By George Friedman
The British statesman Ernest Bevin once said the kingdom of heaven runs on righteousness, but the kingdoms of the Earth run on oil. That might have been the motto that drove British foreign policy in the Middle East after World War I, and then U.S. policy after World War II. But over the next two weeks, as the Saudi crown prince tours the United States, meeting with the president, other government officials and business leaders, the message will be decidedly different. Oil hasn’t lost its indispensability, but Saudi oil has.
No Effort too Great
Attention to the presence of oil in the Middle East grew as the industrial revolution shifted from coal to oil. When the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I, the British, French and Russians seized the opportunity to reshape the political structure of the region around its oil. Borders were imposed on the basis of oil, without regard for the nations themselves. Those areas that had oil were frequently tho