Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Monday, December 10, 2007 :::

Kim Strassel on Mike Huckabee:
Asked how he'd handle the Iranian nuclear threat, his stock answer is that America needs to become "energy independent in 10 years," thereby denying Iran oil money. "Iran, I promise you, they wouldn't have enough money to build a reactor just by selling rugs," he explained.
Strassel doesn't waste any more time on this than to note that he gives "[n]o word on why this didn't stop North Korea." But I'd like to savor this a little.

Let's start with the plausibility of America becoming energy independent in ten years. According to this pretty (PDF) chart from the EIA, we currently about a third of the energy we use is imported, and about a seventh is non-hydrocarbon. We might be able to increase hydrocarbon production by as much as 5% of energy consumption, and we may be able to keep consumption from growing without trashing the economy (which I'm not actually prepared to put past Huckabee), but I think any more of that gap would have to be filled by renewable sources, which we'd therefore need to more than double. I think we'll get there eventually, but ten years is not an unambitious goal.

More ludicrous, though, is the consequence. Does Huckabee think that if we no longer import 15 million barrels of oil a day, the world price will go to zero? It would certainly drop substantially, assuming the Chinese didn't pick up all of the slack, but I doubt Iran would decide it was no longer worthwhile to produce. Even if they did, I would hope Huckabee doesn't really assume that all Iran can produce are rugs and oil.

And let's not forget Strassel's crack about North Korea. What level of starvation does the preacher propose we impose on the people of Iran that would be sufficiently more advanced than that currently faced by the North Koreans?

All politicians speak in soundbites to an extent and simplify to an extent (all moderately successful politicians, anyway). But I worry that Huckabee actually thinks this way. I certainly haven't seen anything from him that seems particularly thought out.


::: posted by Steven at 9:42 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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