Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

—Jimmy Carter, state of the union address, Jan. 23, 1980

Middle Eastern oil has enchanted global powers and global capital since the early twentieth century. Its allure has been particularly powerful for the United States. The American romance began in earnest in the 1930s, when geologists working for Standard Oil of California discovered commercial quantities of oil on the eastern shores of Saudi Arabia. In the years that followed, enchantment turned into obsession. Shortly after...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this article.