Monday, December 17, 2007

One Last Thing | America's oil obsession may need a gas tax

Jonathan Last, The Philadelphia Inquirer (US: Pennsylvania)

On the most general level, oil is the reason America must care about the Middle East. If we didn't need oil, then America could treat the Middle East with the same sort of neglect we do Africa. (Not to say such neglect would be morally justifiable, only that it would be logistically feasible. Our neglect of Darfur and Rwanda, while reprehensible, hasn't caused us any tangible harm.) Instead, we are invested in a troublesome, hostile region and worse, we are funding "friends" who are enemies in deed. We call Saudi Arabia a friend, but its aims pose at least as much of a long-term threat as those of Saddam's Iraq and the mullahs' (not Ahmadinejad's) Iran. The money we spend on oil flows into Saudi coffers and then off to various Wahhabi radicals. To take just one example, Saudi money feeds the Wahhabi proselytization that has turned Europe into a cultural powder keg. The most pernicious effect of our Middle Eastern oil addiction is that it retards the region's political development, keeping it mired in despotism and instability. Oil revenues in Gulf states make taxation there largely unnecessary.

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