Axis of oil
If you can forgive his Very Buzzy Phrases and tendency to quote himself, the Mustache’s cover story for Foreign Policy is worth a read. He explains why, as the price of oil goes up, movements to promote free speech, free press, and democratic elections flounder in oil-producing countries.
When rulers know they can pump money out of the ground, there’s less incentive to promote other forms of economic growth and private enterprise. And when much of the world comes begging at their doorsteps (“more oil, please“), leaders in countries such as Russia, Iran, and Nigeria feel their hands stregthened to ignore international bugaboos such as human rights. Even if the U.S. and Europe were to try to play tough cop (given history, there’s ample reason to be cynical), their efforts may well be undercut by China and Russia, who openly pick fewer bones about where they do business. In short, high oil prices = less freedom.
So if the White House really wants to get serious about promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East …