The Middle East Crisis: What United States Intervention in Syria could mean for Iran

Despite all of the recent struggles with the Syrian regime allegedly using chemical weapons on its own citizens, the real United States focus in the Middle East remains Iran.

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Nuclear weapons proliferation continues to be a mainstay topic for the United Nations Security Council. In particular, Iran’s nuclear program is the current large discussion point. The West argues that Iran has goals of using their nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons while Iran asserts that their nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

In a 2013 article published by Reuters, the author asserts the point that despite all of the recent struggles with the Syrian regime allegedly using chemical weapons on its own citizens, the real United States focus in the Middle East remains Iran. The Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran is set to “test about 1,000 advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges it has completed installing.” This means Iran will be that much closer to developing a nuclear weapon. The author states that America’s next step in Syria is critical to United States and Iranian relations. By setting a red line back in August 2013, President Obama may have made any red line with Iran more blurry. Obama then sending the decision to Congress may have made the situation more confusing since his red line had been crossed yet he is seeking international help in diffusing the situations yet is not receiving any. There is less pessimism than normal for upcoming summits with Iranian leadership because the people there have recently elected a centrist President that is far from the likes of the hard-line Ahmadinejad. The new President aims to patch up relations with the West in hopes to reduce economic sanctions that are stifling the nation’s economy. In the end though, the buck stops with the Ayatollah.

The crossing of the Obama’s red line in Syria and his lack of immediate response may embolden the likes of the Iranians if any future red line is set for their nuclear weapons program. Any United States involvement in Syria will set the tone for nuclear talks with Iran. If Iran is able to construct and successfully test a nuclear weapon, the entire dynamic of the Middle East will change. Sworn enemies of United States ally Israel, Iran’s previous President Ahmadinejad had publicly called for the annihilation of Israel. While the new President’s goals appear to be to patch up the nation’s relationship with the West in hopes of reducing sanctions to help their economy, no one can know for sure while the Ayatollah remains the supreme leader of Iran. Any action in Syria is critical to what Iran does in its talks with the United States and whether or not it does acquire a nuclear weapon (Edit: Nuclear talks between Iran and the United States resulted in an agreement, albeit, it is a very touchy political subject in the United States). While all of the talk is on the present situation in Syria, Iran is being overlooked as they come ever closer to being able to develop a nuclear weapon.

In the end, while all eyes are on the crisis in Syria, Iran’s capacity to develop a nuclear weapon is increasing everyday leading up to renewed meetings with the West. Their new President looks to ease tensions to decrease stifling economic sanctions but their hard-line Ayatollah may stay the course of Ahmadinejad and not back down from their nuclear program. Obama’s red line for Syria had huge implications for what will happen with Iran. If he backs down, it could make the United States appear weak but if he were to strike Syria, it may embolden Iran and other nations in the Middle East to retaliate on the United States. If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, the dynamic of the Middle East will change greatly as they will be one of the only nations in the region with nukes aside from Israel, India, and Pakistan. If they develop a nuclear weapon, the West will have a very hard time maintaining stability in the region and keeping Israel safe, in addition to the difficulty with the oil trade. Historically speaking, Iran has never had a healthy relationship with the United States, and developing a nuclear weapon would only increase tensions. That is why what the United States chooses to do in Syria is critical to what will happen with Iran’s nuclear program.

Chinese Manufacturing Outlook 2013

China has been a country that people were saying is set to pass the United States in terms of economic power. Over the past few years however, China’s economy has been slowing down. As recently as the September economic reports, there are signs that China may be reversing that trend.

In an HSBC manufacturing sector survey, which measures the value of China’s factory sector, figures rose to 51.2 in September 2013 up from 50.1 beating analysts’ expectations. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in manufacturing which means that the nation’s manufacturing sector is expanding after months of contracting. Experts say that this was made possible after authorities in Beijing announced a series of reform measures to increase economic activity. These measures included tax cuts for small business and other forms of stimulus to speed up railroad construction in the inland areas. HSBC China analyst, Qu Hongbin said, “We expect a more sustained recovery as the further filtering-through of fine-tuning measures should lift economic demand. This will create more favorable conditions to push forward reforms, which should in turn boost mid- and long-term growth outlooks.” In addition, improved demand in the slowly recovering United States and European economies also provided a boost for China. New orders for exports increased for September, following the trend in trade data from August. While the manufacturing sector enjoys this turn around, many analysts caution that the upswing may not last into next year as the Beijing leadership will have to increase their efforts in facing down other issues such as “overcapacity in some major industries, often poor allocation of capital, and a buildup in debt over the last few years.” The next Central Committee meeting for the Chinese Government is to be held in November and will lay out the economic reforms moving forward. Zhu Haibin, chief China economist at JPMorgan Chase said, “Addressing these problems in the coming years implies that the economic recovery tends to be limited.”

