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Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

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If Oil is a Barometer, Beijing is Rising

If Oil is a Barometer, Beijing is Rising

Beijing said recently it wanted to increase the amount of oil it gets from Russia through a major oil pipeline running to the Pacific Ocean. Beijing, however, would likely have to fend off other Asian economies, as well as the United States, in order to get that extra crude. With the Pentagon talking about shifting its pressure points to the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing's growing energy appetite highlights the broader geopolitical realignment toward the East.

The United States and China together sit on top of the international economic hierarchy. The U.S. economy, starting late last year, began showing signs it was taking its first hesitant steps out of economic recession. At the same time, some analysts began to wonder if the Chinese economy was finally evening out. Perhaps this shows the field is leveling, but when two dominant units compete in the same system, a clash of some sort is inevitable.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Beijing recently for trade talks after Washington slapped down the initial permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Harper's government said it would look to Asian markets if Washington couldn't make up its mind about Canadian crude oil. Beijing, meanwhile, is busy courting Moscow in an effort to get all of the oil Russia can manage to ship through the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline. Beijing would have to muscle Japan, South Korea and the United States out of the way to do so, but in some ways, it already has.

Weaker states align with one another to offset the stronger units in the geopolitical system, but in the current hierarchy, it's not exactly clear where dominance lies. Russia's Gazprom had said it would look to Asian markets and even London said it might start looking east. This week, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping was wrapping up his trade visit to the United States while the White House was busy complaining about unfair advantages in foreign markets. This suggests there is, in fact, a shift in poles.
Survival in the international system depends on a nation's ability to gain access to key resources that ensure durability. With its economy churning along, China needs oil and other key resources to at least maintain a healthy cadence. U.S. military officials had expressed concern about the "pace and scope" of Beijing's military trajectory, but the survival of a great military power like the United States won't be threatened directly by China anytime soon. Oil interests, however, are a good indicator of geopolitical position. The United States isn't going anywhere but if oil is any barometer of power, its interest may be in jeopardy because of Chinese ascendancy.

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com

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  • Fred Banks on February 20 2012 said:
    If you meet anyone from the Pentagon, and they talk about shifting "pressure points" to the Aisa-Pacific Region, be so kind as to call them a moron. Let me also take this opportunity to say that the statement by President Obama that he is going to send 3000 marines to Australia made it clear to me that he has lost it.
  • Mel Tisdale on February 21 2012 said:
    In all discussions of this nature it is taken as a given that America’s dominant military position is insurmountable. This is foolish. Just imagine what would happen if a nuclear armed nation, or terrorist organisation, that wished to destroy America, decided to plant atom bombs in cities around the country. Then further imagine that the President is in the middle of his/her State of the Union speech and whomph, there goes Washington and with it the heart of government. Or, perhaps, the countdown in Time Square to the New Year and at the count of zero, whomph, there goes New York and with it the heart of America’s capitalist system. Whichever one is chosen as the symbolic beginning, the other one will go off a few days later. After a further few days, Seattle goes the same way, and with it Microsoft and Boeing. Then it is the turn of Silicon Valley and perhaps another couple of towns or cities a week or two later just to make the targets and timing unpredictable. At no time is there any hint of warning or negotiation in order to strike a deal.

    By this time large numbers of the American population, which is largely armed, will take to the hills and fields as the transport system, on which cities depend, collapses and there is no food available to purchase. This sets up an avalanche of collapse: no electricity, no water, no sewage system, no petrol/gasoline. At infrequent intervals other cities are also destroyed just to ensure that the cities remain no-go areas. Can there be any doubt that by now, America is finished as an economy. One thing can be guaranteed is that as the food runs out it will be a dog eat dog situation.

    The so-called insurmountable military machine will be denuded by deserters seeking to go home and defend their kith and kin. It is doubtful that America’s military machine could actually operate under these circumstances. And anyway, what would the target be? You don’t reassemble an atom bomb in the hope of being able to establish who made it. There would be suspects, of course, but no proof. And anyway, the suspects would realistically be any nuclear armed nation, or sponsored terrorist group, or even military command of its own volition, that secretly resented America’s ‘We’re the king of the castle’ posturing or simply its politics.

    Modern electronics are quite capable of detonating the devices years after they have been planted. So it is quite possible that the above scenario could exist in embryo form softly counting down its individual timers, hidden in buildings behind masonry or similar constructions, to what can only be described as Armageddon.

    America would be well advised offer to build thorium nuclear reactors for Iran in return for destroying all its uranium materials and facilities and also allowing completely free access to monitors to ensure compliance. Iran does, after all, state that it is only interested in nuclear power. Seeing as Israel began the Middle East nuclear arms race when it built its first nuclear bomb, it would also help if it, too, were forced to disarm its nuclear weapons and allow similar monitoring to ensure compliance.

    While the above centres on America, a similar scenario could happen to any nation, large or small, nuclear or non-nuclear. It would, therefore, be a good idea for those nations that are nuclear armed get together in order to negotiate away their nuclear weapons while they still can before terrorists manage to get hold of them. When that day dawns, the world will change far greater than it did after 9/11 and furthermore, unlike 9/11, it will not be a self-inflicted wound.

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