Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Undoubtedly most of world’s political commentators agree that, the 9/11 attacks on the US have drastically changed how it views the rest of the world and how it conducts its foreign policy. But in order to understand the extent of this radical change, one needs to glance back to where US’s foreign policy stood before 9/11. Although America has been involved in various wars since its inception, there were period that it adopted a policy of “none intervention or isolationism”. This is due to combination of the 1930s depression and the disastrous loses of World War I (US department of State, 2011). During this period the US seemed to choose not to get involved with European and Asian conflicts and ‘non- entanglement’ in international politics (US department of State, 2011). It’s also important to point out that there are other arguments which reject the notion of US isolationism and called it a ‘myth’ (Rubin, 2002, p.29) and they support their arguments by claiming that “American policy up to World War I was always filled with messy diplomatic and military disputes with European powers, China and Japan” (Rubin, 2002).
During the end of the Second World War and subsequent Cold War the US foreign policy was aimed at containing the Soviet communism, and when Bush junior took over the white house in 2001, his administration mainly focused on domestic issues and some of his major foreign policies was the implementation of the “missile shield” programme to be installed in Eastern Europe (Crawford, 2004). But after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, President Bush adopted a radical shift in his country foreign policy and how it interacts international community. ‘A decisive policy shift from pre 9/11 strategy of containment to post 9/11 strategy of regime change’ (Litwak, 2007, p.xiii)
This essay argues that, although the principal US foreign policy always stays the same, because it always puts its national interest first before anything else, and ‘very much in keeping with the vision of America’s founding generation and the practice of the statesmen in the Early Republic’ (Owens, 2008, p.1) it has undergone a radical shift in many ways since 9/11. Nevertheless, the post-9/11 strategies of Bush Administration do mark a radical shift in U.S. foreign policy objectives. Specific areas such as unilateralism, pre-emptive attack, regime change, human rights violations and George W. Bush-era are the main objective this essay is going to focus. But before I talked about these radical shifts one need to understand the theories and school of thought that has affected and shaped American foreign policy making process.
W. R Mead In his book (Special providence: American foreign policy and how it changed the world)argues that, there are four distinct school of foreign policy that shaped US foreign policy. (Mead, 2001, p.xvii) These schools have established as Mead further put it “Basic ways of conducting US foreign policy” (ibid). “Hamiltonian” for example gives emphases to relationship between US government and corporations domestically and internationally. “Wilsonians” advocate the spread of American values, further emphasising the importance of international cooperation. (Mead, 2001) Jeffersonian seems to be radical in their foreign policy in comparison to ‘Hamiltonians’ and ‘Wilsonians’ unlike these two schools of thought, Jeffersonian focuses on protecting American interest in an anarchic world. (ibid) and finally, Meeds ends his list that “Jacksonians believe that the united states should not seek out foreign war, but when other nations start wars with US, Jacksoinian opinion agree with that of Gen Douglas MacArthur that “there is no substitute for victory” (Mead, 2001) these four schools have therefore guided US foreign policy from its inception to present.
So now I have pointed out the theories behind US foreign policy and how such theories guided and influenced its relationship with the rest of the world. Than the question is what is the radical shift that has taken place in US foreign policy? One of the major foreign policy shifts the US has undergone since 9/11 is, under President Bush’s (junior) administration, is the US has retreated from multilateral involvement and adopted ‘unilateral imperialism’ approach (Crawford, 2004, p.686). And this was clearly evident with respect to 2003 Iraq invasion, whereby the US and its coalition of the willing went to war without UN authorizations.
Since 9/11 US foreign policy has undergone a major shift to a particular direction, the direction of pre-emptive attack due to the influence of the ideology of ‘unilateral imperialism’ theory led by neo-conservative elements within Bush administration such as Dick Cheney (Rogers, 2008). Furthermore, Bush made it clear that the United States would hunt and destroys what he called the terrorist training camps wherever they might be and thus pursued a robust and hostile foreign policy. This clearly implies that the US would carry out unilateral attack on terrorist suspects within sovereign states without asking for permission, and example of this would be the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan which was allegedly carried out without the consent of Pakistani government. Therefore the traditional approach to US foreign policy such as deterrence, containment and sanctions seems to be inadequate or had no place in Bush’s form of foreign policy (Owens, 2008, p.4)
9/11 undoubtedly changed US direction which saw US aggressively involved internationally, invading Afghanistan and Iraq ‘following an either you are with us or against us foreign policy (Kaufman, 2010, p.140)’. Therefore as result of this policy shift Iraq was invaded, an invasion that was not ‘legitimate defensive move’, by the US, but rather an illegal war that the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan explicitly said violated the UN Charter and international rule of law. (Kramer & Michalowski, 2005) In this respect a crime was committed, and the crime was the violation of international law by the US and its allies (Kramer & Michalowski, 2005).
