August 20, 2004

Yes, WW III is just a few stupid chess moves away...

Did you know there were already several thousand
Chinese troops in the Sudan? (And yes, they are on the
wrong side of that horror.) Yes, WW III is just a few stupid chess moves away...Security is the central
issue of this campaign: National Security, Economic
Security and Environmental Security. Are you safer
than you were four years ago? No. Are we discussing
it? Not really. Mostly, this week, the "US mainstream
news media" is spending far more time pretending to
"sort out" the military record of Sen. John F. Kerry
(D-Mekong Delta), as if there were any shred of
credibility to the savage Bush cabal's filth machine
attacks against him...What is happening in this
country? How many of your fellow citizens realize that
we are heading into a "Perfect Storm" of global
warming, AIDS in Africa and Asia, a "holy war" with
the Arabs, an oil war with China, a broken and
drifting Western Alliance, deepening political
tensions and economic conflict with the EU, rapidly
dwindling natural resources, and an UN*civil* war with
the Expanded Confederacy here at home...we need a
Lincoln, and we do not have any more time to
waste...we have already lost four years we could not
spare...War is peace? Love is hate? Sound familiar?
"The hour is getting late."

Newsday Editorial: The conflict is unavoidable. It
could create geopolitical tensions and cause dramatic
shifts in U.S. foreign policy that may overshadow
today's preoccupation with global terrorism. And there
are no easy solutions to avert it, only regrets over
this nation's missed opportunities in decades past to
develop viable alternative energy sources to lessen
U.S. dependence on imported oil.
Any such program, initiated today, will take far too
long to bear fruit in time to avoid an economic and
political clash with China over oil...
While Washington has begged the world -- and pressured
the United Nations Security Council -- to send
peacekeeping troops to Sudan to quell the sectarian
fighting that has put a million refugees at risk,
China has already deployed 4,000 troops to Sudan. But
those troops are there only to protect China's
investment in an oil pipeline. China is concerned that
civil unrest could wreck the oil project. It has
actually been hostile to U.S. pressure to impose
economic sanctions on the Arab government in Khartoum,
a key Chinese client, buyer of Chinese arms and
partner in oil exploration.
It was also telling that China was a major opponent at
the Security Council of the war against Iraq, in large
part because China had obtained prospective contracts
with Saddam Hussein for exclusive exploitation of some
oil fields. But perhaps the most worrisome prospect
for U.S. policymakers is China's burgeoning attempt to
secure ties with Saudi Arabia, the world's arbiter of
the oil market, taking advantage of the Saudi regime's
tensions with Washington since the 9/11 attacks.
All these are disquieting harbingers of Beijing's
coming conflict with the United States over oil. It
will come sooner than expected and the United States
is not prepared for it. This president or his
successor must, at the very least, alert the nation
about its consequences, initiate a national
conversation about it and encourage a program of
energy conservation to alleviate the obvious economic
pressures we will all face.

Restore the Timeline, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-vpts0815,0,692217,print.story?coll=ny-opinion-headlines

1.3 billion reasons to worry about oil

American leaders have good reason to worry about the
price of oil. Oil price shocks can play a decisive
role in ending a presidency, as in the cases of
Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. The
Nov. 2 election may well hinge on the cooling of the
economic recovery caused by sustained high levels of
oil prices. But that's not really what the next
president should be so concerned about. The real oil
shocks -- much more damaging and sustained than ever
before -- will come a bit later, but much sooner than
anyone had expected, from a part of the world not even
discussed seriously in the current campaign:

China.

With 1.3 billion people, a phenomenal rate of economic
growth, and an insatiable consumer demand for cars,
China will soon come into direct conflict with the
United States over oil, the world's most valuable and
increasingly scarce industrial commodity.

The pressure on supply will inevitably jack up prices
to levels that would make today's motorists and
electricity customers blanch.

The conflict is unavoidable. It could create
geopolitical tensions and cause dramatic shifts in
U.S. foreign policy that may overshadow today's
preoccupation with global terrorism. And there are no
easy solutions to avert it, only regrets over this
nation's missed opportunities in decades past to
develop viable alternative energy sources to lessen
U.S. dependence on imported oil.

Any such program, initiated today, will take far too
long to bear fruit in time to avoid an economic and
political clash with China over oil.

Just a quick glimpse at the figures involved makes
clear the dimensions of the problem. China's economic
growth has bubbled along at a steamy pace of 8 to 10
percent a year for the past decade.

With that growth, private auto sales in that vast
nation have skyrocketed from token levels 10 years ago
-- only 220,000 were sold as recently as 1999 -- to
nearly 2 million this year. Last year alone, China's
automobile sales increased by a staggering 69 percent.

