Frederick W. Smith is not one to shy away from a difficult fight. A former Marine and a Vietnam War veteran, he founded Federal Express in 1971 and built it into the world's largest express-transport company. In recent years he's taken on a new battle by joining the Energy Security Leadership Council, a group of transportation executives and retired military officers advocating greater American energy independence. NEWSWEEK's Fareed Zakaria asked him why the CEO of a company with almost 700 planes and 80,000 trucks would push for stricter energy policies. Excerpts:
And could that, in turn, lead to military confrontation?
It shouldn't be forgotten that the proximate cause of World War II was the U.S. oil embargo against Japan, when we were an oil-exporting nation. And World War II was largely won in Europe by the United States' attack on the fuel supplies of Germany. In fact, they were making more Messerschmitt fighter planes in late 1944 and early 1945 than anywhere else in the world—they simply didn't have the fuel to train the pilots to fly them. The first gulf war was caused totally by oil—it was Saddam Hussein's insistence that he own certain oilfields that led to his invasion of Kuwait and our ouster of his forces there. The subsequent presence of the United States in the Middle East was in large measure driven by the protection of the oil trade. And a lot of analysts think that as much as 40 percent of the entire U.S. military budget can be attributed to protecting the oil trade (my em).
I think the analysts are being a little, er, conservative in their estimate.
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