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The Oil Card: Global Economic Warfare in the 21st Century
by James R Norman, Published by Trine Day
ISBN 13: 978-0-0977795390, paperback, 250 pp, $14.95, July 2008
The politics of oil might at first seem rather unrelated to electronics, though a deeper gaze reveals that many disparate topics are more strongly connected than is at first supposed. Without oil, not only would there not be much of an electronics industry, there would not be much of a technological society at all, for oil is the single energy source that is easily transported and makes transportation as we know it possible.
The author, James R, Norman, lives in central Oregon, where some of the largest-area power MOSFETs are made (in Bend, OR). By background, he is a business and energy journalist and draws from a wide range of data and long experience to present a revealing picture of the dynamics of geopolitics where oil is concerned. He does not think the earth’s crust is running out of oil anytime soon but that a peak-oil crisis is more political than economic. The low prices for oil during the 1980s, he contends, were manipulated by the U.S. security establishment, with the aid of the Saudis, to deprive the Soviet Union of the oil profits it needed to remain economically viable, and thus contributed to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Now with the rising industrial power of China, high oil prices are hindering their development. China is highly dependent upon foreign oil for its growth.
What the book sets out to support is the assertion that oil and politics (and therefore electronics and politics) are linked significantly. Norman presents a wealth of economic facts and figures to support the claims he is making. This book should be quite readable for engineers. It does not become lost in esoteric academic economic theory and argues more from an empirical basis, showing what actually happened to support the putative causes advanced by the author.
The book also secondarily advances the cause of bringing increasing awareness about the relevance of the wider world to engineers deeply embedded behind test equipment in their respective laboratories. One of the later chapters discusses the effect of global finance, and in particular the role of the futures market, on world oil. See www.theoilcard.com for more information about the book. Read it, understand Norman’s basic arguments and some of his supporting facts, then impress your fellow engineers over lunch with your wide-ranging knowledge, the ostensible product of a Renaissance mind. Even if you do not do this, the outlook presented in the book of one of the major forces in the global social world of today is valuable in your own longer-range personal and family planning. It helps to avoid the common mistake (as systems analyst Gerald Weinberg once said) of assuming that the future will be like the past because in the past, the future was like the past.