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  “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil”

Alan Greenspan

War-for-oil, or more precisely, power projection to preserve the petrodollar, is realpolitik.

Per capita energy usage in the United States is the highest among all nations of the world. The USA consumes 25% of would energy resources while having only 5% of the population. Approximately half of the energy used in the US is electrical energy  generated by coal-fired power plants. The other part is oil that is mainly imported.

Securing uninterruptable supply of oil became the key task of the USA foreign policy since president Carter. The second important goal is maintaining  dollar as the world primary reserve currency, and, especially, the main currency you can buy oil with.  That includes maintaining the stability of client Arab regimes, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Oil Wars

Recently the USA waged several "oil wars" (Iraq war, Libya war, Syria war, attempt of "color revolution" in Russia) with the most brutal being the Iraq war. The two main messages from the war in Iraq are:

Manipulating the facts became the norm for the Bush administration, which invaded Iraq on what we know now (and the administration almost certainly knew then) were utterly false pretenses. Thanks to these lies, Americans, including our soldiers and civilians serving in Iraq, were killed or injured.  Links to the 9/11 attacks and the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, two of the ever-evolving reasons for getting into the war were blatantly false from the very beginning.  They were fabricated to achieve specific goals.  Engaging in mass deception in order to justify official policy both degrades the society, so the war has had a detrimental effect on the USA, as a society. It just has shown that elites now are audacious enough to throw out even attempt to present their actions as legitimate of serving national goals. Of course, by far, it is ordinary Iraqis who have suffered the most.

We know now beyond any doubt that Iraq was not involved in 9/11 and had no weapons of mass destruction. But as Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst with the Iraqi portfolio, wrote on March 14,

 “Intelligence did not drive the decision to invade Iraq – not by a long shot, despite the aggressive use by the Bush administration of cherry-picked fragments of intelligence reporting in its public sales campaign for the war.”

Indeed, this was a war for oil from the very beginning, and any little lie would have worked.

It is very fortuitous for all those politicians, policy makers, and bureaucrats with Iraqi blood on their hands — Republicans and Democrats both — that the only courtroom they’ve been shuffled into is the court of public opinion, where most received light sentences. Bush II actually was reelected for the second term.

Indeed, the Iraq war boosters are still a fixture on our television screens.

Sure, there are pundits and reporters who admit they wrongly supported the war, but their regrets are usually reserved for their blind faith in the war planners and their own lack of inquisitiveness. For example, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius confessed in a March 21 column that Iraq was one of “the biggest strategic errors in Modern American history.” But the thrust of his own mea culpa was that he did not write enough “on the overriding question of whether the war made sense,” which would have allowed him to see that the U.S was not strong enough nor flexible enough to succeed.

Rarely do pundits apologize for the horrendous Iraqi losses inflicted by the war: more than a million deaths and millions more wounded with varying lifelong disabilities, including thousands of tortured prisoners, with an estimated 16,000 of them still unaccounted for. Twenty-eight percent of Iraqi children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and 2.8 million people are still internally displaced or living as refugees outside the country. Add to that the complete destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure outside oil sector, as well as its transportation, education, and medical institutions. Don’t forget the countless people suffering from trauma and depression, sectarian war with daily killings, terrifying birth defects from toxic pollution, and a brain drain that has left the country illiterate.

Not since the American Civil War has the U.S citizenry had to endure such horrors. Yet discussion of these repercussions is noticeably absent as we still struggle to understand the scope of the Iraq war and what all of its lies have wrought.

Let us start with a sincere apology to the Iraqi people for the crimes the U.S. government has committed. A long-range plan for restitution is a second step. Empires decline due to moral decay from within. Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, our nation is looking at the moral abyss. If lies have delivered us to this place, then only the truth will begin our journey back.

From Foreign Policy in Focus

The Real Reason for the Iraq War VICE United Kingdom

Because it was marked "confidential" on each page, the oil industry stooge couldn't believe the US State Department had given me a complete copy of their secret plans for the oil fields of Iraq.

Actually, the State Department had done no such thing. But my line of bullshit had been so well-practiced and the set-up on my mark had so thoroughly established my fake identity, that I almost began to believe my own lies.

I closed in. I said I wanted to make sure she and I were working from the same State Department draft. Could she tell me the official name, date and number of pages? She did.

Bingo! I'd just beaten the Military-Petroleum Complex in a lying contest, so I had a right to be chuffed.

After phoning numbers from California to Kazakhstan to trick my mark, my next calls were to the State Department and Pentagon. Now that I had the specs on the scheme for Iraq's oil – that State and Defense Department swore, in writing, did not exist – I told them I'd appreciate their handing over a copy (no expurgations, please) or there would be a very embarrassing story on BBC Newsnight.

Within days, our chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, delivered to my shack in the woods outside New York a 323-page, three-volume programme for Iraq's oil crafted by George Bush's State Department and petroleum insiders meeting secretly in Houston, Texas.

I cracked open the pile of paper – and I was blown away.

Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli: Blood for oil.

But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse.

The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis:

"...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC."

Gas wars

EuroMaidan can be considered to be a proxy "gas war" when the USA hides behind Ukraine far right  to fight Russia and EU.  See

Asia Times Online China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business.

Well, there is a plan BRICS - or so the BRICS nations would like to think, at least. And when the BRICS do act in this spirit on the global stage, they quickly conjure up a curious mix of fear, hysteria, and pugnaciousness in the Washington establishment.

Take Christopher Hill as an example. The former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and US ambassador to Iraq is now an advisor with the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm deeply connected to the White House and the State Department. When Russia was down and out, Hill used to dream of a hegemonic American "new world order". Now that the ungrateful Russians have spurned what "the West has been offering" - that is, "special status with NATO, a privileged relationship with the European Union, and partnership in international diplomatic endeavors" - they are, in his view, busy trying to revive the Soviet empire. Translation: if you're not our vassals, you're against us. Welcome to Cold War 2.0.

The Pentagon has its own version of this directed not so much at Russia as at China, which, its think tank on future warfare claims, is already at war with Washington in a number of ways. So if it's not apocalypse now, it's Armageddon tomorrow. And it goes without saying that whatever's going wrong, as the Obama administration very publicly "pivots" to Asia and the American media fills with talk about a revival of Cold War-era "containment policy" in the Pacific, it's all China's fault.

Embedded in the mad dash toward Cold War 2.0 are some ludicrous facts-on-the-ground: the US government, with $17.5 trillion in national debt and counting, is contemplating a financial showdown with Russia, the largest global energy producer and a major nuclear power, just as it's also promoting an economically unsustainable military encirclement of its largest creditor, China.

Russia runs a sizeable trade surplus. Humongous Chinese banks will have no trouble helping Russian banks out if Western funds dry up. In terms of inter-BRICS cooperation, few projects beat a $30 billion oil pipeline in the planning stages that will stretch from Russia to India via Northwest China.

Chinese companies are already eagerly discussing the possibility of taking part in the creation of a transport corridor from Russia into Crimea, as well as an airport, shipyard, and liquid natural gas terminal there. And there's another "thermonuclear" gambit in the making: the birth of a natural gas equivalent to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that would include Russia, Iran, and reportedly disgruntled US ally Qatar.

The (unstated) BRICS long-term plan involves the creation of an alternative economic system featuring a basket of gold-backed currencies that would bypass the present America-centric global financial system. (No wonder Russia and China are amassing as much gold as they can.) The euro - a sound currency backed by large liquid bond markets and huge gold reserves - would be welcomed in as well.

It's no secret in Hong Kong that the Bank of China has been using a parallel SWIFT network to conduct every kind of trade with Tehran, which is under a heavy US sanctions regime. With Washington wielding Visa and MasterCard as weapons in a growing Cold War-style economic campaign against Russia, Moscow is about to implement an alternative payment and credit card system not controlled by Western finance.

An even easier route would be to adopt the Chinese Union Pay system, whose operations have already overtaken American Express in global volume.

 

Why Energy is Central to the Economy

BC, January 22, 2015 at 6:44 pm
Economics is politics. Politics is war by other means. War is the business of empire (hegemony). War is good business for imperialists.

Therefore, economics is the intellectual and political rationalization for the business objectives of imperial expansionism, expropriation, and co-optation of client-states’ elites by means of state violence when necessary, which is more often than not when resources become increasingly scarce and the hegemonic frontiers of expansionism are threatened.

Yet, most Americans do not yet perceive the US as an empire (successor to the British Empire), not surprisingly, which would necessarily require the inference that empires peak, decline, and eventually collapse, and we have been in relative decline since the 1970s-80s, which most of the working-class bottom 90% would have to concede were they honest with themselves and their fellows. And, no, McConnell, Romney, Rubio, Paul, et al., care not about the working-class bottom 90% but themselves and those deep-pocketed Republicans who cut the largest campaign finance checks.

But one suspects that the 80-90% of the population who were slaves during the Greek city-state dominance and later Roman Empire neither perceived themselves living in the context of imperial decline and incipient collapse, as their daily life experience was preoccupied with acquiescing to their imperial masters’ demands and the imperative to survive and thereafter subsist within their circumstances, if they/we’re luck . . ., or not.

Same as it ever was . . .

Coilin MacLochlainn, January 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Malthus was not wrong, he was right. The reason for that is, the Earth is finite and has limited resources. The human population has reached 7 billion. If it continues to grow, or even if it doesn’t, it will exceed the ability of the Earth’s remaining land base to support us.

In fact, it already has. Several of the Earth’s planetary limits have already been exceeded and we are cannibalising what remains of the Earth’s surviving natural resources just to keep going. What I mean is, we are using up the very resources that we rely on as a species to survive into the future. And at the same time, we are making it impossible for much of the rest of life on Earth to survive, which is why so many species are going extinct now and most will be wiped out before we are done.

For those of us living in the developed world, it is hard to picture this, because we are living off the exploitation of resources and labour in less well off countries.

There are also glaring examples of excessive exploitation in the developed world. For example, in California, which leads the world in the production of almonds, walnuts and pistachio nuts, there is not enough surface water available to supply the industry and so nut farmers are irrigating their crops using underground water. With the ongoing drought in California, the underground aquifer is not being recharged, so it won’t be long before the nut farmers run out of water and the industry goes bust. It will go bust and it will also leave the aquifer dry, with no possibility of refilling with water while the drought lasts, which could be for years or forever.

Jan Steinman, January 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

“Capital is embodied energy.”

Are you talking about physical capital, such as factories, machines, and such?

A lot of very smart people seem to think “capital” is little bits of coloured paper, or even invisible magnetic bits on a spinning disk. But I think that’s where the second half of your essay (debt) comes into play.

It would be nice to have some simple term-of-art to distinguish between the two forms of “capital.” I agree that physical plant is capital. It may even be that, pre-Bretton Woods, money was an adequate symbol for capital. But it seems to me that there is way more money around than there is physical capital these days.

garand555, January 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Economics is a pseudo-science, at least the way it is practiced.

... ... ...

InAlaska, January 21, 2015 at 7:58 pm

Economists endorsed the idea of globalism after it became apparent that without it, national economies could no longer grow. Globalization is going to kill us because it removes from local control the basic production of necessities. Speaking of economics, here is part of a post on The Automatic Earth from yesterday concerning the Davos crowd and the World Economic Forum:

“When it comes to basic necessities, to food, water and shelter, we shouldn’t strive to compete with other economies. That is not good for us, or for our peers in those other economies; it’s good only for those who skim off the top. The larger and more globalized the top, the more there is to skim off. All the ‘reform’ is geared towards making our economies ever more dependent on the global economy. And that is not in our best interest.

It’s not all just even about money, it’s about our security, and independence. Everybody likes the idea of being independent, but at the same time few realize that globalization is the exact opposite of independence. Global trade is fine, as long as it’s limited to things we don’t need to survive, but it’s not fine if and when it takes away the ability of a community or a society to provide for itself.

Protectionism has acquired a really bad reputation, as if it’s inherently evil to try and protect your community from being gutted by economic ideas and systems it has no defense against, or to make sure it can generate and provide for its own basics at all times. But that’s just propaganda too.

If our societies are not designed and constructed to provide for themselves, they’ll end up with no choice but to go to war with each other. Along the same lines, if our societies don’t have strict laws in place that guarantee we can’t and won’t destroy the natural resources of the land we live on comes with, we’ll also end up going to war with each other.

We’re not going to solve the Gordian knot of the entire global economy and all the hubris and propaganda the present leading politicians, businessmen and ‘reporters’ bring to the table. And we probably shouldn’t want to. Our brains did not develop to do things on a global scale. The clowns will blow themselves up sooner or later. We should focus on what we can do, meanwhile, in our immediate surroundings.

And it’s pretty easy from there, really. The economic problems we have are mostly artificial. They have been induced by the broken economic model the Davos crowd, the central bankers and you know who else would have us believe is the one and only, and that they are busy fixing for our sake and greater glory. But they care only about their own glory.”

Gail Tverberg, January 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm

On the other hand, without the growth that was obtained from globalization, the financial system would have collapsed earlier. So in some sense, we are better off, even if it is not sustainable.

The US started hollowing out its manufacturing not too long after the oil problems of the 1970s. Japan came first in globalization, before the other Eastern countries.

InAlaska, January 21, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Liquid Assets,

Economists run the Federal Reserve Bank and all the central banks in the world. How has their “straight thinking” worked out? Has the world ever been in such a fiscal mess before? How have all of those over-educated PhDs in Economics done better than an Actuary could do?

Economics is the dismal “science” in part because it is predicated on the assumption that their can be infinite inputs into the system. Before you insult Gail and suggest she get a “real education,” consider that this whole edifice of “Economics” and endless growth is based on and within a finite world.

escravaisaurabr, January 22, 2015 at 7:33 am
InAlaska,

Two perceptive posts you wrote. Thank you.

I would like to add this post. I think most of you will appreciate. I sure love this post….

By falak pema

Economics is a means to achieve an end, like language.

So linguists are capable of understanding the logic of communication for DECISION MAKING; whether it be in words and intellectual concepts or in numbers/statistics and algorithms.

The issue here is that perfect markets like perfect speech do not exist for themselves in society, except for the “initiated”, but have a different function as a VEHICLE for body politic; which defines the AIMS and uses the means, all the means : of language as of images and of statistics and mathematical constructs.

So the thesis of the Mises/Hayek type Shamans that Economia is the “be-all” of society is just wrong. No more than the works of Shakespeare or Hugo, or of Picasso etc.

They do not define politics and power in society. They may influence it but they don’t define it’s objectives.

Linguists like economists can add substance to a political construct that defines the power play in civilization. And in that respect markets are just a means and their perfection as important as a perfect face on the screen.

All imagery or conceptual work in life is virtual.

It becomes real when it faces the real world of power and its continual balancing act; facts and irreversible acts that define our future as they have our past.

Chomsky is more relevant today to society than Mises.

The first analyses real political acts and consequences the other confines himself to theoretical pontification about the real economy looked at through the lens which keeps referring to the mantra of perfect markets.

Not saying markets are not important just saying they are not ALL important.

For the Mises theory to become reality we would have to live in a perfect “anarchy” state without government. The last time they wanted the state to “shrivel away” it was called the “ultimate step of communism” and it parented Stalinism. So…you have to know what you wish for in the REAL world.

History says you are wrong. You keep harping about a system that has gone off the cliff twice because of market forces being spiraled into Vesuvian eruption under irrational exuberance and greed and thanks to lack of Government regulation : in 1929 and 2008.

You are into DEEP denial of historical FACTS.

The historical thread shows us neo-feudal oligarchs are just as destructive of wealth creation as are statist hegemonists.

The only realistic solution is to balance state power and private oligarchy power and make sure NEITHER is in dominant position by having transparent control of public and private spending and by ensuring due diligence and SANCTIONS.

Today we have a Mussolinian economy of crony collusion between statists and oligarchs. We have the worst of both worlds.

We need good state governance and non monopolistic private sector innovative investment, compatible with “general good”, that does not run us off the cliff in mad speculation nor poison the planet.

The GDP should be run on an equitable basis between both power structures.

Whether this divide is 30/70 or 50/50 between private and public and how its used and how its controlled and monitored is the role of the Republic. And it should be debated and then voted and then executed in a legal framework which is NOT CORRUPT.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-24/you-cant-run-economy-spreadsheets#comment-5138074


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[Oct 21, 2018] The Khashoggi Murder -- Worse Than a Crime, a Mistake by Eric Margolis

Notable quotes:
"... it's quite unusual to see such unanimous anti-Saudi reactions from the American political class for the assassination of Mr. Khashoggi – who was just a part-time journalist living in U.S – he was not even an American citizen ..."
"... So, it's quite unusual because the same political class remained muted about the Saudis involvement with ISIS, the bombing and starvation of civilians in Yemen and destruction of Syria, and of course the Saudis involvement in 9/11 terrorist attack in which 3000 American citizens have perished in New York, in the heart of America ..."
"... However gruesome, Mr. Khashoggi's assassination is going to be used by the Trump Administration to help the American Oil Cartel by controlling the Saudi Oil output, hence, to raise the price of Oil and to lower demand for US dollar which is the currency of the global Oil trade. ..."
"... The seemingly well-connected news outlet Voltairenet claims that there has been a plot against MbS and that Khashoggi was involved in it. ..."
"... It fares a atrocial war on Yemen, shits on international laws and regulations, just like Israel, Why would they not murder a juorno entering their land? Now this juorno was a man revealing in practices done by head choppers, so I will not cry much. It just shows these people are savages, all of them. What should be done ? You judge. ..."
"... I've read on Zerohedge that Khashoggi was on the verge of publishing an article about the Saudi's and CIA's involvement in 9/11, specifically about his former boss Turki al-Faisal, who ran Saudi intelligence for 23 years then abruptly resigned 10 days before 9/11 without giving any reason. ..."
"... Kashiggi's not a reformer. He's hard core Muslim Brotherhood ..."
Oct 21, 2018 | www.unz.com

Alistair , says: October 20, 2018 at 5:24 pm GMT

The overplayed drama of Mr. Khashoggi assassination is going to be used by the American Oil Cartel to control the Saudis Oil output.

it's quite unusual to see such unanimous anti-Saudi reactions from the American political class for the assassination of Mr. Khashoggi – who was just a part-time journalist living in U.S – he was not even an American citizen.

So, it's quite unusual because the same political class remained muted about the Saudis involvement with ISIS, the bombing and starvation of civilians in Yemen and destruction of Syria, and of course the Saudis involvement in 9/11 terrorist attack in which 3000 American citizens have perished in New York, in the heart of America.

So, we must be a bit skeptical about the motive of the American Political Class, as this again could be just about the OIL Business, but this time around the objective is to help the American Oil producers as opposed to Oil consumers – with 13.8% of the global daily Oil production, the US has lately become the world top producer of Crude Oil, albeit, an expensive Oil which is extracted by Fracking method that requires high Oil price above $70 to remain competitive in the global Oil market – by simultaneously sanctioning Iran, Venezuela, and the potential sanction of Saudi Arabia from exporting its Oil, the Trump Administration not only reduces the Global Oil supply which will certainly lead to the rise of Oil price, but also it lowers demand for the US Dollar-Greenback in the global oil market which could lead to subtle but steady devaluation of the US dollar.

And perhaps that's what Trump Administration was really aiming for all along; a significant decline of the US Dollar Index and the rise of price of Oil which certainly pleases the American Oil Cartel, though at the expense of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – all of which are under some form of US sanctions.

However gruesome, Mr. Khashoggi's assassination is going to be used by the Trump Administration to help the American Oil Cartel by controlling the Saudi Oil output, hence, to raise the price of Oil and to lower demand for US dollar which is the currency of the global Oil trade.

MrTuvok , says: October 20, 2018 at 8:06 pm GMT
The seemingly well-connected news outlet Voltairenet claims that there has been a plot against MbS and that Khashoggi was involved in it.

http://www.voltairenet.org/article203497.html

This seems to explain the motive to kill him. A few mildly critical articles by Khashoggi's pen scarcely seem to be sufficient for such a high-profile murder, even if we take into account that MbS appears to be impulsive and little capable of thinking ahead.

byrresheim , says: October 21, 2018 at 2:14 am GMT
It was not Talleyrand who said "pire qu'une crime " but rather Boulay de la Meurthe. But then the Queen never said "Let them eat cake" either.

Pardon my hint at historical accuracy, please.

FKA Max , says: October 21, 2018 at 3:48 am GMT
Very insightful video:

Duplicitous Khashoggi Picked the Wrong Prince

http://www.unz.com/video/therealnews_duplicitous-khashoggi-picked-the-wrong-prince/

Funny

Cato , says: October 21, 2018 at 3:55 am GMT
First of all, when has the death of a journalist made any difference in the relations between countries? Why act like it should now?
Second, Khashoggi was not simply a journalist -- he was a member of the Saudi elite, an Intelligence officer, and an activist for the Muslim Brotherhood (the Die Welt article established that).

Third, the real question is how this story came out, and why it has come out as it has ("journalist murdered by police state agents"). Turkey pushed this story out into the open. Apparently a calculation that the crown prince is losing ground, and an effort (perhaps assisted by bribes) to align the AK party with the crown prince's enemies in Saudi.

Den Lille Abe , says: October 21, 2018 at 4:20 am GMT
It fares a atrocial war on Yemen, shits on international laws and regulations, just like Israel, Why would they not murder a juorno entering their land? Now this juorno was a man revealing in practices done by head choppers, so I will not cry much. It just shows these people are savages, all of them. What should be done ? You judge.
anon [321] Disclaimer , says: October 21, 2018 at 4:35 am GMT
It seems quite curious why MBS would go through such trouble to waste a guy whose only crime was writing a few low key disparaging articles about him that nobody read. Maybe there's more to this story than meets the eye.

I've read on Zerohedge that Khashoggi was on the verge of publishing an article about the Saudi's and CIA's involvement in 9/11, specifically about his former boss Turki al-Faisal, who ran Saudi intelligence for 23 years then abruptly resigned 10 days before 9/11 without giving any reason. The rumor was he knew about the attack as did CIA, but Saudis and CIA decided not to do anything to use it as pretext to start the "war on terror" and bring down Saddam Hussein. Personally I find that a little far fetched but you never know when it comes to the CIA.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , says: October 21, 2018 at 4:55 am GMT
The murder of d'Enghien had no effect on the French Revolution, other countries reactions to the revolution and the subsequent revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. In fact, most of the liberal pro French Revolution historians consider the execution as necessary and moral as the execution of other anti revolutionaries

Koshoggi's murder won't make a bit of difference either once the blame Trump media blast blows over. The Turkish police appear to be doing a good job. They've arrested 18 people involved. At least the moralist pundits won't be punditing and pontificating about Kavanaugh for a few days. Kashiggi's not a reformer. He's hard core Muslim Brotherhood

johnson , says: October 21, 2018 at 6:04 am GMT

who likely cried, like England's King Henry II, 'will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?'

Yawn. This author is tediously hackneyed. And, it was 'turbulent priest.'

jilles dykstra , says: October 21, 2018 at 7:18 am GMT
That the Saudi regime commits murders does not surprise me, but getting caught not just with murder, but also with torture, indeed an unbelievable stupidity. Why torture the man ? But what also baffles me is that the journalist wrote for Washpost, a friend of Israel.

That Netanyahu and the Saudi regime cooperate to attack Iran, it is asserted by many, and it sems quite probable to me. A technical question, can indeed a smartwatch do what it is supposed to have done ? If so, then the torturers and murderers are even more stupid, I let the moral issue undiscussed, than one can imagine. Then there is the assertion, in cases like this one never knows what the facts are, that the journalist's girl friend waited outside. Did he expect trouble ? Did he ask her to record the trouble ? Did not the consulate security see her ? A final remark, what now is the difference in cruelty between IS and the USA's ally ?

jilles dykstra , says: October 21, 2018 at 7:39 am GMT
@Alistair History has its weird twists.

Early in WWII FDR was reported that USA oil would be depleted in thirty years time. So FDR sent Harold L Ickes to Saudi Arabia,where at the end of 1944 the country was made the USA's main oil supplier. FDR entertained the then Saud in early 1945 on the cruiser Quincy, laying in the Bitter Lakes near the Suez Canal. This Saud and his entourage had never seen a ship before, in any case had never been on board such a ship.

In his last speech to Congress, seated, FDR did not follow what had been written for him, but remarked 'that ten minutes with Saud taught him more about zionism than hundreds of letters of USA rabbi's. These words do not seem to be in the official record, but one of the speech writers, Sherwood, quotes them in his book. Robert E. Sherwood, 'Roosevelt und Hopkins', 1950, Hamburg (Roosevelt and Hopkins, New York, 1948) If FDR also said to Congress that he would limit jewish migration to Palestine, do not now remember, but the intention existed.

A few weeks later FDR died, Sherwood comments on on some curious aspects of FDR's death, such as that the body was cremated in or near Warm Springs, and that the USA people were never informed that the coffin going from Warm Springs to Washington just contained an urn with ashes. At present the USA does not seem to need Saudi oil. If this causes the asserted cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel ?

Proud_Srbin , says: October 21, 2018 at 7:45 am GMT
When was the last time evangelical party or any other "christian" spoke against apartheid of Israel in large and meaningful numbers?
Alfred , says: October 21, 2018 at 7:53 am GMT
@Harris Chandler Now it has made alliances with Israel and between them the tail wags the dog

The Saudi Royal family and the governments of Israel have always been in cahoots. They both despise and fear secular governments that are not under their own control in the Middle East. Witness the fear and dread of both of them of president Nasser in the 1960′s, for example.

Lin , says: October 21, 2018 at 8:15 am GMT
The US establishment, 'liberal' or not, just fake an outcry to soften the image of 100′s of 1000′s of yemenis, iraqis, libyan.. war casualties they are wholly or partly responsible for. Khashoggi's death is no more brutal than that of Gaddafi. What's the big deal ?

Whether Khashoggi is an islamist or not is very minor. (Sunni) Islam is basically a caravan of arab tribal or civilizational power and the house of Saud just rides this vehicle or caravan to siphon off the oil wealth. The house of Saud, said to be Jewish in origin, have the option to migrate en mass to Israel or French Riviera, with their swiss/US/caribbean offshore accounts during time of crisis or after new forms of energy resource displace oil

Art , says: October 21, 2018 at 8:30 am GMT

Equally important, the Saudis and Emiratis are now closely allied to Israel's far right government. Israel has been a door-opener for the Saudis and Gulf Emirates in Washington's political circles. The Israel lobby is riding to the Saudi's defense .

The Israelis are defending Old Saudi (pre MBS) -- not the New MBS/Kushner fix Palestine cabal. The last thing Israel wants is a defined Israeli border recognized by the world. The sycophant Israeli backing Senators in congress (Graham et al) are all backing Israel by condemning MBS and calling for his head.

Think Peace -- Art

Miro23 , says: October 21, 2018 at 8:42 am GMT
@FKA Max Thanks for the excellent Real News Network interview with someone I hadn't heard about (As'ad AbuKhalil) who has followed the career of Khashoggi for years.

http://www.unz.com/video/therealnews_duplicitous-khashoggi-picked-the-wrong-prince/

It seems that Khashoggi was lately different things to different people – one voice in English at the Washington Post following the Israeli line, and another in Arabic and the Arab media supporting the Palestinians and the Moslem Brotherhood.

Over the long term he was a propagandist for the rule of the Saudi princes, and his problem seemed to be his too close connection to the wrong ones, while they were overthrown by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). There's the suggestion of a plot against MbS where he may have been involved.

So why are the Israelis, their MSM and their AIPAC congressmen making such a big thing out of it? Isn't MbS their friend? And why should they care about the assassination of a pro-Palestinian journalist?

Maybe they've a better knowledge of the forces at play in Saudi Arabia, and concluded that MbS was too much of a risk (too isolated and independent – e.g. talking with the Chinese about a Petro/Yuan). Maybe they decided to Regime Change MbS in a usual Israeli/US Deep State operation with Khashoggi at the centre (the duplicitous sort of character that they favor) – with the outrage at MbS unexpectedly striking back. It was in fact MbS' team of bodyguards who arrived in Istanbul. And it would account for the Deep State anger at having one of its chief conspirators murdered.

The back story has to be that the US/Israel want control of both Saudi and Iranian oil priced in US Dollars and they'll go with anyone who can give that outcome (currently not MbS). Or they invade Saudi Arabia Eastern Province on some pretext or other and just take the oil directly.

Greg Bacon , says: Website October 21, 2018 at 8:54 am GMT

I'm surprised that the Saudis didn't ask the Israelis, who are very good at assassination and kidnapping, to go after Khashoggi.

They probably did, but Israel is gearing up to invade Gaza AGAIN, and that takes time and resources that they couldn't afford to let go and do some free-lancing in the Murder Inc Department.

But Blessed are the War Mongers or something, as that oh-so devout Christian, Pat Robertson, is against holding KSA accountable:

Prominent evangelical leader on Khashoggi crisis: let's not risk "$100 billion worth of arms sales"

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, appeared on its flagship television show The 700 Club on Monday to caution Americans against allowing the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia to deteriorate over Khashoggi's death.

"For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis -- look, these people are key allies," Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists -- the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs -- "obnoxious," he urged viewers to remember that "we've got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of it'll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It's not something you want to blow up willy-nilly."

https://www.vox.com/2018/10/17/17990268/pat-robertson-khashoggi-saudi-arabia-trump-crisis

Did Robertson take all of that loot he made from smuggling blood diamonds out of Africa–using his charity as a front–and invest in the defense industry?

If Pat is headed to Heaven after he expires, then send me to the other place, as I have no desire to be stuck with hypocrites for all eternity.

Tyrion 2 , says: October 21, 2018 at 8:59 am GMT
@Harris Chandler Why would it be Trump's to avenge that man?
animalogic , says: October 21, 2018 at 9:44 am GMT
"Error" ? "Mistake" ? These people (the KSA) are fucking "stupid" . Now they're saying he died in a "fist fight" in the consulate ! A 13 year old street criminal would know that that excuse is an admission of guilt. These guys shouldn't be allowed to run a model railroad.
Brabantian , says: October 21, 2018 at 9:59 am GMT
On television in 1988, Donald Trump said he had bought a US $200 million 85-metre-long yacht ,'The Nabila', from billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, uncle of just-murdered-in-Istanbul journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The yacht was named after Adnan Khashoggi's daughter. Trump later sold the yacht to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

Donald Trump talking about the boat and arms dealers like Khashoggi – "not the nicest guys in the world"

... ... ...

[Oct 21, 2018] Naftogaz has now begun to help itself to money from Russia's gas-transit payments, arguing that it is owed money from the Stockholm Arbitration ruling which Gazprom has refused to pay

Oct 21, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman October 13, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Naftogaz has now begun to help itself to money from Russia's gas-transit payments, arguing that it is owed money from the Stockholm Arbitration ruling which Gazprom has refused to pay.

https://www.naturalgasworld.com/ukraine-takes-9mn-from-gazprom-penalty-payment-65062

Apparently Russia is still paying the old rate, from before the ruling (because to do otherwise would be to recognize the debt and accept responsibility for it), which results in an overpayment since it is higher than Naftogaz would charge, if I understand correctly. So Naftogaz has decided to confiscate it as owing.

This, obviously, sets the stage for another shutdown of European gas supplies, just as winter is coming on. Perhaps Ukraine has realized that nothing it can do or say is going to stop Nord Stream II from going ahead, and so it might as well recover what it can, and who cares if it results in a shutdown of Europe's gas, regardless where the blame ends up? Once again Ukraine's maneuvering puts Russia in a difficult spot – it can recognize the Stockholm award and pay Ukraine $2.6 Billion or whatever it was. Or it can accept that Ukraine will keep part of its transit payments against the debt until it can shut down gas transit across Ukraine altogether. Or it can shut off the gas now.

If it were up to me, I would take the middle option. Let Ukraine congratulate itself on one-upping me with its native cleverness (assuming here that I am Russia), and let them keep $9 or $10 million of the transit fees each month; that would probably be a lot cheaper than acknowledging the Stockholm award and paying Ukraine billions, in view of the fact that Ukraine never paid back the money it was lent by Russia; Stockholm neatly solved that for them, by awarding them huge damages, part of which was understood to be the amount Ukraine owed. Okay, that goes toward Ukraine's debt to Russia, and now you owe Ukraine $2.6 Billion more.

I would just focus on getting Nord Stream II completed. Then I would not only stop gas transit through Ukraine, I would tell them to kiss my ass if they wanted to buy gas for themselves. You were so pleased with yourselves for not buying any gas from Russia last year – obviously you can get along fine without it. But I sure hope Europe is going to keep giving you money to buy European gas forever.

[Oct 21, 2018] Pepe Escobar The Jared of Arabia-Bonesaw connection by Pepe Escobar

Oct 20, 2018 | www.sott.net
Once again my best House of Saud-connected source RE-CONFIRMED Mohammed Bone Saw (MBS) received direct info on CIA assets in Saudi Arabia from his close whatsapp pal Jared of Arabia.

Jared could only have access to this top secret info because of his high clearance. That led to the Ritz-Carlton jail saga - and other arrests.

The CIA protégé Mohammed bin Nayef - who was previously made Crown Prince by the CIA itself - was also arrested and is still under house arrest. The CIA was grooming Nayef be King.

The CIA managed to elevate Nayef by plotting to get rid of Bandar Bush - who was fired by then King Abdullah. When King Abdullah died, Nayef continued to be Crown Prince until ousted by the new King Salman bin Abdulaziz to the benefit of his son.

Big mistake.

MBS moved against the clergy - who had been neutralized by Nayef. He moved against CIA friends, ousting former King Abdullah's son Prince Miteb as head of the powerful National Guard - who's after his blood ever since.

Crucially, Khashoggi was also CIA.

MBS ordered the invasion of Yemen - and turned large sectors of the army against him. He met with AIPAC in New York, befriended Israel and turned the bulk of the Saudi population against him.

Only misinformed simpletons believe that the Pulp Fiction in Istanbul op could have proceeded without his green light. Hubris, arrogance and inter-galactic ignorance are MBS's trademarks.

What kind of intel op does not know that Turkish secret police would be monitoring the Saudi embassy 24/7?

The Coward Prince, meanwhile, has had ample time to find not one but TWO fall guys.

Fall Guy Number One is Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, deputy head of Saudi intel (yes, that's an oxymoron), a senior air force officer with NO (very important) family connections to the Saudi two-bit royals.

Fall Guy Number Two is Saud al-Qahtani, who was a sort of Desert Grand Inquisitor - totally controlling the media and supervising the non-stop purge of any critics. Call him the Saudi Steve Bannon - as he was known in Qatar. He led a mighty troll army spreading fake news on the murderous war on Yemen, the pathetic blockade of Qatar and non-stop demonization of Iran.

Turkey for its part has masterfully deployed Death by a Thousand Leaks on MBS.

Now the whole planet knows the detailed description of the 15-men hit squad; pics of all of them; their role in the "mission"; arrival and departure flights; which hotels they stayed for a few hours.

The hit squad includes the Bone Saw Master; four intel ops; 6 Royal Guard members; a member of MBS's personal guard; and a free agent.

Compared to all this evidence, the official "fist fight" Saudi explanation as well as the Jared of Arabia-spun "rogue killer" spin are inter-galactic jokes designed for suckers.

What remains unexplained is whether MBS was striking some sort of dodgy deal with the Trump administration, via his best pal Jared, behind the back of his House of Saud many rivals. Consul Pompeus Minimus was on the phone to MBS immediately after the Pulp Fiction news broke out. This could well turn out to have been a double-double cross.
Comment: Pepe is probably a little too sure it couldn't have happened without MbS's approval. He may have been involved and it escalated further than he approved, (as Scott Adams theorizes ), or it could've been a rogue operation. Mohammed bin Salman has made enough enemies within the sprawling Saudi royal family with last year's "anti-corruption purge", that more than one faction would be happy to pin the assassination on him

[Oct 19, 2018] What happened here that all the neocons like Fred Hiatt and Sen. Lindsey Graham now want the blood of MBS?

Notable quotes:
"... I agree with Jack that when Brennan is writing an op-ed calling for the head of MbS something fishy is up. Kashoggi has had a long career at the heart of Saudi national security power structures. He's no angel. Clearly he touched a nerve to be murdered so openly with no plausible deniability. Or maybe that was intentional. Then....the reaction of the Deep State. Hmm? ..."
"... Please don't get me wrong. Saudi Barbaria has been a corrupting influence for decades and the role they have played in Syria, Libya is not to be condoned. I fully support walking away from our interventionist position in the Middle East and letting the chips fall there. However, I have a deep distrust of Brennan and his motives. I can't put my finger on why the neocons are reacting in this way in light of their previous attitude of ignoring such atrocities or even abetting them. This is raising suspicions. ..."
"... if that is such a common knowledge that host states always bug the guest embassies and consulates, that would mean that Saudis would have to assume that as well, so that they would make sure that these devices were ´blinded´, ..."
Oct 19, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"As for arms sales, someone needs to brief Mr. Trump on the actual results of the promises made to him when he visited Riyadh last year. As Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution sums it up , "The Saudis have not concluded a single major arms deal with Washington on Trump's watch ." Moreover, an end to supplies of U.S. spare parts and technical support, something Russia cannot provide, would quickly ground the Saudi air force . That would have the welcome effect of ending a bloody bombing campaign in Yemen that a U.N. investigation concluded was probably responsible for war crimes." Washpost

-----------

Once again, I am not a great fan of Bezos or his blog, but two days in a row they have printed something I can agree with. Something has changed for him.

It has become a meme in the blather that runs shrill and shallow in the US media, that Saudi Arabia is a faithful, and indispensable ally of the US in the ME. Bezos disputes this and so do I.

A few points:

Yes, they chop heads off after Friday prayers outside the local mosque. They also do hands and feet. They stone to death women found guilty of adultery. They sew them in bags before the men present throw handy five pound rocks at them. The government is deeply approving of this. Sound familiar? Yes, it should. The jihadis whom the Saudis sponsor in Syria do the same things. The Sunni jihadis are nearly defeated in Syria and it has become clear that the Saudi government has been evacuating their leaders, probably with US connivance, so that they can pursue greater visions of jihad elsewhere.

The importance of Saudi Arabia in the world oil market is IMO now much exaggerated. They can undoubtedly do some damage by manipulating the short term contract (spot) market but this is something they would pay for heavily. The Kingdom is cash strapped. It was not for nothing that MBS turned the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh into a prison for the wealthy including many of his own kin in order to squeeze and in some cases torture them into handing over a lot of their cash to the government. Depressed petro sales at artificial prices will only further reduce revenue to the government.

The notion that Saudi intelligence contributes much to the GWOT is a joke. Saudi intelligence competence is something that exists only in pitchmen's claims voiced by TV touts. In fact, they get almost everything they have from the US and are like greedy baby birds always looking to be fed. They cannot organize a trip to the gold plated toilet. It took 15 of them to ambush Khashoggi, well, OK, 14 of them and a doctor to carry the electric bone-saw.

We need to sell them more equipment that they cannot use? It does not appear to me that any of the contracts that they promised to DJT has been signed. Their technique is simple. Keep the hope of profit for the US alive as leverage.

Lastly, the chimera of a great Arab alliance (a la NATO) is delusory. The Saudis lack both the organizational ability for such a thing and significant military power. They possess one of the world's largest static displays of military equipment. They have neither the manpower nor the aptitude to use such equipment effectively. As I have written previously, the Gulf Arabs have long had such an alliance. It is the GCC and it has never amounted to anything except a venue for the Arab delight in meetings and blather.

The basis for the desire for such an alliance is the Israeli strategic objective of isolating Iran and its allies; Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas with an eventual hope of destroying the Iranian theocracy. Israel is frightened of a possible salvo of many thousands of missiles and rockets into Israel from Lebanon as well as an eventual successful creation of a missile deliverable nuclear weapon by the Iranians. These are real and credible threats for Israel, but not for FUKUS . Israel has only two really valuable counter-value targets; Haifa and Tel Aviv. A hit on one or both with a nuclear weapon would be the end of Israel. The Israelis know that.

Adroit information operations carried out over generations by the Israeli government and its supporters have created in the collective US mind an image of Iran as a disguised 3rd Reich. This was well done. The same operation was run against Iraq with magnificent results from the POV of Israel

Saudi Arabia is a worthless ally. pl

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/who-needs-saudi-arabia/2018/10/15/3ebe473c-d0a1-11e8-8c22-fa2ef74bd6d6_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a339b03b5abf


Jack , 2 days ago

Sir

What happened here that all the neocons like Fred Hiatt and Sen. Lindsey Graham now want the blood of MBS? Jamal Kashoggi was apparently a good pal of Osama and an insider who worked for Prince Turki al-Faisal both when he ran Saudi intelligence and when he was in DC. My antenna is up when John Brennan starts writing op-eds. After all he was in Riyadh when Turki was the internal security chief.

Does this have to do with our Deep State? Who may not be happy that MBS has by-passed them with a direct connection through Jared?

We didn't do anything or demand anything when the Saudis sent terrorists to attack us on 9/11. What's changed now with the murder of Jamal Kashoggi in Istanbul?

RaisingMac -> Jack , 2 days ago
I'm with Jack. Don't get me wrong: I hate MBS as much as the next man, but I can't say I trust Erdogan or Bezos either. And these days, whenever the WaPo tells me to zig, my instinct tells me to zag. At the very least, I would like to know more about what's really going here before committing myself to one side or the other. Kashoggi, after all, was not just some random 'journalist'. He had intimate contact with, and knowledge of, high-ranking personages in the KSA and beyond. He even knew Osama bin Laden! There could be any number of parties out there in this world who have felt that he knew too much. It's just too early to jump to conclusions.
RaisingMac -> RaisingMac , 2 days ago
Over at Consortium News, Asad Abu Khalil, the 'Angry Arab', has up a good piece arguing that Kashoggi was no reformer. In fact, up until extremely recently, he was doggedly loyal to the régime. As he puts it:

"Western media coverage of Khashoggi's career (by people who don't know Arabic) presents a picture far from reality. They portray a courageous investigative journalist upsetting the Saudi regime. Nothing is further from the truth: there is no journalism in Saudi Arabia; there is only crude and naked propaganda."

https://consortiumnews.com/...

For now, I'm speculating that he simply ended up on the wrong side of MbS' intra-family feud, but I'm open to other theories.

ancient archer -> Jack , 2 days ago
It is very unlikely that the people, who time and time again have been found to lack even a shred of human decency, compassion and fairness, Brennan et al and I include WaPo in that, are now going gaga over the murder of a journo, who had strong links with the power players in the region.

The way that these things have worked out in the media earlier, I think the order has come from higher up to push this incident to damage either the relationship with SA or mbs. I think that keeping this incident hot has also kept the oil price high just before the mid-term elections. surely, a higher oil price hurts trump. that might be a reason for the trump-hating crowd including wapo to discover decency and fairness and other human virtues just right now. very intriguing, this reaction from the MSM.

I note that the British press is not pressing this issue as much, nor is Haaretz. Only the US MSM is pressing this very hard.

TTG -> Jack , 2 days ago
The US and the Brits before us have slavishly courted the Saudi Royals since before WWII. This is a constant through Republican and Democratic administrations. The Trump administration is no exception. Why the murder of one journalist would challenge a half century of established US policy at this time is beyond my understanding. Perhaps it's the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
David Habakkuk -> TTG , 2 days ago
TTG,

Someone from whose writings I have derived a great deal of instruction, as well as amusement, is Vladimir Golstein, a Russian Jewish émigré now in charge of 'Slavic Studies' at Brown University.

I introduce his explanation of the response to the Khashoggi killing, in a 'Facebook' post, not because I think it should be taken as some kind of authoritative truth, but because, as often, Golstein's irreverence is thought-provoking.

The post begins:

'Thank you, Saudi Arabia for exposing the utter hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of British and American gangsta press and equally gangsta establishment.

'You've been at it for a very long time. And it seems that finally you've got it right.'

After providing a long list of Saudi delinquencies, Golstein continues:

'I understand that you began to feel more and more desperate. You sided with Israel against Iran and Syria, and the rest of the world said that it is a moral thing to do and put you on the UN human rights board.

'Well, finally, you hit the right cord. Killing innocent people and abusing your moneyed power by buying newspapers, hotels, city districts or think tanks, was not enough to produce an outrage in the west, but when you whacked another cynical morally corrupt journalist that proved too much for the cynical and morally corrupt western press. They decided to stand up for one of their own.'

This does, I think, point to something rather important. And it leads to the thought that MBS and others may have miscalculated, as a result of an 'hubris' which many in the West have actually encouraged – just as they have a parallel 'hubris' in Israel.

As Golstein, who has a great deal of complex history behind him, can see very clearly, it is an interesting question when the 'sympathy' of Western 'liberals' is and is not actually felt.

What I think MBS may have missed is, quite precisely, the realisation that for people like Tom Friedman the fact that – as Golstein is pointing out – Khashoggi is the same kind of animal as they are means that killing him touches them personally.

Second, he is the kind of figure whom they have, as it were, 'cast' in a 'starring role', in their 'narrative' as to how somehow 'Saudi Barbaria' is going to 'modernise', and in so doing create a Middle East hospitable to a Jewish settler state.

So, in assassinating him, MBS may have unleashed a curious kind of psychological 'maelstrom.'

Barbara Ann -> David Habakkuk , 2 days ago
Jon Schwarz of The Intercept summed up the hypocrisy of the outrage rather well in a humorous tweet:

"I am withdrawing from all ventures with the Saudi government until they go back to killing people I'll never meet at a party"

David Habakkuk -> Barbara Ann , a day ago
Barbara Ann,

I think that is absolutely brilliant.

But, as well as hypocrisy, there is also a basic stupidity.

In fact, if one is reasonably 'worldlywise', one knows that people's sympathies, including one's own, are very often much more limited than they profess to be. We commonly find it much easier to feel the griefs and pain of people whom we see as like ourselves, than we do with those of others.

My own history, ironically, has been a move from finding it relatively easy to sympathise with people who write for the 'New York Times', or the 'Guardian', or the 'New York Review of Books', to finding it really rather difficult.

There is also, however, about so many of these people, an element of sheer stupidity.

Whether one agrees, or disagrees, with 'deplorables' is relevant, but only partly so. Actually, people who would not appear at the kind of 'party' which Jon Schwarz so aptly characterises have a very wide range of views, and I often agree in whole or in part with such people, and also often disagree in whole or in part. It is not a simple matter.

A related but distinct question has to do with common prudence.

People who lock themselves in a kind of bubble of the supposedly 'enlightened' are not only doing the rest of us no favours, but are inherently bound to head off in directions which are liable to be suicidal for themselves.

Prudent élites take the trouble at least to be aware that the world is not controllable by the comfortable people who appear at their dinner parties, and realise that if they persist in trying to persuade themselves that it is, sooner or later their self-delusion will blow up in their faces.

In relation to people like MBS, there is a double stupidity. The problem is not simply that he has been playing to their need to believe that he wants to 'modernise' Saudi Arabia. It is also that they have wanted to believe that such a venture is possible, which it almost certainly is not.

Pat Lang Mod -> Barbara Ann , 2 days ago
I have always been their opponent.
Jack -> David Habakkuk , 2 days ago
David

Yes, Vladimir Golstein has a point. The DC cocktail circuit have been offended as one of their fellow travelers has been offed. If this will lead to a break with Saudi Barbaria that will be good. I'm cynical however. Brennan, et al just want their boy in Riyadh not Jared's buddy.

smoothieX12 . -> Jack , a day ago
Wait until it becomes clear that Israel in actuality negotiates her safety with Russia (it is ongoing as I type this)--that's when the party will start in earnest.
Strawman -> TTG , 2 days ago
"The US and the Brits before us have slavishly courted the Saudi Royals since before WWII."

TTG, as you are doubtless aware, it goes back even further, to early World War I. David Fromkin's seminal 1989 history, "A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (also subtitled Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914–1922)": https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... describes the machinations by British, French, and (later) Americans to play the competing desert chieftains against each other, alternately catering to and dumping unceremoniously each one as political necessity dictated.

Recommended to readers wishing to further appreciate the roots of the irresolvable turmoil that is the modern Middle East.

