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Dick Morris: Why Obama spared ISIS oil

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Last week, on the “Charlie Rose” show, former Obama CIA Director Mike Morell dropped a bombshell that was little noticed by the media. He said that the reason President Obama did not bomb the oil fields now controlled by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was that he did not want to cause environmental damage.

Morell said that “we didn’t go after oil wells, actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure.”

{mosads}If ever a statement by a former administration official offered a glimpse into the looney priorities of the Obama administration, this is it! We did not bomb the oil fields upon which ISIS depends for the bulk of its revenue because of our concerns about adding to the carbon emissions that promote global warming (in the desert).

So we let ISIS rake in millions of dollars every day, selling about 100,000 barrels of oil at an average of about $20/barrel (discounted) for a take of $2 million every day. ISIS may be led by radical, crazy jihadists, but the rank and file of the ISIS military is reported to be paid soldiers fighting for money. Cut off the money and you cut off the army.

But Obama put the minor, incremental damage of destroying the oil fields ahead of the need to stop ISIS from rampaging through the Western world, killing people at random. He apparently worried that the effects of destroying the oil wells could be severe.

This kind of environmental fantasizing was in vogue during the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein’s destruction of all of Kuwait’s oil fields was thought to be likely to cause huge damage. Paul Crutzen, a noted atmospheric scientist, predicted that a “nuclear winter” might ensue with a cloud of smoke covering half the Northern Hemisphere for at least 100 days. Carl Sagan argued that the effects of the destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields could be comparable to the explosion of the volcano Tambora in 1815, which produced “a year without summer.”

It never happened. 

Scientist Patrick K. Dowling wrote, in his study “The Meteorological Effects of the Kuwaiti Oil Fires,” that the smoke only affected the weather pattern throughout the Persian Gulf and surrounding region during the periods that the fires were burning in 1991. A 1992 study found that emissions of carbon dioxide were only 2 percent of global emissions. Big deal.

Remember that Kuwait produced about 2 million barrels per day before the Gulf War — at least 10 times as much as the ISIS oil wells generate. The Kuwaiti fires dwarf anything destroying the ISIS oil wells would produce when it comes to any harmful environmental effects.

Why isn’t Obama using our air power to attack tankers carrying ISIS oil to refineries in Turkey? Again, we wanted to fight the world’s first green war. As Morell put it, “There seemed to have been a judgment that, look, we don’t want to destroy these oil tankers because that’s infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore and it’s going to create environmental damage.”

Once again, Obama wants to fight terrorism, but everything else comes first.

Morell noted that the administration didn’t even want to hit oil trucks carrying fuel from ISIS oil fields.

To enter the mind of Barack Obama and see the low priority he accords fighting terrorism is to see a nightmare unfolding. How can we trust him to keep us safe and to keep out ISIS terrorists who have so thoroughly infiltrated the ranks of Syrian refugees?

With Obama, protecting Americans from terror comes in last in his list of priorities.

Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 17 books, including his latest, “Power Grab: Obama’s Dangerous Plan for a One Party Nation” and “Here Come the Black Helicopters.” To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to

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