The Real "Syriana": Interlocking Directorates Shaping a Defense-Petroleum-Policy Complex

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Virginia Tech

Corporate interlocks between U.S. firms are a long-studied issue, and the apparent influence of these interlocks can be examined by applying theories of capitalism vs. the state arguments in examining the actual policy power that these interlocks potentially wield. This study investigates the link between corporate executives of the United States petroleum and military-defense industries, and examines the implications of the interlocking directorates that exist between these two industries, along with the strength of ties to government through former lawmakers and bureaucrats seated on these boards. The purpose of this research is to uncover evidence as to whether these interlocks and social network-ties are being utilized to further mutual interests of both these industries, along with the state, notably U.S.-led or U.S.-financed military or covert actions in petroleum-rich regions across the globe. The analysis reveals that interlocking directorates between the petroleum and defense industries show a high frequency of interlocks relative to other industries, along with a strong connection to government. This study points to the potential that oil-rich regions may have undergone U.S. military and covert interventions in an effort to not only gain access to petroleum, but to further the economic interests of the petroleum and defense industries. These findings lead to the conclusion that a real "Syriana," as in the plot of the 2005 film, may have been executed on two primary occasions during the George W. Bush administration.

military-industrial complex, interlocking directorates, defense contractor, oil