Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tomgram: Klare, Is Big Brother in Your Energy Future?

For the last two weeks, Tomdispatch has been concentrating on the way Pentagon strategists have taken possession of our future and are writing their own dystopian science fiction scenarios about the world we are soon to enter -- and the weapons systems that are meant to go with it. Five years ago, Michael Klare, a military and energy expert, wrote a prophetic book, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict. Its title caught the embattled nature of our emerging resource future moment better than any Pentagon fantasy. His most recent book, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum, was no less on the mark. Now, for Tomdispatch, ! he continues to peer ahead in the second of a two-part series on our militarized energy future.

While the Bush administration and its neocon supporters have long been offering up a vision of a vast imperial enemy-in-the-making that they call "Islamo-fascism," Klare, in part 1, discovered quite another, more realistic and chilling set of possibilities that he dubbed "Energo-fascism" -- or the militarization of the global struggle over ever-diminishing supplies of energy. There, he focused on the Pentagon's changing role in global energy politics. Now, he moves on to energy blackmail in a great-power world and the Big-Brother-style dangers of making nuclear power a major future alternative source of energy. Tom

Petro-Power and the Nuclear Renaissance

Two Faces of an Emerging Energo-fascism (Part 2)
By Michael T. Klare

Not "Islamo-fascism" but "Energo-fascism" -- the heavily militarized global struggle over diminishing supplies of energy -- will dominate world affairs (and darken the lives of ordinary citizens) in the decades to come. This is so because top government officials globally are increasingly unwilling to rely on market forces to satisfy national energy needs and are instead assuming direct responsibility for the procurement, delivery, and allocation of energy supplies. The leaders of the major powers are ever more prepared to use force when deemed necessary to overcome any resistance to their energy priorities. In the case of the United States, this has required the conversion of our armed forces into a global oil-protection service; two other significant expressions of emerging Energo-fascism are: the arrival of Russia as an "energy superpower" and the repressive implications of plans to rely on nuclear power.

Energy Haves and Have-nots

With global demand for energy constantly rising and supplies contracting (or at least failing to keep pace), the world is being ever more sharply divided into two classes of nations: the energy haves and have-nots. The haves are the nations with sufficient domestic reserves (some combination of oil, gas, coal, hydro-power, uranium, and alternative sources of energy) to satisfy their own requirements and be able to export to other countries; the have-nots lack such reserves and must make up the deficit with expensive imports or suffer the consequences.

From 1950 to 2000, when energy was plentiful and cheap, the distinction did not seem so obvious as long as the have-nots possessed other forms of power: immense wealth (like Japan); nuclear weapons (like Britain and France); or powerful friends (like the NATO and Warsaw Pact countries). Needless to say, for poor countries possessing none of these assets, being a have-not state was a burden even then, contributing mightily to the debt crisis that still afflicts many of them. Today, these other measures of power have come to seem less important and the distinction between energy haves and have-nots correspondingly more significant -- even for wealthy and powerful countries like the United States and Japan.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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