Absolutely Extraordinary: Cheap Oil Equals Lots of Bloodshed,
I have heard this author speak to groups of international intelligence professionals, and they take him very seriously, as do I. In many ways, his books complements the one by Thomas Barnett, The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century except that whereas Barnett says that the military must go to war to make unstable areas safe for America, Klare points out that a) we don’t have enough guns or blood to stabilize a world that we antagonize every time we deploy into an “occupation” mode, and b) cheap oil is going to be very very expensive in terms of American blood on the floor.
Although I have reviewed many books about both the problems within America and its policies, as well as books optimistic about the future of America and the world, I give credit to Klare and this book for finally forcing me to realize that our federal budget and federal policies, in relation to protecting America, are “inside out and upside down.” There is, and Klare documents this beautifully in relation to petroleum, a very pathological cycle that could be easily stopped. We insist on cheap oil, this leads to bloodshed and high oil prices; this comes back to lower quality of life for the workers, etc.
As Klare points out, the pipelines (and I would add the pipe to ship portals) cannot be protected. American policy makers are deceiving the public when they suggest they can stabilize the Middle East and protect cheap oil. Not only can the pipelines not be protected, but on America’s current consumption path, according to Klare, the Gulf States would have to DOUBLE production to keep up with American demand.
Klare is also intellectually powerful in painting a future picture when China, Russia, and Europe are in armed competition with the USA for energy from Central Asia, Latin America, under the Spratley Islands, etcetera. As I read Klare’s book, I was just shaking my head. Our policies on energy are delusional and destructive, and Klare is among the few that is providing an objective report to the public on this reality.
Klare is actually kind to the current Administration (Bush-Cheney), pointing out that they are no more or less corrupt than previous administrations going back to World War II. Cheap oil has become a mantra, and military power has become the unquestioned means of achieving that–along with supporting 44 dictators, genocide, state-sponsored terrorism (as long as we like them and we get the Jewish vote to boot).
I especially liked Klare’s observation that cheap oil for the US is a major contributor to unemployment and destabilization within Arabia. Buying oil from Saudi Arabia subsidizes terrorism. Buying cheap oil from Saudi Arabia increases the number of unemployed who might be inspired to become terrorism. Hmmmm… At what real cost shall we continue to demand cheap oil?
Klare is also very effective in objectively criticizing the manner in which the US Administrations have integrated anti-terrorism initiatives with energy-protection initiatives. Bin Laden is still at large, but by golly, we have 200,000 Americans sitting on top of the Iraqi oil fields.
Klare joins Jim Bamford Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, Chalmers Johnson The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project), Derek Leebaert The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World and a score of other authors who have in one way or another alluded to the fact that we are now doing to China what we did to Russia after the Cold War: needlessly confronting them, scaring them, and pushing them to arm themselves. Klare focuses on our “occupation” of Central Asia, an area of direct concern and interest to China, but I would add our sending seven carriers to the Formosa Straits recently and part of the problem–reminding me of how we sent squadrons of nuclear bombers deep into the Soviet Union from the north, immediately following World War II, just to see how far we could get. WE started the arms race!
The book ends as intelligently as it begins, with emphasis on getting to a post-petroleum economy. Listing all the ways we could get there would be another book in itself, but we could start with neighborhood level solar power, more wind power, deep conservation (which must also apply to water), a gradual elimination of chlorine-based and petroleum-based industries, a turn toward self-sustainment across the board, and what Klare cites as his big three steps:
1) divorce energy purchases from security commitments—stop tolerating dictators and arming terrorist nations for the sake of cheap oil
2) reduce our reliance on imported oil, dramatically
3) prepare the way for a transition to a post-petroleum economy that includes conservation, hybrid vehicles, public transportation, the two-way energy grid that WIRED featured on its cover the same week Cheney met secretly with Enron…and so on.
Fool’s gold at high moral cost. Klare makes it clear that if we do not heal ourselves from inside out, that no amount of guns, blood, or destruction will save us from the inevitable implosion of the unstable places where oil is to be found.
Special books read since then that carry the argument forward:
Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush
Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy
The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition