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

Sep 23, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Reply


Moscow Exile September 23, 2018 at 7:59 am

Today at 02:24

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 21, 2018 | russia-insider.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- RT (@RT_com) September 15, 2018

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

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

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

Sep 20, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

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

Alastair Crooke's latest at Strategic Culture.

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

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

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

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

Sep 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com


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

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


kirill September 16, 2018 at 4:43 am

Pipeline bypassing Ukraine = threat to Europe's energy security

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 19, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

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

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

There is no spare capacity from Iran.

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

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

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

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

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

Trump asks Saudi Arabia to increase oil production

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 19, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"demand always equals consumption."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Sep 19, 2018] Deliberate exaggeraton of Saudi reserves

Sep 19, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson

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

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

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

Does Saudi Arabia have enough oil?

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Chapman September 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm

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

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

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

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

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

They say hope dies last!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia bought Ukrainian Eurobonds worth $3 bln in December 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Risks for U.S. and global economies

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

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

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

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

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

Aug 24, 2018 | www.newsilkstrategies.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gulf port closed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The oil extracted from our city lands is not beneficial to us," one demonstrator told Asia Times.

"It is better to stop its extraction than have it stolen," he said, blaming the government and foreign companies alike.

According to provincial council member Ahmed Abdel Hussein, half of Basra residents live in poverty.

The government says unemployment stands at about at 7.8%, but academic studies suggest a far higher rate. There are no official statistics for the province.

Feared militia takeover

The government in Baghdad fears the deteriorating situation in Basra could disrupt oil production.

"The oil companies have been greatly affected by the protests," said Adel al-Thamari, an academic and investment analyst in Basra.

"The workers cannot access the fields because of the closure of roads or closing of entry gates," he told Asia Times, adding that "the oil companies have reduced the number of foreign experts for fear of their lives and inability to afford high insurance costs."

The decline in production puts the financial burden on Baghdad. "Companies will raise the terms of credit, which means a great loss for Iraq, which will have to pay compensation to the companies," he said.

Along with the world's major oil companies, hundreds of logistics and security support companies provide operational services to the fields in Basra. As security deteriorates, they too will have to withdraw. "The withdrawal of these companies would mean production stops," Thamari said.

The concerns of oil companies go beyond the protests to fears of a militia takeover.

"The army has taken the position of neutrality toward the demonstrations, and the fear is that the Popular Mobilization Units will deploy. This would cause a further deterioration of security, because the militias have their own internal divisions and such an escalation could neutralize the official security forces," Thamari said.

[Sep 08, 2018] Russia, the West, and Recent Geoeconomics in Europe's Gas Wars by Gordon M. Hahn

Notable quotes:
"... In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas ..."
"... About the Author ..."
"... Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the 'New Cold War ..."
"... Russia's Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 ..."
"... Russia's Islamic Threat ..."
"... The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia's North Caucasus and Beyond ..."
Jun 25, 2018 | gordonhahn.com

Russia has advanced forward in something of a tactical and potential strategic victory in the Russo-Western gas war. This is a three-party war, with the US, EU, and Russia each promoting separate interests. It is one sphere where a united West has failed to 'isolate Russia.' The US seeks move in on the European energy market with LNG supplies and replace Russian pipeline-delivered natural gas supplies to Europe. Washington is using the risks of dependence on Russian gas and Russia's 'bad behavior' as leverage in attempting to convince Europeans to reject Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia is said to be unreliable and prone to shut off gas supplies to Europe.

Due to past Russian-Ukrainian gas crises, the Ukrainian crisis, and general Russian-Western tensions, Europe has decided on a gas diversification policy in which each EU member should have at least three sources of natural gas supply. One additional option that could facilitate this diversification policy is US liquified natural gas (LNG), but the US is still unable to supply enough LNG to offset Russian gas supplies that might be rejected by Europe. In the process, Washington is looking less like a 'team West' player and more like a solely self-interested power maximizer in European eyes and therefore no more reliable than Moscow. As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example.

The Battle Over Re-Sale: No Victors

One recent battle was largely inconclusive, but if a victor has to be designated it may be Moscow. In May, the European Commssion concluded a settlement with Russia's Gazprom in May ending a seven-year anti-trust dispute. In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas. Some EU members, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have re-sold or wanted to re-sell gas. Moscow frowned, for example, on Slovakia's resale of natural gas to Ukraine at cheaper prices than Moscow sought to charge Kiev.

The agreement will also restrict Moscow's ability to charge different countries different prices. So EU members in central and eastern Europe can get a price close to that paid by Germany and appeal to an arbitration court in case of a dispute. The agreement guarantees Russia's presence on the European gas market at a time when the latter's reliance on the former has peaked.

The Northern Front: Nord Stream 2

At the same time, the battle over Russia' Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has heated up. When it comes on line in 2019, the 759-mile pipeline will carry GazProm natural gas along the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany and double the supply Nord Stream pipeline's current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The Trump administration has threatened yet more sanctions on third-party companies, this time with those that work on the pipeline. The US sanctions threat is an attempt to promote American LNG interests as well as to protect Ukrainian interests, though it contradicts the view that Ukraine should eschew its dependence on Russian gas.

US officials have been hammering home to Europeans the 'Russian threat' in tandem with the risk of reliance on Russian gas may pose, which will increase with Nord tream 2, but to no avail. Public opinion is not working in the US favor, with Germans trusting Moscow more than Washington, despite all the crimes laid at the Kremlin's door by the West. A recent ZDF Television opinion survey found that only 14 percent of Germans regard the U.S. as a reliable partner, while 36 percent view Russia as reliable ( www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-17/trump-s-global-disruption-pushes-merkel-closer-to-putin-s-orbit ). Thus, notwithstanding Ukraine, Syria and alleged chemical attacks, Russiagate, and the Skrypals, GazProm's supplies to Europe have risen to hold nearly 40 percent of its gas market, growing last year by 8.1 percent last year to a record level of 193.9 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Nevertheless, with the EU decision, the U.S., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others have stepped up their pressure on Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and other western Eureopean EU members to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project. Germans and other western Europeans are unlikely to give up the short-term gain of energy security for the US LNG given the higher price and unproven nature of Washington's numerous allegations against the Kremlin. German officials say they still have no proof from 10 Downing on Russia's culpability for the Skrypal poisoning so loudly trumpeted by British PM Theresa May.

One motivation for the Russians in building Nord Stream 2 is to obviate the need to transport gas through Ukraine, which will hurt Ukraine's own energy supply – given Ukrainian skimming -- and overall economy beyond the present non-sale of Russian gas to Ukraine. Another Russian motivation is to avert the unreliable Ukrainians, who have failed to make payments according to contract in the past causing Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine and thus Europe with the resulting crises blamed solely on Moscow. The Trump sanctions threat has put Germany and the other Nord Stream 2 supporting countries between a rock and a hard place, between Russia and the US. Therefore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while supporting Nord Stream 2, has called for guarantees from Russia that Ukraine will remain a gas transit country. Ukraine's current contract with Russia ends in 2019 at the very time Nord Stream 2 is to go on line and the EU has urged re-starting EU-mediated negotiatons now in order to avoid another gas crisis. Putin agreed to do this at his meeting with Germany's merkel in late May. Nord Stream 2 significantly strengthens Putin's hand in any such talks.

The Southern Front: Turkish Stream, SGC and the Azeri and Bulgarian Factors

Russia is strengtheining its position on the European gas war's southern front by building the Turkish Stream (TS) gas pipeline to Europe. TS consists of a sea and a land leg. The former runs under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and is built, with Russo-Turkish talks on the land leg ongoing.

Russia's Turkish Stream is being challenged by the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) backed by Western powers, including the EU (along with Turkey and Azerbaijan), which sees the SGC as a means of diversifying from dependence on Russia. Not just Turkey, but Azerbaijan is emerging as a major player on the EU gas market, with a shift in policy accenting gas supplies to Europe as well as oil supplies as in the past. The SGC consists of three components: an expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and the to be constructed Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). TANAP is 51 percent Azerbaijani owned, 37 percent Turkish, and 12 percent belonging to British Petroleum. The SGC will carry Azerbaijani gas through Turkey to Europe and will be able to supply up to one-third of the gas consumed by Bulgaria, Greece and Italy ( https://en.trend.az/business/energy/2910573.html ). However, the source of the gas supplying the pipeline demonstrates the limits of Western attempts to isolate Russia (and Iran). Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz gas field is co-owned by British Petroleum (29 percent), Turkey's Turkish Petroleum (19 percent), Azerbaijan's SOCAR (17 percent), Malaysia's Petronas (15 percent), Russia's LukOil (10 percent), and Iran's NICO (10 percent). Moreover, Russia's LukOil is negotiating with SOCAR a stake in Azerbaijan's second-largest gas field, Umid-Babek, which also includes Britain's Nobel Upstream ( https://newsbase.com/topstories/lukoil-talks-join-umid-babek-project ).

Again the Ukrainian issue is part of the picture here, as a good portion of GasProm supplies to Bulgaria go through Ukraine. Turkish Stream can replace at least some of that supply should Moscow decide to entirely avert Ukraine's pipeline system. It is of interest that no one in the West has offered to include in any of these projects or attempted to fashion a pipeline or pipeline extension that could link up with the Ukrainian network.

During Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's late may visit to Moscow, Putin reported to Radev that during his meetings with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the latter said he would pose no oppsotion to extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria. In response, Radev seemed to suggest making Bulgaria a "a gas redistribution center, a hub" for the Turkish Stream's supplies further into Europe ( http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57608 ).

Moreover, one gets the impression that Bulgaria is wary more about its dependence on Turkey and Ankara's new offensive energy policy in Europe than on Russia and might help Moscow detour Ukraine.

In 2015, Erdogan declared a major policy initiative of making Turkey a, if not the major energy transit hub for supplies heading from the east to Europe.

Russia's annexation of Crimea could help Russia in its talks both with Erdogan over the Turkish Stream and pose the threat of undermining the SGC. It may also help Putin deal with Merkel, Kiev and the EU over the Ukraine pipeline system's future role. Bulgarian President Radev also said in Moscow that Sofia supports building a direct gas pipeline under the Black Sea to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria ( https://echo.msk.ru/news/2206394-echo.html ).

The Bulgarian option could be used by Putin to threaten Erdogan with reducing the Turkish Stream's supplies or abandoning it altogether in favor of a Black Sea Russian-Bulgarian Stream and to reduce Russia's dependence on Ukraine as well.

Implications

Thus, EU energy diversification policies are transforming Turkey, Azerbaijan and perhaps even Bulgaria into key players on the southern gas transit front, while Ukraine falters to Germany, and eastern Europe to Western Europe on the northern front.

Tensions between Ankara and Sofia on these grounds cannot be excluded, and they could draw in Turkey's semi-ally Azerbaijan. US, EU, Russian and Ukrainian energy diplomacy is likely not only to be focused on each other, therefore, but also on Ankara, Baku, and Sofia over the next year.

Unless, the US can rapidly reduce the cost of extracting and shipping LNG to Europe, it is unlikely to be able to become a major alternative to these players, and Russia will continue to dominate the European gas market, with a balance of competition and cooperation with Azerbaijan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California, www.cetisresearch.org .

Dr. Hahn is the author of Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the 'New Cold War (McFarland Publishers, 2017) and three previously and well-received books: Russia's Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction Publishers, 2002); Russia's Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007); and The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia's North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media and has served as a consultant and provided expert testimony to the U.S. government.

Dr. Hahn also has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. He has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Kennan Institute in Washington DC as well as the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

[Sep 06, 2018] Paradise Papers Reveal US Selling Russian LNG In Europe by Irina Slav

Notable quotes:
"... If the reports are true, the situation is an ironic one for Europe: while trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas it is inadvertently increasing it and is even paying more for it than it would if it bought the extra loads directly from Gazprom. ..."
Nov 10, 2017 | oilprice.com

The documents suggest that a company with US ownership is buying Russian gas from petrochemical giant Sibur, and then selling it -- at a profit, of course -- to the European Union, which is in a rush to build as many LNG terminals as it can in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

If the reports are true, the situation is an ironic one for Europe: while trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas it is inadvertently increasing it and is even paying more for it than it would if it bought the extra loads directly from Gazprom.

One might wonder how a U.S. company is able to do business with a Russian one. It's simple: Wilbur Ross himself said earlier this week that Sibur is not a subject to sanctions, so for Navigator Holdings and the petrochemical giant, everything is business as usual.

[Sep 05, 2018] Melting Arctic Creates New Opportunities For LNG

Sep 05, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al September 2, 2018 at 11:36 pm

OilPrice.com : Melting Arctic Creates New Opportunities For LNG
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Melting-Arctic-Creates-New-Opportunities-For-LNG.html

According to Balmasov, while the number of voyages via the Northern Sea Route so far this year has been roughly the same as last year, the main difference compared to 2017 is LNG traffic out of the port of Sabetta, the port that Russia's gas producer Novatek uses to ship the Yamal LNG cargoes to Europe and to Asia.

Arctic Logistics data compiled by Bloomberg shows that by early July, a total of 34 tankers made the voyage from Sabetta to Europe, and one to the east. Since early July, another two LNG tankers have shipped the fuel to Asia

In mid-July, Novatek said that it had shipped its first LNG cargoes from Yamal LNG to China via the Northern Sea Route, with the voyage from Sabetta completed in 19 days, compared to 35 days for the traditional eastern route via the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca
####

Tut tut! Cannot have LNG going via Russia's northern passage (fnar! fnar!).

Vis ship pollution, why simply hold LNG carriers up to much higher environmental standards? After all most of them are much newer and are specialist vessels. Or are they already? Indeed they are, the use of duel-fuel engines that can make use of boil-off:

https://www.brighthubengineering.com/naval-architecture/111619-propulsion-methods-for-modern-lng-tankers/

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

As of 2005, a total of 203 vessels had been built, of which 193 were still in service. At the end of 2016, the global LNG shipping fleet consisted of 439 vessels.[3] In 2017, an estimated 170 vessels are in use at any one time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNG_carrier#Reliquefaction_and_boil-off
According to WGI, on a typical voyage an estimated 0.1–0.25% of the cargo converts to gas each day, depending on the efficiency of the insulation and the roughness of the voyage.[16] In a typical 20-day voyage, anywhere from 2–6% of the total volume of LNG originally loaded may be lost.[16]

Normally an LNG tanker is powered by steam turbines with boilers. These boilers are dual fuel and can run on either methane or oil or a combination of both. ..

Mark Chapman September 3, 2018 at 10:16 am

I love how an eventuality we were all raised to dread – the melting of the polar ice caps – is now spun as a net positive. Make hay while the sun shines! When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Pick your metaphor. We are destroying the planet we live on, inch by irrecoverable inch, but the merchants of Stay-Positive maintain it is AWESOME.

I don't know if you heard – probably not, since it was never much of an international story – but the Canadian Federal Court of Appeals, in a surprise decision, overturned the government's commitment to the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2018/08/trans-mountain-court-quashes-approval-contentious-pipeline-180830180555077.html

Alberta's Rachel Notley reportedly bent spoons with her teeth, since she had just jubilantly reported that the court challenge by the city of Burnaby (British Columbia) was defeated. "To date, Alberta has won every case brought against Trans Mountain. Your Alberta government will not back down until this pipeline is built and the national interest is secured", she crowed on Twitter; the modern equivalent of a legislature, I guess, since all politicians who are anybody turn first to Twitter to get their message out.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/977566130351960064

That one, of course, was "a victory for all Canadians". Except for British Columbia's crybabies, of course, who did not want to play host to Alberta's tanker armada, considering Alberta has no seacoast. So you would think she would quietly accept this later decision by the legal system she purports to revere. Not a bit of it. She immediately withdrew Alberta from the national climate-change plan, and restarted her rhetoric about cutting off BC's gas supply.

https://calgaryherald.com/news/ready-and-prepared-to-turn-off-the-taps-notley-issues-stark-warning-to-b-c-as-pipeline-fight-escalates/wcm/59f845c2-b13e-46f5-bb08-15e0fb37ec84

Get it? When the court rules in Alberta's favour, it is just – the solemn power of the law makes you want to weep with awe. When it rules against Alberta, it is a clown show of unevolved primates. That's modern politics.

All this theatre when the completion of the pipeline is inevitable – the very day, almost to the hour that the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, the shareholders of Kinder-Morgan Canada voted 99% in favour of selling the pipeline to the government of Canada. So now the government owns it, and although it may be delayed a couple of years, it's down but not out. Now the government has to re-do its consultations with all the native bands, this time selling the impression that it is actually listening and the consultative process is real, and it has to conduct a review of the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic (which it formerly declaimed as outside its purview). I'd say if there is agreement on changing some routes and perhaps permissible speed until well offshore, it will almost certainly pass next time.

[Sep 02, 2018] An Israeli campaign against Iranian nuclear sites is going to involve F-15 and F-16 jets loaded to the gills with big-arse bombs. Those will be unable to dogfight even a relic like an F-5 unless they drop that ordinance.

Sep 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Yeah, Right , Sep 2, 2018 1:27:48 AM | link

@82 There is some logic to the Iranians fielding a jet fighter of any sort, even if it is based on a relic of the 1970s.

An Israeli campaign against Iranian nuclear sites is going to involve F-15 and F-16 jets loaded to the gills with big-arse bombs. Those will be unable to dogfight even a relic like an F-5 unless they drop that ordinance.

If that is all those Iranians do that then they will have achieved their purpose.

Alternatively, the Israelis could use fighter escorts but then you have to consider that each escort represents one less bomb-laden F-16 (or, put another way, twice as many sorties).

Simply put: Absent any Iranian jet fighters then the Israelis can commit ALL of their jets to the task of bombing Iranian targets, and do so from the very beginning. But once Iranian fighters are in the mix then the job becomes much harder: the Israelis either have to take out those jets first before committing to a bombing campaign, or they have to commit half their force to escort duties from the very start.

Sure, SU-35s would be much better, but an F-5 is still way better than nothing.

partizan , Sep 2, 2018 3:40:55 AM | link

@Yeah, Right | Sep 2, 2018 1:27:48 AM | 144

the Iranian defense budget is one of lowest in that part of the world. even tiny Dubai has higher one.

upgrading an old fighter jet (not only jet) is sometime more costly than developing a new one.

su-35 flanker-e 4++ costs about $85 million a piece. i simply refuse to believe they cannot afford that.

[Sep 02, 2018] The countries that are truly dependent on Russia are in ex-communist Eastern Europe. They still rely on a network of pipelines built by USSR, and would go into energy crisis if Russia suddenly ended supply.

Sep 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

Felix Keverich , says: September 1, 2018 at 10:48 pm GMT

@AquariusAnon

You seem ignorant about economic issues. For example, when it comes to natural gas market, European countries are not in the same boat. Britain and Spain import virtually no gas from Russia. These countries built lots LNG terminals and import from Qatar.

Germany, Italy and France have a well-diversified supply from multiple sources. The countries that are truly dependent on Russia are in ex-communist Eastern Europe. They still rely on a network of pipelines built by USSR, and would go into energy crisis if Russia suddenly ended supply.

There is no Chinese FDI in Belarus, and in Russia it accounts for 1% of the total FDI. Nobody is learning Chinese in Russia or Belarus. I don't know what you're smoking.

[Aug 31, 2018] US is an oligarchy not a democracy

Aug 31, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Circe , Aug 30, 2018 9:06:13 PM | 54

Somebody @40:

Your comment implies that people should continue to bang their heads against a wall.

In fact, no one has said NOT to participate in politics. To be effective, it's important to understand the reality of politics and the power structure.

Landmark Princeton University Study: Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens demonstrates that US is an oligarchy not a democracy:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination ...

That's why candidates like Ron Paul on the Republican side and Denis Kucinich on the Democratic side never stood a chance. They made way too much sense; they dared speak truth to power so they had to be marginalized by their respective parties so no one would take them seriously. They were literally swallowed up by the duopoly and relegated to quasi-obscurity.

[Aug 31, 2018] Let us not forget, that under the mighty and loved O-bomber, a group of US Senators back in 2014 made Bulgaria drop South Stream with god knows what threats, whereas Brussels had previously failed (intentionally?) to do so. Guess who was the lead Senator?

Aug 31, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Aug 30, 2018 3:50:33 PM | 29

I would say 'contra-Russia'. Trump is just the current vessel.

Let us not forget, that under the mighty and loved O-bomber, a group of US Senators back in 2014 made Bulgaria drop South Stream with god knows what threats, whereas Brussels had previously failed (intentionally?) to do so. Guess who was the lead Senator?

RT.com: Bulgaria halts Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project after visit by US senators
https://www.rt.com/business/164588-brussels-bulgaria-halts-south-stream/

At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.

"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT .
####


See, nothing has changed. At least it looks like U-rope has learned its lesson. Not so the US. Russia hatin' is a too good 'dead cat on the table' to give up.

Posted by: et Al | Aug 30, 2018 1:55:58 PM | 8

Underneath everyone's observations/comments lurks the basic question: Why?

Enter the Big Picture provided yesterday by Pepe Escobar who also links to and cites the controversial Alastair Crooke ideological essay I linked to last week. Part of the Big Picture is the #1 policy goal of the Outlaw US Empire--Full Spectrum Dominance of the Planet--and its recently published National Defense Strategy(NDS) related to that goal:

"The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model -- gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions."

Do please note the combination of prevarication with ideology in the above as it's reflective of the point Crooke tried to make in his piece. A strategy based upon lies to oneself is a sure recipe for defeat as you're deceiving yourself which violates the first law of war as pronounced by so many: "All war is based on deception." But then given the political-economic nature of the USA's Keynesian Militarism, perhaps this deception is aimed domestically so as to transfer even more tax dollars upwards to the 1%. So, actions must be closely observed even more than usual.

During the election campaign, it was speculated that Trump's desire to ease tensions with Russia was a last-ditch gambit suggested by Kissinger to split the Chinese-Russian alliance. So, Russiagate served to defeat that gambit while pushing China and Russia even closer together. With the Syrian regime change ploy rapidly being defeated and Ukraine going nowhere, Deep State planners were left without an oar, so the reversion to Cold War Russophobia with an occasional bout of Sinophobia thrown in for good measure--neither of which is any sort of strategy.

Another quote from the NDS:

"Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military
advantage has been eroding."

That was realized before Putin's display of highly advanced Russian weaponry, which was announced in March, the NDS was released in January. What's amazing is "strategic atrophy" with budgets beyond $600 billion must mean a massive portion's being wasted--delivered to the 1%--such that it's corruption that's caused the erosion of "our competitive advantage." I'd opine much of the chaos we see being played-up is done to obscure interpretations like mine so that even more $$$ can be wasted, although lip service is given to improvements.

So, who/what's really in charge? Big Money rules as it has since the Civil War within the USA and much earlier when we include London and Amsterdam. Big Money's angry because it's locked out of BRI, BRICS, EAEU, and developing nations are mostly on to IMF's and World Bank's disingenuous "development" plans because it abhors the notion that it's not Top Dog. So, the dollar got weaponized and the Trade and Financial War--the Hybrid Third World War--was finally begun in earnest after earlier fits and starts. Yet it appears that the effort will fail since Big Money is finding itself trapped inside a web of its own making that's based on a fiat currency supported by Junk Economics.

[Aug 31, 2018] It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

ET AL August 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions (previously it said Uniper will pull out sic see link.).* In related news, construction has been started in German waters. Still silence from Denmark as to whether they will block it or not.

If I were Moscow, I would announce that the pipeline's route will avoid Danish waters and sit back to see the reaction. Why? Coz you can bet that some will claim it is punishment/bribe/threat/anti-competitive to Denmark, to whit, Russia can simply reply that Denmark has XXX days to provide the permits before it is no longer economically feasible for the route to go through its waters.

* https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/german-company-fully-committed-to-nord-stream-2-despite-fear-of-us-sanctions/

Euractiv: With attacks on Nord Stream 2, Washington ignores collateral damage
https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/opinion/with-attacks-on-nord-stream-2-washington-ignores-collateral-damage/

####

What p* me off about the reported 'threat from NSII' and even in articles like the one above that point out it is in Europe's interest, none of them mention the preceding sabotage of South Stream II under the mighty Obama and the impact from that led directly to Nord Stream II.

A blast from the past:
Bulgaria halts Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project after visit by US senators
https://www.rt.com/business/164588-brussels-bulgaria-halts-south-stream/

At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.

"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT .
####

Yes kids. Warmonger McCain was at the forefront of getting it killed after interference from Brussels failed to shift the asshole Borissov's government. So when a European asks "What has John McCain done for us? , he's already f*ed you over for the benefit of the US and U-ropean poodle Krazy K**t Klan.

[Aug 31, 2018] Bulgaria stepped up when the European Commission called and got absolutely no compensation for cancelling the South stream to the contrary, the decision cost Bulgaria a great deal of money

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 12:06 pm

And let's remember what a hard lesson Bulgaria learned from its leap of faith into Brussels' arms.

On May 30, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the joint press conference, Borisov apologized to Putin for the failure of South Stream and for his responsibility in causing the deterioration of relations between the two countries. Borisov said: "We know about the difficult relations in the past and are grateful to our colleagues for not being vindictive and the fact that Russian-Bulgarian relations do not depend on the extent of guilt of some politicians

"I would like to thank President Putin for his attitude once again. I am to blame for creating certain tensions When it came to the worst and I wanted to talk, my calls were always answered. And I really accept part of the guilt for those developments."

Putin then added that he regrets that the South Stream project has not been implemented, since it would have "greatly benefited" Bulgaria.

In response, Borisov blamed the EU of having imposed Bulgaria diktats that other countries do not respect anyway. Borisov said: "We are the most loyal and the most disciplined country in the European Union. This is the reason why all the pipelines bypassed our territory. We hope that today we have redressed an injustice.

https://www.memri.org/reports/russia-world-%E2%80%93-russia-bulgaria-reconciliation-%E2%80%93-bulgarias-president-radev-no-sanctions-are

Bulgaria stepped up when the European Commission called and got absolutely fuck-all in the way of thanks or compensation – to the contrary, the decision cost Bulgaria a great deal of money. Let that be a lesson to other EU countries; Brussels is big on ideas, but it does not have your back and if your stepping-up causes your country grief and it turns out you made a terrible mistake, and want to talk about it

ET AL August 31, 2018 at 2:58 am

There is absolutely nobody else to blame but Borissov himself, a third rate playa . The position of neither Brussels nor Washington was a surprise at all. They are very well known quantities. Big surprise. Not.

Borissov vacillated and played the same failed and weak gambit we have seen for years in the Ukraine. That he is still around as the biggest fish in the local fish shop is that he is the biggest spineless shit that floats to the surface while the opposition is little more than useless. That is repeated elsewhere in the neighborhood to various degrees and where it is not, it's a choice between two sides of the same gangster/clan coin. To misquote Douglas Adams, So long, and thanks for none of the fish.

KIRILL August 30, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Denmark has already been bypassed. And Gazprom said it could finish the project without any partners.

Like

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Well, I don't think a decision has been made yet. But the consortium has 'applied to Denmark for an alternate route' – which, since the alternate route would not go through Danish territorial waters, implies Denmark does not really have any say over it, and is essentially a challenge to Denmark to either veto the original route on security grounds (you never know, Putin might hide submarines in it, or Novichok or something) or get on with it. But Denmark is presented with more or less the Bulgarian Alternative: do Washington's bidding and get a pat on the head, or defy it and get transit fees.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/energy/91657/nord-stream-2-will-bypass-danish-waters

All the news on the subject that I saw announced that the consortium is 'exploring' an alternate route. It seems they are still hopeful the original route will be cleared, but are getting it on the table that denying it will not stop the project.

But of course western 'analysts' continue to squeal that Putin and the Kremlin are using the Nord Stream II pipeline to 'invade Europe'. Curiously, the same people who once smirked scornfully that Nord Stream II was not needed because the current pipeline is only running at half-capacity now claim "even with Nord Stream 2 on line Russia would still need to send substantial amounts of gas through Ukraine – at least until the upcoming TurkStream pipeline is also finished." Whoa – wut? Even both legs of Nord Stream running at full capacity will not be enough? You don't say.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/with-nord-stream-2-pipeline-putin-waltzes-into-the-heart-of-europe-20180821-p4zyod.html

Once again, nobody is forcing Europe to take more Russian gas than it needs, although the draw-down of domestic supplies suggest it will need more all the time unless 'green energy' becomes more commercially viable and reliable. Certain players want Europe's gas to go through Ukraine for two reasons – one, Ukraine badly needs the money from transit fees to prop up its calamitous economy. Two, it is a ready tickle-trunk of conflict whenever the west wants to make problems for Russia; presto! Ukraine is in a new fight with Russia over gas prices, and Europe is trembling with fear that its gas supplies will be shut off.

Here, you numpties – let me solve the problem for you. Soon there is going to be a perfectly good (according to Ukraine and the west) pipeline network idling without much to do. Why not let all those competitors Europe is always gibbering about use Ukraine's pipeline network to send their gas to Europe? They could have the whole thing all to themselves, completely cutting Gazprom out of Ukraine! What a victory that would be! And they could pay Ukraine transit fees, saving the day there and bringing enormous comfort to Ukrainian economists! It's win/win!

No charge for my consulting.

[Aug 31, 2018] It occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out.

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 8:49 am

See, this is why I enjoy Leonid Bershidsky's writing . Despite his idealistic prattling that Russia is actually guilty of all the things America says it is – his ultimate loyalty is still to his adopted homeland, the land of milk and honey – he remains essentially a realist. And his take on the economic dynamics is brutally realistic; the United States cannot 'bring the Russian economy to its knees'. Once again, America's ridiculously-high opinion of itself and its power fail to take account of consequences.

Oh, it could, I suppose, in a way. A way that would see the world's largest economy – arguably, and certainly in its last days if it is actually still the world's largest economy – wreck the global economy and its own trade relationship with the world in order to damage Russia. Is it willing to go that far? You just never know, as decades of feeding itself exceptionalism have addled its thinking.

Bershidsky points out – correctly, I think – that Russia has held off on punishing American companies in Russia just as the USA has not dared to sanction the energy industry in Russia. Neither wants to take that step, although one will certainly provoke the other.

In fact, it occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out. What would happen then? America would be bound to drop the sanctions hammer on oil and gas. And what would happen then? Europe would say, it's been a lovely party, but I must be going. I give that an 8 of 10 chance of happening, and solely because of the stupid actions heretofore by the Trump government. Had America been reasonable, it would have stood a chance of carrying Europe with it to a war against Russia. But Trump and his blowhard bullying have hardened European resolve against the USA.

[Aug 26, 2018] US ready to drive Iranian oil exports to zero, says US national security adviser

Notable quotes:
"... The US is run by a somewhat unstable president being advised by nuts like Bolton whose main focus is following Israeli diktats, therefore i would not expect them to be looking out for US interests. ..."
Aug 26, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 3:47 PM

US ready to drive Iranian oil exports to zero, says US national security adviser

The US is prepared to use sanctions to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero, the US national security adviser, John Bolton, has said.
"Regime change in Iran is not American policy, but what we want is massive change in the regime's behaviour," Bolton said on a visit to Israel, as he claimed current sanctions had been more effective than predicted.
Donald Trump took the US out of Iran's nuclear deal with the west in May and is imposing escalating sanctions, both to force Iran to renegotiate the deal and to end Tehran's perceived interference in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
Complete removal of Iranian oil from world markets would cut oil supply by more than 4% probably forcing up prices in the absence of any new supplies.
SNIP
Fuller US sanctions, including actions against countries that trade in Iranian oil are due to come into force on 5 November, 180 days after the initial Trump announcement to withdraw.
The measures against Iranian oil importers, and banks that continue to trade with the Central Bank of Iran, will ratchet the pressure to a higher level.
Pompeo has set up an Iran Action group inside the US State Department to coordinate US leverage on companies and countries that cannot show that their trade, including in oil, has fallen significantly by November.
Measures may also be taken against firms that insure ships carrying Iranian crude.
It is expected some of the major Iranian oil importers, such as Russia, China and Turkey, will either ignore the threat of US sanctions, or, possibly in the case of Iraq, Japan and South Korea, seek exemptions.
China takes a quarter of all Iran's oil exports, and with Chinese banks little exposed to the US it can avoid the impact of Trump's sanctions.
REPLY


Dennis Coyne

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 4:13 PM

I wonder if China could just take all of Iran's oil? I imagine at the right price they would be happy to do so. China imports about 8 Mb/d, Iran exports about 2.5 Mb/d of oil, seems possible.

Also note that if this does occur and there is no drop in Iranian output, the impact of the Iranian sanctions on the World Oil market will be effectively zero.

Survivalist

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 4:34 PM

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-iran-oil-shipping/exclusive-china-shifts-to-iranian-tankers-to-keep-oil-flowing-amid-us-sanctions-sources-idUSKCN1L50RZ

I wonder what the capacity is of the Chinese and Iranian oil tanker fleet is? If nobody else will buy it or ship it then the tanker fleet will have to be owned/insured by either Iran or China.

Watcher

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 10:07 PM

Previously posted.

The big issue is the insurance. A US seized cargo triggers insurance on either party, Iran or China. No way that doesn't escalate to violence.

Survivalist

Ignored says: 08/23/2018 AT 2:08 PM

I'm interested in knowing if Chinese oil tankers are even capable of hauling 2.5 million barrels a day home from Iran. It seems doubtful that anybody else will be doing it for them. I can't find much info on the size of the Chinese owned tanker fleet and it's capabilities.

While US forces have been known to seize North Korean oil tankers hauling Libyan oil, I find it doubtful that they will seize Chinese ones, for the reason you mentioned; China punches back. Nothing spells the end of hegemony like getting your ass kicked.

Fernando Leanme

Ignored says: 08/25/2018 AT 8:26 AM

One would assume its easy for the chinese to buy used oil tankers if they offer a bit over current market prices. This is a very long term conflict, and they could buy tankers, reregister them Chinese or Iranian or say Russian and start moving that oil.

The US is run by a somewhat unstable president being advised by nuts like Bolton whose main focus is following Israeli diktats, therefore i would not expect them to be looking out for US interests.

[Aug 26, 2018] Did Saudi pay for the audit? I've found that audits often show the results the customer is looking for. Its not quite a science. More like a combination of fishing and editing.

Aug 26, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Energy News

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 3:54 AM

Saudi Aramco, apparently there was an audit of their reserves in preparation for the Aramco IPO. It says Baker Hughes was involved???

2018-04-29 DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – An audit of Saudi Aramco's oil reserves – an essential part of the preparatory work for its planned initial public offering – has found the state oil giant to have higher reserves than it previously reported, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the independent external audit has found the proven oil reserves to be at least 270 billion barrels, which is slightly higher than the 260.8 billion barrels the company reported in its 2016 annual review.

Dallas-based DeGolyer and MacNaughton, and Gaffney, Cline and Associates, part of Baker Hughes, are involved in the auditing, sources have said.

Baker Hughes and DeGolyer did not respond to a request for comment.
https://in.reuters.com/article/saudi-aramco-reserves/audit-finds-aramco-oil-reserves-slightly-higher-than-reported-sources-idINKBN1I00D2 REPLY


Hickory

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 9:50 AM

Did they pay for the audit? I've found that audits often show the results the customer is looking for. Its not quite a science. More like a combination of fishing and editing.

"In no way should these results be construed as a true representation of the 'real' ."

Ron Patterson

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 10:13 AM

au·dit
NOUN
an official inspection of an individual's or organization's accounts, typically by an independent body.
VERB
conduct an official financial examination of (an individual's or organization's accounts).
"companies must have their accounts audited"

They audited their books! I have no doubt that they found exactly what Saudi had on their books. But that is likely to bear no resemblance to what field reserves actually are. At any rate, it is entirely possible that Saudi could have doctored their books in anticipation of the audit.

How would one go about actually checking the remaining reserves in Ghawar? Or any of the other Saudi fields?

Guym

Ignored says: 08/22/2018 AT 10:19 AM

Dipstick??🤡 Seriously, they are both oil consulting companies. Hardly an audit. Just high priced consultants. Key phrase is high priced. Nobody is going to jerk their consulting license if they accept the high price, and give SA what they want. If SA runs out of oil tomorrow, the worst that could happen is the companies say, whoops, missed that one.

[Aug 26, 2018] What Really Happens to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Ecuador

Aug 26, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Caelan MacIntyre

Ignored says: 08/23/2018 AT 5:14 AM

What Really Happens to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Ecuador

" On Venezuela

it is absolutely clear who is behind the food and medicine boycotts (empty supermarket shelves), and the induced internal violence. It is a carbon copy of what the CIA under Kissinger's command did in Chile in 1973 which led to the murder of the legitimate and democratically elected President Allende and to the Pinochet military coup ; except, Venezuela has 19 years of revolutionary experience, and built up some tough resistance.

To understand the context 'Venezuela', we may have to look at the country's history.

Before the fully democratically and internationally observed election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, Venezuela was governed for at least 100 years by dictators and violent despots which were directed by and served only the United States. The country, extremely rich in natural resources , was exploited by the US and Venezuelan oligarchs to the point that the population of one of the richest Latin-American countries remained poor instead of improving its standard of living according to country's natural riches. The people were literally enslaved by Washington controlled regimes .

A first coup attempt by Comandante Hugo Chavez in 1992 was oppressed by the Government of Carlos Andrés Pérez and Chavez was sent to prison along with his co-golpistas. After two years, he was freed by the Government of Rafael Caldera.

During Peréz' first term in office (1974-1979) and his predecessors, Venezuela attained a high economic growth based on almost exclusive oil exports . Though, hardly anything of this growth stayed in the country and was distributed to the people. The situation was pretty much the same as it is in today's Peru which before the 2008 crisis and shortly thereafter had phenomenal growth rates – between 5% and 8% – of which 80% went to 5% of the population oligarchs and foreign investors , and 20% was to be distributed to 95% of the population – and that on a very uneven keel. The result was and is a growing gap between rich and poor, increasing unemployment and delinquency.

Venezuela before Chavez lived practically on a monoculture economy based on petrol. There was no effort towards economic diversification. To the contrary, diversification could eventually help free Venezuela from the despot's fangs, as the US was the key recipient of Venezuela's petrol and other riches. Influenced by the 1989 Washington Consensus, Peréz made a drastic turn in his second mandate (1989-1993) towards neoliberal reforms, i.e. privatization of public services, restructuring the little social safety benefits laborers had achieved, and contracting debt by the IMF and the World Bank. He became a model child of neoliberalism, to the detriment of Venezuelans. Resulting protests under Peréz' successor, Rafael Caldera, became unmanageable. New elections were called and Hugo Chavez won in a first round with more than 56%. Despite an ugly Washington inspired coup attempt ("The Revolution will Not be Televised", 2003 documentary about the attempted 2002 coup), Hugo Chavez stayed in power until his untimely death 2013. Comandante Chavez and his Government reached spectacular social achievements for his country.

Washington will not let go easily – or at all, to re-conquer Venezuela into the new Monroe Doctrine, i.e. becoming re-integrated into Washington's backyard. Imagine this oil-rich country, with the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves, on the doorsteps of the United Sates' key refineries in Texas, just about 3 to 4 days away for a tanker from Venezuela, as compared to 40 to 45 days from the Gulf, where the US currently gets about 60% of its petrol imports. An enormous difference in costs and risks, i.e. each shipment has to sail through the Iran-controlled Strait of Hormuz.

In addition, another socialist revolution as one of Washington's southern neighbor – in addition to Cuba – is not convenient. Therefore, the US and her secret forces will do everything to bring about regime change, by constant economic aggressions, blockades, sanctions, boycotts of imports and their internal distribution – as well as outrights military threats. The recent assassination attempt of President Maduro falls into the same category. "

[Aug 25, 2018] Is Trump Pushing Germany And Russia Together by Tom Luongo

This "Trump vs Davos globalists" theme is unconvincing. Trump actions are ruthless globalist actions, who wnat to preverse the US status of superpower at all costs, even by abrogating important treaties. He might be not a neoliberal globalist thouth -- he does not offere equl seats on the table to vassals.
Trumpo statement that if Germany buy Russian gas it does not need NATO is very shroud indeed.
Notable quotes:
"... Optics are important and this image captures what both parties wanted to convey. This meeting is the beginning of a shift in the relationship between Germany and Russia for the better. ..."
"... The obvious answer is necessity brought about by pressure being placed on both countries by Donald Trump through sanctions and tariffs and their shared interests represented by the Nordstream 2 pipeline. ..."
"... But, this meeting went far deeper than that, especially since Merkel's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas boldly proclaimed that Europe needs an alternative to the SWIFT system of international electronic payments so as to keep global trade alive while the U.S. further weaponizes the U.S. dollar ..."
"... Why would Merkel allow Maas to state this publicly and why was it picked up by that establishment stenographer The Financial Times ? ..."
"... If Trump's goal, as presented by much of the European press (as presented here by Gilbert Doctorow), is to regain complete subjugation of Europe to American dominance, then this seems counter-productive. ..."
"... SWIFT is the main lever on which much of the U.S.'s sanctions power rests. Because it is through SWIFT that transactions can be tracked, payments halted and fines imposed. That none of this is strictly legal is irrelevant in the game of power-politics. ..."
"... This undermines the EU's credibility at a foundational level. It shows them to be the toothless and, in EU President Donald Tusk's case, witless when faced with opposition to their rule that isn't supported by The Davos Crowd, which Trump most definitely doesn't represent. ..."
"... And I've talked about these in the past. His real goal is the destruction of that post WWII institutional order which in his mind bankrupts the U.S. treasury through massive trade deficits. ..."
"... I said back in June that Trump's leaving the JCPOA was all part of his strategy to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany. The Davos Crowd needs that deal to keep the dream of transferring the power of the world back to Europe from the U.S. via cheap, Iranian energy and keep the conflict between Israel/Saudi Arabia and Iran front and center to foment global chaos awhile keeping Russia from getting rich again. ..."
"... It needs that to support the narrative we need NATO to protect us from the inevitable Russian attack after we provoke them into it. This keeps the money flowing through the banks and lobbyists while draining the U.S. dry through the military/industrial complex. ..."
"... And despite relentless Russia bashing since before Trump was elected, the American people overwhelmingly want peace with Russia, not war. ..."
"... By driving a wedge between Germany and the US over NATO and attacking the foundations of the German economy Trump is ensuring the current rapprochement between Germany and Russia? ..."
Aug 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Vladimir Putin's charm tour of Germany and Austria last weekend is a significant sign of change to come.

