Ch. 5: Draining the Caspian.
In asurprising geopolitical development, thehydrocarbon gold rush in Caspian Seabasin and Central Asia has made this“the cockpit for a 21
-century energyversion of the imperial ‘Great Game’ of the 19
century” (115; 115-17). Thearea was developed from the 1880s to1914 by the Nobels and Rothschilds, butwas neglected under Soviet rule (117-18). Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan,Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan haveabundant oil & gas (118-23). Chevronwas the first foreign company to enterthis land-locked region in post-Soviet era;under Clinton, the U.S. government tookthe lead in promoting pipelines (124-28).Since the mid-1990s Russia has been jockeying skillfully for access andinfluence (128-32). China has begunpursuing strategic interests in the region,esp. Kazakhstan (132-37). So have India,Pakistan, Japan, S. Korea, Turkey, andvarious European countries (137-41). Forthe region, this means authoritarian,corrupt, unstable regimes (142-45).
Ch. 6: The Global Assault on Africa’sVital Resources.
A new “scramble forAfrica” and its resources is underway(147-50). Oil and gas are mostimportant, esp. in Algeria, Angola, Libya,Nigeria, and Sudan (150-55). Forgeographical reasons, European energyfirms are leading the way (155-57). Withstrong White House and Pentagonbacking, U.S. firms have moved into thearea since the 1990s, but especiallyunder G.W. Bush (157-64). So has China,since the mid-1990s (164-71). U.S.policymakers are apprehensive aboutChina’s incursion (171-74). The resultingwealth is being siphoned off by elites(174-76).
Ch. 7: Encroaching on an “AmericanLake.”
The U.S. has sought to make thePersian Gulf an ‘American lake’ (177-82). The U.S. has been involved in the regionsince WWII (182-86). “Securitychallenges” to U.S. dominance includeIraqi resistance, Saudi Arabian instability,and Iranian ambitions (186-92). U.S. haspromoted U.S. companies in the region(192-94). But China (194-201), Japan(201-03), India (203-05), and Russia(205-08) have succeeded in makinginroads. Whether deliberately or not,their efforts are “slowly eroding theoverbearing American role in the PersianGulf” (209).
Ch. 8: Crossing a Threshold.
There isa growing risk of “Great Powerconfrontation” due to a variety of factors(210). Arms transfers are being used asdiplomatic tools (211-19). “Gunboatdiplomacy” is being used to sendmessages in the Persian Gulf, the EastChina Sea, and the Caspian Sea (220-25).Bases and ground forces have a similareffect, as in Georgia and Central Asia(225-27). “Proto-blocs” are developing inEurasia: (1) the Shanghai CooperationOrganization (China, Russia, CentralAsian nations), and (2) the U.S., Japan,Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, India,and Vietnam (227-36). At present, aviolent clash is still unlikely (236-37).
Ch. 9: Averting Catastrophe.
Devising a strategy to avoid majorconflict should be a policy priority (238-44). The problem of the U.S.-Chinarelationship is pivotal; they should seekto find and develop common interests(241-49). Both might collaborate to findpetroleum alternatives (249-52) anddevelop “a new industrial paradigm”(252-55). The problem of carbonsequestration from coal burning is urgent(256-58). Japan-China and India-EU areother possible collaborative partnerships(258-59). Such partnerships might“possibly create a new dynamic” (259-261). “Make no mistake: Rising powers /shrinking planet is a dangerous formula.Addressing the interlocking challenges of resource competition, energy shortages,and climate change will be among themost difficult problems facing the humancommunity. If we continue to extract andconsume the planet’s vital resources in