January 16, 2007

Is Energo-fascism in Your Future?

by Michael T. Klare

It has once again become fashionable for the dwindling supporters of President Bush's futile war in Iraq to stress the danger of "Islamo-fascism" and the supposed drive by followers of Osama bin Laden to establish a monolithic, Taliban-like regime -- a "Caliphate" -- stretching from Gibraltar to Indonesia. The President himself has employed this term on occasion over the years, using it to describe efforts by Muslim extremists to create "a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom." While there may indeed be hundreds, even thousands, of disturbed and suicidal individuals who share this delusional vision, the world actually faces a far more substantial and universal threat, which might be dubbed: Energo-fascism, or the militarization of the global struggle over ever-diminishing supplies of energy.

Unlike Islamo-fascism, Energo-fascism will, in time, affect nearly every person on the planet. Either we will be compelled to participate in or finance foreign wars to secure vital supplies of energy, such as the current conflict in Iraq; or we will be at the mercy of those who control the energy spigot, like the customers of the Russian energy juggernaut Gazprom in Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia; or sooner or later we may find ourselves under constant state surveillance, lest we consume more than our allotted share of fuel or engage in illicit energy transactions. This is not simply some future dystopian nightmare, but a potentially all-encompassing reality whose basic features, largely unnoticed, are developing today.

These include:

* The transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil protection service whose primary mission is to defend America's overseas sources of oil and natural gas, while patrolling the world's major pipelines and supply routes.

* The transformation of Russia into an energy superpower with control over Eurasia's largest supplies of oil and natural gas and the resolve to convert these assets into ever increasing political influence over neighboring states.

* A ruthless scramble among the great powers for the remaining oil, natural gas, and uranium reserves of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, accompanied by recurring military interventions, the constant installation and replacement of client regimes, systemic corruption and repression, and the continued impoverishment of the great majority of those who have the misfortune to inhabit such energy-rich regions.

* Increased state intrusion into, and surveillance of, public and private life as reliance on nuclear power grows, bringing with it an increased threat of sabotage, accident, and the diversion of fissionable materials into the hands of illicit nuclear proliferators.

Together, these and related phenomena constitute the basic characteristics of an emerging global Energo-fascism. Disparate as they may seem, they all share a common feature: increasing state involvement in the procurement, transportation, and allocation of energy supplies, accompanied by a greater inclination to employ force against those who resist the state's priorities in these areas. As in classical twentieth century fascism, the state will assume ever greater control over all aspects of public and private life in pursuit of what is said to be an essential national interest: the acquisition of sufficient energy to keep the economy functioning and public services (including the military) running.

The Demand/Supply Conundrum

Powerful, potentially planet-altering trends like this do not occur in a vacuum. The rise of Energo-fascism can be traced to two overarching phenomena: an imminent collision between energy demand and energy supplies, and the historic migration of the center of gravity of planetary energy output from the global north to the global south.

For the past 60 years, the international energy industry has largely succeeded in satisfying the world's ever-growing thirst for energy in all its forms. When it comes to oil alone, global demand jumped from 15 to 82 million barrels per day between 1955 and 2005, an increase of 450%. Global output rose by a like amount in those years. Worldwide demand is expected to keep growing at this rate, if not faster, for years to come -- propelled in large part by rising affluence in China, India, and other developing nations. There is, however, no expectation that global output can continue to keep pace.

Quite the opposite: A growing number of energy experts believe that the global output of "conventional" (liquid) crude oil will soon reach a peak -- perhaps as early as 2010 or 2015 -- and then begin an irreversible decline. If this proves to be the case, no amount of inputs from Canadian tar sands, shale oil, or other "unconventional" sources will prevent a catastrophic liquid-fuel shortage in a decade or so, producing widespread economic trauma. The global supply of other primary fuels, including natural gas, coal, and uranium is not expected to contract as rapidly, but all of these materials are finite, and will eventually become scarce. . . .

The Pentagon: A Global Oil-Protection Service

The most significant expression of this trend has been the transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil-protection service whose primary function is the guarding of overseas energy supplies as well as their global delivery systems . . .

Of course, senior officials and foreign policy elites are generally loath to acknowledge such crass motivations for the utilization of military force -- they much prefer to talk about spreading democracy and fighting terrorism. . . .


[Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum.]

Lutz Kleveman, "The New Great Game," Guardian, October 20, 2003

Daniel Howden and Philip Thornton, "The Pipeline That Will Change the World," Independent, May 25, 2005

[Terrorism can be expected to grow with every American act interpretable as imperialistic in the Middle East and Central Asia. The Iraq-to-Turkey pipeline illustrates the problem perfectly. It suffered near daily attacks in 2003.

As for competition over diminishing supplies, therein lies the stuff of nightmares. The Pentagon established a Central Command in 1983, one of five unified commands around the world, with the clear task of protecting the global flow of petroleum. "Slowly but surely," Michael Klare concludes, "the US military is being converted into a global oil-protection service."--Jeremy Leggett, "What they don't want you to know about the coming oil crisis," Independent, January 20, 2006]

Paul R. Dunn, "Islamic Fascism: The Propaganda of Our Times," The Wisdom Fund, September 6, 2006

["As for Iran, the usually accepted official 132 billion barrels is almost 100 billion barrels over any realistic assay. If the higher figure was for real, its oil industry would not be struggling day in and day out to keep output at between 3.0-3.5 million barrels per day . . .

"My World Oil Production Capacity model has predicted that over the next 14 years, present global production of 81 million barrels per day will decrease by roughly 32%, down to around 55 million barrels per day by the year 2020."-- "Why we must take Peak Oil seriously, Money Week, September 13, 2006]

Dilip Hiro, "Blood of the Earth: The Battle for the World's Vanishing Oil Resources," Nation Books (November 30, 2006)

[Demonization serves geopolitical and economic objectives. Likewise, the campaign against "Islamic terrorism" (which is supported covertly by US intelligence) supports the conquest of oil wealth. The term "Islamo-fascism," serves to degrade the policies, institutions, values and social fabric of Muslim countries, while also upholding the tenets of "Western democracy" and the "free market" as the only alternative for these countries.

The US led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world's supplies of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region. . . .

Muslim countries possess at least 16 times more oil than the Western countries.--Michel Chossudovsky, "The 'Demonization' of Muslims and the Battle for Oil,", January 4, 2007]

Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb, "Future of Iraq: The Spoils of War," Independent, January 7, 2007

[The primary interest, and that's true throughout the Middle East, even in Saudi Arabia, the major energy producer, has always been control, not access, and not profit. Profit is a secondary interest and access is a tertiary interest.--Noam Chomsky, "War, Neoliberalism and Empire in the 21st Century," Counterpunch, March 9, 2007]

[Natural gas production is booming from "huge shale beds found throughout North America," reports The New York Times. The improving technology of underground horizontal drilling and fracturing has opened up trillions of cubic feet of gas that had formerly been thought unobtainable.--Jon Basil Utley, "The Coming Energy Abundance: How new technology can lower prices and reshape the global economy,", September 22, 2008]

Terry Macalister, "Russia, Iran and Qatar announce cartel that will control 60% of world's gas supplies," Guardian, October 22, 2008

F. William Engdahl, "The Geopolitical Great Game: Turkey and Russia Moving Closer," Global Research, February 26, 2009

Vladimir Isachenkov, "Kremlin: Battles over energy may lead to wars," Associated Press, May 13, 2009

[Even when you add in the 2009 report's projection of a larger increase than once expected in the output of unconventional fuels, you still end up with a net projected decline of 11.1 million barrels per day in the global supply of liquid fuels (when compared to the International Energy Outlook's soaring 2007 projected figures).--Michael T. Klare, "It's Official - The Era of Cheap Oil Is Over: Energy Department Changes Tune on Peak Oil,", June 11, 2009]

["There has been lots of talk about a supply peak, but it is good to start talking about a demand peak, and that has huge implications for these companies."--David Teather, "Greenpeace study finds oil companies may be doomed," Guardian, July 27, 2009]

[Dr Birol said that the market power of the very few oil-producing countries that hold substantial reserves of oil - mostly in the Middle East - would increase rapidly as the oil crisis begins to grip after 2010.--Steve Connor, "Warning: Oil supplies are running out fast," Independent, August 3, 2009]

George F. Will, "Awash in fossil fuels," Washington Post, November 21, 2009

[ . . . no one has yet explained how the planet will meet enormous increases in energy demand.--Greg Gordon, "Is the era of oil nearing its end?," McClatchy Newspapers, August 12, 2012]

Tiffany Hsu, "US to become world's largest oil producer by 2020, agency predicts,", November 12, 2012

Kevin Drum, "An Update on Peak Oil,", April 13, 2013

[The United States will surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world's largest oil producer in 2015, the International Energy Agency forecasts.--Sean Cockerham, "U.S. expected soon to be crowned world's oil king,", November 12, 2013]

"Rise of 'Saudi America' will alter globe, prolong U.S. superpower role,", November 28

Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas

back button