By the looks of it, U.S. President Barack Obama may be close to joining the French in taking on the Chinese -- in Africa.
According to my sources in the French government, Obama made it clear to both British and French leadership at the onset of his presidency that he was going to leave it to them to protect unstable African countries while he focused on Sino-American relations. Perhaps Obama realizes that Africa is just an extension of China's backyard.
In a letter to Congress, Obama wrote, "I may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy, in South Sudan." Obama also indicated in the letter that 46 U.S. troops were deployed to evacuate Americans in the region.
The tribal infighting currently plaguing the world's newest country, which only officially obtained its independence in 2011, presents an opportunity to reset the geopolitical chessboard. But the question is whether it's worth it.
We're not in the 1980s anymore. North America is almost entirely energy-independent, so the protection of potential energy resources is no longer a motivational factor for the U.S. Much like Syria, which was ultimately tossed to the Russians for safekeeping, countries such as South Sudan have become little more than geopolitical bargaining chips for America.
Granted, there is considerable incentive for the U.S. to compete with China for new defense-client nations. But the most direct benefit of America's Third World forays these days is in having another superpower -- such as China or Russia -- give up something else of value in order for America to eventually buzz off.
And China would love for America to buzz off from South Sudan.
The region has been described as "oil-rich," and it relies almost exclusively on oil exports for its economic welfare. But the fact is, almost all of South Sudan's oil belongs to China. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 80 percent of Sudan and South Sudan oil was exported to China in 2012. Western nations received none.