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Locke on The Geopolitics of Oil in the Middle East

Locke criticises US interventionalism in Middle East

by Glen Johnson

Green Party MP Keith Locke criticised US involvement in the Middle East, at a speech delivered at the Wellington Public Library last night.

The speech, entitled The Geopolitics of Oil, dealt specifically with US policy in the Middle East and claimed that the region is of strategic interest to the US because of its vast oil reserves.

Mr Locke argued that with the approach of peak oil we can expect an even more aggressive approach by the US in securing dominance over the region.

He claimed that the invasion of Iraq was not to set up a democratic government, but to secure control over oil in Kuwait, and to further entrench a US presence in the Middle East

Mr Locke used the USs refusal to acknowledge Palestine’s democratically elected Hamas as a legitimate political party as an example of its very selective belief in democracy, and further claimed that “in some ways Israel has been America’s proxy in the region”.

He further argued that the US has strategic ties with Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, who have been criticized by groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for their human rights abuses, particularly with regard to their treatment of women.

The current situation between US and Iran was also on Mr Locke’s agenda.

“The CIA and the International Atomic Energy Agency have both said that Iran does not have nuclear weapons.

“The US provides significant financial support to Israel, which has some 200 nuclear weapons and is the only country with nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

“Some people might be crazy enough to think that this is about Iran having the third highest oil reserves in the region,” said Mr Locke.

The benefactors of oil production in the Middle East were also discussed.

“If these countries are oil rich, then you would expect the people to be rich. That is not the case and what we see is money in the hands of elites and corporates,” he said.

British Petroleum currently has US$209 billion dollars in assets, while Exxon Mobil has US$439 billion in assets.

In the final part of his speech Mr Locke looked at world wide military spending (US$1200 billion) in comparison to world wide spending (US$60 billion) on renewable resources.

“If we inverted that, then we would be a long way to achieving a sustainable future.”


Glen Johnson is a journalism student at the University of Canterbury

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