Belmont Club

Pipe Dreams

Think Progress, quoting the New York Times relates how President Obama found the very idea of the Keystone Pipeline funny.

OBAMA: Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.

NYT: Yet there are a number of unions who want you to approve this.

MR. OBAMA: Well, look, they might like to see 2,000 jobs initially. But that is a blip relative to the need. So what we also know is, is that that oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States. In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.

Chuckles. In knowing superiority. In amused condescension. And why not? The ability to move energy around is totally ridiculous. Interconnecting energy sources, redundancy, who cares about these?  Well maybe China. They are building pipelines to bring oil from the Bay of Bengal to China. There is also another project in the works to pipe oil directly from the Middle East to the Middle Kingdom.  That’s quite a pipeline and nobody in China is reported to be chuckling.

SINGAPORE – China’s strategy to diversify supply routes for its rapidly rising energy imports has just taken a major step forward.

On July 15, natural gas from Myanmar (aka Burma) started to flow along a recently completed pipeline that stretches for 1,100 kilometers from the sea coast, through jungle and mountains, to Kunming in southwest China.

There it will feed into other gas lines supplying homes, industries and power plants generating electricity in the world’s biggest energy user. …

A parallel oil pipeline, due to open by the end of the year, will be able to carry 22 million tons of crude oil from the Middle East and Africa. This amounts to about one-twelfth of China’s oil use last year.

China’s great fear is blockade.

The official Xinhua news agency has described the pipelines as “China’s new strategic energy channels” because they offer an alternative supply route for vital oil and gas imports in case the congested and relatively narrow Strait of Malacca and Singapore are blocked by piracy, terrorism, a shipping accident or conflict.

Since 2010, over 80 percent of China’s growing crude oil imports have come in tankers through the straits — the shortest sea route between the Middle East/Africa and China’s east coast ports.

China’s ruling Communist Party and the armed forces fear that this energy artery, which includes increasing quantities of gas from the Persian Gulf, could be cut in several crisis contingencies.

The West has an outdated idea of itself. Europe still thinks it is the center of the universe and the Australian Greens may still conceive of themselves as defenders of the hottentots against the depradations of white imperialists.  When Australian Greens insist on the necessity of a cutback in “Greenhouse gases”, of which Oz produces about 1%, they actually think they matter. They don’t matter a damn.

CNN reports that the Beijing is the world’s largest consumer of oil. And it is growing fast. “Already guzzling more energy than the United States to feed its power-hungry manufacturing sector, China is expected to use twice as much energy as the United States by 2040.”

Compared to China’s scale and rate of growth, it is the Greens who are the hottentots. It is the Greens who by comparison live in provincial mental huts. Earth to Greens, earth to Greens: the hottentots are operating on a scale you can’t even imagine. Consequently the energy route from the Persian Gulf to China is now Beijing’s jugular.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, April 26 (UPI) – China’s plan to build a second aircraft carrier and the Indian navy’s recent test-firing of a submarine-launched cruise missile should be ringing alarm bells in the Persian Gulf.

Beijing and New Delhi are squaring off militarily in the Indian Ocean, the key energy artery from the Middle East and Africa to the Asian giants who need the oil and gas to fuel their expanding economies.

At the same time, both states — but China in particular — have sharply boosted investment in Middle Eastern and African energy resources.”

These days, more Persian Gulf oil exports goes east than west to Europe and the United States. China, for instance, imports 55 percent of its oil from the gulf.

But  the Chinese and Indians, no less than the Japanese, take a dim view of President Obama’s ability to do anything — even keep the Navy going.  They’re probably convinced, not without reason, that he’ll someday melt the ships down into Obamaphones. The article has these sad words to say about the United States.

The U.S. Navy provides the security along the Indian Ocean shipping routes but as the decades-old American domination in the Middle East erodes, and the prospect of a U.S.-Chinese stand-off in the Pacific grows, the strategic dynamics in the Indian Ocean are also changing as China and India seek to secure their access to energy supplies.

It will take a decade or two before the Chinese and Indian navies will be muscular enough to replace U.S. power. It will take years to build enough carrier task forces with powerful air arms and formulate operational war-fighting doctrines, and establish logistics and intelligence networks in the vast region.

One of the submarine fleets that patrols astride this very energy artery is Australia’s. Published sources describe its patrol areas as stretching from “Australia’s Top End through Melanesia, Indonesia and the South China Sea.” During the Cold War RAN subs lurked “off the coasts of Vietnam, Indonesia, China and India”. Which only means that one of China’s contingency plans to ensure its energy security involves some way to neutralize that.

The Chinese are disadvantaged by geography. But they are doing the best they can with what they have. On the other hand the United States has almost every God-given and human made edge you can imagine. But it also has a President who sees these boons as comical gewgaws the sort of which are found in a box of Crackerjack [chuckles], to be thrown out as soon as possible so he can mail the boxtop to enter the raffle.

God has blessed America. As for “God Damn America” — ask Jeremiah Wright about that.  Perhaps never in the history of human enterprise has so little been achieved by individuals with so exalted a view of themselves.  The clowns don’t know they’re the show.

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