A war is raging in the Middle East but, at least for now, it only involves words rather than bullets and bombs. This war of words, with Israel and the U.S. on one hand and Iran on the other, is highly dangerous in itself as it continues to fan the flames of enmity and mistrust. The entire world, war weary as it is, watches in fear and apprehension, hoping that it will not witness yet another massive military conflict that could ignite a Middle East inferno.
Israel and Iran have been locked in an ideological impasse for decades, but there is much more involved with this tenuous situation. The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) is one of the world's leading research organizations on energy security. By projecting current oil production levels, it estimates that by 2020, 83% of global oil reserves will be controlled by Middle Eastern nations; primarily, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Middle East region, over the next two decades, will increase its share of total world oil reserves significantly because nations such as Russia, Mexico, U.S., Norway, China and Brazil will see their reserves greatly diminish. At that point, the Middle East will become the world's major crude oil reservoir.
Based on that probability it now becomes crystal clear why the Bush administration invaded and occupied Iraq, which has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world. The U.S. is now firmly entrenched in Iraq with the largest U.S. embassy in the world, numerous military bases throughout the country and a very cooperative client government. While a substantial number of troops might exit Iraq by the end of 2011, you can bet that a permanent military presence, let's say about 40,000 troops, will remain in Iraq for an indefinite period of time.
Iran is the only Middle Eastern nation with substantial oil reserves that remains completely independent of U.S. influence or control. It finds itself in a precarious position because of that fact and because it remains in the crosshairs of both Israel and the U.S. over its nuclear program.
This is de'jÃ vu all over again. Remember when Bush and his fellow war hawks were threatening Saddam Hussein over his supposed arsenal of weapons of mass construction? WMD's were, of course, non-existent but the drums of war never stopped beating until Iraq was attacked and then occupied in March of 2003. And the first step in the process to control the Middle East became a reality.
Now we seem to be in the early stages of another eerily similar scenario as both the U.S. and its other client state, Israel, are constantly issuing warnings and threats over Iran's nuclear program. Iran says that it is developing nuclear power for domestic energy purposes. They are allowed to do so since they are a member of the NPT, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an independent international organization which is affiliated with the United Nations, has been closely monitoring Iran's nuclear program and facilities for years and has never found concrete proof of any program to develop nuclear weapons.
But just as the United Nation's weapons inspectors relentlessly searched for Saddam's cache of WMD's, and found none, the findings and conclusions of the IAEA have been totally disregarded and dismissed by the U.S. and Israel.
America's armed forces have, for many decades, been used to protect our interests around the world. That has been the U.S. policy designed to prevent some rogue nation or pirates to disrupt or take control of oil or other resources; for example, to protect shipments of oil going through the very narrow Strait of Hormuz from attacks or from a blockade. Also, to prevent an attack on Saudi Arabia, one of our largest suppliers of oil.
But now our military has seemingly evolved from a protector of our interests to become a major element in actually securing critical natural resources. The top leaders in the U.S. government are fully aware that America, with only 5% of the world's population, and which consumes 25% of its petroleum production, will face massive shortages in supply in the decades to come. Knowing these facts, their #1 objective has been to guarantee a steady supply of oil to sustain our economy and our way of life.
How do you do that? Exactly the way we are proceeding; by using our military to become engaged in regions of the world that have enormous oil reserves. And that brings us back to my original premise, that the only impediment to total U.S. control of the Middle East and its staggering oil reserves is Iran. If somehow, Iran can be pacified and becomes one more client state of America, then the mission will be accomplished.
The danger that looms over the region is, that at some point, some provocative action could result in an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Should that egregious event take place, the result could be massive devastation. To think that the U.S. would attempt to occupy and try to pacify yet another more sovereign nation, given the fact that Iran's closest allies include Russia and China, is a frightening thought. Let's hope that grave scenario will never, ever take place.
This is a very dangerous situation. Iran, well aware of the power of the U.S. and Israel, does not want to engage them but, if it is attacked, it is capable of considerable retaliation. Ahmadinejad, their slightly wacko president, continues to play his mind games to keep his tormentors off balance. Israel has been itching to attack Iran's nuclear facilities but, so far, has been restrained by the U.S.
However, the biggest problem is the U.S. and particularly President Obama, who many months ago had promised that he would pursue a course of diplomacy, including face to face discussions with Iran. That position was not welcomed by Israel since diplomacy and negotiations have never been one of its strengths. All of a sudden that former quest for a diplomatic solution seems to have dissipated, with repeated warnings and threats continuing to be the strategy of choice.
While, the title of this article refers to "only one impediment" there are actually two. It seems that at every turn these days China keeps getting in the way of U.S. plans. China's ever growing economy needs increasing supplies of oil and it is making deals all around the world to obtain them. Of most consequence is that, today, 58% of China's oil imports come from the Middle East. By 2015, projections indicate that percentage will rise to 70%.
What may transpire in the Middle East in the coming years might best be described by the phrase, "When an immovable object (China) meets an irresistible force (the U.S.)." It's a real stretch to think that China, with a growing, insatiable thirst for oil, would merely stand by and watch the U.S. take control of the Middle East