We're only there because of the oil. Why is this a bad thing?

I hear this sentiment expressed a lot from people who think we shouldn’t be in the Mid-East because we’re only there to protect the oil.

Well Duh

Isn’t that why we have a military, to protect our country and our vital national interests? Isn’t keeping our economy from going in the tank a good enough reason, all by itself, for being involved over there?

Absolutely! Without a steady supply of oil, we’re a bunch of hurtin’ cowpokes. However, I don’t think our involvement in the Israeli-Palastinian thing is over oil.

Good point. Then, can we not admit to that and stop pretending we do everything we do overseas out of compassion for our fellow man? Admit that we are a wealthy powerful nation that would like to remain that way?

But we claim we are fighting all wars in the name of democracy and freedom (and capitalism which we assume equals democracy). Why is that?

Actually I think this is in part incorrect. Lots of Americans have religious interests in the region. That adds a new level of interest and rationale. We don’t go shooting up Angola or Algeria, both violence wracked oil-producers. Frankly, if we did not intervene oil probably (well even odds) would still flow. Not that I advise taking the risk.

Sure, I agree. Too many people are simplistic isolationists. Now I also think we could be smarter about intervening in general, but the early 19th century America which could stand aloof from the world is long gone. Our interests as one big ass power interdependant on the world in economic terms oblige us to get our hands dirty in our own selfish interests. It so happens dressing up selfish interests in non-selfish language is often a good thing. Also sometimes giving ground and compromising… Complicated world it is.

But national interest can be defined broadly or narrowly. And how do we tip the scale when our “interest” conflicts with another nation’s sovereignty?
Keeping the economy from going in the tank? Perhaps a little overstated. How about, “externalizing as many costs as possible”?

Who’s to say there is not also an element of compassion involved? There are many ‘hotspots’ around the world where we could get invovled in the name of compassion, democracy, freedom and all that. Unfortunately, not even we, as a wealthy nation, could afford to get involved (militarily) in all of them. So we have to pick and choose. Obviously, the areas we choose to get involved in will be prioritized, with those that have the added benefit of securing national interests being at the top.

Given the choice between fighting for freedom and democracy, and fighting for freedom and democracy while also protecting oil (as an example) interests, is it really so hypocritical of us to choose the latter?

Just curious. In kicking Iraq out of Kuwait, and enforcing the current situation, whose freedom and democracy were/are we fighting for?

The U.S. has a great stake in what happens in the middle east, having the population there kill each off matters less than what would happen to them if their oil supplies dried up. Wars interfere with trade and that isn’t good, it cuts into profit margins.

Things keep moving because of oil; trucks roll, cars drive up and down the highway, ships sail, and planes (like fighters) need fuel. Increased prices affect of fuel impact the economy as the prices of goods and services rise accordingly.

The opinion of the populace matters and if they have to pay what they consider extreme prices for their fuel and heating oil they have the power to topple the government.

People can bitch and moan all they want about the U.S. presence in the middle east but could only be considered hypocrites if they also bitch about the price of the gasoline they put in their cars.

It is not just the U.S. that benefits from middle eastern stability.

Feynn - I think gasoline is grossly underpriced in the US.

I believe that the US’ chimeric foreign policy can be laid firmly at the doorstep of President Woodrow Wilson. His Fourteen Points rejected the Old World realpolitik, which he believed caused WWI, in favor of a more humanitarian style of international relations. He expected that the US would be able both to protect its interests and to maintain a high level of moral conduct. In essense, he demanded that the US act like an individual in its relations with other countries rather than like a superpower.

This idea was extremely innovative and has dominated US foreign policy ever since. To many, it seems that the humanitarian activities that the US claims to take part in are merely crude rationalizations for national interest. This may or may not be the case, since the US really is bound to act according to both principles. Sometimes humanitarianism is a crude dressing for political interest, and often humanitarianism appears to justify international intervention.

But we can only really discuss the results of such actions, not speculate as to the motives.


Oil or no oil, we have definate interests in the Middle East. Someone brought up the religious implications. Another is domestic security because there are more terrorists in that region than any other that have affected our country. Perhaps if we weren’t there, they wouldn’t concentrate on us. We supported Iran and Iraq at various times to keep one from overrunning the other and creating one large (oil-producing, okay you got me there) nation.

