Of the many resources that could potentially lead to inter-state conflict in the future, oil & gas ranks highest on the list of importance. The reason is simple: supplies are scarce and energy resources are fundamental for essentially every economic activity that drives GDP growth.
A list of global sites deemed sensitive to US national security interests, recently
leaked by Wikileaks, acts as a window into a world where global free trade has
been disrupted and access to primary resources is paramount.
is a reason why, in the midst of public spending crackdowns all over the globe,
governments are refusing to cut back on building naval power; with many such
budgets actually seeing an increase. It is because states the world over
all require the same primary inputs for their economic well-being, and the
international system that guarantees access to these inputs- global free trade-
is increasingly not being taken for granted in the coming decades. Thus, naval power has
taken on added significance as a way for countries to protect overseas shipping
routes and access to primary resources.
many resources that could potentially lead to inter-state conflict in the
future, oil & gas ranks highest on the list of importance. The reason is
simple: supplies are scarce and energy resources are fundamental for essentially
every economic activity that drives GDP growth. Given the importance of energy
resources, the geopolitical factors that surround them have also become well
known: everything from ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ opening up Iraq’s reserves to
Western investment to the strategic importance of the Straits of Malacca for the People’s Republic of China.
That several important energy pipelines and the Straits of Malacca themselves
appeared on the leaked list of strategic sites should come as no surprise, for
the drive to secure long-term access to energy resources has dominated
strategic planning for quite a while now.
more interesting about the list are some of the other resources it
identifies: a massive cobalt mine in Congo, a manganese mine in Gabon, a bauxite mine in Guinea, chromite mines in South Africa, and rare earth
minerals mines in China to name just a few. These resources, as we witnessed
just recently in the case of rare earth minerals, are critical inputs to a
plethora of commercial and military enterprises. Some of the supply chains for
these inputs have been narrowed and focused to the point where there is one primary
producer in the world; a situation that could easily lead to armed conflict if
certain states felt their supply chain was threatened. Over the next few
decades such a situation will become more and more possible.
The transition between American hegemony and multipolarity in the international
system is sure to bring with it a great deal of uncertainty and instability. In
the midst of this instability, armed conflict could break out over access to
resources- whether important primary resources like oil, gas, water, and arable
land, or critical economic inputs like rare earth minerals and bauxite.
simple reality is that supplies are dwindling, demand is increasing, and the
channels for inter-state conflict resolution are in flux.