To the U.S. and European press Putin is only a step or two away from Hitler reincarnated (thanks chiefly to Bill Browder). It serves the purpose of maintaining the post WWII institutional order.

But, Putin is always nothing but relentlessly patient in his diplomatic efforts, even when European leaders, like Merkel, treat him and Russia poorly. She is, after all, the leading mouthpiece and political ally of The Davos Crowd that believes they run the world.

The conduct of his Foreign Ministry under Sergei Lavrov always strikes the perfect balance between bluntness and diplo-speak.

So, color me surprised when I see the official photos of his meeting with Merkel carefully framed to paint him in a positive light.

Putin in light blues and grays, Merkel in green, the fountain in the background, leaning in looking directly at each other and a simple Sunday morning chat.

If I didn't know better I'd be expecting them to share photos of their grandkids, well, Putin's grandkids anyway.

Optics are important and this image captures what both parties wanted to convey. This meeting is the beginning of a shift in the relationship between Germany and Russia for the better.

And the question is why?

The obvious answer is necessity brought about by pressure being placed on both countries by Donald Trump through sanctions and tariffs and their shared interests represented by the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

But, this meeting went far deeper than that, especially since Merkel's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas boldly proclaimed that Europe needs an alternative to the SWIFT system of international electronic payments so as to keep global trade alive while the U.S. further weaponizes the U.S. dollar.

The U.S. just seized another $5 billion of Russian 'oligarch' money using Credit Suisse as its enforcement arm.

Again, the question is why?

Why would Merkel allow Maas to state this publicly and why was it picked up by that establishment stenographer The Financial Times ?

Why is Merkel, their main mouthpiece, making googly eyes with Putin who, like Trump, represents an existential threat to their continued rule and is the leader of the pendulum swing away from globalism?

If Trump's goal, as presented by much of the European press (as presented here by Gilbert Doctorow), is to regain complete subjugation of Europe to American dominance, then this seems counter-productive.

SWIFT Justice?

SWIFT is the main lever on which much of the U.S.'s sanctions power rests. Because it is through SWIFT that transactions can be tracked, payments halted and fines imposed. That none of this is strictly legal is irrelevant in the game of power-politics.

Banks like Credit Suisse can't function without access to SWIFT.

So they will roll over to the pressure. That's why the response from EU leadership to Trump's abandoning the JCPOA has been far more bark than bite. Because the measures implemented to protect European businesses from U.S. retaliation against them hold no weight with the companies staring at billions in losses.

Case in point: France's Total pulling out of a multi-billion exploration deal with Iran.

Merkel's response? $18 million in aid to Tehran for their troubles. Hardly seems fair does it?

This undermines the EU's credibility at a foundational level. It shows them to be the toothless and, in EU President Donald Tusk's case, witless when faced with opposition to their rule that isn't supported by The Davos Crowd, which Trump most definitely doesn't represent.

So, again, the question is why?

All of this seems incredibly contradictory, at times even to a jaded and cynical observer like me. Until you step back for a second and think bigger picture and ask the most important question of all.

What are Trump's real goals?

It's Good to Have Goals

And I've talked about these in the past. His real goal is the destruction of that post WWII institutional order which in his mind bankrupts the U.S. treasury through massive trade deficits.

And in a word that means . NATO.

Trump goal is the dissolution of NATO. He wants it dismantled because it is a massive drain on our capital base. Building weapons and maintaining bases in Europe is expensive and that money is needed here. He knows this.

Even the mere hint of this has The Davos Crowd in apoplexy. Hence, the post-Helsinki freak out. Hence, the drive to impeach him over Stormy Freaking Daniels. It's pathetic.

I said back in June that Trump's leaving the JCPOA was all part of his strategy to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany. The Davos Crowd needs that deal to keep the dream of transferring the power of the world back to Europe from the U.S. via cheap, Iranian energy and keep the conflict between Israel/Saudi Arabia and Iran front and center to foment global chaos awhile keeping Russia from getting rich again.

It needs that to support the narrative we need NATO to protect us from the inevitable Russian attack after we provoke them into it. This keeps the money flowing through the banks and lobbyists while draining the U.S. dry through the military/industrial complex.

The problem is that that narrative is garbage. And despite relentless Russia bashing since before Trump was elected, the American people overwhelmingly want peace with Russia, not war.

Poland and the Baltics sound like Democrats unhinged hysterical children over the 'threat of Russian aggression.'

This is why Trump is also pressuring Turkey at the same time. He knows Europe is vulnerable to Turkey's implosion. Turkey and Germany are major trading partners and the vast bulk of Turkey's foreign currency exposure is owned by European banks, making them, as I've said previously, Ground Zero for the debt bomb.

So the final question then is this.

Has this been Trump's goal the entire time? Is this what Trump and Putin discussed behind closed doors in Helsinki?

The NATO Wedge

By driving a wedge between Germany and the US over NATO and attacking the foundations of the German economy Trump is ensuring the current rapprochement between Germany and Russia?

Merkel, for her part, has been so terminally weakened by her immigration policy and strong-armed approach to dissent that this whirlwind weekender by Putin was as much for her benefit, politically, as his.

The implication being that if Merkel wants to stay in power with her weakening coalition and poll numbers it's time for her to reverse course. And if that means cozying up to Russia then so be it.

Merkel will continue to talk a good game about Crimea and Ukraine while Putin will speak directly to the German people about ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria as a proxy for ending the threat of further immigration.

This outflanks Merkel's position and undermines George Soros' goals of the cultural destruction of Europe. At this point, politically, how can Merkel even argue against that without betraying her true loyalties?

And that's what makes the implications of this Summit-That-Wasn't so interesting.

If this is indeed the case then the future of the world rests on the mid-term elections and whether Trump is not indicted for having sex with a couple of porn stars.

I almost feel dirty writing that.

* * *

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[Aug 25, 2018] The Geopolitics Of Energy

Very amateur level of analysis...
Aug 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

The antagonism between Saudi Arabia and Iran sets off a variety of political reverberations affecting the countries of the Persian Gulf, unsettling the situation between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and entangling Russia and the United States in the ensuring imbroglio.

... ... ...

The role of the Russian Federation cannot be viewed apart from what is happening in the energy-rich, formerly Soviet Central Asian republics. The so-called -Stans (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan) are major players in today's energy markets. Whatever they do, however, cannot be seen as separate from what Russia is doing or from Russia's intentions. Although some of them, primarily Azerbaijan, have initiated projects that are not aligned with Moscow's goals, they nevertheless need to behave in ways that do not upset their powerful northern neighbour on whom they are heavily reliant, to some extent, for their welfare (due to their dependence on oil and gas pipeline networks).

Politics is therefore deeply intertwined with energy in most of those cases, bringing diplomacy front and centre as a determinant of behaviour and economic outcomes.

... ... ...

Europe's problem is that, with the exception of North Sea oil and gas, it relies entirely on imports to provide it with a comfortable level of energy. Thus, events in the Middle East and the Russian stance toward the continent determines whether it is adequately supplied with energy or faces shortages.

The deposits in the North Sea have kept some European states (Britain and Scandinavia among others) well supplied for quite a while. But unfortunately there is a strong suspicion that these deposits are diminishing at a dangerous rate. As a result Europe will gradually become dependent on imports from the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, and the Atlantic (Angola, Brazil, Mexico, and the US). The situation is disquieting since Japan, and more recently, China, are seeking to buy their own supplies from the same sources.

skbull44 Cosmicserpent Wed, 08/22/2018 - 21:37 Permalink

"...Things started to change after the fracking and shale gas revolution. The United States suddenly realized that it could not only became absolutely self-sufficient in oil and gas, but it also emerged as one of the most important exporters to the rest of the world..."

Ths is factually untrue. The US still depends on crude oil imports to meet its needs. And if this simple, verifiable fact is misunderstood by the author, then I have to wonder about the rest of his analysis...

Cloud9.5 Wed, 08/22/2018 - 21:08 Permalink

From the middle of the last century to the present, everything has been about oil. The peak oilers were correct. What they did not consider was the power of debt to hold this whole thing together long after it should have collapsed. Shale oil is not profitable. That does not mater as long as debt underwrites the cost of production. What does matter is the rapid decline rate of shale oil wells. Yes it is true that shale wells are continuing to produce long after they have reached their peak but it is the volume of production that matters.

If you read the projections put out by the Hirsch Report, the Llyiods Report and the Bundeswehr Report, things should get interesting in the next couple of years.

[Aug 25, 2018] What Trump's Policy of Energy Dominance Means for the World

Notable quotes:
"... Art of the Deal ..."
"... but neither are they amenable to a stoic acceptance of national decline" ..."
"... Unleashing American Energy ..."
"... American energy dominance, ..."
"... Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ..."
"... "... an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. – Just as you want a secure homeland in Israel." ..."
Aug 25, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

ALASTAIR CROOKE | 05.06.2018 | WORLD / ASIA PACIFIC | FEATURED STORY

Two weeks ago, we wrote about how President Trump's foreign policy somehow had 'folded' into 'neo-Americanism', and quoted US Foreign Affairs Professor, Russell-Mead, suggesting that Trump's 8 May metamorphosis (the exit from JCPOA), represented something new, a step-change of direction (from his being principally a sharp Art of the Deal negotiator), toward – pace, Russell-Mead – "a neo-American era in world politics – rather than an [Obama-ist] post-American one". "The administration wants to enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline (as allegedly, Obama did). For now, at least, the Middle East is the centrepiece of this new assertiveness", Russell-Mead opined, explaining that this new Trump impulse stems from: [Trump's] instincts telling him that most Americans are anything but eager for a "post-American" world. Mr. Trump's supporters don't want long wars, but neither are they amenable to a stoic acceptance of national decline" .

There is something of a paradox here: Trump and his base deplore the cost and commitment of the huge American defence umbrella, spread across the globe by the globalists (sentiments aggravated by the supposed ingratitude of its beneficiaries) – yet the President wants to " enlarge American power, rather than adjust to decline". That is, he wants more power, but less empire. How might he square this circle?

Well, a pointer arose almost a year earlier, when on 29 June 2017, the President used a quite unexpected word when speaking at an Energy Department event: Unleashing American Energy . Instead of talking about American energy independence , as might be expected, he heralded instead, a new era of American energy "dominance" .

In a speech "that sought to underscore a break with the policies of Barack Obama", the FT notes , Mr Trump tied energy to his America First agenda..."The truth is we now have near limitless supplies of energy in our country," Mr Trump said. "We are really in the driving seat, and you know what: we don't want to let other countries take away our sovereignty, and tell us what to do, and how to do it. That's not going to happen. With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only the American energy independence that we've been looking for, for so long – but American energy dominance, " he said.

It seems, as Chris Cook explains , that Gary Cohn, then chief economic adviser to the President had a part in the genesis to this ambition. Cohn (then at Goldman Sachs), together with a colleague from Morgan Stanley, conceived of a plan in 2000 to take control of the global oil trading market through an electronic trading platform, based in New York. In brief, the big banks, attracted huge quantities of 'managed money' (from such as hedge funds), to the market, to bet on future prices (without their ever actually taking delivery of crude: trading 'paper oil', rather than physical oil). And, at the same time, these banks worked in collusion with the major oil producers (including later, Saudi Arabia) to pre-purchase physical oil in such a way that, by withholding, or releasing physical crude from, or onto the market, the big NY banks were able to 'influence' the prices (by creating a shortage, or a glut).

To give some idea of the capacity of these bankers to 'influence' price, by mid – 2008, it was estimated that some $260 billion of 'managed' (speculative) investment money was in play in energy markets, completely dwarfing the value of the oil actually coming out of the North Sea each month, at maybe $4 to $5 billion, at most. These 'paper' oil-option plays would therefore often trump the 'fundamentals' of real supply, and real end-user demand.

'Step one' for Cohn, was therefore, for the US to manage the trading market, both in price and access – with U.S. antagonists such as Iran or Russia, being able to access the market on inferior terms, if at all. The putative 'step two', has been to nurse US shale production, build new American LNG export terminals, and open America to further oil and gas exploration, whilst strong-arming everyone from Germany to South Korea and China, to buy American LNG exports. And 'thirdly', with Gulf oil exports already under the US umbrella, there were then, two major Middle East energy producers beyond the boundaries of cartel 'influence' (falling more into rival Russia's strategic energy-producing 'heartland'): Iran – which is now the subject of regime change–style, economic siege on its oil exports, and Iraq, which is subject of intense (soft) political pressures (such as threatening to sanction Iraq under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ) to force its adherence to the western sphere.

What would this Trump notion of energy dominance mean in simple language? The US – were energy dominance to succeed – simply would control the tap to the economic development – or its lack thereof – for rivals China, and Asia. And the US could squeeze Russia's revenues in this way, too. In short, the US could put a tourniquet on China's and Russia's economic development plans. Is this why JCPOA was revoked by President Trump?

Here then, is the squaring of that circle (more US power, yet less empire): Trump's US aims for 'domination', not through the globalists' permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals. In this way, Trump can 'bring the troops home', and yet America keeps its hegemony. Military conflict becomes a last resort.

Senior advisor Peter Navarro said on NPR earlier this week that "we can stop them [the Chinese] from putting our high tech companies out of business" and "buying up our crown jewels of technology ... Every time we innovate something new, China comes in and buys it, or steals it."

Is this then Trump's plan: By market domination and trade war, to prolong America's 'superiority' of technology, finance and energy – and not somehow be obliged to "adjust to decline"? And by acting in this way, curtail – or at least postpone – the emergence of rivals? Two questions in this context immediately present themselves: Is this formula the adoption of neo-conservatism, by the US Administration, which Trump's own base so detests? And, secondly, can the approach work?

It is not neo-conservatism, perhaps – but rather a re-working of a theme. The American neo-conservatives largely wanted to take a hammer to the parts of the world they didn't like; and to replace it with something they did. Trump's method is more Machiavellian in character.

The roots to both of these currents of thought lie however – more than partly – with Carl Schmitt's influence on American conservative thinking through his friend, Leo Strauss, at Chicago (whether not, Trump has ever read either man, the ideas still circulate in the US ether). Schmitt held that politics (in contrast to the liberal/ humanist vein) has nothing to do with making the world fairer, or more just – that is the work of moralists and theologians – politics for Schmitt, concerns power and political survival, and nothing more.

Liberals (and globalists), Schmitt suggested, are queasy at using power to crush alternative forces from emerging: their optimistic view of human nature leads them to believe in the possibility of mediation and compromise. The Schmittian optic, however dismissed derisively the liberal view, in favour of an emphasis on the role of power, pure and simple – based on a darker understanding of the true nature of 'others' and rivals. This point seems to go to the root of Trump's thinking: Obama and the 'liberals' were ready to trade the 'crown jewels' of 'Our Culture' (financial, technological and energy expertise) through some multilateral 'affirmative action' that would help less developed states (such as rival China up the ladder). Perhaps such thoughts too, lay behind Trump's withdrawal from the Climate Accord: Why help putative rivals, whist, at same time, imposing voluntary handicaps on one's own Culture?

It is on this latter, quite narrow pivot (the imperative of keeping American power intact), that neo-cons and Trumpists, come together: And both also share in their disdain for utopian liberals who would fritter away the crown jewels of western Culture – for some or other humanitarian ideal – only to allow America's determined rivals to rise up and overthrow America and its Culture (in this optic).

The common ground between both currents, is expressed with remarkable candour through Berlusconi's comment that "we must be aware of the superiority of our [western] civilisation". Steve Bannon says something very similar, though couched in the merits of preserving (a threatened) western Judeo-Christian culture.

This sense of Cultural advantage that must at all costs be recuperated and preserved perhaps goes some (but not all) way towards accounting for Trump's ardent support for Israel: Speaking to Israel's Channel Two, Richard Spencer, a prominent leader of the American Alt-Right (and one component to Trump's base), highlighted the deeply felt the dispossession of white people, in their own country [the US]:

"... an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogous feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. – Just as you want a secure homeland in Israel."

So, can the attempt to leverage and weaponise the American élites' Culture – through the dollar, and putative energy hegemony, and its hold over technology transfer – succeed in holding on to American 'Culture' (in the reductionist construct of Trump's base)? This is the sixty-four thousand dollar question, as they say. It may just easily provoke an equally powerful reaction; and a lot can happen domestically in the US, between now, and the November, US mid-term, elections, which might either confirm the President in power – or undo him. It is difficult to hold to any analytic horizon beyond that.

But a larger point is whilst Trump feels passionately about American Culture and hegemony; the leaders of the non-West today, feel just as passionately that it is time for 'the American Century' to yield place. Just as after WWII, former colonial states wanted independence – so, now, today's leaders want an end to dollar monopoly, they want an opt-out from the global, US-led order and its so-called 'international' institutions; they want to 'be' in their own distinctive cultural way – and they want their sovereignties back. This is not just cultural and economic nationalism, it portends a significant inflection point – away from neo-liberal economics, from individualism and raw commercialism – towards a more rounded human experience.

The tide, in the wake of WWII, surely was irreversible then. I can even recall the former European colonialists subsequently bemoaning their forced withdrawal: "They'll [the former colonies] regret it", they confidently predicted. (No, they never did.) The tide today runs strongly too, and has spread, even, to Europe. Where – who knows – whether the Europeans will have the spine to push back against Trump's financial and trade machinations: It will be an important litmus for what comes next.

But what is different now (from then), is that currency hegemony, technological prowess, and energy 'domination', are not, at all, assured to western possession. They are no longer theirs. They began their migration, some time ago.

[Aug 25, 2018] The Geostrategy That Guides Trump's Foreign Policies by ERIC ZUESSE

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's US aims for 'domination', not through the globalists' permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals. ..."
"... "Towards the tail end of the Clinton administration and the Dot Com boom in 2000, [Trump's U.S. Treasury Secretary until April 2018] Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs had dinner with his counterpart at Morgan Stanley, John Shapiro. From this dinner was hatched an audacious plan to take control of the global oil market through a new electronic global market platform." ..."
"... "Wall Street bankers, particularly Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, backed him and he launched ICE in 2000 (giving 80 percent control to the two banks who, in turn, spread out the control among Shell, Total, and British Petroleum)." ..."
"... "The second objective was a switch from oil to natural gas, and when the U.S. [ military ] was obliged to leave Saudi Arabia, they [the U.S.] thereupon established their biggest regional base in Qatar, who co-own with Iran the greatest single natural gas reserve on the planet – South Pars. ..."
"... Energy Dominance ..."
"... In the four months since President Trump's announcement, the market strategy developed by Gary Cohn is now being implemented and its elements are emerging into view. ..."
"... Firstly, there has been a massive inflow of Managed Money into the oil market, particularly the Brent contract, which has seen the Brent oil price increase by 35% since the starting point, which I believe can be dated to the August Brent/BFOE Crude Oil option expiry on June 27 th 2017. ..."
"... The dominant market narrative is that the backwardation in Brent is evidence of surging global oil demand which has emptied inventories and is leading the price to new sunlit uplands. However, I see the market rather differently. ..."
"... Firstly, whether the Brent spot month is supported by financial, rather than physical demand, the result will still be a backwardation, and because few oil producers expect a price over $60 to be sustainable they therefore hedge and depress the forward price. In support of this view, I am far from the only market observer who believes that Aramco, and Rosneft would not be selling equity if either Saudi Arabia or Russia believed the oil price trajectory will be positive even in the medium term. ..."
"... This still leaves open the $64 billion question of which market participant is motivated and able to support the ICE Brent term structure for years into the future by swapping dollar risk (T-Bills) for long term oil risk (oil reserves leased via prepay purchase/resale contracts). ..."
"... My conclusion by a process of elimination is that this Big Long can only be Saudi Arabia and regional allies, with Saudi Arabia now under the management of the thrusting young Mohammad bin Salman." ..."
"... Although Trump routinely talks about withdrawing U.S. troops, he does the exact opposite. ..."
"... the U.S. economy becomes increasingly dependent upon Big Oil and Big Minerals and Big Money and Big Military, ..."
"... War against King Saud's chosen enemies (Iran, Qatar, Syria) and possibly even against the U.S. aristocracy's chosen enemy, Russia (and against Russia's allies: China, Iran, and Syria) -- seems more likely, not less likely, with Trump's geostrategy. ..."
"... "I want to address what Mr. Cohn was talking about from a standpoint of how important American energy is as an option, not as the only option, but as an option to our allies and to count[r]ies around the world. ..."
"... At the G7 it was really kind of interesting. The first thing they beat on the table talking about the Paris accord, you can't get out of it, and I was kind of like OK. Then we would go into our bilats and they'd go, how about some of that LNG you've got? How do we buy your LNG, how do we buy your coal? And it was really interesting, it was a political issue for them. This whole Paris thing is a public relation[s], political issue for them. We made the right decision, the President made the right decision on this. I think it was one of the most powerful messages that early on in this administration that was sent. ..."
"... We are in a position to be able to clearly create a hell of a lot more friends by being able to deliver to them energy and not being held hostage by some countries, Russia in particular. Whether it is Poland, Ukraine, the entirety of the EU. Totally get it, if we can lay in American LNG, if we can be able to have an alternative to Russian anthracite coal that they control in the Ukraine. ..."
"... If that was more the reality of Trump's "Unleashing American Energy" policy than just the pro-global-burnout cheerleading of Trump's mere words, then it seems to be -- in the policy's actual intent and implementation -- more like "send more troops in" than "bring the troops home," to and from anywhere. It is more like energy policy in support of the military policy, than military policy in support of the energy policy. ..."
"... In any aristocracy, some members need to make compromises with other members, no matter how united they all are against the publics' interests. This is the way it's done -- by compromises with each other. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

According to Alastair Crooke, writing at Strategic Culture, on June 5 th :

"Trump's US aims for 'domination', not through the globalists' permanent infrastructure of the US defence umbrella, but through the smart leveraging of the US dollar and financial clearing monopoly, by ring-fencing, and holding tight, US technology, and by dominating the energy market, which in turn represents the on/off valve to economic growth for US rivals.

In this way, Trump can 'bring the troops home', and yet America keeps its hegemony [America's control of the world, global empire]. Military conflict becomes a last resort."

He bases that crucially upon a landmark 6 November 2017 article by Chris Cook, at Seeking Alpha, which laid out, and to a significant extent documented, a formidable and complex geostrategy driving U.S. President Donald Trump's foreign policies. Cook headlined there "Energy Dominance And America First" , and noted that,

"Towards the tail end of the Clinton administration and the Dot Com boom in 2000, [Trump's U.S. Treasury Secretary until April 2018] Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs had dinner with his counterpart at Morgan Stanley, John Shapiro. From this dinner was hatched an audacious plan to take control of the global oil market through a new electronic global market platform."

This "global market platform," which had been started months earlier in 2000 by Jeffrey Sprecher , is "ICE," or InterContinental Exchange, and it uses financial derivatives in order to provide to Wall Street banks control over the future direction of commodites prices (so that the insiders can game the markets), by means of the financial-futures markets, locking in future purchase-and-sale agreements. It also entails Wall Street's buying enormous commodities-storage warehouses and stashing them with such commodities - such as, in that case, aluminum) , and so it influences also the real estate markets, and doesn't only manipulate the commodities markets. Those vast storehouses (and the operation of the U.S. Government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, to carry out a similar price-manipulation function in the oil business) are crucial in order for the entire scheme to be able to function, because without control over the storehousing of physical commodities, such futures-price manipulations aren't possible. Consequently, ICE couldn't get off the ground without major Wall Street partners, which are willing to do that. Cohn and Shapiro (Goldman, and Morgan Stanley) backed Sprecher's operation; and Wikipedia states that,

"Wall Street bankers, particularly Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, backed him and he launched ICE in 2000 (giving 80 percent control to the two banks who, in turn, spread out the control among Shell, Total, and British Petroleum)."

This is today's financial world -- a world in which billionaires control the future directions of commodities-prices, and thus manipulate markets, and even determine the economic fates of nations. It's not the myth of capitalism; it is the reality of capitalism. It functions by means of corruption, as it always has, but the corrupt methods constantly evolve.

However, Trump's geostrategy goes beyond merely this, especially by bringing into the entire operation the world's wealthiest person, the trillionaire King Saud, who, as the sole owner of the Saudi Government, which in turns owns the world's largest corporation Aramco, which in turn dominates the oil market and which is also #6 in the natural-gas market (far behind the three giants, which King Saud is trying to destroy -- Russia, Iran, and Qatar -- so that the Sauds will become able to dominate even there). Trump's geostrategy ties King Saud even more tightly than before, into America's aristocracy.

King Saud, as Cook noted, is trying to disinvest in petroleum and reposition increasingly into natural gas, because outside the United States and around the world, people are seriously concerned to minimize global warming so as to postpone global burnout from uncontrollably soaring atmospheric carbon. Petroleum has an even worse carbon footprint than does natural gas; and therefore natural gas is the world's "transition fuel" to a 'survivable' future, while solar and other alternatives take hold (even if too late). Despite all of the carbon-fuels industries' propaganda, people outside the United States are determined to delay global burnout, and the insiders know this. King Saud knows that his petroleum-laden portfolio will have to diversify fast, because the long-term future for petroleum-prices is decline. And he won't be able to control prices at all in the natural-gas business unless he's got America's aristocracy on his side, in the effort to keep those prices up (at least while the Sauds will be increasing their profits from natural gas). Unlike his dominance over OPEC, Saudi Arabia has no such position to control natural gas-prices. He thus needs Wall Street's cooperation.

Cook said:

"The second objective was a switch from oil to natural gas, and when the U.S. [ military ] was obliged to leave Saudi Arabia, they [the U.S.] thereupon established their biggest regional base in Qatar, who co-own with Iran the greatest single natural gas reserve on the planet – South Pars.

Energy Dominance

In the four months since President Trump's announcement, the market strategy developed by Gary Cohn is now being implemented and its elements are emerging into view.

Firstly, there has been a massive inflow of Managed Money into the oil market, particularly the Brent contract, which has seen the Brent oil price increase by 35% since the starting point, which I believe can be dated to the August Brent/BFOE Crude Oil option expiry on June 27 th 2017.

The dominant market narrative is that the backwardation in Brent is evidence of surging global oil demand which has emptied inventories and is leading the price to new sunlit uplands. However, I see the market rather differently.

Firstly, whether the Brent spot month is supported by financial, rather than physical demand, the result will still be a backwardation, and because few oil producers expect a price over $60 to be sustainable they therefore hedge and depress the forward price. In support of this view, I am far from the only market observer who believes that Aramco, and Rosneft would not be selling equity if either Saudi Arabia or Russia believed the oil price trajectory will be positive even in the medium term.

This still leaves open the $64 billion question of which market participant is motivated and able to support the ICE Brent term structure for years into the future by swapping dollar risk (T-Bills) for long term oil risk (oil reserves leased via prepay purchase/resale contracts).

My conclusion by a process of elimination is that this Big Long can only be Saudi Arabia and regional allies, with Saudi Arabia now under the management of the thrusting young Mohammad bin Salman."

However, I do not agree with Alastair Crooke's "In this way, Trump can 'bring the troops home', and yet America keeps its hegemony [America's control of the world, global empire]. Military conflict becomes a last resort." I explained at Strategic Culture on March 25th "How the Military Controls America" and noted there that "on 21 May 2017, US President Donald Trump sold to the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, an all-time-record $350 billion of US arms-makers' products." This means that not only Wall Street -- the main institutional agency for America's aristocracy -- and not only American Big Oil likewise, are committed to the royal Saud family, but U.S. corporations such as Lockheed Martin also are. Vast profits are to be made, by insiders, in invasions and occupations, just as in gas and oil, and in brokerage.

Although Trump routinely talks about withdrawing U.S. troops, he does the exact opposite. And even if this trend reverses and America's troop-numbers head down, while the U.S. economy becomes increasingly dependent upon Big Oil and Big Minerals and Big Money and Big Military, America's military budget is, under Trump, the only portion of the entire U.S. federal Government that's increasing; so, "Military conflict becomes a last resort" does not seem likely, in such a context. Rather, the reverse would seem to be the far likelier case.

War against King Saud's chosen enemies (Iran, Qatar, Syria) and possibly even against the U.S. aristocracy's chosen enemy, Russia (and against Russia's allies: China, Iran, and Syria) -- seems more likely, not less likely, with Trump's geostrategy.

In fact, on 29 June 2017, when President Trump first announced his "Unleashing American Energy Event," the President spoke his usual platitudes about the supposed necessity to increase coal-production, and what he said was telecast and publicized ; but his U.S. Energy Secretary, the barely literate former Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, also delivered a speech, which was never telecast nor published, except that a few days later, on July 3rd, an excerpt from it was somehow published on the website of Liquified Natural Gas Global, and it was this:

"I want to address what Mr. Cohn was talking about from a standpoint of how important American energy is as an option, not as the only option, but as an option to our allies and to count[r]ies around the world.

At the G7 it was really kind of interesting. The first thing they beat on the table talking about the Paris accord, you can't get out of it, and I was kind of like OK. Then we would go into our bilats and they'd go, how about some of that LNG you've got? How do we buy your LNG, how do we buy your coal? And it was really interesting, it was a political issue for them. This whole Paris thing is a public relation[s], political issue for them. We made the right decision, the President made the right decision on this. I think it was one of the most powerful messages that early on in this administration that was sent.

We are in a position to be able to clearly create a hell of a lot more friends by being able to deliver to them energy and not being held hostage by some countries, Russia in particular. Whether it is Poland, Ukraine, the entirety of the EU. Totally get it, if we can lay in American LNG, if we can be able to have an alternative to Russian anthracite coal that they control in the Ukraine. That singularly will have more to do with keeping our allies free and building their confidence in us than practically anything else that I have seen out there. It is a positive message around the world right now."

If that was more the reality of Trump's "Unleashing American Energy" policy than just the pro-global-burnout cheerleading of Trump's mere words, then it seems to be -- in the policy's actual intent and implementation -- more like "send more troops in" than "bring the troops home," to and from anywhere. It is more like energy policy in support of the military policy, than military policy in support of the energy policy.

This sounds even better for the stockholders of Lockheed Martin and other weapons-firms than for the stockholders of ExxonMobil and other extractive firms. On 6 March 2018, Xinhua News Agency reported that, "U.S. President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn has summoned executives from U.S. companies that depend on aluminum and steel to meet with Trump this Thursday, in a bid to persuade the president to drop his tariff plan, media reported Tuesday." After all: Goldman has warehouses full of aluminum, and has the futures-contracts which already commit the Wall Street firm to particular manipulations in the aluminum (and other) markets. Controlling the Government so that it does only what you want it to do, and only when you want the Government to do it, is difficult. In any aristocracy, some members need to make compromises with other members, no matter how united they all are against the publics' interests. This is the way it's done -- by compromises with each other.

Tags: Energy

[Aug 25, 2018] Trump is deliberately pushing Germany and Russia to make deals in order to shuffle the deck by Gilbert Docotrow

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support. ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... New York Times' ..."
"... I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian ..."
"... Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair. ..."
"... La Libre Belgique ..."
"... "Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people." ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that. ..."
"... Vremya Pokazhet ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news. ..."
"... When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases. ..."
"... By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . ..."
"... Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it. ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Reading the tea leaves of the Putin-Merkel meeting

During this past Saturday, 18 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a brief visit to Austria to attend the wedding of the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl. Per the Kremlin, this stop of several hours in the Styrian wine country not far from the border with Slovenia was a "purely private" side excursion "on the road to Germany" for the state visit with Chancellor Angela Merkel starting later in the day at the Meseberg Palace, the federal guest house 60 km north of Berlin.

Journalists were admitted to film the wedding party, including Putin's dance with the 53 year old bride. No questions were taken and no statements were issued by the President's Press Secretary, who also was present. We know only that on the return journey to Graz airport, Putin was accompanied by Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Presumably they had some issues to discuss that may be characterized as official talks.

Prior to their meeting both Putin and Angela Merkel made statements to the press listing the topics they intended to discuss. We may assume that these lists were not exhaustive. Comparing their lists, we find that the respective priorities of the parties were in inverted order, with economic cooperation at the head of Putin's list while regulating the Donbass crisis in Ukraine was the top concern of Merkel. Moreover, the content of issues bearing the same heading was very different. Both sides spoke of Syria, but whereas for Putin the issue for discussion is the humanitarian crisis of refugees, ensuring their return to their homes from camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey by raising funds to repair and replace fundamental infrastructure destroyed in the war. For Merkel, the number one issue in Syria is to prevent the Russian-backed Syrian armed forces from creating a new humanitarian disaster by their ongoing campaign to retake Idlib province from the militants opposed to Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support.

As was explained at the outset, there was to be no press conference or joint statement issued at the conclusion of the talks. The only information we have is that Merkel and Putin conferred for more than three hours, which is in itself quite extraordinary and suggests that some understandings may have been achieved.

In a word, the potentially very important diplomatic developments of Saturday remain, for once, a state secret of the parties, with no leaks for the press to parse. And yet there is material here worthy of our consideration. I have in mind the interpretations of what might transpire before, during and after the events of Saturday in the news and commentary reportage of various countries having greater or lesser interest in Russian affairs. Indeed, my perusal of French, Belgian, German, British, American and Russian news media shows great diversity of opinion and some penetrating and highly pertinent remarks based on different information bases. This material is all essential if we are to make sense of the behavior of the parties on the international stage in the coming weeks.

In this essay, I will set out what I have found per country, starting with the least attentive to detail - the United States - and ending with those who offered the best informed and most interested reportage, Germany and Russia. I will conclude with my own reading of the tea leaves.

* * * *

Let us take The Washington Post and The New York Times as our markers for how US mainstream media reported on Putin's meetings this past Saturday.

On the 18th, The Washington Post carried in its online edition two articles dealing with the Putin diplomatic doings. "At Austrian foreign minister's wedding, Putin brings the music, the flowers and the controversy" was written by the newspaper's bureau chief in Berlin, Griff Witte. It is accompanied by video clips of Vladimir Putin dancing with the bride and speaking, in German, to the wedding party seated at their banquet table. The journalist touches very briefly on the main political dimensions of Putin's visit to Austria, including the party relations between United Russia and the far right Freedom Party in Austria's ruling coalition which nominated Kneissl for her post, the criticism of Putin's participation in the wedding coming from the Opposition parties in Austria who see it as a violation of the government's own ambition to be a neutral bridge between East and West, and the issue of Putin's sowing division on the continent. The only criticism one might offer is that the article is superficial, that each of the issues raised deserves in-depth analysis separately.

The newspaper's second article online, which spread its net more broadly and covered the meeting with Merkel in Germany as well as the visit in Austria, came from an Associated Press reporter, not its own staff. Here again, the problem is that issues surrounding the meetings are not more than bullet points, and the reader is given no basis for reaching an independent finding on what has happened..

The New York Times' feature article "Merkel and Putin Sound Pragmatic Notes After Years of Tension," also published on the 18th and datelined Berlin was cited by Russian television news for a seemingly positive valuation of the talks in Meseberg Palace. However, the content of the article by reporter Melissa Eddy is more cautious, highlighting the pattern of "conflicts and reconciliations" that have marked German-Russian relations over the centuries and seeing the present stage not as a warming of relations but instead as reaching for compromises "on Syria, energy and other key issues while maintaining their differences over Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine." She sees the Syrian issue as one where German and Russian interests may be closest given that refugees from the Middle East are now a German preoccupation with political weight. The reporter cites several experts attached to well-known institutes in Germany that are generally skeptical about Russia's intentions. But the end result is better informed than most NYT reporting on Russia even if it leaves us wondering what will result from the Saturday diplomacy.

In both mainstream papers there is no attempt to find a link between Putin's two visits on Saturday.

I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian from the 18th entitled "Putin urges Europe to help rebuild Syria so refugees can return." This piece comes from the Agence France-Presse in Berlin. It is not much more than a recitation of the lists of topics for discussion that Putin and Merkel issued before their talks. But the reporter has made his choice for the most important of them, Syria and refugees.

The French-language press does not seem to have been very interested in Putin's "private" trip to the wedding of the Austrian foreign minister, but was definitely keen to discuss Putin's trip to Berlin. On the day preceding the Putin-Merkel meeting, the French press offered a clear concept of where things were headed. We read in Figaro , "Merkel receives Putin Saturday to renew a difficult dialogue." A caption in bold just below is more eye-catching: "While the German Chancellor has become the main opponent to the Russian President within the EU, the policy of sanctions conducted by Washington has led to a rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow with regard to numerous issues."

The reporter notes that following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, relations between the two heads of state had become quite bad and in four years they met only when obliged to do so during international summits.

"But starting three months ago, their diplomatic exchanges have intensified: in May Angela Merkel met the chief of the Kremlin in Sochi, Russia. In July, she met the head of the Russian diplomatic corps, Sergei Lavrov, in Berlin. By inviting Vladimir Putin this time, the German Chancellor has promised 'in-depth discussions.' "She is pursuing a pragmatic attempt at normalization of German-Russian relations, because the international realities have changed,' explains Stefan Meister, director of the Robert Bosch Center for Russia."

And how has the calculus of international relations changed? Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair.

"The American policy represents a danger for the Russian economy and a threat to German interests."

A spokesperson from Merkel's CDU party responsible for foreign policy is quoted on the possible dangers of secondary sanctions being directed at Germany through the application of US extraterritoriality against those failing to respect the new sanctions on Russia.

The article explains the issues surrounding the Nord Steam 2 pipeline, and in particular Trump's hostility to the project for its locking in German dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

And the author points to the common interests of Germany and Russia over maintenance of the Iranian nuclear deal as a factor powering the rapprochement of the two countries. Here again the common threat is Donald Trump and American sanctions against those companies which continue to trade with Iran.

The article concludes that divergent views of Russia and Germany over Ukraine and Syria exclude any breakthrough at the meeting on Saturday. But nonetheless the dialogue that was lacking these several past years is being recreated.

In its weekend edition issued on 18 August, the Belgian mainstream daily La Libre Belgique was even more insistent on interpreting the Merkel-Putin meeting as a consequence of the policies of Donald Trump. Their editorial captures the sense very nicely in its tongue-in-cheek headline: "Trump is the best 'ally' of Putin."

La Libre sees Vladimir Putin's latest diplomatic initiatives as directly resulting from the way his host at the White House has annoyed everyone. Moreover, his outreach is welcomed:

"Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people."
The editors point to Turkish President Erdogan's clear signal that he is now looking for other allies. He has done his calculations and has said he has more to gain with Moscow than with Washington.'

The editorial concludes that a summit on reconstruction of Syria might even take place at the start of September between Moscow, Ankara, Paris and Berlin. The conclusion? "Putin has taken center stage on the chessboard. Thank you, Mr. Trump."

The article filed by La Libre 's correspondent in Berlin, Sebastien Millard, bears a heading that matches the editorial view of the newspaper: "Merkel and Putin - allies of convenience facing Trump." The author credits Donald Trump with being the catalyst for the resumption of dialogue between Germany and Russia; they are telling Washington that they do not accept its blackmail. He notes that we should not expect any reversal of alliances. There are too many differences of view between Berlin and Moscow on a variety of issues.

* * * *

The German press paid a good deal of attention to Vladimir Putin's visit to Austria for the wedding of Foreign Minister Karin Kreissl.

In an article posted on the 16th entitled "Suspicion that Austria is a Trojan horse," Die Welt highlighted the negatives of Putin's presence. Quoting an "expert from the University of Innsbruck" this does not cast a good light on the country. They anticipate political fall-out. This will impair Austria's ability as chair of the European Council to play a role of intermediary in the Ukraine conflict. The only beneficiary of the visit will be the the Russia-friendly be the Russia-friendly Freedom Party. For Putin, being a guest provides him with the opportunity to demonstrate that he is not isolated but is instead highly welcome in society of an EU country.

As for the coming meeting with Merkel on Saturday evening, Die Welt in a related article of the same day lists the issues for discussion. Without taking a position, it cites experts for and against the Nord Stream II pipeline and other issues on the list.

Welt's report from the wedding party on the 18th was gossipy and unfriendly, comparing it to a wedding of some European royal family because of the extraordinary guest list that included the country's chancellor, vice chancellor, and defense minister as well as the head of OPEC and...Vladimir Putin. With typical German petty financial accounting, they reckon that the 500 police and other security measures needed for the safety of the highly placed guests cost the Austrian tax payers 250,000 euros.

A separate article in Die Welt deals with Putin's meeting with Merkel at the Meseberg Palace. The emphasis here is on Merkel's remarks during the Statement prior to the talks that cooperation with Russia is "vital" to deal with many conflicts globally and that both sides bear responsibility to find solutions.

The article quotes from the opening statements of the leaders on all the issues in their list for discussion - Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream II. We are given bare facts without any analysis to speak of.

The other major mainstream daily Frankfurter Allgemeine in its Saturday, 18 August edition offered separate articles on Putin's visits to Austria and Germany.

