Energy security has become the mantra of U.S. politicians. Those interested in just how insecure we are would do well to peruse the international statistics available on the U.S. Energy Information Administration Web site. The industrialized regions of the world - North America, Europe, and Asia - are, not surprisingly, heavily dependent on imported oil. They require some 31 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products imported daily. In recent years, the price of natural gas in the U.S. has been closely tied to the price of oil. So not only does this handful of countries control the price of oil, it controls the price of gas as well. Since over 40 percent of the electricity used in California is generated from gas, the oil cartel controls the price of California's electricity, too. Californians are perhaps more dependent on Russia, Iran, Nigeria, et al. than anyone else in the world. Industrialized regions depend on a mere handful of nations to provide their daily oil. Ten countries have net exports totaling 26 million barrels of crude and product per day, 80 percent of the industrialized world's requirements. Lest we forget on whom we depend, I will list them here (data are for 2002, the latest year provided by EIA): Country\tRegion\tNet Oil Exports (MMbd) Venezuela*\tSouth America\t2.4 Russia\tRussia\/Central Asia\t5.1 Iran*\tMiddle East\t2.2 Iraq*\tMiddle East\t1.5 Kuwait*\tMiddle East\t1.8 Saudi Arabia*\tMiddle East\t7.1 United Arab Emirates*\tMiddle East\t2.1 Algeria*\tNorth Africa\t1.4 Libya*\tNorth Africa\t1.1 Nigeria*\tSouthern Africa\t1.8 *Member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). All ten governments are firmly in control of their nations' oil resources. Control recently became tighter in Venezuela and Russia, much to the dismay of the U.S. Venezuela, Russia, and Algeria have become putative democracies only recently. Iran is a theocracy, a path that Iraq may follow. The other three Middle Eastern countries are essentially monarchies. Libya and Nigeria are rather unsavory dictatorships. These are the governments on which the lifeblood of the "free" world economies (and China) depends. If that doesn't frighten you, nothing will. The recent experience in Iraq demonstrates how little we understand these countries. Eight of the ten are predominantly Islamic. Many have large and growing populations of poor people; Nigeria is one of the poorest countries on earth. Oil and gas exports provide the majority of government revenues in all ten. Energy "security" depends on the poor countries' willingness to sell us oil in order to keep their economies afloat. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia give us oil (and keep prices down) in return for protection against their enemies. This is a Faustian bargain if ever there was one. Which of these ten countries would hesitate to reduce oil exports and thereby raise prices if the result were higher revenues and less depletion of their resources? Only the regimes that depend on us for protection. Iran and Venezuela have already figured out they can raise oil prices, and hence revenues, by annoying the U.S. and unsettling oil markets. Nigeria is a powder keg of unrest. Unemployment and declining per capita oil revenue are growing problems in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Who knows what will happen in Iraq? And do we really want to rely on Libya? Energy supplies will be insecure so long as we depend on imports from these countries. There is zero chance that we will produce more oil ourselves, ANWR or no ANWR. We won't be energy-secure until we need less oil.