More cars than U.S. by 2030

It's estimated that China could have nearly 30 million
automobiles by 2010. By 2030, China is expected to
have more cars than the United States and import as
much oil as the U.S. does today.

Already, China has overtaken Japan as the world's
second biggest importer of oil, after the United
States. And its appetite is huge and growing. As
Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates
puts it, "China has gone from being a minor player in
world commodity markets, if a player at all, to being
the decisive dynamic factor today. In terms of oil, 40
percent of the entire growth in oil demand since the
year 2000 has been China."

In this quarter alone, China's demand for oil is
projected to increase 21 percent. That follows a
19-percent increase during the first quarter of this
year.

Nor are Chinese consumers, especially those in the
growing middle class produced by a booming technology
sector, particularly interested in fuel-efficient
small cars. Gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles are
not simply an American passion. They are in great
demand in China, too.

In a report from China broadcast on National Public
Radio in June, a 35-year-old woman in Beijing, Sia
Lan, an executive in China's expanding advertising
industry, said she, like many other of her friends,
prefers to drive SUVs. "I have a sedan car, too, which
I used to drive to work because my Jeep guzzles a lot
more gas," she said. "But I prefer my Jeep because I
can see over all the other cars."

A Chinese environmentalist, Liang Congjie, is
distressed by the implications. "If each Chinese
family has two cars like U.S. families, then the cars
needed by China, something like 600 million vehicles,
will exceed all the cars in the world combined."

The prospect is daunting, not only for the effects it
would have on the world's production of greenhouse
gases to accelerate global warming, but also for the
incredible pressure it would put on the world's oil
supply.

Just 10 years ago, China was self-sufficient in oil
and actually exported small quantities to other Asian
nations. Now, imports account for more than one- third
of Chinese oil consumption. And rather than relying on
foreign oil companies to supply it with oil, China
wants its own oil firms to go directly overseas to
secure supply sources it can exploit itself.

Clash with U.S. in Mideast

This is where China's quest for more oil will come
directly in conflict with the concerns of U.S. foreign
policy -- particularly in the Middle East.

During the Cold War, China stayed away from the Middle
East. That region's geographic distance and political
instability deterred it from securing ties with its
major oil-exporting nations and, at least until a
decade ago, the old China of ox carts and bicycles did
not need to import oil.

But now the Middle East and relations with
oil-producing nations have become key interests in
China's foreign policy, perhaps second only to its
obsession with Taiwan.

Exploring the world

Today, nearly 60 percent of China's oil imports come
from that region. Through bilateral agreements, rather
than international mechanisms, and using arms sales
and dual-use technology transfers -- nuclear
equipment, guidance systems for missiles -- to cement
ties, China has obtained oil exploration and
exploitation rights in some of the most turbulent
nations in the Middle East and North Africa -- Iran,
Sudan, Libya, Algeria and, until the recent war, Iraq.

The case of Sudan, where international concern for the
humanitarian disaster in the Darfur region is
intensifying, puts China's role in perspective. It
illustrates how Beijing's oil interests could come in
direct conflict with U.S. policy.

Chinese troops in Sudan

While Washington has begged the world -- and pressured
the United Nations Security Council -- to send
peacekeeping troops to Sudan to quell the sectarian
fighting that has put a million refugees at risk,
China has already deployed 4,000 troops to Sudan. But
those troops are there only to protect China's
investment in an oil pipeline. China is concerned that
civil unrest could wreck the oil project. It has
actually been hostile to U.S. pressure to impose
economic sanctions on the Arab government in Khartoum,
a key Chinese client, buyer of Chinese arms and
partner in oil exploration.

It was also telling that China was a major opponent at
the Security Council of the war against Iraq, in large
part because China had obtained prospective contracts
with Saddam Hussein for exclusive exploitation of some
oil fields. But perhaps the most worrisome prospect
for U.S. policymakers is China's burgeoning attempt to
secure ties with Saudi Arabia, the world's arbiter of
the oil market, taking advantage of the Saudi regime's
tensions with Washington since the 9/11 attacks.

All these are disquieting harbingers of Beijing's
coming conflict with the United States over oil. It
will come sooner than expected and the United States
is not prepared for it. This president or his
successor must, at the very least, alert the nation
about its consequences, initiate a national
conversation about it and encourage a program of
energy conservation to alleviate the obvious economic
pressures we will all face.

China's need for oil is the proverbial 800-pound
gorilla in the room, and no one seems willing to
confront it or even acknowledge it -- until it's too
late.
Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.

Posted by richard at August 20, 2004 12:30 PM