Dubya went begging, cowboy hat in hand, for the sheiks to open their spigots for all us poor Americans. Their answer: shove off. Some superpower.
An interesting question arises, however: whether the Saudis CAN increase production. Everyone assumes that they can increase oil flows with the flip of a switch, doubtless based on their stated reserves. However, based on the research of Matthew Simmons and Stuart Saniford, there is substantial evidence that Saudi Arabian oil production has begun to go into decline. As Simmons has stated, if Saudi Arabia is in decline, then ipso facto the world has reached peak oil.
It's difficult to say of course, and only the benefit of hindsight will tell us whether this is the case. It is and it is not in Saudi Arabia's interest to allow the price of oil to remain at these historically high levels (today broaching $127 per barrel). Given that they are keenly aware that their reserves are finite, it is in their interest to get as much lucre as possible for what they can still pump. However, at a high enough price, the world economy will decline and, subsequently, so too the price of oil. Further, high prices will only stoke greater demand for alternative fuels. Saudi Arabia would likely only be willing to accept these latter conditions if they had little control over current high prices due to constrained supplies.
When we await our alternative energy future, we often do so with current assumptions of the existence of plentiful energy and accompanying wealth. However, investment resources will dry up as quickly as the empty petroleum wells in Saudi Arabia if those assumptions do not pertain. We saw how quickly billions of dollars disappeared with the flash of a computer screen during the credit crisis during last summer and in recent months. While we wait for market signals to kick in, the Saudis are enjoying the remaining years of their party while we willfully cling to the belief that the solution lies in their simply letting us buy more of their oil. Because we want it, it must be there (this is the most pervasive and generalized form of faith of our age, infecting people on the Left and Right alike). Just so, we demonstrate that the wages of gluttony is a loss of freedom and abject humiliation at the feet kings from the likes of whom we once declared independence.