New Millennium Resource Wars
They’re ongoing. They represent a modern-day great game. The previous one pit Britain against Tsarist Russia. One powerful empire battled another.
They did so for territory they both wanted. Conflict lasted about 100 years. Post-WW II, East – West struggles vied for geopolitical influence and control.
Resources became increasingly more important. They very much are today. World supplies are finite. Major powers scramble for as much as they can control.
Oil is especially valued. No one’s sure how much is left. America, China, Russia and other major nations want control over as much as possible. They’re going all out to get it.
Middle East countries have over half the world’s proved oil reserves. Saudi Arabia’s amount is second only to Venezuela’s.
In the 1940s, the State Department called access to Middle East oil a “stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”
The Caspian basin is oil and gas rich. Resource wars are waged in both regions for control. America does it aggressively.
Bush administration 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategy policies (NSS) asserted sovereign right to wage preventive wars against perceived threats.
It did so against any nation challenging US world dominance. In 2010, Obama’s NSS replicated Bush policy.
It was rebranded to appear softer. It’s old wine in new bottles.
Candidate Obama promised peace in our time. President Obama wages one war after another. He’s got new targets in mind.
He wants unchallenged global dominance. He wants control over world resources.
Energy matters most. They’re a strategic source of world power.
America wages wars for control. Its “imperial grand strategy” prioritizes them.
Preventive or preemptive wars have nothing to do with protecting US security. Claiming otherwise doesn’t wash.
Bush administration officials spurned Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions.
Under NPT’s Article VI, nuclear nations pledged “good faith” efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. America develops and tests new ones instead.
Having them risks humanity’s survival. Washington’s unconcerned. It ignores Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty provisions.
It rescinded the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It violates Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention provisions.
It opposes a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. It proposes banning further production for nuclear weapons. It includes highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
Washington wants nothing interfering with its right to wage war on humanity. It wants to do so with state-of-the art weapons of mass destruction.
Obama supports the worst Bush administration policies. He added more of his own.
Doing so reflects nuclear, chemical and biological weapons terrorism. Unchallenged global dominance and resource control matter most.
Going all out to secure them reflects madness. It doesn’t deter Washington’s rage to wage war.
Michael Klare addresses resource wars. His earlier book was titled “Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict.”
He discussed new millennium wars to control them. His follow-up book is titled “The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources.”
He addressed growing dangers. Peace is a convenient illusion. Wars rage for resource control. Demand keeps growing. Available supplies shrink.
Exploration and drilling intensify. So does competition to control what’s left. According to Klare, “easy-resource world” availability no longer exists.
“Hard-resource world” reality reflects today’s conditions. Existing oil wells produce diminishing amounts. Once productive sources became stingy.
Klare believes key resources peaked. No one knows for sure. Peak oil advocates earlier were proved wrong.
Societies haven’t run out of technological advances to secure oil and gas in ways impossible earlier. Nothing suggests they won’t find better ones ahead.
The fullness of time will tell. At the same time, hydrocarbons are finite. Some day peak oil and gas proponents will be right. Knowing when is pure speculation.
Importantly is potential ecocide. The race to locate and produce hydrocarbons pollutes. It destroys environmental viability.
Productive farmland is scarcer in more areas from overuse, desertification, urbanization, and other forms of destructive over-consumption.
Growing demand assures greater strains. “Natural” scarcity will increase. BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are some of the world’s fastest growing.
They account for over 20% of world GDP. Their population exceeds 2.8 billion. It’s 40% of the world total. By 2020 or earlier, China’s expected to become the world’s largest economy.
It has enormous energy needs. It’s going all out for new sources. So do other fast-growing economies. Commerce depends on them. Nations vie with each other for reliable supplies.
According to Klare:
“The world is entering an era of pervasive, unprecedented resource scarcity.”
Governments and energy producers believe “existing reserves are being depleted at a terrifying pace and will be largely exhausted in the not-too-distant future.”
“(T)he only way for countries to ensure an adequate supply of these materials, and thereby keep their economies humming, is to acquire new, undeveloped reservoirs in those few locations that have not already been completely drained.”
“This has produced a global drive to find and exploit the world’s final resource reserves.”
At stake is available energy, mineral resources and arable land. Today’s great game reflects a scramble to secure them.
Previously inaccessible or unprofitable areas are targeted. They include deep ocean sites, remote African regions, northern Siberia and Arctic locations.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS):
“The Arctic is an area of high petroleum resource potential, low data density, high geologic uncertainty and sensitive environmental conditions.”
“A large portion of the remaining global endowment of oil and gas resources has long been thought to exist in the high northern latitudes of Russia, Norway, Greenland, United States, and Canada.”
Their “quality, quantity, and distribution” remain “poorly understood.”
USGS estimates 13% or more of undiscovered world oil reserves exist in the region.
It believes it holds about 30% or more of yet to be discovered gas. Russia is estimated to hold over half of total Arctic resources. USGS calls what it controls “the big prize.”
It has the largest amount of gas. It discovered 20 major oil and gas provinces and basins. Half or more have significant hydrocarbon potential.
America may have the region’s largest potential oil reserves. According to USGS, “high-cost, high-risk resources are increasingly commercially exploitable and affordable, given the current and expected price of oil.”
