The oil wars: How America’s energy obsession wrecked the Middle East | Eugene Gholz

The oil wars: How America’s energy obsession wrecked the Middle East | Eugene Gholz


So for a long time oil has played a special
role in American foreign policy and military strategy. Oil is a uniquely important commodity in global
affairs. It’s an input to everything in our modern
way of life; it’s very important for protecting our prosperity; and at a certain level oil
is essential for high-quality military power: to fight you need access to oil. And in the Cold War the United States was
concerned that the Soviet Union could interrupt American access to Persian Gulf oil, which
we needed in order to defend Europe, defend our own interests against the Soviet Union. And so we took it on as a military mission
to protect key sources of oil supplies around the world, especially in the Persian Gulf,
from outside interference (so from the Soviet Union being able to threaten them). Now, of course, for a long time the Soviet
Union hasn’t existed. That particular scenario hasn’t posed a
challenge for the United States, but the United States has feared oil has continued to play
a role in American foreign and military policy because the United States has feared that
political disruptions in Middle East—internal instability, the threat of extremist fundamentalist
Muslim control in the Middle East, if that came about—could pose a threat to American
oil supplies that especially would hurt our prosperity, that they could make us poor. And so we’ve used military force to try
to reduce instability in parts of the world, especially the Persian Gulf, where we’re
afraid that instability would threaten global oil markets. That policy has both been largely unnecessary
and largely ineffective. So it has happened that there was a moment
where it seemed to work very well when we sent troops in 1990 to defend Saudi Arabia
from Saddam Hussein who had just concord Kuwait, and then we liberated Kuwait in the Gulf War
but did not continue to attack Iraq. And the result of this was to maintain access
to Persian Gulf oil, to maintain the independence of a number of Persian Gulf oil producers. And that made sense in a bunch of ways. But then since that time we’ve actually
become a primary threat to stability in the Middle East rather than a primary guarantor
of stability in the Middle East, in that when we invaded Iraq we set in motion a lot of
events, created a much more salient internal stability challenge for many countries in
the Persian Gulf by hardening and militarizing domestic conflicts in a lot of these countries—between
Sunnis and Shiites, between different brands within Sunni Islam—we’ve created internal
instability that we can’t address very well from outside. The United States lacks the detailed information
to understand and manipulate the politics of these countries. Instead we get manipulated by local actors
that, in a sense, makes the instability worse. So if you think of it this way, in the United
States we spend a lot of time thinking about and studying American politics and elections,
but we don’t understand American politics very well. Even with all of the background cultural knowledge
we have an understanding of our own politics—nobody expected President Trump to rise as a phenomenon
and become president—We don’t understand our own politics! How can we expect to understand and manipulate
the politics of far away countries in the Persian Gulf where we don’t know the local
percentages as well, we don’t know the situation on the ground, we don’t know what contributes
to people’s political activism? Although we can actually be fairly sure of
one thing that contributes, which is, they don’t like the feeling that they’re being
pushed around by outside influences like the United States showing up and telling them
what to do. And so we can create hostility to the United
States by saying, “Oh we’re showing up to defend the stability of Middle East oil
supplies,” but we can’t actually defend Middle East oil supplies from local instability
in the Middle East very well, and so we’ve actually created a lot of the problems in
the oil market. However, all of that said, the global oil
market protects us so we don’t actually have to worry as much about that kind of instability
in any particular oil supplier. So what happens in the oil market is when
there’s a disruption in one country of the world that reduces their oil supplies, their
ability to supply the global market, to supply consumers like us in the United States, when
there’s that kind of a disruption other suppliers compensate. So suppliers that aren’t disrupted see an
opportunity to make more money for themselves by increasing their oil output to compensate
for the fact that one of their competitors has reduced their oil output. So for example, when Libya exploded into civil
war and then U.S. and European intervention wrecked the state institutions of that country
and made the civil war last not just a few months in 2011 but persist for the last seven
years such that Libyan oil output is way down—millions of barrels a day down compared to what it
was before 2011—didn’t lead to a huge disruption of the oil market, it didn’t
lead to a big price surge for consumers like the United States because other producers
of oil, like Saudi Arabia, like the United Arab Emirates, like Mexico, all around the
world increased their output to compensate for the fact that Libya was producing less. And so the natural market reaction, without
the U.S. military doing anything, enables consumers to continue consuming in the face
of political military disruptions of the oil market in one country around the world. So we don’t need to try to use the American
military to protect oil markets because the market compensates for disruptions. And in fact our track record of using the
U.S. military to protect oil markets is lousy; it often makes the problems worse not better. And so there’s a clear policy adjustment
the United States could make to stop using the military for this purpose, and that would
make Americans safer and continue to give us a reliable oil supply.

100 comments

  1. Clickbait Koch brothers bullshit. America has plenty of its own oil. Our 'dependence' on foreign oil had nothing to do with energy needs.

  2. nice story, i want / interested to see data / hypotheses / and model preferably mathematical to this game competition of market stability compensation hypotheses. never theless i guess the data will point that america often mess up on their intervention

  3. These people never knew what oil was until they were told and even then never had the know how or tech to do anything with it. Without the west it would just be sludge as far as the Arabs are concerned.

  4. This is total BS. The middle east with its numerous dictators/monarchies/clerics/clowns that dominate the region are wildly dysfunctional all by themselves. Blaming the US for their pseudo-religious strife and massive incompetence is far left folly. In 25 years, when we no longer need their oil, the regional nation/states that have been propped up by unlimited petrodollars will collapse, as they should. Our only goal is to insure they don't get weapons of mass destruction so when they do inevitably tank, they won't have weapons that fall into wrong hands

  5. The middle east has been fucked up since the crusades… it has nothing to do with the U.S… sure, maybe it would be better if the U.S. hadn't done anything in the middle east, but youre VERY WRONG if you think that american interference was the only factor here…

  6. This is a Zionist funded channel. And is tasked with distracting the Americans from the real reason of decline of American influence in the Middle East which is Israel. Israel is the main cause of wars in the middle east. Netanyahu urged US Congress to invade Iraq – it supported Libya invasion and has been urging the USA to enter Syria – It also wants the USA to invade Iran.

  7. there's nothing wrong with us and the americans sending forces to middle east in 1991 and 2003 they should have just been honest about it in the first place. who wants 40% plus of the worlds oil in the hands of saddam we all want drive our cars watch our t.v. play our play stations etc don't we unless people want another 1973. the same with falklands war you can't tell we sent 70-80% of our military asset's 9,000 miles across the atlantic to save 2,000 people and some penguins. Why did the argies want it so badly all of a sudden. cause there a estimated billions barrels of oil and gas under the sea.

  8. so what would happen if I dropped off via airplane into iraq, and started to find villages and lived there and tried making friends and shit would i bet shot and mutilated

  9. The middle East was at war for thousands of years before oil was discovered. If anything the US lowered the killing for awhile. Of course leftist idiots dont understand how ,against all odds, they have the freedom to talk shit. A free nation dominates the world because they have the largest army that needs oil control. Who would rather China or Russia have control??? Of course nobody would answer that question.

  10. But if the suppliers become limited by production and manufacturing and reach maximum efficiency they will start to increase prices to reduce the demand as they will not be able to meet the demand

  11. Whutttt America is such a bad country i wish this nation is gone. Like they do nothing but list of itu badddd. War and war until now. Make people died. None Human rights. THEN THEY HUNTING OIL IN MY COUNTRY AT FREEPORT. WTH ONE DAY AMERICA AND ITS INFLUENCE WILL DEMISHED. I HATE YOU AMERICA

  12. Oil production: 8,853,000 bbl/dy

    Oil consumption: 19,000,000 bbl/dy

    Oil reserves: 36,520,000,000 bbl

    The gap of 10,147,000 is mostly filled by ME countries and Canada. Trade is easier than war but people never learn. It's all about stealing oil and selling weapons.

  13. It is time for America to rethink what it is doing and realize that military force can not be the answer, or at the
    Very least, the total answer to the problems in the Middle East or elsewhere. We these days always talk about
    Ending reliance on fossil fuels, but, despite all the talk and endless conferences about it, America is still
    Willing to fight wars which cost billions or even trillions of dollars, cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of
    Innocent civilians and thousands of lives of its own military personnel, to maintain access to it. This is a classic example
    Of talking (ending use of fossil fuels) but doing the complete opposite (fighting wars which would not have happened but
    For the oil that happens to lie in those countries where the wars are fought).

  14. kuwaitis must not leave kuwait much because i never hear about or meet people from kuwait. it's kind of like delaware i guess

  15. Let’s not forget what happened in the 70s. Now it’s about creating self reliance with energy created from the IS as well as energy exports to control prices thru supply rather than demand and stop interference in foreign powers

  16. I hear many say that the biggest mafia is the Russian mafia they are all wrong the biggest mafia is the shitty government of Usa

  17. Sick of hearing this "extremist muslim" farse. Send a bunch of young naive heavily armed Sol Diers into your backyard that are mindlessly killing and torturing your family and friends and see how fanatic you become. The USA is a fanatical and deceptive corporation that attacks poor nations consisting of brown people the lies of claiming it has to do so to keep those poor nations with zero capability or intention to project aggression from its own shores. It says something about the lack of self driven independent thought and extremely low intelligence of the American majority when most think these obvious lies are true and that soldiers are sent to kill and die for these freedoms that are actually being taken away. I remember just after 911 I asked my buddy how long will it take for the Americans to know the truth about what really happened and react to it, he laughed and said they never will, they will either reject the truth or refuse to here it at all, over 85 percent of them never even heard of the USS Liberty.

