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Old 08-23-2005, 11:13 AM   #1
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your SUV subsidizes terror, even if you have a yellow ribbon on it

How to Escape the Oil Trap
Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are now awash in oil money, and no matter what the controls, some is surely getting to unsavory groups.

By Fareed Zakaria
Newsweek


Aug. 29 - Sept. 5, 2005 issue - If I could change one thing about American foreign policy, what would it be? The answer is easy, but it's not something most of us think of as foreign policy. I would adopt a serious national program geared toward energy efficiency and independence. Reducing our dependence on oil would be the single greatest multiplier of American power in the world. I leave it to economists to sort out what expensive oil does to America's growth and inflation prospects. What is less often noticed is how crippling this situation is for American foreign policy. "Everything we're trying to do in the world is made much more difficult in the current environment of rising oil prices," says Michael Mandelbaum, author of "The Ideas That Conquered the World." Consider:

Terror. Over the last three decades, Islamic extremism and violence have been funded from two countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, not coincidentally the world's first and second largest oil exporters. Both countries are now awash in money and, no matter what the controls, some of this cash is surely getting to unsavory groups and individuals.

Democracy. The centerpiece of Bush's foreign policy—encouraging democracy in the Middle East—could easily lose steam in a world of high-priced oil. Governments reform when they have to. But many Middle Eastern governments are likely to have easy access to huge surpluses for years, making it easier for them to avoid change. Saudi Arabia will probably have a budget surplus of more than $26 billion this year because the price of oil is so much higher than anticipated. That means it can keep the old ways going, bribing the Wahhabi imams, funding the Army and National Guard, spending freely on patronage programs. (And that would still leave plenty to fund dozens of new palaces and yachts.) Ditto for other corrupt, quasi-feudal oil states.

Iran. Tehran has launched a breathtakingly ambitious foreign policy, moving determinedly on a nuclear path, and is also making a bid for influence in neighboring Iraq. This is nothing less than an attempt to replace the United States as the dominant power in the region. And it will prove extremely difficult to counter—more so, given Tehran's current resources. Despite massive economic inefficiency and corruption, Iran today has built up foreign reserves of $29.87 billion.

Russia. A modern, Westernized Russia firmly anchored in Europe would mean peace and stability in the region. But a gush of oil revenues has strengthened the Kremlin's might, allowing Putin to consolidate power, defund his opponents, destroy competing centers of power and continue his disastrous and expensive war in Chechnya. And the "Russian model" appears to have taken hold in much of Central Asia.

Latin America. After two decades of political and economic progress in Latin America, we are watching a serious anti-American movement gain ground. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela—emboldened by his rising oil wealth—was the first in recent years to rebel against American influence, but similar sentiments are beginning to be heard in other countries, from Ecuador to Bolivia.


I could go on, from Central Asia to Nigeria. In almost every region, efforts to produce a more stable, peaceful and open world order are being compromised and complicated by high oil prices. And while America spends enormous time, money and effort dealing with the symptoms of this problem, we are actively fueling the cause.

Rising oil prices are the result of many different forces coming together. We have little control over some of them, like China's growth rate. But America remains the 800-pound gorilla of petroleum demand. In 2004, China consumed 6.5 million barrels of oil per day. The United States consumed 20.4 million barrels, and demand is rising. That is because of strong growth, but also because American cars—which guzzle the bulk of oil imports—are much less efficient than they used to be. This is the only area of the American economy in which we have become less energy-efficient than we were 20 years ago, and we are the only industrialized country to have slid backward in this way. There's one reason: SUVs. They made up 5 percent of the American fleet in 1990. They make up almost 54 percent today.

It's true that there is no silver bullet that will entirely solve America's energy problem, but there is one that goes a long way: more-efficient cars. If American cars averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would soon reduce consumption by 2 million to 3 million barrels of oil a day. That could translate into a sustained price drop of more than $20 a barrel. And getting cars to be that efficient is easy. For the most powerful study that explains how, read "Winning the Oil Endgame" by energy expert Amory Lovins (or go to oilendgame.com). I would start by raising fuel-efficiency standards, providing incentives for hybrids and making gasoline somewhat more expensive (yes, that means raising taxes). Of course, the energy bill recently passed by Congress does none of these things.

We don't need a Manhattan Project to find our way out of our current energy trap. The technologies already exist. But what we're searching for is perhaps even harder—political leadership and vision.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9024768/site/newsweek/
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:17 AM   #2
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I hate SUVs...not just for their consumption of gas and their ability to roll over...but when little people like me are in our meek Toyota Corollas surrounded by the monsters...it's not fun!

Fareed Zakaria always has fascinating articles
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:18 AM   #3
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After two decades of political and economic progress in Latin America
progress for whom?
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:20 AM   #4
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54 percent of cars on the road are SUVs?????
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:21 AM   #5
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
54 percent of cars on the road are SUVs?????
do you expect it to be more or less? that sounds right around here.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:22 AM   #6
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do you expect it to be more or less? that sounds right around here.
i'm hoping it was sarcasm. even in the city they dominate the landscape.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:23 AM   #7
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I like the comment bout the little yellow ribbons. Nice irony.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:34 AM   #8
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Originally posted by U2democrat


do you expect it to be more or less? that sounds right around here.
Sounds high to me. SUV's are generally priced above the median. Wealthier areas may have more SUVs on the road. I remember watching the craze begin in Beverly Hills way back in the mid 1980's.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:40 AM   #9
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i could see that percentage being accurate if it was for all vehicles with a raised center of gravity (i.e. vans, trucks, etc). for strictly SUVs, 54% sounds like a bit of a stretch.

on topic, that is certainly an interesting premise. one wonders how high energy prices will go before the search for other methods of powering ourselves and our habits picks up steam for everyone.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:40 AM   #10
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Sounds high to me. SUV's are generally priced above the median. Wealthier areas may have more SUVs on the road.
My boyfriend lives in a gang area of town and honestly most families on the block would rather pay a car loan for an Escalade than properly feed and educate their children.
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Old 08-23-2005, 01:33 PM   #11
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Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic


My boyfriend lives in a gang area of town and honestly most families on the block would rather pay a car loan for an Escalade than properly feed and educate their children.

sad but true



SUV's are pretty necessary where I live, you wouldn't make it in the winter.
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Old 08-23-2005, 01:44 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Dismantled
SUV's are pretty necessary where I live, you wouldn't make it in the winter.


hmmmm ... i went to college 5 miles south of Vermont and i drove around in a standard, front-wheel drive Toyota and was perfectly fine.

what did people do before there were SUVs?
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Old 08-23-2005, 02:02 PM   #13
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Originally posted by kobayashi
one wonders how high energy prices will go before the search for other methods of powering ourselves and our habits picks up steam for everyone.
Pretty high, I'd imagine. For the complaining I see going around about gas prices, I don't see anyone dusting off their bicycles.
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Old 08-23-2005, 03:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511


what did people do before there were SUVs?
Well, there have always been SUV's, Wagoneers, Suburbans have been around forever. They were just used by a smaller percentage of people (usually people who lived lifestyles or lived in areas that would necessitate them.)

But yeah, before SUV's really became popular people used pickup trucks, vans, and station wagons. Does anyone know how these types of vehicles compare to SUV's and regular cars in terms of gas mileage? It would be interesting to see those figures.

I still think that there are some people whose lifestyle/area of residence would give them good reason to own an SUV, if SUV's were kept to just these people I don't think we would have such a problem.
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Old 08-23-2005, 03:44 PM   #15
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Parents at my school drive their fat kids the mile to school in their Yukons.
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