July 6, 2017 by John Crapper
Not that long ago,I had a conversation with a young man who had just finished serving a tour of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq. I asked him what, in his opinion, was the reason we had become militarily involved in those countries. Without hesitation he immediately said, “oil”.
I am told to be vigilant yet the war on terror drags endlessly on. I’m told we’re making progress but I’m also told it will be a long and sustained fight.
I would like to posit a new approach in our war on terror. What if the United States, along with our Western allies, made a concerted and sustained effort to unplug from the Middle East?
Why are we so involved with this area anyway? Is it because we consider Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq our natural allies as we do Great Britain? I think not. I think it is because of oil just like the soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan said to me.
There is an ebb and flow to the sources of terrorist funding depending on the circumstances they find themselves dealing with. It is a complex system but individuals and charities continue to play a significant role. How does it work? Here is a Saudi Arabian example provided by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security
This Gulf monarchy is a rentier state in which no taxes are imposed on the population. Instead, Saudis have a religious tax, the zakat, requiring all Muslims to give at least 2.5 percent of their income to charities. Many of the charities are truly dedicated to good causes, but others merely serve as money laundering and terrorist financing apparatuses. While many Saudis contribute to those charities in good faith believing their money goes toward good causes, others know full well the terrorist purposes to which their money will be funneled. What makes penetration and control of money transactions in the Arab world especially difficult is the Hawala system–the unofficial method of transferring money and one of the key elements in the financing of global terrorism. The system has been going for generations and is deeply embedded in the Arab culture. Hawala transactions are based on trust; they are carried out verbally leaving no paper trail.
It is not a coincidence that much of the cash falling into terrorists hands comes from the oil monarchies in the Persian Gulf. Oil and terrorism are entangled. Most of their wealth comes from oil. Once again take Saudi Arabia.
Oil revenues make up around 90-95% of total Saudi export earnings, 70%-80% of state revenues, and around 40% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)….Most wealthy Saudis who sponsor charities and educational foundations that preach religious intolerance and hate toward the Western values have made their money from the petroleum industry or its subsidiaries.
According to a report by GlobalSecurity.org dated October 4, 2016:
There are numerous credible reports that the Saudi government and members of the royal family directly and indirectly fund the global propagation of an exclusivist religious ideology, Wahhabism, which allegedly promotes hatred, intolerance, and other abuses of human rights, including violence. The concern is not about the propagation of Islam per se, but about allegations that the Saudi government’s version of Islam promotes abuses of human rights, including violent acts, against non-Muslims and disfavored Muslims.
If Saudi Arabia has been largely the financial engine behind radical Sunni Islam, Iran has been the powerhouse behind the terrorism associated with radical Shiite Islam.
Iran, OPEC’s second largest oil producer, is holder of 10 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and has the world’s second largest natural gas reserve. With oil and gas revenues constituting over 80 percent of its total export earning and 50 percent of its gross domestic product, Iran is heavily dependent on petrodollars. It is a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and supporter of some of the world’s most radical Islamic movements…
The line between oil and terrorism is clear. Oil money is being systematically used to keep semi-feudal royal families in power, propagate hostility against the West, modernity, non-Musslims, and women. If the United States and it’s Western allies made a concerted effort to reduce and eventually eliminate their dependence on Middle Eastern oil, funding for terrorism would be dramatically reduced and we might actually begin to eliminate the threat posed by terrorism around the world.
And that’s not all. There is a line between the effects of climate change and unrest in a country due to it. Take for instance the upheaval we’re witnessing in Syria.
The conflict that has torn Syria apart can be traced, in part, to a record drought worsened by global warming, a new study claims.
In what scientists say is one of the most detailed and strongest connections between violence and human-caused climate change, researchers from Columbia University and the University of California Santa Barbara trace the effects of Syria’s drought from the collapse of farming, to the migration of 1.5 million farmers to the cities, and then to poverty and civil unrest.
But don’t take my word for it. Once again, take the word of the Institute for Analysis of Global Security.
Hence, America’s best weapon against terrorism is to decrease its dependency on foreign oil by increasing its fuel efficiency and introducing next-generation fuels. If the U.S. bought less oil, the global oil market would shrink and price per-barrel would decline. This would invalidate the social contract between the leaders and their people and stem the flow of resources to the religious establishment. It will likely increase popular pressure for political participation, modernity and reformed political and social institutions. Reducing demand for Middle East oil would force the petroleum-rich regimes to invest their funds domestically, seek ways to diversify their economies and rethink their support for America’s enemies. Only then financial support for terrorism could radically diminish.
Figuring this out and coming to this conclusion is not rocket science. A cursory analysis of the situation and it becomes readily apparent, yet we seldom if ever here our leaders from the president on down mentioning it.
Instead we continue to hear of the need to increase military budgets, beef up homeland security, monitor our every word and give our support to covert special operations and drone attacks.
And of course we are told to be vigilant. I still can’t figure out exactly what that means or exactly what actions being vigilant instructs me to take. It’s just not something that speaks to me in terms of doing something/anything to assist. This call to be vigilant leaves me with a deep sense of helplessness.
I would like my government to ask me to do something new? How about asking me to really take some everyday actions to directly assist in the effort? What if the government declared war on our fossil fuel dependency and waged a WWII type effort to wean all of us off of its use and transform our economy to a non-polluting , renewable energy based one? What if they set a goal of us being totally free of our need to import foreign oil in 10 years. Impossible you say? If you said yes I would have to say you are very wrong. What if they asked me, no better yet, incentivized me to take concrete steps in my life to conserve and make a personal transition away from fossil fuel use?
There are many good reasons to justify the declaration of this war on fossil fuel; for the President to declare a state of national emergency and invoke the special powers afforded to the office during times of war. Let me just name a few.
1.Fossil fuel is compromising our national security, altering our foreign policy priorities and ensnarling us in conflicts around the world.
2.It is polluting our air, water and land.
3.It is damaging our health and raising our health care costs.
4.It is altering our weather patterns and disrupting ecosystems around the globe.
5.It is inhibiting our economic growth.
6.It is seriously deteriorating our overall quality of life.
Isn’t this list enough proof that a state of war is justified? When a nation’s way of life is threatened isn’t it proper to declare war on the cause of that threat?
To date the energy issue has been a sideshow. It needs to be the issue that is woven into every facet of American public opinion. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to fight our “War on Terror”. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to tackle climate change. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to retool our economy for a green energy future. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” for a healthier, cleaner environment.
The ideas are endless. It’s the focus that is needed.
And with Trump sitting in the White House it is a very distant dream that this “Energy New Deal” I envision will happen anytime soon.
Maybe that is what is really meant by asking us to be vigilant.
keenly watchful to detect danger; wary:
a vigilant sentry.
ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful.
I must be vigilant and keep a close eye on Trump’s every action in this regard. My personal safety and this country’s war on terror demands nothing less.