By the time coalition forces intervened in the Libyan war on March 19th, almost one month after the conflict started, Muammar Gaddafi had already killed 10,000 Libyans.
But as soon as the coalition came to the rescue of innocents, people began questioning the coalition’s motives, with many arguing that the West intervened in Libya not for humanitarian reasons but for economic reasons — to secure the country’s vast oil reserves. (Libya individually is an insignificant contributor to the current U.S. oil supply — we get more fuel from Norway than from Libya — but Libya is a member nation of OPEC, and has the capacity to supply one out of every 10 barrels of oil and derivatives that the United States consumes.)
The question is, how can we make people around the world less skeptical of our intentions so that we can halt genocides and save lives without inflaming electorates and making enemies?
One way is to end our reliance on foreign oil by drilling for oil off our coasts.
We could easily get by without Persian Gulf oil. Of the seven billion barrels of oil and derivatives that the United States consumes each year, only 600 million barrels come from the Persian Gulf. According to the Department of the Interior, there are 85 billion barrels of technically and economically recoverable oil in the outer continental shelves of the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts.
Ironically, the pacifists with the “No-Blood-for-Oil” signs are the exact same people who are preventing us from drilling offshore. The loudest protesters of American oil self-interest in the Middle East are also the staunchest supporters of drilling moratoriums around the United States.
President Obama and the not-in-my-backyarders must learn to accept lesser evils and embrace intermediate successes. Domestic oil spills that maim wildlife and temporarily cripple seaside economies are tragic — but not as tragic as being forced to sit on the sidelines while innocent civilians get slaughtered by madmen.
To the detriment of global peace, Democrats have stymied offshore drilling with a maze of state and federal prohibitions and exclusionary leasing arrangements. The entirety of the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves have been closed to new drilling leases for decades; extraction of an enormous portion of the Gulf of Mexico reserves has been stalled; and Shell’s victorious bid on the jackpot territory, Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, has languished in court under injunctive lawsuits from non-circumspect environmental groups, which fail to grasp that drilling will be done somewhere, and better that it be done here, within arm’s reach of self-appointed watchdogs and the EPA.
We must decide which is harder to accept: the occasional deaths of wild animals and extremely infrequent damage to coastline economies, or a worldwide distrust of our motives that prevents us from saving lives on oil-rich soil?
David Andrukonis is a technology entrepreneur and occasional contributor to The Daily Caller.