Forget peak oil; forget the Middle East. The energy revolution of the 21st century isn’t about solar energy or wind power and the “scramble for oil” isn’t going to drive global politics. The energy abundance that helped propel the United States to global leadership in the 19th and 2oth centuries is back; if the energy revolution now taking shape lives up to its full potential, we are headed into a new century in which the location of the world’s energy resources and the structure of the world’s energy trade support American affluence at home and power abroad.

By some estimates, the United States has more oil than Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran combined, and Canada may have even more than the United States. A GAO report released last May (pdf link can be found here) estimates that up to the equivalent of 3 trillion barrels of shale oil may lie in just one of the major potential US energy production sites. If half of this oil is recoverable, US reserves in this one deposit are roughly equal to the known reserves of the rest of the world combined. …

The energy revolution isn’t a magic wand that can make all America’s wishes come true, but it is a powerful wind in the sails of both America’s domestic economy and of its international goals. The United States isn’t the only big winner of the energy revolution — Canada, Israel and China among others will also make gains — but the likely consequences of the energy revolution for America’s global agenda are so large, that the chief effect of the revolution is likely to be its role in shoring up the foundations of the American-led world order.