The article on Karin Kneissl's wedding heads off in a very different direction from the reporting in other media that I have summarized above. FAZ notes that Kneissl is rarely in the headlines and it asks: who is she? They answer the question with some curious details. We learn that Kneissl was once active in competitive sports and even now swims a kilometer every day. For many years she has lived on a small farmstead with a couple of boxers, two ponies, hens and cats. Each morning her chauffeur takes her and the dogs to her office in Vienna, to return in the evening. Regrettably, FAZ does not take this curious biographical sketch further. No connection is drawn between her personality and the Russian President's acceptance of her invitation to her wedding.

FAZ similarly has chosen to amuse rather than inform in its coverage of the meeting in Berlin entitled "Sparkling wine in Austria, sparkling water in Meseberg." They comment on how Putin arrived half an hour late, on how it is hard to see how the meeting could be characterized as a success. They stress that we know nothing about the content of the consultations. Then they tick off the opening positions of the sides as set out in their statements before the talks.

Spiegel online risks more by giving more interpretation and less bare facts. Its article entitled "Something of a new start" suggests that a rapprochement is underway and that both Merkel and Putin have a lot in play. Unlike the other German press we have mentioned, Spiegel sees a direct link between Putin's attending the wedding in Styria and his visit to Merkel.

Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that.

Meanwhile, says Spiegel , Germany also is interested in improving relations with Russia despite all the controversy, namely due to the growing conflicts with US President Donald Trump. We don't know the exact content of the talks which were confidential, but there is some movement now between Germany and Russia.

Spiegel remains cautious. Cordiality does not enter into the relationship. The parties keep their distance. There is no laughter to lighten the atmosphere. Yet, it concludes: "The talks have prospects and we can see the wish to make progress through common positions, and without being silent about contradictions. Diplomatic normality, as it were. A step forward."

* * * *

If the great bulk of commentary in the West about Putin's diplomatic weekend was reserved and stayed by the bare facts without speculation, Russian television more than made up for dryness. I point in particular to two political talk shows which invited a mixture of experts from different backgrounds.

Let us begin with the show Vremya Pokazhet (Time will tell) on state television's Pervy Kanal . Their Friday, 17 August program focused on Putin's forthcoming visit to the wedding 'on the road to Berlin,' which several panelists saw as a strong signal to Germany that Russ1+
ia had other channels to the EU if Germany refuses to be its intercessor.

The visit was said to be breaking new ground in diplomatic practice. According to panelist Andrei Baklanov, deputy chair of the association of Russian diplomats, this kind of positive, human diplomacy is Russia's answer to the negative behavior in international affairs that has occupied center stage in the recent past - sanctions, fake news, etc. As another panelist interjected, this is the first time that a Russian head of state attended a wedding abroad since Tsar Nicholas did so in Germany in 1913.

Baklanov proceeded to provide details about the bride, however, bringing out aspects of her career that are far more relevant to her attracting the attention of Putin than the Frankfurter Allgemeine produced. We learn that she grew up in Amman, Jordan, that she speaks 8 languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Magyar, French, Spanish, Italian, English as well as her native German. She studied Near Eastern languages in Vienna University, in the Jewish University of Jerusalem, in the University of Jordan and also graduated from the National School of Administration in France. She holds a doctorate in law. She is a non-party minister, which also attests to her generally recognized professionalism. For all of these reasons, she is a good fit with Putin's determination to find supporters in Europe for investments to restore Syrian infrastructure and enable the return of refugees.

The country's most prestigious talk show, "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov," had a couple of Duma members and a well-known politician from Liberal circles comment on the diplomacy of the day before.

Sergey Mironov, leader of the socialist party Fair Russia said that despite Merkel's warning in advance not to expect breakthroughs it is likely progress was made in agreeing how to deal with US sanctions. This would be tested in the coming days.

As for the link between the visits to Austria and Germany, the representative of a pro-business party Sergey Stankevich reminded viewers that Germany and Austria are the market makers in Europe for Russian gas. Nord Stream II gas may land in Germany but a large part of it will be pumped further to Austria's hub for distribution elsewhere in Europe. Whatever may have been said publicly, Stankevich believes that Merkel and Putin did agree on many if not all the subjects named before the start: Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream.

Russian media coverage of the Saturday travels of their President continued on Russian news programs into Monday, with video clips of Putin dancing at the wedding and speaking alongside Merkel before entering into their talks at Meseberg Palace.

* * * *

Looking back at the media coverage of Putin's visits to Austria and Germany on 18 August, and with all due respect to those who opinions are different from mine, I find that the most helpful for our understanding of the present day international situation were the report and editorial in Belgium's Libre Belgique and the unruly, risky but at times brilliant insights on Russian television.

What comes out of this is the understanding that the visits to a wedding in Austria and to the federal Chancellor outside Berlin were directly linked in Russian diplomatic strategy, that Russia is playing the Austrian card during the country's six months at the helm of the European Council in Brussels, that Russia is pushing for a multi-party relief effort for Syria to facilitate the return of refugees to their home and pacification of the war-torn country. The web of common interests that Russia is pursuing has at its core the fragility of the current world order and generalized anxiety of leading countries due to America's aggressive pursuit of narrow national interest under Donald Trump as seen in his tariff wars and sanctions directed at friends and foes alike.

Where I differ from the interpretations set out in the foregoing press reports is in my understanding of what Trump is doing and why.

The nearly universal assumption of commentators is that Trump's policies known as "Make America Great" are ignorant and doomed to fail. They are assumed to be isolationist, withdrawing America from the world community.

However, Trump did not invent bullying of US allies. That was going strong under George W. Bush, with his challenge "you are either with us or against us" when he sought to align the West behind his invasion of Iraq in 2003 without authorization of the UN Security Council. His more urbane successor Barack Obama was no kinder to U.S. allies, who were slapped with crushing fines for violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran, just to mention one way in which they were kept in line. And the U.S. Congress today is no more reasonable and diplomatic than the President in the brutal unilateral sanctions it has on its own initiative advocated against not just Russia but also against Turkey and other states which are not snapping to attention with respect to purchases of military materiel from Russia.

What made U.S. bullying tolerable before Trump was the ideological smokescreen of "shared values," namely democracy promotion, human rights and rule of law, that all members of the alliances could swear to and which set them apart from the still unenlightened parts of the globe where autocrats hold sway.

In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news.

When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases.

The first two presidencies of this millennium undid the country's greatest geopolitical achievement of the second half of the 20th century: the informal alliance with China against Russia that put Washington at the center of all global politics. Bush and Obama did that by inattention and incomprehension of what was at stake. That inattention was an expression of American hubris in the unipolar world which, it was assumed, was the new normal, not a blip.

By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . We see this understanding when he speaks about looking out for American interests while the heads of state whom he meets are looking out for the interests of theirs.

In his tweets we find that our allies are ripping us off, that they are unfair competitors. His most admiring remark about Russia is that it is a strong competitor. The consistent element in Trump's thinking is ignored or willfully misunderstood in the press.

Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it.

Good Optics · about 3 hours ago

This nuanced analysis rings true and speaks to the fact that - though Trump may not exactly be playing 47D chess - he certainly does have some good intentions that, left to follow their course, would have a chance of making the world a better place. But that will not be allowed to happen by those in the US with firm commitments to pursue the world's subjugation through any means possible.

The Cs did tell us that Trump's heart is in the right place, unlikely though that does appear a lot of the time . . .

[Aug 24, 2018] Gazprom leads the world in capital expenditure (capex) on global energy projects, by a wide, wide margin $160 Billion to be spent on 84 projects worldwide, including Nord Stream II and Turkish Stream.

Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 23, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Gazprom leads the world in capital expenditure (capex) on global energy projects, by a wide, wide margin – $160 Billion to be spent on 84 projects worldwide, including Nord Stream II and Turkish Stream. That's nearly double the spending of its next-closest competitor, Sinopec, at $87 Billion. Royal Dutch Shell is third, and Exxon a distant fourth.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/08/22/russias-gazprom-is-worlds-biggest-energy-investor/#5a7465fb3553

If you add Rosneft, that's another $50 Billion in capex for Russia. Odd behaviour for an isolated country whose economy is in tatters. One whose government debt is 12.6 % of GDP and declining.

https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/government-debt-to-gdp

Speaking of government debt, how's that parameter looking for The Exceptional Nation? Whoa: that's exceptional. Not even much point in expressing it as a percentage of GDP, I guess.

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-debt

Just to drive the point home for any who might not have gotten it, Russia – friendless, alone against the world, and reeling from the bite of American sanctions – is outspending the USA nearly three to one on global energy investments, although its debt is a tiny fraction of America's out-of-control spending on other important things, like its bloated defense budget.

Oh, that's right – Vladimir Putin is a tyrant and a dictator, squeezing the country dry in neverending pursuit of self-enrichment. I almost forgot.

[Aug 19, 2018] Fate Of Key Gas Pipeline In The Balance As Putin, Merkel Begin Meeting

Aug 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

"Russian influence will flow through that pipeline right into Europe, and that is what we are going to prevent," an unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal just as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel meet outside of Berlin on Saturday centered on the two countries moving forward with the controversial Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but also involving issues from the Iran nuclear deal to ending the war in Syria.

Intense pressure from Washington is overshadowing the project, construction of which is already in advanced stages, as the WSJ cites current and former US officials who say sanctions are under discussion and could be mobilized in a mere matter of weeks .

These potential sanctions, ostensibly being discussed in response to US intelligence claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election, could target companies and financial firms involved in the massive pipeline's construction . This comes after comments from President Trump at the opening of a NATO summit in July made things uncomfortable for his German counterpart when he said that Germany is so dependent on Russia for energy that it's essentially being "held captive" by Vladimir Putin and his government.

"Germany is captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia. They pay billions of dollars to Russia and we have to defend them against Russia," Trump told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg at a televised opening breakfast.

The pipeline has been opposed by multiple US administrations, who have long accuse the Kremlin of seeking to accrue political leverage over Europe given the latter's already high dependence on Russian natural gas. The pipeline has been a frequent talking point and target of attacks by Trump, who has threatened to escalate the trade war against Germany going back months if it supported the construction of the pipeline. US officials have also expressed concern that Russia will pull pack significantly from delivering natural gas via Ukraine when its Gazprom tranit contract expires by the close of 2019. Ukraine is currently the chief Russian natural-gas export point to the EU and depends heavily on levying fees on this trade.

Both Russia and Germany have sought to calm US concerns over the Ukraine issue, with Putin himself reportedly telling both Merkel and Trump that he is "ready to preserve" gas transit through Ukraine even after Nord Stream 2 was completed.

US officials speaking to the WSJ , however, downplayed the Ukraine issue, instead focusing on the urgency of allowing such significant and irreversible Russian economic, political, and infrastructural inroads into the heart of Europe .

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, told the WSJ , "We have been clear that firms working in the Russian energy export-pipeline sector are engaging in a line of business that carries sanctions risk," -- something which he's repeatedly emphasized with officials in Berlin. President Trump himself has also reportedly raised the issue directly with Chancellor Merkel on multiple occasions. But for all the shrill US media claims that Trump is somehow doing Putin's bidding, the WSJ has this illuminating line : "Officially, the European Commission, the EU's executive body, is coordinating the gas-transit talks, but Ms. Merkel also has played a leading role because of her regular contacts and longstanding relationship with Mr. Putin, European officials say ."

Meanwhile, it appears that Washington has a losing hand even while making threats of sanctions in an attempt to block the pipeline project.

Crucially, the WSJ report provides further confirmation of the following previously known but hugely significant detail :

A European energy executive familiar with the discussions said company representatives had told John McCarrick, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources, that the five European companies and Gazprom had already provided €5.5 billion ($6.3 billion) in financing and that the project wouldn't be stopped even if the U.S. were to impose sanctions .

The Nord Stream 2 project was started in 2015 and is a major joint venture between Russia's Gazprom and European partners, including German Uniper, Austria's OMV, France's Engie, Wintershall and the British-Dutch multinational Royal Dutch Shell.

The pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea - doubling the existing pipeline's capacity of 55 cubic meters per year, and is therefore critical for Europe's future energy needs.

Currently, the second phase involves utilizing an existing pipeline already channelling smaller amount of gas from Russia to Germany. Construction for the second phase started in May of this year.

GlassHouse101 -> Winston Churchill Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:29 Permalink

More Sanctions!! Sanction all of the countries!

07564111 -> GlassHouse101 Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:35 Permalink

will lead only to war with Russia..take that as fact.

[Aug 19, 2018] Economics

Notable quotes:
"... each click brings us closer to the bang ..."
"... Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ..."
"... there will be no war and no negotiations ..."
"... carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state ..."
"... Trump's ALL IN CAPS meme ..."
"... This is where Ali Khamenei's stance is more puzzling, at least to me: when he says that there will be no war, does he mean that the US threats are not credible or does he mean that Iran has the means to deter a US attack? His words make it sound like he is quite certain that there will be no war. How can he be so sure? I am especially amazed by the apparent Iranian confidence that the AngloZionists will not attack them when I compare it with the obvious Russian policy of actively preparing for war since at least 2014 (also see here , here , here , here , here and here ). Of course, Iran has been preparing for war with the US for almost 40 years now whereas the Russians only woke up to reality comparatively recently. I see several potential explanations for Ali Khamenei's statement (there might be more, of course) ..."
"... Personally, every time I think of a possible US attack on Iran I think of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 which happened in spite of the fact that it was plainly visible to everybody that the Israelis were waltzing straight into a conflict which they could not win and which, in fact, resulted into one of the most abjects defeats in military history. Conversely, while Hezbollah did win a truly historical victory, it also remains a fact that Hezbollah leaders did not expect the Israelis to launch a full-scale ground offensive. Finally, history is full of examples of wars which were started in spite of all objective factors indicating that they would end up in disaster. ..."
"... If it weren't for its nuclear arsenal, the US could be dismissed as a particularly obnoxious country led by ignorant leaders with bloated and mostly ineffective armed forces. Alas, the US nuclear arsenal is very real (and still very capable) and we know that top-level US Neocons have already considered using tactical nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state's conventional force in the past . In a twisted way, this makes sense: if you are a megalomaniac infused with a sense of messianic superiority then international or even civilizational norms of behavior are of no interest (or even relevance) to you. Listening to US Presidents, pretty much all of them (but especially Obama and Trump) it is pretty clear that these folks consider themselves to be the Kulturträger ..."
"... Shaytân-e Bozorg ..."
"... It would be a big mistake to dismiss the US because of its incapable military or moral bankruptcy. The truth is that in terms of aggregate national power, the US still remains the most powerful country on the planet (even if we don't include nuclear weapons). Anyone doubting that needs to look how how the currencies of the countries the US is singles out for attack suddenly began slipping: the Russian ruble (which has since bounced back), the Iranian rial, the Venezuelan bolivar, the Turkish lira , etc.) or how little time it took Trump to bring the (admittedly spineless) Europeans to heel . ..."
"... As for Russia, for all her military might, she remains only a semi-sovereign country in which the pro-US/pro-Israeli "Atlantic Integrationists" continue to try to sabotage (often successfully) everything Putin and his supporters are doing . I would not place big hopes in China either, especially considering the lack of meaningful Chinese action in Syria where Russia and Iran did all the heavy lifting. ..."
"... So count with yet another imperial war of aggression, a barrel of crude at over 100$ and oil shortages, rocketing inflation, job losses, a stagnant real estate market and stock exchange, and a national debt and government deficit which would make even Reagan proud. And plenty of dead Americans (nevermind the Iranians, right?). But don't worry: there will still be a huge supply of Chinese-made US flags to wave! ..."
Aug 19, 2018 | www.unz.com


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We can all thank God for the fact that the AngloZionists did not launch a war on the DPRK, that no Ukronazi attack on the Donbass took place during the World Cup in Russia and that the leaders of the Empire have apparently have given up on their plans to launch a reconquista of Syria. However, each of these retreats from their hysterical rhetoric has only made the Neocons more frustrated and determined to show the planet that they are still The Hegemon who cannot be disobeyed with impunity. As I wrote after the failed US cruise missile strike on Syria this spring, " each click brings us closer to the bang ". In the immortal words of Michael Ledeen , " Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ". The obvious problem is that there are no "small crappy little countries" left out there, and that those who are currently the object of the Empire's ire are neither small nor crappy.

Having now shown several times that for all its hysterical barking the Empire has to back down when the opponent does not cower away in fear, the Empire is now in desperate need to prove its "uniqueness" and (racial?) superiority. The obvious target of the AngloZionist wrath is Iran. In fact, Iran has been in the cross-hairs of the Empire ever since the people of Iran dared to show the AngloZionists to the door and, even worse, succeed in creating their own, national and Islamic democracy. To punish Iran, the US, the USSR, France and all the other "democratic" countries unleashed their puppet (Saddam Hussein) and gave him full military support, and yet the Iranians still prevailed, albeit at a terrible cost. That Iranian ability to prevail in the most terrible circumstances is also the most likely explanation for why there has not been an overt attack on Iran for the past four decades (there have, of course, there has been plenty of covert attacks during all these years).

I won't list all the recent AngloZionist threats against Iran – we all know about them. The bottom line is this: the US, Israel and the KSA are, yet again, working hand in hand to set the stage for a major war under what we could call the " Skripal-case rules of evidence " aka " highly likely ". And yet, in spite of all this saber-rattling, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has summed up Iran's stance in the following words " there will be no war and no negotiations ".

First, let's first look at Iranian rationale for "no negotiations"

The obvious: "no negotiations"

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been very clear in his explanations for why negotiating with the US makes no sense. On his Twitter account he wrote:

The Iranian Supreme Leader even posted a special graphic summary to summarize and explain the Iranian position:

Finally, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his fundamental approach towards the AngloZionist Empire:

The contrast between the kindergarten-level low-IQ bumbling hot air and threats coming out of the White House and the words of Ali Khamenei could not be greater, especially if we compare the words the two leaders decided to post all in caps;

Trump : To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

Khamenei : THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S..

Notice first that in his typical ignorance, Trump fails to realize that Hassan Rouhani is only the President of Iran and that threatening him makes absolutely no sense since he does not make national security decisions, which is the function of the Supreme Leader. Had Trump taken the time to at the very least check with Wikipedia he would have understood that the Iranian President " carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state ". It is no wonder that Trump's infantile threats instantly turned into an Internet meme !

In contrast, Khamenei did not even bother to address Trump by name but, instead, announced his strategy to the whole world.

Trump's ALL IN CAPS meme

Of course, issuing ALL IN CAPS threats just to be treated with utter contempt by the people you are trying to hard to bully and having your words become a cause of laughter on the Internet will only further enrage Trump and his supporters. When you are desperately trying to show the world how tough and scary you are, there is nothing more humiliating as being treated like some stupid kid. Therein also lies the biggest danger: such derision could force Trump and the Neocons who run him to do something desperate to prove to the word that their "red button" is still bigger than everybody else's.

ORDER IT NOW

It is important to note here that making negotiations impossible is something the Trump administration seems to have adopted as a policy. This is best illustrated by the conditions attached to the latest sanctions against Russia which, essentially, demand that Russia admit poisoning the Skripals. In fact, all the western demands towards Russia (admitting that Russia is guilty for the Skripal case, that Russia shot down MH-17, that Russia hand over Crimea to the Ukronazis, etc.) are carefully crafted to make absolutely sure that Russia will not negotiate. The sames, of course, goes for the ridiculous Pompeo demands towards the DPRK (including handing over to the US 60 to 70 percent of its nukes within six to eight months; no wonder the North Koreans denounced a "gangster-like" attitude) or the latest US grandstanding towards Turkey. Sadly, but the Neocon run media has successfully imposed the notion that negotiations are either a sign of weakness, or treason, or both. Thus to be "patriotic" and "strong" no US official can afford to be caught red-handed negotiating with the enemy of the day.

Under these conditions, why would anybody want to negotiate with the US?

Frankly, the "no negotiations" approach makes perfectly good sense, and while the Iranians are the only ones who have openly said so, the Russians have hinted to the same on many occasions (see their words about the US being "non-agreement capable" or about US diplomats confusing Austria and Australia). To any objective observer it should by now be completely obvious by now that a) the US cannot negotiate (due to intellectual, cultural and political limitations) and b) the US has no desire to negotiate. This is, of course, a highly undesirable and dangerous situation, but it would only make things worse to pretend that civilized negotiations with the US are possible.

So, if both sides agree on "no negotiations", what about war?

The not so obvious: No war?

This is where Ali Khamenei's stance is more puzzling, at least to me: when he says that there will be no war, does he mean that the US threats are not credible or does he mean that Iran has the means to deter a US attack? His words make it sound like he is quite certain that there will be no war. How can he be so sure? I am especially amazed by the apparent Iranian confidence that the AngloZionists will not attack them when I compare it with the obvious Russian policy of actively preparing for war since at least 2014 (also see here , here , here , here , here and here ). Of course, Iran has been preparing for war with the US for almost 40 years now whereas the Russians only woke up to reality comparatively recently. I see several potential explanations for Ali Khamenei's statement (there might be more, of course):

Personally, every time I think of a possible US attack on Iran I think of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 which happened in spite of the fact that it was plainly visible to everybody that the Israelis were waltzing straight into a conflict which they could not win and which, in fact, resulted into one of the most abjects defeats in military history. Conversely, while Hezbollah did win a truly historical victory, it also remains a fact that Hezbollah leaders did not expect the Israelis to launch a full-scale ground offensive. Finally, history is full of examples of wars which were started in spite of all objective factors indicating that they would end up in disaster.

It seems to me that in purely military terms (not in political ones!) Israel could be seen as a stand-in for the US and Hezbollah as a stand-in for Iran and that the outcome of any future US-Iranian war will be very similar to the outcome of the war in 2006, albeit on a much larger (and bloodier) scale. I am confident that the folks in the Pentagon realize that, but what about their Neocon bosses – do they even care about Iranian or, for that matter, US casualties? I highly doubt it: all they care about is their power and messianic ideology.

If it weren't for its nuclear arsenal, the US could be dismissed as a particularly obnoxious country led by ignorant leaders with bloated and mostly ineffective armed forces. Alas, the US nuclear arsenal is very real (and still very capable) and we know that top-level US Neocons have already considered using tactical nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state's conventional force in the past . In a twisted way, this makes sense: if you are a megalomaniac infused with a sense of messianic superiority then international or even civilizational norms of behavior are of no interest (or even relevance) to you. Listening to US Presidents, pretty much all of them (but especially Obama and Trump) it is pretty clear that these folks consider themselves to be the Kulturträger and the Herrenvolk of the 21st century and their messianism is in no way less delusional than the one of their Nazi predecessors (or, for that matter, the one of the Popes of the past 1000 years). And why would the people who nuked two Japanese cities under the (entirely fallacious) pretext of "shortening the war" (almost a humanitarian operation!) not do the same thing in Iran?

Of sure, they probably realize that using nukes will result in a massive political backlash, but they are confident that no matter what happens in the end, they will always be able to say "screw you!" to the rest of the planet. After all, this is something which Israel and the US have been doing with almost total inpunity for decades already – why would they stop now? As for the fact that the Persian people have been dealing with all kinds of invaders since no less than 2500 years will not stop the AngloZionists from trying to crush them. After all, having laid waste to a country which many see as the cradle of civilization, Iraq, why not do the same thing to Iran? Iraq, Iran – what's the difference, they are all just "sand niggers" and our red button is bigger than theirs, right?

Standing up to Shaytân-e Bozorg (almost alone?)

It would be a big mistake to dismiss the US because of its incapable military or moral bankruptcy. The truth is that in terms of aggregate national power, the US still remains the most powerful country on the planet (even if we don't include nuclear weapons). Anyone doubting that needs to look how how the currencies of the countries the US is singles out for attack suddenly began slipping: the Russian ruble (which has since bounced back), the Iranian rial, the Venezuelan bolivar, the Turkish lira , etc.) or how little time it took Trump to bring the (admittedly spineless) Europeans to heel .

As for Russia, for all her military might, she remains only a semi-sovereign country in which the pro-US/pro-Israeli "Atlantic Integrationists" continue to try to sabotage (often successfully) everything Putin and his supporters are doing . I would not place big hopes in China either, especially considering the lack of meaningful Chinese action in Syria where Russia and Iran did all the heavy lifting.

Sadly, but the only ally Iran can truly count on is Hezbollah. And while Hezbollah is considered a "non-state actor", it has a formidable capability to strike at the US's colonial masters, especially in terms of missiles .

This will not protect Iran, but it could serve as a very real deterrent to the Israelis, especially since Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah he has made it clear that Hezbollah more than capable of taking on Israel .

For the time being, the Israelis are already preparing for a re-match against Hezbollah and they are massing forces in the north to prepare for a war against Hezbollah .

Does that look to you like there will be no war against Iran?

I hope so. But to me it very much looks like an attack is pretty much inevitable. I have been predicting such an attack since 2007 and, so far, I have been completely wrong (and thank God for that!). The very first article I ever wrote for my blog was entitled " Where the Empire meets to plan the next war " ended with the following words:

So count with yet another imperial war of aggression, a barrel of crude at over 100$ and oil shortages, rocketing inflation, job losses, a stagnant real estate market and stock exchange, and a national debt and government deficit which would make even Reagan proud. And plenty of dead Americans (nevermind the Iranians, right?). But don't worry: there will still be a huge supply of Chinese-made US flags to wave!

And yet, 11 years later, the AngloZionist attack which looked so imminent in 2007 has not happened yet. Could it be that this time again an attack on Iran can be avoided? Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears to be very confident that it will not happen. I am not so sure, but I fervently hope that he is right.

[Aug 19, 2018] Ukraine prepares to sever all remaining public-transit links with Russia but expects that Russia will transport gas via its territory

Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 17, 2018 at 3:39 pm

With much joviality and humour, Ukraine prepares to sever all remaining public-transit links with Russia. I suppose there are still roads, and if you have a car and can afford gas, you can still drive there.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/no-more-trains-or-buses-to-russia-only-bears-says-ukraine-transport-minister-2wvj9xzgz

This, according to the transport minister, is 'like the good old days'. I'll tell you something else that's like the good old days, Mr. Minister – the living wage in Ukraine.

And yet Ukraine still seems to think Europe must force Russia to continue transiting Russian gas through Ukraine, and paying Kuh-yiv for the privilege.

[Aug 19, 2018] Guess who invested in Naftogaz?

Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 16, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Well, well; guess who has money in Naftogaz?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-08/how-george-soros-singlehandedly-created-european-refugee-crisis-and-why

[Aug 15, 2018] Deciphering The New Caspian Agreemen

Aug 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Viktor Katona via Oilprice.com,

It took more than 20 years for littoral states of the Caspian Sea to reach an agreement that would lay the legal foundations for the full utilization of the region's resources. The Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan, brought the long-sought breakthrough after leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea – a remarkable feat considering that heretofore, barring bilateral deals, the Caspian has been governed by an obsolete 1940 convention between the Soviet Union (of which four current littoral states were a part) and Iran.

As the current Convention incorporates a plethora of tradeoffs between countries, let's look at them in greater detail so as to grasp the implications of the deal.

The Convention stipulates that relations between littoral states shall be based on principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality among members, non-use of threat of force (it was only 17 years ago that Azerbaijan and Iran almost started a full-blown naval war over contested fields) and non-intervention.

The military-related clauses of the document can be considered a net diplomatic success for the Russian Federation as it prohibits the physical presence of any third-party armed forces, along with banning the provision of a member state's territory to acts of aggression against any other littoral state. Since Russia is by far the most power nation in terms of both general military clout and military presence around the Caspian, this will placate Russian fears about any potential US (or other) encroachment in the area.

Then there's energy... Although the Convention establishes a general legal framework for territorial disputes to be solved, it refrains from any particularities. Therefore prolonged negotiations are to be expected with regard to many disputed oilfields, stemming predominantly from Irani and Azerbaijani claims . Iran advocated throughout the entire negotiation process an egalitarian approach to delimiting the seabed (each nation would get 20% of the coast), running counter the other countries' aspirations. The things is that when Russia concluded its seabed delimitation agreements with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in 2001 and 2003, respectively, the parties split their parts using the median line. Point 8.1. effectively keeps the delimitation task in the hands of relevant governments, thereby providing a very modest boost to the demarcation of the Southern Caspian (the Northern part is fully delimited).

There are two main territorial conflicts to be settled – the Irani-Azerbaijani and the Azerbaijani-Turkmen disputes. The row between Baku and Teheran revolves around the Araz-Alov-Sharg field (discovered in 1985-1987 by Soviet geologists), the reserves of which are estimated at 300 million tons of oil and 395 BCm of natural gas. Even though the field is only 90 kilometers away from Baku and should seemingly be under Azerbaijan's grip, if one is to draw a straight line from the Azerbaijani-Irani border most of the field ought to be allotted to Iran (the median would keep most of it in Azerbaijan). As those old enough to remember the 2001 naval ship hostilities would attest, it does matter at what angle the final line is drawn.

The Serdar/Kapaz field (estimated to contain 50 million tons of oil) is the bone of contention between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Considered to be an extension of Azerbaijan's main oil-producing unit, the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field, Baku sees it as an indispensable element in its quest to mitigate decreasing oil output numbers. Geographically, Serdar/Kapaz is closer to Turkmenistan, yet here too Azerbaijan might come out the ultimate winner. The Apsheron peninsula stretches out some 60km into the Caspian Sea, in effect extending Azerbaijan's geographical reach. Absent previous demarcation agreements between Baku and Ashgabat, the settlement will once again boil down to getting the angles right, as in the case of Araz-Alov-Sharg. However, it must be said that a resolution might come about as a by-product of new gas endeavors.

Clause 14, dealing with laying subsea pipelines and cables, is the one most coveted by energy analysts , since it has the potential to significantly alter Europe's gas supply options.

According to point 14.2., all parties have the right to construct subsea pipelines given that they comply with environmental standards (which are particularly strict in the Caspian Sea). With no further caveat included, some analysts might be tempted to think that Russia will inevitably use the "environmental protection" card when trying to stop the construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline (TCP) from Turkmenistan, a pipeline it spent many years to halt . Under current circumstances, when US-Russian relations falling ever deeper into an insurmountable ditch, Moscow's decision to allow for the construction of the mightily Washington-backed TCP to take place might be perceived as a massive omission.

Since the Turkmen gas is unlikely to find demand in Azerbaijan or Turkey, it would need to take the whole route via the South Caucasus Pipeline, TANAP and TAP. Merely the transportation tariffs from these pipelines would render any transportation economically unviable unless European gas prices rise substantially to levels above $300/MCm. Moreover, the estimated cost of building the subsea TCP of $2 billion is a disabling burden for either Türkmengaz or SOCAR. Thus, allowing the construction of Trans Caspian gas pipelines might be a brilliant ruse from the Russians – cognizant of all the deficiencies above, they can wield it as a sign of good will in their never-ending negotiations with the European the economics for supplying gas to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor are far from being Union.

This being said, there are natural impediments to see the TCP implemented anytime soon. Azerbaijan might be interested in getting transit fees for Turkmen natural gas, yet it lacks the required infrastructure to include the above volumes in its traditional conduit via Turkey.

All in all, the Caspian convention is a good basis for further negotiations, even though it falls short of being an all-encompassing legal framework. Territorial disputes will most likely remain frozen for quite some time and no new gas pipeline projects will see the light of day unless market conditions change.

[Aug 15, 2018] Imperial brainwashing works very well: Many US citizents were willing to kill 2 million Iranian civilians to save 20,000 U.S. soldiers.

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star says: August 6, 2018 at 1:28 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3wxWNAM8Cso?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/8/6/17655256/hiroshima-anniversary-73-nuclear-weapons-proliferation-arms-control

Like Like Reply

  1. Patient Observer says: August 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm Public opinion polling suggests that many Americans would not think twice if there were a great many casualties against evildoers. For example, a 2017 survey found that 60 percent of Americans would support a nuclear attack on Iran that would kill 20 million civilians, to prevent an invasion that might kill 20,000 American soldiers.

    Yup, exceptional people of an exceptional nation.

    Like Like Reply

    1. Northern Star says: August 6, 2018 at 2:22 pm Yes the psychos were planning mass murder a decade ago under Bush.

      https://original.antiwar.com/jorge-hirsch/2006/07/06/nuking-iran-is-not-off-the-table/

      https://original.antiwar.com/jorge-hirsch/2006/10/16/nuclear-strike-on-iran-is-still-on-the-agenda/

      A more detailed analysis of some of the background material relating to your comment:
      https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/ISEC_a_00284

      "We were not surprised by the finding that most Americans place a higher
      value on the life of an American soldier than the life of a foreign noncombatant.
      What was surprising, however, was the radical extent of that preference.
      Our experiments suggest that the majority of Americans find a 1:100 risk ratio
      to be morally acceptable. They were willing to kill 2 million Iranian civilians to
      save 20,000 U.S. soldiers. One respondent who approved of the conventional
      air strike that killed 100,000 Iranian civilians candidly expressed even more extreme
      preferences regarding proportionality and risk ratios, while displacing
      U.S. responsibility for the attack onto the Iranian people: "I would sacrifice
      1 million enemies versus 1 of our military. Their choice, their death."

[Aug 15, 2018] China's retaliation will hit America's energy industry particularly hard

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

But the state of American 'journalism' is such that the media must portray America as winning, and will not acknowledge catastrophe until major damage has already been done, because it is patriotic to report on American success.

Patient Observer August 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm

FYI
Officials from three leading US groups that support increased exports of US LNG separately addressed concerns on Aug. 3 over the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's announcement that tariffs ranging 5-25% will be imposed on US LNG.

"China's retaliation will hit America's energy industry particularly hard," said American Petroleum Institute Vice-Pres. for Regulatory and Economic Policy Kyle Isakower. "American oil and gas already hit by US tariffs on industrial products and specialty steel essential to our industry will now be faced with Chinese tariffs on critical US exports, affecting American jobs that rely directly and indirectly on the energy industry."

https://www.ogj.com/articles/2018/08/us-groups-express-concerns-about-china-plans-to-impose-lng-tariffs.html?cmpid=enl_ogj_ogj_daily_update_2018-08-06&pwhid=893d521578abd67c7c1f2e0a59badfa53c05bf4701daba6f7a15095c797ff1cfb5e197eb4a367ebf6d74c0bead3e4836e2e5763a138164741673f9a08d508cc3&eid=397564233&bid=2197384

[Aug 15, 2018] Mark Chapman

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

August 5, 2018 at 7:17 pm Oh, look; Ukraine already is down to about half the gas in storage that it will need for winter. Turning to the west certainly made it 'energy-independent' at least to the extent that the west must 'lend' it money to buy gas which is reverse-flowed from eastern-European countries so that all the Russian is squeezed out of it, and it becomes European freedom gas. Nice work if you can get it, and since Ukraine will not be able to pay it back, it becomes a gift! Why worry, as long as Uncle Sugar is paying the bills?

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSL5N1US27X

Speaking of gas, once-bitten-twice-shy Bulgaria is eager to get a piece of the action, signifying up front its willingness to tap into Turkish Stream for transit to Europe.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-6023431/Bulgaria-expands-pipeline-Turkey-bid-Russian-gas.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

And that's another route through Ukraine which is pretty likely to go dry next year.

[Aug 15, 2018] US production of natural gas for export might well be a wishful thinking

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

There seems to be a tremendously broad American – and western – assumption that US production is going to 'soar' and continue to ramp ever upward. Is it? Bear in mind that the USA's own consumption of natural gas is growing steadily, at least partly based on this assumption that natural-gas bounty will just continue to increase. What if it doesn't? Then America will have refashioned itself as another huge natural-gas market which has insufficient domestic supply to sustain itself.

[Aug 15, 2018] Dezinformation from Euractive intended to block North Stream II

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al August 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Two pieces by Euractive with Neuters, though curiously no byline or attribution is given . Why so shy?

BS1: Friendship no more: How Russian gas is a problem for Germany
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/friendship-no-more-how-russian-gas-is-a-problem-for-germany/

####

The headline is pure tabloid and not supported in the body of the article apart from 'opinions' by certain people or through use of qualifiers. This is not journalism . Only further proof in my opinion that Euractiv has become part of the EU's unofficial channels of hybrid warfare . Euractiv/Neuters has also expanded in to the Balkans to provide 'services' in Croatia/Serbia etc. which just so happens to coincide with all the shrill headlines about Russia 'influencing the Balkans' – which are of course BS. Just look at the map. Short of Macedonia (not for long) and Serbia, they are all NATO states . Russia only helps states who want to help themselves (Syria/Serbia – more or less).

Not a shred of proof, nay evidence, that Germany is shifting away from NordStream II. FAKE NUDES!

bs2 with Neuters & crAP: https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/russia-used-lessons-from-georgia-war-in-ukraine-conflict/
https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/russia-used-lessons-from-georgia-war-in-ukraine-conflict/

Languages: Slovak

Ten years ago, in August 2008, Russia and Georgia went to war over South Ossetia, a small separatist Georgian region which Moscow would later controversially recognise as independent, in the face of international criticism.

Ten years later, Moscow has still not softened its position towards its neighbours and its rift with the West has only deepened.

Russia launched armed action against Georgia to come to the rescue of South Ossetia, a small pro-Russian separatist region where Tbilisi had begun a military operation. The Russian army rapidly outnumbered the Georgian forces and threatened to take the country's capital.

A peace treaty was finally hammered out by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy that led to the withdrawal of Russian forces. But Moscow recognised as independent the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where it has stationed a large military presence ever since.

Russia demonstrated its military might over the five days and showed its readiness to defend – by force, if necessary – its interests in the region it considers its sphere of influence .
####

Well shove that in your pipe and smoke it!

Yet again, no attribution, no name. It smacks of a thinktank piece peddled through their Slovak branch.

But this is how things work in the West. No-on is ordered on pain of death to produce certain items, but is is made very clear that it is in their interests to do so, from without & from within, but remember kids, it is voluntary ! Neither self-censorship exists. Those in positions of influence may convince themselves, but for the rest of the great unwashed, no so much. We've already seen the system fail and produce not only BREXIT, but other referendums contrary to EU dogma. The evidence is all around us and plain to see, but still the structures persist in the same old ways, which only bodes ill. Apparently they still think the sheeple are too stupid to notice let alone act.

[Aug 15, 2018] Countermove in Caspian see: no NATO allowed

Notable quotes:
"... It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.' ..."
"... Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox. ..."
"... Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:06 am

Apologies if somebody already posted, the legal partitioning of the Caspian Sea is finally complete and constitutes good news for Russia:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-says-deal-to-settle-status-of-caspian-sea-reached-a8486311.html

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:10 am
The other backstory being that NATO wanted to stick its nose in the Caspian Sea, but has been pushed out. Not sure exactly what the pretext was. I have a piece in VZGLIAD that explains the whole thing, but I haven't worked through it yet, will probably do a piece on my own blog in the near future. But I have a couple of other projects in the queue first.
Mark Chapman August 13, 2018 at 8:39 am
Dick Cheney, among others, was convinced that the Caspian Basin holds massive deposits of oil and gas and is strategically significant for that reason.

http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/issue46/articles/real_reasons_quotes.htm

"Central Asian resources may revert back to the control of Russia or to a Russian led alliance. This would be a nightmare situation. We had better wake up to the dangers or one day the certainties on which we base our prosperity will be certainties no more. The potential prize in oil and gas riches in the Caspian sea, valued up to $4 trillion, would give Russia both wealth and strategic dominance. The potential economic rewards of Caspian energy will draw in their train Western military forces to protect our investment if necessary."

Mortimer Zuckerman
Editor, U.S. News and World Report

"This is about America's energy security. Its also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We are trying to move these newly independent countries toward the West. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political interests. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian and it's important that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right."

Bill Richardson
Then-U.S. Secretary Energy (1998-2000)

It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.'

Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox.

Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. A pipeline network would have carried Caspian oil and gas to Europe. Agreement among the Caspian nations was most definitely not in American interests, and if you dig you will probably find American interventions to prevent that from coming about.

[Aug 14, 2018] Mismanagement hits Iran more than US sanctions Iran's supreme leader -- RT World News

Notable quotes:
"... "It is not that the sanctions do not play a role; but a major part of the situation is the result of [government's own] actions," ..."
"... "better and stronger" ..."
"... "The Ayatollah has needed to explain who is to blame for the current situation, to prop up his regime," ..."
"... "the opponents of the conservatives," ..."
"... "mother of all wars," ..."
"... "consequences the likes of which few have ever suffered before." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | www.rt.com
Get short URL Mismanagement hits Iran more than US sanctions – Iran's supreme leader FILE PHOTO: Iranian Parliament © Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency / AFP In a rare statement Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has lashed out at the country's authorities, accusing them of poorly handling internal issues. The mismanagement is even worse than US sanctions, he said. "It is not that the sanctions do not play a role; but a major part of the situation is the result of [government's own] actions," Khamenei said, according to Irna, as he was addressing thousands of Iranians in Tehran on Monday.

The supreme leader added that if Tehran acted "better and stronger" itself US sanctions would have not been so harmful.

Read more  Iran's President Hassan Rouhani © Lisi Niesner Rouhani blasts Trump's 'psychological warfare' as Iran braces for US sanctions

Analysts told RT that what Khamenei said is not really surprising given the worsening economic situation inside the country after the relations with the US went on a downward spiral. The supreme leader has been trying to keep Iranian society balanced by taking a neutral position between the liberal and conservative parts of the establishment. Now the former, including President Hassan Rouhani, are finding themselves in a weaker position, according to Irina Fedorova from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

"The Ayatollah has needed to explain who is to blame for the current situation, to prop up his regime," Fedorova told RT. She said that "the opponents of the conservatives," and Rouhani in particular, who supported the JCPOA, will fall victims of this approach. But it will not lead to his resignation, the researcher noted. However, this means the conservatives' positions, such as those of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are to strengthen significantly.

