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Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict With a New Introduction by the Author Paperback – March 13, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Klare analyzes the most likely cause of war in the century just begun: demand by rapidly growing populations for scarce resources. An introductory chapter sets the scene, laying out the complexities of rapidly increasing demand as the world industrializes, the concentration of resources in unstable states and the competing claims to ownership of resources by neighboring states. Succeeding chapters look more closely at the potential for conflict over oil in the Persian Gulf and in the Caspian and South China Seas, over water in the Nile Basin and other multinational river systems and over timber, gems and minerals from Borneo to Sierra Leone. The strength of Klare's presentation is its concreteness. His analyses of likely conflicts, for example among Syria, Jordan and Israel for the limited water delivered by the Jordan River, are informed by detailed research into projected usage rates, population growth and other relevant trends. As Klare shows, the same pattern is repeated in dozens of other locations throughout the world. Finite resources, escalating demand and the location of resources in regions torn by ethnic and political unrest all combine as preconditions of war. Klare, an expert on warfare and international security (Rogue States and Nuclear Outlaws, etc.), presents a persuasive case for paying serious attention to these impending hostilities and furnishes the basic information needed to understand their danger and the importance of international cooperation in staving off conflict. (May) Forecast: Klare's message is important, but it probably won't be heard by many beyond readers of the handful of major newspapers that will review it.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In this tour d'horizon for prospective wars in the next few decades, Klare identifies the factors and the actors in several contested areas of Africa and Asia. Distancing himself from ruminators like Samuel Huntington, whose Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) maintained that cultural differences, such as between Muslim and Christian, will drive post-cold war international politics, Klare contends that power struggles over petroleum, water, gems, and timber will be the engines. Indeed, where oil and water are concentrated in Asia and Africa--the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, and the South China Sea in the former; the Nile, Jordan, Tigris-Euphrates, and Indus River regions in the latter--Klare notes marked increases in military activity. Saber sharpening, rattling, and use have their provocations in increasing worldwide demand, driven by economic and population growth, for oil and clean water. Buttressing the text with tables attesting the finitude of both resources, Klare provides needed clarity on and a needed current-affairs summary of the issue. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Here are some of Klare's salient points:
*It's only with oil that the world population got to where it is today.
*Food production is dependent on cheap oil.
*No nation that became a major economic power has ever failed to militarize.
*We're in an arms race with China so we can't cooperate on solving resource problems.
Klare advocates education about resource problems at this point in time. He hopes that we'll be able to save ourselves in time (before disaster strikes).
I didn't bother reading the chapters on crude oil & natural gas because I've saturated my brain with that sector. I really enjoyed the rest of the book i.e. fresh water & other commodities, in particular old-growth timber. I had already known about the Nile, Jordan, Tigris, Euphrates & Indus rivers in regards to mutually sharing nations' conflicts/tensions over allocation quotas, dam & irrigation projects. I did appreciate expanding my knowledge over these issues from this book.
I believe that Egypt is the most vulnerable nation on the planet. Not only may it experience fresh water shortages in the future, but it also has a population growth rate of over 2%. Egypt is close to becoming an oil & natural gas net importer as well. Pakistan is probably the second most vulnerable nation. I do not understand why nations that still have population growth are allowing it to continue. My understanding is that in order to stabilise a nation's population, all it takes in the developed world, on average, for each woman to have 2.05 children & for the developing world it is 2.48 children per woman. I do not think that that is a hard ask to achieve. obviously, there are humans that believe that we should be free to have as many children as we want. With freedom comes responsibility. With responsibility comes ramifications of action/non-action.
The human rights issues in this book are important as well. What right does anyone have in chopping down a forest for timber which ends up destroying the habitat of indigenous populations? I found it interesting that in 2001, an old-growth tree in Cambodia costed $US25,000. No wonder timber is such a lucrative business.
