As Americans grow increasingly uneasy with our reliance on oil imports from the Middle East, a new region in Africa—the Gulf of Guinea—is emerging as a pivotal oil exporter. An ambitious new book, Oil and Terrorism in the New Gulf
, written by James J. F. Forest and Matthew V. Sousa, focuses on this region of Africa and highlights the U.S. strategic interest in its oil-producing countries: Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and the island nations of Príncipe and São Tomé. This “New Gulf” not only provides the U.S. with a new oil supply, but also affords a chance to reframe our energy relationships.
Oil consumption is on the rise, with the United States leading the pack at nearly 25 percent of aggregate global oil use. Meanwhile, rapid industrialization and economic growth in India and China continues to push demand even higher. The Gulf of Guinea region is vying to meet the demand.
This book asks a critical question: how will the New Gulf cope with growing demand for oil in the face of pervasive poverty, weak governance, and corruption? The crux of the problem: stability in this region is an obstacle. According to the authors, stability is contingent on a calculated foreign policy framework, and the United States’ ability to learn from its mistakes in its quest for Middle East oil:
Our continued support for undemocratic regimes, coupled with our willingness to do virtually anything to maintain open and reliable access to the oil resources of the Middle East, has produced increasing animosity throughout the region that will take years of hard work to reverse.The authors advocate building energy relationships that avoid the Middle East model—a model beset by “shortsighted U.S. interests rather than long-term, fundamental U.S. values.” Instead, they say, America’s energy relationship with the New Gulf should be stable and cooperative, and built off a clear framework that promotes three, integrated priorities:
Readers seeking a quick “how to” in Forest and Sousa’s framework may want to skip ahead to the book’s second half, where the discussions of coordinating policy and developing economies take place. But the whole book is worthwhile, providing a wealth of information and an approach—long-term stability over shortsighted U.S. interests—that is altogether welcome and refreshing.
- 1. Human security
- Economic development