Rdgs Seminar in US History
Rdgs Seminar in US History HIST 6393
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Date Created: 09/19/15
Dr Buzzanco HIST 6393 Book Review 7 Oil in the American Century by David Painter Jason P Theriot 18 October 2006 In Oil in the American Century author David Painter provides an analysis of the development of the political economy in the United States through its foreign oil policy from the eve of World War II until to end of the Iranian Oil Crisis in the mid1950s Imbedded in this research is the study of corporatism the partnership between the Us government and major US oil companies in their combined effort to nd new oil reserves throughout the world Painter s monograph focuses on the difficulties of this publicprivate partnership alluding to divisions with the US government and the complexity of the oil industry as the major causes of strife within the American political ideology The difficulties which evolved from this unlikely marriage however did not curtail either the Us government or oil companies from reaching their longterm goals control of the world s vast oil reserves The partnership begins before World War II when the Us Navy converted from coal to petroleum The new mechanized armored warfare doctrine which now used tanks large aircraft carriers and fourengine bombers absorbed a large share of the already decreased amount of US domestic oil reserves Something had to be done to secure oil for US domestic needs and for its fueldriven military In 1941 meetings between newly created government agencies and the oil companies laid plans for developing this corporatism for penetrating foreign oil markets The US government needed the experienced and savvy oil companies to provide the military with a ready reserve of oil and the companies themselves needed diplomacy to open the door to foreign lands Painter quotes Ralph Davies manager of the Office of Petroleum Coordinator as saying petroleum resources of Mexico Colombia Venezuela and other Caribbean countries including the Middle East must be considered to be reserves for the United States It is more vital to the life of the consumer than to the producer Painter argues that the partnership found criticism at nearly every stop The State Department politicians and even the companies themselves all grabbled with control and compromises over how to make the operation work Nationalism of foreign oil posed the greatest threat to the Us partnership Beginning with Bolivia and sweeping through Mexico the threat of nationalism of Latin American oil forced the US to restrategize its plans and move more aggressively to keep that door open in other areas Throughout this process there were some noted successes in Us foreign oil policy particularly in Venezuela and Saudi Arabia Here the partnership work with the host nations to secure for them a equal share of the profits while preserving for the oil companies and US government longterm concessions to oil reserves and production controls Postwar domestic petroleum increases the Marshall Plan in Europe and the threat of communism provided more pressing needs for more markets and more reserves overseas while preserving the Us reserves at home The oil companies became the vehicles of national interest to penetrate and exploit the oilrich Middle East Here the Us government came to recognize its inferiorority to its oil partners and the difficulties of pleasing congressional opposition with failed attempts at purchasing shares of a company building and funding a pipeline from Persia to the Mediterranean and establishing a petroleum commission with Great Britain All the while the oil companies gured out how to work together to secure the most oil for themselves at the best prices In the Iranian Oil Crisis the publicprivate partnership won huge gains not only in the oil elds of the Middle East but also at home Defeating the antitrust laws paved the way for securing vast pools of reserves for decades and a lifetime of prosperity for the oil companies Only with the creation of OPEC and its control of Middle Eastern oil in the 1970s did US hegemony in the global oil trade begin to diminish Hist 6393 Yimei Zhang Prof Blzzanco Review 1 Frank Kofsky Harry S Truman anal the War Scare of 1948 A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation New York St Martin s 1993 In Harry S Truman anal the War Scare of 1948 historian Frank Kofsky argues that in order to push the Republicancontrolled Congress to pass the European Recovery Program Marshall Plan and save the aircraft industry President Truman and his cabinet members most notably Secretary of State George Marshall and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal consciously manufactured the war scare in 1948 Kofsky believes that the war scare of 1948 to a large extent led to the escalation of the Cold War According to Kofsky despite the CIA intelligence reports showed that there was no immediate military threat from the Soviet Union during the early postwar period Truman and his Secretary of State George Marshall intentionally warned the public that the Soviet Union planned to conquer the entire Europe in the near future Kofsky argues that the tactics of the Truman Administration including exaggerating the negative impacts of the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia and the signing of a mutualdefense treaty between the Soviet and Finland successfully deceived both the American public and Congress As a result the Truman Administration overcame the opposition of Congressional Republicans who concerned more about the domestic issues rather than diplomatic programs The European Recovery Program was finally passed by the Congress Another leading proponent of the war scare was the Secretary of Defense James Forrestal Through nurturing the scare the army hoped to obtain a larger defense budget from the Congress In order to support his argument Kofsky pays special attention to the aircraft industry which he believes was the priority concern of the Defense Department According to Kofsky due to the lack of government orders after the war the aircraft industry was on the verge of bankruptcy Aircraft companies had tried to make profits on commercial airplanes and other nonaviation fields However all the attempts finally failed Under such circumstance the aircraft companies and the Defense Department both realized that the aircraft industry could not survive without new military orders Therefore the Defense Department became one of the designers of the war scare The successful war scare scheme of 1948 helped the aircraft industry obtaining more military contracts With the help of scare the aircraft industry started to make profits again At the end of 1948 the aircraft industry was in its best financial condition since the end of the war 194 Kofsky blames that the war scare of 1948 escalated the Cold War In the short run it directly caused the Berlin blockade He argues that following the unsuccessful effort to make an agreement with the United States on Germany the desperate Soviets imposed the blockade as a more drastic means to the same end 253 In the long run the war scare of 1948 had three negative impacts 1 it deteriorated the USisoviet relations 2 it transformed the Cold War into an arm race 3 it marked the beginning of a permanent war economy Kofsky s book has several shortcomings Most of his arguments are based on circumstantial evidence Besides his book lacks the archive resources from the Soviet side However this shortcoming is understandable Kofsky s book was published in 1993 when some important Soviet archives were still not available With the emergence of newly released Soviet s diplomatic documents Kofsky s arguments can be further examined In general the shortcomings should not diminish the contribution of Kofsky s book It deserves to be read by anyone who is interested in the Cold War history