05 February 2008

High School Economics

Just another not-so-complicated filter you can use when aomeone is asking for your vote:
(I)f Saudi funding for terrorism is the crux of the issue, then we have little choice but to confront the Saudis directly. The indirect approach of reducing oil demand is meaningless. Only a worldwide boycott of Saudi oil would effectively cut off their oil revenues. Yet such a boycott would be difficult to orchestrate and would itself be tantamount to war. The problem with sponsoring terrorism is not that oil revenues are the source of funds. The problem with sponsoring terrorism is that it is grossly immoral. People introduce the connection with oil revenues as a red herring. As we have seen, trying to make a connection between fighting terrorism and regulating SUV's or drilling for Alaskan oil is a violation of Oil Econ 101.

At best, it is a way to dodge the challenge posed by apparent Saudi support for terror. At worst, it is an attempt to advance another agenda using terrorism as an excuse. The real issue is the alleged Saudi funding of terror. No matter how much demand we withdraw from the oil market, the Saudis will have revenue and we have to be concerned with how they use it. If cutting off funding is critical to winning the war on terror, then we must press the Saudis on that point. We should tell them that we respect their rights as a sovereign nation, but they owe it to the community of nations to not fund terrorists. If that approach does not work, then it is a waste of time to wring our hands over our "dependence on foreign oil." The only fallback position is the one suggested by my wife: just take the oil.

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