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Softpanorama Energy Bulletin, 2019

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[Dec 31, 2019] The US is now openly dismissive as a matter of law any ally or partner who engages in economic activity it disapproves by Tom Luongo

Dec 26, 2019 | astutenews.com

Europe is willing to defy the U.S. on Nordstream to the point of forcing the U.S. to openly and nakedly destroy its reputation with European contractors and governments to stop one pipeline in a place where multiple gas pipelines will be needed for future growth.

This is the diplomatic equivalent of the nuclear option. And the neocons in the Senate just pushed the button. Europe understands what this is really about, the U.S. retaining its imperial position as the policy setter for all the world. If it can set energy policy for Europe then it can set everything else.

And it's clear that the leadership in Europe is done with that status quo. The Trump administration from the beginning has used NATO as an excuse to mask its real intentions towards Europe, which is continued domination of its policies. Trump complains that the U.S. pays into NATO to protect Europe from Russia but then Europe buys its energy from Russia. That's unfair, Donald complains, like a little bitch, frankly, even though he right on the surface. But if the recent NATO summit is any indication, Europe is no longer interested in NATO performing that function. French President Emmanuel Macron wants NATO re-purposed to fight global terror, a terrible idea. NATO should just be ended.

But you'll notice how Trump doesn't talk about that anymore. He wants more billions pumped into NATO while the U.S. still sets its policies. This is not a boondoggle for the MIC as much as it's a Sword of Damocles to hold over Europe's head. The U.S.'s involvement in should be ended immediately, the troops brought home and the billions of dollars spent here as opposed to occupying most of Europe to point missiles at a Russia wholly uninterested in imperial ambitions no less harboring any of them.

And Trump also knows this but thinks stopping Nordstream 2 is the price Europe has to pay him for this privilege. It's insane. The time has come for Europe to act independently from the U.S. As much as I despise the EU, to untangle it from the U.S. on energy policy is the means by which for it to then deal with its problems internally. It can't do that while the U.S. is threatening it. Circling the wagons against the immediate threat, as it were.

And that means protecting its companies and citizens from the economic depredations of power-mad neoconservatives in the U.S. Senate like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham.

Allseas, the Swiss company laying the pipe for Nordstream 2, has halted construction for now , awaiting instructions from the U.S. Gazprom will likely step in to finish the job and Germany will green light any of the necessary permits to get the pipeline done. Those people will be put out of work just in time for Christmas, turning thousands of people against the U.S. Commerce drives people together, politics drives them apart.

But, at the same time, the urgency to finish Nordstream 2 on time is wholly irrelevant now because Ukraine and Russia came to terms on a new five-year gas transit contract. This ensures Gazprom can meet its contractual deliveries to Europe that no one thought could be done on time. But when the Nazi threat to Zelensky meeting with Merkel, Macron and Putin in Paris failed to materialize, a gas deal was on the horizon.

And, guess what? U.S. LNG will still not have the marginal lever over Europe's energy policy because of that. Putin and Zelensky outmaneuvered Cruz, Graham and Trump on this. Because that's what this boils down to. By keeping Russian gas out of Europe, it was supposed to constrain not only Russia's growth but also Europe's. Because then the U.S. government can control who and how much energy can make it into European markets at critical junctures politically.

That was the Bolton Doctrine to National Security. And that doctrine brought nothing but misery to millions.

And if you look back over the past five years of U.S./EU relations you will see this gambit clearly for what it was, a way to continue European vassalage at the hands of the U.S. by forcing market share of U.S. providers into European markets.

Again, it gets back to Trump's ideas about Emergy Dominance and becoming the supplier of the marginal erg of energy to important economies around the world.

The smart play for the EU now that the gas transit deal is in place is to threaten counter-sanctions against the U.S. and bar all LNG shipments into Europe. Gas prices are at historic lows, gas supplies are overflowing thanks to fears of a deal not being in place.

So, a three to six month embargo of U.S. LNG into Europe to bleed off excess supply while Nordstream 2 is completed would be the right play politically.

