TomDispatch is running a fascinating essay by Michael T. Klare, author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Oil. It’s about the role oil plays in the growing discord between the U.S. and Iran — which in the mainstream press, as always, is covered credulously as a question of WMD (namely Iran’s nuclear program) alone. But Iran has more untapped oil reserves than any country other than Saudi Arabia, and more untapped natural gas than any country outside of Russia.

It might seem fantastical that this same administration could once again invade an oil-rich Middle Eastern country on the pretext of removing WMD, but … well, lots of fantastical things have happened since 2000. There are signs that preparations are underway, best summarized in the important reporting of the New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh.

Those concerned about global warming, or the direction this country will take when the coming oil shocks hit, would do well to educate themselves on these sorts of geopolitical issues.

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Anyway, check out Klare’s essay. Here are the two money shots:

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When talking about oil’s importance in American strategic thinking about Iran, it is important to go beyond the obvious question of Iran’s potential role in satisfying our country’s future energy requirements. Because Iran occupies a strategic location on the north side of the Persian Gulf, it is in a position to threaten oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, which together possess more than half of the world’s known oil reserves. Iran also sits athwart the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which, daily, 40% of the world’s oil exports pass. In addition, Iran is becoming a major supplier of oil and natural gas to China, India, and Japan, thereby giving Tehran additional clout in world affairs. It is these geopolitical dimensions of energy, as much as Iran’s potential to export significant quantities of oil to the United States, that undoubtedly govern the administration’s strategic calculations.

And thus, this:

When considering Iran’s role in the global energy equation, therefore, Bush administration officials have two key strategic aims: a desire to open up Iranian oil and gas fields to exploitation by American firms, and concern over Iran’s growing ties to America’s competitors in the global energy market. Under U.S. law, the first of these aims can only be achieved after the President lifts [Executive Order] 12959 [signed by Clinton in ’95 and again by Bush last year], and this is not likely to occur as long as Iran is controlled by anti-American mullahs and refuses to abandon its uranium enrichment activities with potential bomb-making applications. Likewise, the ban on U.S. involvement in Iranian energy production and export gives Tehran no choice but to pursue ties with other consuming nations. From the Bush administration’s point of view, there is only one obvious and immediate way to alter this unappetizing landscape — by inducing "regime change" in Iran and replacing the existing leadership with one far friendlier to U.S. strategic interests.

Keep watching.

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