Four news stories in four days sum up the Obama presidency and help explain why the world and U.S. economy are in such a mess. President Obama just returned from his two-week beach and golf vacation at Martha’s Vineyard. It took him a month from the time special forces located journalist James Foley to approve a rescue mission – by which time Foley had been moved (and was subsequently beheaded.)
Mr. Obama may pursue a sweeping international climate change deal that bypasses Congress. But on dealing with ISIS terrorist butchers months after they swept through Iraq, “We don’t have a strategy yet.”
President Obama has ordered limited air strikes to “contain” (but not defeat) Islamic State terrorists who have shot, crucified, and beheaded thousands of men, women, and children in Iraq and Syria. However, he still has no plans for protecting the United States from the energy terrorism that jihadists are planning.
The president’s failure to “connect the dots,” to see and prepare for potentially devastating attacks on U.S. and global citizens and energy supplies, is an inexcusable threat to our security. Preparations for massive energy terrorist attacks around the world are increasingly open and obvious. Now that Mr. Obama is back in the White House for a few days, hopefully to deal with real crises literally exploding around the world (from the Middle East to Afghanistan to Nigeria and beyond), let me connect some dots for him.
With Iraqi and other oil fields in jihadist hands, petroleum has become the mother’s milk of Islamic terrorism. Along with drug trafficking and bank robbery, it provides financing to arm, feed, train, and pay terrorists on a scale that makes Leonardo DiCaprio’s Blood Diamond loot look like chump change.
Islamic State butchers are raking in an estimated $2 million or more every day by selling oil on the black market, from wells they have seized in Iraq and Syria. “This could fetch them more than $730 million a year, enough to sustain operations far beyond Iraq,” Iraq Energy Institute Director Luay al-Khatteeb told CNN in late August. More captured Syrian oil fields could raise ISIS oil revenue to $1.2 billion a year, says Theodore Karasik, research director at the think tank INEGMA in Dubai. Or worse.
ISIS’ conquest of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Kirkuk area could boost the terrorists’ oil production from 30,000 barrels a day now to as much as 1 million barrels a day: $11 billion a year, if they can peddle their oil at (say) a way-below-market $30 per barrel to countries that are naïve, support terror, or ignore human rights.
That could buy unfathomable terrorism – on levels portended by a laptop computer that moderate Syrian forces found in an ISIS hideout. Amid some 34,000 files, it includes manuals on car theft, disguises, and bomb making; documents on how to develop biological weapons and “weaponize” bubonic plague; and a radical Muslim cleric’s fatwa justifying weapons of mass destruction, “even if it wipes them and their descendants off the face of the Earth.” Detonate the bio-bombs in malls, air conditioning intakes, and similar places, the manuals advise. With laboratories in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria now in ISIS hands, these neo-SS lunatics could well turn their caliphate dreams into Western World nightmares.
Even just a few such attacks would shut down commerce, the way 9/11 and the DC sniper did.
Should the Islamic State conquer the rest of Iraq and other Arab and Muslim lands, it could also cause major oil price increases that would cripple economies worldwide. By then vastly wealthier than Genghis Khan, such an empowered Islamic State could even decide to impose an oil embargo on the U.S. and other nations – as Arab oil exporters did for six months in 1973 and 1974, with devastating effects.
Other terrorist groups are fighting to control oil and natural gas supplies elsewhere. And Qatar – whose oil and gas have made it the richest country in the world, on a per capita basis – is acting as the terrorists’ ATM, bankrolling their activities while playing the “good-guy” host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
So what can America do to prepare? First, recognize the threat and develop a strategy – not just to contain ISIS, but to eliminate its threats. Mr. Obama has already missed several opportunities, but the U.S. has the necessary capabilities. He needs to use them and find some leadership skills to rally and recruit allies.
Second, secure our southern border. A friendly border control agent chatted me up ten days ago about the $10 poster I was bringing back from Canada. His attentiveness to the Quebec-NY border was gratifying. But meanwhile, thousands are still streaming across our Mexican border, with minimal safeguards, despite reports of Korans, prayer rugs, and English-Arabic dictionaries being found on these “immigrant” trails. (As to offending Hispanics, they don’t want to get blown up or murdered with bubonic plague, either.)
Third, develop more U.S. oil and natural gas – and persuade Europe to start fracking. The United States consumed 18.6 million barrels of oil a day in 2013, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says. Better vehicle fuel mileage, other energy conservation efforts, and the Obama economy have reduced oil imports from 12.6 million barrels per day in 2005 to 7.5 million this year. But even though America’s oil (and natural gas) production continues to climb, we still import about one-third of our oil.
Reducing foreign oil dependence can be accomplished via continued energy conservation, switching to natural gas, building more nuclear and coal power to generate electricity for hybrid and electric cars, and brewing more ethanol and biodiesel (while ignoring their food, economic, and environmental costs). But these will barely make a dent, compared to more drilling and fracking on onshore and offshore federal, state, and private lands – and pipelining more oil from our stable neighbor and longtime ally Canada.
Unfortunately, President Obama has thus far been loath to do any of this. Yes, domestic oil and gas production has risen under his watch. However, the increase has come from state and private lands, while production has fallen significantly on lands under federal government control.
President Obama and many Democrats in Congress and state governments continue to oppose drilling for oil off our East and West Coasts, and in Alaska and our Western states. They oppose construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which could safely transport 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada (plus Montana and North Dakota oil) to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, thereby reducing risks of more rail accidents. Many of these same Democrats also oppose hydraulic fracturing, which could greatly increase U.S. oil and gas production for many decades to come.
Tapping into our nation’s vast oil and natural gas supplies would even allow us to export oil, natural gas, and refined products. That would help our allies and trading partners become less dependent on terror-sponsoring oil producers and Russian “oiligarch” blackmailers – until they can get their act together on fracking. Such sales would also reduce our trade deficit and create much-needed American jobs.
History shows that even today’s friendly oil producers can become tomorrow’s adversaries. We were importing 554,000 barrels of oil a day from Iran, at the peak in 1978, before Islamic extremists took the country over and held our diplomats hostage. Our imports from Persia have been zero ever since.
Too many “environmentalists” reflexively oppose all oil and natural gas production, all the time. They refuse to admit that we cannot slash our reliance on these two fuels from 64% today to zero in a few years – and cannot bring new oil and gas supplies online in just a few years, in the midst of a crisis.
Khalid A. Al-Falih, CEO of Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producing company, recently told an energy conference in Norway that even without terrorist threats, the world will need to produce 40 million more barrels of oil a day within the next 20 years – just to replace what we are depleting. Finding enough to supply billions of people striving to rise up out of abject poverty will take far more than that.
Instead of waiting for an energy 9/11 to hit, President Obama and members of Congress are duty-bound to act now on all these steps, and more, to protect America’s national security. They must stop ignoring the imminent and growing threats of energy and energy-funded terrorism that America and the world face – before we run out of time to prepare for and prevent the potential onslaughts.
The president, Secretary of State John Kerry, the EPA, and too many politicians are too focused on overblown dangers from climate change. They need to wake up to the terrorist train that is raging toward us.
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