As in the past, future prospects of economic relations between the United States and the Gulf states will be governed by the broad cardinal currents of history and the specific circumstances surrounding the bilateral relationships. In a global system, these factors sometimes interact in such complex ways that it is difficult to sort them out. One has seen, for instance, that in spite of the special historical ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the kingdom still took actions--oil embargo, price hikes, takeover, to name a few--that were more in character with the changes in North-South relations in the postcolonial period. However, in examining the past, one has the advantage of having the facts at hand, so that distinguishing the current from the undercurrent is conceptually a simpler task. This is not so when one attempts to predict the future. One certainly can peruse the past for clues, and can make projections based on some assumptions. The method adopted here is no exception. The procedure to follow is to attempt to look at the currents and the undercurrents, and then based on history and assumptions, one comes up with what one conceivably thinks may happen in the near or distant future.
First of all, the basis of the long-term historical relations between the United States and the Gulf states has remained fundamentally unchanged. In a world addicted to oil and faced with the prospect of its eventual depletion, this commodity continues to define long-term relationship between the big producer and the big consumer like Saudi Arabia and the United States. Even in a world free from the danger of superpower confrontation, the absence of practical alternatives means that today and in the foreseeable future oil security still dominates foreign policy considerations of the United States. Moreover, the "symbiotic"