Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Western Hemisphere Deep Integration - Hemisphere as Empire - Part 2

Ever since the original statement of what has come to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, there have been forces within the U.S. Federal government who have interpreted that Doctrine as "....shorthand for American colonialism in the Americas" and "a declaration of hegemony and a right of unilateral intervention over the nations of the Western Hemisphere". Those same forces have also tended to interpret the associated principle of "Manifest Destiny" as "a theoretical justification for U.S. expansion outside of North America."
There has, fortunately, been strong and continuous opposition to these interpretations that has kept such sentiment somewhat in check. Expansion has been subjugated through most of the past half-century to intervention. The operational unit that has been at the forefront of this intervention has been the CIA with its consistent involvement in the politics of Latin America.
With the current and increasing focus on global energy reserves, however, there is growing motivation to go beyond intervention. There have, even during that half century, been a number of cases of American military "intervention", the Bay of Pigs, Panama, Grenada, the drug wars in Colombia, the Iran/Contra involvement, the Cuban missile crisis being the major examples. Whether it be called intervention or otherwise, "In practice, the U.S used the Monroe Doctrine to side with whatever side of Caribbean conflicts favoured the United States". US interests, in its dealings with nations throughout the world, are increasingly and strongly focussed on energy. And the known and presumed energy resources of South America have very much captured the attention of the U.S. administration. The vast oil sand reserves of troublesome Venezuela, the natural gas reserves of troublesome Bolivia, the offshore oil reserves of troublesome Cuba, the offshore oil reserves of Brazil, the presumed reserves of oil and natural gas beneath Brazil's Amazonia region, all have the U.S. administration licking their lips as they face ever-dwindling domestic reserves and increasing geo-political problems in the middle east, Africa, Central Asia and other oil provinces. Even Canada, the now primary "foreign" supplier of both oil and natural gas, is already in decline on its natural gas and conventional oil supplies, and cannot ramp up oil sands production sufficient to satisfy America's future needs.
Through the efforts of the WTO, OECD, IMF, and World Bank the U.S. has gained considerable economic control over Latin America. But that is running into consistent political problems and serious defaults on major development loans. Latin America is costing a lot of money and, with various Latin American countries like Venezuela and Bolivia getting very uppity about sovereignty over their energy resources, the U.S. is getting less and less of what it needs and wants from those investments. The U.S. has attempted to increase its economic influence in South America through the OAS (Organization of American States) and through the proposed FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas). The FTAA proposals at this stage are floundering, partly through opposition to it being pushed by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. At this stage the administration are even considering the possibility of allowing U.S. companies to invest in Cuban oil development projects, something that would never have been considered just a couple of years ago. Such is the desperation of U.S. for oil and other energy sources over which they can have some hope of exercising any measure of control, with or without stability.
Heightening U.S. angst about Latin America, and even Canada to some extent, is the frantic pace at which China are getting involved in energy deals in the Americas. In fact, it is that Chinese activity and the expansion/intervention interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine and the principle of Manifest Destiny that are beginning to raise red flags in South America particularly. The ability of the U.S. to "control" the energy resources of South America to ensure meeting future U.S. energy needs are being severely compromised.
It is naive to assume that the U.S. administration and government are unaware of peak oil. With that awareness also comes the awareness that future trans-ocean transportation of energy supplies, whether oil, LNG, coal or other, will be severely compromised on the downslope of Hubbert's Peak. That awareness must lead to the awareness that ultimately beyond peak oil ones energy needs will have to be satisfied domestically or continentally. The easiest and most efficient means of transporting oil, natural gas and coal is by land, through pipelines or using railways. Both of these methods can be buffered against the decline in global oil supplies. But both require a continental base of energy supply.
If the U.S. cannot achieve continental/hemispheric energy security through economic control and political pressure it may feel that the other arm of diplomacy, the military, is the only means left open to them. It may not be enough to be able to isolate North America. The hegemonic aims of the nation may only be achievable with hemispheric energy control.

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