Without Intervention, Syria Could Raise African American Unemployment

By William A. Foster, IV

Employment, which Galen calls nature’s physician, is so essential to human happiness that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery. – Burton

I have often contended that African Americans struggle to look at things from their own interest. It is no secret that when most of America catches the proverbial cold, we seem to catch pneumonia as the saying goes. Often what is good for other communities is bad for us and vice versa, and what is bad for other communities can sometimes be worse for us. The latter seems to be the case of what will happen if America does not intervene in Syria.

Many African Americans are anti-war because of America’s history of imperialism. These concerns are justified but also misled. Nobody has suffered from America’s imperialism domestically more than African Americans. However, America’s ability to be so prosperous is its ability to control much of the resources around the world either through soft or hard power. While this leaves many chastising American policy abroad, rarely is anyone willing to give up their cushion way of American life. Even for African Americans we enjoy a way of life that many around the world wished they had and that we so often still try to integrate ourselves into. Things like running water, electricity, cheaper gas, and many other basic necessities.This happens because American power allows for the scales to be tilted in the favor of American citizens and their institutions. Unfortunately, we control and own very few of these institutions and tend to end up with the leftovers and scraps instead of the main meals of prosperity.

The current African American unemployment rate is 13.0 percent. If the Strait of Hormuz, where 20 percent of the world oil goes through and 35 percent of seaborne traded oil flows, expect American companies to react accordingly. An instant spike of product cost and transportation would most likely lead many companies to cutting labor to deal with the new expenses. Given our history of last hired and first fired due to our dependency on European American owned multinational companies, it would not be hard to imagine that many jobs that we hold in private companies would be in danger upon disruption of the oil supply.


Syria on its face is not a major oil supplier and is fairly inconsequential to the actual global oil supply. Timothy Gardener from Reuters in a recent article points out, “Syria has not exported any oil since late 2011, when international sanctions came into force. Prior to the sanctions Syria produced 370,000 barrels per day (bpd), roughly 0.4 percent of global supplies, and exported less than 150,000 bpd, mainly to Europe.” The problem as it were with the Syria situation is just how quickly the situation could be prone to spread to other countries. This possibility alone has caused oil prices to spike more than $8 per barrel since the beginning of August. The many factions at play between Sunni/Shiite groups within Syria and outside influences like Al-qadea, Iran, and others make a complicated matter even more so.

In the end, African America will continue to push the flag of human rights and equality because it is a social value we hold dear in our community. The economic reality for us is another matter in itself and with August numbers showing African American employment at its worst in the past five months the situation in Syria could expedite the downward spiral. Many analyst have already predicted that a U.S. strike could bring oil prices back down. If we want to truly be beholden to our value of human rights, then we ourselves must obtain the economic independence to do so. Whether we like it or not for now, our  economic fate is indeed tied to America’s foreign policy.

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