Oil vs Freedom


#1

Egypt, not knowing much about Egypt other than it has been (or is) one of America’s most dependable allies in the Middle East. As I learn more I realize the leader is in power 30 years and this really isn’t a democracy. So, the question is Egypt important to the US just for oil? What about freedom and democracy we stand for? Have we looked the other way for reasons of our own self interest, namely oil? Most of the the mid east oil flows via the Suez Canal. Even if the oil didn’t come from an oil field in Egypt it came to use via the Suez Canal. So, do we support Egypt’s people and their desire for freedom? Or, is it still all about us and making sure we have all the oil we need?


#2

While I don’t think we import much oil from Egypt, it has had a number of significant finds over the last 10+ years. Nothing compared to the ‘big’ producers, though. Per the EIA: “Total oil production, however, has declined since the country?s 1996 peak of close to 935,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) to current levels of about 685,000 bbl/d. Egypt?s consumption and production levels are similar but the country does not yet rely on imports to meet domestic demand. Egypt also has the largest oil refining sector in Africa and since refining capacity now exceeds production, some non-Egyptian crudes are currently imported for processing.”

A bigger issue might be the Suez canal security.


#3

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t we just let the Egyptians work this out for themselves? In the long run, no matter what we say or do, it will be up to them.


#4

“Freedom” and “democracy” - aside from being nearly indefinable in any clear and absolute sense - have never been what has guided US foreign policy. What US foreign policy has most often been concerned about is just “free” markets regardless of what kind of political system this happens under. This is why the US has very very often supported things like military dictatorships even if challenged by popular “democratic” movements. Mubarak is quite tame in comparison to others that the US has supported.


#5

First, Egypt doesn’t produce much oil, especially compared to its middle eastern neighbors.

Second, most of our allies in the region (north Africa and the Middle East) are dictatorships. Please see http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/31/americas_other_most_embarrassing_allies .

We buy oil from whoever is selling oil. If we didn’t, our economy would come to an abrupt halt, and you would find yourself with much less freedom than you have now. You could, of course, give up your freedom in the remote hope that it helps freedom spread to oil-producing dictatorships.

As some of us learned from the Iraq war, countries will only see democratic revolutions when the people of those countries are ready to rise up on their own. When we try to push them into revolting when they aren’t ready to do it on their own, thousands of our soldiers, and thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians end up dead.


#6

It would appear that our country’s efforts to protect US is mostly to protect those among us who have a great deal of money and influence. And they see no problem with propping up dictators as long as proper appearances can be kept. I feel somewhat certain that you are correct, Whitey. A great deal of money and innocent lives have been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan for the sake of keeping our freeways full and our congressmen warm and cozy on the pretext of taking democracy to the region.


#7

You don’t have to look far - our ‘buddy’ to the south, in Venezuela, is far from ‘democratically’ elected. We have no trouble buying their oil.


#8

Keeping the congressmen warm and cozy? Do we ignore the corporate execs? Seems that the “great recession” hit everyone - except in energy. Huge, record profits everywhere. I don’t know why people tend to want to lay everything on politicians. Oh those poor businessmen - just part of the oppressed masses.


#9

Egypt’s importance has little to do with oil. Egypt’s peaceful relationship with Israel in the last 30+ years has been critical to Israel’s survival, and therefore of great importance to the US as a supporter of Israel. The people who are really worried by the uprising are not SUV-driving Americans worried about the price of gas, but Israelis worried that the next rulers of Egypt may not be so friendly.


#10

It’s more than the rich being protected. I don’t believe in trickle down economics, but I do recognize high fuel prices hurt the poor more than they hurt the rich. The rich can afford to keep driving when gas costs $4/gallon. The little guy, not so much.


#11

Whether or not Chavez was democratically elected depends on who you ask. In spite of some of the things he does, he does take care of the poor, and he is quite popular. Unfortunately, nobody is protecting the rights of the minority in Venezuela, made up of those who don’t like him.


#12

He has repeatedly obtained expanded powers, and while he helps the poor, it’s more to buy their support - how else does one explain $0.25/gallon gas? That’s not a good thing, it encourages huge waste and is a major impediment to true economic growth. But it buys votes.


#13

I don’t think Mubarak is a swell guy but the group behind these protests is a radical Muslim group that has sworn to wipe out Israel, take down the U.S. etc.

If you look at the number of protesters compared to Egypt’s total population you would probably find that percentage is miniscule.
A quarter million people protesting compared to a population of what, 70 or 80 million?


#14

Asy yourself "why today is Israel still supported with an almost "no questions asked policy? In times gone by there was good reason to support Israel as it was our one ally in a area dominated by the former Soviet Union. It was in the U.S. best interest to support one place when we were at least tolerated. Today I am looking for the reason Israel recieves the level of support it does (perhaps because there are more Jews in NY than Isreal. I bear no guilt for the US government refusing to provide better support for Jews during the Second World War, as I was not born then. I bet a lot of the support for Isreal is based upon guilt.


#15

Well, the alternative is to go ahead and do what has most frequently happened in Latin American nations - you turn over the nations productive resources to multinational corporations. This rewards the wealthy, tiny minority at the top and the corporations while huge masses of people are basically used as dirt cheap labor while the profits off of their backs and resources are shipped back to the home office. Lets not pretend that this counts as economic growth - well, ok. You could always ask growth for whom?


#16

True, that’s happened, but that’s not the only option. The growing middle class in Venzuela could do more, but they’ve been cut out of the government. Many were fired from their jobs following the last strike, and many have left the country. Pitting class against class hurts them both.


#17

It’s not guilt so much as the facts of a large and influential population of Jewish-Americans, a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington (AIPAC), and a strong evangelical/fundamentalist Christian movement in the US that see Israel as a key to defeating Islam.


#18

“True, that’s happened” - ? You say it like its just one of those once in a while things. It has been the basic m.o. of Western nations. It is fundamentally what has shaped the economics & politics of Latin American - admittedly much more so in Central America than South. But it is still the primary shaper of things in most of Latin America. I’m not sure what the Venezuelan middle class was going to do about it.


#19

I wouldn’t go that far, but Iran is potentially a major atomic threat, looks like Israel’s a counter.


#20

Yes, that too.