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February 16, 2005
Kyoto, Oil, and You

As the Kyoto treaty goes into effect today, despite the U.S. shunning, I'm reminded of Thomas Friedman's column from this weekend, linking our pathetic stance on environmental issues with Islamic terrorism.

It's an interesting argument, one I happen to agree with.

The basic hypocrisy is this: the Bush administration and conservative leaders in general tend to favor a hands-off approach to environmental laws. They don't think the government should tell business what to do, and they believe that pollution controls hinder business growth. They think that leaving industry to police itself is enough. They consistently oppose legislating energy conservation, such as raising fuel efficiency standards for cars. And, of course, Kyoto.

The link to terrorism comes in when you consider that a huge portion of the money we spend on oil goes to countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Our government is making a lot of noise about Iran's nuclear weapons programs, while back home the oppose policies that would rob these regimes of income. So, in essence, we're paying our enemies, and the less attention we pay to energy conservation, the more aggressive these states can become, since they become more financially independent.

So if you drive a Hummer or some other gas-guzzling behemoth and it has a "Support Our Troops" ribbon on it, you're a hypocrite. If you want to really support our troops and their mission in the Middle East - whatever that is this week - you may want to consider how much your lifestyle is funding the people who are trying to kill them.

We use more energy than any country in the world. Oil prices are not going to go down over the long term, they will only go up. Think about it.

By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit's automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is - as others have noted - financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?

New York Times


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