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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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[Feb 10, 2020] Location, location, location Why Russian LNG can beat competition from US Australia

Feb 10, 2020 | www.rt.com

Russia's geographical position makes its exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) more profitable and competitive with American and Australian supplies, according to Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak. Russia ships most of its LNG (around 69 percent) to Asian markets, where the bulk of global LNG supplies are sent. The country could also export its LNG via traditional Russian pipeline gas European routes, due to low cost and short transportation distance, the minister wrote, in an article for the Energy Policy journal.

Also on rt.com Trump urges Europe to buy American natural gas to ensure their energy security

"Russia's convenient geographical position between Europe and Asia allows our LNG to be profitable at current prices and to win competition from the US and Australia," Novak said. "If necessary, we can deliver liquefied gas to any European country, and it will be faster and cheaper than many other suppliers."

The Northern Sea Route (NSR) could be a key transport link to connect massive Arctic energy projects Russia is currently developing with target markets. The route, which lies in Arctic waters and within Russia's Exclusive Economic Zone, could cut the transportation time by a third, compared to shipments via the Suez Canal.

Also on rt.com India could become first non‑Arctic state to develop Russia's Arctic resources

Russia is one of the world's leading exporters of natural gas. Last year, it produced more than 40 billion cubic meters of LNG – a nearly 50 percent increase from 27 billion cubic meters it had in 2018. By 2035, Novak expects the country to boost production to 120 million tons, amounting to around a fifth of the forecasted global LNG production.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

[Feb 09, 2020] Trump demand for 50% of Iraq oil revenue sound exactly like a criminal mob boss

Highly recommended!
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tucker , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

I've heard and read about a claim that Trump actually called PM Abdul Mahdi and demanded that Iraq hand over 50 percent of their proceeds from selling their oil to the USA, and then threatened Mahdi that he would unleash false flag attacks against the Iraqi government and its people if he did not submit to this act of Mafia-like criminal extortion. Mahdi told Trump to kiss his buttocks and that he wasn't going to turn over half of the profits from oil sales.

This makes Trump sound exactly like a criminal mob boss, especially in light of the fact that the USA is now the world's #1 exporter of oil – a fact that the arrogant Orange Man has even boasted about in recent months. Can anyone confirm that this claim is accurate? If so, then the more I learn about Trump the more sleazy and gangster like he becomes.

I mean, think about it. Bush and Cheney and mostly jewish neocons LIED us into Iraq based on bald faced lies, fabricated evidence, and exaggerated threats that they KNEW did not exist. We destroyed that country, captured and killed it's leader – who used to be a big buddy of the USA when we had a use for him – and Bush's crime gang killed close to 2 million innocent Iraqis and wrecked their economy and destroyed their infrastructure. And, now, after all that death, destruction and carnage – which Trump claimed in 2016 he did not approve of – but, now that Trump is sitting on the throne in the Oval office – he has the audacity and the gall to demand that Iraq owes the USA 50 percent of their oil profits? And, that he won't honor and respect their demand to pull our troops out of their sovereign nation unless they PAY US back for the gigantic waste of tax payers money that was spent building permanent bases inside their country?

Not one Iraqi politician voted for the appropriations bill that financed the construction of those military bases; that was our mistake, the mistake of our US congress whichever POTUS signed off on it.

melpol , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm GMT
...Trump learned the power of the purse on the streets of NYC, he survived by playing ball with the Jewish and Italian Mafia. Now he has become the ultimate Godfather, and the world must listen to his commands. Watch and listen as the powerful and mighty crumble under US Hegemony.
World War Jew , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
Right TG, traditionally, as you said up there first, and legally too, under the supreme law of the land. Economic sanctions are subject to the same UNSC supervision as forcible coercion.

UN Charter Article 41: "The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/index.html

US "sanctions" require UNSC authorization. Unilateral sanctions are nothing but illegal coercive intervention, as the non-intervention principle is customary international law, which is US federal common law.

The G-192, that is, the entire world, has affirmed this law. That's why the US is trying to defund UNCTAD as redundant with the WTO (UNCTAD is the G-192's primary forum.) In any case, now that the SCO is in a position to enforce this law at gunpoint with its overwhelmingly superior missile technology, the US is going to get stomped and tased until it complies and stops resisting.

Charlie , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:53 pm GMT
@Tucker This idea that the US is any sort of a net petroleum exporter is just another lie.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=268&t=6

In 2018 total US petroleum production was under 18 million barrels per day, total consumption north of 20 mmb/d. What does it matter if the US exports a bunch of super light fracked product the US itself can't refine if it turns around and imports it all back in again and then some.

The myths we tell ourselves, like a roaring economy that nevertheless generates a $1 trillion annual deficit, will someday come back to bite us. Denying reality is not a winning game plan for the long run.

Christophe GJ , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm GMT
I long tought that US foreign policies were mainly zionist agenda – driven, but the Venezuelan affair and the statements of Trump himself about the syrian oil (ta be "kept" (stolen)) make you think twice.

Oil seems to be at least very important even if it's not the main cause of middle east problems

So maybe it's the cause of illegal and cruel sanctions against Iran : Get rid of competitor to sell shale oil everywhere ?( think also of Norstream 2 here)

Watch out US of A. in the end there is something sometimes referred to as the oil's curse . some poor black Nigerians call oil "the shit of the devil", because it's such a problem – related asset Have you heard of it ? You get your revenues from oil easily, so you don't have to make effort by yourself. And in the end you don't keep pace with China on 5G ? Education fails ? Hmm
Becommig a primary sector extraction nation sad destiny indeed, like africans growing cafe, bananas and cacao for others. Not to mention environmental problems
What has happened to the superb Nation that send the first man on the moon and invented modern computers ?
Disapointment
Money for space or money for war following the Zio. Choose Uncle Sam !
Difficult to have both

OverCommenter , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:24 pm GMT
Everyone seems to forget how we avoided war with Syria all those years ago It was when John Kerry of all people gaffed, and said "if Assad gives up all his chemical weapons." That was in response to a reporter who asked "is there anything that can stop the war?" A intrepid Russian ambassador chimed in loud enough for the press core to hear his "OK" and history was averted. Thinking restricting the power of the President will stop brown children from dying at the hands of insane US foreign policy is a cope. "Bi-partisanship" voted to keep troops in Syria, that was only a few months ago, have you already forgotten? Dubya started the drone program, and the magical African everyone fawns over, literally doubled the remote controlled death. We are way past pretending any elected official from either side is actually against more ME war, or even that one side is worse than the other.

The problem with the supporters Trump has left is they so desperately want to believe in something bigger than themselves. They have been fed propaganda for their whole lives, and as a result can only see the world in either "this is good" or "this is bad." The problem with the opposition is that they are insane. and will say or do anything regardless of the truth. Trump could be impeached for assassinating Sulimani, yet they keep proceeding with fake and retarded nonsense. Just like keeping troops in Syria, even the most insane rabid leftoids are just fine with US imperialism, so long as it's promoting Starbucks, Marvel and homosex, just like we see with support for HK. That is foreign meddling no matter how you try to justify it, and it's not even any different messaging than the hoax "bring democracyhumanrightsfreedom TM to the poor Arabs" justification that was used in Iraq. They don't even have to come up with a new play to run, it's really quite incredible.

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 8:44 pm GMT
@OverCommenter A lot of right-wingers also see military action in the Middle East as a way for America to flex its muscles and bomb some Arabs. It also serves to justify the insane defence budget that could be used to build a wall and increase funding to ICE.

US politics has become incredibly bi-partisan, criticising Trump will get you branded a 'Leftist' in many circles. This extreme bipartisanship started with the Obama birth certificate nonsense which was being peddled by Jews like Orly Taitz, Philip J. Berg, Robert L. Shulz, Larry Klayman and Breitbart news – most likely because Obama was pursuing the JCPOA and not going hard enough on Iran – and continued with the Trump Russian agent angle.

Now many Americans cannot really think critically, they stick to their side like a fan sticks to their sports team.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm GMT
The first person I ever heard say sanctions are acts of war was Ron Paul. The repulsive Madeleine Albright infamously said the deaths of 500,000 Iranian children due to US sanctions was worth it. She ought to be tried as a war criminal. Ron Paul ought to be Secretary of State.

[Feb 09, 2020] The Oil War by Jean-Pierre Séréni

Notable quotes:
"... The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this ( 1 ), however much US president George W Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their ally, the British prime minister Tony Blair, denied it at the time. ..."
Mar 06, 2013 | www.zcommunications.org

Source: Le Monde Diplomatique

The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this ( 1 ), however much US president George W Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their ally, the British prime minister Tony Blair, denied it at the time.

When Bush moved into the White House in January 2001, he faced the familiar problem of the imbalance between oil supply and demand. Supply was unable to keep up with demand, which was increasing rapidly because of the growth of emerging economies such as China and India. The only possible solution lay in the Gulf, where the giant oil-producing countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, and the lesser producing states of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, commanded 60% of the world's reserves.

For financial or political reasons, production growth was slow. In Saudi Arabia, the ultra-rich ruling families of the Al-Saud, the Al-Sabah and the Zayed Al-Nayan were content with a comfortable level of income, given their small populations, and preferred to leave their oil underground. Iran and Iraq hold around 25% of the world's hydrocarbon reserves and could have filled the gap, but were subject to sanctions -- imposed solely by the US on Iran, internationally on Iraq -- that deprived them of essential oil equipment and services. Washington saw them as rogue states and was unwilling to end the sanctions.

How could the US get more oil from the Gulf without endangering its supremacy in the region? Influential US neoconservatives, led by Paul Wolfowitz, who had gone over to uninhibited imperialism after the fall of the Soviet Union, thought they had found a solution. They had never understood George Bush senior's decision not to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf war in 1991. An open letter to President Bill Clinton, inspired by the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century, a non-profit organisation founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, had called for a regime change in Iraq as early as 1998: Saddam must be ousted and big US oil companies must gain access to Iraq. Several signatories to the Statement of Principles became members of the new Republican administration in 2001.

In 2002, one of them, Douglas Feith, a lawyer who was undersecretary of defense to Rumsfeld, supervised the work of experts planning the future of Iraq's oil industry. His first decision was to entrust its management after the expected US victory to Kellog, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of US oil giant Halliburton, of which Cheney had been chairman and CEO. Feith's plan, formulated at the start of 2003, was to keep Iraq's oil production at its current level of 2,840 mbpd (million barrels per day), to avoid a collapse that would cause chaos in the world market.

Privatising oil

Experts were divided on the privatisation of the Iraqi oil industry. The Iraqi government had excluded foreign companies and successfully managed the sector itself since 1972. By 2003, despite wars with Iran (1980-88) and in Kuwait (1990-91) and more than 15 years of sanctions, Iraq had managed to equal the record production levels achieved in 1979-1980.

The experts had a choice -- bring back the concession regime that had operated before nationalisation in 1972, or sell shares in the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) on the Russian model, issuing transferrable vouchers to the Iraqi population. In Russia, this approach had very quickly led to the oil sector falling into the hands of a few super-rich oligarchs.

Bush approved the plan drawn up by the Pentagon and State Department in January 2003. The much-decorated retired lieutenant general Jay Gardner, was appointed director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the military administration set up to govern post-Saddam Iraq. Out of his depth, he stuck to short-term measures and avoided choosing between the options put forward by his technical advisers.

Reassuring the oil giants

The international oil companies were not idle. Lee Raymond, CEO of America's biggest oil company ExxonMobil, was an old friend of Dick Cheney. But where the politicians were daring, he was cautious. The project was a tempting opportunity to replenish the company's reserves, which had been stagnant for several years, but Raymond had doubts: would Bush really be able to assure conditions that would allow the company to operate safely in Iraq? Nobody at ExxonMobil was willing to die for oil. (Its well-paid engineers do not dream of life in a blockhouse in Iraq.) The company would also have to be sure of its legal position: what would contracts signed by a de facto authority be worth when it would be investing billions of dollars that would take years to recover?

In the UK, BP was anxious to secure its own share of the spoils. As early as 2002 the company had confided in the UK Department of Trade and Industry its fears that the US might give away too much to French, Russian and Chinese oil companies in return for their governments agreeing not to use their veto at the UN Security Council ( 2 ). In February 2003 those fears were removed: France's president Jacques Chirac vetoed a resolution put forward by the US, and the third Iraq war began without UN backing. There was no longer any question of respecting the agreements Saddam had signed with Total and other companies (which had never been put into practice because of sanctions).

To reassure the British and US oil giants, the US government appointed to the management team Gary Vogler of ExxonMobil and Philip J Carrol of Shell. They were replaced in October 2003 by Rob McKee of ConocoPhilips and Terry Adams of BP. The idea was to counter the dominance of the Pentagon, and the influential neocon approach (which faced opposition from within the administration). The neocon ideologues, still on the scene, had bizarre ideas: they wanted to build a pipeline to transport Iraq's crude oil to Israel, dismantle OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and even use "liberated" Iraq as a guinea pig for a new oil business model to be applied to all of the Middle East. The engineers and businessmen, whose priorities were profits and results, were more down-to-earth.

In any event, the invasion had a devastating impact on Iraq's oil production, less because of the bombing by the US air force than because of the widespread looting of government agencies, schools, universities, archives, libraries, banks, hospitals, museums and state-owned enterprises. Drilling rigs were dismantled for the copper parts they were believed to contain. The looting continued from March to May 2003. Only a third of the damage to the oil industry was caused during the invasion; the rest happened after the fighting was over, despite the presence of the RIO Task Force and the US Corps of Engineers with its 500 contractors, specially prepared and trained to protect oil installations. Saddam's supporters were prevented from blowing up the oil wells by the speed of the invasion, but the saboteurs set to work in June 2003.

Iraq's one real asset

The only buildings protected were the gigantic oil ministry, where 15,000 civil servants managed 22 subsidiaries of the Iraq National Oil Company. The State Oil Marketing Organisation and the infrastructure were abandoned. The occupiers regarded the oil under the ground as Iraq's one real asset. They were not interested in installations or personnel. The oil ministry was only saved at the last minute because it housed geological and seismic data on Iraq's 80 known deposits, estimated to contain 115bn barrels of crude oil. The rest could always be replaced with more modern US-made equipment and the knowhow of the international oil companies, made indispensible by the sabotage.

Thamir Abbas Ghadban, director-general of planning at the oil ministry, turned up at the office three days after the invasion was over, and, in the absence of a minister for oil (since Iraq had no government), was appointed second in command under Micheal Mobbs, a neocon who enjoyed the confidence of the Pentagon. Paul Bremer, the US proconsul who headed Iraq's provisional government from May 2003 to June 2004, presided over the worst 12 months in the oil sector in 70 years. Production fell by 1 mbpd -- more than $13bn of lost income.

The oil installations, watched over by 3,500 underequipped guards, suffered 140 sabotage attacks between May 2003 and September 2004, estimated to have caused $7bn of damage. "There was widespread looting," said Ghadban. "Equipment was stolen and in most cases the buildings were set on fire." The Daura refinery, near Baghdad, only received oil intermittently, because of damage to the pipeline network. "We had to let all the oil in the damaged sections of the pipeline burn before we could repair them." Yet the refinery continued to operate, no mean achievement considering that the workers were no longer being paid.

The senior management of the national oil company also suffered. Until 1952 almost all senior managers of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) were foreigners, who occupied villas in gated and guarded compounds while the local workforce lived in shantytowns. In 1952 tension between Iraq and Muhammad Mossadegh's Iran led the IPC to review its relations with Baghdad, and a clause of the new treaty concerned the training of Iraqi managers. By 1972, 75% of the thousand skilled jobs were filled by Iraqis, which helped to ensure the success of the IPC's nationalisation. The new Iraq National Oil Company gained control of the oilfields and production reached unprecedented levels.

Purge of the Ba'ath

After the invasion, the US purged Ba'athist elements from INOC's management. Simply belonging to the Ba'ath, Iraq's single political party, which had been in power since 1968, was grounds for dismissal, compulsory retirement or worse. Seventeen of INOC's 24 directors were forced out, along with several hundred engineers, who had kept production high through wars and foreign sanctions. The founding fathers of INOC were ousted by the Deba'athification Commission, led by former exiles including Iraq's prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, who replaced them with his own supporters, as incompetent as they were partisan.

Rob McKee, who succeeded Philip J Carrol as oil adviser to the US proconsul, observed in autumn 2003: "The people themselves are patently unqualified and are apparently being placed in the ministry for religious, political or personal reasons... the people who nursed the industry through Saddam's years and who brought it back to life after the liberation, as well as many trained professionals, are all systematically being pushed to the sidelines" ( 3 ).

This purge opened the door to advisers, mostly from the US, who bombarded the oil ministry with notes, circulars and reports directly inspired by the practices of the international oil industry, without much concern for their applicability to Iraq.

The drafting of Iraq's new constitution and an oil law provided an opportunity to change the rules. Washington had decided in advance to do away with the centralised state, partly because of its crimes against the Kurds under Saddam and partly because centralisation favours totalitarianism. The new federal, or even confederal, regime was decentralised to the point of being de-structured. A two-thirds majority in one of the three provinces allows opposition to veto central government decisions.

Baghdad-Irbil rivalry

Only Kurdistan had the means and the motivation to do so. Where oil was concerned, power was effectively divided between Baghdad and Irbil, seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which imposed its own interpretation of the constitution: deposits already being exploited would remain under federal government control, but new licenses would be granted by the provincial governments. A fierce dispute arose between the two capitals, partly because the KRG granted licenses to foreign oil companies under far more favourable conditions than those offered by Baghdad.

The quarrel related to the production sharing agreements. The usual practice is for foreign companies that provide financial backing to get a share of the oil produced, which can be very significant in the first few years. This was the formula US politicians and oil companies wanted to impose. They were unable to do so.

Iraq's parliament, so often criticised in other matters, opposed this system; it was supported by public opinion, which had not forgotten the former IPC. Tariq Shafiq, founding father of the INOC, explained to the US Congress the technical reasons for the refusal ( 4 ). Iraq's oil deposits were known and mapped out. There was therefore little risk to foreign companies: there would be no prospecting costs and exploitation costs would be among the lowest in the world. From 2008 onwards, Baghdad started offering major oil companies far less attractive contracts -- $2/barrel for the bigger oilfields, and no rights to the deposits.

ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Total, and Russian, Chinese, Angolan, Pakistani and Turkish oil companies nevertheless rushed to accept, hoping that things would turn to their advantage. Newsweek (24 May 2010) claimed Iraq had the potential to become "the next Saudi Arabia." But although production is up (over 3 mbpd in 2012), the oil companies are irritated by the conditions imposed on them: investment costs are high, profits are mediocre and the oil still underground is not counted as part of their reserves, which affects their share price.

ExxonMobil and Total disregarded the federal government edict that threatened to strip rights from oil companies that signed production-sharing agreements relating to oilfields in Kurdistan. Worse, ExxonMobil sold its services contract relating to Iraq's largest oilfield, West Qurna, where it had been due to invest $50bn and double the country's current production. Baghdad is now under pressure: if it continues to refuse the conditions requested by the foreign oil companies, it will lose out to Irbil, even if Kurdistan's deposits are only a third of the size of those in the south. Meanwhile, Turkey has done nothing to improve its relations with Iraq by offering to build a direct pipeline from Kurdistan to the Mediterranean. Without the war, would the oil companies have been able to make the Iraqis and Kurds compete? One thing is certain: the US is far from achieving its goals in the oil sector, and in this sense the war was a failure.

Alan Greenspan, who as chairman of the US Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006 was well placed to understand the importance of oil, came up with the best summary of the conflict: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil" ( 5 ).

[Feb 09, 2020] Myths, Lies and Oil Wars (9783981326369) F. William Engdahl Books

Feb 09, 2020 | www.amazon.com

J. Montz , October 29, 2012

Engdahl is Concise, Relevant, & Thought-provoking

"Myths, Lies, and Oil Wars" by William F. Engdahl is a must read for anyone struggling to make sense of U.S. foreign policy. Why are U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why did NATO take out Gaddafi? Why are we going after Iran and Syria? Is there a grand strategy? Was the "Arab Spring" uprisings really grassroots revolutions or just a second round of color revolutions?

"Control the food and you control the people. Control the oil and you control the nations" is a statement that has been attributed to Henry Kissinger. The premise of the book is summed up by the latter part of Kissinger's statement, the control of oil or more generally the control of energy.

Engdahl maintains that the geopolitical events we have been witnessing is part of the Pentagon's "Full Spectrum Dominance" plan. A cornerstone of the plan is the control of oil at the source. Much of the world's proven oilfields are in the Middle East. For the next two decades the Mideast oilfields is expected to provide Asia with most of its oil.

Engdahl begins laying out the history of conflicts over oil and provides insightful revelations into conflicts that benefited the Oil majors by reducing the world supply of oil. Case in point the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's. The oil exports from these two nations was drastically reduced during wartime leading to higher prices.

Another example Engdahl lists is the fact that David Rockefeller lobbied the Carter Administration to allow the Shah of Iran into the U.S. for medical treatment knowing that it would cause a crisis with the Ayatollah Khomeini's Iranian government and how Rockefeller's Bank was able to benefit after the U.S. froze the assets of Iran.

Other topics covered include:

The "Peak Oil Fraud" and the pseudo-science of its creator King Hubbert.

The fact that in Russia the Abiotic theory of oil formation is accepted as the leading theory for the last fifty years resulting in Russian Geoligist finding oil in places that western dogma says it shouldn't be.

The rapid rise of China is a source of much concern in Washington. The economic rise of China must be contained and in no way can Russia and China be allowed to join forces. Many tacticians have emphasized the importance of not allowing the rise of a unified Eurasian power. A Eurasian power would be in a position to challenge the dominance of the Anglo-American Empire.

According to the info the Engdahl provides China's weakness is its lack of oil. Engdahl illustrates how the Pentagon has been encircling Russia and China and the events we are seeing is Washington's attempt to knock China out of Africa where China was making steady inroads signing economic alliances with African nations that the Anglo-Americans were exploiting.

Engdahl makes the case that the Iraq war was about control of the oil at the source.

The invasion of Afghanistan was about a controlling Caspian sea oil and gas.

Engdahl offers an explanation for NATO alliances with the former Soviet States of Ukraine and Georgia.

What really was behind the Russian invasion of Georgia? The consequences for Russia.

The establishment of joint ventures between U.S. oil companies and former state run oil enterprises in Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan.

Why did the U.S. move Afghani Mujahideen into Chechnya and start a proxy war along a vital Russian pipeline?

Engdahl provides the information needed to connect the "dots" of seemingly unrelated conflicts to form a vivid picture of the "New World Order" being assembled in the 21st Century.

I highly recommend this book along with all of Engdahl's other works. Engdahl wrote two other books that are especially pertinent to "Myths, Lies, and Oil Wars"

The first is "A Century of War, Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" which I consider as a prequel to "Myths, Lies, and Oil Wars"

The second is "Full Spectrum Dominance, Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order" which describes the encircling of Russia, the color revolutions, and much more.

These three books together will surely enlighten the lay person to the machinations of the U.S. Empire. Another point I should mention is, Engdahl's works are concise and thoughtful hitting on the important points while remaining entertaining and not overwhelming the reader with a thousand plus page tome.

A Century of War: : Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

[Feb 09, 2020] The Real Reason for the Iraq War

Notable quotes:
"... 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 ..."
"... 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." ..."
Feb 09, 2020 | www.vice.com

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."

[Feb 09, 2020] Who's Turning Syria's Civil War Into a Jihad? by Philip Giraldi

The West, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia all have their own angles in the conflict -- but Salafism and anarchy may be the big winners.
Feb 28, 2013 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The tale of what is going on in Syria reads something like this: an insurgency active since March 2011 has been funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and allowed to operate out of Turkey with the sometimes active, but more often passive, connivance of a number of Western powers, including Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. The intention was to overthrow the admittedly dictatorial Bashar al-Assad quickly and replace him with a more representative government composed largely of Syrians-in-exile drawn from the expat communities in Europe and the United States. The largely ad hoc political organization that was the counterpart to the Free Syrian Army ultimately evolved into the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (Syrian National Coalition) in November 2012, somewhat reminiscent of Ahmad Chalabi and the ill-starred Iraqi National Congress. As in the lead-up to regime change in Iraq, the exiles successfully exploited anti-Syrian sentiment among leading politicians in Washington and Europe while skillfully manipulating the media narrative to suggest that the al-Assad regime was engaging in widespread atrocities and threatening to destabilize its neighbors, most notably Lebanon. As in the case of Iraq, Syria's possession of weapons of mass destruction was introduced into the indictment of al-Assad and cited as a regional threat.

If there was a model for what was planned for Syria it must have been the invasion of Iraq in 2003 or possibly the United Nations-endorsed armed intervention in Libya in 2010 , both of which intended to replace dictatorial regimes with Western-style governments that would at least provide a simulacrum of accountable popular rule. But the planners must have anticipated a better outcome.

Both Libya and Iraq have become more destabilized than they were under their autocrats, a fact that appears to have escaped everyone's notice. It did not take long for the wheels to fall off the bus in Syria as well. As in Iraq, the Syrian exiles had no real constituency within their homeland, which meant that the already somewhat organized resistance to al-Assad, consisting of the well-established Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups, came to the fore. Al-Assad, who somewhat credibly has described the rebels as terrorists supported by foreign governments, did not throw in the towel and leave.

The Turkish people, meanwhile, began to turn sour on a war which seemed endless, was creating a huge refugee and security problem as Kurdish terrorists mixed in with the refugees, and was increasingly taking on the shape of a new jihad as foreign volunteers began to assume responsibility for most of the fighting.

The proposed alternative government of the Syrian National Coalition was quickly recognized by Washington and the Europeans, primarily because it promised some kind of democratic and pluralistic future for Syria and control over the disparate and sometimes radical elements in the Free Syrian Army. The supporters of the rebellion in the West were willing to hold their collective noses and endorse the enterprise even though it was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists rather than by Western-educated liberals and other secularists. But the painstakingly arrived at distribution of power provided no real solution as the Coalition had no authority over most of the actual rebel combatants and little ability to enforce standards on the cadres who were fighting the Syrian Army in Aleppo and Damascus. Emphasizing its political divisions and also its essential powerlessness, on January 21, 2013 the Coalition was unable to agree on who might be part of a transitional government to run the areas controlled by the insurgents, largely because the Muslim Brotherhood was unwilling to cede authority to other groups. Since that time it has failed to agree on possible conditions for initiating peace negotiations with the al-Assad government.

There will be plenty of finger-pointing in Washington and in the European chanceries over what went wrong, but one issue that will probably not be confronted directly is the competing objectives of the various supporters of the insurgents, which should have been visible right from the beginning. The U.S. and the Europeans clearly envisioned some kind of humanitarian intervention which would lead to a new, more representative government, but that was not the goal of Turkey, which sought a pliable replacement regime that would clamp down on the activities of groups like the separatist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Ankara's primary geopolitical security concern.

Perhaps even more important, people in Washington should have also been asking why Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted to overthrow al-Assad and what kind of government they had in mind to replace him . Saudi Arabia's rival as regional hegemon, Iran, is viewed in Riyadh as ascendant due to the rise to power of a friendly Shia regime in Iraq as a result of the American invasion and regime change. This has permitted the development of a geographically contiguous Arab bloc closely tied to Tehran and its regional interests, running through Iraq, across Syria, and connecting with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. To break up that de facto coalition, the Saudis, who see Syria as the weak link in the chain, have sought to replace Assad's Alawite-led government with a Sunni regime. But there is also a second agenda. Because the ruling minority Alawites are considered to be heretics similar to Shi'ites, a change in religious orientation would be necessary, with the Saudis serving as protectors of the Sunni majority. The Riyadh-backed Sunni regime would of course be expected to conform with the particularly Saudi view of proper religious deportment -- the extremely conservative Wahhabism that prevails in the Kingdom, which is closer to the views of the more radical insurgents while hostile to the secularists. It would also make the country's significant numbers of Christians, Alawites, Shi'ites, and Kurds potential victims of the arrangement.

All of which means that the Saudis and their allies Qatar believe in change in Syria, but on their own terms, and they actually oppose enabling a populist or democratic evolution. In fact, Riyadh has been actively engaged regionally in doing what it can to contain the unrest resulting from the Arab Spring so that the populism does not become untidy and spill over into Saudi Arabia itself. This has meant that from the beginning Saudi and Qatari objectives in Syria have differed from the goals of either Turkey or the Western powers, which should have been seen as a recipe for disaster.

And it gets even more complicated. In spite of their tendency to support religious groups rather than secular ones, Saudi Arabia and its ally Qatar view the Muslim Brotherhood's "political Islam" as one of the divisive elements that has destabilized countries like Egypt, unleashing forces that could ultimately threaten the Saudis and Qataris themselves. As a result, working through their surrogates in Lebanon and in Turkey as well as in Jordan, they have systematically and deliberately starved most of the Free Syrian Army of money and weapons, instead diverting their assistance to the militant Jabhat al-Nusra, a Salafist group alleged to have links to al-Qaeda. Al-Nusra is generally regarded as the most effective insurgent group when it comes to fighting, but it advocates a strict Sunni religious state as part of a worldwide Caliphate under Sharia law when the fighting is concluded. It has also become a magnet for the foreign jihadis who have been drawn into the rebellion, an issue that has raised concerns in Washington because of the likelihood that any successor regime to al-Assad could easily be dominated by a well-armed and disciplined Salafist minority.

Ironically, the Saudis are acutely aware that aid to groups like al-Nusra could easily blowback and feed a new wave of jihadi-led violence -- with al-Nusra playing a similar role to that of al-Qaeda after it cut its teeth in Afghanistan -- but they are unfortunately locked into their own rhetoric regarding what is necessary to take down al-Assad and break the coalition of Arab states aligned with Iran. What it means for the other players in the tragedy is that Syria is de facto in a bloody civil war that is approaching stalemate, while the United States and Europeans have no good options and the Turks are increasingly playing damage control. If there is a solution to the conflict it is not readily discernible, and it is now doubtful whether some kind of resolution by force could be imposed even if Washington and the Europeans were inclined to do so, which they are not.

Syria is in danger of ceasing to exist as a nation-state. Its collapse could inspire a new global jihad and provoke violence throughout the Middle East, while its chemical weapons could easily fall into dangerous hands. Well-armed bands of the most radical of the insurgents taking the lead in the conflict without any political direction or control cannot be what anyone envisioned two years ago, but that is what has emerged, with the United States again looking on like a helpless giant.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

collin says:

February 28, 2013 at 8:47 am

I coming to sad conclusion that the Syria civil war is following the steps of the Lebanon civil war and turning into a Spaghetti (Italian) Western. What we have now a whole bunch of warring sides with guns that are fight until everybody is too exhausted to continue fighting.

Sean Gillhoolley says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:09 am

The problem with taking a hands-off approach to Syria is that we have no say in how things turn out. I am not so sure that we should care one way or another how it turns out. We dont do business with them, I doubt many of our people travel there for vacation, and they are not a direct threat to us. We can have an opinion, but shouldnt get too worked up over the outcome.

EliteCommInc. says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:26 am

If this article is accurate, this Admin. justified the case for the Iraq and Afghanistan Invasions.

Regime change

And it is folly. So we assist via the back door to overthrow President Assad and replace his government with those who have not lived the country for ten to twenty years.

Hmmm . . . I think I have seen this game plan before.

John Thacker says:

February 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

This article makes the Syrian civil war sound most like the Afghanistan revolt followed by civil war against the Soviets after their invasion.

Of course, there limited US attention after the Soviets left meant that Saudi, Iranian, and Pakistani backed militias fought against one another. Instead of being exhausted, the ultimate winner decided that they still hated the USA.

Thomas O. Meehan says:

February 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm

The parallel that falls to mind is the Spanish Civil War in which various powers were willing to fight right down to the last Spaniard. Spain emerged from that civil war with a stable, non-interventionist regime under Franco but I doubt Syria will be so lucky.

As to "It has also become a magnet for the foreign jihadis who have been drawn into the rebellion, an issue that has raised concerns in Washington because of the likelihood that any successor regime to al-Assad could easily be dominated by a well-armed and disciplined Salafist minority." I can only say that this is an excellent opportunity for the West to discretely fund some vermin control. The more of these jihadis Assad kills the better off we all are. We should remember that our defeat of Communist subversion in the Europe of 1946-7 was made easier by the fact that so many leftist trouble makers were buried in Spain in 1936-8.

One mystery remains. Why on earth are the neo-cons agitating for war with Assad? Surely Israel is better off with the relatively ineffective Assad regime than they would be under what would follow.

spite says:

February 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

"Syria is in danger of ceasing to exist as a nation-state". That is the problem right there, Syria never was a nation state, no different than Yugoslavia which could only be kept together by a Tito, so is the case with the Assads.

If this author could go beyond his PC thinking, this simple fact would easily explain why Syria is facing such an intractable problem.

James Canning says:

February 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I feared the unrest in Syria would lead to a vicious civil war in which irreplaceable historical and archaeological treasures are destroyed.

I thought the Saudis were promoting civil war in order to weaken Iran, due in part to Iran's reckless decision to treble production of uranium enriched to 20 percent.

I also thought "the West" blundered in Libya by making a negotiated resolution of the unrest more difficult. Same blunder has taken place with Syria.

James Canning says:

February 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Thomas O. Meehan – - Neocon warmongers want to hurt Iran, and they see the overthrow of Assad as achieving this object.

Jim Evans says:

February 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

What is the percentage of foreign fighters? I hear various percentages thrown about, some over 50%.

The Assad government conducted a constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections, as well (but that is studiously ignored by western press).

Syria, in its current makeup, is an obstacle to western power & control. Humanitarian concerns have little to do with it.

In 2007, Seymour Hersh had a New Yorker article, The Redirection, where U. S. government plans for the destabilization of Syria was reported.

And, as reported by the present author, Mr. Giraldi, the United States has been significantly involved in facilitating weapons into Syria. What has happened presently is much like what Hersh reported was planned to happen in his 2007 New Yorker article.

But obviously it didn't go according to plan.

Some analysts submit the United States is the spider in the center of the web, the prime mover, as far as Syria goes. Would Saudi Arabia act against a strong U. S. objection?

Syria is potentially also a stepping stone to Iran.

Israel is fine with balkanized neighbors who are weak (maybe a little more land can be taken down the road).

There is no doubt the fighters use terrorist tactics of indiscriminate large scale bombing, summary execution, and infastructure destruction (including religous and historical sites).

The U. S. vetoed a U. N. Security Council resolution submitted by Russia condemning last week's Damascus bombing where over 50 died and hundreds were wounded. The U. S. wanted a condemnation focusing on Assad with passing reference to the Damascus bombing (subsequently the al-Nusra front claimed responsibility for the bombing).

So, implicitly, the U. S. government is condoning terrorist acts of al Quaeda linked terror groups who are on the state department terrorist watch list.

The U. S. government is condoning large-scale terrorism in Syria, plain and simple. It's immoral. Is that what the U. S. has come to?

It would be easy to turn off the weapons and terrorist supply into Syria, but it would take political will to change the inertia and an implicit aknowledgement of failure.

That acknowledgement of failure might be the biggest political stumbling block of all.

Joe the Plutocrat says:

February 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

very much a 'devil you know vs. devil you don't' with the understanding that we pretty much 'know' both devils; we just don't 'know' what Syria (or Iraq, Libyia, etc.) would be like with the latter. that said; I think the real question is not so much is it wise to back rebels; which inevitably invites or at the very least encourages/nurtures jihadists? rather; is it possible to anticipate the "jihad card" and somehow use it to serve our interests? even if "our interests" are best served by, as Michael Corleone observed (to Frank Pantangeli re: a turf war in NYC); " do(ing) nothing ". the truth is; many of these revolutions (Arab Spring movements, more than Iraq) are as genuine as the 13 colonies revolting against King George. at this point in our history; you would think we'd be pretty good at "playing" others, when the sad fact is; we seem to be the ones being played. no doubt the neocon enablers of the military-insustrial complex certainly act to server their interests, which is probably a good place to look for an answer.

niccolo and donkey says:

February 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

The great debate that I've been having for years with friends on and offline is whether American foreign policy planners and officials are idealists or are actively assisting certain types of Sunni Islamist forces to fill the vacuum when secularist regimes are toppled (or being attacked, as in Syria's case).

We've seen the exodus of Christian communities and the rise of Sunni extremists in every one of these countries either invaded by the USA or that have been part of this "Arab Spring".

What do you guys think?

niccolo and donkey says:

February 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Thomas O. Meehan asks:

"One mystery remains. Why on earth are the neo-cons agitating for war with Assad? Surely Israel is better off with the relatively ineffective Assad regime than they would be under what would follow."

Israel was actually one of the last to get onside with regime change in Syria, long after the French, British and the GCC got the ball rolling. Many in Israel prefer Assad as "the devil you know", but the plus side of a removal of the Ba'athist regime is that the route from Iran to Hezbollah is cut off, leaving them isolated and surrounded by the IDF and Sunni Islamist forces in Syria, with Sunni proxies in Lebanon itself.

I guess that the Israelis did the calculus and figured that a degrading of Hezbollah supply routes is a livable option.

No Sunni forces have been able to challenge the IDF in decades, but Hezbollah gave them a bloody nose and their entire foreign policy environment is clouded by Iran, Hezbollah's sponsor.

Rossbach says:

February 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

By what authority does the Washington regime use our nation's money and prestige (what remains of it) to meddle in the internal affairs of Syria or any other country? This government is tottering on the edge of bankruptcy and does not even have control its own borders; and it's trying to bring "stability" to a country halfway around the world. Incredible imbecility!

Scott McConnell says:

February 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Really the most comprehensive short analysis I've seen anywhere. Hard to believe though that it's passing out of Turkey's hands; it seems to me in terms of proximity, interest, toughness, Ankara should be the strongest actor.

H. Zigy says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Syria's war is one of the most irrational and thus criminal Westren wars. Assad is way closer to an ideal/practical government than any future State would be. Assad government includes all factions of society, allows market, controls radicals and is less corrupt and more representative than US allies.

Wesley says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm

"Well-armed bands of the most radical of the insurgents taking the lead in the conflict without any political direction or control cannot be what anyone envisioned two years ago, but that is what has emerged, with the United States again looking on like a helpless giant."

Well this is partly the result of Obama's policy of passivity and timidity in Syria. The CIA director, the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs all pushed and supported a plan to train and arm moderate, pro-Western rebel groups in Syria. But Obama unfortunately was too risk-averse and too worried about domestic politics to approve the plan. Obama's policy carries at least as many risks as the alternative does. At least the Obama administration has now decided to send non-lethal aid to the armed rebel groups. Maybe weapons will come next. But with Kerry and Hagel at State and Defense, I'm not holding my breath.

EliteCommInc. says:

February 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm

I don't think it is possible to segregate out the jihadists. Better to have the iissue resolved amongst themselves minus a US foot print

Escher says:

February 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm

The US is less dependent on middle Eastern oil than in the past, and this dependence will reduce further thanks to fracking and shale oil. As long as the navy has a secure base in Doha from which to control the Straits of Hormuz, the strategic interests of the country are secure.

Fran Macadam says:

March 1, 2013 at 1:28 am

One, it isn't "terrorism" when it's done by "our" sons of bitches. "Ours" is an increasingly loose definition.

Chaos serves the purpose of weakening rivals for the politically focused, and driving up war equipment profits for the financially focused. There are no humanitarian considerations among either of those groups who make policy in our name.

James Canning says:

March 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm

niccolo and donkey – - And let's remember that Turkey very nearly brokered a peace deal between Israel and Syria in 2008.

James Canning says:

March 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Jim Evans – - Didn't Obama intend to improve US relations with Syria, when he entered the White House?

Roarke's Drift says:

March 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Scott McConnell wrote "Ankara should be the strongest actor"

Yes, Phil thinks Turkey is "playing damage control", but its military strength, self-interest and 500 mile shared border shuts down nearly all arguments as to who should (and will) take the lead in handling this among the various candidate state actors.

God knows we could use a break from contemplating disasters resulting from our own blundering meddling.

TGGP says:

March 2, 2013 at 12:38 am

Kurds are an ethnic group, rather than a religious one (though the majority happen to be Sunni). I don't see how they are clear losers if the Saudis are more influential. Maybe the variety of Sunni Islam they prefer isn't Wahabbist, and in that case you should have made that explicit.

PeaceAndProsperity says:

March 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

I appreciate Mr. Giraldi's invaluable contribution to shedding some true light on the war against Syria, especially in early stages of the conflict where his reporting on the influx of terrorists and weapons through Turkey and on their training there stood out from the deluge of vicious hypocritical, lying and outrageous war propaganda in the Western and GCC media.

But it is beyond me why Mr.Giraldi is leaving out form his analysis two crucial issues:

1) the pivotal change in regional energy security puzzle related to the world largest South PARS gas field shared by Iran and Qatar discovered in 2007

2) the collapse of the oil-backed Petro-dollar also sustain mainly by the the US quest for full spectrum global dominance since the end of the Soviet Union.

