June 29, 2017 by John Crapper
I’m always struck by the dearth of new ideas when it comes to finding new ways to fight the ISIL threat . I always here the same tired arguments we’ve heard now for years: more boots on the ground, more special forces, more training of the locals to take up the fight, more coalition partners, a no-fly zone and the constant request by my government for me to be vigilant.
The pundits and analysts in mainstream media never seem to examine the support the United States unwittingly gives to ISIL. I want to examine that support in this article because regrettably it is strengthening them and causing our war to be elongated. That support is rooted in the west’s insatiable appetite for oil coupled with our meddling in Middle Eastern countries largely as a result of the need to maintain access to that oil.
The State Department at one time estimated that at its peak ISIL was generating over $1 million dollars a day from oil revenue.
By February 2015 oil was no longer the primary way that the Islamic State (IS) funded its terrorist operation. Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby said during a press briefing on 04 February 2015.
“We know that oil revenue is no longer the lead source of their [the Islamic State’s] income in dollars. So, they are changing,” Kirby said. He said that donations and the group’s “black market program” were likely new ways the terrorist organizations was relying on funding.
That is because the U.S.-led coalition launched a campaign, called Tidal Wave II, aimed at crippling the Islamic State’s ability to generate revenue from selling black market oil. The campaign is named after a World War II operation to bomb refineries that were fueling the Nazi war machine.
Because of this effort there has been an ebb and flow to the amount of ISIL funding coming from oil. ISIL in response, has enhanced efforts to diversify and raise funds not only from oil but from numerous other sources such as kidnapping, theft and drug trafficking. The main point I want to make is oil has been a steady component of ISIL funding from the beginning.
In June, 2014 Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s office issued a statement accusing Saudi Arabia of giving ISIL “financial and moral support. State funding by Saudi Arabia was complicated to prove but private giving was not. There were many private donations coming out of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Does anyone doubt that this private source of funding was/is rooted in petrol dollars?
From 2006 to 2009, ISIL raised roughly $2 billion by extorting payoffs from employees at the Beiji oil refinery in northern Iraq .
The above documents a steady history of funding coming from petroleum.
And what countries does the Middle East sell its oil? Well Asia depends on the Middle East for 66% of its oil imports.
Now does anyone seriously doubt that a lot of the US past and current activities in the Middle East revolve around maintaining our own and our coalition partners’ access to Middle Eastern oil? Does anyone seriously believe that our primary motivation in the Middle East is to bring democracy to the area and win the hearts and minds of the people?
I have yet to hear one terrorist expert call for a plan to stop buying oil from the Middle East to choke the flow of money flowing from this source to ISIL.
This country can do more. Our government can ask all of us to do more. Our government can ask all are allies around the world to do more. And in the process we can improve our lives and our long-term security in numerous other ways besides the defeat of terrorism.
Here are a couple of common sense suggestions.
1. The United States should do whatever it takes to stop buying oil from Middle Eastern countries. We should encourage our coalition partners to do the same. We should launch an immense effort to transition to non-polluting renewable energy sources.
We should declare war on our fossil fuel energy dependency setting a goal of being totally free of our need to import foreign oil in 10 years.
2. We should immediately implement an emergency nation-wide commuter program to drastically reduce the demand for petroleum. It has been done before in emergency situations.
October 31, 2012:
NEW YORK—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would restrict car traffic coming into Manhattan to vehicles carrying three or more passengers until Friday in an attempt to cut down on congestion in the city.
Bloomberg, speaking on Wednesday at a news conference to address the impact of massive storm Sandy, said restrictions would be in place from 6 a.m. to midnight for bridges and tunnels excluding the George Washington Bridge.
“I know it’s an inconvenience for a lot of people, but the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much,” he said.
If this kind of action can be taken during times of natural disaster, it might be time to consider the same for a national security emergency.
3. The United States and our coalition partners should do whatever it takes to get out of Middle Eastern countries in ALL areas of contact. It is a clash of cultures and separation would mitigate the irritation. They want to live by their self-defined cultural norms and we should respect that desire.
Continuing to live life in our western countries without any change in our lifestyle to show we are not “scared” is really foolish. It is not a sign that “they have won” if we change the way we live. On the contrary, it is a sign of the fossil fuel companies continuing success in convincing us to keep on doing what we’re doing.
It might be time to jump out of the box in our thinking in our war on terror and ask us to actually do something other than be vigilant while living our lives without making any changes.
There are many other environmentally sound reasons to drastically change the way we live in terms of our energy use but we also need to do it to even begin to make our world safer from terror.
But who am I kidding? We won’t do any of these things because it might hurt our economy and each of us might have to sacrifice a little. We might have to do something other than “be vigilant”.
And we all know we’re much too busy making America great again!