The outcome of the present, global conflict may ultimately turn on the implementation of a policy it took President Bush just seven words to declare on Nov. 6, 2001: “You’re either with us or against us.”
For too long, it has been possible for far too many around the world to have it both ways. This must stop.
In particular, the time has come to make it clear to those who are helping our enemies that they are not with us — and that there are real costs associated with being against us.
Every one of us can contribute to this effort by making an example of a company contemplating doing a lot more business with Islamofascist Iran, at the very moment it is aggressively pursuing (with help from North Korea) nuclear arms and the ever-longer-range ballistic missiles with which to deliver them. Presumably these are the means by which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to realize his oft-stated goals of wiping Israel “off the map” and bringing about “a world without America.”
A company that is at the moment a prime candidate for such treatment is Royal Dutch Shell. According to the Conflict Security Advisory Group (CSAG) — an independent market research firm whose Global Security Risk Monitor online database is the industry standard for assessing publicly traded companies that do business with terrorist-sponsoring regimes — this Anglo-Dutch corporation has done billions of dollars of business over the years with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It even has four offices in Tehran.
Last week, however, Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer told participants in a conference call that his firm and a Spanish oil company, Repsol, have entered into a preliminary understanding to help the Iranian regime develop part of its vast South Pars natural gas reserve. Press reports indicate Tehran believes the deal is worth $10 billion.
To be sure, that $10 billion will translate into profits for Shell and its partner. It will, though, also afford the Islamofascists in Iran revenue streams that will enable them to support more terrorists, to kill more Americans and Iraqis, to destabilize the region and to prepare genocidal attacks on this country as well as our ally, Israel.
Making such a huge, further investment in Iran would, in short, be a very unfriendly act. And Shell must understand it will be regarded, and treated, as such.
For one thing, the Bush administration should interpose the strongest possible objections to putatively allied governments in London and The Hague that export guarantees and insurance for this deal would seriously complicate bilateral and trilateral relations. For another, the Treasury Department should make life miserable for any banks that might contemplate helping underwrite such an investment.
The real power to punish Royal Dutch Shell for being against us in this War for the Free World, however, should lie with American investors and consumers. The Roosevelt Anti-Terror Multi-Cap Fund (RATF) is the first mutual fund in the nation to be certified by the Conflict Securities Advisory Group as “terror-free.” It holds in portfolio neither Shell nor any other publicly traded companies doing business in Iran, Sudan, Syria or North Korea. Nationwide Financial, E-Trade, Ameritrade and Schwab have begun offering RATF as an option on their investment platforms.
In addition, Sarah Steelman, the Treasurer of Missouri, has taken the first public fund terror-free — and achieved a higher return in so doing. Her state’s 529 college savings plan will shortly offer such an option as well, one that will be available to investors from all over the country. If you don’t want to enrich those who are trying to kill us, insist that your money — be it in public pension funds, 401(k) plans, mutual funds, life insurance portfolios, etc. — is invested terror-free.
Whether you are an investor or not, you have another option: Show Shell how you feel about its dealings with our Iranian enemies by filling up your car at the pumps of one of its American competitors — who, by law, are not permitted to do business with terrorist-sponsoring states.
Interestingly, Shell’s CEO is already nervous about his company’s ties to Tehran. As he told reporters last week: “I would like to emphasize that we have here quite a dilemma. This is Iran. They are the No. 2 in oil and gas reserves in the world. But we have all the short-term political concerns.”
By making an object lesson of Shell, we can help resolve its management’s “dilemma.” If it actually starts to be painful to be “against us,” we can ensure that more of those who wish to do business with America — and who typically take for granted our protection of their freedoms — line up “with us,” instead of with our enemies. Without help from our friends, maybe those enemies’ regimes will change their behavior, or even fall from power. It is certainly worth a try.
In recent weeks, Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman, former Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have embraced the idea of terror-free investing. Let’s show Shell and other, foreign-owned companies that partner with our foes — like France’s Total, China’s Sinopec, Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI — that Americans take seriously the imperative of countering Iran’s nuclear ambitions and support for international terror. They had better be with us, or else.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, whose DivestTerror.org campaign utilizes the impartial analytical services of Conflict Securities Advisory Group.