The economic crisis could provoke a social and political global earthquake both in the US, Europe and the rest of the world. The warning comes from Michael Klare, professor of world security studies at the Hampshire College and correspondent of The Nation and Mother Jones. Klare is a prominent figure in the US since he published several books about the US intervention in Iraq. According to Klare, the main reason for attacking Baghdad was the need to divert the attention of the American public opinion from the internal problems the country was facing and to increase the popularity of former-US President George W. Bush. In his last book, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The new Geopolitics of Energy, Klare warns about the risk of an outburst of violence around the world, including the US and Europe, caused by the global economic recession and by the lack of resources like water and oil.
Why is this recession potentially more dangerous than any other in the past?
For several reasons. First, because the world economy is so interconnected today. Originally, it was thought that the “tigers” of Asia would be spared the worst effects of the global crisis, but now they, too, are suffering. Also, for the first time, we are seeing the intersection of a global economic crisis and a global environmental crisis: around the world, we are experiencing historic levels of drought, notably in Argentina, Australia, China, the Middle East, and the USA. This is pushing up food prices just when people’s incomes are falling. No one is saying this is the product of global warming, but I don’t see how you can’t conclude otherwise.
In your last book, you wrote that we would see outbursts of violence as the recession deepens. Which are the areas at highest risk?
I believe we will see the outbreak of mass violence in every region of the world, so it is hard to say this region or that will be at greatest risk. At this moment I would point to Eastern Europe, because of the rapidly failing economies there, but tomorrow it could by China or Mexico, or India or Nigeria. The effects of this crisis are so widespread that every area of the world will see outbreaks of violence, I believe.
Who will be the target of people’s rage?
Initially, the banks and corporations deemed responsible for the economic crisis. Also against government officials considered too incompetent or corrupt to prevent further deterioration. But I also worry about attacks on immigrant workers and minorities.
The US – a country based on an economy built on cheap and unlimited oil supplies and on credit – is facing a radical reshaping of its lifestyle because of the recession. Do you think Americans are ready for this kind of change?
Six months ago, I would have said no, not at all. Now, in the face of crisis, Americans are spending less, saving more, and using less energy. Unfortunately, in a way, this is a problem, because until Americans spend more, it will be hard to jumpstart the global economy.
Do you think in the near future we will experience what you call ‘resource wars’? If yes, in which areas of the world and which actors could be involved?
Definitely. But in the immediate future I do not expect wars among the major powers over energy. Rather, I expect increased conflict within states over the means of survival – food, water, land. As economic conditions deteriorate and the price of food and other necessities rises (due to drought and environmental crisis), people will become more desperate and fight over the means of survival – or migrate to other areas, meeting resistance along the way. So yes, we will see more resource wars.
Do you think we could see in the future kind “geopolitical earthquakes” caused by the global recession, for instance the collapse of international institutions such the IMF or UN or highly centralized states?
At this point, it is dangerous to make any grand predictions of this sort. But if you look back to the 1930s, you see how much the world was shaken up by the Great Depression, and so it is reasonable to expect changes on a similar scale if this recession-depression proves to be equally severe and protracted.