THE BLOG

Strategizing for Saudi America

02/12/2015 11:29 am ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015

Don't think for a minute that this president isn't proud of his climate-changing energy program. To be clear, however, I don't mean his efforts to check the advances of climate change. Consider the introduction to the new U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) his administration unveiled last week. It's a 29-page document filled with the usual braggadocio about America's "indispensable" role in global leadership in a "complex world." And it's true that part of that indispensability, the document claims, involves offering leadership when it comes "to turn[ing] the corner on global carbon emissions." Hence, assumedly, the recent deal with China on capping those emissions.

But when the president and his national security officials really walk the walk and talk the talk, that's not what they're focused on. Read the NSS and the first fossil fuel reference you come upon, smack-dab in the middle of the second paragraph of that intro, goes like this: "America's growing economic strength is the foundation of our national security and a critical source of our influence abroad... We are now the world leader in oil and gas production." You can practically hear the cheering in the background. And just in case you think that's a bit of passing bravado, here's a key paragraph from a section later in the document entitled "Advance Our Energy Security":

"The United States is now the world leader in oil and gas production. America's energy revival is not only good for growth, it offers new buffers against the coercive use of energy by some and new opportunities for helping others transition to low-carbon economies. American oil production has increased dramatically, impacting global markets. Imports have decreased substantially, reducing the funds we send overseas. Consumption has declined, reducing our vulnerability to global supply disruption and price shocks. However, we still have a significant stake in the energy security of our allies in Europe and elsewhere. Seismic shifts in supply and demand are underway across the globe. Increasing global access to reliable and affordable energy is one of the most powerful ways to support social and economic development and to help build new markets for U.S. technology and investment."

Keep in mind that President Obama understands well the dangers of global warming. His sideline moves -- increasing vehicle fuel efficiency, reducing coal-powered plants in the U.S., setting aside parts of Alaska's Arctic seas as no-drill areas -- reflect an often repeated "commitment" to bringing climate change under control. At the same time, however, he has overseen a startlingly drill-baby-drill energy program from the Gulf of Mexico and the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to the waters of the coastal southern Atlantic, which his administration has just opened to a future bonanza of oil and natural gas drilling. He has, in short, presided for six years over the turning of this country into "Saudi America."

And mind you, that's actually the good news: now, for the bad news, which comes to us thanks to the invaluable Michael Klare, author of The Race for What's Left in his new essay, "Keystone XL, Cold War 2.0, and the GOP Vision for 2016." No matter what Obama does to open the way for the further exploitation of American fossil fuel reserves, his Republican opponents blast him as a wimp, a hopeless weakener of American global power. They mean it, too. They imagine the U.S. they would run as a "Saudi North America" which would, if they had their way, turn Russia into rubble and the Arctic into Club Med.