Pat Lang Mod -> Strawman , 2 days ago
The American oil companies were mere commercial players.
blue peacock -> TTG , 2 days ago
TTG

Yes, there's clearly more than meets the eye. I agree with Jack that when Brennan is writing an op-ed calling for the head of MbS something fishy is up. Kashoggi has had a long career at the heart of Saudi national security power structures. He's no angel. Clearly he touched a nerve to be murdered so openly with no plausible deniability. Or maybe that was intentional. Then....the reaction of the Deep State. Hmm?

Pat Lang Mod -> blue peacock , 2 days ago
Boringly conspiratorial minded. You people are buying into pro House of Saud propaganda.
blue peacock -> Pat Lang , 2 days ago
Col. Lang

Please don't get me wrong. Saudi Barbaria has been a corrupting influence for decades and the role they have played in Syria, Libya is not to be condoned. I fully support walking away from our interventionist position in the Middle East and letting the chips fall there. However, I have a deep distrust of Brennan and his motives. I can't put my finger on why the neocons are reacting in this way in light of their previous attitude of ignoring such atrocities or even abetting them. This is raising suspicions.

Pat Lang Mod -> blue peacock , 2 days ago
Suspicion is good. Unwillingness to look at the evidence is not good.
blue peacock -> Pat Lang , 2 days ago
Col. Lang

The evidence I see is that a Saudi citizen who used to be a "regime insider" with high level connections and aligned with the previous head of Saudi intelligence was brutally murdered by Saudi government officials. Turkey leaked this information and in the leaks claim they have audio and video evidence of the murder. John Brennan and other neocons who previously have not only supported but also connived in some of the atrocities committed by the Saudi government are demanding that MbS be held to account.

The question that is nagging me is why are the neocons reacting this way now, considering they have always carried water for the Saudi royals when real dissidents have been routinely executed after show trials?

Pat Lang Mod -> blue peacock , 2 days ago
Trump has asked the Turks for the surveillance data We will see.
fanto -> Pat Lang , a day ago
USA just wants to get their well guarded ´sources and methods´, and to gain time. Zeit gewonnen ist viel gewonnen say Germans..
Pat Lang Mod -> fanto , a day ago
"USA just wants to get their well guarded ´sources and methods´" What does that mean?
fanto -> Pat Lang , a day ago
for example, how did Turks get the audio and possibly video of the deed, the transmission by Apple watch story may be just a red herring, they may have independent sources and methods which the US is not privy to the word ´their´ in my remark intended to say ´Turks´. Sorry about the unclear sentence.
Pat Lang Mod -> fanto , a day ago
I thought you Germans were supposed to be smart. You don't understand that MIT, the Turkish intelligence service had bugged the consulate? What part of that do you not understand? Go get some strudel and think about it!
fanto -> Pat Lang , a day ago
hahaha, I will eat it, BUT - if that is such a common knowledge that host states always bug the guest embassies and consulates, that would mean that Saudis would have to assume that as well, so that they would make sure that these devices were ´blinded´, and that would mean that there were other devices which they were not able to ´blind´. Just deep thinking, is that also German trait?
Pat Lang Mod -> fanto , 18 hours ago
Sounds like Klarity, a German trait. The Saudis probably lacked the skill to find the Turkish bugs. MIT, the Turkish service are very skilled at installation.
Michael -> TTG , 2 days ago
Maybe this new surprising "moral" attitude has something to do with the mid-terms elections. Yes Saudi Arabia is a kind of traditional commodity platform and surely not an Ally, but DJT did enhance the Saudis status as Partners in his projected Deal of the Century (still not published).

The Khasoghi murder has become the DJT problem and while raising his expression for the outrage has also opened the exit door, and provided a possibility to dilute MBS direct responsibility. Of interest is the Erdogan careful but repeated supply of details.

FB -> Jack , 2 days ago
What 'terrorists' attacked on 911...?...nobody knows what exactly happened on that day, and who was involved...except that the official narrative is total BS...
Pat Lang Mod -> FB , 2 days ago
Rubbish! You are a truther?
FB -> Pat Lang , a day ago
Yes, one could lump me under the dismissive and unflattering epithet of 'truther'...after looking into some of the physical aspects of the matter, the narrative is impossible on grounds of physics...that is not to say I am speculating on who or even the how...which is where we see a lot of tinfoil hat stuff...but I have a solid engineering and aviation background...it could not have happened the way we are told...

[Oct 19, 2018] It appears that somebody tired to create Saudigate out of this insident. This potentially is good news for Iran and Russia. Perhaps not so good for Trump and Saidis. Israel may not be happy

Oct 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Oct 18, 2018 12:29:54 AM | link

TheBag @72

The President has authority under the Global Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions against anyone who has committed a human rights violation. Congress has already requested a HR investigation which Trump must act on and report to them within 4 months

It appears my prediction of Saudi gate may be right. This potentially is good news for Iran and Russia. Perhaps not so good for Trump and Saidis. Israel may not be happy. Perhaps his wife's plane troubles were a warning shot to remind him who is boss. Who knows ?

Haleys resignation beginning to make sense now. The House of Trump and House of Saud may soon fall, and Bibi wont be happy losing Trump and MBS. We all know what they are capable of to get things back on track

Why did the media held back on this so for so long?

Yemen (and Gaza).

CGTN & Al-Jazeera are the only global news outlets consistently and regularly reporting on the US facilitated genocides in Yemen and Jewish-occupied Palestine/Gaza.

The never-ending Khashoggi non-mystery mystery keeps Yemen & Gaza out of the Jew-controlled Western Media headlines. Saudi Barbaria and "Israel" are natural allies because each of them is an artificial Western political construct with a cowardly and incompetent military apparatus and an anti-heroic penchant for slaughtering undefended civilians - for psychopathic reasons.
--------
Talking about psychopathy...
Oz's Christian Zionist PM, Sco Mo, is blathering about following Trump's lead and moving Oz's Embassy in "Israel" to Jerusalem. Sc Mo, who has never had an original idea in his life, still hasn't woken up to the fact that Trump's Jerusalem gambit was a trap for Bibi. So it's hilarious that Sco Mo The Unoriginal, is planning to take a flying leap into the same trap!
Anyone with more than half a brain would realise that...
1. No civilised country has followed Trump's lead.
2. Trump can, and will, reverse his (illegal) Jerusalem decision out of a 'new-found respect' for International Law.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 18, 2018 12:14:08 AM | 83

Posted by: JNDillard | Oct 17, 2018 11:59:34 PM | 81


https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-saudi-arabia-payment-20181017-story.html

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 17, 2018 11:19:22 PM | 79

Whoever is ultimately behind this campaign (which I suspect is a loose association of interest groups spread throughout SA, Turkey, London citi, wall street, whoever) they will not stop until MbS is paraded through the streets in chains or at least his head at the end of a lance. At this point the only question how many days will it take to see his head on a pike?

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 17, 2018 11:24:27 PM | 80

"Their target that night: Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah. The UAE considers Al-Islah to be the Yemeni branch of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE calls a terrorist organization. Many experts insist that Al-Islah, one of whose members won the Nobel Peace Prize, is no terror group. They say it's a legitimate political party that threatens the UAE not through violence but by speaking out against its ambitions in Yemen."

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/mercenaries-assassination-us-yemen-uae-spear-golan-dahlan

Posted by: Krollchem | Oct 17, 2018 10:26:46 PM | 77

Posted by: Gary Weglarz | Oct 17, 2018 10:22:19 PM | 76

[Oct 19, 2018] Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was Easy. Explaining It Is Much Harder by Philip M. GIRALDI

Oct 18, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

Getting to the bottom of the Jamal Khashoggi disappearance is a bit like peeling an onion. It is known that Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 nd to get a document that would enable him to marry a Turkish woman. It is also known, from surveillance cameras situated outside the building, that he never came out walking the same way he entered. The presumption is that he was either killed inside or abducted, though the abduction theory would have to be based on a Consulate vehicle leaving the building with him presumably concealed inside, something that has not been confirmed by the Turks. If he was killed inside the building and dismembered, as seems likely, he could have had his body parts removed in the suitcases carried by the alleged fifteen official Saudis who had arrived that morning by private jet and left that afternoon the same way. The supposition is that the fifteen men, which may have included some members of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman's bodyguard as well as a physician skilled in autopsies who was carrying a bone saw, constituted the execution party for Khashoggi.

There are certain things that should be observed about the Turks, since they are the ones claiming that the disappearance of Khashoggi may have included a summary execution and dismemberment. The Turkish intelligence service, known by its acronym MIT, is very good, very active and very focused on monitoring the activities of foreign embassies and their employees throughout Turkey. They use electronic surveillance and, if the foreign mission has local employees, many of those individuals will be agents reporting to the Turkish government. In my own experience when I was in Istanbul, I had microphones concealed in various places in my residence and both my office and home phones were tapped. A number of local hire consulate employees were believed to be informants for MIT but they were not allowed anywhere near sensitive information.

As Turkey and Saudi Arabia might be termed rivals if not something stronger, it is to be presumed that MIT had the Consulate General building covered with both cameras and microphones, possibly inside the building as well as outside, and may have had a Turkish employer inside who observed some of what was going on. Which is to say that the Turks certainly know exactly what occurred but are playing their cards closely to see what they can derive from that knowledge. The two countries have already initiated a joint investigation into what took place. Turkey's economy is in free fall and would benefit from "investment" from the Saudis to create an incentive to close the book on Khashoggi. In other words, Turkey's perspective on the disappearance could easily be influenced by Saudi money and the investigation might well turn up nothing that is definitive.

Saudi Arabia, for its part, has a couple of cards to play also even if it did kill and dismember Khashoggi under orders from the Crown Prince. First of all, the system of petrodollars, which basically requires nearly all purchases of petroleum to be paid in dollars, is underwritten by the Saudis. Petrodollars in turn enable the United States to print money for which there is no backing knowing that there will always be international demand for dollars to buy oil. The Saudis, who also use their own petrodollars to buy U.S. treasury bonds, could pull the plug on that arrangement. That all means that the United States will be looking for an outcome that will not do too much damage to the Saudis.

Second, Saudi Arabia is in bed with Israel in opposition to Iran. This means the Israel Lobby and its many friends in Congress will squawk loudly about Khashoggi but ultimately shy away from doing anything about it. It already appears that a cover story is halfway in place to explain what happened. It is being suggested that a "rogue" element from Saudi Arabia might have carried out without the knowledge of the Crown Prince an interrogation or abduction attempt that went too far. Donald Trump speculated on Monday that that might be the case, suggesting that it may already be part of the official line that will be promoted. Those who know Saudi Arabia well, however, consider a high-level assassination not ordered by the Crown Prince directly to be extremely unlikely, but that does not necessarily mean that a cover story including that feature might not be successfully floated.

In regional terms, Saudi Arabia is also key to Trump's anticipated Middle East peace plan. If it pulls out from the expected financial guarantees aspect, the plan will fall apart. Riyadh is also committed to buy tens of billions of dollars' worth of American arms, an agreement that could be canceled if Washington begins to pressure the Saudis for answers. Beyond that, Saudi Arabia could stop pumping oil or fail to increase production when Iranian oil becomes subject to U.S. sanctions early next month, driving the price per barrel up dramatically for everyone. The Saudi government has already indicated that it will respond forcefully to any attempts to punish it over Khashoggi and there is no reason to doubt the seriousness of that threat.

There are, of course, possible impediments to selling the fake news narrative. Some early reports suggested that Khashoggi's fiancé had observed and possibly recorded the execution inside the consulate using the victim's Apple wristwatch linked to an iPad in her possession. If that is true, the release of such material to the media will create worldwide demand to learn the truth that will be difficult to control. Also, there are unconfirmed reports that U.S. intelligence knew in advance of Saudi plans to abduct Khashoggi, which could prove embarrassing to the Trump administration and could narrow its options.

The trick will be to see how a bit of extreme brutal behavior by the Saudis can be manipulated by all interested parties to produce a solution that doesn't damage anyone too much. It will undoubtedly be far from the truth, but truth doesn't necessarily matter much these days.

[Oct 18, 2018] Germany Clashes With The US Over Energy Geopolitics

Notable quotes:
"... This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1018 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page , which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we're doing this fundraiser and what we've accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, extending our reach . ..."
"... By Tsvetana Paraskova, a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm. Originally published at OilPrice ..."
"... As long as NATO exists, Washington will continue to use it to drive a wedge between the EU and Russia. Merkel foolishly went along with all of Washington's provocations against Russia in Ukraine, even though none of it benefited Germany's national interest. ..."
"... She did indeed go along with all the provocations and she sat back and said nothing while Putin railed against US sanctions. Yet Putin didn't blame Germany or the EU. Instead he said that the Germany/EU is currently trapped by the US and would come to their senses in time. He is leaving the door open. ..."
"... What US LNG exports? The US is a net importer of NG from Canada. US 2018 NG consumption and production was 635.8 and 631.6 Mtoe respectively (BP 2018 Stats). Even the BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy has an asterisks by US LNG exports which says, "Includes re-exports" which was 17.4 BCM or 15 Mtoe for 2018. ..."
"... Natural gas negotiations involve long term contracts so there are lots of money to exchange ensuring business for many years to come. Such a contract has recently been signed between Poland's PGNiG and American Venture Global Calcasieu & Venture Global Plaquemines LNG (Lousiana). According to the Poland representative this gas would be 20% cheaper than Russian gas. (if one has to believe it). Those contracts are very secretive in their terms. This contract in particular is still dependent on the termination of liquefaction facilities in Lousiana. ..."
"... IIRC, the US is pushing LNG because fracking has resulted in a lot of NG coincident with oil production. They've got so much NG coming out of fracked oil wells that they don't know what to do with it and at present, a lot of it just gets flared, or leaks into the atmosphere. ..."
"... So they turn to bullying the EU to ignore the price advantage that Russia is able to offer, due to the economics of pipeline transport over liquefaction and ocean transport, and of course the issues of reliability and safety associated with ocean transport, and high-pressure LNG port facilities compared to pipelines. ..."
"... Trump will probably offer the EU 'free' LNG port facilities financed by low-income American tax-payers, and cuts to 'entitlements', all designed to MAGA. ..."
"... It seems we have been maneuvering for a while to raise our production of LNG and oil (unsustainably) in order to become an important substitute supplier to the EU countries. It sort of looks like our plan is to reduce EU opposition to our attacking Russia. Then we will have China basically surrounded. This is made easier with our nuclear policy of "we can use nuclear weapons with acceptable losses." What could go wrong? ..."
"... The United States should lead by example. Telling Germany not to import Russian gas is rich considering the U.S. also imports from Russia. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2018/07/12/russia-was-a-top-10-supplier-of-u-s-oil-imports-in-2017/ ..."
"... I just love the fact that Trump is publicly calling out Merkel on this; she has been nothing but two-faced and hypocritical on the Russia question. ..."
"... She was one of the ones who pushed the EU hard, for example, to sanction Russia in the wake of the coup in Ukraine (which she had also supported). And then she pushed the EU hard to kill off the South Stream pipeline, which would have gone through SE Europe into Austria. She used the excuse of 'EU solidarity' against 'Russian aggression' to accomplish that only to then turn around and start building yet another pipeline out of Russia and straight into Germany! The Bulgarians et al. must feel like real idiots now. It seems Berlin wants to control virtually all the pipelines into Europe. ..."
Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1018 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page , which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we're doing this fundraiser and what we've accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, extending our reach .

Yves here. It's not hard to see that this tiff isn't just about Russia. The US wants Germany to buy high-priced US LNG.

By Tsvetana Paraskova, a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm. Originally published at OilPrice

The United States and the European Union (EU) are at odds over more than just the Iran nuclear deal – tensions surrounding energy policy have also become a flashpoint for the two global powerhouses.

In energy policy, the U.S. has been opposing the Gazprom-led and highly controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project , which will follow the existing Nord Stream natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea. EU institutions and some EU members such as Poland and Lithuania are also against it, but one of the leaders of the EU and the end-point of the planned project -- Germany -- supports Nord Stream 2 and sees the project as a private commercial venture that will help it to meet rising natural gas demand.

While the U.S. has been hinting this year that it could sanction the project and the companies involved in it -- which include not only Gazprom but also major European firms Shell, Engie, OMV, Uniper, and Wintershall -- Germany has just said that Washington shouldn't interfere with Europe's energy choices and policies.

"I don't want European energy policy to be defined in Washington," Germany's Foreign Ministry State Secretary Andreas Michaelis said at a conference on trans-Atlantic ties in Berlin this week.

Germany has to consult with its European partners regarding the project, Michaelis said, and noted, as quoted by Reuters, that he was "certainly not willing to accept that Washington is deciding at the end of the day that we should not rely on Russian gas and that we should not complete this pipeline project."

In July this year, U.S. President Donald Trump said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that "Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply." Related: The Implications Of A Fractured U.S., Saudi Alliance

"Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline," President Trump said.

Germany continues to see Nord Stream 2 as a commercial venture, although it wants clarity on the future role of Ukraine as a transit route, German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said last month.

Nord Stream 2 is designed to bypass Ukraine, and Ukraine fears it will lose transit fees and leverage over Russia as the transit route for its gas to western Europe.

Poland, one of the most outspoken opponents of Nord Stream 2, together with the United States, issued a joint statement last month during the visit of Polish President Andrzej Duda to Washington, in which the parties said , "We will continue to coordinate our efforts to counter energy projects that threaten our mutual security, such as Nord Stream 2."

The United States looks to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the European market, including to Germany , to help Europe diversify its energy supply, which is becoming increasingly dependent on Russian supplies. Related: High Prices Benefit Iran Despite Lost Oil Exports

The president of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), Dieter Kempf, however, told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung last month, that he had "a big problem with a third country interfering in our energy policy," referring to the United States. German industry needs Nord Stream 2, and dropping the project to buy U.S. LNG instead wouldn't make any economic sense, he said. U.S. LNG currently is not competitive on the German market and would simply cost too much, according to Kempf.

The lower price of Russian pipeline gas to Europe is a key selling point -- and one that Gazprom uses often. Earlier this month Alexey Miller, Chairman of Gazprom's Management Committee, said at a gas forum in Russia that "Although much talk is going on about new plans for LNG deliveries, there is no doubt that pipeline gas supplies from Russia will always be more competitive than LNG deliveries from any other part of the world. It goes without saying."

The issue with Nord Stream 2 -- which is already being built in German waters -- is that it's not just a commercial project. Many in Europe and everyone in the United States see it as a Russian political tool and a means to further tighten Russia's grip on European gas supplies, of which it already holds more than a third. But Germany wants to discuss the future of this project within the European Union, without interference from the United States.


Alex V , October 18, 2018 at 4:43 am

Thankfully liquefying gas and then reconstituting it uses no additional energy, and transportation into major harbors is perfectly safe.

Capitalism inaction!

Quentin , October 18, 2018 at 6:23 am

Maybe the US thinks it will also have to go out of its way to accommodate Germany and the EU by offering to construct the necessary infrastructure in Europe for the import of LNG at exorbitant US prices. MAGA. How long would that take?

disillusionized , October 18, 2018 at 7:03 am

The question is, is it inevitable that the EU/US relationship goes sour?

Continentalism is on the rise generally, and specifically with brexit, couple this with the geographical gravity of the EU-Russia relationship makes a EU-Russia "alliance" make more sense than the EU-US relationship.

Ever since the death of the USSR and the accession of the eastern states to the EU, the balance of power in the EU-US relationship has moved in ways it seems clear that the US is uncomfortable with.

To all of this we must add the policy differences between the US and the EU – see the GDPR and the privacy shield for example.

I have said it before – the day Putin dies (metaphorically or literally) is a day when the post war order in Europe may die, and we see the repairing of the EU-Russia relationship (by which I mean the current regime in Russia will be replaced with a new generation far less steeped in cold war dogma and way more interested in the EU).

NotReallyHere , October 18, 2018 at 1:23 pm

"The post war order in Europe will doe and we see the repairing of the EU/Russian relationship "

I think you mean the German/Russian relationship and that repair has been under way for more than a decade. The post war order is very very frayed already and looks close to a break point.

This Nord Stream 2 story illustrates more than most Germany's attitudes to the EU and to the world at large. Germany used its heft within the EU to 1 ) get control of Russian gas supplies into Central Europe (Germany insisted that Poland could not invest in the project apparently and refused a landing point for the pipeline in Poland. Instead it offered a flow back valve from Germany into Poland that the Germans would control) 2) thumb its nose at the US while outwardly declaring friendship through the structures provided by EU and NATO membership.

Even Obama suspected the Germans of duplicity (the Merkel phone hacking debacle).

It's is this repairing relationship that will set the tone for Brexit, the Ukraine war, relations between Turkey and EU and eventually the survival of the EU and NATO. The point ? Germany doesn't give a hoot about the EU it served its purpose of keeping Germany anchored to the west and allowing German reunification to solidify while Russia was weak. Its usefulness is in the past now, however from a German point of view.

Seamus Padraig , October 18, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Putin dying isn't going to change Washington. As long as NATO exists, Washington will continue to use it to drive a wedge between the EU and Russia. Merkel foolishly went along with all of Washington's provocations against Russia in Ukraine, even though none of it benefited Germany's national interest.

Come to think of it, maybe Merkel dying off would improve German-Russian relations

NotReallyHere , October 18, 2018 at 4:49 pm

She did indeed go along with all the provocations and she sat back and said nothing while Putin railed against US sanctions. Yet Putin didn't blame Germany or the EU. Instead he said that the Germany/EU is currently trapped by the US and would come to their senses in time. He is leaving the door open.

Germany won't lose if NATO and the EU break up. It would free itself from a range increasingly dis-functional entities that, in its mind, restrict its ability to engage in world affairs.

Susan the other , October 18, 2018 at 3:02 pm

I think you are right. Russia and Germany are coming together and there's nothing we can do about it because "private commercial venture." Poetic justice.

And the economic link will lead to political links and we will have to learn a little modesty. The ploy we are trying to use, selling Germany US LNG could not have been anything more than a stopgap supply line until NG from the ME came online but that has been our achilles heel.

It feels like even if we managed to kick the Saudis out and took over their oil and gas we still could no longer control geopolitics. The cat is out of the bag and neoliberalism has established the rules. And it's pointless because there is enough gas and oil and methane on this planet to kill the human race off but good.

NotReallyHere , October 18, 2018 at 5:00 pm

@Susan

That exactly right. and Gerhard Schroder has been developing those political relationships for more than a decade. The political/economic links already go very deep on both sides.

if the rapprochement is occurring, Brexit, the refugee crisis and Italy's approaching debt crisis are all just potential catalysts for an inevitable breakup. Germany likely views these as potential opportunities to direct European realignment rather than existential crises to be tackled.

JimL , October 18, 2018 at 7:08 am

What US LNG exports? The US is a net importer of NG from Canada. US 2018 NG consumption and production was 635.8 and 631.6 Mtoe respectively (BP 2018 Stats). Even the BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy has an asterisks by US LNG exports which says, "Includes re-exports" which was 17.4 BCM or 15 Mtoe for 2018.

Ignacio , October 18, 2018 at 7:49 am

The US produces annually about 33,000,000 million cubic feet and consumes 27.000.000 million according to the EiA . So there is an excess to export indeed.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Leaving 6,000,000 million to be exported, until the shale gas no longer flows. How farsighted.

Ignacio , October 18, 2018 at 7:42 am

Natural gas negotiations involve long term contracts so there are lots of money to exchange ensuring business for many years to come. Such a contract has recently been signed between Poland's PGNiG and American Venture Global Calcasieu & Venture Global Plaquemines LNG (Lousiana). According to the Poland representative this gas would be 20% cheaper than Russian gas. (if one has to believe it). Those contracts are very secretive in their terms. This contract in particular is still dependent on the termination of liquefaction facilities in Lousiana.

I don't know much about NG markets in Poland but according to Eurostat prices for non-household consumers are very similar in Poland, Germany, Lithuania or Spain.

PlutoniumKun , October 18, 2018 at 10:36 am

Gas contracts are usually linked to oil prices. A lot of LNG is traded as a fungible product like oil, but that contract seems different – most likely its constructed this way because of the huge capital cost of the LNG facilities, which make very little economic sense for a country like Poland which has pipelines criss-crossing it. I suspect the terminals have more capacity that the contract quantity – the surplus would be traded at market prices, which would no doubt be where the profit margin is for the supplier (I would be deeply sceptical that unsubsidised LNG could ever compete with Russia gas, the capital costs involved are just too high).

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 8:26 am

IIRC, the US is pushing LNG because fracking has resulted in a lot of NG coincident with oil production. They've got so much NG coming out of fracked oil wells that they don't know what to do with it and at present, a lot of it just gets flared, or leaks into the atmosphere.

IMO, the folks responsible for this waste are as usual, ignoring the 'externalities', the costs to the environment of course, but also the cost of infrastructure and transport related to turning this situation to their advantage.

So they turn to bullying the EU to ignore the price advantage that Russia is able to offer, due to the economics of pipeline transport over liquefaction and ocean transport, and of course the issues of reliability and safety associated with ocean transport, and high-pressure LNG port facilities compared to pipelines.

This doesn't even take into account the possibility that the whole fracked gas supply may be a short-lived phenomenon, associated with what we've been describing here as basically a finance game.

Trump will probably offer the EU 'free' LNG port facilities financed by low-income American tax-payers, and cuts to 'entitlements', all designed to MAGA.

PlutoniumKun , October 18, 2018 at 10:39 am

Just to clarify, fracked gas is not usually a by-product of oil fracking – the geological beds are usually distinct (shale gas tends to occur at much deeper levels than tight oil). Gas can however be a byproduct of conventional oil production. 'wet' gas (propane, etc), can be a by-product of either.

Synapsid , October 18, 2018 at 11:14 am

PlutoniumKun,

It's common for oil wells both fracked and conventional to produce natural gas (NG) though not all do. The fracked wells in the Permian Basin are producing a great deal of it.

Natural gas does indeed form at higher temperatures than oil does and that means at greater depth but both oil and NG migrate upward. Exploration for petroleum is hunting for where it gets captured at depth, not for where it's formed. Those source rocks are used as indicators of where to look for petroleum trapped stratigraphically higher up.

Steve , October 18, 2018 at 8:53 am

It seems we have been maneuvering for a while to raise our production of LNG and oil (unsustainably) in order to become an important substitute supplier to the EU countries. It sort of looks like our plan is to reduce EU opposition to our attacking Russia. Then we will have China basically surrounded. This is made easier with our nuclear policy of "we can use nuclear weapons with acceptable losses." What could go wrong?

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 9:02 am

What could go wrong?

I wonder what the secret industry studies say about the damage possible from an accident at a LNG port terminal involving catastrophic failure and combustion of the entire cargo of a transport while unloading high-pressure LNG.

They call a fuel-air bomb the size of a school bus 'The Mother of all bombs', what about one the size of a large ocean going tanker?

Anarcissie , October 18, 2018 at 10:46 am

Many years ago, someone was trying to build an LNG storage facility on the southwest shore of Staten Island 17 miles SW of Manhattan involving very large insulated tanks. In spite of great secrecy, there came to be much local opposition. At the time it was said that the amount of energy contained in the tanks would be comparable to a nuclear weapon. Various possible disaster scenarios were proposed, for example a tank could be compromised by accident (plane crashes into it) or terrorism, contents catch fire and explode, huge fireball emerges and drifts with the wind, possibly over New Jersey's chemical farms or even towards Manhattan. The local opponents miraculously won. As far as I know, the disused tanks are still there.

Wukchumni , October 18, 2018 at 10:55 am

This was a fuel-air bomb @ Burning Man about a dozen years ago, emanating from an oil derrick of sorts.

I was about 500 feet away when it went up, and afterwards thought maybe we were a bit too close to the action, as we got blasted with heat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wyc6LTVxhJA

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 10:56 am

Does this page help Watt4Bob?

https://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/LNG/app4.htm

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 2:53 pm

That last one was a doozy as they say!

Nigeria 2005;

A 28-inch LNG underground pipeline exploded in Nigeria and the resulting fire engulfed an estimated 27 square kilometers.

Here's one from Cleveland;

On 20 October 1944, a liquefied natural gas storage tank in Cleveland, Ohio, split and leaked its contents, which spread, caught fire, and exploded. A half hour later, another tank exploded as well. The explosions destroyed 1 square mile (2.6 km2), killed 130, and left 600 homeless.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:54 pm

The locals in Nigeria drill hole in pipeline to get free fuel.

The Nigeria Government has been really wonderful about sharing the largess and riches of their large petroleum field in the Niger delta. Mostly with owners of expensive property around the world.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 9:05 am

I am trying to think of what might be in it for the Germans to go along with this deal but cannot see any. The gas would be far more expensive that the Russian deliveries. A fleet of tankers and the port facilities would have to be built and who is going to pick up the tab for that? Then if the terminal is in Louisiana, what happens to deliveries whenever there is a hurricane?

I cannot see anything in it for the Germans at all. Trump's gratitude? That and 50 cents won't buy you a cup of coffee. In any case Trump would gloat about the stupidity of the Germans taking him up on the deal, not feel gratitude. The US wants Germany to stick with deliveries via the Ukraine as they have their thumb on that sorry country and can threaten Germany with that fact. Nord Stream 2 (and the eventual Nord Stream 3) threaten that hold.

The killer argument is this. In terms of business and remembering what international agreements Trump has broken the past two years, who is more reliable as a business partner for Germany – Putin's Russia or Trump's America?

Ignacio , October 18, 2018 at 10:20 am

Apart from cost issues, If American companies rely on shale gas to keep or increase production will they be able to honor 20 year supply contracts?

PlutoniumKun , October 18, 2018 at 10:37 am

I find it impossible to believe that a gas supplier would keep to an artificially low LNG contract if, say, a very cold winter in the US led to a shortage and extreme price spike. They'd come up with some excuse not to deliver.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 10:40 am

Good question that. Poland has just signed a 20 year agreement with the US so I will be curious how that works out for them. Story at - https://www.rt.com/business/441494-poland-us-gas-lng/

jsn , October 18, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Trumps argument appears to be that Germany as a NATO member relies on US DOD for defense, to pay for that they must buy our LNG.

jefemt , October 18, 2018 at 9:25 am

My recollection was that there was a law that prohibited export-sales of domestic US hydrocarbons. That law was under attack, and went away in the last couple years?

LNG with your F35? said the transactional Orangeman

Duck1 , October 18, 2018 at 2:51 pm

The fracked crude is ultralight and unsuitable for the refineries in the quantities available, hence export, which caused congress to change the law. No expert, but understand that it is used a lot as a blender with heavier stocks of crude, quite a bit going to China.

oh , October 18, 2018 at 10:01 am

The petroleum industry has been bribing lobbying the administration for quite a while to get this policy in place, The so called surplus of NG today (if there is), won't last long. Exports will create a shortage and will result in higher prices to all.

vidimi , October 18, 2018 at 10:43 am

also, if Germany were to switch to American LNG, for how long would this be a reliable energy source? Fracking wells are short lived, so what happens once they are depleted? who foots the bill?

John k , October 18, 2018 at 12:48 pm

We do. Shortage here to honor export contracts, as has happened in Australia.

Big Tap , October 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

The United States should lead by example. Telling Germany not to import Russian gas is rich considering the U.S. also imports from Russia. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2018/07/12/russia-was-a-top-10-supplier-of-u-s-oil-imports-in-2017/

Seamus Padraig , October 18, 2018 at 2:14 pm

I just love the fact that Trump is publicly calling out Merkel on this; she has been nothing but two-faced and hypocritical on the Russia question.

She was one of the ones who pushed the EU hard, for example, to sanction Russia in the wake of the coup in Ukraine (which she had also supported). And then she pushed the EU hard to kill off the South Stream pipeline, which would have gone through SE Europe into Austria. She used the excuse of 'EU solidarity' against 'Russian aggression' to accomplish that only to then turn around and start building yet another pipeline out of Russia and straight into Germany! The Bulgarians et al. must feel like real idiots now. It seems Berlin wants to control virtually all the pipelines into Europe.

So, three cheers for Trump embarrassing Merkel on this issue!

Unna , October 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Putting money aside for a moment, Trump, as well as the entire American establishment, doesn't want Russia "controlling" Germany's energy supplies. That's because they want America to control Germany's energy supplies via controlling LNG deliveries from America to Germany and by controlling gas supplies to Germany through Ukraine. This by maintaining America's control over Ukraine's totally dependent puppet government. The Germans know this so they want Nord Stream 2 & 3.

Ukraine is an unreliable energy corridor on a good day. It is run by clans of rapacious oligarchs who don't give one whit about Ukraine, the Ukrainian "people", or much of anything else except business. The 2019 presidential election may turn into a contest among President Poroshenko the Chocolate King, Yulia Tymoshenko the Gas Princess, as well as some others including neo Nazis that go downhill from there. What competent German government would want Germany's energy supplies to be dependent on that mess?

It has been said that America's worst geopolitical nightmare is an economic-political-military combination of Russia, Iran, and China in the Eurasian "heartland". Right up there, if not worse, is a close political-economic association between Germany and Russia; now especially so since such a relationship can quickly be hooked into China's New Silk Road, which America will do anything to subvert including tariffs, sanctions, confiscations of assets, promotion of political-ethnic-religious grievances where they may exist along the "Belt-Road", as well as armed insurrections, really maybe anything short of all out war with Russia and China.

Germany's trying to be polite about this saying, sure, how about a little bit of LNG along with Nord Stream 2 & 3? But the time may come, if America pushes enough, that Germany will have to make an existential choice between subservience to America, and pursuit of it's own legitimate self interest.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:33 pm

The Empire fights Back.

Study a map of the ME, and consider the silk road Terminii.

Synoia , October 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm

It's hard to make NG explode, as it is with all liquid hydrocarbons. It is refrigerated, and must change from liquid to gaseous for, and be mixed with air.

I've also worked on a Gas Tanker in the summer vacations. The gas was refrigerated, and kept liquid. They is a second method, used for NG, that is to allow evaporation from the cargo, and use it as fuel for the engine (singular because there is one propulsion engine on most large ships) on the tanker.

Watt4Bob , October 18, 2018 at 5:31 pm

I dunno, there are other opinions .

[Oct 17, 2018] Did Saudis, CIA Fear Khashoggi 9-11 Bombshell-

Oct 17, 2018 | theduran.com

The macabre case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi raises the question: did Saudi rulers fear him revealing highly damaging information on their secret dealings? In particular, possible involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks on New York in 2001.

Even more intriguing are US media reports now emerging that American intelligence had snooped on and were aware of Saudi officials making plans to capture Khashoggi prior to his apparent disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. If the Americans knew the journalist's life was in danger, why didn't they tip him off to avoid his doom?

Jamal Khashoggi (59) had gone rogue, from the Saudi elite's point of view. Formerly a senior editor in Saudi state media and an advisor to the royal court, he was imminently connected and versed in House of Saud affairs. As one commentator cryptically put it: "He knew where all the bodies were buried."

For the past year, Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile, taking up residence in the US, where he began writing opinion columns for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi's articles appeared to be taking on increasingly critical tone against the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 33-year-old Crown Prince, or MbS as he's known, is de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, in place of his aging father, King Salman.

While Western media and several leaders, such as Presidents Trump and Macron, have been indulging MbS as "a reformer", Khashoggi was spoiling this Saudi public relations effort by criticizing the war in Yemen, the blockade on Qatar and the crackdown on Saudi critics back home.

However, what may have caused the Saudi royals more concern was what Khashoggi knew about darker, dirtier matters. And not just the Saudis, but American deep state actors as as well.

He was formerly a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal, who is an eminence gris figure in Saudi intelligence, with its systematic relations to American and British counterparts. Prince Turki's father, Faisal, was formerly the king of Saudi Arabia until his assassination in 1975 by a family rival. Faisal was a half-brother of the present king, Salman, and therefore Prince Turki is a cousin of the Crown Prince – albeit at 73 more than twice his age.

For nearly 23 years, from 1977 to 2001, Prince Turki was the director of the Mukhabarat, the Saudi state intelligence apparatus. He was instrumental in Saudi, American and British organization of the mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces. Those militants in Afghanistan later evolved into the al Qaeda terror network, which has served as a cat's paw in various US proxy wars across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Russia's backyard in the Caucasus.

Ten days before the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City, in which some 3,000 Americans died, Prince Turki retired from his post as head of Saudi intelligence. It was an abrupt departure, well before his tenure was due to expire.

There has previously been speculation in US media that this senior Saudi figure knew in advance that something major was going down on 9/11. At least 15 of the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked three commercial airplanes that day were Saudi nationals.

Prince Turki has subsequently been named in a 2002 lawsuit mounted by families of 9/11 victims. There is little suggestion he was wittingly involved in organizing the terror plot. Later public comments indicated that Prince Turki was horrified by the atrocity. But the question is: did he know of the impending incident, and did he alert US intelligence, which then did not take appropriate action to prevent it?

Jamal Khashoggi had long served as a trusted media advisor to Prince Turki, before the latter resigned from public office in 2007. Following 9/11, Turki was the Saudi ambassador to both the US and Britain.

A tentative idea here is that Khashoggi, in his close dealings with Prince Turki over the years, may have gleaned highly sensitive inside information on what actually happened on 9/11. Were the Arab hijackers mere patsies used by the American CIA to facilitate an event which has since been used by American military planners to launch a global "war on terror" as a cover for illegal wars overseas? There is a huge body of evidence that the 9/11 attacks were indeed a "false flag" event orchestrated by the US deep state as a pretext for its imperialist rampages.

The apparent abduction and murder last week of Jamal Khashoggi seems such an astoundingly desperate move by the Saudi rulers. More evidence is emerging from Turkish sources that the journalist was indeed lured to the consulate in Istanbul where he was killed by a 15-member hit squad. Reports are saying that the alleged assassination was ordered at the highest level of the Saudi royal court, which implicates Crown Prince MbS.

Why would the Saudi rulers order such a heinous act, which would inevitably lead to acute political problems, as we are seeing in the fallout from governments and media coverage around the world?

Over the past year, the House of Saud had been appealing to Khashoggi to return to Riyadh and resume his services as a media advisor to the royal court. He declined, fearing that something more sinister was afoot. When Khashoggi turned up in Istanbul to collect a divorce document from the Saudi consulate on September 28, it appears that the House of Saud decided to nab him. He was told to return to the consulate on October 2. On that same day, the 15-member group arrived from Riyadh on two private Gulfstream jets for the mission to kill him.

Official Saudi claims stretch credulity. They say Khashoggi left the consulate building unharmed by a backdoor, although they won't provide CCTV images to prove that. The Turks say their own CCTV facilities monitoring the front and back of the Saudi consulate show that Khashoggi did not leave the premises. The Turks seem confident of their claim he was murdered inside the building, his remains dismembered and removed in diplomatic vehicles. The two private jets left the same day from Istanbul with the 15 Saudis onboard to return to Riyadh, via Cairo and Dubai.

To carry out such a reckless act, the Saudis must have been alarmed by Khashoggi's critical commentaries appearing in the Washington Post. The columns appeared to be delivering more and more damaging insights into the regime under Crown Prince MbS.

The Washington Post this week is reporting that US intelligence sources knew from telecom intercepts that the Saudis were planning to abduct Khashoggi. That implicates the House of Saud in a dastardly premeditated act of murder.

But furthermore this same disclosure could also, unwittingly, implicate US intelligence. If the latter knew of a malicious intent towards Khashoggi, why didn't US agents warn him about going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul? Surely, he could have obtained the same personal documents from the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, a country where he was residing and would have been safer.

Jamal Khashoggi may have known too many dark secrets about US and Saudi intel collusion, primarily related to the 9/11 terror incidents. And with his increasing volubility as a critical journalist in a prominent American news outlet, it may have been time to silence him. The Saudis as hitmen, the American CIA as facilitators.

[Oct 14, 2018] According to an article in the Duran Khashoggi was an agent in the employ of Riyadh and the CIA during the Soviet presence in Afghan

Notable quotes:
"... He is just an agent of one Saudii faction against the MBS faction, a faction just as evil. ..."
"... After Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, was kidnapped and taken to Riyadh to be re-educated (tortured) Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia . Khashoggi continued with his columns criticizing the Saudi regime, attacking its campaign in Yemen on Al Jazeera. ..."
Oct 14, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Oct 12, 2018 7:14:54 PM | link

According to an article in the Duran Khashoggi was an agent in the employ of Riyadh and the CIA during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.

Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud was Khashoggi's political protector. Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud was at the center of relations between Washington and Saudi Arabia against the USSR while it was in Afghanistan using fighters who later became known as Al Qaeda - armed and trained by CIA:Pakistan and financed by the Saudis.

Faisal became the leader of Saudi intelligence. He was removed from his post on May 24, 2001, a few months before September 11, 2001 (convenient) .The connections he had with Osama bin Laden led him to being sued by relatives of 9/11 directed at him and other Saudi operatives.

In 2005, Turki bin Faisal was appointed Saudi ambassador to the US during the Bush administration, with Khashoggi accompanying him as a media advisor. During Turki bin Faisal's ambassadorship in Washington, Khashoggi assumed the position of head of press relations, coming into direct contact with major national and international organs of US media.

During the Obama administration, Khashoggi supported the Obama administrations strategy of color revolutions and the Arab Spring to extend US imperialist domination following the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was most likely a CIA asset, perhaps also Saudi intelligence as well

When MBS became the strongman holding power in Saudi Arabia, he triggered a near war with Qatar with Trumps blessing, and was unhappy over the role of Al Jazeera, which often hosted Khashoggi and was increasingly critical of MBS.

So whatever the story is I am not losing any sleep over Khashoggi. He is just an agent of one Saudii faction against the MBS faction, a faction just as evil. Kind of like the pick between agents of the 2 factions duking it out in the US. Evil does vs Evil do. There are no white knights here.

After Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, was kidnapped and taken to Riyadh to be re-educated (tortured) Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia . Khashoggi continued with his columns criticizing the Saudi regime, attacking its campaign in Yemen on Al Jazeera.


jiri , Oct 13, 2018 1:34:56 AM | link

This seems well co-ordinated.

The BBC, Guardian giving it lots of attention.

Even the UN Sec-Gen has statement on it.

A lot of attention compared to lots of deaths in Yemen, for example.

Something is afoot. But what?

teri , Oct 13, 2018 5:24:19 AM | link
What hypocrisy on display by the US. Unfuckingbelievable. Such concern for a journalist, such outrage!

There is currently a case working its way through the court system (here in the US) brought by two journalists, one of them an American, where they are pleading to have their names removed from the US "kill list". They say their inclusion on the list is erroneous, and ask that they be given a chance to show that they are not, in fact, terrorists before a drone blows them into pieces. They are represented by Reprieve lawyers, and they joined their two suits together as co-plainiffs, although it now appears that the foreign-born journalist was basically told by the judge he was shit out of luck, having "no standing", since he didn't sufficiently prove that he was on the list. (He had found his name listed as a "highest scoring target" on some of Edward Snowden's leaked NSA materials, but that was not enough "proof" for the judge.)

The American journalist is Bilal Kareem, and the other is a journalist from Pakistan named Ahmad Zaidan. BTW, both these men were originally targeted under the Obama administration, but their names remain on the list under Trump. And Trump has increased the use of these targeted drone killings by 4 to 5 times the number of Obama's, who himself had increased the assassination program 10 fold over Bush' numbers. Trump has also loosened the "rules" about where these drone killings can take place, and who can be targeted. US drone warfare has taken the lives of some 10,858 individuals since 2004, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).

The Washington Post and the Middle East Monitor both have good stories about the case, but the best article by far is Matt Taibbi's article in Rolling Stone published on 19 July.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/how-to-survive-americas-kill-list-699334/

mali , Oct 13, 2018 8:46:22 AM | link
According to NYT , Khashoggi "had expressed concern to a friend on Monday that he could be kidnapped and returned to Saudi Arabia if he visited the consulate". He went in at 1:30pm , while his friend and fiancée were waiting outside till 9:00pm .

Isn't it a bit odd that his friend and fiancée, while fully aware the danger of him being kidnapped insider the consulate, waited for 7:30 hours before alerting Turkish authorities? Normally it takes 2 or 3 hours get a document, esp. already processed ones. Why didn't his friend and fiancée alert the Turkish police earlier? Esp. "he left his cellphone outside with Hatice, who had instructions to alert his friends if Mr. Khashoggi did not return".

Mr. Khashoggi's wife had remained in Saudi Arabia while he was no longer able to return freely. Their separation had led to a divorce, and he wanted to remarry to a Turkish woman.

Normally, you don't divorce your wife/husband because of one-year's separation. According to this NYT article, Khashogg divided his time between the Washington, D.C., London and Istanbul, how long did he come to know his fiancée? Isn't it a bit too rush/risky for a 59-year old man suddenly decided to divorce long-year wife and marry a new Turkish girl friend? Could it be a honey trap?

" Odd dates ?"

- Oct. 2, Khashoggi disappeared.

- Oct. 3, Trump told his supporters that Saudi could last two weeks without American support.

- Oct. 6, MbS said Suadi could survive 2000 years without US help .

- Now full-blown MSM storm, State Deparment is closely monitor the whole affair, Turkish government is feeding the media with all sorts of lurid details and claims. (Isn't it much easier and simpler just to kidnap/shot him on the streets of Istanbul or London than dismembering his body inside Istanbul consulate?)

Now Saudi is "willing to cooperate" with Turkey, American priest Brauson is set free, plus MbS now has probably to purchase tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions of US armaments. What a "coincident" win-win situation for Erdy and Trump.


Den Lille Abe , Oct 13, 2018 8:46:30 AM | link
As another poster commented, something is missing...
It is like a well choreograhped drame, Skripals were the same, this also is tooooo nice fitting together... Hmfr!
Qui bono? Who makes money on this? I certainly cannot answer that, but lets play safe : The Russians did it!
They beamed up Kasshoggi to their base on the dark side of the moon, the re killed him in civilized manner, fucking him to death with nice looking whores and spoonfeeding him Beluga caviar and interjected wit sips of Russian Starka. He was then made to mush and beamed back into the Saudi consulate making a real mess. Now poor headchop promoter is all over the place! He must love that up in his muslum heaven with 72 old hags. There is no martyrdom in being beamed to the moon and put through a garden shredder, that is nothing special.
So now the Saudi's has Khassoggi al over their faces (literally :)) and the Turks eye a new way to betray someone (Putin, wake up!!). Ever since democracy was bestowed on these people, they have made a mess of it.
Back in the day (when I was gung ho Army boy), it was OK for a Turk officer to shoot dead a couple of conscripts a year, no problemo, the sentries with weapons had no live rounds hi-hi. Turkey does not need a hard shove and it will crumble, and the Americans will intervene, unless Russia is first.
This game is about Turkey, and not goat herders in Saudi Sodoma. They have hardly oil left and the plebs are angry.

[Oct 12, 2018] If the gas pipeline project is indeed implemented, then Kiev will demand that a penalty against against Russia be awarded the Ukraine for the loss it will suffer because of the redundancy of its gas transport system.

Oct 12, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile October 5, 2018 at 12:58 am

... .. ...

Ukraine Naftogaz Commercial Director Yuriy Vitrenko, in an interview with "The Fifth Channel" has spoken of a plan that has been prepared in order to protect Naftogaz interests in the event of the launch of "Nord Stream-2".

According to him, if the gas pipeline project is indeed implemented, then Kiev will demand that a penalty against against Russia be awarded the Ukraine for the loss it will suffer because of the redundancy of its gas transport system.

The loss incured has been estimated by the Ukraine to be $12 billion. A lawsuit has already been filed by Naftogaz for international arbitration.

https://www.rbc.ru/politics/05/10/2018/5bb704ec9a7947bd43fa167c?utm_source=yxnews&utm_medium=desktop

Right!

So for several years I have been shopping at a Pyatyorochka supermarket around the corner from our house. Now there's a new Billa supermarket around the other corner. It has a wider range of goods and is very competitive as regards its Pyatorocka prices, so I now do most of my shopping at Billa.

Does this mean Pyatyorachka can sue me for damages because of the loss of income it is suffering because of my choice to use another retail outlet?

I shall check with the Swedish court of arbitration.

Stay tuned!

