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Emergent Saudi-Iranian Detente

donsutherland1

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Recently, Haaretz reported:

… the frequent contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia are not over the big arms deal or Iran's nuclear plans. The two countries have concluded that they need to reach an agreement on two other issues regarding their sphere of influence in the region: Iraq and Lebanon…

For its part, Saudi Arabia is not prepared to give Iran gifts, but it also doesn't want to lose all influence in Iraq. In Iraq as in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia realizes it's in a relatively inferior position vis-a-vis Iran; all it can do in these countries is to prevent Tehran from wielding exclusive influence. This is what the discussion between Saudi Arabia and Iran is now focusing on: deliberations during which Riyadh will try to divide its sphere of influence in Iraq and Lebanon with Iran.


The emergent Saudi-Iranian “détente” so to speak, provides a hint that Saudi Arabia has likely calculated that:

1) The U.S. is not credibly committed or able to preclude Iran’s becoming a nuclear power.

2) Iran is poised to become a great regional power, a development that will fundamentally alter the region’s balance of power.

3) The current time, ahead of those developments, will allow Saudi Arabia to obtain more favorable terms than when the former conditions are fulfilled.

A big risk for Saudi Arabia going forward will constitute how it deals with the changing balance of power. An ineffective response could greatly undermine the Kingdom’s influence. It could also open the Kingdom up to increasing Iranian pressure that could have regional and global implications.
 

Demon of Light

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As long as the Syrian-Iranian axis is in place Lebanon will largely be denied to Saudi influence. However, Iraq is a different story. The Kurds and Sunnis are of sufficient influence and power to make Iraq a more even struggle. It is likely there will be more geopolitical wrangling over Iraq than Lebanon, in my opinion.
 

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My how times change. When I was a kid, people didn't even have these kids of discussions. Beirut was still called the Paris of the Middle East, and Lebanon was still understood to be the Christian country in the region.
 

donsutherland1

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As long as the Syrian-Iranian axis is in place Lebanon will largely be denied to Saudi influence. However, Iraq is a different story. The Kurds and Sunnis are of sufficient influence and power to make Iraq a more even struggle. It is likely there will be more geopolitical wrangling over Iraq than Lebanon, in my opinion.

I generally agree. In addition, the demographic changes underway in Lebanon run counter to Saudi Arabia's long-term influence. Lebanon's Shia population is growing faster than any other demographic groups. Time is against Saudi Arabia's influence there and Iran/Syria/Hezbollah have the luxury of being patient there.

Considering that Saudi Arabia shares a border with Iraq, the stakes are even higher there from the Saudi perspective. Hence, Saudi Arabia might well be willing to offer much greater accommodation toward Iran's interests in Lebanon in exchange for a deal on Iraq that is more favorable for its interests.

For now, such an arrangement might well suit Iran's purposes. But as Iran evolves into a great regional power, Iraq could become a renewed focus of Iranian-Saudi rivalry, should Iran become interested in altering the region's status quo. Therefore, even in Iraq, Saudi Arabia will likely have to yield some ground if Saudi Arabia hopes to achieve a deal that has some degree of permanence.

What is interesting right now is that quietly, through its policy making, it appears that Saudi Arabia has placed a bet on the future. That bet implies Iran's becoming a great regional power, possibly a nuclear-armed one. Even if that future does not come to pass, Saudi Arabia may have reduced its own risk exposure.
 

William Rea

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My how times change. When I was a kid, people didn't even have these kids of discussions. Beirut was still called the Paris of the Middle East, and Lebanon was still understood to be the Christian country in the region.

Yes it has changed but not as you are implying.

In those days, sphere of influence was a matter of discussion between major Western Powers.

Worldwide access to diverse information and opinions has changed our parochial outlook.
 

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Yes it has changed but not as you are implying.

In those days, sphere of influence was a matter of discussion between major Western Powers.

Worldwide access to diverse information and opinions has changed our parochial outlook.

