Check out Mark Landler on how rising oil prices are changing the geopolitical landscape. Here’s the nut:
The prospect of triple-digit oil prices has redrawn the economic and political map of the world, challenging some old notions of power. Oil-rich nations are enjoying historic gains and opportunities, while major importers — including China and India, home to a third of the world’s population — confront rising economic and social costs.
Hey, I can think of another major importer. I wonder if it too will "confront rising economic and social costs"?
Managing this new order is fast becoming a central problem of global politics. Countries that need oil are clawing at each other to lock up scarce supplies, and are willing to deal with any government, no matter how unsavory, to do it.
"Managing" the new order. There’s an amusing notion. How does one "manage" a steadily declining resource, upon which the economic health of every country depends, which is concentrated in the hands a few governments, most of them authoritarian? The traditional management strategy in these circumstances is called "war," and oh look, there’s one now.
In many poor nations with oil, the proceeds are being lost to corruption, depriving these countries of their best hope for development. And oil is fueling gargantuan investment funds run by foreign governments, which some in the West see as a new threat.
So you’ve got Angola, an oil-rich but dirt poor country, run by a tiny kleptocracy. The kleptocracy is funded by the Chinese government. The Chinese government runs the biggest oil and gas producer in the East, PetroChina, which "could now be valued at more than $1 trillion, which would make it by far the world’s largest company by market capitalization." Oil-rich and increasingly authoritarian Russia, a player in one of the world’s bigger sovereign wealth funds, is dumping money into Germany and the UK. The U.S., meanwhile, is sending money to Saudi Arabia, where it funds madrassas that indoctrinate future jihadis, and Venezuela, where it funds Hugo Chavez’s grinning display of his middle finger to George Bush.
It’s a twisted and ugly dynamic, one the U.S. can not and will not profit from in the long term. We can act from fear, with a last spasm of imperialism, digging up the Alaskan Refuge, denuding northern Canada in search of tar sands, digging our heels in our palatial embassy in Iraq, kissing serial tyrant asses, spending millions of dollars a week jockeying for control over supply. We can cling to what we have left.
Or we can sack up, let go, and head off in a new direction. Which America will it be?