YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

September 11, 2009

Oil politics and Obama’s “Israel”

Herbert Feis, economic advisor to FDR

Since James Traficant, ex-Congressman from Youngstown Ohio, newly released from jail, appeared on Fox last night (9-10-09) on Greta Van Susteren’s program, and since he explained recent American interventions in the Middle East as a product of omnipotent Jewish machinations (machinations that eventuated in the understandable attacks of September 11, 2001!), I thought it appropriate to review 1. the importance of oil to American interests as early as the middle of the second world war; and 2. Obama’s abysmal ignorance of the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, let alone the diplomacy surrounding the founding of Israel and America’s ambiguous role in it.

Here is a passage from Obama’s second book, The Audacity of Hope, subtly reiterating the hostile Arab narrative at the end of the second world war (i.e., the Holocaust was Europe’s doing, and Arab states should not be asked to bear the burden of the sins of others: the Jews should disperse and return to their countries of origin. This argument has never changed).  I believe it is an indication of the Obama presidency’s likely attitude toward the U.S. role in mediating the conflict between Israel and her neighbors. He briefly reminisces about his trip to the region:

[Obama:] “I talked to Jews who’d lost parents in the Holocaust and brothers in suicide bombings; I heard Palestinians talk of the indignation of checkpoints and reminisce about the land they had lost. I flew by helicopter across the line separating the two peoples and found myself unable to distinguish Jewish towns from Arab towns, all of them like fragile outposts against the green [sic?] and stony hills.

We have an obligation to engage in efforts to bring about peace in the Middle East, not only for the safety and security of the people of the region, but for the safety and security of our own children.” (Audacity of Hope, p.322. Can you decode these statements without me, readers? The U.S. was never neutral, and is not now. The conflict was not about two peoples fighting over the same piece of land–the cycle of violence frame to the conflict– but was about the fears of a disunited group of Arab states fearful of their own impoverished populations, and terrified of an advanced democracy, keen on economic development, planted in their region. All other explanations come from corporatist liberals who think both sides are irrational and susceptible to mediation by the neutral intervention of more rational and compassionate powers. On corporatist liberalism, see http://clarespark.com/2009/08/09/what-is-a-corporatist-liberal-and-why-should-they-frighten-us/ . Heaven forbid that Israel should conduct negotiations with its neighbors without U.S. bullying.)

In these three sentences (I found no other pages on the subject), could we have made inferences about Obama’s likely foreign policy, or his grasp of the politics, history, and geography of Israel and its environs prior to the election? Will it be continuous with that of Roosevelt administration official Herbert Feis, one of Roosevelt’s economic advisors? This is what Feis wrote in his concluding thoughts on international cooperation regarding Middle East oil, published in 1946, but referring to failed U.S. government initiatives in 1943-44 and centering on Saudi Arabia:

[Feis:]“…no program having merely to do with the protection of oil resources can prevent them from becoming a cause of dispute if the great powers quarrel about the political control of the region. If any one of them takes measures hostile to the others or encourages threatening attacks against established political positions of the others, then each oil field in the Middle East will be the scene of turmoil, plot, and counterplot.

Within the next year this may become a grave danger. Arab opposition to further Jewish immigration in Palestine might express itself in a repudiation of existing American and British rights and a search for Russian protection in such measures. This is highly unlikely; but if such a situation arises, it must be ardently hoped that the USSR will not exploit it. There will only be “order in oil” if the large powers work with, not against, each other in the management of the political affairs of the Arab states. Otherwise, any international agreement on oil will be without future. Its phrases would be merely weapons to wound.

