Friday, May 05, 2006

First Law of Petropolitics

Tom Friedman is back with another good one on oil and politics. If you need more reasons than $3 gasoline to cut back on your consumption of oil, read this.

I call it the "First Law of Petropolitics," and it posits the following: The price of oil and the pace of freedom always move in opposite directions in petro-ist states.

According to the First Law of Petropolitics, the higher the price of global crude oil, the more erosion we see in petro-ist nations in the right to free speech, a free press, free elections, freedom of assembly, government transparency, an independent judiciary and the rule of law, and in the freedom to form independent political parties and nongovernmental organizations. Such erosion does not occur in healthy democracies with oil.

Conversely, according to the First Law of Petropolitics, the lower the price of oil, the more the petro-ist countries are forced to move toward a politics that is more transparent, more sensitive to opposition voices, more open to a broad set of interactions with the outside world and more focused on building the legal and educational structures that will maximize the ability of their citizens, both men and women, to compete, start new companies and attract investments from abroad. (For an elaboration of this argument, see the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine.)

The price of oil should now be a daily preoccupation of the secretary of state, not just the secretary of energy. Today, you cannot be an effective democracy-promoting idealist without also being an effective energy-conscious environmentalist.
via NY Times $elect

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