In the first of two programmes examining the key role which oil plays in American foreign policy, Maurice Walsh reports from the Caspian on how a new oil pipeline has helped shift the strategic balance in the region.
Before the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the most pressing domestic policy issue facing President Bush was America's energy shortage.
Repeated power cuts in California, dwindling sources of oil supply at home and a chronic lack of generating capacity prompted dire Government warnings that the US faced its "worst energy supply crisis since the 1970's" - a crisis which opened America to the threat of blackmail by foreign suppliers.
The attacks on September 11th eclipsed all other crises and propelled America into a War Against Terror and the later campaign against Saddam Hussein.
But the energy crisis has not gone away, and the political problems in the Middle East have driven home to ordinary Americans the fragility of their oil lifeline.
So how much did the need to secure its oil supplies drive American action in the Gulf? In these programmes, Maurice Walsh examines the key role which oil security has played in American foreign policy.
The Caspian - once a RUSSIAn lake - now has new guardians.
But is it more than coincidence that strategic American security decisions in the region relate so closely the route of a major oil pipeline? In Latin America, cynical observers suspect a more old-fashioned style of American intervention in Venezuela in the attempted removal of President Chavez, a leader who threatened to come between American motorists and their gas supplies.
As America's energy crisis deepens, is the need to guarantee supplies becoming the imperative factor in US foreign policy?
Maurice Walsh considers American plans for the Iraqi oil industry, and reports from Venezuela on the coup that threatened relations with one of Washington's closest oil partner.
In the second of two programmes, Maurice Walsh considers American plans for the Iraqi oil industry, and reports from Venezuela on the coup that threatened relations with one of Washington's closest oil partners.