The Importance of Oil in U.S. Foreign Policy Essay

1904 Words8 Pages
The Importance of Oil in U.S. Foreign Policy

During the oil and energy crisis of the mid-1970s
Americans became painfully aware of the consequences of the
United States dependence on foreign sources of oil.
Unfortunately, research and exploration for alternative sources of oil in North America has not been pursued vigorously enough to cease such foreign dependence. As a result, in the mid-1990s Americans find themselves in the same precarious position as they were during the
1970s. The Persian-Gulf War in 1991 was all the proof needed to convince the United States of how strongly oil still influences our foreign policy and international relations in general. Oil and U.S. Foreign Policy: Historical Issues The United
…show more content…
However, the issues surrounding oil did become more clearly defined. According to Beaver
(1991), "the availability and cost of conventional energy sources; national security concerns; the technical, legal, and economic uncertainties related to synthetic fuels; and the emergence of large oil companies as major forces in shaping energy policy. These issues that became salient in the 1920s remain relevant to the 1990s" (Beaver, 1991, p.
241).
Both the Wilson and Harding administrations took proactive foreign policy actions in order to ensure adequate supplies of oil for the booming economy. Both administrations assisted major U.S. companies in their attempts to secure foreign oil agreements. For example, the government tried to persuade Great Britain and the
Netherlands to allow U.S. oil companies into the Middle East and Pacific regions where they controlled most of the oil reserves. The U.S. government hoped to gain an open door policy in oil exploration. However, U.S. diplomacy failed to secure this from either the British or the Dutch. According to Beaver, "Such failures frustrated U.S. officials. Frank
G. Lane, secretary of the interior, called British control of Middle Eastern oil "a menace." In fact, anti-British sentiments prompted Congress to pass retaliatory legislation barring foreigners from acquiring oil leases on public lands" (Beaver, 1991, p. 241).
Get Access