Arab Oil Embargo and Economic Security
Dear Mr. President,
The recent Arab oil embargo has placed significant strain on our economy and developed an energy crisis. In the past few years we have become increasingly dependent on the Middle East for our oil. As in the previous two Arab oil embargoes, in 1956 and 1967, this embargo is a response to our pro-Israeli stance. Saudi Arabia warned us in April of this year, well before the October 1973 War, that they would cut off oil production if we continued our pro-Israeli stance. In response to our continued support, the Arabs viewed an embargo as a viable weapon. In their eyes we have failed to use our influence over Israel to produce a fair settlement of the Arab-
Israeli conflict under UN Security Council Resolution 242. Arab countries have wanted two things: effective assistance from western developed nations and a fair and just resolution to both the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian Problem (Itayim 85-87). Without these an embargo seemed like the only viable option for them. Our energy consumption and dependence on foreign oil supplies has increased significantly due to the lack of output from our domestic supplies (Wilfrid 82). Therefore both our increased dependence on the Arab nations and our support for Israel has given these nations a weapon with which to threaten our economic security.
The effects of this embargo are far reaching with the potential to disrupt the postwar liberal international order. It has created economic instability and threatened our goal of peace and prosperity around the world. The Arab countries have found an economic weapon with which to threaten the western world and further destabilize their conflict with Israel. This places increased significance and difficulty in achieving our goals of free trade, promoting democracy, and ensuring the right of self-determination. In our struggle for free trade around the world, we must ensure that economic security is not threatened by embargoes and disruptions to economic liberty (Callahan 75-76). Our struggle in promoting democracy cannot be thwarted by rash or irrational reactions to this embargo. We must be extremely careful in preserving and improving our relations with both Arabs and Israelis. We must continue to adhere to one of our most precious values, self-determination, in order to maintain our credibility. The embargo has increased both the urgency and caution with which we must proceed. As a world leader we must act, but we also must stay true to our values.
The embargo has not only created significant economic instability for us, but for our allies in Europe. It has created an energy crisis for our nation as we are consuming more and producing less, but it is even more of a crisis for our European allies who are more dependent on foreign oil supplies (Wilfrid 82). Therefore our resolution and leadership is even more important as we attempt to reaffirm our credibility, both to our allies and the Arab world. Economic instability can foster division among allies as more strain is put on each country. Even though each country is being affected differently by this embargo, we must work together to regain stability and prevent any division of the Western Alliance. If the Western Alliance were to fail, the rest of the world would lose faith in democracy and free market economies, therefore crippling our efforts in the Cold War.
Unilaterally we must ensure our access to Middle Eastern oil while retaining our position as a moderator in the Arab-Israeli conflict. If our European allies were to side with Arab nations, it would greatly compromise that position (Wilfrid 90-91). In order to find a peaceful and just resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, we cannot allow the balance to be tipped to one side or the other. This would produce much greater instability in the region and potentially lead to significant armed conflict. This would also potentially increase Soviet influence in the region, greatly affecting our fight for democracy both in the Middle East and around the world. Faith and credibility are our greatest assets in containing communism.
In order to achieve these goals we must take action. Therefore I propose some policy recommendations. First, we must establish an international economic institution consisting of all consumer nations of Middle Eastern oil. This institution will serve as strong counterweight to OPEC and the Arab nations. It will also strengthen our relationships with our European allies, furthering our cause for democracy and in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The primary goals of this institution will be to ensure economic security, intensify research for alternative energy sources, and work for a stable, liberal, and secure economic order. The second policy we must pursue is to improve our relations with Arab nations. Our dependency on oil has given them leverage, and we must maintain credibility with them in order to delegitimize any use of that leverage. To achieve this we must search for alternative sources of energy and intensify our efforts to find a peaceful and just resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Therefore we must apply pressure both unilaterally and multilaterally to each side for them to end this war and return to diplomacy. This pressure should be strictly limited to diplomatic talks and further UN Security Council resolutions that not only ask for concessions from Arabs and Israelis, but show our commitment to increase economic aid and assist in negotiations.
The last policy we must pursue is one of increased aid to less developed countries, and more specifically, the Middle East. If we are to maintain our reputation and position of moderator in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we must have irrefutable evidence of that position.
Increasing aid to Arab nations will further maintain our credibility both in the region and to our allies. In order to retain a strong stance, aid should be given on a reward-only basis. As nations open their markets, adhere to human rights, and seek peaceful resolutions to conflicts, they will be rewarded economically. This will increase the potential for free market economies, in turn strengthening the middle class, and leading to increased potential for democracy and peace.
As one of the major powers in the world we have the responsibility to lead it toward liberty. Our goals are just and will lead to a free and stable world. Assuring economic security, fostering stability in the Middle East, and continuing to combat communism with our credibility will accomplish those goals.
Callahan, Patrick. "Chapter 5." Logics of American Foreign Policy: Theories of America's World Role. New York: Longman, 2004. Print.
Itayim, Fuad. "Arab Oil-The Political Dimension." Journal of Palestine Studies 3.2 (Winter 1974): 84-97. JSTOR. Web. 20 Sept. 2010. <http://www.jstor.org.proxy- remote.galib.uga.edu/stable/pdfplus/2535801.pdf?acceptTC=true>.
Kohl, Wilfrid L. "The United States, Western Europe, Nd the Energy Problem." Journal of International Affairs 30.1 (1976): 81-96. EBSCO Host. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy- remote.galib.uga.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&hid=107&sid=d6040089- 21a6-4d63-88d0-82ea79364893%40sessionmgr112>.