'Plundered Petroleum'? Someone's Stealing, But Not the U.S.

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The latest hogwash coming from the mouths of Islamic terrorists is that we are stealing Middle East oil. Al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, came out with a video in which he exhorts fellow terrorists to “stop the theft of Muslims' plundered petroleum.”

Maybe we should simply agree to ignore anything coming out of the mouths of these creeps. I could live with that. But since terrorist claptrap does occasionally get re-circulated, let’s nip this one in the bud.

Let’s start with Saudi Arabia, since that’s where Usama bin Laden is from and that’s the country Al Qaeda’s most interested in taking over. Here’s news: Saudi Arabia still has lots of oil. The country has about one-fourth of the entire world’s proven oil reserves. That’s why bin Laden wants it.

And while oil has gone down in recent weeks, it still costs the Saudis just $2 a barrel to pump it out of the ground. Even if oil goes down to $50 a barrel from its July high of $78, they’re still getting an awful lot of our money for something that costs them next to nothing.

So who’s stealing from whom, Mr. Zawahiri?

Now, there is an argument that crude oil output is about to plateau. Something called the “peak-oil” theory is making the rounds among certain academic circles. It posits that we’ve just about reached the point where the oil that’s cheapest to pump out of the ground is almost used up.

In the entire history of the world, human beings have produced about one trillion barrels of oil. That leaves about 4.7 trillion barrels left. So what’s the problem? Well, “only” 1.2 billion barrels of oil can be pumped the old-fashioned, cheap way. The other 3.5 trillion barrels will have to be “pumped” out of tar sands, shale and other sources that are much harder to get at.

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Even those estimates, though, still leave us with enough oil to last more than 140 years at current consumption rates. And there are other estimates, like one by the U.S. Geological Survey, which states that there are still more than 3 trillion barrels of more easily drilled oil remaining.

Plus, the estimates above don’t take into account surprising new finds, like Chevron’s (CVX) major discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. About that jackpot Business Week wrote: “The discovery of reserves in the Gulf of Mexico means supply isn't topping out… the capability to find and recover petroleum at extreme depths, temperatures, and pressures, as demonstrated by the Chevron team, may indeed tip the balance of supply and demand in the long term.” (From the September 18, 2006 issue.)

But beyond all that, does anyone really believe that human ingenuity won’t come up with another (and perhaps cleaner) method of deriving energy before the oil runs out? Already, we are turning the corner on hybrid-energy cars, hydrogen fuel cells and other alternative fuels.

But to the antediluvian mindset of a Zawahiri or a bin Laden, human ingenuity is a mystery. Like the antiquated form of Islam to which they and their ilk cling, there is nothing modern or enlightening about these people. There was a time when Islamic leaders ruled over a population of scholars and scientists who were open to new ideas and a relatively open market. But these Al Qaeda barbarians are so lame in their understanding of how the world works that they call a 3000 percent profit on oil sold to the West “theft.” It is theft, but not on our part.

Al Qaeda-style Islam is the ultimate zero-sum game. They do not understand the process of supply and demand, or the wonderful creation of new enterprises in the marketplace. They survive only because they were born on top of oil fields. They are incapable of producing anything new or anything of value, so naturally they have no idea of what value or production really is. Left on their own, they would wither and die. They are the ultimate parasites.

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David Asman is the host of "Forbes on FOX" which airs on the FOX News Channel, Saturdays at 11 a.m. ET.