The Geopolitics of Middle East Oil

The briefing took place on Monday, November 4, 2019 at 9:00 am in Rayburn House Office Building 2043.

The recent attacks on oil tankers in the Persian gulf and Saudi oil refineries serve as a stark reminder of the global economy’s dependence on petroleum from this politically unstable region. This briefing, which brings together several leading historians of the subject, will explain how the Middle East oil industry assumed such importance in international affairs and American foreign policy.


David S. Painter teaches international history at Georgetown University, where he has a joint appointment with the School of Foreign Service and the Department of History. His research focuses on oil and geopolitics, and his publications include Oil and the American Century: The Political Economy of U.S. Foreign Oil Policy, 1941-1954; The Cold War: An International History; and articles and chapters in the Cambridge History of the Cold War; the Journal of American History; the Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations. He is currently working on a study of oil and world power in the twentieth century and an analysis of the 1951-54 Iranian oil crisis.


Nathan J. Citino is the Barbara Kirkland Chiles Professor of History at Rice University. His published articles have appeared in various journals including: Diplomacy & Statecraft, Diplomatic History,, the Journal of Cold War Studies, and Cold War History. Dr. Citino is the author two books. The first is From Arab Nationalism to OPEC: Eisenhower, King Sa‘ud, and the Making of U.S. – Saudi Relations. His second book, Envisioning the Arab Future: Modernization in U.S.- Arab Relations, 1945-1967, was awarded the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Anand Toprani is an Associate Professor of Strategy & Policy at the U.S. Naval War College. He is a graduate of Cornell, Oxford, and Georgetown, and has held fellowships at Yale and Harvard, as well as from the Smith Richardson, George C. Marshall, and Stanton foundations. Dr. Toprani is the author of Oil and the Great Powers: Britain and Germany, 1914-1945 and has published articles in several journals, including Diplomatic History, the Journal of Military History, and Political Science Quarterly. He previously served as a visiting assistant professor at Brown, an intelligence analyst at U.S. Central Command, and a historian at the Department of State, and is currently a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.