The Saudi government, itself under assault from Al Qaeda, is not in the business of directly financing terrorism, and since 9/11 it has responded to American pressure to control the flow of charitable funds to active terrorist groups. But what it still pays for, and what the religious charities its citizens are obliged to contribute to pay for, is a worldwide network of mosques, schools and Islamic centers that proselytize the belligerent and intolerant Wahhabi variant of Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia. As a result of this oil-financed largess, the teachings of more tolerant and humane Muslim leaders are losing ground in countries like Indonesia and Pakistan. Wahhabi mosques that glorify armed jihad have also made alarming gains among the Muslim populations of Europe and the United States.
For years, Saudi Arabian oil money bankrolled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and provided financial support to Pakistan’s government. It was Saudi aid that allowed Pakistan to defy international sanctions imposed over its nuclear bomb testing. Without Saudi money there is some question whether chronically impoverished Pakistan could have ever afforded to develop nuclear weapons and the crucial bomb-related technologies that its scientists passed on to Iran, Libya, North Korea and perhaps other countries as well. [The Saudi Syndrome]
The Saudi support for Pakistan’s nuclear program has been reported before and Saudis have used this as a bargaining chip. While Benazir Bhutto was not allowed to visit the nuclear facilities, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan was given a guided tour.
The editorial is a call for Americans to think while buying gas guzzlers. Here in California there are more and more hybrid cars on the road than before. But then what happens in tree-hugging, war-hating California is not a reflection of the nation. The demand for oil around the world is just increasing as China and India need it to keep their booming economies running. This means more money for Saudi Arabia to fund its militant programs.
But as the largest consumer of Oil, it is United States that has to take the lead in reducing its dependency. Will that happen voluntarily ? I doubt unless the gas price shoots up to the unaffordable range or the oil wells dry up, the consumption will reduce.