My cynical alter-ego discerns the faint outlines of a diabolical, perhaps even brilliant, strategy hidden in yesterday’s scuttling by House Republicans of the financial bailout bill. Along with the predictable collapse in the US stock market, oil prices retreated over $10/bbl – the second largest price drop ever. While cheaper oil is undoubtedly good for addicted US consumers, it is not so good news for the bad guys on the planet (Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc) whose economies are hugely dependent on oil exports. As Tom Friedman has frequently pointed out, oil at $140/bbl provides enormous resources for mischief by our adversaries, and indeed keeps a reviled Iranian government in power. Friedman asserts that an urgent, and dramatic shift to alternative energy, combined with major conservation initiatives, would drastically reduce oil prices on the global market, literally bankrupt Iran, and put Russia in a much less threatening box. Thus, a critical foreign policy objective of the United States might be achieved without rattling a single saber, or engaging “girlie-man”-like in negotiations with odious regimes.
Lacking the leadership – or courage – to pull this off as forthright “energy” or “foreign policy” initiatives, GOP conservatives apparently decided that economic suicide by the US is the way to go: blow up the US financial markets, sink the economy, deflate oil prices, and kiss goodbye to Iran. Absolutely f___ing brilliant, I say! Watch for Sen. McCain to claim credit for this as his “position du jour” on the economy.