Energy and National Security

By Clawson, Patrick | Strategic Forum, April 1995 | Go to article overview

Energy and National Security


Clawson, Patrick, Strategic Forum


Is "Energy Security" A Meaningful Concept?

Phil Sharp, long-time chairman of the House Energy Subcommittee, vigorously argued that the best energy security policy is to have lots of people producing and lots of people distributing the energy that the United States needs. This minimizes the risk of a disruption at any one point in the production/distribution chain. In this context, he said that the one enduring energy security question that requires diplomacy, military presence, and the willingness to use force is the concentration of oil reserves, production, and surge capacity in the Middle East.

Backing up Sharp, long-time Amoco vice-president John Lyman argued that U.S. energy security is best maintained by ensuring that the United States is, and is perceived to be, fully supportive of free trade and of the use of market forces on a global scale.

Vito Stagliano of Resources for the Future argued that energy security is an empty concept used to perpetuate bad, self-serving public policy. He recounted the history of dramatizing energy issues and using energy as a reason for dubious public policy, in which category he included expenditures in excess of $100 billion between 1973 and 1992. The most important contribution to U.S. energy security during that period came not from any of the projects financed by this spending but instead by the de facto death of OPEC. The death of OPEC, he argued, came from the 1981 U.S. government decision to end price controls and reduce regulations on energy output. The 1981 actions spurred the growth of spot and futures markets that disrupted the ability of any government, including those of the OPEC countries, to control oil prices.

John Riggs, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy, replied that energy security reminded him of Mark Twain's comment, "The music of Wagner is better than it sounds." That is, while the 1973 and 1980 oil shocks led to some inflated rhetoric and while energy security has been used as a justification for some pork barrel projects, the fact is that the oil shocks did inflict significant economic harm on the United States. True, much (although certainly not all) of this harm arose because of the imposition of price controls, but that should not be used to minimize the effect that the oil shocks had on the economy and therefore the potential effects that a future shock could have.

Mr. Riggs also argued that dependence on energy imports can reduce U.S. foreign policy options. As an example, he asked if the United States would have opted to bomb Libya in 1986 had world oil markets been tight? He suggested that the United States might not have taken such a strong stance against Libyan terrorism had the United States been concerned it could provoke another oil price shock.

Supply Disruptions

The participants agreed that the world oil supply system has changed since the oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s. The system now has much greater flexibility, thanks to a much larger role for market forces. On the other hand, Mr. Riggs cautioned against exaggerating the role of market forces. Since Saudi Arabia can produce oil at two to three dollars per barrel and the world price is seventeen to eighteen dollars, something other than market forces seems to be at work.

After noting that regulations and price controls that encumbered oil markets in the past have now been largely eliminated, Hill Huntington of Stanford University's Energy Modelling Forum asked, how well and how quickly would markets work to adjust to a supply shock, and if they did not work quickly enough, would politicians step in with price controls or other such measures. He argued that macroeconomic models show that a doubling of oil prices would cut U.S. GDP by about 5 percent after a period of one and a half years. He argued that in the face of such a considerable price, the U.S. government was likely to adopt offsetting policies.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Energy and National Security
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.