Oliver North

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Here at the U.S. Army's biggest base on the East Coast, soldiers and their dependents are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their "economic stimulus payments." It's a good thing because, like most of us, these American heroes are going to need the extra money just to purchase their next tank of gas.

This week, the Internal Revenue Service begins mailing rebate checks to budget-crunching taxpayers. Bush administration officials hope the checks will be used for shopping sprees to resuscitate the U.S. economy. But instead of getting that new patio grill, consumers are more likely to apply Uncle Sam's payments to their next purchase of petrol.

When the price of oil hit $100 per barrel in January, I wrote in this column, "Those who wish to lead this nation in the future need to put more than hot air into solutions such as clean, safe nuclear energy for electricity and hydrogen fuel-cell technology for propelling people and products around the planet."

Unfortunately, few politicians seem to have given a second thought to the fact that this country hasn't had an energy plan for the past 30 years, and it doesn't look as if we will have one anytime soon.

While Washington's political elites in both parties have debated and dithered, the price of crude oil has risen to $123 per barrel -- nearly double what it was at this time last year. The average cost of a gallon of gas at the pump is approaching $4 per gallon. Some analysts now are predicting that the price of a barrel of oil could approach $200 in the next two years -- and that gasoline could be $6 a gallon. An equal amount of diesel may cost truckers as much as $7.50.

Meanwhile, Middle Eastern governments are raking in the petrodollars. At least one despotic regime is using its plentiful petrol profits to kill American troops, erect nuclear facilities, fund global terrorism, and strategize about new and creative ways to make Israel's 60th birthday its last as a nation.

Iran, just named by the State Department as "the most active state sponsor of terrorism" and "a threat to regional stability and U.S. interests in the Middle East," this week hardened its position with respect to going nuclear. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who outranks the Persian Napoleon -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- said this week that Iran would not give up its nuclear program.

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.