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World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

The purpose of the corporation shall be to aid and promote the public understanding and constructive development of American foreign policy by the carrying on of educational activities, including, without limitation, lecture programs, study groups, research, publications, and other appropriate means, but the corporation shall not, nor shall any of the officers or members in its name, endorse or take part in any organization, movement, or activity the object of which is to influence the Government of the United States to follow any specific policy in the conduct of foreign or domestic affairs. By-laws, Article II.

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh's sole motivation in sponsoring its 18th World Affairs Forum in Pittsburgh on June 17, 1980 – for which occasion the contents of this book were prepared and developed was to provide a public discussion of a subject of current interest to our members and to Americans at large. This project is in keeping with the Council's aim to promote a constructive exercise of responsible citizenship. The statements of fact and opinion contained in this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and panelists who participated in the conference and not those of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. The material in this publication may be quoted freely and without permission provided credit is given to the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh in an appropriate reference to this publication.

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educational efforts in world affairs. As such, the Council's activities are financed wholly from non-governmental sources: membership dues and program receipts plus contributions from civic-minded individuals, firms and foundations.


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Until recently, availability of natural resources has been pretty much taken for granted by most of us as a given, stemming from America's leadership position in the world and from our own in-country largess. From this abundance of relatively cheap supplies we have grown, as we are still fond of saying, to become the "greatest industrial power with the highest standard of living the world has ever seen."

But beginning roughly a decade ago, that proud phrase began to take on some qualifiers. Shifting geopolitical patterns among superpowers, coupled with rising Third World nationalism, sharply tempered our expectations. These changing circumstances first became visible embodied in the oil crisis of 1973 and all that has followed in our search for a way out. Here, for the first time we could actually see and feel the crushing impact of international "non-military warfare" strike us squarely where it hurts the most – in our pocketbooks and in keeping our jobs.

The crisis haunts us still with a new reality: the U.S. can no longer count itself completely as a "free spirit" in the sense of determining (for good or ill) its own destiny. Others, well away from our borders, are now placing their hands on our economic throttles; not by assault forces up the Potomac River (which is our classical vision of the ultimate international threat), but through other power projections far more subtle because they are largely unseen and thus not readily perceived.

This new condition under which we must live is called "resource dependence" on other nations. Unfortunately, it applies to more than oil. For as critical as imported oil dependency is to the fate of our economy and to our ability to defend ourselves from outside aggression (roughly 50% of our needs), a new specter of dependency hovers over us that promises at least an equal level of national woes should we be caught without an adequate "game plan" to deal with it. The experts refer to it as "non-fuel minerals dependency.” This rather uninteresting term means reliance on other nations to supply us such minerals as chromite, cobalt, tantalum and some 15 other strange names of things we never see in a direct sense.

But the reality is there even so, because were we to lose access to these minerals (in several strategic instances we are over 90% dependent) it could mean massive shocks to our economic system and current life-styles. For without these minerals we cannot make TV sets or computers or heart-lung



machines or supersonic jets or very good automobiles. And the implications for our defense capabilities are just as grim (no sophisticated submarines or space vehicles). So when you put oil and non-fuel minerals together in the context of looking to other nations to supply them, problems abound.

We all need to know more about this new reality and how it can further affect our daily lives and our position as a world power. Hence, the decision of the officers and directors of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh to undertake this study project as its 18th World Affairs Forum, held on June 17, 1980.

It has been a comprehensive undertaking for which we sought persons with both knowledge and objectivity. They are uniquely qualified in three ways. First, each participant is an expert in at least one facet of the complex set of issues looked at. Second, all share common concerns that we must shape national policies and actions to cope effectively with imported resource dependency to preserve our life-styles, jobs and national security. Third, all are problem-solvers, honed against the harsh realities of their respective fields. The Steering Committee is pleased that such diverse and rich professionalism should join forces to produce this work, and we hope it will be of constructive benefit to policy and opinion makers here and abroad.

R. Daniel McMichael
World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh (1979-80)
Forum Steering Committee



Initial planning of this project began in the autumn of 1979, amid growing concerns about our nation's dependency, not only on imported oil but also on a wide range of non-fuel minerals. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the full spectrum of this subject has been examined against the backdrop of the United States' geostrategic posture in the world, at a time which coincides with growing Soviet moves to expand its world influence, politically, militarily and economically.

Our basic objective was to call attention to resource dependencies, for non-fuel minerals in particular, in order to encourage opinion makers, public policymakers and the American people to develop and support policies to deal effectively with potential crises.

Basically, "The Resource War in 3-D" addresses two fundamental questions. The first: How do we protect jobs and our industrial base when the United States depends increasingly on other nations for critically needed oil and other minerals? The second related question: Do we need new domestic, foreign and national security policies to cope with this dependency? To address them, we organized three panels of recognized experts who spent approximately six months examining a wide range of issues connected with these questions.

Each panel prepared a “cornerstone” paper. Then on June 16, 1980, the panel members met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to interrelate their individual panel work to arrive at broad, across-the-board policy implications for the United States.

The next day they presented their individual panel findings and recommendations at a public forum of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh attended by about 400 persons. A rapporteur then summarized the panelists' overall views. A keynote address followed.

Panel I reported on a new Soviet Union minerals policy to compete with the West. It also assessed the future of U.S. industry and labor, which many believe is increasingly “captive" to other nations who supply us with natural resources – this in the face of growing Soviet competition and Third World nationalism.

Panel II looked at the ability of the United States to project sufficient diplomatic, economic and military power as a means to provide an international climate in which our nation can continue to bid freely for imported oil and other critical non-fuel minerals.

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