Mark Chapman October 5, 2018 at 8:30 am
Perhaps they would get further by suing the US Department of State. I'm pretty sure that if it were not for them, Ukraine's gas transit system would still be in use. Ukraine could at least make a sensible case, which they cannot do against Russia. Mind you, a UK judge would probably rule in their favour, because simply wanting to get at Russia seems to be good enough these days – making a sensible case is not required.

[Oct 11, 2018] Most American LNG cargoes thus far to Europe are promptly sold on to someplace else where the Europeans can get more for it.

Oct 11, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman October 8, 2018 at 5:46 pm

In another stellar example of simply making up an optimistic headline that makes readers feel good – those readers who only read headlines, for example – a French analyst is apparently willing to go out on a limb and say that Nord Stream II 'won't be built as planned'. That's already a little hedgy, but if you read the article itself, he doesn't say anything remotely like that. In fact, he says Russian gas is the cheapest option, and most American LNG cargoes thus far to Europe are promptly sold on to someplace else where the Europeans can get more for it.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/interview/french-analyst-nord-stream-2-wont-be-built-as-planned/

The major issue is that US LNG may come if we have higher prices. But why would we need them? They are quite high already. If China is prepared to overbid us, we don't need the American gas. We can ask for more Russian gas

Mark Chapman October 8, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Russia's Energy Minister sees the potential to double Russian gas exports by 2035. Russia's gas exports are growing by 6-7%/yr while global gas demand growth is at 2.6%/yr until 2035.

https://www.naturalgasworld.com/russian-producers-eye-doubling-exports-64936?#signin

Probably not the greatest news for the environment, as most analysts agree we need to start immediately moving away from a petroleum-based energy policy. But getting rid of all use of coal would be a good start for the present; gas is relatively clean, although I don't know if that makes any real difference to greenhouse-gas emissions.

[Oct 05, 2018] Putin on Trump push of the USA LNG to EU

Oct 05, 2018 | en.kremlin.ru

Ryan Chilcote : Let's return to energy, or at least more directly to energy, President Putin, and talk about Nord Stream 2. That's the pipeline that Gazprom wants to build between Russia and Germany. Again, the President of the United States has said his opinion about this. He says that Germany is effectively a hostage already of Russia, because it depends on Russia for so much of its energy and gas supplies, and that it's vulnerable to "extortion and intimidation" from Russia. What do you make of that?

Vladimir Putin : My response is very simple. Donald and I talked about this very briefly in Helsinki. In any sale, including the sale of our gas to Europe, we are traditionally the supplier, of pipeline gas I mean. We have been doing this since the 1960s. We are known for doing it in a highly responsible and professional manner, and at competitive prices for the European market. In general, if you look at the characteristics of the entire gas market, the price depends on the quantity and on sales volumes. The distance between Russia and Europe is such that pipeline gas is optimal. And the price will always be competitive, always. This is something all experts understand.

We have a lot of people here in this room, in the first row, who could easily be seated next to me, and I would gladly listen to them, because each one is an expert, so each of them can tell you that. And so Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project, I want to emphasise this, warranted by rising energy consumption, including in Europe, and falling domestic production in European countries. They have to get it from somewhere.

Russian gas accounts for around 34 percent of the European market. Is this a lot or a little? It is not insubstantial, but not a monopoly either. Europe certainly can and does actually buy gas from other suppliers, but American liquefied gas is about 30 percent more expensive than our pipeline gas on the European market. If you were buying products of the same quality and you were offered the same product for 30 percent more , what would you choose? So, what are we talking about?

If Europe starts buying American gas for 30 percent more than ours, the entire economy of Germany, in this case, would quickly become dramatically less competitive. Everyone understands this; it is an obvious fact.

But business is business, and we are ready to work with all partners. As you know, our German partners have already begun offshore construction. We are ready to begin as well. We have no problems with obtaining any permits. Finland agreed, and so did Sweden, Germany, and the Russian Federation. This is quite enough for us. The project will be implemented.

< >

Ryan Chilcote : President Putin, did you want to jump in here?

Vladimir Putin: (following up on the remarks by CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden) We understand the realities and treat all our partners with respect. We have very good, amiable long-term relations with all our partners, including the company represented by my neighbour on the left. This company is working in the Russian market and working with great success, but we understand everything very well and understand the realities. We are carrying out the project ourselves. We do not and will not have any problems here. That is to say, they may arise, of course, but we will resolve them.

Some things are beyond the realm of political intrigue. Take supplies to the Federal Republic of Germany. Not everyone knows that the decision was made there to shut down the nuclear power industry. But that is 34 percent of its total energy balance. We are proud of the development of the nuclear power industry in the Russian Federation, although the figure for us is just 16 percent. We are still thinking about how to raise it to 25 percent and are making plans. Theirs is 34 percent and everything will be closed down. What will this vacuum be filled with? What?

Look at LNG [liquefied natural gas ] which is sold by our various competitors and partners. Yes, LNG can and should be in the common basket of Europe and Germany. Do you know how many ports built in Europe are used for LNG transfer? Just 25 percent. Why? Because it is unprofitable.

There are companies and regions for which it is profitable to supply LNG and this is being done. The LNG market is growing very fast. But as for Europe, it is not very profitable, or unprofitable altogether.

Therefore, in one way or another we have already seen Nord Stream 1 through and its performance is excellent. Incidentally, our gas supplies to Europe are continuously growing. Last year, I believe, they amounted to 194 billion cubic metres and this year they will add up to 200 billion cubic metres or maybe even more.

We have loaded practically all our infrastructure facilities: Blue Stream to Turkey, Nord Stream 1 is fully loaded. Yamal-Europe is fully loaded – it is almost approaching 100 percent, while the demand is going up. Life itself dictates that we carry out such projects.

Ryan Chilcote : President Trump's position on American LNG exports is perhaps a little bit more nuanced. His point is that instead of buying Russian gas, even perhaps if it's a bit more expensive, the Germans and other European allies of the United States, because the United States is paying for their defence, should be buying American gas even if there is, I guess the argument suggests, a little bit of a higher price for that

Vladimir Putin : You know, this argument doesn't really work, in my opinion. I understand Donald. He is fighting for the interests of his country and his business. He is doing the right thing and I would do the same in his place.

As for LNG, as I have already said, it is not just a little more expensive in the European market but 30 percent more. This is not a little bit more, it is a lot more, beyond all reason, and is basically unworkable.

But there are markets where LNG will be adopted, where it is efficient, for instance in the Asia-Pacific region. By the way, where did the first shipment of LNG from our new company Yamal-LNG go? Where did the first tanker go? To the United States, because it was profitable. The United States fought this project but ended up buying the first tanker. It was profitable to buy it in this market, at this place and time, and it was purchased.

LNG is still being shipped to the American continent. It's profitable.

It makes no sense to fight against what life brings. We simply need to look for common approaches in order to create favourable market conditions, including, for example, conditions conducive to the production and consumption of LNG in the United States itself and securing the best prices for producers and consumers. This could be achieved by coordinating policy, rather than just imposing decisions on partners.

As for the argument, "We defend you, so buy this from us even if it makes you worse off", I don't think it is very convincing either. Where does it lead? It has led to the Europeans starting to talk about the need to have a more independent defence capability, as well as the need to create a defence alliance of their own that allegedly will not undermine NATO while allowing the Europeans to pursue a real defence policy. This is what, in my view, such steps are leading to.

This is why I am sure that a great many things will be revised. Life will see to that.

[Oct 05, 2018] Putin on Venesuella

Oct 05, 2018 | en.kremlin.ru

Ryan Chilcote: President Putin, let's get back to geopolitics. When you were talking about oil – and when everyone talks about oil and disruptions on the market, they don't just talk about Iran, they talk about Venezuela – you mentioned Venezuela at the beginning of our conversation. Last year, I interviewed President Maduro, the President of Venezuela, here. Venezuela is an ally of Russia. Russia has a lot of oil interests in Venezuela. Oil production in Venezuela is not going well, and politically, things are going very poorly, as you know. Millions of people are leaving the country. There's hunger. There is a lot of talk in the United States, and not only in the United States, in Central and South America, that perhaps it's time for President Maduro to go. Do you agree with that?

Vladimir Putin: This is up to the people of Venezuela, not anyone else in the world.

As for various means of influencing the situation in Venezuela, there should be no such thing All of us influence each other in one way or another, but it should not be done in a way that makes the civilian population even worse off. This is a matter of principle.

Should we rejoice that life is extremely difficult for people there and want to make things even worse with a view to overthrowing President Maduro? He was recently targeted in a terrorist attack, an assassination attempt. Shall we condone such methods of political resistance too?

I think this is absolutely unacceptable. This and anything like it. The people of the country should be given a chance to shape their destiny themselves. Nothing should be imposed from the outside.

This is what has emerged historically in Venezuela. What has emerged historically in the Persian Gulf has emerged there, and the same in Europe, America and Southeast Asia. Nobody should go in there like a bull in a china shop without understanding what is taking place there, instead thinking only that the bull is one of the largest and smartest animals. It is necessary to take a look and give people a chance to figure it out. I have a very simple outlook on this.

[Oct 05, 2018] Russian Energy Week International Forum: Vladimir Putin addressed the plenary session of the second Russian Energy Week Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum.

Oct 03, 2018 | en.kremlin.ru

Indeed, we have now met with the Secretary General and spoke about our cooperation in detail. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that probably for the first time in history all participants in the agreements honoured their commitments in full. I believe Russia made a commitment to reduce production by 30,000 barrels, and we did this, just like all other participants in this agreement.

The market is now balanced. The current growth of oil prices is by and large not a result of our efforts but triggered by attendant circumstances, expectations of decisions on Iran – incidentally these decisions are absolutely illegal and harmful to the world economy. The fall in oil production in North Africa is also linked with political circumstances – a civil war and so on. The reduction in Venezuela is also taking place for domestic political reasons and in connection with the restrictions it has introduced. This is what it is all about.

As you said, President Trump considers this price high. I think he is right to some extent but this suits us very well – $65–$70–$75 per barrel. This is quite enough to ensure the effective performance of energy companies and the investment process. But let us be straight – such prices have largely been produced by the activities of the US administration. I am referring to expectations of sanctions against Iran and political problems in Venezuela. Look what is happening in Libya – the state is destroyed. This is the result of irresponsible policy that is directly affecting the world economy. Therefore, we must work closer with each other, not only in the energy industry but also in the political area so as to prevent such setbacks.

As for increasing production – we have already increased it by 400,000 barrels as we agreed with our partners. We can raise it by another 200,000–300,000 barrels per day if need be. Ryan Chilcote : President Putin, is it right for the President of the United States to be so actively trying to manage the price of oil? We're coming up on elections in the United States, he's concerned about the price of gas. A gallon of gas in the United States costs almost $3. Traditionally, voters punish the party in power when prices rise ahead of elections. Is he doing the right thing, or actually should he step out of the oil market and let the market dictate what happens?

Vladimir Putin : I have already said this and want to repeat it again: we had a very good meeting with the President of the United States in Helsinki. But if we had talked about the issue we are discussing now, I would have told him: Donald, if you want to find out who is guilty for the increase in prices, you should look in the mirror. That's the truth. We have just spoken about the geopolitical factors behind the price hikes. They exist and really play a role in the market. It is better not to interfere in these market processes, not to try and get some competitive advantage by using political instruments and not to try to regulate prices as the Soviet Union did. This does not end well. After all, when talking about our negotiated actions with OPEC we do not use non-market instruments. We are merely matching supply and demand in the market, no more than that. Everything else today has to do with geopolitical factors that influence prices.

As for gas prices, they are calculated on the basis of oil prices. Oil prices are produced by the market whereas gas prices are linked to oil prices. Gas prices fluctuate depending on oil prices with a small time lag of five to six months. That is all.

What is happening in the United States? The United States is one of the world's biggest producers of both oil and gas. We know everything about new technology that is being countered by environmentalists. I agree with them, this production is often carried out using barbarous methods we do not use.

Who is trying to exert pressure on the administration? I do not know. Let us talk about the energy industry. Please do not involve me in domestic political processes and squabbles in the United States. It is for you to figure out or else we will be accused again of meddling in the domestic political life of the US.

Ryan Chilcote: When I spoke about the price of gasoline in the United States, a gallon of gasoline, I meant the price of petrol, of "benzin," not "gaz."

Vladimir Putin : As you understand, this is the price of the end product and this applies to oil products. This price is not simply formed from the primary price of oil or gas if we are talking about gas fuel. State policy also exerts an influence on the final price for consumers. And what about taxes? Why do some European countries double prices on our gas before it reaches the final consumers? This is all state policy.

So it would be best not to point your finger at energy producers all the time. You should figure out what economic policy is being pursued in a country and what is being done to make sure the product reaches the customers at affordable prices. That is all. Ryan Chilcote : President Putin, let me ask you about this EU initiative. What do you make of it?

Vladimir Putin : (commenting on the EU initiative to protect European companies in connection with US sanctions against Iran) It is a bit delayed but better late than never. It is delayed because quite recently the President of France speaking, I believe, in New York directly announced the need to enhance the economic sovereignty of the European Union and reduce its dependence on the United States. This is certainly right.

And how can it be otherwise if, as I have already said, someone is trying to gain competitive advantages in business by using political instruments? I think nobody will like this but this is happening and we are seeing this today.

This is why Europe is thinking about some new opportunities in connection with these circumstances, for instance about dollar-free settlements that incidentally will undermine the dollar. In this context – I have said this many times but would like to repeat it again – I believe that our American partners are committing a huge strategic mistake and undermining confidence in the dollar as today's only reserve currency. They are undermining confidence in it as a universal instrument and are really biting the hand that feeds.

This is strange, even surprising, but I think this is a typical mistake made by any empire when people believe nothing will happen, that everything is so powerful, so strong and stable that there will be no negative consequences. But no, they will come sooner or later. This is the first point.

And the second point, Europe wants to fulfil its international commitments – this is how we understand our European partners – in this case, as regards Iran's nuclear deal, and sees in it, as we do, an element of stability in global affairs, in global politics, which, in one way or another, is reflected in the global economy, as we have already noted.

< >

Ryan Chilcote: President Putin, I'd like to go back to Iran for a second. One of the things that the United States would like to see Iran do is to obviously withdraw from Syria. The US national security advisor just last week said that the United States is going to now stay in Syria as long as Iran and its proxies are there. Russia has been very clear. Russia says that the US military's presence in Iran is illegal. What can you do about the US being in Syria?

Vladimir Putin : There are two options available to remedy the situation.

The first is that the United States must obtain the mandate of the UN Security Council to have its armed forces on the territory of another country, in this case Syria, or receive an invitation from the legitimate Syrian government to deploy its troops there for whatever reason. International law does not allow the presence of any country on the territory of another country for other reasons.

Ryan Chilcote: What can Russia do to change the US' position? The US says it's going to stay, that Iran has to leave, and the US will stay until Iran pulls out of Syria. So what can Russia do?

Vladimir Putin : As we are all well aware, in this particular case the United States (just read the UN Charter to see that my point is correct, and this is not news to anyone) is violating the UN Charter and international law by its presence on the territory of another country without the authorisation of the UN Security Council, without a corresponding resolution and without the invitation of the government of that country. There is nothing good about it.

We have been operating on the premise that we nonetheless cooperate with our US partners in fighting terrorism and ISIS in Syria. But as ISIS gradually ceases to exist in Syria, there is just no other rationale, even outside the framework of international law.

What, in my opinion, can be done and what should we all strive to achieve? We must strive to ensure that there are no foreign troops from other countries in Syria at all. This is what we need to achieve.

Ryan Chilcote : Including Russian forces, of course.

Vladimir Putin : Yes, including Russian, if the Syrian government so decides.

Ryan Chilcote : You just struck a deal with President Erdogan on Syria. Do you think that that's going to hold?

Vladimir Putin : How is that related to oil?

Russian Energy Week International Forum.
Russian Energy Week International Forum.

Ryan Chilcote : It's in a very sensitive geopolitical area.

Vladimir Putin : Maybe it is related, since Syria also produces energy resources and influences the market situation one way or another.

In this sense, yes, we need a stable Syria, no question about it. I am not even talking about other aspects related to international security and fighting terrorism.

This is a very good deal (between Russia and Turkey in this particular case), because it prevented more bloodshed. As you may recall, it includes our agreement to create a demilitarised zone 15–20 kilometres deep, a de-escalation zone near the city of Idlib, known as the Idlib zone. I would like to note that along with our Turkish partners we are now working to implement these agreements. We can see it and are grateful to them for their efforts, and we will continue to work with them on this matter with the support of Iran.

Ryan Chilcote : Let's return to energy, or at least more directly to energy, President Putin, and talk about Nord Stream 2. That's the pipeline that Gazprom wants to build between Russia and Germany. Again, the President of the United States has said his opinion about this. He says that Germany is effectively a hostage already of Russia, because it depends on Russia for so much of its energy and gas supplies, and that it's vulnerable to "extortion and intimidation" from Russia. What do you make of that?

Vladimir Putin : My response is very simple. Donald and I talked about this very briefly in Helsinki. In any sale, including the sale of our gas to Europe, we are traditionally the supplier, of pipeline gas I mean. We have been doing this since the 1960s. We are known for doing it in a highly responsible and professional manner, and at competitive prices for the European market. In general, if you look at the characteristics of the entire gas market, the price depends on the quantity and on sales volumes. The distance between Russia and Europe is such that pipeline gas is optimal. And the price will always be competitive, always. This is something all experts understand.

We have a lot of people here in this room, in the first row, who could easily be seated next to me, and I would gladly listen to them, because each one is an expert, so each of them can tell you that. And so Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project, I want to emphasise this, warranted by rising energy consumption, including in Europe, and falling domestic production in European countries. They have to get it from somewhere.

Russian gas accounts for around 34 percent of the European market. Is this a lot or a little? It is not insubstantial, but not a monopoly either. Europe certainly can and does actually buy gas from other suppliers, but American liquefied gas is about 30 percent more expensive than our pipeline gas on the European market. If you were buying products of the same quality and you were offered the same product for 30 percent more , what would you choose? So, what are we talking about?

If Europe starts buying American gas for 30 percent more than ours, the entire economy of Germany, in this case, would quickly become dramatically less competitive. Everyone understands this; it is an obvious fact.

But business is business, and we are ready to work with all partners. As you know, our German partners have already begun offshore construction. We are ready to begin as well. We have no problems with obtaining any permits. Finland agreed, and so did Sweden, Germany, and the Russian Federation. This is quite enough for us. The project will be implemented.

< >

Ryan Chilcote : President Putin, did you want to jump in here?

Vladimir Putin: (following up on the remarks by CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden) We understand the realities and treat all our partners with respect. We have very good, amiable long-term relations with all our partners, including the company represented by my neighbour on the left. This company is working in the Russian market and working with great success, but we understand everything very well and understand the realities. We are carrying out the project ourselves. We do not and will not have any problems here. That is to say, they may arise, of course, but we will resolve them.

Some things are beyond the realm of political intrigue. Take supplies to the Federal Republic of Germany. Not everyone knows that the decision was made there to shut down the nuclear power industry. But that is 34 percent of its total energy balance. We are proud of the development of the nuclear power industry in the Russian Federation, although the figure for us is just 16 percent. We are still thinking about how to raise it to 25 percent and are making plans. Theirs is 34 percent and everything will be closed down. What will this vacuum be filled with? What?

Look at LNG [liquefied natural gas ] which is sold by our various competitors and partners. Yes, LNG can and should be in the common basket of Europe and Germany. Do you know how many ports built in Europe are used for LNG transfer? Just 25 percent. Why? Because it is unprofitable.

There are companies and regions for which it is profitable to supply LNG and this is being done. The LNG market is growing very fast. But as for Europe, it is not very profitable, or unprofitable altogether.

Therefore, in one way or another we have already seen Nord Stream 1 through and its performance is excellent. Incidentally, our gas supplies to Europe are continuously growing. Last year, I believe, they amounted to 194 billion cubic metres and this year they will add up to 200 billion cubic metres or maybe even more.

We have loaded practically all our infrastructure facilities: Blue Stream to Turkey, Nord Stream 1 is fully loaded. Yamal-Europe is fully loaded – it is almost approaching 100 percent, while the demand is going up. Life itself dictates that we carry out such projects.

Ryan Chilcote : President Trump's position on American LNG exports is perhaps a little bit more nuanced. His point is that instead of buying Russian gas, even perhaps if it's a bit more expensive, the Germans and other European allies of the United States, because the United States is paying for their defence, should be buying American gas even if there is, I guess the argument suggests, a little bit of a higher price for that

Vladimir Putin : You know, this argument doesn't really work, in my opinion. I understand Donald. He is fighting for the interests of his country and his business. He is doing the right thing and I would do the same in his place.

As for LNG, as I have already said, it is not just a little more expensive in the European market but 30 percent more. This is not a little bit more, it is a lot more, beyond all reason, and is basically unworkable.

But there are markets where LNG will be adopted, where it is efficient, for instance in the Asia-Pacific region. By the way, where did the first shipment of LNG from our new company Yamal-LNG go? Where did the first tanker go? To the United States, because it was profitable. The United States fought this project but ended up buying the first tanker. It was profitable to buy it in this market, at this place and time, and it was purchased.

LNG is still being shipped to the American continent. It's profitable.

It makes no sense to fight against what life brings. We simply need to look for common approaches in order to create favourable market conditions, including, for example, conditions conducive to the production and consumption of LNG in the United States itself and securing the best prices for producers and consumers. This could be achieved by coordinating policy, rather than just imposing decisions on partners.

As for the argument, "We defend you, so buy this from us even if it makes you worse off", I don't think it is very convincing either. Where does it lead? It has led to the Europeans starting to talk about the need to have a more independent defence capability, as well as the need to create a defence alliance of their own that allegedly will not undermine NATO while allowing the Europeans to pursue a real defence policy. This is what, in my view, such steps are leading to.

This is why I am sure that a great many things will be revised. Life will see to that.

< >

Ryan Chilcote: President Putin, let's get back to geopolitics. When you were talking about oil – and when everyone talks about oil and disruptions on the market, they don't just talk about Iran, they talk about Venezuela – you mentioned Venezuela at the beginning of our conversation. Last year, I interviewed President Maduro, the President of Venezuela, here. Venezuela is an ally of Russia. Russia has a lot of oil interests in Venezuela. Oil production in Venezuela is not going well, and politically, things are going very poorly, as you know. Millions of people are leaving the country. There's hunger. There is a lot of talk in the United States, and not only in the United States, in Central and South America, that perhaps it's time for President Maduro to go. Do you agree with that?

Vladimir Putin: This is up to the people of Venezuela, not anyone else in the world.

As for various means of influencing the situation in Venezuela, there should be no such thing All of us influence each other in one way or another, but it should not be done in a way that makes the civilian population even worse off. This is a matter of principle.

Should we rejoice that life is extremely difficult for people there and want to make things even worse with a view to overthrowing President Maduro? He was recently targeted in a terrorist attack, an assassination attempt. Shall we condone such methods of political resistance too?

I think this is absolutely unacceptable. This and anything like it. The people of the country should be given a chance to shape their destiny themselves. Nothing should be imposed from the outside.

This is what has emerged historically in Venezuela. What has emerged historically in the Persian Gulf has emerged there, and the same in Europe, America and Southeast Asia. Nobody should go in there like a bull in a china shop without understanding what is taking place there, instead thinking only that the bull is one of the largest and smartest animals. It is necessary to take a look and give people a chance to figure it out. I have a very simple outlook on this.

I would like to return to the previous question. After all, we are dealing with energy. I would like to confirm what my colleagues said here about Russia's energy resources and potential. They are indeed enormous. Truly enormous. We are in first place in gas reserves. I believe we have 73.3 trillion cubic metres of gas. The Yamal peninsula was mentioned here but NOVATEK will carry out one more project, Arctic 2, on a neighbouring peninsula. It is about the same size and with the same investment. The first tranche in this project is $27 billion, and the second tranche is about $25 billion. I believe all this will be carried out.

We have the world's largest coal reserves – 275 billion tonnes. We are third in oil reserves. Third in the world in oil reserves. We are the world's largest country by territory. If we take a deeper look we are bound to find many other things. So, we are indeed lucky.

But we were given this not by the Lord alone. Past generations of ours developed these lands. We should never forget what was done by our predecessors, and we will continue to build on it. We will work with our partners. Incidentally, almost all major energy companies work in Russia.

Ryan Chilcote: When we were talking about the EU initiative to try and allow trade between EU countries and Iran, I couldn't help but remember that Russia itself, faced with sanctions, is thinking about a plan to wean itself off of the dollar. This is something that many countries have tried and failed. Why does Russia think that it can succeed in this?

Vladimir Putin : You used the past tense or is the translation inaccurate? Faced. Have the sanctions been lifted? Did I miss something?

Ryan Chilcote: Russia is facing with sanctions.

Vladimir Putin: Okay then. You know, sometimes I think that it would be good for us if those who want to impose sanctions would go ahead and impose all the sanctions they can think of as soon as possible. ( Applause. ) This would free our hands to defend our national interests however we deem most effective for us.

It is very harmful, in general. It hurts the ones doing it. We all figured this out long ago. That is why we have never supported and will never support illegal sanctions that circumvent the United Nations.

Ryan Chilcote: Since you brought up the subject of sanctions, as you know after the Skripal poisoning, Russia is facing even more of them, perhaps as soon as November. What is Russia prepared to do to change the trajectory of relations with the United States and the West?

Vladimir Putin : We are not the ones introducing these sanctions against the United States or the West. We are just responding to their actions, and we do this in very restrained, careful steps so as not to cause harm, primarily to ourselves. And we will continue to do so.

As regards the Skripals and all that, this latest spy scandal is being artificially inflated. I have seen some media outlets and your colleagues push the idea that Skripal is almost a human rights activist. But he is just a spy, a traitor to the motherland. There is such a term, a 'traitor to the motherland,' and that's what he is.

Imagine you are a citizen of a country, and suddenly somebody comes along who betrays your country. How would you, or anybody present here, a representative of any country, feel about such a person? He is scum, that's all. But a whole information campaign has been deployed around it.

I think it will come to an end, I hope it will, and the sooner the better. We have repeatedly told our colleagues to show us the documents. We will see what can be done and conduct an investigation.

We probably have an agreement with the UK on assistance in criminal cases that outlines the procedure. Well, submit the documents to the Prosecutor General's Office as required. We will see what actually happened there.

The fuss between security services did not start yesterday. As you know, espionage, just like prostitution, is one of the most 'important' jobs in the world. So what? Nobody shut it down and nobody can shut it down yet.

Ryan Chilcote : Espionage aside, I think there are two other issues. One is the use of chemical weapons, and let's not forget that in addition to the Skripal family being affected in that attack, there was also a homeless person who was killed when they came in contact with the nerve agent Novichok.

Vladimir Putin: Listen, since we are talking about poisoning Skripal, are you saying that we also poisoned a homeless person there? Sometimes I look at what is happening around this case and it amazes me. Some guys came to England and started poisoning homeless people. Such nonsense. What is this all about? Are they working for cleaning services? Nobody wanted to poison This Skripal is a traitor, as I said. He was caught and punished. He spent a total of five years in prison. We released him. That's it. He left. He continued to cooperate with and consult some security services. So what? What are we talking about right now? Oil, gas or espionage? What is your question?

Let's move on to the other oldest profession and discuss the latest developments in that business. (Laughter.)

Ryan Chilcote : A lot of what we've discussed today goes back to Russia's relationship with the United States, and so I'll ask you just a couple of questions about that and we can move on. The US says you personally ordered the 2016 interference in the elections – I know you deny that. You have said you wanted Trump elected. What do you want to see in 2018 from these midterm election

Vladimir Putin: In Russia or the United States? What are you asking me about?

Ryan Chilcote : What would you like to see happen in the 2018 midterm elections in the United States.

Vladimir Putin: What I want – and I am completely serious – is that this nightmare about Russia's alleged interference with some election campaign in the United States ends. I want the United States, the American elite, the US elite to calm down and clear up their own mess and restore a certain balance of common sense and national interests, just like in the oil market. I want the domestic political squabbles in the United States to stop ruining Russia-US relations and adversely affecting the situation in the world.

Ryan Chilcote: I'll ask this final question on the political front. In Helsinki, you said that you wanted President Trump to win because he favours better relations with Russia. But in fact, as Russia itself says all of the time, relations between Russia and the United States seem to get worse every day. Wouldn't it be better for Russia to have a president in the United States that is not politically compromised by the widely held perception that this country helped him get into the White House?

Vladimir Putin : Firstly, I do not believe President Trump was compromised. The people elected him, the people voted for him. There are those who do not like this; those who do not want to respect the opinion of the American voters. But this is not our business – this is an internal matter of the United States.

Would we be better off or worse? I cannot say either. As is known, there are no ifs in politics. Maybe it would have been even worse, how are we to know? We must derive from what is , and work with that. Good or bad, there is no other President of the United States; there is no other United States either.

We will work. The US is the largest world power, a leader in many spheres, our natural partner in a variety of projects, including global security, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, climate change, as well as the environment. We have a lot of common problems which overlap that we have to work on together.

We presume that sooner or later the moment will come when we will be able to restore full-fledged relations.

< >

Ryan Chilcote : President Putin, I know you need to get a meeting with the Austrian Chancellor, so I'm going to wrap this session up with you, sir. The title of our conversation today is Sustainable Energy for a Changing World. You've been driving Russian energy policy for nearly 20 years now. What changes in the world, or what change in the world, would you identify as the biggest concern for you, and what gives you the most optimism when it comes to what we're seeing.

Vladimir Putin: If you allow me, I would stick to the subject. The questions that you asked concern me as well.

Indeed, we are apparently witnessing global warming, but the reasons for this are not entirely clear, because there is still no answer. The so-called anthropogenic emissions are most likely not the main cause of this warming. It could be caused by global changes, cosmic changes, some changes in the galaxy that are invisible to us – and that's that, we don't even understand what is actually happening. Probably, anthropogenic emissions influence the situation somehow, but many experts believe they have an insignificant effect. This is my first point.

Secondly, I already said this, and I can remind you once again. Everyone blames the United States now. As you see, we have many problems and unresolved matters with the United States, and the US President and I approach many international affairs differently and evaluate our bilateral relations differently. But we still have to be objective. There was a time I saw President Bush refuse to sign the Kyoto agreements. But we still found a solution. I think the same will happen in this case. Well, Trump believes that the Paris Agreement is unprofitable for his country for a variety of reasons. I will not go into details now, he must have talked about this many times, and we know his position.

But I think, we should not antagonise the relationship with the US, because without them it would be impossible to reduce the influence of anthropogenic air pollution on the global climate even a little bit. Therefore, one way or another we need to involve the US in this discussion and this joint work. As I understand, President Trump does not object. He says that he dislikes some provisions of the Paris agreement, but he is not opposed to working with the global community on this matter.

Now, as regards the pollution and the future of the global energy, in order to fight the heat, we need no less energy resources than to fight the cold. Secondly, my colleagues were right, millions of people do not have access to energy resources, and we will never prohibit the use of the contemporary blessings of civilization, it is just unreal. The economy and the industry will keep developing.

Of course, in Russia we also join the best international practices, so-called energy efficient technology that has a little bit of influence on the environment, and we, of course, will continue this.

But I also agree with our Saudi colleague. These alternative sources are very important, but we will not be able to go without hydrocarbons in the next decades. People will have to use them for many decades to come. We mostly speak about oil, but coal is what is used most.

We are speaking about the need to use electric cars, but where will the electricity come from? From the socket? Okay, from the socket, but how did it get there? First we need to burn coal to produce electricity, while gas remains the most environmentally friendly energy resource. So we need to take a comprehensive approach to all such matters.

Ryan Chilcote : Patrick Pouyané posed a challenge to you. He said it would be good if Russia used less coal. Are you prepared to accept that challenge and reduce consumption of coal here in Russia and production?

Vladimir Putin: We have signed the relevant Paris agreements and taken up our responsibilities. We have implemented the first stage of the Kyoto Protocol, and now the Paris Agreement will replace it. We have taken up all necessary responsibilities and will adhere to them. The question is not about reducing the usage of coal for domestic needs, we are not the largest emitter, the US and Asian countries emit much more. Here, we are not the leaders. We sell a lot of coal, but also not more than anyone else and we only help cover the demand. The question is not about us, but about modern technology that uses primary energy resources.

Let us go back to the last question, could you please repeat it?

Ryan Chilcote : Well, the title of the panel is Sustainable Energy for a Changing World. You've been driving Russia's energy policy for nearly 20 years now. What changes, or what is the change that gives you the most hope and what do you think the biggest challenge that you see amongst the changes is for energy?

Vladimir Putin : Concern is caused by uncertainty. In politics, in security, and in the economy. Volatility, in other words. This is it. And the number of uncertainties is growing. This is what causes concern – the unpredictability of the situation.

Ryan Chilcote : Are you talking about your colleague, the President of the United States?

Vladimir Putin : Not exactly. He certainly makes a significant contribution to this unpredictability by virtue of being the President of the largest world power, but not only him. I am talking about the situation in general.

Look at the rise of extremism – where did it come from? Why is this problem so acute today? Why is this extremism turning into terrorism? Doesn't that concern us? This is what we need to understand – where it all came from.

I will not go into details because we have a limited amount of time. But this is happening in many spheres. In the economy – the same thing. This growing uncertainty in all fields is what causes concern.

Now, what causes optimism? Common sense, I think. No matter how hard it is, people, humankind have always found ways out of the most difficult situations, guided by the interests of their countries, their peoples, and it is the goal of any government to ensure the well-being as well as the growth of the welfare of its people.

I think that sooner or later, and the sooner the better, the realisation will come that we need to get away from controversy as soon as possible, in any case, away from trying to resolve this controversy with unacceptable tools and ways that go beyond international law. It seems to me that it is necessary to strengthen the leading role of the United Nations, and on this foundation, move on.

Ryan Chilcote : And on that note, please join me in thanking and congratulating our participants in today's panel and, of course, our host today the President of Russia.

Vladimir Putin : Thank you very much.

[Oct 05, 2018] A few days ago the annual Russian Energy Week conference occurred where Putin gave a speech and answered numerous questions related to energy and geopolitics.

Oct 05, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Oct 5, 2018 6:44:15 PM | link

Per @54--

Thanks for your answer, which is what I'd presumed. The bottom line seems to be that nothing's unhackable--no matter what, it will get hacked.

What follows is OT, but attempts to supply a reason for the propaganda pimple burst. A few days ago the annual Russian Energy Week conference occurred where Putin gave a speech and answered numerous questions related to energy and geopolitics. A few of the choice quotes related to his answers were published, but the transcript portion recording the Q&A had yet to be published in full at the Kremlin's website. The transcript's now complete regarding those Q&As directed at and answered by Putin, and what he has to say on a wide spectrum of issues is highly educational: No one can say they know how Putin feels about a particular issue without having read his answers. A few days ago, I tried linking to the Kremlin's website only to have the post eaten by TypePad's Cloud. Here's the link . Reading his answers and comments might lead Russophobic members of Trump's Swamp to burst a propaganda pimple in revenge for his honesty.

[Sep 29, 2018] US forced to evacuate consulate in Iraq

Sep 29, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

span y gjohnsit on Fri, 09/28/2018 - 9:16pm Last week the Trump Administration ranted against OPEC because the Iranian sanctions are driving up oil prices .
That's called blowback.
Today we see the next level of blowback.

The State Department says the U.S. consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra is being evacuated following attacks blamed on Iran-backed militias. The U.S. embassy in Baghdad will provide full consular services for Basra and the surrounding area, the State Department said.

What's most notable is the reaction by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo directly threatened retaliation against Iran on Friday, after accusing Iranian forces of repeatedly directing attacks against US diplomatic facilities in Iraq.

"Iran should understand that the United States will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks," Mr Pompeo said in a statement, adding both the US consulate general in Basrah and the US embassy in Baghdad had been targeted.

Recently, #Iran -supported militias in Iraq launched rocket attacks against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and our consulate in Basra. We'll hold #Iran 's regime accountable for any attack on our personnel or facilities, and respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives. pic.twitter.com/nqbmogbeCA

-- Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 25, 2018

What is happening in Iraq could lead directly to a proxy war with Iran in Iraq.
The Pentagon says U.S. forces will stay in Iraq "as long as needed". There are about 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq, versus about 100,000 Shia militiamen.

Pompeo is working with Saudi Arabia to form an anti-Iran coalition known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance.
As recently as April, the U.S. was telling those Shia militias were welcome in Iraq.
Last month those Shia militias threatened to attack foreign troops in Iraq if they didn't leave.

span y Amanda Matthews on Fri, 09/28/2018 - 9:59pm
The irony! It burnzzzzz

" Has the regime in #Iran lived together with other nations in peace? Has it been a good neighbor? Look around the world and you'll see the answer is a deafening "no."

span y jim p on Fri, 09/28/2018 - 10:55pm
Paging Mr Orwell...

"Iran-backed militias." That would be Iraqis, no? Is the ultimate plan then to, um, eliminate Iraq's Shia? I expect to hear, soon, that Iraqi Shia test their chemical weapons on children.

span y snoopydawg on Fri, 09/28/2018 - 11:24pm
Hypocrisy at its finest
The UN Charter calls for nations to "live together in peace with one another as good neighbors." Has the regime in #Iran lived together with other nations in peace? Has it been a good neighbor? Look around the world and you'll see the answer is a deafening "no."

Why the leaders of the rest of the world didn't walk out on Trump when he threatened other countries is beyond my comprehension. How much longer will they waste their citizen's lives and their money just because we told them to jump?

Remember when Obama said that "no country should have to tolerate bombs dropping on them from outside their borders?

[Sep 29, 2018] EU, UK, Russia, China Join Together To Dodge US Sanctions On Iran

I think those measure have implicit blessing from Washington, which realized how dangerous withdrawal of Iraq oil from the market can be for the USA economy
Sep 29, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York is a place where world leaders are able to hold important meetings behind closed doors. Russia, China, the UK, Germany, France, and the EU seized that opportunity on Sept. 24 to achieve a real milestone.

The EU, Russia, China, and Iran will create a special purpose vehicle (SPV), a "financially independent sovereign channel," to bypass US sanctions against Tehran and breathe life into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) , which is in jeopardy. "Mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, the participants welcomed practical proposals to maintain and develop payment channels, notably the initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate payments related to Iran's exports, including oil," they announced in a joint statement. The countries are still working out the technical details. If their plan succeeds, this will deliver a blow to the dollar and a boost to the euro.

The move is being made in order to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. According to Federica Mogherini , High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the SPV will facilitate payments for Iran's exports, such as oil, and imports so that companies can do business with Tehran as usual. The vehicle will be available not just to EU firms but to others as well. A round of US sanctions aimed at ending Iranian oil exports is to take effect on November 5. Iran is the world's seventh-largest oil producer. Its oil sector accounts for 70% of the country's exports. Tehran has warned the EU that it should find new ways of trading with Iran prior to that date, in order to preserve the JCPOA.

The SPV proposes to set up a multinational, European, state-backed financial intermediary to work with companies interested in trading with Iran. Payments will be made in currencies other than the dollar and remain outside the reach of those global money-transfer systems under US control. In August, the EU passed a blocking statute to guarantee the immunity of European companies from American punitive measures. It empowers EU firms to seek compensation from the United States Treasury for its attempts to impose extra-territorial sanctions. No doubt the move will further damage the already strained US-EU relationship. It might be helpful to create a special EU company for oil exports from Iran.

Just hours after the joint statement on the SPV, US President Trump defended his unilateral action against Iran in his UNGA address . US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the EU initiative , stating:

"This is one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional global peace and security."

To wit, the EU, Russia, and China have banded together in open defiance against unilateral steps taken by the US. Moscow and Beijing are in talks on how to combine their efforts to fend off the negative impacts of US trade tariffs and sanctions. A planned Sept 24-25 visit by Chinese Vice-Premier Liu, who was coming to the United States for trade talks, was cancelled as a result of the discord and President Trump added more fuel to the fire on Sept. 24 by imposing 10% tariffs on almost half of all goods the US imports from China. "We have far more bullets," the president said before the Chinese official's planned visit. "We're going to go US$200 billion and 25 per cent Chinese made goods. And we will come back with more." The US has recently imposed sanctions on China to punish it for the purchase of Russian S-400 air-defense systems and combat planes. Beijing refused to back down. It is also adamant in its desire to continue buying Iran's oil.

It is true, the plan to skirt the sanctions might fall short of expectations. It could fail as US pressure mounts. A number of economic giants, including Total, Peugeot, Allianz, Renault, Siemens, Daimler, Volvo, and Vitol Group have already left Iran as its economy plummets, with the rial losing two-thirds of its value since the first American sanctions took effect in May. The Iranian currency dropped to a record low against the US dollar this September.

What really matters is the fact that the leading nations of the EU have joined the global heavyweights -- Russia and China -- in open defiance of the United States.

This is a milestone event.

It's hard to underestimate its importance. Certainly, it's too early to say that the UK and other EU member states are doing a sharp pivot toward the countries that oppose the US globally, but this is a start - a first step down that path. This would all have seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago - the West and the East in the same boat, trying to stand up to the American bully!

[Sep 28, 2018] Trump Folds on Nordstream 2 Because ... Logic - Gold Goats 'n Guns

Notable quotes:
"... The Davos Crowd, ..."
"... So, Donald Trump finally folding on stopping Nordstream 2 is yet another example of the limits of what power the U.S. has and of its threats. When he denounced the project he said, ..."
"... "I never thought it was appropriate. I think it's ridiculous. And I think it's certainly a very bad thing for the people of Germany. And I've said it very loud and clear." ..."
"... But notice that he never said why. Because there is no downside for Germany. That's the point. Russian piped gas is simply cheaper and more reliable than LNG produced more than 3000 miles away. The downside is for the U.S. ..."
"... It begins the process of Germany and Russia re-establishing stronger economic ties cut in half by the 2014 sanctions over Crimea. It keeps Merkel in power a little while longer having stood up to the bully Trump and showing some German independence. ..."
"... Most importantly, this gas will be paid for in euros, not dollars. And this further undermines the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions as Gazprom will have a steady supply of euros to pay back its investors and diversify Russia's currency reserves. ..."
"... We saw this last winter when vicious cold snaps forced a hostile Britain to buy a few tankers of Yamal LNG from Novatek to keep its citizens from freezing. With the planet cooling rapidly, expect this source of spot demand to Europe to increase. ..."
"... But, for Germany, and the EU as a whole, more cheap energy is the path to remaining somewhat relevant in the global economy. With Germany ending the use of nuclear power it needs the type of energy Nordstream 2 supplies. In fact, Germany will eventually need Nordstream 3. ..."
"... talking their book. ..."
Sep 28, 2018 | tomluongo.me

Since its first announcement I have been convinced the Nordstream 2 pipeline would be built. I have followed every twist of this story from my days writing for Newsmax.

And the reason for my confidence can be summed up in one word. Money.

Nordstream 2 simply makes too much economic sense for any amount of political whining from the U.S. and Poland to stop it. Poland has no power within the European Union.

Germany does. And while I'm no fan of Angela Merkel getting another political weapon to hold over the heads of the Poles, their attempts to derail the project were always going to end in tears for them.

And so now Poland and the U.S. cried a lot of crocodile tears recently when President Trump finally acceded to reality and ended the threat of sanctioning five of the biggest oil majors in the world over doing business with Gazprom over Nordstream 2.

Nordstream 2's investors are Uniper, OMV, Wintershall, Royal Dutch Shell and Engie. After all the permits were issued and construction begun the only thing that could stop Nordstream from happening was these five companies folding to U.S. pressure and backing out of the project by calling in their loans to Gazprom.

And when they were unwilling to do that, Trump had to fold because you can't cut these companies out of the western banking system and starve them of dollars and euros without an extreme dislocation in oil prices and global trade.

Bluff called. Nordstream 2? Holding Aces.

Trump? Holding two-seven offsuit.

Lack of Polish

The big loser here is Poland unless they come down off their Russophobic high horse.

Why is Nordstream 2 so important to Poland? Because it forces Poland into choosing between two things the current ruling Law and Justice Party doesn't like.

  1. Renegotiating a gas transit deal with Gazprom through Ukrainian pipelines without as much leverage. Because the current agreement expires at the end of 2019.
  2. If they reject this first option then they are at the mercy of buying gas from Nordstream 2 putting them politically in the hands of Germany.

Merkel is angry with Poland for trying to assert its sovereignty having begun Article 7 proceedings over their law putting Supreme Court justices under review from the legislature, which the EU has termed a violation of its pledge to protect 'human rights.'

And so, expect Poland to now open up talks with Gazprom to negotiate a new deal or be stupid and buy LNG from the U.S. at two to three times the price they can get it from Gazprom.

Keeping Them Distant

From the U.S. side of the equation there are few things in this life that Donald Trump and Barack Obama agree upon, and stopping Nordstream 2 was one of them. This, of course, tells you that this opposition is coming from somewhere a lot higher than the Presidency.

U.S. and British foreign policy has been obsessed for more than a hundred years with stopping the natural alliance between Germany's industrial base and Russia's vast tracts of natural resources as well as Russia's own science and engineering prowess.

These two countries cannot, in any version of a unipolar world dominated by The Davos Crowd, be allowed to form an economic no less political alliance because the level of coordination and economic prosperity works directly against their goals of lowering everyone's expectations for what humans can accomplish.

That is their greatest source of power. The complacency of our accepting low expectations.

So, Donald Trump finally folding on stopping Nordstream 2 is yet another example of the limits of what power the U.S. has and of its threats. When he denounced the project he said,

"I never thought it was appropriate. I think it's ridiculous. And I think it's certainly a very bad thing for the people of Germany. And I've said it very loud and clear."

But notice that he never said why. Because there is no downside for Germany. That's the point. Russian piped gas is simply cheaper and more reliable than LNG produced more than 3000 miles away. The downside is for the U.S.

It begins the process of Germany and Russia re-establishing stronger economic ties cut in half by the 2014 sanctions over Crimea. It keeps Merkel in power a little while longer having stood up to the bully Trump and showing some German independence.

This is something she sorely needs right now coming into regional elections in October.

Most importantly, this gas will be paid for in euros, not dollars. And this further undermines the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions as Gazprom will have a steady supply of euros to pay back its investors and diversify Russia's currency reserves.

The Flow of Money

There is no way for U.S. LNG supplies to be competitive in Europe without massive artificial barriers-to-entry for Russian gas. And even if Nordstream 2 was somehow stopped by the U.S., Russia's massive Yamal LNG facility on the Baltic Sea would still out compete U.S LNG from Cheniere's terminal in Louisiana.

Location. Location. Location.

We saw this last winter when vicious cold snaps forced a hostile Britain to buy a few tankers of Yamal LNG from Novatek to keep its citizens from freezing. With the planet cooling rapidly, expect this source of spot demand to Europe to increase.

And this is why Russia also benefits from Poland building an LNG terminal. Because don't for a second think Poles will suffer extreme cold because Andrej Duda hates Russians.

That's just funny, right thar!

But, for Germany, and the EU as a whole, more cheap energy is the path to remaining somewhat relevant in the global economy. With Germany ending the use of nuclear power it needs the type of energy Nordstream 2 supplies. In fact, Germany will eventually need Nordstream 3.

Each intervention by the U.S. or one of its satraps (and Poland's leadership certainly fills that bill) to block any further business between Russia and Europe, but especially Germany, keeps the world on edge and inches us closer to a military confrontation while open trade and travel moves us farther from that outcome.

And anyone who argues otherwise is simply talking their book. They profit from war and tension. They profit from manipulating markets and, in effect, stealing the wealth someone else created.

So, this is not to say that Nordstream 2 is some kind of messianic gift from the gods or anything. It is the result of massive interventions into the free market for energy born of necessity in a world governed by nation-states for more powerful than they have any right to be because of control of the issuance of money and the rent-seeking behavior of the people who most benefit from the creation of endless supplies of that money.

But, that said, in the current state of things, rapprochement between Germany and Russia via projects like the Nordstream 2 points us towards a future without such nonsense.

I said points, not achieves. It's a beginning not an end. Lost in all of this discussion of European energy security is the fact that even at the height of the Cold War the U.S.S.R. never once shut off gas supplies to its enemies. And under Putin that fact remains.

And how's that for an inconvenient truth.


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[Sep 23, 2018] Poroshenko has told Germans that the construction of "North Stream 2" makes no sense.

Sep 23, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Reply


Moscow Exile September 23, 2018 at 7:59 am

Today at 02:24

Порошенко заявил немцам, что строительство "Северного потока – 2" не имеет никакого смысла Poroshenko has told Germans that the construction of "North Stream 2" makes no sense.
По его словам, российский газ европейцам гораздо выгоднее получать через Украину, а новый газопровод – лишь "инструмент давления" на Европу
According to him, it is much more profitable to send Russian gas to Europe through the Ukraine, and the new pipeline is just a "tool to pressurize" on Europe


Please help me get even more wealthier, I beg you!

The leader of "Independent" Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has once again tried to convince Europeans that they do not need the "North Stream 2", pipeline, which is being constructed on the bed of the Baltic sea, bypassing the Ukraine

"This pipeline makes no sense from an economic point of view. This is a Russian attempt to weaken the Ukraine, which previously received about three billion dollars annually for transit", he said in an interview with German newspaper "Rheinische Post".

According to Poroshenko, "Why spend $20 billion on a pipeline", if his country "has more than sufficient logistical capacity for the delivery of Russian gas to Europe". He stressed that "the facts speak against" this project.

The President of the Ukraine has decided to warn his "European friends" that the gas pipeline "North Stream 2" is "a geopolitical instrument of pressure on Western Europe, and that the dependence of European countries on gas supplies from Russia is opening up a wide area for their blackmailing".

Recall, as reported by the website kp.ru previously, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, speaking at a joint press conference with the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, and the Prime Ministers of the three Baltic State countries, stated the importance of the "North Stream 2" project for Germany, noting that the need of her contry for natural gas supplies will only grow.

kirill September 23, 2018 at 8:08 am
Put a sock in it, Banderatard. Nord Stream II makes sense merely because it removes the $3 billion per year of transit fees you parasites charge. The Banderatard thinks that everyone is an innumerate moron.
Mark Chapman September 23, 2018 at 11:24 am
I notice the estimated transit fees have gone up by almost a billion dollars. I wonder if they have budgeted in planned increases if they are successful at getting Nord Stream II shut down. Or were they just low-balling the figures before, like when they were joking about the planned pipeline and how it would make no difference to Ukraine?
Patient Observer September 23, 2018 at 9:02 am
Ignoring reality and focusing just on a comparison of a $3 billion recurring expense versus a $20 billion CAPEX, a ROI of less than 7 years is quite respectable for a major project.
kirill September 23, 2018 at 11:06 am
They charge 3 billion today but may well want 6 billion tomorrow. This Banderite mafioso is basically trying to sell his protection racket.

[Sep 21, 2018] A Container Ship Is Sailing Through Russia's Arctic Passage for the First Time

Sep 21, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Another landmark for the "Northeastern passage" -- so far only tankers had made the trip Brendon Petersen 16 hours ago | 1,546 5 Explorers and navigators have long searched for a way to move ships through the Arctic Circle as find a faster way to move goods between the Atlantic and the Pacific without having to go around either Asia or South America. Groups of people hunted for the fabled Northwest passage through North America for decades. The problem, of course, is that the Arctic contains too much ice.

Over the past few years, however, ice levels in the Arctic have been hitting record lows thanks to climate change, and while its effects are almost universally negative, one benefit is opened northern sea routes. Over the past month, a container ship sailing from Eastern Russia is pioneering a new Arctic route by being the first such ship to cross the Arctic Ocean .

On August 23, the container ship Venta Maersk left the Russian port of Vladivostok and headed to Bremerhaven in Germany. Normally, a trip like that would take the Venta Maersk through the Suez Canal on a 34 day trip. Instead, the ship will sail through the sea north of Russia on a route that will only take 23 days.

Last week, the Venta Maersk passed through the Sannikov Strait, the narrowest and most hazardous part of its journey, and is expected to arrive in Germany by the end of the week. Once it arrives, it will become the first container ship to complete a successful route through the Arctic Circle.

[Sep 21, 2018] Trump blames OPEC for high oil prices, but his polices drive them up analyst to RT -- RT US News

Notable quotes:
"... "pushing for higher and higher oil prices" ..."
"... "they stop it," ..."
"... "protecting those countries." ..."
"... "The US economy is overstimulated by the Trump $4 trillion tax cuts for investors and businesses," ..."
"... "When Trump accuses Iran publicly, it gives the global oil speculators a reason to drive up the price," ..."
"... "He is whipping up his domestic base," ..."
"... "Trump [is] trying to blame foreigners of all kinds for economic situation in the US." ..."
"... "another factual misrepresentation," ..."
"... Like this story? Share it with a friend! ..."
Sep 21, 2018 | www.rt.com

Trump blames OPEC for high oil prices, but his polices drive them up – analyst to RT Published time: 21 Sep, 2018 21:03 Edited time: 21 Sep, 2018 21:28 Get short URL Trump blames OPEC for high oil prices, but his polices drive them up – analyst to RT FILE PHOTO. © Lucy Nicholson / Reuters The tax and trade policies of Donald Trump are, in fact, what have contributed to the surge in oil prices, a US economics professor told RT, adding that the US President's tough words to OPEC are a political stunt. On Thursday, Trump accused OPEC's Middle East producers of "pushing for higher and higher oil prices" and demanded "they stop it," adding that the US is "protecting those countries." Oil prices showed a mixed reaction to Trump's words. The Brent benchmark fell 43 cents to $78.97 per barrel, while the US Texas Intermediate grew by 9 cents to $71.21.

We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2018

OPEC does, in fact, control oil supply to a significant extent but that does not necessarily mean that it is also in full control of the oil prices, Jack Rasmus, a professor of Political Economy at St. Mary's College of California, told RT, adding that the policies pursued by the US president himself play a much bigger role in what happens to oil and gasoline prices in the US.

Read more © Nick Oxford Trump demands OPEC lower oil prices, claims US 'protects' Middle East countries

"The US economy is overstimulated by the Trump $4 trillion tax cuts for investors and businesses," Rasmus explained, adding that the rising inflation is one of the primary factors contributing to the oil price surge. Apart from that, Trump's trade war with China and even with the US allies in the West also drives up the prices, as businesses also have to raise them to adapt to the tariffs that both the US and its trading partners have imposed recently.

Trump's sanctions war on Iran also does not make the situation any better. The US sanctions, which are aimed at bringing Iran's oil exports to "zero," led to a decrease in Iran's oil sales, thus cutting the supply and driving the prices up. As if it was not enough, Trump's rhetoric only adds fuel to the fire, according to Rasmus.

"When Trump accuses Iran publicly, it gives the global oil speculators a reason to drive up the price," he told RT, adding that it is the "global speculators that are driving the short-term oil prices." "There is a connection between the speculators and Trump policies. When he makes those statements, it certainly does contribute to the oil prices rise," the analyst explained.

This rhetoric was more about winning voters' support ahead of the November mid-term elections than about really remedying the situation in the oil market, Rasmus says. "He is whipping up his domestic base," the analyst said, adding that "Trump [is] trying to blame foreigners of all kinds for economic situation in the US."

#US will find it difficult to cut #Iran 's oil exports completely as the oil market is already tight - Tehran https://t.co/T1oiFmGvOq pic.twitter.com/uaJO0Qn8gt

-- RT (@RT_com) September 15, 2018

Trump got elected on a platform of economic nationalism in particular, Rasmus said, adding that the president now sticks to that narrative and blames foreigners –be they immigrants or some foreign competitors– for the US' woes. However, this is "another factual misrepresentation," the analyst said.

As oil prices remain high, prices for gasoline in the US are growing. The average cost of gasoline has risen 60 percent from $1.87 per gallon in February 2016 to over $3 in September.

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[Sep 20, 2018] This scenario would leave the US with the main sources of 'low production cost' Middle East energy in its hands (i.e. Gulf, Iran and Iraqi oil and gas).

Sep 20, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , Sep 19, 2018 9:05:12 PM | link

Alastair Crooke's latest at Strategic Culture.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/09/18/two-major-middle-east-projects-afoot-gaining-mass-they-may-collide-before-long.html
....But a turnaround in Iraq also puts a spike into the balloon of President Trump's aspiration to reassert US energy dominance over the Mideast. Iran – it was hoped – would ultimately capitulate and fall to economic and political pressures, and as the Iranian domino capsized, it would take with it, crashing down into political acquiescence, the Iraqi domino.

This scenario would leave the US with the main sources of 'low production cost' Middle East energy in its hands (i.e. Gulf, Iran and Iraqi oil and gas). On the face of this week's events however, it looks more likely that these resources - or at least, the greater energy resources of Iran and Iraq - will end up in the Russian sphere (together with Syria's unexplored Levant Basin prospects). And this Russian 'heartland', energy-producing sphere, may, in the end, prove to be a more than substantive rival to US (newly emerged as 'the world's top oil producer') aspirations for restoring its Mideast energy dominance.....

The piece covers both Trump's plans for global energy dominance by taking full control of middle east oil and also the Trump Kushner moves against the Palestinians.

[Sep 19, 2018] Washington's goal is to reduce Russia's gas market share in Eastern Europe by 20% by 2020

Sep 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com


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Russia and the West are facing the worst crisis since the Cold War. According to US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein, Washington's goal is to reduce Russia's gas market share in Eastern Europe by 20% by 2020.

Russia cannot be allowed to build a gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine, as it would pose a threat to Europe's energy security


kirill September 16, 2018 at 4:43 am

Pipeline bypassing Ukraine = threat to Europe's energy security

That is a total non sequitur. Also, Russia is part of Europe. The EU is not the whole of "Europe". In fact, the EU is not even the EU as evidenced by Hungary and Italy.

Mark Chapman September 16, 2018 at 11:17 am
And Washington can have Eastern Europe. Go ahead – take them as customers, and sell them expensive LNG they can't afford. Russia would probably be glad to be shut of Poland and the Baltics. And having to pay way more for their gas would teach them a lesson. Win/win.
kirill September 16, 2018 at 4:43 am
Pipeline bypassing Ukraine = threat to Europe's energy security

That is a total non sequitur. Also, Russia is part of Europe. The EU is not the whole of "Europe". In fact, the EU is not even the EU as evidenced by Hungary and Italy.

Mark Chapman September 16, 2018 at 11:17 am
And Washington can have Eastern Europe. Go ahead – take them as customers, and sell them expensive LNG they can't afford. Russia would probably be glad to be shut of Poland and the Baltics. And having to pay way more for their gas would teach them a lesson. Win/win.
et Al September 17, 2018 at 4:57 am
Doesn't the pipeline via the lo-land of Po-land go via Belarus? Warsaw buying gas from elsewhere would starve Minsk of transit fees, no? Maybe the idea is similarly to undermine Belarus and thus impose further costs/indirect sanctions on Russia?

[Sep 19, 2018] There is no spare capacity from Iran

Sep 19, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Guym x Ignored says: 09/14/2018 at 7:44 pm

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Iran-There-Is-No-Spare-Oil-Capacity.html

There is no spare capacity from Iran.

Boomer II x Ignored says: 09/14/2018 at 8:07 pm
So what does Trump do before the midterms? Live with higher prices? Quietly drop the sanctions ? Find a way to get Iranian oil on the market while pretending there are sanctions? Accept the high prices and blame Obama?
Hightrekker x Ignored says: 09/14/2018 at 9:03 pm
Well, he is not the brightest porch light on the block -- -
Survivalist x Ignored says: 09/14/2018 at 11:04 pm
I had read a couple months ago that Trump was nattering about tapping the SPR around the time of the mid terms.
Guym x Ignored says: 09/15/2018 at 4:49 pm
Oil price can rise some, now. It's only a month and a half to go. Gasoline stocks are high, so it will take some trickle down time. Raiding the SPR is overkill.
Dennis coyne x Ignored says: 09/15/2018 at 8:39 am
Boomer,

Trump will blame Saudis for not increasing output, Saudis will then raise output in Sept to tamp prices down before midterms.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 09/15/2018 at 9:30 am
I'm betting they don't. Saudi production in September is more likely to be down than up. But if it is up it will only by a tiny amount, not near enough to affect prices. Saudi Arabis is just not interested in increasing production by any significant amount. They would like to keep production steady .if possible.
Dennis coyne x Ignored says: 09/16/2018 at 1:00 pm
Ron,

You may be right, but Trump may try to get Saudis to raise output and he may slow down aggressive action on Iranian sanctions until after midterms.

Hightrekker x Ignored says: 09/16/2018 at 1:25 pm
Seems Iran always has the trump cards.
Now if they could just get rid of religious oppression, and have a better functioning government–
Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 09/16/2018 at 2:19 pm
Trump already tried that. Here is his tweet.

Trump asks Saudi Arabia to increase oil production

"Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference Prices to high! He has agreed!" the tweet read.

And of course, after the King hung up the phone he probably said: "We are not going to do any of that shit." The Saudis, just like Trump's staff, know he is an idiot.

TechGuy x Ignored says: 09/18/2018 at 1:54 am
"And of course, after the King hung up the phone he probably said: "We are not going to do any of that shit."

I doubt that happened but I don't have any inside contacts in the WH to confirm. My guess is that Trump has turned up the heat on Iran because of requests from KSA & Israel.

The USA has been helping MbS with is Yemen war, as well as proxy war in Syria. If KSA want the US to economically crush Iran, than KSA will need to help but increasing its Oil exports. Perhaps KSA as some oil stashed in storage that it could release for a short period. My guess KSA would delay using its storage reserves until there is a price spike that might force the US to back off on Iran.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 09/18/2018 at 3:54 am
I doubt that happened but I don't have any inside contacts in the WH to confirm.

You doubt what happened? The quote was a tweet directly from the President. He sent it out to the world, you don't need an inside contact to the White House. Trump's tweets go out to the public.

Yes, it did happen. Of course, the part about what the King did afterward was just speculation on my part. But he did not increase oil production as Trump requested. That much we do know.

TechGuy x Ignored says: 09/18/2018 at 2:54 pm
Hi Ron,

Not arguing the tweet Trumpet made, but your reasoning that the MbS will ignore the request.

I am reasonably sure MbS wants the USA to go after Iran, and thus has a motive to try to comply with Trumpet's request for more Oil. That said, I very much doubt KSA can increase production, but they may have 50 to 150 mmbl in storage they could release if Oil prices spike.

FYI:
"Why The U.S. Is Suddenly Buying A Lot More Saudi Oil"

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Why-The-US-Is-Suddenly-Buying-A-Lot-More-Saudi-Oil.html

" the Saudis are responding to the demands of their staunch ally U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly slammed OPEC for the high gasoline prices, urging the cartel in early July to "REDUCE PRICING NOW!""

"Saudi Arabia Boosts Oil Supply To Asia As Iran Sanctions Return"
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Saudi-Arabia-Boosts-Oil-Supply-To-Asia-As-Iran-Sanctions-Return.html

"Saudi Arabia cut last week its official selling price (OSP) for its flagship Arab Light grade for October to Asia by US$0.10 a barrel to US$1.10 a barrel premium to the Dubai/Oman average"

So it appears that KSA is trying to comply with Trumpet's request. At least by trying to lower the oil prices via selling their oil at a discount.

** Note: Not trying to be a PITA, just providing an alternative viewpoint. I do value what you post. Hope you understand.

[Sep 19, 2018] One would think that the optimal strategy for a country that has oil is to ally itself with a military power that can deter invasion by some other military power, without having the ally's troops actually present on the territory

Sep 19, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher

x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 2:27 am
So people think that oil production next year will not meet demand. Of course consumption will equal production, but demand will be higher, and we won't be belabor this further because the point here is a question above -- how does society react too insufficient oil?

The question is never analyzed in a particular way. It's usually evaluated from the consumer's perspective. Who does what to get the oil they need. We can imagine they bid higher, we can imagine that day seize the oil enroute to someone else, and we can imagine a magical agreement on the part of everyone to stop all economic activity not involved in food production/distribution to reduce global consumption.

What seldom is described is the decision making process within the leadership of oil producers and exporters. It seems clear that a sudden awareness of insufficiency would yield leadership meetings making decisions not about how to distribute more oil to customers, but rather how to keep the oil for future generations of the producing country, without getting invaded and destroyed.

One would think that the optimal strategy for a country that has oil is to ally itself with a military power that can deter invasion by some other military power, without having the ally's troops actually present on the territory. Or perhaps more effective would be investing in the necessary explosives or nuclear material for one's own oil fields, and inform potential invaders that the oil will remain the property of the country whose geography covers it, or the fields will be contaminated for hundreds of years to deny them to anyone else.

Clearly this is the optimal path for an oil producer and not seeking some technology that can allow them to drain the resources of future generations more rapidly now.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 6:13 am
So people think that oil production next year will not meet demand. Of course consumption will equal production, but demand will be higher,

Watcher, I assume you think demand is what people want. But there is no way to measure what people want but can't afford. So "demand" in that sense has no meaning whatsoever. So what happens is the price of gasoline, or whatever, rises or falls until supply equals demand. As prices rise, demand falls and as prices fall, demand rises because people can now afford it. Therefore demand always equals consumption. Demand is what people buy at the price they can afford. I wish we had a word for what people want but even if we did there would be no way to measure it. A poll perhaps? 😉

Carlos Diaz x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 6:35 am
Ron,

I answered that above
http://peakoilbarrel.com/opec-august-production-data-2/#comment-651890

Estimating demand is essential for a company and can determine its survival. Demand is dependent on price, so demand estimates are essential for deciding the price of a product. The curves for price and demand cross at a point that maximizes income.

Demand is estimated statistically (polls sometimes), with models, and expert forecast. It has a large uncertainty.

"there is no way to measure what people want but can't afford."

That is potential demand at a lower price point. It is estimated in the same way. Companies decide to lower their prices with hopes to realize that lower-price demand.

"demand always equals consumption."

Exactly. Demand becomes consumption when realized, so it only makes sense to talk about demand in the future or the present (due to lack of real-time data). It doesn't make sense to talk about past demand, because it becomes consumption or sales.

Watcher x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 12:26 pm
There is a numerical measure for how much people want gasoline, regardless of price.

It is the length of the line of cars at the gas station in the 1970s. Demand was measured in 100s of feet. Price somewhat doesn't matter. If you can't afford it, you put it on a credit card and then default.

Guym x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 2:20 pm
Put it on the credit card and not pay it. Because, it was de fault of the company to give it to you in the first place.
Survivalist x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 7:18 pm
The length of the queue is an interesting metric by which to measure the want that people have for an item. Nice one. I'm gonna use that. Reminds me of my Dad's old story about lining up for a week to buy tickets to see The Beatles.
Fred Magyar x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 9:30 pm
When you are lining up to buy tickets to see the Beatles it might be called a 'Want' or a 'Desire'. However, when it is the line at the soup kitchen it becomes 'Hunger' or 'Desperation'!
And that queue can sometimes feel like a hundred miles
Hightrekker x Ignored says: 09/13/2018 at 9:17 pm
I remember that -- -
It was eye opening.
TechGuy x Ignored says: 09/18/2018 at 12:58 am
The bigger issue is people, Business, & gov'ts servicing their debt. If the cost of energy increases, it make it more difficult to service their debt. Recall that Oil prices peaked at $147 right before the beginning of the 2008/2009 economic crisis. Since then 2008 Debt continued to soar as companies & gov'ts piled on more debt. Debt is promise on future production. Borrow now and pay it back over time.

I recall the presentation Steven Kopits did about 4 or 5 years ago that stated Oil production was well below demand. I think real global oil demand was projected to be about 120mmbd back in 2012-2013 (sorry don't recall the actual figures).

I think the bigger factor is how steep the declines will be. Presumably all of the super giants are in the same shape and likely heavily relied on horizontal drilling to offset natural decline rates. Presuming as the oil column shrinks in the decline rates will rapidly accelerate. Most of the Artic\Deep water projects were cancelled back in 2014\2015, and I believe most of those projects would take about 7 years to complete and need between Oil at $120 to $150/bbl (in 2012 dollars) to be economical. I am not sure the world can sustainably afford $120+ oil, especially considering the amount of new debt that has been added in the past 10 years.

Ron Wrote:
" I wish we had a word for what people want but even if we did there would be no way to measure it"

Perhaps the word "Gluttony" or the phase "Business As Usual". People don't like change, especially when the result, is a decrease in living standards.

Adam Ash x Ignored says: 09/14/2018 at 3:11 am
Being willing to pay more for oil may change who gets it. But it will not alter the fact that someone who wants oil will not get it. That will be a ripple of market information which will travel around the world pretty quick, I should imagine!
Dennis coyne x Ignored says: 09/14/2018 at 7:31 pm
There is always somebody who wants oil but cannot afford it.

This is unlikely to change in the next 30 to 40 years.

farmboy x Ignored says: 09/16/2018 at 10:52 am
The vast majority in almost all the places in the world would like to use more oil but their income is not enough so they end up doing with less. That includes me. Who doesn't want a bigger faster newer lawn mower, truck, or tractor? What person would not prefer the latest iphone etc. ? or going on vacation, eating out at high end steakhouses? The main reason they can't is because it would take more and cheaper oil for them to be able to afford it. Else they can only try to take it away from someone else? The peak in global oil production/person happened back in 1979, not because folks were tired of using it all but due to the laws of physics coming into play.
Adam Ash x Ignored says: 09/16/2018 at 11:05 pm
So there are two 'classes' of 'peak oil'. One class is where oil supply is constrained by price (throwing more money at production sees an increase in production), the second class is where oil supply is constrained by physical availability at any price (wave more money at production, but production cannot increase).

In the first case (price constrained) normal market behaviour will apply – folk pay more (if they can afford it) to get more.

But in the second case (resource constrained), it does not matter how much is offered, there is simply no more oil to be had.

With the prevailing declining yields and declining discoveries, are we not in the transition between these two states – moving from price constrained to resource constrained? And once we get well into resource constrained, the price a buyer can pay will determine who gets the remaining available oil, and no amount of screeching and dollar-bill-waving by those who have missed out will improve the supply situation for them.

Boomer II x Ignored says: 09/17/2018 at 12:43 am
The second case is my main interest. And I think we are already there. We wouldn't be looking at LTO and oil sands if there were cheaper options.

LTO decline rates should make the issue more obvious when there are fewer places to drill new wells.

Eulenspiegel x Ignored says: 09/17/2018 at 3:43 am
LTO decline rate would be no problem by a conventional / state possessed oil company.

They would have a field with tight oil, and then just equip let's say 20 fracking / drilling teams and start to produce through their field in 30 or 50 years. They would have a slow decline by starting at the best location and getting to the worse one, while increasing experience / technic during the years to compensate a bit.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 09/17/2018 at 6:23 am
You have a pretty good argument except for the "30 or 50 years" part. That's where the wheels fell off your go-cart. Just how large would the tight oil reservoir have to be to keep 20 drilling and fracking units for 30 to 50 years? And if you assume other oil companies are in that same reservoir doing the same thing? They are going to cover a lot of acreage very fast.
Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 09/17/2018 at 9:35 pm
Adam Ash,

It matters very little. At any time t the available supply is limited and the market price will determine who gets what is available. Those willing to pay more than others will get the oil. When we reach a point where no more oil can be supplied at price P, there might always be some more oil that could be at some higher price P', it is simply a matter of oil prices reaching the point that there are substitutes that can replace the use of oil in some uses. Today the biggest use for oil is transport and electricity and natural gas may soon replace a lot of this use, especially as oil becomes scarce and prices increase.

At $100 to $120/b the transition to EVs could be quite rapid, maybe taking 20 to 25 years to replace 90% of new ICEV sales and then another 15 years for most of the fleet to be replaced as old cars are scrapped. So by 2055 most land transport uses for oil will be eliminated.

The higher oil prices rise, the more incentive there will be to switch to cheaper EVs, even natural gas will probably not be able to compete with EVs as Natural Gas will also peak (2030 to 2035) and prices will rise. It will probably be unwise to spend a lot of money for Natural gas fueling infrastructure, though perhaps it might work for long haul trucking, rail seems a more sensible option.

TechGuy x Ignored says: 09/18/2018 at 1:23 am
Adam Ash Wrote:
"So there are two 'classes' of 'peak oil'. One class is where oil supply is constrained by price (throwing more money at production sees an increase in production), the second class is where oil supply is constrained by physical availability at any price (wave more money at production, but production cannot increase)"

Consider this way:
There is already a huge shortage of $10/bbl oil, and a massive glut of $300/bbl oil. There is always shortage resources. Price is just a system that balances demand with supply.

Adam Ash Wrote:
"But in the second case (resource constrained), it does not matter how much is offered, there is simply no more oil to be had no amount of screeching and dollar-bill-waving by those who have missed out will improve the supply situation for them."

Not exactly. People that can only afford $50/bbl Oil get out priced by people willing to pay $100/bbl. Supply shifts to the people that can afford the hire price at the expense of people that cannot afford the higher cost. Higher prices will lead to new production, even if has a Negative EROEI (ie tar sands using cheap NatGas).

In an ideal world, higher prices lead to less energy waste (flying, recreation boating) and better efficiency (more energy efficient buildings & vehicles). But I am not sure that will be the case in our world.

The first to suffer from high energy prices will be the people living in poor nations. Recall back in 2008-2014 we had the Arab spring when people could afford the food costs, and started mass riots and overthrough gov'ts. This will return when Oil prices climb back up.

Its possible that the world make continue to experience price swings, as global demand struction decreases demand. For instance in July 2008 Oil was at $147/bbl but by Jan 2009 it was about $30/bbl. I doubt we will see such large price swings, but I also doubt that Oil will continuously move up without any price corrections.

Realistically we are in deflation driven global economy as the excessive debt applies deflationary force to the economy. However central banks counter deflation with artificially low interest rates and currency printing (ie Quantitive Easing). My guess is that industrialized nation gov't will become increasing dependent on QE and other gimmicks that lead to high inflation\stagnation.

[Sep 19, 2018] Deliberate exaggeraton of Saudi reserves

Sep 19, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson

x Ignored says: 09/16/2018 at 9:35 am
I think Dennis said some time ago that Saudi's 266 billion barrels of reserves that they claim was perhaps when they raised P2 reserves to P1 reserves.

Naaaa, that's not where they got it. They still claim 403 billion barrels of P2 reserves and 802 billion barrels of P3 reserves. And that 802 billion barrels will soon be increased to 900 billion barrels via enhanced recovery techniques.

This is a good article if you need a good belly laugh today. It is brought to you on the opinion page of Arab News. Arab News is a Saudi Publication just in case anyone is wondering. I used to get it in hard copy, free, courtesy of ARAMCO, when I was there.

Does Saudi Arabia have enough oil?

Saudi Aramco, according to its own records, has about 802.2 billion barrels of oil resources, including about 261 billion barrels of proven reserves; 403.1 billion of probable, possible and contingent reserves. The company has produced up to 138 billion barrels of oil to date out of the 802.2 billion barrels.

It plans to raise oil resources to 900 billion barrels from the 802.2 billion over the long term as its also plans to increase recovery rate of reserves to 70 percent from the current 50 percent.

P.S. When I was in Saudi they had a word for this kind of thing. They called it wasta . Wasta means "deliberate exaggeration" as a way of dialogue. That's just the way they talk. They don't believe they are lying. They really expect you to know they are just exaggerating. They don't expect you to take it literally.

[Sep 15, 2018] The problem there is that the USA cannot sell LNG at a competitive price against pipeline gas and still make money

Another problem is how much gas for sale the USA actually has? Or they want to resell gas they buy for Russia Sakhalin? They already did a couple of times.
Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Oh, please, God, let the USA impose sanctions on European companies in an attempt to stop the building of Nord Stream II (which, incidentally, has begun and is already underwater).

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/09/10/trumps-energy-secretary-heading-to-moscow-to-discuss-more-energy-sanctions/#2ea293071b80

I can't think of anything more likely to incite European fury against America, and while we're on the subject, under what authority would the USA fine European companies for not obeying sanctions imposed by the USA? I can see how they could get away with further penalizing Russia – they are piggybacking on the Skripal affair, that's why they pretend so fervently to believe Britain's accusations even though it has offered no proof at all, just more accusations. The legal instrument it is using is a national-security clause (big surprise) meant to stop the spread of chemical-warfare threats. But how is it going to justify imposing a big fine on BASF-Wintershall, for example, and what would it do if the latter simply said, "Cram it up your chuff!" and refused to pay?

Anyway, the calling-out of Britain's 'evidence' in front of the UN is going to be extra-special, in that light. Because the Skripal thing is the USA's whole basis for further sanctions. Without it – if the case is demolished, and I frankly can't see how the UK government could sensibly respond to all the discrepancies picked up at sites like Slane's 'Blogmire' – they've got nothing; no grounds for further sanctions.

James lake September 10, 2018 at 9:27 pm
Russia invited American energy secretary to Moscow to discuss the USA sanctions on Russian energy markets.

They say hope dies last!

Patient Observer September 11, 2018 at 3:49 pm
Is that your interpretation? Defeat, doom?
James lake September 12, 2018 at 11:30 pm
The Americans thinking they can talk or bully Russia into Submitting by sanctions.

The USA energy policy needed a cheap product, Infrastructure across Europe, and of course investment to make this all happen beginning years ago.

Mark Chapman September 13, 2018 at 8:20 am
And that was perfectly possible, had it been started years ago, and had the USA come to Europe with a business plan which answered the question, "What's in it for me?" Everybody in business likes to make money; it's kind of what keeps business going. And if the USA could still sell to Europe under those circumstances – because it has a lot of a product it can sell at a competitive price and still make money – it would still be possible to do it. The problem there is that the USA cannot sell LNG at a competitive price against pipeline gas and still make money. A further problem is that in business dynamics, the guy who has control in a business relationship is the guy who supplies you with a product you can't get anywhere else at the same or a lower price.

The USA wants the profits realized by selling gas to Europe, and right away, that's not going to work, because shipborne LNG cannot compete with pipeline gas for price. The USA would have to sell it for a lot less than it takes to recover and ship it, and it's not willing to do that because it is contrary to every principle of business. But that's a big problem, because the profit is actually secondary. What Washington really wants is the power conveyed by being Europe's main supplier – then it can play energy politics like it constantly accuses Russia of doing, although actual evidence of Russia threatening to cut off Europe's gas if it does not, let's say, drop sanctions against Russia, is zip, Nada. No evidence. But Washington would do it, and you know they would, and so does Brussels. So it is trying to muscle Europe's main supplier out of the market by coercion, because it can't do it simply by offering a better price.

Which leaves it in the ridiculous position of arguing, "We should be your supplier instead of Russia, because ain't we the bestest of friends and allies?", at the same time it is conducting a trade war for American business advantage and threatening to impose sanctions against European companies who participate in the pipeline project as investors.

[Sep 15, 2018] Ukraine attacks Russia on legal field and score points against Gasprom

Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

Here we go again with reliable pot-stirrer the UK, in the form of a ruling by the UK Court of Appeals that Ukraine does have a valid case, after all, of grieving the ordered repayment of $3 Billion it was lent by Moscow after Yanukovych decided to reject the European Association Agreement, and petitioned Russia for assistance.

Some facts that should be recalled here; Ukraine has to the very best of my knowledge never paid this debt, although the IMF grudgingly backed Russia's claim that it was a bilateral loan . Then Ukraine imposed a moratorium on further payments, trying to squeeze Russia into accepting a 'restructuring' of the debt, a colourful euphemism for 'write off some of it and give us until forever to pay the rest', allowing Ukraine to simply roll over its outstanding debt each year and put off payment until the promised western flood of incredible prosperity finally arrives.

The ever-helpful IMF then rewrote its own laws so that it could continue lending to Ukraine although it exhibited all the classic symptoms of a bad debtor. Most of us said it would all end in tears for the IMF, and where is it now, again? How much of that $17 Billion aid package has been disbursed?

Georgetown University Professor Anna Gelpern offered Ukraine an out , stating that in her legal opinion, the obligation amounted to 'odious debt', which consequently did not have to be repaid. Longtime kook Anders Aslund enthusiastically embraced that view, bleating that really Russia should be repaying Ukraine, for invading and plundering it.

Let me give you my not-legal opinion; Ukraine does not have a hope of winning this case. The UK is just trying to help it kick the can a little further down the road, and put off repayment for another year or two while the courts wrangle the issue out all over again, and lawyers pocket hefty fees. It also serves the British hobby of sticking its thumb in Russia's eye every chance it gets to do it. The money is probably not a big issue to Russia; it's the principle, and it would probably suit the Kremlin to duke it out in court again just on the probability that Ukraine will suffer another humiliating defeat, although that will make no difference at all to its willingness to pay. I propose, though, another option; one to be exercised immediately, and one down the road a bit. First, communicate to Kuh-yiv that if it goes ahead with this, Russia will pull out all foreign investment in Ukraine, immediately and finally. I personally do not think the economy could sustain that kind of hit, since it is on life support now. Second, Russia should communicate to Britain that once Brexit becomes operative, the UK will have to negotiate with Europe for energy supplies and pay their asking price, since there will be no direct transfers of energy to the UK. That might have been the case anyway, since to the best of my knowledge no systems serve the UK directly from Russia except LNG cargoes. But it would not hurt to remind them.

It occurs to me that the west has only itself to blame for Ukraine's current and ongoing dysfunction and 'cutie-pie' criminality, since the west keeps encouraging it to greater heights of irresponsibility, covering for it and then rewriting its own rules so that behaviour previously illegal is magically permissible.

Moscow Exile September 14, 2018 at 10:41 am
THE COURT OF SWEDEN HAS OVERTURNED A DECISION BLOCKING THE COLLECTION OF "NAFTOGAZ" ASSETS OF "GAZPROM"
September 13, 2018

Ukraine's Naftogaz to proceed with Gazprom asset seizures after court ruling
14 Sep 2018 |

Court overturns order to freeze Gazprom assets in England, Wales
14.09.2018

Funny how these things seem to happen all at once, innit?

Moscow Exile September 14, 2018 at 11:16 am
Russia to challenge decision of English Court of Appeal on Ukraine's debt
September 14, 18:48 UTC+3

Russia bought Ukrainian Eurobonds worth $3 bln in December 2013

and now, in line with the "Western Values" that they have embraced, the Yukie toe-rags do not want to pay up.

Mark Chapman September 14, 2018 at 11:41 am
The London High Court is not going to like being reversed; such reversals often do not look good for the judges, although there certainly cannot be any murmuring of 'political motivation' here, since the court was most decidedly motivated to rule for Ukraine in the original judgment if it could. As I said, this is just kicking the can down the road a piece, and buying time for Kuh-yiv. And that might be a valid strategy, if a burgeoning economy was about to break free in Ukraine. Is that the case? I'm afraid I don't think so. In fact, Ukraine is broke and living on handouts, its reserves down to record lows; it doesn't have the money, so the UK is trying to rig the judgment so as to head off its having to pay, at least temporarily. More short-term thinking, such as is characteristic of crisis management.

The Appeals Court is likely ruling on a technicality because it believes (or has been encouraged to believe) it deserves further examination. But, again, I have to believe that in such a politically-charged case, the court which rendered the original verdict would have carefully picked over every argument which might have worked in Ukraine's favour, since the UK was highly motivated to support Ukraine if there were any way it could legally do so. The efficacy, reliability and non-volatility of Eurobonds is at stake here, and a ruling now for Ukraine is likely to provoke a drawback from Eurobonds and European financial instruments by every nation that perceives it is or might one day be perceived as a foe of a Europe still in thrall to the United States. Russia chose such an instrument precisely because of the high risk of a Ukrainian default even if Yanukovych had remained in power, and that was a wise decision to the extent that the west has had to completely rewrite the book in order to challenge the stratagem. That, too, will play to its great disadvantage down the road, as every debtor nation has the right of precedent to exercise such options.

The funny thing is that if Europe simply laid out the situation bluntly to Moscow, as an equal and a respected partner to the deal, and asked for mercy for Ukraine, there is every chance Moscow would find a way to accommodate, provided it was given due credit for its magnanimity. Instead, as usual, Europe has gone with a strategy of creating the appearance that Moscow fucked Ukraine, breaking the law in the process. It will be interesting to see what Alexander Mercouris has to say about this, and I am sure he will offer an opinion, but I'm afraid I haven't time now as I have to get ready for work. But I should like to once more point out that all the advantage lies with Russia here, if it only remains patient and keeps its temper; it is Russia which is keeping Ukraine alive now, through transit fees and significant FDI. It can choose to withdraw one at any time it pleases, and the other as soon as Nord Stream II is completed. The west's attempts to change the beloved 'facts on the ground' amount to no more than scrabbling at the noose that is tightening around Ukraine's throat.

[Sep 12, 2018] Trump Sanctions on Iran May Already Be Backfiring as Tehran's Oil Revenues Soar by Whitney Webb

Notable quotes:
"... Further oil price increases could trigger a slowdown in domestic or global economic growth, which could further complicate the U.S.' Iran policy and Trump's domestic political situation. ..."
Sep 12, 2018 | www.mintpressnews.com

Further oil price increases could trigger a slowdown in domestic or global economic growth, which could further complicate the U.S.' Iran policy and Trump's domestic political situation. September 12th, 2018

Despite the Trump administration's " maximum pressure " campaign targeting the Iranian economy, Iran's crude oil and oil product revenues jumped a surprising 60 percent from March 21 to July 23. In addition, figures provided by Iran's Central Bank show that Iran's revenues from oil sales soared by 84.2 percent over that same period, setting a new record.

The increased revenues seem to have resulted from a jump in oil prices this year as well as Iran's high oil export volume during part of that period. Notably, the increased revenues were reported despite the United States' announcement in May that it would sanction those purchasing Iranian oil starting in early November, with the ultimate goal of reducing Iranian oil sales to zero in order to place pressure on the Iranian government.

The U.S.' efforts have had some noticeable effects on Iranian oil exports, as the country's exports for the month of August were significantly lower than those of July. However, the drop has only seen exports fall to near March 2016 levels , when the U.S. was not pursuing a sanctions policy against Iran and the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was in effect.

Further dashing U.S. hopes of crushing Iranian oil exports have been recent announcements from Iran's top two customers, China and India , that they would continue to import Iranian crude despite the looming threat of U.S. sanctions. India, along with some other countries, has sought " waivers " from Washington that would allow them to continue to import Iranian oil and avoid retaliation from the U.S. for a certain period of time.

In addition, the European Union, which had previously joined the U.S. in targeting Iranian oil exports in 2012, has shown its unwillingness to follow Washington's lead this time around, openly vowing to rebel against the U.S. sanctions regimen and increasing the likelihood that Europe will continue to buy some Iranian oil despite U.S. threats.

Risks for U.S. and global economies

Another indication that efforts to curb Iranian oil exports are backfiring for the Trump administration is the jump in oil prices that has resulted from concerns about the U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil exports. The increase in oil prices is likely to be felt domestically in the U.S., the world's largest consumer of oil, potentially posing a political risk to Trump and his fellow Republicans ahead of the November 6 midterm elections. In addition, further oil price increases could trigger a slowdown in domestic or global economic growth, which could further complicate the U.S.' Iran policy and Trump's domestic political situation.

Such concerns have prompted U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to meet his Saudi and Russian counterparts in an effort to convince those two countries to keep oil output high in order to offset a reduction in future Iranian oil exports. While Saudi Arabia has already stated it would increase output, Russia is unlikely to comply, given its relationship with Iran and Washington's threat to impose new sanctions on Moscow. The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Russia are currently the world's three largest oil producers, accounting for about a third of global crude oil output.

While the Trump administration may have assumed that U.S. oil producers – and the U.S. economy in general -- would benefit from the elimination of Iranian oil exports, the growing rejection of the impending U.S. sanctions by other countries shows that these nations are unwilling to pay for more expensive American oil or even Saudi oil, preferring less expensive Iranian oil despite potential future consequences. Furthermore, efforts to increase U.S. crude production have fallen short of government expectations, further complicating the U.S.' efforts to offset an increase in oil prices resulting from Iranian oil sanctions.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann's Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

[Sep 09, 2018] The centrepiece of Trump's economic policy is weapons, oil and LNG exports

Aug 24, 2018 | www.newsilkstrategies.com

Below is a New Silk Strategies translation from the Russian site teknoblog.ru .

It is clear from Trump's enthusiastic sales talk to the Polish authorities on July 6, 2017 (as we reported here ) that the centrepiece of Trump's economic policy is LNG exports. The US has no major economic projects even remotely comparable to China's One Belt One Road initiative, the biggest infrastructure project in history. But worse, all of the energy companies involved in fracking are running in the red with no prospects of ever making profits unless oil prices skyrocket to new highs and stay there. The wells are short-lived and by the time they are producing steadily, they are already drying up, necessitating new drilling and more borrowing. Worse, that big deal with China to sujpply a major portion of their gas needs may be about to fizzle, thanks to Trump's tough guy act.

In 2016, Henry Kissinger floated the idea of using Russia to oppose China and shared the idea with an enthusiastic Donald Trump. Kissinger had entertained this idea in the 1970s as Nixon's national security adviser. The problem is, the whole notion of granting China "most-favoured nation" status, ie, doing essentially free trade with it, was based on just the opposite mission of opposing Russia using China as a club, and both ideas have their die-hard supporters in Washington. Keen observers know neither approach will succeed. In fact, recently the National Interest reported that China and Russia are planning joint military drills.

[Sep 09, 2018] Iraq protests threaten oil production and critical ports by Omar al-Jaffal and Safa Khalaf

Notable quotes:
"... Basra demonstrators, enraged over polluted water and years of extreme neglect, engage in arson to make their point ..."
Sep 09, 2018 | www.atimes.com

Basra demonstrators, enraged over polluted water and years of extreme neglect, engage in arson to make their point September 9, 2018 12:48 AM (UTC+8) Basra protesters set the Iranian consulate ablaze on Friday night, the latest manifestation of outrage against influential actors in Basra city, which should be one of the richest in the country with its massive oil reserves and port, but which has become one of the most decrepit.

More than 18,000 Basra residents have been poisoned by tap water since the start of the month, according to the Basra province health directorate. Hospitals, inundated with patients, have collapsed under the pressure.

Basra, like neighboring Iran, is majority Shiite. But in recent years, residents have grown hostile toward Tehran over its dominance of Iraqi affairs, its support for political parties notorious for public waste and its backing of armed factions that enforce themselves as morality police.

The torching of the Iranian consulate came just 24 hours after the protesters -- ignoring a government curfew -- set fire to the offices of powerful Shiite political parties and Iran-backed militias that formed the backbone of the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units.

The demonstrators did not spare the local government headquarters and provincial council, setting those ablaze as well.

Basra has been roiled by unrest since July, and the latest round of revolt was met with tear gas and live fire. The first week of September saw nine demonstrators killed and 93 wounded, according to the UN.

The deadly force has only inflamed the movement. Over the past two nights, security evaporated from the streets while the military kept to the sidelines. Angry groups of youths roamed the city center, demanding revenge for those killed and for years of neglect. The city appears out of control.

The unrest has put a spotlight on corruption in Iraq's economic capital, just as the Ministry of Oil seeks foreign investment – including from China – to transform the country from an importer of oil products to an exporter.

Gulf port closed

Demonstrators on Thursday shut down the country's most important port, Umm Qasr.

Basra province is Iraq's only outlet to the sea, and Umm Qasr is just one of five commercial sea ports that serve as the country's main gateway for basic necessities.

The costly shutdown prompted the minister of transportation to call for restraint via local radio stations.

"Iraq is losing millions," Kadhim Finjan pleaded over the airwaves. The port was eventually reopened Saturday before dawn.

Like the oil fields, these critical hubs have drawn protesters, who see the wealth they create being siphoned off by corruption.

An officer with the port authority, who spoke to Asia Times on condition of anonymity, said it was "impossible" for security to control the port

The ports – strategically placed on the Persian Gulf – are shared between the political parties, a phenomenon that saps their revenues and allows goods to enter without passing through customs.

An officer with the port authority, who spoke to Asia Times on condition of anonymity, said it was "impossible" for security to control the port.

"The political parties treat the ports like their private property. Goods are exempted from controls and inspection, and the taxes are reduced for traders dealing with the ruling parties," he said.

Before the ports earned the ire of the demonstrations, it was the oil sector.

Basra's 15 oil fields account for nearly 60% of the country's oil reserves. Revenues from the province generate approximately $60 million daily, or 3.6 of Iraq's total 4.3 million barrels per day.

The government relies on the sector to finance its activities, but only a fraction of the national budget flows back to Basra.

The stark contrast between Basra's oil wealth and the miserable conditions of the population has prompted demonstrators this summer to organize sit-ins blocking the gates to the oil fields.

In addition to the 15-hour power cuts and filthy drinking water, they are demanding jobs.

Foreign companies operating in Basra are required to hire locals for at least 50% of job posts, and up to 80% depending on the contract. But those laws are often flouted.

The government has also allowed foreign companies to acquire vast swathes of agricultural lands to be used as oil fields north of Basra, resulting in the bulldozing of orchards and date palm fields and increased unemployment.

"The oil extracted from our city lands is not beneficial to us," one demonstrator told Asia Times.

"It is better to stop its extraction than have it stolen," he said, blaming the government and foreign companies alike.

According to provincial council member Ahmed Abdel Hussein, half of Basra residents live in poverty.

The government says unemployment stands at about at 7.8%, but academic studies suggest a far higher rate. There are no official statistics for the province.

Feared militia takeover

The government in Baghdad fears the deteriorating situation in Basra could disrupt oil production.

"The oil companies have been greatly affected by the protests," said Adel al-Thamari, an academic and investment analyst in Basra.

"The workers cannot access the fields because of the closure of roads or closing of entry gates," he told Asia Times, adding that "the oil companies have reduced the number of foreign experts for fear of their lives and inability to afford high insurance costs."

The decline in production puts the financial burden on Baghdad. "Companies will raise the terms of credit, which means a great loss for Iraq, which will have to pay compensation to the companies," he said.

Along with the world's major oil companies, hundreds of logistics and security support companies provide operational services to the fields in Basra. As security deteriorates, they too will have to withdraw. "The withdrawal of these companies would mean production stops," Thamari said.

The concerns of oil companies go beyond the protests to fears of a militia takeover.

"The army has taken the position of neutrality toward the demonstrations, and the fear is that the Popular Mobilization Units will deploy. This would cause a further deterioration of security, because the militias have their own internal divisions and such an escalation could neutralize the official security forces," Thamari said.

[Sep 08, 2018] Russia, the West, and Recent Geoeconomics in Europe's Gas Wars by Gordon M. Hahn

Notable quotes:
"... In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas ..."
"... About the Author ..."
"... Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the 'New Cold War ..."
"... Russia's Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 ..."
"... Russia's Islamic Threat ..."
"... The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia's North Caucasus and Beyond ..."
Jun 25, 2018 | gordonhahn.com

Russia has advanced forward in something of a tactical and potential strategic victory in the Russo-Western gas war. This is a three-party war, with the US, EU, and Russia each promoting separate interests. It is one sphere where a united West has failed to 'isolate Russia.' The US seeks move in on the European energy market with LNG supplies and replace Russian pipeline-delivered natural gas supplies to Europe. Washington is using the risks of dependence on Russian gas and Russia's 'bad behavior' as leverage in attempting to convince Europeans to reject Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia is said to be unreliable and prone to shut off gas supplies to Europe.

Due to past Russian-Ukrainian gas crises, the Ukrainian crisis, and general Russian-Western tensions, Europe has decided on a gas diversification policy in which each EU member should have at least three sources of natural gas supply. One additional option that could facilitate this diversification policy is US liquified natural gas (LNG), but the US is still unable to supply enough LNG to offset Russian gas supplies that might be rejected by Europe. In the process, Washington is looking less like a 'team West' player and more like a solely self-interested power maximizer in European eyes and therefore no more reliable than Moscow. As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example.

