Resource Wars Research Papers or Book Reviews
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Despite a wealth of background information and a number of crucial insights, Klare’s Resource Wars is beset by a number of seriously flawed assumptions and analytical shortcomings. At the center of Klare’s argument lie the rather commonplace notions that in the face of rising human populations valuable or irreplaceable natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. The following are resources that Klare focuses on:
The author argues that this growing scarcity is in turn becoming increasingly important as the driving force behind national and international conflicts. Klare maintains, for instance, that with the end of the Cold War, U.S. foreign policy and security interests have shifted from an emphasis on containing or defeating the Soviet Union to an agenda that is dominated by more “self-interested, tangible priorities”. The author asserts that among the objectives that now dominate America’ strategic agenda, “none has so profoundly influenced American military policy as the determination to ensure U.S. access to overseas supplies of vital resources”.
Prominent among these vital resources that dominate America’s new security agenda is oil. The problem is that although Klare may be correct in his argument that the protection of oil fields and the defense of the critical shipping routes by which oil is transported across the globe have emerged as increasingly important elements of American security policy in recent years, it is highly questionable whether such developments are due to concerns about the fundamental scarcity of oil resources. Like all natural resources, the Earth’s petroleum reserves are finite, which means that if their exploitation continues they will eventually be depleted. Nonetheless, a careful consideration of the performance of oil markets in recent decades reveals no indication that oil supplies are diminishing.
As authors such as Horn, Kanovsky, and Roncaglia amply and convincingly demonstrate, the defining characteristic of oil markets in recent years has been robust or even excess supply relative to demand—despite the fact that demand has risen due to increased world populations and economic growth.