Friday, January 30, 2015

Now that the economy... recovering, many Republicans have turned to criticizing President Obama over foreign policy. (Except when they are suddenly -- and comically -- talking about income inequality. What do they propose to do about it, cut taxes on the rich?)

So the world we are told -- particularly Ukraine and the Middle East -- is in turmoil! And whose fault is it? (Hint, hint: the black guy in the White House.)

But set aside Ukraine for a minute. (Ask yourself, would you be willing to see your son die there? I didn't think so.)

Let's focus on the Middle East instead. It's a complicated place, to say the least. And it's unstable (and always will be). But, to the United States, our interests can be boiled down to two essential things: Israel's security and the price of oil. The rest of it is just a sideshow.

Do we like this guy? Or that guy? Who cares? What does it mean for the security of Israel and/or the free flow of oil to the West? That's all that really matters. Those two objectives are what we've been trying to balance since the end of World War II. Everything we've done in the region has ultimately been in support of those two goals.

Now, as I said, it's complicated, but what if there was one objective measurement of stability in the region? Wouldn't that be convenient? While it's hard to quantify Israel's security (although they're still there, right?), the price of oil is obvious to anyone who drives a car. And, in case you're one of the few who take public transportation or actually walk on two legs, the price of gasoline at the pump has plummeted in the last six months or so. Why? A lot of reasons. Will it stay down? Probably not. But for now, the most objective measurement of stability in the Middle East is telling us we're not doing so badly over there after all.

P. S. By the way, how do you think three of our biggest adversaries in the world -- Russia, ISIS and Iran -- feel about cheap oil?

1 comment:

Ed Crotty said...

Exactly. That's why there is so much happy talk about King Abdullah even though Saudi Arabia is a horrible backwards country - They have a huge amount of oil, and they pretty much leave Israel alone. Taking away 40 or 50% of Russia, ISIS and Iran's oil income is a huge strategic move. Way more effective than bombs.