The Battle Over Re-Sale: No Victors

One recent battle was largely inconclusive, but if a victor has to be designated it may be Moscow. In May, the European Commssion concluded a settlement with Russia's Gazprom in May ending a seven-year anti-trust dispute. In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas. Some EU members, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have re-sold or wanted to re-sell gas. Moscow frowned, for example, on Slovakia's resale of natural gas to Ukraine at cheaper prices than Moscow sought to charge Kiev.

The agreement will also restrict Moscow's ability to charge different countries different prices. So EU members in central and eastern Europe can get a price close to that paid by Germany and appeal to an arbitration court in case of a dispute. The agreement guarantees Russia's presence on the European gas market at a time when the latter's reliance on the former has peaked.

The Northern Front: Nord Stream 2

At the same time, the battle over Russia' Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has heated up. When it comes on line in 2019, the 759-mile pipeline will carry GazProm natural gas along the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany and double the supply Nord Stream pipeline's current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The Trump administration has threatened yet more sanctions on third-party companies, this time with those that work on the pipeline. The US sanctions threat is an attempt to promote American LNG interests as well as to protect Ukrainian interests, though it contradicts the view that Ukraine should eschew its dependence on Russian gas.

US officials have been hammering home to Europeans the 'Russian threat' in tandem with the risk of reliance on Russian gas may pose, which will increase with Nord tream 2, but to no avail. Public opinion is not working in the US favor, with Germans trusting Moscow more than Washington, despite all the crimes laid at the Kremlin's door by the West. A recent ZDF Television opinion survey found that only 14 percent of Germans regard the U.S. as a reliable partner, while 36 percent view Russia as reliable ( www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-17/trump-s-global-disruption-pushes-merkel-closer-to-putin-s-orbit ). Thus, notwithstanding Ukraine, Syria and alleged chemical attacks, Russiagate, and the Skrypals, GazProm's supplies to Europe have risen to hold nearly 40 percent of its gas market, growing last year by 8.1 percent last year to a record level of 193.9 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Nevertheless, with the EU decision, the U.S., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others have stepped up their pressure on Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and other western Eureopean EU members to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project. Germans and other western Europeans are unlikely to give up the short-term gain of energy security for the US LNG given the higher price and unproven nature of Washington's numerous allegations against the Kremlin. German officials say they still have no proof from 10 Downing on Russia's culpability for the Skrypal poisoning so loudly trumpeted by British PM Theresa May.

One motivation for the Russians in building Nord Stream 2 is to obviate the need to transport gas through Ukraine, which will hurt Ukraine's own energy supply – given Ukrainian skimming -- and overall economy beyond the present non-sale of Russian gas to Ukraine. Another Russian motivation is to avert the unreliable Ukrainians, who have failed to make payments according to contract in the past causing Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine and thus Europe with the resulting crises blamed solely on Moscow. The Trump sanctions threat has put Germany and the other Nord Stream 2 supporting countries between a rock and a hard place, between Russia and the US. Therefore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while supporting Nord Stream 2, has called for guarantees from Russia that Ukraine will remain a gas transit country. Ukraine's current contract with Russia ends in 2019 at the very time Nord Stream 2 is to go on line and the EU has urged re-starting EU-mediated negotiatons now in order to avoid another gas crisis. Putin agreed to do this at his meeting with Germany's merkel in late May. Nord Stream 2 significantly strengthens Putin's hand in any such talks.

The Southern Front: Turkish Stream, SGC and the Azeri and Bulgarian Factors

Russia is strengtheining its position on the European gas war's southern front by building the Turkish Stream (TS) gas pipeline to Europe. TS consists of a sea and a land leg. The former runs under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and is built, with Russo-Turkish talks on the land leg ongoing.

Russia's Turkish Stream is being challenged by the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) backed by Western powers, including the EU (along with Turkey and Azerbaijan), which sees the SGC as a means of diversifying from dependence on Russia. Not just Turkey, but Azerbaijan is emerging as a major player on the EU gas market, with a shift in policy accenting gas supplies to Europe as well as oil supplies as in the past. The SGC consists of three components: an expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and the to be constructed Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). TANAP is 51 percent Azerbaijani owned, 37 percent Turkish, and 12 percent belonging to British Petroleum. The SGC will carry Azerbaijani gas through Turkey to Europe and will be able to supply up to one-third of the gas consumed by Bulgaria, Greece and Italy ( https://en.trend.az/business/energy/2910573.html ). However, the source of the gas supplying the pipeline demonstrates the limits of Western attempts to isolate Russia (and Iran). Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz gas field is co-owned by British Petroleum (29 percent), Turkey's Turkish Petroleum (19 percent), Azerbaijan's SOCAR (17 percent), Malaysia's Petronas (15 percent), Russia's LukOil (10 percent), and Iran's NICO (10 percent). Moreover, Russia's LukOil is negotiating with SOCAR a stake in Azerbaijan's second-largest gas field, Umid-Babek, which also includes Britain's Nobel Upstream ( https://newsbase.com/topstories/lukoil-talks-join-umid-babek-project ).

Again the Ukrainian issue is part of the picture here, as a good portion of GasProm supplies to Bulgaria go through Ukraine. Turkish Stream can replace at least some of that supply should Moscow decide to entirely avert Ukraine's pipeline system. It is of interest that no one in the West has offered to include in any of these projects or attempted to fashion a pipeline or pipeline extension that could link up with the Ukrainian network.

During Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's late may visit to Moscow, Putin reported to Radev that during his meetings with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the latter said he would pose no oppsotion to extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria. In response, Radev seemed to suggest making Bulgaria a "a gas redistribution center, a hub" for the Turkish Stream's supplies further into Europe ( http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57608 ).

Moreover, one gets the impression that Bulgaria is wary more about its dependence on Turkey and Ankara's new offensive energy policy in Europe than on Russia and might help Moscow detour Ukraine.

In 2015, Erdogan declared a major policy initiative of making Turkey a, if not the major energy transit hub for supplies heading from the east to Europe.

Russia's annexation of Crimea could help Russia in its talks both with Erdogan over the Turkish Stream and pose the threat of undermining the SGC. It may also help Putin deal with Merkel, Kiev and the EU over the Ukraine pipeline system's future role. Bulgarian President Radev also said in Moscow that Sofia supports building a direct gas pipeline under the Black Sea to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria ( https://echo.msk.ru/news/2206394-echo.html ).

The Bulgarian option could be used by Putin to threaten Erdogan with reducing the Turkish Stream's supplies or abandoning it altogether in favor of a Black Sea Russian-Bulgarian Stream and to reduce Russia's dependence on Ukraine as well.

Implications

Thus, EU energy diversification policies are transforming Turkey, Azerbaijan and perhaps even Bulgaria into key players on the southern gas transit front, while Ukraine falters to Germany, and eastern Europe to Western Europe on the northern front.

Tensions between Ankara and Sofia on these grounds cannot be excluded, and they could draw in Turkey's semi-ally Azerbaijan. US, EU, Russian and Ukrainian energy diplomacy is likely not only to be focused on each other, therefore, but also on Ankara, Baku, and Sofia over the next year.

Unless, the US can rapidly reduce the cost of extracting and shipping LNG to Europe, it is unlikely to be able to become a major alternative to these players, and Russia will continue to dominate the European gas market, with a balance of competition and cooperation with Azerbaijan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California, www.cetisresearch.org .

Dr. Hahn is the author of Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the 'New Cold War (McFarland Publishers, 2017) and three previously and well-received books: Russia's Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction Publishers, 2002); Russia's Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007); and The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia's North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media and has served as a consultant and provided expert testimony to the U.S. government.

Dr. Hahn also has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. He has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Kennan Institute in Washington DC as well as the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

[Sep 06, 2018] Paradise Papers Reveal US Selling Russian LNG In Europe by Irina Slav

Notable quotes:
"... If the reports are true, the situation is an ironic one for Europe: while trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas it is inadvertently increasing it and is even paying more for it than it would if it bought the extra loads directly from Gazprom. ..."
Nov 10, 2017 | oilprice.com

The documents suggest that a company with US ownership is buying Russian gas from petrochemical giant Sibur, and then selling it -- at a profit, of course -- to the European Union, which is in a rush to build as many LNG terminals as it can in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

If the reports are true, the situation is an ironic one for Europe: while trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas it is inadvertently increasing it and is even paying more for it than it would if it bought the extra loads directly from Gazprom.

One might wonder how a U.S. company is able to do business with a Russian one. It's simple: Wilbur Ross himself said earlier this week that Sibur is not a subject to sanctions, so for Navigator Holdings and the petrochemical giant, everything is business as usual.

[Sep 05, 2018] Melting Arctic Creates New Opportunities For LNG

Sep 05, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al September 2, 2018 at 11:36 pm

OilPrice.com : Melting Arctic Creates New Opportunities For LNG
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Melting-Arctic-Creates-New-Opportunities-For-LNG.html

According to Balmasov, while the number of voyages via the Northern Sea Route so far this year has been roughly the same as last year, the main difference compared to 2017 is LNG traffic out of the port of Sabetta, the port that Russia's gas producer Novatek uses to ship the Yamal LNG cargoes to Europe and to Asia.

Arctic Logistics data compiled by Bloomberg shows that by early July, a total of 34 tankers made the voyage from Sabetta to Europe, and one to the east. Since early July, another two LNG tankers have shipped the fuel to Asia

In mid-July, Novatek said that it had shipped its first LNG cargoes from Yamal LNG to China via the Northern Sea Route, with the voyage from Sabetta completed in 19 days, compared to 35 days for the traditional eastern route via the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca
####

Tut tut! Cannot have LNG going via Russia's northern passage (fnar! fnar!).

Vis ship pollution, why simply hold LNG carriers up to much higher environmental standards? After all most of them are much newer and are specialist vessels. Or are they already? Indeed they are, the use of duel-fuel engines that can make use of boil-off:

https://www.brighthubengineering.com/naval-architecture/111619-propulsion-methods-for-modern-lng-tankers/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNG_carrier

As of 2005, a total of 203 vessels had been built, of which 193 were still in service. At the end of 2016, the global LNG shipping fleet consisted of 439 vessels.[3] In 2017, an estimated 170 vessels are in use at any one time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNG_carrier#Reliquefaction_and_boil-off
According to WGI, on a typical voyage an estimated 0.1–0.25% of the cargo converts to gas each day, depending on the efficiency of the insulation and the roughness of the voyage.[16] In a typical 20-day voyage, anywhere from 2–6% of the total volume of LNG originally loaded may be lost.[16]

Normally an LNG tanker is powered by steam turbines with boilers. These boilers are dual fuel and can run on either methane or oil or a combination of both. ..

Mark Chapman September 3, 2018 at 10:16 am

I love how an eventuality we were all raised to dread – the melting of the polar ice caps – is now spun as a net positive. Make hay while the sun shines! When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Pick your metaphor. We are destroying the planet we live on, inch by irrecoverable inch, but the merchants of Stay-Positive maintain it is AWESOME.

I don't know if you heard – probably not, since it was never much of an international story – but the Canadian Federal Court of Appeals, in a surprise decision, overturned the government's commitment to the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2018/08/trans-mountain-court-quashes-approval-contentious-pipeline-180830180555077.html

Alberta's Rachel Notley reportedly bent spoons with her teeth, since she had just jubilantly reported that the court challenge by the city of Burnaby (British Columbia) was defeated. "To date, Alberta has won every case brought against Trans Mountain. Your Alberta government will not back down until this pipeline is built and the national interest is secured", she crowed on Twitter; the modern equivalent of a legislature, I guess, since all politicians who are anybody turn first to Twitter to get their message out.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/977566130351960064

That one, of course, was "a victory for all Canadians". Except for British Columbia's crybabies, of course, who did not want to play host to Alberta's tanker armada, considering Alberta has no seacoast. So you would think she would quietly accept this later decision by the legal system she purports to revere. Not a bit of it. She immediately withdrew Alberta from the national climate-change plan, and restarted her rhetoric about cutting off BC's gas supply.

https://calgaryherald.com/news/ready-and-prepared-to-turn-off-the-taps-notley-issues-stark-warning-to-b-c-as-pipeline-fight-escalates/wcm/59f845c2-b13e-46f5-bb08-15e0fb37ec84

Get it? When the court rules in Alberta's favour, it is just – the solemn power of the law makes you want to weep with awe. When it rules against Alberta, it is a clown show of unevolved primates. That's modern politics.

All this theatre when the completion of the pipeline is inevitable – the very day, almost to the hour that the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, the shareholders of Kinder-Morgan Canada voted 99% in favour of selling the pipeline to the government of Canada. So now the government owns it, and although it may be delayed a couple of years, it's down but not out. Now the government has to re-do its consultations with all the native bands, this time selling the impression that it is actually listening and the consultative process is real, and it has to conduct a review of the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic (which it formerly declaimed as outside its purview). I'd say if there is agreement on changing some routes and perhaps permissible speed until well offshore, it will almost certainly pass next time.

[Sep 02, 2018] An Israeli campaign against Iranian nuclear sites is going to involve F-15 and F-16 jets loaded to the gills with big-arse bombs. Those will be unable to dogfight even a relic like an F-5 unless they drop that ordinance.

Sep 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Yeah, Right , Sep 2, 2018 1:27:48 AM | link

@82 There is some logic to the Iranians fielding a jet fighter of any sort, even if it is based on a relic of the 1970s.

An Israeli campaign against Iranian nuclear sites is going to involve F-15 and F-16 jets loaded to the gills with big-arse bombs. Those will be unable to dogfight even a relic like an F-5 unless they drop that ordinance.

If that is all those Iranians do that then they will have achieved their purpose.

Alternatively, the Israelis could use fighter escorts but then you have to consider that each escort represents one less bomb-laden F-16 (or, put another way, twice as many sorties).

Simply put: Absent any Iranian jet fighters then the Israelis can commit ALL of their jets to the task of bombing Iranian targets, and do so from the very beginning. But once Iranian fighters are in the mix then the job becomes much harder: the Israelis either have to take out those jets first before committing to a bombing campaign, or they have to commit half their force to escort duties from the very start.

Sure, SU-35s would be much better, but an F-5 is still way better than nothing.

partizan , Sep 2, 2018 3:40:55 AM | link

@Yeah, Right | Sep 2, 2018 1:27:48 AM | 144

the Iranian defense budget is one of lowest in that part of the world. even tiny Dubai has higher one.

upgrading an old fighter jet (not only jet) is sometime more costly than developing a new one.

su-35 flanker-e 4++ costs about $85 million a piece. i simply refuse to believe they cannot afford that.

[Sep 02, 2018] The countries that are truly dependent on Russia are in ex-communist Eastern Europe. They still rely on a network of pipelines built by USSR, and would go into energy crisis if Russia suddenly ended supply.

Sep 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

Felix Keverich , says: September 1, 2018 at 10:48 pm GMT

@AquariusAnon

You seem ignorant about economic issues. For example, when it comes to natural gas market, European countries are not in the same boat. Britain and Spain import virtually no gas from Russia. These countries built lots LNG terminals and import from Qatar.

Germany, Italy and France have a well-diversified supply from multiple sources. The countries that are truly dependent on Russia are in ex-communist Eastern Europe. They still rely on a network of pipelines built by USSR, and would go into energy crisis if Russia suddenly ended supply.

There is no Chinese FDI in Belarus, and in Russia it accounts for 1% of the total FDI. Nobody is learning Chinese in Russia or Belarus. I don't know what you're smoking.

[Aug 31, 2018] US is an oligarchy not a democracy

Aug 31, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Circe , Aug 30, 2018 9:06:13 PM | 54

Somebody @40:

Your comment implies that people should continue to bang their heads against a wall.

In fact, no one has said NOT to participate in politics. To be effective, it's important to understand the reality of politics and the power structure.

Landmark Princeton University Study: Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens demonstrates that US is an oligarchy not a democracy:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination ...

That's why candidates like Ron Paul on the Republican side and Denis Kucinich on the Democratic side never stood a chance. They made way too much sense; they dared speak truth to power so they had to be marginalized by their respective parties so no one would take them seriously. They were literally swallowed up by the duopoly and relegated to quasi-obscurity.

[Aug 31, 2018] Let us not forget, that under the mighty and loved O-bomber, a group of US Senators back in 2014 made Bulgaria drop South Stream with god knows what threats, whereas Brussels had previously failed (intentionally?) to do so. Guess who was the lead Senator?

Aug 31, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Aug 30, 2018 3:50:33 PM | 29

I would say 'contra-Russia'. Trump is just the current vessel.

Let us not forget, that under the mighty and loved O-bomber, a group of US Senators back in 2014 made Bulgaria drop South Stream with god knows what threats, whereas Brussels had previously failed (intentionally?) to do so. Guess who was the lead Senator?

RT.com: Bulgaria halts Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project after visit by US senators
https://www.rt.com/business/164588-brussels-bulgaria-halts-south-stream/

At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.

"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT .
####


See, nothing has changed. At least it looks like U-rope has learned its lesson. Not so the US. Russia hatin' is a too good 'dead cat on the table' to give up.

Posted by: et Al | Aug 30, 2018 1:55:58 PM | 8

Underneath everyone's observations/comments lurks the basic question: Why?

Enter the Big Picture provided yesterday by Pepe Escobar who also links to and cites the controversial Alastair Crooke ideological essay I linked to last week. Part of the Big Picture is the #1 policy goal of the Outlaw US Empire--Full Spectrum Dominance of the Planet--and its recently published National Defense Strategy(NDS) related to that goal:

"The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model -- gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions."

Do please note the combination of prevarication with ideology in the above as it's reflective of the point Crooke tried to make in his piece. A strategy based upon lies to oneself is a sure recipe for defeat as you're deceiving yourself which violates the first law of war as pronounced by so many: "All war is based on deception." But then given the political-economic nature of the USA's Keynesian Militarism, perhaps this deception is aimed domestically so as to transfer even more tax dollars upwards to the 1%. So, actions must be closely observed even more than usual.

During the election campaign, it was speculated that Trump's desire to ease tensions with Russia was a last-ditch gambit suggested by Kissinger to split the Chinese-Russian alliance. So, Russiagate served to defeat that gambit while pushing China and Russia even closer together. With the Syrian regime change ploy rapidly being defeated and Ukraine going nowhere, Deep State planners were left without an oar, so the reversion to Cold War Russophobia with an occasional bout of Sinophobia thrown in for good measure--neither of which is any sort of strategy.

Another quote from the NDS:

"Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military
advantage has been eroding."

That was realized before Putin's display of highly advanced Russian weaponry, which was announced in March, the NDS was released in January. What's amazing is "strategic atrophy" with budgets beyond $600 billion must mean a massive portion's being wasted--delivered to the 1%--such that it's corruption that's caused the erosion of "our competitive advantage." I'd opine much of the chaos we see being played-up is done to obscure interpretations like mine so that even more $$$ can be wasted, although lip service is given to improvements.

So, who/what's really in charge? Big Money rules as it has since the Civil War within the USA and much earlier when we include London and Amsterdam. Big Money's angry because it's locked out of BRI, BRICS, EAEU, and developing nations are mostly on to IMF's and World Bank's disingenuous "development" plans because it abhors the notion that it's not Top Dog. So, the dollar got weaponized and the Trade and Financial War--the Hybrid Third World War--was finally begun in earnest after earlier fits and starts. Yet it appears that the effort will fail since Big Money is finding itself trapped inside a web of its own making that's based on a fiat currency supported by Junk Economics.

[Aug 31, 2018] It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

ET AL August 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions (previously it said Uniper will pull out sic see link.).* In related news, construction has been started in German waters. Still silence from Denmark as to whether they will block it or not.

If I were Moscow, I would announce that the pipeline's route will avoid Danish waters and sit back to see the reaction. Why? Coz you can bet that some will claim it is punishment/bribe/threat/anti-competitive to Denmark, to whit, Russia can simply reply that Denmark has XXX days to provide the permits before it is no longer economically feasible for the route to go through its waters.

* https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/german-company-fully-committed-to-nord-stream-2-despite-fear-of-us-sanctions/

Euractiv: With attacks on Nord Stream 2, Washington ignores collateral damage
https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/opinion/with-attacks-on-nord-stream-2-washington-ignores-collateral-damage/

####

What p* me off about the reported 'threat from NSII' and even in articles like the one above that point out it is in Europe's interest, none of them mention the preceding sabotage of South Stream II under the mighty Obama and the impact from that led directly to Nord Stream II.

A blast from the past:
Bulgaria halts Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project after visit by US senators
https://www.rt.com/business/164588-brussels-bulgaria-halts-south-stream/

At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.

"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT .
####

Yes kids. Warmonger McCain was at the forefront of getting it killed after interference from Brussels failed to shift the asshole Borissov's government. So when a European asks "What has John McCain done for us? , he's already f*ed you over for the benefit of the US and U-ropean poodle Krazy K**t Klan.

[Aug 31, 2018] Bulgaria stepped up when the European Commission called and got absolutely no compensation for cancelling the South stream to the contrary, the decision cost Bulgaria a great deal of money

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 12:06 pm

And let's remember what a hard lesson Bulgaria learned from its leap of faith into Brussels' arms.

On May 30, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the joint press conference, Borisov apologized to Putin for the failure of South Stream and for his responsibility in causing the deterioration of relations between the two countries. Borisov said: "We know about the difficult relations in the past and are grateful to our colleagues for not being vindictive and the fact that Russian-Bulgarian relations do not depend on the extent of guilt of some politicians

"I would like to thank President Putin for his attitude once again. I am to blame for creating certain tensions When it came to the worst and I wanted to talk, my calls were always answered. And I really accept part of the guilt for those developments."

Putin then added that he regrets that the South Stream project has not been implemented, since it would have "greatly benefited" Bulgaria.

In response, Borisov blamed the EU of having imposed Bulgaria diktats that other countries do not respect anyway. Borisov said: "We are the most loyal and the most disciplined country in the European Union. This is the reason why all the pipelines bypassed our territory. We hope that today we have redressed an injustice.

https://www.memri.org/reports/russia-world-%E2%80%93-russia-bulgaria-reconciliation-%E2%80%93-bulgarias-president-radev-no-sanctions-are

Bulgaria stepped up when the European Commission called and got absolutely fuck-all in the way of thanks or compensation – to the contrary, the decision cost Bulgaria a great deal of money. Let that be a lesson to other EU countries; Brussels is big on ideas, but it does not have your back and if your stepping-up causes your country grief and it turns out you made a terrible mistake, and want to talk about it

ET AL August 31, 2018 at 2:58 am

There is absolutely nobody else to blame but Borissov himself, a third rate playa . The position of neither Brussels nor Washington was a surprise at all. They are very well known quantities. Big surprise. Not.

Borissov vacillated and played the same failed and weak gambit we have seen for years in the Ukraine. That he is still around as the biggest fish in the local fish shop is that he is the biggest spineless shit that floats to the surface while the opposition is little more than useless. That is repeated elsewhere in the neighborhood to various degrees and where it is not, it's a choice between two sides of the same gangster/clan coin. To misquote Douglas Adams, So long, and thanks for none of the fish.

KIRILL August 30, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Denmark has already been bypassed. And Gazprom said it could finish the project without any partners.

Like

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Well, I don't think a decision has been made yet. But the consortium has 'applied to Denmark for an alternate route' – which, since the alternate route would not go through Danish territorial waters, implies Denmark does not really have any say over it, and is essentially a challenge to Denmark to either veto the original route on security grounds (you never know, Putin might hide submarines in it, or Novichok or something) or get on with it. But Denmark is presented with more or less the Bulgarian Alternative: do Washington's bidding and get a pat on the head, or defy it and get transit fees.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/energy/91657/nord-stream-2-will-bypass-danish-waters

All the news on the subject that I saw announced that the consortium is 'exploring' an alternate route. It seems they are still hopeful the original route will be cleared, but are getting it on the table that denying it will not stop the project.

But of course western 'analysts' continue to squeal that Putin and the Kremlin are using the Nord Stream II pipeline to 'invade Europe'. Curiously, the same people who once smirked scornfully that Nord Stream II was not needed because the current pipeline is only running at half-capacity now claim "even with Nord Stream 2 on line Russia would still need to send substantial amounts of gas through Ukraine – at least until the upcoming TurkStream pipeline is also finished." Whoa – wut? Even both legs of Nord Stream running at full capacity will not be enough? You don't say.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/with-nord-stream-2-pipeline-putin-waltzes-into-the-heart-of-europe-20180821-p4zyod.html

Once again, nobody is forcing Europe to take more Russian gas than it needs, although the draw-down of domestic supplies suggest it will need more all the time unless 'green energy' becomes more commercially viable and reliable. Certain players want Europe's gas to go through Ukraine for two reasons – one, Ukraine badly needs the money from transit fees to prop up its calamitous economy. Two, it is a ready tickle-trunk of conflict whenever the west wants to make problems for Russia; presto! Ukraine is in a new fight with Russia over gas prices, and Europe is trembling with fear that its gas supplies will be shut off.

Here, you numpties – let me solve the problem for you. Soon there is going to be a perfectly good (according to Ukraine and the west) pipeline network idling without much to do. Why not let all those competitors Europe is always gibbering about use Ukraine's pipeline network to send their gas to Europe? They could have the whole thing all to themselves, completely cutting Gazprom out of Ukraine! What a victory that would be! And they could pay Ukraine transit fees, saving the day there and bringing enormous comfort to Ukrainian economists! It's win/win!

No charge for my consulting.

[Aug 31, 2018] It occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out.

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 8:49 am

See, this is why I enjoy Leonid Bershidsky's writing . Despite his idealistic prattling that Russia is actually guilty of all the things America says it is – his ultimate loyalty is still to his adopted homeland, the land of milk and honey – he remains essentially a realist. And his take on the economic dynamics is brutally realistic; the United States cannot 'bring the Russian economy to its knees'. Once again, America's ridiculously-high opinion of itself and its power fail to take account of consequences.

Oh, it could, I suppose, in a way. A way that would see the world's largest economy – arguably, and certainly in its last days if it is actually still the world's largest economy – wreck the global economy and its own trade relationship with the world in order to damage Russia. Is it willing to go that far? You just never know, as decades of feeding itself exceptionalism have addled its thinking.

Bershidsky points out – correctly, I think – that Russia has held off on punishing American companies in Russia just as the USA has not dared to sanction the energy industry in Russia. Neither wants to take that step, although one will certainly provoke the other.

In fact, it occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out. What would happen then? America would be bound to drop the sanctions hammer on oil and gas. And what would happen then? Europe would say, it's been a lovely party, but I must be going. I give that an 8 of 10 chance of happening, and solely because of the stupid actions heretofore by the Trump government. Had America been reasonable, it would have stood a chance of carrying Europe with it to a war against Russia. But Trump and his blowhard bullying have hardened European resolve against the USA.

[Aug 26, 2018] US ready to drive Iranian oil exports to zero, says US national security adviser

Notable quotes:
"... The US is run by a somewhat unstable president being advised by nuts like Bolton whose main focus is following Israeli diktats, therefore i would not expect them to be looking out for US interests. ..."
Aug 26, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 3:47 PM

US ready to drive Iranian oil exports to zero, says US national security adviser

The US is prepared to use sanctions to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero, the US national security adviser, John Bolton, has said.
"Regime change in Iran is not American policy, but what we want is massive change in the regime's behaviour," Bolton said on a visit to Israel, as he claimed current sanctions had been more effective than predicted.
Donald Trump took the US out of Iran's nuclear deal with the west in May and is imposing escalating sanctions, both to force Iran to renegotiate the deal and to end Tehran's perceived interference in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
Complete removal of Iranian oil from world markets would cut oil supply by more than 4% probably forcing up prices in the absence of any new supplies.
SNIP
Fuller US sanctions, including actions against countries that trade in Iranian oil are due to come into force on 5 November, 180 days after the initial Trump announcement to withdraw.
The measures against Iranian oil importers, and banks that continue to trade with the Central Bank of Iran, will ratchet the pressure to a higher level.
Pompeo has set up an Iran Action group inside the US State Department to coordinate US leverage on companies and countries that cannot show that their trade, including in oil, has fallen significantly by November.
Measures may also be taken against firms that insure ships carrying Iranian crude.
It is expected some of the major Iranian oil importers, such as Russia, China and Turkey, will either ignore the threat of US sanctions, or, possibly in the case of Iraq, Japan and South Korea, seek exemptions.
China takes a quarter of all Iran's oil exports, and with Chinese banks little exposed to the US it can avoid the impact of Trump's sanctions.
REPLY


Dennis Coyne

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 4:13 PM

I wonder if China could just take all of Iran's oil? I imagine at the right price they would be happy to do so. China imports about 8 Mb/d, Iran exports about 2.5 Mb/d of oil, seems possible.

Also note that if this does occur and there is no drop in Iranian output, the impact of the Iranian sanctions on the World Oil market will be effectively zero.

Survivalist

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 4:34 PM

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-iran-oil-shipping/exclusive-china-shifts-to-iranian-tankers-to-keep-oil-flowing-amid-us-sanctions-sources-idUSKCN1L50RZ

I wonder what the capacity is of the Chinese and Iranian oil tanker fleet is? If nobody else will buy it or ship it then the tanker fleet will have to be owned/insured by either Iran or China.

Watcher

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 10:07 PM

Previously posted.

The big issue is the insurance. A US seized cargo triggers insurance on either party, Iran or China. No way that doesn't escalate to violence.

Survivalist

Ignored says: 08/23/2018 AT 2:08 PM

I'm interested in knowing if Chinese oil tankers are even capable of hauling 2.5 million barrels a day home from Iran. It seems doubtful that anybody else will be doing it for them. I can't find much info on the size of the Chinese owned tanker fleet and it's capabilities.

While US forces have been known to seize North Korean oil tankers hauling Libyan oil, I find it doubtful that they will seize Chinese ones, for the reason you mentioned; China punches back. Nothing spells the end of hegemony like getting your ass kicked.

Fernando Leanme

Ignored says: 08/25/2018 AT 8:26 AM

One would assume its easy for the chinese to buy used oil tankers if they offer a bit over current market prices. This is a very long term conflict, and they could buy tankers, reregister them Chinese or Iranian or say Russian and start moving that oil.

The US is run by a somewhat unstable president being advised by nuts like Bolton whose main focus is following Israeli diktats, therefore i would not expect them to be looking out for US interests.

[Aug 26, 2018] Did Saudi pay for the audit? I've found that audits often show the results the customer is looking for. Its not quite a science. More like a combination of fishing and editing.

Aug 26, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Energy News

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 3:54 AM

Saudi Aramco, apparently there was an audit of their reserves in preparation for the Aramco IPO. It says Baker Hughes was involved???

2018-04-29 DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – An audit of Saudi Aramco's oil reserves – an essential part of the preparatory work for its planned initial public offering – has found the state oil giant to have higher reserves than it previously reported, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the independent external audit has found the proven oil reserves to be at least 270 billion barrels, which is slightly higher than the 260.8 billion barrels the company reported in its 2016 annual review.

Dallas-based DeGolyer and MacNaughton, and Gaffney, Cline and Associates, part of Baker Hughes, are involved in the auditing, sources have said.

Baker Hughes and DeGolyer did not respond to a request for comment.
https://in.reuters.com/article/saudi-aramco-reserves/audit-finds-aramco-oil-reserves-slightly-higher-than-reported-sources-idINKBN1I00D2 REPLY


Hickory

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 9:50 AM

Did they pay for the audit? I've found that audits often show the results the customer is looking for. Its not quite a science. More like a combination of fishing and editing.

"In no way should these results be construed as a true representation of the 'real' ."

Ron Patterson

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 10:13 AM

au·dit
NOUN
an official inspection of an individual's or organization's accounts, typically by an independent body.
VERB
conduct an official financial examination of (an individual's or organization's accounts).
"companies must have their accounts audited"

They audited their books! I have no doubt that they found exactly what Saudi had on their books. But that is likely to bear no resemblance to what field reserves actually are. At any rate, it is entirely possible that Saudi could have doctored their books in anticipation of the audit.

How would one go about actually checking the remaining reserves in Ghawar? Or any of the other Saudi fields?

Guym

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 10:19 AM

Dipstick??🤡 Seriously, they are both oil consulting companies. Hardly an audit. Just high priced consultants. Key phrase is high priced. Nobody is going to jerk their consulting license if they accept the high price, and give SA what they want. If SA runs out of oil tomorrow, the worst that could happen is the companies say, whoops, missed that one.

[Aug 26, 2018] What Really Happens to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Ecuador

Aug 26, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Caelan MacIntyre

Ignored says: 08/23/2018 AT 5:14 AM

What Really Happens to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Ecuador

" On Venezuela

it is absolutely clear who is behind the food and medicine boycotts (empty supermarket shelves), and the induced internal violence. It is a carbon copy of what the CIA under Kissinger's command did in Chile in 1973 which led to the murder of the legitimate and democratically elected President Allende and to the Pinochet military coup ; except, Venezuela has 19 years of revolutionary experience, and built up some tough resistance.

To understand the context 'Venezuela', we may have to look at the country's history.

Before the fully democratically and internationally observed election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela was governed for at least 100 years by dictators and violent despots which were directed by and served only the United States. The country, extremely rich in natural resources , was exploited by the US and Venezuelan oligarchs to the point that the population of one of the richest Latin-American countries remained poor instead of improving its standard of living according to country's natural riches. The people were literally enslaved by Washington controlled regimes .

A first coup attempt by Comandante Hugo Chavez in 1992 was oppressed by the Government of Carlos Andrés Pérez and Chavez was sent to prison along with his co-golpistas. After two years, he was freed by the Government of Rafael Caldera.

During Peréz' first term in office (1974-1979) and his predecessors, Venezuela attained a high economic growth based on almost exclusive oil exports . Though, hardly anything of this growth stayed in the country and was distributed to the people. The situation was pretty much the same as it is in today's Peru which before the 2008 crisis and shortly thereafter had phenomenal growth rates – between 5% and 8% – of which 80% went to 5% of the population oligarchs and foreign investors , and 20% was to be distributed to 95% of the population – and that on a very uneven keel. The result was and is a growing gap between rich and poor, increasing unemployment and delinquency.

Venezuela before Chavez lived practically on a monoculture economy based on petrol. There was no effort towards economic diversification. To the contrary, diversification could eventually help free Venezuela from the despot's fangs, as the US was the key recipient of Venezuela's petrol and other riches. Influenced by the 1989 Washington Consensus, Peréz made a drastic turn in his second mandate (1989-1993) towards neoliberal reforms, i.e. privatization of public services, restructuring the little social safety benefits laborers had achieved, and contracting debt by the IMF and the World Bank. He became a model child of neoliberalism, to the detriment of Venezuelans. Resulting protests under Peréz' successor, Rafael Caldera, became unmanageable. New elections were called and Hugo Chavez won in a first round with more than 56%. Despite an ugly Washington inspired coup attempt ("The Revolution will Not be Televised", 2003 documentary about the attempted 2002 coup), Hugo Chavez stayed in power until his untimely death 2013. Comandante Chavez and his Government reached spectacular social achievements for his country.

Washington will not let go easily – or at all, to re-conquer Venezuela into the new Monroe Doctrine, i.e. becoming re-integrated into Washington's backyard. Imagine this oil-rich country, with the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves, on the doorsteps of the United Sates' key refineries in Texas, just about 3 to 4 days away for a tanker from Venezuela, as compared to 40 to 45 days from the Gulf, where the US currently gets about 60% of its petrol imports. An enormous difference in costs and risks, i.e. each shipment has to sail through the Iran-controlled Strait of Hormuz.

In addition, another socialist revolution as one of Washington's southern neighbor – in addition to Cuba – is not convenient. Therefore, the US and her secret forces will do everything to bring about regime change, by constant economic aggressions, blockades, sanctions, boycotts of imports and their internal distribution – as well as outrights military threats. The recent assassination attempt of President Maduro falls into the same category. "

[Aug 25, 2018] Is Trump Pushing Germany And Russia Together by Tom Luongo

This "Trump vs Davos globalists" theme is unconvincing. Trump actions are ruthless globalist actions, who wnat to preverse the US status of superpower at all costs, even by abrogating important treaties. He might be not a neoliberal globalist thouth -- he does not offere equl seats on the table to vassals.
Trumpo statement that if Germany buy Russian gas it does not need NATO is very shroud indeed.
Notable quotes:
"... Optics are important and this image captures what both parties wanted to convey. This meeting is the beginning of a shift in the relationship between Germany and Russia for the better. ..."
"... The obvious answer is necessity brought about by pressure being placed on both countries by Donald Trump through sanctions and tariffs and their shared interests represented by the Nordstream 2 pipeline. ..."
"... But, this meeting went far deeper than that, especially since Merkel's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas boldly proclaimed that Europe needs an alternative to the SWIFT system of international electronic payments so as to keep global trade alive while the U.S. further weaponizes the U.S. dollar ..."
"... Why would Merkel allow Maas to state this publicly and why was it picked up by that establishment stenographer The Financial Times ? ..."
"... If Trump's goal, as presented by much of the European press (as presented here by Gilbert Doctorow), is to regain complete subjugation of Europe to American dominance, then this seems counter-productive. ..."
"... SWIFT is the main lever on which much of the U.S.'s sanctions power rests. Because it is through SWIFT that transactions can be tracked, payments halted and fines imposed. That none of this is strictly legal is irrelevant in the game of power-politics. ..."
"... This undermines the EU's credibility at a foundational level. It shows them to be the toothless and, in EU President Donald Tusk's case, witless when faced with opposition to their rule that isn't supported by The Davos Crowd, which Trump most definitely doesn't represent. ..."
"... And I've talked about these in the past. His real goal is the destruction of that post WWII institutional order which in his mind bankrupts the U.S. treasury through massive trade deficits. ..."
"... I said back in June that Trump's leaving the JCPOA was all part of his strategy to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany. The Davos Crowd needs that deal to keep the dream of transferring the power of the world back to Europe from the U.S. via cheap, Iranian energy and keep the conflict between Israel/Saudi Arabia and Iran front and center to foment global chaos awhile keeping Russia from getting rich again. ..."
"... It needs that to support the narrative we need NATO to protect us from the inevitable Russian attack after we provoke them into it. This keeps the money flowing through the banks and lobbyists while draining the U.S. dry through the military/industrial complex. ..."
"... And despite relentless Russia bashing since before Trump was elected, the American people overwhelmingly want peace with Russia, not war. ..."
"... By driving a wedge between Germany and the US over NATO and attacking the foundations of the German economy Trump is ensuring the current rapprochement between Germany and Russia? ..."
Aug 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Vladimir Putin's charm tour of Germany and Austria last weekend is a significant sign of change to come.

To the U.S. and European press Putin is only a step or two away from Hitler reincarnated (thanks chiefly to Bill Browder). It serves the purpose of maintaining the post WWII institutional order.

But, Putin is always nothing but relentlessly patient in his diplomatic efforts, even when European leaders, like Merkel, treat him and Russia poorly. She is, after all, the leading mouthpiece and political ally of The Davos Crowd that believes they run the world.

The conduct of his Foreign Ministry under Sergei Lavrov always strikes the perfect balance between bluntness and diplo-speak.

So, color me surprised when I see the official photos of his meeting with Merkel carefully framed to paint him in a positive light.

Putin in light blues and grays, Merkel in green, the fountain in the background, leaning in looking directly at each other and a simple Sunday morning chat.

If I didn't know better I'd be expecting them to share photos of their grandkids, well, Putin's grandkids anyway.

Optics are important and this image captures what both parties wanted to convey. This meeting is the beginning of a shift in the relationship between Germany and Russia for the better.

And the question is why?

The obvious answer is necessity brought about by pressure being placed on both countries by Donald Trump through sanctions and tariffs and their shared interests represented by the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

But, this meeting went far deeper than that, especially since Merkel's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas boldly proclaimed that Europe needs an alternative to the SWIFT system of international electronic payments so as to keep global trade alive while the U.S. further weaponizes the U.S. dollar.

The U.S. just seized another $5 billion of Russian 'oligarch' money using Credit Suisse as its enforcement arm.

Again, the question is why?

Why would Merkel allow Maas to state this publicly and why was it picked up by that establishment stenographer The Financial Times ?

Why is Merkel, their main mouthpiece, making googly eyes with Putin who, like Trump, represents an existential threat to their continued rule and is the leader of the pendulum swing away from globalism?

If Trump's goal, as presented by much of the European press (as presented here by Gilbert Doctorow), is to regain complete subjugation of Europe to American dominance, then this seems counter-productive.

SWIFT Justice?

SWIFT is the main lever on which much of the U.S.'s sanctions power rests. Because it is through SWIFT that transactions can be tracked, payments halted and fines imposed. That none of this is strictly legal is irrelevant in the game of power-politics.

Banks like Credit Suisse can't function without access to SWIFT.

So they will roll over to the pressure. That's why the response from EU leadership to Trump's abandoning the JCPOA has been far more bark than bite. Because the measures implemented to protect European businesses from U.S. retaliation against them hold no weight with the companies staring at billions in losses.

Case in point: France's Total pulling out of a multi-billion exploration deal with Iran.

Merkel's response? $18 million in aid to Tehran for their troubles. Hardly seems fair does it?

This undermines the EU's credibility at a foundational level. It shows them to be the toothless and, in EU President Donald Tusk's case, witless when faced with opposition to their rule that isn't supported by The Davos Crowd, which Trump most definitely doesn't represent.

So, again, the question is why?

All of this seems incredibly contradictory, at times even to a jaded and cynical observer like me. Until you step back for a second and think bigger picture and ask the most important question of all.

What are Trump's real goals?

It's Good to Have Goals

And I've talked about these in the past. His real goal is the destruction of that post WWII institutional order which in his mind bankrupts the U.S. treasury through massive trade deficits.

And in a word that means . NATO.

Trump goal is the dissolution of NATO. He wants it dismantled because it is a massive drain on our capital base. Building weapons and maintaining bases in Europe is expensive and that money is needed here. He knows this.

Even the mere hint of this has The Davos Crowd in apoplexy. Hence, the post-Helsinki freak out. Hence, the drive to impeach him over Stormy Freaking Daniels. It's pathetic.

I said back in June that Trump's leaving the JCPOA was all part of his strategy to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany. The Davos Crowd needs that deal to keep the dream of transferring the power of the world back to Europe from the U.S. via cheap, Iranian energy and keep the conflict between Israel/Saudi Arabia and Iran front and center to foment global chaos awhile keeping Russia from getting rich again.

It needs that to support the narrative we need NATO to protect us from the inevitable Russian attack after we provoke them into it. This keeps the money flowing through the banks and lobbyists while draining the U.S. dry through the military/industrial complex.

The problem is that that narrative is garbage. And despite relentless Russia bashing since before Trump was elected, the American people overwhelmingly want peace with Russia, not war.

Poland and the Baltics sound like Democrats unhinged hysterical children over the 'threat of Russian aggression.'

This is why Trump is also pressuring Turkey at the same time. He knows Europe is vulnerable to Turkey's implosion. Turkey and Germany are major trading partners and the vast bulk of Turkey's foreign currency exposure is owned by European banks, making them, as I've said previously, Ground Zero for the debt bomb.

So the final question then is this.

Has this been Trump's goal the entire time? Is this what Trump and Putin discussed behind closed doors in Helsinki?

The NATO Wedge

By driving a wedge between Germany and the US over NATO and attacking the foundations of the German economy Trump is ensuring the current rapprochement between Germany and Russia?

Merkel, for her part, has been so terminally weakened by her immigration policy and strong-armed approach to dissent that this whirlwind weekender by Putin was as much for her benefit, politically, as his.

The implication being that if Merkel wants to stay in power with her weakening coalition and poll numbers it's time for her to reverse course. And if that means cozying up to Russia then so be it.

Merkel will continue to talk a good game about Crimea and Ukraine while Putin will speak directly to the German people about ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria as a proxy for ending the threat of further immigration.

This outflanks Merkel's position and undermines George Soros' goals of the cultural destruction of Europe. At this point, politically, how can Merkel even argue against that without betraying her true loyalties?

And that's what makes the implications of this Summit-That-Wasn't so interesting.

If this is indeed the case then the future of the world rests on the mid-term elections and whether Trump is not indicted for having sex with a couple of porn stars.

I almost feel dirty writing that.

* * *

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[Aug 25, 2018] The Geopolitics Of Energy

Very amateur level of analysis...
Aug 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The antagonism between Saudi Arabia and Iran sets off a variety of political reverberations affecting the countries of the Persian Gulf, unsettling the situation between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and entangling Russia and the United States in the ensuring imbroglio.

... ... ...

The role of the Russian Federation cannot be viewed apart from what is happening in the energy-rich, formerly Soviet Central Asian republics. The so-called -Stans (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan) are major players in today's energy markets. Whatever they do, however, cannot be seen as separate from what Russia is doing or from Russia's intentions. Although some of them, primarily Azerbaijan, have initiated projects that are not aligned with Moscow's goals, they nevertheless need to behave in ways that do not upset their powerful northern neighbour on whom they are heavily reliant, to some extent, for their welfare (due to their dependence on oil and gas pipeline networks).

Politics is therefore deeply intertwined with energy in most of those cases, bringing diplomacy front and centre as a determinant of behaviour and economic outcomes.

... ... ...

Europe's problem is that, with the exception of North Sea oil and gas, it relies entirely on imports to provide it with a comfortable level of energy. Thus, events in the Middle East and the Russian stance toward the continent determines whether it is adequately supplied with energy or faces shortages.

The deposits in the North Sea have kept some European states (Britain and Scandinavia among others) well supplied for quite a while. But unfortunately there is a strong suspicion that these deposits are diminishing at a dangerous rate. As a result Europe will gradually become dependent on imports from the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, and the Atlantic (Angola, Brazil, Mexico, and the US). The situation is disquieting since Japan, and more recently, China, are seeking to buy their own supplies from the same sources.

skbull44 Cosmicserpent Wed, 08/22/2018 - 21:37 Permalink

"...Things started to change after the fracking and shale gas revolution. The United States suddenly realized that it could not only became absolutely self-sufficient in oil and gas, but it also emerged as one of the most important exporters to the rest of the world..."

Ths is factually untrue. The US still depends on crude oil imports to meet its needs. And if this simple, verifiable fact is misunderstood by the author, then I have to wonder about the rest of his analysis...

Cloud9.5 Wed, 08/22/2018 - 21:08 Permalink

From the middle of the last century to the present, everything has been about oil. The peak oilers were correct. What they did not consider was the power of debt to hold this whole thing together long after it should have collapsed. Shale oil is not profitable. That does not mater as long as debt underwrites the cost of production. What does matter is the rapid decline rate of shale oil wells. Yes it is true that shale wells are continuing to produce long after they have reached their peak but it is the volume of production that matters.

If you read the projections put out by the Hirsch Report, the Llyiods Report and the Bundeswehr Report, things should get interesting in the next couple of years.

[Aug 25, 2018] What Trump's Policy of Energy Dominance Means for the World

Notable quotes:
"... Art of the Deal ..."
"... but neither are they amenable to a stoic acceptance of national decline" ..."
"... Unleashing American Energy ..."
"... American energy dominance, ..."
"... Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ..."
"... "... an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. – Just as you want a secure homeland in Israel." ..."
Aug 25, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

ALASTAIR CROOKE | 05.06.2018 | WORLD / ASIA PACIFIC | FEATURED STORY

Two weeks ago, we wrote about how President Trump's foreign policy somehow had 'folded' into 'neo-Americanism', and quoted US Foreign Affairs Professor, Russell-Mead, suggesting that Trump's 8 May metamorphosis (the exit from JCPOA), represented something new, a step-change of direction (from his being principally a sharp Art of the Deal negotiator), toward – pace, Russell-Mead – "a neo-American era in world politics – rather than an [Obama-ist] post-American one". "The administration wants to enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline (as allegedly, Obama did). For now, at least, the Middle East is the centrepiece of this new assertiveness", Russell-Mead opined, explaining that this new Trump impulse stems from: [Trump's] instincts telling him that most Americans are anything but eager for a "post-American" world. Mr. Trump's supporters don't want long wars, but neither are they amenable to a stoic acceptance of national decline" .

There is something of a paradox here: Trump and his base deplore the cost and commitment of the huge American defence umbrella, spread across the globe by the globalists (sentiments aggravated by the supposed ingratitude of its beneficiaries) – yet the President wants to " enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline". That is, he wants more power, but less empire. How might he square this circle?

