Oil as a determinant of social, political and economic history of the United States from 1981 to the present

American military intervention in world affairs has risen drastically since the end of the Second World War.  The period following the Second World War saw America assume the role of a superpower that headed the western coalition in what was then a bipolar world.  Since the collapse of Soviet Union in the late 80’s, America has had at its disposal the most potent military force.  Its economic structure complements military spending, leading to a military industrial complex.  Energy resources are a key motivator for the actions of this military industrial complex. The 2003 invasion of Iraq will have to be studied in this context.  Understandably, there were questions raised about its legitimacy.  There are those who claim it to be a venture to garner strategic oil resources of the country, while others advocated the threat of terrorism posed by dictators like Saddam Hussein.  Supporters of the Bush Administration further argued that toppling Saddam Hussein was a just act that needed no elaborate legitimacy.  Liberating the country from an oppressive dictatorship was deemed a just act in and of itself.  Thus, opinion is divided among public intellectuals, politicians, journalists and activists.  But a careful analysis, especially as laid out by Stephen Pelletière in his insightful book Iraq and the International Oil System, clearly reveals America’s material interests in the Gulf region:

“In the last chapter we speculated on the condition of the oil system after the demise of the oil cartel. We suggested that it would have been hard for the system to carry on once the cartel had expired. The events of 1986 would seem to prove that the system was moribund; there was not a single influential group in the United States interceding for the Gulf with the Reagan (or, as we shall see, the Bush) administration….The whole thing is particularly odd, because Reagan had throughout this whole period been faced with one oil-related crisis after another.” (Pelletière, 2001, p.200)

American foreign policy took a new hue since the time of the Reagan Presidency, which began in 1980 and lasted two terms.  In many ways the foreign policy framework in the wake of 911 terror strikes is a continuation, if not an accentuation, of the Reagan doctrine.  To the disadvantage of the George W. Bush Administration, the events that unfolded after the initiation of the war exposed its real interests, namely material resources and strategic goals.  First of all, no WMDs were found.  On top of that, investigation carried out by neutral agencies found that Saddam Hussein had not pursued any WMD program during the period following the Gulf War of 1991.  To add to their declining credibility, the Bush administration kept modifying its rhetoric to suit every new discovery.  From a clear and simple claim of “presence of weapons of mass destruction”, the rhetoric evolved to such phrases as “weapons of mass destruction related program activities.” (Hamill, 2003, p.326) Use of such complex and ambiguous language has weakened what little support the administration had at the beginning of the war operation.  George Bush’s later rhetoric also exposes a lack of requisite urgency that underpinned his decision to invade and his determination that America could not wait for the rest of the world to join it in this endeavor. (Hamill, 2003, p.329)  Hence in the backdrop of this expose, America’s real agenda becomes clear.

It is an open secret that the middle-east region is of strategic importance.  Any country with aspirations to dominate the world will have to have “control” over the region’s resources (read oil) and governments.  The United States, the only superpower at the time, was not above this ambition.  Noted American intellectual Noam Chomsky points to glaring misinformation released by the White House in his recent scholarship.  In Chomsky’s own words,

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