Thicker than Oil by Rachel Bronson
When President Bush declared in his recent State of the Union address that the U.S. is dangerously “addicted to oil” from unstable countries, Saudi Arabian officials were indignant. Saudi ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal met the next day with national security adviser Stephen Hadley, who assured him that the President had not really meant what he said. It was yet another sign that, despite 9/11 and the stream of Saudi militants who even now are entering Iraq’s Sunni triangle, the Bush administration is largely adhering to the decades-old American policy of coddling the sheikhs who sit atop the world’s largest oil reserves.
In Thicker than Oil, Rachel Bronson, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers a probing examination of the tangled history of U.S.-Saudi relations. An assiduous researcher, she expertly chronicles the actions of both sides from the 1940’s down to the present. Oil naturally plays a prominent role in Bronson’s story, but, more surprisingly, so too do anti-Communism and a shared religiosity, which she sees as key factors in solidifying U.S.-Saudi ties. The result is an informative and wide-ranging account, if not a fully persuasive one.
About the Author
Jacob Heilbrunn is a writer in Washington, D.C.