Unfortunately, all that worldwide access to diverse information has not resulted in knowledge of history, but simply the acceptance of an alternate one.

The FACT remains that Lebanon had a Christian majority upon its inception and that it was just not assumed to be yet another Islamic state by those bandying about notions as to which country had the most influence in its internal politics. That you do not know this, and have so rejected western culture that you have embraced the Arab street view of the world does not change this fact.
 

donsutherland1

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Yes it has changed but not as you are implying.

In those days, sphere of influence was a matter of discussion between major Western Powers.

Worldwide access to diverse information and opinions has changed our parochial outlook.

Spheres of influence--a reality in the past, the present, and almost certainly the future (even if some idealists argue that they have become obsolete)--may shift with demographics. Demographic change can create opportunities for outsiders who previously enjoyed less leverage to increase their influence. At the same time, it can erode the leverage of others.
 

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I generally agree. In addition, the demographic changes underway in Lebanon run counter to Saudi Arabia's long-term influence. Lebanon's Shia population is growing faster than any other demographic groups. Time is against Saudi Arabia's influence there and Iran/Syria/Hezbollah have the luxury of being patient there.

Considering that Saudi Arabia shares a border with Iraq, the stakes are even higher there from the Saudi perspective. Hence, Saudi Arabia might well be willing to offer much greater accommodation toward Iran's interests in Lebanon in exchange for a deal on Iraq that is more favorable for its interests.

For now, such an arrangement might well suit Iran's purposes. But as Iran evolves into a great regional power, Iraq could become a renewed focus of Iranian-Saudi rivalry, should Iran become interested in altering the region's status quo. Therefore, even in Iraq, Saudi Arabia will likely have to yield some ground if Saudi Arabia hopes to achieve a deal that has some degree of permanence.

What is interesting right now is that quietly, through its policy making, it appears that Saudi Arabia has placed a bet on the future. That bet implies Iran's becoming a great regional power, possibly a nuclear-armed one. Even if that future does not come to pass, Saudi Arabia may have reduced its own risk exposure.

A question that comes out of this is world energy policy. That is, when Iran has consolidated power in the region they will be able to use oil as a weapon. That perhaps more than any military might they may obtain will be their most potent threat to those who are their opponents.

With the current state of the world economy, not sure what would happen for example if we had another oil embargo.
 

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Amid Iran's Economic Woes, Sanctions Begin To Bite : NPR

There is growing evidence that the most recent economic sanctions imposed on Iran are beginning to hurt.

The Islamic republic is having difficulties finding international banks to handle the revenue from its oil sales — and those sales appear to be shrinking. Meanwhile, a recent dramatic drop in the value of Iran's currency has left many people shaken.

At the same time, the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is removing subsidies that could lead to price increases on everything from bread to gasoline.

Maybe Saudi Arabia should hang loose for a while. Iran seems to be having some economic problems right now due to the US influencing other countries to block Iran from banking with them. Iran may have problems influencing other nations if they cannot buy them off. Although, Saudi Arabia will probably be an enemy of ours in twenty years. Seems to be the trend in the Middle East. We bring one down so another can begin to control the rest of the region in immoral ways.
 

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A question that comes out of this is world energy policy. That is, when Iran has consolidated power in the region they will be able to use oil as a weapon. That perhaps more than any military might they may obtain will be their most potent threat to those who are their opponents.

With the current state of the world economy, not sure what would happen for example if we had another oil embargo.

Iran's possible ability to choke off shipments of oil from the Persian Gulf region would most definitely pose a threat to the world's sluggishly growing economies, which remain fragile, as well as broader U.S. vital interests. With resource nationalism likely to grow more prominent in the years ahead, the risk of such a scenario should be among those considered by policy makers. Hence, at least in my view, even if the Israel-Iran issue was non-existent or completely irrelevant, Iran's growing power would be a major international concern.

