Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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The Ultimate Counter-Terrorism Weapon
In the day-to-day discussions and actions to combat terrorism, particularly radical Islamist terrorism, we generally agree that it will be a long struggle that could last generations. I agree.

But it is useful to step back and realize there is a powerful weapon that we CAN use to great effect. Both presidential candidates agreed on it, and it is long overdue. That is to decrease our consumption of oil so that our money does not flow to those who want to destroy us.

The effects have already been dramatic, as this IHT article describes. Two regimes that pose direct threats to U.S, Latin American and Middle Eastern stability-Iran and Venezuela-are teetering on the edge of severe financial meltdowns because oil prices have dropped.

A third country that is growing increasingly willing to deal with rogue regimes-Russia-is also hard hit, although not to the degree of Iran and Venezuela. Saudi Arabia's ability to fund the propogation of Wahhabi extremism and intolerance will also be curtailed if the prices stay down.

Why? Because these regimes conservatively built their budgets, including the expansionary weapons purchases, on oil averaging $80 to $90 a barrel. When it falls below that, particularly to where it has been recently, they are forced to choose between their expansionist and militarist dreams, and feeding their own people.

Both Obama and McCain focused on the fact that we spend billions of dollars buying oil from regimes that hate us and have a radically different view of what the world should look like than most of its neighbors. Both viewed the issue of energy independence as a matter of national security. While differing on the margins over where to drill and the priority given nuclear energy, the campaigns, representing candidates supported by about 96 percent of the voting population, were in agreement.

The choices are stark. Iran wants a Shiite theocracy, which puts it at odds not only with the West, but with the Sunni regimes. It cannot finance its nuclear program, its massive expansion into Latin America or terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Quds Force, without oil money. It has nothing else.

Venezuela wants a 21st century view of socialism and one party rule. Without oil money Chavez cannot join Iran in pushing and financing the broad anti-democratic agenda he has established.

Bankrupting the enemy by cutting diminishing it export revenues is not a long-term proposition. It is happening now, with no formal policy in place to do this. And, unless policies are rapidly enacted to keep consumption low, the prices will inevitably rise again.

If the Obama administration can move quickly on this front, he will take a dramatic anti-terrorism action with no military or diplomatic actions needed.

There is a down side, at least in Venezuela. As oil revenues shrink, the Chavez government can replenish its coffers from the drug trade. It can survive, but it won't because we are legally importing his products.
The Re-Emergence of the Shining Path: The Criminal-Terrorist Nexus
The Paradox of Colombia
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