How The United States Got Hooked On Foreign Oil

The United States is predicted to become a net energy exporter by 2020. This will be the first time since 1953 that the country exports more fossil fuels than it imports. For almost a century prior, the United States of America was the largest oil producer in the world. So how did the United States get hooked on foreign oil.

Every American president since Richard Nixon has pledged energy independence as a way to strengthen us geopolitically, make us more secure, or boost our economy.

The story of American oil begins in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Small amounts of oil had seeped from the ground for a long time, but no one knew how to extract it. Until, Edwin Laurentin Drake, a former conductor, was hired. After many failed attempts, he finally struck gold — black gold.

The next FEW decades, major oil finds in Texas, California and Oklahoma contributed to U.S. emergence as a major economic power. The 1901 Spindletop gusher in Texas nearly tripled U.S. oil production.

Henry Ford’s Model T invention in 1908 – the first mass-produced car – made America the most motorized country in the world. Other industrialized countries like France, Britain and Germany were ways behind.

To China, All’s Fair in Love and Trade Wars

The standard line from President Donald Trump and those who support his get-tough approach toward Beijing is that because China sells more to the U.S. than the other way around, Washington has the upper hand in its game of tariffs. “China buys MUCH less from us than we buy from them,” Trump recently tweeted, “so we are in a fantastic position.”

The intrusive Chinese state has all sorts of levers to control the economy and society, and in an environment that lacks rule of law, officials can pull them at their pleasure. They also have far more targets to aim at than the trade data suggest. Many American companies have substantial operations within China that are tremendously important to their bottom lines. General Motors and its partners, for instance, sold more than 3.6 million vehicles in China last year, almost all of them manufactured locally. Starbucks operates more coffee shops in China than in any other market aside from the United States. These businesses are vulnerable to government-inspired nefariousness, from product boycotts and state-press smear campaigns to regulatory investigations

The Chinese have employed such tactics in the past. In 2017, for instance, China’s government waged an undeclared war against South Korean business over a dispute regarding an American missile-defense system. When Seoul rebuffed Beijing’s demands that it cease deployment of the system—which the Chinese considered a threat to their security—China tried to compel the South Koreans by pressuring their companies and economic interests.

A primary target was Lotte, a Korean conglomerate with interests in candy, hotels, retail, and other businesses. Lotte committed the crime of providing land for the missile system. The Chinese government whipped up nationalist ire against the company through the state-controlled media. One op-ed in the Global Times, a newspaper run by the Communist Party, entitled “Lotte’s Development in China Should Come to an End,” thundered that “showing Lotte the door will be an effective warning to all the other foreign forces that jeopardize China’s national interests.” Protests erupted in front of supermarkets owned by the Korean group, while inspectors ordered outlets closed after supposed violations. Sales plummeted, and Lotte eventually exited from the business. That wasn’t all. Chinese shoppers also shied away from Korean-branded cars and cosmetics. Korean pop stars were denied entry visas; group tours to Seoul for big-spending Chinese travelers were canceled.

Canada is enduring such treatment right now. Angered that Canadian authorities (at the behest of Washington) arrested the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies, Beijing blocked Canada’s exports of pork and canola, pinching the country’s agricultural sector. China has taken this step even though it isn’t in its own economic interest, since its domestic pork industry has been ravaged by swine flu. Similarly, in 2012, Chinese quarantine officers began impounding Philippine bananas amid a flare-up over contested claims in the South China Sea.

 

Europe’s Trade Victory in Washington

US President Donald Trump holds himself out as a brilliant negotiator, and his supporters regard his trade policy as a perfect example of his success. But in his recent trade talks with the Europeans, Trump was clearly out of his depth.

.. The two sides agreed “to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.” It seemed like a remarkable U-turn for Trump, who, until recently, was threatening the European Union with higher tariffs – and extolling the value of trade tariffs (which are essentially taxes on imported goods) more generally. He even called the EU a “foe” as recently as June.
Substantive follow-through on the joint US-EU statement would represent a major policy shift for the Trump administration. But this is no triumph for Trump; rather, he seems to have been outmaneuvered by adroit European diplomats.
.. what Trump and Juncker announced was essentially a pledge to work toward exactly the kind of trade agreement that the Obama administration was negotiating with the Europeans from 2013 through the end of 2016. Work on that earlier version, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), was suspended following Trump’s inauguration.
.. Restarting the TTIP negotiation is a big win for Juncker
.. It is also remarkable that Juncker managed to get Trump to emphasize working with the World Trade Organization to resolve issues regarding 
.. What did Trump get from the Europeans, other than a return to a trade negotiation straight out of the Obama era? Trump claimed, at the press conference and subsequently, that he won a pledge from Juncker to buy more natural gas and “a lot of soybeans.” Some media coverage even suggested that the Europeans had made concessions. But that interpretation does not fit the facts.
.. Regarding potential US exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, the Europeans have long been keen to increase this trade. The hold-up is US restrictions on energy exports.
.. If there is any concession promised by the joint statement, it is from the Trump administration on this issue. This was made explicit in the fact sheetthat the White House subsequently issued: “the United States will make it easier for the EU to purchase liquefied natural gas.”
At the same time, Juncker does not buy soybeans – the European Commission has no such budget, and any such imports would ultimately be a private-sector decision.
.. . The price of US soybeans has fallen significantly more than has the price of Brazilian soybeans, as Brazil is not subject to the new Chinese tariff. Given this, it makes sense that the European private sector will buy more US soybeans, regardless of what Juncker says or does.
.. there was no European concession at the White House on this issue – just a clever restatement of market realities.
.. The soybean pledge has some superficial political appeal, as growers have found themselves caught in the crossfire of Trump’s trade war with China. The cost is real, and the Trump administration recently promised up to $12 billion to help affected agribusinesses.

