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Fill Your Tank, Teach A Terrorist
Janice Arnold writes in The Canadian Jewish News about James Woolsey's recent talk in Canada where he said reducing dependency on oil imported from Arab dictatorships may be the only effective means of stemming Islamic totalitarianism and radicalism:

Every time an American fills up his gas tank, he is helping to send an eight-year-old boy to an Islamic religious school in the West Bank or Pakistan where he will learn to grow up to be a suicide bomber, said former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey.

...He warned that the war on Islamic terrorism will be a very long one, probably lasting decades, because it is rooted in a centuries-old religion that is not going to be abandoned like the secular totalitarian movements of the 20th century, fascism and communism.

...He characterized the Saudi Arabia-based Wahabi movement, which is closely linked ideologically to Al Qaida, as “one of the most fanatical in world history. Its fatwas call for the genocide of Shiites, Jews, homosexuals and apostates.”

And its reach is staggering. “With just over one per cent of the Muslims in the world, Saudi Arabia dominates 90 per cent of the Muslim institutions in the world,” he said.

The United States is paying Saudi Arabia $170-$180 billion a year for oil, he noted.

The radicals are empowered by their massive oil wealth, he argued. Two-thirds of the world’s known oil reserves are in the Middle East.

“The price of oil and the path to freedom move in opposite directions. With two or three exceptions, the countries with the largest oil reserves tend to be the most autocratic, while those that are consuming and importing the most oil are democratic,” he said.

Woolsey warned against “lapsing into moral relativism” by accepting fundamentalist Islamic practices that are contrary to Western values, especially those that degrade women.

“Sharia (Islamic religious law) is the camel’s nose under the tent that we need to oppose with every fibre in our being,” he said.

Woolsey said the West has to do more than simply defend itself against the terrorists.

He urged development as soon as possible of oil alternatives, such as electricity and other liquid fuels, for vehicles.

Women’s and human rights organizations also have to put the “absolutely horrible treatment of women in much of the Arab and Muslim world front and centre of their agendas,” he said.

“The West has been uncomfortable about confronting Muslims on this, or has dismissed it as quaint customs...We need to make the abominable treatment of women central in our public discourse.”

The totalitarian streak of Islam begins in the home with younger brothers supervising their older sisters and may escalate into honour killings, he said.

The inverse relationship between oil wealth and moderation is clear, he argued. “Which Arab country’s oil is running out most quickly? Bahrain’s. Which Arab country treats women the best and is making the most progress toward democracy? Bahrain.”

via JihadWatch

Posted by aalkon at June 23, 2007 1:50 PM


Call me hopeless, but it's a shame that Jimmy Carter predicted this and had us on the right path 30 years ago and that Reagan/Bush and Bush/Quayle took us off that path.

Posted by: jerry at June 23, 2007 8:28 AM

Ahem. Turn your light switch off, too. Your local oil-burning power plant's burning it 24/7 so you can have A/C, and freeway and other lights on when you're not there.

The real solution to this is to remove the motivation such people have to kill foreigners. When they sell oil and buy cars and conveniences, like their own air conditioning, they must buy from infidels, and the fanatics become less important.

Conservation is still important, but killing doesn't stop until its own specific driver is removed.

Posted by: Radwaste at June 23, 2007 9:46 AM

Rad, is converting to nuclear power the wisest thing we could do right now? You know more about this than anyone.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 23, 2007 9:52 AM

> Call me hopeless, but it's
> a shame that Jimmy Carter
> predicted this

You're hopeless. Fucking hopeless. Quoting Carter through PBS?.. Blecccchhhhhhhhhhhhh.......

Looking forward to Raddy's answer, but...

People, oil is not going to go away. Oil is how it's done. We've been building our skills at exploiting it for hundreds of years. It's the fastest, safest, cleanest and cheapest way to give better life to humanity (and more than a few 'other living things'.) The only way people are going to turn away from oil is that it will become too expensive: And you can't artificially close that spigot without fascism.


Posted by: Crid at June 23, 2007 10:05 AM

Not only do they have to buy products made by infidels, but they need the Westerners to run some of their more complex infrastructure systems too.

Also, the political-social dynamics between the Sharia Councils and the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia are quite difficult to discuss in details. Woolsey like other ex DCIs are quite clueless about individual nations. A.Q. of Saudi Arabia is seen as an underground 'reformist' movement within the Kingdom along with the democratic groups.

The best step in a direction would be electing a POTUS who isn't close to the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia to the point of being 'adopted' as an honorary member.

Posted by: Joe at June 23, 2007 10:56 AM

Has any President of the last ten or so been as troublesome and threatening to the House of Saud as Dubya?

Posted by: Crid at June 23, 2007 11:16 AM

What would be considered threatening to the House of Saud?

