21st Century Version of the Cuban Missile Crisis: Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) Disproves "China Oil-Drilling in Cuba" Claim

In an effort to address the fuel crisis, Vice President Dick Cheney reiterated a rumor that has been making the rounds in Florida: that China is drilling for offshore oil in Cuba. Speaking Wednesday to the US Chamber of Commerce, Cheney denounced the prohibitions against drilling too close to US coasts and quipped, "Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to high prices is more supply."

Invoking the Red Menace is about as out of fashion as armed Leftist guerrilla uprising. Both anachronisms are responses that arose in a historical context that has passed. The veracity of the China-Cuba claim has been thoroughly refuted--and by one person whose interest it is to maintain Cuba/Communist fears: Florida's Cuban-American GOP Senator Mel Martinez. (Cheney has since retracted his remarks.)

Cheney's remarks, their swift circulation online, and the speedy debunking of such claims are no anachronism, however. While one might now celebrate (or rue) the viral capacity of the Internet, more important, I think, are the geoeconomics of energy. Little mention has been made of the role speculators in oil prices: merely driving up the price per barrel by seeing how high they can bid it and making money that way. This, not scarcity, accounts for our current "crisis." And even less has been said of what seems the grim solution to an energy-hungry world where biofuels lead to starvation: nuclear power.

UPDATED: George Will, Cheney's source for the [mis]information, has retracted his statement.

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