Oil wars Pentagon's policy since 1999
By Ritt Goldstein
May 20 2003
Sydney Morning Herald
(World News Section) http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/19/1053196528488.html
A top-level United States policy document has emerged that explicitly confirms the Defence Department's readiness to fight an oil war.
According to the report, Strategic Assessment 1999, prepared for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defence, "energy and resource issues will continue to shape international security".
Oil conflicts over production facilities and transport routes, particularly in the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions, are specifically envisaged.
Although the policy does not forecast imminent US military conflict, it vividly highlights how the highest levels of the US Defence community accepted the waging of an oil war as a legitimate military option.
Strategic Assessment also forecasts that if an oil "problem" arises, "US forces might be used to ensure adequate supplies".
Although Strategic Assessment 1999 predicts adequate US energy supplies, it also finds that supply shortages could "exacerbate regional political tensions, potentially causing regional conflicts".
The Bush Administration has stated that providing for US energy needs is a priority.
Strategic Assessment was prepared by the Institute for National Strategic Studies, part of the US Department of Defence's National Defence University. The institute lists its primary mission as policy research and analysis for the Joint Chiefs, the Defence Secretary, and a variety of government security and defence bodies.
According to the report, national security depends on successful engagement in the global economy, so national defence no longer means protecting the nation from military threats alone, but economic challenges, too.
The fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s brought an end to the US's ideological basis for potential conflict. In 1992 Bill Clinton urged that "our economic strength must become a central defining element of our national security policy".
Since then, members of the Bush Administration have promoted the need for the consolidation of the Cold War victory.
In what many may see as an apparent parallel to present events, Strategic Assessment 1999 drew attention to pre-World War II Britain's pursuit of an approach where control over territory was seen as essential to ensuring resource supplies.
However, the Defence Department policymakers behind Strategic Assessment also appear to recognise the potential consequences of such policies.
The authors warn that if the great powers return to the 19th century approach of securing resources, of conquering resource suppliers, the world economy will suffer and world politics will become more tense.
Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.