Compounding the possible evolution in the region's balance of power is growing U.S. vulnerability to just such a cut-off in access to Persian Gulf oil supplies. The lack of an aggressive effort by the U.S., not to mention other major oil consumers, to diversify their energy supply makes them increasingly vulnerable to oil supply disruptions/resulting price shocks, as the Persian Gulf will likely account for a growing share of the world's oil production down the road. IMO, this lack of effort highlights anew a tragic and persistent failure to learn from past crises that were not of a prolonged duration (1973 Arab oil embargo, 1979 Iranian oil embargo, 2008 oil price spike). Political rhetoric swearing commitment to energy supply diversification rings hollow when measured by policy actions. Unfortunately, credibility of political rhetoric is much less important than the very real increase in vulnerability to the kind of risk you describe.

Finally, often lost in the discussion of Iran's growing military power, is Iran's aggressive efforts to court ties with potential strategic partners. Iran continues to strengthen energy export links with China where demand for oil is increasing robustly. Given China's need for oil and strong economic growth to maintain social stability, that deepening bilateral relationship helps provide Iran with diplomatic insulation from truly severe sanctions that would target its energy sector. Iran also continues to intensify its already strong relationship with Venezuela. Were Iran to try to target the U.S. with an oil embargo, it is not implausible that Venezuela (a major U.S. supplier) might well cooperate.
 

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Iran's possible ability to choke off shipments of oil from the Persian Gulf region would most definitely pose a threat to the world's sluggishly growing economies, which remain fragile, as well as broader U.S. vital interests. With resource nationalism likely to grow more prominent in the years ahead, the risk of such a scenario should be among those considered by policy makers. Hence, at least in my view, even if the Israel-Iran issue was non-existent or completely irrelevant, Iran's growing power would be a major international concern.

Compounding the possible evolution in the region's balance of power is growing U.S. vulnerability to just such a cut-off in access to Persian Gulf oil supplies. The lack of an aggressive effort by the U.S., not to mention other major oil consumers, to diversify their energy supply makes them increasingly vulnerable to oil supply disruptions/resulting price shocks, as the Persian Gulf will likely account for a growing share of the world's oil production down the road. IMO, this lack of effort highlights anew a tragic and persistent failure to learn from past crises that were not of a prolonged duration (1973 Arab oil embargo, 1979 Iranian oil embargo, 2008 oil price spike). Political rhetoric swearing commitment to energy supply diversification rings hollow when measured by policy actions. Unfortunately, credibility of political rhetoric is much less important than the very real increase in vulnerability to the kind of risk you describe.

Finally, often lost in the discussion of Iran's growing military power, is Iran's aggressive efforts to court ties with potential strategic partners. Iran continues to strengthen energy export links with China where demand for oil is increasing robustly. Given China's need for oil and strong economic growth to maintain social stability, that deepening bilateral relationship helps provide Iran with diplomatic insulation from truly severe sanctions that would target its energy sector. Iran also continues to intensify its already strong relationship with Venezuela. Were Iran to try to target the U.S. with an oil embargo, it is not implausible that Venezuela (a major U.S. supplier) might well cooperate.

That's one half of the equation. The other half of the equation has to do with all that which ISN'T physical, but the stuff of ideology and influence played out in more subtle ways.

There is a reason almost all Europeans who have ever posted in these forums have extremely similar world views when it comes to the Middle east, and that is because of the way European media portrays world politics. That portrayal is heavily influenced by the need for oil, and is conducted in such a way as to cozy up ideologically to those who possess the stuff. Newspaper reporting siezes upon certain buzz words, frames issues according to certain sensitivities, and speaks in a language designed to avoid key areas of confrontation with those who sell them their oil. Accordingly, those who read these accounts are influenced in ways beyond their understanding, and repeat the same framing mechanisms as have been presented to them.

Oil is the hammer that drives the propaganda war, which has already succeeded in transforming public opinion in Europe. The very fact that we are discussing whether it is Saudi Arabia or Iran who is to control a once Christian country indicates we are losing it. In 40 or 50 years, will we be having similar discussions about other countries?
 

