Sunday, December 18, 2011

Klarity: No Newts is good Newts

Four key trends will dominate the future of American energy behavior: an increasing need for imported oil, a pronounced shift toward unstable and unfriendly suppliers in dangerous parts of the world; a greater risk of anti-American or civil violence, and rising competition for what will likely prove a diminishing supply pool.

—Michael Klare (2004, p. 23)
Michael Klare is a well known expert on the intersection of war, peace and energy policy. His analysis and predictions have been accurate and sought after by alternative and mainstream media (at least the outliers such as National Public Radio, or at least the occasional host such as Terry Gross, who interviewed Klare on 30 June 2010 during the worst of the massive BP oil spill). Listening to Michael T. Klare and following his advice when he began his analysis into this confluence of problems would have saved the world a few wars, some killer sanctions, lots of global climate catastrophe, and the global economy.

What? Isn't that a bit hyperbolic?

Not really. The first time I heard Klare speak was in the late 1980s and I have been following his work ever since. He is a mentor to many of us in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies and his work has opened vistas for many of us who have sought to work to better connect and intersect the vast studies of environmental problems, energy source and consumption issues, conflict management methods, war, and peace. Yes, it's true that many others, from Margaret Mead to Bucky Fuller to Paul and Anne Ehrlich to Noam Chomsky and more have come before Klare, connecting some of these parts of the larger whole. But in his niche--energy policy and foreign conflict policy--Klare is the turn-to expert in our field. Others are in there squarely with him with their own niche expertise--e.g. Ian Bannon, Michael Ross, Len Siegel, Paul Collier--but he remains at the leading edge of analysis and comprehensive scholarship in this particular confluence of subjects.

Some might try to put the likes of Al Gore into this group, but the inconvenient truth about his analysis is that he is not a peace person, makes no mention in his Nobel Prize-winning Powerpoint of methods of conflict management, and simply leaves out the question of militarism, the eight-ton crossbred elephant gorilla in the global room. Klare looks straight into the giant addict's eye and delivers straightforward rational analysis based upon the data from the environmental impact side, the war costs abyss, the geopolitical struggle for hegemony power circus, and he makes eminently sensible policy recommendations that would mitigate the downsides of all these areas of concern.

Time to make Michael T. Klare Secretary of Energy and Gene Sharp Secretary of Defense. We need some serious change, informed by decades of serious study and real world application. US democracy needs to be far better informed to be effective and to avoid the poor decisions we make when we are informed by corporate militarist intelligentsia such as Newt Gingrich, a Ph.D. without a conscience who operates cleverly and remorselessly. We could use some Klarity because No Newts is good Newts.

Klare, Michael T. (2004). Blood and oil: The dangers and consequences of America’s growing petroleum dependency. New York: Henry Holt.

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