Leif Wenar, author of Blood Oil Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Oxford University Press / YouTube, Oxford University Press

No matter how bad a tyrannical regime is, chances are that there is a western government or corporation just waiting to do business with it. That has to stop, says professor and author Leif Wenar in conversation with WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman.

Only by turning off the spigot that supplies us with energy — but fuels repression where it is pumped out of the ground — can we effect meaningful change.

The amazing wealth being displayed by oil billionaires across the globe has caused many people to equate abundant natural resources with prosperity. However, more often than not, these treasures have benefited only a few while causing hardships for everybody else. And there’s worse.

There seems to be a direct and long-standing historical nexus between those nations that have in-demand natural resources — such as oil, diamonds or precious metals — and corrupt, brutal and inept rule.

Increasing first-world demand for resources helps to support tyrants around the world — as well as terrorism. Think about today’s crises; ISIS, Syria, Darfur, and the Ukraine — in all of them, natural resources play a central role.

As Wenar reveals in this podcast, it’s all a part of a hidden set of global rules that thwarts democracy and development, and sets some of our shopping in the service of “sociopathic rules and sadistic militias.”

In his new book — Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World — Wenar argues that the West can lead a peaceful revolution by changing trade rules, and combining economics and ethics in what he calls Clean Trade.


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Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Oil Refinery in Kuwait (Lokantha / WikimediaCC BY-SA 3.0)


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5 years ago

Yeah right… because I drive a car, and the farmer needs a tractor to plough his fields.. ISIS is our fault..

5 years ago

Very disappointing podcast. The author doesn’t seem to care about oil consumption, only about who is in charge of the government that provides the oil. He also doesn’t seem to care that most of the dictators that he decries have been set in place and kept in place by the US. Was oil less important during the Soviet era than it is now? I doubt it. But he doesn’t like Putin because he is one of those he considers tyrants, just like Venezuela’s leader. If there is a direct connection between dictators and oil, and there might be, what about the emerging police state of the US itself? If he is concerned about dictatorships and the people in those countries, wouldn’t it make more sense to start with US foreign policy? What about the US military’s use of oil? None of those topics were addressed. This interview was hardly up to the normal standards of previous Who What Why podcasts. No hard questions were asked. The author’s positions should have been challenged. I hope there will be contrary and more educated opinions from other people, like Antonia Juhasz and Michael Klare. Just because someone comes out with a book that has “oil” in the title, doesn’t mean they should get an interview, especially one that asks no hard questions.

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