However, this entire potential cost is due to the Trump administration’s disruptive policies and represents a scandalous waste of taxpayer money – an amount equal to about one-third of the entire annual budget of the US National Institutes of Health.

.. Trump holds himself out as a brilliant negotiator, and his supporters regard his trade policy as a perfect example of his success. But in his recent talks with the Europeans, Trump was clearly out of his depth.

Trump Urges NATO to Double Military Spending Target to 4% of GDP

President Donald Trump pressured allies at the NATO summit Wednesday to double the military spending target to 4% of gross domestic product, while bashing Germany for its military spending and support for a major gas deal with Russia.

.. Mr. Trump began his visit by accusing Germany of being “captive to Russia” because of its support for Nord Stream 2, an offshore pipeline that would bring gas directly from Russia via the Baltic Sea.

Speaking in a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Mr. Trump called Germany’s support for the project “very sad,” and said, “We’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.”

..  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said, “President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment.”

.. He has met frequent criticism in Washington for appearing overly friendly toward Mr. Putin, including when he congratulated the Russian leader on his election victory earlier this year despite being advised by national security officials not to do so.

.. Germany is the biggest importer of natural gas from Russia in the EU, accounting for more than 20% of the purchases in 2017 by the 28-member bloc, according to the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat. Russian imports made up about 40% of Germany’s annual gas purchases for the past two years.

US “Defense” Budget About Control of Resources & Dominance

The Souls of Poor Folk identifies the United States’ irrational attachment to war:

The massive U.S. defense budget has never actually been about “defense.” . . . Rather, their goals are to consolidate U.S. corporations’ control over oil, gas, other resources and pipelines; to supply the Pentagon with military bases and strategic territory to wage more wars; to maintain military dominance over any challenger(s); and to continue to provide justification for Washington’s multi-billion-dollar military industry. [4]

The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 Years After the Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Poverty, the War Economy/Militarism and Our National Morality, https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/audit/, 11. See the report for detailed and well-researched data.

What Trump and Putin Have in Common

Many years ago, the Israeli Bedouin expert Clinton Bailey told me a story about a Bedouin chief who discovered one day that his favorite turkey had been stolen. He called his sons together and told them: “Boys, we are in great danger now. My turkey’s been stolen. Find my turkey.” His boys just laughed and said, “Father, what do you need that turkey for?” and they ignored him.

A few weeks later the Bedouin chief’s camel was stolen. His sons went to him and said, “Father, your camel has been stolen. What should we do?” And the chief answered, “Find my turkey.”

A few weeks later the chief’s horse was stolen, and again his sons asked what they should do. “Find my turkey,” the chief said.

Finally, a few weeks later his daughter was abducted, at which point he gathered his sons and told them: “It’s all because of the turkey! When they saw that they could take my turkey, we lost everything.”

.. how and why we failed to contain the egregious behavior of both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

They each started by — metaphorically speaking — stealing a turkey. And when we didn’t respond, they kept ratcheting up their wretched behavior to the point where Trump thinks he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and Putin thinks he could poison a wayward spy in London, and get away with it.

Trump’s turkey was his tax returns. During the campaign he promised to release them after the I.R.S. finished auditing him. Then, after he was elected, Trump said, sorry, not going to release them ever. And nothing happened. Trump, I am reliably told, has actually said to people close to him, “Can you believe I got away with that?”

.. Once Trump saw that he could get away with not disclosing his tax returns, he knew he could get away with anything.

.. Any Bedouin chief who watched the steady acceleration in the breadth and pace of Trump’s lying — like his recent boast that he had fabricated a trade deficit with Canada in talks with Canada’s prime minister or his dishonest statements to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation — would tell you: Get me Trump’s tax returns.

.. Because there must be something very important in them that he wants to keep hidden.

.. Maybe it’s just the embarrassment that he is not as rich as he claims, or, maybe, it’s something more fundamental — like how dependent he is on Russian oligarchs for financing

.. Putin’s turkey was even more serious. It was the shooting down of that Malaysian civilian airliner, Flight MH17

.. Putin’s proxies in eastern Ukraine had requested that Russia send them an SA-11 surface-to-air missile launcher.

.. Putin did not push the button on that missile, but he created the conditions for it to shoot down that plane — and he walked away from it as if the plane were brought down by lightning, making up one implausible story after another. He got slapped on the wrist with a few sanctions, but his complicity faded away into a mist of baldfaced lies.

.. Who wanted to confront Russia, with all its gas exports to Europe and all its oligarchs throwing money around London or buying condos in places like … Trump Tower in New York?

.. Why not poison a former Russian spy in London with a banned military nerve agent or perpetrate genocide in Syria? Who’s going to stop me?”

Trump and Putin are cut from the same cloth. Their strategy is: keep pushing, keep grabbing, keep lying, keep denying, no matter how implausible the denials — and never apologize. Because when you lie on an industrial scale, it overwhelms everyone else. Normal people just don’t behave that way, and the sheer shamelessness eventually exhausts them.

..  when people keep eroding the norms of society, stealing — turkeys or the truth — eventually becomes the norm.

.. That steady erosion of norms is what Trump is doing to America and Putin is doing to the world.

.. American voters have to go to the polls and deal a resounding electoral defeat to this Republican Party, which Trump has taken over like an invasive species.

.. America needs a healthy conservative party in our two-party system. But this G.O.P. is not a conservative party and it is not healthy.

.. As for Putin, the only way to brush him back is with economic sanctions that truly hurt him and his corrupt clique of oligarchs, and an offensive cyber campaign that exposes just how much money they have all stolen from the Russian people.

.. Bullies like Trump and Putin are relentless. They will keep driving through red lights, smirking all the way, as long as we let them.

.. As the great philosopher Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.”