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Oil MoneyMiddle East Petrodollars and the Transformation of US Empire, 1967-1988$
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David M. Wight

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501715723

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501715723.001.0001

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End of an Era

End of an Era

(p.252) Chapter 10 End of an Era
Oil Money

David M. Wight

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses how, for secular Arab nationalists, Iranian Islamists, and Arab monarchists alike, the 1980s proved to be a decade of bitter disappointments, as petrodollar revenues were squandered in destructive wars and then became severely curtailed by a bottoming out of world oil prices. The optimism of the early 1970s within the Arab world and Iran had largely turned into anxiety or despair by the time the petrodollar era came to an end in the mid-1980s. Conversely, for the United States, the 1980s largely concluded as a decade of triumph, as many of the woes of the 1970s were largely contained, while US political and economic dominance over the Arab world rose to new levels and the Soviet empire endured global setbacks and then began to disintegrate. Yet in this moment of success, the US empire also sowed the seeds of resentments and future tragedies, including in Afghanistan, site of one of the clear Islamist victories of the decade, where some mujahedin began to strategize on how to roll back US imperialism in the Arab world. Ultimately, while the US-led petrodollar order stabilized aspects of US empire, it also enlarged realms of global instability that threatened the United States.

Keywords:   world oil prices, Arab world, Iran, petrodollar era, United States, US empire, Afghanistan, US imperialism, US-led petrodollar order

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