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on 14 April 2005
In this fantastically well written and researched book, Klare draws on literally thousands of different sources to show how Western governments in general, and the US in particular, have manipulated world politics for the past half century to ensure the life blood of their power never runs dry. He describes the "security strategy" formulated by the American right during their time out of office in the 1990s, how an opportunity to wean the US off fossil fuels was deliberately overlooked when they re-took power this decade, how the idea of domestic self-reliance is a myth and how Iraq could never have been about anything else but oil.
After setting the scene, Klare then shows how Central Asia - most notably the Caspian Sea region - will almost certainly be the next flash point as the US, EU, Russia and China seek alternative supplies to the Persian Gulf, while at the same time producers in the Gulf will quite literally have us over a barrel. It has already started: Oil has reached record prices, while joint exercises with local forces and the establishment of permanent airfields in pro-Western countries has been accompanied with the propping up of decidedly non-democratic regimes and the subtle weakening of troublesome governments, in order to have them replaced by popular revolt. Anyone who has seen the news in the past few months will have seen these prophecies starting to occur in countries such as Kyrgyzstan. Worryingly, Klare foresees a very high chance of all out war: Without predicting who will side with whom, it is clear that on our current path we are destined to come to blows over the last remaining reserves within our lifetimes.
The book comes out with some startling figures. For example, whilst George Bush has pledged $1.2 billion for hydrogen fuel research between 2002 and 2007 - a large sounding number if taken by itself - or the world argues over who will host a $5bn demonstration Fusion reactor that could lead the way to millennia of clean energy, what is not often shown is the cost of the status quo. Klare quotes the R&D and equipment cost alone required to extract more of the difficult-to-find reserves and sustain world demand will be over $3 trillion between now and 2030. This is before we consider the cost of pollution, indirect environmental effects and disasters, propping up of "friendly" oil states worldwide with arms and training (billions of dollars each, even to the small guys) and of course the wars that go along with increasingly scare reserves (Iraq alone having cost hundreds of billions of dollars already). The author ponders where this kind of money is going to come from - but then again this was written before Paul Wolfowitz took up residence at the World Bank.
If any aspect of this book is below first class, it is the section on strategies to turn the world away from the oil economy. There is nothing wrong with the tone of the material, but it feels a bit lightweight after everything else here. Perhaps defining the way out of this mess is neither the author's speciality nor strictly the point of the book, which is understandable given the depth of the cover of other matters. If what you read makes you anxious for more, the subjects are better dealt with in "Beyond Oil" by Kenneth S. Deffeyes, "Tomorrow's Energy" by Peter Hoffman and other books of that ilk, in addition to websites such as [...] and [...]
Nevertheless, this is a superb book; well researched, easy to follow for political novices, delivers the facts without being sensationalist and outlines the consequences of inaction. If I could, I'd make everyone read this to see how badly we have been and are being conned by our leaders. This should be on the bookshelf of anyone who has an interest in world politics or the environment - together with the sources mentioned above, it is clear that not only is there an alternative to the future we are making for ourselves, but the means to do it are all but ready now and by comparison, the costs are not as high as They would like you to believe.
Food for thought when oil hits $100 per barrel.
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Michael Klare doesn't agree with S. Huntington that contemporary conflicts are rooted in civilization differences. For him, they are struggles for scarce and valuable materials: arable land, water, timber, commodities and, most notably, oil.

Relatively inexpensive petroleum lays at the heart and is the engine of the world economy: the transportation (and indirectly tourism), textile, pharmaceutical and agro-business industries.

Oil is a key factor in national defense; e.g. it secured the Allied victory in World War II.

Control of world oil is essential for 'full spectrum domination' (W. Engdahl) and for preventing the rise of a new rival in world affairs.

Unfortunately, oil is becoming rapidly a scarce product. Nevertheless, the policies of the Bush II administration are based on increased oil consumption and on an expansion of the US oil economy!! More unstable and unfriendly supplies, together with rising competition, will be needed to slake the US thirst of cheap oil.

Actually, the main sources of cheap oil are situated in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian region. The author points his finger at the Iraq invasion: the US forces seized immediately the Oil Ministry in Baghdad, while allowing the looting of everything else in the city.

