Politicians and rightish political commentators frequently claim that importing oil from countries which don’t like the USA is bad for American national security. I had never given this claim much thought, and now after thinking about it, I have realized I don’t understand it.

If oil is basically fungible, then as long as they sell it to someone it will affect the USA very minimally. If Saudi Arabia starts refusing to sell oil to the USA, but still sells it to Australia, then whoever was selling to Australia before that can turn around and sell it to us.

Now surely oil isn’t totally fungible, transportation costs are surely somewhat important, so the cost of oil would surely go up a bit. But danger is surely less than the danger people normally imply from importing oil from countries which don’t like the USA.

Now the fact that we import oil at all, from any country, could be a bigger problem. But in this case, importing food and the like is a similar concern and seems basically intractable.

What am I missing?

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