Demon of Light

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Spheres of influence--a reality in the past, the present, and almost certainly the future (even if some idealists argue that they have become obsolete)--may shift with demographics. Demographic change can create opportunities for outsiders who previously enjoyed less leverage to increase their influence. At the same time, it can erode the leverage of others.

Considering that, one has to wonder about Saudi Arabia's position on the Palestinian right of return. It would seem more beneficial for the Saudi position in Lebanon if the mostly Sunni Palestinians were made citizens of Lebanon rather than returning to Israel.

Iran's possible ability to choke off shipments of oil from the Persian Gulf region would most definitely pose a threat to the world's sluggishly growing economies, which remain fragile, as well as broader U.S. vital interests. With resource nationalism likely to grow more prominent in the years ahead, the risk of such a scenario should be among those considered by policy makers. Hence, at least in my view, even if the Israel-Iran issue was non-existent or completely irrelevant, Iran's growing power would be a major international concern.

I would say another issue not fairly considered is its domestic industry. Having been deprived of military weaponry from the West and only getting limited weaponry from Russia Iran has been building a self-sufficient weapons industry. While some may mock the progress it has made there are likely major developments not too far down the line. The Iranian Shafaq, even if it itself does not get mass-produced, could provide the basis for an Iranian fifth-generation fighter in the near future. Should Turkey procure the JSF as it intends then it provides avenues for Iranian engineers to advance their understanding and knowledge of fifth-generation fighter technology.
 

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Unfortunately, all that worldwide access to diverse information has not resulted in knowledge of history, but simply the acceptance of an alternate one.

The FACT remains that Lebanon had a Christian majority upon its inception and that it was just not assumed to be yet another Islamic state by those bandying about notions as to which country had the most influence in its internal politics. That you do not know this, and have so rejected western culture that you have embraced the Arab street view of the world does not change this fact.

Unfortunate, in your opinion but from my point of view it is an invaluable tool. I can access Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Al Jazheera...and so on almost instantaneously and it sounds to me that you oppose that sort of access? Having a choice to read both sides of the story and make up your own mind is not accepting one sides historical perspective as paramount. You would prefer that we only accept your brand of "Truth" as true and not that which opposes it?

I denied that Lebanon was a Christian majority country on its inception? Where?
 

William Rea

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That's one half of the equation. The other half of the equation has to do with all that which ISN'T physical, but the stuff of ideology and influence played out in more subtle ways.

There is a reason almost all Europeans who have ever posted in these forums have extremely similar world views when it comes to the Middle east, and that is because of the way European media portrays world politics. That portrayal is heavily influenced by the need for oil, and is conducted in such a way as to cozy up ideologically to those who possess the stuff. Newspaper reporting siezes upon certain buzz words, frames issues according to certain sensitivities, and speaks in a language designed to avoid key areas of confrontation with those who sell them their oil. Accordingly, those who read these accounts are influenced in ways beyond their understanding, and repeat the same framing mechanisms as have been presented to them.

Oil is the hammer that drives the propaganda war, which has already succeeded in transforming public opinion in Europe. The very fact that we are discussing whether it is Saudi Arabia or Iran who is to control a once Christian country indicates we are losing it. In 40 or 50 years, will we be having similar discussions about other countries?

Despite continuous and inflammatory failed attempts by similarly minded members, in this forum and the Europe forum, to paint Europeans as a single entity with one brainwashed view of the World Politick you still persist with this. There is no doubt a sizeable proportion of Europeans who do not agree with your viewpoint in many different ways but I would ask you why Europeans do not have the right to pursue their Global Interests when you vehemently affirm the right for the US and Israel to pursue theirs in the Middle East?

I for one am reviled by the way we deal with Saudi Arabia but resources and control of them make very strange bedfellows, this is NOT unusual. Going back to Dons very good point, we have had plenty of time to ween ourselves off of Middle East oil but choose not to do so, so we have to live with that. It is also a fact of grown up life that power balances change and sometimes you have to choose the lesser evil. The alternative and rather 20th Century view is that we can shoot and kill our way through this and it seems de rigeur amongst many hawks on here that we need to go across and deal the filthy Muslims a good old fashioned beating. How has that been successful in the last two hundred years?
 