Nations always competed for available resources, notes Klare. Today they do so more aggressively.
“Whereas previous centuries generally witnessed conflict between just a few dominant powers, today many more countries are industrialized or on the path to industrialization,” notes Klare.
“(S)o the number of major contenders for resources is greater than ever before.”
“(N)ew challengers also often harbor large and growing populations, whose desire for consumer goods of all sorts cannot be long denied.”
“At the same time, many existing sources of supply are in decline while few new reservoirs are waiting on the horizon.”
“(W)ith more nations in the resource race and fewer prizes to be divided among them, the competition is heating up and governments are being pressed to assume a more active role.”
None does more so than America. War is its option of choice. It remains to be seen what tactics are employed in the Arctic and other remote resource rich regions.
Another concern is potential ecocide. Examples include BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster, other offshore catastrophes, hydrofracking, Canadian tar sands development, and shale oil and gas operations.
At the same time, governments, bankers, wealthy investors, and hedge funds are scrambling to acquire arable farmland.
In 2009 alone, an estimated 110 million acres were bought. It’s an area the size of Sweden.
Africa is one of two final frontiers. The Arctic is the other. African land is very inexpensive. It promises a high rate of return.
Intensive resource exploration and extraction goes hand-in-hand with supporting regional despots. Ordinary people are denied. They’re ruthlessly exploited. According to Klare:
“Ever since the early Cold War period, when Niger was still under French rule, uranium extraction has been a significant industry in the country, but it has mostly enriched only a few well-connected government officials and the companies that own the mines”
“Few of Niger’s sixteen million people have ever seen any benefits from the mining, and two-thirds of them still live on less than $1 per day, making Niger one of the poorest nations on earth.”
Scrambling for scarce resources increases the chance for war to secure them, observes Klare.
“In all probability, countries with major resource deposits will receive more weapons, military training, technical assistance, and intelligence support from states that wish to curry favor or establish closer ties.”
“At the same time, combat forces will be deployed abroad to defend friendly regimes and protect key ports, pipelines, refineries, and other critical installations.”
Locations at great risk for conflict include Africa, East and South China Seas, as well as Arctic areas.
Klare notes a viable alternative exists. A “race to adapt” could replace the “race for what’s left.”
Doing so would require “major political and corporate powers to become among the first to adopt new materials, methods, and devices that will free the world from its dependence on finite resource supplies.”
It would “reward the governments, companies, and communities that take the lead in developing efficient, environmentally friendly industrial processes and transportation systems.”
Replacing “finite natural resources with renewables” as well as focusing on “increasing efficiency” could let global economies “escape from the trap of diminishing resource supplies.”
It would free them from “military pacts and other diplomatic arrangements currently employed to cement ties to foreign resource providers.”
If adopted, it would be a global win-win. Old ways are hard to change. Klare and other observers don’t expect resource wars to end.
On September 24, Michel Chossudovsky reposted an important August 2007 article he wrote. It’s headlined “North American Integration and the Militarization of the Arctic.”
His earlier view is relevant today. He called “The Battle for the Arctic part of a global military agenda of conquest and territorial control.”
“It has been described as a New Cold War between Russia and America.
“Washington’s objective is to secure territorial control, on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants, over extensive Arctic oil and natural gas reserves.”
“The Arctic region could hold up to 25% of the World’s oil and gas reserves, according to some estimates.”
“From Washington’s perspective, the battle for the Arctic is part of broader global military agenda.”
It’s related to earlier planned North American integration. It’s called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) North American Union (NAU).
Plans launched in March 2005 are sidelined. They’re delayed. They’re not abandoned. They reflect a tri-national agreement secretly hatched in Washington.
SPP unmasked isn’t pretty. It’s a corporate-led coup d’etat. It involves destroying the sovereignty of three nations.
It’s to let America dominate weaker partners. It’s about creating a borderless North America without trade and capital flow barriers.
It’s to insure dominant US corporations get unrestricted access to continental resources. Mainly oil, gas and water are wanted.
It’s to create fortress North America. It’s NAFTA on steroids combined with Pax Americana militarized enforcement.
So-called “deep integration” tolerates no outliers. Sovereign rights no longer matter. Nor do people needs.
SPP expands GHW’s 1990 New World Order pronouncement. He called it “a unique and extraordinary moment (to eliminate) the threat of terror.”
He highlighted a new order “quite different from the one we’ve known.”
He had global wars in mind. Waging them for unchallenged dominance and resource control continues.
They show no signs of ending. “The Arctic is no exception,” said Chossudovsky.
It’s “an integral part of the ‘Battle for Oil.’ It is one of the remaining frontiers of untapped energy reserves.”
It’s resource rich enough to wage war for exploration, drilling and extraction rights.
Middle East/North African/Central Asian countries know the curse of oil and gas. Arctic countries may experience it next.
At risk is the next great world battleground. Pitting Russia against America threatens world peace.
Whether it can be preserved remains to be seen. Given America’s rage for war, the worst of all possible outcomes can’t be discounted.
Nations that live by the sword use it. America’s addicted to war. It’s been that way from inception.
It believes war is peace. It’s part of the national culture. It’s self-destructive. It risks mass annihilation.
It doesn’t matter. Global dominance and resource control count more.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”