Sunday, July 06, 2008
Combat Over Vital Resources: WW III ??
There are limits to the Earth but the Earth population keeps on growing, as well as the material expectations of its inhabitants. The United States, Canada and Western Europe have been exploiting the planet's resources --- all over the globe --- to maintain and expand, what we call in the America, The American Dream which demands the highest standard of living possible.
Now, though, other nations, in particular at present, China, India, and to some extent Russia seem to be saying: We want this "American Dream" too. For every Chinese family to have at least one automobile will take a tremendous amount of resources, raw materials -- especially energy.
The United States, and increasingly China is developing military muscle combined with strategic moves to ensure that each will control what it wants and, believes, needs.
The USA has established Africom Africa Command, an overseas joint command to protect our vital interests: energy (oil, natural gas) uranium, copper, cobalt, etc. in that continent.
China is also expanding its influence through Africa --
China's drive to gain access to foreign supplies is most evident in Africa, where Beijing has established ties with the oil-producing governments of Algeria, Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Sudan. China has also sought access to Africa's abundant mineral supplies, pursuing copper in Zambia and Congo, chromium in Zimbabwe and a range of minerals in South Africa. In each case the Chinese have wooed suppliers through vigorous diplomacy, offers of development assistance and low-interest loans, high-visibility cultural projects--and, in many cases, arms. China is now a major supplier of basic combat gear to many of these countries and is especially known for its weapons sales to Sudan--arms that reportedly have been used by government forces in attacks on civilian communities in Darfur. Moreover, like the United States, China has supplemented its arms transfers with military-support agreements, leading to a steady buildup of Chinese instructors, advisers and technicians, who now compete with their US counterparts for the loyalty of African military officers.*
Russia which has enough natural gas and oil at present for its people is determined to keep control of the transportation of these materials from the countries along its southern border which were formerly part of the Soviet Union. China has now joined with Russia on this project since it is in their interest that these Asiatic resources not be controlled or siphoned away by The West.
China and Russia have established the SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organization to make sure resources near their borders do not go to other nations. Last summer they engaged in military exercises jointly and with military personnel from nations along the southern border of Russia and the western border of China -- somewhat similar to our NATO exercises.
There is a large, but often hidden struggle going on in the Caspian Sea basin over who gets the energy riches found there.
No other major power is capable of matching the United States when it comes to the global deployment of military power in the pursuit or protection of vital raw materials. Nevertheless, other powers are beginning to challenge this country in various ways. In particular, China and Russia are providing arms to oil and gas producers in the developing world and beginning to enhance their military capacity in key energy-producing areas.*
The United States has been building up its navy because it will play a vital role in protecting and/or seizing the raw materials we insist we need for our "life style". Other nations are now saying -- Why your life style? Why not our life style too? Why not keep our resources for ourselves? And, if we are big enough and powerful enough -- seize and control raw materials outside our borders --- that WE believe WE need ?!
A global conflict is more probable than possible as China, Russia and the United States arm and give military training to "client states" i.e. those who are willing to provide the resources their "patron" needs. At present, the U.S. is arming Nigeria and Angola. China -- Sudan and Zimbabwe. There is conflict between Russia and the U.S. in Georgia -- who will this rich in resources nation favor??
Is it possible for the leaders of the most powerful nations to take a different approach over the Earth's treasures? Adopt a different attitude towards this rapidly growing crisis? One in which cooperation with each other is seen as wise; and competition and aggression seen as counterproductive? Just look at the cost of armaments and military personnel --- on top of the cost of the raw materials themseves. At present America spends more on its military budget than all other nations combined !! This money, a lot of it could serve other uses --- better for humanity than to be used to make sure that we get more than our fair share. Others have rights and needs, and we are all stuck on this one very special, very unique planet -- our life support system. We must figure out a way to live together and SHARE -- or we will end uip by destroying each other as well as this planetary home of ours.
Here is a recommendation from the author who I have quoted elsewhere in this blog:
...rather than engage in militarized competition with China, we should cooperate with Beijing in developing alternative energy sources and more efficient transportation systems. The arguments in favor of collaboration are overwhelming: together, we are projected to consume 35 percent of the world's oil supply by 2025, most of which will have to be imported from dysfunctional states. If, as is widely predicted, global oil reserves have begun to shrink by then, both of our countries could be locked in a dangerous struggle for dwindling supplies in chronically unstable areas of the world. The costs, in terms of rising military outlays and the inability to invest in more worthwhile social, economic and environmental endeavors, would be staggering. Far better to forswear this sort of competition and work together on the development of advanced
petroleum alternatives, super-fuel-efficient vehicles and other energy innovations. Many American and Chinese universities and corporations have already initiated joint ventures of this sort, so it is not hard to envision a much grander regime of cooperation.*
* from The New Geopolitics of Energy, Michael T. Klare,, May 1, 2008