Paying at the pump funds threats to America.

American statesmen can change that.

For 40 years the West's biggest foreign threats have come from oil states.

Putin. Assad. Gaddafi. Saddam. The Saudis’ spread of an extreme version of Islam worldwide. ISIS. Al Qaeda. Iran’s incessant support for terrorism. The Soviets’ nuclear surge in the 80s.

We’ve sent trillions to authoritarians for oil.

They’ve spend our money on weapons, anti-American propaganda, cyber-attacks, intolerant ideologies, domestic repression and terrorist financing. We’ve been buying blood oil.

We no longer need to buy oil from those men.

We can end imports of authoritarian oil without pain at the pump.

Better policies will require no military action, no new treaties, no changes in diplomatic relations, no high gas prices—just American leadership.

A Clean Trade Act will taper off American oil imports from states that stay authoritarian.

The Act can taper off from certain authoritarian oil states first, or all at once.

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 crusader' narrative that's motivating so many terrorist attacks.

The American people will take a public stand with the people of oil states—and stop sending money to the authoritarians and armed groups who are causing them and us so much trouble.

Clean Trade can further other priorities as well--creating good American jobs by developing America’s own energy, transitioning from ‘Authoritarians to Alternatives,’ and reducing our military spend in the Middle East.

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, the major 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 it gets hotter and fills up with more powerful weapons and drones.

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

Business as usual for oil will mean increasing instability and 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

- Former CIA Director John Brennan, 2016

Why is this happening?

An archaic law turns oil into absolute power.

This law is literally ‘Might Makes Right.'

All countries today still make it legal to buy oil from whoever can control the wells by force. So when Gaddafi took over Libya in a coup, Americans started buying Libya’s oil from Gaddafi. Then in 2011 when armed rebels took over some of those same wells, Americans started buying Libya’s oil from the rebels.

This bad old law legalizes theft. It puts Americans into business with whoever can be the most violent abroad. It incentivizes more violence. And the money we send to these violent men ends up funding threats to Americans.

Last year the average American household sent over $100 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. That's a violation of basic market principles.

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

The better rule is Lincoln's Principle: A country's resources belong first to its people.

So only governments accountable to the people should sell us the oil.

Popular Resource Sovereignty

Leaders worldwide already publicly affirm popular resource sovereignty. Its language is declared in major treaties already 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.

Basic 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').

Lincoln's Principle is good strategy.

History shows no threats to America from oil states where the government is accountable to citizens through basic civil liberties and political rights

Today over 50% of the world’s traded oil is exported without any accountability to the people. So 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 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.

In the 17th century, ‘Might Makes Right’ was the rule for all of international law.

The international rule even for human beings was ‘whoever can control them by force can sell them to us.’ This made the Atlantic slave trade legal.

Until the 20th century, ‘Might Makes Right’ also made colonial rule and apartheid legal.

Through heroic campaigns, the slave trade, colonial rule and apartheid are now violations of international law.

‘Might Makes Right’ for oil is one of the few unreformed remnants of the old, violence-based international system.

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

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

Statesmen can abolish the anti-market law of ‘Might Makes Right,’ increase US energy independence, show that America stands for the rights of peoples everywhere and lead the world to greater freedom and security.

Congress should pass a Clean Trade Act now.


Contact: Leif Wenar, PhD

Clean Trade is university-based and accepts no funding from government or industry.

Created By
Leif Wenar

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