Here lies the test of future diplomacy. If it fails, there will be no harmonious way of assuring the availability of Middle Eastern oil to the United States. Whether or not we protect established American enterprises in the regions against the troubles that may beset them will become primarily a matter of military calculation. We shall have to bend over those plotting boards on which the rights and destinies of nations are measured solely in units of force. In other words, we shall be in the anteroom of war.” [Herbert Feis, Seen from E.A., pp189-190]

As I will show in future blogs, the U.S. was concerned solely with protecting oil supplies that would be vital for the restoration of Western Europe as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, and this entailed maintaining the alliance with Great Britain, a shaky one as the war ended. (If you don’t believe me, read Skidelsky in vol. 3 of his Keynes biography.) Hence during the various UN interventions in the conflict between the aspiring, then actual, Jewish state and its neighbors (1947-49), the U.S. looked to its own long term interests. The notion that the U.S. elites were ever a disinterested, morally motivated friend to Jews and Israelis, let alone supine in their acquiescence to New York Jews and their votes or Hollywood and its propaganda, is a convenient myth for populist politicians in the U.S. and anti-Western forces elsewhere.

In my view, the primary reason that a Jewish state exists today is 1. the temporary diplomatic and material support of the Soviet Union (secret arms shipments from Czechoslovakia that angered Bunche, who saw the Israelis as likely communists and undoubtedly expansionist), deployed in the expectation that  Israel would join the Soviet bloc, while throwing Great Britain out of the region; and 2. the willingness of Israeli Jews to take huge casualties to defend its tiny nation. It was only Israeli military victories in defiance of UN interference that brought Egypt to the negotiating table in early 1949, and the armistices that were mediated by Ralph Bunche were not for peace and defensible borders, but for a halt in the fighting, for Israel was expected to conquer yet more territory. [This latter interpretation is based upon my reading of the Ralph Bunche papers at UCLA, collected by Sir Brian Urquhart as he wrote his biography of Bunche. For another blog on this subject, see http://clarespark.com/2014/05/17/miracle-man-ralph-bunche-saves-the-un/.]

It is crucial to understand that without oil from the region, the Marshall Plan would have failed, for oil was central to the economic recovery of Western Europe. America’s own supplies were already drying up. It was not just romantic Arabism in the U.S. State Department that determined U.S. policy, but the Cold War. Current misconceptions about the love of the U.S. for “the Jews” or for Israel only lead us away from the economic-political reasons for U.S. policy. Isolationists and populists from the likes of Traficant or Patrick Buchanan or, to climb up a notch in the status ladder,  Walt and Mearsheimer, are patently absurd when they claim that the “Israeli lobby” determines U.S. foreign policy. It is even more shocking when Jewish leftists or left-liberals echo their ignorance about the history of the region.

These are my thoughts on the anniversary of the attacks of 9-11-01, and I fear that they are all too relevant. Norman Podhoretz is going around complaining that Jews are too liberal. I wish that he would complain about the ignorance of diplomatic history or the indifference to it, as evidenced in the schools and in the media.

[Added 4-11-10: see this recently declassified document http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/CriticalIncidentNo.14.pdf. Although heavily redacted, it validates my analysis that the Cold War context was crucial to writing diplomatic histories of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that the U.S. was ready to intervene if Israel attempted to expand its borders beyond the 1949 armistice lines. Throughout, the State Department document, the desire for "stability" in the region is paramount. U.S. policy is clearly stated.]

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7 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on Jgeorgia2000's Blog and commented:
    An excellent background research on Israel and middle east oil:
    It is crucial to understand that without oil from the region, the Marshall Plan would have failed, for oil was crucial to the economic recovery of Western Europe. America’s own supplies were already drying up. It was not just romantic Arabism in the U.S. State Department that determined U.S. policy, but the Cold War. Current misconceptions about the love of the U.S. for “the Jews” or for Israel only lead us away from the economic-political reasons for U.S. policy. Isolationists and populists from the likes of Traficant or Patrick Buchanan or, to climb up a notch in the status ladder, Walt and Mearsheimer, are patently absurd when they claim that the “Israeli lobby” determines U.S. foreign policy. It is even more shocking when Jewish leftists or left-liberals echo their ignorance about the history of the region.”

