Betsy Beasley is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book project, "Expert Capital: Houston and the Making of a Service Empire," examines the cultural, political, and economic development of the globally integrated economy through the lens of the oilfield services industry.
Why does there seem to be such a strong relationship between oil and U.S. foreign policy? We tend to answer this question by claiming that U.S. foreign relations has been entirely driven by a quest to acquire cheap oil. In fact, U.S. companies sought something else entirely after World War II: to be seen as the world’s leading experts in getting oil out of the ground, ready to partner with any company or country in the oil business. Expert Capital tells the story of how U.S. oil companies learned to profit from commodifying their oilfield expertise.