Re: Do we even need Saudi oil anymore?
"The US produces more than Saudi does, especially now the shale oil is being produced in vast quantities"
But you're part of a world market. If you sterilised the supply of Saudi oil through sanctions or war, then the world's swing producer leaves the market. A drop of a few million barrels a day in demand (perhaps 5%) has caused the oil price to halve, and its obvious that to take out the 14% of world supply that is from Saudi would cause the price to skyrocket - perhaps to around $300/bbl. And things would be worse if you treated the other Gulf despots the same - they are another 10% or so of world supply.
You then get into the argument around isolationism, and why can't the US be energy independent, and the short answer is that if you declare economic war on the rest of the world, they'll do the same back. The US is big enough to exist as non importer or exporter, but you've then got the problem of what do you do for rubber, coffee, tin, copper and so forth, and the fact that you'd have to do all those low value assembly jobs you previously exported to China.
Shale is only a stop gap - production costs are too high, well decline rates high, and the costs of shale will go up rather than down because we're picking the low hanging fruit first. If the US wanted to marginalise OPEC, then they should have come up with algal biofuels - this is the only obvious non-mineral transport and heating fuel that might scale. Back in the 70's the US did some good foundation work, but shelved it when oil prices collapsed. They started looking again this time round, and will now drop it like a stone as the oil price craters. And so the world (and thus US) dependence on Saudi despots will continue.
We will eventually rid ourselves of our dependence on oil and gas, but unfortunately the tree huggers have pushed that time back by two decades by demanding crap non-solutions like wind power. All the money that might have gone into making nuclear power cleaner and cheaper, or making algal biofuels workable and cheap, that money has been diverted into subsidies for wind and solar, most of which has disappeared into the pockets of Wall Street financial investors. Which shows that the governments of the West aren't really much more democratic than the sheikhs, maybe a little bit less thuggish. But even that's changing - how many SWAT raids were there in the US last year? Around 60-80,000 instances where uniformed and heavily armed thugs broke into people's homes, mostly without warrants, and in over a third of cases finding no evidence of criminality. Who needs religious police?