Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Carter Doctrine: Is It Working?

ASPO 2012 presentations have come out on You Tube, and among them is this interesting presentation from Michael Klare entitled, The Geopolitics of Oil and Gas:

As part of his presentation (6:30-8:30 min) Klare talks about the Carter Doctrine:
For all the reasons we have heard in earlier presentations today, oil is so critical to the economies and transportation systems of modern economies, so nations have determined...oil importing nations...must make this a center of their foreign policy, to ensure access to adequate supplies of oil.  And this is the essence of the Carter Doctrine...I gave you the earlier history of the British involvement in Persia, when BP was nationalized, the US conspired with the British to overthrow Mosaddegh to put the Shah in power.  And then the US relied on the Shah for support in the Gulf.  When the Shah was overthrown and the threat to oil became so obvious the United States concluded that it was essential for the US to play a more direct military role. And this is the origin of the Carter Doctrine, which I believe, remains the dominant factor in American thinking in the Middle East today.  It makes it very clear: oil is crucial to the western economy, and therefore, the flow of oil must be preserved at all costs, including the use of military power as needed.  This is the crucial expression of what we call the Carter Doctrine in the United States.  All the other so-called doctrines: the Eisenhower Doctrine, the Truman Doctrine, the Nixon Doctrine, all disappeared with the end of the Cold War.  But not this one, this one remains crucial today. 
     The Carter Doctrine was articulated by Jimmy Carter in his January 23, 1980, state of the Union address, following the Iranian hostage crisis and Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, which included in part, the following warning, clearly aimed at the Soviet Union:
Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force. (e.g., clip from Blood and Oil - The Carter Doctrine) .
     What are the implications, if, as Kline suggests, the Carter Doctrine, remains the dominant factor in American thinking in the Middle East, and, further requires preserving the flow oil to the USA and its Western allies, at all costs?
     Well, if the Carter Doctrine remains vitally important, and was successful, then I would have expected to see at least a continuation of the same flow rates of oils to the USA, Europe and Japan, if not increases, relative to the flow rates of oils to other regions of the world.
However, I find little support for this notion, based on my analysis (based on data reported in the BP review and starting at Part 1) of the trade flows of petroleum between different regions of the world.
     In reality, the flows of oil to North America, Europe, and Japan from the Middle East have gone down over the last decade, and, the trend is for the proportions of oil to these regions to further decline, in favor of increased flows of oil to China and other Asia Pacific countries, other than Japan. 
     See, for example, my analysis of Middle Eastern exports to other regions, Part 7 in particulat Figure 10 below.      My analysis showed that for the past decade the Middle East has had flat total export contributions.      This translates in to a declining relative total contributions to an expanding total global petroleum export pool (black x's and rhs scale of Figure 10), which has been expanding mainly due to increasing exports from the former Soviet Union countries and Africa, not from the Middle East.
     As you can see, the proportion of the global exports coming from the Middle East to North America Europe and Japan are all in decline (Figure 10 las scale).  And, the proportion of the global exports coming from the Middle East to China and the remaining Asia-Pacific countries is increasing.
     Similar trends are present if we just look directly the raw amounts of petroleum being exported from the Middle East to these regions (from Figure 8 of Part 7).
     There are also declining export trends from the Middle East to South America and Africa but the amounts involved are fairly small.
     Finally, I animated my analysis so that it would be easier to see the annually changes and future linearly projected changes.  For some reason, the animation is not very popular, so instead, here are  some time-cuts for animation time-sequence of the Middle East’s exports.  
The thickness of the arrows is proportional to the actual amount of petroleum (in billions of barrels per year) being exported to these and other regions.  The time cut from 2021 is based on the linear extrapolation of the trends shown in Figure 8.  
     Based of these data, can you really see signs of how the USA’s and coalition countries involvement in two Iraq wars, and, continued strong military presence in the Persian Gulf have protected the USA’s vital oil interests in the Middle East?  I don't.
     If the Carter Doctrine is still the policy of the US government, then, either that policy has been a miserable failure over the past decade, or, the policy has morphed into simply ensuring that oil flows out of the Middle East continue, regardless of where the oil actually goes and the hope that fungibility will take care of the rest.
     Or, perhaps the Carter Doctrine is in fact dead, or dying.  In which case, given the decade-long trends such as presented above, the USA and its coalition forces will likely be withdrawing their military presence in the Middle East, as the flows of oils from the Middle East to North America, Europe and Japan correspondingly decline in importance.
(I am having strange formating problems in blogger that doesn't allow spacing between paragraphs or even introduce paragraph splits where I want them to be)

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