Well, a pointer arose almost a year earlier, when on 29 June 2017, the President used a quite unexpected word when speaking at an Energy Department event: Unleashing American Energy . Instead of talking about American energy independence , as might be expected, he heralded instead, a new era of American energy "dominance" .

In a speech "that sought to underscore a break with the policies of Barack Obama", the FT notes , Mr Trump tied energy to his America First agenda..."The truth is we now have near limitless supplies of energy in our country," Mr Trump said. "We are really in the driving seat, and you know what: we don't want to let other countries take away our sovereignty, and tell us what to do, and how to do it. That's not going to happen. With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only the American energy independence that we've been looking for, for so long – but American energy dominance, " he said.

It seems, as Chris Cook explains , that Gary Cohn, then chief economic adviser to the President had a part in the genesis to this ambition. Cohn (then at Goldman Sachs), together with a colleague from Morgan Stanley, conceived of a plan in 2000 to take control of the global oil trading market through an electronic trading platform, based in New York. In brief, the big banks, attracted huge quantities of 'managed money' (from such as hedge funds), to the market, to bet on future prices (without their ever actually taking delivery of crude: trading 'paper oil', rather than physical oil). And, at the same time, these banks worked in collusion with the major oil producers (including later, Saudi Arabia) to pre-purchase physical oil in such a way that, by withholding, or releasing physical crude from, or onto the market, the big NY banks were able to 'influence' the prices (by creating a shortage, or a glut).

To give some idea of the capacity of these bankers to 'influence' price, by mid – 2008, it was estimated that some $260 billion of 'managed' (speculative) investment money was in play in energy markets, completely dwarfing the value of the oil actually coming out of the North Sea each month, at maybe $4 to $5 billion, at most. These 'paper' oil-option plays would therefore often trump the 'fundamentals' of real supply, and real end-user demand.

'Step one' for Cohn, was therefore, for the US to manage the trading market, both in price and access – with U.S. antagonists such as Iran or Russia, being able to access the market on inferior terms, if at all. The putative 'step two', has been to nurse US shale production, build new American LNG export terminals, and open America to further oil and gas exploration, whilst strong-arming everyone from Germany to South Korea and China, to buy American LNG exports. And 'thirdly', with Gulf oil exports already under the US umbrella, there were then, two major Middle East energy producers beyond the boundaries of cartel 'influence' (falling more into rival Russia's strategic energy-producing 'heartland'): Iran – which is now the subject of regime change–style, economic siege on its oil exports, and Iraq, which is subject of intense (soft) political pressures (such as threatening to sanction Iraq under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ) to force its adherence to the western sphere.

What would this Trump notion of energy dominance mean in simple language? The US – were energy dominance to succeed – simply would control the tap to the economic development – or its lack thereof – for rivals China, and Asia. And the US could squeeze Russia's revenues in this way, too. In short, the US could put a tourniquet on China's and Russia's economic development plans. Is this why JCPOA was revoked by President Trump?

Here then, is the squaring of that circle (more US power, yet less empire): Trump's US aims for 'domination', not through the globalists' permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals. In this way, Trump can 'bring the troops home', and yet America keeps its hegemony. Military conflict becomes a last resort.

Senior advisor Peter Navarro said on NPR earlier this week that "we can stop them [the Chinese] from putting our high tech companies out of business" and "buying up our crown jewels of technology ... Every time we innovate something new, China comes in and buys it, or steals it."

Is this then Trump's plan: By market domination and trade war, to prolong America's 'superiority' of technology, finance and energy – and not somehow be obliged to "adjust to decline"? And by acting in this way, curtail – or at least postpone – the emergence of rivals? Two questions in this context immediately present themselves: Is this formula the adoption of neo-conservatism, by the US Administration, which Trump's own base so detests? And, secondly, can the approach work?

It is not neo-conservatism, perhaps – but rather a re-working of a theme. The American neo-conservatives largely wanted to take a hammer to the parts of the world they didn't like; and to replace it with something they did. Trump's method is more Machiavellian in character.

The roots to both of these currents of thought lie however – more than partly – with Carl Schmitt's influence on American conservative thinking through his friend, Leo Strauss, at Chicago (whether not, Trump has ever read either man, the ideas still circulate in the US ether). Schmitt held that politics (in contrast to the liberal/ humanist vein) has nothing to do with making the world fairer, or more just – that is the work of moralists and theologians – politics for Schmitt, concerns power and political survival, and nothing more.

Liberals (and globalists), Schmitt suggested, are queasy at using power to crush alternative forces from emerging: their optimistic view of human nature leads them to believe in the possibility of mediation and compromise. The Schmittian optic, however dismissed derisively the liberal view, in favour of an emphasis on the role of power, pure and simple – based on a darker understanding of the true nature of 'others' and rivals. This point seems to go to the root of Trump's thinking: Obama and the 'liberals' were ready to trade the 'crown jewels' of 'Our Culture' (financial, technological and energy expertise) through some multilateral 'affirmative action' that would help less developed states (such as rival China up the ladder). Perhaps such thoughts too, lay behind Trump's withdrawal from the Climate Accord: Why help putative rivals, whist, at same time, imposing voluntary handicaps on one's own Culture?

It is on this latter, quite narrow pivot (the imperative of keeping American power intact), that neo-cons and Trumpists, come together: And both also share in their disdain for utopian liberals who would fritter away the crown jewels of western Culture – for some or other humanitarian ideal – only to allow America's determined rivals to rise up and overthrow America and its Culture (in this optic).

The common ground between both currents, is expressed with remarkable candour through Berlusconi's comment that "we must be aware of the superiority of our [western] civilisation". Steve Bannon says something very similar, though couched in the merits of preserving (a threatened) western Judeo-Christian culture.

This sense of Cultural advantage that must at all costs be recuperated and preserved perhaps goes some (but not all) way towards accounting for Trump's ardent support for Israel: Speaking to Israel's Channel Two, Richard Spencer, a prominent leader of the American Alt-Right (and one component to Trump's base), highlighted the deeply felt the dispossession of white people, in their own country [the US]:

"... an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. – Just as you want a secure homeland in Israel."

So, can the attempt to leverage and weaponise the American élites' Culture – through the dollar, and putative energy hegemony, and its hold over technology transfer – succeed in holding on to American 'Culture' (in the reductionist construct of Trump's base)? This is the sixty-four thousand dollar question, as they say. It may just easily provoke an equally powerful reaction; and a lot can happen domestically in the US, between now, and the November, US mid-term, elections, which might either confirm the President in power – or undo him. It is difficult to hold to any analytic horizon beyond that.

But a larger point is whilst Trump feels passionately about American Culture and hegemony; the leaders of the non-West today, feel just as passionately that it is time for 'the American Century' to yield place. Just as after WWII, former colonial states wanted independence – so, now, today's leaders want an end to dollar monopoly, they want an opt-out from the global, US-led order and its so-called 'international' institutions; they want to 'be' in their own distinctive cultural way – and they want their sovereignties back. This is not just cultural and economic nationalism, it portends a significant inflection point – away from neo-liberal economics, from individualism and raw commercialism – towards a more rounded human experience.

The tide, in the wake of WWII, surely was irreversible then. I can even recall the former European colonialists subsequently bemoaning their forced withdrawal: "They'll [the former colonies] regret it", they confidently predicted. (No, they never did.) The tide today runs strongly too, and has spread, even, to Europe. Where – who knows – whether the Europeans will have the spine to push back against Trump's financial and trade machinations: It will be an important litmus for what comes next.

But what is different now (from then), is that currency hegemony, technological prowess, and energy 'domination', are not, at all, assured to western possession. They are no longer theirs. They began their migration, some time ago.

[Aug 25, 2018] The Geostrategy That Guides Trump's Foreign Policies by ERIC ZUESSE

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's US aims for 'domination', not through the globalists' permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals. ..."
"... "Towards the tail end of the Clinton administration and the Dot Com boom in 2000, [Trump's U.S. Treasury Secretary until April 2018] Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs had dinner with his counterpart at Morgan Stanley, John Shapiro. From this dinner was hatched an audacious plan to take control of the global oil market through a new electronic global market platform." ..."
"... "Wall Street bankers, particularly Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, backed him and he launched ICE in 2000 (giving 80 percent control to the two banks who, in turn, spread out the control among Shell, Total, and British Petroleum)." ..."
"... "The second objective was a switch from oil to natural gas, and when the U.S. [ military ] was obliged to leave Saudi Arabia, they [the U.S.] thereupon established their biggest regional base in Qatar, who co-own with Iran the greatest single natural gas reserve on the planet – South Pars. ..."
"... Energy Dominance ..."
"... In the four months since President Trump's announcement, the market strategy developed by Gary Cohn is now being implemented and its elements are emerging into view. ..."
"... Firstly, there has been a massive inflow of Managed Money into the oil market, particularly the Brent contract, which has seen the Brent oil price increase by 35% since the starting point, which I believe can be dated to the August Brent/BFOE Crude Oil option expiry on June 27 th 2017. ..."
"... The dominant market narrative is that the backwardation in Brent is evidence of surging global oil demand which has emptied inventories and is leading the price to new sunlit uplands. However, I see the market rather differently. ..."
"... Firstly, whether the Brent spot month is supported by financial, rather than physical demand, the result will still be a backwardation, and because few oil producers expect a price over $60 to be sustainable they therefore hedge and depress the forward price. In support of this view, I am far from the only market observer who believes that Aramco, and Rosneft would not be selling equity if either Saudi Arabia or Russia believed the oil price trajectory will be positive even in the medium term. ..."
"... This still leaves open the $64 billion question of which market participant is motivated and able to support the ICE Brent term structure for years into the future by swapping dollar risk (T-Bills) for long term oil risk (oil reserves leased via prepay purchase/resale contracts). ..."
"... My conclusion by a process of elimination is that this Big Long can only be Saudi Arabia and regional allies, with Saudi Arabia now under the management of the thrusting young Mohammad bin Salman." ..."
"... Although Trump routinely talks about withdrawing U.S. troops, he does the exact opposite. ..."
"... the U.S. economy becomes increasingly dependent upon Big Oil and Big Minerals and Big Money and Big Military, ..."
"... War against King Saud's chosen enemies (Iran, Qatar, Syria) and possibly even against the U.S. aristocracy's chosen enemy, Russia (and against Russia's allies: China, Iran, and Syria) -- seems more likely, not less likely, with Trump's geostrategy. ..."
"... "I want to address what Mr. Cohn was talking about from a standpoint of how important American energy is as an option, not as the only option, but as an option to our allies and to count[r]ies around the world. ..."
"... At the G7 it was really kind of interesting. The first thing they beat on the table talking about the Paris accord, you can't get out of it, and I was kind of like OK. Then we would go into our bilats and they'd go, how about some of that LNG you've got? How do we buy your LNG, how do we buy your coal? And it was really interesting, it was a political issue for them. This whole Paris thing is a public relation[s], political issue for them. We made the right decision, the President made the right decision on this. I think it was one of the most powerful messages that early on in this administration that was sent. ..."
"... We are in a position to be able to clearly create a hell of a lot more friends by being able to deliver to them energy and not being held hostage by some countries, Russia in particular. Whether it is Poland, Ukraine, the entirety of the EU. Totally get it, if we can lay in American LNG, if we can be able to have an alternative to Russian anthracite coal that they control in the Ukraine. ..."
"... If that was more the reality of Trump's "Unleashing American Energy" policy than just the pro-global-burnout cheerleading of Trump's mere words, then it seems to be -- in the policy's actual intent and implementation -- more like "send more troops in" than "bring the troops home," to and from anywhere. It is more like energy policy in support of the military policy, than military policy in support of the energy policy. ..."
"... In any aristocracy, some members need to make compromises with other members, no matter how united they all are against the publics' interests. This is the way it's done -- by compromises with each other. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

According to Alastair Crooke, writing at Strategic Culture, on June 5 th :

"Trump's US aims for 'domination', not through the globalists' permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals.

In this way, Trump can 'bring the troops home', and yet America keeps its hegemony [America's control of the world, global empire]. Military conflict becomes a last resort."

He bases that crucially upon a landmark 6 November 2017 article by Chris Cook, at Seeking Alpha, which laid out, and to a significant extent documented, a formidable and complex geostrategy driving U.S. President Donald Trump's foreign policies. Cook headlined there "Energy Dominance And America First" , and noted that,

"Towards the tail end of the Clinton administration and the Dot Com boom in 2000, [Trump's U.S. Treasury Secretary until April 2018] Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs had dinner with his counterpart at Morgan Stanley, John Shapiro. From this dinner was hatched an audacious plan to take control of the global oil market through a new electronic global market platform."

This "global market platform," which had been started months earlier in 2000 by Jeffrey Sprecher , is "ICE," or InterContinental Exchange, and it uses financial derivatives in order to provide to Wall Street banks control over the future direction of commodites prices (so that the insiders can game the markets), by means of the financial-futures markets, locking in future purchase-and-sale agreements. It also entails Wall Street's buying enormous commodities-storage warehouses and stashing them with such commodities - such as, in that case, aluminum) , and so it influences also the real estate markets, and doesn't only manipulate the commodities markets. Those vast storehouses (and the operation of the U.S. Government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, to carry out a similar price-manipulation function in the oil business) are crucial in order for the entire scheme to be able to function, because without control over the storehousing of physical commodities, such futures-price manipulations aren't possible. Consequently, ICE couldn't get off the ground without major Wall Street partners, which are willing to do that. Cohn and Shapiro (Goldman, and Morgan Stanley) backed Sprecher's operation; and Wikipedia states that,

"Wall Street bankers, particularly Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, backed him and he launched ICE in 2000 (giving 80 percent control to the two banks who, in turn, spread out the control among Shell, Total, and British Petroleum)."

This is today's financial world -- a world in which billionaires control the future directions of commodities-prices, and thus manipulate markets, and even determine the economic fates of nations. It's not the myth of capitalism; it is the reality of capitalism. It functions by means of corruption, as it always has, but the corrupt methods constantly evolve.

However, Trump's geostrategy goes beyond merely this, especially by bringing into the entire operation the world's wealthiest person, the trillionaire King Saud, who, as the sole owner of the Saudi Government, which in turns owns the world's largest corporation Aramco, which in turn dominates the oil market and which is also #6 in the natural-gas market (far behind the three giants, which King Saud is trying to destroy -- Russia, Iran, and Qatar -- so that the Sauds will become able to dominate even there). Trump's geostrategy ties King Saud even more tightly than before, into America's aristocracy.

King Saud, as Cook noted, is trying to disinvest in petroleum and reposition increasingly into natural gas, because outside the United States and around the world, people are seriously concerned to minimize global warming so as to postpone global burnout from uncontrollably soaring atmospheric carbon. Petroleum has an even worse carbon footprint than does natural gas; and therefore natural gas is the world's "transition fuel" to a 'survivable' future, while solar and other alternatives take hold (even if too late). Despite all of the carbon-fuels industries' propaganda, people outside the United States are determined to delay global burnout, and the insiders know this. King Saud knows that his petroleum-laden portfolio will have to diversify fast, because the long-term future for petroleum-prices is decline. And he won't be able to control prices at all in the natural-gas business unless he's got America's aristocracy on his side, in the effort to keep those prices up (at least while the Sauds will be increasing their profits from natural gas). Unlike his dominance over OPEC, Saudi Arabia has no such position to control natural gas-prices. He thus needs Wall Street's cooperation.

Cook said:

"The second objective was a switch from oil to natural gas, and when the U.S. [ military ] was obliged to leave Saudi Arabia, they [the U.S.] thereupon established their biggest regional base in Qatar, who co-own with Iran the greatest single natural gas reserve on the planet – South Pars.

Energy Dominance

In the four months since President Trump's announcement, the market strategy developed by Gary Cohn is now being implemented and its elements are emerging into view.

Firstly, there has been a massive inflow of Managed Money into the oil market, particularly the Brent contract, which has seen the Brent oil price increase by 35% since the starting point, which I believe can be dated to the August Brent/BFOE Crude Oil option expiry on June 27 th 2017.

The dominant market narrative is that the backwardation in Brent is evidence of surging global oil demand which has emptied inventories and is leading the price to new sunlit uplands. However, I see the market rather differently.

Firstly, whether the Brent spot month is supported by financial, rather than physical demand, the result will still be a backwardation, and because few oil producers expect a price over $60 to be sustainable they therefore hedge and depress the forward price. In support of this view, I am far from the only market observer who believes that Aramco, and Rosneft would not be selling equity if either Saudi Arabia or Russia believed the oil price trajectory will be positive even in the medium term.

This still leaves open the $64 billion question of which market participant is motivated and able to support the ICE Brent term structure for years into the future by swapping dollar risk (T-Bills) for long term oil risk (oil reserves leased via prepay purchase/resale contracts).

My conclusion by a process of elimination is that this Big Long can only be Saudi Arabia and regional allies, with Saudi Arabia now under the management of the thrusting young Mohammad bin Salman."

However, I do not agree with Alastair Crooke's "In this way, Trump can 'bring the troops home', and yet America keeps its hegemony [America's control of the world, global empire]. Military conflict becomes a last resort." I explained at Strategic Culture on March 25th "How the Military Controls America" and noted there that "on 21 May 2017, US President Donald Trump sold to the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, an all-time-record $350 billion of US arms-makers' products." This means that not only Wall Street -- the main institutional agency for America's aristocracy -- and not only American Big Oil likewise, are committed to the royal Saud family, but U.S. corporations such as Lockheed Martin also are. Vast profits are to be made, by insiders, in invasions and occupations, just as in gas and oil, and in brokerage.

Although Trump routinely talks about withdrawing U.S. troops, he does the exact opposite. And even if this trend reverses and America's troop-numbers head down, while the U.S. economy becomes increasingly dependent upon Big Oil and Big Minerals and Big Money and Big Military, America's military budget is, under Trump, the only portion of the entire U.S. federal Government that's increasing; so, "Military conflict becomes a last resort" does not seem likely, in such a context. Rather, the reverse would seem to be the far likelier case.

War against King Saud's chosen enemies (Iran, Qatar, Syria) and possibly even against the U.S. aristocracy's chosen enemy, Russia (and against Russia's allies: China, Iran, and Syria) -- seems more likely, not less likely, with Trump's geostrategy.

In fact, on 29 June 2017, when President Trump first announced his "Unleashing American Energy Event," the President spoke his usual platitudes about the supposed necessity to increase coal-production, and what he said was telecast and publicized ; but his U.S. Energy Secretary, the barely literate former Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, also delivered a speech, which was never telecast nor published, except that a few days later, on July 3rd, an excerpt from it was somehow published on the website of Liquified Natural Gas Global, and it was this:

"I want to address what Mr. Cohn was talking about from a standpoint of how important American energy is as an option, not as the only option, but as an option to our allies and to count[r]ies around the world.

At the G7 it was really kind of interesting. The first thing they beat on the table talking about the Paris accord, you can't get out of it, and I was kind of like OK. Then we would go into our bilats and they'd go, how about some of that LNG you've got? How do we buy your LNG, how do we buy your coal? And it was really interesting, it was a political issue for them. This whole Paris thing is a public relation[s], political issue for them. We made the right decision, the President made the right decision on this. I think it was one of the most powerful messages that early on in this administration that was sent.

We are in a position to be able to clearly create a hell of a lot more friends by being able to deliver to them energy and not being held hostage by some countries, Russia in particular. Whether it is Poland, Ukraine, the entirety of the EU. Totally get it, if we can lay in American LNG, if we can be able to have an alternative to Russian anthracite coal that they control in the Ukraine. That singularly will have more to do with keeping our allies free and building their confidence in us than practically anything else that I have seen out there. It is a positive message around the world right now."

If that was more the reality of Trump's "Unleashing American Energy" policy than just the pro-global-burnout cheerleading of Trump's mere words, then it seems to be -- in the policy's actual intent and implementation -- more like "send more troops in" than "bring the troops home," to and from anywhere. It is more like energy policy in support of the military policy, than military policy in support of the energy policy.

This sounds even better for the stockholders of Lockheed Martin and other weapons-firms than for the stockholders of ExxonMobil and other extractive firms. On 6 March 2018, Xinhua News Agency reported that, "U.S. President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn has summoned executives from U.S. companies that depend on aluminum and steel to meet with Trump this Thursday, in a bid to persuade the president to drop his tariff plan, media reported Tuesday." After all: Goldman has warehouses full of aluminum, and has the futures-contracts which already commit the Wall Street firm to particular manipulations in the aluminum (and other) markets. Controlling the Government so that it does only what you want it to do, and only when you want the Government to do it, is difficult. In any aristocracy, some members need to make compromises with other members, no matter how united they all are against the publics' interests. This is the way it's done -- by compromises with each other.

Tags: Energy

[Aug 25, 2018] Trump is deliberately pushing Germany and Russia to make deals in order to shuffle the deck by Gilbert Docotrow

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support. ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... New York Times' ..."
"... I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian ..."
"... Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair. ..."
"... La Libre Belgique ..."
"... "Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people." ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that. ..."
"... Vremya Pokazhet ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news. ..."
"... When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases. ..."
"... By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . ..."
"... Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it. ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Reading the tea leaves of the Putin-Merkel meeting

During this past Saturday, 18 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a brief visit to Austria to attend the wedding of the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl. Per the Kremlin, this stop of several hours in the Styrian wine country not far from the border with Slovenia was a "purely private" side excursion "on the road to Germany" for the state visit with Chancellor Angela Merkel starting later in the day at the Meseberg Palace, the federal guest house 60 km north of Berlin.

Journalists were admitted to film the wedding party, including Putin's dance with the 53 year old bride. No questions were taken and no statements were issued by the President's Press Secretary, who also was present. We know only that on the return journey to Graz airport, Putin was accompanied by Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Presumably they had some issues to discuss that may be characterized as official talks.

Prior to their meeting both Putin and Angela Merkel made statements to the press listing the topics they intended to discuss. We may assume that these lists were not exhaustive. Comparing their lists, we find that the respective priorities of the parties were in inverted order, with economic cooperation at the head of Putin's list while regulating the Donbass crisis in Ukraine was the top concern of Merkel. Moreover, the content of issues bearing the same heading was very different. Both sides spoke of Syria, but whereas for Putin the issue for discussion is the humanitarian crisis of refugees, ensuring their return to their homes from camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey by raising funds to repair and replace fundamental infrastructure destroyed in the war. For Merkel, the number one issue in Syria is to prevent the Russian-backed Syrian armed forces from creating a new humanitarian disaster by their ongoing campaign to retake Idlib province from the militants opposed to Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support.

As was explained at the outset, there was to be no press conference or joint statement issued at the conclusion of the talks. The only information we have is that Merkel and Putin conferred for more than three hours, which is in itself quite extraordinary and suggests that some understandings may have been achieved.

In a word, the potentially very important diplomatic developments of Saturday remain, for once, a state secret of the parties, with no leaks for the press to parse. And yet there is material here worthy of our consideration. I have in mind the interpretations of what might transpire before, during and after the events of Saturday in the news and commentary reportage of various countries having greater or lesser interest in Russian affairs. Indeed, my perusal of French, Belgian, German, British, American and Russian news media shows great diversity of opinion and some penetrating and highly pertinent remarks based on different information bases. This material is all essential if we are to make sense of the behavior of the parties on the international stage in the coming weeks.

In this essay, I will set out what I have found per country, starting with the least attentive to detail - the United States - and ending with those who offered the best informed and most interested reportage, Germany and Russia. I will conclude with my own reading of the tea leaves.

* * * *

Let us take The Washington Post and The New York Times as our markers for how US mainstream media reported on Putin's meetings this past Saturday.

On the 18th, The Washington Post carried in its online edition two articles dealing with the Putin diplomatic doings. "At Austrian foreign minister's wedding, Putin brings the music, the flowers and the controversy" was written by the newspaper's bureau chief in Berlin, Griff Witte. It is accompanied by video clips of Vladimir Putin dancing with the bride and speaking, in German, to the wedding party seated at their banquet table. The journalist touches very briefly on the main political dimensions of Putin's visit to Austria, including the party relations between United Russia and the far right Freedom Party in Austria's ruling coalition which nominated Kneissl for her post, the criticism of Putin's participation in the wedding coming from the Opposition parties in Austria who see it as a violation of the government's own ambition to be a neutral bridge between East and West, and the issue of Putin's sowing division on the continent. The only criticism one might offer is that the article is superficial, that each of the issues raised deserves in-depth analysis separately.

The newspaper's second article online, which spread its net more broadly and covered the meeting with Merkel in Germany as well as the visit in Austria, came from an Associated Press reporter, not its own staff. Here again, the problem is that issues surrounding the meetings are not more than bullet points, and the reader is given no basis for reaching an independent finding on what has happened..

The New York Times' feature article "Merkel and Putin Sound Pragmatic Notes After Years of Tension," also published on the 18th and datelined Berlin was cited by Russian television news for a seemingly positive valuation of the talks in Meseberg Palace. However, the content of the article by reporter Melissa Eddy is more cautious, highlighting the pattern of "conflicts and reconciliations" that have marked German-Russian relations over the centuries and seeing the present stage not as a warming of relations but instead as reaching for compromises "on Syria, energy and other key issues while maintaining their differences over Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine." She sees the Syrian issue as one where German and Russian interests may be closest given that refugees from the Middle East are now a German preoccupation with political weight. The reporter cites several experts attached to well-known institutes in Germany that are generally skeptical about Russia's intentions. But the end result is better informed than most NYT reporting on Russia even if it leaves us wondering what will result from the Saturday diplomacy.

In both mainstream papers there is no attempt to find a link between Putin's two visits on Saturday.

I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian from the 18th entitled "Putin urges Europe to help rebuild Syria so refugees can return." This piece comes from the Agence France-Presse in Berlin. It is not much more than a recitation of the lists of topics for discussion that Putin and Merkel issued before their talks. But the reporter has made his choice for the most important of them, Syria and refugees.

The French-language press does not seem to have been very interested in Putin's "private" trip to the wedding of the Austrian foreign minister, but was definitely keen to discuss Putin's trip to Berlin. On the day preceding the Putin-Merkel meeting, the French press offered a clear concept of where things were headed. We read in Figaro , "Merkel receives Putin Saturday to renew a difficult dialogue." A caption in bold just below is more eye-catching: "While the German Chancellor has become the main opponent to the Russian President within the EU, the policy of sanctions conducted by Washington has led to a rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow with regard to numerous issues."

The reporter notes that following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, relations between the two heads of state had become quite bad and in four years they met only when obliged to do so during international summits.

"But starting three months ago, their diplomatic exchanges have intensified: in May Angela Merkel met the chief of the Kremlin in Sochi, Russia. In July, she met the head of the Russian diplomatic corps, Sergei Lavrov, in Berlin. By inviting Vladimir Putin this time, the German Chancellor has promised 'in-depth discussions.' "She is pursuing a pragmatic attempt at normalization of German-Russian relations, because the international realities have changed,' explains Stefan Meister, director of the Robert Bosch Center for Russia."

And how has the calculus of international relations changed? Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair.

"The American policy represents a danger for the Russian economy and a threat to German interests."

A spokesperson from Merkel's CDU party responsible for foreign policy is quoted on the possible dangers of secondary sanctions being directed at Germany through the application of US extraterritoriality against those failing to respect the new sanctions on Russia.

The article explains the issues surrounding the Nord Steam 2 pipeline, and in particular Trump's hostility to the project for its locking in German dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

And the author points to the common interests of Germany and Russia over maintenance of the Iranian nuclear deal as a factor powering the rapprochement of the two countries. Here again the common threat is Donald Trump and American sanctions against those companies which continue to trade with Iran.

The article concludes that divergent views of Russia and Germany over Ukraine and Syria exclude any breakthrough at the meeting on Saturday. But nonetheless the dialogue that was lacking these several past years is being recreated.

In its weekend edition issued on 18 August, the Belgian mainstream daily La Libre Belgique was even more insistent on interpreting the Merkel-Putin meeting as a consequence of the policies of Donald Trump. Their editorial captures the sense very nicely in its tongue-in-cheek headline: "Trump is the best 'ally' of Putin."

La Libre sees Vladimir Putin's latest diplomatic initiatives as directly resulting from the way his host at the White House has annoyed everyone. Moreover, his outreach is welcomed:

"Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people."
The editors point to Turkish President Erdogan's clear signal that he is now looking for other allies. He has done his calculations and has said he has more to gain with Moscow than with Washington.'

The editorial concludes that a summit on reconstruction of Syria might even take place at the start of September between Moscow, Ankara, Paris and Berlin. The conclusion? "Putin has taken center stage on the chessboard. Thank you, Mr. Trump."

The article filed by La Libre 's correspondent in Berlin, Sebastien Millard, bears a heading that matches the editorial view of the newspaper: "Merkel and Putin - allies of convenience facing Trump." The author credits Donald Trump with being the catalyst for the resumption of dialogue between Germany and Russia; they are telling Washington that they do not accept its blackmail. He notes that we should not expect any reversal of alliances. There are too many differences of view between Berlin and Moscow on a variety of issues.

* * * *

The German press paid a good deal of attention to Vladimir Putin's visit to Austria for the wedding of Foreign Minister Karin Kreissl.

In an article posted on the 16th entitled "Suspicion that Austria is a Trojan horse," Die Welt highlighted the negatives of Putin's presence. Quoting an "expert from the University of Innsbruck" this does not cast a good light on the country. They anticipate political fall-out. This will impair Austria's ability as chair of the European Council to play a role of intermediary in the Ukraine conflict. The only beneficiary of the visit will be the the Russia-friendly be the Russia-friendly Freedom Party. For Putin, being a guest provides him with the opportunity to demonstrate that he is not isolated but is instead highly welcome in society of an EU country.

As for the coming meeting with Merkel on Saturday evening, Die Welt in a related article of the same day lists the issues for discussion. Without taking a position, it cites experts for and against the Nord Stream II pipeline and other issues on the list.

Welt's report from the wedding party on the 18th was gossipy and unfriendly, comparing it to a wedding of some European royal family because of the extraordinary guest list that included the country's chancellor, vice chancellor, and defense minister as well as the head of OPEC and...Vladimir Putin. With typical German petty financial accounting, they reckon that the 500 police and other security measures needed for the safety of the highly placed guests cost the Austrian tax payers 250,000 euros.

A separate article in Die Welt deals with Putin's meeting with Merkel at the Meseberg Palace. The emphasis here is on Merkel's remarks during the Statement prior to the talks that cooperation with Russia is "vital" to deal with many conflicts globally and that both sides bear responsibility to find solutions.

The article quotes from the opening statements of the leaders on all the issues in their list for discussion - Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream II. We are given bare facts without any analysis to speak of.

The other major mainstream daily Frankfurter Allgemeine in its Saturday, 18 August edition offered separate articles on Putin's visits to Austria and Germany.

The article on Karin Kneissl's wedding heads off in a very different direction from the reporting in other media that I have summarized above. FAZ notes that Kneissl is rarely in the headlines and it asks: who is she? They answer the question with some curious details. We learn that Kneissl was once active in competitive sports and even now swims a kilometer every day. For many years she has lived on a small farmstead with a couple of boxers, two ponies, hens and cats. Each morning her chauffeur takes her and the dogs to her office in Vienna, to return in the evening. Regrettably, FAZ does not take this curious biographical sketch further. No connection is drawn between her personality and the Russian President's acceptance of her invitation to her wedding.

FAZ similarly has chosen to amuse rather than inform in its coverage of the meeting in Berlin entitled "Sparkling wine in Austria, sparkling water in Meseberg." They comment on how Putin arrived half an hour late, on how it is hard to see how the meeting could be characterized as a success. They stress that we know nothing about the content of the consultations. Then they tick off the opening positions of the sides as set out in their statements before the talks.

Spiegel online risks more by giving more interpretation and less bare facts. Its article entitled "Something of a new start" suggests that a rapprochement is underway and that both Merkel and Putin have a lot in play. Unlike the other German press we have mentioned, Spiegel sees a direct link between Putin's attending the wedding in Styria and his visit to Merkel.

Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that.

Meanwhile, says Spiegel , Germany also is interested in improving relations with Russia despite all the controversy, namely due to the growing conflicts with US President Donald Trump. We don't know the exact content of the talks which were confidential, but there is some movement now between Germany and Russia.

Spiegel remains cautious. Cordiality does not enter into the relationship. The parties keep their distance. There is no laughter to lighten the atmosphere. Yet, it concludes: "The talks have prospects and we can see the wish to make progress through common positions, and without being silent about contradictions. Diplomatic normality, as it were. A step forward."

* * * *

If the great bulk of commentary in the West about Putin's diplomatic weekend was reserved and stayed by the bare facts without speculation, Russian television more than made up for dryness. I point in particular to two political talk shows which invited a mixture of experts from different backgrounds.

Let us begin with the show Vremya Pokazhet (Time will tell) on state television's Pervy Kanal . Their Friday, 17 August program focused on Putin's forthcoming visit to the wedding 'on the road to Berlin,' which several panelists saw as a strong signal to Germany that Russ1+
ia had other channels to the EU if Germany refuses to be its intercessor.

The visit was said to be breaking new ground in diplomatic practice. According to panelist Andrei Baklanov, deputy chair of the association of Russian diplomats, this kind of positive, human diplomacy is Russia's answer to the negative behavior in international affairs that has occupied center stage in the recent past - sanctions, fake news, etc. As another panelist interjected, this is the first time that a Russian head of state attended a wedding abroad since Tsar Nicholas did so in Germany in 1913.

Baklanov proceeded to provide details about the bride, however, bringing out aspects of her career that are far more relevant to her attracting the attention of Putin than the Frankfurter Allgemeine produced. We learn that she grew up in Amman, Jordan, that she speaks 8 languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Magyar, French, Spanish, Italian, English as well as her native German. She studied Near Eastern languages in Vienna University, in the Jewish University of Jerusalem, in the University of Jordan and also graduated from the National School of Administration in France. She holds a doctorate in law. She is a non-party minister, which also attests to her generally recognized professionalism. For all of these reasons, she is a good fit with Putin's determination to find supporters in Europe for investments to restore Syrian infrastructure and enable the return of refugees.

The country's most prestigious talk show, "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov," had a couple of Duma members and a well-known politician from Liberal circles comment on the diplomacy of the day before.

Sergey Mironov, leader of the socialist party Fair Russia said that despite Merkel's warning in advance not to expect breakthroughs it is likely progress was made in agreeing how to deal with US sanctions. This would be tested in the coming days.

As for the link between the visits to Austria and Germany, the representative of a pro-business party Sergey Stankevich reminded viewers that Germany and Austria are the market makers in Europe for Russian gas. Nord Stream II gas may land in Germany but a large part of it will be pumped further to Austria's hub for distribution elsewhere in Europe. Whatever may have been said publicly, Stankevich believes that Merkel and Putin did agree on many if not all the subjects named before the start: Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream.

Russian media coverage of the Saturday travels of their President continued on Russian news programs into Monday, with video clips of Putin dancing at the wedding and speaking alongside Merkel before entering into their talks at Meseberg Palace.

* * * *

Looking back at the media coverage of Putin's visits to Austria and Germany on 18 August, and with all due respect to those who opinions are different from mine, I find that the most helpful for our understanding of the present day international situation were the report and editorial in Belgium's Libre Belgique and the unruly, risky but at times brilliant insights on Russian television.

What comes out of this is the understanding that the visits to a wedding in Austria and to the federal Chancellor outside Berlin were directly linked in Russian diplomatic strategy, that Russia is playing the Austrian card during the country's six months at the helm of the European Council in Brussels, that Russia is pushing for a multi-party relief effort for Syria to facilitate the return of refugees to their home and pacification of the war-torn country. The web of common interests that Russia is pursuing has at its core the fragility of the current world order and generalized anxiety of leading countries due to America's aggressive pursuit of narrow national interest under Donald Trump as seen in his tariff wars and sanctions directed at friends and foes alike.

Where I differ from the interpretations set out in the foregoing press reports is in my understanding of what Trump is doing and why.

The nearly universal assumption of commentators is that Trump's policies known as "Make America Great" are ignorant and doomed to fail. They are assumed to be isolationist, withdrawing America from the world community.

However, Trump did not invent bullying of US allies. That was going strong under George W. Bush, with his challenge "you are either with us or against us" when he sought to align the West behind his invasion of Iraq in 2003 without authorization of the UN Security Council. His more urbane successor Barack Obama was no kinder to U.S. allies, who were slapped with crushing fines for violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran, just to mention one way in which they were kept in line. And the U.S. Congress today is no more reasonable and diplomatic than the President in the brutal unilateral sanctions it has on its own initiative advocated against not just Russia but also against Turkey and other states which are not snapping to attention with respect to purchases of military materiel from Russia.

What made U.S. bullying tolerable before Trump was the ideological smokescreen of "shared values," namely democracy promotion, human rights and rule of law, that all members of the alliances could swear to and which set them apart from the still unenlightened parts of the globe where autocrats hold sway.

In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news.

When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases.

The first two presidencies of this millennium undid the country's greatest geopolitical achievement of the second half of the 20th century: the informal alliance with China against Russia that put Washington at the center of all global politics. Bush and Obama did that by inattention and incomprehension of what was at stake. That inattention was an expression of American hubris in the unipolar world which, it was assumed, was the new normal, not a blip.

By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . We see this understanding when he speaks about looking out for American interests while the heads of state whom he meets are looking out for the interests of theirs.

In his tweets we find that our allies are ripping us off, that they are unfair competitors. His most admiring remark about Russia is that it is a strong competitor. The consistent element in Trump's thinking is ignored or willfully misunderstood in the press.

Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it.

Good Optics · about 3 hours ago

This nuanced analysis rings true and speaks to the fact that - though Trump may not exactly be playing 47D chess - he certainly does have some good intentions that, left to follow their course, would have a chance of making the world a better place. But that will not be allowed to happen by those in the US with firm commitments to pursue the world's subjugation through any means possible.

The Cs did tell us that Trump's heart is in the right place, unlikely though that does appear a lot of the time . . .

[Aug 24, 2018] Gazprom leads the world in capital expenditure (capex) on global energy projects, by a wide, wide margin $160 Billion to be spent on 84 projects worldwide, including Nord Stream II and Turkish Stream.

Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 23, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Gazprom leads the world in capital expenditure (capex) on global energy projects, by a wide, wide margin – $160 Billion to be spent on 84 projects worldwide, including Nord Stream II and Turkish Stream. That's nearly double the spending of its next-closest competitor, Sinopec, at $87 Billion. Royal Dutch Shell is third, and Exxon a distant fourth.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/08/22/russias-gazprom-is-worlds-biggest-energy-investor/#5a7465fb3553

If you add Rosneft, that's another $50 Billion in capex for Russia. Odd behaviour for an isolated country whose economy is in tatters. One whose government debt is 12.6 % of GDP and declining.

https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/government-debt-to-gdp

Speaking of government debt, how's that parameter looking for The Exceptional Nation? Whoa: that's exceptional. Not even much point in expressing it as a percentage of GDP, I guess.

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-debt

Just to drive the point home for any who might not have gotten it, Russia – friendless, alone against the world, and reeling from the bite of American sanctions – is outspending the USA nearly three to one on global energy investments, although its debt is a tiny fraction of America's out-of-control spending on other important things, like its bloated defense budget.

Oh, that's right – Vladimir Putin is a tyrant and a dictator, squeezing the country dry in neverending pursuit of self-enrichment. I almost forgot.

[Aug 19, 2018] Fate Of Key Gas Pipeline In The Balance As Putin, Merkel Begin Meeting

Aug 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

"Russian influence will flow through that pipeline right into Europe, and that is what we are going to prevent," an unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal just as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel meet outside of Berlin on Saturday centered on the two countries moving forward with the controversial Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but also involving issues from the Iran nuclear deal to ending the war in Syria.

Intense pressure from Washington is overshadowing the project, construction of which is already in advanced stages, as the WSJ cites current and former US officials who say sanctions are under discussion and could be mobilized in a mere matter of weeks .

These potential sanctions, ostensibly being discussed in response to US intelligence claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election, could target companies and financial firms involved in the massive pipeline's construction . This comes after comments from President Trump at the opening of a NATO summit in July made things uncomfortable for his German counterpart when he said that Germany is so dependent on Russia for energy that it's essentially being "held captive" by Vladimir Putin and his government.

"Germany is captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia. They pay billions of dollars to Russia and we have to defend them against Russia," Trump told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg at a televised opening breakfast.

The pipeline has been opposed by multiple US administrations, who have long accuse the Kremlin of seeking to accrue political leverage over Europe given the latter's already high dependence on Russian natural gas. The pipeline has been a frequent talking point and target of attacks by Trump, who has threatened to escalate the trade war against Germany going back months if it supported the construction of the pipeline. US officials have also expressed concern that Russia will pull pack significantly from delivering natural gas via Ukraine when its Gazprom tranit contract expires by the close of 2019. Ukraine is currently the chief Russian natural-gas export point to the EU and depends heavily on levying fees on this trade.

Both Russia and Germany have sought to calm US concerns over the Ukraine issue, with Putin himself reportedly telling both Merkel and Trump that he is "ready to preserve" gas transit through Ukraine even after Nord Stream 2 was completed.

US officials speaking to the WSJ , however, downplayed the Ukraine issue, instead focusing on the urgency of allowing such significant and irreversible Russian economic, political, and infrastructural inroads into the heart of Europe .

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, told the WSJ , "We have been clear that firms working in the Russian energy export-pipeline sector are engaging in a line of business that carries sanctions risk," -- something which he's repeatedly emphasized with officials in Berlin. President Trump himself has also reportedly raised the issue directly with Chancellor Merkel on multiple occasions. But for all the shrill US media claims that Trump is somehow doing Putin's bidding, the WSJ has this illuminating line : "Officially, the European Commission, the EU's executive body, is coordinating the gas-transit talks, but Ms. Merkel also has played a leading role because of her regular contacts and longstanding relationship with Mr. Putin, European officials say ."

Meanwhile, it appears that Washington has a losing hand even while making threats of sanctions in an attempt to block the pipeline project.

Crucially, the WSJ report provides further confirmation of the following previously known but hugely significant detail :

A European energy executive familiar with the discussions said company representatives had told John McCarrick, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources, that the five European companies and Gazprom had already provided €5.5 billion ($6.3 billion) in financing and that the project wouldn't be stopped even if the U.S. were to impose sanctions .

The Nord Stream 2 project was started in 2015 and is a major joint venture between Russia's Gazprom and European partners, including German Uniper, Austria's OMV, France's Engie, Wintershall and the British-Dutch multinational Royal Dutch Shell.

The pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea - doubling the existing pipeline's capacity of 55 cubic meters per year, and is therefore critical for Europe's future energy needs.

Currently, the second phase involves utilizing an existing pipeline already channelling smaller amount of gas from Russia to Germany. Construction for the second phase started in May of this year.

GlassHouse101 -> Winston Churchill Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:29 Permalink

More Sanctions!! Sanction all of the countries!

07564111 -> GlassHouse101 Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:35 Permalink

will lead only to war with Russia..take that as fact.

[Aug 19, 2018] Economics

Notable quotes:
"... each click brings us closer to the bang ..."
"... Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ..."
"... there will be no war and no negotiations ..."
"... carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state ..."
"... Trump's ALL IN CAPS meme ..."
"... This is where Ali Khamenei's stance is more puzzling, at least to me: when he says that there will be no war, does he mean that the US threats are not credible or does he mean that Iran has the means to deter a US attack? His words make it sound like he is quite certain that there will be no war. How can he be so sure? I am especially amazed by the apparent Iranian confidence that the AngloZionists will not attack them when I compare it with the obvious Russian policy of actively preparing for war since at least 2014 (also see here , here , here , here , here and here ). Of course, Iran has been preparing for war with the US for almost 40 years now whereas the Russians only woke up to reality comparatively recently. I see several potential explanations for Ali Khamenei's statement (there might be more, of course) ..."
"... Personally, every time I think of a possible US attack on Iran I think of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 which happened in spite of the fact that it was plainly visible to everybody that the Israelis were waltzing straight into a conflict which they could not win and which, in fact, resulted into one of the most abjects defeats in military history. Conversely, while Hezbollah did win a truly historical victory, it also remains a fact that Hezbollah leaders did not expect the Israelis to launch a full-scale ground offensive. Finally, history is full of examples of wars which were started in spite of all objective factors indicating that they would end up in disaster. ..."
"... If it weren't for its nuclear arsenal, the US could be dismissed as a particularly obnoxious country led by ignorant leaders with bloated and mostly ineffective armed forces. Alas, the US nuclear arsenal is very real (and still very capable) and we know that top-level US Neocons have already considered using tactical nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state's conventional force in the past . In a twisted way, this makes sense: if you are a megalomaniac infused with a sense of messianic superiority then international or even civilizational norms of behavior are of no interest (or even relevance) to you. Listening to US Presidents, pretty much all of them (but especially Obama and Trump) it is pretty clear that these folks consider themselves to be the Kulturträger ..."
"... Shaytân-e Bozorg ..."
"... It would be a big mistake to dismiss the US because of its incapable military or moral bankruptcy. The truth is that in terms of aggregate national power, the US still remains the most powerful country on the planet (even if we don't include nuclear weapons). Anyone doubting that needs to look how how the currencies of the countries the US is singles out for attack suddenly began slipping: the Russian ruble (which has since bounced back), the Iranian rial, the Venezuelan bolivar, the Turkish lira , etc.) or how little time it took Trump to bring the (admittedly spineless) Europeans to heel . ..."
"... As for Russia, for all her military might, she remains only a semi-sovereign country in which the pro-US/pro-Israeli "Atlantic Integrationists" continue to try to sabotage (often successfully) everything Putin and his supporters are doing . I would not place big hopes in China either, especially considering the lack of meaningful Chinese action in Syria where Russia and Iran did all the heavy lifting. ..."
"... So count with yet another imperial war of aggression, a barrel of crude at over 100$ and oil shortages, rocketing inflation, job losses, a stagnant real estate market and stock exchange, and a national debt and government deficit which would make even Reagan proud. And plenty of dead Americans (nevermind the Iranians, right?). But don't worry: there will still be a huge supply of Chinese-made US flags to wave! ..."
Aug 19, 2018 | www.unz.com


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We can all thank God for the fact that the AngloZionists did not launch a war on the DPRK, that no Ukronazi attack on the Donbass took place during the World Cup in Russia and that the leaders of the Empire have apparently have given up on their plans to launch a reconquista of Syria. However, each of these retreats from their hysterical rhetoric has only made the Neocons more frustrated and determined to show the planet that they are still The Hegemon who cannot be disobeyed with impunity. As I wrote after the failed US cruise missile strike on Syria this spring, " each click brings us closer to the bang ". In the immortal words of Michael Ledeen , " Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ". The obvious problem is that there are no "small crappy little countries" left out there, and that those who are currently the object of the Empire's ire are neither small nor crappy.

Having now shown several times that for all its hysterical barking the Empire has to back down when the opponent does not cower away in fear, the Empire is now in desperate need to prove its "uniqueness" and (racial?) superiority. The obvious target of the AngloZionist wrath is Iran. In fact, Iran has been in the cross-hairs of the Empire ever since the people of Iran dared to show the AngloZionists to the door and, even worse, succeed in creating their own, national and Islamic democracy. To punish Iran, the US, the USSR, France and all the other "democratic" countries unleashed their puppet (Saddam Hussein) and gave him full military support, and yet the Iranians still prevailed, albeit at a terrible cost. That Iranian ability to prevail in the most terrible circumstances is also the most likely explanation for why there has not been an overt attack on Iran for the past four decades (there have, of course, there has been plenty of covert attacks during all these years).

I won't list all the recent AngloZionist threats against Iran – we all know about them. The bottom line is this: the US, Israel and the KSA are, yet again, working hand in hand to set the stage for a major war under what we could call the " Skripal-case rules of evidence " aka " highly likely ". And yet, in spite of all this saber-rattling, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has summed up Iran's stance in the following words " there will be no war and no negotiations ".