The underlying claimed that Iraq possess Weapon of Mass destruction ‘that might eventually be used against the United States, either directly or through terrorist networks’ was not substantiated, therefore President bush pursued a policy of democratization in the Middle East and Iraq in particular, because as Toby Dodge argued, “the realist approach embraced by his predecessors which openly supported dictators because they were allied with the US was abandoned instead, the aim was to implement force democratisation in the Middle East” (Dodge, 2008) Therefore George W. Bush’s foreign policy particularly his rhetoric to spread democracy in the Middle East signifies a radical shift in comparison to his previous Administrations (Owens, 2008, p.2) because unlike George W. Bush, the previous predecessors accepted the status quo in the Middle East, partly because the region is ruled by dictators that are loyal or friendly to the US, and partly because there was and is the fear that democratic Middle East is most likely going to result the rise of Islamist governments. The leading liberal democracy nation, the United States’ Democracy promotion has always been its foreign policy goals but, the post 9/11 Democracy rhetoric and the way in which it is being talked about and pursued suggests a radical shift from policies of previous Administrations. (Ehteshami, 2008)
This new approach has demonstrated a shift from traditional foreign policy built on the realist approach to a new “unilateral imperialism” foreign policy (Crawford, 2004). Thus, the consequence of these polices has resulted the death of thousands of Iraqi who otherwise would not have been killed if the invasion did not take place. Thus, despite the use military force, a ‘realist characteristic’, Bush’s foreign policy shift which emphases on spreading freedom and democracy in the Arab world is ‘inherently idealist in perspective’ (Kaufman, 2010, p.141). ‘Even before the attacks on September 11, 2001 the George W. Bush administration had demonstrated a unilateralist and ultra-nationalist approach to most foreign policy issues, including human rights’ (Crahan, 2005, p.77)
However, the consequences of the shift in foreign policy were far-reaching, as the US’s eagerness to establish itself as a world leader, ended up pursuing policies and illegal wars that angered many of its traditional allies, such as France and Germany who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq (BBC news, 2003). The foreign policy approach favoured by Bush administration seems to be headed to a more ‘unilateralist approach characterised by US action consistent with what the president perceived to be in the national interest of his country’ although some realist scholars such as Mearsheimer see this as ‘miscalculation driven by ideology’ (Dodge, 2008, p.233), rather than national interest as believed by president Bush. Nonetheless it was the neo-conservative’s vision that was behind theoretical foreign policy of the Bush Administration (Kaufman, 2010, p.140) this clearly indicates a post 9 /11 foreign policy shift in comparison to Clinton Administration.
Furthermore, the post 9/11 US foreign policy was not limited to unilateral approach to American foreign policy only; the administration also advocated and carried out a policy of regime change. Following the 9/11 attack the Bush Administration’s foreign policy has been very clear about its aim of global dominance a military power so strong that no country can challenge it (Lieberfeld, 2005). During a speech at graduation ceremony, President Bush declared that ‘America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond Challenge’ (Bush, 2002). Given this offensive objective, Bush’s new foreign policy can be interpreted as an “effort to enhance U.S. reputational and symbolic power beyond challenge, particularly after post 9/11 attacks that might have made the U.S. appear vulnerable” (Lieberfeld, 2005) By risking his ‘reputation’ to achieve one of his major flagship objectives such as regime change in Iraq. Therefore the invasion of Iraq was ‘unavoidable due to the national security interest in protecting that reputation’ (Lieberfeld, 2005, p.3) one reason that explains why the US became a war mongering nation since 9 /11 is that its less constrained than it was during the cold war, because following the collapse of the Soviet Union the US remained the only Super Power left in the world that can do whatever she likes with impunity.
Why US pursued waging war and regime changing foreign policy and target Iraq? There are number of theories that explained this, for example some realist would point out Iraq’s strategic location, which could be used as military bases in order to protect US’s interest in the Middle East and its vast oil reserves (Lieberfeld, 2005). Marxist scholars also point out that the logic behind the regime change in Iraq was primarily oil (Dodge, 2008, p.233) Another motive for the regime change in Iraq from realist viewpoint would be to destroy any military threat in the Middle East that would threaten the security of Israel, a country regarded to be American ally, but seems to be American Master (Lieberfeld, 2005, p.4). Furthermore, Bush’s administration saw its attack into Iraq as a ‘substitute for a diplomatic strategy that would spread democracy to the region and to Iraq in particularly and to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on terms that favour Israel’ (Lieberfeld, 2005, p.5). Regardless of what the US motive was, ‘the neo-conservative “discourse” was remarkably effective. Seemingly out of nowhere, Iraq was represented as an immediate danger to America’ (Halper & Clarke, 2004, p.203) ‘Furthermore, the neo-conservatives linked their pre-existing agenda, which is to attack Iraq to the events of 9/11 and thus created an entirely new reality’ (Halper & Clarke, 2004, p.203)
But the idea that the ‘road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad’ that transforming Iraq into an American ally and promoting a democracy in the wider Middle East ‘would help rise to regional democracies supporting peace with Israel proved to be an illusion’ (Hadar, 2009) instead the Bush administration’s policies helped Iran and its allies mainly Hezbollah to become major players in the region (Hadar, 2009). Given the illegal war the US has waged, and given the lack of respect to international law, the conclusion that can be drawn from the radical shift in US foreign policy after 9/11 attacks is that it has ignored the opinion of international community, abandon multilateral approach to foreign policy and chose ‘unilateral imperialism’ instead.
Another radical shift in foreign policy after 9/11 is the policy of extraordinary rendition. ‘Extraordinary rendition dates back to the Reagan years and was first used against suspected Islamists in the late 1990s’ (The guardian, 2011) but the Bush Administration used it excessively and illegally (Kenndy-Pipe, 2008). The term itself applies to moving around terrorists suspects around the world by the CIA (The independent, 2006). These suspects are not only moved around for the sake of moving around, but they are moved around to be tortured, in some of the most appalling human rights abusing countries in the world such as Morocco, Syria and Egypt to name but few. “The evidence of torture by the Bush administration is overwhelming. Bush publicly admitted that in two cases he approved the use of waterboarding and authorised illegal CIA secret detention and renditions programmes” (Human Rights Watch, 2011) such practices violate the Universal Declaration of Human rights which the United States of America is a signatory.
In the human Rights context, it’s important to mention that although I am critical to President Bush’s Human rights violations, there is evidence that he did attempt to promote human Rights in some respect. (Neier, 2005, p.137) For example, Bush Administration did spoke out against human rights abuses that are taking place in countries such as Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe and Sudan (ibid). The Administration even went a step too far to label the killings in Darfur in Sudan as “genocide” this is stark contrast to President Clinton’s administration refusal to describe the atrocities in Rwanda as “genocide” instead they use the term “genocidal incidents” (Cohen, 2001, p.162), (Neier, 2005, p.137) But, why is the US is seen as a violator of human rights rather than champion of human rights? The actions Bush Administration took in response to 9/11 attacks explains this. Torture in Guantanamo Bay camp, extraordinary rendition and Abu Ghriab prisoner abuses resulted grave human rights violations and the US is viewed around the world as human rights violator rather than Human rights champion as it would like to be seen (Neier, 2005, p.140).
Therefore, the post 9/11 US foreign policy, especially during George W. Bush’s Administration appears to turned blind eye to the promotion and protection of human rights, partly because it was itself human rights violator and partly to enhance its interest and security (ibid).
In conclusion, this essay has argued that the US has always been involved in wars and invasions since its inception. Although the primary goals US foreign policy always stays the same, because it always puts its national interest first before anything else, and very much in keeping with the vision of America’s founding fathers, the event of September 11/2001 drastically changed how the United States of America views the world, the Muslim World in particular, and how the response of President Bush led his administration to deviate from multilateral foreign policy to unilateral approach. Therefore the radical shift that the US foreign policy after 911 can only be understood by looking at the competing theories and school of thoughts that have shaped America’s domestic and foreign policy.