But we have military actions in lots of other areas that have little or no economic value to us at all.

However, Israel is our friend. And an excellent friend at that. They are one of the few allies we can consistently count upon for support. Remember when we wanted to bomb Sadaam and the French wouldn’t let us invade their air space? We should have left France a part of Germany. dig

From a military standpoint, Israel is an extremely strategic country to have the kind of relationship that we share. We can land there to refuel on our way to bomb the Middle East, Western and Southern Europe and Northern Africa if we had such a conquest.

Dinsdale said

I am sorry, but this baffles me. how can Gas be underpriced? Not enough taxes? Supply too great? Artificially held low by government interrvention?

Why is it "underpriced?

I have no idea what Feynn was thinking, however…

Given that we had two oil crises and then the Persian Gulf war, it really, really behooved us to do something about squirming out from under our dependence on oil. Bush had no energy policy, and Clinton just followed him up and did squat.
Here in North America we are sitting atop vast, vast reserves of natural gas and coal. Our politicians I’m sure could think of a thousand ways to steer demand towards these sources and away from oil. Why they don’t do so is beyond me. Even the theory that it’s contributions from the oil companies doesn’t make much sense, given that coal companies are certainly just as capable of contributing, and that natural gas is drilled for by the very same companies that drill for oil.
Seems to me like it’s just a case of stupidity & laziness.

'scuse me. That should’ve started out “I have no idea what Dinsdale was thinking…”

No snide comments now.

Thanks for the replies from everyone.

Some people didn’t quite get the point of my OP though. I’m mostly talking about people who either don’t think we should be involved in world affairs at all, or think we should only be involved for humanitarian reasons.

True, sometimes we will be involved for humanitarian reasons, or fighting for democracy, or helping an ally, or a mixture of many reasons. Sometimes, however, we will be there in our own self interest.

Some people think this is wrong, I think they are naive.

We have troops positioned all across the globe for both reasons. We have the position of being turned to in times of need by most nations because of our power, wealth and generosity. Almost always, before we have to enter a nation in force, we have had scores of people there to provide education, teach farming techniques, administer medical assistance, provide tons of food, help in governmental problems, studying the local traditions, beliefs, government and laws.

As usual with any leading nation, we also have businesses there, looking for markets, export potentials, tax breaks, low wage employees and sniffing the over all political wind. Businesses don’t want a repeat of Saudi Arabia and the like were they spend billions establishing companies, factories and so on, only to get forced out by the local government who takes over the then fully functional operations.

We can go in for a dual purpose to defend a people and protect our financial interests.

We have a greater interest in oil, of course, since our financial institutions insist on basing loans and investments on the volatile price per barrel. (Which means, the higher the price, the more money they make, even though by doing so, they damage the National economy when pump prices go up.)

I’m not sure why we suddenly switched from the rich oil fields of Texas to importing crude so much. (Unless because the arrogance of the Texans over oil money just ticked off everyone in government.) Plus, we installed the Alaskan pipeline to cheaply draw on Alaskan oil.

Since OPEC provides us with most of our oil, it is more understandable that we go in to any of the nations involved when they are under attack to not only protect our interests, but protect our allies.

We do have many allies across the globe who we are sworn to assist.

The U.S. pays less for gas than most, if not all, other countries. I think that’s what Feynn was talking about.

I will grant you that many people are naive isolationists, but I think there are also quite a few naive imperialists who want to intervene everywhere. It really depends on the situation. The U.S. has a spotty history of foreign intervention, and I’d argue our past presense in the Philippines, Cuba, and Central America shows that we are capable of exploitation and casting aside democratic and humanitarian ideals in favor of economic and/or political profit. The end of Gulf War was not exactly a work of brilliance either: I think most people agree that Saddam should have been removed by force when we had the chance.

The second argument that might come into play is a moral one. Let’s face it, intervention frequently involves killing people, often innocent civilians who have little control over their circumstances. Killing people in defense of freedom is one thing, killing them out of economic benefit or political prestige is another thing entirely.

*Originally posted by Skribbler *

Goggle. What does the government have to do with it? Can we say, Supply? Can we say Demand? Texas can’t supply all US consumption, the free market being what it is (relatively efficient) the oil comes from other sources.

Glad to baffle you all.
Tax the shit out of it! That’s what I say. I’m sure you all agree!