Recently on Good Morning America, Congresswoman and presidential contender Michele Bachmann was asked, “What is America’s No. 1 vital interest in the Middle East?”
She answered, “. . . our safety and security of people in the United States is always No. 1.”
Unfortunately, Bachmann missed a softball that she should have knocked out of the park.
America’s vital interest in the Middle East is summed up in one word: oil. If that region wasn’t sitting on huge reserves, America wouldn’t give it a second thought, with the exception of its security guarantee to Israel.
As a Republican and tea party leader, Bachmann should have instinctively talked of America’s unholy reliance on foreign oil, much from hostile nations, and aggressively pushed for energy-independence.
She could have talked about how the largest natural gas deposits in the world remain virtually untapped (the Marcellus and Utica Shales); the vast oil reserves in Alaska that are closed to drilling; the Bakken Formation in North Dakota that holds billions of barrels; the reserves under the Rockies that may be the largest on the planet; the fact that we’re not drilling offshore, and that drills still sit idle in the Gulf.
She could have explained that if these sources were developed, we wouldn’t be paying $4 per gallon and watching inflation rise, nor would we be fretting about Middle Eastern uprisings.
But she didn’t. And that’s too bad, because Bachmann’s voice is an important one.
If a leader doesn’t understand, or can’t articulate, solutions to the single biggest problem facing America — being caught up in energy dependence — then their effectiveness is limited.
And because neither party has acted to achieve energy independence, America is now involved in yet another Middle Eastern conflict with no clear objectives, creating uncertainty in world markets and placing military personnel in danger.
Several points worth considering:
- There is no question why the U.S. is involved in Libya. It’s not about stopping a dictator, nor is it about civilian deaths. And it’s not about democracy and freedom. It’s because Libya produces a lot of oil. Just look at Rwanda: Twenty percent of the population was slaughtered, but it had no oil. Result: no intervention. A little truth here would go a long way.
- So much for Obama’s pledge of “no more wars of choice.”
- Gadhafi has not been the thorn in America’s side he once was. He admitted complicity in the Pan Am 103 bombing and paid reparations, dismantled his nuclear program and stopped harboring terrorists. Libya was then taken off the terrorism list by the Bush administration, with Condoleezza Rice stating Libya was rewarded for its "renunciation of terrorism and the excellent cooperation Libya has provided to the U.S." in the War on Terror. And the flow of Libyan oil has been unimpeded. So much for the brutal dictator theory.
- Who exactly are the rebels? Are they James Madison-types looking to establish a democratic republic? Or are they the Muslim Brotherhood — or worse? Reports now state that eastern Libya (home of the rebels) sent more fighters to engage the U.S. in Iraq than anywhere else, so odds are we won’t be singing Kumbaya with them a few months from now.
- A no-fly zone does not make a democracy. What happens when Gadhafi starts whipping the rebels anyway? Do we bomb his troops and tanks? Do we send in special forces? What happens when a pilot goes down — as just happened? More important, what happens when Saudi Arabia mows down civilians — as they will, since the king isn’t going quietly. Do we establish a no-fly zone over the kingdom? Do we bomb them, too? Not a chance.
- Italy and France rely on Libyan oil, yet America is doing their heavy lifting. Why? As more Libyans die from airstrikes, America will get blamed on the Arab street. Gadhafi’s claim of another “crusade” will hit home to millions of Muslims, undermining any goodwill and bolstering terrorist recruitment. And the support of the worthless Arab League, whose officials are already back-tracking, means nothing. It’s not their planes bombing, but ours. We get all the negatives while the Arab League gets the best of all worlds.
The United States’ involvement in Libya, a nation that did not harm America, sets a dangerous precedent. Ironically, this effort, executed with no foresight and with no endgame, further endangers our security. Playing into the mentality of Muslims that the U.S. seeks to dominate their countries will only inflame anti-American feelings.
George Washington was so right when he advised against foreign entanglements and intervening in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. That wisdom is proof that modern advances will never be a substitute for old-fashioned common sense.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and television commentator who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com.
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