Greasing the Wheels

An intriguing dynamic in Sudan’s murderous politics – oil is making the government (and some of its constituents) rich, or at least richer, which is both fueling regional insurgencies such as the uprising in Darfur – where marginalized non-Arabized ethnic groups are demanding a share of the wealth – and increasing Khartoum’s capacity to ignore Western pressure when it attempts to crush those insurgencies through mass bombardment, rape and massacre. The oil money also allows Khartoum to keep its soldiers loyal and continue to buy fearsome new toys (some 70 percent of oil revenues go to military spending, in part because the government wants to be able to produce its own supply of weapons in case foreign sources are cut off).

This again is another example of how America’s massive reliance on oil ties its hands and warps geopolitics. Sanctions imposed to protest Khartoum’s brutality mean that America is not getting oil from Sudan itself. But Chinese, Malaysian and other Asian companies are more than happy to take up the slack what with their ravenous domestic energy markets. American demand for global oil tightens supply and allows Sudan’s junta to sell its crude at high prices, increasing the government’s wealth and reducing American leverage yet further. If America didn’t consume so much oil, Khartoum wouldn’t have such a strong hand to play. If America became a net exporter of clean, renewable energy, Khartoum would be out of the game.

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