There has been much debate in the U.S. presidential campaign about which of America’s enemies the next president should deign to talk to. The real story, the next president may discover, though, is how few countries are waiting around for America to call. It is hard to remember a time when more shifts in the global balance of power are happening at once – with so few in America’s favor.
Let’s start with the most profound one: More and more, I am convinced that the big foreign policy failure that will be pinned on this administration is not the failure to make Iraq work, as devastating as that has been. It will be one with much broader balance-of-power implications – the failure after 9/11 to put in place an effective energy policy.
It baffles me that President Bush would rather go to Saudi Arabia twice in four months and beg the Saudi king for an oil price break than ask the American people to drive 55 miles per hour, buy more fuel-efficient cars or accept a carbon tax or gasoline tax that might actually help free us from, what he called, our “addiction to oil.”
The failure of Bush to fully mobilize the most powerful innovation engine in the world – the U.S. economy – to produce a scalable alternative to oil has helped to fuel the rise of a collection of petro-authoritarian states – from Russia to Venezuela to Iran – that are reshaping global politics in their own image.
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