You cannot understand the whole picture without these two factors. To learn more read Thierry Meyssan et. al. at VoltairNet and Christof Lehmann et. al at NSNBC.me. Also Veterans Today is very informative with broad spectrum of perspectives on global and domestic issues.

[Feb 09, 2020] The only message our children will take away from the war in Iraq is that if you repeat a boldfaced lie enough, it will someday become accepted truth

Notable quotes:
"... The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... 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 ..."
Feb 28, 2013 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The only message our children will take away from the war in Iraq is that if you repeat a boldfaced lie enough, it will someday become accepted truth. And as a corollary, saving face is much more important than admitting a mistake, no matter how destructive the outcome.

Unfortunately for our children, manipulating the truth 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 convinced Saddam Hussein was linked to the 9/11 attacks and had weapons of mass destruction, two of the ever-evolving reasons for getting into the war. Many still believe this. Engaging in mass deception in order to justify official policy both degrades and endangers democracy. But 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 in search of a justification 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.

Indeed, the Iraq war boosters are still a fixture on our television screens. Dan Senor , who served as a spokesman for the U.S occupation authorities and willfully misrepresented events on the ground during that time, is a regular commentator on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," a veritable roundtable of Washington establishment punditry. Kenneth Pollack, a longtime Brookings fellow and CIA analyst who wrote the 2002 book The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (which is barely mentioned today on the Brookings website), is a familiar face on the commentary circuit and among think tank salons. Ex-Generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, who each left their most recent posts in disgrace, are raking in thousands of dollars for speeches, lectures, and consulting work.

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 upheaval of the Iraqi economy, as well as its transportation, education, and medical institutions. Don't forget the countless people suffering from trauma and depression, sectarian strife, 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.

This has been cross-posted with permission from Foreign Policy in Focus .

[Feb 08, 2020] 'Gas Wars' In The Mediterranean by Mike Whitney

Feb 08, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

The unexpected alliance between Turkey and Libya is a geopolitical earthquake that changes the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean and across the Middle East.

Turkey's audacious move has enraged its rivals in the region and cleared the way for a dramatic escalation in the 9 year-long Libyan civil war. It has also forced leaders in Europe and Washington to decide how they will counter Turkey's plan to defend the U.N-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) , and to extend its maritime borders from Europe to Africa basically creating "a water corridor through the eastern Mediterranean linking the coasts of Turkey and Libya."

Leaders in Ankara believe that the agreement "is a major coup in energy geopolitics" that helps defend Turkey's "sovereign rights against the gatekeepers of the regional status quo." But Turkey's rivals strongly disagree. They see the deal as a naked power grab that undermines their ability to transport natural gas from the East Mediterranean to Europe without crossing Turkish waters. In any event, the Turkey-Libya agreement has set the stage for a broader conflict that will unavoidably involve Egypt, Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Russia and the United States. All parties appear to have abandoned diplomatic channels altogether and are, instead, preparing for war.

On November 27, Turkey and Libya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that commits Turkey to providing military assistance to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA). The MoU also redraws Turkey's maritime boundaries in a way that dramatically impacts the transport of gas from the East Mediterranean to Europe. Israel is particularly worried that this new deal will undermine its plans for a 1,900-kilometer EastMed pipeline connecting the Leviathan gas field, off the coast of Israel, to the EU. YNET News summarized Israel's concerns in an ominously titled article: "Turkey's maneuver could block Israel's access to the sea". Here's an excerpt:

"Two of Israel's wars (1956 Sinai campaign and 1967 Six-Day War) broke out over navigation rights. Israel must take note of a new reality taking hold in the Mediterranean. It must regard Turkey's actions as a substantial strategic threat and consider what it may do to respond to it

This EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zones) designation essentially carved up much of the energy-rich Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Libya, prompting a wave of international condemnations first and foremost from Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus, who may be directly or indirectly affected ..Turkey's disregard for the economic waters of Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt.

Ankara is in effect annexing those areas pending an appeal to international tribunals, which can take many years to resolve. In practical terms, Turkey created a sea border the width of the entire Mediterranean ." ( "Turkey's maneuver could block Israel's access to the sea" , ynet news )

The analysis from America's premier Foreign Policy magazine was no less foreboding. Check it out:

"Turkey is meshing together two Mediterranean crises in a desperate bid to reshape the region in its own favor, with potentially nasty implications both for the ongoing civil war in Libya and future energy development in the eastern Mediterranean.

This month, Turkey's unusual outreach to the internationally recognized government of Libya has resulted in a formal agreement for Ankara to provide military support, including arms and possibly troops, in its bid to hold off an offensive from Russian-backed rebels in the eastern part of the country. The military agreement came just weeks after Turkey and that same Government of National Accord reached an unusual agreement to essentially carve up much of the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean between them -- threatening to cut out Greece and Cyprus from the coming bonanza ." ("Newly Aggressive Turkey Forges Alliance With Libya", Foreign Policy )

While these new developments are likely to intensify the fighting on the ground in Libya, they also portend a deepening of divisions within the region itself where new coalitions are forming and battle-lines are being drawn. On the one side is the Turkey-Libya Axis, while on the other is Greece, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, France, Germany, UK and probably the United States although the Trump administration has not yet clarified its position. In any event, the war between Libya's internationally-recognized government and Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) is just a small part of a much larger struggle over vital hydrocarbons in a strategically-located area of the Mediterranean. Here's a clip from an article at War On The Rocks that helps to underscore the stakes involved:

"The discovery of significant deposits of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean beginning in 2009 was a game-changer that upended regional geopolitics. It prompted new and unexpected alliances between Israel, Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt to maximize their chances of energy self-sufficiency. The bulk of the gas lies in Egypt's Zohr field, the Leviathan and Tamar fields in Israeli waters, and the Aphrodite near the island of Cyprus. With recoverable natural gas reserves in the region estimated at upward of 120 trillion cubic feet, the strategic implications could not be bigge r. This is about the same amount as the proven gas in the whole of Iraq, the 12th largest reserve globally .(Israel's gas field) Leviathan is estimated to hold 22 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, and a potential half a million barrels of oil." ("Hydrocarbon Diplomacy: Turkey's Gambit Might Yet Pay a Peace Dividend", warontherocks.com)

Turkey's ambitious gambit makes it more likely that its rivals will increase their support for the Libyan warlord, Haftar, who is, by-most-accounts, a CIA asset that was sent to Libya in 2014 to topple the government in Tripoli and unify the country under a US puppet. Haftar's forces currently control more than 70% of the Libyan territory while almost 60% of the population is under the control of the GNA led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. According to Turkish news: "More than half of Haftar's troops are mercenaries from Russia and Sudan, who are mainly paid by the Gulf states."

In April, 2019, Haftar launched an offensive on the government in Tripoli but was easily repelled. In recent days, however, Haftar has resumed his attacks on the city of Misrata and on the Tripoli airport in clear violation of the Berlin ceasefire agreement. He has also received shipments of weapons from the UAE despite an arms embargo that was unanimously approved two weeks ago at the same Berlin Conference. We expect that support for Haftar will continue to grow in the months ahead as Berlin, Paris and particularly Washington settle on a plan for reinforcing proxies to prosecute the ground war and for blunting Turkey's power projection in the Mediterranean.

The Turkey-Libya agreement is a clumsy attempt to impose Turkey's preferred maritime boundaries on the other countries bordering the Mediterranean. Naturally, Washington will not allow this unilateral assertion of power to go unchallenged.

And while Washington's strategy has not yet been announced, that merely indicates that the foreign policy establishment was caught off-guard by Turkey's November 27 announcement . It does not mean that Washington will accept the status quo. To the contrary, US war-planners are undoubtedly putting the finishing touches on a new strategy aimed at achieving their objectives in Libya while at the same time dealing a stinging blow to a NATO ally that has grown closer to Russia, caused endless headaches in Syria, and is now disrupting Washington's plans for controlling vital resources in the East Mediterranean.

Washington sees Turkey's assertive foreign policy as a sign of "defiance" which requires a iron-fisted response. But any attack on Turkey or Turkish interests will only intensify the bad blood between Ankara and Washington, it will only put more pressure on the threadbare NATO alliance, and it will only push Turkish president Erdogan further into Moscow's corner. Indeed, the Trump team should realize that an overreaction on their part could trigger a fateful realignment that could reshape the region while hastening the emergence of a new order.

[Jan 29, 2020] The New Kremlin Stooge

Jan 29, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile January 25, 2020 at 12:15 pm

На форуме в Давосе заявили об остановке "Северного потока-2" минимум на 2 года
Лилия Караева, 24 января 2020

At the Davos forum an at least 2-year long shutdown of Nord Stream-2 has been announced
Liliya Karayeva, January 24, 2020

The launch of the Russian gas pipeline "Nord Stream-2", which is needed to supply Europe with gas that bypasses the Ukraine, will take place not earlier than after 2 years. It is not ruled out that the project will cease to exist if Western sanctions continue.

Former US ambassador to the Ukraine John Herbst said this at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He noted that there is no possibility of Russia completing the gas pipeline.

For the construction, it is necessary to have a company that will ensure the laying of pipes on the sea bed. However, US sanctions do not allow foreign firms to do this, Eadaily reports.

Herbst stressed that the Russians "can beat themselves on the chest," but under current conditions the project may not be completed.

Earlier the pipe-layers of the Swiss company Allseas left the Baltic Sea because of US sanctions. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia can complete the gas pipeline, but it will take more time.

Cue you know who.

That former US ambassador to Banderastan certainly knows a lot about the technological incapabilities of the gas station with missiles, doesn't he?

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Mark Chapman January 25, 2020 at 4:26 pm
Amazing; at the time sanctions were applied, the Russian Energy Minister claimed that the Russian Federation had the ships and the capability to complete the pipeline in only two months. Therefore it would have opened only a month late.

https://www.financial-world.org/news/news/economy/4427/kremlin-has-ships-to-finish-nord-stream-2-in-two-months-says-energy-minister-novak/

Was he lying? Jeez; no wonder the government was dissolved. Similar claims were made in Deutche Welle.

https://www.dw.com/en/russia-can-complete-nord-stream-2-pipeline-by-itself-kremlin/a-51800591

In fact, a joint statement just after the sanctions were announced to great fanfare said that the remainder of the pipeline could be completed using divers, although it would be slow. But Russia is known to have pipe-laying vessels in its inventory which would surely require little modification to finish the remaining work. Russia simply does not seem to be in any hurry to complete the project.

I personally think Russia is just approaching completion of the pipeline in a leisurely fashion, now that there is a new gas-transit agreement with Ukraine and there is no particular rush to get it done. Russia is committed to transit 60 BCm through Ukraine this year, so what's the hurry to get a pipeline done which bypasses Ukraine? According to the Energy Minister – who must be speaking under advisement from field professionals – Russia could finish it in about 2 months. It would not be in Ukraine's interests to provoke a transit crisis now, the winter is over and demand will slacken, and there just is no compelling reason to hurry. But if there were, it would not take long to finish.

The current cocky attitude which assumes the project has been stopped cold with a wave of Washington's mighty hand and now may never be completed is, however, pure and classic Ukie nationalist. The Ukrainians seem fated to slobber lovingly all over America whenever it makes a gesture, and start up again with the tough talk toward Russia. Nord Stream II is dead in the water, and now it might never be completed – Russia might have to transit gas through Ukraine until the infants of today are grandparents! It is so much more pleasant to put your faith in something which sounds like you are going to have an easy life without doing much of anything; just loll in bed all day on cushions of goose-down, and let the Russians pay to use your pipes to transit their gas – so easy! It's a wonder there are any realists left. Keep in mind that those are the same people who will scream that they were betrayed when the pipeline is completed, and that the dirty Russians took advantage of Ukraine's frank and open nature.

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Moscow Exile January 25, 2020 at 11:35 pm
This US sanctions business often confuses me. I work at ExxonMobil twice a week -- right next to the Exceptional Nation's embassy are the Exxon offices situated -- and they tell me there that the project they were undertaking in the Barents Sea, I think, was stopped and is now on hold because of sanctions, whereas the Exxon activity in Sakhalin is still in operation. The reason why? Sakhalin is on dry land, the Russian woman whom I teach there told me. "So?" I asked. She reckons it's because at Sakhalin they use Russian gear and technology, whereas the offshore Barents Sea rig is US operated.
Mark Chapman January 26, 2020 at 9:16 am
For Russia, at least, it will serve as an object lesson to not ever again be reliant on US technology for anything, and be to the least extent possible reliant on technology of its close allies. That would likely mean Asian drilling technology. Despite what American media would have you believe, Americans are not the only people on earth capable of developing and using extraction technology. Russia is also perfectly capable of engineering its own production methods and equipment. Sanctions are only effective, to the limited degree they are effective at all, where you as the sanctioner can get all available sources to deny their use. Arm-twisting to go along with the American sanctions has cost European business billions, but the important thing to remember about employment of sanctions and successful work-arounds is that business will not bounce back to its previous arrangements once sanctions are lifted unless their duration is very short. The sanctions against Russia, quite apart from the Americans having supplied their own justification for employing them in the first place (so that the Russians as a whole have a sense of having been unjustly punished, which taints the American brand), have had the effect of forcing Russia to seek other suppliers and to develop domestic industry. It has survived the sanctions regime quite well, and is much stronger for it. It also serves as a reminder to other countries which are not ideologically aligned with the United States that a dependence on American products could constitute an unacceptable vulnerability for them as well.

China is the biggest producer in Asia, with an output of nearly 4 million barrels per day. Although its production has been stagnant or even declining in recent years, that is about to change; the national government announced last year a 20% increase in capital investment in production, with the goal of increasing its output by 50% to 6 million BPD by 2025. I think it would be safe to bet that none of that technology will be American or owned by its closest allies, since a key platform of the increased expenditure is energy independence.

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/100515/biggest-oil-producers-asia.asp

Jen January 25, 2020 at 8:21 pm
Looks like two former ministers in the previous Medvedev government got bumped upstairs: Vladimir Medinsky (Culture Minister) and Maxim Oreshkin (Economic Development Minister) have become Presidential aides.
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news

Alexander Novak is back in as Minister of Energy so he must have been telling the truth back in December about Russia being able to finish the Nordstream II pipeline construction in two months.
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/62625

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Mark Chapman January 25, 2020 at 9:19 pm
Either that or his lies are so reliable that the Kremlin knows immediately to believe the opposite of what he says. But that's not likely, because an Energy Minister who started a massive project like that and had no prospects at all of completing it would not likely be reappointed.

Another potential reason for Russian relaxation toward pipeline completion might well be the global collapse of LNG prices due to overproduction: according to the new (ish) CEO of Gunvor Group (remember them? The energy company that Putin owned 75% of its shares?), US LNG exporters are 50 cents away from shutdowns.

"LNG prices are on track to hit an all-time low in Asia later this summer. Gas is also at its weakest seasonally in the U.S. and Europe since the late 1990s. "There's a surplus already in the U.S. and Europe. And the mild winter in Asia means another surplus is building up there," Marco Dunand, chief executive officer of trading house Mercuria Energy Group Ltd., told Bloomberg. Torbjorn Tornqvist, chief executive officer of Gunvor Group Ltd., said U.S. LNG exporters are 50 cents away from shutdowns."

https://news.yahoo.com/oil-bears-back-demand-fears-200000056.html

Under such conditions, it's unlikely the Kremlin is overly concerned at the thought of American LNG carriers steaming into European ports and snatching the energy rug from underneath them. Think what a great time this would be to have an energy-extraction empire in which – thanks to western sanctions – your production costs were in rubles and your selling price was in Euros. Why, you'd still be able to take a profit no matter how low prices went!

Oh wait

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[Jan 19, 2020] US strategy and what the gas pipeline war is costing us by Manlio Dinucci

Jan 19, 2020 | www.voltairenet.org

30 December 2019

After having forbidden the Chinese company Huawei to compete in the calls for tender for the 5G network, the United States are now forbidding the Europeans to increase their supplies of Russian gas. While the first decision was aimed at maintaining the coherence of NATO, the second is not a result of Russophobia, but of the 1992 " Wolfowitz doctrine " - preventing the EU from becoming a competitor of the " American Empire ". In both cases, the point is to infantilise the EU and keep it in a situation of dependence.

Although they were locked in a convoluted struggle concerning the impeachment of President Trump, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate laid down their arms in order to vote, in quasi-unanimity, for the imposition of heavy sanctions on the companies participating in the construction of North Stream 2, the doubling of the gas pipeline which delivers Russian gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea. The main victims were the European companies which had helped finance the 11 billion dollar project with the Russian company Gazprom. The project is now 80 % finished. The Austrian company Omy, British/Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, French Engie, German companies Uniper and Wintershall, Italian Saipem and Swiss Allseas are also taking part in the laying of the pipeline.

The doubling of North Stream increases Europe's dependence on Russian gas, warn the United States. Above all, they are preoccupied by the fact that the gas pipeline – by crossing the Baltic in waters belonging to Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany – thus avoids the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary), the Baltic States and Ukraine. In other words, the European countries which have the closest ties to Washington through NATO (to which we must add Italy).

Rather than being economic, the goal for the USA is strategic. This is confirmed by the fact that the sanctions on North Stream 2 are included in the National Defense Authorization Act , the legislative act which, for fiscal year 2020, hands the Pentagon the colossal sum of 738 billion dollars for new wars and new weapons (including space weapons), to which must be added other posts which bring the US military expenditure to approximately 1,000 billion dollars. The economic sanctions on North Stream 2 are part of a politico-military escalation against Russia.

An ulterior confirmation can be found in the fact that the US Congress has established sanctions not only against North Stream 2, but also against the Turk-Stream, which, in its final phase of realisation, will bring Russian gas across the Black Sea to Eastern Thrace,the small European area of Turkey. From there, by another pipeline, Russian gas should be delivered to Bulgaria, Serbia and other European countries. This is the Russian riposte to the US action which managed to block the South Stream pipeline in 2014. South Stream was intended to link Russia to Italy across the Black Sea and by land to Tarvisio (Udine). Italy would therefore have become a switch platform for gas in the EU, with notable economic advantages. The Obama administration was able to scuttle the project, with the collaboration of the European Union.

The company Saipem (Italian Eni Group), once again affected by the US sanctions against North Stream 2, was severely hit by the blockage of South Stream – in 2014, it lost contracts to the value of 2.4 billion Euros, to which other contracts would have been added if the project had continued. But at the time, no-one in Italy or in the EU protested against the burial of the project which was being organised by the USA. Now German interests are in play, and critical voices are being raised in Germany and in the EU against US sanctions against North Stream 2.

Nothing is being said about the fact that the European Union has agreed to import liquified natural gas (LNG) from the USA, an extract from bituminous shale by the destructive technique of hydraulic fracturation (fracking). In order to damage Russia, Washington is attempting to reduce its gas exports to the EU, obliging European consumers to foot the bill. Since President Donald Trump and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, signed in Washington in July 2018 the Joint Statement of 25 July: European Union imports of U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) , the EU has doubled its importation of LNG from the USA, co-financing the infrastructures via an initial expenditure of 656 million Euros. However, this did not save European companies from US sanctions. Manlio Dinucci

Translation
Pete Kimberley

Source
Il Manifesto (Italy)

[Jan 18, 2020] Importance of Cyprus is gas wars

Jan 18, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jon_in_AU , Jan 18 2020 15:35 utc | 140

Hausmeiseter@121

I can't say that I've dug into that in detail, although I do recall reading the post.

What I would like to say, however, is that the Cyprus question is one of the pivotal pieces in the current geopolitical situation.

A few points warranting further investigation to try and tie into a coherent whole:

1) The Cyprus banking crisis c. 2012-2013. This includes Russian oligarch/mafia money, and whether it was squirreled out of there before the buy-in orchestrated collapse of Laiki Bank of Cyprus as well as who was behind this push (IMF/NATO/GER/etc)

2) The Turkstream (1 & 2) gas projects (from which Turkey will extract considerable transit fees for decades to come). This also supports one of the main pillars of the Russian Federations' economy. Links also to US hegemon trying to kill off Nordstream 2.

3) The plans/MOU for Israel, Cyprus and Greece to build an undersea gas pipe network. This will effectively by-pass Turkstream, and is probably behind the push to have Israeli claims over the Golan Heights crystallise (along with the US staying put in Syria and Iraq). I also recall reading about ISIS shipments of stolen Syrian oil taking a cross-country route through Turkey to end up being refined in Israel, and on-sold to Greece (and others). This points at another whole behind-the-scenes dynamic.

4) Recent attempts by Turkey to get involved in Libya, create a new exclusive maritime zone, develop gas of the coast of Cyprus, and now military involvement. This is drawing rebuke from Israel, as it will scupper their planned pipe network. Greece likewise is now trying to send in troops (as observers/peace-keepers, LOL).
Cyprus is also rallying around to try and stop the Turkish plan from going ahead.

5) Recent arrests of Israeli intel assets in Cyprus of late also adds further heat to the situation.

I would really need to dedicate months of my life to try and untangle all of this, and by the time I did the situation would have moved on. (reminds me of the quote from Wagelaborers' blog: "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Karl Rove)

[Jan 18, 2020] Lukashenko wants the prices for oil and natural gas for Belarus to be the same as for Russian regions, but refuses to behave like a Russian region.

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN , says: January 15, 2020 at 6:42 pm GMT

@Shitposter him some fighter planes for free and he will build an airbase of the Belarus army.
6. Belarus makes gasoline and other products from Russian oils and resells them at a huge profit. Besides, he wants to export it all via Baltic statelets, providing their ports business that Putin is taking away from them by building Russian deep-sea ports, like Ust-Luga.
7. Not to mention that he talks about 10 times more than is wise, saying mostly BS (the latter is natural for a moron).
There are many more, but these are enough to explain how most Russians feel about him. Belarus either gets rid of that idiot, or suffers because of his stupidity.

[Jan 18, 2020] Germany behaviour in Naftogas-Gasprom conflict makes zero sense unless you believe that Germany was acting as a proxy on behalf of a greater power

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

,

Thulean Friend , says: Show Comment December 23, 2019 at 5:34 am GMT
About this whole Ukraine-Russia gas transit thing that Felix is panicking about. It seems Germany had a key role in facilitating the deal.

However, that risk receded this week after Moscow and Kyiv concluded a landmark agreement that will ensure Russian gas continues to transit through Ukraine even after Nord Stream 2 is completed. Germany played a critical role in brokering the agreement and pressuring Russia to maintain Ukraine's transit status.

Why would Germany spend all this time and resources to construct these pipelines and then suddenly pressure Russia to maintain the transit fees? That makes zero sense unless you believe that Germany was acting as a proxy on behalf of a greater power. My pet theory: Germany most likely caved to US pressure and tried to triangulate at the last minute in a bid to stave off a larger German-US conflict.

Thulean Friend , says: Show Comment December 24, 2019 at 4:43 am GMT
@Swedish Family

What Germany wants, it seems to me, is (1) cheap energy for German industry, (2) a maximally weak Russian hand visavi Ukraine (which is now in effect a NATO/EU dependency), and (3) good enough relations with the Kremlin for Russia not to go rogue. Goals (1) and (3) obviously sit uneasily with goal (2), which is why we see so much back and forth.

I agree with (1) and (3) but I'd disagree over (2). I am not convinced Germany cares much about Ukraine's well-being. It is a very small economy (barely over 100 billion USD) and Germany's trade exposure to Ukraine is minimal. It isn't part of NATO, EU or any other major Western framework.

If Ukraine collapsed it would create significant refugee streams but Ukrainians are very easily assimilated into Western European countries, unlike Syrians or Turks, so even in a worse-case scenario the fallout would not be a major problem. If Croats or Serbs can mix into Germany easily, I don't see why Ukrainians would be a problem. Germany's shrinking work force would in fact even need such an influx. The only kink would be Russia's expanding borders if both Belarus+Ukraine was swallowed up but Germany probably would calculate that Russia wouldn't attack a NATO ally (and they wouldn't be wrong). I'm not saying Germany would want such an outcome, only that the worst-case scenario wouldn't be a big problem for them.

I think this has the fingerprints of the US all over it. Trump personally hates Ukraine, which has been documented in leaked documents during the impeachment process and major personalities of the Trumpist movement like Tucker Carlson openly cheers for Russia. So it wasn't Trump or his people who pushed for this but rather the permanent national-security state that was behind it and they are obsessed with keeping Russia down, or inventing fake Russiagate hoaxes to justify their paranoia. Germany made a 180 and suddenly pressured Russia to do something which Germany itself had no interest in keeping for the longest time. That suggests Germany caved to US pressure and tried to do a compromise. The US interest would be for NS2 to be scrapped completely. This was a German attempt at triangulating.

Either way, Ukraine got a big win purely because of Great Power politics over which they had no direct control.

[Jan 12, 2020] The petrodollar is the way in which the US gets the rest of the world to fund its wars

Notable quotes:
"... Economic growth is more about financialising goods and services that were previously free or are/were social goods. There is no real growth; just taxing the living. ..."
"... So, in my view, the only restraint on destroying Iran is capability, is the cost and the risk of retaliation (not just from Iran) - not the destruction of Iran's capital - better for Iran's capital to be destroyed than for Iran to be independent or a competitor. ..."
Jan 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

ADKC , Jan 12 2020 2:10 utc | 359

vk @334

My comment @342 should have read: "The petrodollar is the way in which the US gets the rest of the world to fund its wars,"

---------

Your comment about capitalist accumulation doesn't hold (as a motivator for the US) when we have a capitalist monopolist situation. Rate of profit is not about growth (of real goods); it is about reducing competition and scarcity. When you are the monopolist you can charge what you like but profit becomes meaningless - the monopolist power comes from the control of resources - the monopolistic capitalist becomes a ruler/monarch. You no longer need ever-increasing customers so you can dispense with them if you so chose (by reducing the population). One bottle of water is far more valuable and a lot less trouble to produce that 100 millions bottles of water. There is no point in AI to provide for the needs of "the many"; AI becomes a means to dispense with "the many" altogether.

Economic growth is more about financialising goods and services that were previously free or are/were social goods. There is no real growth; just taxing the living.

So, in my view, the only restraint on destroying Iran is capability, is the cost and the risk of retaliation (not just from Iran) - not the destruction of Iran's capital - better for Iran's capital to be destroyed than for Iran to be independent or a competitor.

[Jan 12, 2020] Luongo Fears "An Abyss Of Losses" As Iraq Becomes MidEast Battleground

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

The future of the U.S.'s involvement in the Middle East is in Iraq. The exchange of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran occurred wholly on Iraqi soil and it has become the site on which that war will continue.

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, following President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. and Israel are determined this border crossing remains closed and have demonstrated just how far they are willing to go to prevent the free flow of goods and people across this border.

The regional allies of Iran are to be kept weak, divided and constantly under harassment.

Iraq is the battleground because the U.S. lost in Syria. Despite the presence of U.S. troops squatting on Syrian oil fields in Deir Ezzor province or the troops sitting in the desert protecting the Syrian border with Jordan, the Russians, Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds forces continue to reclaim territory previously lost to the Syrian government.

Now with Turkey redeploying its pet Salafist head-choppers from Idlib to Libya to fight General Haftar's forces there to legitimize its claim to eastern Mediterannean gas deposits, the restoration of Syria's territorial integrity west of the Euphrates River is nearly complete.

The defenders of Syria can soon transition into the rebuilders thereof, if allowed. And they didn't do this alone, they had a silent partner in China the entire time.

And, if I look at this situation honestly, it was China stepping out from behind the shadows into the light that is your inciting incident for this chapter in Iraq's story.

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

It doubles China's investment in Iraq while denying the U.S. that money and influence.

This happened after a massive $53 billion deal between Exxon-Mobil and Petrochina was put on hold after the incident involving Iran shooting down a U.S. Global Hawk drone in June.

With the U.S balking over the Exxon/Petrochina big deal, Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi signed the new one with China in October. Mahdi brought up the circumstances surrounding that in Iraqi parliaments during the session in which it passed the resolution recommending removal of all foreign forces from Iraq.

Did Trump openly threaten Mahdi over this deal as I covered in my podcast on this? Did the U.S. gin up protests in Baghdad, amplifying unrest over growing Iranian influence in the country?

And, if not, were these threats simply implied or carried by a minion (Pompeo, Esper, a diplomat)? Because the U.S.'s history of regime change operations is well documented. Well understood color revolution tactics used successfully in places like Ukraine , where snipers were deployed to shoot protesters and police alike to foment violence between them at the opportune time were on display in Baghdad.

Mahdi openly accused Trump of threatening him, but that sounds more like Mahdi using the current impeachment script to invoke the sinister side of Trump and sell his case.

It's not that I don't think Trump capable of that kind of threat, I just don't think he's stupid enough to voice it on an open call. Donald Trump is capable of many impulsive things, openly threatening to remove an elected Prime Minister on a recorded line is not one of them.

Mahdi has been under the U.S.'s fire since he came to power in late 2018. He was the man who refused Trump during Trump's impromptu Christmas visit to Iraq in 2018 , refusing to be summoned to a clandestine meeting at the U.S. embassy rather than Trump visit him as a head of state, an equal.

He was the man who declared the Iraqi air space closed after Israeli air attacks on Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) positions in September.

And he's the person, at the same time, being asked by Trump to act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran in peace talks for Yemen.

So, the more we look at this situation the more it is clear that Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.

It's clear that Trump doesn't want to fight a war with Iran in Iran. He wants them to acquiesce to his unreasonable demands and begin negotiating a new nuclear deal which definitively stops the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and as P atrick Henningsen at 21st Century Wire thinks ,

Trump now wants a new deal which features a prohibition on Iran's medium range missiles , and after events this week, it's obvious why. Wednesday's missile strike by Iran demonstrates that the US can no longer operate in the region so long as Iran has the ability to extend its own deterrence envelope westwards to Syria, Israel, and southwards to the Arabian Peninsula, and that includes all US military installations located within that radius.

Iraq doesn't want to be that battlefield. And Iran sent the message with those two missile strikes that the U.S. presence in Iraq is unsustainable and that any thought of retreating to the autonomous Kurdish region around the air base at Erbil is also a non-starter.

The big question, after this attack, is whether U.S. air defenses around the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi were active or not. If they were then Trump's standing down after the air strikes signals what Patrick suggests, a new Middle East in the making.

If they were not turned on then the next question is why? To allow Iran to save face after Trump screwed up murdering Soleimani?

I'm not capable of believing such Q-tard drivel at this point. It's far more likely that the spectre of Russian electronics warfare and radar evasion is lurking in the subtext of this story and the U.S. truly now finds itself after a second example of Iranian missile technology in a nascent 360 degree war in the region.

It means that Iran's threats against the cities of Haifa and Dubai were real.

In short, it means the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq now measures in months not years.

Because both China and Russia stand to gain ground with a newly-united Shi'ite Iraqi population. Mahdi is now courting Russia to sell him S-300 missile defense systems to allow him to enforce his demands about Iraqi airspace.

Moqtada al-Sadr is mobilizing his Madhi Army to oust the U.S. from Iraq. Iraq is key to the U.S. presence in the region. Without Iraq the U.S. position in Syria is unsustainable.

If the U.S. tries to retreat to Kurdish territory and push again for Masoud Barzani and his Peshmerga forces to declare independence Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go ballistic.

And you can expect him to make good on his threat to close the Incerlik airbase, another critical logistical juncture for U.S. force projection in the region.

But it all starts with Mahdi's and Iraq's moves in the coming weeks. But, with Trump rightly backing down from escalating things further and not following through on his outlandish threats against Iran, it may be we're nearing the end of this intractable standoff.

Back in June I told you that Iran had the ability to fight asymmetrically against the U.S., not through direct military confrontation but through the after-effects of a brief, yet violent period of war in which all U.S., Israeli and Arab assets in the Middle East come under fire from all directions.

It sent this same message then that by attacking oil tankers it could make the transport of oil untenable and not insurable. We got a taste of it back then and Trump, then, backed down.

And the resultant upheaval in the financial markets creating an abyss of losses, cross-asset defaults, bank failures and government collapses.

Trump has no real option now but to negotiate while Iraq puts domestic pressure on him to leave and Russia/China come in to provide critical economic and military support to assist Mahdi rally his country back towards some semblance of sovereignty

* * *

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MalteseFalcon , 3 minutes ago link

OK kids,

Play time is over.

China needs Iraqi oil to build the BRI.

Last one into Africom is a rotten egg!!!!

daveeemc2 , 14 minutes ago link

This is the most delicious of irony

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_cost_of_the_Iraq_War

The american imperial style of intervention is dead.

China debt trap model of belt and road is the path forward.

They will win hearts and minds, and not a single shot fired.

USA gets debt from paying war machine and killed and maimed soldiers whose personal psychiatry will haunt them for an entire lifetime.

In the end, Americans get nothing but debt and risk their own soverignty as a population ages and infrastructure crumbles....kinda like now.

MalteseFalcon , 1 minute ago link

The last 30 years of American foreign policy has been an unmitigated disaster.

yerfej , 26 minutes ago link

How about "what is the goal?" There is none of course. The assholes in the Washington/MIC just need war to keep them relevant. What if the US were to closed down all those wars and foreign bases? THEN the taxpayer could demand some accounting for the trillions that are wasted on complete CRAP. There are too many old leftovers from the cold war who seem to think there is benefit to fighting wars in shithole places just because those wars are the only ones going on right now. The stupidity of the ****** in the US military/MIC/Washington is beyond belief. JUST LEAVE you ******* idiots.

Rusticus2.0 , 22 minutes ago link

Your comment should have been directed at Trump, the commander in chief.

I guess that's still a bridge too far, but sooner than later you're going to have to cross it.

BobEore , 29 minutes ago link

Excellent Smithers, excellent:

Sometimes, in treading thru the opaque, sandstorm o ******** swept wastes of the ' desert of the really real '...

one must rely upon a marking... some kind of guidepost, however tenuous, to show you to be still... on the trail, not lost in the vast haunted reaches of post-reality. And you know, Tommy is that sort of guide; the sort of guy who you take to the fairgrounds, set him up with the 'THROW THE BALL THRU THE HOOP... GUARANTEED PRIZE TO SCOOP' kiosk...

and he misses every time. Just by watching Tom run through his paces here... zeroing in on the exact WRONG interpretation of events ... every dawg gone time... one resets their compass to tru course and relaxes into the flow agin! Thanks Tom! Let's break down ... the Schlitzy shopping list of sloppy errors:

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, f ollowing President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq. Urusalem.. and its pathetically obedient dogsbody USSA ... are busy setting up RIMFISTAN Tom.. you really need to start expanding your reading list; On both sides of that border you mention .. they will be running - and guarding - pipeline running to the mothership. Shia miitias and that project just don't mix. Nobody gives a frying fluck bout your imaginary 'land bridge to the Med'... except you and the gomers. And you and they aren't ANYWHERES near to here.

  • Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.
  • Ok... this is getting completely embarrassing. The man is a 'caretaker' Tom... that's similar to a 'janitor' - he's on the way out. If you really think thats' being pivotal... I'm gonna suggest that you've 'pivoted' on one of your goats too many times.

Look, Tom... I did sincerely undertake to hold your arm, and guide you through this to a happier place. But you... are underwater my man. And that's quite an accomplishment, since we be traveling through the deserts of the really real. You've enumerated a list of things which has helped me to understand just how completely distorted is the picture of the situation here in mudded east.. is... in the minds of the myriad victims of your alt-media madness. And I thank you for that. But its time we part company.

These whirring klaidescope glasses I put on, in order to help me see how you see things, have given me a bit of a headache. Time to return to seeing the world... as it really works!

simpson seers , 14 minutes ago link

says the yankee chicken ******......

Fireman , 32 minutes ago link

Like Ukraine, everything the anglozionazi empire of **** smear$...turns to ****.

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

https://theduran.com/ukranian-whistleblower-reveals-mh-17-tragedy-was-orchestrated-by-poroshenko-and-british-secret-service/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=wR1NFI6TBH0

BGO , 39 minutes ago link

The whole *target and destroy* Iran (and Iraq) clusterfuck has always been about creating new profit scenarios, profit theaters, for the MIC.

If the US govt was suddenly forced to stop making and selling **** designed to kill people... if the govt were forced to stopping selling **** to other people so they can kill people... if the govt were forced to stop stockpiling **** designed to kill people just so other people would stop building and stockpiling **** designed to kill people... first the US then the world would collapse... everyone would finally see... the US is a nation of people that allows itself to be propped up by the worst sort of people... an infinitesimally small group of gangsters who legally make insane amounts of money... by creating in perpetuity... forever new scenarios that allow them to kill other people.

Jesus ******* Christ ZeroHedge software ******* sucks.

Fireman , 40 minutes ago link

Understanding why Agent Orange is a meat puppet.

The following has been known to cure T.D.S.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/NJF06yjvdErM/

Wantoknow , 44 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option? What do you believe are the limits of Trump's options that assure he must negotiate? Perhaps all out war is not yet possible politically in the US, but public sentiment has been manipulated before. Why not now?

One must not yet reject the idea that the road to Moscow and Beijing does not run through Iran. Throwing the US out of the Middle East would be a grievous failure for the deep state which has demonstrated itself to be absolutely ruthless. It is hard to believe the US will leave without a much more serious war forcing the issue.

So far Trump has appeared artless and that may continue but that artlessness may well bring a day when Trump will not back down.

Fireman , 39 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option?

Ask the towel girls at Maralago and Jeffrey Pedovore.

Rusticus2.0 , 49 minutes ago link

The motivation behind Trump pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action wasn't because, after careful analytical study of the plan, he decided it was a bad deal. It was because Israel demanded it as it didn't fit into their best interests and, as with the refreezing of relationships with Cuba, it was a easier way to undo Obama policy rather than tackling Obamacare. Hardly sound judgement.

The war will continue in Iraq as the Shia majority mobilize against an occupying force that has been asked to leave, but refuse. What will quickly become apparent is that this war is about to become far more multifaceted with Iraqi and Iranian proxies targeting American interests across numerous fronts.

Trump is the head of a business empire; Downsizing is not a strategy that he's ever employed; His business history is a case study in go big or go bust.

not-me---it-was-the-dog , 32 minutes ago link

so it will work like this....

trump's zionist overlords have demanded he destroy iran.

as a simple lackey, he agreed, but he does need political cover to do so.

thus the equating of any attack or threat of attack by any group of any political persuasion as originating from iran.

any resistance by the shia in iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the currect governement of iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the sunni in iraq will be considered subversion by iran, or a false flag by iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

trump's refusal to follow the SOFA agreement, and heed the call of the democratic government we claim to have gone in to install, is specifically designed to lead to more violence, which in turn can be blamed on iran's "malign" influence, which gives the entity lackeys cover to spread more democracy.

MIGA!

Brazen Heist II , 55 minutes ago link

America is a nation of imbeciles. They have meddled in Iraq since the 1980s and still can't subdue the place to their content.

Dey hate us for our freedumbs!

Ghost who Walks , 54 minutes ago link

I'm more positive that Iraq can resolve its issues without starting a Global War.

The information shared by the Iraqi Prime Minister goes part way to awakening the population as to what is happening and why.

Once more information starts to leak out (and it will from those individuals who want to avoid extinction) the broad mass of the global population can take action to protect themselves from the psychopaths.

new game , 1 hour ago link

This is what empires in decline do. Hubris...

meanwhile China rises with Strategic economic investment.

And the econ hitmen aren't done yet...

moar war...

Arising , 1 hour ago link

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

Come on Tom, you should know better than that: the U.S will destroy any agreements between China and the people of Iraq.

The oil will continue to be stolen and sent to Occupied Palestine to administer and the people of Iraq will be in constant revolt, protest mode and subjugation- but they will never know they are being manipulated by the thieving zionists in D.C and Tel aviv.

Ms No , 1 hour ago link

Agreed. It will take nothing short of a miracle to stop this. Time isnt on their side though so they better get on it. They will do something big to get it going.

RoyalDraco , 14 minutes ago link

This isn't "humanity." Few people are psychopathic killers. It is being run by a small cliche of Satanists who are well on their way to enslaving humanity in a dystopia even George Orwell could not imagine. They control most of the levers of power and influence and have done so for centuries.

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

- Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring's testimony before the Nuremberg tribunal on crimes against humanity

[Jan 11, 2020] America's Other Dark Legacy In Iraq by Joy Gordon

Mar 25, 2013 | fpif.org
coalition-provisional-authority-cpa-iraq-oil-looting-contracts-corruptWhen the United States, the United Kingdom, and the "coalition of the willing" attacked Iraq in March 2003, millions protested around the world. But the war of "shock and awe" was just the beginning. The subsequent occupation of Iraq by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority bankrupted the country and left its infrastructure in shambles.

It's not just a question of security. Although the breathtaking violence that attended Iraq's descent into sectarian nightmare has been well documented in many retrospectives on the 10-year-old war, what's often overlooked is that by far more mundane standards, the United States did a spectacularly poor job of governing Iraq.

It's not that Iraq was flourishing before the occupation. From 1990 to 2003, the UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq that were the harshest in the history of global governance. But along with the sanctions, at least, came an elaborate system of oversight and accountability that drew in the Security Council, nine UN agencies, and General Secretary himself.

