Democrats & Liberals Archives

Blood and Oil

In his book, Blood and oil, Michael T. Klare tells us that toward the end of World War II, FDR made a deal with Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia would keep oil flowing to the States and America would militarily protect Saudi Arabia - our blood for their oil. This pact has since been sustained by all American presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike. Klare says that this unfortunate obssession with oil has been substantially responsible for many of our wars - including the Iraq morass. Now that oil supplies are shrinking while oil demand is zooming we must develop a strategy for living in a post-petroleum world. The first step is to break the pact of blood for oil.

Klare tells us that oil is the soft backbone of the economy. Forty percent of the nation's energy comes from oil. It brings us gas to fill our cars, trucks, ships and airplanes. It produces energy for heating, cooling, lighting and manufacturing. It is the source for many products, such as chemicals, plastics and cosmetics. Without petroleum our economy will fizzle.

This is why Bush in 2001 asked Cheney to chair a secret task force that produced the National Energy Policy. As you no doubt know, this policy concentrates heavily on pushing for expansion of current oil resources and for the finding of new oil resources throughout the world. It continues the policy America has been following all along. It's the reason we have military bases all over the world, especially near oil facilities and along oil-delivery routes. It's the reason we fought the First Gulf War. It's the reason we are now fighting the Second Gulf (Iraq) War. It's one reason Osama bin Laden wants to kill us (he was upset that Americans had bases on Saudi soil).

Klare makes a good case for scrapping our current oil-centric energy policy. He offers 3 compelling reasons for doing so:

  1. WORLD SUPPLIES OF OIL ARE DWINDLING - He uses statistics on oil reserves to demonstrate that the supply of oil is either at its peak or very close to it

  2. COMPETITION FOR OIL IS ZOOMING - In addition to the oil that America wastes with its SUVs and other gas guzzling contraptions, China's economy is growing by something like 9% a year and they are buying cars. Russia, India and other developing countries are becoming more industrialized

  3. OIL SOURCES ARE DENS OF VIOLENCE - Almost all have autocratic chiefs-of-state and/or corrupt leaders. This is true not only of the Middle East, but also in Western Africa and Latin America
In plain language, there is no way seeking more oil will help the U.S. We already are faced with plenty of violence. The growng competition added to the reduction of supplies is bound to increase the violence. The fact that we will need to offer even more military help to dictators in return for oil will not spread democracy; it will increase violence.

Klare presents a 3-part strategy for getting out of this mess - for achieving true energy independence:

  1. DIVORCE ENERGY PURCHASES FROM OVERSEAS SECURITY COMMITMENTS - He wants to break the relationship between oil and blood. He says:

    "...the U.S. government needs to impose a blanket proscription on any security commitment whose primary purpose is to ensure our access to a country's energy deposits."

    I think that such a move alone would do more to bring democracy and peace to the Middle East and other areas than anything Bush has done to date.

  2. REDUCE OUR RELIANCE ON IMPORTED OIL - He calls for a "paradigm shift" to get people to use less oil. We can double vehicle fuel efficiency and we can do it today. We can use hybrids. We can develop alternate sources of energy. Much of this has been neglected by the Bush administration

  3. PREPARE FOR A POST-PETROLEUM ECONOMY - In a world that is not rich in oil, we will have to change our daily lives. We need plans, ideas, communications among citizens. We all have to come together to discuss and implement new ways of living
This is an excellent book and comes to us in time to get us thinking about the post-petroleum society. Instead of killing people in order to have oil - in Iraq as well as in other poor countries - let's concentrate on developing new energy sources. Let's tell the world we will not prop up dictators in order to get oil. It's time to break the oil for blood pact.

Posted by Paul Siegel at August 15, 2005 7:03 PM