelerated as a national concerted effort such as those on the scale of the Depression and World Wars for this concept to have the needed global impact.

Second, the U.S. must sell and ship cheap oil oversees; possibly creating a strategic oil partnership with NAFTA and other liberal democratic states to further increase competitive advantage. Possibility one: wage an international price war against targeted energy dependent states that are not engaging in human rights and democracy and offer the cheapest oil and technology to those that show improvement. Possibility two: do not engage in price wars unless specific to punish certain regimes along with sanctions and other non-military instruments of statecraft. Possibility three: use the U.S./NAFTA production and export advantage to promote regional peace in the Asia Pacific theater. Possibility four: use U.S./NAFTA production to create a larger international oil producing regime that it can lead and replace regional ones like OPEC or sovereign state rivals like the Russian Federation; accelerating and maximizing U.S. economic and political projective influence.

Third, along with oil, Washington must continue to push for exporting cleaner filtration and emission technologies and higher environmental standards or throw them in with a bargain of cheap foreign oil purchases for the near future. Shipments of American oil come with better deals and cleaner tech—that is the aim. The objective here is not to promote any global pollution that would not otherwise be there but to accelerate American wealth by decreasing domestic production as much as possible, while increase responsible short-term U.S. and NAFTA foreign oil sales to replace irresponsible regimes and promote world peace and stability abroad. Oil producing states should be guided and directed to take on new liberal values as well as better economic pathways and adopt and uphold greater human rights practices under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. They should also be sold much cleaner oil-based technologies and pollution mitigation best practices and consulting.

The U.S. can present the strongest leadership in this industry; especially through strategic partnership and diplomatic channels to maximize partnership and power potential. The objective here is for the American people to realize its unique responsibility and position that it now holds as well as its new resource and technology advantage in petrochemicals and to enhance U.S. resource, technology and production “awe power” or overwhelming advantage to other states and to promote global political cooperation, values and international norms. America will naturally gain the most but other nations should benefit greatly from American success, as they have done in the past through an imperfect free-trade economic world order.

The above offers a massive transition from economic centric world order to a political centric world order based on supplying critical energy needs to reforming states. Lastly, America presses a strategic political win through diplomatic and trade measures revolving around petroleum energy and squeezing out intransigent authoritarian regimes and illiberal tendencies with a new economic weapon beyond sanctions among and gaining ne allies through a coalition of like-minded liberal powers. American oil could effectively become the new medicine for peacekeeping and stability. It must be mixed with America’s exceptional pioneering of innovation, science and technology. This strategy in diplomacy should be combined with coalition building, human rights, humanitarian aid, environmental, international commerce and international political stability.

[The above is an expansion of an earlier concept article entitled, “Using Oil to Secure New Peace and Forge New Allies;” posted to In Homeland Security on January 19, 2014].

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