The Strategic Importance of Central Asian Oil

"I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."
Vice-President Dick Cheney
Then-CEO of Halliburton (to oil industry executives, 1998).
Source: Cited by Sitaram Yechury, "America, Oil and Afghanistan," The Hindu, Oct. 13, 2001. <>

"Stated U.S. policy goals regarding energy resources in [Caspian] region include fostering the independence of the new states and their ties to the West, breaking Russia's monopoly over oil and gas transport routes, encouraging the construction of East/West pipelines that do not transit Iran and denying Iran dangerous leverage over central Asian economies."
Doug Bereutter
Chair, U.S. House Committee on International Relations (held hearings on the Caspian's strategic import.) 
Source: Cited by Harold Pinter, "Out of the barrel of a gun," (a speech in London, June 25, 1999). <>

"Central Asian resources may revert back to the control of Russia or to a Russian led alliance. This would be a nightmare situation. We had better wake up to the dangers or one day the certainties on which we base our prosperity will be certainties no more. The potential prize in oil and gas riches in the Caspian sea, valued up to $4 trillion, would give Russia both wealth and strategic dominance. The potential economic rewards of Caspian energy will draw in their train Western military forces to protect our investment if necessary."
Mortimer Zuckerman 
Editor, U.S. News and World Report
Source: "The Big Game Gets Bigger: Russia will gain wealth and influence if it controls Caspian Sea oil," U.S. News & World Report, May 10, 1999. 

"This is about America's energy security. Its also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We are trying to move these newly independent countries toward the West. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political interests. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian and it's important that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right." 
Bill Richardson
Then-U.S. Secretary Energy (1998-2000)
Source: Cited by George Monbiot, "A discreet deal in the pipeline," The Guardian, Feb. 15, 2001. <,3604,438134,00.html>

"American interest in secure access to Caspian oil dictate that the legislative and executive branches develop a common, sound position regarding this vital strategic issue.... It behooves the Republican Congress to reflect on a key question: Will it be viewed historically as having helped revitalize a Soviet-style empire in the Caucasus and Central Asia or as having secured a vital resource base for the democracies of the 21st Century?"
Center for Security Policy
(The CSP's mission: "To promote world peace through American strength.")
Source: "The Great Game is on," Caspian Watch #2, Nov. 1, 1995. < html>

"The U.S. and its allies - as modern industrial societies - have a broad interest in the sources of energy upon which they depend. The U.S. has an interest in an area as rich in energy resources as the Caspian Sea region. 
The U.S. has an interest in discouraging and retarding the re-emergence of a hegemonic center on the Eurasian land-mass, which some elements in Russia undoubtedly would like to see. Unfortunately, those Russians who would favor the re-establishment of the old Soviet sphere of influence - such as Foreign Minister Primakov - are being brought back into positions of influence in the Kremlin. 
Although industry is correct in stating that the decisions about where pipelines will be built should be dictated primarily by economic concerns, it is nearly impossible in this situation to separate economics from politics. It is the responsibility of the U.S. government to assist American companies by ensuring that the geopolitical environment in the region is one that will foster a stable climate for economic success. Doing so will require sufficient American military strength and leadership to deter anyone tempted to affect adversely American interests in the region."
Richard Perle
Former-Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. 
Source: Symposium: "National Security Dimensions of the Emerging Crisis in the Caspian Basin," Wash., D.C., Mar. 13, 1996. Casey Institute of the Center for Security Policy, No. 96-C 94, Oct.1, 1996. <> 

"Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographic position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes proposed multi-billion dollar oil and gas export pipelines through Afghanistan."
U.S. Department of Energy
Source: "Afghanistan," Sept. 2001, Energy Information Administration, <>