Homework Help

Why is the Middle East so critical to U.S. foreign policy?Why is the Middle East so...

user profile pic

maganda123 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted September 8, 2008 at 10:52 PM via web

dislike 3 like
Why is the Middle East so critical to U.S. foreign policy?

Why is the Middle East so critical to U.S. foreign policy?

14 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted September 9, 2008 at 1:11 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

I could answer that in one word:  OIL.  Most of the oil the U.S. uses is imported from the Middle East.  It is strange to me that the U.S. has so much oil coming from this region, yet we are so hated there, for the most part.  We have a fairly decent working relationship with the Saudis, so this is our saving grace, I guess one could say.  

user profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 9, 2008 at 8:24 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

The other answer is Israel.  We have many committments to aid in their/its defense.  The one thing that we and the world cannot afford is a conflict between all the parties in the Middle East.  It has the potential to draw us into World War III if all the parties who had a stake in the area were to join.  Since some/many of these parties have nuclear weapons, it is very important to us to maintain stability in the area.

user profile pic

urthona | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted September 10, 2008 at 5:25 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

 

To clarify, oil imports account for about 60% of U.S. oil consumption. Imports from the Middle East make up only about 20% of total oil imports. Because of the rapid depletion of major oilfields in the U.S., Mexico, and other areas, the Persian Gulf region will be a key source of oil in the future because it has the world's largest known oil reserves.

Cheap oil was a major factor in the U.S.’s extraordinary economic growth in the 20th century. Petroleum powers industry and transport, and it is used to make fertilizer, asphalt, plastics, and many other products. U.S. politicians and corporations are keenly aware of the far-reaching impact of lower oil supplies and higher oil prices on the nation’s economy and security. Some Middle East observers view the U.S. actions in Iraq as the opening volley in a resource war against China and other rapidly industrializing countries.

Several key factors contributing to the Middle East having an enduring profound effect on U.S. foreign policy are:

* The decades-long U.S. attempt to broker a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians

* U.S. support and aid to Israel, which exceeds $3 billion/year

* the presence of U.S. troops and military bases in the Persian Gulf region (to protect oil supplies and infrastructure)

* U.S. support of arguably repressive, authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other countries.

 

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_a.htm

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/deploy.htm

user profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:20 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

What makes me so angry about energy consumption is that the government waited SO long to see the urgency of new energy resources.  The sudden interest in them is too little, too late, I am afraid.  

user profile pic

alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:24 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

The other answer is Israel.  We have many committments to aid in their/its defense.  The one thing that we and the world cannot afford is a conflict between all the parties in the Middle East.  It has the potential to draw us into World War III if all the parties who had a stake in the area were to join.  Since some/many of these parties have nuclear weapons, it is very important to us to maintain stability in the area.

One clarification on nuclear weapons, Israel is the only nuclear state in the Middle East, which is one of the reasons that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Estimates as to when Iran will acquire nuclear weapons technology range from 2-10 years. No other states in the Middle East are close to acquiring or developing nuclear weapons.

Further away in South Asia, both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons.

user profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 10, 2008 at 9:18 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

Although I wouldn't argue about the conventional geographical boundaries that separate the Middle East from South Asia, I find it difficult to believe that India, and particularly Pakistan, would not get involved in a nuclear conflict, especially if Israel were to use weapons that landed in vicinity of their land.  I think the conflict would spread far beyond the map boundaries.  

And I do not believe that Iran is pursing nuclear weapons only because of Israel.  I believe it's about power, and I think there is evidence that Iran has intentions far beyond Israel ... although it is impossible to prove this.  But we waited for "proof" in World War II ....

user profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 11, 2008 at 8:40 PM (Answer #8)

dislike 0 like

The criticisms the Middle East has towards the United States did not happen yesterday. It is important to the understand geo-political reality in a post WWII world if we seek even the slightest hope of something remotely related to peace. The irony of the present situation is that the United States was a relative "late comer" with regard to "IMPERIALISM". This is not to say imperialism with all its justifications is right, including the U.S. but there is no denying that the U.S. is being ideologically targeted for all the imperialistic behaviors of many other nations....including France. Oil was liquid gold for a post WWII America, but with all due respect, the Middle Eastern nations were willing to sell and sell they did. The fact that the majority of their citizens did not, or were not able to benefit from this tremendous economic incentive was the fault of their government, not ours.

With regard to Iran.....and nuclear weapons....do not think for a second they are not experimenting with the capacity to produce them. They regard the "western" influence as the work of the infidal... I have only one question....If western influences are the threat to their civilzation....why then do the terrorists use video tapes, technologically advanced western designed weapons to further their cause?

If Middle Eastern nations condemn Middle Eastern terrorism this writer believes that they do not do enough. When others feel the U.S. doesn't do enough no matter the category everyone has something to say.....talk about irony.

