One of the subjects that Middle East Experience seeks to explore is the relationship between oil and U.S. foreign policy. So we decided to talk to one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject. Michael Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author of Resource Wars and Blood and Oil.
Here’s what we talked about:
MEE: How would you define the Middle East?
Klare: That’s a good question because we talk a lot about the Middle East and Middle Eastern oil, and in my mind when you talk about the Middle East, the center of gravity for the Middle East would be Cairo, and the countries to the east and west of it for the most part. But when you’re talking about Middle Eastern oil, you’re really talking about the Persian Gulf area. So that would be on the eastern side of Cairo. It’s often spoken of as Southwest Asia. So it’s common to mix up the Middle East and the Persian Gulf area when talking about oil. I do it all the time, but in my mind they’re really somewhat different places, because the center of gravity for oil is really Saudi Arabia, and that’s somewhat to the east of what people would think of as the main centers of the Middle East.
MEE: For the past 30 years, violence in the Middle East has increasingly dominated the news cycle here in America, and many believe that oil plays an important factor in that. To what extent does the control of oil resources fuel conflict in the Middle East?