The figures back him up. According to the Department of Energy, "from 2003 through 2006, Saudi Arabia exported about $95 billion in crude oil to the United States, as its average price doubled from $25 to $56 a barrel." During his visit last month to the Middle East, President Bush obtained more promises from several leaders of Arab states to do more. We'll see if those pledges have any more currency than previous unfulfilled promises.
The under-responsiveness has not just been in the Arab world. Money and other forms of assistance have been lacking from countries that are also threatened by Islamic extremists. Spain seems to have come closest to fulfilling its pledge. The GAO says of the $248 million Spain promised, it has paid $213.7 million so far. And Japan, according to a recent report to Congress, has pledged and disbursed more assistance to Iraq than any other individual country except the United States.
At a minimum, we should send Iraq and Afghanistan a bill for what we have done and are trying to do for them, or ask for price cuts on Iraqi oil. Thousands of American lives have been lost and the financial cost is enormous, as we seek to advance freedom for others. While a freer world is also in America's interests, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan stand to benefit the most. To have these and other nations in the region receive what amounts to welfare while charging us top dollar for oil - and using some of those profits to underwrite radical Islamic extremism - is doubly offensive.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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