[Marxism] Tom Stevenson reviews ‘AngloArabia’ by David Wearing · LRB 9 May 2019

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 2 07:36:21 MDT 2019

AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain by David Wearing
Polity, 275 pp, £15.99, September 2018, ISBN 978 1 5095 3203 2

It is a cliché that the United States and Britain are obsessed with 
Middle East oil, but the reason for the obsession is often misdiagnosed. 
Anglo-American interest in the enormous hydrocarbon reserves of the 
Persian Gulf does not derive from a need to fuel Western consumption. 
Britain used to import considerable quantities of Saudi oil, but 
currently gets most of what it needs from the North Sea and hasn’t 
imported much from the Gulf since the 1980s; Saudi oil currently 
represents around 3 per cent of UK imports. The US has never imported 
more than a token amount from the Gulf and for much of the postwar 
period has been a net oil exporter. Anglo-American involvement in the 
Middle East has always been principally about the strategic advantage 
gained from controlling Persian Gulf hydrocarbons, not Western oil 
needs. In 1945, Gordon Merriam, the head of the State Department’s Near 
Eastern Affairs division, made this clear: the Saudi oilfields, he said, 
were first and foremost ‘a stupendous source of strategic power’. The 
assistant secretary of state, Adolf Berle, sketched out what remains US 
strategy: the US and Britain would provide Saudi Arabia and other key 
Gulf monarchies with ‘sufficient military supplies to preserve internal 
security’ and ensure that they were permanently guarded by Western navies.

full: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n09/tom-stevenson/what-are-we-there-for

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