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Iran Oil Threat Overstated, Yetiv Contends in Washington Post Commentary

Old Dominion University's Steve Yetiv, professor of political science, published an op-ed in the Washington Post that went live on the Internet Friday and appeared in print in the Sunday (April 1) Post Opinions section, which is one of the world's most coveted media spaces. The commentary entitled "Undue Worry About Oil and Iran" received top billing on the op-ed page, together with a page-dominating photo of Saudi Arabian oil fields. Drawing on his book "Crude Awakenings" (2004; 2010 in paperback, from Cornell University Press), Yetiv argued that conventional wisdom has the Iran situation all wrong. He explained how numerous different defenses now exist that will prevent any attack on Iran's nuclear facilities from causing a serious, lasting impact on oil prices. Washington Post

In fact, he believes that oil prices may come down once the issue is resolved. Such defenses include Saudi spare oil capacity, which can come to market in crisis; International Energy Agency petroleum reserves; and the deflation of current high-level oil speculation in oil markets. If Iran recognizes that its oil weapon won't work, it will be more likely to stand down and avoid war, he contended in the commentary.Yetiv's Washington Post piece follows two op-eds in the past month in the Christian Science Monitor, one of which was highlighted in the New York Times as a Best Read of the Week. All of the op-eds are now touring the Internet, generating debate on sites ranging from Politico to high-level decision-making forums in capitals around the world.

On March 6, The Monitor's opinion section included "Eight Reasons America Is Not in Decline," in which Yetiv provided an outline of his thinking as he wades into this latest book project. CSMonitor_Economy

 The reasons he lists are because the United States: 1) has the most competitive major economy; 2) has the world's best entrepreneurs and most Fortune 500 companies; 3) remains the world's leading magnet for immigrants; 4) has many trustworthy allies; 5) has weakened adversaries; 6) has vast energy resources; 7) is the leader in the global move toward democracy; and 8) has colleges and universities that top the global rankings.

"That piece was based on some data, but also a hunch that American decline may be exaggerated," he said. "However, as I noted in the piece, much more methodical work needs to be done on this subject, and my book project aims to achieve this goal."

In it, Yetiv writes that many people around the world believe an American decline would be good for the world. "For them, a diminished America could not arbitrarily throw its weight around, and a multipolar global order would work just fine in preserving global stability. … Well, that sounds nice. But it's probably wrong."

America & Global Order

Yetiv believes America, at present, is good for the global order because it 1) protects the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf; 2) bolsters the global economy; 3) helps keep the Asian balance of power; 4) checks terrorist groups; 5) prevents nuclear proliferation; and 6) brokers peace in the Middle East.

Yetiv won a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award earlier in the year for "superior performance in teaching, research, and service."

This article was posted on: April 2, 2012

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