The system was certainly imperfect, and the effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people were devastating. But when the United States arrived, all semblance of international oversight vanished.

Under enormous pressure from Washington, in May 2003 the Security Council formally recognized the occupation of Iraq by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Resolution 1483. Among other things, this resolution gave the CPA complete control over all of Iraq's assets.

At the same time, the Council removed all the forms of monitoring and accountability that had been in place: there would be no reports on the humanitarian situation by UN agencies, and there would be no committee of the Security Council charged with monitoring the occupation. There would be a limited audit of funds, after they were spent, but no one from the UN would directly oversee oil sales. And no humanitarian agencies would ensure that Iraqi funds were being spent in ways that benefitted the country.

Humanitarian concerns

In January 2003, the UN prepared a working plan anticipating the impact of a possible war. Even with only "medium impact" from the invasion, the UN expected that humanitarian conditions would be severely compromised.

Because the Iraqi population was so heavily reliant on the government's food distribution system (a consequence of international sanctions), the UN anticipated that overthrowing the Iraqi regime would also undermine food security. And because the population already suffered from extensive malnutrition, this disruption would be quite lethal, putting 30 percent of Iraqi children under five at risk of death. The UN noted that if water and sewage treatment plants were damaged in the war, or if the electrical system could not operate, Iraqis would lose access to potable water, which would likely precipitate epidemics of water-borne diseases. And if electricity, transportation, and medical equipment were compromised, then the medical system would be unable to respond effectively to these epidemics.

During the occupation, much of this came to pass. A June 2003 UN report noted that the postwar water and sewage systems for Baghdad and other central and southern governorates were "in crisis." In Baghdad alone, the report estimated that 40 percent of the city's water distribution network was damaged, leading to a loss of up to half of the city's potable water through leaks and breaks in the system. And direr still, the UN reported that neither of Baghdad's two sewage treatment plants was functional, leading to a massive discharge of raw sewage into the Tigris River.

The food situation was similar. The UN found that farming had collapsed due to "widespread insecurity and looting, the complete collapse of ministries and state agencies -- the sole providers of essential farming inputs and services -- together with significant damages to power supplies."

Likewise, the health system deteriorated dramatically. Less than 50 percent of the Iraqi population had access to medical care, due in part to the dangers associated with travel. Additionally, the report estimated that 75 percent of all health-care institutions were affected by the looting and chaos that occurred in the aftermath of the war. As of June 2003, the health system as a whole was functioning at 30-50 percent of its pre-war capacity. The impact was immediate. By early summer, acute malnutrition rates had doubled, dysentery was widespread, and little medical care was available. In August, when a power outage blacked out New York, the joke going around Baghdad was "I hope they're not waiting for the Americans to fix it."

The CPA gave responsibility for humanitarian relief to the U.S. military -- not to agencies with experience in humanitarian crises -- and marginalized the UN's humanitarian relief agencies. Over the 14-month course of the CPA's administration, the humanitarian crisis worsened. Preventable diseases like dysentery and typhoid ran rampant. Malnutrition worsened, claiming the lives of ever more infants, mothers, and young children. All told, there was an estimated 100,000 "excess deaths" during the invasion and occupation -- well above and beyond the mortality rate under Saddam Hussein, even under international sanctions.

The CPA's priorities were clear. After the invasion, during the widespread looting and robbery, occupation authorities did little to protect water and sewage treatment plants, or even pediatric hospitals. By contrast, they provided immediate protection for the oil ministry offices, hired a U.S. company to put out oil field fires, and immediately provided protection for the oil fields as well.

Corruption

In addition, the U.S.-led CPA was deeply corrupt. Much of Iraq's revenues, from oil sales or other sources, went to contracts with U.S. companies. Of contracts for more than $5 million, 74 percent went to U.S. companies, with most of the remainder going to U.S. allies. Only 2 percent went to Iraqi companies.

Over the course of the occupation, huge amounts of money simply disappeared. Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton, received over 60 percent of all contracts paid for with Iraqi funds, although it was repeatedly criticized by auditors for issues of honesty and competence. In the last six weeks of the occupation, the United States shipped $5 billion of Iraqi funds, in cash, into the country, to be spent before the Iraqi-led government took over. Auditor reports indicated that Iraqi funds were systematically looted by the CPA officials: "One contractor received a $2 million payment in a duffel bag stuffed with shrink-wrapped bundles of currency," read one report . "One official was given $6.75 million in cash, and was ordered to spend it one week before the interim Iraqi government took control of Iraqi funds."

U.S. officials were apparently unconcerned about the gross abuses of the funds with which they were entrusted. In one instance, the CPA transferred some $8.8 billion of Iraqi money without any documentation as to how the funds were spent. When questioned about how the money was spent, Admiral David Oliver, the principal deputy for financial matters in the CPA, replied that he had "no idea" and didn't think it was particularly important. "Billions of dollars of their money?" he asked his interlocutor. "What difference does it make?"

In the end, none of this should be terribly surprising -- the corruption, the indifference to human needs, the singular concern with controlling Iraq's oil wealth. It was obvious from the moment that the Security Council, under enormous pressure from the United State, passed Resolution 1483.

By systematically removing nearly every form of oversight from their self-imposed administration of Iraq, the United States and its allies laid the foundation for the looting of an entire nation's wealth, abetted by their own wanton indifference to the needs and rights of Iraqis. Ten years after the start of the war, the CPA's disastrous governance of Iraq stands alongside the country's horrifying descent into violence as a dark legacy in its own right.

[Jan 11, 2020] Commentary: Why Peak Oil Threatens the International Monetary System

Jan 11, 2020 | aspousa.org

ASPO-USA | January 6, 2013

Commentary: Why Peak Oil Threatens the International Monetary System

(Note: Commentaries do not necessarily represent the position of ASPO-USA. )

By Erik Townsend

Introduction

Having spent the last several years of my life engineering investment strategies to profit from the inevitability of Peak Oil, I've become obsessed with understanding the ramifications of radically different energy supply dynamics on the global economy. There are many facets to this, some obvious and some not so obvious. So when ASPO-USA Executive Director Jan Mueller approached me at the end of this year's conference in Austin and asked for an article discussing the less obvious economic impacts of Peak Oil, I knew instantly that the topic should be the threat Peak Oil poses to the International Monetary System (IMS). This connection is critically important, but far from obvious.

I assure you that this story is very much about Peak Oil, but please bear with me, as I'll need to start by reviewing what the IMS is and how it came about in the first place. Then I'll explain the role energy has already played in shaping the present-day IMS, and finally, I'll tie this back to Peak Oil by explaining why rising energy prices could very well be the catalyst that will cause the present system to fail.

What is the International Monetary System?

At the end of World War II, many countries were literally lying in ruin, and needed to be rebuilt. It was clear that international trade would be very important going forward, but how would it work? World leaders recognized the need to architect a new monetary system that would facilitate international trade and allow the world to rebuild itself following the most devastating war in world history.

A global currency was out of the question because the many countries of the world valued their sovereignty, and wanted to continue to issue their own domestic currencies. In order for international trade to flourish, a system was needed to allow trade between dozens of different nations, each with its own currency.

A convention was organized by the United Nations for the purpose of bringing world leaders together to architect this new International Monetary System . The meetings were held in July, 1944 at the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and were attended by 730 delegates representing all 44 allied nations. The official name for the event was the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference , but it would forever be remembered as The Bretton Woods Conference .

To this day, the system designed in those meetings remains the basis for all international trade, and is known as the Bretton Woods System. The system has evolved quite a bit since its inception, but its core principles remain the basis for all international trade. I'm going to focus this article on the parts of the system which I believe are now at risk of radical change, with Peak Oil the most likely catalyst to bring about that change. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the system itself should refer to the Further Reading section at the end of this article.

Why is an International Monetary System needed?

It simply wouldn't be practical for all countries to sell their export products to other countries in their own currencies. If one had to pay for wine from France in French Francs (there was no Euro currency in 1944), and then pay to import a BMW automobile in German Marks, then pay for copper produced in Chile in Pesos, each country would face an overwhelming burden just maintaining reserve deposits of all the various world currencies. The system of trade would be very inefficient. For centuries, this problem has been solved by using a single standard currency for all international trade.

Because a standard-currency system dictates that each nation's central bank will need to maintain a reserve supply of the standard currency in order to facilitate international trade, the standard currency is known as the reserve currency . At various times in history, the Greek Drachma, the Roman Denari, and the Islamic Dinar have served as de-facto reserve currencies. Prior to World War II, the English Pound Sterling was the international reserve currency.

Throughout history, reserve currencies came into and out of use through happenstance. The Bretton Woods conference marked the first time that a global reserve currency was established by formal treaty between cooperating nations. The currency chosen was, of course, the U.S. Dollar.

How does the IMS work?

The core of the system was the U.S. Dollar serving as the standard currency for international trade. To assure other nations of the dollar's value, the U.S. Treasury would guarantee that other nations could convert their U.S. dollars into gold bullion at a fixed exchange rate of $35/oz. Other nations would then "peg" their currencies to the U.S. dollar at a fixed rate of exchange. Each nation's central bank would be responsible for "defending" the official exchange rate to the U.S. dollar by offering to buy or sell any amount of currency bid or offered at that price. This meant each nation would need to keep a healthy reserve of U.S. dollars on hand to service the needs of domestic businesses wishing to convert money between the local currency and the U.S. dollar.

By design, the effect of the system was that each national currency was indirectly redeemable for gold. This was true because each nation's central bank guaranteed convertibility of its own currency to U.S. dollars at some fixed rate of exchange, and the U.S. Treasury guaranteed convertibility of U.S. dollars to gold at a fixed rate of $35/oz. So long as all of the governments involved kept their promises, each nation's domestic currency would be as good as gold, because it was ultimately convertible to gold. United States President Richard Nixon would break the most central promise of the entire system (U.S. dollar convertibility for gold) on August 15, 1971. I'll come back to that event later in this article.

Triffin's Dilemma

In 1959, three years after M. King Hubbert's now-famous Peak Oil predictions, economist Robert Triffin would make equally prescient predictions about the sustainability of the "new" IMS, which was then only 15 years old. Sadly, Triffin's predictions, like Hubbert's, would be ignored by the mainstream.

The whole reason for choosing the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency was that without a doubt, the U.S.was the world's strongest credit in 1944. To assure confidence in the system, the strongest, most creditworthy currency on earth was chosen to serve as the standard unit of account for global trade. To eliminate any question about the value of the dollar, the system was designed so that any international holder of U.S. dollars could convert those dollars to gold bullion at a pre-determined fixed rate of exchange. Dollars were literally as good as gold.

Making the USD the world's reserve currency created an enormous international demand for more dollars to meet each nation's need to hold a reserve of dollars. The USA was happy to oblige by printing up more greenbacks. This provided sufficient dollars for other nations to hold as foreign exchange reserves, while at the same time allowing the U.S.to spend beyond its means without facing the same repercussions that would occur were it not the world's reserve currency issuer.

Triffin observed that if you choose a currency because it's a strong credit, and then give the issuing nation a financial incentive to borrow and print money recklessly without penalty, eventually that currency won't be the strongest credit any more! This paradox came to be known as Triffin's Dilemma.

Specifically, Triffin predicted that as issuer of the international reserve currency, the USA would be prone to over consumption, over-indebtedness, and tend toward military adventurism. Unfortunately, the U.S. Government would prove Triffin right on all three counts.

Triffin correctly predicted that the USA would eventually be forced off the gold standard. The international demand for U.S. dollars would allow the USA to create more dollars than it otherwise could have without bringing on domestic inflation. When a country creates too much of its own currency and that money stays in the country, supply-demand dynamics kick in and too much money chasing too few goods and services results in higher prices. But when a country can export its currency to other nations who have an artificial need to hold large amounts of that currency in reserve, the issuing country can create far more money than it otherwise could have, without causing a tidal wave of domestic inflation.

Nixon proves Triffin right

By 1970, the U.S.had drastically over-spent on the Vietnam War, and the number of dollars in circulation far outnumbered the amount of gold actually backing them. Other nations recognized that there wasn't enough gold in Fort Knox for the U.S.to back all the dollars in circulation, and wisely began to exchange their excess USDs for gold. Before long, something akin to a run on the bullion bank had begun, and it became clear that the USA could not honor the $35 conversion price indefinitely.

On August 15, 1971, President Nixon did exactly what Triffin predicted more than a decade earlier: he declared force majeure , and defaulted unilaterally on theUSA's promise to honor gold conversion at $35/oz, as prescribed by the Bretton Woods accord.

Of course Nixon was not about to admit that the reason this was happening was that the U.S. Government had abused its status as reserve currency issuer and recklessly spent beyond its means. Instead, he blamed "speculators", and announced that the United Stateswould suspend temporarily the convertibility of the Dollar into gold. Forty-two years later, the word temporarily has taken on new meaning.

Exorbitant Privilege

With the whole world conducting international trade in U.S. dollars, nations with large export markets wound up with a big pile of U.S. dollars (payments for the goods they exported). The most obvious course of action for the foreign companies who received all those dollars as payment for their exported products would be to exchange the dollars on the international market, converting them into their own domestic currencies. What may not be obvious at first glance is that there would be catastrophic unintended consequences if they actually did that.

If all the manufacturing companies in Japan or China converted their dollar revenues back into local currency, the act of selling dollars and buying their domestic currencies would cause their own currencies to appreciate markedly against the dollar. The same holds true for oil exporting countries. If they converted all their dollar revenues back into their own currencies, doing so would make their currencies more expensive against the dollar. That would make their exports less attractive because, being priced in dollars, they would fetch lower and lower prices after being converted back into the exporting nation's domestic currency.

The solution for the exporting nations was for their central banks to allow commercial exporters to convert their dollars for newly issued domestic currency. The central banks of exporting nations would wind up with a huge surplus of U.S. dollars they needed to invest somewhere without converting them to another currency . The obvious place to invest them was into U.S. Government Bonds.

This is the mechanism through which the reserve currency status of the dollar creates artificial demand for U.S. dollar-denominated treasury debt. That artificial demand allows the United States government to borrow money from foreigners in its own currency, something most nations cannot do at all. What's more, this artificial demand for U.S. Treasury debt allows the USA to borrow and spend far more borrowed foreign money than it would otherwise be able to, were it not the world's reserve currency issuer. The reason is that, if not for the artificial need to hold dollar reserves, foreign lenders would be much less inclined to purchase U.S. debt, and would therefore demand much higher interest rates. Similarly, the more that international trade has grown as a result of globalization, the more the United States' exorbitant privilege has grown.

Have you ever wondered why China, Japan, and the oil exporting nations have such enormous U.S. Treasury bond holdings, despite the fact that they hardly pay any interest these days? The reason is definitely not because those nations think 1.6% interest on a 10-year unsecured loan to a nation known to have a reckless spending habit is a good investment. It's because they have little other choice. The more their own economies rely on exports priced in dollars, the more they need to keep their own currencies attractively priced relative to the U.S. dollar in order for their exports to remain competitive on the international market. To achieve that outcome, they must hold large reserves denominated in U.S. dollars. That's why China and Japan – major export economies – are the biggest foreign holders of U.S. debt.

The net effect of this system is that the USA gets to borrow money from foreigners at artificially low interest rates. Moreover, the USA can become over-indebted without the usual consequences of increasing borrowing cost and declining creditworthiness. Other nations have little choice but to maintain a large reserve supply of dollars as the international trade currency. But the U.S. has no need to maintain large reserves of other nations' currencies, because those currencies are not used in international trade.

By the mid-1960s, this phenomenon became known as exorbitant privilege : That phrase refers to the ability of the USA to go into debt virtually for free, denominated in its own currency, when no other nation enjoys such a privilege. The phrase exorbitant privilege is often attributed to French President Charles de Gaulle, although it was actually his finance minister, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who coined the phrase.

What's important to understand here is that the whole reason the U.S. can get away with running trillion-dollar budget deficits without the bond market revolting (a la Greece) is because of exorbitant privilege. And that privilege is a direct consequence of the U.S. dollar serving as the world's reserve currency. If international trade were not conducted in dollars, exporting nations (both manufacturers and oil exporters) would no longer need to hold large reserves of U.S. dollars.

Put another way, when the U.S. dollar loses its reserve currency status, the U.S.will lose its exorbitant privilege of spending beyond its means on easy credit. The U.S. Treasury bond market will most likely crash, and borrowing costs will skyrocket. Those increased borrowing costs will further exacerbate the fiscal deficit. Can you say self-reinforcing vicious cycle?

But wait Wasn't Gold convertibility the whole basis of the system?

If the whole point of the Bretton Woods system was to guarantee that all the currencies of the world were "as good as gold" because they were convertible to U.S. dollars, which in turn were promised to be convertible into gold And then President Nixon broke that promise in 1971 Wouldn't that suggest that the whole system should have blown up in reaction to Nixon slamming the gold window shut in August of '71?

Actually, it almost did. But miraculously, the system has held together for the last 42 years, despite the fact that the most fundamental promise upon which the system was based no longer holds true. To be sure, the Arabs were not happy about Nixon's action, and they complained loudly at the time, rhetorically asking why they should continue to accept dollars for their oil, if those dollars were not backed by anything, and might just become worthless paper. After all, if U.S. dollars were no longer convertible into gold, what value did they really have to foreigners? The slamming of the gold window by President Nixon in 1971 was not the only cause of the Arab oil embargo, but it was certainly a major influence.

What's holding the IMS together?

Why didn't the rest of the world abandon the dollar as the global reserve currency in reaction to the USA unilaterally reneging on gold convertibility in 1971? In my opinion, the best answer is simply "Because there was no clear alternative". And to be sure, the unmatched power of the U.S.military had a lot to do with eliminating what might otherwise have been attractive alternatives for other nations.

U.S. diplomats made it clear to Arab leaders that they wanted the Arabs to continue pricing their oil in dollars. Not just for U.S.customers, but for the entire world. Indeed, U.S. leaders at the time understood all too well just how much benefit the USA derives from exorbitant privilege , and they weren't about to give it up.

After a few years of tense negotiations including the infamous oil embargo, the so-called petro-dollar business cycle was born. The Arabs would only accept dollars for their oil, and they would re-invest most of their profits in U.S. Treasury debt. In exchange for this concession, they would come under the protectorate of the U.S. military. Some might even go so far as to say that the U.S. government used the infamous Mafia tactic of making the Arabs an "offer they couldn't refuse" – forcing oil producing nations to make financial concessions in exchange for "protection".

With the Arabs now strongly incented to continue pricing the world's most important commodity in U.S. dollars, the Bretton Woods system lived on. No longer constrained by the threat of a run on its bullion reserves, the U.S. kicked its already-entrenched practice of borrowing and spending beyond its means into high gear. For the past 42 years, the entire world has continued to conduct virtually all international trade in Dollars. This has forced China,Japan, and the oil exporting nations to buy and hold an enormous amount of U.S. Treasury debt. Exorbitant privilege is the key economic factor that allows the U.S.to run trillion dollar fiscal deficits without crashing the Treasury bond market. So far.

There's a limit to how long this can last

But how long can this continue? The U.S.debt-to-GDP ratio now exceeds 100%, and the U.S.has literally doubled its national debt in the last 6 years alone. It stands to reason that eventually, other nations will lose faith in the dollar and start conducting business in some other currency. In fact, that's already started to happen, and it's perhaps the most important, under-reported economic news story in all of history.

Some examples China and Brazil are now conducting international trade in their own currencies, as are Russia and China. Turkey and Iran are trading oil for gold, bypassing the dollar as a reserve currency. In that case,U.S.sanctions are a big part of the reason Iran can't sell its oil in dollars. But I wonder if President Obama considered the undermining effect on exorbitant privilege when he imposed those sanctions. I fear that the present U.S. government doesn't understand the importance of the dollar's reserve currency role nearly as well as our leaders did in the 1970s.

The Biggest Risk We Face is a U.S. Bond and Currency Crisis

To be sure, Peak Oil in general represents a monumental risk to humanity because it's literally impossible to feed all 7+ billion people on the planet without abundant energy to run our farming equipment and distribution infrastructure. But the risks stemming directly from declining energy production are not the most imposing, in my view.

Decline rates will be gradual at first, and it will be possible, even if unpopular, to curtail unnecessary energy consumption and give priority to life-sustaining uses for the available supply of liquid fuels. In my opinion, the greatest risks posed by Peak Oil are the consequential risks. These include resource wars between nations, hoarding of scarce resources, and so forth. Chief among these consequential risks is the possibility that the Peak Oil energy crisis will be the catalyst to cause a global financial system meltdown. In my opinion, the USA losing its reserve currency status is likely to be at the heart of such a meltdown.

A good rule of thumb is that if something is unsustainable and cannot continue forever, it will not continue forever. The present incarnation of the IMS, which affords the United States the exorbitant privilege of borrowing a seemingly limitless amount of its own currency from foreigners in order to finance its reckless habit of spending beyond its means with trillion-dollar fiscal deficits, is a perfect example of an unsustainable system that cannot continue forever.

But the bigger the ship, the longer it takes to change course. The IMS is the biggest financial ship in the sea, and miraculously, it has remained afloat for 42 years after the most fundamental justification for its existence (dollar-gold convertibility) was eliminated. How long do we have before the inevitable happens, and what will be the catalyst(s) to bring about fundamental change? Those are the key questions.

In my opinion, the greatest risk to global economic stability is a sovereign debt crisis destroying the value of the world's reserve currency. In other words, a crash of the U.S. Treasury Bond market. I believe that the loss of reserve currency status is the most likely catalyst to bring about such a crisis.

The fact that the United States' borrowing and spending habits are unsustainable has been a topic of public discussion for decades. Older readers will recall billionaire Ross Perot exclaiming in his deep Texas accent, "A national debt of five trillion dollars is simply not sustainable!" during his 1992 Presidential campaign. Mr. Perot was right when he said that 20 years ago, but the national debt has since more than tripled . The big crisis has yet to occur. How is this possible? I believe the answer is that because the U.S. dollar is the world's reserve currency and is perceived by institutional investors around the globe to be the world's safest currency, it enjoys a certain degree of immunity derived from widespread complacency.

But that immunity cannot last forever. The loss of reserve currency status will be the forcing function that begins a self-reinforcing vicious cycle that brings about a U.S. bond and currency crisis. While many analysts have opined that the USA cannot go on borrowing and spending forever, relatively few have made the connection to loss of reserve currency status as the forcing function to bring about a crisis.

We're already seeing small leaks in the ship's hull. China openly promoting the idea that the yuan should be asserted as an alternative global reserve currency would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but is happening today. Major international trade deals (such as China and Brazil) not being denominated in U.S. dollars would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but are happening today.

So we're already seeing signs that the dollar's exclusive claim on reserve currency status will be challenged. Remember, when the dollar loses reserve currency status, the U.S.loses exorbitant privilege. The deficit spending party will be over, and interest rates will explode to the upside. But to predict that this will happen right now simply because the system is unsustainable would be unwise. After all, by one important measure the system stopped making sense 42 years ago, but has somehow persisted nonetheless. The key question becomes, what will be the catalyst or proximal trigger that causes the USD to lose reserve currency status, igniting a U.S. Treasury Bond crisis?

Elevated Risk

It's critical to understand that the USA is presently in a very precarious fiscal situation. The national debt has more than doubled in the last 10 years, but so far, there don't seem to have been any horrific consequences. Could it be that all this talk about the national debt isn't such a big deal after all?

The critical point to understand is that while the national debt has more than doubled, the U.S. Government's cost of borrowing hasn't increased at all. The reason is that interest rates are less than half what they were 10 years ago. Half the interest on twice as much principal equals the same monthly payment, so to speak. This is exactly the same trap that subprime mortgage borrowers fell into. First, money is borrowed at an artificially low interest rate. But eventually, the interest rate increases, and the cost of borrowing skyrockets. The USA is already running an unprecedented and unsustainable $1 trillion+ annual budget deficit. All it would take to double the already unsustainable deficit is for interest rates to rise to their historical norms.

This all comes back to exorbitant privilege. The only reason interest rates are so low is that the Federal Reserve is intentionally suppressing them to unprecedented low levels in an attempt to combat deflation and resuscitate the economy. The only reason the Fed has the ability to do this is that foreign lenders have an artificial need to hold dollar reserves because the USD is the global reserve currency. They would never accept such low interest rates otherwise. Loss of reserve currency status means loss of exorbitant privilege, and that in turn means the Fed would lose control of interest rates. The Fed might respond by printing even more dollars out of thin air to buy treasury bonds, but in absence of reserve currency status, doing that would cause a collapse of the dollar's value against other currencies, making all the imported goods we now depend on unaffordable.

In summary, the U.S. Government has repeated the exact same mistake that got all those subprime mortgage borrowers into so much trouble. They are borrowing more money than they can afford to pay back, depending solely on "teaser rates" that won't last. The U.S. Government's average maturity of outstanding treasury debt is now barely more than 5 years. This is analogous to cash-out refinancing a 30-year fixed mortgage, replacing it with a much higher principal balance in a 3-year ARM that offers an initial teaser rate. At first, you get to borrow way more money for the same monthly payment. But eventually the rate is adjusted, and the borrower is unable to make the higher payments.

The Janszen Scenario

When it comes to evaluating the risk of a U.S. sovereign debt and currency crisis, most mainstream economists dismiss the possibility out of hand, citing the brilliant wisdom that "the authorities would never let such a thing happen". These are the same people who were steadfastly convinced that housing prices would never crash in the United States because they never had before, and that Peak Oil is a myth because the shale gas boom solves everything (provided you don't actually do the math).

At the opposite extreme are the bloggers on the Internet whom I refer to as the Hyperinflation Doom Squad. Their narrative generally goes something like this: Suddenly, when you least expect it, foreigners will wise up and realize that the U.S. national debt cannot be repaid in real terms, and then there will be a panic that results in a crash of the U.S. Treasury market, hyperinflation of the U.S. dollar, and declaration of martial law. This group almost always cites the hyperinflations of Zimbabwe and Argentina as "proof" of what's going to happen in the USA any day now, but never so much as acknowledges the profound differences in circumstances between the USA and those countries. These folks deserve a little credit for having the right basic idea, but their analysis of what could actually happen simply isn't credible when examined in detail.

Little-known economist Eric Janszen stands out as an exception. Janszen is the only credible macroeconomic analyst I'm aware of who realistically acknowledges just how real and serious the threat of a U.S.sovereign debt crisis truly is. But his analysis of that risk is based on credible, level-headed thinking complemented by solid references to legitimate economic theory such as Triffin's Dilemma. Unlike the Doom Squad, Janszen does not rely on specious comparisons of the USA to small, systemically insignificant countries whose past financial crises have little in common with the situation the USA faces. Instead, Janszen offers refreshingly sound, well constructed arguments. Many of the concepts discussed in this article reflect Janszen's work.

Janszen also happens to be the same guy who coined the phrase Peak Cheap Oil back in 2006, drawing an important distinction between the geological phenomenon of Hubbert's Peak and the economic phenomenon which begins well before the actual peak, due to increasing marginal cost of production resulting from ever-increasing extraction technology complexity.

"But there's no sign of inflation " (Hint: It's coming)

Janszen has put quite a bit of work into modeling what a U.S.bond and currency crisis would look like. He initially called this KaPoom Theory , because history shows that brief periods of marked deflation (the 'Ka') usually precede epic inflations (the 'Poom'). He recently renamed this body of work The Janszen Scenario . Briefly summarized, Janszen's view is that the U.S. has reached the point where excessive borrowing and fiscal irresponsibility will eventually cause a catastrophic currency and bond crisis. He believes that all that's needed at this point is a proximal trigger , or catalyst, to bring about such an outcome. He thinks there are several potential triggers that could bring such a crisis about, and chief among the possibilities is the next Peak Cheap Oil price spike.

How Peak Oil could cause a Bond and Currency Crisis

There are several ways that an oil price spike could trigger a U.S.bond and currency crisis. Energy is an input cost to almost everything else in the economy, so higher oil prices are very inflationary. The Fed would be hard pressed to continue denying the adverse consequences of quantitative easing in a high inflation environment, and that alone could be the spark that leads to higher treasury yields. The resulting higher cost of borrowing to finance the national debt and fiscal deficit would be devastating to the United States.

A self-reinforcing vicious cycle could easily begin in reaction to oil price-induced inflation alone. But we must also consider how an oil price shock could lead to loss of USD reserve currency status, and therefore, loss of U.S.exorbitant privilege. In the 1970s, the USA represented 80% of the global oil market. Today we represent 20%, and demand growth is projected to come primarily from emerging economies. In other words, the rationale for oil producers to keep pricing their product in dollars has seriously deteriorated since the '70s. The more the global price of oil goes up, the more the U.S. will source oil from Canadian tar sands and other non-OPEC sources. That means less and less incentive for the OPEC nations to continue pricing their oil in dollars for all their non-U.S. customers.

Iran and Turkey have already begun transacting oil sales in gold rather than dollars. What if the other oil exporting nations wake up one morning and conclude "Hey, why are we selling our oil for dollars that might some day not be worth anything more than the paper they're printed on?" Oil represents a huge percentage of international trade, so if oil stopped trading in dollars, that alone would be reason for most nations to reduce the very large dollar reserves they now hold. They would start selling their U.S. treasury bonds, and that could start the vicious cycle of higher interest rates and exploding borrowing costs for the U.S. Government. The precise details are hard to predict. The point is, the system is already precarious and vulnerable, and an oil price shock could easily detonate the time bomb that's already been ticking away for more than two decades.

What if U.S. Energy Independence claims were true?

There's another angle here. Peak Oil just might be the catalyst to cause the loss of U.S. exorbitant privilege, even without an oil price shock.

Astute students of Peak Oil already know better than to believe the recently-popularized political rhetoric claiming that the USA will soon achieve energy independence, thanks to the shale oil and gas boom. To be sure, the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and various other U.S. oil and gas plays are a big deal. The most optimistic forecasts I've seen show these plays collectively ramping up to as much as 4.8 million barrels per day of production, which is equivalent to about ½ of Saudi Arabia's current production.

But the infamous "wedge of hope" chart from the EIA projects production declines from existing global resources of 60 million barrels per day by 2030. By the most optimistic projections, all the exciting new plays in the U.S. will replace less than 5 million barrels per day. Where the other 55 million barrels per day will come from remains a mystery! And of course the politicians never bother to mention such minor details when they make predictions of energy independence.

But let's just pretend for a moment that hyperbole is reality, and that the USA will achieve energy-independence in just a few years' time. Now consider the consequences to the IMS. The oil-exporting nations would lose the USA as their primary export customer, and would no longer have an incentive to price their oil in dollars, or to maintain large dollar reserves. They would start selling off their U.S. treasury bonds, and pricing their oil in something other than dollars. Large oil importers like China and Japan would stop paying for oil in dollars, and would no longer need to maintain present levels of U.S. dollar reserves. So they too would start selling U.S. treasury bonds, pushing up U.S. interest rates in the process. Once again, we have the ingredients for a self-reinforcing vicious cycle of increasing U.S. interest rates causing U.S. Government borrowing costs to skyrocket.

Without the artificial demand for treasury debt created by exorbitant privilege, the U.S. would be unable to finance its federal budget deficit. The Federal Reserve might respond with even more money printing to monetize all the government's borrowing needs, but without the international demand that results from the dollar's reserve currency status, the dollar would crash in value relative to other currencies as a result of excessive monetization by the Fed. The resulting loss of principal value would cause even more international holders of U.S. Treasury debt to panic and sell their holdings. Once again, a self-reinforcing vicious cycle would develop, with consequences for the United States so catastrophic that the 2008 event would pale in contrast.

Rambo to the Rescue?

Let's not forget that the USA enjoys virtually unchallenged global military hegemony. China is working hard to build out its "blue water navy", including strategic ballistic missile nuclear submarine capability. But the USA is still top dog on the global power stage, and if the USA was willing to use its nuclear weapons, it could easily defeat any country on earth, except perhaps China and Russia.

While the use of nuclear weapons in an offensive capacity might seem unthinkable today, the USA has yet to endure significant economic hardship. $15/gallon gasoline from the next Peak Cheap Oil price shock coupled with 15% treasury yields and a government operating in crisis mode just to hold off systemic financial collapse in the face of rampant inflation would change the mood considerably.

All the USA has to do in order to secure an unlimited supply of $50/bbl imported oil is to threaten to nuke any country refusing to sell oil to the U.S. for that price. Unthinkable today, but in times of national crisis, morals are often the first thing to be forgotten. We like to tell ourselves that we would never allow economic hardship to cause us to lose our morals. But just look at the YouTube videos of riots at Wal-Mart over nothing more than contention over a limited supply of boxer shorts marked down 20% for Black Friday. What we'll do in a true crisis that threatens our very way of life is anyone's guess.

If faced with the choice between a Soviet-style economic collapse and abusing its military power, the USA just might resort to tactics previously thought unimaginable. Exactly what those tactics might be and how it would play out are unknowable. The point is, this is a very complex problem, and a wide array of factors including military capability will play a role in determining the ultimate outcome.

I certainly don't mean to predict such an apocalyptic outcome. All I'm really trying to say is that the military hegemony of the USA will almost certainly play into the equation. Even if there is no actual military conflict, the ability of the U.S. to defeat almost any opponent will play into the negotiations, if nothing else.

Conclusions

The current incarnation of the International Monetary System, in which the USA enjoys the exorbitant privilege of borrowing practically for free, and is therefore able to pursue reckless fiscal policy with immunity from the adverse consequences that non-reserve currency issuing nations would experience by doing so, cannot continue indefinitely. Therefore, it will not continue indefinitely. How and when it will end is hard to say, especially considering the fact that it's already persisted for 42 years after it stopped making sense. The system will continue to operate until some catalyst or trigger event brings about catastrophic change.

The next Peak Cheap Oil price spike is not the only possible catalyst to bring about a U.S. bond and currency crisis, but it's the most likely candidate I'm aware of. I don't believe that U.S. energy independence is possible, but if it were, the end of oil imports from the Middle East would also be the catalyst to end exorbitant privilege and bring about a U.S.bond and currency crisis. To summarize, the music hasn't stopped quite yet, but when it does, this will end very, very badly. I'm pretty sure we're on the last song, but I don't know how long it has left to play.

Further Reading

Time Magazine's overview of the Bretton Woods system at http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1852254,00.html offers an excellent discussion which anyone can understand.

For those seeking a more detailed discussion, Iowa State University's Professor E. Kwan Choi offers excellent course notes on the subject at http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/classes/econ355/choi/bre.htm .

Wikipedia also offers articles on both the Bretton Woods system and the actual conference held there in 1944.

Erik Townsend is a hedge fund manager based in Hong Kong.

[Jan 10, 2020] Who controls the Iraq oil and occupies Iraq. It is still the USA

Jan 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

juliania , Jan 8 2020 19:35 utc | 212

First, thank you b for presenting the 'knowns' as you always do, succinctly and with your usual clarity. "Iran's missile launch...calls...bluff." That is what it did do, and effectively.

It should be very clear to all which country defines its own terms and which does not.

Some are pointing to the red flag for confirmation as to who has 'won' this challenge. Not necessary. A simple comparison of statements before and after, the witness of Iran's solidarity in the face of atrocity, and now, I think we simply watch and wait.

I will take from Michael Hudson's piece at the Saker site what will be a clear sign, and that will be who controls the oil? Someone did say on a previous thread that an oilfield near one of the bases attacked has been relinquished. And for those wondering about 'minimal damage' it ought to be pointed out that the airfields in question are on Iraq soil, and the less harm to them the better if Iraq is to be able to recover its assets. So too for Syria - it should not be forgotten that the problem that was arising was with the protection of terrorists on the Syria/Iraq border, and the boast that the US had control over the oil fields in that vicinity.

Also, dominion over the air space is crucial. As I understand it, that is now free of US planes and drones. How far that extends would be very important to all those who have shuddered at the sound of approaching engines for weddings and funerals these many years. What a sorry legacy this empire has left! And, may it have left it!

[Jan 10, 2020] Turkey discovered how dependent its economy had become on Russia including Russian gas during the trade embargo that ensued upon the shootdown of SU-24

Jan 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jan 8 2020 20:09 utc | 228

Walter @215--

Thanks for your reply! Some years ago prior to Russia's Syrian intervention, I examined where genuine Turkish national interests lay and concluded they weren't in the EU given the numerous repulses when attempting membership but rather they lay to the North and East in rekindling relations with longtime rivals Russia and Iran. Putin noted this rekindling's been ongoing for awhile:

"I would like to note that Russia has been exporting gas to Turkey for 30 years, even though not everyone knows about it. It was initially shipped through the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline, then through the direct, transit-free Blue Stream pipeline. Last year alone, 24 billion cubic metres of fuel was delivered to our Turkish partners."

Turkey discovered how dependent its economy had become on Russia during the trade embargo that ensued upon the shootdown of the Mig, which IMO is the main reason a spiteful Erdogan released the torrent of refugees into the EU as he finally realized Turkey's been used for decades by the West with no real tangible benefits to show. And yes, IMO he was returning to sender Terrorists to Libya, and it was no small number as it was several thousand.

IMO, Qatar and Turkey have Seen the Light when it comes to sponsoring terrorist affiliated organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood; That all they've done is contribute to the Evil Outlaw US Empire's plan for continuous destabilization of the Persian Gulf region as part of its strategy to interdict Eurasian Integration, the latter of which is in both Qatar's and Turkey's genuine national interest.

[Jan 10, 2020] The Saker interviews Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Looks like Iran is Catch22 for the USA: it can destroy it, but only at the cost of losing empire and dollar hegemony...
Notable quotes:
"... The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem. ..."
"... The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight. ..."
"... Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI. ..."
"... The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess. ..."
"... This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development. ..."
"... "Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries." ..."
"... "For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq." ..."
"... Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous. ..."
"... I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt. ..."
"... Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs". ..."
"... This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers. ..."
"... This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article ..."
"... "The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire." ..."
"... The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power. ..."
"... In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world. ..."
"... the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities. ..."
Jan 09, 2020 | thesaker.is

[this interview was made for the Unz Review ]

Introduction: After posting Michael Hudson's article " America Escalates its "Democratic" Oil War in the Near East " on the blog, I decided to ask Michael to reply to a few follow-up questions. Michael very kindly agreed. Please see our exchange below.

The Saker

-- -- -

The Saker: Trump has been accused of not thinking forward, of not having a long-term strategy regarding the consequences of assassinating General Suleimani. Does the United States in fact have a strategy in the Near East, or is it only ad hoc?

Michael Hudson: Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it.

President Trump is just the taxicab driver, taking the passengers he has accepted – Pompeo, Bolton and the Iran-derangement syndrome neocons – wherever they tell him they want to be driven. They want to pull a heist, and he's being used as the getaway driver (fully accepting his role). Their plan is to hold onto the main source of their international revenue: Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Near Eastern oil-export surpluses and money. They see the US losing its ability to exploit Russia and China, and look to keep Europe under its control by monopolizing key sectors so that it has the power to use sanctions to squeeze countries that resist turning over control of their economies and natural rentier monopolies to US buyers. In short, US strategists would like to do to Europe and the Near East just what they did to Russia under Yeltsin: turn over public infrastructure, natural resources and the banking system to U.S. owners, relying on US dollar credit to fund their domestic government spending and private investment.

This is basically a resource grab. Suleimani was in the same position as Chile's Allende, Libya's Qaddafi, Iraq's Saddam. The motto is that of Stalin: "No person, no problem."

The Saker: Your answer raises a question about Israel: In your recent article you only mention Israel twice, and these are only passing comments. Furthermore, you also clearly say the US Oil lobby as much more crucial than the Israel Lobby, so here is my follow-up question to you: On what basis have you come to this conclusion and how powerful do you believe the Israel Lobby to be compared to, say, the Oil lobby or the US Military-Industrial Complex? To what degree do their interests coincide and to what degree to they differ?

Michael Hudson: I wrote my article to explain the most basic concerns of U.S. international diplomacy: the balance of payments (dollarizing the global economy, basing foreign central bank savings on loans to the U.S. Treasury to finance the military spending mainly responsible for the international and domestic budget deficit), oil (and the enormous revenue produced by the international oil trade), and recruitment of foreign fighters (given the impossibility of drafting domestic U.S. soldiers in sufficient numbers). From the time these concerns became critical to today, Israel was viewed as a U.S. military base and supporter, but the U.S. policy was formulated independently of Israel.

I remember one day in 1973 or '74 I was traveling with my Hudson Institute colleague Uzi Arad (later a head of Mossad and advisor to Netanyahu) to Asia, stopping off in San Francisco. At a quasi-party, a U.S. general came up to Uzi and clapped him on the shoulder and said, "You're our landed aircraft carrier in the Near East," and expressed his friendship.

Uzi was rather embarrassed. But that's how the U.S. military thought of Israel back then. By that time the three planks of U.S. foreign policy strategy that I outlined were already firmly in place.

Of course Netanyahu has applauded U.S. moves to break up Syria, and Trump's assassination choice. But the move is a U.S. move, and it's the U.S. that is acting on behalf of the dollar standard, oil power and mobilizing Saudi Arabia's Wahabi army.