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In response to a few of the posted messages concerning policy among Europe's nations and sentiments among Europe's peoples, there is little doubt that ideology remains an important factor in the foreign policy realm (Europe's nations and elsewhere). Moreover, it should be noted that in democratic societies, sustainable foreign policy has to enjoy sufficient domestic support. Otherwise, when a new government is elected, the unpopular foreign policy is at risk, unless truly critical or vital interests are involved. On the foreign policy front, domestic pressure has also shaped the policy trajectory. There is little doubt that public discontent with the Vietnam War influenced Congress and, in turn, growing Congressional resistance toward the war expedited the end of direct U.S. engagement in that conflict.

Such public discontent was viewed correctly by North Vietnam as a factor that would prevent renewed escalation by the U.S. should North Korea abandon its 1973 agreement to end the conflict. North Vietnam believed that the U.S. lacked the appetite to re-enter the conflict. Hence, deterrence failed and North Vietnam launched a renewed assault on the South and completed its conquest in 1975.

The same also holds true on the domestic policy side. For example, one has witnessed nations embark on tough austerity measures in the past, the emergence of widespread public discontent, the election of a successor government, and then the collapse of the broadly unpopular austerity measures. In authoritarian regimes, public opinion plays a lesser role.

Power/leverage is a crucial factor when it comes to foreign policy and arguably the most important in at least some contexts. Geography and natural resource endowments have made the EU more dependent on Middle East oil than the U.S. Hence, the Middle East's oil producers have greater bargaining power in their relationships with Europe's countries than they do with the U.S. Given the Mideast oil producers' greater bargaining power vis-a-vis Europe's countries, it is in the European countries' broad interest to maintain sufficiently good relations to assure access to Mideast oil. Those countries have less strategic flexibility to run risks than the U.S. does.

As one who falls mainly in the Realist school of foreign policy, I would argue that there is nothing automatically immoral about such a situation (all the while noting that some of the European countries' policies translate against what I would personally prefer). To be sure, a country's principles can and should help shape foreign policy, but foreign policy must, at a bare minimum, serve the national interest. That requirement concerning the national interest cannot be avoided. Sometimes it requires difficult trade-offs e.g., doing business with/even supporting oppressive governments. The recent news story that the U.S. is continuing to provide assistance to countries such as Yemen that have been deploying child soldiers provides an illustration of trade-offs.

Furthermore, I would argue that a much greater danger would exist if every country transformed its foreign policy into a moral crusade of sorts. For example, what if every country made "the expansion of social justice and equality worldwide" one of the major goals of its foreign policy and each was willing to bring its power to bear to try to achieve that goal. What would that mean? Left-of-center governments would have one understanding of the goal. Right-of-center governments would have another. That would create a very unstable situation.

Interests are often quite pragmatic e.g., access to raw materials necessary for a society's survival. Principles are less so, as they are intended to provide guidance over the longer-term. Moral principles are even less so, given their very basic nature. That's why ethnic conflicts can be so intense, so prolonged, and so difficult to resolve (e.g., they frequently re-ignite when the environment is conducive for such a development as one witnessed in post-Tito Yugoslavia).

Of course, there are limits to pragmatism. For example, when a status quo country is dealing with a revolutionary state that is committed to smashing the current arrangement, expediency in relations may only bring the status quo country a respite from an inevitable clash. Ultimately, the aims of the two countries could be irreconcilable and if the balance of power shifts in favor of the revolutionary state, it could shatter the previous understandings and use its power to try to bring its revolutionary aims to fruition.

