To the deep consternation of the oilogopoly and their kindred and influential allies in government and finance the price of oil has been dropping precipitously: Venezuela, where a gallon of gasoline costs pennies, is reeling; Saudi Arabia, where their current national budget is under strain, not to speak of the budgets of Iran, UAE, Kuwait et al. What to do and to whom to turn?
With oil prices cratering one man has been there before and decisively changed the course of the oil markets and touched the edges of history. Little known and little remembered was the intercession of then Vice President George H.W. Bush, the erstwhile Texas oilman who almost single-handedly turned an even more dramatic collapse in the oil market around in an act of brazen diplomatic manipulation.
In 1986, the internationally quoted price of oil veered near and less than $10/barrel, a price that placed U.S. oil producers under pointed pressure. Sensitive to their plight, our then Vice President of the United States cloaked himself in the mantle of his deep Texas oilman roots and organized a trip to Saudi Arabia to converse with Saudi's King Fahd. The purpose of Mr. Bush's meeting was to focus on bolstering oil prices and to enlist Saudi Arabia, as the world's leading oil producer and OPEC's de facto leader, to support the price of oil by cutting its production and imposing discipline among its OPEC brethren.
Bush, in his meetings with the king, found himself speaking to the already converted, willing and eager to oblige. What had been missing in OPEC's sacrosanct mission of achieving higher oil prices was the knowledge that the American government would extend its silent blessing to Saudi Arabia and OPEC's collusion to curtail oil's availability toward achieving ever higher prices. The entreaties of America's Vice President was confirmation that, for now and well into the future, Saudi Arabia and OPEC had nothing to fear from the United States in the steps they would take to manipulate the price of oil, and in effect, had its blessing.
America's tolerance of OPEC's subsequent rapaciousness was to cost billions upon billions to the economies and citizen consumers of the United States and throughout the world while Saudi Arabia and its OPEC cabal gathered riches beyond the wildest dreams of Croesus.
At the time it was Vice President Bush's objective to achieve market conditions that would raise the price of crude from the then $10/bbl level to a $17bbl/$19bbl range. That objective was achieved within six months of Bush's meeting with King Fahd.
Bush's intercession did not go totally unheeded at the time, exemplified by the Detroit News' then scolding editorial, "BUSH TO MICHIGAN: DROP DEAD!"