Oil and Terrorism

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Weaning the United States off oil certainly sounds like a worthy goal, but today’s Tom Friedman column on the subject—a column he’s recycled on several occasions—gets a bit off track when he tries to make the national security case for energy independence: “[W]e are in a war. It is a war against open societies mounted by Islamo-fascists, who are nurtured by mosques, charities and madrasas preaching an intolerant brand of Islam and financed by medieval regimes sustained by our oil purchases.” Well, regardless of what you think of all this, we’re simply not going to drain the Saudi coffers and bleed terrorism dry by driving our hybrids to work: the extra oil we don’t use will just get slurped up by China or India or any number of other developing countries with a growing demand for energy.

Perhaps a better way to think about energy independence and national security, as Joseph Braude pointed out several months ago, would involve weaning other Middle Eastern countries off oil. Most countries in the region, after all, are quickly depleting their own reserves, which means that they’ll need to rely, increasingly, on good old Saudi crude. But an increasing reliance on Saudi crude comes with strings attached: oil-needy countries like Jordan and Lebanon often feel the pressure to turn a blind eye to the Saudi-financed Wahhabi mosques that proliferate within their own borders, which simply helps spread that “intolerant brand of Islam” that Friedman’s concerned about. Ending this cycle of dependency seems much more feasible, and perhaps more effective from a national security standpoint.

On the other hand, let’s not kid ourselves; Saudi Arabia will be getting rich off oil sales for a long, long time, regardless of what we do, so pretending that some “geo-green” strategy can end the flow of funds to radical mosques, charities, and medrasas, is a bit wishful. At the same time, though, if Friedman really wants to insist on making a bad argument in pursuit of a worthy goal, well, he can go right ahead.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest