Jim Wallis: America and “Oil Economy” Created ISIS

on September 16, 2014

Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners CEO and a White House spiritual adviser, appeared on The Bill Press Show Monday morning to discuss the crisis in the Middle East over the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Wallis had earlier written an op-ed for the Huffington Post entitled ‘War Is Not The Answer‘ opposing the use of military force to defeat the jihadist group. But Wallis took the anti-war and anti-oil themes of that piece to the extreme in his interview, arguing that the blame for ISIS lay with America and that prominent conservatives wanted to invade and occupy every country in the world.

Wallis told host Bill Press that before discussing how to deal with ISIS, the important question was why ISIS was drawing so many recruits to begin with. He said that the Middle East was full of uneducated young people who were “responding to real grievances. What are the real grievances? The oil economy.”

“For a decade, we have created the Middle East.” Wallis claimed, “We’ve created countries, we’ve shifted borders to create this oil machine to satisfy our addictions… Until we deal with the oil economy, the injustice of it, and our need to completely change our way of fueling our way of life, we’re going to have one ISIS after another.”

Later, he was even more straightforward in blaming the United States for ISIS. “Our oil economy has produced a brutal, uniquely brutal terrorist organization funding themselves by oil and using our weapons to kill people. This is the result of our policy in the Middle East.”

Wallis also reiterated his opposition to airstrikes against ISIS: “Airstrikes kill innocent people, they always do. And that’ll be used by ISIS to recruit more people. They want airstrikes. They want us to kill innocent people, and they’ll recruit more angry people to their cause.”

But perhaps a bit paradoxically, Wallis did say that he thought some force against ISIS would be justified. “The Pope has said– and I agree– that you have to try to protect innocent people. So some use of force to protect innocent people is necessary. But the Pope has said more war isn’t the answer.”

Wallis said that many of the prominent Republican leaders who have spoken out in favor of military action against ISIS were actually concerned about oil, and wanted to invade every country in the Middle East. “[Arizona Senator] John McCain and [South Carolina Senator] Lindsey Graham and [former Vice President] Dick Cheney say you need to have forces on the ground. So here’s their answer. To maintain this oil economy, you must serially invade and occupy every country in the Middle East.”

He went even further, accusing McCain of supporting a mass imperialistic invasion of the entire world. “If we left 40,000 troops in Iraq, there might not be an ISIS. But John McCain wants that many troops in every Middle Eastern country, and all over the world. This is Rome! We’re going to be Rome. Let’s occupy every country. We’ll need a draft for that; you’ll need half a million troops.

…[S]o let’s name this for what it is,” Wallis said, “serial invasion and occupation of every country.”

In an email, Sojourners press secretary Juliet Vedral clarified that she believed Wallis was “making a general reference and commentary Senator McCain’s well-known endorsement of military invasions as a solution to conflict and maintaining troops in those countries after our invasions.”

Wallis had a few suggestions on how to combat ISIS, including sanctions. But the sanctions he had in mind were against U.S. allies. “Saudi Arabia is also funding ISIS, we all know that. There are foundations and companies. There are companies in Turkey funding ISIS. We’re not sanctioning ISIS until we’re sanctioning countries that fund ISIS.” He focused in particular on the Saudis, who he characterized as greedy sheikhs concerned only with their oil money and their harems.

Contrary to Wallis’ confident claim, other Middle East scholars state that “there is no credible evidence that the Saudi government is financially supporting ISIS.” Indeed, Saudi Arabia is one of the most vocally anti-ISIS Arab countries and reportedly has already offered to attack ISIS. In response to my questions on this point, Sojourner’s Juliet Vedral provided links of articles that have quoted similar accusations, including Slate, The Atlantic, and BBC. But those accusations come from the Qatari and Iraqi governments, both of whom have contentious relationships with the Saudis (and the third article actually straight up says that Saudi Arabia was “innocent of a direct state policy to fund [ISIS],” but made poor choices in which Syrian rebels to fund).

Wallis’ other suggestion was a complete restricting of the U.S. economy to eliminate the use of oil. “This is a time to ourselves, look at the way we structure the Middle East, and look at how we fuel our economy. This country could commit itself all-out to a new energy future, a clean energy future, and become independent of Middle East oil.”

Video of the entire interview can be seen here, beginning at 1:28:30 and ending at 1:50:00.

  1. Comment by Eric Lytle on September 16, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Does anyone take Wallis seriously any more?

  2. Comment by Supertx on September 16, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Unfortunately, yes. Look at who is on his Evangelical Immigration Table.

  3. Comment by Namyriah on September 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Apparently we’re at the point where “evangelical” has to be taken with a grain of salt.

  4. Comment by Supertx on September 18, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Absolutely. Seems to be getting used as a marketing term lately to help sell a political product.

  5. Comment by eMatters2 on September 16, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Yeah, Islam started and spread with violence because of the oil industry. Exxon has been around for 1,400 years, right?!

    Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis is so hard to listen to.

  6. Comment by Dan on September 16, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Let’s get things straight. Saudi Arabia is not our ally, no matter what they say. The Saudi royal family endorses and funds virulent Wahhibism. Just look at the textbooks used at the Saudi Islamic Academy in Fairfax to see what they think of Jews, as an example. This may be the only thing I agree on with Wallis.

    For a religious leader, his interview seems entirely devoid of religion, much less any reference to Jesus and how Christians should respond to evil. Maybe we shouldn’t dismiss out of hand how God handles evil peoples in the Old Testament. Wallis is unfortunately just a liberal tool/fool trying to cloak himself in the patina of respectability accorded to clergy.

  7. Comment by Alexander Griswold on September 16, 2014 at 10:42 am

    “Ally” doesn’t mean “friend.” In a fallen world, diplomacy always means choosing the lesser of two evils. If someone had been urging us to place sanctions on the USSR during WWII, I would have also considered that short-sighted as well.

    I’m of a mind with Winston Churchill, who once said that “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” We’ve seen the face of pure, unadulterated evil in this day and age, and it’s name is ISIS.

  8. Comment by Dan on September 16, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I would agree, that with “eyes wide open” and a hand on your sword, the enemy of your enemy can be your “friend”, at least for a short time. I just have no illusions about our supposed friends in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, and possibly Jordan. I’m not calling for a crusade, but we have to be clear that the vast majority of Islam is inherently inimical to Christianity and Christian values, and we have to confront this fact head on in a realistic way.

  9. Comment by Supertx on September 16, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I am not a fan of foreign policy from Wallis or McCain.

  10. Comment by Jason P Taggart on September 16, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Did George Soros tell him to make these statements? I mean, you have to please the guy with the money, right?

  11. Comment by Bill Baar on September 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I’d like to send him there to explain all of this to the ISIS lads.

  12. Comment by CKAinRedStateUSA on September 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Perhaps Wallis should pull out the Holy Bible. There, he’ll have the opportunity to find out about evil and the real, ancient beginnings of Islam.

    Perhaps, too, Wallis can forego using any petroleum-based product such as gasoline, oil, kerosene — or any stop using any products that reach him via oil- or oil-derivatives-fired transportation such as airplanes, trucks, trains.

    Perhaps, also, he can research which consummables and other products that use petroleum or petroleum derivative in their manufacture — and cease purchasing them.

    I suspect he lacks the intellectual and moral courage to do any of this.

  13. Comment by MarcoPolo on September 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Rev. Wallis has a healthy idea of how our foreign policy affects other countries, and I agree with him 100%.
    History will prove him right!

  14. Comment by Kyle on September 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    He’s lucky to have history on his side, because he will find the Last Judgment highly educational.

  15. Comment by MarcoPolo on September 23, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Each will face their own judgement…if one believes in that sort of thing.
    At least he’s working for Peace and Justice in THIS life.

  16. Comment by brock2118 on September 18, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Gee-blame America first. Even if all the oil was gone the region would still have some sort of economy, and with it people sitting around torqued off that they weren’t living the lifestyle of the pagan infidel West BTW why don’t they ever go after the Chinese?

  17. Comment by Wild Child on September 19, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Anyone ever heard Wallis speak? Honestly, the guy sounds like he badly needs a B12 shot, and it isn’t due to his age, he’s had that lifeless droning monotone for at least the 40 years I’ve been alive. George Soros has so much extra cash to funnel to Wallis and other lefty CINOs, but not the power to put any zing into these charisma-challenged clergy. Never trust any minister who sounds like a psychology professor. They miss a lot not having the Holy Spirit.

  18. Comment by Paul Detlefs on September 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I’ve seen him speak and he is not only boring but scary !! He is a complete pacifist who either does not understand or does not agree with “just war” theory. Just war does not require that no innocents be killed. It requires that all reasonable attempts are made to avoid the killing of innocents. He shares some other classic misunderstandings of the Bible with many other liberals, such as that government playing Robin Hood is the same as our individual biblical obligation to help the poor.

  19. Comment by Max Friedman on October 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Wallis is NOT a pacifist in the traditional sense. His support of the Viet Cong/No. Vietnam during the war, in which they slaughtered civilians by the tens of thousands, as well as ARVN POWS, showed that he was “not a dove but a hawk for the other side” (Dolf Droge’s comment on fake pacifists).
    Like the so-called “Rabbi” Michael Lerner, an old SDS violent Marxist radical and religious fraud, Wallis pretends to be interested in religious affairs but scratch the surface deep enough and you’ll find that he is an ideological “rev” Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for the far-left.

  20. Comment by virginiagentleman on September 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Jim’s been a lifelong radical since his days at Trinity College / Trinity Seminary. He doesn’t miss many meals, travels internationally and seems to get along very well with the very people who, if they ever ascend to power in the country where he lives, would behead him in a heart-beat. In short, he’s naive and doesn’t really ‘walk the talk’ in his own life.

  21. Comment by Kyle on September 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    There’s a photo of Wallis standing between Obama and Hellary, and he’s got this adolescent grin on his face like he’s the class nerd who, amazingly, got invited to sit at the cool kids’ table at lunchtime. That photo for me captures the religious left – “Hey, wow, I’m a Christian, and they don’t HATE me! I must be really special!”
    The Communists had their “useful idiots” in the churches, America’s secular left has plenty.

  22. Comment by virginiagentleman on September 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Jim’s been a lifelong radical since his days at Trinity College / Trinity Seminary. He doesn’t miss many meals, travels internationally and seems to get along very well with the very people who, if they ever ascend to power in the country where he lives, would behead him in a heart-beat. In short, he’s naive and doesn’t really ‘walk the talk’ in his own life.

  23. Comment by JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group on September 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Take the word Christian out of his identity and you have another extremist/communist in thought. His ideas on anti conservative propaganda is lining him up for an ISIS headchop. If he was in the Mideast, would he have a coffee klatch with the terrorists also ? Mindless nattering of nabobs as Spiro Agnew called them. True then, true now. Some people will NEVER get it until their heads are chopped off !!

  24. Comment by MWorrell on September 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    This whole country is like an abused wife who thinks if she can just do everything the way he likes it, her violent husband will stop hitting her.

  25. Comment by Paul Detlefs on September 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    And who defines “fair”?

  26. Comment by Earl Decker on September 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    The US did not create ISIS (ISIL or ant other terrorist group). These are extremist’s Islamic divided groups fighting against each other and the winner takes all. Anyone that opposes their perverted Islam system is the enemy and needs to be exterminated. This preacher along with Rev, Wright, Al Sharpton and J.Jackson are a disgrace to Christians and non-Christians alike .

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