Consequently, although the Soviet threat is often portrayed as the major concern, there is reason to believe that since World War II the primary target of U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf has been internal upheaval jeopardizing U.S. influence in this highly coveted area. The gulf has long been seen as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."[ Foreign Relations of the United States, vol. 8 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1945) Volume 8, p. 45. ]
In sum, U.S. policy toward the Middle East is characterized by an intention to ultimately control the oil there, strengthen key allies to do the United States' bidding, and keep other powers--not just the Soviet Union, but also Britain and France--away, if not dependent on the United States. The fruits of this policy, which took up where earlier French and British policy left off, have been the prolonged Arab-Israeli dispute, the fundamentalist Muslim uprising in Iran, and other assorted conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq war.
Chomsky : Absolutely. The smarter guys like George Kennen were pointing out that control over the energy resources of the middle east gives the US what he called 'veto power' over other countries. He was thinking particularly of Japan. Now the Japanese know this perfectly well so they've been working very hard to try to gain independent access to oil, that's one of the reasons they've tried hard, and succeeded to an extent, to establish relations with Indonesia and Iran and others, to get out of the West-controlled system.
Actually one of the purposes of the [post World War II] Marshall Plan , this great benevolent plan , was to shift Europe and Japan from coal to oil. Europe and Japan both had indigenous coal resources but they switched to oil in order to give the US control. About $2bn out of the $13bn Marshall Plan dollars went straight to the oil companies to help convert Europe and Japan to oil based economies. For power, it's enormously significant to control the resources and oil's expected to be the main resource for the next couple of generations. http://www.indybay.org/news/2002/12/1555839.php