As the global economy gets better, as we freeze federal leases, and as the Middle East heats up, will $5-a-gallon summer gas be good or bad? Suddenly the administration seems to think that high energy prices are bad and, in fact, that it has done a lot to lower them.
The Obama team’s various explanations for addressing skyrocketing gas prices so far seem threefold: It claims that by getting out of Iraq it is settling down the Mideast; it is reducing demand; and it is increasing production. All of these are either half-truths, or developments that are irrelevant to the presidency. And the fact that gas prices have doubled since January 2009 suggests that whatever the current Obama policy is, it has not worked — at least if lower gas prices were the aim.
Our departure from Iraq has had nothing to do with calming oil prices. When Obama entered office, Iraq was already quiet; the month we left, no U.S. soldiers were lost. As for Middle East oil, in 2002, the last year before the Iraq invasion, Iraq produced slightly over 2 million barrels per day; oil production exceeded that prewar figure already by 2007 after the success of the Petraeus surge. In 2011 (with thousands of troops still in Iraq), it hit a 3 million barrels average, with projections for even more this year. The Iranian mess, no doubt, has fostered speculation, but I will leave it to others to judge whether Obama’s policies toward Iran have created calm and reassurance in the Gulf region.
(photo credit: Paulo Ordoveza)