Today is a quiet day for me. I live within sight of those buildings in New York. My mother was missing for hours, my brother was missing over a day. I consider myself lucky because many folks that I know were not as lucky. My mom and brother came home. My husband lost many friends. Think about it...how does one attend 30, 40, 50 funerals????

Since (9-11-2001) EVERYONE I've asked from New York City responded the same way..... "going to Disneyworld" will never be the same....

SOMEONE STOLE SOMETHING FROM US....

how does that make you feel?

 

user profile pic

urthona | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted September 12, 2008 at 8:56 AM (Answer #9)

dislike 0 like

To expand on the discussion of Iran and nuclear weapons, the National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities (2007) stated that the U.S. intelligence community (IC) was highly confident Iran had stopped it nuclear-weapons program in the fall of 2003 and moderately confident that the program had not been restarted (as of mid-2007). The NIE’s key judgments also stated that the IC was highly confident “Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015.” See the first link.

A recent Washington Post article reporting on a September 4, 2008, speech by Thomas Fingar, the top analyst in the U.S. intelligence community, noted that he

predicted steady progress in the Islamic republic’s attempts to create enriched uranium, the essential fuel used in nuclear weapons and commercial power reactors. For now, however, there is no evidence that Iran has resumed work on building a weapon, Fingar said, echoing last year's landmark National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which concluded that warhead-design work had halted in 2003.

The entire article, titled "Reduced Dominance Predicted for U.S.," and Fingar's speech are interesting reads.

http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/20071203_release.pdf

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/09/AR2008090903302_2.html

http://www.dni.gov/speeches/20080904_speech.pdf

user profile pic

a-b | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted September 12, 2008 at 9:54 AM (Answer #10)

dislike 0 like

The criticisms the Middle East has towards the United States did not happen yesterday. It is important to the understand geo-political reality in a post WWII world if we seek even the slightest hope of something remotely related to peace. The irony of the present situation is that the United States was a relative "late comer" with regard to "IMPERIALISM". This is not to say imperialism with all its justifications is right, including the U.S. but there is no denying that the U.S. is being ideologically targeted for all the imperialistic behaviors of many other nations....including France. Oil was liquid gold for a post WWII America, but with all due respect, the Middle Eastern nations were willing to sell and sell they did. The fact that the majority of their citizens did not, or were not able to benefit from this tremendous economic incentive was the fault of their government, not ours.

With regard to Iran.....and nuclear weapons....do not think for a second they are not experimenting with the capacity to produce them. They regard the "western" influence as the work of the infidal... I have only one question....If western influences are the threat to their civilzation....why then do the terrorists use video tapes, technologically advanced western designed weapons to further their cause?

If Middle Eastern nations condemn Middle Eastern terrorism this writer believes that they do not do enough. When others feel the U.S. doesn't do enough no matter the category everyone has something to say.....talk about irony.

Today is a quiet day for me. I live within sight of those buildings in New York. My mother was missing for hours, my brother was missing over a day. I consider myself lucky because many folks that I know were not as lucky. My mom and brother came home. My husband lost many friends. Think about it...how does one attend 30, 40, 50 funerals????

Since (9-11-2001) EVERYONE I've asked from New York City responded the same way..... "going to Disneyworld" will never be the same....

SOMEONE STOLE SOMETHING FROM US....

how does that make you feel?

 

One thing to keep in mind is that the United States, through the CIA, helped overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran, which had planned to help distribute oil revenues more fairly to the citizens through nationalization of the oil industry. The Prime Minister, Mossadeq, was deposed and the deeply upopular Shah took over. He brutally oppressed dissent, and hoarded great riches for himself andf his family. This eventually lead to the Iranian revolution which brought religious fanatics to power, a position they still occupy. So in some sense you'd have to agree with Madeline Albright, who said that the coup in 1953 (backed and planned by the CIA) is what helped bring the terrible leadership in Iran to power.

In the case of Iran, it's not "Western influence" or technology that is a threat to their government, they have very real experience of a democratic government being overthrown for a Western puppet. It is this real experience that influences the actions of Iran to this day.

Something else to remember is that the primary victims of terrorism and religious extremism in the world are common people in the Middle East.  Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died from terrorist attacks in the past three years alone, and millions of Iranians have suffered under an unjust and corrupt regime that cloaks itself in religion.

user profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 12, 2008 at 4:56 PM (Answer #11)

dislike 0 like

In reply to #10, I totally agree and understand the affects and potential harm that can be caused as a result of "interference" by outside nations wanting their agenda's addressed. Is it right? Simple answer is of course 'no", however the geo-political realities of the 20th century are such "if hindsight could have been foresight we would all be in a more peaceful place." The U.S. is hardly an innocent bystander, and I hope I was not misinterpreted. To add to your statement regarding the overthrow of an elected government, the U.S. backed a cruel dictator in South Vietnam to prevent the potential communist candidate from gaining power. This is disturbing to me on many levels, but again we must always consider the mindset of our elected officials as well as the geo-political circumstances.  I have much compassion for the innocent people killed in the Middle East, it is horror magnified. It is unfortunate that the "ideas" that freedom and liberty and the aspiration they hold have not found a true home in this area of the world. I am of the belief that human beings, all of us, want to be free.

