Some of this country's worst national traits- American complacency, sense of entitlement, frantic obsession with yesterday's battles and obsolete doctrines, and inability to discern blatant logical inconsistencies and hypocrisy in them, have combined to further compromise our energy security and assure a much rougher transition to a low-energy regime than we might otherwise have to deal with, if we have not, in fact, absolutely assured our own future misery and poverty.
It's difficult to understand how the population of this country, notably its "conservatives", can blithely acquiesce to what amounts to the sale of this country to China, the world's major communist power and a major human rights violator, while maintaining the draconian trade restrictions on a tiny island 90 miles from Miami. By some mental process that could not exactly be called "thought" or "reasoning" that I've always been at a loss to understand, most people have made their peace with the outsourcing of our entire economy to China and are somehow not bothered by the consideration that we have almost no manufacturing capacity left and could not mobilize for a major war; yet are just appalled at the thought of normalizing our relationship with Cuba to the extent of ending the 50-year-old trade embargo on the island.
The entire Cuba issue is a political "third rail", an issue so politically toxic that no administration, Republican or Democrat, has dared broach the idea that perhaps the embargo might not work to our interest and might, in fact, be producing results that are the opposite of our intention when we imposed it. For a while there, in certain American cities, the whole subject was so sensitive that discussing it in public could shorten your life substantially if not instantly, and not very long ago at all, half the population of this country could go absolutely spastic at the notion that a little boy just might be better off with his only living parent even if that parent resided in Cuba. I don't see people reacting the same way to the news that China is no longer permitting thousands of utterly unwanted baby girls to be adopted by foreigners, and even the "pro-life" contingent here doesn't seem too awfully upset by the prevalence of brutal late-term abortions there, which are forced upon Chinese mothers who violate the country's one-child laws- as long as we can get all the cheap goods from Chinese sweatshops we want.
I've always thought that Castro's regime would have toppled long ago were it not for the embargo, just as China's vastly more powerful communist party is now becoming ideologically compromised by traffic with the west and the rapid growth of its blatantly capitalistic economy and the expansion of prosperity and material amenity among its citizens. Ultimately, the communist regime there will fall, because the development of the new economy has undermined and compromised the ideology that justifies it, and we have to wonder just how much more quickly Cuba would have progressed toward freedom if we had established similar cooperation there.
We'll never know. However, we will soon know just what the embargo has cost this country and just how much we might have compromised our own future by our obstinacy and stupidity in maintaining the embargo, for the undeveloped island is now negotiating exploration and production contracts with Russia, China, and Angola, to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. American oil companies have never been able to exploit these deep sea fields because of the trade embargo on Cuba.
And now, they never will be able to, for other nations are stepping in where we have defaulted, and are locking up substantial portions of the world's remaining oil reserves for themselves.
Thanks to the temporary oil supply glut and corresponding low fuel prices, Americans are wallowing in complacency regarding our precarious supply situation, and our leaders don't seem unduly disturbed by the speed at which other nations are taking advantage of our financial mismanagement and diplomatic failures to lock up future exploration, drilling rights, and oil production. As it is, China, one of the only solvent industrial countries remaining, has taken ample advantage of its economic strength and everyone else's extreme weakness to make contracts for a big fraction of Canada's production, and that of the middle eastern countries.
Keep in mind that the race for the world's dwindling oil reserves is distinctly a zero-sum game. What other nations get, we don't get. Their gain is absolutely our loss.
While our leaders give some lip service to "reducing dependence on foreign oil", quite as though we had any of our own to speak of, other nations have been wasting no time taking advantage of our current economic weakness, and our incredible complacency, to step in line ahead of us, just as they are taking much more aggressive measures to reduce their energy consumption and develop alternatives. There has not been a nuclear power plant built in the U. S. in 30 years, while other nations are not only planning dozens of plants, but are utilizing new nuclear technologies that are vastly safer and more efficient than the old cold-water reactors built here. Other nations, less complacent about their fuel supplies than we and far more experienced in deprivation and shortages, are expanding their railroads and demanding ever more fuel-efficient autos and appliances, but our auto executives howl every time we mandate modest improvements in fuel efficiency, on the grounds that the cost of meeting them will stunt "economic growth".
It's probably too late for our oil companies to get a seat at the table in Cuba, even were we to end the trade embargo tomorrow. But there might be time to build a relationship with Russia, a major oil producer, another opportunity we have so far let slide, to our disadvantage. There might be a way to set things right in the middle east. We had better give it our best shot. If we don't want to employ diplomacy and a pragmatic approach to dealing with nations ruled by regimes we find distasteful on ideological grounds, and if we also don't want to steeply reduce our energy consumption no matter what it takes to accomplish that,then we had better work to rebuild our manufacturing capacity really, really fast so we can mobilize for the coming world resource wars, because the windows of opportunity are closing quickly and leaving us with no alternative.