Michael T. Klare: How America's Decline is Linked to Oil

Many have said that America and Oil is like bacon and eggs, Batman and Robin. As the old song lyric went, you can't have one without the other. Once upon a time, it was also a surefire formula for national greatness and global preeminence. Now, it's a guarantee of a trip to hell in a hand basket. The Chinese know it. Does Washington? America's rise to economic and military supremacy was fueled in no small measure by its control over the world's supply of oil. Oil powered the country's first giant corporations, ensured success in World War II, and underlay the great economic boom of the postwar period. Even in the era of nuclear weapons, it was the global deployment of oil-powered ships, helicopters, planes, tanks, and missiles that sustained America's superpower status during and after the Cold War. It should come as no surprise then, that the country's current economic and military decline coincides with the relative decline of oil as a major source of energy. If you want proof of that economic decline, just check the way America's share of the world's gross domestic product has been steadily dropping, while its once-powerhouse economy now appears incapable of generating forward momentum. In its place, robust upstarts like China and India are posting annual growth rates of 8% to 10%. When combined with the growing technological prowess of those countries, the present figures are surely just precursors to a continuing erosion of America's economic clout. Militarily, the picture appears remarkably similar: Yes, a crack team of SEAL commands did kill Osama bin Laden, but that single operation, greeted in the United States with a jubilation more appropriate to the ending of a major war, hardly made up for the military's lackluster performance in two recent wars against ragtag insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything, almost a decade after the Taliban was overthrown, it has experienced a remarkable resurgence, even facing the full might of the US, while the assorted insurgent forces in Iraq appear to be holding their own. Meanwhile, Iran, that "bete noir" (black beast) of American power in the Middle East, seem as powerful as ever. Al Queda may be on the run (except when supported by President Obama) to overthrow the Gaddaffi regime, but American power is still on decline! In fact, the United States wields far less clout and influence in the region now than it did before it invaded Iraq in 2003!

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