But, for M. Klare, control of the Persian Gulf and other oil regions (+ transportation and refining) constitutes a formidable challenge and will need vast amounts of money to finance the US military presence in all those regions, and that at a huge moral cost and increasing sacrifice of US blood. In the medium, and certainly in the long, term this policy is unsustainable.

The author proposes different partial solutions for the 'oil problem': a surtax on gasoline consumption, development of mass transport and alternative energy sources, fuel efficiency. In the actual context, these propositions are more or less wishful thinking. A complete change of mind will only arrive when the oil price will reach astronomical heights and when all cheap oil sources will be dried up.

This book contains very valuable historical material about the dawning of the oil industry and the crucial negotiations with oil suppliers.

It is an essential read for all those interested in world affairs.

I also recommend William Engdahl's 'A century of War' and the works of Chalmers Johnson.
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on 3 February 2005
Resources, not differences in civilisations or identities, are behind most conflicts. Most important is oil, which drives armed forces, economies and international politics.
The US state treats oil as a matter of national security. Petroleum supplies 41% of its energy, two-thirds of it for transport (petrol fuels 97% of its transport). Since 1998, it has depended on foreign sources for over half its oil. But Europe, Russia, Japan and China also depend on foreign supplies, sharpening rivalry.
The Middle East has two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves: 25% in Saudi Arabia, 12.6% in Iran, 10.7% in Iraq, 9.3% in UAE, 9.3% in Kuwait and 1.5% in Qatar. All these countries' governments are now pro-US, except Iran. Russia and the Caspian Sea have 7.4%, the North Sea only 1.6%, Venezuela 7.4% and Nigeria 2.3%. There is also oil in Colombia, Mexico, Angola, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
A US government report of 1941 urged, "more and more aggressive foreign policy aimed at assuring access to petroleum overseas." Earlier its cloak for aggression was 'anti-communism', now it is 'anti-terrorism'. The US state wants all the countries that it dominates to increase their oil exports to the USA.
The capitalist road leads to more wars, permanent US occupation of the Middle East and rising terrorism. Before the attack on Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, promised, "American companies will have a big share of Iraqi oil." US forces seized Iraq's oil fields, refineries and Oil Ministry. The US state is covertly allied to the Mujehadin-e Khalq, an anti-Iranian militia based in northern Iraq.
There is an alternative. Klare urges his country to end security agreements for US access to oil, particularly with the despots ruling Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States; to end all US military intervention in the Gulf, close all its bases in the Middle East and the Caspian region. This would save American lives, cut military spending and reduce the threat of terrorism.
He also urges America to reduce its dependence on imported oil: make all vehicles more fuel-efficient, and rebuild rail systems.
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on 7 November 2013
This is a highly detailed account of the American involvement in Middle-East oil. It is an excellent history which helps put much of what you read about globe-trotting American Presidents in focus. The most important point the book makes is that no matter what you read in the media, American gluttony for oil is rampant.

The problem with the book is that it presents America as the `innocent victim of circumstances'. Anyone familiar with Noam Chomsky, will take that with a pinch of salt.

One reviewer described this book as boring; in some ways it is. The first time I read this book I thought it was good. Before reading this book a second time, I read Chomsky's `How the World Works'. I found that reading Chomsky, put a completely different emphasis on the facts in this book and made the events a lot more revealing. Read Chomsky and you won't find this book boring.

Although this book is essentially about America, as we all know, America doesn't keep it's problems to itself.
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on 27 November 2014
Another perfectly accurate book that seeks to highlight America’s dependence on foreign oil and the real cost that is spent to get it – ominously referred to as the “blood cost”. Apart from the distracting way the author addresses the reader (we) the majority of this is fairly solid stuff, well presented on the current state of foreign affairs in terms of the U.S. oil supply, and though this does tend to drag a bit in places, never to the point of losing interest.

Towards the end however the author outlines his plan to fix the problems and it comes across as very idealistic and poorly thought out, which contrasts very poorly with everything said beforehand, leaving the reader somewhat disappointed.
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on 23 October 2005
For those of us who keep hearing that oil is behind all the wars invasions and other calamities of our time, but want to know exactly how, this is the perfect book. Goes into the right level of detail, and full of inside info on how oil has corrupted politics. It'll make you switch to cycling.
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on 10 July 2014
top quality goods and service
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