  18. So if a country is compensating for say, a country like Libya, in the oil market… How does Libya reenter the market later?

  19. I don't suppose it occurred to anybody that disruption of one oil supplier is deliberate, bought and paid for by other oil suppliers… which feeds the perpetuity of unwinnable wars thus propping up the US economy which is almost entirely dependent on weapons trade. The idea that the Military Industrial Complex is bumbling around like Daffy-Duck accidentally upsetting resource rich countries is laughable

  20. Man we should just topple all the governments in the Middle East. And instead of nation building we just do it our selves

  21. Imagine thinking a country that gets most of its oil from itself and Canada going to war for more oil in a shitty country in the Middle East run by a dictator.

    10/10 everyone can drink some dumb fuck juice.

  22. So Saudi amd UAE stirred the arab spring to capitalize on oil plus US made sure its dollar has no competition with gold backed African currency. Good video but still apologetic

  23. The problem isn't oil we have plenty it's the value of oil being represented as USD to keep value..

  24. US Idiots (with a Capital I) : The US runs on oil for 80+ percent and just wants to keep doing that, (the rich do) so no investments are made in any world-wide ECO project(the sun installations in the Sahara), because it take away a decent amount of political and global 'power' the US still believes it has. No wonder all the recent 'wars' were fought in oil-rich lands and if no open war is feasible, then barriers are put up (Iran f.e.) or puppets are thrown in to 'safeguard' the oil (Guaido in Venezuela) or the abnormal relations with the Saudis (who can bomb the living hell out of normal people in Yemen) – for oil rewards, the treason on the Kurds is Iraq and Syria. A US people in denial of facts is the last the world needs, were the loser wins from the popular vote. Nice country (in nature) but rotten to the bottom of and old wooden ship were people are helpless if they don't have the 'big money', no free healthcare (basic human right). I've been to Russia an, yes they were not as ' fake-friendly' like the US, but the're are no 'soup-kitchens' or 'card-board' people, and if you break a leg you will always be treated for FREE. (like in most parts of Europe) I'm not condoning what the Russian did in the past or their 'democracy' (just like the US) but that people have a resilience you cannot imagine and a welcoming real friendship once you know them.

  25. I hope you deliver this message to americans ..nomatter who u choose your president they will always kill us

  26. Rather than find alternative energy sources through research. Our government chooses to use military force and violence to keep a stranglehold on a fuel source that results in global warming and smog.

    It's about time we stopped living in the dark ages. We send kids over seas to get their legs blown off in the name of "freedom." The greatest threat to this country is the internal threat of far right white supremacist groups who account for at least 80% of all terrorist attacks since 9/11.

    We're a warmongering country that needs to wake up to the ideals of enlightenment.

  27. When you say "we" – who do you exactly mean? USA? The US Government? The Corporatocracy of BigOil? The interests or Israel? 😉 Arms Industry? All of them?

  28. United States foreign policy in the Middle East has its roots as early as the Barbary Wars in the first years of the U.S.'s existence ,
    And became much more expansive after World War II.

    American policy during the Cold Wartried to prevent Soviet Union influence by supporting anti-communist regimes and backing Israel against Soviet-sponsored Arab countries

    By the end of the Second World War, the United States had come to consider the Middle East region as "the most strategically important area of the world." and "one of the greatest material prizes in world history,"

    U.S. Still Craft A Coherent Strategy for the Middle East

    Since the 9/11 attacks of 2001 , U.S. policy has included an emphasis on counter-terrorism.

    TIMELINE

    1947 New State of Israel
    The U.S. pushed for a solution and resolution on the Arab–Israeli conflict, and in May 1948 the new state of Israel came into existence.

    United States had also become increasingly concerned with, fearing Soviet influence spreading in the Middle East .
    Therefore, in late 1952, the British government asked the U.S. administration for help with the removal of Mohammed Mosaddeq.

    However, 1958 was to become a difficult year in U.S. foreign policy; in 1958 Syria and Egypt were merged into the "United Arab Republic", anti-American and anti-government revolts started occurring in Lebanon, causing the Lebanese president Chamoun to ask America for help, and the very pro-American King Feisal the 2nd of Iraq was overthrown by a group of nationalistic military officers.