The statement may also mean a reshuffling of the political elite as well as some economic changes, Jamal Wakeem, professor of history and international relations at Lebanese University in Beirut, told RT. He said that "reformists" and those who pressed for the deals with the West are to be targeted, while the leadership is going to seek alternatives to the West, including a partnership with Russia and China.

The US reinstated certain economic sanctions against Iran last week, with President Trump promising more to come in November. The restrictive measures had been lifted under the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but Washington unilaterally withdrew from the landmark deal despite international condemnation, including from its EU allies. The 2015 agreement placed tight controls on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Iran's commitment has been confirmed by the IAEA since then.

READ MORE: US can't force trade rules on others, Germany must invest more in Iran – economy minister

Tehran has repeatedly blasted the US for the move, vowing to restart its nuclear program in retaliation against any foreign restrictions. While the US has been pressing its allies to completely refuse Iranian oil imports, the Islamic Republic has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, effectively blocking all the oil shipments from the Persian Gulf, should they accede to American demands.

The row between the US and Iran escalated last month, when their respective leadership exchanged a barrage of threats. Back then, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that a conflict with Iran would be "mother of all wars," provoking Trump's harsh response when he promised "consequences the likes of which few have ever suffered before."

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Aug 14, 2018] France must be kicking themselves for listening to the US. At this rate, China/Russia will take all the Iran oil business

Aug 14, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ian , Aug 12, 2018 8:55:07 PM | 23

Likklemore @17:

France must be kicking themselves for listening to the US. At this rate, China/Russia will take all the oil business, leaving Western companies sitting on the sidelines. On the other hand, I wonder if US O&G companies are waiting for other Western competitors to go bankrupt.


Uncoy @22:

US sanctions have already failed. Other nations will give lip service, then turn around to continue on whatever they were doing.

Likklemore , Aug 12, 2018 10:28:02 PM | 24
Ian @ 24

Come November we are spectators of the comeuppance.

Imho, US "prosperity" built on debt and avoiding the knock on the door. The Bailiff cometh. How does one go bankrupt? Slowly, then all at once.

We will see if Germany is turning east.
RT Link
US can't force trade rules on others, Germany must invest more in Iran

Washington cannot dictate trade rules to others, Germany's economy minister said, adding that his country should be more assertive and defy American sanctions – particularly by investing more in Iran.

"We don't let Washington dictate [their will] on trade relations with other countries," German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Bild newspaper on Saturday. He said the US sanctions on Iran are one instance in which America's neglect of its partners are clearly shown.[.]

Pft , Aug 12, 2018 11:40:17 PM | 27
Likklemore@25

Only 1/3 of US debt is owed to foreigners and that is denominated in their own currency. They just print whatever is due.

A country with the land and natural resources the US has to go along with with its agricultural, human and military capital can never go bankrupt, especially when they control the debt collectors

As for Germany they are an occupied country, as are many countries. Between the military bases and CIA controlled NGO's they dance to whatever musuc is played. Some squawking is permitted for appearances sake so people can maintain their illusions of nationalist control.

I dont rule out a major financial adverse event in the US (and global) soon so the elite can profit off the collapse and shrink the wealth of the bottom 90%, but that wont affect much at all and much of the world will suffer in much the same way

When one looks at the major financial disasters over the last century, many seem to come in the 8th-9th year of the decade. After the elections we should see a great fall as bubbles are burst and the 17 trillion dollar + investment firms that maintain liquidity will swoop in and buy low. This time around the banks wont need a government bail out as the laws have authorized them to seize deposits like what was done in Greece.

[Aug 13, 2018] The Perils of Trump's Iran Obsession by Daniel Larison

Aug 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson chide Trump for his dangerous Iran obsession:

The United States' treatment of Iran as a serious strategic competitor is deeply illogical. Iran imperils no core U.S. interests.

Trump's Iran obsession is probably the most conventional part of his foreign policy and it is also the most irrational. The president's reflexive hostility to Iran is one of the few constants in his view of the world, and it is one that aligns him most closely with his party's hawks and parts of the foreign policy establishment. This has been clear for several years ever since Trump declared his opposition to the nuclear deal and surrounded himself with hard-liners . The Iran obsession is among the worst aspects of Trump's presidency, but it is also one of the least surprising. Over the last eighteen months, Trump's Iran obsession has become more of a derangement , and it is putting the U.S. and Iran on a collision course at the expense of our relations with many other states and our own economic interests. The risk of unnecessary war continues to rise because the president and his allies insist on making maximalist demands of Iran while imposing stringent sanctions on the country without justification.

As Simon and Stevenson capably explain, there is no valid reason to view Iran as a major threat to the U.S. Contrary to the fevered warnings about Iranian "expansionism," Iranian military power in the region is quite limited:

Yet Iran's foreign policy has evolved essentially on the basis of opportunistic realism rather than especially aggressive revisionism, and, as noted, it has a sparse military presence in the region.

There is certainly no reason for our government to treat Iran as if it were a major competitor. Our government's fixation on Iran as the source of all the region's problems exaggerates Iran's influence and puts the U.S. at odds with a regional power whose interests are sometimes aligned with our own. The obsession simply makes no sense:

Casting Iran as a major strategic rival simply doesn't make sense in terms of traditional international relations considerations such as threat- and power-balancing.

The authors list a number of causes for the unwarranted obsession with Iran, including "pro-Israel" influence and the influence of the Saudis and Emiratis in Washington, and I agree with them. Our political leaders' enthusiasm for engaging in threat inflation and credulously accepting the threat inflation of others would has to figure prominently in any explanation as well. Obsessing over a non-existent Iranian threat to U.S. interests obviously has nothing to do with American security, and it represents an unhealthy subordination of American interests to those of its reckless regional clients. Indulging those clients in their paranoia about Iran will only stoke more regional conflicts and ensure that the U.S. becomes more deeply involved in those wars, and the result will be greater costs for the U.S. and greater turmoil, instability, and loss of life throughout the region.


b. August 13, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Obama's Yemen obsession is probably the most conventional part of his foreign policy and it is also the most irrational.

Cluster bombs, drone strikes, covert kill teams and, most importantly, the backing for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to cross the blood-red line and commence an aggressive illegal bombing campaign, invasion and occupation of Yemeni territory did not start with Trump.

Direct participation of US military logistics personnel and US military assets in this military aggression – while other US forces operate in the same territory under the "separate but equal" Authorization To Use Military Force – did not start with Trump.

Trump might apply his Reverse Midas Touch to this aspect of Obama's legacy as well, but just because Obama manufactured another transient executive "achievement" in JCOPA does not mean that his policy with respect to Yemen was any more irrational than Trump's policy towards Iran, or that Obama's willingness to hire out US military forces to support Saudi aggression for 100 billion dollars in blood money is any less venal, corrupt and despicable than Trump's willingness to do the same.

Mattis didn't become fixated on Iran when he joined the Trump administration either, although he might just be blaming – in the absence of conclusive evidence – Iran today for the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing targeting Reagan's negligent use of the Marine Corps. That is even less of a defensible foundation for foreign policy and military aggression that profiteering.

b. , says: August 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm
It is not just Trump, either, and not even just neolibcons, but also the basement crusaders:

'In 2017, US Vice President Mike Pence called the bombings "the opening salvo in a war that we have waged ever since – the global war on terror".'

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-says-war-terror-began-911-hezbollah-attack-us-troops-691653
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombings

It is a good guess that Obama's obsession with Yemen was rooted in printer cartridges, shoe bombs, and the fear to have any terrorist attack "succeed". For Obama & Co. the fear of the Next Big Blowback led them to Yemen. It would appear that Pence has supplied the Trump administration with a Grand Unified Theory that all campaigns in the Great War On Terror ultimately lead to Tehran – or the Trump administration made him their willing mouthpiece.

Christian Chuba , says: August 13, 2018 at 3:47 pm
Pence is so desperate to connect terrorism to Iran that he has to reach back almost 40yrs to pin an at best Hezbollah pre-cursor organization on them. Isn't it more telling that Hezbollah has avoided attacking U.S. troops during their entire existence? Pence doesn't seem alarmed about the 3,000+ Americans who died on U.S. soil in NYC that we can attribute to the Saudis and their cohorts.

BTW the Khobar tower bombings was Al Qaeda. The Saudis extracted confessions in their torture chambers. There was no corroborating evidence that it was a branch of Hezbollah.

[Aug 13, 2018] The Real Reason Why Trump Cancelled The Iran Deal by Eric Zuesse

This is ,of course, hypothesis by Eric Zuesse, and the idea that the USA elite decided to abandon EU elite is somewhat questionable, but some of his consideration are interesting...
Notable quotes:
"... Yeah, its the defense contractors. It has nothing to do with the zillions of cars that clog every fucking freeway in this country every morning and every evening, 7 days a week. Its not the assholes cruising around in monster trucks alone, just to show off their stupid trucks. It has nothing to do with the the zillions of jets screaming through the skies carry all those fat assholes to meetings all over the world for no reason. It has nothing to do with the billions of barrels of oil that come to the US on tankers as long as city blocks filled constantly day and night. ..."
Aug 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
45 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The following is entirely from open online sources that I have been finding to be trustworthy on these matters in the past. These sources will be linked-to here; none of this information is secret, even though some details in my resulting analysis of it will be entirely new.

It explains how and why the bottom-line difference between Donald Trump and Barack Obama, regarding US national security policies, turns out to be their different respective estimations of the biggest danger threatening the maintenance of the US dollar as the world's leading or reserve currency. This has been the overriding foreign-policy concern for both Presidents .

Obama placed as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of the EU (America's largest market both for exports and for imports) from alliance with the United States. He was internationally a Europhile. Trump, however, places as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of Saudi Arabia and of the other Gulf Arab oil monarchies from the U.S. Trump is internationally a Sunni-phile: specifically a protector of fundamentalist Sunni monarchs -- but especially of the Sauds themselves -- and they hate Shia and especially the main Shia nation, Iran .

Here's how that change, to Saudi Arabia as being America's main ally, has happened -- actually it's a culmination of decades. Trump is merely the latest part of that process of change. Here is from the US State Department's official historian , regarding this history:

By the 1960s, a surplus of US dollars caused by foreign aid, military spending, and foreign investment threatened this system [the FDR-established 1944 Bretton Woods gold-based US dollar as the world's reserve currency ], as the United States did not have enough gold to cover the volume of dollars in worldwide circulation at the rate of $35 per ounce; as a result, the dollar was overvalued. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson adopted a series of measures to support the dollar and sustain Bretton Woods: foreign investment disincentives; restrictions on foreign lending; efforts to stem the official outflow of dollars; international monetary reform; and cooperation with other countries. Nothing worked. Meanwhile, traders in foreign exchange markets, believing that the dollar's overvaluation would one day compel the US government to devalue it, proved increasingly inclined to sell dollars. This resulted in periodic runs on the dollar.

It was just such a run on the dollar, along with mounting evidence that the overvalued dollar was undermining the nation's foreign trading position, which prompted President Richard M. Nixon to act, on August 13, 1971 [to end the convertibility of dollars to gold].

When Nixon ended the gold-basis of the dollar and then in 1974 secretly switched to the current oil-basis, this transformation of the dollar's backing, from gold to oil, was intended to enable the debt-financing (as opposed to the tax-financing, which is less acceptable to voters) of whatever military expenditure would be necessary in order to satisfy the profit-needs of Lockheed Corporation and of the other US manufacturers whose only markets are the US Government and its allied governments, as well as of US extractive industries such as oil and mining firms, which rely heavily upon access to foreign natural resources, as well as of Wall Street and its need for selling debt and keeping interest-rates down (and stock-prices -- and therefore aristocrats' wealth -- high and rtising).

This 1974 secret agreement between Nixon and King Saud lasts to the present day, and has worked well for both aristocracies. It met the needs of the very same "military-industrial complex" (the big US Government contractors) that the prior Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, had warned might take control of US foreign policies. As Bloomberg's Andrea Wong on 30 May 2016 explained the Nixon system that replaced the FDR system, "The basic framework was strikingly simple. The US would buy oil from Saudi Arabia and provide the kingdom military aid and equipment. In return, the Saudis would plow billions of their petrodollar revenue back into Treasuries and finance America's spending."

This new system didn't only supply a constant flow of Saudi tax-money to the US Government; it supplied a constant flow of new sales-orders and profits to the military firms that were increasingly coming to control the US Government -- for the benefit of both aristocracies: the Sauds, and America's billionaires.

That was near the end of the FDR-produced 37-year period of US democratic leadership of the world, the era that had started at Bretton Woods in 1944. It came crashing to an end not in 1974 (which was step two after the 1971 step one had ended the 1944 system) but on the day when Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981. The shockingly sudden ascent, from that moment on, of US federal Government debt (to be paid-off by future generations instead of by current taxpayers) is shown, right here, in a graph of "US Federal Debt as Percent of GDP, 1940-2015" , where you can see that the debt had peaked above 90% of GDP late in WW II between 1944-1948 , and then plunged during Bretton Woods, but in 1981 it started ascending yet again, until reaching that WW II peak for a second time, as it has been ever since 2010 , when Obama bailed-out the mega-banks and their mega-clients, but didn't bail out the American public, whose finances had been destroyed by those banksters' frauds, which Obama refused to prosecute; and, so, economic inequality in America got even more extreme after the 2008 George W. Bush crash, instead of less extreme afterward (as had always happened in the past).

Above 90% debt/GDP during and immediately following WW II was sound policy, but America's going again above 90% since 2010 has reflected simply an aristocratic heist of America, for only the aristocracy's benefit -- all of the benefits going only to the super-rich.

Another, and more-current US graph shows that, as of the first quarter of 2018, this percentage (debt/GDP) is, yet again, back now to its previous all-time record high of 105-120%%, which had been reached only in 1945-1947 (when it was justified by the war).

Currently, companies such as Lockheed Martin are thriving as they had done during WW II, but the sheer corruption in America's military spending is this time the reason , no World War (yet); so, this time, America is spending like in an all-out-war situation, even before the Congress has issued any declaration of war at all. Everybody except the American public knows that the intense corruptness of the US military is the reason for this restoration of astronomical 'defense' spending, even during peace-time. A major poll even showed that 'defense' spending was the only spending by the federal Government which Americans in 2017 wanted increased; they wanted all other federal spending to be reduced (though there was actually vastly more corruption in military spending than in any other type -- the public have simply been hoodwinked).

But can the US Government's extreme misallocation of wealth, from the public to the insiders, continue without turning this country into a much bigger version of today's Greece? More and more people around the world are worrying about that. Of course, Greece didn't have the world's reserve currency, but what would happen to the net worths of America's billionaires if billionaires worldwide were to lose faith in the dollar? Consequently, there's intensified Presidential worrying about how much longer foreign investors will continue to trust the oil-based dollar.

America's political class now have two competing ideas to deal with this danger , Obama's versus Trump's, both being about how to preserve the dollar in a way that best serves the needs of 'defense' contractors, extractive firms, and Wall Street. Obama chose Europe (America's largest market) as America's chief ally (he was Euro-centric against Russia); Trump chose the owner of Saudi Arabia (he's Saudi-Israeli centric against Iran) -- that's the world's largest weapons-purchaser, as well as the world's largest producer of oil (as well as the largest lobbies) .

The Saudi King owns Saudi Arabia, including the world's largest and most valuable oil company, Aramco, whose oil is the "sweetest" -- the least expensive to extract and refine -- and is also the most abundant, in all of the world, and so he can sell petroleum at a profit even when his competitors cannot. Oil-prices that are so low as to cause economic losses for other oil companies, can still be generating profits -- albeit lowered ones -- for King Saud; and this is the reason why his decisions determine how much the global oil-spigot will be turned on, and how low the global oil-price will be, at any given time. He controls the value of the US dollar. He controls it far more directly, and far more effectively, than the EU can. It would be like, under the old FDR-era Bretton Woods system, controlling the exchange-rates of the dollar, by raising or lowering the amount of gold produced. But this is liquid gold, and King Saud determines its price.

Furthermore, King Saud also leads the Gulf Cooperation Council of all other Arab oil monarchs, such as those who own UAE -- all of them are likewise US allies and major weapons-buyers.

In an extraordinarily fine recent article by Pepe Escobar at Asia Times, "Oil and gas geopolitics: no shelter from the storm" , he quotes from his not-for-attribution interviews with "EU diplomats," and reports:

After the Trump administration's unilateral pull-out from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), European Union diplomats in Brussels, off the record, and still in shock, admit that they blundered by not "configuring the eurozone as distinct and separate to the dollar hegemony". Now they may be made to pay the price of their impotence via their "outlawed" trade with Iran.

As admitted, never on the record, by experts in Brussels; the EU has got to reevaluate its strategic alliance with an essentially energy independent US, as "we are risking all our energy resources over their Halford Mackinder geopolitical analysis that they must break up [the alliance between] Russia and China."

That's a direct reference to the late Mackinder epigone Zbigniew "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, who died dreaming of turning China against Russia.

In Brussels, there's increased recognition that US pressure on Iran, Russia and China is out of geopolitical fear the entire Eurasian land mass, organized as a super-trading bloc via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), [and] the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), is slipping away from Washington's influence.

This analysis gets closer to how the three key nodes of 21st century Eurasia integration -- Russia, China and Iran -- have identified the key issue; both the euro and the yuan must bypass the petrodollar, the ideal means, as the Chinese stress, to "end the oscillation between strong and weak dollar cycles, which has been so profitable for US financial institutions, but lethal to emerging markets."

It's also no secret among Persian Gulf traders that in the -- hopefully unlikely -- event of a US-Saudi-Israeli war in Southwest Asia against Iran, a real scenario war-gamed by the Pentagon would be "the destruction of oil wells in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]. The Strait of Hormuz does not have to be blocked, as destroying the oil wells would be far more effective."

And what the potential loss of over 20% of the world's oil supply would mean is terrifying; the implosion, with unforeseen consequences, of the quadrillion derivatives pyramid, and consequentially [consequently] of the entire Western financial casino superstructure.

In other words: it's not the 'threat' that perhaps, some day, Iran will have nuclear warheads, that is actually driving Trump's concern here (despite what Israel's concerns are about that matter), but instead, it is his concerns about Iran's missiles, which constitute the delivery-system for any Iranian warheads: that their flight-range be short enough so that the Sauds will be outside their range . (The main way Iran intends to respond to an invasion backed by the US, is to attack Saudi Arabia -- Iran's leaders know that the US Government is more dependent upon the Sauds than upon Israel -- so, Iran's top targets would be Saudi capital Riyadh, and also the Ghawar oil field, which holds over half of Saudi oil. If US bases have been used in the invasion, then all US bases in the Middle East are also be within the range of Iran's missiles and therefore would also probably be targeted.)

Obama's deal with Iran had focused solely upon preventing Iran from developing nuclear warheads -- which Obama perhaps thought (mistakenly) would dampen Israel's (and its billionaire US financial backers') ardor for the US to conquer Iran. Israel had publicly said that their concern was Iran's possibility to become a nuclear power like Israel became; those possible future warheads were supposed to be the issue; but, apparently, that wasn't actually the issue which really drove Israel. Obama seems to have thought that it was, but it wasn't, actually. Israel, like the Sauds, want Iran conquered. Simple. The nuclear matter was more an excuse than an explanation.

With Trump now in the White House, overwhelmingly by money from the Israel lobbies (proxies also for the Sauds) -- and with no equivalently organized Jewish opposition to the pro -Israel lobbies (and so in the United States, for a person to be anti-Israel is viewed as being anti-Semitic, which is not at all true, but Israel's lies say it's true and many Americans unfortunately believe it) -- Trump has not only the Sauds and their allies requiring him to be against Iran and its allies, but he has also got this pressure coming from Israel: both the Big-Oil and the Jewish lobbies drive him. Unlike Obama, who wasn't as indebted to the Jewish lobbies, Trump needs to walk the plank for both the Sauds and Israel.

In other words: Trump aims to keep the dollar as the reserve currency by suppressing not only China but also the two main competitors of King Saud: Iran and Russia. That's why America's main 'enemies' now are those three countries and their respective allies.

Obama was likewise targeting them, but in a different priority-order , with Russia being the main one (thus Obama's takeover of Ukraine in February 2014 turning it against Russia, next door ); and that difference was due to Obama's desire to be favorably viewed by the residents in America's biggest export and import market, the EU, and so his bringing another member (Ukraine) into the EU (which still hasn't yet been culminated).

Trump is instead building on his alliance with King Saud and the other GCC monarchs, a group who can more directly cooperate to control the value of the US dollar than the EU can. Furthermore, both conservative (including Orthodox) Jews in the United States, and also white evangelical Protestants in the US, are strongly supportive of Israel, which likewise sides with the Arab oil monarchs against Iran and its allies. Trump needs these people's votes.

Trump also sides with the Sauds against Canada. That's a matter which the theorists who assert that Israel controls the US, instead of that the Sauds (allied with America's and Israel's billionaires) control the US, ignore; they ignore whatever doesn't fit their theory. Of course, a lot doesn't fit their theory (which equates "Jews" with "Israelis" and alleges that "they" control the world), but people whose prejudices are that deep-seated, can't be reached by any facts which contradict their self-defining prejudice. Since it defines themselves, it's a part of them, and they can never deny it, because to do so would be to deny who and what they are, and they refuse to change that. The Sauds control the dollar; Israel does not, but Israel does the lobbying, and both the Sauds and Israel want Iran destroyed. Trump gets this pressure not only from the billionaires but from his voters.

And, of course, Democratic Party billionaires push the narrative that Russia controls America. It used to be the Republican Joseph R. McCarthy's accusation, that the "commies" had "infiltrated" , especially at the State Department . So: Trump kicked out Russia's diplomats, to satisfy those neocons -- the neoconservatives of all Parties and persuasions, both conservative and liberal.

To satisfy the Sauds, despite the EU, Trump has dumped the Iran deal . And he did it also to satisfy Israel, the main US lobbyists for the Sauds. (Americans are far more sympathetic to Jews than to Arabs; the Sauds are aware of this; Israel handles their front-office.) For Trump, the Sauds are higher priority than Europe; even Israel (who are an expense instead of a moneybag for the US Government) are higher priority than Europe. Both the Sauds and Israel together are vastly higher. And the Sauds alone are higher priority for Trump than are even Canada and Europe combined . Under Trump, anything will be done in order to keep the Sauds and their proxy-lobbyists (Israel) 'on America's side'.

Consequently, Trump's political base is mainly against Iran and for Israel, but Obama's was mainly against Russia and for the EU. Obama's Democratic Party still are controlled by the same billionaires as before; and, so, Democrats continue demonizing Russia, and are trying to make as impossible as they can, any rapprochement with Russia -- and, therefore, they smear Trump for anything he might try to do along those lines.

Both Obama and Trump have been aiming to extend America's aristocracy's dominance around the world, but they employ different strategies toward that politically bipartisan American-aristocratic objective: the US Government's global control, for the benefit of the US aristocracy, at everyone else's expense. Obama and Trump were placed into the White House by different groups of US billionaires, and each nominee serves his/her respective sponsors , no public anywhere -- not even their voters' welfare.

An analogous example is that, whereas Fox News, Forbes, National Review, The Weekly Standard, American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Breitbart News, InfoWars, Reuters, and AP , are propagandists for the Republican Party ; NPR, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, The New Republic, New Yorker, New York Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast , and Salon , are propagandists for the Democratic Party ; but, they all draw their chief sponsors from the same small list of donors who are America's billionaires, since these few people control the top advertisers, investors, and charities, and thus control nearly all of the nation's propaganda. The same people who control the Government control the public; but, America isn't a one-Party dictatorship. America is, instead, a multi-Party dictatorship . And this is how it functions.

Trump cancelled the Iran deal because a different group of billionaires are now in control of the White House, and of the rest of the US Government. Trump's group demonize especially Iran; Obama's group demonize especially Russia. That's it, short. That's America's aristocratic tug-of-war; but both sides of it are for invasion, and for war. Thus, we're in the condition of 'permanent war for permanent peace' -- to satisfy the military contractors and the billionaires who control them. Any US President who would resist that, would invite assassination; but, perhaps in Trump's case, impeachment, or other removal-from-office, would be likelier. In any case, the sponsors need to be satisfied -- or else -- and Trump knows this.

Trump is doing what he thinks he has to be doing, for his own safety. He's just a figurehead for a different faction of the US aristocracy , than Obama was. He's doing what he thinks he needs to be doing, for his survival. Political leadership is an extremely dangerous business. Trump is playing a slightly different game of it than Obama did, because he represents a different faction than Obama did. These two factions of the US aristocracy are also now battling each other for political control over Europe .

caconhma -> MoreSun • Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:57 Permalink

The article is correct:

The Bottom Line

Trump and its policies have no chance to succeed neither inside nor outside the USA. The USA has less than 3-5 years to maintain the present status quo.

PitBullsRule -> PitBullsRule • Sun, 08/12/2018 - 23:40 Permalink

Yeah, its the defense contractors. It has nothing to do with the zillions of cars that clog every fucking freeway in this country every morning and every evening, 7 days a week. Its not the assholes cruising around in monster trucks alone, just to show off their stupid trucks. It has nothing to do with the the zillions of jets screaming through the skies carry all those fat assholes to meetings all over the world for no reason. It has nothing to do with the billions of barrels of oil that come to the US on tankers as long as city blocks filled constantly day and night.

Its not that, its Lockheed selling them airplanes. Thats how the sand niggers got so much US money, Lockheed.

What a fucking conspiratorial ass-swipe this guy is.

NiggaPleeze -> wet_nurse Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:02 Permalink

Eric Zeusse ranks in popularity right along the Gatestone Institute - though Eric may just be ignorant and opinionated whilst Gatestone is an affirmative disinformation propaganda organ, both are equally annoying to read. I just came for the comments :).

JSBach1 -> NiggaPleeze Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:38 Permalink

+1. Eric Zuesse is part-and-parcel of the agenda that the Gatestone Institute espouses.

Eric Zuesse's real agenda can be revealed by his position on 9/11 (see second link below). He also blames Obama for everything (he shifts the blame away from Israel onto any other party which could be blamed due to either direct or indirect ties)

Here is Eric Zuesse in his own words:

Notice the absence of Israel/Zionism

Historic New Harpers Article Exposes Who Controls America
Posted on December 17, 2015 by Eric Zuesse.

"The fundamentalist-Sunni royal family of the Sauds have bought the highest levels of the U.S. government in order to control U.S. foreign policies, especially the ongoing wars to take down the governments of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and ultimately (they hope) of Russia itself, which latter nation has allied itself instead with Shia countries. The controlling entities behind American foreign policies since at least the late 1970s have been the Saud family and the Sauds' subordinate Arabic aristocracies, which are the ones in Qatar (the al-Thanis), Kuwait (the al-Sabahs), Turkey (the Turkish Erdoğans, a new royalty), and UAE (its six royal families: the main one, the al-Nahyans in Abu Dhabi; the other five: the al-Maktoums in Dubai, al-Qasimis in Sharjah, al-Nuaimis in Ajman, al-Mualla Ums in Quwain, and al-Sharqis in Fujairah). Other Saudi-dominated nations -- though they're not oil-rich (more like Turkey in this regard) -- are Pakistan and Afghanistan."

". But, perhaps, one can safely say that the alliance between the U.S. aristocracy and the royal Sauds, is emerging as a global dictatorship, a dictatorial type of world government. Because, clearly: those two aristocraciues have been, to a large extent, ruling the world together, for several decades now. From their perspective, jihadists are themselves a weapon, not merely a political nuisance.

This is a more realistic explanation of America's decades-long catastrophic failures to make significant progress in eliminating even a single one of the numerous jihadist groups around the world: that's how things have been planned to be. It's not just 'intelligence errors' or 'not being tough enough.' Those 'explanations' are just cover-stories, propaganda, PR from the aristocrats. It's skillful 'crowd control': keeping the people in their 'proper' places."

http://washingtonsblog.com/2015/12/historic-new-harpers-article-exposes

9/11: Israel Didn't Do It; The Plan Was Co-Led by U.S. & Saud Governments
By Eric Zuesse

March 15, 2018

"9/11 was a well-planned operation, whatever it was. Substantial money paid for it, but little if any of that came from either Iran or Israel. It all came from fundamentalist-Sunnis.

And, if all of the money was fundamentalist-Sunni, then the only non-Sunni people who could have been involved in planning the operation would have been George W. Bush and his friends

The problem certainly isn't Jews nor Muslims. The problem is the aristocracy, which controls Saudi Arabia, and the aristocracy which controls Israel, and the aristocracy which controls America. The victim is the public, and the victimizer is the aristocracy. It's not just 9/11."

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48957.htm

Obama's Nazis
Posted on August 17, 2014 by Eric Zuesse.

(Zuesse's obsession with the word nazis or Nazis)

"What Obama has done and is doing in Ukraine is historic, like what Adolf Hitler did, and like what Slobodan Milosevic* did, and like other racist fascists have done; and he, and we Americans (if we as a nation continue accepting this), will be remembered for it, like they and their countries were. Evil on this scale cannot be forgotten. No matter how solidly the American "news" media hide this history, it is already solidly documented for the history books. Obama will be remembered as the worst President in U.S. history, just as the racist-fascist or 'nazi' leaders of other countries are."

http://washingtonsblog.com/2014/08/obamas-nazis.html

Jewish Billionaire Finances Ukraine's Aydar SS Nazi Troops
Posted on April 7, 2015 by Eric Zuesse.

"The hyper-nationalist Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, a friend of the Obama White House and employer of Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, is a major donor to far-right Ukrainian causes. He sides with the followers of Stepan Bandera, the pro-Nazi Ukrainian leader whom Hitler ditched when Bandera made clear that he wanted Ukraine to be nazi but independent of Germany's Nazi Party. Briefly, Bandera's #2 in command, Yaroslav Stetsko, led nazi Ukraine, and approved the slaughter of thousands of Jews there."

http://washingtonsblog.com/2015/04/jewish-billionaire-finances-ukraines

"Zuesse is pushing Zionist lies. One of the links in the article goes to a Reuters story, "Exclusive – Over 100 Russian soldiers killed in single Ukraine battle – Russian rights activists," that claims to get its info from the "Russian presidential human rights council."

If you want to read more lies by Zuesse, go to this "AMAZON" link to read reviews of his book, "Iraq War: The Truth," in which Zuesse claims that GW Bush invaded Iraq to thank Jesus for his alcohol and drug addiction cure and to neuter the International Criminal Court???

There is one comment lavishing praise on Zuesse's book about the Iraq War by David Swanson, another Zionist tool and BS artist, who's been outed in the past by the blog, "American Everyman."

https://careandwashingofthebrain.blogspot.com/2014/09/stay-away-from-wh

http://beforeitsnews.com/survival/2015/01/i-expect-my-apology-from-wash

Winston Churchill -> wet_nurse Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:06 Permalink

A total one, although his mention of MacKinder was only bright spot.

The US has been using the Heartland strategy since before the occupation of Afghanistan, which

was in response to the Taliban approving oil pipelines from Iran to China thru the Kush.The real reason

for the everlasting war there.With the defection of Pakistan to the SCO, the only option is take out Iran

and Turkey now that Syria is lost.Its not even a matter of which faction of billionaires controls empire

policy, its pure geography.You build the alliances around that geography,not the other way around.

The Great Game was played for 200 years over this same ground,only the players have changed.

Hence both the Turkey and Iran situation now, the empire wants control of both,but will probably get neither.

The last roll of the dice.

Hyjinx Sun, 08/12/2018 - 23:42 Permalink

What is this rambling unfocused BS? Just because Trump thought the Iran deal was shitty doesn't mean he works for the Saudis.

OverTheHedge -> My Days Are Ge Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:20 Permalink

See how fast the internet warriors are to claim the article is rubbish, and not reflecting reality. No argument to back up their propaganda, but that's not important. Must be depressing running the Sunday evening shift in the cubicle farm; all the boys in their neatly pressed uniforms, clicking away to keep us safe from democracy. Well done lads, another day keeping the evil Russians /Iranians at bay.

I actually find it interesting to see what shakes the foundations, and this article seems to be something that they don't like, so probably worth a re-read just to get all the nuances. Of course, the author suggesting that it is not Jews running America will get short shrift from some commenters, but it is certainly interesting to have pointed out, finally, that Israel is a net drain, and Saudi Arabia an enormous gain for the US. We always say to follow the money, and whilst Israel is good profit for the MIC, Saudi Arabia IS the petrodollar system - mustn't forget that. No oil in Saudi Arabia, no petrodollar. I wonder how long they have left until it's all gone? That would probably be the over-riding factor in deciding war with Iran.

Joe A Mon, 08/13/2018 - 00:55 Permalink

I always wondered why the EU did nit make bigger efforts to replace the petrodollar with the petroeuro but nobody wants to end up as Ghadaffi or Saddam Hussein who threatened to do just that. Iran has also repeatedly threaten to that. Also Putin has recently said that Russia wants to move away from the petrodollar. He must know that that is dangerous for one's health so there must be some sort of alliance against the dollar being formed.

hugin-o-munin Mon, 08/13/2018 - 01:15 Permalink

Well written article that sums it up nicely:

The United States is in a state of constant war with the entire world.

[Aug 08, 2018] In past wars, civilian oil tankers did not sail through the straits

Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Carlton Meyer , • Website August 4, 2018 at 6:03 am GMT

Four key points:

1. Iraq is run by a pro-Iran Shite government that tolerates the US occupation due to the money provided. Before the USA attacks Iran, it should remove all its 10,000 troops and 10,000 civilians and close its massive embassy there and write that country off. Otherwise, we'll have thousands of American POWs. Meanwhile, the Kurds will get crushed as the Turks and Iraqis use the chaos to destroy them.

2. The oil-rich British puppet state of Kuwait is hated by all Iraqis and Iranians. If the USA attacks Iran, one should expect Iranian and maybe Iraqi units crossing the border, while Kuwait's army flees as expected. The USA keeps an army brigade there, but that may not be enough to fend off an invasion, even with air superiority.

3. In past wars, civilian oil tankers did not sail through the straits. The insurers (mostly Lloyds of London) and others announced they would not cover losses, and unionize ship crews refused to enter the war zone. So even if the USA keeps the straits open, all that oil will not flow forth.

4. Iran has a fortified island in the Gulf whose guns cannot be silenced with just air power. A major amphibious landing is required to clear that island, and it will be bloody. Note the ship channels in the map. Supertankers are huge, so while the Straits of Hormuz are large, these big ships can only pass thru these two narrow channels, which are easily blocked. Iran could park its own tankers in these channels to block them and hope the USA foolishly sinks them, thus really blocking the entire channel.

These four issues are of more importance than air battles over Iran.

[Aug 08, 2018] America's About To Unleash Its NOPEC 'Superweapon' Against The Russians Saudis

Aug 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

The US Congress has revived the so-called "NOPEC" bill for countering OPEC and OPEC+.

Officially called the " No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act ", NOPEC is the definition of so-called "lawfare" because it enables the US to extra-territorially impose its domestic legislation on others by giving the government the right to sue OPEC and OPEC+ countries like Russia because of their coordinated efforts to control oil prices.

Lawsuits, however, are unenforceable , which is why the targeted states' refusal to abide by the US courts' likely predetermined judgement against them will probably be used to trigger sanctions under the worst-case scenario, with this chain of events being catalyzed in order to achieve several strategic objectives.

The first is that the US wants to break up the Russian-Saudi axis that forms the core of OPEC+, which leads to the second goal of then unravelling the entire OPEC structure and heralding in the free market liberalization of the global energy industry.

This is decisively to the US' advantage as it seeks to become an energy-exporting superpower, but it must neutralize its competition as much as possible before this happens, ergo the declaration of economic-hybrid war through NOPEC. How it would work in practice is that the US could threaten primary sanctions against the state companies involved in implementing OPEC and OPEC+ agreements, after which these could then be selectively expanded to secondary sanctions against other parties who continue to do business with them.

The purpose behind this approach is to intimidate the US' European vassals into complying with its demands so as to make as much of the continent as possible a captive market of America's energy exporters, which explains why Trump also wants to scrap LNG export licenses to the EU .

If successful, this could further erode Europe's shrinking strategic independence and also inflict long-term economic damage on the US' energy rivals that could then be exploited for political purposes. At the same time, America's recently unveiled " Power Africa " initiative to invest $175 billion in gas projects there could eventually see US companies in the emerging energy frontiers of Tanzania , Mozambique , and elsewhere become important suppliers to their country's Chinese rival, which could make Beijing's access to energy even more dependent on American goodwill than ever before.

If looked at as the opening salvo of a global energy war being waged in parallel with the trade one as opposed to being dismissed as the populist piece of legislation that it's being portrayed as by the media, NOPEC can be seen as the strategic superweapon that it actually is, with its ultimate effectiveness being dependent of course on whether it's properly wielded by American decision makers.

It's too earlier to call it a game-changer because it hasn't even been promulgated yet, but in the event that it ever is, then it might go down in history as the most impactful energy-related development since OPEC, LNG, and fracking.

bshirley1968 -> HilteryTrumpkin Mon, 08/06/2018 - 14:47 Permalink

No way US can manipulate oil trade at this point without hurting themselves or helping their "enemies". Cause and effect, just think it through.

The world needs energy, Russia has energy...and a real surplus for sale. The US is a net energy consumer with no surplus. China needs energy in a big way. Trying to cut off Russian and Iranian oil and trying to blow up the Chinese economy are acts of war. The West realizes there is no way they can survive in their current status of moar with that kind of competition out there. The BRICST now constitute $17 trillion in combined GDP. They have the energy sources (Russia and Iran), they have the manufacturing base (China), they have the agricultural base (Russia, Brazil, South Africa), and they have plenty of customers.....even outside the BRICST union. That is a formidable competitive force to face when you are an economy structured on infinite growth on a finite planet......that you control less and less of each year.

[Aug 07, 2018] OIL and only OIL should guide the policy making considerations of the American Empire in the Middle East

Aug 07, 2018 | www.unz.com

Renoman , August 3, 2018 at 9:21 am GMT

War with Iran? I can not imagine a more foolish thing to do.
Of course they will rally with their own Countrymen, everyone hates the USA.
The World economy will be in a complete tailspin, the US will likely finally go broke over it and chances are pretty good that Israel will be flattened and paved [one positive thing].
You fight Iran you fight China, you don't go messing with their road. Likely not bombs and guns either most likely money, something America has not much of.

The faster America dumps this crazy fascination with the Jews the faster it will get it's act together and become a Country again.

Sally Snyder , August 3, 2018 at 11:29 am GMT
As shown in this article, the U.S. Secretary of State is trying to manipulate Iranian Americans into supporting regime change in Iran:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/07/manipulating-iranian-americans-laying.html

Washington is working overtime to lay the groundwork for a war in Iran.

bob sykes , August 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm GMT
"ultimately prevail"

What can that possibly mean? We can bomb Iran back into the Stone Age, but Iran does not need a modern economy or military to close Hormuz. All they need do is fire a few land-based artillery and anti-ship missiles at a defenseless freighter or tanker. The insurance companies would do the rest–remove all commercial shipping from the Persian and Oman Gulf regions. That eliminates 20% of the World's oil supply, and it would collapse the World's economy, including our own.

Asymmetric warfare would engulf the entire Middle East, including Israel, with its large native Arab population and its occupation of large Arab populations in Gaza and the West Bank.

Iran has the upper hand here. We need to be very careful.

nickels , August 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm GMT
Let's face it-when we impose sanctions on Iran, we are already at war with them. Just like we are already at war with Russia. Imbeciles, all who run this country.
WorkingClass , August 3, 2018 at 1:13 pm GMT
Paranoid thug Bibi to Trump: Destroy Iran for me or I will feed you to your domestic enemies.
Charles Pewitt , August 3, 2018 at 3:07 pm GMT

Oil is the vital strategic Western interest in the Persian Gulf. Yet a war with Iran would imperil, not secure, that interest.

The American Empire's only strategic three letter word interest in the Middle East is O -- I –L.

The WASP/JEW ruling class of the American Empire and the Jew-controlled Neo-Conservative faction in the Republican Party wants to elevate the three letter word J -- E –W to paramount importance in the Middle East.

OIL and only OIL should guide the policy making considerations of the American Empire in the Middle East.

[Aug 07, 2018] Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics by Rob Urie

Notable quotes:
"... The Great Satin (sic) ..."
"... Source: gulfbusiness.com ..."
"... Chart: Demonization of Russia centers on competition for oil and gas revenues. Pipelines to deliver oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe run through North Africa (Libya) and Syria and / or Turkey. These pipelines are substantially controlled by Western interests with imperial / colonial ties to the U.S., Britain and 'developed' Europe. Russian oil and gas did run through Ukraine, which is now negotiating to join NATO, or otherwise hits a NATO wall before entering Europe. ..."
Feb 19, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The indictments are a major political story, but not for the reasons given in mainstream press coverage. Once Mr. Mueller's indictment is understood to charge the exploitation of existing social tensions (read it and decide for yourself), the FBI, which Mr. Mueller directed from 2001 – 2013, is precisely the wrong entity to be rendering judgment. The FBI has been America's political police since its founding in 1908. Early on former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover led legally dubious mass arrests of American dissidents. He practically invented the slander of conflating legitimate dissent with foreign agency. This is the institutional backdrop from which Mr. Mueller proceeds.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the FBI's targets included the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Black Panther Party and any other political organization Mr. Hoover deemed a threat. The secret (hidden) FBI program COINTELPRO was intended to subvert political outcomes outside of allegations of criminal wrongdoing and with no regard for the lives of its targets . Throughout its history the FBI has sided with the powerful against the powerless to maintain an unjust social order.

Robert Mueller became FBI Director only days before the attacks of September 11, 2001. One of his first acts as Director was to arrest 1,000 persons without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. None of those arrested were ever charged in association with the attacks. The frame in which the FBI acted -- to maintain political stability threatened by 'external' forces, was ultimately chosen by the George W. Bush administration to justify its aggressive war against Iraq.

