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.
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