Oil Crusades: America Through Arab Eyes
Author: Abdulhay Yahya Zalloum
Publisher: Pluto Press, London
This book does a remarkable job of presenting, in succinct form, the basic contours of American foreign policy vis-a-vis the Arab world and subjecting that policy to vigorous critique. The author, a noted international oil consultant, marshals facts and figures to argue that American foreign policy is the single most deadly factor responsible for the ongoing conflicts in the Arab world and for growing anti-American sentiments in the Muslim world.
War, the author shows, is central to sustaining America’s bloated capitalist economy. It is thus not an aberration, but, rather, the rule. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western ideologues and political leaders deliberately sought to project Islam as the new ‘enemy’ of the West to justify massive increases in spending on armaments and efforts to expand Western hegemony in the name of defending ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’.
This, says the author, has come at an enormous cost. On the domestic front, the series of wars that the US is engaged in, in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, has meant a sharp curtail of civil liberties, and an economic crisis of unprecedented proportions with massive increases in government spending on financing its foreign imperialist offensives. On the external front, it has meant rising anti-American sentiments, particularly, but not only, among Muslims. It has caused tragic loss of life on an unimaginable scale. The West’s seeming unquenchable thirst for oil has led to the fiasco in Iraq, which, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, has further inflamed Muslim passions against Western aggression.
In addition to the West’s insatiable greed for oil, the author writes, is the enormous, and growing, clout of extreme right-wing Christian evangelical groups, fired by a theology of hate and perpetual war waged in the name of Jesus Christ. Such groups have powerful allies and spokesmen in the present American administration, and George Bush is one of them. Believing in the supremacy of Christianity and the bizarre notion that they alone possess access to God, all others being, so they claim, doomed to everlasting damnation in Hell, they are one of the fiercest backers of America’s imperialist offensives in large parts of the Muslim world.
No analysis of American foreign policy in relation to the Arab world can be complete without taking into account the central role that Israel and pro-Zionist lobbies play in shaping this policy. The book provides detailed references in this regard—to the role of pro-Israel organisations in America in influencing American domestic and foreign policies, to the close links between American and Israel secret services agencies, to the massive amounts of aid that Israel receives from the American government and various American charities, much of which is used to wage war against the Palestinians. Ironically, the author points out, although without elaborating, this might not have been possible, at least not to the same extent, had oil-rich Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, clients of the USA, had not helped keep the bankrupt American economy afloat with their massive recycling of petrodollars back to America.
In conclusion, the author rightly stresses that solving some of the most intractable ongoing conflicts in the Arab world require a drastic change in American foreign policy, for that is a key factor in their genesis. Furthermore, he suggests, this also requires genuine democratisation of Arab states that are ruled by dictatorial cliques kept in power by America, despite the American rhetoric of defending ‘democracy’.