The basic self-sufficiency of the USSR in energy resources will provide Soviet leaders with far greater freedom of maneuver than their oil-deficient competitors. Whether they are likely to promote disruption or stability with respect to the flow of oil from the Middle East is the key question for the future. They cannot independently cause a major disruption in the world energy situation, but they can choose courses of action that could contribute toward exacerbating or alleviating the problem. Characteristics of a Soviet-preferred future world energy scenario might include a continuing gradual erosion of the Western oil companies' position in the Middle East and repeated temporary shortages in consumer states. Whether the USSR can benefit from such scenarios will depend on the success or failure of the United States, Western Europe, and Japan in forging a common energy policy to avoid a crisis. 9 pp.
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