NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 16, 2008

A cheaper, cleaner, more secure source of fuel for America would be good in its own right.  But if some entrepreneur discovered tomorrow a fuel that could be manufactured within the United States, wholly replace our petroleum consumption and give U.S. producers a commanding position in the global energy market -- thus beggaring the Persian Gulf -- would that choke off funding for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and end their war against us?  Would it stop Iran from building a nuke? Would it spur positive political change in the Middle East?  The most reasonable answers to these questions are: no, no and no, says Terence Jeffrey, editor-at-large of Human Events.

Terrorism, unfortunately, is inexpensive.  According to the 9-11 commission staff report on terrorist financing:

  • Al-Qaida funded a number of terrorist operations, including the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa (which cost approximately $10,000), the 9-11 attacks (approximately $400,000 to $500,000), the Oct. 18, 2002, Bali bombings (approximately $20,000) and potential maritime operations against oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz (approximately $130,000).
  • Even with "overhead" factored in, al-Qaida's annual budget was only $30 million per year; some Major League Baseball players earn as much in a six-month season as Osama bin Laden needed to run al-Qaida in the six months before 9-11.

Poor countries can build nukes, too.   According to the CIA's World Fact Book:

  • North Korea's industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and shortages of spare parts.
  • Its total government budget in 2006 was $2.2 billion, about one-twentieth the value of the oil revenue John McCain attributes to Iran for 2005, yet, in 2006, North Korea tested a nuclear device.

If Americans gave up oil, Islamist fanatics could still afford mass murder, says Jeffrey.

Source: Terence Jeffrey, "Should We Impoverish the Persian Gulf?" Human Events, May 7, 2008.

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