Open Democracy’s Paul Rogers notes that as China looks to secure oil for it’s increasing consumption it is becoming a strategic power in the Middle East in exactly the way the US would not have intended or wanted.
Three transnational oil companies – Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil – were all expected to complete deals by the end of June 2008, but none has yet been finalised. Instead, it is China that has made the running, and concluded what the Wall Street Journal report calls “the most significant foreign-investment commitment in Iraq’s vast but creaking oil industry in years”…
All this, moreover, is being achieved without China having to contemplate sending military forces to the region or facing widespread popular hostility and armed resistance. It is a further example of how the international balance of political and economic power is shifting.
The rest of the article highlights the now well known failure of the US invasion of Iraq and the difficulty the next US President may face extracting his country from the mess that has been created.
China’s oil-deals, in a region that the United States had come to consider as firmly under its strategic control, represent something that from Washington’s perspective was simply not meant to happen. But it is happening. After years of endemic insecurity and war against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, the shape of a loose axis between China, Iran and Iraq can be discerned.
Realistically, as peak oil continues to show its effects, no country is going to be able to peacably ‘control’ oil supply in the way that the US must have envisioned when it set out on this ‘mission’. Countries that find ways to limit their oil consumption are not only responding sensibly to climate change and peak oil, but vastly improving their international security and safety.