Posted by: Joe at June 23, 2007 11:20 AM

Moving our are bases to neighbor states at only incidental cost to their efficency; deposing the neighborhood bully who made their own depredations and incompetencies seem tolerable if only in comparison; attempting, with mixed results, to kick open the flow of product from their greatest market competitor, their virtual twin in natural resources and social development; and perhaps most importantly, removing the buffer state with the regions most threatening neighbor, the one that happens not to be Arabic.

That kind of thing.

Posted by: Crid at June 23, 2007 11:33 AM

GWB seems to be the antithesis of threatening. I know, perhaps it's not so simple as the picture makes it look, but I'm reminded of that sweet photo of him walking hand in hand with some guy wearing a dishtowel on his head.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 23, 2007 11:33 AM

Strike the first "are"... I was in a hurry to be smartass. (There's never and rush, right?)

Posted by: Crid at June 23, 2007 11:34 AM

ANY rush...

Amy, you're getting snarky. Diplomacy is all about gestures of patience with other cultural norms:

Does anyone doubt that for a man of Bush's heritage and character, holding another man's hand in public was distasteful?

Posted by: Crid at June 23, 2007 11:38 AM


You do not understand the meaning behind 2 men holding hands in the Middle East. It is a gesture of closeness without the sex between 2 guys. All my years in the Middle East, I never held anyone's hand. Why? Because I fully embraced my infidel status and showed my own symbolic gestures that I was better than my hosts. If a Saudi helps you in any way... they OWN you for life no matter how much you pay them back.

Amy's right about the photo. Symbolic gestures always hold weight in the Middle East. The Royal Family wasn't concern over Saddam Hussein, but his official successor. Here is another symbolic gesture found in a photo. Guess which one would have been the official heir?

(The photo was taken 4 days before the invasion)

Posted by: Joe at June 23, 2007 12:14 PM

That's precisely what I understand. These guys were sending a message to the rest of the world, in an Arabic custom, about who's who and what's what. The fact that both of them were otherwise scheming in the same moment shouldn't surprise anyone. Symbolic gestures hold weight everywhere, Joe. I doubt there's anyone in the world who thinks the Saudi's "OWN" us at this point.

Posted by: Crid at June 23, 2007 12:18 PM

And having Qusay as the "official" heir might not have staved off a civil war for succession.

Posted by: Crid at June 23, 2007 12:19 PM

Umm... Amy, I don't know more than this than "anyone", and people are always eager to debate the term, "wise", but the basics, spread across several different disciplines, are these:

Oil and coal and fissile materials are actually all finite resources. There is still lots left, so people squeal at you mindlessly at mere mention of "conservation".

We use heat engines - steam plants, converting the flow of heat from hot to cold - to produce electrical energy. Internal- and external-combustion automotive engines - including those in trucks, locomotives and most non-combat ships - are heat engines, too; they just use the expansion of combustion gases directly to drive mechanical parts. So does a gas turbine, which works like a jet engine, but uses a rotor rather than reaction thrust to drive attached parts.

Heat engines which are NOT nuclear, AND which use coal or oil do two things bad for us: they put all of their energy into the environment, and the exhaust gases do the greenhouse thing as well as interact chemically with things that would rather not be acted upon. Keen fact: ALL heat engines put 100% of their heat into the environment.

So here's the answer: nuclear plants are the ONLY means of producing large-scale power without emitting exhast gases. This means that unless demand is reduced, nuclear plants will be built, period.


About nukes:

You know special handling of the fuel and waste is mandatory. Though the effects of radiation and contamination exposure are exaggerated - look at the teeming cities where Hiroshima and Nagasaki were once flattened - they are real. The waste bulk is actually very small. The expenses of construction, operation and waste disposal are literally ten times what they could be because of the fear of and actual litigation. To a degree, nuclear fuel is recyclable. (I fib a little about fissile material being finite, because "breeder" reactors actually make the stuff, but those plants make really good bomb material, and requires even more attention than current nuclear plants.)

In operation, the nuclear core simply takes the place of a very hot fire; it just makes steam. Because of the consequences of releasing the core's material, the steam plant is of exceptional quality compared to other plant designs. As time goes by, the nuclear fuel is depleted. You can think of it turning to ashes which remain confined by the core. As the "ashes" accumulate, the core becomes harder to "light off", and finally it just won't go critical and sustain a reaction any more. The utility will plan for this and set up to refuel with minimal downtime. Nuclear plants are so expensive that 100% on-line time at 100% capacity is the goal.

Not all of a core's fuel load can be "burned" in its original configuration, but because of the requirements of the initial extraction process for building nuclear weapons, where purity is paramount, recycling is a sound and established practice. New designs of reactor - on hold since the 70's in the US due to problems with older designs like at TMI - do not require any operator action for many hours at a time. The plant arrangement sets up physical laws to control the reactor.


