Starving the Beast

Just last week Osama bin Laden declared war not only on the United States, but on all civilization. He urged jihadists throughout the Islamic world to travel to Darfur in western Sudan, where the Islamic government in Khartoum has been massacring hundreds of thousands of Muslims. Bin Laden wants Islamists to go there, not to save the Muslims, but to block the efforts of the United Nations, NATO, and the United States to end the genocide. What is this madman up to? Simpy this: He wants to so destabilize the world that he may usher in his radical version of Islam. What is particularly galling to me is that we Americans are actually helping to finance bin Laden, thanks to our utter dependence on Middle Eastern oil. As oil prices soar, so do the profits of the Middle Eastern oil interests, some of which, according to reports, are financing bin Laden. How in the world will we ever stop bin Laden? The answer is by starving the beast: Stop sending dollars to the Middle East. That is why I was pleased by President Bush’s announcement this week of a plan to cut imports of Middle Eastern oil by 75 percent by 2025. Good start, Mr. President. But we have to do more—much more. When I served President Nixon, there was a serious energy shortage. Gas prices rose to more than one dollar (the equivalent of four dollars and forty-two cents today). President Nixon demanded that the United States become energy independent by 1980 and opened the Alaska pipeline, which turned out to be a very important step. President Ford followed him, setting the target date for energy independence back to 1985. Jimmy Carter, who had to deal with another energy crisis, called achieving energy independence by 1990 the “moral equivalent of war” and enacted a number of measures, most of which were later repealed during the Reagan presidency. In light of this history, here is what is really shocking: We are more dependent on Middle Eastern oil today than ever before. I would like to see the president and the Congress set a realistic deadline for energy independence and then take the drastic measures to achieve it. Crack down hard on the oil companies, okay—that is an easy solution for politicians—but at the same time open up the Alaskan oil reserves, increase off-shore drilling, invest resources in developing alternative energy sources like ethanol and wind power, force car manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency, build nuclear plants for energy. Experts say we could achieve energy independence in ten years if we really put our minds to it. So what’s stopping us? Nothing, except the lack of political will. Any politician voting for these things would be defeated in the next election, unless, that is, there were a resurgence of political will among the American people, a willingness to sacrifice, like the patriotism I saw during World War II. Look, folks, the survival of Western civilization is at stake. We are up against a dedicated enemy who wants to destroy us and will kill innocent Muslims—his own people—to achieve his ends. We are in a genuine clash of civilizations with jihadists of the Islamic world. Jimmy Carter was right about one thing: Achieving energy independence is the “moral equivalent of war.” The only question is: Are we patriotic enough to fight it to win?


Chuck Colson


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