In the book Blood and Oil, Michael Klare endows us with an overture of United States foreign policy in the Persian Gulf throughout the last part of the 20th century, rooted on the much desired and needed petroleum resources, its ties to instability and military intervention by the United States within the region, as well as increased terrorist activity against the United States. The emphasis of the study undertaken in Blood and Oil is the United States’ economic and military dependency of oil from the Persian Gulf region as an energy source. Blood and Oil presents insightful data and analysis making the connection to resentment by Persian Gulf nations against and terrorist activity toward the United States. Klare’s main thesis is that United States dependency on foreign oil has led the United States government to become the global politico-military oil-protection service of the Persian Gulf petroleum, making alliances as well as becoming subservient to autocratic governments and anti-United States regimes to maintain access to petroleum. The rationale of the United States petro-politico-economic and military alliances, as is the case with Saudi Arabia, is to institute associations with oil exporting countries which will continue to supply unproblematic and economical access to oil, as well as long-term fueling to the United States’ and other developed nation’s economies. The high degree of reliance on foreign oil has made the United States vulnerable, thus decreasing security, while increasing military activity in the form of oil protectorates. These policies have increased resentment against the United States by citizens of nations occupied by the United States military with the purpose of protecting the flow of oil. In turn, the United States policies to protect the flow of petroleum supply fuel to extremist groups such as Al Qaeda.

The author embarks in the analysis of United States foreign policy vis-à-vis the petroleum industry by instituting the relationship of imported petroleum and United States national security. He moves on to the establishment and importance of Centcom (a United States military command center responsible for Persian Gulf military operations), United States economic vulnerability of international turmoil from within the oil exporting nations, and the subservient role the United States has occupied in its relationships with various oil producing nations. He dedicates a chapter to the United States alliance with Saudi Arabia providing significant information on the strategic power this alliance bestows both nations, as well as the United States Doctrines from mid 20th century to present time supporting this petro-military relationship and its influence and strengthening of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda ideologies and terrorist activities. Klare goes on to demonstrate the Bush administration’s choice to perpetuate the dependency of petroleum, and the lack of response from the government vis-à-vis diversification of energy sources. Though the United States government underscores the diversification of oil imports from other petroleum exporting nations, Klare rightfully calls attention to the domestic instability most, if not all, of the petroleum exporting countries experience. Any political or military unrest in these nations affect the United States economy, thus making them probable targets of United States military intervention.

The United States government is not mitigating the effects of oil dependency with the urgency needed, thus Klare foresees that choice as negatively affecting future generations. Klare also addresses the possibility of great power geopolitical struggle for the control over territory, natural resources and other military and economic advantages, as may be the case of Russia and China competing against the United States for petroleum resources.

Blood and Oil is a great book as an introductory piece to the energy and military troubles of United States foreign policy vis-à-vis the petroleum industry. It is a great source of information for individuals whose area of study is the energy sector, as well as individuals concentrating in the petroleum sector. The book is easy to read and the organization of information is appropriate for the book’s flow. One may find the last two chapters to be particularly thought provoking, thus craving more details than the book provides. Overall, the book is well written and is easy to follow by either experts or novices to the topic.

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