America, Oil, and War in the Middle East

  • Jones T
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Abstract

Middle Eastern oil has enchanted global powers and global capital since the early twentieth century. Its allure has been particularly powerful for the United States. The American romance began in earnest in the 1930s, when geologists working for Standard Oil of California discovered commercial quantities of oil on the eastern shores of Saudi Arabia. In the years that followed, enchantment turned into obsession. Shortly after World War II it became clear that oil was more than merely a coveted industrial commodity. The most visible and celebrated event in that history occurred when Franklin D. Roosevelt hosted ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Ibn Saud, the founding monarch of Saudi Arabia, aboard the USS Quincy on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake in February 1945. The meeting permanently linked Middle Eastern oil with American national security. It also helped forge one of the twentieth century’s most important strategic relationships, in which the Saudis would supply cheap oil to global markets in exchange for American protection. A bargain was made. And so too was a future tinderbox.

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Authors

  • T. C. Jones

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