International Relations Honors Thesis Proposal - The Rise of the Middle East: United States Dependence on Foreign Oil

International Relations Honors Thesis Proposal - The Rise of the Middle East: United States Dependence on Foreign Oil

Given the rising influence of globalization and a distinguished world market, foreign policy has emerged as a critical dimension of a nation’s economic development and political prominence. Of particular importance to the United States’ domestic economy is its reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Historically there is an indisputable connection between political turmoil in the Middle East and the welfare of America’s economy. Severe unrest in the Middle East has accounted for three of the last five global recessions: the Yom Kippur war of 1973, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. As a result, the internal stability within Middle Eastern countries as well as the maintenance of a faithful relationship between the United States and its strategic Middle Eastern allies holds high rank in America’s national interest.

This thesis will examine the varying degrees of dependence the United States exhibits on several key Middle Eastern countries. Among the U.S. Department of Energy’s list of the world’s top oil producers are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Algeria. This thesis will narrow on a selection of Middle Eastern nations in order to analyze their accompanying foreign policies in which the United States has both historically maintained and currently executes. I will use a variety of governmental records from the U.S. State Department and Department of Energy as well as references from American newspapers (namely, the New York Times) and foreign media sources such as AlJazeera.

This thesis will perform a thorough analysis of the nature of trade policies the United States has developed with Middle Eastern nations, tracing the policies from their historical origins and examining key changes and evolution within foreign relations. As part of this observation I will give particular insight into political shifts in order to analyze the effect of regime change on foreign policy. Thus, the approach will become multidimensional as I investigate the political alternation from leadership within the United States as well as the Middle Eastern nation. In entering this observation, my hypothesis prescribes an inverse relationship between the frequency of oil trade and the effect on policy by political change. That is, the greater U.S. dependency on oil in a foreign country, the less its policy changes with leadership realignment (within either country).

Both a political and economic approach, this thesis will be grounded in historical reference of the United States’ economic dependence on the Middle East. Once a well-rounded dissolution of foreign policy has been established, it will explore potential policies that have been suggested in order to avert the high risk the U.S. faces in holding such critical stake in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

Works Cited

Roubini, Nouriel. “Global Stakes of Middle East Turmoil.” AlJazeera, 15 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2011

Independent Statistics & Analysis: U.S. Energy Information Administration. Countries. U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2009. Web. 15 Mar. 2011.

Cohen, Ariel. “Reducing Depending on Middle Eastern Oil.” The Heritage Foundation, 7 Apr. 2006. Web. 15 Mar. 2011