But, in reality, they won't need to, because the U.S. won't be able to import much into Europe under current prices and market conditions. And once Nordstream 2 is complete, LNG sales to Europe should crater.

In the end, I guess it's too bad for Ted Cruz that economics and basic human ingenuity are more powerful than legislatures. Because Nordstream 2 will be completed. Turkstream's other trains into Europe will be built. Venezuela will continue rebuilding its energy sector with Russian and Chinese help.

There is no place for U.S. LNG in Europe outside of the Poles literally burning money virtue signaling their Russophobia. Nordstream 2 was a response to the revolt in Ukraine, to replace any potential losses in market share to Europe. Now Russia will have what it had before passing through Ukraine along with Nordstream 2. By 2024 there will be at least two trains from Turkstream coming into Europe.

Iran will keep expanding exports, settling its oil and gas trade through Russian banks. And the U.S. will continue to fulminate and make itself even more irrelevant over time. What men like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump refuse to understand is that when you go nuclear you can't ever go back. If you threaten the nuclear option, there's no fall back position.

And when those that you threaten with annihilation survive they are made all the stronger for passing through the eye of the needle. Looking at Gazprom's balance sheet right now, that's my take.


By Tom Luongo. Source: Gold Goats 'n Guns

[Dec 31, 2019] Iraq attack as another example how spineless Trump is about trying to assert his will over that of the neocon bureaucracies, civilian and military

Dec 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Russ , Dec 30 2019 8:34 utc | 1

Instead of finding the real culprits - ISIS remnants, disgruntled locals, Kurds who want to regain control over Kirkuk - the U.S. decided that Kata'ib Hizbullah was the group guilty of the attack....

Yesterday's attacks guarantee that all U.S. troops will have to leave Iraq and will thereby also lose their supply lines to Syria.

One wonders if that was the real intend of those strikes.

Just like with 9/11 and Iraq where the US government immediately pushed its pre-existing agenda, so the US doesn't care who really launches attacks on US and US-client positions in Iraq and Syria but automatically assigns them to Hezbollah and thus to Iran, in accord with the pre-existing neocon wet dream of provoking a full-scale war with Iran.

If that's the US intent, to escalate against Iran, and if conversely the Iraq government is serious about kicking out the US military, we'll have the confrontation discussed in the open thread.

As for the idea that Trump was briar-patching here, wanting a good legalistic pretext to withdraw troops from Iraq (which would then trigger the practical supply-based pretext to withdraw them from Syria and not "take the oil" after all), well even if he had such confused thoughts, we've already seen how spineless he is about trying to assert his will over that of the neocon bureaucracies, civilian and military. Do we really expect them to agree to vacate Iraq merely because the legally constituted supposedly sovereign government told them to? It seems more likely they'll tell the government they're not going anywhere and demand that the government help them suppress non-governmental resistance to their ongoing presence, or else. (I don't know if there's yet been a formal order to leave from the Iraqi government, or just rhetoric in an attempt to save face.)

[Dec 31, 2019] Israel will not be supplying Germany gas any time soon.

Dec 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Bianca , Dec 30 2019 19:48 utc | 54

FYI

Being almost 100% sure that Israeli cornering East Mediterranean gas reserves was a done deal
and after Cyprus gerrymandered its EEZ under UNCLOS -- and Greece signing up
as pipeline terminus in Europe -- Trump put this cart before horse -- and sanctioned
Nord Stream. Europe was to get Israeli gas. Then Turkey and Libya declared EZZ,
and pipeline cannot go!
Also. there will be other claimants to reserves -- Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza.

Nice try -- but Israel will not be supplying Germany gas any time soon.

[Dec 29, 2019] Last Week's Russian-Ukrainian Gas Deal Took the World by Surprise by Andrew Korybko

Dec 29, 2019 | astutenews.com

Like it was earlier noted, the "New Detente" isn't perfect, as seen most recently by the US' decision to impose sanctions on the companies involved in Nord Stream II's construction, but once again, the state of relations in general are still comparatively better than their nadir in mid-2014 immediately after the EuroMaidan coup and Crimea's reunification with Russia. The US is still trying to "contain" Russia with mixed success, while Russia is undertaking its best efforts to break out of this "containment" noose and even "flip" some of the US' traditional partners such as Turkey, so the New Cold War probably won't end anytime soon. Nor, for that matter, did anybody reasonably expect that it would, but just like during the Old Cold War, there comes a time when the involved parties believe that it's in their best interests to proverbially take a break and enter into a period of detente. It seems as though that phase is only now just beginning but which has finally borne some fruit after Trump promised to pursue this outcome all throughout the 2016 campaign.