Israel fits into the U.S.-structured global diplomacy much like Turkey does. They and other countries act opportunistically within the context set by U.S. diplomacy to pursue their own policies. Obviously Israel wants to secure the Golan Heights; hence its opposition to Syria, and also its fight with Lebanon; hence, its opposition to Iran as the backer of Assad and Hezbollah. This dovetails with US policy.

But when it comes to the global and U.S. domestic response, it's the United States that is the determining active force. And its concern rests above all with protecting its cash cow of Saudi Arabia, as well as working with the Saudi jihadis to destabilize governments whose foreign policy is independent of U.S. direction – from Syria to Russia (Wahabis in Chechnya) to China (Wahabis in the western Uighur region). The Saudis provide the underpinning for U.S. dollarization (by recycling their oil revenues into U.S. financial investments and arms purchases), and also by providing and organizing the ISIS terrorists and coordinating their destruction with U.S. objectives. Both the Oil lobby and the Military-Industrial Complex obtain huge economic benefits from the Saudis.

Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about.

The Saker: In your recent article you wrote: " The assassination was intended to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control the region's oil reserves ." Others believe that the goal was precisely the opposite, to get a pretext to remove the US forces from both Iraq and Syria. What are your grounds to believe that your hypothesis is the most likely one?

Michael Hudson: Why would killing Suleimani help remove the U.S. presence? He was the leader of the fight against ISIS, especially in Syria. US policy was to continue using ISIS to permanently destabilize Syria and Iraq so as to prevent a Shi'ite crescent reaching from Iran to Lebanon – which incidentally would serve as part of China's Belt and Road initiative. So it killed Suleimani to prevent the peace negotiation. He was killed because he had been invited by Iraq's government to help mediate a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. That was what the United States feared most of all, because it effectively would prevent its control of the region and Trump's drive to seize Iraqi and Syrian oil.

So using the usual Orwellian doublethink, Suleimani was accused of being a terrorist, and assassinated under the U.S. 2002 military Authorization Bill giving the President to move without Congressional approval against Al Qaeda. Trump used it to protect Al Qaeda's terrorist ISIS offshoots.

Given my three planks of U.S. diplomacy described above, the United States must remain in the Near East to hold onto Saudi Arabia and try to make Iraq and Syria client states equally subservient to U.S. balance-of-payments and oil policy.

Certainly the Saudis must realize that as the buttress of U.S. aggression and terrorism in the Near East, their country (and oil reserves) are the most obvious target to speed the parting guest. I suspect that this is why they are seeking a rapprochement with Iran. And I think it is destined to come about, at least to provide breathing room and remove the threat. The Iranian missiles to Iraq were a demonstration of how easy it would be to aim them at Saudi oil fields. What then would be Aramco's stock market valuation?

The Saker: In your article you wrote: " The major deficit in the U.S. balance of payments has long been military spending abroad. The entire payments deficit, beginning with the Korean War in 1950-51 and extending through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, was responsible for forcing the dollar off gold in 1971. The problem facing America's military strategists was how to continue supporting the 800 U.S. military bases around the world and allied troop support without losing America's financial leverage. " I want to ask a basic, really primitive question in this regard: how cares about the balance of payments as long as 1) the US continues to print money 2) most of the world will still want dollars. Does that not give the US an essentially "infinite" budget? What is the flaw in this logic?

Michael Hudson: The U.S. Treasury can create dollars to spend at home, and the Fed can increase the banking system's ability to create dollar credit and pay debts denominated in US dollars. But they cannot create foreign currency to pay other countries, unless they willingly accept dollars ad infinitum – and that entails bearing the costs of financing the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, getting only IOUs in exchange for real resources that they sell to U.S. buyers.

This is the situation that arose half a century ago. The United States could print dollars in 1971, but it could not print gold.

In the 1920s, Germany's Reichsbank could print deutsche marks – trillions of them. When it came to pay Germany's foreign reparations debt, all it could do was to throw these D-marks onto the foreign exchange market. That crashed the currency's exchange rate, forcing up the price of imports proportionally and causing the German hyperinflation.

The question is, how many surplus dollars do foreign governments want to hold. Supporting the dollar standard ends up supporting U.S. foreign diplomacy and military policy. For the first time since World War II, the most rapidly growing parts of the world are seeking to de-dollarize their economies by reducing reliance on U.S. exports, U.S. investment, and U.S. bank loans. This move is creating an alternative to the dollar, likely to replace it with groups of other currencies and assets in national financial reserves.

The Saker: In the same article you also write: " So maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. " We often hear people say that the dollar is about to tank and that as soon as that happens, then the US economy (and, according to some, the EU economy too) will collapse. In the intelligence community there is something called tracking the "indicators and warnings". My question to you is: what are the economic "indicators and warnings" of a possible (probable?) collapse of the US dollar followed by a collapse of the financial markets most tied to the Dollar? What shall people like myself (I am an economic ignoramus) keep an eye on and look for?

Michael Hudson: What is most likely is a slow decline, largely from debt deflation and cutbacks in social spending, in the Eurozone and US economies. Of course, the decline will force the more highly debt-leveraged companies to miss their bond payments and drive them into insolvency. That is the fate of Thatcherized economies. But it will be long and painfully drawn out, largely because there is little left-wing socialist alternative to neoliberalism at present.

Trump's protectionist policies and sanctions are forcing other countries to become self-reliant and independent of US suppliers, from farm crops to airplanes and military arms, against the US threat of a cutoff or sanctions against repairs, spare parts and servicing. Sanctioning Russian agriculture has helped it become a major crop exporter, and to become much more independent in vegetables, dairy and cheese products. The US has little to offer industrially, especially given the fact that its IT communications are stuffed with US spyware.

Europe therefore is facing increasing pressure from its business sector to choose the non-US economic alliance that is growing more rapidly and offers a more profitable investment market and more secure trade supplier. Countries will turn as much as possible (diplomatically as well as financially and economically) to non-US suppliers because the United States is not reliable, and because it is being shrunk by the neoliberal policies supported by Trump and the Democrats alike. A byproduct probably will be a continued move toward gold as an alternative do the dollar in settling balance-of-payments deficits.

The Saker: Finally, my last question: which country out there do you see as the most capable foe of the current US-imposed international political and economic world order? whom do you believe that US Deep State and the Neocons fear most? China? Russia? Iran? some other country? How would you compare them and on the basis of what criteria?

Michael Hudson: The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution. He is uniting the world in a move toward multi-centrism much more than any ostensibly anti-American could have done. And he is doing it all in the name of American patriotism and nationalism – the ultimate Orwellian rhetorical wrapping!

Trump has driven Russia and China together with the other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), including Iran as observer. His demand that NATO join in US oil grabs and its supportive terrorism in the Near East and military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere probably will lead to European "Ami go home" demonstrations against NATO and America's threat of World War III.

No single country can counter the U.S. unipolar world order. It takes a critical mass of countries. This already is taking place among the countries that you list above. They are simply acting in their own common interest, using their own mutual currencies for trade and investment. The effect is an alternative multilateral currency and trading area.

The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire. In effect, foreign countries are beginning to respond to the United States what the ten tribes of Israel said when they withdrew from the southern kingdom of Judah, whose king Rehoboam refused to lighten his demands (1 Kings 12). They echoed the cry of Sheba son of Bikri a generation earlier: "Look after your own house, O David!" The message is: What do other countries have to gain by remaining in the US unipolar neoliberalized world, as compared to using their own wealth to build up their own economies? It's an age-old problem.

The dollar will still play a role in US trade and investment, but it will be as just another currency, held at arms length until it finally gives up its domineering attempt to strip other countries' wealth for itself. However, its demise may not be a pretty sight.

The Saker: I thank you very much for your time and answers! ­


Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:19 pm EST/EDT

What a truly superb interview!

Another one that absolutely stands for me out is the below link to a recent interview of Hussein Askary.

As I wrote a few days ago IMO this too is a wonderful insight into the utterly complicated dynamics of the tinderbox that the situation in Iran and Iraq has become.

Conflict in the ME has traditionally almost always been about oil [and of course Israel]. This situation is different. It is only partially about oil and Israel, but OVERWHHEMINGLY it is about the BRI.

The salient factor as I see it is the Oil for Technology initiative that Iraq signed with China shortly before it slid into this current mess.

This was a mechanism whereby China would buy Iraq oil and these funds would be used directly to fund infrastructure and self-sufficiency initiatives and technologies that would help to drag Iraq out of the complete disaster that the US war had created in this country. A key part of this would be that China would also make extra loans available at the same time to speed up this development.

In essence, this would enable the direct and efficient linking of Iraq into the BRI project. Going forward the economic gains and the political stability that could come out of this would be a completely new paradigm in the recovery of Iraq both economically and politically. Iraq is essential for a major part of the dynamics of the BRI because of its strategic location and the fact that it could form a major hub in the overall network.

It absolutely goes without saying that the AAA would do everything the could to wreck this plan. This is their playbook and is exactly what they have done. The moronic and extraordinarily impulsive Trump subsequently was easily duped into being a willing and idiotic accomplice in this plan.

The positive in all of this is that this whole scheme will backfire spectacularly for the perpetrators and will more than likely now speed up the whole process in getting Iraq back on track and working towards stability and prosperity.

Please don't anyone try to claim that Trump is part of any grand plan nothing could be further from the truth he is nothing more than a bludgeoning imbecile foundering around, lashing out impulsively indiscriminately. He is completely oblivious and ignorant as to the real picture.

I urge everyone involved in this Saker site to put aside an hour and to listen very carefully to Askary's insights. This is extremely important and could bring more clarity to understanding the situation than just about everything else you have read put together. There is hope, and Askary highlights the huge stakes that both Russia and China have in the region.

This is a no brainer. This is the time for both Russia and China to act and to decisively. They must cooperate in assisting both Iraq and Iran to extract themselves from the current quagmire the one that the vicious Hegemon so cruelly and thoughtlessly tossed them into.

Cheers from the south seas
Col

And the link to the Askary interview: . https://youtu.be/UD1hWq6KD44

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:22 pm EST/EDT
Also interesting is what Simon Watkins reports in his recent article entitled "Is Iraq About To Become A Chinese Client State?"

To quote from the article:

"Iraq's Finance Ministry that the country had started exporting 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in October as part of the 20-year oil-for-infrastructure deal agreed between the two countries."

and

"For Iraq and Iran, China's plans are particularly far-reaching, OilPrice.com has been told by a senior oil industry figure who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry and Iraq's Oil Ministry. China will begin with the oil and gas sector and work outwards from that central point. In addition to being granted huge reductions on buying Iranian oil and gas, China is to be given the opportunity to build factories in both Iran and Iraq – and build-out infrastructure, such as railways – overseen by its own management staff from Chinese companies. These are to have the same operational structure and assembly lines as those in China, so that they fit seamlessly into various Chinese companies' assembly lines' process for whatever product a particular company is manufacturing, whilst also being able to use the still-cheap labour available in both Iraq and Iraq."

and

"The second key announcement in this vein made last week from Iraq was that the Oil Ministry has completed the pre-qualifying process for companies interested in participating in the Iraqi-Jordanian oil pipeline project. The U$5 billion pipeline is aimed at carrying oil produced from the Rumaila oilfield in Iraq's Basra Governorate to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, with the first phase of the project comprising the installation of a 700-kilometre-long pipeline with a capacity of 2.25 million bpd within the Iraqi territories (Rumaila-Haditha). The second phase includes installing a 900-kilometre pipeline in Jordan between Haditha and Aqaba with a capacity of 1 million bpd. Iraq's Oil Minister – for the time being, at least – Thamir Ghadhban added that the Ministry has formed a team to prepare legal contracts, address financial issues and oversee technical standards for implementing the project, and that May will be the final month in which offers for the project from the qualified companies will be accepted and that the winners will be announced before the end of this year. Around 150,000 barrels of the oil from Iraq would be used for Jordan's domestic needs, whilst the remainder would be exported through Aqaba to various destinations, generating about US$3 billion a year in revenues to Jordan, with the rest going to Iraq. Given that the contractors will be expected to front-load all of the financing for the projects associated with this pipeline, Baghdad expects that such tender offers will be dominated by Chinese and Russian companies, according to the Iran and Iraq source."

Cheers
Col

And the link https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Middle-East/Is-Iraq-About-To-Become-A-Chinese-Client-State.html#

Anonymouse on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:20 pm EST/EDT
Hudson is so good. He's massively superior to most so called military analysts and alternative bloggers on the net. He can clearly see the over arching picture and how the military is used to protect and project it. The idea that the US is going to leave the middle east until they are forced to is so blind as to be ridiculous.

They will not sacrifice the (free) oil until booted out by a coalition of Arab countries threatening to over run them and that is why the dollar hegemonys death will be slow, long and drawn out and they will do anything, any dirty trick in the book, to prevent Arab/Persian unity. Unlike many peoples obsession with Israel and how important they feel themselves to be I think Hudson is correct again. They are the middle eastern version of the British – a stationary aircraft carrier who will allow themselves to be used and abused whilst living under the illusion they are major players. They aren't. They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat. If you want to beat America you have to understand the big scheme, that and the utter insanity that backs it up. It is that insanity of the leites, the inability to allow themselves to be 'beaten' that will keep nuclear exchange as a real possibility over the next 10 to 15 years. Unification is the only thing that can stop it and trying to unite so many disparate countries (as the Russians are trying to do despite multiple provocations) is where the future lies and why it will take so long. It is truly breath taking in such a horrific way, as Hudson mentions, that to allow the world to see its 'masters of the universe' pogram to be revealed:

"Of course American strategists will deny that the recent actions do not reflect a deliberate strategy, because their long-term strategy is so aggressive and exploitative that it would even strike the American public as being immoral and offensive if they came right out and said it."

Would be to allow it to be undermined at home and abroad. God help us all.

Little Black Duck on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:01 pm EST/EDT
They're bit part players in decline, subservient to the great dollar and oil pyramid scheme that keeps America afloat.

So who owns the dollar? And who owns the oil companies?

Osori on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:06 pm EST/EDT
I'd never thought of that "stationary aircraft carrier" comparison between Israel and the British, very apt.
Zachary Smith on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:53 pm EST/EDT
Clever would be a better word. Looking at my world globe, I see Italy, Greece, and Turkey on that end of the Mediterranean. Turkey has been in NATO since 1952. Crete and Cyprus are also right there. Doesn't Hudson own a globe or regional map?

That a US Admiral would be gushing about the Apartheid state 7 years after the attempted destruction of the USS Liberty is painful to consider. I'd like to disbelieve the story, but it's quite likely there were a number of high-ranking ***holes in a Naval Uniform.

44360 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:34 pm EST/EDT
The world situation reminds us of the timeless fable by Aesop of The North Wind and the Sun.

Trump et al assassinated someone who was on a diplomatic mission. This action was so far removed from acceptable behavior that it must have been considered to be "by any means and at all costs".

Perhaps the most potent weapon Iran or anyone else has at this critical juncture, is not missiles, but diplomacy.

Ahmed on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:37 pm EST/EDT
"Therefore, to focus one-sidedly on Israel is a distraction away from what the US-centered international order really is all about."

Thank you for saying this sir. In the US and around the world many people become obsessively fixated in seeing a "jew" or zionist behind every bush. Now the Zionists are certinly an evil, blood thirsty bunch, and certainly deserve the scorn of the world, but i feel its a cop out sometimes. A person from the US has a hard time stomaching the actions of their country, so they just hoist all the unpleasentries on to the zionists. They put it all on zionisim, and completly fail to mention imperialism. I always switced back and forth on the topic my self. But i cant see how a beachead like the zionist state, a stationary carrier, can be bigger than the empire itself. Just look at the major leaders in the resistance groups, the US was always seen as the ultimate obstruction, while israel was seen as a regional obstruction. Like sayyed hassan nasrallah said in his recent speech about the martyrs, that if the US is kicked out, the Israelis might just run away with out even fighting. I hate it when people say "we are in the middle east for israel" when it can easily be said that "israel is still in the mid east because of the US." If the US seized to exist today, israel would fall rather quickly. If israel fell today the US would still continue being an imperalist, bloodthirsty entity.

Azorka1861 on January 09, 2020 , · at 5:57 pm EST/EDT
The Deeper Story behind the Assassination of Soleimani

This article, published by Strategic Culture, features a translation of Mahdi's speech to the Iraqi parliament in which he states that Trump threatened him with assassination and the US admitted to killing hundreds of demonstrators using Navy SEAL snipers.

https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/01/08/vital-the-deeper-story-behind-the-assassination-of-soleimani/

..

Nils on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:05 pm EST/EDT
This description provided by Mr Hudson is no Moore than the financial basis behind the Cebrowski doctrine instituted on 9/11. https://www.voltairenet.org/article

I wish the Saker had asked Mr Hudson about some crucial recent events to get his opinion with regards to US foreign policy. Specifically, how does the emergence of cryptocurrency relate to dollar finance and the US grand strategy? A helpful tool for the hegemon or the emergence of a new currency that prevents unlimited currency printing? Finally, what is global warming and the associated carbon credit system? The next planned model of continuing global domination and balance of payments? Or true organic attempt at fair energy production and management?

Much thanks for this interview, Saker

Col...'the farmer from NZ' on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:26 pm EST/EDT
With all due respect, these are huge questions in themselves and perhaps could to be addressed in separate interviews. IMO it doesn't always work that well to try to cover too much ground in just one giant leap.

Regards
Col

Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:26 pm EST/EDT
I have never understood the Cebrowski doctrine. How does the destruction of Middle Eastern state structures allow the US to control Middle East Oil? The level of chaos generated by such an act would seem to prevent anyone from controlled the oil.
Outlaw Historian on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:48 pm EST/EDT
Dr. Hudson often appears on RT's "Keiser Report" where he covers many contemporary topics with its host Max Keiser. Many of the shows transcripts are available at Hudson's website . Indeed, after the two Saker items, you'll find three programs on the first page. Using the search function at his site, you'll find the two articles he's written that deal with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, although I think he's been more specific in the TV interviews.

As for this Q&A, its an A+. Hudson's 100% correct to playdown the Zionist influence given the longstanding nature of the Outlaw US Empire's methods that began well before the rise of the Zionist Lobby, which in reality is a recycling of aid dollars back to Congress in the form of bribes.

RR on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:59 pm EST/EDT
Nils: Good Article. The spirit of Nihilism.
Quote from Neocon Michael Ladeen.

"Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence -- our existence, not our politics -- threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission."

Frank on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:27 pm EST/EDT
@NILS As far as crypto currency goes it is a brilliant idea in concept. But since during the Bush years we have been shown multiple times, who actually owns [and therefore controls] the internet. Many times now we have also been informed that through the monitoring capability's of our defense agency's, they are recording every key stroke. IMO, with the flip of a switch, we can shut down the internet. At the very least, that would stop us from being able to trade in crypto, but they have e-files on each of us. They know our passwords, or can easily access them. That does not give me confidence in e=currency during a teotwawki situation.
Anonymous on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:34 pm EST/EDT
A truly superb interview, thanks Michael Hudson.
David on January 09, 2020 , · at 6:39 pm EST/EDT
One thing that troubles me about the petrodollar thesis is that ANNUAL trade in oil is about 2 trillion DAILY trade in $US is 4 trillion. I can well believe the US thinks oil is the bedrock if dollar hegemony but is it? I see no alternative to US dollar hegemony.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 7:17 pm EST/EDT
Excellent article.

The lines that really got my attention were these:

"The leading country breaking up US hegemony obviously is the United States itself. That is Trump's major contribution The United States is now turning on the screws demanding that other countries sacrifice their growth in order to finance the U.S. unipolar empire."

That is so completely true. I have wondered why – to date – there had not been more movement by Europe away from the United States. But while reading the article the following occurred to me. Maybe Europe is awaiting the next U.S. election. Maybe they hope that a new president (someone like Biden) might allow Europe to keep more of the "spoils."

If that is true, then a re-election of Trump will probably send Europe fleeing for the exits. The Europeans will be cutting deals with Russia and China like the store is on fire.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:22 pm EST/EDT
The critical player in forming the EU WAS/IS the US financial Elites. Yes, they had many ultra powerful Europeans, especially Germany, but it was the US who initiated the EU.

Purpose? For the US Financial Powerhouses & US politicians to "take Europe captive." Notice the similarities: the EU has its Central Bank who communicates with the private Banksters of the FED. Much austerity has ensued, especially in Southern nations: Greece, Italy, etc. Purpose: to smash unions, worker's pay, eliminate unions, and basically allowing US/EU Financial capital to buy out Italy, most of Greece, and a goodly section of Spain and Portugal.

The US govt. have long since paid off most every European politician. Thusly, Europe, as separate nations that should be remain still under the yolk of the US Financial/Political/Military power.

Craig Mouldey on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:19 pm EST/EDT
I have a hard time wrapping my head around this but it sounds like he is saying that the U.S. has a payment deficit problem which is solved by stealing the world's oil supplies. To do this they must have a powerful, expensive military. But it is primarily this military which is the main cause of the balance deficit. So it is an eternally fuelled problem and solution. If I understand this, what it actually means is that we all live on a plantation as slaves and everything that is happening is for the benefit of the few wealthy billionaires. And they intend to turn the entire world into their plantation of slaves. They may even let you live for a while longer.
Mike from Jersey on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:25 pm EST/EDT
Actually, oil underlies everything.

I didn't know this until I read a history of World War I.

As you know, World War One was irresolvable, murderous, bloody trench warfare. People would charge out of the trenches trying to overrun enemy positions only to be cutdown by the super weapon of the day – the machine gun. It was an unending bloody stalemate until the development of the tank. Tanks were immune to machine gun fire coming from the trenches and could overrun enemy positions. In the aftermath of that war, it became apparently that mechanization had become crucial to military supremacy. In turn, fuel was crucial to mechanization. Accordingly, in the Sykes Picot agreement France and Britain divided a large amount of Middle Eastern oil between themselves in order to assure military dominance. (The United States had plenty of their own oil at that time.)

In any event, it is the same today. Energy underlies, not only the military but, all of world civilization. Oil and gas are overwhelmingly the source of energy for the modern world. Without it, civilization collapses. Thus, he who controls oil (and gas) controls the world.

That is one third of the story. The second third is this.

Up till 1971, the United States dollar was the most trusted currency in the world. The dollar was backed by gold and lots and lots of it. Dollars were in fact redeemable in gold. However, due to Vietnam War, the United States started running huge balance of payments deficits. Other countries – most notably France under De Gaulle – started cashing in dollars in exchange for that gold. Gold started flooding out of the United States. At that point Nixon took the United States off of the gold standard. Basically stating that the dollar was no longer backed by gold and dollars could not be redeemed for gold. That caused an international payments problem. People would no longer accept dollars as payment since the dollar was not backed up by anything. The American economy was in big trouble since they were running deficits and people would no longer take dollars on faith.

To fix the problem, Henry Kissinger convinced the Saudis to agree to only accept dollars in payment for oil – no matter who was the buyer. That meant that nations throughout the world now needed dollars in order to pay for their energy needs. Due to this, the dollars was once again the most important currency in the world since – as noted above – energy underlies everything in modern industrial cultures. Additionally, since dollars were now needed throughout the world, it became common to make all trades for any product in highly valued dollars. Everyone needed dollars for every thing, oil or not.

At that point, the United States could go on printing dollars and spending them since a growing world economy needed more and more dollars to buy oil as well as to trade everything else.

That leads to the third part of the story. In order to convince the Saudis to accept only dollars in payments for oil (and to have the Saudis strong arm other oil producers to do the same) Kissinger promised to protect the brutal Saudi regime's hold on power against a restive citizenry and also to protect the Saudi's against other nations. Additionally, Kissinger made an implicit threat that if the Saudi's did not agree, the US would come in and just take their oil. The Saudis agreed.

Thus, the three keys to dominance in the modern world are thus: oil, dollars and the military.

Thus, Hudson ties in the three threads in his interview above. Oil, Dollars, Military. That is what holds the empire together.

Rubicon on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:26 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for thinking through this. Yes, the link between the US $$$ and Saudi Oil, is the absolute means of the American Dollar to reign complete. This payment system FEEDS both the US Military, but WALL STREET, hedge funds, the US/EU oligarchs – to name just a few entities.
Stanislaw Janowicz on January 09, 2020 , · at 8:58 pm EST/EDT
I should make one note only to this. That "no man, no problem" was Stalin's motto is a myth. He never said that. It was invented by a writer Alexei Rybnikov and inserted in his book "The Children of Arbat".
Greg Horrall on January 09, 2020 , · at 9:42 pm EST/EDT
Wow! Absolutely beautiful summation of the ultimate causes that got us where we are and, if left intact, will get us to where we're going!

So, the dreamer says: If only we could throw-off our us-vs-them BS political-economic ideology & religious doctrine-faith issues, put them into live-and-let-live mode, and see that we are all just humans fighting over this oil resource to which our modern economy (way of life) is addicted, then we might be able to hammer out some new rules for interacting, for running an earth-resource sustainable and fair global economy We do at least have the technology to leave behind our oil addiction, but the political-economic will still is lacking. How much more of the current insanity must we have before we get that will? Will we get it before it's too late?

Only if we, a sufficient majority from the lowest economic classes to the top elites and throughout all nations, are able to psychologically-spiritually internalize the two principles of Common Humanity and Spaceship Earth soon enough, will we stop our current slide off the cliff into modern economic collapse and avert all the pain and suffering that's already now with us and that will intensify.

The realist says we're not going to stop that slide and it's the only way we're going to learn, if we are indeed ever going to learn.

Ann Watson on January 09, 2020 , · at 10:42 pm EST/EDT
So now we know why Michael Hudson avoids the Israel involvment – Like Pepe.
Лишний Человек on January 09, 2020 , · at 11:02 pm EST/EDT
Thank you for this excellent interview. You ask the kind of questions that we would all like to ask. It's regrettable that Chalmers Johnson isn't still alive. I believe that you and he would have a lot in common.

Naxos has produced an incredible, unabridged cd audiobook of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. One of Gibbon's observations really resonates today: "Assassination is the last resource of cowards". Thanks again.

[Jan 09, 2020] A War on Iran Would be Different From Iraq, and Far, Far Worse by Zoltan Grossman

All maps has been removed. See the original for full article with maps
Notable quotes:
"... Ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution and seizure of hostages in the U.S. Embassy, Washington has sought to topple the Shi'a revolutionary government in Tehran. That moment was when the demonization of Muslims replaced anti-Communism as the main selling point for military interventions. U.S., Israeli, and Saudi threats have also encouraged a siege mentality among Iranian leaders, who repeatedly used them as a rationale for limiting internal dissent. ..."
"... The nightmare scenario of a regional war has been played out in Central Command strategic planning since the 1980s. The regional blocs have been oversimplified in the western media as merely a Shi'a vs. Sunni rivalry, but Iran has also supported Sunni forces, such as Hamas in Palestine. What is at stake in the Middle East is usually about oil and state power, not simply about religion. ..."
"... Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman have been itching for the U.S. to launch strikes against Iran for some time, ostensibly over the nuclear program, but actually to roll back the Tehran-led regional alliance. Trump's tilt toward Russia has been welcomed by Israel and Saudi Arabia, as he tries to "decouple" Moscow from Tehran , in order to make Iran more vulnerable. ..."
"... Part of the neocon agenda for occupying Iraq was to have a staging area for regime change in Iran, but that is clearly no longer possible. Ground forces invading Iran from Kuwait would have to pass through a slice of Iraqi territory. An invasion from Afghanistan or Pakistan would be untenable because of on-going Islamist insurgencies (even though Iran has tended to back the U.S. against the Taliban and ISIS). The U.S. has not built bases to the north in Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan, but Trump's recent tilt toward Turkey may be partly to put more pressure on Iran's northwestern border . ..."
"... Watch for the U.S. stoking ethnic divisions in the diverse country, where ethnic minorities form about 40 percent of the population. The most dangerous sign would be encouraging a rebellion in the Arab province of Khuzestan, called "Ahwaz" by its Arab inhabitants. ..."
"... Back in 2005 I wrote about the possibility that the U.S. would use such an uprising as an excuse to occupy Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province (next to southern Iraq), with the "humanitarian" rationale of protecting its ethnic Arab population from "ethnic cleansing." Like back then, Tehran's repression of Ahwazi Arab protests and insurgent attacks have recently been increasing, and the possibility again exists of the U.S. exploiting their legitimate grievances for its own interests. ..."
"... My color map makes it clear that the ethnic Ahwazi Arab province of Khuzestan, which Saddam Hussein invaded at the start of the Iran-Iraq War, contains Iran's largest oil reserves (actually about 85% of Iran's oil). In a 2008 New Yorker article, journalist Seymour Hersh exposed CIA assistance to Ahwazi Arab and other ethnic insurgents , later advocated by John Bolton , and a CIA analysis declassified in 2013 referred to Khuzestan as " Iran's Achilles Tendon ." ..."
"... Whether Trump carries out an air war or a ground war, attacking Iran would be far more disastrous than attacking Iraq. It would destroy any chance of political reforms in Iran or Iraq, and rally even Iranian and Iraqi reformers around their governments. Iranian military forces and Revolutionary Guards could counterattack, block oil lanes in the Strait of Hormuz, or melt into an insurgency far deeper and longer than in Iraq. ..."
"... Trump's War would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because it could stimulate the terrorism and nuclear weapons programs it claims to oppose. ..."
"... The American public has developed a healthy " Iraq Syndrome " that abhors endless wars, much as the "Vietnam Syndrome" temporarily scaled back U.S. military interventions. Even though Iran is very different from Iraq, that strong public sentiment previously prevented both Obama and Trump from attacking Iran. If that sentiment can again be mobilized into an organized antiwar movement in the coming weeks, it can be even more effective. ..."
Jan 08, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

Since President Trump's assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, widespread alarm has centered on whether he is again dragging us into another war like Iraq, to detract from his impeachment. The bad news is that the situation is even more potentially disastrous.

As a political-cultural geographer who has long studied the history of U.S. military interventions , I'm alarmed that his action could set into motion a regional conflagration, the violent break-up of Iran into ethnic enclaves, and a death toll that would make the Iraq War look like a warm-up exercise. The good news is that Americans can and have stood in the way of such a war, and we can do so again.

...Iran has always been more geographically pivotal than Iraq, in land area, population, and economics. It was one of the few countries that retained independence through the colonial era, and one of the only Third World societies to successfully reject Western corporate domination.

Ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution and seizure of hostages in the U.S. Embassy, Washington has sought to topple the Shi'a revolutionary government in Tehran. That moment was when the demonization of Muslims replaced anti-Communism as the main selling point for military interventions. U.S., Israeli, and Saudi threats have also encouraged a siege mentality among Iranian leaders, who repeatedly used them as a rationale for limiting internal dissent.

The U.S. has already been at war with Iran, during the Iran-Iraq War. In 1987-88, the U.S. Navy actively sided with Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran , by escorting tankers carrying Iraqi oil, attacking Iranian boats and oil rigs, and "accidentally" shooting down an Iranian civilian jetliner. A war with Iran is not a hypothetical possibility, but a continuation of a long-simmering conflict.

Geopolitical Scenarios

Trump's actions may lead to a full-blown World War I-style regional war in the Middle East, between two blocs that have emerged in the past decade. On one side are the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, most Gulf states (UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman), Syrian Sunni insurgents, and southern Yemen. On the other side are Russia, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and Houthi rebels in northern Yemen.

Every major war has been preceded by early rumblings, such as in Morocco before World War I, or in Spain, Ethiopia, and China before World War II. The horrific civil wars in Syria and Yemen -- as well as conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, and Bahrain -- have partly served as proxy wars (with local origins) between these two emerging blocs. We may now be living in August 1914, when similar alliances propelled Europe to World War I, also sparked by an assassination.

The nightmare scenario of a regional war has been played out in Central Command strategic planning since the 1980s. The regional blocs have been oversimplified in the western media as merely a Shi'a vs. Sunni rivalry, but Iran has also supported Sunni forces, such as Hamas in Palestine. What is at stake in the Middle East is usually about oil and state power, not simply about religion.

... ... ...

What's Next?

The Houthi-claimed attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure, attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, direct exchange of missiles between Iranian forces in Syria and Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights, the U.S. bombing of Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, and a short siege of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have all taken place since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, but their origins are far more complex and local than the Washington-Tehran rivalry.

This conflict could quickly mushroom out of control, such as in confrontations over islands contested by Iran and the Gulf states, as well as U.S. military brinkmanship with Iranian vessels in the Straits of Hormuz, and with Russian and Iranian forces in Syria. Juan Cole has pointed out that even in the Iran-Iraq War, neither side attacked oil refineries because they knew they were vulnerable to a counterattack, but the assassination of an Iranian general is also unprecedented.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman have been itching for the U.S. to launch strikes against Iran for some time, ostensibly over the nuclear program, but actually to roll back the Tehran-led regional alliance. Trump's tilt toward Russia has been welcomed by Israel and Saudi Arabia, as he tries to "decouple" Moscow from Tehran , in order to make Iran more vulnerable.

It's possible that Trump is building up war fever as a set-up, in order that he can later reverse it and portray himself as a peace candidate. But if he does spark a war, he will use it to the hilt to question the loyalty of anyone who opposes it, and many congressional Democrats would probably rally around the flag.

Even if Iran reacts militarily to the assassination, Mayor DeBlasio's hysterical warning of terrorist retaliation in New York is utter B.S. In four decades of conflict, Iran has never sponsored an attack within the U.S., even as the U.S. has attacked its allies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and directly attacked its own forces in the Gulf. Only Sunni terrorists (also opposed by Iran) have attacked targets inside the U.S.

Ground War or Air War?

Unlike Iraq, the U.S. has limited options to invade Iran. One of the most important differences between Iran and Iraq is in their physical geography. Iraq has largely flat terrain, and so has been repeatedly invaded by foreign armies. Iran has natural defensive barriers in the Zagros and Elburz mountain ranges, and a political advantage in having complex neighbors that may not be willing to host invading forces.

Part of the neocon agenda for occupying Iraq was to have a staging area for regime change in Iran, but that is clearly no longer possible. Ground forces invading Iran from Kuwait would have to pass through a slice of Iraqi territory. An invasion from Afghanistan or Pakistan would be untenable because of on-going Islamist insurgencies (even though Iran has tended to back the U.S. against the Taliban and ISIS). The U.S. has not built bases to the north in Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan, but Trump's recent tilt toward Turkey may be partly to put more pressure on Iran's northwestern border .

Trump also is aware that U.S. civilians and even the military will be wary of another Middle East war. Like President Obama in 2013, Trump pulled the Pentagon back from strikes against Iran and Syria earlier in 2019, understanding (at least before his impeachment) that voters would not want another war. In a recent Pew Center poll , 62 percent of civilians and 64 percent of veterans say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting. A recent Military Times poll shows that half of active-duty military personnel are unhappy with Trump, and Bernie Sanders actually leads in donations from them.

These limited options means that a U.S. ground invasion of Iran is very unlikely, so there would not be a repeat of the 2003 Iraq invasion, followed by an occupation of the entire country. At least in its initial stages, a war on Iran would be largely an air war of bombs, missiles, and drones, launched by the Navy and Air Force, with minimal "boots on the ground."

That's why it may be dangerous for the antiwar movement to warn that an Iran War would be a repeat of the Iraq War, with massive U.S. casualties and a legacy of combat injuries and PTSD. During the Vietnam War, facing huge protests because of bodybags coming home, President Nixon switched from a ground war to an air war, reducing U.S. troop casualties, but vastly increasing civilian casualties.

President Bush employed a similar strategy in the 1991 Gulf War, sanitizing air strikes on Iraq as a detached video game. Clinton's 1999 air war on Serbia and Obama's 2011 air war on Libya were the first time in human history that a one side in a major war had zero deaths by enemy fire. Trump has inherited these technological tactics of imperial impunity. If the antiwar movement mainly emphasizes the possibilities of U.S. military casualties, it only plays into the Pentagon's hands and reinforces high-tech warfare that claims even more civilian lives.

Playing the Ethnic Card

But there is one scenario that I fear could lead to a ground invasion of Iran. Watch for the U.S. stoking ethnic divisions in the diverse country, where ethnic minorities form about 40 percent of the population. The most dangerous sign would be encouraging a rebellion in the Arab province of Khuzestan, called "Ahwaz" by its Arab inhabitants.

Back in 2005 I wrote about the possibility that the U.S. would use such an uprising as an excuse to occupy Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province (next to southern Iraq), with the "humanitarian" rationale of protecting its ethnic Arab population from "ethnic cleansing." Like back then, Tehran's repression of Ahwazi Arab protests and insurgent attacks have recently been increasing, and the possibility again exists of the U.S. exploiting their legitimate grievances for its own interests.

My color map makes it clear that the ethnic Ahwazi Arab province of Khuzestan, which Saddam Hussein invaded at the start of the Iran-Iraq War, contains Iran's largest oil reserves (actually about 85% of Iran's oil). In a 2008 New Yorker article, journalist Seymour Hersh exposed CIA assistance to Ahwazi Arab and other ethnic insurgents , later advocated by John Bolton , and a CIA analysis declassified in 2013 referred to Khuzestan as " Iran's Achilles Tendon ."

The U.S. and Saudis may feel that in this " Khuzestan Gambit ," they could land Marines and paratroopers on western Khuzestan's flat terrain, and hold its massive oil fields hostage for concessions from Tehran, without having to push through mountainous barriers and occupy the rest of Iran.

Like Saddam in 1980, they may be deluded that that Ahwazi Arabs will welcome them in Khuzestan, much as they thought that Iraqi Shi'as would welcome foreign occupiers in 2003. Backing an Arab secessionist movement could easily set into motion the violent "Balkanization" of Iran, which would make Yugoslavia pale in comparison, and even tear apart neighboring countries.

Even if ethnic grievances are legitimate, the timing of western interest in their grievances coincides too neatly with the larger desire to pressure and isolate Iran. Washington has a long history of championing the rights of ethnic minorities against its enemies (such as in Vietnam, Laos, Nicaragua, and Syria), then abandoning or selling out the minority when it is no longer strategically useful. We love 'em, we use 'em, and then we dump 'em.

Fighting the Last War

Whether Trump carries out an air war or a ground war, attacking Iran would be far more disastrous than attacking Iraq. It would destroy any chance of political reforms in Iran or Iraq, and rally even Iranian and Iraqi reformers around their governments. Iranian military forces and Revolutionary Guards could counterattack, block oil lanes in the Strait of Hormuz, or melt into an insurgency far deeper and longer than in Iraq.

Trump's War would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because it could stimulate the terrorism and nuclear weapons programs it claims to oppose.

The American public has developed a healthy " Iraq Syndrome " that abhors endless wars, much as the "Vietnam Syndrome" temporarily scaled back U.S. military interventions. Even though Iran is very different from Iraq, that strong public sentiment previously prevented both Obama and Trump from attacking Iran. If that sentiment can again be mobilized into an organized antiwar movement in the coming weeks, it can be even more effective.

But to be effective, the movement has to focus on the horrendous effects of such a war on Iranian civilians, not only on U.S. troops. And it should understand that this war may unfold in unpredictable ways that differ from previous invasions. Just as "generals always fight the last war," antiwar movements will lose if they merely fight against the last war. Join the debate on Facebook

More articles by: Zoltan Grossman

Zoltan Grossman is a professor of Geography and Native Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, who has been a warm body in peace, justice, and environmental movements for the past 35 years. His website is http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz and email is grossmaz@evergreen.edu

[Jan 09, 2020] Michael Hudson the American military agenda

Jan 09, 2020 | michael-hudson.com

is always about the dollar's supremacy as defacto reserve currency for the world in order to control the world. Which China, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia, and others are/were trying to escape from . He writes:

Conclusion:

First came the 9/11 attack (Sept 2001).

In the wake of this, Congress passed the 2002 Authorization Act. This authorized the President to move against Al Qaeda.

Fast forward to today: Suleimani and Iran were fighting AGANST Al Qaeda and its offshoot, ISIS/Daesh. Saudi Arabia had asked Suleimani (with U.S. approval) to help negotiate a peace, whereby the Saudi's would stop backing ISIS. It was an official mission invited by Iraq to negotiate peace between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq.

This infuriated the United States, which wanted a permanent warfare there as an excuse to occupy Iraq and prevent a Shi'ite Crescent linking Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, which incidentally would serve as part of China's Belt and Road initiative. So it killed Suleimani to prevent the peace negotiation.

The implication is that the US wants a PERMANENT occupation of Iraq, which is needed to secure the US grab of Iraq's oil and Syria's oil, as well as to prevent any non-U.S. oil transit.

The question is, how to get the world's politicians – U.S., European and Asians – to see how America's all-or-nothing policy is threatening new waves of war, refugees, extreme weather and the disruption of the oil trade in the Strait of Hormuz. Ultimately, the aim is to ensure neoliberal dollarization is imposed on all countries to subsidize US imperial hegemony.

It is a sign of how little power exists in the United Nations that no countries are calling for a new Nurenberg-style war crimes trial following the assassination, no threat to withdraw from NATO or even to avoid holding reserves in the form of money lent to the U.S. Treasury to fund America's military budget.

