The Wikileaks U.S. Diplomatic Cable data-dump – or rather, the first few shards of it, which is all we’ve seen so far – is a subject of deep fascination for me. There’s just something about the voyeuristic thrill of looking through things you know you were never intended to see: it’s like stumbling on your dad’s nudie magazine collection, but on a global scale.
I can’t get enough of this stuff…nor can I shake the thought that we live in amazing times, when a single Australian nerd with a laptop and a messiah complex can destabilize the entire world diplomatic system. I have a sense that we’ll have a lot more to say over the coming weeks about the Wikileaks revelation as more and more material – including, apparently, hundreds of cables out of the Embassy in Caracas – comes out.
For now, though, I’ll just note that the New York Times story on the Obama administration’s strategy to obtain tough new U.N. sanctions against Iran suggests that Hugo Chávez, against all the odds, has unwittingly been helping the gringos’ key foreign policy objective over the last few years.
The key here is China. For the Americans, getting China on-side over sanctions on Iran was crucial. Because the Chinese have a veto on the U.N. Security Council, nothing was possible without them. And to get Chinese support, the gringos had to assuage China’s fears that it would lose its oil supply if the Iranians shut down the Strait of Hormuz as a response to a crisis.
And the Wikileaked cables show the U.S. mobilized to push its key ally – Saudi Arabia – to make supply guarantees to China in return for its support for sanctions on Iran. In effect, through the bizarre geopolitics of the Iranian nuclear threat, reassuring the Chinese about the stability of their oil supply became a key U.S. foreign policy objective.
In a Washington where priorities #1, #2 and #3 are preventing Tehran from going nuclear, all Foggy Bottom can say in return for those PDVSA-CNPC joint ventures is “muchas gracias, amigo!”
Hat tip: JC