I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, talking, and reading about Obama’s embrace of drilling off America’s coasts. And one connection I found most people seem to have missed is its utility in his push for Iranian nuclear sanctions. I ran the numbers, called up some experts, and put it all together for The New Republic–a magazine I’ve long respected and to which I’ve wanted to contribute.
Many observers were puzzled last week when President Obama announced his support for expanded offshore oil drilling. Was he trying to win over Republican swing votes for a climate bill? Head off the inevitable anger over summer gas prices? Perhaps. But here’s another possibility: The move could have been intended to bolster international support for sanctions on Iran. At least that’s what events from the nuclear summit earlier this week suggest.
On Monday, Obama apparently convinced Chinese President Hu Jintao to pursue sanctions as a means of dissuading Iran from developing its nuclear program. As Time noted, “Obama reportedly indicated that the U.S. would help China make up any shortfall in oil imports resulting from Iranian retaliation for any Chinese support for sanctions.” China is concerned about its growing reliance on crude imports and possible disruptions in the global oil markets. So Obama’s offshore-drilling embrace may have been intended to signal that he’s doing everything possible to avoid that fate.
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