This is a no doubt a pretty unpopular position, but I believe the relatively cheap price of gas is doing America no favors. I'm not too interested, personally, in paying more for gasoline; however, if we all had to pay more for this commodity, the innovations to replace it would happen more quickly. There's currently not much incentive for anyone to make a cheaper, accessible, viable alternative. Until we have something in the mainstream which lessens our dependence on foreign oil, the problems outlined so eloquently by my colleagues will continue. That's a given.
The previous posts state it well--if the United States were not so dependent on foreign oil, we most likely would not have as many national security issues or unemployment problems. If we could use more of our own resources or somehow manage to come up with viable alternatives here in the States that could actually replace our need for oil, then we could better manage our own affairs.
Another growing problem related to our dependence on foreign oil is that with the United States' economy in trouble and with the decline of the dollar's value, other countries such as China might be better "customers" for that oil. We could find ourselves in bidding wars and come out the lowest and losing bidder.
I think that you can find a wealth of resources on this topic. I would actually suggest steering you towards a book and a film. The book’s title is “See No Evil” by Robert Baer and the film is “Syriana.” Both discuss how the dependence on foreign oil, particularly petroleum resources in the Middle East, has a direct impact on both domestic and international policy. When one of the characters speaks how about oil in the Gulf represents, “Our interests in the region,” it underscores how much of an impact foreign oil impacts the way in which foreign policy is geared towards the Arab- speaking world. At the same time, the hostility that exists in this region towards America and how it is perceived is another implication of our dependence on foreign oil. I believe that the dependence on oil and the war on terror might contain some level of tension within it, in that terrorism and nations that produce gigantic quantities of oil might be very similar to one another. The nuances in such a delicate situation need to be sorted out through a concise and clear foreign policy towards the region and, at the same time, articulated on a domestic level to ensure Americans understand and accept what is happening with such a predicament. Both of these forces have a profound impact on Americans today.
I agree with the above post about our massive need for energy dictating our foreign policy goals and actions. In addition, the demand for oil and the money used to pay for it ships hundreds of billions of dollars out of the United States during a recession. Money spent here would represent more tax revenues, create more jobs and support American businesses. It is very similar to an addiction to drugs, in that it hurts the finances of the family by giving money that could be spent in more positive ways to an outside source not concerned with their welfare.
It also directly affects the Americans who are sent to fight in Middle East conflicts (two major ones in the past 20 years) in that there is a significant dollar and blood cost to our need for the resources located there. It is doubtful we would be very concerned about the internal politics of Iraq or Saudi Arabia, relatively small countries when you think about it, if they did not have the oil wealth we need access to.
The fact that we are dependent on foreign oil makes it impossible for us to run our foreign policy on "objective" grounds. Instead, we end up getting entangled in areas that would not really be important to us if it were not for the fact that they have oil. This ends up hurting us.
Imagine if the Middle East had no oil. Our lives would be so much easier. We would not have to get so involved in their affairs because we would not need them. If we were less involved in their affairs, they would have so much less of a reason to dislike us. We could pretty much ignore their religious divisions and such because they would not matter to us.
Because we are so dependent on oil, we are forced to involve ourselves deeply in a very troubled region of the world.