I GUESS IT REALLY IS ALL ABOUT OIL….John Herrington was Energy Secretary under Ronald Reagan, and today in the LA Times he has a bright idea for replacing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ? you know, the half billion barrels of crude that we’re storing in salt domes in Louisiana. His answer: replace it with a bigger salt dome.

Isn’t it reasonable to make Iraq the answer to our desire for energy independence? Shouldn’t Iraq be our strategic petroleum reserve? Shouldn’t Iraq be our answer to OPEC and oil blackmail?

This is not an out-of-context quote, either. He really means it: we should take over Iraq, install a really friendly government, open up development solely to American companies, control the spigots, and sell Iraqi oil only to the United States. And we should do this for, um, a long time:

In return for a secure supply of oil at market prices for the rest of this century, we would help Iraqis spend their new wealth to benefit Iraq’s people.

Ah, yes, we would help the Iraqis spend their money. For the rest of the century.

And you know what? We deserve it thanks to our unflagging support for the IMF, the World Bank, the UN (!), the liberation of Kuwait, etc. etc. It’s really no different from the Turks charging for oil that flows through their pipeline to the Mediterranean.

My jaw just dropped as I was reading this, and the worst part is that since it was published on the op-ed page of the LA Times it’s obviously meant to be taken seriously. Did someone in the Bush administration get him to send this idea up the flagpole to see what kind of reaction it gets?

UPDATE: It’s one thing for a liberal like me to criticize this kind of talk, but it would sure make me feel better if some conservative war supporters stepped up to the plate on this kind of looniness. OxBlog? Drezner? Volokh? Reynolds? This guy is out in left field, right?

UPDATE 2: Apparently it’s worse than I thought.