Energy Wars

A few months ago, a friend here in Paris asked me how Americans could consider the Iraq War a failure when it had accomplished its principle strategic goal, namely securing Iraqi oil for American consumption. I argued that the rise in crude oil prices had largely offset whatever advantage had accrued from securing access to it, and that the missing element to his argument was American oil companies — as opposed to the Iraqi government — actually profiting from the oil. As Andrew Sullivan points out here, that missing element will very shortly no longer be missing, making the case for the Iraq War as a neo-colonial exercise an easier one to defend.

The damage this does to our efforts in the “war of ideas” (of which more later) in the Arab world are obvious. But I wonder what the Chinese think when they hear us questioning their peaceful rise, especially with regard to the potential for conflict posed by their energy security strategy. Is it that farfetched to say that Iraq is the first of tomorrow’s resource wars today?

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