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Blood and Oil
Author Michael Klare
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Metropolitan Books (U.S.)
Publication date
August 26, 2004
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 288 pp
ISBN 9780805073133

Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum[1] is a 2004 book by Michael Klare. Klare details the steadily increasing United States dependence on imported petroleum and its impact on U.S. politics and military activity, particularly in the Middle East and central Asia. The book reviews the relationship between the U.S. government and oil-exporting nations, beginning with the meeting on 14 February 1945 aboard the USS Quincy between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, and continuing through the various foreign policy doctrines of subsequent U.S. Presidents up through George W. Bush.

Ibn Saud converses with American President Franklin D. Roosevelt (right) through translator Colonel Bill Eddy on board the USS Quincy after the Yalta Conference

In 2008, Klare featured in the documentary film Blood and Oil based largely on the book.

Synopsis[edit]

Preface[edit]

To-do: think of a way to summarize the Preface, which summarizes the rest of the book. Start by outlining the major points, linking the names of the important people and events; later I will convert to prose:

  • Because the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War gave rise to so many conflicts, "we" thought that the end of the Cold War would usher in a new age of relative peace.
  • George H. W. Bush envisioned a New world order.
  • Instead, conflict has continued in the post-Cold War era, and in some ways has grown more dangerous (e.g. Terrorism).
  • Klare describes his search to understand the causes of this continuing and possibly expanding level of conflict.
  • Samuel P. Huntington wrote Clash of Civilizations theorizing that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world.
  • Klare looks for another explanation of recent wars and comes to wars involving resources: conflict diamonds in Angola and Sierra Leone, gold and copper in the Congo, timber wars in Cambodia and Borneo. See also Conflict resource and Resource curse. He published his findings in his book:
  • In that book, originally published in hardcover on May 17, 2001, Klare treated the various resources that gave rise to conflict as being fairly equivalent, but subsequent events caused him to view petroleum as having more potential than any other resource to spark conflicts in the years ahead:
  • Klare sought to determine why oil seemed to have outpaced every other resource in its potential to provoke conflicts. He studied oil, geopolitics, and American foreign policy.
    • Increasing dependence of the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China on petroleum from the Persian Gulf.
  • Statements by Ari Fleischer and Donald Rumsfeld categorically denying that the invasion of Iraq was "about" oil.
  • Statement by Alan Greenspan questioning these claims (not in the Preface, but in the documentary film).

Chapter One: The Dependency Dilemma: Imported Oil and National Security[edit]

