Resources play a huge role in our foreign relations. Because we can’t supply all of our resource needs ourselves, we need to actively work towards keeping a free flow of the resources that other nations supply us. Oil and certain industrial materials are particularly important – without them, our economy would be crippled, and so our foreign policy for the last hundred years has, in part, been dictated by who has the resources that we need, and what it takes to keep them flowing. This has involved bribery, sucking up, threats, regime-change (both violent and non-violent), and outright war.
The Middle East is a particular concern for American policy-makers because of the large quantities of oil it exports. Other areas, however, are almost as critical. China, for instance, currently has a near-monopoly on rare-earth minerals, and has used its leverage to scare and bully foreign nations and corporations that depend on them. Our foreign policy will always be impacted by these factors – the big question is, how will we manage this issue in the future?