Gulliver and the Lilliputs


Nations that historically have had little impact because of past trade relations or possession of raw materials of limited value are now capable of influencing American foreign policy actions. These nations have either a direct linkage to or indirectly affect America’s economy. For example, the United States has attempted to seek oil sources from other than Persian Gulf nations. Some of the largest sources of available non-Middle East oil imports are from Venezuela and Nigeria. This reliance on Venezuelan and Nigerian oil gives those nations greater influence on U.S. foreign policy, or at least a stronger bargaining position with Washington. Failure to consider them or problems within their regions can produce hefty economic penalties to the nation and the global economy. Although the amounts of oil imported from Venezuela and Nigeria is smaller than imports from Saudi Arabia and some other oil producers, upward spikes in oil prices can slow down the American economy by directly “taxing” consumers and production due to higher prices at the gas pump and for many products. However, the effect does not stop there. Higher world oil prices also threaten the economic health of many small nations. This, in turn, affects their ability to produce exported goods and services and can seriously reduce their ability to buy imported American goods. Economic hardship can create disruption that leads to political instability and conflict.

In the words of Senator Lieberman: “The growing global dependency on oil endangers our nation. Failure to act will leave us a pitiful giant, like Gulliver in Lilliput, tied down and subject to the whim of smaller nations who have oil.”

Recall also the words of Secretary Rice: “I can tell you that nothing has really taken me aback more, as Secretary of State, than the way that the politics of energy is — I will use the word ‘warping’ diplomacy around the world. It has given extraordinary power to some states that are using that power in not very good ways for the international system, states that would otherwise have very little power.”

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