Vive Le Canada

US Foreign Policy, Petroleum And The Middle East
Date: Tuesday, November 01 2005

Middle East Economic Survey


No 44



US Foreign Policy, Petroleum And The Middle East

By Robert E Ebel

Robert Ebel, Chairman of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Energy Program, testified on 20 October before the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and Asian Affairs, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The following is the text of the testimony.

Mr Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss an extremely timely, somewhat complex and often misunderstood topic dealing with “US Foreign Policy, Petroleum and the Middle East.” In your invitation to testify, Mr Chairman, you identified three principal areas of interest:

How has US foreign policy been shaped by our need for affordable oil?

What effect would greater energy efficiency and alternative energy sources have on US foreign policy?, and

The interaction between the Departments of State and Energy with respect to the handling of such issues.

As the State and Energy Departments are most ably represented here today, I will focus my remarks on the first two topics and also provide some general impressions and thoughts that are most relevant to this discussion.

Energy And Foreign Policy

Borrowing a characterization from Secretary Rumsfeld, let me begin a discussion of the energy and foreign policy issue by listing what I feel are some of the “known knowns” with respect to this topic:

First, as recognized by a wide range of officials ranging from President Bush and Alan Greenspan to Prince 'Abd Allah and President Chavez – energy is a strategic commodity. It is the lifeblood of our economic wellbeing, fuels the troops that protect our homeland, provides essential services in growing our crops, heating and lighting our homes, transporting goods to market, moving local, regional, national and international commerce, making information transfer via the internet possible, and providing us with the quality of life and mobility that we have come to enjoy and expect.


The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of rocks. The oil age will likely be with us for decades to come. But we owe it to ourselves, our children and our children’s children to do better.

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