Mercenaries today operate in Iraq and Afghanistan, supplementing U.S. troop strength and guarding diplomats. In the spring of 2008, 180,000 private contractors worked in Iraq; by the spring of 2009, 68,200 were operating in Afghanistan. These “soldiers of fortune” treat each new posting as a “tour of duty” (a term used by a former Blackwater employee working in Afghanistan). Their deaths and casualty numbers are not included in the official Department of Defense numbers.
According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which “correlates to the build up of forces” in the country.
However the irony is that even the regular US forces are now acting not in defense of American idealism but in the pragmatic protection of Chinese foreign investments in these countries.
Of course the Americans will deny they are merely cops for China but after all they are in debt to China and as the old saying goes; he who pays the piper....
China cut its US Treasury-bill reserve by $3.4 billion to $797.1 billion in August, though it remained the largest foreign holder of US T-bills
When America reduces its regular armed forces in these war zones the mercenaries will be left behind to protect corporate interests not only American but Chinese.
China showed little interest in Afghanistan throughout the 20th century but its growing energy and natural resource demand combined with increasing Afghan openness to foreign investors have alerted Beijing of the country’s potentials. This growing interest was particularly manifested with Beijing’s giant $3.5 billion investment in Afghanistan’s Aynak copper field late last year, the far largest foreign direct investment in Afghanistan’s history. Reports from Kabul also indicate that additional Chinese investments are underway. Although these investments may be the engine in Afghanistan’s economy, the Chinese piggy-backing on ISAF’s stabilization effort is bound to be unpopular in the U.S. and Europe, though not necessarily with the Afghan government.
America fights, China profits?
In making the case for converging U.S. and Chinese interests in Afghanistan, Robert Kaplan wrote last week in a New York Times opinion piece that, "The problem is that while America is sacrificing its blood and treasure, the Chinese will reap the benefits. The whole direction of America’s military and diplomatic effort is toward an exit strategy, whereas the Chinese hope to stay and profit."
In the op-ed, titled "Beijing’s Afghan Gamble," Kaplan also noted, "China will find a way to benefit no matter what the United States does in Afghanistan. But it probably benefits more if we stay and add troops to the fight."
No doubt the discussion will boil over after James Yeager, an American geologist, and former congressman Don Ritter, who has an advanced degree in metallurgical engineering and studied in Moscow, hold a press briefing in Washington on Thursday. The event is provocatively titled, "Report on the Aynak Copper Tender in Afghanistan: How China Won and the West Lost."
China Has Great Potential To Invest In Afghanistan: Interview With First Secretary Of Afghan Embassy In China
Q: On Nov. 20 in 2008, the Afghan Industry and Mines Minister, Ibrahim Adil divulged the name of the winner in the tender for the largest Aynak copper mine. The China Metallurgical Group company, offering $3 billion, won the tender. Did this Chinese company make investments? How do you evaluate the future relations between Afghanistan and China?
A: Yes, the Chinese company has made these investments, and on July 10, the ceremony took place to mark the start of production of copper at the Aynak mine. This is the biggest investment in Afghanistan. If we take into account the number of the unused mines in Afghanistan, it will become apparent that China has huge potential for investment in Afghanistan. Along with the increase of China's influence in the region, it will serve peace and stability in the region as a whole.
Q: China and the United States are the strategic and economic rivals. What can You say about the impact of this rivalry on Afghanistan?
A: The United States and China are working closely together in Afghanistan. Currently, Afghanistan has become a center of international cooperation. China is friendly neighbor for Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an independent country and determines how to build relations with other states. On the other hand, our strategic allies support the economic development of Afghanistan and the whole region, including China.
Q: China, taking advantage of its position and opportunities, helps Afghanistan to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Is China concerned about the presence of NATO in Afghanistan?
