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Are They Really Oil Wars?

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These powerful interests are careful not to draw attention to the fact that they are the prime instigators of war and militarism in the Middle East. Therefore, they tend to deliberately perpetuate the popular perception that oil is the driving force behind the war in the region. They even do not mind having their aggressive foreign policies labeled as imperialistic as long as imperialism implies some vague or general connotations of hegemony and domination, that is, as long as it thus camouflages the real, special interests behind the war and political turbulence in the Middle East.

The oil and other non-military transnational corporations’ aversion to war and military adventures in the Middle East stem, of course, from the logical behavior of global or transnational capital in the era of integrated world markets, which tends to be loath to war and international political convulsions. Considering the fact that both importers and exporters of oil prefer peace and stability to war and militarism, why would, then, the flow of oil be in jeopardy if the powerful beneficiaries of war and political tension in the Middle East stopped their aggressive policies in the region?

Partisans of war in the Middle East tend to portray U.S. military operations in the region as reactions to terrorism and political turbulence in order to “safeguard the interests of the United States and its allies.” Yet, a close scrutiny of action-reaction or cause-effect relationship between U.S. military adventures and socio-political turbulence in the region reveals that perhaps the causality is the other way around. That is, social upheavals and political convulsions in the Middle East are more likely to be the result, not the cause, of U.S. foreign policy in the region, especially its one-sided, prejudicial Israeli-Palestinian policy. The U.S. policy of war and militarism in the region seems to resemble the behavior of a corrupt cop, or a mafia godfather, who would instigate fights and frictions in the neighborhood or community in order to, then, portray his parasitic role as necessary for the safety and security of the community and, in the process, fill out his deep pockets.

No matter how crucial oil is to the world economy, the fact remains that it is, after all, a commodity. As such, international trade in oil is as important to its importers as it is to its exporters. There is absolutely no reason that, in a world free of the influence of the powerful beneficiaries of war and militarism, the flow of oil could not be guaranteed by international trade conventions and commercial treaties.

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References

            [1] Robert L. Hirsch, Roger Bezdek, and Robert Wendling, “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management,” Testimony on Peak Oil before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Industry (7 December 2005), http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_NETL.pdf

            [2] Matthew Mosk, “Industry Gushed Money After Reversal on Drilling,” Washington Post (27 July 2008), http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/26/AR2008072601891.html

            [3] Ron Andreas, reporter/researcher, e-mail correspondence with the author.

            [4] Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (Holt Paperbacks, 2002).

            [5] Red Cavaney, “Global Oil Production about to Peak? A Recurring Myth,” World Watch (01 January 2006), http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-5142950/Global-oil-production-about-to.html

            [6] Eliyahu Kanovsky, “Oil: Who's Really Over a Barrel?” Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2003), http://www.meforum.org/article/527

            [7] Ibid.

            [8] Ibid.

            [9] ] Red Cavaney, “Global Oil Production about to Peak? A Recurring Myth,” World Watch (01 January 2006), http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-5142950/Global-oil-production-about-to.html

            [10] The Wall Street Journal (10 March 1998); cited in Eliyahu Kantovsky, “Oil: Who's Really Over a Barrel?” Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2003), http://www.meforum.org/article/527

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Ismael Hossein-zadeh is a professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism His Web page is http://www.cbpa.drake.edu/hossein-zadeh
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