One can argue over why that hasn't already happened to the extent that he promised (or even if he was fully sincere in the first place), but the point to focus on in the here and now is that some tangible progress has finally been made concerning the future of Russia's trans-Ukrainian gas supplies to the EU. From the looks of it, all the relevant players -- Russia, Ukraine, the EU, and the US -- have concrete interests in seeing that this agreement is upheld. It's convenient for Russia to continue using existing pipelines, Ukraine wants to get paid for its transit role, the EU desires reliable but cheap gas imports, and the US recognizes that this outcome perpetuates the geostrategic role of its Ukrainian proxy that it could then leverage as a "bargaining chip" for reaching a more substantive "New Detente" with Russia sometime next year or the one afterwards. That said, while each player has their interests, they don't exactly trust one another for different reasons, which means that the "New Detente" might still be offset if any of them decides to play the spoiler or is undermined by their "deep states".

[Dec 28, 2019] Washington's Unmasked Imperialism Towards Europe And Russia

Notable quotes:
"... Sorry to burst your bubble, but since the end of the Soviet System (with Western criminal thieving BILLIONAIRES who rushed in to plunder Russia (Yeltsin Years) ---- Russians now live longer than the degraded, and impoverished Americans with what the Junk Food Nation serves in the US of A. ..."
Dec 28, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4777 Washington's Unmasked Imperialism Towards Europe And Russia by Tyler Durden Sat, 12/28/2019 - 07:00 0 SHARES

Via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Washington must think the rest of the world is as stupid as many of its own politicians are. Its passing into law – signed by President Trump this week – of sanctions to halt the Nord Stream-2 and Turk Stream gas supply projects is a naked imperialist move to bludgeon the European energy market for its own economic advantage.

US sanctions are planned to hit European companies involved with Russia's Gazprom in the construction of the 1,225-kilometer pipeline under the Baltic Sea which will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany and elsewhere across the European Union. The €9.5 billion ($11bn) project is 80 per cent complete and is due to be finished early next year.

It is quite clear – because US politicians have openly acknowledged it – that Washington's aim is to oust Russia as the main natural gas exporter to the giant EU market, and to replace with more expensive American-produced gas.

What's hilarious is the way American politicians, diplomats and news media are portraying this US assault on market principles and the sovereignty of nations as an act of chivalry.

Washington claims that the sanctions are "pro-European" because they are "saving Europe from dependency on Russia for its energy". The American hypocrisy crescendoes with the further claim that by stopping Russia earning lucrative export revenues, then Moscow will be constrained from "interfering" in European nations. As if Washington's own actions are not interference on a massive scale.

European politicians and businesses are not buying this American claptrap. The vast overstepping by Washington into European affairs has prompted EU governments to question the nature of the trans-Atlantic relation. About time too. Thus, Washington's hubris and bullying are undermining its objective of dominating Europe for its own selfish interests.

Russia, Germany and others have defiantly told Washington its weaponizing of economic sanctions will not halt the Nord Stream nor the Turk Stream projects.

As German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier this month, "it is unacceptable" for the US to brazenly interfere in European and Russian energy trade. The American pretext of supposedly "protecting" the national security of its purported European allies is frankly laughable.

The American agenda is a blatantly imperialistic reordering of the energy market to benefit US economic interests. To pull off this audacious scam, Washington, by necessity, has to demonize and isolate Russia, while also trampling roughshod over its European allies. Europe has partly aided this American stitch-up of its own interests because it has foolishly indulged in the US antagonism towards Russia with sanctions due to the Ukraine conflict, Crimea and other anti-Russia smears.

