Why oil is a burning issue for world's superpowers
The presence of a Chinese frigate off the coast of Libya last week was deeply significant as the world's major powers position themselves to protect future supplies of fuel, says Praveen Swami
'In the beginning," wrote Hubertus van Mook in a rueful commentary soon after Japanese forces evicted him from his position as lieutenant-governor of the Dutch East Indies, "it was difficult to piece together this whole connected movement from the apparently disconnected moves."
Back in 1941, a Japanese carrier fleet tore across the oceans to what is now Indonesia, seeking control of what was then the fourth-largest oil-producing state in the world.
If the shots fired in Libya are not to prove the first exchanges in a future world war, now is a good time for world leaders to consider Mr Mook's story, and to start making sense of "the whole connected movement" of events in the Middle East.