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U.S. Military Expenditures to Protect the Use of Persian-Gulf Oil For Motor Vehicles


  • Delucchi, Mark A.
  • Murphy, James


In this Report, we seek to answer the question: “If the U.S. highway transportation sector did not use oil, how much would the U.S. Federal government reduce its military commitment in the Persian Gulf?†The analysis goes in four parts. First, we explain that the U.S. protects its “oil interests†in the Persian Gulf primarily to prevent supply disruptions and sudden price rises and the attendant macroeconomic problems. We cite evidence (including statements by the Joint Chiefs of Staff) that the U.S. Congress and the military do indeed plan and budget military operations for the Persian Gulf on account of U.S. oil interests there. We review and rebut arguments that the U.S. has other interests in the region substantially more important than those related to oil. Second, we review the best available estimates of the amount of that the U.S. military spends to protect U .S. interests in the Persian Gulf. As part of the review we address the difficult questions of how to allocate joint costs to particular programs. Third, we consider whether any of the economic assistance granted to countries of the Middle East is related to U.S. oil interests in the region. We show that most of this assistance goes to Israel and Egypt, and probably is not motivated by a desire to protect U.S. oil interests in nearby Arab countries. Finally, we work from our estimate of the cost of defending all U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf towards an estimate of the military cost of using oil in highway transportation. This proceeds in several steps: i) estimate how much military expenditure would be foregone if there were no oil in the Persian Gulf region; ii) estimate how much would be foregone if the U.S. did not produce or consume oil from the Persian Gulf, but other countries still did; iii) estimate how much would be foregone if U.S. producers had investments in the Gulf, but the U.S. did not consume Persian Gulf oil; iv) and lastly, estimate how much would be foregone if motor vehicles in the U.S. did not use oil, but other sectors still did and the U.S. (and other countries) still produced and consumed oil from the Gulf. This last is the bottom line of our analysis. Our analysis of these steps generally is illustrative, not rigorously quantitative. In the end, we estimate that if U.S. motor vehicles did not use petroleum, the U.S. would reduce its defense expenditures in the long run by roughly $1 to 10 billion dollars per year.

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  • Delucchi, Mark A. & Murphy, James, 1996. "U.S. Military Expenditures to Protect the Use of Persian-Gulf Oil For Motor Vehicles," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4mq1w5w2, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt4mq1w5w2

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    1. Hamilton, James D & Herrera, Ana Maria, 2004. "Oil Shocks and Aggregate Macroeconomic Behavior: The Role of Monetary Policy: Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(2), pages 265-286, April.
    2. Delucchi, Mark A. & Murphy, James J., 2008. "US military expenditures to protect the use of Persian Gulf oil for motor vehicles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2253-2264, June.
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    1. Delucchi, Mark A. & Murphy, James J., 2008. "US military expenditures to protect the use of Persian Gulf oil for motor vehicles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2253-2264, June.
    2. Almas Heshmati & Shahrouz Abolhosseini, 2016. "European energy security Challenges and green opportunities," WIDER Working Paper Series 021, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Moschini, GianCarlo & Cui, Jingbo & Lapan, Harvey E., 0. "Economics of Biofuels: An Overview of Policies, Impacts and Prospects," Bio-based and Applied Economics Journal, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA), issue 3.
    4. Greene, David L., 2010. "Measuring energy security: Can the United States achieve oil independence?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 1614-1621, April.
    5. Krupnick, Alan & Campbell, Sarah & Cohen, Mark A. & Parry, Ian W.H., 2011. "Understanding the Costs and Benefits of Deepwater Oil Drilling Regulation," Discussion Papers dp-10-62, Resources For the Future.
    6. Littlefield, Scott R., 2013. "Security, independence, and sustainability: Imprecise language and the manipulation of energy policy in the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 779-788.
    7. Mazumder, Diya B., 2014. "Biofuel subsidies versus the gas tax: The carrot or the stick?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 361-374.
    8. Hahn, Robert & Passell, Peter, 2010. "The economics of allowing more U.S. oil drilling," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 638-650, May.
    9. Ryunosuke Kikuchi, 2011. "Environmental and socio-economic factors in carbon offsets: an approach to sustainable management and planning in climate change strategy," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(3), pages 355-367.
    10. Stern, Roger J., 2010. "United States cost of military force projection in the Persian Gulf, 1976-2007," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2816-2825, June.
    11. Strakos, Joshua K. & Quintanilla, Jose A. & Huscroft, Joseph R., 2016. "Department of Defense energy policy and research: A framework to support strategy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 83-91.
    12. Greene, David L. & Liu, Changzheng, 2015. "U.S. oil dependence 2014: Is energy independence in sight?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 126-137.
    13. Brathwaite, J. & Horst, S. & Iacobucci, J., 2010. "Maximizing efficiency in the transition to a coal-based economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6084-6091, October.

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