Even though this book was written in 2001, not much has changed. We have been on an undulating plateau of oil production since mid 2004 & it looks like we will be falling off of it around 2014. Conventional oil production is currently depleting at 4-5 million barrels a year & most non-conventional sources of oil have an EROEI of 3:1, which is pathetic. We are still on the trajectory of 2/3 of humanity not having sufficient access to fresh water around 2025. The malthusian trap has been set & we are in population overshoot. The most damning statistic is that in modern mechanized agriculture, it takes 7-10 calories of hydrocarbon energy to produce 1 calorie of food energy.
Thanks Mr Klare for your contribution in this field. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is complementary for those like me who have been studying this topic extensively.
Michael Klare's book concentrates first on the issue of petroleum resources, a key flash point in the modern world. Access to petroleum is itself central to modern warfare, and those who control oil have used the revenue to build up their own military capabilities. Aside from American and Iraqi actions in the Middle East, actual conflicts have been limited to minor skirmishes thus far, but the build-up of arms is an ominous sign, as oil becomes scarcer and more valuable.
In the Persian Gulf, Klare documents the decades of first British and then American involvement, propping up friendly regimes and selling vast quantities of advanced weaponry. The expenditures on American might, even before the Iraq occupation (Klare's book was first published before even the September 11, 2001 attacks) have been astronomical; the US Central Command and Fifth Fleet exist largely to protect American interests (oil) in the Gulf region. The outcome of all that spending is pretty clear too: utter failure. Iran was long ago lost to American influence. Iraq seems likely to follow Iran; at the least, American efforts there have only resulted in lower, not higher, oil production. Saudi Arabia and many of the others are unstable, with super-wealthy upper classes threatened by religious fundamentalists and the poor, who only resent perceived American domination of their countrys' affairs.
Klare also reviews the interesting story of US policy in the Caspian region; developments since the Afghanistan war in that region have brought it even more under US influence since Klare wrote. The potential vast oil reserves there and in the South China Sea have brought major nations face to face with one another, staking out claims and influence, but so far avoiding outright war. Klare's discussion suggests that relative peace will not long continue: at some point the resources become valuable enough to risk large-scale combat, with outcomes likely bad for everybody.
Beyond oil, Klare discusses water resources extensively, particularly the Nile, but also a number of other cases where a major fresh water supply is divided among several nations. For rivers, upstream nations can take advantage of the geography to exploit as much of the water as they dare; in some cases only threats from more powerful downstream neighbors (such as Egypt for the Nile) keep the urge to divert water in check.
Other resources have also sparked conflict, in some cases civil war rather than war between nations: diamonds, precious metals and other ores, forests, and so forth. This seems to be particularly a problem in Africa where Klare discusses several recent examples. The existence of the resource draws in money that can be used to buy military capabilities; conflict seems to almost inevitably ensue.
In some respects, Klare seems to overstate the case. In briefly discussing possible solutions to all this, he seems to believe that only international institutions making allocation decisions for scarce resources would be able to tackle the problem. But one wonders - why are we trying to win by force what we can just buy in free markets with money? For instance, Iranian oil is essentially the same as oil from any other nation, it enters as additional supply in the world market and therefore has the net effect of lowering per barrel costs to US consumers. So what does it matter that the US has no influence over Iran these days? And if the foreigners who control oil raise prices for us, all the better for the alternatives we know we're going to need eventually anyway.
Many of the resource problems are a matter of ill-defined boundaries that could be resolved by some sort of international boundary disputes court, surely simpler than an international resource allocation system.
This all suggests that the real motives of governments striving to obtain influence over resource-rich regions is not the benefit of their own people, but the enrichment of certain segments of their society: those who profit more directly from resource extraction activities. Or, assuming stupidity instead of conspiracy, it could simply be an irrational need for control pushing governments in these directions. In either case Klare's book worryingly sets the stage for major global conflict over resources in coming years.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Though a little dated, no other book covers the issue in such a clear manner.Read more