While we were out fighting ill-conceived wars and expanding our empire to our financial detriment, other nations have been preparing for the real challenges that lie ahead.
They've been venturing out and making deals with other nations to ensure they have what they need to survive in a resource-constrained world.
Naturally, that means they have targeted those regions where resources like oil and gas, water, arable land, strategic minerals, and food are relatively plentiful, most notably Latin America.
Unfortunately, as with so many other things our leadership has failed to grasp or has wrongly taken for granted, our relationship with what has long been referred to as America's "backyard" has been neglected and allowed to deteriorate.
Now that we've cottoned on to the need to secure reliable long-term supplies of various essentials, we find that others have jumped in ahead of us.
In "China Grabs Latin America, Well Ahead of Obama's Outreach," the Christian Science Monitor reports on how the world's leading superpower is scrambling to catch up.
In the past year, China has secured some $65 billion in regional deals. President Obama's current visit to Latin America is seen as a counteracting move.
President Obama's current visit to Latin America is widely seen as a move to counteract the rising influence of China, which is in the midst of an unprecedented energy grab in the oil- and mineral-rich region.
From oil to refineries, China is capturing and integrating Latin America as much as it can, securing at least $65 billion in deals throughout the region since 2010. The deals are expected to eventually translate into at least a million barrels of crude oil and refined products per day and growing markets on both sides of the continent.
The grab is not only unprecedented but also a significant game-changer in China’s rise as a world power, especially because the US plans to increasingly meet its own energy demand with Latin American oil, setting the stage for a future competition between both countries.
“Latin America is very important for China. I think that it’s as important as Africa,” which in 2009 supplied roughly 30 percent of China’s oil imports, says Keun-Wook Paik, an expert in the Chinese overseas energy expansion at the London-based think tank Chatham House. Latin America supplied about 2.5 percent of China's oil imports in 2009.
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Brazil’s cool reception to Mr. Obama this past weekend contrasts with China’s quiet but effective cash diplomacy in the region, home to the world’s second-biggest reserves after the Middle East. The Chinese yuan is contesting US hegemony by funding stadiums and dams and investing billions in strategic sectors.