Archive for November, 2011


The Rise of Asian Resource Nationalism

November 29, 2011

Resource nationalism is one of the alternative models challenging the centuries old dominance of  the Anglo-American open trade system.  The National Bureau of Asian Research has an excellent and detailed report on the current rise of energy and resource nationalism among Asian nations.  This development has tremendous implications for both geopolitics and geoeconomics as the end of the current long cycle approaches.  The full text of this document was set to expire on 11/24, but it is still available as of today, so interested parties should download a copy ASAP



November 28, 2011

Anabasis is the classical story by the Greek warrior Xenophon.  In it, he tells the tale of a large army of 10,000 Greek mercenaries hired to help a Persian leader usurp the throne.  At the conclusion of the battle, the Greek leaders are poisoned and the Persians plan to kill or enslave the remaining Greek soldiers.  Anabasis tells the heroic tale of how the legendary Ten Thousand fought their way across hostile southwest Asia to relief on the Black Sea.

I bring up this tale because the United States and its allies in Afghanistan potentially face a similar situation.  After a NATO airstrike in Pakistan killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the shaky US/Pakistani relationship is in the deepest trouble in years, as Pakistan has closed its border to supply trucks.  At the same time, Russia is trying to pressure the west to abandon its ballistic missile defense plans by threatening to close the Northern supply route.  This would effectively cut Western forces off from resupply and leave them stranded in hostile territory.  It is, of course, unlikely that such a full cut off will occur, but it is a frightening situation that highlights the difficulties of the Afghan operation.


Job opportunity for experienced energy researcher

November 25, 2011

a recently opened vacancy for an experienced social scientific researcher at the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) may be of interest to EnerGeoPolitics readers


Thanksgiving holiday hiatus

November 23, 2011

back on Monday 11/28


China on its diplomatic heels

November 23, 2011

Diplomats will try to avoid the word containment, but the US has certainly begun to close a loop around maritime China (they still have potential outlets through the Eurasian Heartland):  Expanded US naval presence in Australia and Singapore, F-16s to Indonesia, diplomatic openings with Vietnam and the Philippines, possible inclusion of India in the F-35 program.  India’s Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis continues the list:

That Chinese diplomacy has played right into hands of the US is increasingly being recognized. Chinese threats and bluster have antagonized almost all the nations of East and South East Asia. Alarm bells have been ringing in their respective capitals as to what the Chinese intentions are. Not willing to take any chances on Chinese belligerence, almost all have begun to strengthen their defence networks. Vietnam has increased its defence budget by 70 per cent this year and Indonesia announced a 35 per cent increase in its defence outlay for this year. The Republic of Korea [ROK] is building a large naval base on Jeju Island whose location indicates that it will cater for security in the East China Sea rather than against North Korea. The US has agreed to retrofit 145 Taiwanese F-16 fighters. Similarly, Malaysia and Singapore have increased their defence purchases by a whopping 700 per cent and 140 per cent respectively. There is no doubt that the US-Australia decision to enhance their security profile by stationing 2500 Marines at Darwin is due to the same fears. The Australian decision to sell uranium to India can also be seen in the same light.

Even in the case of India, Chinese ham-handedness and belligerence have led to the addition of two new divisions for the Indian army to be deployed along the Sino-Indian border region. The US, Japan and India are to have a trilateral security dialogue by the end of this year followed by joint Indo-Japan naval exercises in 2012.

The only point I would make is that this will end up being a containment dominated by a quadrilateral power set, not trilateral – add Australia to the mix and the trio of Japan, India and Australia form the points of a geographic triangle of containment, with the US acting as an offshore balancer and working to bring the smaller nations of maritime South and East Asia into the effort.

This effort was obvious even to me, as an amateur observer, but kudos nonetheless to the State Department for setting it in motion to such effect thus far.


Dirty Water

November 22, 2011

The Standells had a garage rock classic with their ode to the city of Boston and its famously polluted harbor fed by the equally polluted Charles River.

“I love that dirty water/Boston, you’re my home”

Perhaps some Beijing cover band can update with a reference to their own home town.  According to a recent report in the South China Morning Post, China is suffering from massive, widespread contamination of their groundwater.

Only a small part of the findings of the nationwide survey appears to have been made public by the Ministry of Land and Resources. But it paints a grim picture that analysts say yet again highlights the severity of the country’s water pollution problems – and the government’s failure to tackle environmental challenges.

It contains startling revelations that support Premier Wen Jiabao’s recent warnings about worsening water quality – especially pollution of underground water sources, from where nearly 70 per cent of the population get their drinking water.

Wen told a State Council meeting two months ago that groundwater contamination posed grave challenges to public health and threatened to derail the country’s social and economic development.

. . . Officials are increasingly vocal about mounting environmental problems and their dire consequences, but all this talk has yet to be translated into any concrete steps to change the situation.

More than 57 per cent of groundwater is substandard and 17 per cent of extremely poor quality, according to the survey of 182 cities last year. In addition, a marked deterioration in quality was widely seen in the northern regions.

While manufacturing jobs are beginning to return to the US (especially the American South), we appear to have successfully exported our pollution to China.


Coalitioning watch: US to give F-16s to Indonesia

November 21, 2011

That is give, not sell, as the US continues to expand its defense ties in the Western Pacific/Southern Asia maritime quadrant.