Oil addiction jeopardizes national security

Joe Borovich, right, died in the attack on the USS Arizona.

On Armed Forces Day Saturday, please think about Joe Borovich.
The Hollister native, a strapping man standing 6 feet 6 inches,
worked as a teenager in the pear orchards of San Benito County. He
joined the Navy at age 19. Two years later, on Dec. 7, 1941, he
died onboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked
in a surprise raid by Japanese fighter pilots.
On Armed Forces Day Saturday, please think about Joe Borovich. The Hollister native, a strapping man standing 6 feet 6 inches, worked as a teenager in the pear orchards of San Benito County. He joined the Navy at age 19. Two years later, on Dec. 7, 1941, he died onboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked in a surprise raid by Japanese fighter pilots.

Few Americans realize the major reason Japan attacked America on that “date which will live in infamy” was over the issue of energy. In 1940, Japan received 80 percent of its crude oil and gasoline from the United States. When Japan invaded Indochina in 1940, the United States and Britain imposed an oil embargo on the island nation as a countermeasure. Facing economic and social devastation without the energy from petroleum, Japan decided to attack America’s Navy fleet at Pearl Harbor. The international tension arising over the need to produce and consume a fossil fuel created by nature millions of years ago led to Joe Borovich’s death one Sunday morning in a Hawaiian harbor.

Nearly 60 years later, America was hit again in an air attack when terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger planes on Sept. 11, 2001. The world was stunned as it watched on TV the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers come crashing down on the island of Manhattan. As a result of that surprise assault, in June 2002, an Arizona State University football player (who grew up in Almaden Valley) decided to join the Army and serve as a Ranger. On April 22, 2004, Pat Tillman died from “friendly fire” while on patrol in Afghanistan.

The root reason for the 9/11 attack was over the issue of energy. The man who masterminded the attack, Osama bin Laden, was born into a wealthy Saudi family. He objected to how America had established a military presence in Saudi Arabia following the Gulf War of 1991, a conflict initiated by Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in an attempt to control the production of Middle East petroleum. Bin Laden believed that it was a sacrilege for the United States to station its troops in the homeland of the prophet Mohammed to protect the petroleum that nature had placed under the sands of the Arabian Peninsula.

Oil is a limited resource in our planet’s crust. The production of conventional oil – the easy to extract crude – is now starting to reach a peak point. This pinnacle of the global petroleum production coincides with the nations of China and India starting to dramatically increase their consumption of this fossil fuel.

The Defense Department sees a potential for future “oil wars” as petroleum becomes harder and more expensive to produce while world-wide demand escalates. In a report released last year by the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the Pentagon looked at the likelihood for conflict as our planet faces massive oil shortages. “By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear,” the report stated, “and as early 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day.”

The Chinese government is now taking action to prepare for the economic, social and political pressures that will come with the peaking of conventional oil. China is funneling its wealth into billion dollar deals to gain control of oil reserves in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba. The Chinese have even spent $4.6 billion to buy a stake in Canada’s oil shale, a non-conventional source of petroleum. In 2004, China tried to buy California-based oil company Unocal, but that deal fell through when the United States government intervened.

As oil becomes increasingly valuable as a commodity, the market contest for this hydrocarbon will escalate, leading to international tension. If we continue along our present path, we’ll most likely face a major conflict with China at some point in the 21st century. A war with China is one America might lose if we fail to obtain enough energy resources to power our military endeavors.

China is developing its armed forces. China has the capability to knock out our communication satellites with its missiles. And China can cause widespread blackouts and damage our electronics infrastructure from the electromagnetic pulse of a high-altitude nuclear explosion. A surprise attack like that would ignite economic and social collapse across America.

Petroleum built our technological civilization. As we saw with Pearl Harbor and 9/11, petroleum is also our Achilles heel. Our addiction to oil puts our national security at jeopardy. Many Americans – people like Joe Borovich and Pat Tillman – will pay the ultimate price for our petroleum dependence if one day we go to war with China.

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