Stauffer Thomas R. - Caust of U.S. middle east policy An economic overview

Author : Stauffer Thomas R.
Title : Caust of U.S. middle east policy An economic overview
Year : 2002

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Policy in the Middle East has been very costly to the US, as well as to the rest of world. The cost to the US of its policies in the region has accumulated to over $ 2,500 billion, an amount greater than the cost of the Vietnam war. About two-thirds of those costs – circa $1,600 billion – arose from the US defense of Israel since 1973, the point in time at which crisis costs and aid programs began to escalate beyond any original expectations. Prior to 1973 the major cost was support for Turkey as part of Cold War operations to contain the Soviet Union. Since 1973, however, protection of Israel and subsidies to countries such as Egypt and Jordan, willing to sign peace treaties with Israel, has been the prime driver of US outlays or the trigger for crisis costs. Rescue of Israel in 1973 by President Nixon cost the US almost $900 billion in lost GDP, resulting from the Arab oil embargo, and higher oil import costs. The Gulf War, on the other hand, cost less than $ 100 billion, in higher energy costs, because all of the other costs were hived off to allies through “burden-sharing”. US jobs have also been affected. “Trade followed the flag” in the area. Worsening political relations resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of US jobs. Some disappeared as a consequence of trade sanctions, some because large contracts were forfeited thanks to active domestic lobbies, and others thanks to a dangerously growing trade-aid imbalance vis-à-vis Israel. Hundreds of billions additionally were spent on “Project Independence”, ostensibly to emancipate the US from reliance upon ME oil. The projects were largely co-opted by domestic lobbies of diverse colorations, and little imported oil was actually displaced. Defense of the Gulf – often cited as a major factor -- has in fact been but a minor element of cost. Most of the equipment and troops and the operations of the carrier task force at Diego Garcia would be maintained in support of other geopolitical objectives, so those outlays are not substantively tied to US policies in the Gulf itself. The presence itself has entailed relatively modest incremental costs – of the order of $ 2 billion (net) per year, exclusive of any new costs tied to the new mobilization against Iraq. ...

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