Finally, let's say the U.S. wanted the EU to take a "tougher line" toward some of the Mideast oil producers. Would the U.S. be prepared to help assure part of the EU's oil supply e.g., be willing to sacrifice some of its own purchases from the global market or re-sell some of its purchases at cost to the EU (which would cause "pain" in the form of higher U.S. prices/supply shortages) so that the EU could gain an alternative? When the U.S. accounted for a much larger share of world oil production in the 1970s, the U.S. had the luxury to do so to some extent. Then, it was prepared to pursue an oil-sharing arrangement had the 1973 Arab oil embargo persisted. Today, that option does not exist. Global oil consumption is much greater than it was in 1973 and the U.S. accounts for a notably smaller share of world oil production.
 

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Despite continuous and inflammatory failed attempts by similarly minded members, in this forum and the Europe forum, to paint Europeans as a single entity with one brainwashed view of the World Politick you still persist with this. There is no doubt a sizeable proportion of Europeans who do not agree with your viewpoint in many different ways but I would ask you why Europeans do not have the right to pursue their Global Interests when you vehemently affirm the right for the US and Israel to pursue theirs in the Middle East?

I for one am reviled by the way we deal with Saudi Arabia but resources and control of them make very strange bedfellows, this is NOT unusual. Going back to Dons very good point, we have had plenty of time to ween ourselves off of Middle East oil but choose not to do so, so we have to live with that. It is also a fact of grown up life that power balances change and sometimes you have to choose the lesser evil. The alternative and rather 20th Century view is that we can shoot and kill our way through this and it seems de rigeur amongst many hawks on here that we need to go across and deal the filthy Muslims a good old fashioned beating. How has that been successful in the last two hundred years?


With rare exceptions, the Europeans who have posted here over the years have been so virulently anti-Israel, they differ little, if at all, from the prevailing attitudes found on the Arab street. If you actually wanted to prove my observations errant, instead of marching so completely in lockstep with this prevailing orthodoxy, you would be better served by a display of attitudes that were not so completely conformist.

Your every word proves my observations as spot on.
 

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With rare exceptions, the Europeans who have posted here over the years have been so virulently anti-Israel, they differ little, if at all, from the prevailing attitudes found on the Arab street. If you actually wanted to prove my observations errant, instead of marching so completely in lockstep with this prevailing orthodoxy, you would be better served by a display of attitudes that were not so completely conformist.

Your every word proves my observations as spot on.

I know that nothing would please you more than for me to retaliate outside the martial law rules, getting a ban and then that would be another dissenter of your world view out of the way. I note that you have decided to indirectly make a personal attack on me and on ordinary Arab people by implying that I am as uneducated in my views as someone on an Arab street. Fine, go on your way my friend if that is what makes you feel good. Instead, I will note your persistent attempts at this which mark you out as someone to just simply avoid.

You know NOTHING, not one single thing about me and you clearly know nothing about European views on the Middle East.

I would like to see the scientific research you have carried out that demonstrates that this particular forum has a representative sample of people that reflect European views on the Middle East. Did it ever cross your mind that the reason that dissenting Europeans are drawn here is because there are posters like yourself?

Probably not.
 

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Moderator's Warning:
All... either debate the *topic* exclusively or face the unpleasant consequences.
 

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I do not think Europe's perspective on Israel can be explained by oil imports. France, for instance, not only gets most of its electricity from nuclear power, but the largest sources of oil are other European countries. One should remember that France has been one of the more prominent supporters of the modern state of Israel through most of its history. Their foreign policy can be explained through a basic cultural perspective. France is a "godless" country in the sense that most do not believe in a god let alone have any religion. Catholicism is also the predominant religion and that sect of Christianity could be described as less sympathetic to Israel and Jews.

Here in the U.S. there exists a large dogmatic group of Christians who feel very strongly about the Jewish people and as a result feel strongly about Israel. This is impacted further by the fact the U.S. has possibly the largest Jewish community of any country and the only country where more Jews frequently have high-level positions in business and government is Israel.

This could additionally be said to be about imperialist desires. European countries are not as interested in the kind of power-exerting policies the U.S. has been pursuing. Back when France was still attempting to cling to an empire it made more sense for them to cozy up to Israel as it provided a foot in the Middle East. Now there is much less reason for staying close to Israel because France is less interested in imperialist policies.

