Book Review: ‘Resource Wars’

Reprinted from The Atlantic
By K. Daniel Glover

Imagine a world plagued by ethnic, religious, and political turmoil, soaring population growth and troubling global climate change. Now add to that volatile mix a shortage of oil, water, timber and other natural resources — and an insatiable demand for those resources.

That, Michael T. Klare writes in “Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict,” is a snapshot of the world to come. And unless policymakers take steps to conserve natural resources and set parameters for distributing them fairly, industrialized nations and Third World countries alike may find themselves enveloped in explosive conflicts over control of the Earth’s shrinking bounty.

“Resource Wars” makes a compelling case that the quest to regulate natural resources will become the “One Big Thing” to dominate security policy in the 21st century. Klare’s credentials — he is a peace and world security professor at Hampshire College and past director of the Program on Militarism and Disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington — add intellectual heft to his thesis.

Nations need oil, natural gas, coal and other resources to drive their economies and fortify their defenses, and they need water to survive. Warlords and potential dictators, meanwhile, covet diamonds, gold, copper, and other minerals for the wealth and power that they bring. Respectable nations and international pariahs alike have shown a willingness to fight for those resources.

“Whereas international conflict was until recently governed by political and ideological considerations,” the author writes, “the wars of the future will largely be fought over the possession and control of vital economic goods.”

Oil is king in Klare’s tome. He details its historical significance in conflicts major and minor, including both world wars and the Persian Gulf War, and in economic upheavals such as the one in the early 1970s. The competition for access to oil, and to protect the pipelines and maritime routes used to transport it, is global.
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Which Way Internet Privacy?

Originally published in Financial Executive magazine
By K. Daniel Glover

Late last year, a Washington research group specializing in technology policy predicted that 2001 could be the year for breaking the longstanding impasse over Internet privacy. Noting that the debate finally had a central theme – whether online consumers must directly “opt in” to the sharing of their personal information or whether companies simply must give them the choice to “opt out” – the Delaney Policy Group argued in its “Tech Policy 2001” report that “some federal government actions seem unavoidable” in 2001.

The analysis didn’t seem all that bold at the time. Within weeks of its release, key lawmakers such as Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, a co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, were predicting much the same thing. The electronics trade group AeA even bucked the technology industry line on privacy by calling for federal legislation.

But expectations of a privacy consensus have proven premature. Powerful legislators who pushed the issue to the fore have not revived their bills. Timothy Muris, confirmed May 25 as the new head of the Federal Trade Commission, refused to say at a confirmation hearing whether he would back the agency’s endorsement of federal privacy legislation – an endorsement the agency made last year after two years of emphasizing industry self-regulation. And at the state level, attorneys general who could play a role in enforcing any federal law are divided over what their privacy stance should be.

Privacy advocates see hope in the Senate’s sudden shift to Democratic control, thanks to Sen. James Jeffords’ decision to bolt the GOP. But no longer do policymakers and political observers use words like “inevitable” and “substantial” when discussing Internet privacy legislation; instead, they talk of being cautious, sober and incremental.

“People have realized that the issue is much more complex than some of the self-styled privacy advocates want them to believe,” says Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America. “There is no simple solution to this problem, and specifically there is no simple legislative solution.”

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