A: China is a neighboring country that has never had problems with Afghanistan and, therefore, intends to increase cooperation with our country. China supports Afghanistan's political development. China's investment in Afghanistan's various projects can testify this fact. We invite China to invest. Creating a "trade corridor" will further develop relations.
With regard to the NATO presence, I can say that the alliance troops are in Afghanistan under the UN Security Council resolutions. China is also a member of the UN Security Council. As to China's concern about the presence of NATO in Afghanistan, I can say that we do not feel such concern. China supports the presence of international forces in Afghanistan because it actively fights against terrorism, which is a threat throughout the region.Global Implications of China’s Big Investment in Iraq and Afghanistan
This article assesses the significance of China’s recently announced investments in large copper and oil development in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, with potential significance not only for development and peace in the two war-torn nations, but also for China’s global role and the US-China relationship. With foreign and domestic investment in both nations barely trickling in despite UN, World Bank, NATO and US efforts, the Chinese plans are highly significant.
They are indicative not only of China’s aggressive search for energy and resource development opportunities, but also of a shift in US goals in the two countries: while all signs pointed to earlier US attempts to monopolize control of Iraqi oil for American companies, under present strategic conditions, the US appears to more than welcome the Chinese initiative.
Chinese firms eye Iraq oil fields2009-10-09 10:45 BJT
Oil contracts could spell a win-win situation for both China and Iraq. The contract for Rumaila is key to Iraqi plans to breathe new life into a sector rich in reserves, but desperate for foreign cash to overhaul broken down facilities and obsolete practices. While Chinese oil giants are seizing the opportunity to invest and expand overseas.
Iraq has proven crude reserves of 115 billion barrels, ranking number three in the world after Saudi Arabia and Iran. But among the 80 oil fields, only 20 have been developed. Iraq opened its oil fields to foreign companies for the first time in June this year, putting six oil fields and two gas fields on auction. Many bidders turned up. But with many put off by instability in local security, only Rumaila found partners.
The Iraqi government says the second round of bidding for oil contracts is due in the first half of December. And the government says it's committed to offering better security and all facilities needed for investments by foreign companies. Meanwhile, Chinese oil giants are also expanding investment in the country. Earlier this year, China's largest oil refiner Sinopec bought Addax Petroleum for about seven-and-a-quarter billion US dollars, to secure the Swiss oil explorer's high-potential oil blocks in West Africa and Iraq.
The Rumaila project aims to increase output at the field by 2m barrels a day
Iraq's cabinet has ratified a deal with two foreign energy companies to develop the giant southern oilfield in Rumaila.
The contract with Britain's BP and CNPC of China is the first major deal with foreign firms to be signed since an international auction in June.
The successful joint bid by BP and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) to develop an oilfield in Iraq has offered unique opportunities for the Chinese company to tap crude reserves in the oil-rich nation, analysts said yesterday.
But domestic oil producers should prepare themselves well for any uncertainties in the war-torn country, which boasts of the third-largest oil reserves in the world, they added.
Iraq on Tuesday made its first auction of major oil contracts since the 2003 US-led invasion. A consortium by BP and CNPC was finally awarded a contract to develop the Rumaila oilfield, the largest of six oil and two natural gas fields in the bidding.
The BP-CNPC group beat a bid from a consortium by Exxon Mobil and Malaysia's Petronas for the oilfield. It was the only successful bid in Tuesday's auction.
Besides CNPC, China's two other oil majors, Sinopec and CNOOC also took part in Tuesday's auction.
Rumaila is the workhorse of Iraq's oil sector, with a current capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) out of Iraq's total national output of 2.4 million bpd.
With a foothold in Iraq, China can diversify its oil supplies to enhance energy security, said Lin Boqiang, professor, Xiamen University, adding that the consortium model can reduce risks both for BP and CNPC.
China, which became a net oil importer 16 years ago and which relies on imported oil for nearly half its requirement currently, has already seen domestic production peaking, said Lin. "The increase in China's oil consumption in future may all come from overseas oil reserves."
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