My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Strategic Indifference

From FoxNews:

Texas has 26 refineries that account for more than one-fourth of the nation's refining capacity, mostly along 300 miles of Gulf Coast from the Louisiana border to Corpus Christi.

If I were a terrorist right now, I wouldn't be thinking too much about New York or Washington; I would be thinking about the Gulf Coast region.


--a major, if not THE major drag on an otherwise robust U.S. economy for the last year has been the price of energy, from gasoline to home heating fuel

--Katrina shut down production in Louisiana (NOT the major U.S. production center) and it caused prices at the pump to spike by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent

--China and North Korea are very comfortable with the role of antagonist, and one of the reasons gasoline has been so expensive lately is the increased demand from China

--the American psychology is already deeply scarred right now, and a terrorist strike would very likely cause incalculable political damage to the President and his supporters, perhaps returning American policy to the "good old days" of the 90's law-enforcement model

--I know nothing about security, but it seems to me that 1,500 oil platforms in the Gulf make a very difficult target to protect

--America has not built an oil refinery in thirty years; our capacity to disperse our energy needs across regions and sectors in the event of an attack is almost nonexistent.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist; I think I'm just pointing out the obvious: this hurricane season has highlit many ways in which the U.S. is remarkably ill-prepared in the long haul for a strategically smart and agressive enemy. I am a strong subscriber to the "good offense" theory of waging war, but even a great puncher has to be able to withstand a few good punches.

Now, the segue to the solution:

It would seem that a smart candidate for office would make a major part of his platform an effort to attract energy business to his state--both for the national security contribution and straightforward economic self-interest. Clearly, I don't understand all of the infrastructure demands of such a thing, but it seems that a forceful case could be made to attempt to attract refining capacity and alternative resources (nuclear power generation) to make a state a regional power in the generation of energy.

A good candidate could make a compelling argument that could overcome "NIMBY-ism" in the national interest; and, for the sake of his constituents, long-term independence from foreign oil, protection from vulnerability to regional upheavals, and energy-sector leadership should appeal to the self-interest of any electorate. Likewise, in the wake of Katrina and Rita, any opponent who takes up a straight-forward environmental argument could easily be painted as an extremist.

I'm not saying expand Commerce City to include everything east of Tower Road; I'm just saying that there should be some room somewhere in the vast desolation of Colorado's eastern plains for a nuclear generator or a couple oil refineries (again, with a nod to my lack of infrustructure knowledge).

Just a thought. This is an issue that seems to have politicians wringing their hands, but none of them step out and take leadership on the issue. ANWAR is a decent first step, but it is altogether inadeqate for the long run. Real, long-term strategic planning of this sort requires leadership, and since precious little of that is coming from Washington, perhaps it needs to come from somewhere else.

Say, the Governor's office of one of the square flyover states that has vast tracts of unpopulated space.

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