One of the major factors that creates failed and corrupt governments around the world is us — Americans — and our insatiable consumption of oil. As the largest petroleum consumers in the world, we are the driving force of a global energy market in which the suppliers are often corrupt regimes maintaining power in part through the revenues they extract from our consumption. If we want to fix the problem of failed states, we must start by reforming our own approach to energy: adopting smart-growth policies, driving less, and creating alternative energy sources. Until then, we are just fueling the very corruption we condemn.
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland chairs the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission).