I just received an email from a friend reminding me of Nikita Khrushchev's speech before the U.N. in January 1959. At that time, the USA and the Soviet Union were bitter enemies. We were committed to stop the spread of communism, and the Soviet Bloc was doing its best to make the world a "worker's paradise."
Both nations were poised to attack each other, with nuclear weapons at the slightest provocation. The US and Soviets had aircraft in the air around the clock, and ships on station, armed and ready to deliver. Both powers had missiles aimed at strategic locations, armed, and ready.
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. It split into individual nations once again. There were many reasons given for this amazing collapse, but the one that has emerged as the primary reason was the simple fact they went broke. No money, no food, no friends to bail them out.
Today Russia, the power player of the former USSR, is emerging as a major force once again. They now have money for re-development of their roads, railways, military, and food. What changed? OIL!
Russia sits on huge deposits of oil and natural gas. They have built pipe lines to Western Europe. They have become the Western Europe's major supplier of these essential resources. Hence, they are reaping huge financial profits. The West, their old adversary, has become dependent on them.
Now I ask myself, why aren't we using our own resources; especially in view of our spiraling deficit? We send our engineers, technicians and drillers around the world to help other less developed countries exploit their resources. It seems we can export our technology and expertise, but are unable to use it ourselves. We can't run a pipeline, or use our own technology to achieve energy independence. If we can design and build pipe lines successfully in the Middle East, why can't we do the same here? We have developed technology to make the use of coal "clean"; why inhibit its use?