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Is NATO Being Used by Washington In Libya to Hurt Chinese Interests?

As U.S. Secretary of Defense continues his victory lap around U.S. foreign bases, scolding NATO allies along the way for failing to pull their weight in the alliance, it is well worth noting that many of the NATO member states committed only under intense U.S. pressure to operations in Afghanistan, while Libya has generated even less enthusiasm in European capitals.

One of the great advantages of the end of the cold War two decades ago, coupled with the rise of the Internet is that readers worldwide now have an open window into the Russian press and society. Of course, there are ideological holdovers from the Soviet era, most notably Russian paranoia about hostile military groupings on their frontiers, most notably NATO, which Russia not unreasonably sees as dominated by the U.S.

Nowhere is the ideological gulf still separating Moscow and Washington more evident than in NATO’s mission in Libya. A leading Russian newspaper, Vedomosti, on 9 June published an editorial titled simply, “From the Editors: War With China.”

Lest an oilprice reader think that this is some covert cryto-Commie anti-Western screed, it might be noted that Vedomosti is owned by the Finnish Independent Media Company; published jointly with The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.

After noting that congressmen questioning Libyan operations and their attendant costs are being criticized by Obama administration officials as "taking a non-constructive position," the editorial then moves on to quote Paul Craig Roberts, who served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan, who wrote in the most recent issue of Foreign Policy Journal, Roberts wrote and article titled “Libya: The DC/NATO Agenda and the Next Great War” that commented, "judging by all, the protests against Qadhafi were organized by the CIA in the eastern part of Libya, where 80 percent of the oil reserves are concentrated and there are considerable Chinese investments into the energy sector."

Whatever Washington’s ulterior motives, there is no doubt that NATO’s military operations in Libya are harming China’s fiscal interests. According to information from China’s Ministry of Trade, by March, when the military operation began, there were 75 major Chinese companies operating in Libya, and they had concluded $18 billion in contracts. Because of the NATO operations in Libya, the Chinese companies are expecting gigantic losses.

It is beyond dispute that China has targeted Africa for major investment, which trade figures bear out. While in 1995 China’s trade with Africa was $6 billion, in 2010 it exceeded $130 billion. According to estimates of the South African Standard Bank, by 2015 Chinese direct investments into African nations will reach $50 billion. China is today receiving 28 percent of its oil import from Africa, a figure that will grow in the future.

China has also acquired great political weight in Africa, and it not only is free of the colonialist baggage of the European powers, it does not subject African political leadership to harangues about human rights like Washington. On a grassroots level, again unlike the U.S. and European nations, along with its business interests it is building infrastructure, such as roads, railroads and schools, much appreciated by the local populace. This presence gave the International Monetary Fund, headquartered in and dominated by Washington, a significant rebuff at the end of 2008, when, having spent several years discussing a loan agreement with Angola’s government, immediately prior to its signing IMF officials learned that Angola had already received a low interest $2 billion Chinese long-term loan and subsequently no longer needed IMF money. Similar things happened later in Chad, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda.

So, is there any wonder that Moscow suspects Washington of using NATO as its muscle to demonstrate in Africa that uppity leaders had better take heed of American dictates and downgrade their business ties with the Celestial Empire? It is notable that the Libyan operation is the Pentagon’s AFRICOM command’s first outing. It is also of note that no African nation has offered to host AFRICOM, leaving it to be run out of a U.S. base in Stuggart. For reasons obvious to all but the most diehard American chickenhawks, Africans (which of course includes Libyans) apparently prefer Chinese goods and Chinese-built schools to hectoring human rights lectures, loans with interest fees and condition that would make a Mafia don blanch and a hail of bombs and bullets. Russia, which has not deployed its military outside its borders since the collapse of the USSR, is viewing events in North Africa with more dispassion and insight than the chattering punditry in Washington.

By John Daly for OilPrice.com




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  • Anonymous on June 13 2011 said:
    Some of this article is really good stuff, even if some of it is not.The business in Libya is about oil. Although in a global sense Libyan production is modest, Libya has the largest reserves in Africa, and if you understand the economics of oil as well as I do, you realize that Libya's oil is a prize. Moreover, if it were still available, Saudi Arabia would be spared promising naive consumers oil that they probably do not have, and which if they did have, they would keep for themselves.Furthermore, Moscow and China are mostly unconcerned with US and Nato behavior in Libya. Otherwise they would simply have vetoed this farce. Even more important, if the war ended tomorrow and Libyan oil became available again, OPEC would simply adjust their quotas - although they might now advertise.Think about it this way colleagues. OPEC is going to function the way that intelligent people on this site would function if they were calling the shots, which means...
  • Anonymous on June 14 2011 said:
    The caption to this article captures the very hidden agenda in this unprovoked attack and takeover of an independent nation's resources. I still do not understand why in the world NATO and the Europians would launch such a massive military mission against an African country that has not threatened it. The simple answer lies in oil. The war for resource control has truly begun and will only intensify.Next stop will be Nigeria whose leaders naively signed unto to the libya action. I will come back to say "see I told you" when this happens to Nigeria.
  • Anonymous on June 30 2011 said:
    This article is interesting, and it accurately points out Chinese headways into Africa. However, the main thrust here, that the US is using NATO to wage a proxy war of resources against the Chinese, seems absurd, conspirational, and patently false.Where is the evidence of this substantial claim? All in a quote from a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (i.e. somebody who likely had almost nothing to do with covert CIA operations) who served during a Cold War presidency. I can't imagine Mr. Roberts substantiated his claim that the CIA sparked a coup against Qadafi, since no such facts are isolated anywhere in this article.Moreover, Washington is making a push to use NATO to overthrow Qadafi? Excuse me? The people espousing this viewpoint have memories so short that it's laughable. The push to wage a bombing campaign in Libya and give support to anti-Qadafi forced was largely a European one, the majority of bombing is being done by European planes.
  • Anonymous on July 14 2011 said:
    Russia is not paranoid. The WEST in particular, US and UK are in it for the long haul, to spread their form of democracy,(spelled hypocrisy) around the wordl so that our corporations (spelled parasites) can own the planet. These latter, US UK, will fail in their attemp. Only the Irish seem to known, and very well the evil of this system.

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