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US Policy on Israel is Stuck in the 1970s

Now that the U.S. is closer to energy independence, importing less oil now than at any time since 1987, the Saudis do not have anywhere near the leverage that they had in 1973.
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Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

Since 1967 and especially since 1973, U.S. policy has consistently aimed to drive Israel back to 1949 lines. The arguments publicly made for this policy are intended to convince, but I don’t believe are actually the driving force behind it. There is of course the professional dislike of the Jewish state found in the State Department, going back to 1948 and Secretary Marshall and before. But I think there is something more concrete, too.

After the 1973 war, the Arab members of OPEC announced an embargo of oil to the U.S. and other countries they deemed to have supported Israel:

Implementation of the embargo, and the changing nature of oil contracts, set off an upward spiral in oil prices that had global implications. The price of oil per barrel doubled, then quadrupled, leading to increased costs for consumers world-wide and to the potential for budgetary collapse in less stable economies. Since the embargo coincided with a devaluation of the dollar, a global recession appeared imminent. U.S. allies in Europe and Japan had stockpiled oil supplies and thus had a short term cushion, but the longer term possibility of high oil prices and recession created a strong rift within the Atlantic alliance. European nations and Japan sought to disassociate themselves from the U.S. Middle East policy. The United States, which faced growing oil consumption and dwindling domestic reserves and was more reliant on imported oil than ever before, had to negotiate an end to the embargo from a weaker international position. To complicate the situation, OPEC had linked an end to the embargo to successful U.S. efforts to create peace in the Middle East. Needless to say, the U.S. promised to give the Arabs what they wanted, and the embargo was lifted. But since then, we have kept our promise to our Arab “allies,” even as they have less and less influence on the price and supply of oil. Saudi lobbying and influence (directly and via oil companies) have effectively held our feet to the fire.

Now that the U.S. is closer to energy independence, importing less oil now than at any time since 1987 (and more of that from Canada than anywhere else), the Saudis do not have anywhere near the leverage that they had in 1973.

Why don’t our policies reflect this?

Visit Fresno Zionism.

About the Author: Vic Rosenthal created FresnoZionism.org to provide a forum for publishing and discussing issues about Israel and the Mideast conflict, especially where there is a local connection. Rosenthal believes that America’s interests are best served by supporting the democratic state of Israel, the front line in the struggle between Western civilization and radical Islam. The viewpoint is not intended to be liberal or conservative — just pro-Israel.


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6 Responses to “US Policy on Israel is Stuck in the 1970s”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    The US policy of opposing settlements began in 1968, before anyone cared about Arab oil:

    http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1964-68v20/d137

    The US imported approximately 35.5 million barrels of oil from all countries combined in March 1968. In November 2012, the US imported 63 million barrels from the Persian Gulf alone. Nine Presidents — four Democrats and five Republicans, have maintained this policy.

    And what is wrong with the quote from Obama's "notorious" Cairo speech? Everything there is accurate. (Well, one can argue about the term "humiliation" but Obama stole it from George W. Bush.)

  2. Charlie Hall says:

    That said, Goldberg is of course correct. Israel had nothing to do, for example, with the massacres taking place in Syria, although it is of course getting blamed. Israel could vote itself out of existence tomorrow and Syria would still have a civil war, Iran would still be pursuing nuclear weapons, and Al Qaeda of the Magrib would still be trying to take over Mali.

  3. The policy has been consistent but you're not correct about nobody caring about arab oil. Arab oil was already driving the politics of Palestine well before the state was established.

  4. Jacob Alperin-Sheriff says:

    Ironically, other people would make that argument as well, only with the conclusion that the Cold War is over and at this point our support for Israel doesn't provide the United States any strategic benefit anymore.

  5. So Charlie,you oppose the settlements,think Israel should return to the indefensible 67 borders?

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    If you want to keep the territories you have to annex them and give Israeli citizenship to the Arabs living there.

    But in any case, the borders aren't the issue today. Iran is.

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