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The Petroleum Triangle

Oil, Globalization, and Terror

by Steve A. Yetiv

Publication Year: 2011

In The Petroleum Triangle, Steve A. Yetiv tells the interconnected story of oil, globalization, and terrorism. Yetiv asks how Al-Qaeda, a small band of terrorists, became such a real and perceived threat to American and global security, a threat viewed as profound enough to motivate the strongest power in world history to undertake extraordinary actions, including two very costly wars.

Yetiv argues that Middle East oil and globalization have combined to augment the real and perceived threat of transnational terrorism. Globalization has allowed terrorists to do things that otherwise would be more difficult and costly: exploit technology, generate fear beyond their capabilities, target vulnerable economic and political nodes, and capitalize on socio-economic dislocation. Meanwhile, Middle East oil has fueled terrorism by helping to bolster oil-rich regimes that terrorists hate, to fund the terrorist infrastructure, and to generate anti-American and anti-Western sentiments about American support for oil-rich regimes and perceived Western designs on Middle East oil. Together, Middle East oil and globalization have combined in various ways to help create Al-Qaeda's real and perceived threat, and that of its affiliates and offshoots. The combined effect has shaped important contours of the Petroleum Triangle and of world affairs.

A sweeping analysis of contemporary world politics and American foreign and military policy, The Petroleum Triangle convincingly argues that it is critical to understand the connections among oil, globalization, and terrorism if we seek to comprehend modern global politics. What happens within the Petroleum Triangle will help determine if the death of Osama bin Laden will ultimately cripple Al-Qaeda and its affiliates or be yet another milestone in an ongoing age of terrorism.

Published by: Cornell University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I owe a debt of gratitude to several readers who graciously agreed to read this work. I thank Anouar Boukhars, Lowell Feld, Kurt Taylor Gaubatz, Patricia Raxter, Marc O’Reilly, and Sagar Rijal. Special thanks go to Tulu Balkir, John Duffield, Kimberly Gilligan, and Jack Kalpakian for detailed comments on earlier drafts. ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-24

In August 2009, President Barack H. Obama told the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars conference that the war in faraway Afghanistan was not a war of choice but rather a “war of necessity.” He believed that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a grand mistake and had run strongly on that platform during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, ...

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1. America and Middle Eastern Oil

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pp. 25-52

The quest for energy starts with the mythical Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods to help shivering humans, and runs through to the modern struggle to ensure oil supplies to a global economy, whose lifeline is black crude. One American official asserted in 1944, referring to the Persian Gulf, that the “oil in this region is the greatest single prize in all history.”1 ...

Part I: Oil and Transnational Terrorism

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2. Explaining September 11: The Oil Factor

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pp. 55-86

Few events have received greater global scrutiny in the annals of history than the attacks of September 11, 2001. Those events came as a shock to Americans and non-Americans alike, not only because they were barbaric, sudden, and bizarre and struck American sites of symbolic importance but also because they clashed with the times. ...

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3. Rising Anti-Americanism in the Global Audience

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pp. 87-106

The September 11 attacks were motivated in part by issues related to Middle Eastern oil, but such issues have been germane beyond their impact on Al-Qaeda. These issues are followed by a global audience, partly due to their emotive importance but also because globalization has allowed world politics to become a mass spectator event. ...

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4. Oil Money, Terrorist Financing, and Weapons of Mass Destruction

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pp. 107-142

The September 11 attacks cost roughly half a million dollars, but that is a small fraction of what it costs to run the entire infrastructure of terrorism.1 This infrastructure includes recruitment, ideological indoctrination, salaries, housing, arms, support for various cells and like-minded terrorist organizations, payoffs to local governments and warlords, ...

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5. Oil Money and Hated Regimes: Fueling Terrorism

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pp. 143-156

The administration of President George W. Bush shifted gears after the September 11 attacks, adopting a strategy that the United States had employed elsewhere for decades but had not previously promoted in the Middle East, much less by the use of massive force. The Bush team had entered office largely as foreign policy realists but, after September 11, ...

Part II: Globalization and Transnational Terrorism

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6. The Deadly Nexus of Globalization, Oil, and Terrorism

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pp. 159-186

The impact of Middle Eastern oil on transnational terrorism is only half of the story that this book seeks to tell. We also have to consider the global context, which produces its own important contributions. The other half of the story about terrorism concerns the role of globalization. ...

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7. How Globalization Amplifies the Terrorist Threat

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pp. 187-200

Imagine, for a moment, a massive terrorist attack at a less globalized moment. A bomb goes off in the heart of seventeenth-century Madrid. The bomb kills only twenty people because the lack of mass transportation deprives terrorists of deadlier targets. ...

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pp. 201-216

When oil held great promise as the unabashed driver of the industrializing world economy, the great robber barons, the Rockefellers and the Gettys, were celebrated. They were heroes, pioneers of a new age. Their companies would move the world, and they would become enormously wealthy. ...


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pp. 217-236


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pp. 237-242

E-ISBN-13: 9780801463396
E-ISBN-10: 0801463394
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801450020
Print-ISBN-10: 0801450020

Page Count: 241
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1