Tag Archives: geopolitics

Great moments in rent-seeking, the geopolitics of oil edition

From The Politics of Oil by Robert Engler, p. 265-6:

Despite these setbacks, the vacuity and fumbling of American foreign policy and its application to oil still promote the propping up of regimes whose days are numbered and who are prepare to trade their people’s physical heritage for dollars and military support. All this takes pace with the active participation of oil corporations that seek to integrate the raw material producing countries of the world into the processes of their private government. Late in 1958 the United Nations General Assembly received Soviet-backed resolutions, first proposing that the UN provide aid for nations wishing to develop their own petroleum resources and then one more simply suggesting a study of internatioanl cooperation in such development. The Americans simply responded to the bait of this blunt threat to the international companies and clear provocation to the producing countries of Latin America and the Middle East. “In no time at all the oil lobbyists were swarming around the United Nations,'” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. “There were so many conference between the oil men and members of the United States delegation that one American diplomat said he told the oil people to ‘let us alone so we can protect your interests.'” One oilman, a member of the delegation, “was warned to lie low.” Speaking for the United States, Senator Mike Mansfield rose to defend private enterprise and national sovereignty:

If the General Assembly starts with the oil industry today, where shall we stop? Will there be a separate resolution on the steel industry, the flour milling industry, poultry raising, cement manufacturing, automobiles, synthetic fibers or the hula hoop business?

In a setting where we know not where we are going, the quest for oil looms as one clear goal.

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