Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hey, but doesn't the US also use its colonies for cheap oil?

From some of the current US colonies of Egypt (at least until elections), Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE and others, we've recently seen an attempt to shape global oil production to fit US political considerations. In the failure of that attempt, we've seen a commitment by some of those colonies to accomplish that end unilaterally.

This raises the question: Isn't the United States benefiting from the American/Zionist Raj independent of the role it plays in maintaining Israel's viability?

Overall, the answer is no. Let's look at this more closely.

I'm not sure of the source of this analogy, it may be Adam Smith, but colonialism is like an arrangement in which I build you a house an in exchange you must buy produce from me. A government of homebuilders or a government proportionately balanced between homebuilders and produce-sellers would not take that deal. Houses cost much more than the reasonably expected profits from produce sales. But a government disproportionately directed by produce-sellers might, as they could take the benefit from the arrangement, but push the cost to the homebuilders.

The original Raj, India, was a huge captive market for Great Britain. The cost of this was that Great Britain had to station substantial forces there and between there and the homeland to maintain the arrangement, and faced increasing costs in the territory itself to maintain order.

As the British Empire declined, it relinquished the relationship because it could not afford to maintain it.

I bring this analogy and example to make the point that benefits to specific segments of the populations of colony-holding nations can be identified, but that these benefits do not necessarily outweigh the costs to colony-holding nations as a whole, and that over the long term, costs-as-a-whole to benefits-as-a-whole is the specific comparison that is relevant.

The Middle East is a vastly more expensive region for the United States to manage than it would be minus the US' identification with and commitment to Zionism.

The bribes to Pakistan, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the cost of efforts to slow Iran's growth, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, much of the security costs of US assets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and other US colonies in the Persian Gulf, the cost of efforts to marginalize Hezbollah and influence Lebanon's political system, efforts to contain Syria, efforts to prop up Jordan, direct and indirect payments to Israel itself, the cost of efforts to maintain and direct Egypt's military dictatorship but during Mubarak's era and now.

All of these together represent a huge payment by the United States for the continuance of the American/Zionist Raj or US-Middle East colonial structure. I say huge because the cost has been trillions of dollars over the last decade, but interestingly, they represent a few percentage points of resources available to the US government. Yes, resources that could be better allocated to domestic US priorities, but not enough to by themselves bankrupt the United States.

A US general recently told the story that he explained to someone in Iraq that the invasion could not have been for oil because for a fraction of the cost of the occupation, the US could have just bought all of Iraq's oil. That is true, except that if the US had just bought all of Iraq's oil instead of invading, Saddam could have used the proceeds from those oil sales in a way that would pose an existential threat to Israel. If the US were to leave Iraq today, a popularly accountable Iraqi government would do the same thing.

The US, unlike all of its potential strategic rivals except Russia and Norway/Northern Europe, has substantial domestic stocks of oil. High oil prices hurt the US' rivals more than they do the US. The US does not have a necessary strategic interest in low oil prices.

Low oil prices translate to low gasoline prices and low heating costs which is a benefit for US consumers but not a strategic necessity for the US in relation to its rivals and potential rivals.

All recent US presidents have each on many different occasions stood before audiences that were mostly Jewish and said that the US has an eternal and unbreakable bond with Israel. What that means is that the US has a commitment to Israel that transcends rational strategic considerations. No US president has ever affirmed any permanent US commitment to gasoline prices less than five dollars a gallon - no such commitment to low oil prices that transcends strategic considerations exists for the United States.

Nearly all Americans would rather have paid higher prices for oil if it would have meant preventing 9/11. Barack Obama, when he says the US bond with Israel is eternal and unbreakable, is saying he would not have abandoned Israel if it would have meant preventing 9/11.

Independent Arab states likely would result in higher oil prices, but not enough higher to compensate the US for the expenses it incurs in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Gulf states, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and the rest of the region.

The US economy would adjust to higher oil prices, and in fact do so better than any of its rival economies, probably including Russia which could be contained in other ways.

The United States needs the American/Zionist Raj, or US Middle East colonial structure not for strategic reasons or for oil prices but for one sentimental reason, which is to ensure the viability of Israel's Jewish political majority.


Ken Hoop said...

You left out the pivotal "Christian Zionist" heresy, fancily called dispensational premillenialism.
However apocalyptic Christianity is not traditional Christianity and the popularity in the US of the belief God is dispossesing Palestinians to grant the still!!! Chosen People (Jews used to have to convert to be Chosen) their deserved homeland, is not a sign of a thriving Christianity in a thriving country.

JDsg said...

Of course the US (and all modern economies worldwide) have a strategic interest in low oil prices. This has been the case since at least the late 1950s when the NSC said that the US should continue blocking democracy and development in the Middle East and support dictatorships in order to get control of ME oil. (See . This stance was reaffirmed during the Nixon administration when Kissinger suggested to Nixon that the US military invade and nationalize the ME oil fields.) The US may have a better ability to adjust to higher oil prices than other countries, although I believe that's a debatable notion considering the reaction by the American economy a few years ago to the spike in oil prices.

Until the US is able to wean itself off of crude oil as its primary energy source and get on to another alternative, oil will remain a strategic interest in order to maintain its economic strength.