Saturday, August 26, 2006

Is it really all about oil?

Popular conspiracy theory holds that much of our Middle East foreign policy is dictated by the interests of the big oil companies and their patrons and pawns. I don't quite buy it, at least not all of it.

Sure, big oil companies have a significant interest in oil production in the Middle East, but that grossly oversimpilies the "equation" of politics in the Middle East. Back in the Cold War, the struggle to pevent the spread of Communism was a huge factor. And the interests of the Pro-Israel Lobby have been a major factor, if not the dominant factor, at least in recent years.

Besides, if the oil companies wanted access to oil (which some people claim was a key reason for "liberating" Iraq), they would have been lobbying much more strenuously for a U.S. foreign policy "accommodation" with Iran that would permit U.S. oil companies to develop oil fields in Iran.

I'm no fan of "Big Oil", but their financial interests are served by limiting the amount of oil on the market, which enables them to get a higher price per barrel, rather than in opening up vast new access to additional oil.

In truth, it does all get very complicated very quickly, but I don't think we need to look to Big Oil to expalin our foreign Policy in the Middle East.

-- Jack Krupansky


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