Hit OPEC Where It Counts
I'm going to address this hub to Senator Obama, mostly since we know the John "Shoot From The Hip" McCain doesn't have a diplomatic bone in his body, and because it is my expectation that Senator Obama will next be known as President Obama. Mr. President, you've just taken office. Gasoline prices, even in the dead of winter, are sitting around $4 a gallon, and many of the people who voted for you in November are hurting. Tackling the cost of gasoline is one of your highest priorities, so what are you going to do?
If you don't mind some free advice, here's what I would do. I would immediately convene a summit somewhere in the middle east and tell the OPEC nations that gas prices at $4.00 a gallon is tantamount to declaring war not only on the United States, but on the rest of the civilized world.
My first thought, when I conceptualized this hub, was that we should tell OPEC that until crude oil prices drop to, say, $40 per barrel, we'll cut off all foreign aid to all OPEC nations. But then I did a little google search and found an article that talked about that very idea. The problem is that most of the oil rich nations do not receive any foreign aid from the United States, so that's not much of a bargaining chip to throw on the table.
But then I found an interesting quotation from former Representative Lee Hamilton, in an article in the CBS News archives titled "Public Enemy #1: OPEC." (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/06/23/politics/main209161.shtml)
"We can't approach the middle east simply as an oil problem and try to threaten all of these countries that are friends and allies of ours, whose support we need in order to keep Saddam Hussein in the box, in order for the peace process to go forward," former Rep. Hamilton was quoted as saying.
That quote was made back in 2000, before Osama bin Laden attacked the U.S., before the U.S. attacked the Taliban, and before Boy George Bush lied us into a war against Saddam Hussein. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the U.S. depose Hussein? Didn't we do it without help from these OPEC nations? And didn't the Iraqi "government" already execute him? Yeah, I thought so.
So while the august Representative Hamilton's quote may have made sense in 2000, does it still make sense? What have the OPEC nations, particularly those in the Middle East, done for us lately? How valuable are they as allies if they were not even willing to join us in the ill-fated war against Iraq?
In short, it seems to me that there must be something that we have that the OPEC nations want, whether it be military aid or some other incentive that we can say to them, "You're not going to soak us for $140 a barrel for oil and expect us to keep our end of the pipeline flowing."
I don't expect OPEC to roll over and play dead just because President Obama threatens to cut them off. I fully expect they will continue to manipulate the supply of oil as long as they can in order to keep gas and crude oil prices as high as possible for as long as possible. If that is the case, my suggestion to you, Mr. President, would be to take every last dollar that you can squeeze out of those countries and send it right back to the American people, so we can afford to drive to work.