Former secretary of State Henr Kissinger warned yesterday that within the next two to five years U.S. oil imports will be disrupted by some event in the Middle East that likely will force rationing of gasoline.

"We are on a roller coaster to disaster," Kissinger told the Senate Energy Committee. "Our future is now at the mercy of a precarious political status quo in what is probably the most volatile, unstable and crisis-prone region of the world."

Kissinger said "I don't know where it [the disruptive Mideast event] will happen," but he has no doubt it will and, when it does, "It will happen quickly."

Committee Chairman Henry Jackson (D-Wash.), summing up testimony from earlier hearings on the geopolitics of oil, agreed. "The probability of a major oil supply disruption within the next decade is very high," Jackson said.

Kissinger said a major part of the problem is vacillation by the United States in its military and foreign policies toward the volatile area.

The former secretary of State called for the industrial democracies to "adopt stringent conservation measures, develop new supplies of oil and alternative sources of energy, strengthen collaboration among the consumer nations, address the plight of the developing nations and seek a more reliable long-term relationship with the [oil] producers."

As for the United States, he urged that -- with or without participation by our allies -- a "credible military presence" be established in the Indian Ocean and that expansion of U.S. military forces be speeded up. "Above all, we need a steady, predictable American foreign policy".