The embryonic stages of a violent scramble for resources are already under way. Here is a list of the cast of characters in this unfolding drama:
The United States
Presently the world’s biggest consumer of resources, its debt-bloated economy is operating at unsustainable levels. Its global role has reached its zenith, and it is about to recede dramatically both in terms of power projection and commodity consumption.
OPEC’s second-largest oil producer is its most ambitious member. Its energy assets give it inordinate clout in global politics—but even with nuclear weapons and a short-term, brilliant flash of regional supremacy, it will be overtaken by greater powers intent on eliminating its threat while securing its resources.
Though this region is near the U.S. and historically friendly, it has been courted over a period of decades by Europe, which seeks to undermine that relationship and secure its riches for its own use. A recent scramble by China to preempt the Continent in this respect promises to spark contention.
Since shaking off its history of colonialism, this continent has been plagued by corruption and instability. Great powers are eyeing its untapped riches hungrily and moving in to stake their claim in what looks suspiciously like the emergence of a new colonial era.
Like much of Europe, it is almost wholly dependent upon outside sources of energy, but is positioning itself as the gatekeeper through which the rest of the Continent must receive its energy. As Germany wakes up to the dangers in its overdependence on Russian resources, watch for it to move decisively to lock down alternate supplies.
The world’s most populous nation is industrializing at a lightning pace. To fuel this advancement, it is undertaking a massive global resources grab that is unsettling other nations and intensifying the competition for assets worldwide.
This once and future empire sits on a wealth of commodities that guarantees it won’t remain a second-rate power much longer. Its current top customer is Europe—but in the impending conflict, as this relationship reverts to historical form and turns ugly, Russia will cement ties with a powerful new ally.