Rising energy prices and mounting concerns about environmental depletion have animated fears that the world may be headed for a spate of ‘resource wars’ – hot conflicts trigerred by a struggle to grab valuable recources.
Such fears come in many stripes, but the threat industry has sounded the alarm bells especially loudly in three areas. First is the rise of China, which is poorly endowed with many resources it needs – such as oil, gas, timber and most minerals – and has already ‘gone out’ to the world with the goal of securing what it wants. Violent conflicts may follow as the country shunts others aside. A second potential path down the road to resource wars starts with all the money now flowing into poorly governed but resource-rich countries. Money can fund civil wars and other hostilities, even leaking into the hands of terrorists. And third is global climate change, which could multiply stresses on natural resources and trigger water wars, catalyze the spread of disease or bring about mass migrations.
I analyse to what extent these three phenomena pave the way to resource wars in my recent paper published in The National Interest.
David G. Victor