It is the FBI's legacy of conflating dissent with being an agent of a foreign power that Mr. Mueller's indictment most insidiously perpetuates. Russians are 'sowing discord,' and they are using Americans to do so, goes the allegation. Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are listed in the indictment as roadblocks to the unfettered ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Russians are sowing discord, therefore discord is both suspect in itself and evidence of being a foreign agent.

The posture of simple reporting at work in the indictment -- that it isn't the FBI's fault that the Russians (allegedly) inserted themselves into the electoral process, runs against the history of the FBI's political role, the tilt used to craft criminal charges and the facts put forward versus those put to the side. Given the political agendas of the other agencies that the FBI joined through the charges, they are most certainly but a small piece of a larger story.

In the aftermath of the indictments it's easy to forget that the Pentagon created the internet , that the NSA has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, that the CIA has been heavily involved in funding and 'using' social media toward its own ends and that the FBI is only reputable in the present because of Americans' near-heroic ignorance of history. The claim that the Russian operation was sophisticated because it had corporate form and function is countered by the fact that it was, by the various agencies' own claims, ineffectual in changing the outcome of the election.

I Have a List

While Robert Mueller was busy charging never-to-be-tried Russians with past crimes, Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, declared that future Russian meddling has already cast a shadow over the integrity of the 2018 election. Why the Pentagon that created the internet, the NSA that has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, the CIA that has been heavily involved in funding and 'using' social media toward its own ends and the FBI that just landed such a glorious victory of good over evil would be quivering puddles when it comes to precluding said meddling is a question that needs to be asked.

The political frame being put forward is that only these agencies know if particular elections and candidates have been tainted by meddling, therefore we need to trust them to tell us which candidates were legitimately elected and which weren't. As generous as this offer seems, wouldn't the creation of free and fair elections be a more direct route to achieving this end? Put differently, who among those making the offer, whether personally or as functionaries of their respective agencies, has a demonstrated history of supporting democratic institutions?

The 2016 election was apparently a test case for posing these agencies as the meddling police. By getting the bourgeois electocracy -- liberal Democrats, to agree that the loathsome Trump is illegitimate, future candidates will be vetted by the CIA, NSA and FBI with impunity. It's apparently only the pre-'discord, ' the social angst that the decade of the Great Recession left as its residual, that shifts this generous offer from the deterministic to the realm of the probable. The social conditions that led to the Great Recession and its aftermath are entirely home grown.

More broadly, how do the government agencies and people that spent the better part of the last century undermining democracy at home and abroad intend to stop 'Russian meddling?' If the FBI couldn't disentangle home grown 'discord' from that allegedly exploited and exacerbated by the Russians, isn't the likely intention to edit out all discord? And if fake news is a problem in need of addressing, wouldn't the New York Times and the Washington Post have been shut down years ago?

The Great Satin (sic)

While Russia is the villain of the day, week and year due to alleged election 'meddling,' the process of demonization that Russia has undergone has shown little variation from (alleged) villain to villain. It is thanks to cable news and the 'newspaper of record' that the true villainy of Vladimir Putin, Muammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, Nicolas Maduro and the political leadership of Iran has been revealed. In the face of such monsters, questions of motivation are moot. Why wouldn't Mr. Putin 'sow discord?'

The question as yet unasked, and therefore unanswered is: is there something besides base villainy that brought these national leaders, and the nations they lead, into the crosshairs of America's fair and wise leadership? This question might forever go unanswered were it not for the secret list from which their names were apparently drawn. No, not that secret list. This one is publicly available -- hiding in plain sight, as it were. It is the list of proven oil reserves by country (below). This is no doubt unduly reductive -- evil is as evil does, but read on.

The question of how such a list could divide so evenly between heroes and villains I leave to the philosophers. On second thought, no I won't. The heroes are allies of a small cadre of America's political and economic elite who have made themselves fabulously rich through the alliances. The villains have oil, gas, pipelines and other resources that this elite wants. Reductive, yes. But this simple list certainly appears to explain American foreign policy over the last half-century quite well.

Source: gulfbusiness.com

It's almost as if America's love for humanity, as demonstrated through humanitarian interventions, is determined by imperial competition for natural resources -- in this case oil and gas. Amongst these countries, only one (Canada) is 'democratic' in the American sense of being run by a small cadre of plutocrats who use the state to further their own interests. Two -- Iraq and Libya, were recently reduced to rubble (for the sake of humanity) by the U.S. Nigeria is being 'brought' under the control of AFRICOM. What remains are various and sundry petro-states plus Venezuela and Russia.

Following the untimely death of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the horrible tyrant kept in office via free and fair elections , who used Venezuela's petro-dollars to feed, clothe and educate his people and was in the process of creating a regional Left alliance to counter American abuse of power, the CIA joined with local plutocrats to overthrow his successor, Nicolas Maduro. The goal: to 'liberate' Venezuela's oil revenues in their own pockets. At the moment Mr. Maduro is down the list of villains, not nearly the stature of a 'new Hitler' like Vladimir Putin. But where he ends up will depend on how successfully the CIA (with Robert Mueller's help) can drum up a war against nuclear armed Russia.

What separates Russia from the other heroes and villains on the list is its history as a competing empire as well as the manner in which Russian oil and gas is distributed. Geography placed it closer to the population centers of Europe than to Southeastern China where Chinese economic development has been concentrated. This makes Europe a 'natural' market for Russian oil and gas.

The former Soviet state of Ukraine did stand between, or rather under, Russian pipelines and Europe until Hillary Clinton had her lieutenants engineer a coup there in 2014. In contrast to the 'new Hitler' of Mr. Putin (or was that Trump?) Mrs. Clinton and her comrades demonstrated a preference for the old Hitler in the form of Ukrainian fascists who were the ideological descendants of 'authentic' WWII Nazis. But rest assured, not all of the U.S.'s allies in this affair were ideological Nazis .

Chart: Demonization of Russia centers on competition for oil and gas revenues. Pipelines to deliver oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe run through North Africa (Libya) and Syria and / or Turkey. These pipelines are substantially controlled by Western interests with imperial / colonial ties to the U.S., Britain and 'developed' Europe. Russian oil and gas did run through Ukraine, which is now negotiating to join NATO, or otherwise hits a NATO wall before entering Europe.

In contrast to the alternative hypotheses given in the American press, NATO, the geopolitical extension of the U.S. military in Europe, admits that the U.S. engineered coup in Ukraine was 'about' oil geopolitics with Russia. The American storyline that Crimea was seized by Russia ignores that the Russian navy has had a Black Sea port in Crimea for decades. How amenable, precisely, might Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his friends be if Russia seized a major U.S. naval port given their generous offer to take over the U.S. electoral system because of a few Russian trolls?

Although Russia is toward the bottom of the top ten countries in terms of oil reserves, it faces a problem of distribution that the others don't. Imperial ties and recent military incursions have left the distribution of oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe largely under Western control. Syria, Turkey and North Africa are necessary to moving this oil and gas through pipelines to Europe. That Syria, Libya and Turkey are now, or recently have been, militarily contested adds credence to the contention that the 'international community's' heroes and villains are largely determined by whose hands their oil and gas resources are currently in.

Democratic Party loyalists who see Putin, Maduro et al as the problem first need to answer for the candidate they put forward in 2016. Hillary Clinton led the carnage in Libya that murdered 30,000 – 50,000 innocents for Western oil and gas interests. Russia didn't force the U.S. into its calamitous invasion of Iraq. Russia didn't take Americans' jobs, houses and pensions in the Great Recession. Russia didn't reward Wall Street for causing it. Democrats need to take responsibility for their failed candidates and their failed Party.

Part of the point in relating oil reserves to American foreign entanglements is that the countries and leaders involved are incidental. Vladimir Putin certainly seems smarter than the American leadership. But this has no bearing on whether or not his leadership of Russia is broadly socially beneficial. The only possible resolution of climate crisis requires both Russia and the U.S. to greatly reduce their use of fossil fuels. Reports have it that Mr. Putin has no interest in doing so. And once the marketing chatter is set to the side, neither do the Americans.

By placing themselves as arbiters of the electoral process, the Director of National Intelligence and the heads of the CIA, NSA and FBI can effectively control it. Is it accidental that the candidate of liberal Democrats in the 2016 election was the insiders' -- the intelligence agencies' and military contractors,' candidate as well? Implied is that these agencies and contractors are now 'liberal.' Good luck with that program if you value peace and prosperity.

There are lots of ways to create free and fair elections if that is the goal. Use paper ballots that are counted in public, automatically register all eligible voters, make election days national holidays and eliminate 'private' funding of electoral campaigns. But why make elections free and fair when fanciful nonsense about 'meddling' will convince the liberal class to deliver power to grey corpses in the CIA, NSA and FBI for the benefit of a tiny cabal of stupendously rich plutocrats. Who says America isn't already great?

[Aug 06, 2018] Bolton Blocking Strait of Hormuz will be Iran's 'worst mistake' instead it must 'come to table'

Notable quotes:
"... "They could take up the president's offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs fully and really verifiably not under the onerous terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which really are not satisfactory," ..."
"... "If Iran were really serious they'd come to the table. We'll find out whether they are or not," ..."
"... "matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security." ..."
"... "behaves like a normal country." ..."
"... "require enormous change" ..."
"... "increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue from crude oil sales." ..."
"... "the mother of all wars." ..."
"... "confronting possible threats." ..."
"... "The hours of our negotiations with America were perhaps unprecedented in history; then Trump signs something and say all [those negotiations] are void; can you negotiate with this person? Is this [negotiations offer] anything but a publicity stunt?" ..."
Aug 06, 2018 | www.rt.com

Closing the Strait of Hormuz would be the biggest mistake Iran has ever made, the US president's national security advisor John Bolton said. He urged Tehran to sit down for talks on its nuclear and missile programs with the US. Dismissing Tehran's threats to block the strait if its oil exports are stopped, Bolton on Monday said the Iranians were "bluffing." He then quickly changed his tone saying that Iran should actually engage in a dialog with the US instead of issuing threats.

"They could take up the president's offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs fully and really verifiably not under the onerous terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which really are not satisfactory," Bolton told Fox News, referring to the US President Donald Trump's demands to "re-negotiate" the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"If Iran were really serious they'd come to the table. We'll find out whether they are or not," Bolton added. The White House national security advisor's remarks came less than a day before the first round of renewed US sanctions take effect on Tuesday after midnight US Eastern time. The harshest restrictions are expected to be re-imposed by early November.

Washington decided to reinstate the penalties following Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the JCPOA in May. Shortly after exiting the agreement, the US penned a 12-point ultimatum to Iran, which, among other things, demanded that Tehran end its ballistic missile program, a condition it has repeatedly rejected. The move was then widely condemned by the EU and other signatories of the deal, including Russia and China, which still consider the agreement to be an effective means of non-proliferation and have vowed to keep their part of the deal.

Earlier on Monday, the EU said that starting August, it is enforcing its so-called Blocking Statute aimed at protecting the European companies doing business in Iran from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions. The bloc said that maintaining the nuclear deal with Iran is a "matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security."

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to "rigorously" enforce the sanctions on Iran until it "behaves like a normal country." He added that it would "require enormous change" on Iran's part for the US to review its increasingly hostile approach to Tehran.

In July, Brian Hook, the US State Department's director of policy planning, said that Washington's goal is to "increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue from crude oil sales."

Iranian leaders repeatedly threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and stop the Persian Gulf oil exports if its own oil exports are blocked. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also cautioned Washington against launching a war against Tehran by saying that it would be "the mother of all wars." Iran's Revolutionary Guards have recently admitted that its warships took part in a naval exercise in the Persian Gulf to hone skills in "confronting possible threats."

Earlier, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has slammed Donald Trump's recent proposal to enter into talks with Iran by calling it nothing but a PR stunt. "The hours of our negotiations with America were perhaps unprecedented in history; then Trump signs something and say all [those negotiations] are void; can you negotiate with this person? Is this [negotiations offer] anything but a publicity stunt?" he said.

The Trump administration has reportedly requested a meeting with Rouhani eight times, but the Iranian side refused to participate.

Read more

[Aug 06, 2018] US sanctions forcing creation of work arounds

Aug 06, 2018 | www.veteranstoday.com

As Iran is preparing for the first wave of returning US sanctions that could largely hamper its foreign trade, the country's banks appear to have already created a mechanism for imports of essential goods from Russia .

Bank Saderat Iran (BSI) announced in a statement on Sunday that it had sealed a deal with the Moscow offshoot of Bank Melli Iran (BMI) over a re-financing scheme that envisaged providing €10 million to fund imports of essential commodities, medicines, medical equipment and the raw materials for industrial units.

[Aug 06, 2018] Iran Scrambles to Ready Economy for US Sanctions by Jason Ditz

Sanctions might hit Iran oil industry hard.
Aug 06, 2018 | news.antiwar.com

New restrictions aim to protect currency from further falls

With US sanctions against Iran officially going back into place on August 6, the Iranian government is scrambling to take some last minute measures to shore up their economy, and particularly their currency, before the sanctions start to hit.

Trying to protect the rial is a high priority, with a former central bank deputy governor and a number of foreign exchange dealers arrested amid the rial plummeting to all-time lows. On Monday, a rash of strict new measures are to be imposed on foreign currency access to try to limit any further falls.

Iran wants to make sure that what foreign currency does flow overseas is strictly allocated to a handful of important industries. The fall of prices for the rial has been heavy related to the surge in the price of gold, as economic uncertainty has many Iranians running to precious metals, and gold imports surged in recent weeks.

US sanctions aim to limit, if not totally eliminate, Iran's access to foreign markets. That also has Iran trying to make some last-minute purchases while they know they still can. Five new planes were purchased from ATR for the state airline. It's far short of the new fleet of airliners Iran initially sought, but the best they can do with the US blocking Boeing and Airbus from fulfilling contracts.

Since the August 6 date has been known for months, it's likely much of the market reaction to the sanctions is already factored in to Iran's currency pricing. China's refusal to comply with US sanctions, likewise, is a sign that Iran won't be totally cutoff from world markets. Still, it will take awhile before the full extent of the US attempt, and its effectiveness, is known.

[Aug 06, 2018] America's About To Unleash Its NOPEC 'Superweapon' Against The Russians Saudis

Aug 06, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

The US Congress has revived the so-called "NOPEC" bill for countering OPEC and OPEC+.

Officially called the " No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act ", NOPEC is the definition of so-called "lawfare" because it enables the US to extra-territorially impose its domestic legislation on others by giving the government the right to sue OPEC and OPEC+ countries like Russia because of their coordinated efforts to control oil prices.

Lawsuits, however, are unenforceable , which is why the targeted states' refusal to abide by the US courts' likely predetermined judgement against them will probably be used to trigger sanctions under the worst-case scenario, with this chain of events being catalyzed in order to achieve several strategic objectives.

The first is that the US wants to break up the Russian-Saudi axis that forms the core of OPEC+, which leads to the second goal of then unravelling the entire OPEC structure and heralding in the free market liberalization of the global energy industry.

This is decisively to the US' advantage as it seeks to become an energy-exporting superpower, but it must neutralize its competition as much as possible before this happens, ergo the declaration of economic-hybrid war through NOPEC. How it would work in practice is that the US could threaten primary sanctions against the state companies involved in implementing OPEC and OPEC+ agreements, after which these could then be selectively expanded to secondary sanctions against other parties who continue to do business with them.

The purpose behind this approach is to intimidate the US' European vassals into complying with its demands so as to make as much of the continent as possible a captive market of America's energy exporters, which explains why Trump also wants to scrap LNG export licenses to the EU .

If successful, this could further erode Europe's shrinking strategic independence and also inflict long-term economic damage on the US' energy rivals that could then be exploited for political purposes. At the same time, America's recently unveiled " Power Africa " initiative to invest $175 billion in gas projects there could eventually see US companies in the emerging energy frontiers of Tanzania , Mozambique , and elsewhere become important suppliers to their country's Chinese rival, which could make Beijing's access to energy even more dependent on American goodwill than ever before.

If looked at as the opening salvo of a global energy war being waged in parallel with the trade one as opposed to being dismissed as the populist piece of legislation that it's being portrayed as by the media, NOPEC can be seen as the strategic superweapon that it actually is, with its ultimate effectiveness being dependent of course on whether it's properly wielded by American decision makers.

It's too earlier to call it a game-changer because it hasn't even been promulgated yet, but in the event that it ever is, then it might go down in history as the most impactful energy-related development since OPEC, LNG, and fracking.

[Jul 29, 2018] Russia, the West, and Recent Geoeconomics in Europe's Gas Wars by Gordon M. Hahn

The USA can't compete on price and volume. But dir to dvassal status of EU can still force "diversification"
Notable quotes:
"... As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example. ..."
Jul 29, 2018 | gordonhahn.com

Russia has advanced forward in something of a tactical and potential strategic victory in the Russo-Western gas war. This is a three-party war, with the US, EU, and Russia each promoting separate interests. It is one sphere where a united West has failed to 'isolate Russia.' The US seeks move in on the European energy market with LNG supplies and replace Russian pipeline-delivered natural gas supplies to Europe. Washington is using the risks of dependence on Russian gas and Russia's 'bad behavior' as leverage in attempting to convince Europeans to reject Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia is said to be unreliable and prone to shut off gas supplies to Europe.

Due to past Russian-Ukrainian gas crises, the Ukrainian crisis, and general Russian-Western tensions, Europe has decided on a gas diversification policy in which each EU member should have at least three sources of natural gas supply. One additional option that could facilitate this diversification policy is US liquified natural gas (LNG), but the US is still unable to supply enough LNG to offset Russian gas supplies that might be rejected by Europe. In the process, Washington is looking less like a 'team West' player and more like a solely self-interested power maximizer in European eyes and therefore no more reliable than Moscow. As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example.

The Battle Over Re-Sale: No Victors

One recent battle was largely inconclusive, but if a victor has to be designated it may be Moscow. In May, the European Commssion concluded a settlement with Russia's Gazprom in May ending a seven-year anti-trust dispute. In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas. Some EU members, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have re-sold or wanted to re-sell gas. Moscow frowned, for example, on Slovakia's resale of natural gas to Ukraine at cheaper prices than Moscow sought to charge Kiev. The agreement will also restrict Moscow's ability to charge different countries different prices. So EU members in central and eastern Europe can get a price close to that paid by Germany and appeal to an arbitration court in case of a dispute. The agreement guarantees Russia's presence on the European gas market at a time when the latter's reliance on the former has peaked.

The Northern Front: Nord Stream 2

At the same time, the battle over Russia' Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has heated up. When it comes on line in 2019, the 759-mile pipeline will carry GazProm natural gas along the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany and double the supply Nord Stream pipeline's current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The Trump administration has threatened yet more sanctions on third-party companies, this time with those that work on the pipeline. The US sanctions threat is an attempt to promote American LNG interests as well as to protect Ukrainian interests, though it contradicts the view that Ukraine should eschew its dependence on Russian gas.

US officials have been hammering home to Europeans the 'Russian threat' in tandem with the risk of reliance on Russian gas may pose, which will increase with Nord tream 2, but to no avail. Public opinion is not working in the US favor, with Germans trusting Moscow more than Washington, despite all the crimes laid at the Kremlin's door by the West. A recent ZDF Television opinion survey found that only 14 percent of Germans regard the U.S. as a reliable partner, while 36 percent view Russia as reliable ( www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-17/trump-s-global-disruption-pushes-merkel-closer-to-putin-s-orbit ). Thus, notwithstanding Ukraine, Syria and alleged chemical attacks, Russiagate, and the Skrypals, GazProm's supplies to Europe have risen to hold nearly 40 percent of its gas market, growing last year by 8.1 percent last year to a record level of 193.9 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Nevertheless, with the EU decision, the U.S., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others have stepped up their pressure on Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and other western Eureopean EU members to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project. Germans and other western Europeans are unlikely to give up the short-term gain of energy security for the US LNG given the higher price and unproven nature of Washington's numerous allegations against the Kremlin. German officials say they still have no proof from 10 Downing on Russia's culpability for the Skrypal poisoning so loudly trumpeted by British PM Theresa May.

One motivation for the Russians in building Nord Stream 2 is to obviate the need to transport gas through Ukraine, which will hurt Ukraine's own energy supply – given Ukrainian skimming -- and overall economy beyond the present non-sale of Russian gas to Ukraine. Another Russian motivation is to avert the unreliable Ukrainians, who have failed to make payments according to contract in the past causing Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine and thus Europe with the resulting crises blamed solely on Moscow. The Trump sanctions threat has put Germany and the other Nord Stream 2 supporting countries between a rock and a hard place, between Russia and the US. Therefore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while supporting Nord Stream 2, has called for guarantees from Russia that Ukraine will remain a gas transit country. Ukraine's current contract with Russia ends in 2019 at the very time Nord Stream 2 is to go on line and the EU has urged re-starting EU-mediated negotiatons now in order to avoid another gas crisis. Putin agreed to do this at his meeting with Germany's merkel in late May. Nord Stream 2 significantly strengthens Putin's hand in any such talks.

The Southern Front: Turkish Stream, SGC and the Azeri and Bulgarian Factors

Russia is strengtheining its position on the European gas war's southern front by building the Turkish Stream (TS) gas pipeline to Europe. TS consists of a sea and a land leg. The former runs under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and is built, with Russo-Turkish talks on the land leg ongoing.

Russia's Turkish Stream is being challenged by the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) backed by Western powers, including the EU (along with Turkey and Azerbaijan), which sees the SGC as a means of diversifying from dependence on Russia. Not just Turkey, but Azerbaijan is emerging as a major player on the EU gas market, with a shift in policy accenting gas supplies to Europe as well as oil supplies as in the past. The SGC consists of three components: an expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and the to be constructed Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). TANAP is 51 percent Azerbaijani owned, 37 percent Turkish, and 12 percent belonging to British Petroleum. The SGC will carry Azerbaijani gas through Turkey to Europe and will be able to supply up to one-third of the gas consumed by Bulgaria, Greece and Italy ( https://en.trend.az/business/energy/2910573.html ). However, the source of the gas supplying the pipeline demonstrates the limits of Western attempts to isolate Russia (and Iran). Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz gas field is co-owned by British Petroleum (29 percent), Turkey's Turkish Petroleum (19 percent), Azerbaijan's SOCAR (17 percent), Malaysia's Petronas (15 percent), Russia's LukOil (10 percent), and Iran's NICO (10 percent). Moreover, Russia's LukOil is negotiating with SOCAR a stake in Azerbaijan's second-largest gas field, Umid-Babek, which also includes Britain's Nobel Upstream ( https://newsbase.com/topstories/lukoil-talks-join-umid-babek-project?utm_campaign=466286_GERD%2031%20May%202018&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NewsBase%20LTD&dm_i=4NTN,9ZSE,2Q5R2D,13DVS,1 ).

Again the Ukrainian issue is part of the picture here, as a good portion of GasProm supplies to Bulgaria go through Ukraine. Turkish Stream can replace at least some of that supply should Moscow decide to entirely avert Ukraine's pipeline system. It is of interest that no one in the West has offered to include in any of these projects or attempted to fashion a pipeline or pipeline extension that could link up with the Ukrainian network.

During Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's late may visit to Moscow, Putin reported to Radev that during his meetings with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the latter said he would pose no oppsotion to extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria. In response, Radev seemed to suggest making Bulgaria a "a gas redistribution center, a hub" for the Turkish Stream's supplies further into Europe ( http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57608 ). Moreover, one gets the impression that Bulgaria is wary more about its dependence on Turkey and Ankara's new offensive energy policy in Europe than on Russia and might help Moscow detour Ukraine. In 2015, Erdogan declared a major policy initiative of making Turkey a, if not the major energy transit hub for supplies heading from the east to Europe. Russia's annexation of Crimea could help Russia in its talks both with Erdogan over the Turkish Stream and pose the threat of undermining the SGC. It may also help Putin deal with Merkel, Kiev and the EU over the Ukraine pipeline system's future role. Bulgarian President Radev also said in Moscow that Sofia supports building a direct gas pipeline under the Black Sea to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria ( https://echo.msk.ru/news/2206394-echo.html ). The Bulgarian option could be used by Putin to threaten Erdogan with reducing the Turkish Stream's supplies or abandoning it altogether in favor of a Black Sea Russian-Bulgarian Stream and to reduce Russia's dependence on Ukraine as well.

... ... ...

[Jul 27, 2018] Transformed Gas Markets Fuel US-Russian Rivalry, But Europe Plays Key Role Too by Morena Skalamera

US wants to leverage his dominance in Europe into gas market. That's can work as long as gas is plentiful. As soon as it became a scarcity the situation will radically change.
May 30, 2018 | www.russiamatters.org
This month, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressuring Germany to drop its support for a major new Russian gas pipeline if Europe wants to avoid a trade war with Washington, while a senior U.S. diplomat warned that the project could be hit with U.S. sanctions; Russian President Vladimir Putin responded defiantly . This development, sadly, fuels the further politicization of the European gas market -- a space that, in many ways, has reflected the triumphs of a depoliticized, pro-market technocracy, which has managed to stimulate competition and lower prices irrespective of changing political trends. Just last year, Trump called on European countries to buy American liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which, for now, remains more expensive than Russia's pipeline gas. Certainly, the U.S. has much to gain on the global gas market, which has changed drastically over the past decade, as America rapidly transformed from an importer to an exporter. Europe's gas market, meanwhile, has much to gain from additional supply. But Trump's approach, especially if the latest reports are true, both alienates Western European partners and feeds into a sensationalist, simplistic portrayal of the new U.S. role's effect on Russia -- as a zero-sum game, in which these new, plentiful U.S. gas supplies serve as an antidote to Russia's "gas dominance" in Europe and hence to Moscow's political leverage.

In fact, even if Russia remains Europe's dominant gas supplier in the coming years -- as is likely -- it now has to play by EU rules and vie hard for market share, ultimately benefiting European consumers. America's gas boom has catalyzed this thriving competition, but an equally important factor has been a massive, long-term investment in infrastructure and regulation by Brussels. These EU efforts have done a great deal to weaken Moscow's geopolitical "gas power," which has never been uniform across the continent. Today, gas is a prized commodity but not a major weapon in East-West relations: Russia's gas leverage cannot harm the West, and neither does competition with U.S. gas pose a major threat to Russia as a state or, for now, to its gas behemoth, Gazprom. Moreover, in the near to medium term, Russian and U.S. gas companies may face many challenges in common : Both will be competing against new, price-lowering producers and grappling with ever "greener" regulations on the European market, while also trying to profit from Asia's thirst for energy.

[Jul 27, 2018] 3rd Russian LNG shipment to USA to arrive 26th July

Jul 27, 2018 | community.oilprice.com

Simon Hauser said:

How cheap could Russia produce to compete with growing US LNG exports?

Gazprom needs price around 4 $ per mmbtu in Europe to be profitable. Today in Europe are close to 8 $. US LNG long term imho need about 8 to 9 $ per mbbtu.

[Jul 25, 2018] Also, they will be buying vast amounts of LNG!

Jul 25, 2018 | twitter.com

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Twitter

Donald J. Trump ‏ Verified account @ realDonaldTrump 1h 1 hour ago

European Union representatives told me that they would start buying soybeans from our great farmers immediately. Also, they will be buying vast amounts of LNG!

[Jul 19, 2018] Proposed Law Would Allow U.S. to Sue OPEC for Manipulating Oil Market

Jul 19, 2018 | foreignpolicy.com

S 2929 text

perated by high gasoline prices just ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, lawmakers in Congress are trying to make it easier for the United States to sue OPEC. And unlike previous failed efforts to go after the oil-exporting cartel, this time Congress will find a sympathetic ear in the White House.

The bipartisan No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC bill, would tweak U.S. antitrust law to explicitly ban just the kind of collusive behavior that OPEC was created to engage in. The bill, a carbon copy of previous legislation, makes illegal any activity to restrain the production of oil or gas or set oil and gas prices and knocks away two legal defenses that in the past have shielded OPEC from U.S. antitrust measures.

[Jul 19, 2018] Iran in 1953: How an Oil Cartel Operation Became a Job for the CIA

Jul 19, 2018 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Extracted from: The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld By Peter Dale Scott

The international lawyers of Wall Street did not hide from each other their shared belief that they understood better than Washington the requirements for running the world. As John Foster Dulles wrote in the 1930s to a British colleague,

The word "cartel" has here assumed the stigma of a bogeyman which the politicians are constantly attacking. The fact of the matter is that most of these politicians are highly insular and nationalistic and because the political organization of the world has under such influence been so backward, business people who have had to cope realistically with international problems have had to find ways for getting through and around stupid political barriers. 44

This same mentality also explains why Allen Dulles as an OSS officer in 1945 simply evaded orders from Washington forbidding him to negotiate with SS General Karl Wolff about a conditional surrender of German forces in Italy – an important breach of Roosevelt's agreement with Stalin at Yalta for unconditional surrender, a breach that is regarded by many as helping lead to the Cold War. 45 And it explains why Allen, as CIA Director in 1957, dealt summarily with Eisenhower's reluctance to authorize more than occasional U-2 overflights of the USSR, by secretly approving a plan with Britain's MI-6 whereby U-2 flights could be authorized instead by the UK Prime Minister Macmillan. 46

This mentality exhibited itself in 1952, when Truman's Justice Department sought to break up the cartel agreements whereby Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) and four other oil majors controlled global oil distribution. (The other four were Standard Oil Company of New York, Standard Oil of California or Socony, Gulf Oil, and Texaco; together with Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iranian, they comprised the so-called Seven Sisters of the cartel.) Faced with a government order to hand over relevant documents, Exxon's lawyer Arthur Dean at Sullivan and Cromwell, where Foster was senior partner, refused: "If it were not for the question of national security, we would be perfectly willing to face either a criminal or a civil suit. But this is the kind of information the Kremlin would love to get its hands on." 47

At this time the oil cartel was working closely with the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC, later BP) to prevent AIOC's nationalization by Iran's Premier Mossadeq, by instituting, in May 1951, a successful boycott of Iranian oil exports.

In May 1951 the AIOC secured the backing of the other oil majors, who had every interest in discouraging nationalisation.... None of the large companies would touch Iranian oil; despite one or two picturesque episodes the boycott held. 48

As a result Iranian oil production fell from 241 million barrels in 1950 to 10.6 million barrels in 1952.

This was accomplished by denying Iran the ability to export its crude oil. At that time, the Seven Sisters controlled almost 99% of the crude oil tankers in the world for such export, and even more importantly, the markets to which it was going. 49

But Truman declined, despite a direct personal appeal from Churchill, to have the CIA participate in efforts to overthrow Mossadeq, and instead dispatched Averell Harriman to Tehran in a failed effort to negotiate a peaceful resolution of Mossadeq's differences with London. 50

All this changed with the election of Eisenhower in November 1952, followed by the appointment of the Dulles brothers to be Secretary of State and head of CIA. The Justice Department's criminal complaint against the oil cartel was swiftly replaced by a civil suit, from which the oil cartel eventually emerged unscathed. 51

Eisenhower, an open friend of the oil industry changed the charges from criminal to civil and transferred responsibility of the case from the Department of Justice to the Department of State – the first time in history that an antitrust case was handed to State for prosecution. Seeing as how the Secretary of State was John Foster Dulles and the defense counsel for the oil cartel was Dulles' former law firm (Sullivan and Cromwell), the case was soon as good as dead. 52

Thereafter

Cooperative control of the world market by the major oil companies remained in effect, with varying degrees of success, until the oil embargo of 1973-74. That the cooperation was more than tacit can be seen by the fact that antitrust regulations were specifically set aside a number of times during the 1950-1973 period, allowing the major companies to negotiate as a group with various Mideastern countries, and after its inception [in 1960], with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC. 53

Also in November 1952 CIA officials began planning to involve CIA in the efforts of MI6 and the oil companies in Iran 54 -- although its notorious Operation TP/AJAX to overthrow Mossadeq was not finally approved by Eisenhower until July 22, 1953. 55

The events of 1953 strengthened the role of the oil cartel as a structural component of the American deep state, drawing on its powerful connections to both Wall Street and the CIA. 56 (Another such component was the Arabian-American Oil Company or ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia, which increased oil production in 1951-53 to offset the loss of oil from Iran. Until it was fully nationalized in 1980, ARAMCO maintained undercover CIA personnel like William Eddy among its top advisors.) 57 The five American oil majors in particular were also strengthened by the success of AJAX, as Anglo-Iranian (renamed BP) was henceforth forced to share 40 percent of the oil from its Iran refinery with them.

Nearly all recent accounts of Mossadeq's overthrow treat it as a covert intelligence operation, with the oil cartel (when mentioned at all) playing a subservient role. However the chronology, and above all the belated approval from Eisenhower, suggest that it was CIA that came belatedly in 1953 to assist an earlier oil cartel operation, rather than vice versa. In terms of the deep state, the oil cartel or deep state initiated in 1951 a process that the American public state only authorized two years later. Yet the inevitable bias in academic or archival historiography, working only with those primary sources that are publicly available, is to think of the Mossadeq tragedy as simply a "CIA coup."

[Jul 18, 2018] The United States and the Russian Federation would seem to be natural allies

Jul 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Oil as a tool of geopolitics

Peter AU 1 , Jul 17, 2018 4:23:41 PM | 112
VK
I posted the sequence of events used to create the petro dollar back in the 2018-33 thread.
Will post them again here as this thread concerns Kissinger.
More specifics can be added to this planned sequence of events, this just the basics.
...........
In the late 1960s, US found oil at Prudhoe bay and by 1970 it was a proved crude oil reserve.
Due to environmental and other legal challenges, construction of the pipeline was held up.

In late 1972 the US Secretary of the Interior declares the trans-Alaska pipeline to be in the US national interest

1973-74. OPEC oil embargo due to US backing of Israel pushes oil prices up in an initial rise.

1973 (OPEC oil embargo) The Trans-Alaska pipeline Authorization Act legislation is quickly pushed through. Signed by Nixon on November 16 1973. This blocked all further challenges allowing construction to begin. pdf

Late 1973 Nixon along with Saudi Arabia create the petro dollar beginning in 1974.

The trans-Alaska pipeline is pushed through to meet a deadline, no costs spared, first oil delivered through the pipeline 28th July 1977, extra pumps then installed and pipeline running at full capacity by 1980. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construction_of_the_Trans-Alaska_Pipeline_System

1979-80 the price of oil skyrockets due to the Iranian revolution. The US is now the global economic hegemon as all countries now need US dollars to purchase oil.

Historical crude oil price chart https://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/65661/111554736.48/0_118d4e_344fb37_orig
..................


I have read that Kissinger withheld information from both Nixon and Israel, but have not followed that line of research.
Here is a piece from an official Kissinger biography. You can see here he was working both sides.

https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/kissinger-henry-a
Kissinger entered the State Department just two weeks before Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel. The October War of 1973 played a major role in shaping Kissinger's tenure as Secretary. First, he worked to ensure Israel received an airlift of U.S. military supplies. This airlift helped Israel turn the war in Israel's favor, and it also led members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to initiate an oil embargo against the United States. After the implementation of a United Nation's sponsored ceasefire, Kissinger began a series of "shuttle diplomacy" missions, in which he traveled between various Middle East capitals to reach disengagement agreements between the enemy combatants. These efforts produced an agreement in January 1974 between Egypt and Israel and in May 1974 between Syria and Israel. Additionally, Kissinger's efforts contributed to OPEC's decision to lift the embargo.

[Jul 18, 2018] Syria and geopolitics of oil

Jul 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , Jul 17, 2018 6:46:40 PM | 141

Daniel,

It is noticeable that Trump's US attack any Syrian forces coming too close to US occupied zones of al Tanf and Dier Ezzor. Also Trumps takeover of the Deir Ezzor oilfields where US forces simply set up bases or forward posts in the ISIS occupied area.

Under Trump, US has set up a number of new bases in Syria. On the other hand, no concern about Afrin and Manbij. The Deir Ezzor area is Arab tribes and this and al Hasakah (Kurd/Arab?) is the top end of the Persian Gulf/Mesopotamia oil field.

US now controls al Hasakah and half of Deir Ezzor province. The have been ongoing efforts by the US under Trump to take Al Bukamal. US has a base just south of Al Bukamal in Iraq. US bases are now thick throughout Mesopotamia, with more being built.

Also a new base being installed in Kuwait.

The US controls the Arab shore of the Persian gulf, it now has many bases in Iraq and Syria. The only thing missing is the oil rich strip of Iran running alongside the Persian gulf and Mesopotamia.

[Jul 16, 2018] Big Oil s has a long history of compromising national security for profit

Notable quotes:
"... How different is it really from the past 70+ years (since that 45' meeting between FDR and the then ruler of KSA), and especially since the "oil shocks" of the 1970's ? The Trumpians are little more direct and crude in their wording, but that is really the only difference I see. ..."
"... Putin's announcement after Turkey's shooting down of a Russian jet that Turkey has been systematically facilitating ISIS oil sales illustrates how the terror-entity has become a figleaf to justify military action. ..."
"... As INSURGEintelligence has previously reported, there is significant evidence that high-level elements of Turkish government and intelligence agencies have covertly sponsored Islamist terrorist groups in Syria, including ISIS, and that this has involved permitting black market oil sales. ..."
"... Why, however, did Vladimir Putin wait until the murder of a Russian pilot before announcing Russia's possession of intelligence on Turkish state-sponsorship of ISIS? ..."
"... There can be little doubt that Putin had previously been more interested in protecting Russian relations with Turkey as an emerging gas transshipment hub to Europe, under which he and Erdogan planned to build the multibillion Russia-Turkey gas pipeline, Turkish Stream  --  now suspended after the recent diplomatic furore. ..."
"... It has become increasingly clear that the US-led coalition strategy is aimed primarily at containment of the group's territorial ambitions within Syria. ..."
"... In this context, as Russia and Iran consolidate their hold on Syria through the Assad regime  --  staking the claim to Syria's untapped resources in the Mediterranean  --  the acceleration of Western military action offers both a carrot and a stick: the carrot aims to threaten the Assad regime into a political accommodation that capitulates to Western regional energy designs; the stick aims to replace him with a more compliant entity comprised of rebel forces backed by Western allies, the Gulf states and Turkey, whilst containing the most virulent faction, ISIS. ..."
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 | Jul 2, 2018 1:17:16 AM | 28

The Saudi's. Interesting watching them agree to whatever Trump wants. The most recent one was Trump telling them to raise oil output. The Saudi's now are very pro zionist and will back them against the Sunni Palestinians no matter what. If Trumps tells them to pay for a US war or occupation they pay. If they are told to by lots of useless junk from the US MIC, they buy it and manage to pull a twisted smile when Trump turns the screws about billions being peanuts.

Seems very much like KSA is now an expendable asset for the US, and their only chance of survival is a lot of 'yes sir, how high sir'.

Philippe , Jul 2, 2018 2:01:24 AM | 30

@ Peter AU 1 | Jul 2, 2018 1:17:16 AM | 28

How different is it really from the past 70+ years (since that 45' meeting between FDR and the then ruler of KSA), and especially since the "oil shocks" of the 1970's ? The Trumpians are little more direct and crude in their wording, but that is really the only difference I see.

Posted by: Peter L. | Jul 1, 2018 11:21:17 PM | 23

Look no further than the first sentence of the text you quote. It has been documented a few times, including in the Intercept, that there were some very serious money flows towards a certain foundation run by the family of the named person. Money flows that originated in the Gulf. Money flows that were related to what happened in Libia.

Daniel , Jul 2, 2018 2:30:17 AM | 32
Peter AU1, KSA has been a client state of the US ever since FDR muscled in on Great Britain's deal in 1845.
somebody , Jul 2, 2018 10:52:45 AM | 43
That would have something to do with Big Oil's long history of compromising national security for profit

Russia effectively dried up oil deliveries by ISIS from Syria and Iraq via Turkey .

This here is Nafez Ahmeed on what went on when splitting up Syria was considered feasible.

Putin's announcement after Turkey's shooting down of a Russian jet that Turkey has been systematically facilitating ISIS oil sales illustrates how the terror-entity has become a figleaf to justify military action.

As INSURGEintelligence has previously reported, there is significant evidence that high-level elements of Turkish government and intelligence agencies have covertly sponsored Islamist terrorist groups in Syria, including ISIS, and that this has involved permitting black market oil sales.

Why, however, did Vladimir Putin wait until the murder of a Russian pilot before announcing Russia's possession of intelligence on Turkish state-sponsorship of ISIS?

There can be little doubt that Putin had previously been more interested in protecting Russian relations with Turkey as an emerging gas transshipment hub to Europe, under which he and Erdogan planned to build the multibillion Russia-Turkey gas pipeline, Turkish Stream  --  now suspended after the recent diplomatic furore.

US, British and French military operations have been similarly inconsistent, inexplicably failing to shut down ISIS supply lines through Turkey, failing to bomb critical ISIS oil infrastructure including vast convoys of trucks transporting black market oil, and refusing to arm the most effective and secular Kurdish ground forces combating ISIS.

It has become increasingly clear that the US-led coalition strategy is aimed primarily at containment of the group's territorial ambitions within Syria.

....

As Russia expands its military presence in the region in the name of fighting ISIS, the US, Britain and France are now scrambling to ensure they retain a military foothold in Syria  --  an effort to position themselves to make the most of a post-conflict environment. As the US Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook put it:

"Most of the international investors who pulled out of Syria following the deterioration of the safety and security situation throughout the country are expected to remain so until the military and political conflicts are resolved."