The legislation being whistled through the American Congress by both Republicans and Democrats (collectively dubbed the War Party) is recklessly fueling tensions between the US and Russia. In trying to gain economic advantages over Europe's energy, Washington is wantonly ramping up animus towards Moscow.

Apart from the sanctions against Russian and European companies partnering on Nord Stream, the US Congress passed separate legislation which seeks to boost American oil and gas production in the East Mediterranean.

A Radio Free Europe report this week was headlined: 'Congress Passes More Legislation Aimed At Curbing Russia's Energy Grip On Europe'.

The headline should more accurately have been worded: 'Congress Passes More Legislation Aimed At Bolstering America's Energy Grip On Europe'.

The RFE report states: "The bipartisan Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, which was approved on December 19, is the latest piece of US legislation passed this year that aims to diversify [sic] Europe's energy sources away from Kremlin-controlled companies."

Again, the American double-think is jaw-dropping. Such is the arrogance of a flailing, delusional empire when it can publicly justify with a straight face an energy-market-grab with a veneer of virtue.

US oil and gas giants are moving into the East Mediterranean. Exxon Mobil announced the discovery of a major natural gas field off Cyprus in February this year. American firms are also partnering with Israeli companies to begin gas production in the Leviathan Field located off the coast at Haifa.

There is no doubt that the US sanctions targeting Nord Stream and Turk Stream are part of a bigger concerted pincer movement by Washington to corner the EU energy market of 500 million consumers (more than double the US population).

Colin Cavell, a US professor of political science, commented to Strategic Culture Foundation: "What should be hammered down in this continuing debate over which country will be able to deliver oil and natural gas to Europe is the fact that neither the United States nor, and especially, the Republican Party, stand for so-called free trade."

Free-trade capitalism is supposed to be an ideological pillar of the US. In this ideology, governments should not interfere with market supply and demand. But paradoxically as far as US-imposed sanctions on Russian-European energy companies are concerned the American Congress is "quintessentially anti-free market", notes Cavell.

In its shameless profiteering, Washington is acting aggressively towards Russia and Europe while flouting its own supposed economic principles and relying on brute force to win its arguments. America's imperialist agenda towards Europe and Russia is how world wars are instigated.


radbug , 51 minutes ago link

In passing this legislation, the Washington elite have crossed a Rubicon. They can't go back. WW2 in Europe has finally ended.

Scipio Africanuz , 2 hours ago link

The Teutons, the critical component in Europe, have begun grafting titanium onto their spine..

Once the grafting is complete, GOLD ascends, and takes its rightful place, along with plentiful, accessible, and friendly energy..

The focus is now fully East and Central, and why?

Because as always, the rising of the sun starts in the East..

Cheers...

hayits grass , 2 hours ago link

Pretty good. Europe is a great continent. No more sucking the teat of USA.

cheoll , 2 hours ago link

Every EMPIRE has its Achilles's heel.

America is NO different.

ReturnOfDaMac , 2 hours ago link

"You will buy our more expensive, less efficient, non-market solution, you will pay for it with King Dollars, and by gawd, YOU WILL LIKE IT, now shuddup, Vassals!" -- Uncle Scam and the Reloonicans

CrazzeTimes4all , 3 hours ago link

If the US is seeking another world war, then they can host this one.

KingFiat , 3 hours ago link

I live in Denmark, a country Nord Stream 2 is going through. We are (used to be?) one of the strongest allies to the US. But recent developments have alienated a lot of danes to the US.

First Trump publicly announced he wanted to buy the isle of Greenland from Denmark. Greenland is the largest isle in the world and of strategic importance. But you don't just buy a part of another country, and this offer was firmly refused. As response to the refusal Trump cancelled a previously planned official visit to Denmark. This was seen by most danes as an insult.

Denmark was the last country holding out on permissions needed to build Nord Stream 2, but after this incident we allowed the project to go forward. I believe the Greenland incident caused the change making Denmark approve Nord Stream 2.

