I agree with much of what Paul Grant expressed in his Oct. 31 My Turn, "America needs to encourage democracies in Middle East." I agree emphatically with his opinion that we need to " curb our insatiable appetite for oil ." To the degree that we are unwilling to curb our national appetite, and thus feel the need to invest tremendous diplomatic, economic, and military resources in protecting our "oil interests" in Middle East oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia, we make ourselves more vulnerable to the volatile political, social and economic conditions of those countries.
By no means do I believe that because of our "presence" on the Saudi peninsula we are to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks. But at the very least, our presence seems to provide an excuse, however shallow, for fomenting anti-American sentiment and action on the part of some fanatics. In addition, as Anatole Kaletsky stated recently in a London Times editorial, "Oil money is the main source of financing for terrorism and religious fanaticism throughout the Islamic world."
One very positive step that the majority of us can take immediately to promote reduced oil dependence is to seriously consider changing our daily mode of transportation. Think about the vehicle you drive and the gas mileage it gets. Do you really need an SUV to make the daily commute, or would a more fuel-efficient vehicle do just as well? What did we do before the advent of SUVs? Think about whether you even need to make a particular trip in your vehicle. If at all possible use alternative, more fuel-efficient methods of "transportation" like car-pooling, buses, bicycles, walking and telecommuting.
In the longer term we need to encourage the Bush administration to focus as much, or more, on energy conservation and fuel efficiency, as it is focusing on increased oil production. Through government-promoted energy conservation measures we can begin to reduce our level of foreign oil dependency much more quickly than we can through increased domestic oil production.
In light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, reducing our dependence, not just on foreign oil, but all oil, is not only sensible and forward thinking, but because it will tend to enhance "homeland" security it is every bit as patriotic as displaying the American flag.