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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The root cause

A senior Iranian official threatened that Tehran may forcibly prevent oil export via the Straits of Hormuz if the UN imposed economic sanctions due to Iran's nuclear program, an Iranian news Web site said on Monday.

This is the first time an Iranian official makes military threats in a public statement on Tehran's recent disagreements with the West.
I hope it happens.

It has now been over four years since 9/11. Analysts and politicians have been falling over themselves looking for the "root causes" of terror. The real, practical root cause is obvious but uncomfortable so people naturally veer away from admitting it.

The root cause is a combination of the fact that Islamism is a political ideology that wants nothing less than world domination, together with the fact that oil revenue gives the Islamists the power to actually influence world events.

The fact that Islamism is a political movement makes people uncomfortable because it clothes itself as a religious movement, and no one wants to restrict religion. The fact that petrodollars fund terror makes people uncomfortable because any disruption of the flow of oil from the Gulf would cause worldwide economic chaos.

What we needed, immediately after 9/11, was an energy-independence Manhattan project. I hope it is not too late to start it.

The money to fund it should come from the massive defense budget. Putting only a few high-tech weapons projects on hold for a few years would pay for it without much effort, and eliminating our dependence on Arab oil is solidly a self-defense initiative.

If there were no oil revenues there would have been no Saddam, no Saudi madrassas, no al-Qaeda, no Iranian threat, no Hamas, no Hezbollah. Islam would just be a relatively harmless religion.

Since such a Manhattan project is not going to happen anytime soon without a major external event, I think that the world would be better off if Iran indeed stops the oil supply (or, as is feared, they end up contaminating the entire Gulf with radiation from an accident.) This would wake up the US quickly. More importantly, the free market would kick in, because alternate fuels would fast become economical.

It would hurt, no doubt. But in a few years we would be seeing clean and safe fuel sources emerge, reducing pollution, helping the environment and incidentally saving the world from Islamic terror - if it is not too late.