First, let's first look at Iranian rationale for "no negotiations"

The obvious: "no negotiations"

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been very clear in his explanations for why negotiating with the US makes no sense. On his Twitter account he wrote:

The Iranian Supreme Leader even posted a special graphic summary to summarize and explain the Iranian position:

Finally, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his fundamental approach towards the AngloZionist Empire:

The contrast between the kindergarten-level low-IQ bumbling hot air and threats coming out of the White House and the words of Ali Khamenei could not be greater, especially if we compare the words the two leaders decided to post all in caps;

Trump : To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

Khamenei : THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S..

Notice first that in his typical ignorance, Trump fails to realize that Hassan Rouhani is only the President of Iran and that threatening him makes absolutely no sense since he does not make national security decisions, which is the function of the Supreme Leader. Had Trump taken the time to at the very least check with Wikipedia he would have understood that the Iranian President " carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state ". It is no wonder that Trump's infantile threats instantly turned into an Internet meme !

In contrast, Khamenei did not even bother to address Trump by name but, instead, announced his strategy to the whole world.

Trump's ALL IN CAPS meme

Of course, issuing ALL IN CAPS threats just to be treated with utter contempt by the people you are trying to hard to bully and having your words become a cause of laughter on the Internet will only further enrage Trump and his supporters. When you are desperately trying to show the world how tough and scary you are, there is nothing more humiliating as being treated like some stupid kid. Therein also lies the biggest danger: such derision could force Trump and the Neocons who run him to do something desperate to prove to the word that their "red button" is still bigger than everybody else's.

ORDER IT NOW

It is important to note here that making negotiations impossible is something the Trump administration seems to have adopted as a policy. This is best illustrated by the conditions attached to the latest sanctions against Russia which, essentially, demand that Russia admit poisoning the Skripals. In fact, all the western demands towards Russia (admitting that Russia is guilty for the Skripal case, that Russia shot down MH-17, that Russia hand over Crimea to the Ukronazis, etc.) are carefully crafted to make absolutely sure that Russia will not negotiate. The sames, of course, goes for the ridiculous Pompeo demands towards the DPRK (including handing over to the US 60 to 70 percent of its nukes within six to eight months; no wonder the North Koreans denounced a "gangster-like" attitude) or the latest US grandstanding towards Turkey. Sadly, but the Neocon run media has successfully imposed the notion that negotiations are either a sign of weakness, or treason, or both. Thus to be "patriotic" and "strong" no US official can afford to be caught red-handed negotiating with the enemy of the day.

Under these conditions, why would anybody want to negotiate with the US?

Frankly, the "no negotiations" approach makes perfectly good sense, and while the Iranians are the only ones who have openly said so, the Russians have hinted to the same on many occasions (see their words about the US being "non-agreement capable" or about US diplomats confusing Austria and Australia). To any objective observer it should by now be completely obvious by now that a) the US cannot negotiate (due to intellectual, cultural and political limitations) and b) the US has no desire to negotiate. This is, of course, a highly undesirable and dangerous situation, but it would only make things worse to pretend that civilized negotiations with the US are possible.

So, if both sides agree on "no negotiations", what about war?

The not so obvious: No war?

This is where Ali Khamenei's stance is more puzzling, at least to me: when he says that there will be no war, does he mean that the US threats are not credible or does he mean that Iran has the means to deter a US attack? His words make it sound like he is quite certain that there will be no war. How can he be so sure? I am especially amazed by the apparent Iranian confidence that the AngloZionists will not attack them when I compare it with the obvious Russian policy of actively preparing for war since at least 2014 (also see here , here , here , here , here and here ). Of course, Iran has been preparing for war with the US for almost 40 years now whereas the Russians only woke up to reality comparatively recently. I see several potential explanations for Ali Khamenei's statement (there might be more, of course):

Personally, every time I think of a possible US attack on Iran I think of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 which happened in spite of the fact that it was plainly visible to everybody that the Israelis were waltzing straight into a conflict which they could not win and which, in fact, resulted into one of the most abjects defeats in military history. Conversely, while Hezbollah did win a truly historical victory, it also remains a fact that Hezbollah leaders did not expect the Israelis to launch a full-scale ground offensive. Finally, history is full of examples of wars which were started in spite of all objective factors indicating that they would end up in disaster.

It seems to me that in purely military terms (not in political ones!) Israel could be seen as a stand-in for the US and Hezbollah as a stand-in for Iran and that the outcome of any future US-Iranian war will be very similar to the outcome of the war in 2006, albeit on a much larger (and bloodier) scale. I am confident that the folks in the Pentagon realize that, but what about their Neocon bosses – do they even care about Iranian or, for that matter, US casualties? I highly doubt it: all they care about is their power and messianic ideology.

If it weren't for its nuclear arsenal, the US could be dismissed as a particularly obnoxious country led by ignorant leaders with bloated and mostly ineffective armed forces. Alas, the US nuclear arsenal is very real (and still very capable) and we know that top-level US Neocons have already considered using tactical nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state's conventional force in the past . In a twisted way, this makes sense: if you are a megalomaniac infused with a sense of messianic superiority then international or even civilizational norms of behavior are of no interest (or even relevance) to you. Listening to US Presidents, pretty much all of them (but especially Obama and Trump) it is pretty clear that these folks consider themselves to be the Kulturträger and the Herrenvolk of the 21st century and their messianism is in no way less delusional than the one of their Nazi predecessors (or, for that matter, the one of the Popes of the past 1000 years). And why would the people who nuked two Japanese cities under the (entirely fallacious) pretext of "shortening the war" (almost a humanitarian operation!) not do the same thing in Iran?

Of sure, they probably realize that using nukes will result in a massive political backlash, but they are confident that no matter what happens in the end, they will always be able to say "screw you!" to the rest of the planet. After all, this is something which Israel and the US have been doing with almost total inpunity for decades already – why would they stop now? As for the fact that the Persian people have been dealing with all kinds of invaders since no less than 2500 years will not stop the AngloZionists from trying to crush them. After all, having laid waste to a country which many see as the cradle of civilization, Iraq, why not do the same thing to Iran? Iraq, Iran – what's the difference, they are all just "sand niggers" and our red button is bigger than theirs, right?

Standing up to Shaytân-e Bozorg (almost alone?)

It would be a big mistake to dismiss the US because of its incapable military or moral bankruptcy. The truth is that in terms of aggregate national power, the US still remains the most powerful country on the planet (even if we don't include nuclear weapons). Anyone doubting that needs to look how how the currencies of the countries the US is singles out for attack suddenly began slipping: the Russian ruble (which has since bounced back), the Iranian rial, the Venezuelan bolivar, the Turkish lira , etc.) or how little time it took Trump to bring the (admittedly spineless) Europeans to heel .

As for Russia, for all her military might, she remains only a semi-sovereign country in which the pro-US/pro-Israeli "Atlantic Integrationists" continue to try to sabotage (often successfully) everything Putin and his supporters are doing . I would not place big hopes in China either, especially considering the lack of meaningful Chinese action in Syria where Russia and Iran did all the heavy lifting.

Sadly, but the only ally Iran can truly count on is Hezbollah. And while Hezbollah is considered a "non-state actor", it has a formidable capability to strike at the US's colonial masters, especially in terms of missiles .

This will not protect Iran, but it could serve as a very real deterrent to the Israelis, especially since Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah he has made it clear that Hezbollah more than capable of taking on Israel .

For the time being, the Israelis are already preparing for a re-match against Hezbollah and they are massing forces in the north to prepare for a war against Hezbollah .

Does that look to you like there will be no war against Iran?

I hope so. But to me it very much looks like an attack is pretty much inevitable. I have been predicting such an attack since 2007 and, so far, I have been completely wrong (and thank God for that!). The very first article I ever wrote for my blog was entitled " Where the Empire meets to plan the next war " ended with the following words:

So count with yet another imperial war of aggression, a barrel of crude at over 100$ and oil shortages, rocketing inflation, job losses, a stagnant real estate market and stock exchange, and a national debt and government deficit which would make even Reagan proud. And plenty of dead Americans (nevermind the Iranians, right?). But don't worry: there will still be a huge supply of Chinese-made US flags to wave!

And yet, 11 years later, the AngloZionist attack which looked so imminent in 2007 has not happened yet. Could it be that this time again an attack on Iran can be avoided? Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears to be very confident that it will not happen. I am not so sure, but I fervently hope that he is right.

[Aug 19, 2018] Ukraine prepares to sever all remaining public-transit links with Russia but expects that Russia will transport gas via its territory

Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 17, 2018 at 3:39 pm

With much joviality and humour, Ukraine prepares to sever all remaining public-transit links with Russia. I suppose there are still roads, and if you have a car and can afford gas, you can still drive there.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/no-more-trains-or-buses-to-russia-only-bears-says-ukraine-transport-minister-2wvj9xzgz

This, according to the transport minister, is 'like the good old days'. I'll tell you something else that's like the good old days, Mr. Minister – the living wage in Ukraine.

And yet Ukraine still seems to think Europe must force Russia to continue transiting Russian gas through Ukraine, and paying Kuh-yiv for the privilege.

[Aug 19, 2018] Guess who invested in Naftogaz?

Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 16, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Well, well; guess who has money in Naftogaz?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-08/how-george-soros-singlehandedly-created-european-refugee-crisis-and-why

[Aug 15, 2018] Deciphering The New Caspian Agreemen

Aug 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Viktor Katona via Oilprice.com,

It took more than 20 years for littoral states of the Caspian Sea to reach an agreement that would lay the legal foundations for the full utilization of the region's resources. The Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan, brought the long-sought breakthrough after leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea – a remarkable feat considering that heretofore, barring bilateral deals, the Caspian has been governed by an obsolete 1940 convention between the Soviet Union (of which four current littoral states were a part) and Iran.

As the current Convention incorporates a plethora of tradeoffs between countries, let's look at them in greater detail so as to grasp the implications of the deal.

The Convention stipulates that relations between littoral states shall be based on principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality among members, non-use of threat of force (it was only 17 years ago that Azerbaijan and Iran almost started a full-blown naval war over contested fields) and non-intervention.

The military-related clauses of the document can be considered a net diplomatic success for the Russian Federation as it prohibits the physical presence of any third-party armed forces, along with banning the provision of a member state's territory to acts of aggression against any other littoral state. Since Russia is by far the most power nation in terms of both general military clout and military presence around the Caspian, this will placate Russian fears about any potential US (or other) encroachment in the area.

Then there's energy... Although the Convention establishes a general legal framework for territorial disputes to be solved, it refrains from any particularities. Therefore prolonged negotiations are to be expected with regard to many disputed oilfields, stemming predominantly from Irani and Azerbaijani claims . Iran advocated throughout the entire negotiation process an egalitarian approach to delimiting the seabed (each nation would get 20% of the coast), running counter the other countries' aspirations. The things is that when Russia concluded its seabed delimitation agreements with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in 2001 and 2003, respectively, the parties split their parts using the median line. Point 8.1. effectively keeps the delimitation task in the hands of relevant governments, thereby providing a very modest boost to the demarcation of the Southern Caspian (the Northern part is fully delimited).

There are two main territorial conflicts to be settled – the Irani-Azerbaijani and the Azerbaijani-Turkmen disputes. The row between Baku and Teheran revolves around the Araz-Alov-Sharg field (discovered in 1985-1987 by Soviet geologists), the reserves of which are estimated at 300 million tons of oil and 395 BCm of natural gas. Even though the field is only 90 kilometers away from Baku and should seemingly be under Azerbaijan's grip, if one is to draw a straight line from the Azerbaijani-Irani border most of the field ought to be allotted to Iran (the median would keep most of it in Azerbaijan). As those old enough to remember the 2001 naval ship hostilities would attest, it does matter at what angle the final line is drawn.

The Serdar/Kapaz field (estimated to contain 50 million tons of oil) is the bone of contention between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Considered to be an extension of Azerbaijan's main oil-producing unit, the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field, Baku sees it as an indispensable element in its quest to mitigate decreasing oil output numbers. Geographically, Serdar/Kapaz is closer to Turkmenistan, yet here too Azerbaijan might come out the ultimate winner. The Apsheron peninsula stretches out some 60km into the Caspian Sea, in effect extending Azerbaijan's geographical reach. Absent previous demarcation agreements between Baku and Ashgabat, the settlement will once again boil down to getting the angles right, as in the case of Araz-Alov-Sharg. However, it must be said that a resolution might come about as a by-product of new gas endeavors.

Clause 14, dealing with laying subsea pipelines and cables, is the one most coveted by energy analysts , since it has the potential to significantly alter Europe's gas supply options.

According to point 14.2., all parties have the right to construct subsea pipelines given that they comply with environmental standards (which are particularly strict in the Caspian Sea). With no further caveat included, some analysts might be tempted to think that Russia will inevitably use the "environmental protection" card when trying to stop the construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline (TCP) from Turkmenistan, a pipeline it spent many years to halt . Under current circumstances, when US-Russian relations falling ever deeper into an insurmountable ditch, Moscow's decision to allow for the construction of the mightily Washington-backed TCP to take place might be perceived as a massive omission.

Since the Turkmen gas is unlikely to find demand in Azerbaijan or Turkey, it would need to take the whole route via the South Caucasus Pipeline, TANAP and TAP. Merely the transportation tariffs from these pipelines would render any transportation economically unviable unless European gas prices rise substantially to levels above $300/MCm. Moreover, the estimated cost of building the subsea TCP of $2 billion is a disabling burden for either Türkmengaz or SOCAR. Thus, allowing the construction of Trans Caspian gas pipelines might be a brilliant ruse from the Russians – cognizant of all the deficiencies above, they can wield it as a sign of good will in their never-ending negotiations with the European the economics for supplying gas to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor are far from being Union.

This being said, there are natural impediments to see the TCP implemented anytime soon. Azerbaijan might be interested in getting transit fees for Turkmen natural gas, yet it lacks the required infrastructure to include the above volumes in its traditional conduit via Turkey.

All in all, the Caspian convention is a good basis for further negotiations, even though it falls short of being an all-encompassing legal framework. Territorial disputes will most likely remain frozen for quite some time and no new gas pipeline projects will see the light of day unless market conditions change.

[Aug 15, 2018] Imperial brainwashing works very well: Many US citizents were willing to kill 2 million Iranian civilians to save 20,000 U.S. soldiers.

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star says: August 6, 2018 at 1:28 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3wxWNAM8Cso?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/8/6/17655256/hiroshima-anniversary-73-nuclear-weapons-proliferation-arms-control

Like Like Reply

  1. Patient Observer says: August 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm Public opinion polling suggests that many Americans would not think twice if there were a great many casualties against evildoers. For example, a 2017 survey found that 60 percent of Americans would support a nuclear attack on Iran that would kill 20 million civilians, to prevent an invasion that might kill 20,000 American soldiers.

    Yup, exceptional people of an exceptional nation.

    Like Like Reply

    1. Northern Star says: August 6, 2018 at 2:22 pm Yes the psychos were planning mass murder a decade ago under Bush.

      https://original.antiwar.com/jorge-hirsch/2006/07/06/nuking-iran-is-not-off-the-table/

      https://original.antiwar.com/jorge-hirsch/2006/10/16/nuclear-strike-on-iran-is-still-on-the-agenda/

      A more detailed analysis of some of the background material relating to your comment:
      https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/ISEC_a_00284

      "We were not surprised by the finding that most Americans place a higher
      value on the life of an American soldier than the life of a foreign noncombatant.
      What was surprising, however, was the radical extent of that preference.
      Our experiments suggest that the majority of Americans find a 1:100 risk ratio
      to be morally acceptable. They were willing to kill 2 million Iranian civilians to
      save 20,000 U.S. soldiers. One respondent who approved of the conventional
      air strike that killed 100,000 Iranian civilians candidly expressed even more extreme
      preferences regarding proportionality and risk ratios, while displacing
      U.S. responsibility for the attack onto the Iranian people: "I would sacrifice
      1 million enemies versus 1 of our military. Their choice, their death."

[Aug 15, 2018] China's retaliation will hit America's energy industry particularly hard

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

But the state of American 'journalism' is such that the media must portray America as winning, and will not acknowledge catastrophe until major damage has already been done, because it is patriotic to report on American success.

Patient Observer August 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm

FYI
Officials from three leading US groups that support increased exports of US LNG separately addressed concerns on Aug. 3 over the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's announcement that tariffs ranging 5-25% will be imposed on US LNG.

"China's retaliation will hit America's energy industry particularly hard," said American Petroleum Institute Vice-Pres. for Regulatory and Economic Policy Kyle Isakower. "American oil and gas already hit by US tariffs on industrial products and specialty steel essential to our industry will now be faced with Chinese tariffs on critical US exports, affecting American jobs that rely directly and indirectly on the energy industry."

https://www.ogj.com/articles/2018/08/us-groups-express-concerns-about-china-plans-to-impose-lng-tariffs.html?cmpid=enl_ogj_ogj_daily_update_2018-08-06&pwhid=893d521578abd67c7c1f2e0a59badfa53c05bf4701daba6f7a15095c797ff1cfb5e197eb4a367ebf6d74c0bead3e4836e2e5763a138164741673f9a08d508cc3&eid=397564233&bid=2197384

[Aug 15, 2018] Mark Chapman

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

August 5, 2018 at 7:17 pm Oh, look; Ukraine already is down to about half the gas in storage that it will need for winter. Turning to the west certainly made it 'energy-independent' at least to the extent that the west must 'lend' it money to buy gas which is reverse-flowed from eastern-European countries so that all the Russian is squeezed out of it, and it becomes European freedom gas. Nice work if you can get it, and since Ukraine will not be able to pay it back, it becomes a gift! Why worry, as long as Uncle Sugar is paying the bills?

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSL5N1US27X

Speaking of gas, once-bitten-twice-shy Bulgaria is eager to get a piece of the action, signifying up front its willingness to tap into Turkish Stream for transit to Europe.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-6023431/Bulgaria-expands-pipeline-Turkey-bid-Russian-gas.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

And that's another route through Ukraine which is pretty likely to go dry next year.

[Aug 15, 2018] US production of natural gas for export might well be a wishful thinking

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

There seems to be a tremendously broad American – and western – assumption that US production is going to 'soar' and continue to ramp ever upward. Is it? Bear in mind that the USA's own consumption of natural gas is growing steadily, at least partly based on this assumption that natural-gas bounty will just continue to increase. What if it doesn't? Then America will have refashioned itself as another huge natural-gas market which has insufficient domestic supply to sustain itself.

[Aug 15, 2018] Dezinformation from Euractive intended to block North Stream II

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al August 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Two pieces by Euractive with Neuters, though curiously no byline or attribution is given . Why so shy?

BS1: Friendship no more: How Russian gas is a problem for Germany
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/friendship-no-more-how-russian-gas-is-a-problem-for-germany/

####

The headline is pure tabloid and not supported in the body of the article apart from 'opinions' by certain people or through use of qualifiers. This is not journalism . Only further proof in my opinion that Euractiv has become part of the EU's unofficial channels of hybrid warfare . Euractiv/Neuters has also expanded in to the Balkans to provide 'services' in Croatia/Serbia etc. which just so happens to coincide with all the shrill headlines about Russia 'influencing the Balkans' – which are of course BS. Just look at the map. Short of Macedonia (not for long) and Serbia, they are all NATO states . Russia only helps states who want to help themselves (Syria/Serbia – more or less).

Not a shred of proof, nay evidence, that Germany is shifting away from NordStream II. FAKE NUDES!

bs2 with Neuters & crAP: https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/russia-used-lessons-from-georgia-war-in-ukraine-conflict/
https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/russia-used-lessons-from-georgia-war-in-ukraine-conflict/

Languages: Slovak

Ten years ago, in August 2008, Russia and Georgia went to war over South Ossetia, a small separatist Georgian region which Moscow would later controversially recognise as independent, in the face of international criticism.

Ten years later, Moscow has still not softened its position towards its neighbours and its rift with the West has only deepened.

Russia launched armed action against Georgia to come to the rescue of South Ossetia, a small pro-Russian separatist region where Tbilisi had begun a military operation. The Russian army rapidly outnumbered the Georgian forces and threatened to take the country's capital.

A peace treaty was finally hammered out by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy that led to the withdrawal of Russian forces. But Moscow recognised as independent the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where it has stationed a large military presence ever since.

Russia demonstrated its military might over the five days and showed its readiness to defend – by force, if necessary – its interests in the region it considers its sphere of influence .
####

Well shove that in your pipe and smoke it!

Yet again, no attribution, no name. It smacks of a thinktank piece peddled through their Slovak branch.

But this is how things work in the West. No-on is ordered on pain of death to produce certain items, but is is made very clear that it is in their interests to do so, from without & from within, but remember kids, it is voluntary ! Neither self-censorship exists. Those in positions of influence may convince themselves, but for the rest of the great unwashed, no so much. We've already seen the system fail and produce not only BREXIT, but other referendums contrary to EU dogma. The evidence is all around us and plain to see, but still the structures persist in the same old ways, which only bodes ill. Apparently they still think the sheeple are too stupid to notice let alone act.

[Aug 15, 2018] Countermove in Caspian see: no NATO allowed

Notable quotes:
"... It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.' ..."
"... Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox. ..."
"... Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:06 am

Apologies if somebody already posted, the legal partitioning of the Caspian Sea is finally complete and constitutes good news for Russia:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-says-deal-to-settle-status-of-caspian-sea-reached-a8486311.html

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:10 am
The other backstory being that NATO wanted to stick its nose in the Caspian Sea, but has been pushed out. Not sure exactly what the pretext was. I have a piece in VZGLIAD that explains the whole thing, but I haven't worked through it yet, will probably do a piece on my own blog in the near future. But I have a couple of other projects in the queue first.
Mark Chapman August 13, 2018 at 8:39 am
Dick Cheney, among others, was convinced that the Caspian Basin holds massive deposits of oil and gas and is strategically significant for that reason.

http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/issue46/articles/real_reasons_quotes.htm

"Central Asian resources may revert back to the control of Russia or to a Russian led alliance. This would be a nightmare situation. We had better wake up to the dangers or one day the certainties on which we base our prosperity will be certainties no more. The potential prize in oil and gas riches in the Caspian sea, valued up to $4 trillion, would give Russia both wealth and strategic dominance. The potential economic rewards of Caspian energy will draw in their train Western military forces to protect our investment if necessary."

Mortimer Zuckerman
Editor, U.S. News and World Report

"This is about America's energy security. Its also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We are trying to move these newly independent countries toward the West. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political interests. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian and it's important that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right."

Bill Richardson
Then-U.S. Secretary Energy (1998-2000)

It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.'

Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox.

Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. A pipeline network would have carried Caspian oil and gas to Europe. Agreement among the Caspian nations was most definitely not in American interests, and if you dig you will probably find American interventions to prevent that from coming about.

[Aug 14, 2018] Mismanagement hits Iran more than US sanctions Iran's supreme leader -- RT World News

Notable quotes:
"... "It is not that the sanctions do not play a role; but a major part of the situation is the result of [government's own] actions," ..."
"... "better and stronger" ..."
"... "The Ayatollah has needed to explain who is to blame for the current situation, to prop up his regime," ..."
"... "the opponents of the conservatives," ..."
"... "mother of all wars," ..."
"... "consequences the likes of which few have ever suffered before." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | www.rt.com
Get short URL Mismanagement hits Iran more than US sanctions – Iran's supreme leader FILE PHOTO: Iranian Parliament © Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency / AFP In a rare statement Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has lashed out at the country's authorities, accusing them of poorly handling internal issues. The mismanagement is even worse than US sanctions, he said. "It is not that the sanctions do not play a role; but a major part of the situation is the result of [government's own] actions," Khamenei said, according to Irna, as he was addressing thousands of Iranians in Tehran on Monday.

The supreme leader added that if Tehran acted "better and stronger" itself US sanctions would have not been so harmful.

Read more  Iran's President Hassan Rouhani © Lisi Niesner Rouhani blasts Trump's 'psychological warfare' as Iran braces for US sanctions

Analysts told RT that what Khamenei said is not really surprising given the worsening economic situation inside the country after the relations with the US went on a downward spiral. The supreme leader has been trying to keep Iranian society balanced by taking a neutral position between the liberal and conservative parts of the establishment. Now the former, including President Hassan Rouhani, are finding themselves in a weaker position, according to Irina Fedorova from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

"The Ayatollah has needed to explain who is to blame for the current situation, to prop up his regime," Fedorova told RT. She said that "the opponents of the conservatives," and Rouhani in particular, who supported the JCPOA, will fall victims of this approach. But it will not lead to his resignation, the researcher noted. However, this means the conservatives' positions, such as those of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are to strengthen significantly.

The statement may also mean a reshuffling of the political elite as well as some economic changes, Jamal Wakeem, professor of history and international relations at Lebanese University in Beirut, told RT. He said that "reformists" and those who pressed for the deals with the West are to be targeted, while the leadership is going to seek alternatives to the West, including a partnership with Russia and China.

The US reinstated certain economic sanctions against Iran last week, with President Trump promising more to come in November. The restrictive measures had been lifted under the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but Washington unilaterally withdrew from the landmark deal despite international condemnation, including from its EU allies. The 2015 agreement placed tight controls on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Iran's commitment has been confirmed by the IAEA since then.

READ MORE: US can't force trade rules on others, Germany must invest more in Iran – economy minister

Tehran has repeatedly blasted the US for the move, vowing to restart its nuclear program in retaliation against any foreign restrictions. While the US has been pressing its allies to completely refuse Iranian oil imports, the Islamic Republic has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, effectively blocking all the oil shipments from the Persian Gulf, should they accede to American demands.

The row between the US and Iran escalated last month, when their respective leadership exchanged a barrage of threats. Back then, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that a conflict with Iran would be "mother of all wars," provoking Trump's harsh response when he promised "consequences the likes of which few have ever suffered before."

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[Aug 14, 2018] France must be kicking themselves for listening to the US. At this rate, China/Russia will take all the Iran oil business

Aug 14, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ian , Aug 12, 2018 8:55:07 PM | 23

Likklemore @17:

France must be kicking themselves for listening to the US. At this rate, China/Russia will take all the oil business, leaving Western companies sitting on the sidelines. On the other hand, I wonder if US O&G companies are waiting for other Western competitors to go bankrupt.


Uncoy @22:

US sanctions have already failed. Other nations will give lip service, then turn around to continue on whatever they were doing.

Likklemore , Aug 12, 2018 10:28:02 PM | 24
Ian @ 24

Come November we are spectators of the comeuppance.

Imho, US "prosperity" built on debt and avoiding the knock on the door. The Bailiff cometh. How does one go bankrupt? Slowly, then all at once.

We will see if Germany is turning east.
RT Link
US can't force trade rules on others, Germany must invest more in Iran

Washington cannot dictate trade rules to others, Germany's economy minister said, adding that his country should be more assertive and defy American sanctions – particularly by investing more in Iran.

"We don't let Washington dictate [their will] on trade relations with other countries," German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Bild newspaper on Saturday. He said the US sanctions on Iran are one instance in which America's neglect of its partners are clearly shown.[.]

Pft , Aug 12, 2018 11:40:17 PM | 27
Likklemore@25

Only 1/3 of US debt is owed to foreigners and that is denominated in their own currency. They just print whatever is due.

A country with the land and natural resources the US has to go along with with its agricultural, human and military capital can never go bankrupt, especially when they control the debt collectors

As for Germany they are an occupied country, as are many countries. Between the military bases and CIA controlled NGO's they dance to whatever musuc is played. Some squawking is permitted for appearances sake so people can maintain their illusions of nationalist control.

I dont rule out a major financial adverse event in the US (and global) soon so the elite can profit off the collapse and shrink the wealth of the bottom 90%, but that wont affect much at all and much of the world will suffer in much the same way

When one looks at the major financial disasters over the last century, many seem to come in the 8th-9th year of the decade. After the elections we should see a great fall as bubbles are burst and the 17 trillion dollar + investment firms that maintain liquidity will swoop in and buy low. This time around the banks wont need a government bail out as the laws have authorized them to seize deposits like what was done in Greece.

[Aug 13, 2018] The Perils of Trump's Iran Obsession by Daniel Larison

Aug 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson chide Trump for his dangerous Iran obsession:

The United States' treatment of Iran as a serious strategic competitor is deeply illogical. Iran imperils no core U.S. interests.

Trump's Iran obsession is probably the most conventional part of his foreign policy and it is also the most irrational. The president's reflexive hostility to Iran is one of the few constants in his view of the world, and it is one that aligns him most closely with his party's hawks and parts of the foreign policy establishment. This has been clear for several years ever since Trump declared his opposition to the nuclear deal and surrounded himself with hard-liners . The Iran obsession is among the worst aspects of Trump's presidency, but it is also one of the least surprising. Over the last eighteen months, Trump's Iran obsession has become more of a derangement , and it is putting the U.S. and Iran on a collision course at the expense of our relations with many other states and our own economic interests. The risk of unnecessary war continues to rise because the president and his allies insist on making maximalist demands of Iran while imposing stringent sanctions on the country without justification.

As Simon and Stevenson capably explain, there is no valid reason to view Iran as a major threat to the U.S. Contrary to the fevered warnings about Iranian "expansionism," Iranian military power in the region is quite limited:

Yet Iran's foreign policy has evolved essentially on the basis of opportunistic realism rather than especially aggressive revisionism, and, as noted, it has a sparse military presence in the region.

There is certainly no reason for our government to treat Iran as if it were a major competitor. Our government's fixation on Iran as the source of all the region's problems exaggerates Iran's influence and puts the U.S. at odds with a regional power whose interests are sometimes aligned with our own. The obsession simply makes no sense:

Casting Iran as a major strategic rival simply doesn't make sense in terms of traditional international relations considerations such as threat- and power-balancing.

The authors list a number of causes for the unwarranted obsession with Iran, including "pro-Israel" influence and the influence of the Saudis and Emiratis in Washington, and I agree with them. Our political leaders' enthusiasm for engaging in threat inflation and credulously accepting the threat inflation of others would has to figure prominently in any explanation as well. Obsessing over a non-existent Iranian threat to U.S. interests obviously has nothing to do with American security, and it represents an unhealthy subordination of American interests to those of its reckless regional clients. Indulging those clients in their paranoia about Iran will only stoke more regional conflicts and ensure that the U.S. becomes more deeply involved in those wars, and the result will be greater costs for the U.S. and greater turmoil, instability, and loss of life throughout the region.


b. August 13, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Obama's Yemen obsession is probably the most conventional part of his foreign policy and it is also the most irrational.

Cluster bombs, drone strikes, covert kill teams and, most importantly, the backing for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to cross the blood-red line and commence an aggressive illegal bombing campaign, invasion and occupation of Yemeni territory did not start with Trump.

Direct participation of US military logistics personnel and US military assets in this military aggression – while other US forces operate in the same territory under the "separate but equal" Authorization To Use Military Force – did not start with Trump.

Trump might apply his Reverse Midas Touch to this aspect of Obama's legacy as well, but just because Obama manufactured another transient executive "achievement" in JCOPA does not mean that his policy with respect to Yemen was any more irrational than Trump's policy towards Iran, or that Obama's willingness to hire out US military forces to support Saudi aggression for 100 billion dollars in blood money is any less venal, corrupt and despicable than Trump's willingness to do the same.

Mattis didn't become fixated on Iran when he joined the Trump administration either, although he might just be blaming – in the absence of conclusive evidence – Iran today for the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing targeting Reagan's negligent use of the Marine Corps. That is even less of a defensible foundation for foreign policy and military aggression that profiteering.

b. , says: August 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm
It is not just Trump, either, and not even just neolibcons, but also the basement crusaders:

'In 2017, US Vice President Mike Pence called the bombings "the opening salvo in a war that we have waged ever since – the global war on terror".'

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-says-war-terror-began-911-hezbollah-attack-us-troops-691653
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombings

It is a good guess that Obama's obsession with Yemen was rooted in printer cartridges, shoe bombs, and the fear to have any terrorist attack "succeed". For Obama & Co. the fear of the Next Big Blowback led them to Yemen. It would appear that Pence has supplied the Trump administration with a Grand Unified Theory that all campaigns in the Great War On Terror ultimately lead to Tehran – or the Trump administration made him their willing mouthpiece.

Christian Chuba , says: August 13, 2018 at 3:47 pm
Pence is so desperate to connect terrorism to Iran that he has to reach back almost 40yrs to pin an at best Hezbollah pre-cursor organization on them. Isn't it more telling that Hezbollah has avoided attacking U.S. troops during their entire existence? Pence doesn't seem alarmed about the 3,000+ Americans who died on U.S. soil in NYC that we can attribute to the Saudis and their cohorts.

BTW the Khobar tower bombings was Al Qaeda. The Saudis extracted confessions in their torture chambers. There was no corroborating evidence that it was a branch of Hezbollah.

[Aug 13, 2018] The Real Reason Why Trump Cancelled The Iran Deal by Eric Zuesse

This is ,of course, hypothesis by Eric Zuesse, and the idea that the USA elite decided to abandon EU elite is somewhat questionable, but some of his consideration are interesting...
Notable quotes:
"... Yeah, its the defense contractors. It has nothing to do with the zillions of cars that clog every fucking freeway in this country every morning and every evening, 7 days a week. Its not the assholes cruising around in monster trucks alone, just to show off their stupid trucks. It has nothing to do with the the zillions of jets screaming through the skies carry all those fat assholes to meetings all over the world for no reason. It has nothing to do with the billions of barrels of oil that come to the US on tankers as long as city blocks filled constantly day and night. ..."
Aug 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
45 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The following is entirely from open online sources that I have been finding to be trustworthy on these matters in the past. These sources will be linked-to here; none of this information is secret, even though some details in my resulting analysis of it will be entirely new.

It explains how and why the bottom-line difference between Donald Trump and Barack Obama, regarding US national security policies, turns out to be their different respective estimations of the biggest danger threatening the maintenance of the US dollar as the world's leading or reserve currency. This has been the overriding foreign-policy concern for both Presidents .

Obama placed as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of the EU (America's largest market both for exports and for imports) from alliance with the United States. He was internationally a Europhile. Trump, however, places as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of Saudi Arabia and of the other Gulf Arab oil monarchies from the U.S. Trump is internationally a Sunni-phile: specifically a protector of fundamentalist Sunni monarchs -- but especially of the Sauds themselves -- and they hate Shia and especially the main Shia nation, Iran .

Here's how that change, to Saudi Arabia as being America's main ally, has happened -- actually it's a culmination of decades. Trump is merely the latest part of that process of change. Here is from the US State Department's official historian , regarding this history:

By the 1960s, a surplus of US dollars caused by foreign aid, military spending, and foreign investment threatened this system [the FDR-established 1944 Bretton Woods gold-based US dollar as the world's reserve currency ], as the United States did not have enough gold to cover the volume of dollars in worldwide circulation at the rate of $35 per ounce; as a result, the dollar was overvalued. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson adopted a series of measures to support the dollar and sustain Bretton Woods: foreign investment disincentives; restrictions on foreign lending; efforts to stem the official outflow of dollars; international monetary reform; and cooperation with other countries. Nothing worked. Meanwhile, traders in foreign exchange markets, believing that the dollar's overvaluation would one day compel the US government to devalue it, proved increasingly inclined to sell dollars. This resulted in periodic runs on the dollar.

It was just such a run on the dollar, along with mounting evidence that the overvalued dollar was undermining the nation's foreign trading position, which prompted President Richard M. Nixon to act, on August 13, 1971 [to end the convertibility of dollars to gold].

When Nixon ended the gold-basis of the dollar and then in 1974 secretly switched to the current oil-basis, this transformation of the dollar's backing, from gold to oil, was intended to enable the debt-financing (as opposed to the tax-financing, which is less acceptable to voters) of whatever military expenditure would be necessary in order to satisfy the profit-needs of Lockheed Corporation and of the other US manufacturers whose only markets are the US Government and its allied governments, as well as of US extractive industries such as oil and mining firms, which rely heavily upon access to foreign natural resources, as well as of Wall Street and its need for selling debt and keeping interest-rates down (and stock-prices -- and therefore aristocrats' wealth -- high and rtising).

This 1974 secret agreement between Nixon and King Saud lasts to the present day, and has worked well for both aristocracies. It met the needs of the very same "military-industrial complex" (the big US Government contractors) that the prior Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, had warned might take control of US foreign policies. As Bloomberg's Andrea Wong on 30 May 2016 explained the Nixon system that replaced the FDR system, "The basic framework was strikingly simple. The US would buy oil from Saudi Arabia and provide the kingdom military aid and equipment. In return, the Saudis would plow billions of their petrodollar revenue back into Treasuries and finance America's spending."

This new system didn't only supply a constant flow of Saudi tax-money to the US Government; it supplied a constant flow of new sales-orders and profits to the military firms that were increasingly coming to control the US Government -- for the benefit of both aristocracies: the Sauds, and America's billionaires.

That was near the end of the FDR-produced 37-year period of US democratic leadership of the world, the era that had started at Bretton Woods in 1944. It came crashing to an end not in 1974 (which was step two after the 1971 step one had ended the 1944 system) but on the day when Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981. The shockingly sudden ascent, from that moment on, of US federal Government debt (to be paid-off by future generations instead of by current taxpayers) is shown, right here, in a graph of "US Federal Debt as Percent of GDP, 1940-2015" , where you can see that the debt had peaked above 90% of GDP late in WW II between 1944-1948 , and then plunged during Bretton Woods, but in 1981 it started ascending yet again, until reaching that WW II peak for a second time, as it has been ever since 2010 , when Obama bailed-out the mega-banks and their mega-clients, but didn't bail out the American public, whose finances had been destroyed by those banksters' frauds, which Obama refused to prosecute; and, so, economic inequality in America got even more extreme after the 2008 George W. Bush crash, instead of less extreme afterward (as had always happened in the past).

Above 90% debt/GDP during and immediately following WW II was sound policy, but America's going again above 90% since 2010 has reflected simply an aristocratic heist of America, for only the aristocracy's benefit -- all of the benefits going only to the super-rich.

Another, and more-current US graph shows that, as of the first quarter of 2018, this percentage (debt/GDP) is, yet again, back now to its previous all-time record high of 105-120%%, which had been reached only in 1945-1947 (when it was justified by the war).

Currently, companies such as Lockheed Martin are thriving as they had done during WW II, but the sheer corruption in America's military spending is this time the reason , no World War (yet); so, this time, America is spending like in an all-out-war situation, even before the Congress has issued any declaration of war at all. Everybody except the American public knows that the intense corruptness of the US military is the reason for this restoration of astronomical 'defense' spending, even during peace-time. A major poll even showed that 'defense' spending was the only spending by the federal Government which Americans in 2017 wanted increased; they wanted all other federal spending to be reduced (though there was actually vastly more corruption in military spending than in any other type -- the public have simply been hoodwinked).

But can the US Government's extreme misallocation of wealth, from the public to the insiders, continue without turning this country into a much bigger version of today's Greece? More and more people around the world are worrying about that. Of course, Greece didn't have the world's reserve currency, but what would happen to the net worths of America's billionaires if billionaires worldwide were to lose faith in the dollar? Consequently, there's intensified Presidential worrying about how much longer foreign investors will continue to trust the oil-based dollar.

America's political class now have two competing ideas to deal with this danger , Obama's versus Trump's, both being about how to preserve the dollar in a way that best serves the needs of 'defense' contractors, extractive firms, and Wall Street. Obama chose Europe (America's largest market) as America's chief ally (he was Euro-centric against Russia); Trump chose the owner of Saudi Arabia (he's Saudi-Israeli centric against Iran) -- that's the world's largest weapons-purchaser, as well as the world's largest producer of oil (as well as the largest lobbies) .

The Saudi King owns Saudi Arabia, including the world's largest and most valuable oil company, Aramco, whose oil is the "sweetest" -- the least expensive to extract and refine -- and is also the most abundant, in all of the world, and so he can sell petroleum at a profit even when his competitors cannot. Oil-prices that are so low as to cause economic losses for other oil companies, can still be generating profits -- albeit lowered ones -- for King Saud; and this is the reason why his decisions determine how much the global oil-spigot will be turned on, and how low the global oil-price will be, at any given time. He controls the value of the US dollar. He controls it far more directly, and far more effectively, than the EU can. It would be like, under the old FDR-era Bretton Woods system, controlling the exchange-rates of the dollar, by raising or lowering the amount of gold produced. But this is liquid gold, and King Saud determines its price.

Furthermore, King Saud also leads the Gulf Cooperation Council of all other Arab oil monarchs, such as those who own UAE -- all of them are likewise US allies and major weapons-buyers.

In an extraordinarily fine recent article by Pepe Escobar at Asia Times, "Oil and gas geopolitics: no shelter from the storm" , he quotes from his not-for-attribution interviews with "EU diplomats," and reports:

After the Trump administration's unilateral pull-out from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), European Union diplomats in Brussels, off the record, and still in shock, admit that they blundered by not "configuring the eurozone as distinct and separate to the dollar hegemony". Now they may be made to pay the price of their impotence via their "outlawed" trade with Iran.

As admitted, never on the record, by experts in Brussels; the EU has got to reevaluate its strategic alliance with an essentially energy independent US, as "we are risking all our energy resources over their Halford Mackinder geopolitical analysis that they must break up [the alliance between] Russia and China."

That's a direct reference to the late Mackinder epigone Zbigniew "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, who died dreaming of turning China against Russia.

In Brussels, there's increased recognition that US pressure on Iran, Russia and China is out of geopolitical fear the entire Eurasian land mass, organized as a super-trading bloc via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), [and] the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), is slipping away from Washington's influence.

This analysis gets closer to how the three key nodes of 21st century Eurasia integration -- Russia, China and Iran -- have identified the key issue; both the euro and the yuan must bypass the petrodollar, the ideal means, as the Chinese stress, to "end the oscillation between strong and weak dollar cycles, which has been so profitable for US financial institutions, but lethal to emerging markets."

It's also no secret among Persian Gulf traders that in the -- hopefully unlikely -- event of a US-Saudi-Israeli war in Southwest Asia against Iran, a real scenario war-gamed by the Pentagon would be "the destruction of oil wells in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]. The Strait of Hormuz does not have to be blocked, as destroying the oil wells would be far more effective."

And what the potential loss of over 20% of the world's oil supply would mean is terrifying; the implosion, with unforeseen consequences, of the quadrillion derivatives pyramid, and consequentially [consequently] of the entire Western financial casino superstructure.

In other words: it's not the 'threat' that perhaps, some day, Iran will have nuclear warheads, that is actually driving Trump's concern here (despite what Israel's concerns are about that matter), but instead, it is his concerns about Iran's missiles, which constitute the delivery-system for any Iranian warheads: that their flight-range be short enough so that the Sauds will be outside their range . (The main way Iran intends to respond to an invasion backed by the US, is to attack Saudi Arabia -- Iran's leaders know that the US Government is more dependent upon the Sauds than upon Israel -- so, Iran's top targets would be Saudi capital Riyadh, and also the Ghawar oil field, which holds over half of Saudi oil. If US bases have been used in the invasion, then all US bases in the Middle East are also be within the range of Iran's missiles and therefore would also probably be targeted.)

Obama's deal with Iran had focused solely upon preventing Iran from developing nuclear warheads -- which Obama perhaps thought (mistakenly) would dampen Israel's (and its billionaire US financial backers') ardor for the US to conquer Iran. Israel had publicly said that their concern was Iran's possibility to become a nuclear power like Israel became; those possible future warheads were supposed to be the issue; but, apparently, that wasn't actually the issue which really drove Israel. Obama seems to have thought that it was, but it wasn't, actually. Israel, like the Sauds, want Iran conquered. Simple. The nuclear matter was more an excuse than an explanation.

With Trump now in the White House, overwhelmingly by money from the Israel lobbies (proxies also for the Sauds) -- and with no equivalently organized Jewish opposition to the pro -Israel lobbies (and so in the United States, for a person to be anti-Israel is viewed as being anti-Semitic, which is not at all true, but Israel's lies say it's true and many Americans unfortunately believe it) -- Trump has not only the Sauds and their allies requiring him to be against Iran and its allies, but he has also got this pressure coming from Israel: both the Big-Oil and the Jewish lobbies drive him. Unlike Obama, who wasn't as indebted to the Jewish lobbies, Trump needs to walk the plank for both the Sauds and Israel.

In other words: Trump aims to keep the dollar as the reserve currency by suppressing not only China but also the two main competitors of King Saud: Iran and Russia. That's why America's main 'enemies' now are those three countries and their respective allies.

Obama was likewise targeting them, but in a different priority-order , with Russia being the main one (thus Obama's takeover of Ukraine in February 2014 turning it against Russia, next door ); and that difference was due to Obama's desire to be favorably viewed by the residents in America's biggest export and import market, the EU, and so his bringing another member (Ukraine) into the EU (which still hasn't yet been culminated).

Trump is instead building on his alliance with King Saud and the other GCC monarchs, a group who can more directly cooperate to control the value of the US dollar than the EU can. Furthermore, both conservative (including Orthodox) Jews in the United States, and also white evangelical Protestants in the US, are strongly supportive of Israel, which likewise sides with the Arab oil monarchs against Iran and its allies. Trump needs these people's votes.

Trump also sides with the Sauds against Canada. That's a matter which the theorists who assert that Israel controls the US, instead of that the Sauds (allied with America's and Israel's billionaires) control the US, ignore; they ignore whatever doesn't fit their theory. Of course, a lot doesn't fit their theory (which equates "Jews" with "Israelis" and alleges that "they" control the world), but people whose prejudices are that deep-seated, can't be reached by any facts which contradict their self-defining prejudice. Since it defines themselves, it's a part of them, and they can never deny it, because to do so would be to deny who and what they are, and they refuse to change that. The Sauds control the dollar; Israel does not, but Israel does the lobbying, and both the Sauds and Israel want Iran destroyed. Trump gets this pressure not only from the billionaires but from his voters.

And, of course, Democratic Party billionaires push the narrative that Russia controls America. It used to be the Republican Joseph R. McCarthy's accusation, that the "commies" had "infiltrated" , especially at the State Department . So: Trump kicked out Russia's diplomats, to satisfy those neocons -- the neoconservatives of all Parties and persuasions, both conservative and liberal.

To satisfy the Sauds, despite the EU, Trump has dumped the Iran deal . And he did it also to satisfy Israel, the main US lobbyists for the Sauds. (Americans are far more sympathetic to Jews than to Arabs; the Sauds are aware of this; Israel handles their front-office.) For Trump, the Sauds are higher priority than Europe; even Israel (who are an expense instead of a moneybag for the US Government) are higher priority than Europe. Both the Sauds and Israel together are vastly higher. And the Sauds alone are higher priority for Trump than are even Canada and Europe combined . Under Trump, anything will be done in order to keep the Sauds and their proxy-lobbyists (Israel) 'on America's side'.

Consequently, Trump's political base is mainly against Iran and for Israel, but Obama's was mainly against Russia and for the EU. Obama's Democratic Party still are controlled by the same billionaires as before; and, so, Democrats continue demonizing Russia, and are trying to make as impossible as they can, any rapprochement with Russia -- and, therefore, they smear Trump for anything he might try to do along those lines.

Both Obama and Trump have been aiming to extend America's aristocracy's dominance around the world, but they employ different strategies toward that politically bipartisan American-aristocratic objective: the US Government's global control, for the benefit of the US aristocracy, at everyone else's expense. Obama and Trump were placed into the White House by different groups of US billionaires, and each nominee serves his/her respective sponsors , no public anywhere -- not even their voters' welfare.

An analogous example is that, whereas Fox News, Forbes, National Review, The Weekly Standard, American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Breitbart News, InfoWars, Reuters, and AP , are propagandists for the Republican Party ; NPR, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, The New Republic, New Yorker, New York Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast , and Salon , are propagandists for the Democratic Party ; but, they all draw their chief sponsors from the same small list of donors who are America's billionaires, since these few people control the top advertisers, investors, and charities, and thus control nearly all of the nation's propaganda. The same people who control the Government control the public; but, America isn't a one-Party dictatorship. America is, instead, a multi-Party dictatorship . And this is how it functions.

