As usual, business news is often the place to find out the real driving force behind US foreign policy. The whole discussion now going on about Unocal, and the role that this company has played in directing US foreign policy in the Balkans and Afghanistan reminds me of the role that United Fruit played in US Central American policy.
As the oil company seeks more money, Republicans are arguing that if China buys Unocal (which owns large shares of pipelines in Afghanistan and the Balkans, around which US foreign policy has been shaped) it will threaten US "national security." This article from Tom Paine.com "Chinese Chess" clearly identifies the conflict of interest in the Bush administration:
To cut to the chase, the Chinese offer has forced Bush to decide whether he is a free-trader or an America-firster. He cannot be both. If Bush decides that the CNOOC's $18.5 billion bid for Unocal is a threat to national security, he will implicitly say that Chinese money is not as good as European and Japanese money and confirm that the biggest concern facing America right now is energy—where we get it and how we use it. In doing so, he will only add fuel to the analytical fire about why we went to war in Iraq.
If he says yes and affirms the principles of free trade, then Bush undermines his de facto national security strategy, which has been about securing America's oil and gas supplies economically and militarily. He will undermine his energy policy, which has been about increasing domestic prodcution for domestic consumption. And, most powerfully, he will be selling out the soldiers whose lives have been lost in Iraq, saying that our strategic interests, after all, really weren't as important as an $18.5 billion oil deal.
Now that China has made a threat to use "A-bombs" (the NYT's language) if the US intervenes in Taiwan, it seems less likely to me that the US government will block the sale. However, as Michael Klare points out, that could make real problems for the US economy. hmmm....what a bind the Bushies are in. Too bad they didn't do any work to find alternative energy sources.
Over twenty years ago today, Jimmy Carter made speech declaring an "energy war" in which the American people would play a significant role in reducing dependence on foreign oil. While Carter's strategy was not as green as some might think, at least he was addressing the problem.
So, I'm anxious about oil and war today. What's the scariest news item you saw?