United States Central Command Area of Responsibility before the creation of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM)
United States Unified Combatants Commands' areas of responsibility before the creation of USAFRICOM
United States Unified Combatants Commands' areas of responsibility after the creation of USAFRICOM
U.S. petroleum production and imports, 1920-2005
U.S. energy consumption by source, 1850-2000
Imported crude oil as a percent of U.S. consumption, 1950-2003
  • The chapter begins by describing Tampa, Florida as "a hub for American relations with the oil kingdoms of the Persian Gulf", due to the presence of MacDill Air Force Base, home of the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM or CENTCOM; referred to in the book as: Centcom).
  • CENTCOM forces are active in the War on Terrorism and in efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
  • From its inception, Centcom's principle task has been to safeguard the global flow of petroleum.
  • General John Abizaid was CENTCOM commander at the book's publication; General David Petraus assumed command in 2008.
  • Its area of responsibility (AOR) is in the Middle East, including Egypt, and Central Asia. CENTCOM has been the main American presence in many military operations, including the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the United States war in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War. Forces from CENTCOM currently are deployed primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan in combat roles and have bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar (As Saliyah Army Base serves as a forward headquarters to preposition materiel bound for use in Iraq and Afghanistan), the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, and central Asia in support roles. CENTCOM forces have also been deployed in Jordan, and Saudi Arabia in the past, although no substantial forces are based in those countries as of 2009.
  • At the book's publication date, CENTCOM was one of five (now six, as of 2007) regional "Unified Combatant Commands" that control American armed forces around the world.
  • CENTCOM has relatively few bases of its own, and must borrow troops from other commands when assembling a force for operations in its AOR.
  • Unlike the other commands, CENTCOM's AOR includes active combat zones.
  • CENTCOM was formally established in 1983.
  • Almost all U.S. service personnel killed in action since 1985 were serving under CENTCOM, including those killed in the Khobar Towers bombing and the USS Cole bombing.
  • CENTCOM's AOR includes the Persian Gulf, home to approximately two thirds of the world's known oil reserves and much of the world's natural gas. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait are major oil exporters. At the book's publication, approximately 14 million barrels of petroleum passed through the Strait of Hormuz on tankers each day. Keeping this channel open and defeating all threats to oil production are CENTCOM's overriding responsibilities.
  • The Carter Doctrine enunciated the basic mission of CENTCOM's precursor (the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, or RDJTF) in 1980. The Carter Doctrine stated that the Persian Gulf area, because of its oil fields, was of vital interest to the United States, and that any outside attempt to gain control in the area would be "repelled by use of any means necessary, including military force." At the time, the main threats were the near-simultaneous Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. had few forces in the area to meet these threats, so Carter set up the RDJTF based at McDill Air Force Base.
  • In 1983, President Ronald Reagan elevated the RDJTF to the status of a regional command, renaming it CENTCOM (because its AOR was "central" between Europe and Asia).
  • Klare quotes from General J.H. Binford Peay III's testimony to Congress in 1997 on the vital importance of safeguarding the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. Klare claims that all of Peay's successors echo this judgment.
  • CENTCOM's first combat deployment was in 1987 when President Reagan ordered U.S. warships to escort Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Persian Gulf, to protect them from attack toward the end of the Iran-Iraq War. (Operation Earnest Will, Operation Prime Chance) Reagan said the action demonstrated "U.S. commitment to the flow of oil through the Gulf." Related operations not mentioned in the book include: Operation Praying Mantis, Operation Nimble Archer, Operation Eager Glacier.
  • In August 1990, President George H. W. Bush used similar language to justify the U.S. military buildup in Saudi Arabia (Operation Desert Shield), saying "Our nation now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence...The sovereign independence of Saudi Arabia is of vital interest to the United States."
  • After the Gulf War, CENTCOM forces helped to enforce Iraqi no-fly zones until Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
  • Klare claims that while the causes for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 are complex, from the vantage point of CENTCOM personnel it is merely the latest military operation proceeding from the Carter Doctrine.
    • Klare cites seizure of Iraqi oil fields early in the invasion, and the care taken by U.S. forces to safeguard the Oil Ministry headquarters in Baghdad while allowing looters to ransack other Iraqi government buildings as being consistent with CENTCOM's mission to safeguard the flow of oil from the Middle East.