Posted by: Kali | Jan 9 2020 18:18 utc | 22

[Jan 09, 2020] Opposing War With Iran: Three Reasons by Anthony DiMaggio

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... War will allow Trump to claim the mantle of "national" wartime leader, while diverting attention away from his impeachment trial. And in light of the intensification of belligerent rhetoric from this administration, war appears to be increasingly likely. ..."
"... The American people have a moral responsibility to question not only Trump's motives, but to consider the humanitarian disaster that inevitably accompanies war. ..."
"... is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era (Paperback, 2018), and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media , and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2016). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com ..."
Jan 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

The U.S. stands at the precipice of war. President Trump's rhetorical efforts to sell himself as the "anti-war" president have been exposed as a fraud via his assault on Iran. Most Orwellian of all is Trump's claim that the assassination of Iranian General Qassam Soleimani was necessary to avert war, following the New Year's Eve attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In reality the U.S. hit on Soleimani represents a criminal escalation of the conflict between these two countries. The general's assassination was rightly seen as an act of war , so the claim that the strike is a step toward peace is absurd on its face. We should be perfectly clear about the fundamental threat to peace posed by the Trump administration. Iran has already promised "harsh retaliation" following the assassination, and announced it is pulling out of the 2015 multi-national agreement prohibiting the nation from developing nuclear weapons. Trump's escalation has dramatically increased the threat of all-out war. Recognizing this threat, I sketch out an argument here based on my initial thoughts of this conflict, providing three reasons for why Americans need to oppose war.

#1: No Agreement about an Iranian Threat

Soleimani was the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the Quds Force – a clandestine military intelligence organization that specializes in paramilitary-style operations throughout the Middle East, and which is described as seeking to further Iranian political influence throughout the region. Trump celebrated the assassination as necessary to bringing Soleimani's "reign of terror" to an end. The strike, he claimed, was vital after the U.S. caught Iran "in the act" of planning "imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel."

But Trump's justification for war comes from a country with a long history of distorting and fabricating evidence of an Iranian threat. American leaders have disingenuously and propagandistically portrayed Iran as on the brink of developing nuclear weapons for decades. Presidents Bush and Obama were both rebuked, however, by domestic intelligence and international weapons inspectors , which failed to uncover evidence that Iran was developing these weapons, or that it was a threat to the U.S.

Outside of previous exaggerations, evidence is emerging that the Trump administration and the intelligence community are not of one mind regarding Iran's alleged threat. Shortly after Soleimani's assassination, the Department of Homeland Security declared there was "no specific, credible threat" from Iran within U.S. borders. And U.S. military officials disagree regarding Trump's military escalation. As the New York Times reports :

"In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran's most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him -- which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq -- on the menu they presented to President Trump. They didn't think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable."

"Top pentagon officials," the Times reports , "were stunned" by the President's order. Furthermore, the paper reported that "the intelligence" supposedly confirming Iranian plans to attack U.S. diplomats was "thin," in the words of at least one U.S. military official who was privy to the administration's deliberations. According to that source , there is no evidence of an "imminent" attack in the foreseeable future against American targets outside U.S. borders.

U.S. leaders have always obscured facts, distorted intelligence, and fabricated information to stoke public fears and build support for war. So it should come as no surprise that this president is politicizing intelligence. He certainly has reason to – in order to draw attention away from his Senate impeachment trial, and considering Trump's increasingly desperate efforts to demonstrate that he is a serious President, not a tin-pot authoritarian who ignores the rule of law, while shamelessly coercing and extorting foreign leaders in pursuit of domestic electoral advantage.

Independent of the corruption charges against Trump, it is unwise for Americans to take the President at his word, considering the blatant lies employed in the post-9/11 era to justify war in the Middle East. Not so long ago the American public was sold a bill of goods regarding Iraq's alleged WMDs and ties to terrorism. Neither of those claims was remotely true, and Americans were left footing the bill for a war that cost trillions , based on the lies of an opportunistic president who was dead-set on exploiting public fears of terrorism in a time of crisis. The Bush administration sold war based on intelligence they knew was fraudulent, manipulating the nation into on a decade-long war that led to the murder of more than 1 million Iraqis and more than 5,000 American servicemen, resulting in a failed Iraqi state, and paving the way for the rise of ISIS. All of this is to say that the risks of beginning another war in the Middle East are incredibly high, and Americans would do well to seriously consider the consequences of entering a war based (yet again) on questionable intelligence.

#2: The "War on Terrorism" as a Red Herring

U.S. leaders have long used the rhetoric of terrorism to justify war. But this strategy represents a serious distortion of reality, via the conflation of terrorism – understood as premeditated acts of violence to intimidate civilians – with acts of war. Trump fed into this misrepresentation when he described Soleimani's "reign of terror" as encompassing not only the alleged targeting of U.S. diplomats, but attacks on "U.S. military personnel." The effort to link the deaths of U.S. soldiers in wartime to terrorism echoes the State Department's 2019 statement , which designated Iran's Quds Force a "terrorist" organization, citing its responsibility "for the deaths of at least 603 American service members in Iraq" from "2003 to 2011" via its support for Iraqi militias that were engaging in attacks on U.S. forces.

As propaganda goes, the attempt to link these acts of war to "terrorism" is quite perverse. U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq were participating in a criminal, illegal occupation, which was widely condemned by the international community. The U.S. war in Iraq was a crime of aggression under the Nuremberg Charter, and it violated the United Nations Charter's prohibition on the use of force, which is only allowed via Security Council authorization (which the U.S. did not have), or in the case of military acts undertaken in self-defense against an ongoing attack (Iraq was not at war with the U.S. prior to the 2003 invasion). Contrary to Trump's and the State Department's propaganda, there are no grounds to classify the deaths of military personnel in an illegal war as terrorism. Instead, one could argue that domestic Iraqi political actors (of which Iraqi militias are included, regardless of their ties to Iran) were within their legal rights under international law to engage in acts of self-defense against American troops acting on behalf of a belligerent foreign power, which was conducting an illegal occupation.

#3: More War = Further Destabilization of the Middle East

The largest takeaway from recent events should be to recognize the tremendous danger that escalation of war poses to the U.S. and the region. The legacy of U.S. militarism in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, is one of death, destruction, and instability. Every major war involving the U.S. has produced humanitarian devastation and mass destruction, while fueling instability and terrorism. With the 1979 Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. support for Mujahedeen radicals led to the breakdown of social order, and the rise of the radical Taliban regime, which housed al Qaeda fundamentalists in the years prior to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan contributed to the further deterioration of Afghan society, and was accompanied by the return of the Taliban, ensuing in a civil war that has persisted over the last two decades.

With Iraq, the U.S. invasion produced a massive security vacuum following the collapse of the Iraqi government, which made possible the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq. The U.S. fueled numerous civil wars, in Iraq during the 2000s and Syria in the 2010s, creating mass instability, and giving rise to ISIS, which became a mini-state of its own operating across both countries. And then there was the 2011 U.S.-NATO supported rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi, which not only resulted in the dictator's overthrow, but in the rise of another ISIS affiliate within Libya's border. Even Obama, the biggest cheerleader for the war, subsequently admitted the intervention was his "worst mistake," due to the civil war that emerged after Gaddafi's overthrow, which opened the door for the rise of ISIS.

All of these conflicts have one thing in common. They brought tremendous devastation to the countries under assault, via scorched-earth military campaigns, which left death, misery, and destruction in their wake. The U.S. is adept at destroying countries, but shows little interest in, or ability to reconstruct them. These wars provided fertile ground for Islamist radicals, who took advantage of the resulting chaos and instability.

The primary lesson of the "War on Terror" should be clear to rationally minded observers: U.S. wars breed not only instability, but desperation, as the people victimized by war become increasingly tolerant of domestic extremist movements. Repressive states are widely reviled by the people they subjugate. But the only thing worse than a dictatorship is no order at all, when societies collapse into civil war, anarchy, and genocide. The story of ISIS's rise is one of citizens suffering under war and instability, and becoming increasingly tolerant of extremist political actors, so long as they are able to provide order in times of crisis. This point is consistently neglected in U.S. political and media discourse – a sign of how propagandistic "debates" over war have become, nearly 20 years into the U.S. "War on Terrorism."

Where Do We Go From Here?

Trump followed up the Soleimani assassination with a Twitter announcement that the U.S. has "targeted" 52 additional "Iranian sites," which will be attacked "if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets." There's no reason in light of recent events to chalk this announcement up to typical Trump-Twitter bluster. This President is desperate to begin a war with Iran, as Trump has courted confrontation with the Islamic republic since the early days of his presidency.

War will allow Trump to claim the mantle of "national" wartime leader, while diverting attention away from his impeachment trial. And in light of the intensification of belligerent rhetoric from this administration, war appears to be increasingly likely.

The American people have a moral responsibility to question not only Trump's motives, but to consider the humanitarian disaster that inevitably accompanies war. War with Iran will only make the Middle East more unstable, further fueling anti-American radicalism, and increasing the terror threat to the U.S. This conclusion isn't based on speculation, but on two decades of experience with a "War on Terror" that's done little but destroy nations and increase terror threats. The American people can reduce the dangers of war by protesting Trump's latest provocation, and by pressuring Congress to pass legislation condemning any future attack on Iran as a violation of national and international law.

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More articles by: Anthony DiMaggio

Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era (Paperback, 2018), and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media , and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2016). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

[Jan 09, 2020] And for $5 trillion spent bombing unoffending MENA countries the US has gotten what?

Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

Nordstream II cost $12 billion. Russia is selling 55 billion M3 of LNG to Europe. Add Nordstream I, another 55 billion, Power of Siberia to China and Turkstream just opened.

And for $5 trillion spent bombing unoffending MENA countries the US has gotten what? Moar war. That's it.

Russia is building infrastructure while the US destroys.

[Jan 08, 2020] Russia has Peaked , according to the Minister of Energy.

Jan 08, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ronny Patterson

Ignored says: 01/02/2020 AT 1:49 PM

Russia has Peaked , according to the Minister of Energy.

Russia's Interest In Oil Production Cuts Is Waning

Russia is planning level production for the next 4 years.

"As far as the production cuts are concerned, I repeat once again, this is not an indefinite process. A decision on the exit should be gradually taken in order to keep up market share and so that our companies would be able to provide and implement their future projects. I think that we will consider that this year."(2020)

Meanwhile, Russia's energy ministry is assuming that the country's total output is to average around and slightly above 11.2 million barrels per day until 2024. In other words, it is not building any cut into its plan.

Russia's peak month, so far, was December 2018 at 11,408,000 barrels per day. The average daily production for 2018 was 11,115,000 bpd. Average production for 2019 was 11,211,000 bpd. This is the level they hope to hold for the next 4 years.

Russia's production increased by an average of 96,000 barrels per day in 2019. They are not expecting any further increase at all. They just hope to hold at 2019 levels for another four years. I think they will be very lucky if they manage that.

Point is, the world's largest producer, the USA, will likely peak in a few months. The world's second-largest producer, Russia, is admitting they have peaked. The world's third-largest producer, Saudi Arabia, has very likely peaked though they do not admit it. OPEC likely peaked in 2016, *Iran and Venezuela notwithstanding.

*Iran peaked in 2005 at 3,938,000 bpd. My Venezuela records only go back to 2001 when they produced 2,961,000 bpd. However, they peaked several years before that. However, neither is producing at maximum capacity today due to political problems. However both are clearly in decline regardless of political problems keeping them from producing flat out.

If we are at peak oil right now we are damn close to it.

The Russian Chart below is C+C through December 2019.

REPLY

Ron Patterson Ignored says: 01/02/2020 AT 6:00 PM

Ovi, the data in my chart above is from the official Ministry of Energy web site, converting tons to barrels at 7.33 barrels per ton:
MINISTRY OF ENERGY OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION

The site has not updated the December numbers but the Minister has released them. They can be found here:

UPDATE 1-Russian oil, condensate output surges to record-high in 2019

In December, total oil and gas condensate stood at 11.262 million bpd, up from 11.244 million bpd in November, according to the data.

Those are the exact numbers I used in my chart above. And yes, 2019 was a new high, exactly as I stated in the post above. Its yearly average beat the 2018 yearly average by 90,000 bpd.

Concerning 2020 average, it could not be stated any clearer than this:

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak expects Russian oil and condensate production of between 555 million tonnes and 565 million tonnes in 2020, or 11.12-11.32 million bpd using a conversion rate of 7.33 barrels per tonne of oil.

Or this from the link:
Russia's Interest In Oil Production Cuts Is Waning Bold mine:

Russia did not comply with the cuts in 2019.

Got an exemption for condensates at the OPEC meeting, though this was not discussed in the press conference.

Achieving another cut of 70,000 b/d in first quarter appears to be beyond its capability, given past statements.

Russia is planning level production for next 4 years.

And is prepared for oil prices to drop to $25-30 per barrel.

You wrote: I found this statement interesting, in that if they can't increase production, and are at max, why are they worried about market share.

I really don't understand that question. If they plan on producing 11.2 million barrels per day for the next four years, then they should be worried about their market share. Whether they can or cannot produce more than that is beside the point.

[Jan 08, 2020] Iran nationalized it's oil production in 1979

Jan 08, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@Situational Lefty

Since 1979 the oil has flowed through the government of Russia.

Iran nationalized it's oil production in 1979 and Russia had nothing to do with this.

The era of nationalized oil, 1979–present
...
Following the Revolution, the NIOC took control of Iran's petroleum industry and canceled Iran's international oil agreements. In 1980 the exploration, production, sale, and export of oil were delegated to the Ministry of Petroleum. Initially Iran's post-revolutionary oil policy was based on foreign currency requirements and the long-term preservation of the natural resource. Following the Iran–Iraq War, however, this policy was replaced by a more aggressive approach: maximizing exports and accelerating economic growth. From 1979 until 1998, Iran did not sign any oil agreements with foreign oil companies.
...
In the early 2000s, leading international oil firms from China, France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom had agreements to develop Iran's oil and gas fields. In 2004 China signed a major agreement to buy oil and gas from Iran, as well as to develop Iran's Yadavaran oil field. The value of this contract was estimated at US$150 billion to US$200 billion over 25 years.[5][30] In 2009, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a deal with the National Iranian Oil Company whereby the former took ownership of a 70% stake upon promising to pay 90 percent of the development costs for the South Azadegan oil field, with the project needing investment of up to $2.5 billion. Earlier that year, CNPC also won a $2 billion deal to develop the first phase of the North Azadegan oilfield.[31]
...

US sanctions have pushed Iran firmly into the welcoming arms of both Russia and China. It's another burgeoning love affair - a ménage à trois? The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

Russia And Iran Sign Flurry Of Energy Deals, What's Next?
Nov 10, 2016

Russia & Iran sign oil-for-goods trade agreement
25 May, 2017

Despite U.S. sanctions, Iran sees oil lifeline from Russia, China and India
August 24, 2018

Iran did get a lot of help from Russia with arms sales and working on their nuclear reactors since 1979

[Jan 08, 2020] US strategy and what the gas pipeline war is costing us by Manlio Dinucci

Jan 08, 2020 | www.voltairenet.org

After having forbidden the Chinese company Huawei to compete in the calls for tender for the 5G network, the United States are now forbidding the Europeans to increase their supplies of Russian gas. While the first decision was aimed at maintaining the coherence of NATO, the second is not a result of Russophobia, but of the 1992 " Wolfowitz doctrine " - preventing the EU from becoming a competitor of the " American Empire ". In both cases, the point is to infantilise the EU and keep it in a situation of dependence. Voltaire Network | Rome (Italy) | 30 December 2019 français italiano Español Português Türkçe română Deutsch norsk + -

JPEG - 25 kb
German chancellorAngela Merkel and her Minister of the Economy, Olaf Scholz, immediately denounced US interference.

Although they were locked in a convoluted struggle concerning the impeachment of President Trump, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate laid down their arms in order to vote, in quasi-unanimity, for the imposition of heavy sanctions on the companies participating in the construction of North Stream 2, the doubling of the gas pipeline which delivers Russian gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea. The main victims were the European companies which had helped finance the 11 billion dollar project with the Russian company Gazprom. The project is now 80 % finished. The Austrian company Omy, British/Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, French Engie, German companies Uniper and Wintershall, Italian Saipem and Swiss Allseas are also taking part in the laying of the pipeline.

The doubling of North Stream increases Europe's dependence on Russian gas, warn the United States. Above all, they are preoccupied by the fact that the gas pipeline – by crossing the Baltic in waters belonging to Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany – thus avoids the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary), the Baltic States and Ukraine. In other words, the European countries which have the closest ties to Washington through NATO (to which we must add Italy).

Rather than being economic, the goal for the USA is strategic. This is confirmed by the fact that the sanctions on North Stream 2 are included in the National Defense Authorization Act , the legislative act which, for fiscal year 2020, hands the Pentagon the colossal sum of 738 billion dollars for new wars and new weapons (including space weapons), to which must be added other posts which bring the US military expenditure to approximately 1,000 billion dollars. The economic sanctions on North Stream 2 are part of a politico-military escalation against Russia.

An ulterior confirmation can be found in the fact that the US Congress has established sanctions not only against North Stream 2, but also against the Turk-Stream, which, in its final phase of realisation, will bring Russian gas across the Black Sea to Eastern Thrace,the small European area of Turkey. From there, by another pipeline, Russian gas should be delivered to Bulgaria, Serbia and other European countries. This is the Russian riposte to the US action which managed to block the South Stream pipeline in 2014. South Stream was intended to link Russia to Italy across the Black Sea and by land to Tarvisio (Udine). Italy would therefore have become a switch platform for gas in the EU, with notable economic advantages. The Obama administration was able to scuttle the project, with the collaboration of the European Union.

The company Saipem (Italian Eni Group), once again affected by the US sanctions against North Stream 2, was severely hit by the blockage of South Stream – in 2014, it lost contracts to the value of 2.4 billion Euros, to which other contracts would have been added if the project had continued. But at the time, no-one in Italy or in the EU protested against the burial of the project which was being organised by the USA. Now German interests are in play, and critical voices are being raised in Germany and in the EU against US sanctions against North Stream 2.

Nothing is being said about the fact that the European Union has agreed to import liquified natural gas (LNG) from the USA, an extract from bituminous shale by the destructive technique of hydraulic fracturation (fracking). In order to damage Russia, Washington is attempting to reduce its gas exports to the EU, obliging European consumers to foot the bill. Since President Donald Trump and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, signed in Washington in July 2018 the Joint Statement of 25 July: European Union imports of U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) , the EU has doubled its importation of LNG from the USA, co-financing the infrastructures via an initial expenditure of 656 million Euros. However, this did not save European companies from US sanctions. Manlio Dinucci

Translation
Pete Kimberley

[Jan 08, 2020] Without a steady supply of gas and oil from the Saudis and Emirates it will very quickly get cold and dark in Europe this winter and they'll soon regret allowing Uncle Sammmy to put a kink in Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream.

Jan 08, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

CB on Wed, 01/08/2020 - 1:26am

Can you please explain further?

@Situational Lefty
...The world is not dependent on Iranian oil. But it is dependent on Gulf oil and gas. A few missiles fired into a Q-Max will cause a real problem - mainly in Europe. Without a steady supply of gas and oil from the Saudis and Emirates it will very quickly get cold and dark in Europe this winter and they'll soon regret allowing Uncle Sammmy to put a kink in Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream.

Speaking of TurkStream, Putin will be going to Turkey to attend the official launching with Erdogan right after his pleasant visit with Assad . I wonder what in the world Putin and Erdogan are going to do with those extra 31.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas?

Russia and China are relatively isolated. American actions in the last 2 decades have caused the two to elope and their love affair is going strong. Putin and Xi have already had 30 intimate dates discussing just this very scenario.

Of course, the extra transport costs to ship America's shoes, underwear and pots to piss in is going to be a bitch for the now burgeoning poor class.

[Jan 08, 2020] Either the assassination was a drive-by on the way out, or Trump's war cabinet doesn't plan on having to leave Iraq.

Jan 08, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

Trump has from the beginning of his presidential campaign appealed to the worst and most fascistic elements in American political life. At a time when the US has no credible peer military rival, he added hundreds of billions of dollars to the Pentagon budget, and the pudgy old chicken hawk lionized war criminals. Up until now, however, Trump shrewdly calculated that his base was tired of wasting blood and treasure on fruitless Middle Eastern wars, and he avoided taking more than symbolic steps. He dropped a big missile on Afghanistan once, and fired some Tomahawk Cruise missiles at Syria. But he drew back from the brink of more extensive military engagements.

Now, by murdering Qasem Soleimani , the head of the Jerusalem (Qods) Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Trump has brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. Mind you, Iran's leadership is too shrewd to rush to the battlements at this moment, and will be prepared to play the long game. My guess is that they will encourage their allies among Iraqi Shiites to get up a massive protest at the US embassy and at bases housing US troops.

They will be aided in this task of mobilizing Iraqis by the simultaneous US assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis , the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces. Al-Muhandis is a senior military figure in the Iraqi armed forces, not just a civilian militia figure. Moreover, the Kata'ib Hizbullah that he headed is part of a strong political bloc, al-Fath, which has 48 members in parliament and forms a key coalition partner for the current, caretaker prime minister, Adil Abdulmahdi. Parliament won't easily be able to let this outrage pass.

The US officer corps is confident that the American troops at the embassy and elsewhere in Baghdad are sufficient to fight off any militia invasion. I'm not sure they have taken into account the possibility of tens of thousands of civilian protesters invading the embassy, who can't simply be taken out and shot.

Trump may be counting on the unpopularity among the youth protesters in downtown Baghdad, Basra, Nasiriya and other cities of Soleimani and of al-Muhandis to blunt the Iraqi reaction to the murders. The thousands of youth protesters cheered on hearing the news of their deaths, since they were accused of plotting a violent repression of the rallies demanding an end to corruption.

Iraq, however, is a big, complex society, and there are enormous numbers of Iraqi Shiites who support the Popular Mobilization Forces and who view them as the forces that saved Iraq from the peril of the ISIL (ISIS) terrorist organization. The Shiite hard liners would not need all Iraqis to back them in confronting the American presence, only a few hundred thousand for direct crowd action.

You also have to wonder whether Trump and his coterie aren't planning a coup in Iraq. In the absence of a coup, the Iraqi parliament will almost certainly be forced, after this violation of Iraqi national sovereignty, to vote to expel American troops. This is foreseeable. So either the assassination was a drive-by on the way out, or Trump's war cabinet doesn't plan on having to leave Iraq.

Although Trump justified the murder of Soleimani by calling him a terrorist, that is nonsense in the terms of international law. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is the equivalent of the US National Guard. What Trump did is the equivalent of some foreign country declaring the US military a terrorist organization (some have) and then assassinating General Joseph L. Lengyel, the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau (God forbid and may he have a long healthy life).

[Jan 08, 2020] A bit weird how Danes oscillate between obstructing and just harrassing. Both USA and Germany seem to have influence.

Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Piotr Berman , Jan 8 2020 14:55 utc | 55

Today Tass (or Tacc) gave a big update on Nord Stream-2.

Number one, Academic Cherskiy will remain in the Far East, because it is essential in completion of far more important projects than Nord Stream. Pipes from Sakhalin (and through Amur river? I am not sure on that) together have to deliver 80 [huge units] per year, and they will be laid by Tschersky (Nord Stream 2 has capacity 55 HU)

Number two. Danes softened their requirements. Concerning the specs for a pipe laying vessel, they can be satisfied by Fortuna that is finishing some bits in the German sector. Danes added requirement that the sea has to be sufficiently calm during the work, seems like weather when swimming is forbidden on Baltic beaches, but on summer usually it is permitted. So Fortuna will finish the job on the Baltic.

A bit weird how Danes oscillate between obstructing and just harrassing. Both USA and Germany seem to have influence.

Piotr Berman , Jan 8 2020 15:31 utc | 70

mk | Jan 8 2020 15:23 utc

So new progressive Danish government issued the permission in November, after full three months. And now they still make a gesture as if the wanted to inflict huge extra cost. That said, they were perhaps a bit slow in correcting disinformation.

[Jan 07, 2020] Trump's Biggest Gamble Yet May Set the Entire Middle East Alight by Martin Jay

It's all about the level of geopolitical control of oil-rich regions. In other words Carter doctrine.
Notable quotes:
"... Don't expect any American journalists to remind viewers that one of Soleimani's achievements was not only to command the entire Iraqi army's campaign against ISIS, but also to do that in cooperation with U.S. forces. ..."
"... Trump doesn't really read. Or even take solace from history. If he did, he would know that many U.S. presidents actually lost the vote at the crucial moment, because of their bungling in the Middle East and, in particular, in Iran. President Reagan for example won the White House in November 1980 after the failed rescue mission of U.S. hostages in April of that year in Iran went spectacularly wrong which gave a "landslide" victory to the former B-movie actor from Hollywood ..."
"... Trump's strike does ring of a president, struggling with an impeachment campaign gaining momentum, who may feel has nothing to lose other than to repeat history, which has doomed him, like Carter or Reagan (who never survived Iran-Contra). ..."
"... But his reckless folly in the Middle East is also a test of how far relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world can go, before something breaks. The assassination of the Iranian general could drive a huge divide between the U.S. and the EU in the next term, if Trump can secure re-election as it will be Europe which pays the real price when the region boils over. ..."
Jan 05, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org
I personally do not think that the strike was a typically capricious move by Trump. I am more inclined to believe that it has been in the works for a long time and his advisers might well have offered it to him as a preferable retaliation option against the Iranian downing of a U.S. drone in June of last year – where Trump floundered and finally held back from launching a conventional military attack on Iranian forces, through fear of civilians being killed, or so he claims.

What we are witnessing is unprecedented in the region. It has caught everyone off guard, even the democrats in the U.S., who can barely believe the stupidity of the move, which arguably, is a measured one. Trump believes that he can come out the winner of a pseudo war – or a proxy one – in the region, even though the Iranians have demonstrated that they easily have the capability of shutting down Saudi Arabia's oil exports with a relatively minor salvo of ordinance.

In fact, Saudi Arabia might well, in my view, be part of this latest move. Much has been made of the petulant twitter goading of Tehran's Supreme leader to Trump directly, which may well have pushed him over a line. But in reality, there is something much deeper and nefarious at play which may well be the true basis of why the decision was taken for the assassination: to destroy any possibilities of Iran and Saudi Arabia patching up their differences and continuing in dialogue, to avoid further tensions.

There is ample evidence to show that since the oilfield attacks carried out by Iran, Saudi crown prince Mohamed bin Salman has softened his stance on Iran and was looking at ways, through intermediaries, to build a working relation. It was early days and progress was slow.

But the Soleimani hit will blow that idea right out of the water. In one fell swoop, the strike galvanises and polarises an anti-Iran front from Saudi Arabia and Israel, which, whilst doing wonders for U.S. arms procurement will cause more tension in the region as it places countries like Qatar, UAE, Turkey and Oman in a really awkward spot with regards to how it should continue to work with Tehran. It may well put back the Qatar blockade to its earlier position as 'rogue state' in the region, prompting it to possibly even go rogue and get more involved in the battle to take Tripoli (supporting Turkish forces, obviously, who are with the UN-recognised government).

In fact, there is an entire gamut of consequences to the move, beyond merely Iran seeking to take revenge against America's allies in the region. It is less about a declaration of war against Iran but more a declaration of anti-peace towards the entire Arab world, which was starting to unfold in the last six months since Trump stepped back from the region and stood down from a retaliation strike against Iran in the Straits of Hormuz. Trump is gambling that he can sustain Saudi Arabia's oil being disrupted and even body bags of U.S. soldiers in Syria and Iraq in return for a fresh wave of popularity from people too ignorant to understand or wish to comprehend the nuances of the Middle East and how so many U.S. presidents use the pretext of a war, or heightened tensions, as part of their chest-beating, shallow popularity campaign.

Don't expect any American journalists to remind viewers that one of Soleimani's achievements was not only to command the entire Iraqi army's campaign against ISIS, but also to do that in cooperation with U.S. forces.

Trump doesn't really read. Or even take solace from history. If he did, he would know that many U.S. presidents actually lost the vote at the crucial moment, because of their bungling in the Middle East and, in particular, in Iran. President Reagan for example won the White House in November 1980 after the failed rescue mission of U.S. hostages in April of that year in Iran went spectacularly wrong which gave a "landslide" victory to the former B-movie actor from Hollywood .

Reagan, in turn, carried on the great tradition of Middle East histrionics by his notably 'mad dog' Libya campaign, which ran concurrent to two devastating attacks on U.S. soldiers and embassy staff in Lebanon, while two different CIA teams worked against each other in trying to secure the release of U.S. hostages in Beirut – while all along he was selling illegal arms to the Iranians and using the cash to fund Contras in Nicaragua.

Trump's strike does ring of a president, struggling with an impeachment campaign gaining momentum, who may feel has nothing to lose other than to repeat history, which has doomed him, like Carter or Reagan (who never survived Iran-Contra).

But his reckless folly in the Middle East is also a test of how far relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world can go, before something breaks. The assassination of the Iranian general could drive a huge divide between the U.S. and the EU in the next term, if Trump can secure re-election as it will be Europe which pays the real price when the region boils over.

Martin Jay is an award -winning freelance journalist and political commentator

[Jan 07, 2020] The Middle East Strategic "Balance" Shredded -- Strategic Culture

Jan 07, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

In fact, the strategic balance – though sorely tested – had been hanging together. Just to be clear: Iran and Israel both had been keeping – just – within the parameters of unspoken 'red lines' – despite the inflated rhetoric. And both were practicing 'strategic patience'. So the strategic balance seemed more or less sustainable: until its upending with the assassination of Qasem Soleimani and the head of the PMU, Al-Muhandis, ordered by Trump.

Israel has not – despite its lurid language – been landing strategic blows on Iran in Syria. It has not been killing Iranians there (apart from seven killed at T4 airport in eastern Syria last year). It did not target the head of the Iranian air force, some ten days ago, as some reports have suggested (he was not even in Iraq at the time). Most of the Israeli air attacks have been on depots in the early hours, when no personnel were present. It has been a campaign more of a regular, small slicing away at Iranian logistics. It was not strategic damage.

And Iran, after sending clear 'messages' to Gulf States of its willingness to inflict pain on parties to its economic siege, plainly had been calibrating this push-back carefully; Iran still had its eye to global diplomacy (to wit: the joint Iranian naval exercises with Russia and China in the Persian Gulf) – whilst countering politically, America's 'new' tactic of inciting 'colour' protests across Lebanon and Iraq (and trying to bust Syria financially, by stealing its energy revenues).

Here is the point: The US was no longer content with mere sanctions on Iran. It has been covertly escalating across the board: orchestrating protests in Iraq, in Lebanon, and in Iran itself; mounting a major cyber offensive on Iran; and a 'messaging' operation aimed at turning genuine popular frustration with regional mis-governance and corruption, into a weapon aimed at weakening revolutionary Iran.

The US was having some success with turning protest messaging against Iran – until, that is – its killing and wounding of so many Iraqi security force members last week (Ketaib Hizbullah is a part of Iraq's armed forces).

Escalation of maximum-pressure was one thing (Iran was confident of weathering that); but assassinating such a senior official on his state duties, was quite something else. We have not observed a state assassinating a most senior official of another state before.

And the manner of its doing, was unprecedented too. Soleimani was officially visiting Iraq. He arrived openly as a VIP guest from Syria, and was met on the tarmac by an equally senior Iraqi official, Al-Muhandis, who was assassinated also, (together with seven others). It was all open. General Soleimani regularly used his mobile phone as he argued that as a senior state official, if he were to be assassinated by another state, it would only be as an act of war.

This act, performed at the international airport of Baghdad, constitutes not just the sundering of red lines, but a humiliation inflicted on Iraq – its government and people. It will upend Iraq's strategic positioning. The erstwhile Iraqi attempt at balancing between Washington and Iran will be swept away by Trump's hubristic trampling on the country's sovereignty. It may well mark the beginning of the end of the US presence in Iraq (and therefore Syria, too), and ultimately, of America's footprint in the Middle East.

Trump may earn easy plaudits now for his "We're America, Bitch!", as one senior White House official defined the Trump foreign policy doctrine; but the doubts – and unforeseen consequences soon may come home to roost.

Why did he do it? If no one really wanted 'war', why did Trump escalate and smash up all the crockery? He has had an easy run (so far) towards re-election, so why play the always unpredictable 'wild card' of a yet another Mid-East conflict?

Was it that he wanted to show 'no Benghazi'; no US embassy siege 'on my watch' – unlike Obama's handling of that situation? Was he persuaded that these assassinations would play well to his constituency (Israeli and Evangelical)? Or was he offered this option baldly by the Netanyahu faction in Washington? Maybe.

Some in Israel are worried about a three or four front war reaching Israel. Senior Israeli officials recently have been speculating about the likelihood of regional conflict occurring within the coming months. Israel's PM however, is fighting for his political life, and has requested immunity from prosecution on three indictments – pleading that this was his legal right, and that it was needed for him to "continue to lead Israel" for the sake of its future. Effectively, Netanyahu has nothing to lose from escalating tensions with Iran -- but much to gain.

Opposition Israeli political and military leaders have warned that the PM needs 'war' with Iran -- effectively to underscore the country's 'need' for his continued leadership. And for technical reasons in the Israeli parliament, his plea is unlikely to be settled before the March general elections. Netanyahu thus may still have some time to wind up the case for his continued tenure of the premiership.

One prime factor in the Israeli caution towards Iran rests not so much on the waywardness of Netanyahu, but on the inconstancy of President Trump: Can it be guaranteed that the US will back Israel unreservedly -- were it to again to become enmeshed in a Mid-East war? The Israeli and Gulf answer seemingly is 'no'. The import of this assessment is significant. Trump now is seen by some in Israel – and by some insiders in Washington – as a threat to Israel's future security vis à vis Iran. Was Trump aware of this? Was this act a gamble to guarantee no slippage in that vital constituency in the lead up to the US elections? We do not know.

So we arrive at three final questions: How far will Iran absorb this new escalation? Will Iran confine its retaliation to within Iraq? Or will the US cross another 'red line' by striking inside Iran itself, in any subsequent tit for tat?

Is it deliberate (or is it political autism) that makes Secretary Pompeo term all the Iraqi Hash'd a-Sha'abi forces – whether or not part of official Iraqi forces – as "Iran-led"? The term seems to be used as a laissez-passer to attack all the many Hash'd a-Sha'abi units on the grounds that, being "Iran-linked", they therefore count as 'terrorist forces'. This formulation gives rise to the false sequitur that all other Iraqis would somehow approve of the killings. This would be laughable, if it were not so serious. The Hash'd forces led the war against ISIS and are esteemed by the vast majority of Iraqis. And Soleimani was on the ground at the front line, with those Iraqi forces.

These forces are not Iranian 'proxies'. They are Iraqi nationalists who share a common Shi'a identity with their co-religionists in Iran, and across the region. They share a common zeitgeist, they see politics similarly, but they are no puppets (we write from direct experience).

But what this formulation does do is to invite a widening conflict: Many Iraqis will be outraged by the US attacks on fellow Iraqis and will revenge them. Pompeo (falsely) will then blame Iran. Is that Pompeo's purpose: casus belli?

But where is the off-ramp? Iran will respond Is this affair simply set to escalate from limited military exchanges and from thence, to escalate until what? We understand that this was not addressed in Washington before the President's decision was made. There are no real US channels of communication (other than low level) with Iran; nor is there a plan for the next days. Nor an obvious exit. Is Trump relying on gut instinct again?

[Jan 07, 2020] A Terrorist Attack Against Eurasian Integration

Jan 07, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

A Terrorist Attack Against Eurasian Integration? by Tyler Durden Tue, 01/07/2020 - 00:05 0 SHARES

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The murder of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, in the early hours of January 3 by US forces, only highlights the extent to which US strategy in the Middle East has failed. It is likely to provoke reactions that do not benefit US interests in the region.

To understand the significance of this event, it is necessary to quickly reconstruct the developments in Iraq. The US has occupied Iraq for 17 years, following its invasion of the country in 2003. During this time, Baghdad and Tehran have re-established ties by sustaining an important dialogue on post-war reconstruction as well as by acknowledging the importance of the Shia population in Iraq.

Within two decades, Iraq and Iran have gone from declaring war with each other to cooperating on the so-called Shia Crescent, favoring cooperation and the commercial and military development of the quartet composed of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Such ties, following recent victories over international terrorism, have been further consolidated, leading to current and planned overland connections between this quartet.

Local movements and organizations have been calling for US troops to leave Iraqi territory with increasing vigor and force in recent months. Washington has accused Tehran of inciting associated protests.

At the same time, groups of dubious origin, that have sought to equate the Iranian presence with the American one, have been calling for the withdrawal of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) that are linked to Iran from Iraq. The protests from such groups appear to be sponsored and funded by Saudi Arabia.

With mutual accusations flying around, the US hit a pro-Iranian faction known as Kataib Hezbollah on December 29. This episode sparked a series of reactions in Iraq that ended up enveloping the US embassy in Baghdad, which was besieged for days by demonstrators angry about ongoing airstrikes by US forces.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, blamed this volatile situation on Iran, warning that Tehran would be held responsible for any escalation of the situation involving the embassy.

In the early hours of January 3, 2020, another tangle was added to the Gordian Knot that is the Middle East. Qasem Soleimani was assassinated when his convoy was attacked by a drone near Baghdad International Airport. The most effective opponents of ISIS and Wahabi jihadism in general was thus eliminated by the US in a terrorist act carried out in foreign country in a civilian area (near Baghdad International Airport). The champagne would have no doubt been flowing immediately upon receiving this news in the US Congress, the Israeli Knesset, Riyadh royal palace and in Idlib among al Nusra and al Qaeda militants.

It remains to be seen what the reasons were behind Trump's decision to okay the assasination of such an influential and important leader. Certainly the need to to demonstrate to his base (and his Israeli and Saudi financiers) plays into his anti-Iranian crusade. But there are other reasons that better explain Trump's actions that are more related to the influence of the US in the region; the geopolitical chess game in the Middle East transcends any single leader or any drone attack.

In Syria, for example, the situation is extremely favorable to the government in Damascus, with it only being a matter of time before the country is again under the control of the central government. General Soleimani and Iran have played a central role in ridding the country of the scourge of terrorism, a scourge directed and financed by the US and her regional allies.

In Iraq , the political situation is less favorable to the US now than it was back in 2006. Whatever progress in relations between Baghdad and Tehran has also been due to General Soleimani, who, together with the PMUs and the Iraqi army, freed the country from ISIS (which was created and nurtured by Western and Saudi intelligence, as revealed by Wikileaks).

It would seem that the US sanctions against Iran have not really had the intended effect, instead only serving to consolidate the country's stance against imperialism. The US, as a result, is experiencing a crisis in the region, effectively being driven out of the Middle East, rather than leaving intentionally.

In this extraordinary and unprecedented situation, the Russians and Chinese are offering themselves variously as military, political and economic guarantors of the emerging Eurasian mega-project (the recent naval exercises between Beijing, Moscow and Tehran serving as a tangible example of this commitment). Naturally, it is in their interests to avoid any extended regional conflict that may only serve to throw a monkey wrench into their vast Eurasian mega-project.

Putin and Xi Jinping face tough days ahead, trying to council Iran in avoiding an excessive response that would give Washington the perfect excuse for a war against Iran.

The prospects of a region without terrorism, with a reinvigorated Shia Crescent, led by Iran at the regional level and accompanied by China and Russia at the economic (Belt and Road Initiative) and military level, offer little hope to Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Washington of being able to influence events in the region and this is likely going to be the top argument that Putin and Xi Jinping will use to try to deter any Iranian overt response.

Deciding to kill the leader of the Quds Force in Iraq proves only one thing: that the options available to Trump and his regional allies are rapidly shrinking, and that the regional trends over the next decade appear irreversible. Their only hope is for Tehran and her allies to lash out at the latest provocation, thereby justifying the regional war that would only serve to benefit Washington by slowing down regional unification under Iranian leadership.

We must remember that whenever the US finds itself in a situation where it cannot control a country or a region, its tendency is to create chaos and ultimately destroy it.

By killing General Soleimani, the US hopes to wreak havoc in the region so as to slow down or altogether scupper any prospect of integration. Fortunately, China, Russia and Iran are well aware that any conflict would not be in any of their own interests.

No drone-launched missiles will be enough to save the US from decades of foreign-policy errors and their associated horrors; nor will they be enough to extinguish the memory of a hero's tireless struggle against imperialism and terrorism.

[Jan 07, 2020] Either the assassination was a drive-by on the way out, or Trump's war cabinet doesn't plan on having to leave Iraq.

Jan 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

Trump has from the beginning of his presidential campaign appealed to the worst and most fascistic elements in American political life. At a time when the US has no credible peer military rival, he added hundreds of billions of dollars to the Pentagon budget, and the pudgy old chicken hawk lionized war criminals. Up until now, however, Trump shrewdly calculated that his base was tired of wasting blood and treasure on fruitless Middle Eastern wars, and he avoided taking more than symbolic steps. He dropped a big missile on Afghanistan once, and fired some Tomahawk Cruise missiles at Syria. But he drew back from the brink of more extensive military engagements.

