This greed for money and wealth caused an evolution toward the domination of land and eventually to domination of elements consumed by humans (termed ‘resources’). The resource wars eventually came to encompass not just elements used for sustenance but to precious metals and finally to fuel sources.
Nearly everyone in the world clearly understands that the wars between the United States and Iraq were fought in order to protect the oil supply.
If you don’t see the connection, then this source from the George Bush administration and visitor logs to V.P. Dick Cheney should prove the point.
What is less well known is that for over a century, the most destructive wars that we’ve ever seen have been tied to oil.
At the turn of the 20th century, both Britain and Germany were seeing the value of oil as a better fuel for their ships.
Both nations were vying for control of the Iraq oil fields (sound familiar?) as a rich source of oil as they transitioned their ships to use the more efficient fuel. Britain through the Anglo-Persian oil company, and Germany through the Berlin-Baghdad railway.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the tension over access to resources in Ottoman Empire were constantly stressed.
Britain already had control of India and Kuwait, while Germany sought to build stronger influence within Turkey and Iraq. (link)
Knowing what we now understand from earlier chapters, you might say they had a 'loco' motive.
In the years leading to World War Two, Hitler spent vast resources supporting Germany’s artificial oil program since the country had no natural oil fields (Britain had put a halt to Germany’s railway). It was only with the assurance of a reliable fuel source that Hitler felt confident enough to launch the first Blitzkrieg.
"To fight, we must have oil for our machine."
Meanwhile Japan decided to attack Hawaii only after the U.S. imposed an embargo on its oil supply. After the attack, Japan immediately moved to control Vietnam and the Indonesian oil fields. (link)
After the war’s conclusion, the U.S. and Britain orchestrated an overthrow of the Iranian government in order to prevent Iran’s Prime Minister from reducing access to their oil supply. (link)
The democratically elected Mosaddegh had wanted to audit the documents of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and to limit the company's control over Iranian oil reserves.
Then came Vietnam. Interestingly, there is information that American oil companies believed there to be vast fields of petroleum off the Vietnamese coast.
This theory had merit given the oil discoveries around Indonesia, however the local government was slow to offer lease options. (link) (link) There are theories that companies used the war as cover for seismic testing along the Vietnamese coastline. The information on this is murky and opinions are divided, so a little uncertainty still remains.
Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the government of Indonesia brutally invaded the small island of Timor in the 1970s.
They were supplied with U.S. weapons and additional support from Australia, France and Canada. As many as 200,000 Timorese people are believed to have disappeared in the conflict. ‘It was estimated at the time that the seabed between East Timor and Australia, the ‘Timor Gap’, contained one of the richest oil and natural gas fields in the world.’ The attrocities were repeated in 1999 when Australian control of the region was threatened. (link)
Oil was an essential element in a horrible civil war within the democratic Congo. Offshore petroleum resources that were previously held by French companies were offered to Occidental Petroleum which offended the former colonial nation. (link)
Oil also played a role in the 30 year Angola civil war which pitted the interests of the USSR against the USA for influence and control over resources there. (link)
Angola was considered a prize not only for it's oil but also for gold and diamonds sought by imperialist governments.
In 1984 the Iran/Iraq war expanded to include shipping of oil in the Persian Gulf. This threatened western supply lines and the U.S. got involved in an embarrassing political situation as it attempted to protect deliveries of fossil fuel. (link)
In the modern age, less powerful countries all over the world have suffered huge political upheavals due to this almost ubiquitous addiction to fossil fuels. (link)
U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan have lost one person, killed or wounded, for every 24 fuel convoys it runs. During the U.S. war in Afghanistan, hundreds and hundreds of these convoys were needed to truck fuel – to run air-conditioners and power diesel generators – to remote bases all over Afghanistan. (link)
Who called it a naval base and not a house of warship?
The new millenium has brought little relief to the vulnerable communities of the world.
As one region or another becomes exhausted, conflicts over oil in extreme climates and politically unstable regions is becoming even more intense. (link) In regions as far flung as Venezuela, Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine.
Wherever oil is found, and wherever a key oil delivery corridor is proposed, conflict is certain to follow.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed.”
As global warming becomes more intense, conflicts will errupt over more then just profitable energy sources.
Recently, battles over the most essential resources such as water, food, and farmland are being fought throughout the world. However they often fall under the radar because they’re less likely to involve expensive jet fighters (for now).
The huge disparities around both water and food distribution favour the countries with enough money and fuel to maintain military control. The enormous populations which are denied basic needs because of the resources given to animals continues to be a major factor sparking violence throughout the world.
Wow, you made it all the way to the end. Congratulations.
From all of these sources, it’s clear now that both a plant-based lifestyle and a carfree one are essential in order for all of us to continue enjoying our beautiful planet. Boycotting oil whenever possible has a larger effect on our health and the quality of life in cities. People can choose (to some degree) whether they live near an animal slaughtering plant or not and so most people aren’t regularly exposed to the horrors there. However there are very few places in the western world where the spectre of highway pollution (toxic gases, smog, or noise) aren’t felt. The impact on health, the level of stress and the comfort of getting around are all impacted by attachment to high-speed transportation. On the other hand, eating foods made out of animal parts has enormous consequences for our climate, the health of the land on which we live, and our ability to enjoy clean, safe water.
There’s two ways that you, dear reader, can respond to this essay. One is to say ‘Aw hell, everything that I do is bad for the planet. I’m just gonna get drunk.’
But the other is to realize that wherever you are at, there is always an opportunity to do more. Simply deciding that you’re vegan and that’s enough or simply accepting that you’re car-free and that’s enough, is to ignore the vast potential that we all have to enjoy a happier relationship with the world. There are people who protest oil pipelines, or who grow all their own food, or build houses out of recycled materials.
Anything that you can do to reduce your impact is great
and . . .
you can always do more.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this production.