From a historical economic standpoint, China is critical to the economies of the United States and the rest of the world. Manufacturing and trade data from China is crucial to gauging how well the world economy is doing. The recent upswing in Chinese manufacturing and exports indicates that the world economy, namely the United States and Europe are having an economic recovery of their own in terms of imports and consumer spending. China is particularly important to the United States because they are continuously financing the debt of the United States government. To do this, they are creating a trade imbalance by artificially lowering the value of their money by printing more and increasing demand for US dollars and then turning and buying United States Treasury bonds to gain interest. The overall goal of this is to keep the United States trading with China because it is so cheap, thus increasing exports and Chinese industry. In return, China is helping to keep the United States government operating the way it is by lending the money needed to pay for the cost of government, the United States debt. Now, if this upswing in Chinese manufacturing does not last, you can look for the world economy to begin stagnating again until further reform measures are put into place. So do not expect China to stop buying United States debt or artificially creating a trade imbalance anytime soon as it helps their economy.

In the end, the upswing in Chinese manufacturing is a positive thing for the economies of many countries around the world, especially the United States and those of Europe. However, analysts do not expect it to last through to next year as other economic issues loom large for China. The takeaway is that China’s economy and the world economy for that matter will remain on shaky ground until China, the United States and the Eurozone nations all put through beneficial reforms to grow all of their economies. The bad news is that this is a lot easier said than done.

Global Energy Consumption

Global energy consumption continues to grow at an alarming rate. This affects geopolitical activities the world over. Something must be done.

With the global population increasing at an exponential rate, the energy demand will continue to rise just as fast. The current energy infrastructure will not be able to meet future demand unless it is expanded greatly. With energy as the underpinning of all modern day societies, it plays a huge role in the geopolitical make up of the world. Policy is shaped based around energy in one way or another; whether it be how to acquire more energy or how to cap demand in order to use it more efficiently. This increased demand for energy will create a crisis around the globe leaving nations fighting over what to do for more energy.

In an economy, energy is depended upon for economic production. Workers use energy to travel to work and to do whatever their job is. Energy is used in every sector of every modern economy around the globe. Energy is crucial to globalization. So as governments look to expand their energy supply to meet demand, significant changes must be implemented. According to a report by the International Energy Association, an “estimated $38 trillion dollars will need to be invested in the energy supply infrastructure between 2011 and 2035 to meet growing demand.” This demand spurs from three major things. The first is from increasingly advanced technology such as cell phones, computers and even smarter vehicles. Even though they are attempting to decrease the usage of fossil fuels, these newer high efficiency electric cars still use energy, and lots of it. The second is increasing populations all over the world. An increase in population equals an increase in demand for energy. The third much larger reason for such a huge increase in demand is the outgrowth of post-Cold War neo-Imperialism. Following the Cold War, the United States and other modern nations turned to underdeveloped countries to produce clothing and other products that we use every day for much cheaper than could be done in their home countries. This has helped some of these third world countries become more advanced but often at the detriment to their working classes. Nevertheless, increased industry in these nations has caused a greater demand for energy in order to keep up with the rising economic production as shown in the graph below.comparison-of-energy-consumption

To meet these rising energy demands, governments are going to have to come up with the funds to increase the size and scope of the energy infrastructure. Unfortunately, this probably means higher prices for energy heading forward. This is going to be difficult because of how bad the world economy has been. The working classes of various nations around the world are not at the present moment able to fund an effort such as an energy tax. What I think will happen and should happen is the companies that are operating in foreign nations should invest there to meet energy demands in those nations while at home, our private sector companies can invest in expanding the electrical grid through private investment.