After this we have had other incidents. One is on the Faroe Islands (a part of Denmark), where both US and Chinese ambassadors interfered in our internal affairs trying to influence if Huawei could be used for 5G in this self-governing part of our country. Another is a follow-up to the Greenland incident mentioned, where the US now wants to open a diplomatic mission on the island, probably in an attempt to influence the local government to accept that the US buys the island.

During the last year I have seen sentiment among my fellow citizens going from "the US is great, let us support and follow them" to "we have to be careful of these guys, they interfere in our internal affairs and try to break up our country".

I believe the US government is underestimating how much they are alienating the Europeans with this line of foreing policy.

Versengetorix , 2 hours ago link

You are correct, but please understand that this is not our foreign policy. It is Israel's and they run America- have for several decades now.

CogitoMan , 1 hour ago link

Its a guess but I think there are other hidden issues here nobody wants to talk about. Of course, Trump idea of buying the island was stupid but I believe it arouse out of frustration. You see, US wants to build huge military base there. Danes won't permit that. The reason US wants to do it is because sea between Iceland and England/Norway is a chokepoint aimed against Russian subs. This is the only place where they can be reasonably stopped. It is nothing new, the same thing happened during WWII war at so called "war of Atlantic" where the most of the fighting happened between German U-boats and alliance marines.

NickelthroweR , 44 minutes ago link

You most certainly can buy land from other countries. Thomas Jefferson purchased the entire center of N. America from the French and for pennies. We also purchased Alaska from the Russians for next to nothing as well. Both land masses are much larger than all of Europe.

You guys don't need Greenland so give it to us for pennies.

Aussiestirrer , 3 hours ago link

USA = World's Terrorist Superpower....nothing more

RDouglas , 4 hours ago link

Russia has the largest proven reserves of easily recoverable oil and natural gas on Earth. The US has about a decade to choke Russia to death. Economic sanctions, regime change, cyber attacks...whatever it takes. If the US doesn't utterly break Russia soon, Russia will become the next, (and last) empire on Earth. NeoConThink.

CogitoMan , 2 hours ago link

Quote...

"The US has about a decade to choke Russia to death. "

Actually you are absolutely wrong on this. It is the other way around. Russia has to get out of US chokefold NOW or it will likely disintegrate.

Why? In short, economy, geogaphy and even more importantly demographics.

Today there are about 110 million native Russians there. Next to them are about 40 million muslims living there. Muslims have about twice as big reproduction rate as Russians do. It is estimated that in 30 years if current trends stand it will be 50/50. Worse, in ten years there will be only about 90 million Russians living there.

There are other issues as well. About 25 percent of Russian men die before the age of 55. The reason? Alcoholism and drug abuse. Have you ever heard about cheap Rusian drug called Krokodil?

It kills you slowly first then fast. Your body just ROTS AWAY and falls off. Literally! Like you have bare bones instead of feet. No kidding. Just check on you tube.

Another problem is soldier materiel. It is estimated that only about 30 percent of males between the age of 18-25 are healthy enough to join military. As of today it is barely sufficient to fill the ranks. In 10 years Russian military will have to shrink by 20 percent. From that perspective it is do or die for Russia right now. This is most likely the peak of their military power, then it will slowly deteriorate. Putin knows that, hence he lashes out at its neighbours, most notably Poland. Economy shrinks, military is on vane, hence he needs an enemy to rally his people around. Or else!

Then there is China. Make your best bet what they will do in the far east when Russia lies prostate.Remember, Russia took over a lot of Chinese territory in late XIX century there. Yep, the area around Vladivostok and other nearby territories, the size close to that of today's France..There are millions of Chinese already living there.In the Asian south Chinese already took controll of the former Russian stans. They rule there, not Putin. You didn't know that?

Makes me wonder why....

Rubicon727 , 1 hour ago link

"There are other issues as well. About 25 percent of Russian men die before the age of 55. The reason? Alcoholism and drug abuse. Have you ever heard about cheap Rusian drug called Krokodil?

It kills you slowly first then fast. Your body just ROTS AWAY and falls off. Literally! Like you have bare bones instead of feet. No kidding. Just check on you tube."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sorry to burst your bubble, but since the end of the Soviet System (with Western criminal thieving BILLIONAIRES who rushed in to plunder Russia (Yeltsin Years) ---- Russians now live longer than the degraded, and impoverished Americans with what the Junk Food Nation serves in the US of A.