All power plants require a "heat sink": a cooling tower or other heat exchanger, tied to the environment; this evaporates many thousands of gallons of water per minute for every gigawatt of thermal power.

None of the changes in power plants of any kind can deal with or compensate for a perceived need to own and turn on every conceivable electric appliance, to travel at high speed everywhere on a whim.

Solar power, wind and tidal energy should really be used wherever possible, but you have to note their limitations. Solar can only produce about 100 watts per square meter. Wind and tidal energy devices are subject to storms and wildlife incursion.

I suggest that the wrong question is being pursued. The bottom line is that each of us has an impact on where we are. Three hundred million of us turning off a light switch together can drive the cost of fuel down. Three hundred million of us doing what the hell we please, and shut up about my SUV I can afford it, simply won't. Thus, just as smoking has been drastically cut by illustrating how abysmally stupid it is to kill yourself, we could figure out that it's much cooler to avoid building strip malls and Targets and WalMarts every ten miles, much cooler to have state-of-the-art electronics in the home office and much cooler to have really good, fun, small cars - than it is to sweat for two hours a day in traffic jams.

People are clinging to the hope that some "magic engine" can let them behave how they want - it's not going to happen. Biofuels can't meet demand; most people don't know how big the demand is. Hydrogen requires an extraction process, current methods being horribly wasteful because the water molecule is TOUGH. Maybe the scientists can figure out how to "tickle" H2O by subverting the "weak nuclear force" - there'd be, literally, no bigger discovery than that in the history of mankind, and so I'm not counting on it.

You asked for "wisest". The solution is really on the demand side. Right now, the way your house, your car, your appliances are built sucks, and not just juice, and design improvements can fix that as well as an attitude adjustment on Americans who just don't think about anything other than how to be offended.

Posted by: Radwaste at June 23, 2007 12:57 PM

I agree symbolic gestures are used everywhere and it is why I didn't mention it in any of my previous posts. Symbolic gestures in the Middle East is a whole different field of study. I could write volumes on the various habits and behaviorism on how to function within that particular culture. The reason I was hired by the NGO wasn't over my brilliant research abilities, but my capabilities in dealing with the locals.

Posted by: Joe at June 23, 2007 1:20 PM

Umm... Amy, I don't know more than this than "anyone",

More than anybody else here, I meant...which seems to be the case.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 23, 2007 1:21 PM

I'd turn off my light switch... if only I had one.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at June 23, 2007 1:27 PM

"More than anybody else here, I meant...which seems to be the case."

Well, thanks for the vote of confidence. Now, it looks like Joe's turn, to tell us how to get the public turned around!

Posted by: Radwaste at June 23, 2007 3:25 PM

Conservation always a practical quest however getting the American public to turn their back from modernity is just shoveling sand against the tide. People like the independence of automobiles. They don't want be rounded up and crammed into trains to go to only designated places at designated times. Regardless however much fuel consumption is cut back in the present, demand for energy will always increase in a growing economy.

Posted by: mishu at June 24, 2007 8:04 AM

Well, there IS a difference between what we do now and SMART energy use. For instance, there are people who have powerboats because they like the fresh air and the speed sensation, and they can "get away from it all" in just a few miles - which makes the 4-or-so MPG the boat gets seem not so bad.

Then they get a ride on a sailboat. At first, not being able to return to the dock at 40+ MPH seems restrictive; they can't stand it - until they notice that GOING is not the point. BEING is.

And if you're in a hurry such that you must use the engine, you might burn a quart of gas.

Posted by: Radwaste at June 24, 2007 10:01 AM

The solution is really on the demand side.
I don't want to sound like an anti-capitalist, because I'm not. But the problem with the free market and money that you can spend as you like is that every individual takes a local point of view. From what Radwaste says, we each need to take a global point of view in determining our behaviour. Remember "Think global, act local?" That's all very well for the few who can think, though even they won't all agree a course of action, but for the other 6 billion of us, we need something simpler.

Posted by: Norman at June 24, 2007 12:37 PM

> every individual takes a
> local point of view.

Norman, please present your achin' dogs at Glencoe's Footwear, 1700 Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012, tomorrow at 10:00am PST, that you may be measured for a handsome set of fucking jackboots, you fascist running dog, you.

Posted by: Crid at June 24, 2007 3:15 PM

Crid-I'm sure you remember John Wayne as Hondo Lane: "A man oughta do what he thinks is right. He was talking about morals, not shopping - but believe me, I agree. Individual decision making, and the use of money as an exchangeable measure of value, has given the free market the edge over all other systems for producing the goods and delivering a better quality of life on the planet. I recognise that and enjoy it. But that's not to say it has no problems, and one of them is that we need several planets to sustain us at the the standard of living we now enjoy in the west, and which China and India are moving towards.

