Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
Looking one war ahead, America’s next great war could strike simultaneously in the Middle East and the Pacific. Washington will have more of a future enemy in Arab spawned jihadists and supported “mujahedin” in Syria and Iraq than they can imagine at the moment; and Africa. There will also be conflict in the Pacific if unchecked early on.
Therefore it is critical to neutralize Arab supported Islamic radicals now from the source and take advantage of shifting political and strategic realities of Central and East Asia. This means halting all military aid to any and all Arab states and denying them economic income from the East if they continue to participate in funding them. It means getting closer to the majority of the Iranian people who want greater political reforms and more secular democracy. Lastly, it also means giving the Chinese leadership a narrow way out of the containment and conflict and funneling them into the direction of our choosing.
To do so will require the presence of a grand international political strategy. This has been absent the US foreign relations since the Cold War. In this case, America does not have to start any wars, just shift allies and push reforms and cooperation. All of this with the power and push of a strategic oil alliance led by Americans.
Regional containment in the Pacific is a mere tactical policy at best and a poor one at that. The ends can only mean gradual military arms build-ups on both sides. What we have observed thus far is an emerging battle-prone conflict, escalated by a tit-for-tat military and more aggressive diplomacy. As the US backs out of the picture, Japan becomes more assertive and harnesses the power of an American sponsored project. The battle-space becomes one of China versus Japan, South Korea, and others, rather than China versus the US. This is the chance for the Washington to blow the storm out of the region.
Because both of the problems above are the result of oil or the potential for oil, it seems fair to evaluate how the US and allies can employ oil policy as a major component of its international political strategy. For the Saudi Arabians and other Arab petro-states, the rise of their wealth has allowed them to appease hostile domestic religious political movements and to sponsor a policy of ongoing Sunni extremist dogma and redirect animosity outwards in agreement with their geopolitical calculations. It also attracts an Arab-Chinese alliance.
For China and the others involved in territorial disputes, the problem is national access not only to official borders and historic legacies but to future strategic access points and prospective oil reserves. Denial of China and the effective granting administration to the others seems a bit of cheat boat diplomacy that will not ride any realistic or peaceful future tides. Thus, a major shift in American foreign policy as well as domestic energy policy becomes clear and critical in any leverage negotiation and political strategy in the East.
By 2015, the US will be the top oil producer in the world. It will surpass the production of Russia and Saudi Arabia; according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). America is scheduled to be self-sufficient within the subsequent decades; by which point, much of the domestic oil usage might be replaced with the use of alternative energies. Meanwhile, much of the rest of the world is expected to follow at least one-step behind, relying on the lack of domestic proven oil reserves and wide-spread alternative energy technologies. With this in mind, it will be very easy of for the US to be a member of a Western-led variant of an Arab-dominated OPEC.
Although by 2020, the US is expected to reach its peak and lose its first place world ranking by 2030, this does not take into account the US pioneering technologies of fracking, new discoveries and the potential for a strategic partnership with Canada. Such a combination, if supported through public policy would grow oil for export and establish a stronger Canadian and other Western oil-producing nations bond. The usage of oil diplomacy and economy to reshape global priorities would be a tremendous impact and opportunity to lower oil prices via technological advances and greater competition.
For example, what would be the effects of greater US-China oil cooperation? Could the US and the Western petro-allies sell 49 percent ownership of oil energy companies to China and maintain 51 percent American-owned and led control. Additionally, Washington and Beijing would simultaneously work out a closed-door diplomatic session resolving the Pacific island disputes once and for all; as well as a horde of internal Chinese liberal political reforms?
The trick here is to remove the Middle East and Russia from the energy equation through better quality and cheaper products. Get China on the US side as a partner needs extreme measures for the benefit of both countries, including jobs, lower prices of goods and energy; and even cash insertion into the US economy from abroad and the replacement of growing Chinese-to-Middle East oil dependency. That need not be a problem if added to the American side of the equation early on. Kill three or four birds across multiple regions and secure American dominance with one stone: increase American jobs and American domestic alternative energy; resolve the Pacific dispute, stall or divert Chinese infiltration of the Central Asia; and challenge the global dependency on Arabian oil and enriching states that sponsor that radical extremism.
US-Canadian relations could also use the boost. Last Friday, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird addressed the US Chamber of Commerce regarding the Keystone Pipeline XL that would, if passed, run through Alberta to Texas and replace the present method of oil transportation by train and rail. The Administration’s concerns of environmentalism are noteworthy but train accident oil spills will be just as bad, if not worse. The pipe line can be shut off at various points while the train spills pass through more populated areas and can be much more difficult to put out. The pipeline also acts as its own preserve. With the correct safety and environmental standards and regulations placed on such a project, it should work out to everyone’s advantage and aid as a jump-start to US-Canadian joint oil needs and bilateral foreign relations.
Mexico is also bursting with oil. Oil wealth in Mexico will create a more secure and socially just Mexican economy and raise people out of poverty. Between the three NAFTA states, the world should see the West balance the East in oil and energy power in concerted union. Regardless of the Keystone XL Pipeline, an increase in domestic oil and petro-state ally cooperation is a rational thing only if it is used to secure global peace and eventually lead the petro-state allies into the main oil exporters and transform their domestic energy consumption into technological and alternative energies. In partnering with China, instant cash is inserted into US rather than Chinese programs or Saudi fields. China will easily gain more drivers in the future than some 30 million (with hundreds of million to go). Either they buy from or take from others or partner with NAFTA and friends. To go with oil, NAFTA would sell and produce low emission technology and employ counter-greenhouse technologies in the West.
Control of the international oil sector will be the power play if the West and NAFTA make it a central part of strategic diplomacy or not. The question is, will it be Western controlled or will wars spring up all over without Western intervention and supply?
Sharing the control of the oil sector might make new friends too [other than China]; a few enemies too; but it could also resolve the present long-term political and economic instabilities. What happens in Central Asia is a shifting of alliances. Iran is severed from Russia and China is severed from replacing American influence and now acts a partner with no real need to partake in the region or interfere with Western designs; especially those designs from its new ally that no longer threaten energy interests. Isolation and containment, if anywhere, should encircle the radical Sunni jihadists and not the second wealthiest economy already in trading with America; and which is increasingly desperate and starved for oil and other resources elsewhere.