Peak Oil is You

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Page added on April 30, 2008

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Michael Klare: Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet – Global Fight for Oil

During the Cold War the world order was fairly well defined. There’s a new international energy order. Who are the players in this version of the great game?

In the Cold War era, the two main poles of power were the Western block, with the United States as the dominant power and the Soviet block. In this new world order, I believe it’s bifurcated between energy surplus countries — countries which have enough energy to supply their own needs and to export energy to others — and energy deficit states, countries like the United States, China, Japan and European countries which don’t have enough energy to meet their needs and are dependent on imports from other countries and therefore are beholden to them in various ways, economically and increasingly politically.

What about the group of countries who are neither militarily powerful like the United States is, and also deficit in energy? Do they just fall off the order?

Those countries are at the bottom of the barrel, literally speaking and if they’re poor developing countries like in Africa and Latin America, they’re going to suffer terribly, because among other things, agriculture is an oil dependent activity and the price of agricultural products has risen enormously and as a result, food prices have risen and we’ve seen terrible consequences of this, with rising food prices, food riots and people facing starvation. This is a product, as much as other things, of the rising price of energy.

Can you give some examples of how the energy consumers like the United States are wooing the energy producers?

Many of these countries in the developing world are themselves facing internal unrest or separatist movements. Nigeria is a good example of this. The government in Abuja, the capital, is the recipient of all the oil wealth, but the majority of its own citizens do not see the benefit of the oil wealth. They live in absolute poverty and often suffer the environmental consequences of oil production, and they’re rising up in revolt – especially in the Niger Delta region in the south where the oil comes from. What they want from the United States or other suitors like China is weapons in return for oil. So we are pouring weapons in. The United States is becoming involved indirectly in a counter-insurgency war in the Niger Delta region. Similarly, China is deeply involved in Sudan’s counterinsurgency in Darfur and in the southern Sudan region where there is another civil war on the way.

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