When US Planned to attack Saudi Arabia

David Harvey, in his A Brief History of Neo- liberalism points to an interesting bit of history, when the United States contemplated attacking Saudi Arabia during the oil crisis of 1973.

The OPEC oil price hike that came with the oil embargo of 1973 placed vast amounts of financial power at the disposal of the oil-producing states such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi. We now know from British intelligence reports that the US was actively preparing to invade these countries in 1973 in order to restore the flow of oil and bring down oil prices. We also know that the Saudis agreed at that time, presumably under military pressure if not open threat from the US, to recycle all of their petrodollars through the New York investment banks.(20) The latter suddenly found themselves in command of massive funds for which they needed to find profitable outlets. The options within the US, given the depressed economic conditions and low rates of return in the mid-1970s, were not good. More profitable opportunities had to be sought out abroad. Governments seemed the safest bet because, as Walter Wriston, head of Citibank, famously put it, governments can’t move or disappear. And many governments in the developing world, hitherto starved of funds, were anxious enough to borrow. For this to occur required, however, open entry and reasonably secure conditions for lending. The New York investment banks looked to the US imperial tradition both to prise open new investment opportunities and to protect their foreign operations.

(A Brief History of Neo Liberalism (2005) by David Harvey Page 27)
The source indicated by the number (20) in the paragraph above points to is a report from the NYT, 04 Jan 2004:

The United States government seriously contemplated using military force to seize oil fields in the Middle East during the Arab oil embargo 30 years ago, according to a declassified British government document made public on Thursday.

The top-secret document says that President Richard M. Nixon was prepared to act more aggressively than previously thought to secure America’s oil supply if the embargo, imposed by Arab nations in retaliation for America’s support for Israel in the 1973 Middle East war, did not end. In fact, the embargo was lifted in March 1974.

The declassified British memorandum said the United States considered launching airborne troops to seize oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, but only as a ”last resort.”

President Nixon’s defense secretary, James R. Schlesinger, delivered the warning to Lord Cromer, the British ambassador in Washington at the time. In the document, Lord Cromer was quoted as saying of Mr. Schlesinger, ”it was no longer obvious to him that the United States could not use force.”

The seizure of the oil fields was ”the possibility uppermost in American thinking when they refer to the use of force,” the memorandum said.

The potential for such a military action was taken so seriously by British intelligence services that a report was written listing the most likely scenarios for the use of American force in the Middle East and the consequences of each. The report, dated Dec. 12, 1973, was titled ”UK Eyes Alpha” and was sent to Prime Minister Edward Heath.

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4 thoughts on “When US Planned to attack Saudi Arabia

  1. Mark Thwaite

    Thanks for this. David Harvey is such a good writer. His recent Reading Capital lectures (that you linked to; http://davidharvey.org/) are great. Should be watched whilst reading “Reading Capital Politically” by Harry Cleaver (well, not at exactly the same time. That’d just be confusing!)

    Reply
  2. rw Post author

    Thanks for the pointer to harry Cleaver’s book. I am right now in the middle of Harvey’s book on Neo- liberalism (quoted in the post), and indeed, he is a fantastic writer. I wonder why I never read him till now!

    Reply
  3. Joe Ghetto

    I was part of that invasion team in 1973. Their is more to the story than what’s being told here. Some things are better left unsaid. Work to make the future a better place for all of us to live. Try to leave the past alone. Their are some things you just wouldn’t believe anyways. Be glad you have peaceful dreams. I don’t think my nightmares will ever go away. Be glad the future is waiting for people like you to make this world a better place for people with hope and dreams of a peaceful future with family, friends and a good job. Something I will never know. The VA has saved me and helped me live with my nightmares. Their are things you just don’t want to know. It’ll ruin you forever so just try to find happiness in who you are. and leave the work of a terminator to us poor unfortunate souls who didn’t understand the words I just said to you. To live free from bad nightmares means everything. To not wake up with tears all over your face, waking up beating the pillows or walls with your fists. Afraid to sleep alone with a woman in fear you’ll wake up while beating her to death. Be glad you still have a choice. It’s no fun being a hero. I denied the rank of captain and got the hell out. The VA is now helping me live with what was just to much for me to live with. The VA does save lives, something I thought I would never say. But they are still saving me from myself today. When you have done what I have done. It’s pretty much over. So yea a hero is born out of acts of desperation to save yourself and or others. It’s not fun being a hero at all. The mental price is to high to pay. Surviving guilt is hard. They say love is the hardest emotion you will ever experience. Thats not true. The hardest emotion you will ever experience is forgiveness. To forgive someone is almost impossible but forgiving myself will never happen. So hopefully, you’ll never know what it’s like to be a hero cause the price is to high to pay. Once your their, mentally, you can’t go back. Keep your heart warm and the look in your eyes warm with life and friendship. Being a hero is a cold place and you will always stand alone. The definition of hero is not what you think. it’s a label to smooth things over. To somehow make things somehow understandable and acceptable. Yes we need hero’s to protect us from what we don’t know, Hopefully, you won’t have to be a hero. Hopefully you won’t have to a be walking nightmare like me and others who have done the dirty work that nobody ever sees or talks about……..and I don’t care if you believe me or not

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