An Aspect Of OPEC's Strategy

An article published in the Infantry Journal (U.S.) many years ago contained the following  exotic question: “If you only had an hour in which turn  civilians into  soldiers, what would your instruction consist of?”

The thinking intrinsic in a question of that nature, as well as what might be called ‘the school solution’, struck me as being so original and provocative that I elaborated on it in my ‘required’ lecture at the Infantry Leadership School at Fort Ord (California). Remembering that wonderful occasion inevitably leaves me to believe that my enthusiasm was one of the reasons why I was the only trainee in my class to be expelled – which took place without explanation – from that splendid establishment. Of course, some months later I gave a similar lecture at Fort Lewis, and it was so well received that I was allowed to exercise my vocal chords in front of troops until I took the liberty of arranging a very long and well deserved vacation in Germany.

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In  alluding to the relevance of that long-ago adventure, I can turn to this matter of OPEC and its strategy, which I have touched on in many presentations, and which in a classroom or examination situation would lead to the following query: If you only had an hour to discuss OPEC’s objectives with an indifferent or unfriendly scholar, how would you begin and end this exercise?

The school solution in this case commences with the following: OPEC intends to export (and perhaps produce) as little oil as possible. It ends with: OPEC intends to export (and perhaps produce) as little oil as possible, regardless of what they say or do! It might also be wise to repeat this mantra a number of times during your exposition.

The logic in play here is an extension of the work of three brilliant economists. Professor Gunnar Myrdal, who was one of my teachers at the University of Stockholm; Professor Howard Chenery, who organized a small conference I attended in Paris in the l980s, and whose book (together with Paul Clark) I used when I taught at a U.N. Institute in Dakar (Senegal); and of course the superb article by Professor A.A. Kubursi ‘Industrialisation in the Arab States of the Gulf: A Ruhr without water‘ (1984).

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