    Comment by jgeorgia2000 — January 24, 2014 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  2. Pretty remarkable piece of work! Obama’s uninformed opinions about the poor arabs having to shoulder the burden of the holocaust is particularly disturbing. Islam is not native to Israel/Judea/Palestine. It came via the 7th c., from Arabia. It was a foreign conquest, while there has been a steady Jewish presence in Palestine even through the Roman expulsion. The arabs couldn’t bear the thought that the dhimmi Jews could establish a state of their own, let alone defeat the “mighty conquerors” of Islam. That item on Bunche is also disturbing, myself having graduated UCLA in the 60’s. After WWII, the US clamped an embargo of arms, material, and trained fighters bound for Palestine and the Haganah. It’s amazing that Israel has endured against such odds. Apparently, England threatened Israel with war if she continued in ’48, to invading the West Bank. After the temporary armistice in ’48, Israel finally was getting the weapons that had heretofore been allowed only in arab hands. Getting back to Obummer, I do believe that he’s holding Israel back from striking Iran at this crucial time. Thank you Ms Spark-quite informative!

    Comment by Moshe — January 14, 2014 @ 5:08 am | Reply

  3. There is no historical continuity to Obama’s foreign policy. He is a sunni muslim. Saudi Arabia is the preeminent sunni muslim nation. Obama showed his fealty to the king of Saudi Arabia by bowing to him. Saudi Arabia supports the muslim brotherhood and Obama does too. The US helped depose Mubarak who was an ally and now the MB governs Egypt. Obama has ignored those in Egypt who want freedom. Saudi Arabia supported the rebels in Libya and Obama went to war against Khadaffi. Saudi Arabia also supports the rebels in Syria. The Administration has been transferring weapons from Libya to the rebels.

    Sending M-1 tanks and helicopter gunships to Egypt is not about oil. It is just what a good muslim would do.
    [Added 1-19-13 with permission of gestelois: As a child, he was adopted by Lolo Soetero, his mother's second husband, who moved the family to Indonesia. At that time Obama went by the name of Barry Soetero. Obama has done a good job of hiding his paper trail, but he missed a document: his registration form for a school in Indonesia. It lists his faith as muslim. There is nothing he has done that could convince one that he is not a muslim. It is permitted for muslims to lie to infidels and sitting in Rev. Wright's church for 20 years can be considerred as a form of lying.]

    Comment by gestelois — January 19, 2013 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

  4. [...] The bad part about predicting that Jews may switch parties because of Israel and its growing unpopularity among academic elites is this: it buttresses the antisemitic notion that Jews have dual loyalties, that they are indeed “ a people apart,” the Wandering Jews (rootless cosmopolitans) who never put down roots but adhere to tribal loyalties and the directives of their domineering, militaristic, and angry Jewish God as represented in the (Christian) Old Testament.  The irony is that few if any American presidents (relying on the Arabist State Department) have put the interests of Israel above the national interests of the U.S., notwithstanding the allegedly omnipotent “Jewish lobby.” (See http://clarespark.com/2009/09/11/oil-politics-and-obamas-view-of-israeli-history/.) [...]

    Pingback by The famed “Jewish vote” « YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — June 17, 2011 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  5. Nice work! — a reader of PJM.

    Comment by Frumious Falafel — March 31, 2011 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  6. [...] Europe), but because of Cold War competition between the West and the Soviet Union (see my blog http://clarespark.com/2009/09/11/oil-politics-and-obamas-view-of-israeli-history/), the willingness of Israelis and other Jews who joined them to take large casualties in the 1948 [...]

    Pingback by News From The Social Justice Front « YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — October 21, 2009 @ 1:59 am | Reply

  7. It is the Sineurabia code of those who want to benight us with global feudalism, who yearn to whitewash and canonize the nazi pope, who see business, especially finance, as evil, who hate books and the Yehuds, Yovans and Parsis who write them. They could not even countenance a Kenyan pope or a Mormon president, but keep promoting Islamic candidates for public office and call theirs a religion of peace. On September 16, 1920, Italian terrorists blew up Wall Street. They set the precedent for 9/11 and they like it.

    Comment by martyfink — September 16, 2009 @ 5:28 pm | Reply


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