  • Klare predicts that CENTCOM's activities are likely to increase as the U.S. becomes increasingly dependent on oil from the Middle East and Central Asia. Klare claims that the area is no more stable today than it was in 1980, despite the years of U.S. military involvement. Klare predicts that the U.S. military will be involved again and again in the area until the "last barrel of oil has been extracted". (This is somewhat hyperbolic, because according to Hubbert peak theory, oil extraction in a region tends to gradually decline, so it takes a very long time to reach the "last" barrel of oil. Long before then, the output of oil will have slowed considerably, making a region less important as a supplier of oil.)
  • Klare cites examples of troops from other regional commands becoming involved in oil-related operations.
  • Klare claims that U.S. military forces are increasingly being used to guard the production and shipment of oil in regions outside the Persian Gulf. "Slowly but surely, the U.S. military is being converted into a global oil-protection service." (p. 7)
  • Klare examines the causes of oil's rise to become the most important commodity.
    • At the publication date, U.S. primary energy sources were: oil, 40%; natural gas, 24%; coal, 23%; nuclear power, 8%; all others, 5%. Oil provided 97% of energy for transportation, oil's most essential use. Klare cites projections from the Energy Information Administration that oil will maintain its share of U.S. energy supply for the foreseeable future.
    • Klare summarizes the history of the U.S. oil industry and the central role oil has played in growing the U.S. economy since the 1800s.
    • Klare claims that most U.S. recessions since WWII followed disruptions in oil supplies, including the 1973 oil crisis the 1979 energy crisis.
    • Oil is central to U.S. national security because it provides the fuel for military aircraft, land vehicles, and most ships.
  • From 1860 to WWII, the U.S. was the world's largest oil producer, often with surplus oil for export.
  • During WWII, U.S. oil wells supplied 6 out of 7 barrels consumed by all the Allied powers.
  • After WWII, rising U.S. oil production helped fuel the postwar economic recovery in Europe and Japan.
  • However, in the late 1940s, U.S. oil consumption outpaced the still-rising oil production, and the U.S. began importing oil.
  • U.S. oil imports gradually increased: in the 1950s, the U.S. imported 10% of its oil consumption; in the 1960s, 18%; in the 1970s, about twice that much.
  • Rising domestic oil production partially masked the growing dependency on imported oil, until the early 1970s when U.S. oil production peaked and went into irreversible decline. Then the percentage of imported oil began increasing faster, as U.S. domestic demand continued increasing. Petroleum has changed from a source of U.S. strength to a source of weakness. The U.S. depends increasingly on imported oil, but cannot readily control what happens in foreign countries. If the trends up to 2004 continue, by 2025 the U.S. will need an additional 10 million barrels of oil per day, all of which will have to come from imports.
  • Relying on imported oil creates several types of weakness:
    • The importing nation is vulnerable to supply disruptions, both accidental and intentional.
    • Paying for imported oil transfers large amounts of wealth to the exporting nations.
    • Exporting nations expect political favors in addition to money for their oil.
    • Entanglements in foreign wars and arousing hostility from political and religious factions in oil-exporting regions that resent an American military presence.
  • At the time of publication, the U.S. had never had a comprehensive plan for reducing its dependence on foreign oil, only various short-lived policies for slowing the growth of consumption. Instead, U.S. policy has been to securitize oil, that is to regard access to oil as being essential to national security, thereby justifying military action to safeguard the oil.
  • The book quotes former DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham who said "energy security is a fundamental component of national security."
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first U.S. President to anticipate the future importance of foreign oil to the U.S., even though the U.S. was then the world's largest oil producer. Roosevelt knew that the U.S. oil fields must eventually run short of U.S. demand, and thus it would be necessary to secure foreign sources of oil.
  • U.S. leaders grew more concerned about the security of oil supplies as U.S. dependence on imports rose.
  • After the Gulf War, the containment of Saddam Hussein produced stability in the Persian Gulf and allowed oil production to rise. Oil prices declined, and U.S. oil consumption grew, with the percentage of oil from imports steadily rising. In April, 1998, U.S. oil imports exceeded 50% of consumption for the first time.
  • P. 14 quotes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "As the world's only superpower, (the United States) must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to worldwide energy supply."

Chapter Two: Lethal Embrace: The American Alliance with Saudi Arabia[edit]

Chapter Three: Choosing Dependency: The Energy Strategy of the Bush Administration[edit]

Chapter Four: Trapped in the Gulf: The Irresistible Lure of Bountiful Petroleum[edit]

Chapter Five: No Safe Haven: Oil and Conflict Beyond the Persian Gulf[edit]

Chapter Six: Geopolitics Reborn: The U.S.-Russian-Chinese Struggle in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Basin[edit]

Chapter Seven: Escaping the Dilemma: A Strategy for Energy Autonomy and Integrity[edit]

Afterword: The Permanent Energy Crisis[edit]

See also[edit]

I will cut this list down for the final article. These are links I'm finding useful as I edit this article.

References[edit]

  1. ^ *Klare, Michael (2004). Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum. Metropolitan Books. ISBN 9780805079388. 
  2. ^ Lawson, Letitia (2007). "U.S. Africa Policy Since the Cold War". Strategic Insights. VI (1). Retrieved 2007-03-10.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

External links[edit]