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Klare - Resource Wars - Reading in Konradi

Klare - Resource Wars - Reading in Konradi - 614 Social...

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614 Social Problems and Social Institutions 52 RESOURCE WARS The New Landscape of Global Conflict MICHAEL T. KLARE Introduction C onflict over valuable resources—and the power and wealth they confer— has become an increasingly promi- nent feature of the global landscape. Often intermixed with ethnic, religious, and tribal antagonisms, such conflict has posed a sig- nificant and growing threat to peace and stability in many areas of the world. With the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States, too, became the victim of resource- related conflict. Motivated though they may have been by religious zeal, the September 11 hijackers were part of a global network whose ultimate objective—the overthrow of the pro-Western Saudi monarchy and the installation of a doctrinaire Islamic regime— would give it control over one-fourth of the world's remaining supply of petroleum. Success in this campaign would also deprive the United States of a major source of wealth and power—and it is precisely to avert this peril that Washington has long endeavored to protect the Saudi regime against its various enemies, including Osama bin Laden. In this and other ways, U.S. efforts to secure the flow of oil have led Adaptation of Introduction and "Wealth, Resources, and Power: The Changing Parameters of Global Secu- rity" from Resource Wars by Michael T. Klare. Copyright © 2002 by Michael T. Klare. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. to ever increasing involvement in the region's ongoing power struggles. These struggles were under way, of course, long before oil was discovered in the region. For centuries, local tribes and king- doms fought over the rivers, ports, and oases of the greater Gulf area. Typically, these con- flicts combined religious antagonisms with more worldly concerns, such as access to vital streams and wells. But the discovery of oil in the late nineteenth century added a new dimension to this violent panorama: from that point on, major outside powers ac- quired interests of their own in the region and periodically employed military force to protect these new interests. First to spar were Great Britain and czarist Russia, later joined by France, Germany, and the United States. By the end of the twentieth century, safe- guarding the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf had become one of the most important functions of the U.S. military establishment. Osama bin Laden and his associates were not directly engaged in the pursuit of oil when they launched a jihad against the United States and the Saudi government, but oil was central to their strategic calcula- tions. . . . [T]he Saudi royal family has for decades permitted U.S. companies to extract vast quantities of petroleum from the king- dom, thus helping to sustain the long eco- nomic growth spurt of the second half of the twentieth century. The close relationship be- tween the United States and the royal family was forged in the final months of World War II, when U.S. leaders sought to ensure
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Resource Wars 615 favored access to Saudi petroleum. In one of
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