China, India, Russia and the Middle East for the first time will consume more crude oil than the U.S., burning 20.67 million barrels a day this year, an increase of 4.4 percent, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. U.S. demand will contract 2 percent to 20.38 million barrels daily, the IEA says.
Time was the U.S. could flex it's economic muscle to OPEC and they would listen. When you are no longer driving world wide demand for oil though you risk becoming irrelevant to the policy debates. This is a serious problem and one the U.S. will have to face up to. We will be entering a phase soon, if we haven't already, where when we say "Jump" the rest of the world no longer asks "How high?" (A note: I am strictly discussing the international economic sphere, I could write plenty about how the debacle in Iraq has weakened the U.S. diplomatically and militarily in the eyes of the international community)
We are very much used to getting our way in the world markets, in the past we could economically bully the rest of the world. The rise of China, and to a lesser extent India, will undercut the U.S. - are we prepared to deal with the rest of the world as partners? I doubt it, that's not how our government, our bureaucracy and our policies have been oriented for the last 60 years. This will be a significant issue no matter what party controls the White House or Congress.