Blood for No Oil: What Newt Gingrich Isn’t Saying About Syria

What do Keystone XL and Syria have in common? Less than Gingrich would have you believe.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011. 
National Journal
Alex Brown and Patrick Reis
Aug. 29, 2013, 9:42 a.m.

Newt Gin­grich has a plan: If the House is go­ing to vote on mil­it­ary ac­tion in Syr­ia, Speak­er John Boehner should at­tach war-au­thor­iz­a­tion votes to le­gis­la­tion for­cing ap­prov­al of the Key­stone XL oil-sands pipeline.

Gin­grich made his pitch to House lead­er­ship Thursday on Twit­ter:

House GOP should com­bine Key­stone Pipeline and Syr­ia in­to one up or down vote. Lets see who wants war while op­pos­ing Amer­ic­an en­ergy

— Newt Gin­grich (@newtgin­grich) Au­gust 29, 2013

Polit­ic­ally, it has the mark­ings of a shrewd move, as many House Demo­crats would be loath to vote against Pres­id­ent Obama but equally un­will­ing to vote for a pro­ject that the party’s en­vir­on­ment­al base des­pises. In­deed, Demo­crats have largely voted against the pro­ject dur­ing the House’s sev­en sep­ar­ate at­tempts to force the White House’s hand on the pipeline.

But Gin­grich’s bid to con­nect Key­stone XL and Syr­ia is plagued by a lo­gic­al loop­hole: Un­like some of its Middle East­ern neigh­bors, Syr­ia pro­duces little oil, and al­most none of it goes to the U.S.

By the num­bers:

Syr­i­an oil ex­ports have been blocked by in­ter­na­tion­al sanc­tions since late 2011, and even be­fore then, it was hardly a ma­jor play­er in world oil sup­ply: It pro­duced 0.4 per­cent of glob­al sup­ply pre-sanc­tions, and much of that was con­sumed in­tern­ally.

The U.S. im­por­ted 476,000 bar­rels of oil from Syr­ia in 2010, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. En­ergy In­form­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

That same year, the U.S. used 7 bil­lion bar­rels of oil, again ac­cord­ing to the EIA.

That means Syr­ia sup­plied a shade un­der 0.0067 per­cent of U.S. oil con­sump­tion, or about enough to meet Amer­ica’s av­er­age 2010 oil de­mand for “¦ 36 minutes.

To be sure …

There are plenty of oth­er ar­gu­ments for or against a Syr­i­an mil­it­ary strike, and — should one feel a need to make a case based strictly on en­ergy — there’s an ar­gu­ment to be made that U.S. in­volve­ment in Syr­ia could dis­rupt oil pro­duc­tion throughout the re­gion and put a ma­jor dent in U.S. sup­plies.

But if Gin­grich is go­ing to draw a dir­ect line between Syr­ia and Key­stone XL, it’s go­ing to take more than a tweet.

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