The event of 911 saw the US aggressively invading sovereign nations and waging illegal wars under international law. It also saw, the US working closely with dictators and authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses are well documented. Additionally, the post 9/11 US foreign policy change was not limited to adoption of unilateral approach to its foreign policy only; the administration also pursued a robust and aggressive foreign policy towards Islamic world and carried out a policy of regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One of the products of the radical shift of the US foreign policy is the violations of human rights in the hands of its soldiers and agents. The evidence of torture by the administration is overwhelming; President Bush publicly acknowledged that in two cases he permitted the use of ‘waterboarding’ and sanctioned illegal CIA secret detentions and extraordinary renditions programmes. Such human rights violations by the world’s most powerful nations resulted grave human rights violations which further damage the credibility of the world’s most powerful nation.
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Please note I am not the author of this article, the reason I am posting is that I found it very interesting and it covers my areas of interest. Should you wish to use it for research purposes, please seek the appropriate references.
“Democracy has an interesting relationship with oil. Some studies suggest it is not necessarily a pleasant one. “When income rises governments tend to be more democratic, but if the rise of income can be traced to country’s oil wealth, this democratizing effect will shrink or disappear” [Tsui 2005; Jensen and Wantchekon 2004; Ross 2001; Wantchekon 2000; Barro 1999; Crystal 1990]. Thomas Friedman, an American columnist, has gone to the extent of claiming that “oil and democracy cannot coexist”  .
Although this premise is still unsettled [Ross 2009], there is still need for more research to explore the exact relationship between the two. Acknowledging dearth of research on oil-democracy relationship Brenda Shaffer has urged that “a new body of literature needs to be developed” that deals with “democratic transition of major energy exporters”.
This paper, however, would explore the oil-democracy relationship from a different perspective i.e. if oil is bad for democracy can the reverse also be true? Can democracy adversely affect oil production and energy security? A preliminary inspection of works on oil-democracy relationship reveals that no significant effort has been made so far to study “energy security” and “democracy” as two convergent goals of US foreign policy.
This paper will look at views of some experts who support that more democracy in the Middle East might lead to anti-American forces occupying positions of power. Such a situation, they say, might compromise US strategic interests in the region, particularly its energy security. Subsequently the paper counters the argument with more recent works which indicate that in reality democracy and transparent elections are throwing radical forces in Middle East out of power. In the end, the paper makes a study of Iraq and investigates how more democracy may explain more secure and sustainable oil supplies for the US.
WHY SOME PEOPLE DESPISE DEMOCRACY?
Despite its stated commitment to liberalism and democracy internationally, the United States has frequently chosen to back repressive or authoritarian regimes in parts of the world. David Schmitz argues that the “U.S. policymakers viewed authoritarian regimes as the only vehicles for maintaining political stability and encouraging economic growth. Expediency, he says, overcame ideology and the United States gained useful — albeit brutal and corrupt — allies who supported American policies and provided a favorable atmosphere for U.S. trade. (Book: Thank God They Are on Our Side)
Articulating US skepticism about the outcomes of democracy in the Middle East, Gause (2005) questions that “Even if democracy were achieved in the Middle East, what kind of governments would it produce? Would they cooperate with the United States on important policy objectives [like] ensuring steady supplies of oil? Democracy in the Middle East, he argues, is likely to produce new Islamist governments that would be much less willing to cooperate with the United States than are the current authoritarian rulers. The most important observation he puts forward is that there is no “close link between terrorism and authoritarianism” and that statistically democracies are no less susceptible to terrorism than are other forms of government. So according to him more democracy would not mean less terrorism. (F. Gregory Gause III FOREIGN AFFAIRS Can Democracy Stop Terrorism? Volume 84 No.5, September/October 2005)
Similar fears regarding democracy were expressed by Rachel Bronson (2006) in her book on US-Saudi relationship where she argued that pursuing a reform agenda in Saudi Arabia is “of secondary importance.” She recognized that reform, “if pursued deftly,” could reassure US partners in the Middle East and help resolve “the virulent anti-Americanism that permeates the region.” But she looked with skepticism the idea that political reform, in particular, could help curb extremism: “Violent religious fighters have not emerged simply as a response to authoritarian rule. … Quickly opening up political space will not quell their violence. It will only allow them a space in the political process.”
WHY SOME PEOPLE HAVE FAITH IN DEMOCRACY?
Shadi Hamid and Steven Brooks disagreed with Gause’s fears about the inability of democracy to eradicate terrorism and claimed that Gause provides a “right answer to the wrong question”. Gause’s argument, they say, “tells us nothing about how, why, and when terrorists resort to violence”. He fails to explain, for example, which kinds of countries are more likely to produce terrorists? He based his thesis on incidents of terrorist attacks in democratic countries, while failing to realize that democracies, due to their open nature, may be more susceptible to terrorist attacks but they do not necessarily produce their perpetrators.
