Friday, May 15, 2015

Counting Eggs

I was reading a critique of Marco Rubio's foreign policy positions in The Atlantic,when I came across the following:

But what all these doctrines had in common was that they constituted an effort to define, and answer, the specific challenge of a given time. For Monroe, it was hemispheric independence. For Truman, it was communist expansion. For Carter, it was threats to America’s oil supply.
The last sentence jumped out at me for a moment, because it strikes me as a particular way of using the possessive. Were you to ask me, "Where are your supplies?" you would be treated to a quick tour of my apartment, so that could show you were I keep food, water, emergency batteries, flashlights, radios, et cetera. But I wouldn't take you to the canned food aisle of the local grocery store. Because while they most certainly have supplies there - they aren't mine in any real sense of the word - they're merchandise for sale to whomever comes along.

In that sense, the idea of referring to the oil reserves of the Persian Gulf states as "America's oil supply" seems premature, at best. But I wonder to what degree policymakers have already counted those particular chickens, as it were. And what the policy implications of that are.

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