Does smart foreign policy mean paying protection money to Muslim countries that harbor terrorists either knowingly or as an unavoidable part of their transnational religion? We pay grotesque sums in foreign aid in the name of battling al Qaeda and other creations of radical Islam (see: Is U.S. Aid to Buy Peace and Security Worth the Price?). Instead of funding Arab economies by buying oil and paying support, isn’t anyone in Washington the least bit curious to see what would happen if we cut them off, or is there an unwritten rule that bribing countries that spawn terrorists serves our national interest?
Arab oil producers already extort enough foreign aid.
What do we buy with our bribes? Ill will, worldwide terror alerts, and new warnings about surgically implanted bombs don’t signal victory. Purchases of Arab oil may have gone down, but we still buy too much to accompany the welfare doled out to Muslim countries while State Department bombast promises the dawn of democracy in the Arab world.
Do terrorists serve our national interest more than domestic oil production?
When he denied the Keystone XL Pipeline permit in January 2012 the president issued a memorandum that concluded the project “would not serve the national interest”¹ because of foreign policy and other concerns. Arguments about whether Keystone would reduce foreign oil imports aside, the larger question is whether funding countries that harbor terrorists does a better job of serving our national interest than focusing on other energy sources and turning our backs on Arab oil producers.
Was Kerry’s $7 billion for Pakistan a good investment?
Back when Osama bin Laden was happily walking Muslim turf Washington cooked up the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill, “The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.” Secretary of State Kerry still likes to talk about this bit of bribery:
That’s why I led the effort to put in place something called Kerry-Lugar-Berman, which was $7 billion over five years to make a statement that we weren’t just being transactional, we weren’t interested in just the day-to-day security relationship or in whatever the problems are with insurgencies; we’re interested in the people of Pakistan, and we want the people of Pakistan to know what we’re doing.²
Pakistan showed us there is a limit to how much good will our money can buy. Drones are cheaper, but U.S. drone attacks are becoming increasingly unpopular. We could consider a simple safeguard like profiling for religion on flights bound to or from America, but we might raise the hackles of the politically correct set who still believe in Islamic benevolence. Besides, there is always the chance you might deny an airline seat to someone who doesn’t hate us yet.
Just before the new threats came from Yemen we heard the same kind of nonsense from Secretary Kerry that we heard about nation-building in Egypt:
Yemen has been going through an extraordinary transformation, moving towards democracy, and is working in comprehensive ways with the United States and others to transform its economy, to open up the opportunity for economic cooperation with the Gulf countries, and also to attract investment from abroad.³
Investing in a country at the center of a new global terror threat doesn’t seem like it would serve our national interest any more than deep-sixing the Keystone Pipeline. Our State Department likes to encourage people in Muslim countries to determine their destiny. Let them do it without our foreign aid and oil money. If they lose the fight and entire nations become radicalized, we won’t have to worry about who we anger when we target the drone strikes or, when nuclear weapons have spread to the Middle East, the airburst. At least we won’t have to keep feeling like rubes.