Oil is still an important consideration, but now ironically so. For the last half-century, Arabs have damned the West for developing the Middle East oil industry, for supposedly supporting authoritarian oil sheiks who sell petroleum at astronomical prices to the U.S. and Europe, buy Western weapons, live it up on Western junkets in quite anti-Koranic fashion, and then manage to buy off their own publics to table any ideas of social or political liberalization. They have gotten rich off their oil that someone else found and developed; and they have embargoed it, price-gouged it, and used it as blackmail.
But now the U.S. and North America are nearing self-sufficiency in oil and gas production. The United States soon will not need much Middle East or Mediterranean oil. Perhaps the oil-hungry Chinese and Europeans can deal better with Sunnis, Shiites, Baathists, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the theocrats in Iran, Bashir Assad, the coup in Egypt, and whoever is rioting, blowing themselves up, or storming an embassy this week.
In sum, Middle-East teenage strutting, pontification, boutique anti-Americanism, brutal anti-Western terrorism, and general game-playing were always predicated on one common denominator: the parent U.S. felt it just had to put up with the whining of the adolescent Middle East.
November 5, 2013