There is a new malfeasant that the United States must now deal with in its insatiable thirst for oil.
It is Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, who sits atop one of the largest oil reserves in the world. He has the chance to cause a lot of trouble for America.
And he’s using it.
He rejects the Free Trade of the Americas agreement and admonishes the United States for subscribing to the rhetoric of freedom and opportunity while ignoring the rhetoric of equality.
Like most socialists, Chavez is enraged because the system in the United States does not provide equality in terms of outcomes.
Believing that everyone should receive “C” grades regardless of performance should be enough to discredit him, but there is more.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse, Chavez recently stated that global capitalism is responsible for numerous disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, earthquakes hitting India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and mudslides in Central America and Mexico.
The rhetoric of his “Bolivarian Revolution” is not new to anyone familiar with the tactics of communist propagandists. Blaming capitalism for all of the ills in his country, Chavez plans to spread his form of socialism throughout all of Latin America.
Oil companies are no longer allowed to operate independently in Venezuela. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the country’s state-owned oil company, controls 60 to 80 percent of all joint ventures with foreign oil firms.
PDVSA supplies oil to the United States by way of Citgo Petroleum Corporation. Despite the fact that Chavez has publicly stated that he will be using oil profits in attempts to buy nuclear technology, oil firms around the world are agreeing to give Chavez what he asks.
Citgo, owned by the Venezuelan state, makes no reference on their Web site to the fact that they are owned by a socialist nation.
Of the infrastructure that Chavez has provided that is sustainable for Venezuelans, he has consciously and methodically failed to provide the privatization and potential for profit that are inherently necessary for success.
This very same necessary privatization and potential for profit that Chavez eschews is a cornerstone of the American way of life.
Embracing capitalism would inherently compel Chavez to help build a sustainable and private business infrastructure that could provide for his nation indefinitely without dependence on oil.
Oil is quickly outgrowing its usefulness due to its growing cost and limited nature. It could be argued that the United States also has not provided for infrastructure independent of oil, but there is a magnificent difference between the United States and Venezuela.
Unlike China, however, Chavez has not deemed it necessary to provide a limited free market, let alone free trade. Reasonable solutions would not give Chavez the ill-gotten publicity he has enjoyed so far.
Needless to say, supporting the likes of Hugo Chavez is not in the best interests of the nation or the world.
So what can be done about Chavez?
Conservation is a half-measure. This has not and never will solve real problems, because it requires sacrifices that most people cannot or are not willing to make.
A military operation with questionable consequences, such as the one currently being fought in Iraq is clearly not the answer.
Assassination of Chavez, recently suggested by Pat Robertson – a person with a seemingly limitless supply of bad ideas – is not the answer. America does not need to go around the world killing the leaders we dislike.
It is alternative energy sources, conceived by the ingenuity of the American populace working within a framework of enlightened self-interest, which will solve the problem.
Alternative energy sources must be researched, discovered and implemented.
The American dependence on oil will then commensurately dwindle. It must happen, so it will.
The only question is when.
It would certainly be desirable for the change to occur as swiftly as possible.
Alternative energy sources carry with them massive amounts of potential wealth. They also make American energy independence from other countries plausible.
With this independence would come the option to deny support to egomaniacal leaders like Hugo Chavez.
Jordan Capobianco is a senior majoring in English literature.