Similarly, Toby Jones who is a historian of modern Middle East, while writing review of Bronson’s book opines that her “caution” about pushing for reform in Saudi Arabia is understandable — in theory, radicals could benefit from political liberalization and come to dominate the Saudi political system — it seems excessive. In the 2005 Saudi municipal council elections, he explains, voters in Riyadh and Jidda did not choose the most radical candidates on the ballot; they opted for more moderate Islamists, who at least claimed to be interested in serving the community. Islamist candidates lost even in the town of Buraydah, the spiritual heartland of Wahhabism. Jones further argues that almost all Saudis, liberal or not, are critical of the United States, and it is possible that the most outspoken among them would pursue a more decidedly anti-American agenda if they rose to power. But it is just as plausible that their anger would subside if Washington seriously pressured the royal family to include them in the Saudi political process. Moreover, as John Bradley shows, Saudi Arabia is hardly homogenous. Opening up its political system would likely create a culturally, religiously, and ideologically complex nation — and a far worthier partner for the United States. (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61523/toby-jones/shifting-sands?page=show)
Almost similar perspective about democratization in the Muslim World was expressed by Amir Taheri in his Wall Street Journal article “Islam at the Ballot Box” published on 21st February 2008. Starting with Pakistan’s 2008 general elections, he says that “despite vast sums of money spent by the Islamic Republic in Tehran and wealthy Arabs from the Persian Gulf states, the MMA (Mutahid Majlis-e-Amal) failed to achieve the ‘approaching victory’ that Islamist candidates, both Shiite and Sunni, had boasted was coming”.
He argues that the Islamist defeat in Pakistan confirms a trend that’s been under way for years. Supporting the spread of democracy in the Middle East as stated in Bush Doctrine, he writes that many analysts in the West suggest that Muslims were not ready for democracy, and that elections would only translate into victory for hard-line Islamists, but “the facts tell a different story” altogether.
Taheri claims that results of recent election in Jordan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Gaza and the West Bank, Turkey, Algeria, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya and Afghanistan, clearly indicate that “no Islamist party has managed to win a majority of the popular vote” and that “the Islamist share of the vote has been declining across the board”.
The recent talk of making peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan and bringing them into political mainstream  indicates an understanding on part of major players in the region that peace can be achieved through bringing divergent groups on one table. If one group keeps clinging on to the power on one pretext or the other and does not allow other groups to pursue their legitimate ambitions than resentment is bound to grow. Democracy therefore provides a workable way for each group to win its due share in the power structure and to channelized its energies into building stronger partnerships that serve the people’s interests, instead of wasting them in fighting “foreign occupations” and “infidels”.
DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ: IMPLICATION FOR US ENERGY SECURITY
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Iraq was the world’s 13th largest oil producer in 2008, and has the world’s third largest proven petroleum reserves after Saudi Arabia and Canada”. Indicating that “Just a fraction of Iraq’s known fields are in development”, EIA claims that “Iraq may be one of the few places left where vast reserves, proven and unknown, have barely been exploited”.
EIA claims that Iraq’s oil sector has suffered over the past several decades from sanctions and war, and its oil infrastructure is in need of modernization and investment. As of March 31, 2009, the United States had allocated $2.05 billion to the Iraqi oil and gas sector to begin this modernizationhttp://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/Iraq/pdf.pdf
The primary US energy security goals in Iraq are:
the dormant Iraqi oil sector becomes vibrant as soon as possible,
the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law be passed as soon as possible. The law guarantees a profit for foreign oil companies and allow Iraq’s provinces freedom from the central government in giving exploration and production contracts.
As a result of March 2010 Iraq’s parliamentary elections four parties namely National Movement, State of Law Coalition, National Iraq Alliance, and Kurdistan Alliance secured 81.68% of 11526412 votes (total turnout remained 62.4%) (Source: www.themajlis.org)
To this date there is political stalemate and no party has clear majority to form the government. Despite criticism on the Hydrocarbon Law almost all parties who have won majority of votes want to pass the law. So it means that democracy in Iraq is not antagonistic to US energy security. The only aspect of nascent democracies which keeps on creating problems for the US is their immaturity and political instability. This is a price that must be paid to forge long-term alliances in the region”.