Trump cancelled the Iran deal because a different group of billionaires are now in control of the White House, and of the rest of the US Government. Trump's group demonize especially Iran; Obama's group demonize especially Russia. That's it, short. That's America's aristocratic tug-of-war; but both sides of it are for invasion, and for war. Thus, we're in the condition of 'permanent war for permanent peace' -- to satisfy the military contractors and the billionaires who control them. Any US President who would resist that, would invite assassination; but, perhaps in Trump's case, impeachment, or other removal-from-office, would be likelier. In any case, the sponsors need to be satisfied -- or else -- and Trump knows this.

Trump is doing what he thinks he has to be doing, for his own safety. He's just a figurehead for a different faction of the US aristocracy , than Obama was. He's doing what he thinks he needs to be doing, for his survival. Political leadership is an extremely dangerous business. Trump is playing a slightly different game of it than Obama did, because he represents a different faction than Obama did. These two factions of the US aristocracy are also now battling each other for political control over Europe .

caconhma -> MoreSun • Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:57 Permalink

The article is correct:

The Bottom Line

Trump and its policies have no chance to succeed neither inside nor outside the USA. The USA has less than 3-5 years to maintain the present status quo.

PitBullsRule -> PitBullsRule • Sun, 08/12/2018 - 23:40 Permalink

Yeah, its the defense contractors. It has nothing to do with the zillions of cars that clog every fucking freeway in this country every morning and every evening, 7 days a week. Its not the assholes cruising around in monster trucks alone, just to show off their stupid trucks. It has nothing to do with the the zillions of jets screaming through the skies carry all those fat assholes to meetings all over the world for no reason. It has nothing to do with the billions of barrels of oil that come to the US on tankers as long as city blocks filled constantly day and night.

Its not that, its Lockheed selling them airplanes. Thats how the sand niggers got so much US money, Lockheed.

What a fucking conspiratorial ass-swipe this guy is.

NiggaPleeze -> wet_nurse Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:02 Permalink

Eric Zeusse ranks in popularity right along the Gatestone Institute - though Eric may just be ignorant and opinionated whilst Gatestone is an affirmative disinformation propaganda organ, both are equally annoying to read. I just came for the comments :).

JSBach1 -> NiggaPleeze Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:38 Permalink

+1. Eric Zuesse is part-and-parcel of the agenda that the Gatestone Institute espouses.

Eric Zuesse's real agenda can be revealed by his position on 9/11 (see second link below). He also blames Obama for everything (he shifts the blame away from Israel onto any other party which could be blamed due to either direct or indirect ties)

Here is Eric Zuesse in his own words:

Notice the absence of Israel/Zionism

Historic New Harpers Article Exposes Who Controls America
Posted on December 17, 2015 by Eric Zuesse.

"The fundamentalist-Sunni royal family of the Sauds have bought the highest levels of the U.S. government in order to control U.S. foreign policies, especially the ongoing wars to take down the governments of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and ultimately (they hope) of Russia itself, which latter nation has allied itself instead with Shia countries. The controlling entities behind American foreign policies since at least the late 1970s have been the Saud family and the Sauds' subordinate Arabic aristocracies, which are the ones in Qatar (the al-Thanis), Kuwait (the al-Sabahs), Turkey (the Turkish Erdoğans, a new royalty), and UAE (its six royal families: the main one, the al-Nahyans in Abu Dhabi; the other five: the al-Maktoums in Dubai, al-Qasimis in Sharjah, al-Nuaimis in Ajman, al-Mualla Ums in Quwain, and al-Sharqis in Fujairah). Other Saudi-dominated nations -- though they're not oil-rich (more like Turkey in this regard) -- are Pakistan and Afghanistan."

". But, perhaps, one can safely say that the alliance between the U.S. aristocracy and the royal Sauds, is emerging as a global dictatorship, a dictatorial type of world government. Because, clearly: those two aristocraciues have been, to a large extent, ruling the world together, for several decades now. From their perspective, jihadists are themselves a weapon, not merely a political nuisance.

This is a more realistic explanation of America's decades-long catastrophic failures to make significant progress in eliminating even a single one of the numerous jihadist groups around the world: that's how things have been planned to be. It's not just 'intelligence errors' or 'not being tough enough.' Those 'explanations' are just cover-stories, propaganda, PR from the aristocrats. It's skillful 'crowd control': keeping the people in their 'proper' places."

http://washingtonsblog.com/2015/12/historic-new-harpers-article-exposes

9/11: Israel Didn't Do It; The Plan Was Co-Led by U.S. & Saud Governments
By Eric Zuesse

March 15, 2018

"9/11 was a well-planned operation, whatever it was. Substantial money paid for it, but little if any of that came from either Iran or Israel. It all came from fundamentalist-Sunnis.

And, if all of the money was fundamentalist-Sunni, then the only non-Sunni people who could have been involved in planning the operation would have been George W. Bush and his friends

The problem certainly isn't Jews nor Muslims. The problem is the aristocracy, which controls Saudi Arabia, and the aristocracy which controls Israel, and the aristocracy which controls America. The victim is the public, and the victimizer is the aristocracy. It's not just 9/11."

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48957.htm

Obama's Nazis
Posted on August 17, 2014 by Eric Zuesse.

(Zuesse's obsession with the word nazis or Nazis)

"What Obama has done and is doing in Ukraine is historic, like what Adolf Hitler did, and like what Slobodan Milosevic* did, and like other racist fascists have done; and he, and we Americans (if we as a nation continue accepting this), will be remembered for it, like they and their countries were. Evil on this scale cannot be forgotten. No matter how solidly the American "news" media hide this history, it is already solidly documented for the history books. Obama will be remembered as the worst President in U.S. history, just as the racist-fascist or 'nazi' leaders of other countries are."

http://washingtonsblog.com/2014/08/obamas-nazis.html

Jewish Billionaire Finances Ukraine's Aydar SS Nazi Troops
Posted on April 7, 2015 by Eric Zuesse.

"The hyper-nationalist Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, a friend of the Obama White House and employer of Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, is a major donor to far-right Ukrainian causes. He sides with the followers of Stepan Bandera, the pro-Nazi Ukrainian leader whom Hitler ditched when Bandera made clear that he wanted Ukraine to be nazi but independent of Germany's Nazi Party. Briefly, Bandera's #2 in command, Yaroslav Stetsko, led nazi Ukraine, and approved the slaughter of thousands of Jews there."

http://washingtonsblog.com/2015/04/jewish-billionaire-finances-ukraines

"Zuesse is pushing Zionist lies. One of the links in the article goes to a Reuters story, "Exclusive – Over 100 Russian soldiers killed in single Ukraine battle – Russian rights activists," that claims to get its info from the "Russian presidential human rights council."

If you want to read more lies by Zuesse, go to this "AMAZON" link to read reviews of his book, "Iraq War: The Truth," in which Zuesse claims that GW Bush invaded Iraq to thank Jesus for his alcohol and drug addiction cure and to neuter the International Criminal Court???

There is one comment lavishing praise on Zuesse's book about the Iraq War by David Swanson, another Zionist tool and BS artist, who's been outed in the past by the blog, "American Everyman."

https://careandwashingofthebrain.blogspot.com/2014/09/stay-away-from-wh

http://beforeitsnews.com/survival/2015/01/i-expect-my-apology-from-wash

Winston Churchill -> wet_nurse Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:06 Permalink

A total one, although his mention of MacKinder was only bright spot.

The US has been using the Heartland strategy since before the occupation of Afghanistan, which

was in response to the Taliban approving oil pipelines from Iran to China thru the Kush.The real reason

for the everlasting war there.With the defection of Pakistan to the SCO, the only option is take out Iran

and Turkey now that Syria is lost.Its not even a matter of which faction of billionaires controls empire

policy, its pure geography.You build the alliances around that geography,not the other way around.

The Great Game was played for 200 years over this same ground,only the players have changed.

Hence both the Turkey and Iran situation now, the empire wants control of both,but will probably get neither.

The last roll of the dice.

Hyjinx Sun, 08/12/2018 - 23:42 Permalink

What is this rambling unfocused BS? Just because Trump thought the Iran deal was shitty doesn't mean he works for the Saudis.

OverTheHedge -> My Days Are Ge Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:20 Permalink

See how fast the internet warriors are to claim the article is rubbish, and not reflecting reality. No argument to back up their propaganda, but that's not important. Must be depressing running the Sunday evening shift in the cubicle farm; all the boys in their neatly pressed uniforms, clicking away to keep us safe from democracy. Well done lads, another day keeping the evil Russians /Iranians at bay.

I actually find it interesting to see what shakes the foundations, and this article seems to be something that they don't like, so probably worth a re-read just to get all the nuances. Of course, the author suggesting that it is not Jews running America will get short shrift from some commenters, but it is certainly interesting to have pointed out, finally, that Israel is a net drain, and Saudi Arabia an enormous gain for the US. We always say to follow the money, and whilst Israel is good profit for the MIC, Saudi Arabia IS the petrodollar system - mustn't forget that. No oil in Saudi Arabia, no petrodollar. I wonder how long they have left until it's all gone? That would probably be the over-riding factor in deciding war with Iran.

Joe A Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:55 Permalink

I always wondered why the EU did nit make bigger efforts to replace the petrodollar with the petroeuro but nobody wants to end up as Ghadaffi or Saddam Hussein who threatened to do just that. Iran has also repeatedly threaten to that. Also Putin has recently said that Russia wants to move away from the petrodollar. He must know that that is dangerous for one's health so there must be some sort of alliance against the dollar being formed.

hugin-o-munin Mon, 08/13/2018 - 01:15 Permalink

Well written article that sums it up nicely:

The United States is in a state of constant war with the entire world.

[Aug 08, 2018] In past wars, civilian oil tankers did not sail through the straits

Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Carlton Meyer , • Website August 4, 2018 at 6:03 am GMT

Four key points:

1. Iraq is run by a pro-Iran Shite government that tolerates the US occupation due to the money provided. Before the USA attacks Iran, it should remove all its 10,000 troops and 10,000 civilians and close its massive embassy there and write that country off. Otherwise, we'll have thousands of American POWs. Meanwhile, the Kurds will get crushed as the Turks and Iraqis use the chaos to destroy them.

2. The oil-rich British puppet state of Kuwait is hated by all Iraqis and Iranians. If the USA attacks Iran, one should expect Iranian and maybe Iraqi units crossing the border, while Kuwait's army flees as expected. The USA keeps an army brigade there, but that may not be enough to fend off an invasion, even with air superiority.

3. In past wars, civilian oil tankers did not sail through the straits. The insurers (mostly Lloyds of London) and others announced they would not cover losses, and unionize ship crews refused to enter the war zone. So even if the USA keeps the straits open, all that oil will not flow forth.

4. Iran has a fortified island in the Gulf whose guns cannot be silenced with just air power. A major amphibious landing is required to clear that island, and it will be bloody. Note the ship channels in the map. Supertankers are huge, so while the Straits of Hormuz are large, these big ships can only pass thru these two narrow channels, which are easily blocked. Iran could park its own tankers in these channels to block them and hope the USA foolishly sinks them, thus really blocking the entire channel.

These four issues are of more importance than air battles over Iran.

[Aug 08, 2018] America's About To Unleash Its NOPEC 'Superweapon' Against The Russians Saudis

Aug 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

The US Congress has revived the so-called "NOPEC" bill for countering OPEC and OPEC+.

Officially called the " No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act ", NOPEC is the definition of so-called "lawfare" because it enables the US to extra-territorially impose its domestic legislation on others by giving the government the right to sue OPEC and OPEC+ countries like Russia because of their coordinated efforts to control oil prices.

Lawsuits, however, are unenforceable , which is why the targeted states' refusal to abide by the US courts' likely predetermined judgement against them will probably be used to trigger sanctions under the worst-case scenario, with this chain of events being catalyzed in order to achieve several strategic objectives.

The first is that the US wants to break up the Russian-Saudi axis that forms the core of OPEC+, which leads to the second goal of then unravelling the entire OPEC structure and heralding in the free market liberalization of the global energy industry.

This is decisively to the US' advantage as it seeks to become an energy-exporting superpower, but it must neutralize its competition as much as possible before this happens, ergo the declaration of economic-hybrid war through NOPEC. How it would work in practice is that the US could threaten primary sanctions against the state companies involved in implementing OPEC and OPEC+ agreements, after which these could then be selectively expanded to secondary sanctions against other parties who continue to do business with them.

The purpose behind this approach is to intimidate the US' European vassals into complying with its demands so as to make as much of the continent as possible a captive market of America's energy exporters, which explains why Trump also wants to scrap LNG export licenses to the EU .

If successful, this could further erode Europe's shrinking strategic independence and also inflict long-term economic damage on the US' energy rivals that could then be exploited for political purposes. At the same time, America's recently unveiled " Power Africa " initiative to invest $175 billion in gas projects there could eventually see US companies in the emerging energy frontiers of Tanzania , Mozambique , and elsewhere become important suppliers to their country's Chinese rival, which could make Beijing's access to energy even more dependent on American goodwill than ever before.

If looked at as the opening salvo of a global energy war being waged in parallel with the trade one as opposed to being dismissed as the populist piece of legislation that it's being portrayed as by the media, NOPEC can be seen as the strategic superweapon that it actually is, with its ultimate effectiveness being dependent of course on whether it's properly wielded by American decision makers.

It's too earlier to call it a game-changer because it hasn't even been promulgated yet, but in the event that it ever is, then it might go down in history as the most impactful energy-related development since OPEC, LNG, and fracking.

bshirley1968 -> HilteryTrumpkin Mon, 08/06/2018 - 14:47 Permalink

No way US can manipulate oil trade at this point without hurting themselves or helping their "enemies". Cause and effect, just think it through.

The world needs energy, Russia has energy...and a real surplus for sale. The US is a net energy consumer with no surplus. China needs energy in a big way. Trying to cut off Russian and Iranian oil and trying to blow up the Chinese economy are acts of war. The West realizes there is no way they can survive in their current status of moar with that kind of competition out there. The BRICST now constitute $17 trillion in combined GDP. They have the energy sources (Russia and Iran), they have the manufacturing base (China), they have the agricultural base (Russia, Brazil, South Africa), and they have plenty of customers.....even outside the BRICST union. That is a formidable competitive force to face when you are an economy structured on infinite growth on a finite planet......that you control less and less of each year.

[Aug 07, 2018] OIL and only OIL should guide the policy making considerations of the American Empire in the Middle East

Aug 07, 2018 | www.unz.com

Renoman , August 3, 2018 at 9:21 am GMT

War with Iran? I can not imagine a more foolish thing to do.
Of course they will rally with their own Countrymen, everyone hates the USA.
The World economy will be in a complete tailspin, the US will likely finally go broke over it and chances are pretty good that Israel will be flattened and paved [one positive thing].
You fight Iran you fight China, you don't go messing with their road. Likely not bombs and guns either most likely money, something America has not much of.

The faster America dumps this crazy fascination with the Jews the faster it will get it's act together and become a Country again.

Sally Snyder , August 3, 2018 at 11:29 am GMT
As shown in this article, the U.S. Secretary of State is trying to manipulate Iranian Americans into supporting regime change in Iran:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/07/manipulating-iranian-americans-laying.html

Washington is working overtime to lay the groundwork for a war in Iran.

bob sykes , August 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm GMT
"ultimately prevail"

What can that possibly mean? We can bomb Iran back into the Stone Age, but Iran does not need a modern economy or military to close Hormuz. All they need do is fire a few land-based artillery and anti-ship missiles at a defenseless freighter or tanker. The insurance companies would do the rest–remove all commercial shipping from the Persian and Oman Gulf regions. That eliminates 20% of the World's oil supply, and it would collapse the World's economy, including our own.

Asymmetric warfare would engulf the entire Middle East, including Israel, with its large native Arab population and its occupation of large Arab populations in Gaza and the West Bank.

Iran has the upper hand here. We need to be very careful.

nickels , August 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm GMT
Let's face it-when we impose sanctions on Iran, we are already at war with them. Just like we are already at war with Russia. Imbeciles, all who run this country.
WorkingClass , August 3, 2018 at 1:13 pm GMT
Paranoid thug Bibi to Trump: Destroy Iran for me or I will feed you to your domestic enemies.
Charles Pewitt , August 3, 2018 at 3:07 pm GMT

Oil is the vital strategic Western interest in the Persian Gulf. Yet a war with Iran would imperil, not secure, that interest.

The American Empire's only strategic three letter word interest in the Middle East is O -- I –L.

The WASP/JEW ruling class of the American Empire and the Jew-controlled Neo-Conservative faction in the Republican Party wants to elevate the three letter word J -- E –W to paramount importance in the Middle East.

OIL and only OIL should guide the policy making considerations of the American Empire in the Middle East.

[Aug 07, 2018] Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics by Rob Urie

Notable quotes:
"... The Great Satin (sic) ..."
"... Source: gulfbusiness.com ..."
"... Chart: Demonization of Russia centers on competition for oil and gas revenues. Pipelines to deliver oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe run through North Africa (Libya) and Syria and / or Turkey. These pipelines are substantially controlled by Western interests with imperial / colonial ties to the U.S., Britain and 'developed' Europe. Russian oil and gas did run through Ukraine, which is now negotiating to join NATO, or otherwise hits a NATO wall before entering Europe. ..."
Feb 19, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The indictments are a major political story, but not for the reasons given in mainstream press coverage. Once Mr. Mueller's indictment is understood to charge the exploitation of existing social tensions (read it and decide for yourself), the FBI, which Mr. Mueller directed from 2001 – 2013, is precisely the wrong entity to be rendering judgment. The FBI has been America's political police since its founding in 1908. Early on former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover led legally dubious mass arrests of American dissidents. He practically invented the slander of conflating legitimate dissent with foreign agency. This is the institutional backdrop from which Mr. Mueller proceeds.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the FBI's targets included the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Black Panther Party and any other political organization Mr. Hoover deemed a threat. The secret (hidden) FBI program COINTELPRO was intended to subvert political outcomes outside of allegations of criminal wrongdoing and with no regard for the lives of its targets . Throughout its history the FBI has sided with the powerful against the powerless to maintain an unjust social order.

Robert Mueller became FBI Director only days before the attacks of September 11, 2001. One of his first acts as Director was to arrest 1,000 persons without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. None of those arrested were ever charged in association with the attacks. The frame in which the FBI acted -- to maintain political stability threatened by 'external' forces, was ultimately chosen by the George W. Bush administration to justify its aggressive war against Iraq.

It is the FBI's legacy of conflating dissent with being an agent of a foreign power that Mr. Mueller's indictment most insidiously perpetuates. Russians are 'sowing discord,' and they are using Americans to do so, goes the allegation. Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are listed in the indictment as roadblocks to the unfettered ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Russians are sowing discord, therefore discord is both suspect in itself and evidence of being a foreign agent.

The posture of simple reporting at work in the indictment -- that it isn't the FBI's fault that the Russians (allegedly) inserted themselves into the electoral process, runs against the history of the FBI's political role, the tilt used to craft criminal charges and the facts put forward versus those put to the side. Given the political agendas of the other agencies that the FBI joined through the charges, they are most certainly but a small piece of a larger story.

In the aftermath of the indictments it's easy to forget that the Pentagon created the internet , that the NSA has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, that the CIA has been heavily involved in funding and 'using' social media toward its own ends and that the FBI is only reputable in the present because of Americans' near-heroic ignorance of history. The claim that the Russian operation was sophisticated because it had corporate form and function is countered by the fact that it was, by the various agencies' own claims, ineffectual in changing the outcome of the election.

I Have a List

While Robert Mueller was busy charging never-to-be-tried Russians with past crimes, Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, declared that future Russian meddling has already cast a shadow over the integrity of the 2018 election. Why the Pentagon that created the internet, the NSA that has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, the CIA that has been heavily involved in funding and 'using' social media toward its own ends and the FBI that just landed such a glorious victory of good over evil would be quivering puddles when it comes to precluding said meddling is a question that needs to be asked.

The political frame being put forward is that only these agencies know if particular elections and candidates have been tainted by meddling, therefore we need to trust them to tell us which candidates were legitimately elected and which weren't. As generous as this offer seems, wouldn't the creation of free and fair elections be a more direct route to achieving this end? Put differently, who among those making the offer, whether personally or as functionaries of their respective agencies, has a demonstrated history of supporting democratic institutions?

The 2016 election was apparently a test case for posing these agencies as the meddling police. By getting the bourgeois electocracy -- liberal Democrats, to agree that the loathsome Trump is illegitimate, future candidates will be vetted by the CIA, NSA and FBI with impunity. It's apparently only the pre-'discord, ' the social angst that the decade of the Great Recession left as its residual, that shifts this generous offer from the deterministic to the realm of the probable. The social conditions that led to the Great Recession and its aftermath are entirely home grown.

More broadly, how do the government agencies and people that spent the better part of the last century undermining democracy at home and abroad intend to stop 'Russian meddling?' If the FBI couldn't disentangle home grown 'discord' from that allegedly exploited and exacerbated by the Russians, isn't the likely intention to edit out all discord? And if fake news is a problem in need of addressing, wouldn't the New York Times and the Washington Post have been shut down years ago?

The Great Satin (sic)

While Russia is the villain of the day, week and year due to alleged election 'meddling,' the process of demonization that Russia has undergone has shown little variation from (alleged) villain to villain. It is thanks to cable news and the 'newspaper of record' that the true villainy of Vladimir Putin, Muammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, Nicolas Maduro and the political leadership of Iran has been revealed. In the face of such monsters, questions of motivation are moot. Why wouldn't Mr. Putin 'sow discord?'

The question as yet unasked, and therefore unanswered is: is there something besides base villainy that brought these national leaders, and the nations they lead, into the crosshairs of America's fair and wise leadership? This question might forever go unanswered were it not for the secret list from which their names were apparently drawn. No, not that secret list. This one is publicly available -- hiding in plain sight, as it were. It is the list of proven oil reserves by country (below). This is no doubt unduly reductive -- evil is as evil does, but read on.

The question of how such a list could divide so evenly between heroes and villains I leave to the philosophers. On second thought, no I won't. The heroes are allies of a small cadre of America's political and economic elite who have made themselves fabulously rich through the alliances. The villains have oil, gas, pipelines and other resources that this elite wants. Reductive, yes. But this simple list certainly appears to explain American foreign policy over the last half-century quite well.

Source: gulfbusiness.com

It's almost as if America's love for humanity, as demonstrated through humanitarian interventions, is determined by imperial competition for natural resources -- in this case oil and gas. Amongst these countries, only one (Canada) is 'democratic' in the American sense of being run by a small cadre of plutocrats who use the state to further their own interests. Two -- Iraq and Libya, were recently reduced to rubble (for the sake of humanity) by the U.S. Nigeria is being 'brought' under the control of AFRICOM. What remains are various and sundry petro-states plus Venezuela and Russia.

Following the untimely death of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the horrible tyrant kept in office via free and fair elections , who used Venezuela's petro-dollars to feed, clothe and educate his people and was in the process of creating a regional Left alliance to counter American abuse of power, the CIA joined with local plutocrats to overthrow his successor, Nicolas Maduro. The goal: to 'liberate' Venezuela's oil revenues in their own pockets. At the moment Mr. Maduro is down the list of villains, not nearly the stature of a 'new Hitler' like Vladimir Putin. But where he ends up will depend on how successfully the CIA (with Robert Mueller's help) can drum up a war against nuclear armed Russia.

What separates Russia from the other heroes and villains on the list is its history as a competing empire as well as the manner in which Russian oil and gas is distributed. Geography placed it closer to the population centers of Europe than to Southeastern China where Chinese economic development has been concentrated. This makes Europe a 'natural' market for Russian oil and gas.

The former Soviet state of Ukraine did stand between, or rather under, Russian pipelines and Europe until Hillary Clinton had her lieutenants engineer a coup there in 2014. In contrast to the 'new Hitler' of Mr. Putin (or was that Trump?) Mrs. Clinton and her comrades demonstrated a preference for the old Hitler in the form of Ukrainian fascists who were the ideological descendants of 'authentic' WWII Nazis. But rest assured, not all of the U.S.'s allies in this affair were ideological Nazis .

Chart: Demonization of Russia centers on competition for oil and gas revenues. Pipelines to deliver oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe run through North Africa (Libya) and Syria and / or Turkey. These pipelines are substantially controlled by Western interests with imperial / colonial ties to the U.S., Britain and 'developed' Europe. Russian oil and gas did run through Ukraine, which is now negotiating to join NATO, or otherwise hits a NATO wall before entering Europe.

In contrast to the alternative hypotheses given in the American press, NATO, the geopolitical extension of the U.S. military in Europe, admits that the U.S. engineered coup in Ukraine was 'about' oil geopolitics with Russia. The American storyline that Crimea was seized by Russia ignores that the Russian navy has had a Black Sea port in Crimea for decades. How amenable, precisely, might Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his friends be if Russia seized a major U.S. naval port given their generous offer to take over the U.S. electoral system because of a few Russian trolls?

Although Russia is toward the bottom of the top ten countries in terms of oil reserves, it faces a problem of distribution that the others don't. Imperial ties and recent military incursions have left the distribution of oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe largely under Western control. Syria, Turkey and North Africa are necessary to moving this oil and gas through pipelines to Europe. That Syria, Libya and Turkey are now, or recently have been, militarily contested adds credence to the contention that the 'international community's' heroes and villains are largely determined by whose hands their oil and gas resources are currently in.

Democratic Party loyalists who see Putin, Maduro et al as the problem first need to answer for the candidate they put forward in 2016. Hillary Clinton led the carnage in Libya that murdered 30,000 – 50,000 innocents for Western oil and gas interests. Russia didn't force the U.S. into its calamitous invasion of Iraq. Russia didn't take Americans' jobs, houses and pensions in the Great Recession. Russia didn't reward Wall Street for causing it. Democrats need to take responsibility for their failed candidates and their failed Party.

Part of the point in relating oil reserves to American foreign entanglements is that the countries and leaders involved are incidental. Vladimir Putin certainly seems smarter than the American leadership. But this has no bearing on whether or not his leadership of Russia is broadly socially beneficial. The only possible resolution of climate crisis requires both Russia and the U.S. to greatly reduce their use of fossil fuels. Reports have it that Mr. Putin has no interest in doing so. And once the marketing chatter is set to the side, neither do the Americans.

By placing themselves as arbiters of the electoral process, the Director of National Intelligence and the heads of the CIA, NSA and FBI can effectively control it. Is it accidental that the candidate of liberal Democrats in the 2016 election was the insiders' -- the intelligence agencies' and military contractors,' candidate as well? Implied is that these agencies and contractors are now 'liberal.' Good luck with that program if you value peace and prosperity.

There are lots of ways to create free and fair elections if that is the goal. Use paper ballots that are counted in public, automatically register all eligible voters, make election days national holidays and eliminate 'private' funding of electoral campaigns. But why make elections free and fair when fanciful nonsense about 'meddling' will convince the liberal class to deliver power to grey corpses in the CIA, NSA and FBI for the benefit of a tiny cabal of stupendously rich plutocrats. Who says America isn't already great?

[Aug 06, 2018] Bolton Blocking Strait of Hormuz will be Iran's 'worst mistake' instead it must 'come to table'

Notable quotes:
"... "They could take up the president's offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs fully and really verifiably not under the onerous terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which really are not satisfactory," ..."
"... "If Iran were really serious they'd come to the table. We'll find out whether they are or not," ..."
"... "matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security." ..."
"... "behaves like a normal country." ..."
"... "require enormous change" ..."
"... "increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue from crude oil sales." ..."
"... "the mother of all wars." ..."
"... "confronting possible threats." ..."
"... "The hours of our negotiations with America were perhaps unprecedented in history; then Trump signs something and say all [those negotiations] are void; can you negotiate with this person? Is this [negotiations offer] anything but a publicity stunt?" ..."
Aug 06, 2018 | www.rt.com

Closing the Strait of Hormuz would be the biggest mistake Iran has ever made, the US president's national security advisor John Bolton said. He urged Tehran to sit down for talks on its nuclear and missile programs with the US. Dismissing Tehran's threats to block the strait if its oil exports are stopped, Bolton on Monday said the Iranians were "bluffing." He then quickly changed his tone saying that Iran should actually engage in a dialog with the US instead of issuing threats.

"They could take up the president's offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs fully and really verifiably not under the onerous terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which really are not satisfactory," Bolton told Fox News, referring to the US President Donald Trump's demands to "re-negotiate" the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"If Iran were really serious they'd come to the table. We'll find out whether they are or not," Bolton added. The White House national security advisor's remarks came less than a day before the first round of renewed US sanctions take effect on Tuesday after midnight US Eastern time. The harshest restrictions are expected to be re-imposed by early November.

Washington decided to reinstate the penalties following Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the JCPOA in May. Shortly after exiting the agreement, the US penned a 12-point ultimatum to Iran, which, among other things, demanded that Tehran end its ballistic missile program, a condition it has repeatedly rejected. The move was then widely condemned by the EU and other signatories of the deal, including Russia and China, which still consider the agreement to be an effective means of non-proliferation and have vowed to keep their part of the deal.

Earlier on Monday, the EU said that starting August, it is enforcing its so-called Blocking Statute aimed at protecting the European companies doing business in Iran from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions. The bloc said that maintaining the nuclear deal with Iran is a "matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security."

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to "rigorously" enforce the sanctions on Iran until it "behaves like a normal country." He added that it would "require enormous change" on Iran's part for the US to review its increasingly hostile approach to Tehran.

In July, Brian Hook, the US State Department's director of policy planning, said that Washington's goal is to "increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue from crude oil sales."

Iranian leaders repeatedly threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and stop the Persian Gulf oil exports if its own oil exports are blocked. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also cautioned Washington against launching a war against Tehran by saying that it would be "the mother of all wars." Iran's Revolutionary Guards have recently admitted that its warships took part in a naval exercise in the Persian Gulf to hone skills in "confronting possible threats."

Earlier, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has slammed Donald Trump's recent proposal to enter into talks with Iran by calling it nothing but a PR stunt. "The hours of our negotiations with America were perhaps unprecedented in history; then Trump signs something and say all [those negotiations] are void; can you negotiate with this person? Is this [negotiations offer] anything but a publicity stunt?" he said.

The Trump administration has reportedly requested a meeting with Rouhani eight times, but the Iranian side refused to participate.

Read more

[Aug 06, 2018] US sanctions forcing creation of work arounds

Aug 06, 2018 | www.veteranstoday.com

As Iran is preparing for the first wave of returning US sanctions that could largely hamper its foreign trade, the country's banks appear to have already created a mechanism for imports of essential goods from Russia .

Bank Saderat Iran (BSI) announced in a statement on Sunday that it had sealed a deal with the Moscow offshoot of Bank Melli Iran (BMI) over a re-financing scheme that envisaged providing €10 million to fund imports of essential commodities, medicines, medical equipment and the raw materials for industrial units.

[Aug 06, 2018] Iran Scrambles to Ready Economy for US Sanctions by Jason Ditz

Sanctions might hit Iran oil industry hard.
Aug 06, 2018 | news.antiwar.com

New restrictions aim to protect currency from further falls

With US sanctions against Iran officially going back into place on August 6, the Iranian government is scrambling to take some last minute measures to shore up their economy, and particularly their currency, before the sanctions start to hit.

Trying to protect the rial is a high priority, with a former central bank deputy governor and a number of foreign exchange dealers arrested amid the rial plummeting to all-time lows. On Monday, a rash of strict new measures are to be imposed on foreign currency access to try to limit any further falls.

Iran wants to make sure that what foreign currency does flow overseas is strictly allocated to a handful of important industries. The fall of prices for the rial has been heavy related to the surge in the price of gold, as economic uncertainty has many Iranians running to precious metals, and gold imports surged in recent weeks.

US sanctions aim to limit, if not totally eliminate, Iran's access to foreign markets. That also has Iran trying to make some last-minute purchases while they know they still can. Five new planes were purchased from ATR for the state airline. It's far short of the new fleet of airliners Iran initially sought, but the best they can do with the US blocking Boeing and Airbus from fulfilling contracts.

Since the August 6 date has been known for months, it's likely much of the market reaction to the sanctions is already factored in to Iran's currency pricing. China's refusal to comply with US sanctions, likewise, is a sign that Iran won't be totally cutoff from world markets. Still, it will take awhile before the full extent of the US attempt, and its effectiveness, is known.

[Aug 06, 2018] America's About To Unleash Its NOPEC 'Superweapon' Against The Russians Saudis

Aug 06, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

The US Congress has revived the so-called "NOPEC" bill for countering OPEC and OPEC+.

Officially called the " No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act ", NOPEC is the definition of so-called "lawfare" because it enables the US to extra-territorially impose its domestic legislation on others by giving the government the right to sue OPEC and OPEC+ countries like Russia because of their coordinated efforts to control oil prices.

Lawsuits, however, are unenforceable , which is why the targeted states' refusal to abide by the US courts' likely predetermined judgement against them will probably be used to trigger sanctions under the worst-case scenario, with this chain of events being catalyzed in order to achieve several strategic objectives.

The first is that the US wants to break up the Russian-Saudi axis that forms the core of OPEC+, which leads to the second goal of then unravelling the entire OPEC structure and heralding in the free market liberalization of the global energy industry.

This is decisively to the US' advantage as it seeks to become an energy-exporting superpower, but it must neutralize its competition as much as possible before this happens, ergo the declaration of economic-hybrid war through NOPEC. How it would work in practice is that the US could threaten primary sanctions against the state companies involved in implementing OPEC and OPEC+ agreements, after which these could then be selectively expanded to secondary sanctions against other parties who continue to do business with them.

The purpose behind this approach is to intimidate the US' European vassals into complying with its demands so as to make as much of the continent as possible a captive market of America's energy exporters, which explains why Trump also wants to scrap LNG export licenses to the EU .

If successful, this could further erode Europe's shrinking strategic independence and also inflict long-term economic damage on the US' energy rivals that could then be exploited for political purposes. At the same time, America's recently unveiled " Power Africa " initiative to invest $175 billion in gas projects there could eventually see US companies in the emerging energy frontiers of Tanzania , Mozambique , and elsewhere become important suppliers to their country's Chinese rival, which could make Beijing's access to energy even more dependent on American goodwill than ever before.

If looked at as the opening salvo of a global energy war being waged in parallel with the trade one as opposed to being dismissed as the populist piece of legislation that it's being portrayed as by the media, NOPEC can be seen as the strategic superweapon that it actually is, with its ultimate effectiveness being dependent of course on whether it's properly wielded by American decision makers.

It's too earlier to call it a game-changer because it hasn't even been promulgated yet, but in the event that it ever is, then it might go down in history as the most impactful energy-related development since OPEC, LNG, and fracking.

[Jul 29, 2018] Russia, the West, and Recent Geoeconomics in Europe's Gas Wars by Gordon M. Hahn

The USA can't compete on price and volume. But dir to dvassal status of EU can still force "diversification"
Notable quotes:
"... As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example. ..."
Jul 29, 2018 | gordonhahn.com

Russia has advanced forward in something of a tactical and potential strategic victory in the Russo-Western gas war. This is a three-party war, with the US, EU, and Russia each promoting separate interests. It is one sphere where a united West has failed to 'isolate Russia.' The US seeks move in on the European energy market with LNG supplies and replace Russian pipeline-delivered natural gas supplies to Europe. Washington is using the risks of dependence on Russian gas and Russia's 'bad behavior' as leverage in attempting to convince Europeans to reject Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia is said to be unreliable and prone to shut off gas supplies to Europe.

Due to past Russian-Ukrainian gas crises, the Ukrainian crisis, and general Russian-Western tensions, Europe has decided on a gas diversification policy in which each EU member should have at least three sources of natural gas supply. One additional option that could facilitate this diversification policy is US liquified natural gas (LNG), but the US is still unable to supply enough LNG to offset Russian gas supplies that might be rejected by Europe. In the process, Washington is looking less like a 'team West' player and more like a solely self-interested power maximizer in European eyes and therefore no more reliable than Moscow. As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example.

The Battle Over Re-Sale: No Victors

One recent battle was largely inconclusive, but if a victor has to be designated it may be Moscow. In May, the European Commssion concluded a settlement with Russia's Gazprom in May ending a seven-year anti-trust dispute. In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas. Some EU members, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have re-sold or wanted to re-sell gas. Moscow frowned, for example, on Slovakia's resale of natural gas to Ukraine at cheaper prices than Moscow sought to charge Kiev. The agreement will also restrict Moscow's ability to charge different countries different prices. So EU members in central and eastern Europe can get a price close to that paid by Germany and appeal to an arbitration court in case of a dispute. The agreement guarantees Russia's presence on the European gas market at a time when the latter's reliance on the former has peaked.

The Northern Front: Nord Stream 2

At the same time, the battle over Russia' Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has heated up. When it comes on line in 2019, the 759-mile pipeline will carry GazProm natural gas along the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany and double the supply Nord Stream pipeline's current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The Trump administration has threatened yet more sanctions on third-party companies, this time with those that work on the pipeline. The US sanctions threat is an attempt to promote American LNG interests as well as to protect Ukrainian interests, though it contradicts the view that Ukraine should eschew its dependence on Russian gas.

US officials have been hammering home to Europeans the 'Russian threat' in tandem with the risk of reliance on Russian gas may pose, which will increase with Nord tream 2, but to no avail. Public opinion is not working in the US favor, with Germans trusting Moscow more than Washington, despite all the crimes laid at the Kremlin's door by the West. A recent ZDF Television opinion survey found that only 14 percent of Germans regard the U.S. as a reliable partner, while 36 percent view Russia as reliable ( www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-17/trump-s-global-disruption-pushes-merkel-closer-to-putin-s-orbit ). Thus, notwithstanding Ukraine, Syria and alleged chemical attacks, Russiagate, and the Skrypals, GazProm's supplies to Europe have risen to hold nearly 40 percent of its gas market, growing last year by 8.1 percent last year to a record level of 193.9 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Nevertheless, with the EU decision, the U.S., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others have stepped up their pressure on Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and other western Eureopean EU members to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project. Germans and other western Europeans are unlikely to give up the short-term gain of energy security for the US LNG given the higher price and unproven nature of Washington's numerous allegations against the Kremlin. German officials say they still have no proof from 10 Downing on Russia's culpability for the Skrypal poisoning so loudly trumpeted by British PM Theresa May.

One motivation for the Russians in building Nord Stream 2 is to obviate the need to transport gas through Ukraine, which will hurt Ukraine's own energy supply – given Ukrainian skimming -- and overall economy beyond the present non-sale of Russian gas to Ukraine. Another Russian motivation is to avert the unreliable Ukrainians, who have failed to make payments according to contract in the past causing Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine and thus Europe with the resulting crises blamed solely on Moscow. The Trump sanctions threat has put Germany and the other Nord Stream 2 supporting countries between a rock and a hard place, between Russia and the US. Therefore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while supporting Nord Stream 2, has called for guarantees from Russia that Ukraine will remain a gas transit country. Ukraine's current contract with Russia ends in 2019 at the very time Nord Stream 2 is to go on line and the EU has urged re-starting EU-mediated negotiatons now in order to avoid another gas crisis. Putin agreed to do this at his meeting with Germany's merkel in late May. Nord Stream 2 significantly strengthens Putin's hand in any such talks.

The Southern Front: Turkish Stream, SGC and the Azeri and Bulgarian Factors

Russia is strengtheining its position on the European gas war's southern front by building the Turkish Stream (TS) gas pipeline to Europe. TS consists of a sea and a land leg. The former runs under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and is built, with Russo-Turkish talks on the land leg ongoing.

Russia's Turkish Stream is being challenged by the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) backed by Western powers, including the EU (along with Turkey and Azerbaijan), which sees the SGC as a means of diversifying from dependence on Russia. Not just Turkey, but Azerbaijan is emerging as a major player on the EU gas market, with a shift in policy accenting gas supplies to Europe as well as oil supplies as in the past. The SGC consists of three components: an expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and the to be constructed Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). TANAP is 51 percent Azerbaijani owned, 37 percent Turkish, and 12 percent belonging to British Petroleum. The SGC will carry Azerbaijani gas through Turkey to Europe and will be able to supply up to one-third of the gas consumed by Bulgaria, Greece and Italy ( https://en.trend.az/business/energy/2910573.html ). However, the source of the gas supplying the pipeline demonstrates the limits of Western attempts to isolate Russia (and Iran). Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz gas field is co-owned by British Petroleum (29 percent), Turkey's Turkish Petroleum (19 percent), Azerbaijan's SOCAR (17 percent), Malaysia's Petronas (15 percent), Russia's LukOil (10 percent), and Iran's NICO (10 percent). Moreover, Russia's LukOil is negotiating with SOCAR a stake in Azerbaijan's second-largest gas field, Umid-Babek, which also includes Britain's Nobel Upstream ( https://newsbase.com/topstories/lukoil-talks-join-umid-babek-project?utm_campaign=466286_GERD%2031%20May%202018&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NewsBase%20LTD&dm_i=4NTN,9ZSE,2Q5R2D,13DVS,1 ).

Again the Ukrainian issue is part of the picture here, as a good portion of GasProm supplies to Bulgaria go through Ukraine. Turkish Stream can replace at least some of that supply should Moscow decide to entirely avert Ukraine's pipeline system. It is of interest that no one in the West has offered to include in any of these projects or attempted to fashion a pipeline or pipeline extension that could link up with the Ukrainian network.

During Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's late may visit to Moscow, Putin reported to Radev that during his meetings with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the latter said he would pose no oppsotion to extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria. In response, Radev seemed to suggest making Bulgaria a "a gas redistribution center, a hub" for the Turkish Stream's supplies further into Europe ( http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57608 ). Moreover, one gets the impression that Bulgaria is wary more about its dependence on Turkey and Ankara's new offensive energy policy in Europe than on Russia and might help Moscow detour Ukraine. In 2015, Erdogan declared a major policy initiative of making Turkey a, if not the major energy transit hub for supplies heading from the east to Europe. Russia's annexation of Crimea could help Russia in its talks both with Erdogan over the Turkish Stream and pose the threat of undermining the SGC. It may also help Putin deal with Merkel, Kiev and the EU over the Ukraine pipeline system's future role. Bulgarian President Radev also said in Moscow that Sofia supports building a direct gas pipeline under the Black Sea to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria ( https://echo.msk.ru/news/2206394-echo.html ). The Bulgarian option could be used by Putin to threaten Erdogan with reducing the Turkish Stream's supplies or abandoning it altogether in favor of a Black Sea Russian-Bulgarian Stream and to reduce Russia's dependence on Ukraine as well.

... ... ...

[Jul 27, 2018] Transformed Gas Markets Fuel US-Russian Rivalry, But Europe Plays Key Role Too by Morena Skalamera

US wants to leverage his dominance in Europe into gas market. That's can work as long as gas is plentiful. As soon as it became a scarcity the situation will radically change.
May 30, 2018 | www.russiamatters.org
This month, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressuring Germany to drop its support for a major new Russian gas pipeline if Europe wants to avoid a trade war with Washington, while a senior U.S. diplomat warned that the project could be hit with U.S. sanctions; Russian President Vladimir Putin responded defiantly . This development, sadly, fuels the further politicization of the European gas market -- a space that, in many ways, has reflected the triumphs of a depoliticized, pro-market technocracy, which has managed to stimulate competition and lower prices irrespective of changing political trends. Just last year, Trump called on European countries to buy American liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which, for now, remains more expensive than Russia's pipeline gas. Certainly, the U.S. has much to gain on the global gas market, which has changed drastically over the past decade, as America rapidly transformed from an importer to an exporter. Europe's gas market, meanwhile, has much to gain from additional supply. But Trump's approach, especially if the latest reports are true, both alienates Western European partners and feeds into a sensationalist, simplistic portrayal of the new U.S. role's effect on Russia -- as a zero-sum game, in which these new, plentiful U.S. gas supplies serve as an antidote to Russia's "gas dominance" in Europe and hence to Moscow's political leverage.

In fact, even if Russia remains Europe's dominant gas supplier in the coming years -- as is likely -- it now has to play by EU rules and vie hard for market share, ultimately benefiting European consumers. America's gas boom has catalyzed this thriving competition, but an equally important factor has been a massive, long-term investment in infrastructure and regulation by Brussels. These EU efforts have done a great deal to weaken Moscow's geopolitical "gas power," which has never been uniform across the continent. Today, gas is a prized commodity but not a major weapon in East-West relations: Russia's gas leverage cannot harm the West, and neither does competition with U.S. gas pose a major threat to Russia as a state or, for now, to its gas behemoth, Gazprom. Moreover, in the near to medium term, Russian and U.S. gas companies may face many challenges in common : Both will be competing against new, price-lowering producers and grappling with ever "greener" regulations on the European market, while also trying to profit from Asia's thirst for energy.

[Jul 27, 2018] 3rd Russian LNG shipment to USA to arrive 26th July

Jul 27, 2018 | community.oilprice.com

Simon Hauser said:

How cheap could Russia produce to compete with growing US LNG exports?

Gazprom needs price around 4 $ per mmbtu in Europe to be profitable. Today in Europe are close to 8 $. US LNG long term imho need about 8 to 9 $ per mbbtu.

[Jul 25, 2018] Also, they will be buying vast amounts of LNG!

Jul 25, 2018 | twitter.com

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Twitter

Donald J. Trump ‏ Verified account @ realDonaldTrump 1h 1 hour ago

European Union representatives told me that they would start buying soybeans from our great farmers immediately. Also, they will be buying vast amounts of LNG!

[Jul 19, 2018] Proposed Law Would Allow U.S. to Sue OPEC for Manipulating Oil Market

Jul 19, 2018 | foreignpolicy.com

S 2929 text

perated by high gasoline prices just ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, lawmakers in Congress are trying to make it easier for the United States to sue OPEC. And unlike previous failed efforts to go after the oil-exporting cartel, this time Congress will find a sympathetic ear in the White House.

The bipartisan No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC bill, would tweak U.S. antitrust law to explicitly ban just the kind of collusive behavior that OPEC was created to engage in. The bill, a carbon copy of previous legislation, makes illegal any activity to restrain the production of oil or gas or set oil and gas prices and knocks away two legal defenses that in the past have shielded OPEC from U.S. antitrust measures.

[Jul 19, 2018] Iran in 1953: How an Oil Cartel Operation Became a Job for the CIA

Jul 19, 2018 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Extracted from: The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld By Peter Dale Scott

The international lawyers of Wall Street did not hide from each other their shared belief that they understood better than Washington the requirements for running the world. As John Foster Dulles wrote in the 1930s to a British colleague,

The word "cartel" has here assumed the stigma of a bogeyman which the politicians are constantly attacking. The fact of the matter is that most of these politicians are highly insular and nationalistic and because the political organization of the world has under such influence been so backward, business people who have had to cope realistically with international problems have had to find ways for getting through and around stupid political barriers. 44

This same mentality also explains why Allen Dulles as an OSS officer in 1945 simply evaded orders from Washington forbidding him to negotiate with SS General Karl Wolff about a conditional surrender of German forces in Italy – an important breach of Roosevelt's agreement with Stalin at Yalta for unconditional surrender, a breach that is regarded by many as helping lead to the Cold War. 45 And it explains why Allen, as CIA Director in 1957, dealt summarily with Eisenhower's reluctance to authorize more than occasional U-2 overflights of the USSR, by secretly approving a plan with Britain's MI-6 whereby U-2 flights could be authorized instead by the UK Prime Minister Macmillan. 46

This mentality exhibited itself in 1952, when Truman's Justice Department sought to break up the cartel agreements whereby Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) and four other oil majors controlled global oil distribution. (The other four were Standard Oil Company of New York, Standard Oil of California or Socony, Gulf Oil, and Texaco; together with Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iranian, they comprised the so-called Seven Sisters of the cartel.) Faced with a government order to hand over relevant documents, Exxon's lawyer Arthur Dean at Sullivan and Cromwell, where Foster was senior partner, refused: "If it were not for the question of national security, we would be perfectly willing to face either a criminal or a civil suit. But this is the kind of information the Kremlin would love to get its hands on." 47

At this time the oil cartel was working closely with the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC, later BP) to prevent AIOC's nationalization by Iran's Premier Mossadeq, by instituting, in May 1951, a successful boycott of Iranian oil exports.

In May 1951 the AIOC secured the backing of the other oil majors, who had every interest in discouraging nation