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 16, 2008 at 8:09 AM (Answer #13)

dislike 0 like

Unfortunately, it's not just the government's responsibility.  We as citizens should also be stepping up and telling them...our elected officials...what we want for our country and ourselves.

By the way, it seems to me that a leader of this nation should be willing to say the pledge of allegiance and wear a flag pin on his lapel.  If you can't uphold the principles of the nation, why should you be elected to run it?

user profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted September 16, 2008 at 3:55 PM (Answer #15)

dislike 0 like

I absolutely agree that our citizens should exercise their rights to express to their elected officials what we would like to see happen.  This is why I do not understand why some people do not exercise their right to vote.  For me, voting is not only necessary, it is great privilege in this country and one many take for granted!

user profile pic

bgl5704 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted September 24, 2008 at 10:19 PM (Answer #16)

dislike 0 like

The Middle East is a strategic position in the world. It is the center of the East. There america has oil, terrorism to conquer ( at least thats what they claim), and alliances to create. The US by no means are there trying to save other countries for no reason. Every action that the government makes is for the good of the United States. 

The United States would put thousands of our soilders lives at risk 1) crappy information 2) retaliation and elimination of governments that do not play well with the United States and are blocking what we want to get done 3) to maintain the alliances the US has over there because without them US would be dark and lonely. 4) Oil 5) Oil 6) Oil 7) We are stuck there because if we pull out now the iraq government will crumble and US might loose credibility (not that we haven't already lost it) from the world stage. 8) Iran is has a psychotic dictator that is VERY questionable 

This topic is so broad. There are so many answers. But all in all our presence in the Middle east seems to be vital for our survival. I agree with whoever talked about WWIII because it seems like we are on the brink of it. 

user profile pic

dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 7, 2008 at 7:24 PM (Answer #17)

dislike 0 like

The criticisms the Middle East has towards the United States did not happen yesterday. It is important to the understand geo-political reality in a post WWII world if we seek even the slightest hope of something remotely related to peace. The irony of the present situation is that the United States was a relative "late comer" with regard to "IMPERIALISM". This is not to say imperialism with all its justifications is right, including the U.S. but there is no denying that the U.S. is being ideologically targeted for all the imperialistic behaviors of many other nations....including France. Oil was liquid gold for a post WWII America, but with all due respect, the Middle Eastern nations were willing to sell and sell they did. The fact that the majority of their citizens did not, or were not able to benefit from this tremendous economic incentive was the fault of their government, not ours.

With regard to Iran.....and nuclear weapons....do not think for a second they are not experimenting with the capacity to produce them. They regard the "western" influence as the work of the infidal... I have only one question....If western influences are the threat to their civilzation....why then do the terrorists use video tapes, technologically advanced western designed weapons to further their cause?

If Middle Eastern nations condemn Middle Eastern terrorism this writer believes that they do not do enough. When others feel the U.S. doesn't do enough no matter the category everyone has something to say.....talk about irony.

Today is a quiet day for me. I live within sight of those buildings in New York. My mother was missing for hours, my brother was missing over a day. I consider myself lucky because many folks that I know were not as lucky. My mom and brother came home. My husband lost many friends. Think about it...how does one attend 30, 40, 50 funerals????

Since (9-11-2001) EVERYONE I've asked from New York City responded the same way..... "going to Disneyworld" will never be the same....

SOMEONE STOLE SOMETHING FROM US....

how does that make you feel?

 

One thing to keep in mind is that the United States, through the CIA, helped overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran, which had planned to help distribute oil revenues more fairly to the citizens through nationalization of the oil industry. The Prime Minister, Mossadeq, was deposed and the deeply upopular Shah took over. He brutally oppressed dissent, and hoarded great riches for himself andf his family. This eventually lead to the Iranian revolution which brought religious fanatics to power, a position they still occupy. So in some sense you'd have to agree with Madeline Albright, who said that the coup in 1953 (backed and planned by the CIA) is what helped bring the terrible leadership in Iran to power.

In the case of Iran, it's not "Western influence" or technology that is a threat to their government, they have very real experience of a democratic government being overthrown for a Western puppet. It is this real experience that influences the actions of Iran to this day.

Something else to remember is that the primary victims of terrorism and religious extremism in the world are common people in the Middle East.  Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died from terrorist attacks in the past three years alone, and millions of Iranians have suffered under an unjust and corrupt regime that cloaks itself in religion.

Absolutely true....like I said the United States is not without sin here, however I 'know' others nations also share the responsibility of the Middle Easten mess but not much of the blame.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes