Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum

By Duffield, John | Naval War College Review, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum


Duffield, John, Naval War College Review


Klare, Michael T. Blood and oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum. New York: Henry Holt, 2004. 265 pp. $25

In Blood and oil, Professor Michael Klare of Hampshire College offers an important critique of U.S. national security policy, one that should be read by American security professionals. In brief, he argues that U.S. foreign and military policy has been increasingly driven by the need to ensure reliable access to foreign oil, especially in the Middle East, and that as American foreign oil dependence continues to grow, U.S. forces will increasingly find themselves fighting to defend oil-producing regions and supply routes.

An engaging writer, Klare develops his thesis as follows. After documenting the substantial and growing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and the problems it has created, Klare describes the increasing involvement of the United States in the Middle East since World War II, particularly its close ties with Saudi Arabia, and the negative consequences of this involvement for American security. The next two chapters detail the latest phase of this unfolding story; they analyze the energy strategy adopted by the Bush administration in 2001, pointing out how it has only reinforced U.S. dependence on foreign oil, especially from the Persian Gulf, and they describe the administration's policies toward the region. A fifth chapter discusses the prospects for diversifying foreign oil supplies, concluding that this approach offers little hope of reducing U.S. reliance on the Gulf even though it would increase the chances of American entanglement in conflicts elsewhere, while a sixth describes how U.S. oil dependence may increasingly bring this country into conflict with Russia and China. The final chapter summarizes the costs of oil dependence. It all too briefly sets forth an alternative national energy strategy of "autonomy and integrity," which emphasizes detaching our pursuit of energy from security commitments to foreign governments, reducing oil consumption, and hastening the development of alternative energy sources.

Overall, Klare performs a valuable public service by shining a spotlight on the national security consequences of U.S. foreign oil dependence, consequences that have often gone underappreciated. A central theme is how American leaders have chosen to "securitize" oil-that is, "to cast its continued availability as a matter of'national security,' and thus something that can be safeguarded through the use of military force. …

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