From free oil to ‘freedom oil? terrorism, war and US geopolitics in the Persian Gulf
Philippe Le Billon (Liu Faculty, UBC), F. El Khatib
March 1, 2004

Le Billon, P. and F. El Khatib (2004) “From free oil to ‘freedom oil? terrorism, war and US geopolitics in the Persian Gulf? Geopolitics 9(1): 109-137.

Oil has been a major driving force behind foreign interests, regional and domestic balance of power, and territorial conflicts in the Persian Gulf. As a result of the ‘9/11’ terrorist attacks debates on oil and the United States’ security agenda have significantly shifted. If on one side, those opposing US military interventionism have argued that the ‘war on terror’ provided one more convenient cover for a renewed ‘imperialist oil grab’ in this region; on the other, links between oil and terrorism pointed at problems of governance in oil-producing countries. As the ‘war on terror’ became justified as a ‘war of liberation’ against oil-funded dictators, the US portrayed its foreign policy as shifting from ensuring free access to oil for the world market, to ensuring that oil is delivering ‘freedom’ to local populations. Although engaging the crucial issue of oil governance, there is yet little evidence given the number of war victims and potential vested interests that a US policy shift from ‘free oil’ to ‘freedom oil’ is genuine and viable.