Le Figaro reports that China is now the number one foreign operator in the Iraqi oil sector. I’m struck by the way in which markets we open, whether by war (Iraqi oil, Afghan copper) or diplomacy (Indian and UAE nuclear energy), are exploited by our friendly competitors (China and France, respectively). That explains why no real American empire is possible so long as we remain committed to the liberal market. It also shows how even an ideologically driven interventionism can be compromised by the adherence to the liberal global trade order. If democracy promotion in Iraq results in a net gain for China, there’s a fundamental flaw in the guiding logic.