Michael Klare
Professor & Director of PAWSS, The Five Colleges

Will resource wars look any different?

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The lead-up to future wars will resemble WWI, Klare says.

Michael Klare

Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies (a joint appointment at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), and Director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies (PAWSS), a position he has held since 1985. Before assuming his present post, he served as Director of the Program on Militarism and Disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. (1977-84).

Professor Klare has written widely on U.S. defense policy, the arms trade, and world security affairs. He is the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (Metropolitan Books, 2004), along with many other books.  He is also the defense correspondent of The Nation, a Contributing Editor of Current History, and has contrbuted to numerous publications.

Michael Klare serves on the board of directors of the Arms Control Association, and the advisory board of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch; he is also a member of the Committee on International Security Studies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Question: Will resource wars look any different?

Michael Klare: Well, I think that we should be thinking in terms of World War I, not World War II, not World War III or Korea or Vietnam, these are the kinds of wars that we're accustomed to thinking about, but think more about World War I and the events that proceeded it. That's the kind of situation we are looking at in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea and Africa. Those were all conflicts over geopolitical struggles over resources, what was called the “Great Gain” in those days and that case it was the struggle between the British empire and Russian empire in the same areas of the world, Central Asia in particular, and they were very much about the control of imperial territories, and they led to these kinds of clashes in these far-off areas over territory, over controls of key bases, of passes, the Khyber Pass, and that sort of thing. Well, this is the kind of struggles that are now taking place in the Caspian Sea region, in Central Asia, to some degree even beginning in Africa and certainly in the Persian Gulf region where the US, Russia and China are all jockeying with each other for geopolitical advantage and could lead not to intentional conflict, not to a deliberate decision to go to war. I don’t think that is going to happen, but to unintentional conflict, to miscalculation, to bad decisions and the heat of panic, precisely the kind of situation I was describing where a local ethnic apprising of some sort in Tajikistan or a Kyrgyzstan or Azerbaijan overnight leads to unintended conflicts between US and Russian troops, without anybody thinking ahead that something like this could happen.

Recorded on: 3/14/08