Overland is Australia’s finest literary journal. I was commissioned to write the lead essay for the new edition, The Resource Wars, on energy, Israel, Zionism, the Middle East and the role of the US in the region:
In a striking 2005 essay for the Atlantic, Richard A. Clarke, former chief counter-terrorism adviser on the US National Security Council, painted a picture of an America still at war with ”˜terror’ in 2011. More suicide attacks on the homeland, detention of Muslims, reduced civil liberties and imperial overreach all combined in a vision of a superpower losing control over its own citizens and desperately lashing out at the world. Most ominously, Clarke predicted that, after an Iranian attack on Saudi tankers, ”˜world oil prices spiked to $81 a barrel, before falling back to $72 a month later’. Just think: this piece was published in early 2005, only four years ago – yet Clarke’s fears about an oil spike now seem comically inaccurate.
”˜For America’, declared then Texas governor George W. Bush in September 1999, ”˜this is the time of unrivalled military power, economic promise and cultural influence.’
Less than a decade on, the world is a radically different place. The energy appetites of China and India are insatiable, countries like Nigeria and Kazakhstan find themselves at the centre of a new ”˜great game’, with authoritarian leaders duchessed by oil-hungry nations, and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez delivers around 10 per cent of America’s imported oil: some 1.4 million barrels per day. The years since September 11 have taught Washington a lesson in humility and the pitfalls of hubris.