Gonzogal , 47 minutes ago link

here is some news for you.... Russians' Alcohol Consumption Drops 80% in 7 Years

Mustafa Kemal , 4 hours ago link

" Washington must think the rest of the world is as stupid as many of its own politicians are"

No, washington thinks no such thing. It doesnt really understand how stupid its own politicians are. Nor DOES IT CARE!.

Did anyone watch the impeachment proceedings? Now, THAT was stupid, stupid for the whole world to watch. And then there is the chocoate cake diplomacy of Trump, the elegance and sophistication of Pompeo, Bolton, and the digniity of Nikki Haley. Putting Raytheon to run our Pentagon is a magical touch.

LOL, the US clownshow is way past stupid.

vasilievich , 4 hours ago link

Comment from a friend of mine concerning the statement below. He has excellent security credentials:

"Our President has made the world far more dangerous by withdrawing from treaties without attempting to negotiate new ones. No country is well served by this. The situation is very destabilizing."

vasilievich , 4 hours ago link

September 22 of this year :

The Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Sergey Shoigu:

- I hope that a full-scale war is not a question today. And all the risks and consequences that such a full-scale war entails are obvious to everyone.

Regarding the third world war, there are a very large number of different statements. The most accurate and adequate of them seems to me: "I do not know exactly what the third world war will be. But I know for sure that she will be the last. "

However, if we talk about the number of threats to our country, then they do not become less. The United States has already withdrawn from two important nuclear arms control treaties. So far, the START-3 treaty remains, which is also under discussion in the USA: to renew it or not to renew it?

As a result of this approach, the world is becoming more unpredictable and less secure. At the current level of informatization and automation, there is a high probability of errors in the weapons control system.

That is why recently issues of ensuring information security have come to the fore. When you are aware of your vulnerability and are interested in maintaining balance and universal equal security, it makes you turn on your head.

And when you think how the United States continues to believe by inertia that a balance of power has developed in your favor, a variety of ideas may come to your head, including not the most reasonable ones. It is in this situation that I see the main threat now, and not only for Russia, "the minister replied.

Obamaroid Ointment , 4 hours ago link

U.N. Approves China-Backed Internet Convention, Alarming Rights Advocates

Josef Stalin , 5 hours ago link

Washington must think the rest of the world is as stupid as many of its own politicians are

CDN_Rebel , 5 hours ago link

It's good cop/bad cop nonsense. Europe is occupied territory, and American huffing and puffing at Russia is just meant to get Europe "better deals" for their projects with Russia. The only ones who don't get it are spooks and Neo-Libs/Cons

What is not expected is rational discussion on what I have described here. But since facts contrary to my expose here are missing I doubt it will happen.

Mustafa Kemal , 4 hours ago link

" But remember also that todays Russia is ruled by a Tsar named Putin"

Im amazed at how long this silly meme can be maintained.

Putin is NOT and autocrat, he has to struggle with a delicate balance. between the Atlantic integrationists and Eurasiaon soveriigntists. The oligarchy installed by the US is still strong in Russian. They have not won their soveriignty yet.

IronForge , 6 hours ago link

Because Oligopoly, Economic Slavery, and Vassaldom is Freedom!

BlueLightning , 6 hours ago link

When your only industry left is the MIC what else can you do but sanctions or war.