Now, by murdering Qasem Soleimani , the head of the Jerusalem (Qods) Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Trump has brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. Mind you, Iran's leadership is too shrewd to rush to the battlements at this moment, and will be prepared to play the long game. My guess is that they will encourage their allies among Iraqi Shiites to get up a massive protest at the US embassy and at bases housing US troops.

They will be aided in this task of mobilizing Iraqis by the simultaneous US assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis , the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces. Al-Muhandis is a senior military figure in the Iraqi armed forces, not just a civilian militia figure. Moreover, the Kata'ib Hizbullah that he headed is part of a strong political bloc, al-Fath, which has 48 members in parliament and forms a key coalition partner for the current, caretaker prime minister, Adil Abdulmahdi. Parliament won't easily be able to let this outrage pass.

The US officer corps is confident that the American troops at the embassy and elsewhere in Baghdad are sufficient to fight off any militia invasion. I'm not sure they have taken into account the possibility of tens of thousands of civilian protesters invading the embassy, who can't simply be taken out and shot.

Trump may be counting on the unpopularity among the youth protesters in downtown Baghdad, Basra, Nasiriya and other cities of Soleimani and of al-Muhandis to blunt the Iraqi reaction to the murders. The thousands of youth protesters cheered on hearing the news of their deaths, since they were accused of plotting a violent repression of the rallies demanding an end to corruption.

Iraq, however, is a big, complex society, and there are enormous numbers of Iraqi Shiites who support the Popular Mobilization Forces and who view them as the forces that saved Iraq from the peril of the ISIL (ISIS) terrorist organization. The Shiite hard liners would not need all Iraqis to back them in confronting the American presence, only a few hundred thousand for direct crowd action.

You also have to wonder whether Trump and his coterie aren't planning a coup in Iraq. In the absence of a coup, the Iraqi parliament will almost certainly be forced, after this violation of Iraqi national sovereignty, to vote to expel American troops. This is foreseeable. So either the assassination was a drive-by on the way out, or Trump's war cabinet doesn't plan on having to leave Iraq.

[Jan 07, 2020] US strategy and what the gas pipeline war is costing us by Manlio Dinucci

Jan 07, 2020 | www.voltairenet.org

After having forbidden the Chinese company Huawei to compete in the calls for tender for the 5G network, the United States are now forbidding the Europeans to increase their supplies of Russian gas.

While the first decision was aimed at maintaining the coherence of NATO, the second is not a result of Russophobia, but of the 1992 " Wolfowitz doctrine " - preventing the EU from becoming a competitor of the " American Empire ". In both cases, the point is to infantilise the EU and keep it in a situation of dependence.

lthough they were locked in a convoluted struggle concerning the impeachment of President Trump, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate laid down their arms in order to vote, in quasi-unanimity, for the imposition of heavy sanctions on the companies participating in the construction of North Stream 2, the doubling of the gas pipeline which delivers Russian gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea. The main victims were the European companies which had helped finance the 11 billion dollar project with the Russian company Gazprom. The project is now 80 % finished. The Austrian company Omy, British/Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, French Engie, German companies Uniper and Wintershall, Italian Saipem and Swiss Allseas are also taking part in the laying of the pipeline.

The doubling of North Stream increases Europe's dependence on Russian gas, warn the United States. Above all, they are preoccupied by the fact that the gas pipeline – by crossing the Baltic in waters belonging to Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany – thus avoids the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary), the Baltic States and Ukraine. In other words, the European countries which have the closest ties to Washington through NATO (to which we must add Italy).

Rather than being economic, the goal for the USA is strategic. This is confirmed by the fact that the sanctions on North Stream 2 are included in the National Defense Authorization Act , the legislative act which, for fiscal year 2020, hands the Pentagon the colossal sum of 738 billion dollars for new wars and new weapons (including space weapons), to which must be added other posts which bring the US military expenditure to approximately 1,000 billion dollars. The economic sanctions on North Stream 2 are part of a politico-military escalation against Russia.

An ulterior confirmation can be found in the fact that the US Congress has established sanctions not only against North Stream 2, but also against the Turk-Stream, which, in its final phase of realisation, will bring Russian gas across the Black Sea to Eastern Thrace,the small European area of Turkey. From there, by another pipeline, Russian gas should be delivered to Bulgaria, Serbia and other European countries. This is the Russian riposte to the US action which managed to block the South Stream pipeline in 2014. South Stream was intended to link Russia to Italy across the Black Sea and by land to Tarvisio (Udine). Italy would therefore have become a switch platform for gas in the EU, with notable economic advantages. The Obama administration was able to scuttle the project, with the collaboration of the European Union.

The company Saipem (Italian Eni Group), once again affected by the US sanctions against North Stream 2, was severely hit by the blockage of South Stream – in 2014, it lost contracts to the value of 2.4 billion Euros, to which other contracts would have been added if the project had continued. But at the time, no-one in Italy or in the EU protested against the burial of the project which was being organised by the USA. Now German interests are in play, and critical voices are being raised in Germany and in the EU against US sanctions against North Stream 2.

Nothing is being said about the fact that the European Union has agreed to import liquified natural gas (LNG) from the USA, an extract from bituminous shale by the destructive technique of hydraulic fracturation (fracking). In order to damage Russia, Washington is attempting to reduce its gas exports to the EU, obliging European consumers to foot the bill. Since President Donald Trump and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, signed in Washington in July 2018 the Joint Statement of 25 July: European Union imports of U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) , the EU has doubled its importation of LNG from the USA, co-financing the infrastructures via an initial expenditure of 656 million Euros. However, this did not save European companies from US sanctions. Manlio Dinucci

[Jan 06, 2020] America Escalates its "Democratic" Oil War in the Near East by Michael Hudson

Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

The mainstream media are carefully sidestepping the method behind America's seeming madness in assassinating Islamic Revolutionary Guard general Qassim Suleimani to start the New Year. The logic behind the assassination this was a long-standing application of U.S. global policy, not just a personality quirk of Donald Trump's impulsive action. His assassination of Iranian military leader Suleimani was indeed a unilateral act of war in violation of international law, but it was a logical step in a long-standing U.S. strategy. It was explicitly authorized by the Senate in the funding bill for the Pentagon that it passed last year.

The assassination was intended to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control the region's oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia's Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Quaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America's foreign legion) to support U.S. control o Near Eastern oil as a buttress o the U.S. dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down.

I sat in on discussions of this policy as it was formulated nearly fifty years ago when I worked at the Hudson Institute and attended meetings at the White House, met with generals at various armed forces think tanks and with diplomats at the United Nations. My role was as a balance-of-payments economist having specialized for a decade at Chase Manhattan, Arthur Andersen and oil companies in the oil industry and military spending. These were two of the three main dynamic of American foreign policy and diplomacy. (The third concern was how to wage war in a democracy where voters rejected the draft in the wake of the Vietnam War.)

The media and public discussion have diverted attention from this strategy by floundering speculation that President Trump did it, except to counter the (non-)threat of impeachment with a wag-the-dog attack, or to back Israeli lebensraum drives, or simply to surrender the White House to neocon hate-Iran syndrome. The actual context for the neocon's action was the balance of payments, and the role of oil and energy as a long-term lever of American diplomacy.

The balance of payments dimension

The major deficit in the U.S. balance of payments has long been military spending abroad. The entire payments deficit, beginning with the Korean War in 1950-51 and extending through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, was responsible for forcing the dollar off gold in 1971. The problem facing America's military strategists was how to continue supporting the 800 U.S. military bases around the world and allied troop support without losing America's financial leverage.

The solution turned out to be to replace gold with U.S. Treasury securities (IOUs) as the basis of foreign central bank reserves. After 1971, foreign central banks had little option for what to do with their continuing dollar inflows except to recycle them to the U.S. economy by buying U.S. Treasury securities. The effect of U.S. foreign military spending thus did not undercut the dollar's exchange rate, and did not even force the Treasury and Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to attract foreign exchange to offset the dollar outflows on military account. In fact, U.S. foreign military spending helped finance the domestic U.S. federal budget deficit.

Saudi Arabia and other Near Eastern OPEC countries quickly became a buttress of the dollar. After these countries quadrupled the price of oil (in retaliation for the United States quadrupling the price of its grain exports, a mainstay of the U.S. trade balance), U.S. banks were swamped with an inflow of much foreign deposits – which were lent out to Third World countries in an explosion of bad loans that blew up in 1972 with Mexico's insolvency, and destroyed Third World government credit for a decade, forcing it into dependence on the United States via the IMF and World Bank).

To top matters, of course, what Saudi Arabia does not save in dollarized assets with its oil-export earnings is spent on buying hundreds of billion of dollars of U.S. arms exports. This locks them into dependence on U.S. supply o replacement parts and repairs, and enables the United States to turn off Saudi military hardware at any point of time, in the event that the Saudis may try to act independently of U.S. foreign policy.

So maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. Foreign countries to not have to pay the Pentagon directly for this spending. They simply finance the U.S. Treasury and U.S. banking system.

Fear of this development was a major reason why the United States moved against Libya, whose foreign reserves were held in gold, not dollars, an which was urging other African countries to follow suit in order to free themselves from "Dollar Diplomacy." Hillary and Obama invaded, grabbed their gold supplies (we still have no idea who ended up with these billions of dollars worth of gold) and destroyed Libya's government, its public education system, its public infrastructure and other non-neoliberal policies.

The great threat to this is dedollarization as China, Russia and other countries seek to avoid recycling dollars. Without the dollar's function as the vehicle for world saving – in effect, without the Pentagon's role in creating the Treasury debt that is the vehicle for world central bank reserves – the U.S. would find itself constrained militarily and hence diplomatically constrained, as it was under the gold exchange standard.

That is the same strategy that the U.S. has followed in Syria and Iraq. Iran was threatening this dollarization strategy and its buttress in U.S. oil diplomacy.

The oil industry as buttress of the U.S. balance of payments and foreign diplomacy

ORDER IT NOW

The trade balance is buttressed by oil and farm surpluses. Oil is the key, because it is imported by U.S. companies at almost no balance-of-payments cost (the payments end up in the oil industry's head offices here as profits and payments to management), while profits on U.S. oil company sales to other countries are remitted to the United States (via offshore tax-avoidance centers, mainly Liberia and Panama for many years). And as noted above, OPEC countries have been told to keep their official reserves in the form of U.S. securities (stocks and bonds as well as Treasury IOUs, but not direct purchase of U.S. companies being deemed economically important). Financially, OPEC countries are client slates of the Dollar Area.

America's attempt to maintain this buttress explains U.S. opposition to any foreign government steps to reverse global warming and the extreme weather caused by the world's U.S.-sponsored dependence on oil. Any such moves by Europe and other countries would reduce dependence on U.S. oil sales, and hence on U.S. ability to control the global oil spigot as a means of control and coercion, are viewed as hostile acts.

Oil also explains U.S. opposition to Russian oil exports via Nordstream. U.S. strategists want to treat energy as a U.S. national monopoly. Other countries can benefit in the way that Saudi Arabia has done – by sending their surpluses to the U.S. economy – but not to support their own economic growth and diplomacy. Control of oil thus implies support for continued global warming as an inherent part of U.S. strategy.

How a "democratic" nation can wage international war and terrorism

The Vietnam War showed that modern democracies cannot field armies for any major military conflict, because this would require a draft of its citizens. That would lead any government attempting such a draft to be voted out of power. And without troops, it is not possible to invade a country to take it over.

The corollary of this perception is that democracies have only two choices when it comes to military strategy: They can only wage airpower, bombing opponents; or they can create a foreign legion, that is, hire mercenaries or back foreign governments that provide this military service.

Here once again Saudi Arabia plays a critical role, through its control of Wahabi Sunnis turned into terrorist jihadis willing to sabotage, bomb, assassinate, blow up and otherwise fight any target designated as an enemy of "Islam," the euphemism for Saudi Arabia acting as U.S. client state. (Religion really is not the key; I know of no ISIS or similar Wahabi attack on Israeli targets.) The United States needs the Saudis to supply or finance Wahabi crazies. So in addition to playing a key role in the U.S. balance of payments by recycling its oil-export earnings are into U.S. stocks, bonds and other investments, Saudi Arabia provides manpower by supporting the Wahabi members of America's foreign legion, ISIS and Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda. Terrorism has become the "democratic" mode of today U.S. military policy.

What makes America's oil war in the Near East "democratic" is that this is the only kind of war a democracy can fight – an air war, followed by a vicious terrorist army that makes up for the fact that no democracy can field its own army in today's world. The corollary is that, terrorism has become the "democratic" mode of warfare.

From the U.S. vantage point, what is a "democracy"? In today's Orwellian vocabulary, it means any country supporting U.S. foreign policy. Bolivia and Honduras have become "democracies" since their coups, along with Brazil. Chile under Pinochet was a Chicago-style free market democracy. So was Iran under the Shah, and Russia under Yeltsin – but not since it elected Vladimir Putin president, any more than is China under President Xi.

The antonym to "democracy" is "terrorist." That simply means a nation willing to fight to become independent from U.S. neoliberal democracy. It does not include America's proxy armies.

Iran's role as U.S. nemesis

What stands in the way of U.S. dollarization, oil and military strategy? Obviously, Russia and China have been targeted as long-term strategic enemies for seeking their own independent economic policies and diplomacy. But next to them, Iran has been in America's gun sights for nearly seventy years.

America's hatred of Iran is starts with its attempt to control its own oil production, exports and earnings. It goes back to 1953, when Mossadegh was overthrown because he wanted domestic sovereignty over Anglo-Persian oil. The CIA-MI6 coup replaced him with the pliant Shah, who imposed a police state to prevent Iranian independence from U.S. policy. The only physical places free from the police were the mosques. That made the Islamic Republic the path of least resistance to overthrowing the Shah and re-asserting Iranian sovereignty.

The United States came to terms with OPEC oil independence by 1974, but the antagonism toward Iran extends to demographic and religious considerations. Iranian support its Shi'ite population an those of Iraq and other countries – emphasizing support for the poor and for quasi-socialist policies instead of neoliberalism – has made it the main religious rival to Saudi Arabia's Sunni sectarianism and its role as America's Wahabi foreign legion.

America opposed General Suleimani above all because he was fighting against ISIS and other U.S.-backed terrorists in their attempt to break up Syria and replace Assad's regime with a set of U.S.-compliant local leaders – the old British "divide and conquer" ploy. On occasion, Suleimani had cooperated with U.S. troops in fighting ISIS groups that got "out of line" meaning the U.S. party line. But every indication is that he was in Iraq to work with that government seeking to regain control of the oil fields that President Trump has bragged so loudly about grabbing.

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Already in early 2018, President Trump asked Iraq to reimburse America for the cost of "saving its democracy" by bombing the remainder of Saddam's economy. The reimbursement was to take the form of Iraqi Oil. More recently, in 2019, President Trump asked, why not simply grab Iraqi oil. The giant oil field has become the prize of the Bush-Cheney post 9-11 Oil War. "'It was a very run-of-the-mill, low-key, meeting in general," a source who was in the room told Axios.' And then right at the end, Trump says something to the effect of, he gets a little smirk on his face and he says, 'So what are we going to do about the oil?'" [1] https://www.axios.com/trump-to-iraqi-pm-how-about-th....html. The article adds: "In the March meeting, the Iraqi prime minister replied, 'What do you mean?' according to the source in the room. And Trump's like, 'Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil.'"

Trump's idea that America should "get something" out of its military expenditure in destroying the Iraqi and Syrian economies simply reflects U.S. policy.

In late October, 2019, The New York Times reported that: "In recent days, Mr. Trump has settled on Syria's oil reserves as a new rationale for appearing to reverse course and deploy hundreds of additional troops to the war-ravaged country. He has declared that the United States has "secured" oil fields in the country's chaotic northeast and suggested that the seizure of the country's main natural resource justifies America further extending its military presence there. 'We have taken it and secured it,' Mr. Trump said of Syria's oil during remarks at the White House on Sunday, after announcing the killing of the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi." [2] Michael Crowly, "'Keep the Oil': Trump Revives Charged Slogan for new Syria Troop Mission," The New York Times , October 26, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/26/us/politics/trump...s.html . The article adds: "'I said keep the oil,' Mr. Trump recounted. 'If they are going into Iraq, keep the oil. They never did. They never did.'" A CIA official reminded the journalist that taking Iraq's oil was a Trump campaign pledge.

That explains the invasion of Iraq for oil in 2003, and again this year, as President Trump has said: "Why don't we simply take their oil?" It also explains the Obama-Hillary attack on Libya – not only for its oil, but for its investing its foreign reserves in gold instead of recycling its oil surplus revenue to the U.S. Treasury – and of course, for promoting a secular socialist state.

It explains why U.S. neocons feared Suleimani's plan to help Iraq assert control of its oil and withstand the terrorist attacks supported by U.S. and Saudi's on Iraq. That is what made his assassination an immediate drive.

American politicians have discredited themselves by starting off their condemnation of Trump by saying, as Elizabeth Warren did, how "bad" a person Suleimani was, how he had killed U.S. troops by masterminding the Iraqi defense of roadside bombing and other policies trying to repel the U.S. invasion to grab its oil. She was simply parroting the U.S. media's depiction of Suleimani as a monster, diverting attention from the policy issue that explains why he was assassinated now .

The counter-strategy to U.S. oil, and dollar and global-warming diplomacy

This strategy will continue, until foreign countries reject it. If Europe and other regions fail to do so, they will suffer the consequences of this U.S. strategy in the form of a rising U.S.-sponsored war via terrorism, the flow of refugees, and accelerated global warming and extreme weather.

Russia, China and its allies already have been leading the way to dedollarization as a means to contain the balance-of-payments buttress of U.S. global military policy. But everyone now is speculating over what Iran's response should be.

The pretense – or more accurately, the diversion – by the U.S. news media over the weekend has been to depict the United States as being under imminent attack. Mayor de Blasio has positioned policemen at conspicuous key intersections to let us know how imminent Iranian terrorism is – as if it were Iran, not Saudi Arabia that mounted 9/11, and as if Iran in fact has taken any forceful action against the United States. The media and talking heads on television have saturated the air waves with warnings of Islamic terrorism. Television anchors are suggesting just where the attacks are most likely to occur.

The message is that the assassination of General Soleimani was to protect us. As Donald Trump and various military spokesmen have said, he had killed Americans – and now they must be planning an enormous attack that will injure and kill many more innocent Americans. That stance has become America's posture in the world: weak and threatened, requiring a strong defense – in the form of a strong offense.

But what is Iran's actual interest? If it is indeed to undercut U.S. dollar and oil strategy, the first policy must be to get U.S. military forces out of the Near East, including U.S. occupation of its oil fields. It turns out that President Trump's rash act has acted as a catalyst, bringing about just the opposite of what he wanted. On January 5 the Iraqi parliament met to insist that the United States leave. General Suleimani was an invited guest, not an Iranian invader. It is U.S. troops that are in Iraq in violation of international law. If they leave, Trump and the neocons lose control of oil – and also of their ability to interfere with Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian-Lebanese mutual defense.

Beyond Iraq looms Saudi Arabia. It has become the Great Satan, the supporter of Wahabi extremism, the terrorist legion of U.S. mercenary armies fighting to maintain control of Near Eastern oil and foreign exchange reserves, the cause of the great exodus of refugees to Turkey, Europe and wherever else it can flee from the arms and money provided by the U.S. backers of Isis, Al Qaeda in Iraq and their allied Saudi Wahabi legions.

The logical ideal, in principle, would be to destroy Saudi power. That power lies in its oil fields. They already have fallen under attack by modest Yemeni bombs. If U.S. neocons seriously threaten Iran, its response would be the wholesale bombing and destruction of Saudi oil fields, along with those of Kuwait and allied Near Eastern oil sheikhdoms. It would end the Saudi support for Wahabi terrorists, as well as for the U.S. dollar.

Such an act no doubt would be coordinated with a call for the Palestinian and other foreign workers in Saudi Arabia to rise up and drive out the monarchy and its thousands of family retainers.

ORDER IT NOW

Beyond Saudi Arabia, Iran and other advocates of a multilateral diplomatic break with U.S. neoliberal and neocon unilateralism should bring pressure on Europe to withdraw from NATO, inasmuch as that organization functions mainly as a U.S.-centric military tool of American dollar and oil diplomacy and hence opposing the climate change and military confrontation policies that threaten to make Europe part of the U.S. maelstrom.

Finally, what can U.S. anti-war opponents do to resist the neocon attempt to destroy any part of the world that resists U.S. neoliberal autocracy? This has been the most disappointing response over the weekend. They are flailing. It has not been helpful for Warren, Buttigieg and others to accuse Trump of acting rashly without thinking through the consequences of his actions. That approach shies away from recognizing that his action did indeed have a rationale -- do draw a line in the sand, to say that yes, America WILL go to war, will fight Iran, will do anything at all to defend its control of Near Eastern oil and to dictate OPEC central bank policy, to defend its ISIS legions as if any opposition to this policy is an attack on the United States itself.

I can understand the emotional response or yet new calls for impeachment of Donald Trump. But that is an obvious non-starter, partly because it has been so obviously a partisan move by the Democratic Party. More important is the false and self-serving accusation that President Trump has overstepped his constitutional limit by committing an act of war against Iran by assassinating Soleimani.

Congress endorsed Trump's assassination and is fully as guilty as he is for having approved the Pentagon's budget with the Senate's removal of the amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that Bernie Sanders, Tom Udall and Ro Khanna inserted an amendment in the House of Representatives version, explicitly not authorizing the Pentagon to wage war against Iran or assassinate its officials. When this budget was sent to the Senate, the White House and Pentagon (a.k.a. the military-industrial complex and neoconservatives) removed that constraint. That was a red flag announcing that the Pentagon and White House did indeed intend to wage war against Iran and/or assassinate its officials. Congress lacked the courage to argue this point at the forefront of public discussion.

Behind all this is the Saudi-inspired 9/11 act taking away Congress's sole power to wage war – its 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, pulled out of the drawer ostensibly against Al Qaeda but actually the first step in America's long support of the very group that was responsible for 9/11, the Saudi airplane hijackers.

The question is, how to get the world's politicians – U.S., European and Asians – to see how America's all-or-nothing policy is threatening new waves of war, refugees, disruption of the oil trade in the Strait of Hormuz, and ultimately global warming and neoliberal dollarization imposed on all countries. It is a sign of how little power exists in the United Nations that no countries are calling for a new Nurenberg-style war crimes trial, no threat to withdraw from NATO or even to avoid holding reserves in the form of money lent to the U.S. Treasury to fund America's military budget.

Notes

[1] https://www.axios.com/trump-to-iraqi-pm-how-about-that-oil-1a31cbfa-f20c-4767-8d18-d518ed9a6543.html. The article adds: "In the March meeting, the Iraqi prime minister replied, 'What do you mean?' according to the source in the room. And Trump's like, 'Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil.'"

[2] Michael Crowly, "'Keep the Oil': Trump Revives Charged Slogan for new Syria Troop Mission," The New York Times , October 26, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/26/us/politics/trump-syria-oil-fields.html . The article adds: "'I said keep the oil,' Mr. Trump recounted. 'If they are going into Iraq, keep the oil. They never did. They never did.'"


Toxik , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:22 am GMT

very enlightening. there's always an economic purpose for US foreign policy. Obviously for the 1%
IvyMike , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:24 am GMT
Reads like the rantings of a paranoid conspiracy theorist whack job. Except it's mostly correct and true.
Haxo Angmark , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:17 am GMT
"accelerated global warming". That's a brazen hardLeft lie.

and the central dynamic isn't oil per se; it's the petrodollar.

By forcing the Middle East (and other) oil producers at gunpoint

to accept dollars and only dollars for the oil, ZOG-ruled 'Murka

creates sufficient international demand for the dollar by non-producers to prevent

its debt-drowned/dollar-monetized domestic Ponzi'conomy from

going to hyperinflationary collapse. That's why both Iraq and Libya were attacked.

And Iran is now in the crosshairs

because it sells oil for anything but dollars.

NoseytheDuke , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:22 am GMT

as if it were Iran, not Saudi Arabia that mounted 9/11,

Saudi Arabia mounted 9/11? LOL. As if Michael Hudson is much too smart and well connected to not know that this is bullshit, so why write it? Oh wait, there's more

Behind all this is the Saudi-inspired 9/11 act taking away Congress's sole power to wage war – its 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, pulled out of the drawer ostensibly against Al Qaeda but actually the first step in America's long support of the very group that was responsible for 9/11, the Saudi airplane hijackers.

This article appears to be a bullshit banquet. I shall have to reassess my thoughts on Hudson. If you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem.

Biff , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:33 am GMT

So maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending.

The main reason for the U.S. military is dollar protection. Idealogical wars(for Israel) don't get very far without the money.

Fear of this development was a major reason why the United States moved against Libya, whose foreign reserves were held in gold, not dollars , an which was urging other African countries to follow suit in order to free themselves from "Dollar Diplomacy." Hillary and Obama invaded, grabbed their gold supplies (we still have no idea who ended up with these billions of dollars worth of gold) and destroyed Libya's government, its public education system, its public infrastructure and other non-neoliberal policies.

I still don't know why the Libyan war doesn't get the attention it should like Iraq's WMD? The lie of "We were trying to protect brown people in the middle east/north Africa" still stands with most Americans.

BTW, brilliant article by Mr. Hudson.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:10 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke If Hudson got some minor detail wrong, it ultimately isn't that important as we are all struggling to see through a glass darkly to find the truth in the daily deluge of lies. None of us have connected all of the dots perfectly, though Hudson has connected more than most, more than you or I. And there are layers of narrative about September 11, 2001. The idea that it was Saudi-inspired may not be the deepest level of the story, but neither is it entirely false. And the Saudis provided the manpower for the attacks on the Twin Towers, just as they are providing the boots on the ground, the Wahabi crazies, e.g., ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and others, used by the US/Israeli interests as a proxy army to take out Assad. This is Hudson's larger point.

Hudson gives us a panoramic economic view of the reasons that neoliberal policies have of necessity become militarized (from the Empire's point of view), why for instance the attempt to take out Assad had to be made. It is all about maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency and keeping a steady income stream flowing into the US Treasury, to fund the Empire's wars as well as domestic expenditures. He also explains why this is a war that the US ultimately will not win. Michael Hudson is to be lauded for his laying out the big picture in clear, economic terms. Not only is he not a part of the problem (although you might be, my trollish friend) he is a national treasure and his writing should be read and discussed by all Americans.

Carlton Meyer , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:11 am GMT
The USA now faces two big problems. Iraqis want American troops out and most Americans agree. Now the spinmasters (like Trump) must explain why American troops must stay. The US military now faces a tough logistics problem. Bases in Iraq are supplied via trucks driven by local Iraqis. Most drivers will refuse to work in sympathy with protestors or fear of them. Resupply by airlift is not practical, so thousands more American troops will be needed as drivers who will be vulnerable to attack.
mrtmbrnmn , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:56 am GMT
Once again, as usual, Michael Hudson comes up aces in his analysis. He gets it. It is always about the Benjamins! As for the Trumptard, our cowardly, compromised, corrupt Congress Critters should fugeddibout their farcical trumped up "impeachment" and any ridiculous "trial" in the Senate. It is high time to bring back the Nuremberg Trials. The bloated, bloviating, narcisisstic, ignorant boob and war criminal is ready for his closeup! The same goes for the enablers, whisperers and political ventriloquists who manipulate the dummy.
restless94110 , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:58 am GMT
Great analysis with the exception of the bits about the climate warming hoax. One of these days–not long now–this fakery will be completely exposed, and then, a lot of people–including most certainly Mr. Hudson–will have a lot of egg on their faces. We can only pray for the decline of Saudi Arabia, the ending of NATO, the de-dollarization of the world, the withdrawal of all US military from the ME (and most of the rest of the world), and the final debunking of man-made global warming.

May all of these come quickly now.

Ilyana_Rozumova , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:01 am GMT
I just do not think that this article is hitting the nail on the head.
And not only that. There are many other factors.
renfro , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:42 am GMT

America's hatred of Iran is starts with its attempt to control its own oil production, exports and earnings. It goes back to 1953, when Mossadegh was overthrown because he wanted domestic sovereignty over Anglo-Persian oil.

It was the British who wanted Mossadegh overthrown because of their profits in the Anglo Iranian Oil Co.. The US was suckered in by the threat of Iran going communist.

1952: Mosaddeq Nationalization of Iran's Oil Industry Leads to CoupEdit event

Iranian President Mohammad Mosaddeq moves to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in order to ensure that more oil profits remain in Iran. His efforts to democratize Iran had already earned him being named Time Magazine's Man of the Year for 1951. After he nationalizes it, Mosaddeq realizes that Britain may want to overthrow his government, so he closes the British Embassy and sends all British civilians, including its intelligence operatives, out of the country.

Britain finds itself with no way to stage the coup it desires, so it approaches the American intelligence community for help. Their first approach results in abject failure when Harry Truman throws the British representatives out of his office, stating that "We don't overthrow governments; the United States has never done this before, and we're not going to start now."

After Eisenhower is elected in November 1952, the British have a much more receptive audience, and plans for overthrowing Mosaddeq are produced. The British intelligence operative who presents the idea to the Eisenhower administration later will write in his memoirs, "If I ask the Americans to overthrow Mosaddeq in order to rescue a British oil company, they are not going to respond. This is not an argument that's going to cut much mustard in Washington. I've got to have a different argument. I'm going to tell the Americans that Mosaddeq is leading Iran towards Communism." This argument wins over the Eisenhower administration, who promptly decides to organize a coup in Iran.
(see August 19, 1953). [STEPHEN KINZER, 7/29/2003]

Entity Tags: Dwight Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Muhammad Mosaddeq

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran, US-Iran (1952-1953

nsa , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:43 am GMT
The evolutionary purpose of the human animal is to remove the carbon from the earth's crust and return it to the atmosphere ..all the while the abundant cheap energy allowing overpopulation, eventually overshoot, and then extinction. The carbon build up in the atmosphere will then usher in a new golden age of plant life .eventually returning the carbon to the earth's crust and starting the animal-plant rotation cycle anew. It's almost poetic ..your houseplant's genes will outlive yours.
Smith , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:47 am GMT
Every war America wages in the ME is in protection of Israel.
Alfred , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 7:06 am GMT
as if it were Iran, not Saudi Arabia that mounted 9/11

Just keep repeating this nonsense enough times and maybe we will believe that it was not Israel and the Deep State.

What "Global Warming"?

The Region From 50-70°S Has Cooled Since The 1980s As North Atlantic SSTs Have Cooled 1°C Since 2004

The fraud is monumental:

285 Papers 70s Cooling

BeenThereDunnit , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 7:23 am GMT
Writing such an article without any consideration of the Zionist dimension is quite a feat. Probably it was done on purpose to muddy the waters. Admit to some part of the story to try and bury another one.

CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) is a lie. To the extent that the world is warming, it is mostly because of natural causes.

The Saudis and others are not American clients. They function in unison and synergeticaly with other globalist elites. They play the role that is assigned to them, but the same can be said about all other factions of these elites. These different factions are clients of each other, so to speak. There is a hierarchy; we know who sits at the top. It's neither the Saudis nor any Anglo-Saxons walking around and making noises in beltway circles.

Still, the guy is an economist purporting financial knowledge. (OTOH, he is evidently not rich.) He may care to comment on the present situation in connection with the Fed's repo bailout and its 90% monetization of US treasury debt.

Ghali , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 8:38 am GMT
America's war of terror is not about "oil"; it is about Israel. The ongoing US war in the Middle East is pushed and promoted by the Israeli regime, the Zionist media (owned by Jews), and wealthy Jews on behalf of Israel.
The US does not need to control the oil. It is already in control of most of it, in Suadi Arbia, Qatar Kuwait, UAE, etc. The so-called "US war for oil" is an old and rusty thesis fabricated by Zionist Jews and designed to deflect attention away from Israel.
anonymous [145] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 8:40 am GMT
It's true that the US grip is slipping and it has been acting here and there to douse the fires that pop up. However, as things become harder to manage-not like the old days-the question becomes how radical will the US become in trying to hold on? It's a nuclear power with all sorts of military hardware that can inflict a huge amount of damage and death. How far will it be willing to go to avoid being dislodged? Would it go nuclear? The US may become a very dangerous country indeed as it throws whatever it has to keep it's position. Scary times ahead.
whattheduck , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 8:42 am GMT
Fantastic Article! The wars are always bankers wars. Follow the money

I got into understanding the financial sector roughly 10 years ago from various economists (Michael included). I've been telling my friends the same thing for a very long time. The fiat money system is what has enabled all the wrong in the world i.e. exponential money printing, exponential population growth. With exponential population growth you have the requirement for food, shelter, water (all natural finite resources).

This can't go forever as it is not sustainable.

Ilya G Poimandres , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 9:02 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke

If you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem.

Western logic – law of non contradiction, law of excluded middle. A real poison! Better the catuskoti.

PetrOldSack , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 9:32 am GMT
Bravo, Michael, that was meant as to the one step further. You are the outsider – insider with balls today. The key strategy of what holds up the US is the toxic pollution in thin air.

Putin, Xi, alternatively, second row Germany – France's elites are up for the next move. Unilateralism is over.

Rational and logic dictates pulling in global population counts, migrations, resources, the long term species survival into the accounting. No US matter, a global essentiality to which should live up local policies. There are myriad variables as to the outcome, what is predictable, is that a status quo on today's terms has come apart. Change is upon the power paradigms.

Pertinent a-n-d relevant piece!

gotmituns , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 9:41 am GMT
Nothing New here, these type of things go back to our Yangtze Patrol in China for Standard Oil and our Marines kicking butt in the Caribbean and Central America for United Fruit in the 1920s and before.
Fluesterwitz , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:13 am GMT
@Toxik Good to see an analysis that goes beyond the usual Trump Derangement- and Israel!- Syndromes. Then again, for individual actors individual motivations (" wag-the-dog attack, or to back Israeli lebensraum drives, or simply to surrender the White House to neocon hate-Iran syndrome.") reasonably play primary, co-equal or supporting roles. It is almost as if people can have a number of intersecting motivations and loyalties.

Eta: spelling

Cowboy , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:16 am GMT
Michael Hudson is an idiot, albeit a useful one. Or possibly he is crypto. In either case instead of naming the jew, he rants about global warming and anti-semite conspiracies concerning jewish lebensraum.

In order to seize Iraqi, Libyan or Syrian oil in general it is wise to leave the infrastructure intact so production can immediately be resumed. In all of Wesley Clark's 7 countries in 5 years the oil production was decimated.

Why destroy the oil infrastructure? Because the primary goal was not oil, but destruction of society, culture, economy, and ultimately genocide and Palestinian style ethnic cleansing. Hudson simply cannot point out the obvious racial supremacist motivations of his judeo-masonic communist masters.

One theory behind the assassination is that both victims had become theats to their respective Iraqi and Iranian leadership, and that both Iran and Iraq were in on the hit. Amadinijad is a crypto-jew and Iran is chock full of Masonic architecture.

[MORE]

https://www.youtube.com/embed/te3aFLuUZm0?feature=oembed

PetrOldSack , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:20 am GMT
@Biff

I still don't know why the Libyan war doesn't get the attention it should

The move or not into Lybia by Erdogan is pertinent as to Libia and it's greater realm these days. It is part of the bargaining as to how Putin and Xi now are part of global decision making. If Erdogan moves, the top layer of decision making globally can be confirmed bi-polar . As in coordinated decision making and the nexus into the potential to impose coordinated policies that the US " and you cannot do anything about it" cannot deflect.

The impotence of it all no player brings something new to the table, the global masses are in for more suppression (veganism?). Quality populations, managed proportional quotas, migrations based on quality of life, global asset management, honest accounting, are into the mist of the generational future.

nokangaroos , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:41 am GMT
At first glance they seem to have found the perpetuum mobile:

Monopoly extorted petrodollar can be invested in furthering the monopoly.

At second, it´s a Ponzi (surprise).

-"[] the Prince who relies on mercenaries will never be safe; (for) they are braggarts among friends and cowards among the enemy."

– Forcing others to undercut you at any cost hollows out the domestic economy,
IOW the "outsourcings" are an inevitable consequence.
When they did it to Germany it caused the Great Depression (that much was "unintended").
This time?

What this translates to is the stakes keep getting higher, the returns diminishing,
and even with good will – and I rate (not J. Ed) Hoover as the last one with that claim –
there is no halfway palatable way out.
Even if the Orange Golem wanted to do the "right" thing (fat chance), he couldn´t;
not with 23T funded debt, ~260T unfunded liabilities (to include pensions) and nothing to export anyone would want.

There´s nothing we can do either – just watch it crash and burn.

eah , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:41 am GMT
I wish there was a LOL option for entire articles.

Leftists never back up claims that US wars are for oil with any facts. For example, they can never point to oil industry lobbyists lobbying for war. But we do see a huge crossover with Jewish Zionist ideologues and those that actively plan and promote war policy.

-- Mike P's Juice Squeeze (@MikePsJuice) January 5, 2020

link

Leftists never back up claims that US wars are for oil with any facts. For example, they can never point to oil industry lobbyists lobbying for war. But we do see a huge crossover with Jewish Zionist ideologues and those that actively plan and promote war policy .

Been_there_done_that , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:45 am GMT
Another mixed bag; some interesting points made here, yet accompanied by nonsensical premises or statements, such as:

" reverse global warming and the extreme weather caused by the world's U.S.-sponsored dependence on oil."

and

" the very group that was responsible for 9/11, the Saudi airplane hijackers."

I have come across this phenomenon numerous times already; experts providing valid but controversial information in their field of expertise, who feel a need for then embedding self-negating passages alongside it, as a trade-off; for instance also with gratuitously contrived references to allegedly faked moon landings, or Hollywood's fantastical holocaust narrative. This is a very similar tactic to that of "poisoning the well".

The "Poisoning the Well" Fallacy (Wikipedia)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_the_well

However, on a site like this, one would expect to receive more "pure play" (unadulterated) intelligence.

The_seventh_shape , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:11 am GMT
@whattheduck Follow the money and you find Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, and Paul Singer, Trump's biggest donors. Their concern is not with oil or keeping the dollar as the reserve currency.
NoseytheDuke , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:14 am GMT
@Weston Waroda Obscuring the real perpetrators of 9/11 is not a minor detail whether done intentionally or by accident. Anything and everything that even appears to give credence to the official bullshit narrative about who really did 9/11 is harmful to the nation and the entire world. Exposing the 9/11 perps is the most powerful key that is capable of unlocking the grip on the throat and regaining the reins of the USA. He could have written, "as if were Iran that mounted 9/11" without including, "not Saudi Arabia". The Devil, as always, is in the details.

And then you wrote the following utter nonsense, "And the Saudis provided the manpower for the attacks on the Twin Towers". Read more, comment less.

FB , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:26 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke

This article appears to be a bullshit banquet. I shall have to reassess my thoughts on Hudson.

That's very very far from the truth the article is in fact extremely enlightening as to the mechanics of US imperialism by way of petrodollar hegemony the Giant Ponzi Scheme inner workings laid bare

It's too bad you are monomaniacally fixated on one single issue that you cannot appreciate good knowledge that doesn't pander to your hot button

I naturally don't agree with the silly notion about the Saudi 'hijackers' nor do I agree with the equally silly conclusion that global warming is definitely caused by burning hydrocarbons, rather than much more powerful natural mechanisms and cycles that have been around for eons

Prof Hudson may or may not be on board with these sentiments also, but he chooses his battles carefully as one probably must in order to be taken seriously by a wider and more mainstream [brainwashed] audience

Consider for a moment that all of his authoritative explanations about the economic dimension of our current scam system would be immediately dismissed by the pinheads that control our narratives, as the ravings of a climate denier and 911 truther what good would that do ?

nokangaroos , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:28 am GMT
@nokangaroos As for Israel, this is not elective either not even for "Eretz Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates".

It´s about the water, plain and simple. The groundwater they have been using since independence is fossil (ice age), not replenished and good as gone; as is the Jordan river.
They are already stealing water from the Palestinians, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and it isn´t anywhere near enough.
They MUST have Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa, or it´s game over.

And who is in the way of that? Well Hassan Nasrallah and his merry company!
Ergo, Iran must go. What´s so hard to understand?

(Like "the greatest army in the world" "the most moral army in the world" should take to wearing pink tutus, methinks)

So there also is no hope for peace from this side.

Stephen Paul Foster , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:36 am GMT
@restless94110 "Great analysis with the exception of the bits about the climate warming hoax. "plus, "calling for a new Nurenberg-style [sic] war crimes trial." Nuremberg was a farce, show-trial to give Stalin cover for grabbing eastern and central Europe. For the U.S. to be in the dock in a "new Nuremberg-style war crimes trial," it's people and cities will have to have been bombed to smithereens and its women raped by the victor-armies. Whose armies will have pulled that off?