In this context, as Russia and Iran consolidate their hold on Syria through the Assad regime  --  staking the claim to Syria's untapped resources in the Mediterranean  --  the acceleration of Western military action offers both a carrot and a stick: the carrot aims to threaten the Assad regime into a political accommodation that capitulates to Western regional energy designs; the stick aims to replace him with a more compliant entity comprised of rebel forces backed by Western allies, the Gulf states and Turkey, whilst containing the most virulent faction, ISIS.

[Jul 16, 2018] Trump Is Right - NATO Is Obsolete, and if Europe Wants to Fight Imaginary Enemies, It Should Pay Its Own Way

Jul 16, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Hysteria is at fever pitch. After the NATO summit in Brussels, the definitive Decline of the West has been declared a done deal as President Trump gets ready to meet President Putin in Helsinki.

It was Trump himself who stipulated that he wants to talk to Putin behind closed doors, face-to-face, without any aides and, in theory, spontaneously, after the preparatory meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was canceled. The summit will take place at the early 19 th century Presidential Palace in Helsinki, a former residence of Russian emperors.

As a preamble to Helsinki, Trump's spectacular NATO blitzkrieg was a show for the ages; assorted "leaders" in Brussels simply didn't know what hit them. Trump didn't even bother to arrive on time for morning sessions dealing with the possible accession of Ukraine and Georgia. Diplomats confirmed to Asia Times that after Trump's stinging "pay up or else" tirade, Ukraine and Georgia were asked to leave the room because what would be discussed was strictly an internal NATO issue.

Previewing the summit, Eurocrats indulged in interminable carping about "illiberalism" taking over, from Viktor Orban in Hungary to Sultan Erdogan in Turkey, as well as mourning the "destruction of European unity" (yes, it's always Putin's fault). Trump though would have none of it. The US President conflates the EU with NATO, interpreting the EU as a rival, just like China, but much weaker. As for the US "deal" with NATO, just like NAFTA, that's a bad deal.

NATO is 'obsolete'

Trump is correct that without the US, NATO is "obsolete" – as in non-existent. So essentially what he did in Brussels laid bare the case for NATO as a protection racket, with Washington fully entitled to up the stakes for the "protection".

But "protection" against what?

Since the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, when NATO was repositioned in its new role as humanitarian imperialist global Robocop, the alliance's record is absolutely dismal.

That features miserably losing an endless war in Afghanistan against a bunch of Pashtun warriors armed with Kalashnikov replicas; turning functional Libya into a militia wasteland and headquarters for Europe-bound refugees; and having the NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council lose its bet on a galaxy of jihadis and crypto-jihadis in Syria spun as "moderate rebels".

NATO has launched a new training, non-combat mission in Iraq; 15 years after Shock and Awe, Sunnis, Shi'ites, Yazidis and even Kurdish factions are not impressed.

Then there's the NATO Readiness Initiative; the capacity of deploying 30 battalions, 30 battleships and 30 aircraft squadrons within 30 days (or less) by 2020. If not to wreak selected havoc across the Global South, this initiative is supposedly set up to deter "Russian aggression".

So after dabbling with the Global War on Terror, NATO is essentially back to the original "threat"; the imminent Russian invasion of Western Europe – a ludicrous notion if there ever was one. The final statement in Brussels spells it out, with special emphasis on item 6 and item 7.

The combined GDP of all NATO members is 12 times that of Russia. And NATO's defense spending is six times larger than Russia's. Contrary to non-stop Polish and Baltic hysteria, Russia does not need to "invade" anything; what worries the Kremlin, in the long term, is the well being of ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics.

Russia can't be both threat and an energy partner

Then there's Europe's energy policy – and that's a completely different story.

Trump has described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as "inappropriate", but his claim that Germany gets 70% of its energy (via natural gas imports) from Russia may be easily debunked. Germany gets at best 9% of its energy from Russia. In terms of Germany's sources of energy , only 20% is natural gas. And less than 40% of natural gas in Germany comes from Russia. Germany is fast transitioning towards wind, solar, biomass and hydro energy, which made up 41% of the total in 2018. And the target is 50% by 2030.

Yet Trump does have a sterling point when, stressing that "Germany is a rich country", he wants to know why America should "protect you against Russia" when energy deals are on the table. "Explain that! It can't be explained!" as he reportedly said to Nato Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.

In the end, of course, it's all about business. What Trump is really aiming at is for Germany to import US shale gas, three times more expensive than pipeline-delivered Russian gas.

The energy angle is directly linked to the never-ending 2% defense spending soap opera. Germany currently spends 1.2% of GDP on NATO. by 2024, it's supposed to reach at best 1.5%. And that's it. The majority of German voters, in fact, want US troops out .

So Trump's demand for 4% of GDP on defense spending for all NATO members will never fly. The sales pitch should be seen for what it is: a tentative "invitation" for an increased EU and NATO shopping spree on US military hardware.

In a nutshell, the key factor remains that Trump's Brussels blitzkrieg did make his case. Russia cannot be a "threat" and a reliable energy partner at the same time. As much as NATO poodles may be terrified of "Russian aggression", the facts spell out they won't put their money where their rhetorical hysteria is.

Foreign ministers attend a working dinner during the NATO Summit in Brussels on July 11, 2018. They gathered to discuss Russia, Iraq and their mission in Afghanistan. Photo: AFP/ pool/ Yves Herman

Are you listening now?

"Russian aggression" should be one of the top items discussed in Helsinki. In the – remote – possibility that Trump will strike a deal with Putin, NATO's absurd raison d'etre would be even more exposed.

That's not the US "deep-state" agenda, of course, thus the 24/7 demonization of the summit even before it happens. Moreover, for Trump, the transactional gambling man's Make-America-Great-Again point of view, the ideal outcome would always be to get even more European weapons deals for the US industrial-military-intelligence complex.

Terrified by Trump, diplomats in Brussels over these past few days have conveyed to Asia Times fears about the end of NATO, the end of the World Trade Organization, even the end of the EU. But the fact remains that Europe is absolutely peripheral to the Big Picture.

In Losing Military Supremacy , his latest, groundbreaking book, crack Russian military-naval analyst Andrei Martyanov deconstructs in detail how, "the United States faces two nuclear and industrial superpowers, one of which fields a world-class armed forces. If the military-political, as opposed to merely economic, alliance between Russia and China is ever formalized – this will spell the final doom for the United States as a global power."

The US deep state (its influential bureaucrats) may be wallowing in perpetual denial, but Trump – after many a closed-door meeting with Henry Kissinger – may have understood the suicidal "strategy" of Washington simultaneously antagonizing Russia and China.

Putin's landmark March 1 speech , as Martyanov stresses, was an effort to "coerce America's elites, if not into peace, at least into some form of sanity, given that they are currently completely detached from the geopolitical, military and economic realities of the newly emerging power configurations of the world". These elites may not be listening, but Trump seems to indicate he is.

As for the NATO poodles, all they can do is watch.

[Jul 15, 2018] Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy

Putin/Russia is also the only entity that can prevent Trump's US from simply walking in and taking over the rich energy hub (Mafia style) to the south of Eurasia.
Notable quotes:
"... Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy. Although not labeled as global, when reading through the energy dominance section of the NSS, it can clearly been seen to be global. This is not just about sell oil produced in the US. ..."
"... Trump is going for the Achilles heel of Eurasia - energy. Rather than a creative accounting scam that simply racks up huge amounts of debt, Trump is looking for a monopoly or near monopoly business to take over and rake in the profits. ..."
"... Russia supply energy to Eurasia from the North. The opening for the Trump mob is in the south. The meet with Putin may well be to sound out the possibilities of forming a cartel. ..."
"... Yes, it absolutely is. But this is not a new "Trump policy." Certainly Zbiginew Brzezenski laid this out quite clearly in his 1997 book, "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives." It's really all in there, just as you're now identifying. If you can't take the time to read it, please consider at least reading some book reviews. As I've noted before, Ziggy apparently didn't foresee Putin rising to power and restoring the Russian state, which threw the proverbial monkey wrench into the globalists' plans, but really, US foreign policy has continued to follow his plans otherwise. ..."
Jul 15, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 4:55:33 PM | 101

The latest article at the Saker site by Rostislav Ishchenko - Trump's Geopolitical Cruise - I think is the best take on Trump's and his backers mindset. Worth a read and covers what I think was the cause of the split in the US elite.

The petro dollar, kicking off in the late 70s was a piece of creative accounting to give unlimited credit. This should have been ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but greed got the better of most. Trump and the people backing him could see that this was now in its terminal stages and US close to collapse itself.

Rostislav Ishchenko, like many thinks that Trump is pulling the US back to a form of isolation from the world, but I don't think this is the case.

Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy. Although not labeled as global, when reading through the energy dominance section of the NSS, it can clearly been seen to be global. This is not just about sell oil produced in the US.

Trump is going for the Achilles heel of Eurasia - energy. Rather than a creative accounting scam that simply racks up huge amounts of debt, Trump is looking for a monopoly or near monopoly business to take over and rake in the profits.

Russia supply energy to Eurasia from the North. The opening for the Trump mob is in the south. The meet with Putin may well be to sound out the possibilities of forming a cartel.

Putin/Russia is also the only entity that can prevent Trump's US from simply walking in and taking over the rich energy hub (Mafia style) to the south of Eurasia.

Daniel , Jul 14, 2018 5:35:42 PM | 104

Peter @101

"Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy."

Yes, it absolutely is. But this is not a new "Trump policy." Certainly Zbiginew Brzezenski laid this out quite clearly in his 1997 book, "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives." It's really all in there, just as you're now identifying. If you can't take the time to read it, please consider at least reading some book reviews. As I've noted before, Ziggy apparently didn't foresee Putin rising to power and restoring the Russian state, which threw the proverbial monkey wrench into the globalists' plans, but really, US foreign policy has continued to follow his plans otherwise.

Kissinger has written much the same, though I don't recall in which books/articles. This page from the US Navy seems a fine reading list, designed as it appears to indoctrinate officers in AZ Empire geopolitics.

http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/CNO-ReadingProgram/partnernetwork.html#!

IMO, the US took the lead in the Empire's Global Energy Dominance quest when FDR met with King Saud on Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal in 1945 (swinging by after the final post-war world planning meeting with Churchill and Stalin at Yalta). This was when the US largely replaced Great Britain in primacy over Asian/Middle Eastern energy dominance.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 5:42:51 PM | 105
Daniel, I will read through the Grand Chessboard again.
Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 5:49:29 PM | 106
US setting up more bases. A base in Iraq, and a large airfreight logistics base in Kuwait.
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201807141066354147-new-us-bases-iraq/

The US is in the Persian Gulf to stay. Trumps face face meet with Putin will be so Trump can try and gauge what Putin will do - if he will run any blocking moves, his reaction to a fait accompli ect. Most likely a few more face to face meetings before any move on Iran.

Daniel , Jul 14, 2018 6:52:45 PM | 108
Peter, thanks for pointing out the new and unwanted US base in Iraq. I just read that the US was building the world's largest Embassy Compound in "Iraqi Kurdistan." I wonder it they're the same thing?

In a quick web search, failing to find an answer, I noticed that besides the "Green Zone" compound we built in Baghdad at the start of the current military occupation, the record holder was the US Embassy Compound in Pakistan.

James and I have discoursed here a bit on the history of US military occupations since WW II. Boils down to the US has never removed its military from any country it's occupied with the exception of Vietnam.

veritas semper vincit @103 linked blogpost notes that the US has 40,000 troops still occupying Germany. His (I presume) post is quite entertaining considering the severe seriousness of the topic.

Dis is a nice little country ya gotz heyah. Id be a shame if sumpin' bad was ta happen to it.

[Jul 15, 2018] Russia studying possible oil-for-goods deal with Iran - Novak

Jul 15, 2018 | uk.reuters.com

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that a deal under which Russia would provide goods to Iran in exchange for oil is still possible.

Russia is studying all legal issues related to the possible deal, he said.

[Jul 14, 2018] Today orange fatty called out Germany for being captive to Russia.

The USA is "captive" of Canada (to use the terminology of trump), but don't seem to have much appreciation or respect for their position.
Jul 14, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hickory

x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 11:20 am
Looks like OPEC 14 peaked two years. Can they beat it?, perhaps by a small amount in a world without chaos.

Today orange fatty called out Germany for being captive to Russia. I'm pretty sure he was referring to German dependence on imported fossil energy from Russia.

As of 2015 Germany net energy imports are 64% of total [USA 12% for comparison]. If this means 'captive', then perhaps we should acknowledge that 11 of our top 13 trading partners are highly dependent on imported energy from either Russia or the big OPEC producers.

'Captives' so to speak. Better get used to that idea, and learn how to get along with others. Only Canada and Mexico aren't 'captives', but we don't look to good at being friends with them either.

[Jul 13, 2018] Trump, like the innocent child in the tale of the naked emperor, has stated the obvious truth that the elite and the experts have refused steadfastly for years to publicly acknowledge. Way to go Trump. You hit a home run.

Notable quotes:
"... Trump seems to enjoy antagonizing the Europeans one way or the other. As to NATO, Trump made the same complaints during his campaign while calling it "obsolete." Sometimes it sounds like he would rather have the US out of NATO. One theory I have is that he is limited in what he can do so he works around TPTBs to get closer to his goals. So he antagonizes and threatens Europe on NATO. The same goes for Syria. He talked about wanting to pull out but kept being drawn back in by the usual suspects. So he's pulled monetary support in certain cases and refused to dig the US in any deeper than it is. And it will be interesting to see what happens with his upcoming meeting with Putin considering how much he had to backtrack on his talk of better relations during his campaign. Those who've wanted him to join the "hate Russia" team may get frustrated. ..."
"... Within this new "mulit-polar" world, only Russia is cutting its military budge. And they still seem to have at least one of the most effective conventional war-fighting capability, and their next generation nuclear deterrence looks nothing short of awesome. They have pipelines to build, and like China, long-term economic contracts to sign. ..."
"... I'm no fan of Angela, but she/Germany have been trying to tamp down this AZ Empire New Cold War against Russia since at least 2013. When she, Putin, Yanukovych (elected President of Ukraine) and the leaders of the Maidan protests got together and signed an agreement in which Yanukovych acquiesced to essentially all of the "peaceful, pro-democracy protesters'" demands, it was the Asst. Secretary of the US State (Vickie Nuland) who said, "F*ck the EU" "We can midwife this thing" and even appointed the new PM "Yats is the guy." ..."
"... The US can't keep funding your crappy little joke of a disintegrating "European Union" for ever. Sooner or later you'll have to put on big-boy pants. ..."
"... USA govt's assessment of China and Russia as "revisionist" should be understood as a determination to remain the hegemonic power. Thus, we have Cold War II. From that perspective, European objections to more "defense" spending are considered naive (or worse) as Europe's fate is views as tied to that of the Empire. ..."
"... I think European elites are much more likely to side with USA than European people. If the Trump's talk with Putin doesn't go well, we are likely to see increased scaremongering to rectify public opinion. ..."
"... Chaos can make doing business harder, but that can also increase profits. As the posters said in the '60s, "War Is Not Good For Children And Other Living Things." But it's great for the psychopaths. ..."
"... Here is an article that explains the relationship between Russian pipelines, USA sanctions on Russia, MH17, Crimea, and Syria. It is an excellent background to comprehend Trump's accusations about Germany's purchase of gas from Russia. Patrick Armstrong and Pat Lang seem to think that Trump is about to cut NATO support, reduce/eliminate sanctions against Russia, and redirect relations with Israel, but I am not persuaded. https://www.unz.com/article/why-was-malaysian-airlines-flight-mh17-shot-down/ by Kees van der Pijl He also wrote a book on this topic. ..."
"... Everything the US does works to undermine its old power in the new world. We see this continually. Trump is an accelerator. But whether any of this is intentional and actually desired by a part of US vested interests, is still an open question. ..."
"... Nevertheless, as we watch, we see every action of the US working to cement the bonds of its opposition in the rest of the world. From the Escobar article linked by karlof1 above, we see the pressure on the Middle East to reject the US and turn for safety to the Eurasian institutions of commerce, finance and national security. The same thing is happening to Europe. ..."
"... he equation as it stands now is this: A muscle-bound USA + an anaemic Europe "deterring" a Russian Federation that has no intention of invading. ..."
"... Since Russia is no threat either way then there is no need - none whatsoever - for the Europeans to increase their military expenditure to "defend themselves" against a non-existent Russian threat. ..."
"... Indeed, the only reason the Europeans would feel that they might have to prepare to "defend themselves" would be because that muscle-bound US military is now outside the tent pissing in, not inside the tent pissing out. ..."
"... Since whenever, America has been the proxy front for the current instantiation of empire with the core of control being ongoing private finance with global tools like BIS, IMF, World Bank, etc. Since WWII and even before the goal of empire is to have all of the world under its control. Since the engine of empire is a supra-national matrix of private finance control, the enemy becomes any nations who do not want to be impregnated with the Western model of private Central Bank, an oligarchy , inheritance, private property, etc. ..."
"... The empire model of growth through wars and boom/bust expansion has reached its "logical" limits and the the existential question has become, blow everything all up or agree to a multipolar world. I think that the elite hope Trump's bluster will make it so they do not have to answer that existential question.....yet ..."
"... If Trump's fake argument gambit was intended to inspire people inside and outside the EU to think outside the box then it seems to have worked. ..."
"... I LUV how Trump stomped on all those preaning European elite scumbags. ..."
"... Agree with Patrick. It is surprising to still see so much animosity towards a president who has done more to combat the absurdity of NATO and globalism than I can remember any other President doing. The ball is in the EU elites court, now. Put up or shut up and I believe it makes no difference to Trump. We are about to find out who is REALLY to blame for marching lockstep with the current of hypercentralization (globalism): the Trump admin or the EU elitez. ..."
"... The US has been manipulating NATO ever since it was formed. Most NATO officials are vetted by the US. Trump is an idiot, like the bulk of US politicians. ..."
"... Trump's "reasoning" makes sense in an infantile sort of way, but there's more too it than meets the eye, is there not? Trump doesn't just want to Europe to "pay their fair share" for NATO, which we all know is code for buying more US mil.gear but also to buy their LNG from US too. It's like NATO is some sort of grotesque, evil franchise where the franchisees can only buy goods/services from that single source, even though it's crap & inordinately expensive, and even if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, i.e Russia. ..."
"... Wow! You don't feel that Trump has, by his mere existence and by winning the presidency, been given a platform of which to decry the myriad injustices of globalization and to utter things unspeakable by any Prez in the last fifty years? ..."
"... Europe has an arms industry of their own. I doubt European countries invest their money into US stuff - they buy their own. Most of the money does not go into weapons anyway, but personel and administration. Germany contributes to the maintenance and infrastructure of US bases, but those bases are business, too. This is not Saudi Arabia buying protection. The real news is that Trump has started a trade war negotiating by tantrum. ..."
Jul 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

kgw , Jul 11, 2018 7:37:47 PM | 35

You are agreeing with an idiot, no matter what...Europe has nothing to worry about with regards to Russia. Unless they threaten Russia. 'Love this exchange at breakfast;

You'd have to be an idiot not to agree with Trump here.


Curtis , Jul 11, 2018 7:42:06 PM | 36

Trump seems to enjoy antagonizing the Europeans one way or the other. As to NATO, Trump made the same complaints during his campaign while calling it "obsolete." Sometimes it sounds like he would rather have the US out of NATO. One theory I have is that he is limited in what he can do so he works around TPTBs to get closer to his goals. So he antagonizes and threatens Europe on NATO. The same goes for Syria. He talked about wanting to pull out but kept being drawn back in by the usual suspects. So he's pulled monetary support in certain cases and refused to dig the US in any deeper than it is. And it will be interesting to see what happens with his upcoming meeting with Putin considering how much he had to backtrack on his talk of better relations during his campaign. Those who've wanted him to join the "hate Russia" team may get frustrated.

Will he take direct action on any of these things? I doubt it. The indirect route seems to go in the right direction.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 7:50:36 PM | 38
karlof!. Good to "see" you back. The following is specifically to you, but it does continue from your first comment. [I couldn't get some links to embed, sorry]

My best short term hope is that all this war-blustering is just to convince we commoners to bend over so the military/industrial contractors can make lots of gelt. The Global War OF Terror has been terrific for their bank accounts, but with SAA and the MoD of the RF beating the snot out of terrorists wherever they go to such an extent that the Pentagon is considering ISIS essentially defeated.

Besides, the really "big ticket products" are things like aircraft carriers, "upgraded" nuclear weapons, 5th Generation fighters, etc. etc. etc., that are harder to excuse when their targets are guys in sandals with AK47s and IEDs. That could be why the 2018 National Defense Strategy plan has shifted from fighting "terrorism" back to " the long-term, strategic competition between nations." https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf

Same with our "adversary" across the big pond in China. Just the other day, the CPC warned of "China's army infiltrated by 'peace disease' requiring a major new "defense posture" just like the US and NATO.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2153579/chinas-army-infiltrated-peace-disease-after-years

China's Central Military Commission specified that much of this "posturing" will be "military reforms are aimed at expanding its military might from the traditional focus on land territories to maritime influence to protect the nation's strategic interests in a new era. "

Within this new "mulit-polar" world, only Russia is cutting its military budge. And they still seem to have at least one of the most effective conventional war-fighting capability, and their next generation nuclear deterrence looks nothing short of awesome. They have pipelines to build, and like China, long-term economic contracts to sign.

Patrick Armstrong , Jul 11, 2018 7:52:25 PM | 39
No dear b, for once I think you've got it wrong. I see Trump asking three question for all of which there is one answer.
1. Angela. You tell us that NATO ought to concentrate on the Russian threat. If Russia is a threat, why are you buying gas from it?
2. Angela, You tell us that Russia is a reliable energy supplier. If Russia is a reliable supplier, why are you telling us it's a threat?
3. Angela. I hope you're not saying Russia is a threat and its gas is cheap but the USA will save us.

The answer to all 3 questions is: we're out of here, defend yourselves. It's Trump cutting the Gordian Knot of obligations.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 7:54:11 PM | 40
Aarrgghh! Besides some continuity problems when I recut and pasted the above since the links weren't working, I also left out the following completely.

That could be why, even though the US 2018 Nuclear Posture Review observes we are changing from: "For decades, the United States led the world in efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons." To " the current, pragmatic assessment of the threats we face and the uncertainties regarding the future security environment." Which conveniently can use up, or more likely go over budget on former President CareBear's additional $10 Billion in nuclear weapons development over the succeeding 10 years.

https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 8:12:45 PM | 42
Patrick Armstrong @38.

I'm no fan of Angela, but she/Germany have been trying to tamp down this AZ Empire New Cold War against Russia since at least 2013. When she, Putin, Yanukovych (elected President of Ukraine) and the leaders of the Maidan protests got together and signed an agreement in which Yanukovych acquiesced to essentially all of the "peaceful, pro-democracy protesters'" demands, it was the Asst. Secretary of the US State (Vickie Nuland) who said, "F*ck the EU" "We can midwife this thing" and even appointed the new PM "Yats is the guy."

She was then an active participant in the Minsk Agreement to end the "anti-terrorism action" Which our gal Vickie shredded publicly the next day because the AZ Empire thought the Uki-Nazis would finish off those Muscovite, Colorado hicks and (can I post the Ukie terms for Jews?) in the east like they'd done in the south.

Then, Angela was involved in the Minsk II cease-fire/road to peace (when the Uki-Nazis were being driven out of the east, and were about to lose Mariupol).

I know there are others in addition to b here who know this stuff better than I. Isn't this about right?

Piotr Berman , Jul 11, 2018 8:19:07 PM | 43
"It is extremely hypocritical for Poland to lobby against Nord Stream when it significantly contributes to Poland's energy security."

There are other explanations that could be better documented, like stupidity and insanity. BTW, Poland has big pollution problem, and a major part is that many older multifamily buildings and new single family building has polluting heating with coal furnaces and stoves. Natural gas does not generate pollutants except for CO2 which is not affecting health, plus it uses less than half of carbon than coal.

On the other note, merely to get enough gas for internal needs, Poland could get enough through Belorus. But if you need to add re-export to Ukraine, that is not enough. So Poles can pride themselves of not being as stupid and insane as their southeastern neighbors.

james , Jul 11, 2018 8:24:21 PM | 44
publius tacitus at sst take on this..
james , Jul 11, 2018 8:26:42 PM | 45
@41 daniel.. patrick has quite a good handle on this topic... https://patrickarmstrong.ca/
financial matters , Jul 11, 2018 8:27:15 PM | 46
Patrick Armstrong@38

Well stated. There are many gordian knots. The BIS should be dissolved ""Responsible fiscal practice requires a government to fill spending gaps left by fluctuations in non-government spending patterns. In that way, the government takes responsibility for maintaining full employment. What the Troika did in Greece was the exemplar of irresponsible fiscal practice.""

Tannenhouser , Jul 11, 2018 8:28:19 PM | 47
I really really like the way you include a 'solution' to a global problem in this analysis b. To many times we just speak to the choir and rarely are solutions presented regardless where they lie on the possible/probable line. Did I mention I really like this SA. Thanks.
Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 8:28:38 PM | 48
karlof1 @7. In graph 1, of actual dollar expenditure, NATO spending was going down until 2012, then it started to rise again, and has been a net increase every year since 2015.

In graph 4, per nation spending relative to GDP went up from 2014 to 2017 in almost all member states notably, except the US and UK, but even then, US went from 3.58% to slightly over 3.5% and UK from 2.14% to a touch over 2.1%, so both are above the 2% "minimum."

Graphs 5, 6, 7 all show actual dollar expenditures dropping from 1010 to 2014, but then increasing every year since then.

Perhaps I misunderstood your point. But it sure looks like NATO spending has been rising since this "New Cold War" really kicked into gear in 3024/2015.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 8:54:30 PM | 49
Pft @ 27

"One big reason they deposed the Shah who was planning to go big with nuclear power with orders for about 20 French and /or German reactors"

Another hat in the ring for CIA/MI6/Mossad helping to install the Islamic part of the Iranian Revolution? WooHoo!

"China basically has a monopoly on these metals"

Yes. Bear in mind though that "discovered" after the US invasion/occupation is that Afghanistan has perhaps the world's largest reserves of lithium. And the "Democratic Republic" of Congo also has much rare earth wealth. As in fact do other parts of central Africa. Hence, the AZ Empire's new "AfriCom" military classification and the reinstallation of French Colonialism.

I'm not so up on this whole tariff thing. Hasn't Germany had substantial tariffs on automobiles for years now? Do those tariffs apply to other EU states?

Peter AU 1 , Jul 11, 2018 9:02:50 PM | 50
Daniel
I have read in the past that Afghan is very rich in a number of minerals and China was looking at development there as part of it road belt intuitive. Going by the state Afghanistan is in I can't see the US extracting minerals there. US squatting in Afghanistan may be simply to deny Chinese access to the mineral deposits.
/div
/div
Chipnik , Jul 11, 2018 9:07:45 PM | 52
10

If NS2 goes online and EU goes dark to Qatar, especially if Iran corks Qatar with a South pipeline, the Middle East economies will collapse into chaos, and nobody will be buying either US guns or butter.

US'own economy is going down the crapper with No Taxes for the Rich running an $800B Deficit, and private Fed Bank ratcheting up $50B at a gulp in interest-only Debt financing ...forever. Collapse of MediCare and MediCaid will bleed even more out of the retsil economy, which will increase the Deficit, into a National Debt death spiral, and collapse of the public pensiin systems.

If you project MIC arms spendung and Fed interest-only bleed out, Trump's illegal 25% Fed VAT sales tax (aka 'tariffs) and EU/RU/CH counter-tariffs, all US health and human services will be insolvent by 2025.

When that happens, and could happen much sooner, the world we knew in 20C will be inverted, upended, chaos, albeit, only chaos for the Lower Classes, Workers and Private Pensioners/401Ks. The Deep Purple Mil.Gov UniParty will...uhh...find a way!

gda , Jul 11, 2018 9:10:23 PM | 53
@kgw
"You are agreeing with an idiot, no matter what...Europe has nothing to worry about with regards to Russia. Unless they threaten Russia."

Well shit or get off the pot why don't you - "idiot" Trump is calling your bluff - stop freeloading off a (by your assessment) non-existent threat, or he'll stop it for you. Can't have it both ways. The US can't keep funding your crappy little joke of a disintegrating "European Union" for ever. Sooner or later you'll have to put on big-boy pants.

Methinks this guy has a good take on this. "Trump, like the innocent child in the tale of the naked emperor, has stated the obvious truth that the elite and the experts have refused steadfastly for years to publicly acknowledge. Way to go Trump. You hit a home run."
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/07/nato-a-naked-emperor-by-publius-tacitus.html/

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 9:23:02 PM | 54
James, @44. I largely agree with (and have called for) Patrick's recommendations for what Ukraine should do now. I don't see anything in there that contravenes what I wrote about Germany's role in the AZ Empire's coup and resulting war, though.

Do you remember those events, or should I dig out citations? I was following it pretty closely from mid/late 2013 until it quieted down in 2015. Since then, I just pick up articles here and there.

like, did you see that Israel is providing assault rifles and ammo to the Azov Battalion (the naziest of the neo-nazis)? And then, of course, the Zoo-nazis whine about a couple of Jewish journalists reporting on it.

Chipnik , Jul 11, 2018 9:23:59 PM | 55
34

When you'd have to be an idiot to agree with Trump ($1 TRILLION MIC arms profiteering slash National Police State slash MIC Indefinite Detention Gulags), but now you'd have to be an idiot NOT to agree with Trump (drag EU into the funeral pyre)m then you know it must be the Red Army v Blue Army media spewfest and the National Novitiate in November is near. Rahhh.

E pluribus now get back to work. Your 2Q ONE TRILLION Deep Purple State tithe-tibute is due in 3 more days, ONE TRILKION that you and your hiers will never see again.

Jackrabbit , Jul 11, 2018 9:29:23 PM | 56
USA govt's assessment of China and Russia as "revisionist" should be understood as a determination to remain the hegemonic power. Thus, we have Cold War II. From that perspective, European objections to more "defense" spending are considered naive (or worse) as Europe's fate is views as tied to that of the Empire.

I think European elites are much more likely to side with USA than European people. If the Trump's talk with Putin doesn't go well, we are likely to see increased scaremongering to rectify public opinion.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 9:31:41 PM | 57
Peter AU 1 @49

Well, the opium is sure getting out ok. ;-)

Not to mention those same rare earth metals are getting out of DRC despite millions of murderous deaths and disease.

And the oil started flowing out of Libya before Gaddafi was even lynched. Oil's been flowing out of "Kurdish" Iraq into Israel come hell or high water. And of course, ISIL was shipping Syrian oil through Turkey and Jordan (if not Israel) throughout.

Chaos can make doing business harder, but that can also increase profits. As the posters said in the '60s, "War Is Not Good For Children And Other Living Things." But it's great for the psychopaths.

Guerrero , Jul 11, 2018 9:35:30 PM | 58
Trump's native approach I suspect may be something like that of fellow-New Yorker and great American chess player Bobby Fischer who famously said: "Try something!"
Jackrabbit , Jul 11, 2018 9:46:02 PM | 60
Daniel @41

That sounds about right. I would only add that Minsk Accord is another example of a non-agreement. Ukraine never signed yet Russia is accused of not implementing this non-agreement whenever people feel the need for some more Russia-bashing.

mauisurfer , Jul 11, 2018 10:31:07 PM | 61
Here is an article that explains the relationship between Russian pipelines, USA sanctions on Russia, MH17, Crimea, and Syria. It is an excellent background to comprehend Trump's accusations about Germany's purchase of gas from Russia. Patrick Armstrong and Pat Lang seem to think that Trump is about to cut NATO support, reduce/eliminate sanctions against Russia, and redirect relations with Israel, but I am not persuaded. https://www.unz.com/article/why-was-malaysian-airlines-flight-mh17-shot-down/ by Kees van der Pijl He also wrote a book on this topic.
Guerrero , Jul 11, 2018 10:40:00 PM | 62
I'm not so up on this whole tariff thing.

Trump follows the footsprints of the post-USA Civil War Republican Party policy. From Chapter 1 of The Politicos 1865-1896 by Matthew Josephson (published in 1938)

"The new industrialist and financial class and the farmers of the North emerged the greatest gainers by far among the mixed coalition of classes which fought to win the social revolution underlying the War Between the States. But no less triumphant and dominent was the war party itself, the youthful organization of professional politicians and officeholders known as the Republican Party. A minority party in 1860, and victor in a three-cornered electoral contest, it knew during the war the intoxication of unchallenged power and fortune beyond calculation, leaving it in command of all the offices of the Federal Government!"

From Beard, Contemporary American History, p.91

It had the management of the gigantic war finances, through which it attached to itself the interests ... of the great capitalists and bankers throughout the North. It raised revenues by a high tariff which placed thousands of manufacturers under debt to it and linked their fortunes also with its fate ... Railway financiers and promoters of all kinds had to turn to it for privileges and protection...

mauisurfer , Jul 11, 2018 10:48:49 PM | 63
jackrabbit@59
surprised to hear you say Ukraine did not sign MinskII. On the contrary, I read that it was signed by LD Kuchma, Second President of Ukraine. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Signatories

The document was signed by:[23]

Swiss diplomat and OSCE representative Heidi Tagliavini
Former president of Ukraine and Ukrainian representative Leonid Kuchma
Russian Ambassador to Ukraine and Russian representative Mikhail Zurabov
Separatist's leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minsk_II#Signatories

All-night negotiations on Wednesday ended with the signing of the Declaration of Minsk in support of the "Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements" by Angela Merkel of Germany, Francois Hollande of France, Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin of Russia and release of the full agreement. The talks, according to some reports, almost collapsed near the end as Ukraine and rebel leaders balked at signing.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2015/02/13/putin-comes-out-on-top-in-new-minsk-agreement/#21ffe18f4ede

Guerrero , Jul 11, 2018 11:34:57 PM | 64
From Chapter 1 of The Politicos 1865-1896 by Matthew Josephson (published in 1938):

"The prosecution of the war against rebellion had been associated with a protective tariff levied against a hated England. which profited and sought to profit further from our disaster. With the close of the war, a cry arose from the Northeastern region that high tariffs were needed to pay the war debt. and an outburst of high Protectionism followed in 1866."

V , Jul 11, 2018 11:44:37 PM | 65
# 20

Trump is factually correct; but it doesn't make him right.

Grieved , Jul 11, 2018 11:51:06 PM | 66
Everything the US does works to undermine its old power in the new world. We see this continually. Trump is an accelerator. But whether any of this is intentional and actually desired by a part of US vested interests, is still an open question.

Nevertheless, as we watch, we see every action of the US working to cement the bonds of its opposition in the rest of the world. From the Escobar article linked by karlof1 above, we see the pressure on the Middle East to reject the US and turn for safety to the Eurasian institutions of commerce, finance and national security. The same thing is happening to Europe.

Some days I think that Trump was a brilliantly inspired choice of some deep state players to further their agenda of fragmenting the old arrangements to allow new alignments to come into place - to modernize the elite control of the world. But most days I just don't know. What can one say about a force this magisterial and still this enigmatic?

I was talking with a friend today about Trump. She said she sees his approach as quite typical of US business style. You come out with the big stick, knowing it will get chopped in half by the time you get to agreement. But at least you end up with half a stick. Gotta start big. You don't ask, you don't get.

This style worked perfectly with North Korea, which was a standout among the nations of the world, in my opinion, for understanding superbly well how Trump played the game, and played it right back. The result was a meeting of equals, where something could actually get done. But NK worked hard to develop the bargaining chip to put on the table too. Words without substance don't work.

I'm not seeing many other countries responding with this same kind of exaggerated bravado - it is a very US way of doing business. Most countries are simply working to go around the US. Europe seems to be doing the same thing, simply rejecting and turning away. But the European countries could certainly create bargaining chips if they wanted to play the Trump game of negotiation. I truly suspect his style is something they're still getting to grips with. Perhaps they should call Kim for pointers.

I think ultimately we are seeing two things at work, and in tandem: the natural style of Trump, and the very real and unstoppable current of history. Whether either force is aware of the other, I can't say. Like the success or failure of the French Revolution, it's too soon to tell.

dh , Jul 11, 2018 11:56:34 PM | 67
@65 Good summary. I think the Europeans simply don't know what to make of him. The look on Stoltenberg's face said it all. They just don't know how to respond to someone so direct. Maybe Putin is the only one who can talk his language....but not in public.
karlof1 , Jul 11, 2018 11:57:58 PM | 68
Daniel--

China's taking a page from Mahan regarding sea power. NATO graphs: I mentioned Obama ordered an increase in spending and the chart shows the compliance. The ups and downs correlate well with wars and major recessions.

james , Jul 12, 2018 12:07:22 AM | 69
@53 daniel... what you said earlier - i think much the same way... i would be curious to know more of how patrick armstrong sees all that, but i think it is much the same as us too.. those links @53 reflect how messed up ukraine is at present.. having a failed state on your doorstep doesn't sound like fun and that works both ways for europe and russia.. i guess that was the usa ( and israels?) plan... screw up countries so they don't function properly, so you have to spend a lot of imf money to fix them.. works for wall st, lol..
Yeah, Right , Jul 12, 2018 12:07:56 AM | 70
@38 "The answer to all 3 questions is: we're out of here, defend yourselves"

Patrick, I'm confused: they are meant to defend themselves against whom, exactly? T he equation as it stands now is this: A muscle-bound USA + an anaemic Europe "deterring" a Russian Federation that has no intention of invading.

Remove the muscle-bound Americans from the equation and this is what remains: An anaemic Europe "deterring" a Russian Federation that has no intention of invading.

Since Russia is no threat either way then there is no need - none whatsoever - for the Europeans to increase their military expenditure to "defend themselves" against a non-existent Russian threat.

Indeed, the only reason the Europeans would feel that they might have to prepare to "defend themselves" would be because that muscle-bound US military is now outside the tent pissing in, not inside the tent pissing out.

dh , Jul 12, 2018 12:17:13 AM | 71
@68 Maybe they thought Ukraine would join the EU at some point but Crimea was the prize. The plan was to turn Crimea into a NATO base. Putin spoiled everything.
Jackrabbit , Jul 12, 2018 12:19:28 AM | 72
mauisurfer @62

Wikipedia also says (as part Leonid Kuchma's bio):

Since July 2014, Kuchma has been Ukraine's representative at the semi-official peace talks regarding the ongoing War in Donbass.
Why are they "semi-official"? Because Ukraine would not talk to the rebels directly. They believe that the rebels are sponsored by Russia so the dispute is between Russia and Ukraine. They would not talk to the rebels as that might convey legitimacy to the rebels. That's why the Trialteral Contact Group was set up. The signers of Minsk II (Russia, Germany, France, Kuchma/Ukraine) are merely "guarantors" of an agreement between Ukraine and the Donbas rebels - neither of which has actually signed.

Kuchma "represents" Ukraine but can't bind Ukraine. Although Poroschenko attended some of the talks, he never signed the agreement.

Minsk and Minsk II have reduced conflict somewhat but Ukraine has dragged its feet every step of the way. For example: they were slow to pull back heavy artillery as called for under the accord, then they wouldn't pass laws that were necessary for other provisions of the accord.

Recently, Ukraine has passed a law that essentially negates Minsk/Minsk II and treats the rebels as terrorists (as Ukraine has always claimed them to be) .

The Minsk accords outlined a detailed procedure through which Donetsk and Luhansk would receive "special status," hold internationally-recognized elections, and then negotiate their reintegration into Ukraine directly with Kiev, including basic constitutional reforms to federalize the country. No substantive steps have ever been undertaken by either side to implement these terms, and the new "Donbass Integration Law" now makes clear that Kiev expects the country to be re-united on its terms alone, though probably not anytime soon.

Ukrainian lawmakers, who overwhelmingly passed the bill on Jan. 19, argue that it simply normalizes a situation that has long existed but was clouded by misleading jargon and official fealty to the non-functioning Minsk accords .

Poroschenko signed the bill into law in February 2018.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 12, 2018 12:22:41 AM | 73
@dh "Maybe Putin is the only one who can talk his language"

Going by what Putin said of Trump after their 2 1/2 hour meeting in Vietnam, it seems more likely Trump talks in Putin's language when meeting actual leaders. Same would go for his meeting with KJU, and I would guess Xi.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 12, 2018 12:25:05 AM | 74
Within the US west, there would be no one Trump could meet as a leader and equal. They are all hired help.
psychohistorian , Jul 12, 2018 12:52:59 AM | 75
@ Grieved with his observations

Since whenever, America has been the proxy front for the current instantiation of empire with the core of control being ongoing private finance with global tools like BIS, IMF, World Bank, etc. Since WWII and even before the goal of empire is to have all of the world under its control. Since the engine of empire is a supra-national matrix of private finance control, the enemy becomes any nations who do not want to be impregnated with the Western model of private Central Bank, an oligarchy , inheritance, private property, etc.

The empire model of growth through wars and boom/bust expansion has reached its "logical" limits and the the existential question has become, blow everything all up or agree to a multipolar world. I think that the elite hope Trump's bluster will make it so they do not have to answer that existential question.....yet

The EU has always been a bastard child with little chance of growing up because there was no finance core agreements to manage the national variations within. I am surprised it has lasted as long as it has given the historical tension between the nations. The US has similar social tensions but our structure has homoginized the economy enough that we haven't imploded...yet

The key to this process which I believe is being managed by the elite is at what point are the big decisions made and by whom. Given the accelerated nature of the managed deconstruction, I suspect the elite believe they will retain their mystique of power long enough to not lose grip on private finance running the Western world. The EU countries will have to come to terms with their oligarchs and determine what path forward works for all of eurasia. I don't see the current leadership of any EU countries as having the public's best interest in mind or action.

