Things just seem to keep getting better for Iran. The Shiite majority in Iraq is philosophically aligned with the Iranian government, and a new report in the Wall Street Journal indicates just how much rising oil prices have increased Tehran's leverage in negotiations with the West to drop its nuclear energy ambitions.
The Journal reports that Iran, the second-largest oil supplier in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries at 3.5 million barrels per day, has benefited from rising oil prices, giving Iranian leaders less reason to fear any economic sanctions that might result from its defiance of Britain, France and Germany, which worry that Iran will use its uranium enrichment program to produce nuclear weapons.
Rising oil prices are having a domestic impact as well. The average price of gasoline in the U.S. has risen 18 cents in just one week to $2.55, CBS News reported yesterday. Those higher gasoline costs have driven up inflation, and Wal-Mart has blamed its slumping sales on the fact that consumers are spending more at the pump and less at the big box. It's a good thing, then, that the Republican-dominated Congress used its massive energy bill to help wean America off fossil fuels and reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. Oh, wait.
It's funny how President Bush's global struggle against violent evildoers never seems to factor into his domestic policy decisions. If he weren't ideologically blinkered by an obsession with cutting taxes, the U.S. could allocate more money for domestic security as well as Iraq, providing the troops with better armor, for instance. And the pork-addled, myopic and frankly irresponsible energy bill that his party shoved through Congress did almost nothing to improve America's long-term strategic interests in the Middle East. Since America's dependence on oil benefits Iran and makes its nuclear program more immune from economic sanctions, Bush's energy policies both harm America's national security and damage the war on terrorism that is his highest priority.
The fundamental incongruity between the president's foreign and domestic policies makes us wonder just how serious he is about defeating Islamic terrorists. After all, Iraq is a distraction from the war on terrorism and Osama bin Laden is still at large. Anyway, this is just something for President Bush to ponder as he wheels around his Texas estate.