Remember Ross Perot? Some of his greatest contributions to America came in the form of new vernacular. Single handedly he improved the expressiveness of the English language with such classics as "fuzzy math" and "giant sucking sound." The latter expressed what Perot believed we would hear if the U.S. passed the North American Free Trade Agreement:the sound of American manufacturing jobs being sucked across the border to Mexico. In hindsight, it was the suck heard 'round the world as manufacturing jobs poured into China from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and even Mexico.
Today I'm not gong to debate whether the global economy is a good thing or a bad thing for America. I do, however, want to acknowledge the impact of the Giant Slurping Sound coming from the far east. That is, the sound of China sucking up an ever increasing amount of the world's oil supply.
China's economy is exploding and so is their demand for oil to keep it humming along. Securing oil for their soaring economy and increasingly affluent masses is tremendously important to China, so say the Chinese. China's reliance on net oil import has grown to 11.5 percent from 0.45 percent reported in 1993. The International Energy Agency has predicted China will have to import half of all the oil needed to fuel ts economy by 2010, and the percentage will soar to 60 percent by 2020. It makes sense that the Chinese would try to spend some of their dollar cash horde to acquire energy assets overseas, such as Unocal, to make certain their economy continues to grow.
How does a thirsty China bode for America, who is already the largest single importer of the world's oil? And now with Russia firmly in control of Gazprom and apparently very willing to flex its new energy muscles (as we are witnessing today with Ukraine), the U.S. is standing naked on the world energy stage without a comprehensive energy strategy, ready to ravage any pristine natural resource that holds any small promise to yield a drop of oil. In the three months since Katrina exposed the weakness of our weak gasous underbelly, the initial furor has subsided -- $2.25 per gallon now seems cheap and is accepted.
If you thought $3/gallon was high, just wait until the Chinese economy really gets cooking. We ain't seen nothing yet.
Bush has missed his defining moment. He had the chance to go down in history as one of the great presidents. He could have put a stake in the ground to challenge Americans to move away from fossil fuels in the same monumental way that JFK did when he challenged Americans to undertake the impossible task of putting a human on the moon.
Unless he begins to quickly show some leadership on energy and global warming and unrestrained spending, GWB's legacy will be a bankrupt America, bereft of political clout and a ravaged environment.
This would not be the America that I wish to hand off to my children.