WASHINGTON – Prince Turki Al-Faisal, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States, has called American energy policy “demagoguery.”
In a short and strongly-worded essay in Foreign Policy magazine, Prince Turki said that for American politicians, invoking energy independence “is now as essential as baby-kissing.”
All the talk about energy independence, Prince Turki said, is “political posturing at its worst – a concept that is unrealistic, misguided, and ultimately harmful to energy-producing and consuming countries alike.”
“Expect a whole new round of such rhetoric when the global economic recovery begins, and with it, higher oil prices return,” warned the prince who is chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.
“There is no technology on the horizon that can completely replace oil as the fuel for the United States’ massive manufacturing, transportation, and military needs; any future, no matter how wishful, will include a mix of renewable and nonrenewable fuels,” he wrote. “Considering this, efforts spent proselytizing about energy independence should instead focus on acknowledging energy interdependence. Like it or not, the fates of the United States and Saudi Arabia are connected and will remain so for decades to come.”
Saudi Arabia has in recent years taken steps to increase its production to make up for lost production in Iraq or elsewhere in times of crisis. This includes an investment of close to $100 billion in new capacity over the past five years. On the other hand, Prince Turki pointed out, four countries — Iran, Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela — have failed to live up to expectations that they would raise their production over the past decade for a variety of reasons, including “a US invasion” in the case of Iraq.
“But Americans don’t hear all this from their political leaders. In one of his very first speeches as US president, for instance, Barack Obama declared that ‘America’s dependence on oil is one of the most serious threats that our nation has faced.’ He said that it ‘bankrolls dictators, pays for nuclear proliferation, and funds both sides of our struggle against terrorism,’ and announced what he called ‘the first steps on our journey toward energy independence.’”
Concluding strongly, the prince wrote: “The allure of demagoguery is strong, but US politicians must muster the courage to scrap the fable of energy independence once and for all. If they continue to lead their people toward the mirage of independence and forsake the oasis of interdependence and cooperation, only disaster will result.” – SG