And, what's with all the typos in this piece?

John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:44 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke

Saudi Arabia mounted 9/11? LOL. As if Michael Hudson is much too smart and well connected to not know that this is bullshit, so why write it?

You're the one who's full of shit, pal.

In 2016, several US Senators called on then President Obama to release 28 pages of official 9/11 report that they claim reveal aspects of Saudi state involvement in the attacks. That is to say, intelligence agencies of the United States government officially acknowledge this fact. So, yes, it is technically correct to say, "Saudi Arabia mounted 9/11." And this is before we get to the Dancing Israelis, which, again, is not a conspiracy theory, but an officially acknowledged reality.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-911-classified-report-steve-kroft/

Herald , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:55 am GMT
@Weston Waroda Hudson gets some things right, but he shoots himself in the foot with his "Saudi inspired 9/11" reference. This is a major flaw and to describe it as minor is simply wrong or worse.

The only role played by the Saudis was that of patsy and in doing so they gave just a slither of cover to the actual perpetrators. Such cover, as it was, has long since been blown out of the water. That people can still repeat the Saudis did it line is quite ridiculous, national treasures or not.

We've known for aeons that the US approach to the rest of the world is about oil and its role in keeping the intrinsically valueless dollar afloat. Hudson isn't needed for that and his article reeks of sophisticated damage limitation, concentrating as it does on the reasons why the US does the disgusting things it does.

Right now it is much more relevant to dwell on the unjustifiable brutality, immorality and illegality of the US in its dealings with the rest of the world.

FB , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:02 pm GMT
@BeenThereDunnit

He may care to comment on the present situation in connection with the Fed's repo bailout and its 90% monetization of US treasury debt.

Yes, I too would be interested in hearing a coherent analysis on the extraordinary money printing going on now I understand it's up to half a trillion in a single month it sounds like somebody is trying to plug a massive leak in the dam a la the little Dutch boy

Is the deluge coming ?

I also think you dismiss the professor's article based on minor quibbles I don't agree with man-made climate change either, but it doesn't take away from the meat of the article, which is a lot of excellent insight into the inner workings of the imperialist money machine

John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm GMT
@eah This is not a mutually exclusive thing. Why can't it be both a war for Zionism and a war for oil? It's absolutely both! There is no reason to believe that the Zionist lobby and the petrodollar don't exist together in one unholy marriage.
John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:14 pm GMT
@Herald

The only role played by the Saudis was that of patsy and in doing so they gave just a slither of cover to the actual perpetrators.

This is such a bunch of CRAP! It boggles my mind to see some of you folks saying this kind of falsity.

Even mainstream publications like Foreign Policy magazine and Slate contradict this nonsense.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/18/what-we-know-about-saudi-arabias-role-in-911/

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2016/04/saudi-arabia-and-the-28-classified-pages-of-congress-9-11-report.html

Patsy? At absolute minimum, Saudi Arabia was a financial supporter of the attacks. Patsy is not the word for that, buddy!

BuelahMan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:54 pm GMT
Oil War?

Hudson knows better but won't say it.

It is Eretz Israel's war.

9/11 Inside job , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:58 pm GMT
Michael Hudson fails the "9/11 litmus test " by making statements such as "the Saudi-inspired
9/11 act " and implying several times in his essay that the Saudis did 9/11.
Washedup , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:06 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke This one hurts. My man Hudson proves here he is an active disinformation agent. As you note, he is too smart to be a dupe. Starting to think that he and PCR are advanced limited hangout. Their role is to shunt us towards the next prepared phase of the globalist script, which is the collapse of the west and its bogus "salvation" by the "multipolar" NWO led by Russia and China. They want us to beg for this next turn of the screw. They want us to beg for Putin and Xi to "liberate" us. Create problem, offer solution. What they have coming down the pipeline two iterations from now is worse than we can imagine.
Exile , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:11 pm GMT
Oil and economics are part of the equation governing U.S. ME policy, but so are Israeli geopolitics, religion and culture. Making economics the sole focus oversimplifies and over-reduces the holistic reality of our grossly misdirected, hijacked foreign policy.

The synthetic American Second Founding ethos of civic nationalism along with the synthetic mythos of "Judeo-Christianity" are a major element of why America sides with Israel and not the Arabs, Persians or other regional powers. The Jewish-exacerbated and inflamed cultural enmity that Westerners feel toward Muslims, in large part due to mass immigration championed by Jews and false-flag terror from the Dancing Shlomos on 9/11 to ISIS today, is the other side of this pincer movement of cultural and political influence.

The author isn't wrong, but he's an economist. When all you have is a hammer

eah , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:21 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan The United States is now the largest global crude oil producer

Canada also has very significant unexploited oil (and natural gas) reserves:

Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources -- Canada

Although the shale resource estimates presented in this report will likely change over time as additional information becomes available, it is evident that shale resources that were until recently not included in technically recoverable resources constitute a substantial share of overall global technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources .

Canada has a series of large hydrocarbon basins with thick, organic-rich shales that are assessed by this resource study.

The claim that the US has an urgent need to secure oil supplies in the Middle East is not really supported by the evidence vis-a-vis oil production and reserves.

Anon [398] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:30 pm GMT
Reminder the same people who want you to fight Iran also want you to live in a pod and eat bugs. Even in the best case where you actually manage to get back alive, minus a limb or three, what awaits you is a glorified drawer and maggot patties
9/11 Inside job , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
@9/11 Inside job However , Michael Hudson does write of " Saudi Arabia's Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Qaeda in Iraq , Al
Nusra) and other divisions of what are actually America's foreign legion " .
Sparkon , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:47 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan B ush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Myers, Rice, Card, Fleischer, Giuliani are Americans, not Saudi Arabians.

"The TV was obviously on."

-- Pres. George W. Bush

But it wasn't. There was no live TV coverage of the first WTC attack.

Pres. Bush lied about his initial knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, presumably to give them more time to succeed. ABC News reported that Bush had been informed about the first WTC attack even before he left his resort hotel that morning.

You are free to think, however, that it was the Saudis who paid for the glue on Bush's chair in that Florida classroom on 9/11. Maybe they even paid Ari Fleischer to hold up that sign for Bush while the WTC was burning:

DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET

Why was his Press Secretary telling President Bush to keep his mouth shut for the time being? How did Fleischer even know what Card had whispered in Bush's ear unless he was in on the plot?

All the talk about the Israelis, Jews, or the Saudis -- and now the dead Iranian general Soleimani -- being responsible for 9/11, but nobody wants to talk about the Americans who were on duty that day, all of whom dropped the ball in one way or another, starting with Pres. Bush, who sat in his chair rather than taking immediate action to defend the United States against ongoing terrorist attacks.

Allowing an enemy or false flag attack to succeed is treason.

9/11 was the treasonous event that opened up this entire ugly can of worms in the Middle East, and elsewhere, Mr. Gettysburg Partisan.

Jake , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:49 pm GMT
@Toxik That is true. Just like the Brit WASP Empire. It was always about more money for the 1 to 5%, and if the white trash – the vast, vast majority of the natives of the British Isles – got hammered over and over, so be it.
ivegotrythm , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:50 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan It is not some of the folks who say that 9/11 is an Israeli false flag, it is all of the folks except for the Israeli trolls. (And there are a lot of those!)
Jake , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:51 pm GMT
@9/11 Inside job The Saudis did do it, along with the Israelis and the Yank Deep State, with full knowledge of the UK Deep State.

The CIA, the Mossad, and the Saudi General Intelligence Presidency were all founded and trained by British secret service.

Jake , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:54 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan It is indeed both. Worship of Mammon and worshipful adoration of the Chosen Race.

Anglo-Zionist Empire.

Wizard of Oz , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:19 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke In the course of several threads Ron Unz has referred to the Twin Towers coming down at free fall speed into their own footprints as key evidence against the official story. My recollection is that you have said much the same. Correct?

So I ask what you make of this link provided by LK, one of the chosen for elephant stamps,

https://www.ae911truth.org/evidence/faqs/353-faq-12-what-is-ae911truth-s-assessment-of-the-directed-energy-weapon-dew-hypothesis

and this extract from it

"FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, performed the first technical review of what brought down the Twin Towers and WTC 7. Even in its report, FEMA acknowledges (inconveniently for the official story, which cannot account for this fine destruction of the Twin Towers) that roughly 90% of the Twin Towers' mass fell outside their footprints. Indeed, the entire plaza was covered with steel pieces and assemblies. Some of the structural steel was thrown as far away as the Winter Gardens -- 600 feet"

You clearly care a great deal about 9/11 truth, and Ron's language is that of one convinced that the official story is wrong in ways that matter so I seek to know whether you are given pause and reason to doubt your own certainties by that evidence by the 3000.

Real Unemployment Rate , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:26 pm GMT
Economic hit man Hudson reminds us of how many people Chase Manhattan killed in Vietnam
but somehow claims he doesn't know how the US stole Gaddafi's 44 tons of gold.

The poverty draft works in the US because we let the poor fight the wars for the rich and corporations. Tell me who started the Iraq war, the Mullahs in Iran or the Mullahs in DC?

Hudson works the alternative media to disable dissent. The Democrats and Republicans will send internet dissenters to psychiatric hospitals if they complain too much on the internet. The Iran war really means that everyone needs to go along with the party line or get banned – total agreement between right wingers and left wingers.

Desert Fox , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:26 pm GMT
The wars in the mideast are not for oil, they are for Israel and Israels greater Israel agenda, and since zionists control the FED and IRS the wars for Israel, which were instigated the last time by the joint Israeli and ZUS attack on WTC and blamed on the Arabs to give the ZUS the excuse to destroy the mideast for Israel.
DanFromCT , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:27 pm GMT
@Fluesterwitz Perceptive as many of Dr Hudson's remarks are, the article is itself a wag-the-dog story inasmuch as, were it not for US support for Israel, oil production in the ME would have remained under Western control at low prices indefinitely.

It is not the case that oil prices quadrupled in early '74 because of the US quadrupling the cost of wheat, which, if I recall correctly, had mainly to do with crop shortages in the USSR, as f.o.b. USGulf prices were bid up dramatically from around $1.65 a bushel to nearly $7, and not by the US government or its proxies, but by grain traders. The price of oil quadrupled independently and because of the US yet again backing of Israel in its wars of aggression against the Arab nations.

There's also Dr Hudson's conspicuous misdirection about 9/11, blaming it on the absurd, fairytale narrative for childish minds about nineteen Arabs who couldn't handle a Cessna 150 magically flying jetliners into buildings magically exempted from the laws of physics during 9/11, making it clear he takes readers here for morons. There are several dozen lines of relevant and substantial evidence overwhelmingly disproving the official narrative and implicating Israel. If anything, Dr Hudson's participation in these elaborate efforts at concealing the truth about 9/11 provide powerful evidence that he's a disinformation agent poisoning the well by cognitive infiltration of sites opposing the ME wars.

We don't blame everyday Jews for any of this any more than we blame Italians for crimes of the Mafia, so let's not hear hateful lies that we want these wars ended because we're the haters.

GMC , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:42 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan I agree JB – Its a multi faceted MOnkey F that has as many end games, as the number of Think tanks – " Thinking of every angle in the quest for Rule." Nokangaroo has it down with water – also. The US isn't just happy owning the America's – they want Europe too, as they play the strong arm game for Israel. Whereas Russia , seems like it just wants Russia , the Slavs, and wishes to trade its goods in mostly – Peace. Wanna be -Israel wants the whole Mid East and the natural resources to itself and China wants a whole lot of the Worlds natural resources through trade and loans that can't be paid back, or it seems to be. They are all the NWO players, but they have different ideas on – Splitting the booty.
YetAnotherAnon , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:03 pm GMT
@Haxo Angmark Tend to agree and I can see Mr Hudson's logic, which explains why the US wants to control (by allies or proxies) Middle East oil despite being self-sufficient – but if that was the only reason, why aren't they flattening wind farms and solar plants all over the world? I assume the Danes don't pay for their offshore electricity in dollars.

I'm aware though that oil is still pretty unique in that it's the most portable form of energy. No one is going to build a battery-powered aircraft carrier.

Maybe it's 50/50 between 'defending Israel' by attacking any functioning unfriendly ME state and keeping the petrodollar, which would explain the attack on Libya, surely no threat to Israel.

Old and grumpy , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:12 pm GMT
Two little quibbles. Climate has always been changing. The desire to fill banks and government coffers for essentially the air you breathe is what is new.

The second thing is the Democrats are not anti war. Think of the two parties as participants in a scripted WWE wrestling match. To make matters worse most anti war groups have financially back by a non profit, who is backed by more non profits. Wouldn't be that surprising is end of the donor road leads to the likes of the Atlantic Council and its members. We're living in a matrix.

Onebornfree , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:13 pm GMT
M. Hudson says : "The assassination was intended to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control the region's oil reserves,"

Well, that's one "expert" opinion. Here's another :

" ..More than 13 years after Saddam's last hurrah on a Baghdad gallows, the US still has upwards of 30,000 troops and contractors in the immediate vicinity of the Persian Gulf. But why?

..it should be obvious by now that it's not the oil, either. At the moment the US is producing nearly 13 million barrels per day and is the world's leading oil producer – well ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia; and is now actually a net exporter of crude for the first time in three-quarters of a century.

Besides, the Fifth Fleet has never been the solution to oil security. The cure for high prices is high prices – as the great US shale oil and Canadian heavy oil booms so cogently demonstrate, among others.

And the route to global oil industry stability is peaceful commerce because virtually every regime – regardless of politics and ideology – needs all the oil revenue it can muster to fund its own rule and keep its population reasonably pacified.

Surely, there is no better case for the latter than that of Iran itself – with an economy burdened by decades of war, sanctions and mis-rule and an 80-million population that aspires to a western standard of living.

So left to its own devices, Tehran would produce 5 million barrels per day from its abundant reserves. That's barely one-tenth of its present meager output, which is owing to Washington's vicious sanctions against any and all customers for its oil and potential investors in modernizing and expanding it production capacity "

From: "How the Donald Assassinated America First":
https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/01/david-stockman/the-donald-is-now-america-firsts-own-assassin/

Regards, onebornfree

flashlight joe , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:21 pm GMT
@BuelahMan It is with some trepidation that I enter into this discussion.

But my take is the article was about the reason for the recent assassination, not the reason for the invasion of SW Asia, the Middle East, SE Europe, and N Africa, which began in 1978, BTW.

The article did contain a few throw-away lines which were contentious and not necessary for his point.

All in all, I thought it was great. Thanks Michael.

Onebornfree , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:28 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz Wizard of Oz says : ""FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, performed the first technical review of what brought down the Twin Towers and WTC 7. Even in its report, FEMA acknowledges (inconveniently for the official story, which cannot account for this fine destruction of the Twin Towers) that roughly 90% of the Twin Towers' mass fell outside their footprints"

Riddle me this: why in god's name would you believe anything that FEMA, or, for that matter, any other government agency [e.g. N.I.S.T.] says did or did not happen on 9/11?

Do you also believe anything Trump/ Pompeo etc. are claiming as reasons for the [alleged] assassination?

Regards, onebornfree

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:29 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan This is true, it seems unlikely these wars are purely for the benfit of Zionism and Israel, granted they are a major component but there are also Gentile interests here.

The only difference is that these wars benefit Israel as a whole, its people and all. They only serve to beenfit a small handful of Gentiles though and the rest of us goyim are seeing nothing but losses, this is why there is often a tendency to place the blame solely on the Jews and push the Gentiles aside as simply shabbos goyim , these Gentiles are actually benefiting but at the expense of their own people.

sarz , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:30 pm GMT
Michael Hudson has a lot to say about economics. I wish he would stick to that. I can't believe that anyone with his IQ and interest in politics could be so deluded about 9/11. It's almost like running into a field-theorist who happens to be a flat-earther.
Agent76 , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:42 pm GMT
*All Wars Are Bankers' Wars* By Michael Rivero

I know many people have a great deal of difficulty comprehending just how many wars are started for no other purpose than to force private central banks onto nations, so let me share a few examples, so that you understand why the US Government is mired in so many wars against so many foreign nations. There is ample precedent for this.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/5hfEBupAeo4?feature=oembed

The Creature From Jekyll Island (by G. Edward Griffin)

A Second Look at the Federal Reserve

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lu_VqX6J93k?feature=oembed

Bankers Hate Peace: All Wars Are Bankers' Wars

In the beginning of World War I, Woodrow Wilson had adopted initially a policy of neutrality. But the Morgan Bank, which was the most powerful bank at the time, and which wound up funding over 75 percent of the financing for the allied forces during World War I pushed Wilson out of neutrality sooner than he might have done, because of their desire to be involved on one side of the war.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/bankers-hate-peace-all-wars-are-bankers-wars/5438849

Justsaying , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:43 pm GMT
@Carlton Meyer Trump has already threatened Iraqis with crippling sanctions if they insist American forces leave Iraq. And in a bizarre twist to this blackmail, Iraq will be forced to "compensate" the Americans for their "investment". Any sane individual would think it is Iraq that's owed compensation after a criminal war based on lies destroyed a once prosperous and secular country. The American criminal gangster protection racket is about to go full throttle.
fool's paradise , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:44 pm GMT
@ Ron Unz: When I want to forward this article, or other articles on this site, and i click on email–nothing happens. Two days ago, and years before, I'd click on email, give my name, email, type in Capcha, and get a notice, Mail Sent. Now, nothing.
bjondo , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:53 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan 28 blank pages to be filled with whatever is needed
and for bonus, empty threats.

Would one of those several senators be Bob "Mr Israel" Graham?

5ds

bjondo , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:06 pm GMT
@Agent76 How many of those bankers are Jew?

Majority of recent wars Libya to Ukraine for Israel.

Libya was aggression against Syria.
Stealing gold, murdering Gaddafi, disrupting African development a bonus.

Neocons/Jew, are the planners, pushers, cheerleaders, justifiers.

S. Arabia needs only few weapons to control internal.

Most of the weapons purchased helps make up for freebies to Israel,
supports weapons mfgs, and in place for US/Israel to use.

Yinon/Mossad always.

5ds

nokangaroos , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:10 pm GMT
@YetAnotherAnon It has been argued that Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi´s "Great Man-Made River" (a 40-year irrigation project) was of no minor concern, as the Jews could have sat on their produce until it hatched
ivegotrythm , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:12 pm GMT
@Weston Waroda Shame on you! Saying Mr Silverstein is a Saudi, and not the deepest level. Next you will be denying the Holocaust!
Robert Dolan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:21 pm GMT
Has nothing to do with oil and to claim this is an obvious attempt to divert attention away from Israel.

ALL aggression in the ME is because of Israel, to weaken the enemies of Israel, to "secure the realm" for Israel.

"The Israel Lobby" debunked the war for oil claims long ago.

Iran has been in the crosshairs for many years and it's because of ISRAEL.

ivegotrythm , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:21 pm GMT
@DanFromCT That he is, at heart, disinformation wrapped in some information, like dog poison wrapped in meat, can be the only plausible explanation.
buzzwar , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:29 pm GMT
The reason behind the oil increase has nothing to do with the US (undocumented) quadrupling of the price of its grain exports. It is rather linked to the blind (like today) support of ZioAmerica and the West for Israel in the 1973 war. After the oil price quadrupling, the OAPEC countries threatened that they would cut their production an additional 5 per cent per month, 'until Israeli withdrawal is completed from the whole Arab territories occupied in June 1967 and "the legal rights of the Palestinian people are restored".
The 1973 oil shock was not a shock for everyone. While it had a devastating impact on world industrial growth, it brought enormous benefits to major US and European banks and above all it was a godsend for oil majors, the so-called seven sisters.These oil companies were able to invest in the north sea oil fields only when the oil price quadrupled.
In early 1973, the bilderberg group discussed an imminent "400 per cent future rise in OPEC's price". At bilderberg they knew beforehand the oil price was going to be quadrupled.
ivegotrythm , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:30 pm GMT
@Wizard of Oz 'Cause when you blow up a four hundred meter high building you can't get it to fall exactly in its own footprint, no matter how hard you try. The firemen were told "another plane is coming" as the order to get out when they finished evacuating the employees from buildings which were already 60% vacant. (And the buildings had been vacant for some time which is why Silverstein bought them on the cheap, and why they were sold, essentially for scrap.)
Sean , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:34 pm GMT

Without the dollar's function as the vehicle for world saving – in effect, without the Pentagon's role in creating the Treasury debt that is the vehicle for world central bank reserves – the U.S. would find itself constrained militarily and hence diplomatically constrained, as it was under the gold exchange standard.

Fascinating as it always is with this author, I wish Professor Hudson had enlarged on the block quoted snippet above, or given a link to where he had explained it thoroughly for those of us less quick on the uptake. He obviously has a great deal of knowledge about these things and the promise of unique insights motivates me to concentrate. I could be quite negative if I held him to the fire for the absolute truth of everything he has written in the piece, but such dogmatism would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Most of what Prof, Hudson says is basically correct if you pull back from the detailed allegations he makes. My criticisms would be he does have a tendency to write as if conscious intention is at work in the way America acts, and the elite thus understands all the implications of what they are doing. If one is looking at international politics the debt can be important, but in the final analysis (loans to Germany and its debts before WW2 were from losing WW1) some nation states view others as a potential threat to be neutralised.

Moreover, countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, or rather the Persian and Arabs, have a very long history of enmity. Both are heavily dependant on oil prices for their ability to keep funding proxy wars. Saudi Arabia tried to put the frackers of the United States Of America–now the world's largest exporter of petroleum–out of business and failed. It would be silly to say the low interest rates in the US were intended to stop the fighting in Syria, but they might have had that effect. Bethany McLean says fracking is afloat on a tsunami of free money that cannot last.

[MORE]

https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-02-04/venezuelas-collapse-is-a-window-into-how-the-oil-age-will-unravel/
The shift can be best understood through the concept of Energy Return on Investment (EROI), pioneered principally by the State University of New York environmental scientist Professor Charles Hall, a ratio which measures how much energy is used to extract a particular quantity of energy from any resource. Hall has shown that as we are consuming ever larger quantities of energy, we are using more and more energy to do so, leaving less 'surplus energy' at the end to underpin social and economic activity. As the surplus energy available to sustain economic growth is squeezed, in real terms the biophysical capacity of the economy to continue buying the very oil being produced reduces leading the market price to collapse.

That in turn renders the most expensive unconventional oil and gas projects potentially unprofitable, unless they can find ways to cover their losses through external subsidies of some kind, such as government grants or extended lines of credit.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MJ5utsDHP1U?start=1126&feature=oembed

My understanding of ME geopolitics is that Britain created states to separate (gerrymander) the Arab masses from the oil wealth of the region. Hence Kuwait ect. In 1953 a threadbare Britain told America that without the income from Iranian Oil the financial status of the UK would be desperate. The US, which had originally opposed a coup, went along with and funded one. America then deciding that Iran could be Uncle Sam;s cop on the ME beat gave the Shah so much weaponry that the Arab nations became extremely alarmed. The Shah's second (first was half German) wife told a story about how when she went to tell their cook what she wanted for dinner her would turn his eyes away because she was wearing a bikini. He also secretly prayed. It was a very religious country and yet the Shah's father had banned the veil in 1936.

Saudi Arabia gave 40 billion dollars to Saddam's Iraq to fight the Iran Iraq war against the Islamic regime in Tehran. After a good start Saddam's army was halted and then turned back by the Iranians ruthless use of their relatively huge population of young men as cannon fodder. The debts Saddam incurred fighting against the Persians gave him a grudge against the family dictatorship oil wealthy countries and that was a major reason he invaded Kuwait. If Iraq has so much oil of its own, then why would Saddam have needed to invade a tiny neighbour?

On loan guarantees and the settlements issue Bush sent the Lobby packing with a flick of his eyebrow and brought Israel to Madrid only having to give Israel revocation of UN Resolution 3379 (Zionism is racism). All great stuff. It started the process that led to the Camp David 2000 Summit and Barak making an offer for a final settlement that was if very hard to accept for the Palestinian side, still a serious offer that they might have taken and successfully built on.

Bush the Elder and Scowcroft saw the problem of a US army in Iraq, so the just evicted Saddam from Kuwait, but the US army in Saudi Arabia they did not seem to worry about even though it would have to be there as long as Saddam ran Iraq, and the 1979 Grand Mosque seizure showed there was a strong dislike of the Saud regime's westernisation. Bush the Elder sent the Lobby packing with a flick of his eyebrow and brought Israel to Madrid only having to give Israel revocation of UN Resolution 3379. Down the line there was the Camp David 2000 Summit and Barak making an offer for a final settlement that was serious.

The Saudi ambassador at the time of 9/11 lobbied hard for an invasion to overthrow Saddam. American strategists regard Saudi Arabia as a the richest prize in the world and a client state so they had to invade Iraq and neutralize it as a threat Saudi Arabia in order to be able to withdraw their army (that had been there since Saddam had been kicked out of Kuwait, but left in power in Iraq) from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden's main complaint and the cause of domestic unrest in Saudi Arabia was disgust with the Saud regime's decision to allow the U.S. military into the country in 1990 to deter an attack by Saddam Hussein. To retain Saudi Arabia within the US's orbit, it was necessary to overthrow Saddam. Yes Iraq has oil, but not that much. As already mentioned the Middle East was drawn up so the oil is where the Arab masses cannot get at it without an invasion of another country.

nsa , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:35 pm GMT
Recently, researchers and academics have revisited the attack on the USS Liberty and have uncovered credible evidence that the vicious murderous onslaught was a false flag perpetrated by Iranian jets disguised with the markings of America's best friend in a diabolical attempt to drive a wedge between bosom buddies and shatter all of judeo-christian civilization. Furthermore, very credible witnesses who can't be named at this time to insure their safety overheard the swarthy men with rifles on the grassy knoll overlooking Dealy Plaza speaking Farzi back in 1963. What more evidence could anyone possibly need as to exactly who is threatening world peace and stability? As to 9/11, everyone knows it was perpetrated by those sneaky Iranians impersonating Saudis and then trying to promote the event as an inside job perpetrated by our best friend and ally.
Mefobills , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:41 pm GMT
@Washedup

This one hurts. My man Hudson proves here he is an active disinformation agent.

No, he cannot touch the third rail! Hudson is a balance of payments specialist, and he knows full well how the Petrodollar system works. He has exposed it.

He did good work on Panama papers episode. It is up to us to carefully parse what Hudson is saying, and the fact that we have to do this implies just how dangerous ZOG has become.

The Saudi's are PART OF ZOG. I have had to repeat this ad-nauseum. You can follow the money. MI6 abets Saudi Coup at the behest of oil interests e.g. BP/Shell. Compliant Saudi Kingdom is installed and later America takes over security guarantees via 73 Kissinger agreement. The Petrodollar/Tbill economy is born – Hudson has explicitly described this mechanism, it is up to you to peer through the veil. Super Imperialism is his first work on this balance of payment charade that forms our world.

Wahabbism is part of the construct as it enshrines Saudi Kingdom as the leader of Islam (their brand) and Mecca. Zion/Globo-homo is actually State Sponsored Usury, and their real god is Moloch and Mammon.

I get it that people are tired of the Saudi's did 911, when instead it was a matrix of ZOG, including Mossad and Sayanim in America along with "international globo-homo interests, including the deep-state."

The common denominator is that all of these players are tethered to international federal reserves notes (international corporate banking), or finance capital that won WW2.

If the globo-homo cabal can maneuver the polity to win WW2, then it can maneuver to have Hudson disappeared/executed or however you want to put it.

Hudson is very smart, and is using code language for us to follow, while still exposing the truth of things. The Saudi's did 911 wink wink nudge nudge.

It would be nice if we could get the truth in one sitting without having to sift through BS, but that is not the way the world works today.

With regards to PCR, he pretty much has larger stones than Hudson, and does not couch his language as carefully. PCR will call out the Jew and his usury and you know these two men talk to each other.

Hudson knows full well what is going on. What do you think his important career would look like if he named the Jew?

Jus' Sayin'... , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:45 pm GMT
Michael Hudson, with whom I often disagree, provides an excellent analysis of one reason behind Suleimani's assassination, the USA establishment's determination to effectively control the world's energy no matter what the cost,

Unfortunately Hudson fails to consider the role of Israel. The Israelis cannot establish the local regional hegemony they want as long as Iran, a traditional regional power, is a functioning nation. Israel is desperate to destroy Iran. Therefore, Israel's traitorous, Zionist fifth-column in the USA will do everything in its power to encourage and defend any politician who promotes aggression against Iran and to attack any politician who stands against this insanely immoral and counterproductive policy. Zionist's in this country currently have a stranglehold on the USA's policy in North Africa, the Levant, the Near East. And Southwest Asia. I don't see how this can change unless the people of the United States are brutally forced to deal with the consequences of this policy and finally become aware of the espionage and lobbying groups responsible for it.

plantman , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:50 pm GMT
Wow. I am usually a big fan of Hudson's but this analysis is just an effort to conceal the truth. While it's true that "dollar hegemony" and and the 'control of oil' factor large in washington's geopolitical considerations, those considerations could have been adequately addressed by simply observing the "nuke's deal" which would have allowed Iran to sell oil and gas to Europe in dollars, as was intended.

So why did Trump blow up the deal???

He blew it up for the same reason he made Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and the same reason why he gave Israel the green light to settle the west Bank. He blew up the nukes deal because that is what is main deep-pocket constituents wanted him to do and because he believes that his best path to greater personal power is by placating his zionist constituents. This is the choice Trump has made. and he is one false flag away from realizing his dream of nearly absolute power.

Hudson's article is a diversion from the ugly truth that is unfolding before our eyes

Mefobills , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:53 pm GMT
If people want to know about money and the maneuverings of the cabal, then E Michael Jones serves that role.

Jones has decided to name the Jew, and of course they are doing their best to demonetize and demonize him.

Hudson won't go there -- get over it. Others have also complained about Hudson in this regards. If you look very carefully you can see that Hudson is not being disingenuous.. he is not a disinfo agent, he is dropping clues.

People like PCR and myself can still admire the man and we can also admit Hudson is not as much of an Alpha male as we are.

The world is made up of different kinds of people, including some men who are more girly, reticent and careful.

Agent76 , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:00 pm GMT
@bjondo I have no idea I have an open mind and just look at facts not religion or place of birth.

December 2, 2018 Bush Family Links to Nazi Germany: "A Famous American Family" Made its Fortune from the Nazis

The Bush family links to Nazi Germany's war economy were first brought to light at the Nuremberg trials in the testimony of Nazi Germany's steel magnate Fritz Thyssen.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-bush-familys-links-to-nazi-germany-a-famous-american-family-made-its-fortune-from-the-nazis/5512243

Jan 2, 2012 Bush & Rockefeller family's funded NAZI war effort and laundered NAZI money

IG Farban which is the German company that held the patent for Zyklon B was being funded by Rockefeller owned Standard Oil. Union Banking Corp whose Director and Vice president was Prescott Bush (father of George) was money laundering for the Nazis and after the war ended its assets were seized for trading with the enemy.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/OcGI4wccesw?feature=oembed

JamesinNM , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:05 pm GMT
@IvyMike Pray for Christ's return and the destruction of all evil.
Mefobills , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:12 pm GMT
@nsa

Recently, researchers and academics have revisited the attack on the USS Liberty and have uncovered credible evidence that the vicious murderous onslaught was a false flag perpetrated by Iranian jets disguised with the markings of America's best friend in a diabolical attempt to drive a wedge between bosom buddies and shatter all of judeo-christian civilization.

LoL.

It was Israeli Jets, and sneaky Mossad wanted U.S. to bomb Egypt, so "greater Israel" the Zion project could come into effect. LBJ was in on the charade. By this point in history, the U.S. was fully infiltrated at the highest levels.

Through deception do war -- is that what you are doing, being deceptive? The Iranians have never been our enemy.

Also, there is no such thing as JUDEO-CHRISTIANITY. That is a made up term so Jews can dupe Christian Goyim. It takes lots of usury to fund deception of this magnitude.

The New TESTAMENT supersedes the old. Christian doctrine of super-session IS OPERATIVE, and means that any sect emphasizing old testament is a Judaiser, and hence should be shunned.

If you catch yourself saying the words Judeo-Christianity, then do a face-palm and realize you have been hoaxed and are repeating deception.

Happy Tapir , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:14 pm GMT
@plantman To me it seems the US and it's lackeys are continually and repeatedly provoking Iran by committing actions which are acts of war or merit strong retaliation, which could cascade and escalate into causes of war. This recent assassination is similar to the hijacking of Iranian oil tankers earlier this year. This pattern has been present and escalating in intensity since immediately after the Iraq war. There was a partial hiatus under Obama because he personally disliked the zionists so much. We will be at war with Iran sooner or later, just as with Iraq, if republicans keep the White House.

Hudson is obviously avoiding talking about the Zionist angle, probably for his own security -- I'll wager he doesn't have tenure yet. He talks about the OPEC embargo of the 70s without mentioning Israel. It's openly known that this was in retaliation for western support of Israel during the Yom Kippur war. There's no way he could be that uninformed.

Onebornfree , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:17 pm GMT
@sarz Sara says: "Michael Hudson has a lot to say about economics. I wish he would stick to that. I can't believe that anyone with his IQ and interest in politics could be so deluded about 9/11"

Well, if it's any consolation, his "government knows best", grandiose economic "theories"are no less delusional than his. 9/11 theories

Regards,onebornfree

anonymous [217] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:29 pm GMT
This essay provides a glimpse of the satanic levels of Greed and Psychopathy of the whitrash civilisation (previously it was the British, and now the baton is with the AmeriKKKans). This spiritually and morally cursed cesspool's "success" in this world has been predicated on such unabashed Evil. Surely it will not be worth it as they will find themselves writhing in a Fiery torment, soon enough.

I think what this world desperately needs is whitey "genocide." The quotes signify the fact that since I am a true monotheist, I can never ever condone that level of bloodshed. So, what is required is reducing the number of whiteys in the world, so as to curtail their demonic Evil.

Something like this;

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/10/sperm-counts-continue-to-fall/572794/

Wally , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:31 pm GMT
@Cowboy Excellent points. Not so sure about Free Masons though.

– And recall that most of the big oil field drilling / management contracts went to Russia, China, & Europe after the US / Israel invasions, not the US.

– Zionists love guys like Hudson who all too conveniently attempts to deflect attention away from Israel.

US oil companies make about six cents off a single gallon of gasoline, on the other hand there's US Big Government, taxes per gallon :


That's before federal taxes of ca. 20 cents per single gallon

– It's Big Government, not Big Oil.

anon [345] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:49 pm GMT
Hudson needs to update his spiel. The US is now a net exporter of petroleum.

It no longer has a massive balance of payments deficit in that area, but does run a large negative trade balance with China.

Rev. Spooner , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:51 pm GMT
@Ilyana_Rozumova I think for you to understand, you got to put your brains to use or put your head on a working blacksmiths anvil without warning.
Desert Fox , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:53 pm GMT
@Mefobills Agree, read these books, Blood in the Water by Joan Mellen and Remember the Liberty by Phillip Nelson, can be had on amazon.com .
ADundee , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:56 pm GMT
@Weston Waroda Indeed
Krollchem , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:02 pm GMT
@eah No disrespect, but the EIA report is not entirely correct.

First, While the US is a large producer of hydrocarbons this is not the same as oil. For example, the Permian Basin produces about 98% condensates which must be blended with overseas oil the produce products in US oil refineries. As a result the US must import heavy oil, such as Urals heavy for blending purposes. See the Peak Prosperity website for details.

Second, globalism is not just about ownership of products but also about the control of their rates of production and the control of the transport routes. America is trying to selectively stop production and if this fails stop transport from those countries that are not part of the US$/Zionist economy.

Third, technically recoverable oil is not the same as economically recoverable oil. As the Our Finite World website points out, recoverable oil is limited by what the population can pay for it or products produced or delivered using that oil. Remember the strong correlation between energy use and GDP.

Fourth, Production of primarily condensates and gas from most fracking operations is overall an economic loss for most investors and poses external economic and environmental costs not factored into the cost/benefit analysis of the corporations.

Fifth, the EIA and US DOE are greatly overestimating the lifetime of the fracking boom which will start declining in the 2022-2025 time-frame.

I will admit that the US needs to export excess natural gas (Freedom gas) from the fracking operations. Currently, the Permian producers have to pay for the gas to be taken away or flare it at a rate of about 3bcm/year. The dramatic 100% drop in the price of natural gas in Western Europe has derailed the grand plan for LNG export, or at least caused the countries that entered into long term contracts, such as Poland and Ukraine, for delivery to pay much more for gas than those that rely on pipeline transported gas.

Currently, natural gas sells for $146/100 cm. In contrast, Cheniere gas prices are 115% of Henry Hub price + liquefaction fee of around $3 per million British thermal units (mmBtu). This corresponds to as LNG price of about $320/1000cm. To compete against Russian and Norge natural gas the US government is indirectly subsidizing those countries receiving "Freedom Gas" via foreign aid to take the gas!

Mefobills , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:07 pm GMT
Decoding Hudson:

The solution turned out to be to replace gold with U.S. Treasury securities (IOUs) as the basis of foreign central bank reserves. After 1971, foreign central banks had little option for what to do with their continuing dollar inflows except to recycle them to the U.S. economy by buying U.S. Treasury securities.

Correct Nixon goes off of international trading gold standard in 1971. This forces dollar accumulation in central banks to recycle back to the U.S. to buy TBills (debt). Foreign economies can no longer buy gold to balance international trade.

Saudi Arabia and other Near Eastern OPEC countries quickly became a buttress of the dollar. After these countries quadrupled the price of oil (in retaliation for the United States quadrupling the price of its grain exports, a mainstay of the U.S. trade balance),

Yes, wheat and soybeans both jumped up in price in 1971.
https://www.macrotrends.net/2531/soybean-prices-historical-chart-data

Also, OPEC took over pricing of oil from TRC (TEXAS).

https://www.winton.com/longer-view/price-history-oil

In 1971, OPEC negotiated a higher posted price and a 55% minimum profit share in the Tehran Agreement. But the dollar's falling purchasing power after the 1971 Nixon shock had already put a big strain on the Agreement's fixed posted prices. US support for Israel during the October 1973 Yom Kippur War was the final straw. A resulting embargo lasted until March 1974, but after it was removed low and stable posted prices failed to return.

U.S. banks were swamped with an inflow of much foreign deposits – which were lent out to Third World countries in an explosion of bad loans that blew up in 1972 with Mexico's insolvency, and destroyed Third World government credit for a decade, forcing it into dependence on the United States via the IMF and World Bank).

Foreign deposits of surplus dollars were flowing into "private banks' and these private banks then agitated to have Mexico redefined as "emerging market" instead of third world. This then allowed predatory "international" loans to go forth. See Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hitman. Part of Mexinvasion of Mestizo's into the U.S. can be tracked to this event. Our finance class is an internal enemy and a parasite.

(Never allow your debt to be denominated in a foreign currency – this is an Iron Law of Economics, not taught in Skools.)

To top matters, of course, what Saudi Arabia does not save in dollarized assets with its oil-export earnings is spent on buying hundreds of billion of dollars of U.S. arms exports. This locks them into dependence on U.S. supply o replacement parts and repairs, and enables the United States to turn off Saudi military hardware at any point of time, in the event that the Saudis may try to act independently of U.S. foreign policy.

The Saudis are not going against their MI6 masters, and besides are dependent on foreign technology to extract their oil, and get said oil to dollarized markets. By the time Kissinger shows up in 1973, the pattern is already in place. The oil shock in 1974 is due to Kissinger Saudi 1973 agreement, which legitimated OPEC cartel (monopoly). The 1973 Agreement codified the petrodollar Tbill economy that MIC and "liberalism" globo-homo now depends on.

So maintaining the dollar as the reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. Foreign countries to not have to pay the Pentagon directly for this spending. They simply finance the U.S. Treasury and U.S. banking system.

Returning petrodollars fund some 800 U.S. overseas military bases. The return path is through purchasing of TBills, and then said TBills are held in offshore accounts. Dollars then spin out of TBill and spent to enter into dollarized economies worldwide. This is a form of inflation tax on the world. When U.S. deficit spends new TBills, then they find returning petrodollars dollars, or said TBill can be monetized by the FED (which has been happening in recent years.) U.S. government then spends new deficit dollars on MIC. Saudi also recycles dollars through CIA to buy from MIC. Is it any wonder that China and Russia are working diligently to de-dollarize their trading affairs?

That is the same strategy that the U.S. has followed in Syria and Iraq. Iran was threatening this dollarization strategy and its buttress in U.S. oil diplomacy.

Iran is part of Russia/China axis that is de-dollarizing and hence is threatening globo homo deep state finance capitalism (ZOG). Iran is in the way of Greater Zion, and is central to Belt and Road, and will not bow down to Globo Homo.

The U.S. is on the wrong side of history, especially after it got brain infected and parasitized in 1912 by the (((usual suspects))).

