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Michael Klare, author of «Blood and Oil» (forthcoming)

The Risk of an unending series of Oil Wars

Interview by Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues

«Blood and Oil: The International Security Implications of Growing U.S. Dependence on Imported Oil» is the forthcoming book of Professor Michael Klare, author of the seminal book "Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict", published long monthes before de 9/11 events. Klare explains in this exclusive interview the larger transformation in the US strategic thinking regarding the world resources and discuss the possibility of a series of oil wars with the envolvment of the US Administration. Klare was the first to focus on the issue of resource conflicts as a new trend in the geo-politics and geo-economy after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. He pointed out that we live today with a series of fault lines and the new map of the world has a lot of zones of potential trouble, including the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea basin, Caribean with Venezuela and Colombia flash points, the South China Sea, along with various parts in Africa.

© 2002, Gurusonline.tv

Mike T.Klare is Five College Professor of peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, US, author of «Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict» (2001) and of the forthcoming book «Blood and Oil» (2003). He wrote a seminal article at Foreign Affairs magazine, titled «The New Geography of Conflict», volume 80, number 3, May/June 2001.
Professor Klare can be contacted by email.

Since the edition of "Resource Wars" what events confirm or denied the main messages of your book published in May 2001?

Many events have occurred that confirm the main argument of the book. In particular, the terrible tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred in part because of the U.S. oil alliance with the royal family of Saudi Arabia. This alliance, established in 1945, entailed U.S. protection of Saudi Arabia and the royal family in return for privileged U.S. access to Saudi oil. While beneficial to the too main parties involved, this alliance has also angered some Saudis who resent the deployment of U.S. troops on Saudi territory and the close ties between the United States and Israel. It is from this milleu of anti-American Saudis that sorted out Osama bin Ladden and many of his followers (including 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 airplane hijackers). In fighting the war against terrorism, moreover, the United States has also sought to bolster its position in the vital oil-producing areas of the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea area, and Colombia. U.S. concern over the safety of future oil supplies has also led to greater American reliance on Russian oil.

In the geo-economic context you mention in the book, how can we understand the afghan operation? As some analysts said the consequences of the afghan operation were mainly a logistics movement regarding future alternatives to present pipelines through Iran and Russia?

The U.S. military operation in Afghanistan was primarily designed to destroy the Taliban and the sanctuary they provided for Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terror organization. In some sense, the operation can be said to bear on developments in Saudi Arabia, insofar as Osama and Al Qaeda represented a threat to the Saudi government, which is America's most important supplier of imported oil. Now, with the Taliban deposed and Al Qaeda largely destroyed, the U.S. will use its bases in Central Asia to protect the future flow of oil from this region. But I do not believe that this was the original purpose of this operation.

How can we understand the present interest in Iraq? Is it a strategic movement trying to balance the present internal turbulence in Saudi Arabia, Iran consolidation and the new repositioning of Russia since 1997, the clear challenger of the oil and gas chess?

As I see it, the Bush Administration's campaign against Saddam Hussein has several objectives: first, to eliminate the Iraqi threat to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (which are two of the principal suppliers of oil to the United States), second, to demonstrate that no one can be allowed to defy American supremacy forever; and third, to gain control over Iraqi oil reserves, the world's second largest reserves after those possessed by Saudi Arabia.

We can expect increased competition for control over the oil of Colombia and Venezuela in Latin America; Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan in Africa; and the countries of the Caspian Sea basin. Other major flashpoints will include major river systems in areas of scarce water supplies, such as the Nile River basin, the Jordan River, and the Tigris-Euphrates system.

In the new geography of potential flash points for resource conflicts, besides Middle East, in what world regions we can be surprised in the near future?

Clearly, any area possessing large supplies of oil is likely to be a major flashpoint as the world's demand for energy rises and some supplies dry up. In particular, we can expect increased competition for control over the oil of Colombia and Venezuela in Latin America; Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan in Africa; and the countries of the Caspian Sea basin. Other major flashpoints will include major river systems in areas of scarce water supplies, such as the Nile River basin, the Jordan River, and the Tigris-Euphrates system.

The so called "neo-imperial" Bush Administration strategy - as John Ikenberry puts out in last Foreign Affairs issue - is related with this revival of resource control? Is this doctrine a symptom of force or of strategic defensive in the geo-economy field?

The push for global supremacy exhibited by the Bush Administration is driven in part by ideological considerations -- a belief in the superiority of the American way of life and a desire to impose this system on the rest of the world -- and in part by resource considerations. In particular, the Bush Administration is determined to gain control over an ever-increasing share of the world's energy supplies in order to compensate for the steady depletion of domestic U.S. oil supplies.

Europe occupies an inferior position vis-a-vis the United States and thus enjoys less political independence and maneuverability.

How you evaluate Europe position in this new resource dispute?

To the extent that Europe continues to rely on Middle Eastern oil for a large share of its energy supply, it will be dependent on the United States to protect the flow of this oil. In this sense, Europe occupies an inferior position vis-a-vis the United States and thus enjoys less political independence and maneuverability.

Are you preparing a new book as a follow up of Resource Wars?

Yes, on the global security implications of growing U.S. dependence on imported oil. The title of the book is: "Blood and Oil: The International Security Implications of Growing U.S. Dependence on Imported Oil." It is scheduled to be published a year from now.

I believe that the U.S. will seek to protect its access to these neighborhoods by stationing troops there or otherwise using military force. The result, I fear, is an unending series of "oil wars" unless the U.S. learns to constrain its appetite for oil or adopts alternative modes of transportation.

And what's the main message?

The thesis of the book is that the United States will need to import an ever-increasing share of its oil supply because domestic production is undergoing a long-term and irreversible decline. At the same time, domestic oil use is rising at a rate of about 2 percent per year. The U.S. would prefer to rely on oil from "safe neighborhoods" like Canada and Europe, but these areas are also experiencing long-term decline. This means that the U.S. will have to rely more and more on oil from "dangerous neighborhoods" like the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, Colombia, Venezuela, and Africa. This being the case, I believe that the U.S. will seek to protect its access to these neighborhoods by stationing troops there or otherwise using military force. The result, I fear, is an unending series of "oil wars" unless the U.S. learns to constrain its appetite for oil or adopts alternative modes of transportation.

What were the main reactions to the first book since May 2001?

At first, people seemed to think that I exagerated the significance of resource issues. But since Sept. 11, and especially now with the talk of war with Iraq, people are saying that I was right to focus on this issue.

 
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