JACK CAFFERTY: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY, bullet points: Iraq's insurgents using violence to make their case and try to control the future of the country. We'll look at what that means for the coalition troops and for every day Iraqis.
Plus, putting the commander in commander in chief, military service, one of the hottest issues in this year's campaign for the White House. See if time in uniform really makes a better president.
Getting a life. We will speak with an author who says you're not just buying stuff when you shop. You're buying an experience. Joining me today a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans, Lou Dobbs correspondent Christine Romans and money.com managing editor Allen Wastler.
So we've got oil being speculated and driven and traded ever higher, getting near $50 a barrel toward the end of the week. I got a letter from a guy who said, hey, remember that idea from 10 or 15 years ago about extracting oil from shale? At the time that idea was around, it was estimated they could do it for about $40 a barrel. I wonder if these oil prices are eventually going to drive some innovation of that kind and hybrid cars and, you know, change a little bit about the equation that runs the economy.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Didn't we say that back in 1973, '74 and '75 and here we are 30 years later, right back where we were before. There is only about 35 years left before we hit the peak amount of oil in the ground and after that it's only down hill from there. Yet we're spending all this money on infrastructure to keep pulling oil out of the ground. We got more cars in this country -- I keep saying this, more cars in this country than people to drive them. Why? We're going to run out of oil eventually, not in our life times, but...
ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: There's still an inflation factor to consider. Oil today would have to get to over $70 a barrel to hit the same amount as what it actually cost back in the 1970s oil crisis. We're not there yet, so we're not going to do anything innovative or forward-looking or anything until the price of oil gets up there and then we'll go, oh, gosh I guess we should do something.
ROMANS: The difference though that this time it's not supply driven. It's demand driven, because it's not -- look at China, 41 percent increase in demand for oil this year over last year. China's building the equivalent of Los Angeles freeway system every I don't know how many months and 95 percent of the people with driver's licenses in China have only been driving for less than a year. Imagine how that is just going to explode as an oil consumer.
CAFFERTY: Although the biggest consumer of oil is still us right here. All right. We'll see what happens.
No matter how the battle ends in Najaf, many other insurgents are fighting across Iraq like there is no tomorrow, or at least if there's no plan for tomorrow. Read the headlines. It looks like they're more committed to blowing thing up, than building something new in that country. But each insurgent group really does have a vision for tomorrow's Iraq and the visions problem is, don't match up, not at all in some cases.
To help us understand what the insurgents want, we're joined by Jonathan Schanzer, who's a research fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. His book "Al Qaeda's Armies" is due out early next month. Jonathan, nice to have you with us. Let's begin with Muqtada al Sadr who has been in the news almost daily, hourly, minute by minute for the last couple of weeks. What does this guy want? It seems he's been offered everything from immediate annihilation to a role in the new government and he doesn't like any of the options. What's this guy after?
JONATHAN SCHANZER, WASH. INST. FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: This guy wants to bring the Iraqi government down. This is a man who is completely opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq, doesn't like the interim government, doesn't like the way things have been going, wants to create more of a Shia policy throughout Iraq and wants to play a leading role in that, but not through the rules that have already been created.
WASTLER: Jonathan, OK, he's the latest one grabbing the headlines right now, but there are other insurgents groups out there. Can you give us just a very brief overview of the major ones and how big a threat they are?
SCHANZER: Sure. I would say number one, the other one that's making a lot of headlines is the group called (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Jihad. This is the one that's headed up by Abu Musab Zarqawi, al Qaeda associate that's been operating in northern Iraq and in the center of Iraq. This is an al Qaeda-affiliated group that is hell bent on essentially destroying the U.S. presence inside Iraq and to help create an Islamic calcify (ph). This is a group that is not going to negotiate with anyone under any circumstances and they're really interested in creating spectacular attacks that are going to make the United States look like they're suffering a mortal blow inside Iraq.
Then you have what I would just call the Shia -- or the Sunni insurgency, rather and this is just an insurgency of former Ba'athists, as well as Sunni fundamentalists inside the Sunni triangle that are very unhappy with the fact that on the eve of the war they were the decision makers inside Iraq. Overnight, it seems, they lost power and they want that power back. They want the United States out of Iraq. This group, however, I think is a little less dogmatic and would actually be able to work with the U.S. government, if given the proper conditions.
ROMANS: It's interesting because all of these groups have two goals in common, to get rid of the United States and to have power. They all can't have power. Beyond that, you have some that are secular, some that are -- want a pure Islamist state. After whenever, we are out of the picture, do these groups just degrade into civil war?
SCHANZER: Well, this is the fear. I mean in other words, one of the things that we're seeing right now is what these groups are able to do is work together because of their common anger at the U.S. presence, but it's quite possible. Analysts have continually talked about the possibility of civil war after, you know, after the U.S. leaves. You know, the only thing that I think, you know, we can say for sure is that the Shia aren't interested in a civil war at all. In other words, what they're looking for is power and they believe that if they're able to keep it together long enough, they will have power. I think the Sunnis in general are the ones that could be more interested in sparking a civil war. These are the people that have less to lose and the people that I think we need to worry about the most.
CAFFERTY: Let's go back to Muqtada al Sadr. Based on what you just got through saying, the senior Muslim Shiite clerics have no use for this guy. He arguable represents a very small band of people. The Shia were the bulk of the population, but they were subjugated and oppressed by the Sunnis, who were the guys under Saddam Hussein who ran the country. The coalition has come in, taken the Sunnis from power, kind of opened the thing up, but Muqtada al Sadr is answerable at some point to the senior clerics, the senior Shiite clerics who have already said publicly, this is not the future of our country. So let me get back to what you do about this guy. Obviously, the coalition possesses the military tools necessary to eliminate him, if that's the decision it's comes to, but it seems like he is just being allowed to fester on the stage here and continue to be problematic. What is the answer to this man?
SCHANZER: Well, I think the answer is what we're doing right now. You're watching Allawi trying to present options to al Sadr to perhaps be able to bring him into the fold. That's the first step. If it doesn't work out after that, I really see this guy as really being cannon fodder. I think his days are numbered and it's not going to be that difficult to get in there. What he's banking on though is the fact that perhaps he might be able to spark an Arab outrage. In other words, the Arab world may be watching and saying, hey, I can't believe the United States is going into the Imam Ali mosque and desecrating one of the holiest sites in Islam. The thing that's different here...
ROMANS: He's not desecrating it, though? That's what is so ironic, talk about booby trapping it, people are concerned that he could blow it up.
SCHANZER: Well, you know, he is an Arab. He is a Muslim and therefore he has the right to do that. Having a foreign power go in is something very different entirely. But I think the difference here is that, if this was happening at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mosque in Jerusalem or if it was happening at the grand mosque in Mecca, you would see an absolute outrage, but the fact that we're dealing with the Shia population which doesn't really speak to the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist population in the Arab world, that's the -- I think the main reason why you're not seeing that kind of outrage and why the United States may have an easier time getting a handle on the situation.
CAFFERTY: Jonathan, we got to leave it there. Thank you very much for your insight. I appreciate it. Jonathan Schanzer, research fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of "Al Qaeda's Armies."