Thursday, January 01, 2004

We'll borrow this for now
The U.S. contemplated seizing Gulf oil fields in 1973 to break the Arab oil embargo, according to recently released British intelligence memorandum cited by the Washington Post:

It cited a warning from Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger to the British ambassador in Washington, Lord Cromer, that the United States would not tolerate threats from "under-developed, under-populated" countries and that "it was no longer obvious to him that the United States could not use force."

Seizure of the oil fields, the memo said, was "the possibility uppermost in American thinking [and] has been reflected, we believe, in their contingency planning."

Ironically, one danger was that Iraq might, at the USSR's instigation, move into Kuwait:

"The greatest risk of such confrontation in the Gulf would probably arise in Kuwait where the Iraqis, with Soviet backing, might be tempted to intervene," it said, presaging Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Presaging, yes: but the Arab world would have backed that intervention wholeheartedly, and regarded the U.S. as the threat to regional stability.

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