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Showing posts from November 25, 2012

Afghanistan

Oil, Guns, and Military Bases: The US in Africa

In the struggle to secure energy resources, the great powers consider all states to be fair game. Indeed, this is precisely what characterizes American foreign policy in the modern era. When it comes to economic and geopolitical interests, Washington seldom differentiates between democratic leaders and despots, especially when those interests involve oil. Currently, the stakes are high in the rush to secure oil resources and nowhere is this more evident than in the Sino-American rivalry in Africa. Both states are competing to secure their share of oil supplies in order to quench their addiction to the coveted ‘black gold.’

One of Washington’s primary energy security concerns has been to diversify its sources of foreign oil. During the 1970s oil crisis, the United States imported one-third of its petroleum. Now, it imports approximately 11.4 million barrels per day of petroleum (which includes crude oil and petroleum products), amounting to 45 percent of all petroleum consumed in Americ…

Desperate South Sudan Carves up Total Concession

Newly independent, oil-rich South Sudan holds some 75% of Sudan’s total oil resources, but it may be too early to risk things here. Ask Total (NYSE: TOT). The government just split up one of the French oil major’s massive concession blocks to give the bulk of it away to other companies. According to a Reuters report on Wednesday, Total’s largely unexplored Block B has been split into three parts, one of which Total will be allowed to keep, while the other two may go to US major ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and Kuwait’s Kufpec. (Though the government says they’ll be put up for tender). It’s a pretty sour message for potential investors. Here’s what’s happening: South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011. Total’s Block B concession had been negotiated under a united Sudan. Officials in Juba (the capital of South Sudan) believe that their newly won independence gives them the right to renegotiate a concession that was granted under the old Sudan. The concession block is located i…

U.S. Foreign Policy: Room to Regroup

By George Friedman President Barack Obama has won re-election. However, in addition to all of the constraints on him that I discussed last week, he won the election with almost half the people voting against him. His win in the Electoral College was substantial -- and that's the win that really matters -- but the popular vote determines how he governs, and he will govern with one more constraint added to the others. The question is whether this weakens him or provides an opportunity. That is not determined by his policies but by the strategic situation, which, in my view, gives the United States some much-needed breathing room. The Structure of the International System At the moment, the international system is built on three pillars: the United States, Europe and China. Europe, if it were united, would be very roughly the same size as the United States in terms of economy, population and potential military power. China is about a third the size of the other two economically, but i…

Constraints Facing the Next Mexican President

By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis Enrique Pena Nieto will be sworn in as Mexico's next president Dec. 1. He will take office at a very interesting point in Mexican history. Mexico is experiencing an economic upturn that may become even more pronounced if Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party administration is able to work with its rivals in the National Action Party to enact needed reforms to Mexico's labor, financial and energy laws. Another arrestor to further expanding Mexico's economy has been the ongoing cartel violence in Mexico and the dampening effect it has had on outside investment and tourism. Pena Nieto realizes that Mexico's economy would be doing even better were it not for the chilling effect of the violence. During his campaign, he pledged to cut Mexico's murder rate in half by the end of his six-year term, to increase the number of federal police officers and to create a new gendarmerie to use in place of military troops to co…