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Global Dominance: Oil vs. The State


…Big Oil and the state often conflict — and the very same individuals make different decisions when they are working within the industry and when they are running the State Department — which is concerned not with the short-term parochial interests of one component of the US corporate system but with its long-term global predominance, which introduces other considerations.

There are classic examples. Take Iran. After overthrowing the parliamentary government and restoring the Shah, Washington compelled the majors to pick up 40% of the British concession, though they didn’t want to, because they preferred at the time to lift much cheaper oil from Saudi Arabia and didn’t want to prejudice those contacts. They were compelled to do it. Something similar is happening right now. Energy corporations don’t like being shut out of the Iranian reserves, leaving them to rivals, but the state — run by Big Oil to no slight extent — is forcing them to do it. Something similar is happening in Cuba, a much more marginal business interest. It’s not unusual.

The US didn’t invade Eastern Congo, where it would have been far easier to stop incomparably worse atrocities, and where Bush’s “messianic vision” to bring democracy would have been about as plausible as in Iraq, after the WMD pretexts collapsed. They preferred Iraq. The reasons are pretty obvious, and largely have to do with oil, and the “critical leverage” control of energy gives Washington over its European and Asian rivals, as Brzezinski put it, echoing strategic conceptions that go back to the early postwar period.

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