Opinion: Is the Ft. Hood Shooting Connected to Oil Prices?
The recency of the Fort Hood tragedy and the many unknowns surrounding the event have not prevented one online voice from making claims that Thursday’s attack was part of a larger international conspiracy against Americans and their pocketbooks.
On Sunday Raymond J. Learsy provided readers of The Huffington Post with a blog arguing that the one of the root causes of Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s attack is linked to the price of oil. The author gleaned some of his ideas from an article written by Stephen Schwartz and published in The New York Post that accuses Hasan of subscribing to Wahhabism, the conservative interpretation of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia. Learsy asserts that Hasan worshiped at a Muslim community center with Imam Faizul Khan. Khan is allegedly a member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a supposed Wahhabi lobby group that, according to Schwartz, was “established by Saudi Arabia to impose extremism on American Muslims.” It is this connection between Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia through which oil comes into the picture. According to Learsy, the funding for organizations such as the ISNA “comes from the avalanche of money flowing into the coffers of such as Saudi Arabia through the insidious and duplicitous manipulation of oil prices by the cartel producers, with Saudi Arabia as the dominant player and prime beneficiary.” Thus, according to Learsy, Hasan was influenced by a cleric with ties to an “extremist” Islamic sect that is funded by the Saudis who can support such organizations through the fortunes obtained by exporting oil.
Although Learsy’s theory is certainly linear, it is highly problematic and generally unfair. The foremost problem is that Learsy can not prove, outside of speculation and conjecture, that Hasan was influenced by, or even accepted, Wahhabi beliefs. And what evidence the author does use to prove Hasan’s supposed Wahhabi sympathies, such as the supposed fact that Hasan refused to be photographed with women, hardly proves that Hasan was a puppet whose strings were being pulled over 7000 miles away by Saudi oil barons. Without being able to successfully prove that Hasan subscribed to Saudi Wahhabism, the link between the shootings and Saudi oil wealth is dubious at best.
Learsy’s accusation that Saudi Arabia profits at the expense of the United States is also unfair. The author refers to Saudi Arabia’s role in OPEC as an “insidious and duplicitous manipulation of oil prices” that ultimately comes “at the cost of hundreds of billions to American consumers in dollars and cents.” While it is true that Saudi Arabia and OPEC do wield great power in determining oil prices, the author makes it seem that if Saudi Arabia did not belong to OPEC, the United States would receive all of their oil for free. Learsy also makes it seem as if the Saudis possesses a complete monopoly on oil and that the U.S. has no choice but to buy from them. But this is simply not the case. As noted by HeatingOil.com on October 15, the majority of America’s imported oil does not even come from Saudi Arabia. It comes from Canada. Learsy also neglects to mention America’s own role in becoming dependent on foreign oil, choosing in the 1950s to consume more oil than it could produce, taking on the mantle of “world’s biggest oil consumer” that it still holds today.
Learsy concludes his article hoping that the shootings in Texas will serve as a wake up call for Americans to begin holding Saudis to account for their attempts to harm the United States via oil manipulation and religious indoctrination. While encouraging Americans to educate themselves about U.S. foreign policy, world religions, and energy production is a good thing, encouraging the United States to initiate yet another conflict, military or otherwise, (if that is in fact what Learsy means by “holding the Saudis to account”) is not. What Learsy’s article should do is serve as a wake up call for people to resist acting on emotion and hold their judgments and accusations until actual and real facts are obtained.