The Coming Resource Wars
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 we see more wars over resources?
Michael Klare: Well were in the midst of many conflicts over resources today and I do believe they will be more of them and they will become more fears with time, that is partly because resources themselves are becoming more scarce, because population is growing, but also because global warming will make many of these resources more scarce and the effects will become more severe and things like water will start running out. For example, in Africa there is a very severe conflict underway in the Niger Delta area of southern Nigeria, this is a conflict between the people of the Niger delta. This is where most of the oil is extracted for producing most of Nigeria’s oil. Most of the money from that oil goes to the central government and the Abuja, the capital, that is were the elites that have ruled to Nigeria are located. Very little of the money from that oil goes back to the people in the Niger delta most of who live on a dollar a day, unemployment is 70% or more, the people are desperate and they have reason in revolt against central government. Now, what they are demanding is that more of the oil rents the revenues from oil production come back to them and it’s a ugly war, lot of sabotage, attacks on government facilities, kidnapping of oil company personal. So, I would say there is conflict underway there today. And the United States is involved indirectly, because we provide arms to the Nigerian government. We have military advisers over there. So, in this sense there are conflicts underway already. When you talk about water, there are disputes of all kinds underway within country so far, we don’t hear a lot about these conflicts, but I think that wars over water will become much more severe in the coming decades. Now, let us look Darfur. Darfur, everybody knows about Darfur. This is a extreme humanitarian disaster. Now, the conflict in Darfur has many causes, there are disputes between the government and the rabble forces that are trying to gain were control over the area of Darfur. So, there is a political side to this dispute, but behind the role is the fact that with global warming, the area is becoming dryer and the people who heard cattle that is one of the traditional sources of income in the area, those people are finding harder and harder to feed their cattle, they are intruding into the areas of farmers and they are finding farming harder and harder, because there is less and less rainfall, as less water. So, there is also a resource to mention to that conflict, a water dimensions to that conflict. Pitting the pastoralists, the cattle herders against the farmers and to some degree on one side the government is backing the pastoralists, the rabbles are backing the farmers, so these two things are intermeshed in Darfur. And I think that is the way many of the conflicts in the future will look. They wont be either role, there will be a mixture of ethnic and religious disputes on one hand and resource disputes on the other.
Question: Where will the flashpoints be?
Michael Klare: Well when we talking about energy, we are talking primarily about the Middle East, the Caspian Sea basin of the former Soviet Union and Africa, those are the places where oil is most concentrated and where the conflicts who become more intense. Other sources of energy that are in dispute are natural gas. Natural gas is pretty much found in the same locations as oil. Uranium, now it is also going to becomes scares, as we shift more to nuclear power and there is greater emphasize on nuclear power these days that means the demand for uranium is going to go up, uranium is a lot of that is in Central Asia and in Africa, so those will be sites of likely conflict. Now, when we are talking about water that is going to be focusing on areas that are very dry, here we are talking about North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, but also in Central America, parts of Latin America, even conceivably in the United States.
Will we see more wars over resources? Where will they happen?