Vince Taylor, writing in 1980* (edited lightly for concision):
By becoming massively dependent on Middle Eastern oil, the industrial economies have created a threat to their survival, with which they cannot long live, and yet from which they cannot soon escape. . . .
The present rate of oil consumption is politically and economically unsustainable. To restore a stable situation, nations will need to rebuild their economies to use far les oil than now. There can be no pretense that rapid, forced transition to a less petroleum-intensive economy will be easy, but if a devastating war can be avoided, neither will the outcome be a return to the dark ages. . . .
The wave of growth that swept the globe after WWII could never have moved so swiftly and so far without the incredibly rich oil resources of the Middle East. . . .
The fundamental problem is that the industrial nations need oil so desperately that they are willing to pay for it far more than the small kingdoms of the Middle East can absorb economically, socially, or politically. The wealth represented by the oil deposits of the Middle East -- $270 trillion at $30 per barrel, equal to over 100 years of toal U.S. economic output at current rates, is unprecedented in the history of the world. . .
Saudi Arabian oil has become absolutely crucial to the west . . . . Saudi Arabia is presently ruled by a family with 4,000 members, 200 of whom form an inner ruling circle. The West is ignorant of internal Saudi affairs . . . Tensions in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations are being heightened by rapid economic and social changes. The sudden influx of oil wealth has created expectations among both the common people and the upper classes that cannot be satisfied without major changes in society. . . . The masive industrial development programs of the richest oil states are creating serious problems, such as foreign workforces larger than the indigenous ones, extensive coruption in ruling circles (which leads, in turn, to an open display of wealth that is resented by the less privileged), and widespread violations of the Moslem tradition against consuming alcohol. . . .
Oil wealth is, inescapably, propelling the Middle East into unexplored ground. Politics, economics and religion are undergoing dramatic changes. And there is nothing that can be done to guide this process into safe, non-violent channels.. . .
Even if political or social upheavals do not disrupt oil supplies from the Middle East, the industrial world faces rapidly escalating oil scarcity and prices. The root of the problem lies in the overwhelming need of the industrial natios for imported oil, a need so great that the oil countries can raise prices at will. . . .
Many of the developing countries have already borrowed more than they have any hope of rapying, given the level of oil prices; yet unless they receive substantially larger loans in the future, they wll be thrown into depression and bankruptcy. . .
As the dangers inherent in continued oil dependence have become apparent, thoughts, especially in the United States, have turned to military action. Although appealing to many as a solution to the oil crisis, an attempt to gain control of the Middle East by military force poses the gravest danger to the industrial world . . . . Even if the oil facilities were somehow captured intact, keeping them in this state in the face of certain attacks by a hostile population would be impossible. . .
And so on and so forth. Well, we've muddled through for 25 years but we have completely failed to confront the problem or take any of the necessary measures to deal with it, and the dangers have just grown more terrifying, the situation even less tractable.
Here's a story from the only legitimate, non-prostitute corporate news organization in the U.S., Knight-Ridder Newspapers:
Simulated oil meltdown shows U.S. economy's vulnerability
By Kevin G. Hall
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - Former CIA Director Robert Gates sighs deeply as he pores over reports of growing unrest in Nigeria. Many Americans can't find the African nation on a map, but Gates knows that it's America's fifth-largest oil supplier and one that provides the light, sweet crude that U.S. refiners prefer.
It's 11 days before Christmas 2005, and the turmoil is preventing about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from reaching the world oil market, which was already drum-tight. Gates, functioning as the top national security adviser to the president, convenes the Cabinet to discuss the implications of Nigeria's spreading religious and ethnic unrest for America's economy.
Should U.S. troops be sent to restore order? Should America draw down its strategic oil reserves to stabilize soaring gasoline prices? Cabinet officials agree that drawing down the reserves might signal weakness. They recommend that the president simply announce his willingness to do so if necessary.
The economic effects of unrest in faraway Nigeria are immediate. Crude oil prices soar above $80 a barrel. June's then-record $60 a barrel is a distant memory. A gallon of unleaded gas now costs $3.31. Americans shell out $75 to fill a midsized SUV.
If all this sounds like a Hollywood drama, it's not. These scenarios unfolded in a simulated oil shock wave held Thursday in Washington. Two former CIA directors and several other former top policy-makers participated to draw attention to America's need to reduce its dependence on oil, especially foreign oil.
What's it going to take to get through to Americans, still driving their massive military vehicles to the shopping mall?
*From The Ecologist, Oct.-Nov. 1980. Copyright 1980, Union of Concerned Scientists.