Thursday, September 27, 2007

James Woolsey and Electric Cars

I believe this is the first time CI has linked to a story from National Review Online.
If you've followed Mr. Woolsey's career you know he's tough to pigeon-hole*.

From NRO:

A determined pack has begun to race its engines and to try to shoulder us off the road toward energy independence. It’s time for those determined to stay on the track to drive aggressively.

The energy-independence question is really about oil — the rest of U.S. energy use presents important issues, but not the danger of our being subject to the control of nations that “do not particularly like us,” as the president put it. Some of the engine racers have an economic interest in keeping our transportation system 97-percent oil-dependent. Less understandable are the authors of a recent Council on Foreign Relations report accusing those working for such independence of “doing the nation a disservice.”

The authors of that report and their followers define “independence,” contrary to both Webster’s and common sense, as essentially “autarky” — i.e. complete self-sufficiency, or not importing oil even though we remain dependent on it. Such a Pickwickian definition captures none of the thinking of serious advocates of reducing our oil dependence: The point of independence is not to be an economic hermit, but rather to be a free actor.

It is true that some who promote oil independence spice their remarks by implying that we might substitute oil from domestic sources or from our near neighbors for cheap Middle Eastern imports, and somehow manage to insulate ourselves from the world oil market.

But speechwriters’ tropes shouldn’t be taken as serious policy proposals. Geology will not cooperate in any such fantasy. There is no reasonable way that we can leave oil in place as the near-exclusive fuel for the world’s transportation systems and simultaneously wall ourselves off from the world oil market.

If we want to end dependence on the whims of OPEC’s despots, the substantial instabilities of the Middle East, and the indignity of paying for both sides in the War on Terror, we must define oil “independence” sensibly — as doing whatever is necessary to avoid oil’s being the instrument of despotic leverage and foreign chaos.

Those who won our independence as a nation didn’t just fling imported tea into Boston harbor — they did whatever was necessary to wrest themselves from British control. We need not call out the Minutemen, but to avoid the consequences of dependence we must become independent — not just of imported oil, but of oil itself.

Does this mean that we cannot use oil or import any? Of course not. Oil is a useful commodity that can readily transport energy long distances. It already has competition from natural gas in industry and from gas and electricity for heating. But in transportation it brooks no competition — it is thus not just a commodity but a strategic commodity.

Oil’s monopoly on transportation gives intolerable power to OPEC and the nations that dominate oil ownership and production. This monopoly must be broken. To tell us that in following this path we are doing a “disservice to the nation” and should resign ourselves to oil dependence is like telling us we should not urge an alcoholic to stop drinking, but should rather impress upon him the health advantages of red wine.

Not long ago, technology broke the power of another strategic commodity. Until around the end of the nineteenth century salt had such a position because it was the only means of preserving meat. Odd as it seems today, salt mines conferred national power and wars were even fought over control of them....MORE (He gets to electric vehicles, an idea he's been promoting in a serious way, at very high levels)

Here he is at the WSJ's OpinionJournal:
Gentlemen, Start Your Plug-Ins
How does 500 miles a gallon sound to you?

An oil and security task force of the Council on Foreign Relations recently opined that "the voices that espouse 'energy independence' are doing the nation a disservice by focusing on a goal that is unachievable over the foreseeable future." Others have also said, essentially, that other nations will control our transportation fuel--get used to it. Yet House Democrats have announced a push for "energy independence in 10 years," and in November General Motors joined Toyota and perhaps other auto makers in a race to produce plug-in hybrid vehicles, hugely reducing the demand for oil. Who's right--those who drive toward independence or those who shrug?

Bet on major progress toward independence, spurred by market forces and a portfolio of rapidly developing oil-replacing technologies.....MORE

*R. James Woolsey joined FDD in August, 2002, as a Distinguished Advisor. Previously Mr. Woolsey was a partner at the law firm of Shea & Gardner in Washington, D.C., where he practiced for twenty-two years, on four occasions, beginning in1973; his practice was in the fields of civil litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and corporate transactions.

During the twelve years he has served in the U.S. Government Mr. Woolsey has held Presidential appointments in two Democratic and two Republican administrations. He was Director of Central Intelligence in 1993-95. He also served as: Ambassador to the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), Vienna, 1989-1991; Under Secretary of the Navy, 1977-1979; and General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, 1970-73. He was appointed by the President as Delegate at Large to the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Nuclear and Space Arms Talks (NST), and served in that capacity on a part-time basis in Geneva, 1983-1986. As an officer in the U.S. Army he was an adviser on the U.S. Delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I), Helsinki and Vienna, 1969-1970.

Mr. Woolsey has been a Director or Trustee of numerous civic organizations, including The Smithsonian Institution, where he was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents, Stanford University, The Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, and The Aerospace Corporation. He has been a member of: The National Commission on Terrorism, 1999-2000; The Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the U.S. (Rumsfeld Commission), 1998; The President's Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform, 1989; The President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management (Packard Commission), 1985-1986; and The President's Commission on Strategic Forces (Scowcroft Commission), 1983. He is currently a Trustee of The Center for Strategic & International Studies; Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Clean Fuels Foundation; and Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board of Global Options LLC.

Mr. Woolsey is presently a member of the Board of Directors or Board of Managers of: Information Systems Laboratories, Inc. (ISL); Linsang Partners, LLC; Fibersense Technology Corporation; Invicta Networks, Inc.; DIANA, LLC; and Agorics, Inc. He has served in the past as a member of the Boards of Directors of: BC International Corporation; Sun HealthCare Group, Inc.; USF&G; Yurie Systems, Inc.; Martin Marietta; British Aerospace, Inc.; Fairchild Industries; Titan Corporation; and DynCorp, and as a member of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.

Mr. Woolsey was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1941. He is married to Suzanne Haley Woolsey, the Chief Communications Officer of the National Academies (Science, Engineering, and Medicine) and they have three sons: Robert, Daniel, and Benjamin. Mr. Woolsey attended Tulsa public schools, graduating from Tulsa Central High School in 1959. He received his B.A. Degree in 1963 from Stanford University (With Great Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa), an M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar 1963-65, and an LL.B from Yale Law School in 1968, where he was Managing Editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Mr. Woolsey is Vice President of the Global Strategic Security Division at Booz, Allen, & Hamilton. He is a frequent contributor to major publications, and from time to time gives public speeches, on the subjects of foreign affairs, defense, energy, and intelligence

Source: FDD

Here's his comment on his relationship with President Clinton:

Remember the guy who in 1994 crashed his plane onto the White House lawn? That was me trying to get an appointment to see President Clinton.