PARIS -- The irony of recent U.S. foreign interventions is that despite Uncle Sam's best efforts, the ultimate benefactor ends up being America's primary economic rival in the area in question. It should come as no surprise that the two economic rivals who usually benefit are China and Russia, both absolute masters of subversion.
According to ancient Chinese military expert Sun Tzu: "Fighting on a battlefield is the most primitive way of making war. There is no art higher than to destroy your enemy without a fight by subverting anything of value in your enemy's country."
Despite America having invested billions in Iraq, the ultimate beneficiary of Iraqi oil contracts is now China. U.S. President Barack Obama is even sending Special Forces "advisers" back into Iraq in an effort to quell a jihadi insurgency -- all while China kicks back and American taxpayers foot the bill for Chinese asset protection.
To quote Vladimir Lenin on subversion: "They [the capitalists] will furnish credits which will serve us for the support of the Communist Party in their countries and, by supplying us materials and technical equipment which we lack, will restore our military industry necessary for our future attacks against our suppliers. To put it in other words, they will work on the preparation of their own suicide."
"Putinomics" have since replaced the communist ideology of the old Soviet Union, but we've recently witnessed Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former intelligence chief, subvert Western-orchestrated unrest in Ukraine to annex that country's resource-rich eastern section.
So, now what? What kind of efforts will America now exert, only to have them exploited by its Eurasian rivals? Look no further than Obama's so-called "pivot" to Asia.
Why do we rarely hear about the fact that China has secured Iraq's oil contracts? Because China didn't flaunt it. By contrast, in promoting a pivot to Asia, Obama not only showed his cards, but he effectively announced an incursion into China and Russia's backyard. He then backed it up by striking an agreement with Australia to build U.S. military facilities and station 2,500 troops there. Just imagine how U.S. officials might react if Russia or China declared this kind of "pivot" to, say, Canada or Mexico. Obviously, it would be interpreted as a threat.
One of the primary focal points for East vs. West economic warfare in Asia is Indonesia, home to the resource-rich but endlessly conflict-plagued Grasberg gold and copper mine -- it's the world's largest gold mine -- in which America's Freeport-McMoRan and the British-Australian Rio Tinto hold joint interests.
No nation is keener on raw minerals than China, the world's manufacturing base. Knowing that Russia and China are best buds, should it have come as any surprise that Russian mining oligarch Oleg Deripaska successfully convinced the Indonesian government earlier this year that an export ban on mineral ore would be in Indonesia's best interests (right after China had stockpiled all it needed, of course), to drive up prices and force the building of new domestic facilities?
Indonesia has also imposed a new export tax against Western mining operations that applies to the minerals that were exempted from the ban. The export ban is seen as a quid pro quo between Indonesia and Russia after Russia's pledge to invest billions of dollars to build Indonesian smelters and processing plants. The tax is regarded as an attempt to force Western interests into similar pledges.
The lobbying of Indonesia was a brilliant strategic move by Russia: Not only does the West get squeezed, but it's forced to fund Indonesia's increased operational independence to the West's own eventual detriment.
Western mining companies have already made alleged payoffs to Indonesian military figures and public officials to maintain the security and viability of their operations in the world's largest Muslim country (and a notorious terrorism hotbed), and now they're faced with more extortion: Build us smelters or pay the price. The threat is working, with Western interests agreeing to conduct a feasibility assessment for a new copper smelter. The telltale sign of danger is that with Russia as a mentor, the negotiating leverage has shifted to the Indonesians.
History suggests that Indonesia's primary preoccupation is keeping military and political leaders ensconced in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed, thanks largely to private corporations. If Russia and China can fill that need, then Western companies with assets in Indonesia -- the cornerstone of Obama's economic pivot to Asia -- are at risk of becoming obsolete in that part of the world. Those companies should be giving serious thought to Plan B in the event that Indonesia nationalizes its assets, and those companies' multibillion-dollar investments are ultimately co-opted to serve America's geopolitical competitors.
If there's any doubt about the effectiveness of such subversion, recall what we've just witnessed with Russia in Ukraine and with China in Iraq.