Are we seeing Western plutocracy fail of its own "weight"? Perhaps so.....nice

Hoarsewhisperer , Jul 12, 2018 1:03:22 AM | 76
If Trump's fake argument gambit was intended to inspire people inside and outside the EU to think outside the box then it seems to have worked.
Fernando Arauxo , Jul 12, 2018 1:05:36 AM | 77
I LUV how Trump stomped on all those preaning European elite scumbags. He's my hero for pooping all over their little pride parade. Tell em like it is Donald they call you stupid and all those other useless names. Your stinking GENIUS. MORE and an ENCORE!!!!
NemesisCalling , Jul 12, 2018 1:25:27 AM | 78
@39 Patrick

Agree with Patrick. It is surprising to still see so much animosity towards a president who has done more to combat the absurdity of NATO and globalism than I can remember any other President doing. The ball is in the EU elites court, now. Put up or shut up and I believe it makes no difference to Trump. We are about to find out who is REALLY to blame for marching lockstep with the current of hypercentralization (globalism): the Trump admin or the EU elitez.

Sorry for the break in the Trump-bashing. Let's all get back to that good ol' America-hatin' catharsis.

Den Lille Abe , Jul 12, 2018 1:55:52 AM | 79
So nothing is really new, sigh!

Since the start of the 70ties I have heard exactly the same tune from the US and the blathering idiot in charge now has not changed the tune; ever since have I had to listen to this "The Russians are coming" tune, with the rhetoric getting ever more shrill and false, 1989 brought a brief and marvelous, albeit very short pause to this tune, and for a few years the US Kleptocracy was happy plundering the former USSR. When Russia resisted the plunder i. e. Putin was elected, the tune started over again from where it was paused, disregarding the fact that Russia does not in any way compare to the former USSR.

N, noooe , it is still "The Russians are coming" playing, but with a new beat, pepped up, but same substance. But we are not listening anymore, the disgraceful actions and evil behavior of The United States of Mordor, have come into the open (The internet, appreciate it, we will not for long have it in its present form), even the most daft of us quietly starts wondering.

Well I am not daft, and the questioning ended 4 decades ago, The US must be resisted. Our politicians here on the continent must wake up and reject US imperialism and militarism, and devise our own defenses if deemed necessary, many European nations are not at the living standards we enjoy in Scandinavia, surely the money were better spent on that.

If the Poles and Baltic's want American troops on their soil, withdraw EU spending, we do not need their insane sabre rattling. (Especially the Poles are vile, they forget that when Hitler invaded, they had been a fascist dictatorship for years).

V , Jul 12, 2018 2:36:38 AM | 80
Den Lille Abe # 79
N, noooe , it is still "The Russians are coming" playing, but with a new beat, pepped up, but same substance.

Two things; a total lack of imagination combined with a failure to apply intelligence; the I.Q. kind.

Pft , Jul 12, 2018 2:54:07 AM | 81
Nemesisiscalling@78

What exactly has Trump done to combat the absurdity of globalization and NATO besides talk? While he stopped TPP and TIPP he is negotiating similar agreements bilaterally. Also his Personal Empire benefits from globalization.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/28/five-ways-donald-trump-benefits-from-the-globalization-he-says-he-hates/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.daf25165315b

US only contributes 1% of their defense budget to NATO's direct costs so pulling out of NATO would make hardly a dent in the budget except to increase costs to relocate all the personnel and hardware. Those bases are invaluableHis calling for NATO countries to increase defense spending benefits US and Israeli companies who make up the military and security industrial complex and wont do squat to lower the defense budget

kgw , Jul 12, 2018 3:05:25 AM | 82

Born and raised in Southern California, been here 70 years... The US has been manipulating NATO ever since it was formed. Most NATO officials are vetted by the US. Trump is an idiot, like the bulk of US politicians.

@kgw
"You are agreeing with an idiot, no matter what...Europe has nothing to worry about with regards to Russia. Unless they threaten Russia."

Well shit or get off the pot why don't you - "idiot" Trump is calling your bluff - stop freeloading off a (by your assessment) non-existent threat, or he'll stop it for you. Can't have it both ways. The US can't keep funding your crappy little joke of a disintegrating "European Union" for ever. Sooner or later you'll have to put on big-boy pants. Methinks this guy has a good take on this.

"Trump, like the innocent child in the tale of the naked emperor, has stated the obvious truth that the elite and the experts have refused steadfastly for years to publicly acknowledge. Way to go Trump. You hit a home run."
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/07/nato-a-naked-emperor-by-publius-tacitus.html/

rcentros , Jul 12, 2018 4:42:16 AM | 83
You're assuming Europe's leaders aren't bought and paid for by Wall Bank Street Banksters. The system is rigged. I wouldn't doubt that they go into lapdog mode and bow to blowhard Trump.
somebody , Jul 12, 2018 5:58:30 AM | 84
83 Trump has just offically blown up NATO.

This was worked out before - there will be a " European Defense Union " including Britain.

Mrs Merkel emphasised that the German armed forces would remain commanded by parliament and not the government, and "would not take part in every mission".

This is theater.

somebody , Jul 12, 2018 6:18:14 AM | 85
add to 84

This here is a clear description of the issues involved . Of course, in the rivalry between the US and Russia, Europe's interest is best served playing the two off each other united. It is no surprise both - the US and Russia - have a strategic interest to split Europe. You don't believe Russia doing this, too? This here is from Greece . No, their government is not anti-Russian.

Macedonia is expecting an invitation at the NATO summit in Brussels this week to join following its landmark deal with Greece whereby it will change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. Moscow strongly opposes NATO expansion.

...

The Greek diplomatic source told Reuters Athens would expel two diplomats and bar two other Russians from entering the country due to concerns that they were involved in rallies in Greece against the deal with Macedonia and that they had attempted to offer money to Greek state officials.

Becoming a "neutral" military force would end this type of nonsense. Trump acting like mafia is another strong incentive.

ralphieboy , Jul 12, 2018 6:20:14 AM | 86
@AH #37:

"The U.S. military is the biggest socialist organization of the world. It is egalitarian and its citizens, i.e. the soldiers, are extremely well cared for. It runs its own healthcare system through the Veterans Health Administration."

A wonderful conclusion b.

Does anyone know of any in-depth economic analysis of the U.S. military as a state welfare system for its members, as well as the impact of aggregate military spending on the general purchasing power of citizens within the society at large?

And US military spending is also an enormous job-creation and wealth-redistribution program in the form of defense contractors spread all over the nation, where they are especially vital for areas with weak employment.

The US winds up with a lot of projects it does not need because Congresspeople are not about to kill a program that employs thousands in their districts.

Zanon , Jul 12, 2018 6:43:32 AM | 87
Why should Germany spend 4% on its military? Didnt see that coming from this blog. Are germany facing an enemy? If not, its a waste of more money. All this useless money could be spend to actually strenghten the welfare state. Something that actually matters and are much needed. So which enemy is Germany facing? Either Trump is right that Russia is a threat to Germany or hes not. What is it?
V , Jul 12, 2018 6:54:14 AM | 88
#87
So which enemy is Germany facing?

The U.S., of course...

Zanon , Jul 12, 2018 7:18:45 AM | 89
This is absurd, Nato leader kick out EU leader during talks with Trump...
https://www.rt.com/usa/432844-trump-nato-leave-congress/
somebody , Jul 12, 2018 7:31:37 AM | 91
Posted by: ralphieboy | Jul 12, 2018 6:20:14 AM | 86

Therefore Trump needs NATO more than Europe needs NATO. How else defend the defense spending?

Senate votes to support NATO ahead of Trump summit

The nonbinding motion, which came as the Senate voted to reconcile its version of the annual defense policy bill with that of the House, expresses the Senate's support for NATO and calls on negotiators to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to it. The 97-2 vote in the Senate comes as Trump heads to Brussels.

That is bi-partisanship.

Zanon , Jul 12, 2018 7:34:27 AM | 92
Lol watching Trump asking questions, pretty only fanatical eastern-European journalists pretty much urging war with Russia,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb9Snz6ivdY
Mark2 , Jul 12, 2018 7:34:59 AM | 93
The last time they debated a missing 21 trillion defense money at the pentagon, they got a cruse missile through the door! Figure that out! 911
somebody , Jul 12, 2018 8:12:36 AM | 95
It looks like Germany caved on the Iran deal

Helaba is a state bank.

xLemming , Jul 12, 2018 8:27:20 AM | 96
@21 gda

Trump's "reasoning" makes sense in an infantile sort of way, but there's more too it than meets the eye, is there not? Trump doesn't just want to Europe to "pay their fair share" for NATO, which we all know is code for buying more US mil.gear but also to buy their LNG from US too. It's like NATO is some sort of grotesque, evil franchise where the franchisees can only buy goods/services from that single source, even though it's crap & inordinately expensive, and even if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, i.e Russia.

I would love to see those fence-sitting NATO countries tell the US "sure, we'll increase our mil. spending, but after what we saw in Syria, we'll be buying our gear from Russia" (more bang for the buck too!) - that would be game, set & match right there!

LeaNder , Jul 12, 2018 8:33:38 AM | 97
I think you are wrong, Bernard. It will sell well in Europe too. To what extend were the themes of the Brexit campaign based on Germany as the slave master of Europe, to exaggerate slightly? It will also sell well in the US.
NemesisCalling , Jul 12, 2018 8:40:01 AM | 98
@81 pft

Wow! You don't feel that Trump has, by his mere existence and by winning the presidency, been given a platform of which to decry the myriad injustices of globalization and to utter things unspeakable by any Prez in the last fifty years?

I don't think you've been paying attention. The proof is in the pudding but what will be the benefit of raising the spectre of doubt over bad deals like NATO, the current iteration of world trade, and for animosity towards Russia? Evidently, it ain't worth shit to predictable TDS-sufferers that hang around here.

Circe , Jul 12, 2018 9:01:34 AM | 99
So much for those who projected that Trump's demands for an increase in the defense spending of other members and his scolding of Germany would lead to a weaker Nato! Nato members just caved to Trump and are increasing their spending and Trump is touting that Nato is stronger and everyone's doing the kumbaya.

When I say that Trump is establishment on steroids; it's an understatement. Trump is doing the kissy, kissy with Putin because the plan is to pull Russia away from collaborating with China. Zionist oligarchs are in league with Trump and Russia will eventually be under their complete control.

@98 You just don't get it. Trump is fascist establishment. Trump is separating kids from their mothers. Who does that??? He's a sick sadist.

somebody , Jul 12, 2018 9:14:59 AM | 100
Posted by: xLemming | Jul 12, 2018 8:27:20 AM | 96

Europe has an arms industry of their own. I doubt European countries invest their money into US stuff - they buy their own. Most of the money does not go into weapons anyway, but personel and administration. Germany contributes to the maintenance and infrastructure of US bases, but those bases are business, too. This is not Saudi Arabia buying protection. The real news is that Trump has started a trade war negotiating by tantrum.

[Jul 13, 2018] Trump's False Arguments about Russian gas will not sell well in Europe

But Trump has a great point: if you claim that Russia is ready to invade you, why you are buying gas from potential occupier?
Notable quotes:
"... Russia is a near neighbor to Germany. Commerce between relatively close countries is the normal course of events, so what is Trump suggesting, a 1970's style energy embargo on Russia? Depriving Russia the opportunity all trade with her neighbors 'because we said so' is no better than a blockade. ..."
Jul 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Donald Trump, the 'America First' salesman, came to Brussels today to demand more tribute to the empire. He wants Europe to buy more U.S. made weapons and to use U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG). But his arguments are all wrong. The people in Europe are not impressed by them and they will reject his appeals.

His first talk in Brussels was a profoundly wrong bashing of Germany to push it into buying very expensive LNG from U.S. fracking producers. Trump, Putin's puppet according to the 'resistance', used the Russian bogeyman to set the scene:

Well, I have to say, I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you're supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.
...
So we're protect you against Russia, but they're paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that's very inappropriate. And the former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that's supplying the gas. Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.

So you tell me, is that appropriate? I mean, I've been complaining about this from the time I got in. It should have never been allowed to have happened. But Germany is totally controlled by Russia , because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.
...
Now, if you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply. They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear. They're getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.
...
I think trade is wonderful. I think energy is a whole different story. I think energy is a much different story than normal trade. And you have a country like Poland that won't accept the gas . You take a look at some of the countries -- they won't accept it, because they don't want to be captive to Russia. But Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia, because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia. So we're supposed to protect Germany, but they're getting their energy from Russia. Explain that. And it can't be explained -- you know that.

Trump was talking about the Nordstream II pipeline which will supply Germany and other European countries with natural gas from Russia.


bigger

Nord Stream I has been operating for a while. Nord Stream II is currently being build by private Austrian and German companies.

Cont. reading:

Posted by b at 02:50 PM | Comments (161)

bevin , Jul 11, 2018 3:41:00 PM | 3

It is indeed hard to believe that western european governments would agree to what Christopher Black calls a "US shakedown". Except that they have been doing so since 1949.

It is important to remember that the US Embassy exerts at least as much influence on the government as Parliament does. And that Parliaments are full of agents of the the US empire, in some cases they are actually on the payroll, many more are either US educated, marinated in the imperialist ideology or in the service of corporations which know that the Empire is the final guarantor of their survival and capable of crushing them with ease.

That having been said, things are changing, The imperialists cling to power only by exerting the most extraordinary, and unsustainable, pressure. An example of which is the ludicrously over-wrought campaign against the left in the UK being waged by the Israeli Embassy, with the assistance of the entire MSM.

B's arguments are correct but it will take a mobilised and politically conscious public opinion to impose them on governments full of people who see themselves as Washington's servants and expect to be rewarded one day for being loyal to the US and for betraying their countrymen and, of course, women.

SomeGuy , Jul 11, 2018 3:41:41 PM | 4

The question is if Europe will truly continue to bark and bite at the deep state or if this is all just for show and they'll eventually capitulate. I'm worried that this is nothing more than political theatre. I'm not expecting much from the Europeans. But we'll see.
karlof1 , Jul 11, 2018 6:45:07 PM | 25
Europe buying LNG from the US just makes no sense at all. Aside from the cost, LNG is difficult to transport and work with; the whole idea is just nuts, especially considering the quantities involved. In addition, Russian gas is plentiful and cheap, so to expect Europe not to use it is also nuts.

Could it be that Trump fully understands this and the hidden agenda is to get out of NATO and bring home the troops?

jack Leavitt | Jul 11, 2018 3:53:59 PM | 5

An Act of War against Russia

Russia is a near neighbor to Germany. Commerce between relatively close countries is the normal course of events, so what is Trump suggesting, a 1970's style energy embargo on Russia? Depriving Russia the opportunity all trade with her neighbors 'because we said so' is no better than a blockade.

One of these days, my country is going to get a taste of, 'no soup for you' and we will be screaming like stuck pigs.

Yes, I am obsessed w/Sean Hannity

It's his earnest, self-righteous, mind numbingly idiotic voice, I'm hypnotized. Ollie North was on his show and they were going on about 'Iran's' saber rattling by threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz. Sean rattled off how the EU would wake up and it would be the end of Iran's belligerence.

He neglected to mention that this 'threat' is only coming after our act of war by actively trying to cut off all of Iran's oil exports which is no better than a naval blockade.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Jul 11, 2018 4:25:37 PM | 6

Much can be gleaned from this NATO Defence Expenditure pdf with special attention given to graphs 5, 6 & 7. Since the dissolution of the USSR, military spending as share of GDP by EU & Canada decreased about 50% as shown in Graph 5. It should also be noted that the demand made by the Outlaw US Empire for EU NATO members to increase their wastage of monies on military equipment began with Obama in 2015, with compliance noted by the graphs in 2016. When Obama gave his orders, very little squawking was heard from EU/Canada governments, although it was quite different from the public. Of course, EU/Canada are caught in a trap of their own design--Russia's quite obviously not the "aggressive" nation that must be defended against using all necessary means as promoted by Russophobic Media Propaganda as they all trade and benefit from commercial interactions; thus, bean counters see NATO as a wastage of vital, finite monies that ought to be spent on productive endeavors advancing the human condition. In national legislatures: "Russia's a growing threat to humanity!!--BUT--No, I'm voting against any increase in military spending as there's no need for it."

European members of NATO don't need such an organization. If they were to join the Russian and Chinese enterprises to unite Eurasia into a common economic zone, then the need for NATO would become indefensible. And their finally becoming independent of the Outlaw US Empire's diktats would provide the impetus required to finally solve the status of Palestine and reaffirmation of the paramountcy of International Law as a greatly expanded Multipolar Order would be established. The United Nations might actually begin to function as designed.

Is Trump trying to push NATO apart by injecting it with a dose of American Chaos? Force EU/Canada to declare their independence from the Outlaw US Empire for numerous reasons? All of which would force the contraction of the Overseas element of the Empire and install an actual defense policy, not one aiming to control the world? Is this Trump's way to force a Neocon retreat?

Meanwhile, China charms Arabia "Under the radar,..., the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), established in 2004, sailed on in Beijing, hosted by President Xi Jinping." Please note the article's citing of new demands made to Iraq by the Outlaw US Empire, which has their roots in Trump's appraisal of the situation.

karlof1 | Jul 11, 2018 4:36:16 PM | 8

I'd say this is why you do not mix a military alliance with politics. Nor allow federal presidents to command and represent an army. Trump's retarded bullshit aside the USA shouldn't be holding committee meetings with allies without an war. An alliance shouldn't be considered active during peacetime. An ally is a figment of political imagination until military necessity requires it in actuality. Historically and currently a military alliance is treated as a contract for warmongering against an outnumbered enemy while at peace or at war. Which is why honorable people (currently very few) eschew alliances or non-aggression agreements until they become a defensive requirement. If President Trump want's to crash NATO with no survivor's, more power to him.

Posted by: anon | Jul 11, 2018 4:44:41 PM | 9

How could a deal like nordstream happen anyway? Are puppets now allowed to make high-level strategic contracts on their own?

Posted by: radiator | Jul 11, 2018 6:10:23 PM | 18

We should also recognize that to some degree Trump is posturing before meeting Putin.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 11, 2018 6:15:11 PM | 19

The bright side of Trump bullying is revealing NATO astronomical hypocrisy as they join psychotic delusions about Russian menace they refuse to put money where their mouth is and shamelessly disclose their vassal status begging for American military support for free.

All that knowing well that there is no threat from Russia that cannot be eliminated simply by good neighborly relation with Russia not by spending $billions on otherwise useless fraudulent US MIC junk.

Is that nor reverse psychology that is in play here, put up or shut up, let me make deal with Russia so you do not have to spend on military rediculous sums to match your delusional rhetorics about Russian threat.

Trump is s gambling man, wants to make money for US MIC on anti Russian lies or make money for US industry on Russia peace and cooperation truths.

Posted by: Kalen | Jul 11, 2018 6:31:42 PM | 20

Love this exchange at breakfast;

"Stoltenberg: [ ] I think that two World Wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart.

Trump: But how can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection?

Stoltenberg: Because we understand that when we stand together, also in dealing with Russia, we are stronger. I think what we have seen is that --

Trump: No, you're just making Russia richer. You're not dealing with Russia. You're making Russia richer."

You'd have to be an idiot not to agree with Trump here.

Posted by: gda | Jul 11, 2018 6:34:15 PM | 21

A notable difference between the way Trump treats the likes of Putin, Xi, and Kim Jong Un - all leaders in their own right - to the way he treats the EU poodles. Zero respect for the poodles.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jul 11, 2018 6:40:20 PM | 22

"... The big advantage for Germany is that (Nordstream I and Nordstream II] pipelines do not run through any other country ..."

That's because idiot EU / NATO countries like Denmark, who would gladly accept having the pipelines pass through their land and maritime territories (and the transit fees that go with them) if Russian gas were not flowing through them, prefer to support the Nazi whacko Banderites ruling Ukraine who whine that all Russian gas should transit Ukrainian territory in deteriorating pipelines. So Denmark and others refuse to host any part of the pipelines at all.

When Gazprom starts sending all gas through Nordstream I and II and pipelines through the Black Sea, completely bypassing Ukraine, then that country will be close to bankruptcy. Denmark and everyone else in the EU and NATO had better be ready to rescue the Banderites.

Posted by: Jen | Jul 11, 2018 6:43:45 PM | 23

Der Speigel 's fact-checking article of Trump's assertions provides some interesting facts, all in German, which I used Yandex to translate. To counterargue Trump's most pointed assertion that Germany's a captive of Russia, the author provides this rebuke: "Russland ist auf den Abnehmer Deutschland angewiesen. Die Deutschen benötigten die Russen vor allem als Lieferanten für Erdgas." (Russia is dependent on the customer Germany. The Germans needed the Russians mainly as suppliers of natural gas.) Overall: "Für Russland ist Deutschland als Handelspartner wichtiger als andersherum. Von allen deutschen Importen kamen 2017 nur drei Prozent aus Russland - und lediglich zwei Prozent der Exporte gehen in Putins Reich. Für die Russen war die Bundesrepublik mit einem Anteil von 8,6 Prozent ihres gesamten Außenhandels der zweitwichtigste Partner hinter China. Und mehr als zwei Drittel der russischen Exporte nach Deutschland waren Erdgas, Öl und Steinkohle." (For Russia, Germany is more important as a trading partner than elsewhere. Of all German imports, only three percent came from Russia in 2017 - and only two percent of exports go to Putin's Reich. For the Russians, Germany was the second most important Partner behind China, accounting for 8.6 percent of its total foreign trade. And more than two-thirds of Russian exports to Germany were natural gas, Oil and coal.)

Clearly, the total trade turnover between Russia and Germany represents just a small fraction of their totals, and both nations would likely find a replacement if a total embargo was to ensue.

Pft , Jul 11, 2018 7:03:43 PM | 28
The US began pressuring countries to forego nuclear power to support the Petro Dollar in 1978. One big reason they deposed the Shah who was planning to go big with nuclear power with orders for about 20 French and /or German reactors

The TMI accident was likely a false flag run by the newly established FEMA.

If the restrictions on recycling nuclear fuel rods were eliminated there would not be a disposal problem.

Germanys decision to phase out nuclear makes US happy. Germany will only accept Nord Stream 2 if it does not bypass Ukraine. This also makes US happy although they would prefer no Nord Stream 2. As said up thread this is as much about posturing before the Putin meeting and gaining leverage.

A bit O/T but it appears rare metals needed by US military and tech industries are on the list of products subject to tarrifs. China basically has a monopoly on these metals so the only short term purpose is to drive up prices for weapons and tech gadgets which get passed onto the taxpayer/consumer. In effect the tarrifs are just another revenue source to finance tax cuts to corporations and the rich.

Longer term of course the tarrifs make mining some of these metals in the US more feasible, at some cost to the environment , seeing as EPA has been gutted. But for that to happen the tarrifs need to be more or less a permanent thing. Its not like they dont have tarrifs on food and clothes from China. Just expanding the revenue base. The middle class takes the hit in the end, whats left of it anyways

Den Lille Abe , Jul 11, 2018 7:12:41 PM | 29
Trump as a used car salesman does not make much sense either. In fact I don't think he can spell to sense. It telling that he is impervious to the mood in both NATO and the EU.

His middle name should be clueless. He is truly clueless, he will not get an increase in defense expenditure, it would be political self goal (Hello Engeland, no not football, that's more like clueless) for any major political party to demand that, the electorate across Europe are firmly against it. Ohh and who cares about Perfidious Albion, they are not part of Europe anymore, they are some Islands with bad weather in the North Sea.

Seabird sanctuary ?

Europe hopefully comes to its senses and casts of the American yoke, and fashion its own defences, based on ITS needs.

BTW: F the Poles and the Baltics!

dh , Jul 11, 2018 7:37:45 PM | 34
thanks b.. informative and interesting comments from everyone too.. thanks..

trump is a hard guy to read in some respects... he is like a blunt object on the one hand, but he might have some alternative purpose in mind, which would include the meet with trump in 5 days..

if he wants to get rid of nato, i think he is going about it the right way.. i can't see why he would though as that wouldn't benefit the mil complex...i can't see the purpose of nato either way and perhaps it would be best if the poodles let go of having the usa as it's leader in the 21st century.. consider a different approach... i am not sure what canada and other western type poodles can do with all this..

@7 karlof1.. thanks for the pepe link... i just don't see the approach - bullying - taken by the usa to iraq, as working out.. i am listing the demands for others to see firsthand..
"
1. 30% of all the oil in Iraq should be American-controlled – and it's up to the US do what it wants with it.

2. Washington must have full access and control of Iraqi banks.

3. All business and trade with Iran must cease right now.

4. The Hashd al-Shaabi, known as People Mobilization Units (PMUs), instrumental in the victorious fight against Daesh (Islamic State),

must be immediately disbanded."

the usa takes this approach based on weakness, not strength... in fact - if one was to read trumps comments on the surface here - it is the same thing that b has highlighted in this post.. again - the usa is not working from a place of strength.. it is like a wild animal in the last phase of it's life - not good..

Posted by: james | Jul 11, 2018 7:21:18 PM | 30

Lost in the story is fact it is not new supply of natural gas to Europe. It is new pipe lines including two others with the sole intent of bypassing Ukraine. Presently near all Russian natural gas passes through Ukraine on its way to Western Europe and particularly .. Germany. The Ukraine regime has been reaping the benefit of transmission fees and stealing billions of cubic meters of gas, on which they also charged transmission fees. This was the basis behind a recent dispute panel finding in favor of Ukraine and the gas theft. The Americans and willing European Poodles would very much like to keep the gas flowing through Naziville where they would maintain a strangle hold. Gazprom, the principle Russian supplier, more or less said f**K you and formed consortiums to build new pipe lines

Posted by: ger | Jul 11, 2018 7:23:58 PM | 33

@32 So if Germany gets gas through Nordstream they are 'controlled by Russia' but if they get it via Ukraine they aren't. Seems Nordstream would be good insurance against Ukrainian meddling. Cheaper too, a very sound business strategy that Trump should appreciate.

[Jul 11, 2018] Why Trump's Iran Isolation Plan May Backfire by Ron Paul

Notable quotes:
"... President Trump's demand last week that OPEC "reduce prices now" or US military protection of OPEC countries may not continue almost sounded desperate. But if anything, Trump's bluntness is refreshing: if, as he suggests, the purpose of the US military – with a yearly total budget of a trillion dollars – is to protect OPEC members in exchange for "cheap oil," how cheap is that oil? ..."
"... Exactly how traditional 'US Mideast policies' benefit the average American however remains a mystery. Many of these questionable policies are never critically examined in the open – at least not the big ones involving that 'special relationship' with you-know-who. Never. ..."
"... Iran's crime? That nation's alleged 'sponsorship of terrorism' in support of the Palestinian struggle against Zionist occupation, as well as other anti-Zionist resistance movements in Lebanon, Syria and beyond. ..."
"... Yet it is Israel that is foremost occupying power in that region and it is Israel that is the expanding nuclear power. Meanwhile, the Zionist-lead BDS campaign against Iran is nothing less than a full-blown economic war. At the same time, Israel benefits from unconditional and continuous US subsidies. ..."
"... In no small way, Israel sees its mission to dominate the region and expand its borders as a religious duty. Destiny. This puts Israel in a class by itself. And unlike its neighbors (including Iran) Israel has nuclear WMD. ..."
Jul 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

President Trump is finding that his threats and heated rhetoric do not always have the effect he wishes. As his Administration warns countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November or risk punishment by the United States, a nervous international oil market is pushing prices ever higher, threatening the economic prosperity he claims credit for. President Trump's response has been to demand that OPEC boost its oil production by two million barrels per day to calm markets and bring prices down.

Perhaps no one told him that Iran was a founding member of OPEC?

When President Trump Tweeted last week that Saudi Arabia agreed to begin pumping additional oil to make up for the removal of Iran from the international markets, the Saudis very quickly corrected him, saying that while they could increase capacity if needed, no promise to do so had been made.

The truth is, if the rest of the world followed Trump's demands and returned to sanctions and boycotting Iranian oil, some 2.7 million barrels per day currently supplied by Iran would be very difficult to make up elsewhere. Venezuela, which has enormous reserves but is also suffering under, among other problems, crippling US sanctions, is shrinking out of the world oil market.

Iraq has not recovered its oil production capacity since its "liberation" by the US in 2003 and the al-Qaeda and ISIS insurgencies that followed it.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that "a complete shutdown of Iranian sales could push oil prices above $120 a barrel if Saudi Arabia can't keep up." Would that crash the US economy? Perhaps. Is Trump willing to risk it?

President Trump's demand last week that OPEC "reduce prices now" or US military protection of OPEC countries may not continue almost sounded desperate. But if anything, Trump's bluntness is refreshing: if, as he suggests, the purpose of the US military – with a yearly total budget of a trillion dollars – is to protect OPEC members in exchange for "cheap oil," how cheap is that oil?

At the end, China, Russia, and others are not only unlikely to follow Trump's demands that Iran again be isolated: they in fact stand to benefit from Trump's bellicosity toward Iran. One Chinese refiner has just announced that it would cancel orders of US crude and instead turn to Iran for supplies. How many others might follow and what might it mean?

Ironically, President Trump's "get tough" approach to Iran may end up benefitting Washington's named adversaries Russia and China – perhaps even Iran. The wisest approach is unfortunately the least likely at this point: back off from regime change, back off from war-footing, back off from sanctions. Trump may eventually find that the cost of ignoring this advice may be higher than he imagined.

Vidi , July 10, 2018 at 6:05 am GMT

Trump may eventually find that the cost of ignoring [the advice to back off from Iran] may be higher than he imagined.

Perhaps he's counting on not being President by then. Another case of IBGYBG (I'll be gone, you'll be gone), an attitude that seems to be infecting bankers, Wall Street, and the rest of the U.S. élite lately. A cataclysm is coming, and they can see it.

mark green , July 10, 2018 at 7:01 am GMT
Why is Zio-America treating Iran with such hostility?

Iran and Israel are locked in a vicious cold war. Their animosities date back to mythical antiquity. One alleged episode is even celebrated in the Jewish celebration of 'Purim'.

Take a look at the breathtaking insight that Gilad Atzmon has to offer about Purim:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2007/03/03/from-esther-to-aipac/

In any case, Iran and Israel's antipathies for one another shouldn't concern superpower America. Except that it does.

Like American television, Washington happens to be Israeli-held territory. Haven't you heard?

This is why Zio-Washington invariably sides with Israel in all of its disputes, even when 1) Israel is the aggressor, 2) even when Israel is slaughtering powerless civilians who are protesting their subjugation, and 3) even when US interests are not at stake or even in play. And this uniform deference from Washington is thoroughly bipartisan. It is 'business as usual'. It's basically unanimous. Both Parties. No dissent.

Many just call it 'US Mideast policy'. Ironclad. 'Unshakable'. But don't laugh or smirk. Doing so might be seen as 'anti-Semitic'.

Exactly how traditional 'US Mideast policies' benefit the average American however remains a mystery. Many of these questionable policies are never critically examined in the open – at least not the big ones involving that 'special relationship' with you-know-who. Never.

These rigid policies help explain how Crypto-Israelis in America – using Washington as their proxy – have successfully brought the US into Israel's cold war against Iran.

Zionist operatives have not only orchestrated the decades-long freeze of billions of dollars in Iranian assets that belong to the Iranian people, but they have launched a global (and crypto-Zionist) 'Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions' campaign against the relatively peaceful nation of Iran.

Iran's crime? That nation's alleged 'sponsorship of terrorism' in support of the Palestinian struggle against Zionist occupation, as well as other anti-Zionist resistance movements in Lebanon, Syria and beyond.

Yet it is Israel that is foremost occupying power in that region and it is Israel that is the expanding nuclear power. Meanwhile, the Zionist-lead BDS campaign against Iran is nothing less than a full-blown economic war. At the same time, Israel benefits from unconditional and continuous US subsidies.

Politicians who dare question this phenomena – or who wander off the Zionist plantation in Washington – tend to disappear. Rapidly. Journalists, too.

In no small way, Israel sees its mission to dominate the region and expand its borders as a religious duty. Destiny. This puts Israel in a class by itself. And unlike its neighbors (including Iran) Israel has nuclear WMD.

Due to Israeli influence here, Americans are not only actively supporting various Zionist war efforts, but they are also paying billions more for their gasoline since Zionists have managed to prohibit the purchase Iranian oil throughout the West. These economic 'choices' are what Americans unwittingly make – even though the 'average Joe' remains totally unaware of them.

Indeed, even though Iran wants to be a trading partner with America and bring its oil onto the world market, Zio-Washington says 'NO!' US consumers be damned. The Iranian people be damned.

This is not the first time that US economic interests have taken a back seat to Israel's. Please recall the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Zio-Washington's intervention on behalf of Israel during that conflict, the ensuing Arab oil embargo, and the disastrous recession that followed.

But Zio-America never turned it back on Israel, even though American citizens never had the opportunity to determine their allies or policies one way or another. US support of Israel is mandatory. It's been this way since LBJ.

Today, Israel is maneuvering Zio-Washington to do to Iran what it did to Iraq, Libya and Syria; namely, spread destabilization and impose 'creative destruction' upon all nations that pose any long-term threat to the Zionist State.

[Jul 09, 2018] Why Was Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 Shot Down, by Kees van der Pijl

Notable quotes:
"... Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. ..."
"... Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. ..."
"... The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go. ..."
"... To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure. ..."
"... The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid. ..."
"... If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. ..."
"... Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later ..."
"... weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. ..."
"... Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. ..."
"... The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum. ..."
"... 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' ..."
"... Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic. ..."
"... The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. ..."
"... Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure. ..."
"... cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse ..."
"... In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large. ..."
Jul 09, 2018 | www.unz.com

Four years ago, on 17 July 2014, in the midst of a civil war raging in eastern Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was destroyed with all 298 passengers and crew. On 25 May last, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) entrusted with the criminal investigation of the downing and composed of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and paradoxically, given its possible involvement, Ukraine, presented its second progress report. Like the first report in September 2016, it took the form of a press conference, with video animations supporting the investigation's findings.

This time there was even less to report; the main conclusion was that elements from the Russian 53rd Buk missile brigade were the culprits, a claim already made by the London-based investigative group Bellingcat two years before.

In February 2016 that assertion had still been dismissed as unfit for evidence by the Dutch chief prosecutor on the JIT, Fred Westerbeke, in a letter to victims' relatives. How can it possibly have become the core component of the case for the prosecution two years and two months later?

The JIT press conference was immediately followed by a formal declaration on the part of the Dutch and Australian governments that held Russia responsible. However, JIT member Malaysia dissociated itself from the accusation, whilst Belgium has remained silent.

The obviously over-hasty conclusion, on the heels of the alleged Skripal nerve gas incident in Salisbury and the likewise contested Syrian government gas attack on jihadist positions in Douma, all point in the same direction: Putin's Russia must be kept under fire and there is no time to wait for a court verdict.

In my book Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster (Manchester University Press), I have refrained from entering the slippery terrain of making claims about who pulled the trigger, intentionally or by accident, in the late afternoon of 17 July, or even which type of weapon was used. For the downing of the Malaysian plane has become part of a propaganda war that was already heating up prior to the catastrophe. Instead the book is about what we do know about the events surrounding it, in the preceding months, weeks, and days, indeed even on the day itself. Subsequent events have only underlined that it is this context that lends meaning to the tragedy.

Refocusing US Supremacy After the Soviet Collapse

Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.

Right from the Soviet collapse in 1991, the US global perspective was articulated in several new strategic doctrines. The first and perhaps foundational one is the Wolfowitz Doctrine, named after Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defence in the Bush Sr. administration, who commissioned a Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 (DPG) of 1992. It proclaims the United States the world's sole superpower, which must remain ahead of all possible contenders in arms technology and never again accept military parity, as with the USSR during the Cold War. The newly self-confident European Union, too, was obliquely warned that the US alone would handle global policing.

Additional doctrines, specifying on which grounds armed US intervention might be undertaken and justified, added elements such as humanitarian intervention (a Carnegie Endowment report of 1992, Self-Determination in the New World Order ); it was applied in Yugoslavia and again in Libya. Next, the'War on Terror', originally floated at Israeli Likud/US Neocon conferences between 1979 and 1984, was revived after the collapse of the USSR as the 'Clash of Civilizations' by Cold War strategist Samuel Huntington; Afghanistan and Iraq stand as monuments of the application of this doctrine. Finally, Zbigniew Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard of 1997 specifically dealt with reorganising the former USSR, including Ukraine.

Through the different episodes, NATO was transformed into a global policing structure serving the interests of Atlantic capital. 'Out of area operations', unthinkable in the Yalta epoch, were first tried out against the Bosnian Serbs in the mid-1990s. The enlargement of the alliance into the former Soviet bloc, which began around that time too, was obviously motivated to prevent European departures from US tutelage, hence its bold forward surge. Already in 1994, Ukraine became the first former Soviet republic to join the Partnership for Peace, the newly created waiting room for NATO membership. To quell Russian concerns about the advancing West, the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 laid down that no nuclear weapons and permanent troop deployments would take place in new member states. Yet Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova not long afterwards joined a low-key organisation of former Soviet republics (after the initials, GUAM), another oblique link up with NATO.

Mobilising Georgia and Ukraine against Resurgent Russia

Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. Under his successor, Vladimir Putin, the country began to mutate back to a society led by a directive state, assisted by rising oil prices. After the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and announced a missile defence system deployed in the CzechRepublic, Poland, and Rumania, Russia shifted to a more robust international position. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go.

Yet even a colour revolution means little if there is no accompanying make-over of the fundamental state/society relation. Hence, the incoming policy planning director at the US State Department, Stanford professor Stephen Krasner, and Carlos Pascual, former US ambassador in Kiev, developed a comprehensive regime change doctrine in 2004. This would prove a key element in the subsequent Ukraine intervention. To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure.

At the Munich Security Conference in January 2007, Putin reminded his audience of the promises made to Gorbachev in 1991 not to expand the Atlantic alliance and warned that further attempts at enlargement (the Baltic states having been included in 2004) would imply great risks. Yet NATO and the EU were inexorably pressing forward. At the Bucharest NATO summit in April 2008 the Americans made the offer of NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, only to have the offer vetoed by Germany and France. Possibly to force the issue, the pro-Western president brought to power by the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, armed and encouraged by the US and Israel, later that year embarked on a military adventure to recapture the breakaway province of South Ossetia. It ended in a complete debacle, as a Russian army stood ready in North Ossetia to deal the invaders a major, if very costly, blow. This, then, was what Richard Sakwa calls, 'the war to stop NATO enlargement'. From now on, every post-Soviet republic tempted to join the Atlantic alliance would have to reckon with Russian protection for groups resisting such integration, irrespective of whether it concerned actual Russians or any other of the almost two hundred nationalities of the former USSR.

The EU-Russian Energy Equation and Ukraine

The gas from Russia that feeds Europe today was discovered back in the 1960s; the Friendship oil pipeline was built in 1964 and the Soyuz, Urengoi and Yamal pipelines followed after West Germany started purchasing Soviet gas. The link-up culminated in 1980 with the contract for a gas pipeline from Urengoi in north Siberia to Bavaria, signed by a heavy-industry consortium headed by Deutsche Bank.

After the collapse of the USSR, Russian gas had to pass through the pipeline grid of independent Ukraine, which in the meantime had become the prey of rival clans of oligarchs. For most of them, gas was the key source of rapid enrichment -- directly, as in the case of subsequent prime minister Yuliya Timoshenko, 'the Gas Princess', or indirectly, by supplying steel pipes for gas transport, as in the case of president Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law, Victor Pinchuk, the 'Pipeline King'. The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid.

After Putin had come to power, he disciplined the Russian oligarchs as part of the restoration of state sovereignty. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the energy oligarch and richest of all Russian billionaires at the time, at the time was buying support in the Duma to build a trans-Siberian pipeline to China; whilst negotiating with ExxonMobil and Chevron about US participation in his Yukos concern, which he planned to merge with Sibneft into the world's largest oil company. In 2005 he was convicted to a long prison sentence. Yukos was brought back into the Russian patrimony via a proxy construction involving state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom, as part of broader subordination of the economy to the state.

Gazprom meanwhile began building alliances to avoid future disruption of supplies via Ukraine and secure its European market. In 2005 it agreed with the outgoing government of Gerhard Schröder to build a pipeline across the Baltic directly to Germany, 'Nord Stream', with a consortium of German companies. Schröder was made the chairman of the board of the joint venture, Achimgaz, and two years later, a South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea to Bulgaria was contracted with ENI of Italy. It was to be extended into south-eastern Europe as far as Austria. In this way Gazprom and the Russian state were outmanoeuvring various EU projects for pipelines aimed at by-passing Russia. Indeed it was the EU's plan to use a Nabucco pipeline across Turkey to connect to the Caspian energy reserves that prompted the $40 billion South Stream project. Romano Prodi, prime minister of Italy, who first discussed South Stream with Putin in late 2006, was offered the chairmanship, which he declined, perhaps in the knowledge the project would become highly contested.

The Eurasian connection by now posed a direct threat to the cohesion of the enlarged Atlantic bloc. Besides Nord Stream and South Stream, Gazprom's collaboration with NIOC of Iran and a joint venture with ENI in Libya set all alarm bells ringing in Washington. Already in May 2006, a few months after the gas shutdown to Ukraine, the US Senate unanimously adopted a resolution calling on NATO to protect the energy security of its members and have it develop a diversification strategy away from Russia. Senator Richard Lugar in a much-noted speech prior to the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, in November 2006, argued in favour of designating the manipulation of the energy supply as a 'weapon' that can activate Article 5 of the NATO treaty (common defence).

In a report to the European Parliament in 2008, the director of the EurasianPolicyCenter of the Hudson Institute in the US recommended that the EU should assist in liberalising and modernising the Ukrainian grid instead of supporting South Stream. Tension in the Black Sea area, her report noted candidly, might serve the purpose of blocking that pipeline altogether. However, after the 2010 election of president Victor Yanukovych, the front man of the powerful eastern and southern oligarchs, the lease of Russia's Crimean naval base at Sebastopol, home of its Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, so the prospects for stirring up unrest there were mitigated by Moscow's enduring naval preponderance.

