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Oil is the chief basis for the new economic imperialism. This raw material is literally the driving force of the mechanical age and any serious international complications of the future are almost certain to arise from a struggle over its possessions. Consequently the announcement made yesterday that a method had been discovered of manufacturing economically gasoline and the heavier oils from lignite, the cheapest form of coal is of the utmost importance for the future of America during the immediately ensuing years.
Considering that the available oil supply within the boundaries of the United States will approach exhaustion at the present rate of consumption within 20 years, and further that the Royal Dutch Shell Company and one or two other groups British or Dutch controlled are at present in possession of four-fifths of the known or exploitable oil supply of the world, two further facts are of significance. The inventor of the process is a German, Dr. Berguis, and his achievement has been made possible by millions of dollars of German backing and two large experimental stations. Moreover an international company for the exploitation of this synthetic fuel has already been informed in which the controlling stock holders are the Royal Dutch Shell and the German Association of Dye-Manufacturers.
Americans who talk loosely of the unavailable economic position of the United States and the beneficial political consequences of this position can hardly disregard these facts. At every turn in the world struggle for oil America's hand has been called. She now faces a situation economically dangerous in the extreme due fundamentally to European eleves ness in taking advantage of an American provincialism which cannot see before its nose, or rather beyond the narrow limits of the Atlantic and the Paciffe. The necessity for international point of view toward and understanding of the world problems has heretofore has little appeal to the unidealistic American. When expressed-in terms of the pocket-book it may be driven home, even to Mr. Borah.
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