Posts tagged ‘oil’

A Dash of Cynicism on Libya

By , 28 March, 2011, No Comment

I return from blogger exile with a post at Foreign Exchange on the French role in Libya:

It’s a nice idea, perhaps, that after Bernard Kouchner, France’s leading advocate of liberal interventionism, has left office, the President who fired him suddenly comes around to the doctrine. It’s an even nicer idea for nerdy foreign policy writers that France’s intellectual mascot, Bernard-Henri Lévy, played the decisive role, a notion BHL is quite happy to entertain. But given the French government’s history of being relatively skeptical of this type of argumentation, you must forgive my looking for some material factors.

What factors? In my post, I posit the blowback from Tunisia, France’s peculiar energy mix, and its Mediterranean geography. Read it here.

A Brief Update on Sudan

By , 20 January, 2011, No Comment

Not so much a blog post as a quick selection of reporting nuggets over at Foreign Exchange. If you’ve been following the Sudanese Peace Process, potentially of interest.

Sudan: What Do you Mean by Independence?

By , 13 January, 2011, No Comment

First of several posts up at Foreign Exchange today about the referendum for independence in Southern Sudan:

A rare bit of uplifting news in foreign policy land this week, as emerging returns from the independence referendum in Southern Sudan suggest minimal violence and 60% voter turnout, which is nothing short of remarkable given the distances people traveled to polling stations and the fact that any population figure for Southern Sudan includes a fair number of individuals who don’t actually live in Sudan anymore but in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and further afield.

The positive headline aside, there are some very large unanswered questions about what independence means, substantively. The most important one, from the perspective of this blog, is that an independent South is going to be a landlocked, poor state with one valuable natural resource – oil – and no capacity to refine or export it.

Read the rest.

Thinking Long Term on India and Iran

By , 5 January, 2011, No Comment

New post at Foreign Exchange on the India-Iran oil deal and the challenges of securing funding for it amidst the US-led sanctions on Tehran. My take:

the U.S. position in recent years has been that India is most valuable as an ally when it is looking eastwards, and competing with China in the South China Sea or through trade relationships in South East Asia; that is the view favored too by a number of Indian policy wonks and popular in the Indian press.

But this banking move suggests that inside the halls of power, Indian leaders understand what I tried to argue in November: that India is most likely to challenge China, and thereby benefit other great powers, if it rectifies relations in South Asia and uses its relationship with Iran to build a trading zone to its west.

From Washington’s perspective, it’s a classic clash between short- and long- term policy objectives, between the nuclear issue and the need for an India that is strong in the region. There are no signs as yet that the U.S. government wants to shift its strategy towards the long-term and let this deal stand, but if it did, I for one would welcome it.

Read it all.