The Cable

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The foreign policy implications of offshore drilling

Does President Obama’s decision today to open up parts of the U.S. outer-continental shelf to offshore drilling have any implications for foreign policy? Yes, according to David Pumphrey, deputy director of the CSIS Energy and National Security Program and former deputy assistant secretary for international energy cooperation at the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. ...

Does President Obama's decision today to open up parts of the U.S. outer-continental shelf to offshore drilling have any implications for foreign policy? Yes, according to David Pumphrey, deputy director of the CSIS Energy and National Security Program and former deputy assistant secretary for international energy cooperation at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The U.S. position has been to encourage a range of countries to open up their newly discovered offshore reserves to exploration, especially by western companies. But that didn't wash with several countries who rightly pointed out that the U.S. was telling them, "Do as I say, not as I do."

Does President Obama’s decision today to open up parts of the U.S. outer-continental shelf to offshore drilling have any implications for foreign policy? Yes, according to David Pumphrey, deputy director of the CSIS Energy and National Security Program and former deputy assistant secretary for international energy cooperation at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The U.S. position has been to encourage a range of countries to open up their newly discovered offshore reserves to exploration, especially by western companies. But that didn’t wash with several countries who rightly pointed out that the U.S. was telling them, "Do as I say, not as I do."

But now that the Obama administration is showing movement, albeit cautiously, on that front, the U.S argument that other countries do the same is strengthened, Pumphrey said.

"Your credibility is enhanced by the stance that somehow your offshore areas are not more protected and special than theirs," he said. "In many ways, the policy choice that had been made to keep our offshore out of bounds for oil development weakened our ability to go out and tell countries to make choices that might impact them negatively."

Some countries that have recently discovered large potential reserves but haven’t yet moved to fully explore them include Brazil and Angola, both of which are being told by the U.S. to move faster.

"We’re saying, yes, develop those new reserves and use western countries to do that," Pumphrey said, arguing that message will now seem more in line with U.S. actions.

"It helps to close the gap between the domestic and foreign policy."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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