Cliff May

Oil is selling for close to $110 a barrel and gasoline for around $4 a gallon. Bad news for motorists. Marvelous news for jihadis.

Yet many of our elected leaders still don’t get it: The rising cost of gasoline is not just an energy dilemma and an economic drag. It’s a national security threat. We are fighting a war and we are funding both sides -- transferring unprecedented amounts of wealth to those who openly declare themselves our enemies.

Iran’s rulers are using oil money to develop nuclear weapons and fund terrorists, including Hezbollah, now staging a slow-motion coup in Lebanon, and Hamas, which is committed to the extermination of Israel. A generous share of the money that goes to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations ends up in the coffers of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Hugo Chavez spends Venezuela’s petro-dollars to expand his influence, and that of his Iranian allies, throughout Latin America.

The war we are fighting is unconventional but our enemies are not so different from those we have faced in the past. In the 20th century, free nations were threatened by Nazis, whose goal was global rule by a race, and communists, whose goal was global rule by a class. Today, the challenge comes from regimes and movements committed to global rule by members of a religious group.

In World War II, Roosevelt and Churchill understood that Hitler could not win if he were denied access to the oil fields of North Africa and Central Asia. In the Cold War, Reagan’s use of economic weapons was key to bringing about collapse of the Soviet Union.

Of course, we can’t deny oil to OPEC, the cartel that sits on more than three-quarters of the world’s conventional reserves. But we could implement policies designed to break oil’s virtual monopoly as a transportation fuel, stabilize and even reduce fuel prices, and diminish the ability of hostile oil-producing regimes to wage economic warfare against us.

Such polices would include increasing – rather than decreasing -- domestic oil production, and speeding – rather than delaying -- the pipeline project that would bring oil mined from Canadian sands to the U.S. Conservation is good, too. But these measures can be only part of the solution. Why?


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.