Misperceiving U.S. Foreign Policy in the Gulf: Raising the Hidden Costs of U.S. Dependence on Oil

There is a sizable gulf of perception between many in America and many in the Muslim world. One broad notion is that America seeks to dominate locals in the Middle East, and to exploit and even steal the region's oil resources. This notion has not been limited to jihadi radicals but has also resonated in lesser doses among many in the Muslim world. The U.S. role in oil-related issues feeds into historical, political, and religious perspectives of an imperialist and power-hungry America.

I argue that the history of America's role in the region suggests that this broad notion about America is largely a misconception with important consequences. This misconception raises the cost of the use of oil and of American regional intervention. It also stokes terrorism and anti-Americanism, complicates America's relations with Middle Eastern countries, and affects its image among Muslims.