Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Strategic Shift You Have Yet to Feel

There is a reason why the Middle East has received so much attention in the last century - the free flow of oil at market prices. More importantly - the reliance of our nation and our allies on that part of the world for our oil.

Well ... nothing is constant but change, and we are well inside a turn that will have profound implications on everything from why we deploy, how much we deploy, and where the bar is to decide if USA blood and treasure is needed.

Via Julian Borger and Larry Elliot at The Guardian;
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of China and the Arab spring, American energy independence looks likely to trigger the next great geopolitical shift in the modern world.
US reliance on the Gulf for its oil – and its consequent need to maintain a dominant presence in the Middle East to keep the oil flowing – has been one of the constants of the post-1945 status quo. That could be turned on its head.
It's been dubbed "the homecoming". After decades in which the hollowing out of American manufacturing has been chronicled in Bruce Springsteen's blue-collar laments, cheap energy is being seen as the dawn of a new golden age for the world's biggest economy.
The reason is simple. The US is the home to vast shale oil and gas deposits made commercially viable by improvements to a 200-year-old technique called fracking and by the relentlessly high cost of crude.
Exploitation of fields in Appalachian states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and further west in North Dakota, have transformed the US's energy outlook pretty much overnight. Professor Dieter Helm, an energy expert at Oxford University, said: "In the US, shale gas didn't exist in 2004. Now it represents 30% of the market."
Most of the movement will be via second and third order effects. There is a lot of inertia on our side, so we won't decamp anytime soon. Our support for Israel will keep us well engaged - and in a global economic system - regardless of who gets the oil, if it is disrupts the global economy - it will get us too.

No, as prices fall - some of the worst players in the global system will suffer, specifically Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. As a result, those who they support will suffer too.

As the USA uses less oil from that part of the world, watch as Indian and Chinese interests work to secure the best and most secure access, and grow as a percentage-customer. The Europeans will need to watch closely as well. With petro dollars propping up the already hopeless economics of many of those nations; the existing demographic wave combined with clunky economics will increase the pressure to migrate --- and those migrants that have already made it to Europe so far aren't setting a great example.

Yes, interesting times .... and good reason not to bet the farm on "... long range predictions are XXXX as long as present conditions persist ..... "

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