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Making Green the New Red, White, and Blue

OPINION features excerpts of pieces by columnists from the Op-Ed page and other sections of The New York Times. All columns from the last seven days are available at nytimes.com; Op-Ed pieces (by columnists and outside contributors), plus Editorials and Letters to the Editor, are at nytimes.com/opinion. Please let us know what you think of OPINION at upfront@scholastic.com.

Focusing the nation on energy efficiency—on being green—is the most geostrategic, patriotic thing we can do. It is a national-security imperative. The biggest threat to America and its values today is "petrolism," my term for the corrupting, antidemocratic governing practices—in oil states from Russia to Nigeria and Iran—that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil. Our energy gluttony strengthens and fosters these regimes. We cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Mideast without drying up our consumption of oil, thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Mideast without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money, and young lives. We must impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation. We need long-term incentives for renewable energy. Real patriots—real advocates of spreading democracy around the world—live green. Green is the new red, white, and blue.

Thomas L. Friedman [1/6/06]