In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing yesterday – which, yes, has not been proven to have been a jihadist attack but it certainly appears to have been – is it not time to re-think the strategy we’re employing in the civilizational struggle to which we sadly find ourselves wedded?
After 9-11, the Bush administration decided that a military response aimed at punishing (1) the direct perpetrators of those attacks and their allies, and then (2) the regime most prolific in its aiding of Islamic terrorists while at the same time attempting to reach out in a PR campaign to the Muslim world to make “moderate” Muslims believe we’re not at war with Islam was the best course. Added to that was a robust program of clandestine warfare against the terrorist movement complete with apprehensions of key figures in that movement and enhanced interrogations of those figures; essentially sweating them for valuable intelligence that would stock the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay with fresh monsters.
That was a good try, and it was defensible, but it certainly doesn’t appear to have worked. Yes, the Bush administration managed to keep terrorist attacks off American soil for the seven-plus years it remained in office. But despite the semantic acrobatics of Bush’s successor to facilitate an alternate impression, Boston was the third successful attack on Americans since Obama took office. Fort Hood and the attack on the army recruiting station at Little Rock were the first two, though the administration refused to style them as such.
The fact is, there is a global, well-supported, well-resourced and well-financed movement out there which wants to kill us because we’re not Muslims and they can’t stand the fact of our existence. They don’t care that we had troops in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War, they don’t care about Abu Ghraib and they don’t care about some YouTube video that makes fun of the Prophet Mohammed. Their hatred of us is a lot deeper.
Sayeed Qutb, who wrote a book called Milestones which serves as one of the most important texts for followers of the global jihadist movement, was perhaps most disgusted with Americans when he spent time here because we water our lawns. His hatred of the sexuality of American women and jazz music were also key motivating factors in his anti-Americanism. Politics had very little to do with his animus toward us.
And the people who practice jihad against us are by and large his followers and philosophical descendants.
You won’t beat these people by convincing them we’re nice people they should befriend. And it’s not worth it to invade any more of their countries; rebuilding another Iraq or Afghanistan isn’t worth a single drop of American blood or red cent of our currency.
But you might be able to beat them by draining them of the money the oil sheikhs use to finance terrorism.
The Middle Eastern Arabs who proselytize the Salafi brand of Islam which leads to a Boston Marathon bombing offer nothing to the world but oil. But for oil we buy from them they would be riding camels in deserts.
After 9-11, it was not realistic to cut off trade with the Saudis and others. Now, it might be. But we need to make policy decisions which advance our economic and national security, and we need to make them now.
The folks at FuelingJobs.com have an infographic about the Keystone XL pipeline, and the effect it could have on the American oil market. It’s time to renew the push to bring Keystone on line, because oil from the Alberta tar sands – and oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana, which would also travel in Keystone – could displace a great deal of oil we currently buy from the Middle East. Couple that with other policy decisions – opening up federal lands in Alaska and the Rockies to drilling, opening up leases offshore in the Chukchi Sea, Atlantic and Pacific and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and revamping our policies on oil refining and other fuel production – and it’s realistic to cut off Arab oil.
Won’t the Saudis and others just sell to someone else? Yes. But America is the best market they’ve got, and denying them access to that market will hurt them economically. More, technologies we’re pioneering – like gas-to-liquids, which produces vehicle fuels from abundant natural gas resources – can make Europe, with its sizable shale gas, much closer to energy independence.
It’s time to act strategically in this civilizational struggle, on a level we’ve failed to operate. It’s time to change the game. And Keystone is an obvious first step in pursuing that strategy.