[Marxism] An afterword on the new imperialism by David Harvey

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jun 12 07:59:51 MDT 2004

David Harvey


Afterword to Foreign Language Editions


The question of the exact state of global oil supplies and reserves 
remains as murky as ever. In my initial text, I stated, for example, 
that oil reserves in Canada are running down. If, however, the 
difficult-to-extract oil in the tar sands is included then Canada’s oil 
reserves are very substantial. Russia has stepped into the world oil 
market in a very big way in the last year or so (and is beginning to 
acquire the status of an oil-exporting economy with all the attendant 
dangers and difficulties that attach thereto). And the sudden interest 
of the Bush Administration for military bases in Africa (particularly 
West Africa and Angola) almost certainly has far more to do with the 
substantial oil reserves there than with the ritual excuse of the war 
against terrorism or the ostensible embrace of humanitarian concerns and 
the need to confront the AIDS epidemic. As a footnote we now know from 
recently released British intelligence records that the US was prepared 
to occupy the oilfields of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait and Abu Dhabi in the 
crisis of 1973. The inference that the reason the Saudis agreed to 
recycle petrodollars through US banks was to stave off such a threat 
looks entirely plausible. With respect to the oil situation more 
generally, the best that anyone can do is to recognize the volatility of 
the oil picture but also accept that no matter what happens the Middle 
East is a crucial region in relation to the global economy and that the 
US presence in the region, which has been steadily escalating since 
1945, will not diminish in the near future. Whoever wins the next US 
presidential election is unlikely to reverse the US drive to control the 
region and its oil reserves.


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