Obama Risks An Oil Opportunity
By: Rachel Marsden
Letís cut through the spin: By ďAmerican service members,Ē Obama means soldiers in American uniforms deployed by the U.S. military. He didnít choose those words by accident. Americans working for private security firms contracted by the U.S. government are currently present in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but conveniently donít technically count as U.S. soldiers.
Thereís nothing wrong with the government outsourcing of military efforts to arms-length entities ó many talented Special Forces and intelligence personnel have joined these private firms for the higher pay and greater freedom in mission choice. Not all of them are mall security guard types looking to play Lawrence of Arabia. The free market applies to their performance, with competent firms ultimately getting more and renewed opportunities. But outsourcing cannot be a substitute for strong, visible, top-down leadership.
The flip side of outsourcing is that when the commander in chief of the American Armed Forces can say, as with the Libyan mission, that America had no troops in American uniform officially on the ground, while the French were sending both hardware and hundreds of uniformed military ground personnel, itís then difficult to lay equal claim to the spoils of victory. In contrast to Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed himself CEO of this war, made a trip to the region with Britainís David Cameron, and his secretary of state for foreign trade, Pierre Lellouche, is already making repeated visits to ensure payback.
Power and influence are synonymous with energy and oil. Russiaís Vladimir Putin figured this out a long time ago, and has figured out how to use oil hegemony to build a transnational empire including Japan, Europe, South America, China and the Middle East. Itís also why heís so obsessed with the Arctic at the moment. The Libyan oil presence of Russiaís state-owned Gazprom is now in jeopardy in the wake of Russiaís opposition to Libyan military action. This window of opportunity should have been a perfect, fumble-proof pass straight into Obamaís arms. If reports of the new Libya more tightly embracing sharia law prove correct, influence through energy could prove vital.
Ali Tarhouni, the Libyan National Transitional Councilís oil and finance minister, has already said that priority will be given to countries that helped Libya. Visibly, this includes France and Britain. Less visibly, it could also include America. Under George W. Bush, it would have clearly and in no uncertain or ambiguous terms included America. Thatís the problem with outsourcing leadership, responsibility and involvement: Rewards might end up being equally uncertain.
COPYRIGHT 2011 RACHEL MARSDEN