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The Petro Dictators Feel the Pinch

The Wall Street Journal has a column today discussing the humbled ambitions of several authoritarian leaders in these days of low oil prices:

We’re not suggesting the mullahs, Putinocracy or the Chávez regime are at death’s door. None will give up power easily. Suffice to appreciate the consequences of lower oil for America’s enemies. Mr. Chávez can’t prop up Castro or Colombia terrorists as before. Iran will have a harder time buying off its restive middle class, and perhaps less money to finance Hezbollah or its terrorist proxies abroad — though we assume its nuclear program will continue as ever. And Mr. Putin looks his size, less able to wield the energy club against a Ukraine or European Union.

How nice it would be if oil stayed low long enough for a democratic Iran, Venezuela or Russia to emerge from this crisis. Odds are that won’t happen. But American policy makers can ensure these rogues won’t be inflated in another crude bender. How? It won’t be with wind farms or tougher emissions standards. The main culprit in this decade’s oil boom has been the Federal Reserve’s excessively easy monetary policy and the decline in the dollar. Oil prices rose as fast as the greenback fell. It’s a mistake American interests can’t afford for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, or his successor, to repeat.