One should also consider the impact domestic politics can have on a country. The U.S. could generally be described as right of center, while France would be better classified as left of center and that goes for most of Western Europe. Such a culture is less conducive to supporting a country like Israel since it would more likely be opposed to war.
 

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I do not think Europe's perspective on Israel can be explained by oil imports...

Oil imports are just one of a number of factors that shape Europe's interests vis-a-vis the Middle East. Moreover, the intensity of interests varies from EU state to EU state. I used the oil imports situation to help illustrate one area in which the Mideast's oil producers have greater leverage. It is not an all-inclusive description. It does not preclude other dimensions that shape the relationship.
 

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Spheres of influence--a reality in the past, the present, and almost certainly the future (even if some idealists argue that they have become obsolete)--may shift with demographics. Demographic change can create opportunities for outsiders who previously enjoyed less leverage to increase their influence. At the same time, it can erode the leverage of others.

and of course the other great factor - power. Western countries have seen their power decrease, while pwoer has increased for countries like China as well as aspiring regional hedgemons like Iran. Saudi Arabia is behaving as weaker states have always behaved - by trying to gain favour with countries that are anticipated to be stronger.

I suspect that william knows this, and his point, apparently, is that it is a good thing that modern, western, liberal free countries are seeing their power decline as the power of more localized repressive, backwards, philosophically aggresive countries increases.

Why, though, I really can't speculate.
 

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A question that comes out of this is world energy policy. That is, when Iran has consolidated power in the region they will be able to use oil as a weapon. That perhaps more than any military might they may obtain will be their most potent threat to those who are their opponents.

With the current state of the world economy, not sure what would happen for example if we had another oil embargo.

not sure it would be even remotely sustainable, as the OPEC countries have been unable to meet internal targets for a long time (because of cheating). But I suppose Iran could notionally pay others not to produce, though in reality it will never have the financial depth to do so.
 

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Oil imports are just one of a number of factors that shape Europe's interests vis-a-vis the Middle East. Moreover, the intensity of interests varies from EU state to EU state. I used the oil imports situation to help illustrate one area in which the Mideast's oil producers have greater leverage. It is not an all-inclusive description. It does not preclude other dimensions that shape the relationship.

The problem is, I do not think it really is a factor. Aside from domestic European oil production there is Russia's oil exports with countries like Algeria and Libya being the biggest contributors to the major European powers. Honestly it seems those countries most dependent on Middle Eastern states for oil are also the most in line with American foreign policy concerning the Middle East.

I think when you get right down to it the European Union is just less inclined towards the kind of policies we are talking about. Honestly, most member states of the EU are majority atheist or agnostic and so any notion that they would even care about Lebanon as a formerly majority Christian country is kind of silly.
 

CJ 2.0

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The problem is, I do not think it really is a factor. Aside from domestic European oil production there is Russia's oil exports with countries like Algeria and Libya being the biggest contributors to the major European powers. Honestly it seems those countries most dependent on Middle Eastern states for oil are also the most in line with American foreign policy concerning the Middle East.

I think when you get right down to it the European Union is just less inclined towards the kind of policies we are talking about. Honestly, most member states of the EU are majority atheist or agnostic and so any notion that they would even care about Lebanon as a formerly majority Christian country is kind of silly.

And as for why they would even care about countries being open and tolerant and providing human and civil rights to their population? Cause they don't really care about that sort of thing either, even though a majority of EU citizens have said rights and presumably believe in them fairly strongly.
 

donsutherland1

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...so any notion that they would even care about Lebanon as a formerly majority Christian country is kind of silly.

We agree on that point. Certainly, I've made no argument that the EU should care about Lebanon's demographics per se. It should be concerned with the broader issue of human rights, but sometimes that concern can be outweighed by other interests. In any case, such a move would not be unprecedented in the European historical context. In terms of foreign policy, Richelieu put France's national interest ahead of religious affiliation.
 
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