“The US wasn’t upholding any high principle in Iraq, nor was any of its allies. The reason for the unprecedented response to Saddam Hussein wasn’t his brutal aggression — it was because he stepped on the wrong toes. Saddam Hussein is a murderous gangster — exactly as he was before the War. He was even our friend and favored trading partner at one point in time. His dictatorship of Iraq comprises many atrocious acts, but well within the range of many similar crimes conducted by the US and its allies, and nowhere near as terrible as some.” (Chomsky, 2003, p.45)
Hence it obvious that oil plays a key role in determining the political, military and economic policies of the United States. It seems then, that Iraq was invaded for reasons other than those stated officially. These include, oil resources, settling scores with a dictator who tried to resist American domination and to gain strategic control of the Middle East region, among other things. The Project for the New American Century, a conservative think tank, supported the war against Iraq as early as 1998, and its advocates later became key members of the Bush administration. Their chief motive was not extending democracy and freedom but ‘anticipatory-self defence’ founded upon the fictitious claim of Iraq’s strategic threat to the United States. (Buchanan, 2000, p.1)
A little further back in America’s history, we once again witness the centrality of oil to policy-making. The series of events that took place during the 1980s illustrate this point:
“we detailed a whole slew of disasters, all related to the Third Oil Shock, when the Saudis ran the oil price practically into the ground. Then, as we saw, hard on the heels of that came the 1987 reflagging episode. In other words, Reagan had plenty of examples of how dangerous it was, in a manner of speaking, to play around with oil, and yet he did it… America’s view that the Gulf was vital was based on the negative perception that the area might fall into Soviet hands.” (Pelletière, 2001, p.200)
Geo-political power equations have changed in recent years with the advent of oil deposits in certain emerging economies. Russia is expected to be a key player in the global energy markets of the future. In fact, Russia alongside China and India is touted to replace the traditional energy superpowers in the Middle East and Latin America. All the three countries have expanded their industry bases and are in ever more need of energy supplies to feed those industries. Consequently, oil and gas producers have reaped rich returns due to the greater demands. While Russia is able to make good profits out of foreign trade, the situation at home is quite different. (O’Neill, 2006). These developments make the station of United States in the global oil market quite vulnerable. In other words, there are potential dangers associated with the rising dominance of Russia in the energy market, to go along with obvious positive aspects. For one thing, Russian ascendancy will neutralize the clout held so far by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in setting global oil prices. But, with the introduction of Russia and China into leadership positions in the energy market, tougher competition will persist, which will ultimately benefit the consumers across the world (The Economist (US), 2006, p.13). On the flip side, the United States will be reluctant to give up its hold on the oil markets and would likely accelerate its military activities to maintain its position. This situation is not only undesirable, but also deeply hurtful for the American domestic affairs, reeling as the country is under a protracted economic slowdown. The United States is complicating the matter for itself by being incapable of drawing an agreeable solution in the Gulf.