Does Oil Alone Explain Why US Supports Revolution in Libya, But Helps Stop It Elsewhere?
509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, maintainers and crew chiefs, prepare B-2 Stealth Bombers for Operation Odyssey Dawn, March 19, 2011. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenny Holston/Creative Commons.
If you're at all informed about the historical interaction of US foreign policy it's no doubt occurred to you that at least one of the factors at play in the inconsistent national response to the various uprisings and full fledged revolutions continuing in the the Middle East and North Africa is oil, which nation's have it, which don't, and continuing to secure ample supplies of it. If you're in that camp, you're also in the same camp as Representative Ed Markey (D-MA).
On MSNBC yesterday he laid out the motivations for US intervention in Libya in no uncertain terms. "We're in Libya because of oil," he said. Watch the video below:
Markey goes on to use his 1:45 of air time to make the point that as the US intervenes in Libya because of oil, funding for renewable energy is under threat from Republicans and that we ought to be developing a more sustainable energy policy than just more(!!!) oil(!!!). Which is true.
But what Markey doesn't explicitly say is something important, what I led with. We've got a painfully familiar situation going on right now: The US response to the Egyptian uprising was slow in coming, nearly until the writing was already fading from the wall that Mubarak was finished. The response to the ongoing uprising in Yemen has been mute; ditto in Oman. In Bahrain, where there's an important US naval base, there's been hardly a word about violent repression of dissent. In Saudi Arabia it's the same story.
But in Libya, now that full-fledged revolution is under way against the tyrannical rule of Gaddafi and it seems intervention can kick out of power one of the poles of the Axis of Evil (remember that?), we bomb away.
For sure, the fact that civilians were and are being gunned down in the scores by Gaddafi plays a factor as well. Motivations are seldom either black and white in international affairs. But to think that the US response in all these nations is about supporting the democratic aspirations of the people first and foremost, or that the US has ever really been in that business, is off the mark.
Fortunately the Obama administration hasn't seen fit to peddle pablum about supporting freedom in the Middle East like the Bush Administration did. At least they aren't assuming the American public is as country dumb as that.