Summary of Thicker than Oil

America's Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia

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Thicker than Oil book summary
Saudi Arabia is a crucial ally whose history and future – for better or worse – is intertwined with America's.


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American foreign policy exists simultaneously at several levels. Talk radio and TV pundits occupy the surface level, while foreign policy professionals understand increasingly deeper layers of information, history and interpretation. Rachel Bronson uses a scholarly approach for this in-depth discussion of America's complex relationship with Saudi Arabia. Linked by their animosity toward communism, and a fundamental supplier-customer relationship based on oil, the Saudis and Americans were allies throughout the Cold War. Then, they worked clandestinely to thwart the Soviets. But in the post-Cold War environment, conditions changed. The Saudis faced a major threat from other Islamic nations over their monarchy and their close relations with the U.S. Bronson densely packs her book with historical events in diplomatic, military, religious and cultural frameworks. Much of this material was classified and unavailable previously, so Bronson has fresh information. getAbstract considers this essential reading for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the vital, evolving relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Saudi Arabia's special relationship with the United States developed; and
  • What drives Saudi domestic and foreign policy.


The Cold War's Legacy
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia share a close relationship based on shared interests in oil and anti-communism. They spent several billion dollars each to help Islamic extremists in Afghanistan defeat the communist U.S.S.R. They politicized religion to fight for mutual ...
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About the Author

Rachel Bronson, Ph.D., is a senior fellow and director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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