08/22/2012 12:09 pm ET | Updated Aug 23, 2012

Thomas Friedman: U.S. Middle East Policy 'All About Oil,' Not Human Rights

"It's all about oil," Thomas Friedman told me, summing up the main motivation behind U.S. foreign policy in the Arab world in just five words.

In a wide-ranging conversation with the HuffPost Live community, Friedman urged that we, as Americans, have missed an opportunity presented by the Arab uprisings to step back and completely "rejigger, rearrange, and reengineer how we [America] relate to this region" and that to do so we have to first listen to the Arab people themselves.

When I shared the widely-held perception held by millions of Arabs that America's government cares far more about its addiction to oil and securing access to it than it does about the Arab people's rights to self-determination and freedom, Friedman responded, "I think they are right... I'd be lying if I said otherwise."

Another highlight from the conversation was Friedman's enthusiastic response to a video question submitted in real-time from a woman in Saudi Arabia about commonalities between American and Saudi culture.