WaPo: Falling oil prices aid Obama on foreign policy

The Washington Post has a story about what falling oil prices has achieved for President Obama’s foreign-policy goals:

The precipitous fall in oil prices, which is hammering countries heavily dependent upon oil exports, could prod Russia into abiding by a ceasefire in Ukraine, make Iran more pliable in talks over its nuclear program, undercut Venezuela’s influence in the Caribbean, and weaken the finances of the Islamic State.

There’s another side to the coin, however:

… other parts of Obama’s foreign policy agenda could become more difficult, including efforts to open up Mexico’s oil industry to foreign companies, promote oil-fueled development in poor nations in Africa, and reduce global fossil fuel use to limit climate change. Brazil, already grappling with a corruption scandal linked to its state-owned oil company, is now uncertain about long-anticipated revenues from ultra-deepwater oil prospects.

The plunge in oil — and the subsequent hit to Russia’s economy — has achieved what sanctions could not: Humble Russia, which is “suddenly finds itself fighting a rear guard action on its own economy.”

But some analysts worry that the Obama administration hasn’t considered all the consequences.

“The ruble is in real trouble, the Russian economy is in real trouble,” said Bruce Jones, deputy director of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution. But, he adds, “do we understand what happens if we really break the back of the Russian economy? I’m not sure we’ve thought that through.”

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