Early this week, Hillary Clinton visited South Sudan with the sole purpose of pressuring the new nation to restart oil production in an attempt to combat rising oil prices. South Sudan recently stopped producing oil after a deadlock between the South and its northern rival Sudan. The two nations have been involved in an ongoing civil war for years as religious and economic tensions have boiled over with the more prosperous Muslim north and the underdeveloped Christian south. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan declared its independence and became the world’s newest nation.
Tensions are still strong between the nations, especially concerning oil revenues. South Sudan contains the vast majority of oil wells but is landlocked. In the past, oil drilled in the south was shipped to the northern ports and sold on the international market. This allowed the north to reap all the benefits and left the south in a state of disrepair lacking infrastructure and investment. Now that the two regions have separated, South Sudan has all the oil but no means of getting its oil to the international markets. The north has lost the majority of its revenue but still maintains all the pipelines. To use these pipelines, the north is demanding that the South pay 50% or more of its oil revenues. South Sudan refuses to pay so much, especially after years of bloodshed and oppression, and is eager to build relationships with its more friendly neighbors, Ethiopia and Kenya, who have offered to help build pipelines to South Sudan to lesson its dependence on the north.
Unpleased with the timetable, the current US Administration has pressured the South to accept the north’s demands so that more oil can be available to foreign markets. Hillary Clinton claimed, “A percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing.” I strongly disagree with the approach that was taken towards the south. It is both short sited and detrimental. If the end result is all about oil, the US should have partnered with South Sudan and invested in this fledgling nation. It should have offered to help build pipelines and vowed to support the nation in its independence. This could have fostered a strong friendship with a large oil-producing nation that in the long term would provide a stable, friendly source of oil.
Even if the south had no oil, the US should have partnered with them in solidarity for a nation yearning to breath free from oppression and choosing democracy and a free government in a region of corruption. The south has no infrastructure and is practically building a nation from scratch, what a wonderful opportunity for America to influence a nation through training, partnership and investment. Instead, the US chose to make the decision that would have the quickest result and in turn, damaged our reputation and relationship with South Sudan in the long run. The way I see it, Hillary Clinton should have rather said, “A friend with no oil is better than an enemy with lots of it.” But instead, South Sudan is probably thinking that with friends like the current US Administration, who needs enemies.
South China Sea: More than just a Struggle Over Rocks.
Although there are many proponents for an invasion of Syria, this will not happen as long as Russia protects it. The Assad regime is bullet proof to western pressures because it has aligned itself strategically with Russia by allowing it to build an extremely important Russian naval base along its coast. Russia is not willing to have this base compromised by a possible NATO invasion.
Hope of a U.N. authorized intervention to protect human rights is also out of the question as Russia and its strategic military and economic partner China are both permanent members of the UN Security Council and will veto anything brought to the table.
When it comes down to it, I truly believe that this base is of such vital importance to the Russian goal of regaining global power that it will defend Syria in the case of a NATO strike. If Russia loses this political tug-of-war, the humiliation will be devastating. It will send the message that Russia is unable to protect the many countries that depend on it from western incursions. Russia cannot afford to lose influence and this makes Syria a potential World War starter. It is for this reason that I don’t believe anything is going to happen. The West will continue to impose economic sanctions, engage in fierce rhetoric and secretly supply the opposition movement. As sad as it may seem, the West just doesn’t seem to think that the conflict in Syria, horrible as it may be, is worth a greater conflict.
When looking at this situation and comparing it to the map I posted in a previous post, it is important to remember that not every country is of equal importance or strategic value to the main players on the global stage. This helps to explain why NATO was able to invade Libya, an ally of SCO, but declines to invade Syria, Russia’s strategic military partner. Additionally, this explains why NATO allowed Russia to invade Georgia without military intervention from the West. Some conflicts are just not worth starting a war over.
Until the crimes against humanity become so great that Russia is politically coerced to compromise on its support, a regime change in Syria must fall into the hands of the rebel insurgents within Syria itself. Russia will not allow NATO to intervene.
I have been working on this map, collecting news articles and documenting trends over the past couple years, and was surprised when it revealed that the world is deeply divided by two major spheres of influence that dominate and dictate global affairs.
The two major organizations at the center of this are NATO, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) headed by Russia and China. Both are military organizations with each member state promising to protect each others interests and come to aid in the event of war.
This setup creates an interesting situation whereby, at its most basic level, if any two nations from differing alliances go to war, it has the potential, through the domino effect, to bring war to every continent of the world. It is this fear of global conflict that creates such tension points as North and South Korea, Israel and Iran and Pakistan and India.
Ultimately, the global powers of the United States, Russia and China don’t want to go to war but neither is willing to cave to the influence of the other. This simple division of the world helps to explain almost every decision made on the global stage in recent years and will be a good prediction of how nations will interact in the years to come.
Though it is impossible to completely predict the actions of nations and any attempt at doing so will warrant critique, I do believe the map reflects an extremely realistic situation that has bee forming. Though I will agree that many nations would not align themselves with China and Russia, and that East Asia is a new boiling point, especially with tension in the South China Sea, many nations are allied with other nations that are allied to China and Russia, thus the domino effect culminating in global conflict.
Though Africa might not be cut and dry, the domino effect extends even into these areas as states align themselves with regional powers that ultimately connect back to the SCO.
The cold war might be over as you say, but a more accurate comparison would be to Pre-World War I. Just as today, the world was deeply divided by alliances and it only took the action of one crazy man to send the entire precarious system crashing down. Nations are quickly realizing that joining together to protect each other’s interests is a much more effective manor are gaining regional power and influence and protecting their own sovereignty. It is through this realization that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, having only a few official members, is able to garner so much influence around the world.
Geopolitics: seeking to understand, explain and predict international political behaviour.
Just starting out on tumblr after realizing that I needed more than just 144 characters to rant about things I am passionate about.