In Dymphna’s recent post about Saudi Arabia, commenter westbankmama took exception to some of the questions that were being asked and posed her own:
|…some more pertinent questions would be:|
|What do you drive?|
|Is there a commuter rail system where you live — and if not, why not?|
|How do you heat your house — and how much larger is it per person than the house you grew up in?|
Putting aside the somewhat self-righteous tone of the questions, westbankmama has a point: the demand for oil — particularly by the United States — allows the despotic Saudi regime to accumulate the wealth that it uses to oppress its own populace and fund terrorist activities and propaganda worldwide.
So put on an extra sweater! Bike to work! Forego your vacation! Every penny kept out of King Abdullah’s hands is a penny earned.
And somehow we will have to persuade India and China to halt their economic development, since it is the recent and enormous increase in their demand which is largely responsible for the steep rise in oil prices over the last several years. Tell the farmers in Gujarat that they’ll have to do without electricity, in order to stop the Great Islamic Jihad in its tracks!
There’s something not quite right with this argument…
Just for fun, imagine that tomorrow a huge new gold field is discovered by Pakistani geologists under the mountains of northern Waziristan. Thousands of tons of gold are suddenly added to Pakistan’s treasury, giving it the kind of international leverage that is normally reserved for the members of OPEC.
Despite the chumminess with Pervez Musharraf forced upon President Bush by the exigencies of statecraft, it is definitely not in the interests of the United States that Pakistan acquire the same buying power as Saudi Arabia. Worldwide Deobandism would join Wahhabism as a primary engine of the Great Jihad.
So, in the interests of national security, we’d have to abandon the use of gold as an international currency, revoke its status as a precious metal, and force the goldbugs to relinquish forever the dream of overturning Bretton Woods, right?
Or maybe not.
Look at it from another angle: For the past thirty years Norway has received enormous revenues from North Sea oil. Therefore it would be a good idea to cut back on petroleum usage in order to de-fund the export of Scandinavian terror, and keep the Viking zealots from imposing strict Norse law on the rest of the world. If they had their way, we’d all be eating lutefisk and climbing into the sauna with — gasp! — members of the opposite sex.
Obviously, the problem isn’t the transfer of wealth, but the behavior of the recipients.
The appropriate analogy is the mother of a tired two-year-old. When the little darling is ready to use any nearby object as a projectile, the savvy mother doesn’t try to keep ahead of the toddler by removing the next likely weapon. She puts the little bugger into bed with his blanket and bottle, and makes sure that he stays there till he starts snoring.
At some point we are going to have to stop referring to the dictators of certain Islamic countries as our “good friends”, and name the enemy for what he is.
In the meantime, I just wish our President could manage to conduct the necessary diplomacy without holding hands with the infantile tyrants.