One of the free market's weaknesses is that it produces emergent effects from the actions of millions of individual choices, that none of the individuals choose or may even want. That is a feature built in to this system. Nobody controls the economy: it works by Smith's "invisible hand". But that also means that we can only hope the invisible hand is acting in our interests. "Hope" based policy doesn't sound too rational.

Common interests may not always agree with invidual interests. As an example, consider fisheries policy. It's in every fisherman's individual interest to go to sea and catch fish, but if they all do, they will all run out of fish. Not simply for a week or two, but for decades. Whereas by rationing or controlling the fishing, by a very visible un-smith-like hand, you can carry on fishing at a limited level for ages.

As another example, the Sutton Trust reports that the UK now has the worst social mobility in the west. If you're born poor, your chances are shit. And that's after 13 years of a quasi-socialist government that was excplicitly trying to achieve the exact opposite. By socialist means, of course: ie by central control in various forms. The invisible hand balanced things as it thought right.

Boots: I can't make that time, so you'll have to go for me. Size 44 European please. Are these running jackboots? Why do we have so many different shoe scales? And different scales for men, women and children?

Posted by: Norman at June 24, 2007 11:48 PM

(Taking advantage of the time difference to get 2 replies in) - another example, from a different field, but more familiar to me, is from Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. See the section of evolutionarily stable strategies (ESSs). It is easy to set things up so that the population stabilises with a distribution of different gentotypes. Each individiual is doing their own thing, but the population is doing something else. A real-world example of this is sickle-cell anemia, which is endemic in the same places as malaria. The ESS has a non-zero incidence of the disease, even though it is bad for the individuals who have it.

Posted by: Norman at June 25, 2007 1:17 AM

> we can only hope the
> invisible hand is
> acting in our interests.

That's paranoid. Of course it's working in your interests. It's just creating a few problems along the way. That happens, so we pay people to fix things, and we move forward.

> you can carry on fishing
> at a limited level for
> ages.

I loves the little fishes and used to swim with them a lot and want them protected, but more for their sake than ours.

> we need several planets
> to sustain us at the the
> standard of living we
> now enjoy

I just don't believe this. I think in general that people are prone to think that there's only so much whatever in the world, and so we need to start saving some now, so we'll have a couple more minutes/tons of it later on. This is fraudulent conservation.

People make changes all the time. We spend our lives adapting to change. Life is not a thing that you can dial in a perfect setting to do the same routine every day and survive. People are smart, they find new solutions. Somebody, maybe PJ O'Rourke, wrote about how in the mid-19th, scholars were terrified that as whale oil became unavailable, there'd be no more oil for lamps, so no one would be able to read at night and the Middle Ages would return. But smart people came up with a range of solutions, because they knew there was money in it. I'd feel really bad if salmon went away... But I'd learn to eat something else. Hell, sushi is new. See this:

> By socialist means, of
> course: ie by central
> control in various forms.
> The invisible hand balanced
> things as it thought right.

This anecdote seems to contradict itself and I can't read your meaning. Say what? Also, I can't see where you're going with the Dawkins thing. There are problems; we pay someone to deal. Ever call a tow truck?

Listen, when confronted with problems, human beings are naturally inclined to imagine taking control of the situation... It's what our loving parents did for us when things got wild in our earliest childhood. But grownup civilization does not and can never work that way.

Posted by: Crid at June 25, 2007 1:34 AM

As it happened, the very next thing I read was about our relative social mobility:

Posted by: Crid at June 25, 2007 1:49 AM

Of course it's working in our interests ... just creating a few probems - that's having it both ways. No fair.

By socialist means ...What I meant was that despite the government's attempts to improve things by taking control, the invisible hand reacted in its own unpredictable way and the end result is that we have moved further away from the goal instead of towards it. There's several conclusions you could draw from this, including: #1 central control is not as easy as it seems, #2 the invisible hand has its own agenda. I think we agree #1. For #2, not knowing what that agenda is, I can't say whether it's good for me individually, or good for humanity as a whole. That's four possible combinations.

Posted by: Norman at June 25, 2007 5:27 AM

> - that's having it
> both ways. No fair.

Jesus Christ, what do you want out of life? This comes up in these comments all the time, and I need a name for it. People aren't happy with solutions that aren't instaneous, certain, silent, convenient, free, and courteously provided by distant strangers with loving hearts at zero cost. But everything in life has tradeoffs.

A thirteen year old complains about the surgery scar after his appendix bursts. But if you've been given another seven decades of life at the cost of a weekend in the hospital, is it OK to say that you got a good deal?

I think your number #2 is just a disguised control fantasy. It's a computer-guy thang.

Posted by: Crid at June 25, 2007 10:19 AM

One more thing people want: When you solve a problem, it also has to solve every other problem that anyone could ever have. It's great that the motorcycle you just built can never tip over, but what does this do for the crisis in America's inner-city schools?

Posted by: Crid at June 25, 2007 10:22 AM

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