Just passing through , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm GMT
@Real Unemployment Rate

The poverty draft works in the US because we let the poor fight the wars for the rich and corporations. Tell me who started the Iraq war, the Mullahs in Iran or the Mullahs in DC?

More accurate question would be

The poverty draft works in the US because we let the poor fight the wars for the rich and corporations. Tell me who started the Iraq war, the Mullahs in Iran or the Rabbis in DC ?

Curmudgeon , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:27 pm GMT
@Haxo Angmark

That's a brazen hardLeft lie . and the central dynamic isn't oil per se; it's the petrodollar.

1) It's not a hard Left lie, it's a globalist lie. It is the justification for further de-industralization of the "bad 1st world" who do "all the polluting" and ship it to the 3rd world where peoople are paid slave wages.
2) If you control the oil, you control the currency/petrodollar.
I do agree that it is indirect, but at the end of the day, it's the same thing. Iraq was invaded because its oil was primarily going to the EU, and Saddam wanted Euros for it, not US dollars.
More than a decade ago, Iran opened its oil bourse. It was prepared to take any currency for oil sales. It has, in fact, taken gold from India as payment.
Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution was to trade oil for a different product. Doctors from Cuba, beef and other foodstuffs from Brazil and Argentina, for example.
All of the above are examples of de-dollarization, and will never be tollerated. They all link to another facet of the program: all opponents are the new Hitler. In some respects, this is correct. The German economy was turned around using its version of Lincoln's greenbacks and trading commodity for commodity, often raw material for manufactured goods. The (((banks))) were nowhere in that equation, therefore, Hitler had to be demonized, just as Israel began demonizing Saddam in the early 1980s with the fictitious Saddam's WMD, before a nuclear reactor was even commissioned. It's all about currency control, or as the vile Congresswoman Omar would put it "the Benjamins".

CanSpeccy , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:35 pm GMT
@BeenThereDunnit

CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) is a lie.

No, it's not a lie, it's a hypothesis.

To quote the UN International Panel on Climate Change, Third Report, Chapter 14, Section 14.2.2.2, (2001):

In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.

So yes, it might happen. But in any case, all that extra carbon dioxide risks making people even more stupid than they might otherwise be.

Fuerchtegott , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:41 pm GMT
Considering progressive diversity, did he kill Americans?
Weren't it really Iraqi?
The power of magic dirt believe is strong.
Curmudgeon , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:43 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke I suspect that Prof. Hudson is exaggerating on it being Saudi inspired, however, there is more than a break even chance they were involved. What you, and others are missing is the reference to legislation. I am acquainted with a lawyer who worked for the city at the tome of 9/11. When the Patriot Act came out of nowhere to be passed less than 3 months after 9/11, a controversial city by-law had been proposed. I casually asked, how long it took to produce a draft by-law, and the response was, typically 4-6 months, as the proposed by-law had to be cross referenced with all other by-laws to ensure that it neither conflicted with, nor used terms that would cause confusion in interpretation of the by-law or any court decision.
So, if it takes 4-6 months for a city by-law, how long do you think it might take to cross-reference the Patriot Act and/or the Authorization for Use of Military Force legislation to check against the Constitution, all other laws, and all court rulings that would touch on the matter? Hence, the author's "pulled out of the drawer ostensibly against Al Qaeda ", which is the whole point of his article – the fix is in.
Mefobills , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:48 pm GMT
@Onebornfree

Well, if it's any consolation, his "government knows best", grandiose economic "theories"are no less delusional than his. 9/11 theories

There goes the Lol-bertarian one born free-dumb again.

If you ignore gravity, you fall down and bump your head.

Human relations are NOT PURELY TWO WAY. This is as axiomatic as gravity. You have to make pretend to be a lolbertarian, and only little girls and the deluded make pretend about things.

The plain fact of the matter is that human relations include three parties. When you get into trouble, you will be one of the first to go whining to a sheriff, or some authority (the king) to help.

Civilization is impossible without an honest third party interlocutor. Did I say IMPOSSIBLE.

How this third party interlocutor is controlled or placed into our governing hierarchy is an entirely different subject.

Everybody's eyes should focus on good government, not some sort of lolbertarian fantasy of a world with only two way relations and some sort of nebulous laughable "human action," or making gold as a god.

Hudson is doing a good job of showing how the god of money, MOLOCH has infested the mind of man, and has become our "king."

It will actually take some sort of facism or king to overcome the democrap/finance capital construct which lolbertarans make excuses for. Dupes.

Cowboy , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:51 pm GMT
@Wally Don't forget BLM land grabs in Nevada and Oregon, and the Soleimani style assassination of Levoy Finicum.

Here is a recent comment I made that b blocked at MofA:

Now we need for Trump to assassinate Lavrov in Berlin and create another Russian martyr that would cause Germany to end the SOFA and throw the US occupation out after 75 years!

These latest revelations that Soleimani had been invited on behalf of the USA to Bahgdad shows how deprave the USA has become. The latest Douma "chemical weapons" revelations and the following Trump cruise missile retaliation illustrates how entire chains of fake action/retaliation chains are created. I think we have to assume that the entire Katayusha rocket attack and the "dead contractor" are fake/staged. The retaliation bombing was true, but its justification was faked. The attack on the US Embassy was clearly staged by US agents provocatuer who were allowed into the green zone.

These plausibly deniable war provocations have an long history. In Germany's case in 1939 it was Polish atrocities like Bromberg .

Germany, like Iraq, still has a constitution crafted by the usual suspects during occupation. Iraq, like Germany, will never get rid of the Yankee parasites without a fight.

Since then, and upon further consideration, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Italy and most of the planet would love to expel the US occupation and free themselves. Many would do well to completely destroy their old Judeo-Masonic constitutions and write something free of talmudic mind control.

Tim Kelly and Joe Atwill have a recent podcast where they discuss the occupation of Japan by 33 degree Douglas MacAuthur. It turns out that MacAurthur hired a 22 year old jewess to write the Feminist Civil Rights clauses into the still valid occupation constitution. The demographic collapse of Japan, Germany and all the occupied countries was a deliberate multi-generational conspiracy, just like the one against Iran.

Curmudgeon , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:56 pm GMT
@Smith Indirectly. All wars are economic wars, only the bankers, and what they own, benefits. The Rothschilds are the kings of banking, and bankrollers/owners of Israel. The Greater Israel/Rothschild project is to control all of the oil in the ME. Ignore all of the "tribes of Israel" and "historic homeland" nonsense. It's about wealth and power.
https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/greater-israel-maps.htm
CanSpeccy , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 7:06 pm GMT
@FB Hudson's account of the way the US Empire funds its occupation of the world is correct. The World accepts newly printed US dollars -- ink money as it is sometimes known, in exchange for oil and other goods and assets, and then hands those dollars back to the US Fed in exchange for bonds yielding a below-inflation rate of interest.

What, depending on you point of view, is a nice side benefit of this arrangement is that corporations, their share holders and other financially astute investors get to borrow money (directly or indirectly) at what are near zero or even below zero real interest rates. In that circumstance, naturally, an ever increasing proportion of all wealth accumulates in the hands the great corporations, investors, and others astute enough to understand and take advantage of the ongoing scam.

Overall, one would not object too much to American global hegemony, even an American hegemony funded by the debasement of currency, destruction of savings, and the obscene wealth of the plutocratic few, provided that said hegemony was exercised in the interests of the people of what the US used to call "The Free World."

But clearly American hegemonists don't give a damn for the American people, let alone the people of the tributary nations. On the contrary, they seem intent on destroying not only the peoples of subject nations but their own people too, both culturally and literally, racial genocide being effected by a combination of repressed fertility and mass replacement immigration.

eah , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 7:06 pm GMT
@Krollchem I'm aware there are different kinds/grades of crude.

Third, technically recoverable oil is not the same as economically recoverable oil.

Yes, the lives of young men are so much cheaper, right? -- I guess that's where the term "cannon fodder" comes from -- anyway, technically vs economically can also be seen as a matter of national energy policy , like e.g. the strategic petroleum reserve -- does the US really need to spend more on its military than all other countries combined?

Simple question: what is the proximate cause of the tension with Iran? -- answer: it's Iran's nuclear program, specifically the allegation they intend to produce weapons grade enriched uranium (or plutonium) and then make a bomb -- another question: how is this a threat to the US, a nation with > 10k nuclear weapons, and more importantly, the means to deliver them ? -- answer: it's not -- Israel sees it as a threat -- and re that, I'll say what I've said before: if MAD (mutually assured destruction) was good enough for the US and the USSR during the Cold War, it's good enough for the Jews and Iranians today -- it's time to out Israel as a nuclear power .

The US has no urgent need for Middle East oil; that's not what this is about.

Trump is deranged and dangerous.

Current Commenter

[Jan 04, 2020] Higher oil prices can be enough punishment for the US until Iran find more effective ways to punish for this violation of international norms and sovereignty of Iraq

The oil market should be worried. Iran can stop all traffic through the Straight of Hormuz at will. And that would start a war. Which would keep it closed. It may be a mistake to think Iran's leadership is more sane than ours.
Jan 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Iran might also seek to draw Israel into a conflict via Hezbollah in Lebanon. We can't rule out some sort of grand-scale attack, but an array of smaller-scale activity is our core bet.

The risk that something bigger will trigger a real war, however, likely will put a premium on oil prices for the next few months, at least.

Higher oil prices represent a tax on oil consumers and a windfall for producers. World oil consumption is about 100M barrels per day, so each five dollars on the prices is equivalent to an annualized tax of about $183B per year, or 0.1% of global GDP. The U.S., however, is both a huge oil producer and a consumer. Domestic production runs at almost 13M bpd, with consumption at 21Mbpd. That would seem to suggest that the net effect of higher prices on the U.S. would be to depress economic growth, but recent experience points in the opposite direction, because oil sector capex, in the era of shale, is acutely sensitive to prices, even in the short term. When oil prices collapsed between spring 2014 and early 2016, the ensuing plunge in capital spending in the oil sector outweighed the boost to consumers' real income from cheaper gasoline and heating oil, and overall economic growth slowed markedly. This story played out in reverse when oil prices rebounded in the three years through spring 2018, and economic growth picked up even as consumers' real incomes were hit.

... ... ...

The wild card is whether turmoil in the Middle East triggers a sustained sell-off in equities, depressing business and consumer confidence to the point where labor market and inflation concerns become secondary. We'd be surprised -- the plunge in S&P futures is just the initial knee-jerk response -- but if Iran takes more drastic action than we are expecting, it will become a real risk. In that case, the Fed might have no choice but to ease, especially if credit markets seize-up too. In the meantime, expect defensive stocks to outperform, with downward pressure on Treasury yields and gains for safe-haven currencies, until Iran's response becomes clear. To repeat: Iran will respond.


DemandSider , 24 minutes ago link

9/11 Suspects: The Dancing Israelis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XHm56O2NTI&t=425s

I still can't get any logical explanation as to why this Israeli spy ring, the largest ever on U.S. soil, was in The U.S. And, why were they dancing after the first plane impact?

Anybody?

Karl Marxist , 25 minutes ago link

News flash. The government in Washington is extremely unpopular as well. More unpopular in America than the Iranian government is with Iranians. I am saying this because anyone who spent any time with Impeachment; read how Barr let Epstein and all pedo elites walk away fully protected, his hideous Operation Guardian, Trump's complete destruction of 1st Amendment rights to free speech in the guise of "suppressing antisemitism" ... God, how I hate this tyranny complete with WalMarts and mulatto invaders and LGBT as "normal", the all tranny military, meaningless laws we are rounded up and shot to death for the slightest traffic infraction black, white but never Jewish. They get away with everything. Trump made them a protected class, Judaism a race and a nationality to have special protections at taxpayer expense. What a wonderful country I just can't get enough of....

Jung , 43 minutes ago link

No one will miss the US apart frmo the Americans themselves: the polls are clear worldwide that the world considers the Americans to be ruled by the most aggressive and psychopathic regimes. They have killed millions since WWII and the world would be a much better place without the US.

[Jan 04, 2020] The price of crude oil has jumped over $2 USD on the world markets since the news

Jan 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

michaelj72 , Jan 3 2020 10:05 utc | 19

The price of crude oil has jumped over $2 USD on the world markets since the news

I expect the US to fully resist being booted out of Iraq (which would also make it's two major positions in Syria highly untenable). who could now believe that US troops in Iraq and Syria won't come under sustained attack now, by the many allies Iran has in the area?

Elijah gives breaking news
https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1213032002682867715

Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani considers "the #US attack against the #BaghdadAirport is a clear violation of #Iraq sovereignty".

That is clear support for the US withdrawal from #Iraq.

AND

S Sistani condemns the "attack against Iraqi (not Iranian-militia) position on the borders killing our Iraqi sons to the hateful attack on #BaghdadAirport is a violation and internationally unlawful (US) act against anti-#ISIS hero(s) leading to difficult times for #Iraq".


bluedotterel , Jan 3 2020 10:07 utc | 20

Really, the ball is in Iraq's court. This is an attack on Iraqi sovereignty as much as an act of war on Iran. We will now see what the Iraqi are made of.
Peter AU1 , Jan 3 2020 10:07 utc | 21
@never mind "Soleimani really the target?"

Trump was personally responsible for having the organisation Soleimani led declared a terrorist organisation. Time to quit the "Trump is a dumbfuck led by others" Trump is around 70 and has been his own boss all his life. He is now commander in chief of the US military. He gives the orders, nobody else. He doesn't give a shit about the cold war and Europe, hence people thinking he is a peacenik. What he does care about is enemies of Israel and control of energy.

Bjørn Holmgaard , Jan 3 2020 10:11 utc | 24
The best revenge the Iraninans could have would be the expulsion of US troops from Iraq and Syria, which by the way was also the overarching goal of Soleimani...

No blood but his work completed..

Russianstyle revenge.

never mind , Jan 3 2020 10:22 utc | 28
@Peter AU1

Then the US is willfully shooting itself in the foot and I have a hard time believing that.

Peter AU1 , Jan 3 2020 10:29 utc | 29
Trump doesn't give a shit about soft power. He believes in hard power. Iraq has no defence against the US, and Trump intends to attack Iran. He needs a 9 11 to take the American population with him.
Jackrabbit , Jan 3 2020 10:30 utc | 30
Bjørn Holmgaard @24:
The best revenge the Iraninans could have would be the expulsion of US troops from Iraq and Syria ...

UN resolution 2249 (2015) :
Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da'esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da'esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;

USA have made it very clear that they are not leaving Syria and the same thinking/excuses likely applies to Iraq.

Some will argue that using UN2249 as justification for over-staying and virtual occupation is wrong-headed. Nevertheless, USA claims to remain to ensure against a resurgence of ISIS. Clearly they intend to stay until their goals are met or they are forced out militarily.

!!

Jen , Jan 3 2020 10:34 utc | 31
I suspect I'm not the only MoA barfly who thinks the assassination of Hossein Soleymani could have been planned with Mossad or other organisations and individuals in Israeli society.
jared , Jan 3 2020 10:35 utc | 32
I have the impression that Israel is taking responsibility for management of Iraq/Iran situation.

Suspect Trump is delegating and is along for ride. No dought in control in his own mind.

It appears that president is obliged to accept intelligence and guidance of security state effectively tying his hands

Laguerre , Jan 3 2020 10:35 utc | 33
The Iraqis are certainly capable of making life for the US very uncomfortable in Iraq and Syria, even if not force withdrawal. The present US structure and numbers depend on Iraqi acquiescence, and that's about shot, even before the assassination. If the position is to be maintained without Iraqi acquiescence, then thousands more troops would be required, and that wouldn't go down well back home in the States. That's one of the reasons why the act was a grave miscalculation.
Kurious , Jan 3 2020 10:51 utc | 37
This was not Trump`s decision. Trump had to take responsibilty to show he is in command. He will soon realize that he was played by the CIA and the Israelis. By then it is too late.
The US and its vassals are speeding up confrontation with the Axis because they know that the showdown is inevitable. However, It will not happen according to the US timetable.
Keep a good supply of popcorn on hand. The pandora box has plenty of surprises. The question remains,

Will the state of Israel survives?

God help us.

Peter AU1 , Jan 3 2020 10:55 utc | 39
Veritas X- "He was a brilliant military strategist"

That's why Trump hit him. And I say hit because Trump has very much a US mob or movie style mafia mentality.

Laguerre , Jan 3 2020 11:04 utc | 40
I figure Iran will have to retaliate and thus this will likely escalate. The Saker initially thinks war is 80% certain, I think it's probably a bit higher than that.

Posted by: TEP | Jan 3 2020 10:49 utc | 36

The Iranians would be foolish to allow themselves to be goaded like that.

[Jan 03, 2020] Killing Soleimani Pushes the U.S. and Iran Towards War

Notable quotes:
"... Soleimani is a senior Iranian military commander, and he also happens to be one of the more popular public figures inside Iran. Killing him isn't just a major escalation that guarantees reprisals and further destabilizes the region, but it also strengthens hard-liners in Iran enormously. Trump claimed not to want war with Iran, but his actions have proven that he does. No one who wants to avoid war with Iran would order the assassination of a high-ranking Iranian officer. Trump has signaled his willingness to plunge the U.S. into a new war that will be disastrous for our country, Iran, and the entire region. American soldiers, diplomats, and citizens throughout the region are all in much greater danger tonight than they were this morning, and the president is responsible for that. ..."
Jan 03, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

ran hawks have been agitating for open conflict with Iran for years. Tonight, the Trump administration obliged them by assassinating the top IRGC-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and the head of Kata'ib Hezbollah in a drone strike in Baghdad:

Hard to understate how big this is

• Qassem Suleimani is Iran's most powerful mil figure in Region
• He runs Iran's proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq
• Both men designated by US as Terrorist
• Muhandis was at US embassy attack protest, calls himself "Suleimani soldier"

-- Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 3, 2020

Source in #Iran tells me:
Senior Iranian diplomats are sharing Gen. Qasem Sulaimani's photo along w/death prayers for him. #Iraq

-- Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020

Confirmed officially on Iraq state TV. Both killed pic.twitter.com/toaBJyEcxe

-- Feras Kilani فراس كيلاني (@FerasKilaniBBC) January 3, 2020

U.S. officials tell Reuters that strikes have been carried in Baghdad on Friday out against two targets linked to Iran.

-- Idrees Ali (@idreesali114) January 3, 2020

Reuters reports that a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq also confirmed the deaths:

Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed late on Thursday in an air strike on their convoy in Baghdad airport, an Iraqi militia spokesman told Reuters.

Soleimani is a senior Iranian military commander, and he also happens to be one of the more popular public figures inside Iran. Killing him isn't just a major escalation that guarantees reprisals and further destabilizes the region, but it also strengthens hard-liners in Iran enormously. Trump claimed not to want war with Iran, but his actions have proven that he does. No one who wants to avoid war with Iran would order the assassination of a high-ranking Iranian officer. Trump has signaled his willingness to plunge the U.S. into a new war that will be disastrous for our country, Iran, and the entire region. American soldiers, diplomats, and citizens throughout the region are all in much greater danger tonight than they were this morning, and the president is responsible for that.

It is hard to convey how irrational and destructive this latest action is. The U.S. and Iran have been dangerously close to war for months, but the Trump administration has made no effort to deescalate tensions. All that it would take to push the two governments over the brink into open conflict is a reckless attack that the other side cannot ignore. Now the U.S. has launched just such an attack and dared Iran to respond. The response may not come immediately, but we have to assume that it is coming. Killing Soleimani means that the IRGC will presumably consider it open season on U.S. forces all across the region. The Iran obsession has led the U.S. into a senseless new war that it could have easily avoided, and Trump and the Iran hawks own the results.

Trump supporters have often tried to defend the president's poor foreign policy record by saying that he hadn't started any new wars. Well, now he has, and he will be responsible for the consequences to follow.

[Jan 03, 2020] I guess Trump decided had to make the 1914-vintage Hapsburgs look relatively competent

Bombing a civilian airport in another country in order to assassinate Iranian and Iraq leaders is a very bad diplomacy ;-)
It might well be that today this idiot blow up his chances fro reelection because revenge is dish that should be served cold and Iran can postpone it for 11 months or so.
What is interesting is that neoliberal MSM are glad and still talking about Zelensky and impeachment. What a country ! It looks like the decade of the twenties can be the decade of another World War. "In every war the first casualty is truth."
Jan 03, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

I guess somebody had to make the 1914-vintage Hapsburgs look relatively competent,

Trump think that the war with Iran will be another cake walk, like in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a proof that he is a senile idiot.

[Jan 03, 2020] In killing General Suleimani, Mr. Trump took an action that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had rejected, fearing it would lead to war between the United States and Iran.

Jan 03, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, called the killing of General Suleimani an act of "international terrorism" and warned it was "extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation."

"The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism," Mr. Zarif tweeted.

... ... ...

"From Iran's perspective, it is hard to imagine a more deliberately provocative act," said Robert Malley, the president and chief executive of the International Crisis Group. "And it is hard to imagine that Iran will not retaliate in a highly aggressive manner."

"Whether President Trump intended it or not, it is, for all practical purposes, a declaration of war," added Mr. Malley, who served as White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the gulf region in the Obama administration.

Some United States officials and Trump administration advisers offered a less dire scenario, arguing that the show of force might convince Iran that its acts of aggression against American interests and allies have grown too dangerous, and that a president the Iranians may have come to see as risk-averse is in fact willing to escalate.

One senior administration official said the president's senior advisers had come to worry that Mr. Trump had sent too many signals -- including when he called off a planned missile strike in late June -- that he did not want a war with Iran.

Tracking Mr. Suleimani's location at any given time had long been a priority for the American and Israeli spy services and militaries. Current and former American commanders and intelligence officials said that Thursday night's attack, specifically, drew upon a combination of highly classified information from informants, electronic intercepts, reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance.

The strike killed five people, including the pro-Iranian chief of an umbrella group for Iraqi militias, Iraqi television reported and militia officials confirmed. The militia chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was a strongly pro-Iranian figure.

The public relations chief for the umbrella group, the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, Mohammed Ridha Jabri, was also killed.

American officials said that multiple missiles hit the convoy in a strike carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command.

American military officials said they were aware of a potentially violent response from Iran and its proxies, and were taking steps they declined to specify to protect American personnel in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.

Two other people were killed in the strike, according to a general at the Baghdad joint command, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

... ... ...

The United States and Iran have long been involved in a shadow war in battlegrounds across the Middle East -- including in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. The tactics have generally involved using proxies to carry out the fighting, providing a buffer from a direct confrontation between Washington and Tehran that could draw America into yet other ground conflict with no discernible endgame.

The potential for a regional conflagration was a basis of the Obama administration's push for a 2015 agreement that froze Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Mr. Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, saying that Mr. Obama's agreement had emboldened Iran, giving it economic breathing room to plow hundreds of millions of dollars into a campaign of violence around the region. Mr. Trump responded with a campaign of "maximum pressure" that began with punishing new economic sanctions, which began a new era of brinkmanship and uncertainly, with neither side knowing just how far the other was willing to escalate violence and risk a wider war. In recent days, it has spilled into the military arena.

General Suleimani once described himself to a senior Iraqi intelligence official as the "sole authority for Iranian actions in Iraq," the official later told American officials in Baghdad.

In a speech denouncing Mr. Trump, General Suleimani was even less discreet -- and openly mocking.

"We are near you, where you can't even imagine," he said. "We are ready. We are the man of this arena."

[Jan 03, 2020] If you previously have doubts that Trump is senile warmonger, not you have a definite proof

Bombing a civilian airport in another country in order to assassinate Iranian and Iraq leaders is a very bad diplomacy ;-)
It might well be that today this idiot blow up his chances fro reelection because revenge is dish that should be served cold and Iran can postpone it for 11 months or so.
What is interesting is that neoliberal MSM are glad and still talking about Zelensky and impeachment. What a country ! It looks like the decade of the twenties can be the decade of another World War. "In every war the first casualty is truth."
Jan 03, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Trump think that the war with Iran will be another cake walk, like in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a proof that he is a senile idiot.

[Jan 03, 2020] A new brilliant diplomatic strategy of Trump administration: Threatening Iran by killing Iraqis

"USA clusterfuck express hurtles headlong down the track for a rendezvous with disaster: War with a united Iraq and Iran, with the latter backed by the Russians and Chinese. https://www.checkpointasia.net/iraqi-pm-told-trump-gang-they-didnt-have-permission-to-bomb-iraqi-paramilitaries-they-did-it-anyway/ "
Jan 03, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al January 2, 2020 at 10:32 am

Sic Semper tyrannis: Our Embassy in Baghdad – TTG
https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/

For weeks, it was Iranian consulates and facilities that bore the brunt of Iraqi popular unrest. Iran reacted with restraint. With our lethal attacks on the Kata'ib Hezbollah, we changed that. Pompeo, Esper and Trump are keeping up the trash talking. Threatening Iran by killing Iraqis whose ass was that brilliant diplomatic strategy pulled from?
####

Plenty more at the link.

Have dick, will step on!

[Jan 03, 2020] Secondary sanctions are evil because they prevent minor transactions because banks don't think it is worth the severe penalties.

Jan 03, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

cartman January 2, 2020 at 4:54 pm

How Our Economic Warfare Brings the World to Heel

Nothing untrue in this article. Secondary sanctions are evil because they prevent minor transactions because banks don't think it is worth the severe penalties. So Iranian cancer patients aren't allowed to buy chemotherapy medications. Trump has gone overboard because he has learned that there is no political cost to doling these out.

I think this is how US dominance will end. No challengers will end it, although some may rise in the vacuum. The internal changes the US needs to make to come back are politically impossible. Sanctions are big government on steroids, and having the US Government sitting atop the global economy will cause it to seize up. The question is how long commerce will be able to continue under these conditions.

[Jan 03, 2020] The USA have an upper hand in the current scirmish of the gas war with Russia. But that does not guarantee the final victory as Ukraine might switch sides by victor Kaminenvv

With the USA help Ukraine got three billions from Russia. But that might mean that if Ukraine does not switch sides the Ukrainian transit will became minuscule and unable to help Ukraine to survive financially. Then what ?
Jan 02, 2020 | topwar.ru

The introduction of us sanctions against Nord stream 2, immediately signed by President trump, created a new situation in Europe at the request of the Congress.

The Stockholm verdict

Gazprom retreated from its positions and agreed to an agreement with Naftogaz on transit, including the payment of 2.9 billion dollars to Kiev according to the verdict of the Stockholm arbitration, this is a difficult compromise for Moscow and a consequence of American sanctions that actually suspended the construction of the SP-2 for at least six months.

I can't help remembering how President Yanukovych received three billion dollars of credit from Moscow, and now President Zelensky also received almost three billion, although on other grounds, according to the decision of the Stockholm arbitration.

But Moscow gave money, and immediately, although it could stretch these payments with gas supplies, which Naftogaz agreed to. Moscow seems to be banking on Zelensky in his projected clash with the nationalists behind Poroshenko. As a lesser evil.

Big European game

The Stockholm billions and Ukrainian transit are also a big European policy. For the first time, us sanctions hit Germany and Europe as a whole: all energy and construction companies related to the SP-2. Germany's energy supply was under threat.

In this situation, Russia is making compromises and concessions on Ukrainian transit, and Ukraine is also making compromises on its part, apparently under pressure from Germany and the European Union. As a result, Russia and Germany with their friends and the SP-2 are situationally in the same boat against US sanctions. This is an important episode in the unfolding Great European game for gas and its delivery routes.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov makes a sharp statement: "Russia will definitely respond to the sanctions against the SP-2." So as not to"shoot yourself in the foot." Almost simultaneously, the US intelligence agencies are giving Moscow information about the upcoming terrorist attacks in St. Petersburg -- an incredible fact, given the current relations between Washington and Moscow, unless President trump wants to soften Moscow's reaction to the sanctions against SP-2, hinting that he was forced to sign them.

By the sum of circumstances

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak called the payment of $ 2.9 billion to Kiev "a difficult decision, a choice between bad and very bad." What is the difference between " bad " and "very bad"?

Here are the congressional sanctions that really slowed down the construction of the SP-2, and the judicial burden in the international courts under the influence of the United States, and the situation in Ukraine. And soon there will be a trial in London on a three-billion-dollar loan from Russia to Ukraine during the time of President Yanukovych -- this seems to be another reason why we had to pay for the Stockholm gas verdict.

If Russia refused to pay the debt awarded in Stockholm, the London court could on this basis refuse to consider the claim of Russia. And so, too, Moscow paid 2.9 billion dollars to Kiev immediately in money. Of course, the London court may follow the Stockholm path, but then the West and its financial system will lose their reputation in the non-Western world, and Russia may declare the West a non-legal community.

Victory as treason (Peremoga as zrada)

In General the Ukrainian "Naftogaz" behaves very recklessly and boldly with "Gazprom", flooding it with lawsuits. His" victory " is undoubtedly Pyrrhic, since Gazprom, as an energy supplier, will be able to recoup its Stockholm losses.

"Naftogaz" as if Ukrainian, because it is really run by American managers, for them "Naftogaz – - only a tool to counter Russia, and what will happen then, it does not matter. What could it be? There may not be a discount of 25 percent, which was in the rejected package of "Gazprom". New agreements – new discounts.

On the other hand, Gazprom's concessions are due to the entire sum of the political and economic circumstances of the great European game: Moscow is still trying to create a Moscow-Berlin axis against us sanctions pressure.

[Jan 02, 2020] The EU's LNG imports jumped by 102 percent on the year, with Russia accounting for 19 percent of LNG imports, second only to Qatar with 30 percent, and ahead of the U.S. with 12 percent

Jan 02, 2020 | oilprice.com

In Q2 2019, thanks to the LNG supply glut and converging prices, the EU's LNG imports jumped by 102 percent on the year, with Russia accounting for 19 percent of LNG imports, second only to Qatar with 30 percent, and ahead of the U.S. with 12 percent, the European Commission's Quarterly Report on European Gas Markets shows .

Between January and November, LNG imports into Europe including Turkey hit a record high, beating the previous record from 2011, the EIA said in its latest natural gas update. The U.S., Russia, and Qatar boosted their LNG supplies to Europe this year, and the U.S. beat Russia in volumes supplied to Europe in the latter part of the year, EIA data shows.

While Russia and the U.S. compete for gas market share in Europe, the U.S. hit Russia's Nord Stream 2 project with sanctions this month, delaying the completion of the project with at least several months.

Following the announcement of the sanctions, Switzerland-based offshore pipelay and subsea construction company Allseas immediately suspended Nord Stream 2 pipelay activities.

Also

The agreement between Gazprom and Naftogaz provides for the rejection of new claims, withdrawal of claims, payment by the decision of the Stockholm arbitration-Miller

MOSCOW, Dec 21-RIA Novosti. Gas transit through Ukraine in 2020 will be 65 billion cubic meters, and 40 billion in 2021-2024, said the Head of "Gazprom" Alexey Miller.

In turn, the Minister of energy of Ukraine Oleksiy Orzhel noted that the tariff will increase due to a decrease in pumping volumes.

The agreement provides for the rejection of new claims, the withdrawal of claims and the payment of about 2.9 billion dollars on the decisions of the Stockholm arbitration court.

In addition, Gazprom and Naftogaz will sign an agreement to settle mutual claims under existing contracts. With Kiev, the Russian company will sign a settlement agreement to withdraw the claim of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine.

The European Commission in the framework of the new agreement on gas cooperation guarantees the compliance of transit with EU standards, the Ukrainian side-the independence of the regulator, protection of the interests of the transit customer, predictability and economic feasibility of tariff formation.

MOSCOW, Dec 21-RIA Novosti. "Gazprom" and "Operator of GTS of Ukraine" on Saturday are preparing in Vienna inter-operator agreement signed on Friday between Russia and Ukraine Protocol of the contract on gas transit and settlement of mutual claims is already working, told reporters the representative of "Gazprom".

[Jan 02, 2020] The end of Ukranian gas rent, which is due to the fact that USSR lay piplenes via its terroty is near

Notable quotes:
"... With Nordstream II becoming operational, Russia can bypass Ukraine completely in supplying gas to EU countries and Ukraine will only receive enough gas for its own needs. Ukraine becomes a liability to the West as that country continues its slow and agonising collapse. Perhaps in 2020 the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts may officially declare their independence and apply for inclusion into the Russian Federation, or combine into a new nation. Other adjoining oblasts (Kharkiv?) may follow suit. Transcarpathia oblast in the far west of Ukraine may declare independence and then apply to join Hungary. ..."
Jan 02, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Dec 31 2019 19:49 utc | 37

Dear B,

Nordstream II should be completed in 2020 in spite of the many handicaps and threats of sanctions the US has applied against Germany if the pipeline project continues. Its completion is bound to change the geopolitical landscape in central and eastern Europe considerably.

With Nordstream II becoming operational, Russia can bypass Ukraine completely in supplying gas to EU countries and Ukraine will only receive enough gas for its own needs. Ukraine becomes a liability to the West as that country continues its slow and agonising collapse. Perhaps in 2020 the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts may officially declare their independence and apply for inclusion into the Russian Federation, or combine into a new nation. Other adjoining oblasts (Kharkiv?) may follow suit. Transcarpathia oblast in the far west of Ukraine may declare independence and then apply to join Hungary.

Volodymyr Zelensky may not last long as President and is likely to be turfed out in a coup. Civil war will come again to Ukraine but not in its Russian-speaking east.

Belarus should be monitoring its own southern borders. Maybe crunch-time is coming for President Lukashenko there as to whether he should align Belarus more closely with Russia or with the EU instead of trying to get the best of both worlds by playing one against the other.

My predictions for 2020 are that Ukraine's final collapse and fragmentation will start, that the use of threats and sanctions continues to isolate the US to its detriment, and that (maybe, just maybe) the collapse of Ukraine will lead to some of the truth of what actually happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 becoming public with whistleblowers in the investigation finally coming forward.


Lydia , Dec 31 2019 19:57 utc | 39

To prevent the truth about MH17 becoming common knowledge, the powers that be will really crack down on the Internet.
Perimetr , Jan 1 2020 16:42 utc | 93
Re Jen @37 "With Nordstream II becoming operational, Russia can bypass Ukraine completely in supplying gas to EU countries and Ukraine will only receive enough gas for its own needs."

Zerohedge reports Ukraine & Russia Ink Landmark Gas Transit Deal Hammering European Gas Prices

I am hoping this is a bad joke, but perhaps not. I suppose, if true, it will prevent a lot of Ukrainians from freezing to death this winter. But considering the benefits it will provide to the Ukro-nazis who hate Russia, I have to wonder about the decision-making process in Moscow.

[Jan 01, 2020] "Freedom gas" named Worst Words of the Year

Jan 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Dec 30 2019 9:03 utc | 48

"Freedom gas" named Worst Words of the Year

Plain English Foundation has voted freedom gas as the worst word or phrase of 2019.

The term comes from the United States Department of Energy, which rebranded natural gas as "freedom gas" and boasted about bringing molecules of US freedom to the world.

"When a simple product like natural gas starts being named through partisan politics, we are entering dangerous terrain," said the Foundation's Executive Director, Dr Neil James. "Why can't natural gas just remain natural gas?"

Each year, Plain English Foundation gathers dozens of examples of the worst words to highlight the importance of clear and ethical public language.

The full list of 2019's worst words and phrases follows.

https://www.plainenglishfoundation.com/documents/10179/636280/2019_Worst_Words_media_release

[Dec 31, 2019] The US is now openly dismissive as a matter of law any ally or partner who engages in economic activity it disapproves by Tom Luongo

Dec 26, 2019 | astutenews.com

Europe is willing to defy the U.S. on Nordstream to the point of forcing the U.S. to openly and nakedly destroy its reputation with European contractors and governments to stop one pipeline in a place where multiple gas pipelines will be needed for future growth.

This is the diplomatic equivalent of the nuclear option. And the neocons in the Senate just pushed the button. Europe understands what this is really about, the U.S. retaining its imperial position as the policy setter for all the world. If it can set energy policy for Europe then it can set everything else.

And it's clear that the leadership in Europe is done with that status quo. The Trump administration from the beginning has used NATO as an excuse to mask its real intentions towards Europe, which is continued domination of its policies. Trump complains that the U.S. pays into NATO to protect Europe from Russia but then Europe buys its energy from Russia. That's unfair, Donald complains, like a little bitch, frankly, even though he right on the surface. But if the recent NATO summit is any indication, Europe is no longer interested in NATO performing that function. French President Emmanuel Macron wants NATO re-purposed to fight global terror, a terrible idea. NATO should just be ended.

But you'll notice how Trump doesn't talk about that anymore. He wants more billions pumped into NATO while the U.S. still sets its policies. This is not a boondoggle for the MIC as much as it's a Sword of Damocles to hold over Europe's head. The U.S.'s involvement in should be ended immediately, the troops brought home and the billions of dollars spent here as opposed to occupying most of Europe to point missiles at a Russia wholly uninterested in imperial ambitions no less harboring any of them.

And Trump also knows this but thinks stopping Nordstream 2 is the price Europe has to pay him for this privilege. It's insane. The time has come for Europe to act independently from the U.S. As much as I despise the EU, to untangle it from the U.S. on energy policy is the means by which for it to then deal with its problems internally. It can't do that while the U.S. is threatening it. Circling the wagons against the immediate threat, as it were.

And that means protecting its companies and citizens from the economic depredations of power-mad neoconservatives in the U.S. Senate like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham.

Allseas, the Swiss company laying the pipe for Nordstream 2, has halted construction for now , awaiting instructions from the U.S. Gazprom will likely step in to finish the job and Germany will green light any of the necessary permits to get the pipeline done. Those people will be put out of work just in time for Christmas, turning thousands of people against the U.S. Commerce drives people together, politics drives them apart.

But, at the same time, the urgency to finish Nordstream 2 on time is wholly irrelevant now because Ukraine and Russia came to terms on a new five-year gas transit contract. This ensures Gazprom can meet its contractual deliveries to Europe that no one thought could be done on time. But when the Nazi threat to Zelensky meeting with Merkel, Macron and Putin in Paris failed to materialize, a gas deal was on the horizon.

And, guess what? U.S. LNG will still not have the marginal lever over Europe's energy policy because of that. Putin and Zelensky outmaneuvered Cruz, Graham and Trump on this. Because that's what this boils down to. By keeping Russian gas out of Europe, it was supposed to constrain not only Russia's growth but also Europe's. Because then the U.S. government can control who and how much energy can make it into European markets at critical junctures politically.

That was the Bolton Doctrine to National Security. And that doctrine brought nothing but misery to millions.

And if you look back over the past five years of U.S./EU relations you will see this gambit clearly for what it was, a way to continue European vassalage at the hands of the U.S. by forcing market share of U.S. providers into European markets.

Again, it gets back to Trump's ideas about Emergy Dominance and becoming the supplier of the marginal erg of energy to important economies around the world.

The smart play for the EU now that the gas transit deal is in place is to threaten counter-sanctions against the U.S. and bar all LNG shipments into Europe. Gas prices are at historic lows, gas supplies are overflowing thanks to fears of a deal not being in place.

So, a three to six month embargo of U.S. LNG into Europe to bleed off excess supply while Nordstream 2 is completed would be the right play politically.

But, in reality, they won't need to, because the U.S. won't be able to import much into Europe under current prices and market conditions. And once Nordstream 2 is complete, LNG sales to Europe should crater.

In the end, I guess it's too bad for Ted Cruz that economics and basic human ingenuity are more powerful than legislatures. Because Nordstream 2 will be completed. Turkstream's other trains into Europe will be built. Venezuela will continue rebuilding its energy sector with Russian and Chinese help.

There is no place for U.S. LNG in Europe outside of the Poles literally burning money virtue signaling their Russophobia. Nordstream 2 was a response to the revolt in Ukraine, to replace any potential losses in market share to Europe. Now Russia will have what it had before passing through Ukraine along with Nordstream 2. By 2024 there will be at least two trains from Turkstream coming into Europe.

Iran will keep expanding exports, settling its oil and gas trade through Russian banks. And the U.S. will continue to fulminate and make itself even more irrelevant over time. What men like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump refuse to understand is that when you go nuclear you can't ever go back. If you threaten the nuclear option, there's no fall back position.

And when those that you threaten with annihilation survive they are made all the stronger for passing through the eye of the needle. Looking at Gazprom's balance sheet right now, that's my take.


By Tom Luongo. Source: Gold Goats 'n Guns

[Dec 31, 2019] Israel will not be supplying Germany gas any time soon.

Dec 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Bianca , Dec 30 2019 19:48 utc | 54

FYI

Being almost 100% sure that Israeli cornering East Mediterranean gas reserves was a done deal
and after Cyprus gerrymandered its EEZ under UNCLOS -- and Greece signing up
as pipeline terminus in Europe -- Trump put this cart before horse -- and sanctioned
Nord Stream. Europe was to get Israeli gas. Then Turkey and Libya declared EZZ,
and pipeline cannot go!
Also. there will be other claimants to reserves -- Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza.

Nice try -- but Israel will not be supplying Germany gas any time soon.