Regime Change in Kiev

One aspect of the resurgence of a sovereign Russia was the plan for a Eurasian economic union to rebuild relations with former Soviet republics (Ukraine obtained observer status early on). The EU's Eastern Partnership was a direct response. It was offered to former Soviet republics in 2008, in a gesture that signalled that Europe now effectively acted as a subcontractor to the larger anti-Russian design drafted in Washington. Concretely, the EU offered Ukraine and other former Soviet republics an Association Agreement that also included provisions for the country's alignment on NATO security policy, besides a neoliberal make-over in the spirit of the Krasner-Pascual doctrine. The envisaged reforms would be devastating for the country's existing power structure, not least for the Donbass oligarchs whose front man was Yanukovych. Their heavy industry assets would be swept away by EU competition, the country turned into an agricultural supplier, and Russian gas cut off.

Hence, when both the EU and Russia sought to win over Yanukovych to join their respective blocs and Brussels ruled out the triangular arrangement by which the Ukrainian president had hoped to postpone the choice, he could not but step back from signing the EU Association Agreement in November 2013 and accept a Russian counteroffer. By then, 'Europe' had become a code word for an end to oligarchic rapaciousness, in which Yanukovych and his sons had become involved as well. The president's decision triggered mass demonstrations and occupations, which this time included an armed insurrection by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists in the historically anti-Russian west of the country. It created the space for actual fascists to hijack the protests and prepare a coup. By their use of deadly force at the Maidan central square (ascribed by the coup plotters and in the West to the riot police), the Ukrainian ultras demonstrated they were ready to kill their own compatriots to achieve their aims.

To prevent the situation from getting out of hand completely, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland flew to Kiev on 20 February 2014. However, whilst they negotiated a deal with Yanukovych and the opposition, the US and other NATO ambassadors met with Andriy Parubiy, the co-founder of the fascist party of Ukraine and former head of its militia, Patriot of Ukraine . Parubiy, today the speaker of the Kiev parliament, was in command of the armed gangs at the Maidan; two days later these took power in the capital, installing a government of Ukrainian nationalist stripe, selected by US diplomats. Parubiy was appointed secretary of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), a key post overseeing all military and intelligence operations, which he continued to hold until three weeks after the downing of MH17. With the Russian-Ukrainian half of the country effectively disenfranchised, the coup was responded to by the secession of Crimea and an armed insurrection in the Donbass. Stirrings of revolt in Odessa and Mariupol would be suppressed with deadly violence, in which Parubiy and other far right figures were directly involved.

Confronting the BRICS in Ukraine

From late March onwards the war party in the United States and NATO began to elaborate a strategy that would make Ukraine the testing ground for a trial of strength with Russia and China. The secession of Crimea and its re-incorporation into the Russian Federation was exploited to evoke the spectre of an impending Russian invasion on several fronts. General Philip Breedlove, commander of US Eucom (European Command, one of nine regional US military commands spanning the globe) and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Saceur), coordinated the Western position with General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Saceur at the time of the Yugoslavia wars. Clark was already advising Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine before the Donbass had actually risen in revolt. On 12April he asked Breedlove whether the NATO commander could not arrange a statement blaming Moscow for the violence because ' if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative , the Russians will see it as an open door'. Clark then elaborated on the general geopolitical situation, giving further insights into why the war party in the US believed that Ukraine was to be 'held' and chosen as a battle ground to confront Russia and China. No time was wasted on market democracy here. Claiming that 'Putin has read US inaction in Georgia and Syria as US "weakness",' Clark went on to explain that

China is watching closely. China will have four aircraft carriers and airspace dominance in the Western Pacific within 5 years, if current trends continue. And if we let Ukraine slide away, it definitely raises the risks of conflict in the Pacific. For, China will ask, would the US then assert itself for Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, the South China Sea? If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. Neither the Baltics nor the Balkans will easily resist the political disruptions empowered by a resurgent Russia. And what good is a NATO "security guarantee" against internal subversion? And then the US will face a much stronger Russia, a crumbling NATO, and [a] major challenge in the Western Pacific. Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later .

On the weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. The Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO, so called because the use of military force within the country is only warranted under that label) began right after Brennan's visit; Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. Since NATO had earlier implored Yanukovych not to use force against (armed) demonstrators, Moscow now asked the alliance to restrain the coup leaders in turn. But according to foreign minister Lavrov, the answer they got was that 'NATO would ask them to use force proportionately'.

In fact even the oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, elected president on 25 May 2014 to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the coup regime, proved unable to restrain the hardliners. On 30 June, following a four-hour NSDC meeting with Parubiy, interior minister Avakov, and others whose armed followers were demonstrating outside, Poroshenko declared that the ceasefire would be lifted and a new offensive launched. Three days later NATO naval manoeuvres in the Black Sea commenced with US participation and with electronic warfare a key component. On the ground, Kiev's forces made rapid progress, apparently drawing a ring around the large rebel city of Donetsk. NATO had its own concerns: an upcoming summit in Wales in September was expected to capitalise on the trope of a 'Russian invasion', vital after the Afghanistan debacle, and dovetailing with the emerging contest with the BRICS bloc.

The BRICS, coined first as a banker's gimmick, were never more than a loose collection of '(re-) emerging economies', but from Washington's perspective, sovereign entities not submitting to neoliberal global governance are unacceptable. So when on 16 July, the BRICS heads of state, hosted by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff (removed by a rightwing conspiracy in May 2016), signed the statute establishing a New Development Bank, or BRICS bank, as a direct challenge to the US and Western-dominated World Bank and IMF, the US imposed new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, specifically targeting the energy link with the EU. The creation of an equivalent of the World Bank with a capital of $100 billion with a reserve currency pool of the same size (an equivalent of the IMF), laid the groundwork of a contender pole in the global political economy challenging the West's austerity regime frontally -- or so it seemed at the time.

Still in Brazil before flying back to Moscow, Russian president Putin on the fringes of the football world cup finals also agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to pursue a comprehensive Land for gas deal. Its tentative provisions included normalising the status of Crimea in exchange for a massive economic rehabilitation plan and a gas price rebate for Ukraine. However, a special European Council meeting convened on the 16th could not reach agreement on whether the EU should follow the American lead this time, since countries with export interests to Russia and dependent on its gas, were balking. Instead, the Council stressed the EU's commitment 'to pursue trilateral talks on the conditions of gas supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine' in order to 'safeguard the security of supply and transit of natural gas through Ukraine.'

The Downing of Flight MH17 and South Stream

The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum.

Former secretary of state and then-presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in a TV interview on the 18th called for making 'Russia pay the price' once its culpability had been established. Her to-do list for the EU included, one, 'toughen sanctions'; two, find alternatives to Gazprom, and third, 'do more in concert with us to support the Ukrainians'. The 'Land for gas' negotiations were shelved and on the 22nd Europe dropped the remaining hesitations when it underwrote the US sanctions targeting Russia's role as an energy supplier. As Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, noted in a newspaper interview a year later, 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' .

In 2009 the EU had introduced a new energy policy, dubbed a 'Third Energy Package'. It does not permit gas to be transported to the EU by the company producing it, effectively forcing Gazprom to sell even the gas piped through the Ukrainian grid to other companies before it could enter the EU. Nord Stream had still been exempted from EU competition rules, but the projected South Stream was not, never mind that most contracts with Gazprom had been signed before the Third Energy Package came into force. Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic.

The Crimean secession and incorporation into the Russian Federation obviously played its own role here. Crimea is a historically Russian region; having been assigned to Ukraine by a whim of Soviet party leader Khrushchev in 1954, it never reconciled itself to being part of an independent Ukraine. After the nationalist coup in late February, the status of the Russian naval base in Sebastopol was in the balance. In 1991, the Black Sea had been a Soviet/bloc inland sea, with one NATO country (Turkey) bordering it. Now there were two more NATO/EU countries and two pro-Western, aspiring NATO members on its littoral. So when one week after the coup, three former Ukrainian Presidents, Kravchuk, Kuchma, and Yushchenko, called on the coup government in Kiev to cancel the agreement under which the lease of Sebastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, the question of who would be able to project naval power over the Black Sea became acute. The question now was whether Russia would be able to provide cover for a large-scale project such as South Stream, or not.

South Stream itself came into the firing line directly. The European Parliament, which never raised the issue of why the February agreement with Yanukovych the EU brokered had been sidelined by the coup, on 17 April 2014 adopted a non-binding resolution opposing the South Stream gas pipeline and recommended a search for alternative sources of gas. On 28 April, the United States imposed a ban on business transactions within its territory on seven Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, as well as Gennady Timchenko, whose Volga Group controls Stroytransgaz, the company entrusted with building the Bulgarian section of South Stream. Nevertheless the Bulgarian parliament approved South Stream two weeks after the reincorporation of Crimea, circumventing the EU's anti-trust legislation by renaming the pipeline a 'sea-land connection'.The European Commission then instructed Bulgaria to stop work on South Stream and proceeded to cut off tens of millions of much-needed regional development funds, whilst the US ambassador warned Bulgarian companies against working with Timchenko. A final visit of US Senators John McCain and Ron Johnson, in combination with other punitive measures then led to the cancellation in early June. As Eric Draitser commented at the time, 'South Stream has become one of the primary battlegrounds in the economic war that the West is waging against Russia'.

The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. Putin earlier had hinted at moving the transit of gas for the EU to non-European countries; in August, it was reported there was a Plan B in the works to export via Turkey. On 1 December 2014, during a state visit to Ankara, the Russian president announced that in light of Western sanctions and the refusal of construction permits in the EU, South Stream would be replaced by a 'Turkish Stream' pipeline, besides the existing Blue Stream link. However, in November 2015, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria, throwing relations between Moscow and Ankara into a deep crisis and entailing the cancellation of Turkish Stream. This was only overcome after the July 2016 coup attempt against Erdoğan, in which Russia sided with the Turkish president, possibly even warning him in advance. Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure.

Regime Change in Moscow?

The MH17 disaster occurred in the context of a deep crisis, in which capitalist discipline as imposed from its historic epicentre in the West, has become primarily predatory, relying to an ever-greater extent on violence.

Speculative financial operations in combination with the 'War on Terror' have spread economic risk and repression at home, war and regime change abroad. Human survival itself has been turned into a global gamble played out over the head of the affected populations for private gain.

The West, led by the effectively bankrupt United States, increasingly relies on force to sabotage the formation of any alternative, something its own social formation can no longer bring forth. Even the most promising, potentially revolutionary IT and media developments coming out of Silicon Valley have been mortgaged by a planetary project of communications surveillance to safeguard US imperial positions.

Back in the 1980s, when it launched the second Cold War, the Reagan administration intended to destabilise the Soviet bloc and bring about regime change in Moscow. This is also the aim of the current, new Cold War. A 2015 Chatham House report, 'The Russian Challenge', discusses this in some detail. Although it concedes that the West cannot have an interest in Russia sliding into complete anarchy, neither should the Putin presidency be protected 'against change, whether managed or violent '. Therefore, 'whether Putin was ousted by an internal coup, by illness or by popular unrest , it would nevertheless be sensible for the West to give further thought to how it might deal with the consequences of regime change in Russia.'

Effective communication with the Russian people and the defence of human values beforehand would be essential for Western credibility Planning for the future ought, lastly, to cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse .

The president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, in a piece for the Washington Post in October 2016 suggested launching a new, sustained anti-Putin campaign, for which the contract killing of the journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, ten years earlier, might be used as a vignette.

For such a campaign, George Soros' Open Society Foundation can be trusted to have elaborated the 'civil society'/colour revolution scenarios, whilst identifying the groups that might be mobilised for their execution. The OSF plan of action for 2014-17, titled Russia Project Strategy , identifies Russian intellectuals active in Western academic and opinion networks, the Russian gay movement, and others as potential levers for civil society protest against the conservative bloc in power in Moscow. From the OSF documents hacked by the CyberBerkut collective, Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation emerges as the key beneficiary, and discussion portals and liberal media such as Echo of Moscow radio station, RBK news agency, and the newspaper Vedomosti, as the preferred channels to disseminate content.

There is no need to repeat that all this is part a powerful offensive to derail the loose contender bloc around China and Russia, which had constituted itself in the face of Western aggressiveness and crisis. The seizure of power in Ukraine as well as the secession of Crimea and the civil war in the east, which has meanwhile cost the lives of more than 13,000 people and displaced a million, as well as economic warfare against Russia by the US and the EU, have brought the danger of a large European war several steps closer. Whether the actual downing of Flight MH17 was an intentional, premeditated act or an accident, whether it involved a jet attack, an anti-aircraft missile, or both, ultimately cannot be established with certainty. Yet both the NATO war party and the coup regime in Kiev, which on many occasions has demonstrated that its ultra-nationalist and fascist antecedents are very much alive, would have been perfectly capable of such an act and had the means for it. Most importantly, they had the motive. Those in power in Kiev had several times already attempted to draw Moscow into the civil war, directly and through a NATO intervention. If this indeed was their aim, it would also have served the Atlantic bloc's determined and long-standing commitment to force continental Europe into an antagonistic relation with Russia.

In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large.

Kees van der Pijl is a Fellow, Centre for Global Political Economy and Professor Emeritus of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

[Jul 09, 2018] Chinese Refiner Halts US Oil Purchases, May Use Iran Oil Instead

Jul 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
With the US and China contemplating their next moves in what is now officially a trade war, a parallel narrative is developing in the world of energy where Asian oil refiners are racing to secure crude supplies in anticipation of an escalating trade war between the US and China, even as Trump demands all US allies cut Iran oil exports to zero by November 4 following sanctions aimed at shutting the country out of oil markets.

Concerned that the situation will deteriorate before it gets better, Asian refiners are moving swiftly to secure supplies with South Korea leading the way. Under pressure from Washington, Seoul has already halted all orders of Iranian oil, according to sources, even as it braces from spillover effects from the U.S.-China tit-for-tat on trade.

"As South Korea's economy heavily relies on trade, it won't be good for South Korea if the global economic slowdown happens because of a trade dispute between U.S and China," said Lee Dal-seok, senior researcher at the Korea Energy Economic Institute (KEEI).

Meanwhile, Chinese state media has unleashed a full-on propaganda blitzkrieg , slamming Trump's government as a "gang of hoodlums", with officials vowing retaliation, while the chairman of Sinochem just become China's official leader of the anti-Trump resistance, quoting Michelle Obama's famous slogan " when they go low, we go high. " Standing in the line of fire are U.S. crude supplies to China, which have surged from virtually zero before 2017 to 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July.

Representing a modest 5% of China's overall crude imports, these supplies are worth $1 billion a month at current prices - a figure that seems certain to fall should a duty be implemented . While U.S. crude oil is not on the list of 545 products the Chinese government has said it would immediately retaliate with in response to American duties, China has threatened a 25% duty on imports of U.S. crude which is listed as a U.S. product that will receive an import tariff at an unspecified later date.

And amid an escalating tit-for-tat war between Trump and Xi in which neither leader is even remotely close to crying uncle, industry participants expect the tariff to be levied, a move which would make future purchases of US oil uneconomical for Chinese importers.

"The Chinese have to do the tit-for-tat, they have to retaliate ," said John Driscoll, director of consultancy JTD Energy, adding that cutting U.S. crude imports was a means "of retaliating (against) the U.S. in a very substantial way".

In an alarming sign for Washington, and a welcome development for Iran, some locals have decided not to see which way the dice may fall.

According to Japan Times , in a harbinger of what's to come, an executive from China's Dongming Petrochemical Group, an independent refiner from Shandong province, said his refinery had already cancelled U.S. crude orders .

"We expect the Chinese government to impose tariffs on (U.S.) crude," the unnamed executive said. " We will switch to either Middle East or West African supplies ," he said.

Driscoll said China may even replace American oil with crude from Iran. " They (Chinese importers) are not going to be intimidated, or swayed by U.S. sanctions."

Oil consultancy FGE agrees, noting that China is unlikely to heed President Trump's warning to stop buying oil from Iran. While as much as 2.3 million barrels a day of crude from the Persian Gulf state at risk per Trump's sanctions, the White House has yet to get responses from China, while India or Turkey have already hinted they would defy Trump and keep importing Iranian oil. Together three three nations make up about 60 percent of the Persian Gulf state's exports.

... ... ...

beemasters -> divingengineer Sun, 07/08/2018 - 19:50 Permalink

"Meanwhile, Chinese state media has unleashed a full-on propaganda blitzkrieg, slamming Trump's government as a "gang of hoodlums""

And how's that a propaganda?
Oh, Trump was just following Bibi's order on Iran issue. Got it.

DingleBarryObummer -> 2banana Sun, 07/08/2018 - 20:11 Permalink

Did you even READ the article?

Yes it looks like he did.

Under pressure from Washington, Seoul has already halted all orders of Iranian oil, according to sources, even as it braces from spillover effects from the U.S.-China tit-for-tat on trade.

[Jul 06, 2018] Saudi amount on infill drilling almost guarantee a sharp decline

Jul 06, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Mushalik x Ignored says: 07/04/2018 at 9:08 am

This is about Trump's tweet to Saudi Arabia

5/7/2018
Saudi Arabia was supposed to pump almost 14 mb/d in 2018
http://crudeoilpeak.info/saudi-arabia-was-supposed-to-pump-almost-14-mbd-in-2018

Guym x Ignored says: 07/04/2018 at 9:38 am
Expecting SA to help supply the World's needs is perhaps going off the deep end. It's their bread and butter for years to come. As years pass, they become more aware that those years are limited. This is not the 1970's, it's 2018. They will supply what is profitable for them, and wasting it early, doesn't sound real smart, does it? If we offered them massive support to develop their nuclear capabilities, it would probably entice them. Or, jump out of the pot, and into the frying pan. Iran May have more capacity for new oil.
eduard flopinescu x Ignored says: 07/04/2018 at 9:58 am
This graph shows that it was supposed to peak in 2018
http://crudeoilpeak.info/wp-content/uploads/Saudi-Arabia_oil-production_1970-2030_IEA-actual.jpg
Kolbeinh x Ignored says: 07/04/2018 at 12:12 pm
If I have understood this correctly. When most of their fields are mature, the option they have is to invest (almost overbuild) in facilities foremost to treat and inject the steadily higher volume of water to keep oil production steady and at the same time overinvest in infill drilling to keep the volume rising. All this to sustain or even increase oil output from mature fields, so that the oil price can stay low. And then there is the extra gain in extra barrels to consider as a result of the investments that adds to ultimate recovery at each field. The gain from extra barrels could make up for a mediocre return on investment in some cases and a questionable one in other cases. Given a relatively low oil price assumption.

Why would they do that? Keeping the facilities as they are for mature fields, accepting only small investments where they are highly profitable, limiting infill drilling to the best locations, let the oil production fall and hope for prices to rise would be a superior solution for them, would it not? Why rush investments in mature oil fields?

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 07/04/2018 at 12:23 pm
When most of their fields are mature, the option they have is to invest (almost overbuild) in facilities foremost to treat and inject the steadily higher volume of water to keep oil production steady and at the same time overinvest in infill drilling to keep the volume rising. All this to sustain or even increase oil output from mature fields,

Well no, it does not usually increase production, it just drastically reduces the decline rate. For instance, a very mature field may have a natural decline rate of 6 to 8% per year. With infill drilling of horizontal wells along the top of the reservoir, they may reduce that decline rate to 2% per year.

so that the oil price can stay low.

No, that's not why they are doing it. They are doing it to maintain their annual production. Some do increase production but with oil from new fields. These new fields, however, will have a much lower URR and will start to decline after only a few years. All the giant and supergiant field have already been discovered.

Kolbeinh x Ignored says: 07/04/2018 at 12:48 pm
Ok, thanks!

The "so that the oil price can stay low" was a well hidden irony from my part. But you have a point, they want to keep their long term customers supplied, not losing face in OPEC and their long term allies happy. They stretch to keep everyone happy.

[Jul 06, 2018] The possibility of Seneca cliff: Russia is certainly being creamed. The massive infill is visible from satellites and they haven't found/opened anything new of size

Jul 06, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

ProPoly 07/04/2018 at 10:28 am

More money now.

Russia is certainly being creamed. The massive infill is visible from satellites and they haven't found/opened anything new of size, yet have outlasted what everyone (including them) calculated would be the start of their decline.

Russia needs the oil revenue badly. But is their ultimate decline going to look like China? Very likely.

Hightrekker 07/04/2018 at 2:20 pm
Only Russia has more resources, a much smaller population, imports little, and is better educated.

Plus (not a given), global warming will ring some benefit. China doesn't have a chance (if one is biologist looking at it).

[Jul 06, 2018] While Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told Platts recently that "maximum sustainable production" was 12 million b/d, industry experts believe Saudi Arabia will struggle to pump more than 1 million b/d of additional output.

Jul 06, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Energy News x Ignored says: 07/05/2018 at 2:42 pm

2018-07-05 (Platts) While Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told Platts recently that "maximum sustainable production" was 12 million b/d, industry experts believe Saudi Arabia will struggle to pump more than 1 million b/d of additional output.

Platts Analytics says even if Saudi Arabia produces close to 11 million b/d it would be running its system at stress levels.
https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/oil/070518-factbox-anatomy-of-saudi-arabias-crude-oil-capabilities ?
OPEC June oil production (Platts) https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DhWBRxDXcAAlaqq.jpg

Guym x Ignored says: 07/05/2018 at 3:18 pm
Yeah, I think that is pretty much what Ron and George have been saying. It is why all these drops in production, and projected production that will not get out of the ground has to cause demand to exceed supply within the next year by a substantial amount. Throw in Iran's sabre rattling over the Homez, and oil prices should be through the roof. That it is not, is mainly complacency built up over the past four years from the inventory overage. As Scarlet O'Hara said, "After all tomorrow is another day".

[Jul 06, 2018] The Aramco IPO may never happen.

Jul 06, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

dclonghorn x Ignored says: 07/05/2018 at 1:27 pm

MSNBC announced that the Aramco IPO may never happen. MSNBC didn't say why, however I suppose those reserves that the Saudis have touted for so long could be very difficult to have verified based on SEC rules. I think that much of the last two years of prep for their IPO has been shopping for a exchange that would allow them to get their stock issued without drastically revising their prior reserve disclosures.

You can also look at this development as an indication that the above discussed "rock" may have already dropped.

[Jul 06, 2018] Iran Threatens To Close the Strait of Hormuz naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... On the Psychology of Military Incompetence ..."
Jul 06, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2018 at 2:13 am

I think that the potential threat of what happens if there is a hot war are more extensive than just having the Strait of Hormuz being closed. If you look at that map you can see that Saudi Arabia is just across the Strait. And as luck would have it, Saudi Arabia's oil fields are mostly in the east which means that they are within close missile range of Iran. Nice oil fields you have there Saudi Arabia. Shame if something happened to it. The United Arab Emirates are also within missile range as well. If both countries think that Patriot batteries will protect them then they must have been disillusioned to find that those Patriots couldn't even defend against wonky Houthi missiles.
Then there is the fact that Iran shares a border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Remember how the CIA shipped all those anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and ManPads to the Syrian Jihadists via countries like Saudi Arabia? Be a real shame if captured stock got passed on to the Taliban via all those borders and started targeted US/Coalition forces in Afghanistan. Just these two possibilities show how Iran has a whole range of options to use if it came to a military confrontation. And it should be remembered. If a US/Coalition could not successfully occupy Iraq with a population of 37 million, then how can Iran with a population of 80 million be occupied?
Another factor is that even if a US/Coalition managed to somehow suppress all those missiles the Iranians are using to guard those Straits, you would never be sure that you got them all. Who really want to risk their oil tankers going down those Straits and wanting to risk that bottleneck beig turned into a flaming sea? The trouble there is no way that there would be a quick campaign possible with everybody home by Christmas. This has the potential of still being fought during the 2020 US elections and I do not think that the US establishment wants to risk that one. What they do want is to strangle Iran economically and turn the place into one of grinding poverty but if pushed too far may go the Sampson option.

jCandlish , July 5, 2018 at 3:31 am

Mines.

The straight could be mined, and probably already is.

Colonel Smithers , July 5, 2018 at 4:30 am

Thank you.

Local kids could also be trained to fire rockets across the water. The straits are not straight and cut into Iran, so there's a good vantage point for Iran.

Steve H. , July 5, 2018 at 7:28 am

> probably already is.
>> China is still officially stating that it will not end its Iranian oil imports and operations.

China's investment of billions into the deep port of Gwadar should not be discounted. While China has ceded the ocean surface to the US navy, the wei qi way is to surround and not engage directly. By now the Gulf of Oman should be a sensory organ for information critical to Iran, and passive systems are much harder to detect & destroy.

We're now three years out from Qiao Liang saying China "thinks that Washington will not fight Beijing for the next ten years". China doesn't want the fight (and I mean high explosives, not 'fighting for') yet, but they've been preparing. And let us not forget the rooster tails on the American fleet fleeing the Persian Gulf in October 2015 when Russia launched cruise missiles at Syria. That was three months after the 'One Belt, One Road' speech.

While the Saud's are working out their family disputes they cannot afford to have the petrodollar disabled. But the US is materially capable of weathering energy disruptions better than the EU, which would become even more dependent on Russia. Long term, the petrodollar is gone and climate migrations are coming, so the when of Fortess America could depend on relative and not absolute 'cui bono, ciu malo'.

tldr: the fight is inevitable, there's more than two in the ring, and there's no referee.

rd , July 5, 2018 at 12:04 pm

I doubt if it is mined at this time, but mines would be a logical way to quickly shut the Strait down. A couple of small fast ships dropping mines at night could shut it down very quickly. They could drop mines along the far shore which would force ships towards the Iran side where they would be vulnerable to shore-based anti-ship missiles.

BTW, the standing NATO minesweeping group is three ships (two Lithuanian and one British). Historically minesweeping is one of the roles carried out by other countries that the US is currently working hard to alienate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_NATO_Mine_Countermeasures_Group_1

The US Navy has minesweeping ships stationed in Bahrain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avenger-class_mine_countermeasures_ship

Mine sweeping ships generally are not heavily armored to avoid magnetic and acoustic signatures that can trigger mines. So they can struggle in contested waters and would be very vulnerable to anti-ship missiles.

"Rouhani, considered by European politicians to be a reformist, appears to be showing a hardline streak that is nearer the strategy of the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. "

Everybody becomes a hardliner when faced with an existential threat, which Trump's threats are now creating for Iran.

Antifa , July 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm

There's no need to sink any oil tankers to stop all oil shipping. Those tankers don't sail without full insurance for the cargo, and no maritime insurer will back shipping through the Strait of Hormuz while the Iranians are on the warpath. Hence, no oil tanker.

rd , July 5, 2018 at 2:03 pm

That is why a few mines would be very effective. All oil shipping would cease immediately. Because mines can be redeployed very easily, including by air or fishing boats, insurers would probably not be assuaged by naval assurances that mines have been swept.

Lambert Strether , July 5, 2018 at 3:31 pm

"What's mined is minded, and what's yours is negotiable."

Bill Smith , July 5, 2018 at 5:22 pm

In the 1980's when the Iranians mined the Straits the tankers still moved. What was the insurance deal then? Did it the US pick it up for that part of the trip?

Redlife 2017 , July 5, 2018 at 4:11 am

"If a US/Coalition could not successfully occupy Iraq with a population of 37 million, then how can Iran with a population of 80 million be occupied?"

Iran is also mostly Persian. Yes, there are Arabs, Armenians, Baluchis, etc., but the vast majority are Persian and are proud to be Persian. Unlike Iraq, where you have a country with 3 groups you can play off each other.

I visited Iran over 5 years ago and was able to speak to some regular Iranians (English is not uncommon amongst men and women). They will fight to the last man, woman, and child if anyone came into their country. And that's what the secular ones who hate their government say.

Every town has lamppost flags showing the pictures of all the young men who died in the Iran-Iraq War. It was humbling to see the generational devastation wrought on that country. Even the youth view that war as a world war, since people from over 25 countries were found to be fighting on the Iraq side ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Iraq_War – Remember the Soviet Union was ALSO on Iraq's side!). They faced destruction and survived. They view themselves as an ancient, sophisticated people as well as the greatest survivors in the world (all with good reason as they are an amazing people with a rubbish government).

I do not see this ending well if the US thinks they can put the Iranians into a corner and get compliance. It is an amazingly ahistorical understanding of the geopolitics of Iran. These are the people we should be allying with not Saudi Arabia. But this is the same group who think blundering into Iraq or Syria was a good idea, so I really can't be surprised.

Colonel Smithers , July 5, 2018 at 4:27 am

Thank you, Kev.

Just to add that the people living above the main Saudi oil fields, Eastern Province, are mainly Shiites. Shiites are also to be found in the south along the ill defined border with Yemen. Both communities are disaffected and have been for decades, although the BBC, which advertises its "unparalled global expertise" (sic) between news bulletins and other programmes, reckons the Arab Spring caused the restiveness in Saudi Arabia.

This said, the Saudis and their Pakistani poodles can foment (Sunni) Arab and Baluch disorder in Khuzestan and Sistan / Iranian Baluchistan.

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2018 at 4:51 am

Oh my. I forgot all about the Shiites of the Eastern Provinces. Thanks for correcting that omission.

ex-PFC Chuck , July 5, 2018 at 7:53 am

And Bahrain is also predominantly Shiite, although ruthlessly ruled by Sunnis. And they're restive Shiites at that.

Clive , July 5, 2018 at 7:27 am

I always wonder to myself when, on the BBC News Channel, they pan across the alleged newsroom in New Broadcasting House and you see all those desks -- rows upon rows of them -- where people are sat, or, occasionally, get up and have a wander around, what the heck are they doing there? It can't be producing news reports because you see the same half a dozen so-called news "stories" stripped endlessly across the schedule throughout the day.

Every so often we get "business" news, which is someone from a spread betting company piffling on about some rot or other then "a look at the markets", not, unfortunately, a view of Covenant Garden or something, that would be more interesting, but rather some mysterious figures from world indices and forex rates splayed across the screen like some inscrutable hieroglyphs.

Then a bit of sport, with a dash of added jingoism.

Finally, some rally round the flag update on "the forces" with some top brass on the poop deck of an aircraft carrier looking for an F35 ("F35 coming real soon"). Maybe Sophie Rayworth in a tank.

Or alternatively it's Jenny Hill from Berlin with something about sausages and Merkel with stock footage of people drinking beer from unfeasibly large glasses wraps it all up apart from a sky diving granny then the weather.

Is it some kind of comedy, I ask at this point ?

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2018 at 8:08 am

It could be worse. We all could work in one of these places. It would not matter how great a story you found, it would all have to get through the editors who report directly to their owners like with the Murdoch press. The stuff you talk about is just the stuff that gets the editorial nod i.e. pure pap.
Some of the stuff that I have seen on Australian TV, however, is nothing less than out and out propaganda. I watch some of this stuff and I compare it with what I read on this site or what a commentator chips in with and I wonder what these newsreaders actually are thinking as they read some of these stories. Probably their steady pay packets.

Clive , July 5, 2018 at 8:20 am

I briefly watched ABC a couple of months ago. I thought I'd tuned into The War Channel. How on earth did that happen?

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2018 at 8:58 am

I wish to god I knew. I have seen this creeping in the past decade or more. I suspect that a lot of bad practices are imported from overseas. There are international conferences for conservative political parties so you would have American Republicans, British Conservatives, Australian Coalition, etc. all mixing together and swapping idea and techniques. They even work together when there is an election in their country.
Just the other day I heard one Coalition member describe another as a "patriot" which you NEVER hear in Oz. Kinda like a Republican describing another Republican as a good Communist. You just never hear it. We even have an ex-Prime Minister that sounds like he could be a good buddy to Mark Rubio running around trying to blow up his own party (currently in power) saying that we should build as many coal power stations as possible because climate change is not real.
Historically our governments have been ruled by pragmatism and past US governments have labelled us as "socialist" due to adopting such things as single-payer health. The past few years I am noting more and more ideologues going into politics who want to drag the country into their way of thinking whether it is to pick fights with China (our major trade partner) or send the Australian military to the ends of the earth as if they were Mercenaries-r-us. The times they are a changing.

ambrit , July 5, 2018 at 10:48 am

It all reminds me of C S Lewis' description of H -- as a giant bureaucracy. "The Screwtape Letters" were written at the end of WW-2 and still come across as 'fresh.'

upstater , July 5, 2018 at 9:41 am

Supposedly the KSA funded development of the Pakistani bomb. There probably is some agreement to hand some over (if it hasn't already been done) for "existential threats" This could turn very bad very fast.

PlutoniumKun , July 5, 2018 at 5:02 am

Iran has lots of options. Their Navy wouldn't last very long in a hot war but they have lots of asymetric options. They have reverse engineered Russian torpedoes and these could be launched from land or from mini-subs in shallow waters (where they are far harder to detect), making life very difficult for opponents, let alone tankers. They can strike the UAE and much of Saudi Arabia using a wide variety of ballistic missiles. To prevent this, the US would have to strike Iranian territory, and this would cause a massive escalation. In almost any scenario, the Straits would be shut down for many months, and this would be catastrophic for the world economy. Asia would come off worse as they are most dependent on LNG and oil from that region.

As you say, the great 'unsaid' is the Taliban. If Iran decided it was in their interest to supply them with a few dozen trained operators with a few thousand anti-tank missiles and manpads, then its goodbye Kabul.

Felix_47 , July 5, 2018 at 11:02 am

The Iranians hate the Taliban and Al Quaeda and ISIS a lot more than we do since we are on Saudi Arabia's side. They also seem to follow their principles. Don't forget our allies and proxies in Syria are the headcutters and madmen ..all Sunnis ..although our government does not want to admit it. They would be a lot smarter to trigger a Shiite uprising in Saudi Arabia and shut the country down. The Shiites in Saudi are downtrodden and abused.

Synoia , July 5, 2018 at 12:20 pm

One tanker sunk would eliminate the carriage of oil.

The maritime insurers would not insure the tankers in a war zone.

I believe the insurance term is "Force Majeure"

Bill Smith , July 5, 2018 at 5:42 pm

What is the pipeline capacity to get around the straits? Much there?

Synoia , July 5, 2018 at 9:18 pm

What pipeline? There are pipeline from Iraq to the Mediterranean coast. I don't believe there are any from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean.

One has to remember:

Mechanical Engineers build weapons
Civil Engineers build Targets

To escalate a carrier sinking to nuclear war is, I believe a lose/lose proposition. Let say the Iranians sunk a carrier and the US Nuked Tehran.

The Iranians would not be in a forgiving mood at that point, and it would do little to remove the somewhat irritated Iranians along the northern side of the Persian Gulf. The irritated Iranians would initiate incidents over the impact of irradiated Iranians.

The US could nuke the Iranian Coast along the Persian Gulf, but, the gulf is not wide, and the result would be poor prospects for the US allies on the South side of the Gulf. In addition one does not know if nuking Shea would provoke a Sunni backlash against "the infidels, the Christian US."

One could argue that Christians and Nukes cannot be mentioned in the same sentence.

Ape , July 5, 2018 at 6:02 am

If you want to successfully occupy a society, they must believe you are willing and capable of genocide.

JIm Thomson , July 5, 2018 at 11:25 am

The Prologue of Robert Baer's "Sleeping With the Devil" outlines a potential scenario of a Shiite attack on the eastern Saudi oil fields. The sub-title is The Doomsday Scenario.
The book is about the US-Saudi relationship by a retired CIA officer. A very good read and part of trying to understand this entire mess.

TimmyB , July 5, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Exactly right. Logic dictates that if Iran is attacked, Iranian missiles will soon thereafter attempt to destroy all of the oil producing capacity selling to Europe, Japan and the US within range of its missiles. This means ships, oil fields, pipeline, ect. Oil prices would skyrocket, plunging the US, Japan and Europe into a deep economic downturn.

Why people ignore the outcome you provided is beyond me. If I were Iran, I'd do the same if Israel attacked too.

Bill Smith , July 5, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Your guess is that nobody will attack the Iranians after they attack the shipping to close the straits?

In the 1987 Iran attacked about 91 ships in the Gulf. The oil still flowed. On April 18, 1988 the US attacked and severely damaged a number of Iranian ships and bases. After that things started winding down. Then on July 3, 1988 the US shot down that Iranian airliner. Then things really quieted down.

What are the differences now? Iran: ballistic missiles and subs?

kimyo , July 5, 2018 at 3:45 am

which general should be put in charge of the u.s. military response to iran's threat?

the one who won the war in afghanistan? iraq? vietnam? syria?

surely we have somebody who is up to the task? a 'best of the best', 'with honors' kinda guy?

Antifa , July 5, 2018 at 8:17 am

There's Lt. General Riper, who played the Iranian side in the 2002 Millennium Challenge war games, "killing" 20,000 Navy personnel and "sinking" 16 American warships on the first day, so he knows better than to even start such a bottlenecked battle.

There's always General Farnsworth, the great grandson of Colonel Armstrong Custer. Farnsworth has worked for two decades in the Purchasing & Planning wing of the Pentagon -- three levels below daylight -- but his confidence in an immediate American victory Over There is indubitable.

Colonel Smithers , July 5, 2018 at 10:07 am

Thank you.

Custer's spawn? Super!

In similar vein, MI5's Eliza Manningham Buller is a descendant of Redvers Buller, British commander in the second Boer War, but much more of a realist and moderate.

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2018 at 10:48 am

Redvers Buller? Seriously? I have read a lot about his role in the Zulu War of 1879. Intriguing character being hard-fighting and hard-drinking and yet refused to wear his 1860 China medal on the grounds that it was an unnecessary war. And a descendant of his is head of MI5?

blennylips , July 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Here's a little character sketch of Redvers Buller, from " On the Psychology of Military Incompetence ", by Norman Dixon:

The leading character was the commander-in-chief, General Sir Redvers Buller. According to a contemporary description there could be no finer choice for our South African adventure: 'There is no stronger commander in the British Army than this remote, almost grimly resolute, completely independent, utterly fearless, steadfast and vigorous man. Big-boned, square-jawed, strong-minded, strong-headed Smartness sagacity administrative capacity He was born to be a soldier of the very best English type, needless to say the best type of all.
Unfortunately this assessment was at variance with the facts in all but two particulars. Firstly, he was indeed big. Secondly, though sadly lacking in moral courage, he was undoubtedly brave when it came to physical danger. In this respect, as in many others, he was not unlike Raglan of the Crimean War, and indeed some other commanders of subsequent years.
Of Sir 'Reverse' Buller, as he came to be known by his troops, Rayne Kruger writes: 'At the risk of marring [the] contemporary description it should be mentioned that his big bones were particularly well covered, especially in the region of the stomach, and that his square jaw was not especially apparent above a double chin. He had entered the army with no disadvantage, his mother being a Howard and niece of the Duke of Norfolk, and he was very wealthy, which was fortunate in view of his preference for a diet of ample good food and champagne.

Such examples of the Peter Principle, wherein people are raised to their own level of inefficiency, was never better illustrated than in the case of Sir Redvers Buller, who has been described as 'a superb major, a mediocre colonel and an abysmal general'. In this case, high-level military incompetence must be laid at the door of heroic leadership, for this was the quality which eventually put him where he could do the most damage to his own side.

The Rev Kev , July 5, 2018 at 9:07 am

I think that we found our best of the best-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXRi28W-ENY

Synoia , July 5, 2018 at 9:22 pm

Eggzactly

Expat , July 5, 2018 at 5:38 am

The US response will be that this unprovoked aggression is an act of war, etc. This ignores our own unprovoked act of aggression, the embargo.
In case any has forgotten, those dastardly Imperialist Japanese launched an "unprovoked" attack on Pearl Harbor because the US put Japan under an embargo.
Embargoes themselves are not acts of war, but blockades are. But this is all technical blather. The US is attempting to strangle Iran. Iran will attempt to strangle the Gulf Arabs and the US. If Iran starts firing missiles or blockading the straits, the US will attack Iran. Iran will in turn launch attacks on the Gulf states. This could drive oil over $200, perhaps higher.
If Iran were clever, they would institute some sort of quarantine or inspection in their territorial waters. Indeed, they should claim jurisdiction over the entire strait in the interest of international security (they could certainly find some US document somewhere and just change the names). Then they could stop every ship going in and out and spend a week or so inspecting each one for contraband, disease, etc. This would not be an act of war but would certainly provoke the US into striking first anyway.

vlade , July 5, 2018 at 6:38 am

Iran has already extended its territorial waters to 12 miles, as did Oman. Given that the strait is 29 miles at the narrowest, and that to deal with the amount of shipping, pretty much all of it passes through either Omani or Iranian territorial waters. Technically, Iran/Oman has right to stop any non "innocent" (read unarmed) shipping trough it territorial waters. Not sure what is Omani relationship with the US/Saudis at the moment, wasn't paying much attention to the Gulf.

Colonel Smithers , July 5, 2018 at 10:04 am

Thank you, Vlade.

The Omanis would stay out.

The variation of Islam practiced there is very different to Saudi Wahhabism.

Also, many foreigners there, not just Muslims, have Omani nationality.

Bill Smith , July 5, 2018 at 7:48 pm

Sounds like there are 4 miles in the center? The marked shipping lanes are all on the Oman side of the half way point.

JohnnySacks , July 5, 2018 at 9:35 am

Once the US decides to strike first, we're going to be on our own. The Saudis will be completely useless as they always were, understandably not wanting to be cannon fodder for US interests. And with most of Europe and Asia relying on gulf oil, our 'coalition of the willing' is going to be a bit shy of members.