Monday, July 31, 2006

Why are we funding our enemies?

In the numerous conflicts that the Bush administration insists on lumping together in "The War on Terror"(TM), the United States often seems to be funding both sides of the conflict. Not always directly, but certainly signficantly.

Some examples:

Osama Bin Laden: Got his money from Saudi construction wealth. And this is but one step away from oil wealth. The United States buys a lot of oil (to be fair, other countries do too), and backs the Saudi Regime that shelters and funds the Wahabist Sunni ideologues that give rise to Al Qaeda.

Iran: Gets most of its money from oil, and supports Hezbollah and various Shiite militias operating in Iraq. Our high energy consumption funds the Iranian regime, which from what I can tell is as frightening in its ambitions as the neocon warmongers are painting it. (I hasten to add that airstrikes on Tehran are probably not going to make Iran any less frightening.)

Afghanistan: No oil here, but we're addicted to something else they produce: Opium poppies for heroin. Because of the criminalization of drugs, poppies are an excellent cash crop from the warlords and Taliban whom we are still fighting in southern and eastern Afghanistan. With a more sensible policy, we could both undercut their funding and abandon our poppy eradication projects, which drive local farmers into the arms of our opponents.

If we implemented some kind of broad energy tax (with offsets in other areas to counter the regressive aspects), we could do a lot to de-fund the regimes that are hostile to us. People and industry aren't going to conserve energy or switch to alternative energy sources without a major financial incentive to do so. An energy tax could create such an incentive. And the revenue could be used...well the revenue would probably have to be used for offsets and to stem the tide of red ink...but if there were some money available we could use it to fund research into alternative fuel technologies that are more environmentally friendly and don't give money to our enemies.

Similarly, de-criminalizing drugs would free up a lot of our nation's resources, remove a source of funding for thugs worldwide, and help people get treatment instead of jail time.

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