Also, Apartheid South Africa. It seems the way to run an increasingly-oppressive military state is with the use of coal-derived fuels.
The fact that the Nazis and Boers used coal-derived fuels to run their militaries is not really germane to whether or not it's a good idea. What is germane, however, is the fact that coal-derived fuels suck nads. They produce loads of CO2 (as all coal does) unnecessarily. Hell, tar sands oil is probably less carbon-intense than coal-fuels.
On the other hand, the fact that the US military is investing this much in what amounts to an alternative fuel is telling. It tells us that the Pentagon's planners a) don't expect the price of oil to go down soon, and b) aren't sure about existing supplies, either. "A" makes them smarter than the National Post, which shows only that Pentagon planners can outwit a jar of mayonnaise.
Still, you've got to love US policy. Apparently, the flow-chart of American energy policy goes something like this:
1) We can't invest in alternative fuels - they're too expensive.
2) We still need oil - a carrier group in the Persian Gulf should do.
3) Disastrous, illegal wars do nothing to lower the price or secure additional supplies for the US economy.
4) We need alternative fuels!
A bit more seriously, this is something I've said is the fallacy with "doomer nihilists" (to use Robert McLeod's invaluable taxonomy) pessimism over the future of civilization. To put it simply, the organs of the state will be certain they always have enough oil - even if it means the rest of us freeze in the dark. To wit: Cops don't line up with the rest of us. If the stresses of peak oil are even half as great as the nihilists believe, then what we're going to see is a massive reassertion of state power in the economy, and in what is nominally our "private lives".
In fact, much of our lives were never private in the sense that they were individual choices affecting no one else. Much of North American life is in fact dramatically public - driving a car down a road built and maintained with public funds, with publicly enforced regulations and laws, and public emergency services in case you're drunk. (Liquor, of course, is a state monopoly in Ontario.) But god forbid we, say, put cameras at red lights - that would be an "invasion of privacy." (That argument was always retarded.)