Americans are forced to fund foreign threats through a law that enriches authoritarians and armed groups.

American statesmen can abolish that law now.

For 40 years the West's major threats and crises have come from oil states.

ISIS. Al Qaeda. Putin. Assad. The Syrian refugee crisis. Gaddafi. Saddam. 9/11. The Saudis’ spread of an extreme anti-Western ideology. The Soviets’ surge ahead in the nuclear arms race. Iran’s incessant support for terrorism.

The West has financed these threats and crises by buying oil from authoritarians and armed groups.

We no longer need to buy oil from those men.

Better policies will require no military action, no changes in diplomatic relations, no new treaties, no new international bodies—only determined, principled action.

A Clean Trade Act will taper off American imports of oil and other natural resources from all authoritarian regimes and failed states.

Congress should pass a Clean Trade Act now.

A North American Clean Trade transition away from authoritarian oil would take months and would be almost costless.

- Nick Butler, former Vice President of BP and Energy Columnist for The Financial Times

By passing a Clean Trade Act, America will only change its own laws, for its own people, on its own soil. The troops can stay home.

Who rules in oil-rich countries is ‘none of our business.' But autocrats and armed groups should get ‘none of our business’ for oil.

With Clean Trade, America can counter the ‘Western imperialist’ narrative that recruits so many extremists.

The United States will peacefully affirm the rights of the people of all nations to their resources—as it gets out of business with authoritarians and armed groups who oppress and attack the people.

Clean Trade can also further other priorities, like reducing military spending in the Middle East, creating good American jobs by developing America’s own energy resources, and moving from ‘Authoritarians to Alternatives’ by replacing imports of autocratic oil with cleaner energy sources.

Congress should pass a Clean Trade Act now.

Today's Oil Curse

Countries where oil arrived before democracy suffer more authoritarianism, more civil wars and more extremism--and their violence regularly spills over to the West.

Unlike the rest of the developing world, oil states are no freer, no richer, and no more peaceful today than they were even in 1980.

Oil-rich Authoritarian and Failed States

Tomorrow's Oil Curse

The ‘arc of oil’ from the Middle East to Africa will see a youth bulge while getting hotter and filling up with more powerful weapons and drones.

More popular uprisings will be met by greater authoritarian repression leading to the further spread of violent extremism.

Business as usual for oil will mean escalating energy and security threats to the West.

Data from Michael Ross
Data from Michael Ross
The Middle East is the worst it’s been for 50 years, and faces unprecedented bloodshed

-CIA Director John Brennan in March 2016

Why is this happening?

An archaic law turns oil into unaccountable power: ‘Might Makes Right’.

All countries today still make it legal to buy oil from whoever can control the wells by force. ‘Might Makes Right’ puts consumers into business with the world’s most repressive and violent actors. Because American law says coercive control over oil will win large revenues, American law incentivizes armed conflict over the wells and empowers petrocrats to stay in power.

In 2014, the average American household sent $250 to authoritarians and armed groups, just by filling up.

Every country's default law for the oil of other countries is, ‘Whoever controls it by force can sell it to us.’

Because of this bad old law, consumers' cash flows to whoever can keep military control over oil wells overseas. Authoritarians and armed groups use this money to escape public accountability by buying off threats and crushing dissent.

Coercion there creates legal property rights here--a violation of fundamental market principles.

'Might Makes Right' today turns oil into the largest source of unaccountable power in the world.

The better, modern rule for resource trade: A country's resources belong first to its people.

All governments must be accountable to their citizens when they privatize resources (as with US offshore oil) or when they sell resources to foreigners.

Popular Resource Sovereignty

Leaders worldwide already publicly affirm popular resource sovereignty. Its language is already declared in major treaties ratified by nearly every country (US, China, India, etc.) covering 98% of the world’s population. The principle is friendly to resource privatization, as in the US.

Test for Popular Resource Sovereignty: Can citizens can hold officials accountable for resource decisions without fearing for their liberty or their lives (e.g., Freedom House ‘Free’ or ‘Partly Free’).

Today over 50% of the world’s traded oil is exported without accountability to the people. This oil is being stolen from the citizens of the exporting countries.

Nations like America that believe in popular sovereignty and market freedom should not buy oil that’s been stolen from the citizens of other countries.

Passing a Clean Trade Act is the best way for America to stand peacefully with the peoples of the world, and to stop adding fuel to the fire in regions like the Middle East.

A Clean Trade Act is also entirely WTO-compatible.

Historic Global Leadership

300 years ago, 'Might Makes Right' was the rule for all of international law.

300 years ago, 'Might Makes Right' was even the international rule for human beings: 'whoever can control them by force can sell them to us.' This was the rule that made the Atlantic slave trade legal.

Even 100 years ago, 'Might Makes Right' still made colonial rule legal.

Even in our time, 'Might Makes Right' made apartheid legal.

The next campaign against the law that once authorized the slave trade, colonial rule and apartheid can begin now.

Continuing business as usual with ‘Might Makes Right’ for oil will mean sending trillions more to increasingly dangerous foreigners.

By abolishing this anti-market law, statesmen can show that America respects the rights of peoples everywhere, while leading the world to greater freedom and security.

Congress should pass a Clean Trade Act now.


Contact: Leif Wenar, PhD

Created By
Leif Wenar

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