    In June 1967 Israel fought with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six-Day War. As a result of the war, Israel captured the West Bank, Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. The U.S. supported Israel with weapons and continu

    AFGHANISTAN
    Sept. 11, 2001 – end of 2014

    IRAQ
    2003 – 2011

    DRONE WARS
    CONDUCTED 550 DRONE STRIKES IN LIBYA SINCE 2011
    The CIA and Defense Department have launched strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, some of them covert.

    LIBYA
    The U.S. and European allies launched an air campaign in Libya in 2011, aiming to prevent atrocities by strongman Moammar Gadhafi against Arab Spring-inspired opponents. The bombing campaign toppled Gadhafi, but Libya slid into chaos and infighting. The Islamic State group later gained a foothold.

    The U.S. has continued to carry out airstrikes in Libya that Washington says has diminished the number of IS extremists operating there.

    ISLAMIC STATE GROUP IN IRAQ AND SYRIA

    After IS captured a wide swath of Iraq and Syria in 2014, Obama announced the U.S. could target the group "wherever they are."

    The U.S. started sending small numbers of military advisers to help Iraq's weakened military fight IS. The number has crept up to around 7,500 U.S. troops. IS has lost much of its former territory.

    In Syria, the U.S. has conducted airstrikes against IS since 2014. More recently, the U.S. has dispatched growing numbers of special operations forces to assist Kurdish and Arab forces fighting IS. Roughly 500 U.S. fighters are in Syria, plus additional, "temporary" forces that rotate through.

    SYRIA

    Even while fighting IS in Syria, the U.S. has avoided wading into Syria's civil war by directly confronting Syrian President Bashar Assad — until now. On Thursday night, U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea launched some 60 Tomahawk missiles at an air base in response to a chemical weapons attack blamed on Assad's forces.

    The strikes mark the first direct U.S. attack on Syria's government, which has waged a six-year civil war against opposition groups. It also puts the U.S. into a de facto proxy battle with Russia's military, which is on the ground in Syria and has propped up Assad.

  29. That's a joke you exactly understand what would happen, and let's be honest as long as oil keeps flowing and guns keep selling who cares ?

  30. Ye sab cheeze logo k dimag me kaha se aati hai…you all peoples are destroying the relationships…tum logo ka view if life meri ghar ki billi ki sex life se bhi zyada ghatiya hai…bus lust lust or lust hi bacha hai kya…apne ghar jaker dekho…maa baap bhi hai aap k? Unki life to itni gandi nahi rahi hogi. Jaise aap log dikha rahe hai..go to…and f.. Urself

  31. This is never about America and big oil. It was all about protecting Israel 1000% and furthering the Zionist agenda.

  32. A dog : can smell something from 1-3 meters far
    America : can smell the oil from 200K miles far

  33. We didnt liberate Kuwait for their oil. They were our ally same with saudi Arabia and we were fighting the aggressor in iraq.

  34. This guy makes a lot of great points, but that title is triggering me so hard. The middle east has a looooooooooooong and fucked up history of fighting and tribal/religious conflicts that will probably never end. Not to mention Russia has been dipping their hand in the pot for just as long as America if not longer… so to say that America "wrecked" the middle east with our "energy obsession" is a blatant exaggeration.

  35. And America never should have built any cars or houses. We should have built only Tower cities connected to maglev Trains because there’s always been a severe housing shortage crisis, and now it’s getting worse.

  36. That's simply a lie, on the contrary, U.S do not care about oil that much anymore since they are #1 producer.

  37. Very clear and precise! More over, Americans that switch to Hybrid or all electric vehicles are even less dependent on foreign oil. It is clear that American military should not be in the Middle East. They destabilize the local governments. Let's slowly withdrawal and leave them alone. We don't even need their oil at all.

  38. *Terorrist attack middle east*
    USA: Meh..
    *Terorrist attack middlle east oil facility*
    USA: I THINK MIDDLE EAST NEED FREEDOM

  39. the way he framed it ..america using their military force to supply the market with oil…you mean america using military force to steal resources from other soverign countries

  40. The US is never fighting for "protecting the oil market". However, the invasions are about eliminating competition for their allies and their own oil companies which are more reliable and stable for the USA. And also, to increase the world's dependence on oil markets where the US and European oil companies have a share, control, and influence… The US and it's allies are an evil oil mob.

  41. America personal greed and corruption, The way the states is playing word police, and hurting any nation that dose not agree. The way they kill innocents and Lie, cheat and steal from these country's who do not agree. The states is the worst country in the world, and maybe N Korea should bomb shit shit out of them to humble them, give america the same choice the states gave them. that would be just, and right.

  42. salient instability challenge resulted in many many thousands of innocent men women an children being killed or left starving and homeless

  43. Create hostility. That’s exactly why 9/11 occurred. People don’t want to hear that though. They also don’t want to hear about all the innocent women and children we bombed in Vietnam. We are a country founded on genocide and war.

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