America gets divorced: what about custody of the energy and the nukes?
Part three in a series.
First look at this map:
Now this one, which indicates the location of US military installations:
Then consider that a vast majority of the nation’s oil reserves and production lie in “red” territory (Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska, as well as the emerging boom in North Dakota).
What about coal?
No point in talking about wind, solar and other renewables just yet – there’s plenty of potential on all sides of whatever lines we draw, but at present we’re still critically reliant on fossils.
My point? Even once we have agreed to partition the US along ideological lines, there remain some extremely important pragmatics to iron out. As the maps above make clear, the South and other regions that we’d expect to align with its particular brands of social, religious and economic conservatism are home to a good majority of the nation’s domestic energy reserves and, if your view of geopolitics is even remotely like mine, way too much in the way of established (and mobile) military muscle.
On the energy question, one thing is clear: the territory we’d expect to comprise the new “blue” states of America is going to have a hard time powering itself. Some possibilities and implications:
- More oil imports.
- Oil imports from our powerful new trading partner to the south.
- Major stress on which side gets places like Colorado and New Mexico.
- Big reliance on coal, unfortunately. It’s not eco-friendly, but at least there are plenty of reserves within the projected boundaries.
- Does the need for resources undercut the whole partition process? That is, does the North decide it can live with the wackadoos, after all? Hmmm.
- Huge, heavy, massive drive to ramp up renewables production as quickly as possible.
- As much as we hate to say it, does this necessitate building more nuke plants in the North?
The military question is equally sticky. Obviously both sides are entitled to military forces, and both sides are going to remain world powers (if they choose to do so). It seems evident enough (although I’d fully expect certain Sunbelters to argue the point) that the ideologically conservative regions are apt to be the more militarily belligerent moving forward.
I do say this with a measure of reserve, though: it isn’t like our recent military adventures were accomplished without the consent of elected officials from the North, and I absolutely don’t want to seem pollyanna about the issue. However, it is also true that national party dynamics drive state-level elections, and that in a world where the rampant chest-thumping of presidential elections is fueled by the need to capture voters who will be gone post-partition, it is not unreasonable to expect that the new North would be at least marginally less hostile to our neighbors around the globe.
This said, and without putting too fine a point on it, people who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, that all Muslims are terrorists, and that government should be explicitly responsive to a particular interpretation of the Bible, should not be given nuclear weapons. Nuclear theocracies are a bad idea on the other side of the world and they’re bad idea on this side of the world, too. Not only can we not afford to risk them going batshit and attacking the Middle East, we need to remember that we’re partitioning because of pronounced ideological differences and it may not be comfortable having them aimed at us, either.
Am I being paranoid? We’re talking about who gets nukes. If that doesn’t call for at least a bit or paranoia I don’t know what does.
To sum up, then:
- The North needs energy.
- The South needs to be assured of its security, but cannot be entrusted with the big red button.
I imagine when negotiators sit down to begin hammering out the details of where the lines are drawn and who gets custody of what, there is going to be some pointed give and take on the subject. The South might insist on all the nukes currently in Southern territory (and I don’t know how many land-based missiles we’re talking about here). Or they might be open to a mutual defense pact of some sort. Or they may say we’ll give you oil if you’ll give us bombs.
Honestly, I have no idea how such deliberations might turn out. But it seems likely that these issues might become intertwined.