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Saudi Boycott


Lots of good Saudi e-mails. Here’s a sample:

“Dear Rich,
I bet you’ve probably heard these arguments already, but here goes: A unilateral boycott of Saudi oil by the U.S. would be a loony idea for three reasons. First, it would amount to a U.S.-funded economic subsidy to the Europeans and Japanese. By refusing the oil from the lowest-cost producer, we would pay marginally higher prices for our oil, prices currently borne all around the market. A boycott would therefore raise the overall amount we pay for energy while decreasing the cost to our economic competitors. Further deleterious economic consequences would follow, when foreign oil companies would be awarded the lucrative oil contracts and concessions currently enjoyed by Americans. Second, it would not harm the Saudis at all. As you recognize, they would still be able to sell their oil. The only “consequence” to them of such an action would be for them to finally be rid of the U.S. influence over their decisions, which would probably end up being a net-positive from their perspective. Third, it would entrench the strategic realignment in the Arab world away from the U.S. and toward the EU, Russia, and China. This realignment has been proceeding steadily since the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War notwithstanding. Ours is the sort of empire that requires peaceful engagement to be powerful. Should we decide to walk off the playing field, we shouldn’t be surprised when the other team scores a lot of points. Instead of a boycott of Saudi oil, we should do the opposite. We should increase our presence and involvement in the region, both economically and militarily. But, we should make clear that our intention is to spread liberal ideals. The first step to doing that, and demonstrating to the Saudis and everyone else that we mean business, is the swift and total destruction of the Baathists in Iraq.”


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