[Dec 25, 2019] Washington s sanctions are own goal

Notable quotes:
"... Time and time again Washington has tightened Russian sanctions in an effort to crush the Russian economy. When virtually every legal outlet had been sanctioned, Washington has turned to sanctioning third parties that cooperate with Russia. ..."
"... North American investors, led fully by Wall Street, account for over half of the foreign capital flowing into Russian stocks, according to the Moscow Exchange. By comparison, Russia's next door neighbors in Europe account for only 26%. ..."
"... Speaking on German TV, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the sanctions were an infringement of sovereignty... The US sanctions have also angered Russia and the European Union, which says it should be able to decide its own energy policies. ..."
"... "As a matter of principle, the EU opposes the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business," a spokesman for the trading bloc told AFP news agency on Saturday. ..."
"... According to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the American sanctions amount to "interference in autonomous decisions taken in Europe." ..."
"... Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are considering trading among themselves in gold and through a barter system as a hedge against any future economic sanctions on them, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Saturday. ..."
"... They have their own undersea pipe-laying equipment and experience. These sanctions will only delay the completion date for a few more months. Russia under Putin is very patient, resolute and not prone to rash decisions. They play the long game and will win out in the end. ..."
"... The Great Gas Game: Vesti Presents a New Documentary Film About Pipelines and Power youtube.com ..."
"... Nord Stream 2 is financed by leading energy companies from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Austria, ENGIE, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall Dea. A multi-billion Euro investment in European industry and services, the project involves more than 200 companies from 17 countries worldwide. ..."
"... Well, congratulations Congress and Trump. This will drive a wedge between the US and Europe. Can you just imagine how those investing in NS2 feel about the US. The US is saying in effect - lose all of your investment because we have determined that the project is against our geopolitical/economic interests. And to make matters worse the pipeline will be completed, probably only 2 months behind schedule. So the financial backers will get hit, but will eventually see returns due to Russian efforts. Russia could have built the entire pipeline themselves, but preferred to have European partners. ..."
"... to Europe at the start of the 1980's, the US had just gone through the Oil Shock of 1978–79 . The US has not been a net exporter of oil for well over 75 years. It is only this year that this has changed through the extensive use of fracking. ..."
Dec 25, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

gjohnsit on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 12:18pm

own goal noun: (in soccer) a goal scored inadvertently when the ball is struck into the goal by a player on the defensive team.

Time and time again Washington has tightened Russian sanctions in an effort to crush the Russian economy. When virtually every legal outlet had been sanctioned, Washington has turned to sanctioning third parties that cooperate with Russia.

So what is the net effect of all of these sanctions?

The Russian stock market has reached record highs this year but still has room to climb further in coming months before paring gains towards the end of 2020, a Reuters poll of market experts found...
The rouble-based MOEX index has reached an all-time high of 3,009.1 in November, taking its year-to-date gain to over 25%, and is seen finishing this year at 3,000.

That's not exactly what Washington had in mind. However the real kicker is this .

North American investors, led fully by Wall Street, account for over half of the foreign capital flowing into Russian stocks, according to the Moscow Exchange. By comparison, Russia's next door neighbors in Europe account for only 26%.

So what is happening is that Washington is punishing Europe for cooperating with Russia, while turning a blind eye to when their Wall Street donors cooperate with Russia. As you may have guessed, this has created some hard feelings .

Speaking on German TV, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the sanctions were an infringement of sovereignty... The US sanctions have also angered Russia and the European Union, which says it should be able to decide its own energy policies.

"As a matter of principle, the EU opposes the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business," a spokesman for the trading bloc told AFP news agency on Saturday.

Imagine that: countries making their own policy decisions that don't align with Washington's interests? What's the world coming to?

Allseas, a Dutch-Swiss private company, is going to be significantly harmed by the newest sanctions, and it will delay the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (but it will only delay it). However, there is a bright side to all of this.

While it costs Moscow hundreds of millions in lost income and additional investments, the country is benefitting on a geostrategic and political level.

For a mere $9.5 billion, NS2's price tag, Moscow has unintentionally managed to drive another wedge between key Western allies. Berlin is furious about the sanctions and its already fraught relations with Washington are set to escalate even further. According to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the American sanctions amount to "interference in autonomous decisions taken in Europe."

What is certain is that NS2 will be completed eventually. Most of the work on the 1,230 kilometer or 765 mile long pipeline has already been finished. Also, the vast majority of the $9.5 billion in investments have already been spent.

Much like our GWOT, we've reached a point in sanctions where staying the course just makes things worse. It isn't just Russia. The Muslim world is looking for an alternative trading system to avoid sanctions that Washington hasn't even threatened yet.

Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are considering trading among themselves in gold and through a barter system as a hedge against any future economic sanctions on them, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Saturday.

..."I have suggested that we re-visit the idea of trading using the gold dinar and barter trade among us," Mahathir said, referring to the Islamic medieval gold coin.

"We are seriously looking into this and we hope that we will be able to find a mechanism to put it into effect."
The leaders agreed they needed do more business among themselves and trade in each other's currencies.

You know that you are using sanctions too much when other nations expect to be sanctioned by you before you even consider doing it.
As for the gold dinar, this is what was proposed by Libya's former leader Gaddafi, and also what got him eventually killed .

The most recent batch of Clinton emails reveals perhaps the most bizarre morsel of Blumenthal-baked intelligence to date. An April 2, 2011 memo titled "France's client/Q's gold" quotes "knowledgeable individuals" with insider information about French President Nicolas Sarkozy's motivation for bombing Libya. The military campaign, the anonymous sources say, was designed to quash plans by Gaddafi to use $7 billion in secret gold and silver to prop up a new African currency. The French worried the move would undercut the currency guaranteed by the French treasury, known as CFA franc, that's widely used in West Africa and acts as a strong link between France and many of its former African colonies. After French intelligence officials got wind of this secret plan, the Blumenthal memo reports, Sarkozy freaked out: "This was one of the factors that influenced [his] decision to commit France to the attack on Libya."
The Voice In th... on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 12:52pm
Kruschev Many remember the quote "We will bury you". I think he was quoting someone else. Lenin? But they forget the second sentence. "And the capitalists will sell us the shovel."

Greed is indeed a sickness, a mental illness. Not ordinary greed, but Scrooge McDuck greed. The need to have more more more, when it cannot possibly make any difference in your life.

Not like the guys I worked with that volunteered for every Holiday, every overtime opportunity. The money did make a difference there, although one can question whether it is worth it. But pursuing an extra billion when you already have tens of billions? How much is enough? How high is up.

EDIT:

I'm reminded of the old sitcom "Mama's Family". Dim bulb son, Vinton, hears of a new larger lottery jackpot and says, "Wow! Imagine how many lottery tickets you could buy with that much money!"

EDIT2:

Like an alcoholic that just drinks more and more until he passes out.

Roy Blakeley on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 9:08pm
Yes but the real problem is...

@entrepreneur that capitalism selects for people with this mental illness. A person with a healthy view of life will never be selected as fortune 500 CEO.

excessive are the mountains of paper they accumulate are still stimulated by acquiring more.
#1
And whether it be newspapers solidly packing every room in their homes to a depth of 6 feet, leaving barely a 12" crawl space between the top of the stacks and the ceiling, or be it a pile of money, more than they and their extended family and descendants can spend in 100 years, it is hoarding, a mental illness.

CB on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 12:55pm
The US will not stop Nord Stream 2

They have their own undersea pipe-laying equipment and experience. These sanctions will only delay the completion date for a few more months. Russia under Putin is very patient, resolute and not prone to rash decisions. They play the long game and will win out in the end.

//www.youtube.com/embed/jiGh1wSIt5c?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

gjohnsit on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 2:20pm
Worth 10 minutes of your time

https://www.youtube.com/embed/w1TYkGq0BM4

CB on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 4:46pm
The US has been playing at this game for over 5 decades, originally with US supplied coal but recently revived with US LNG. Fascinating historical backgrounder to the current US sanctions against Russian gas pipelines.

The Great Gas Game: Vesti Presents a New Documentary Film About Pipelines and Power youtube.com

The Wizard on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 5:33pm
Yes, own goal

Nord Stream 2 is financed by leading energy companies from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Austria, ENGIE, OMV, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall Dea. A multi-billion Euro investment in European industry and services, the project involves more than 200 companies from 17 countries worldwide.

Well, congratulations Congress and Trump. This will drive a wedge between the US and Europe. Can you just imagine how those investing in NS2 feel about the US. The US is saying in effect - lose all of your investment because we have determined that the project is against our geopolitical/economic interests. And to make matters worse the pipeline will be completed, probably only 2 months behind schedule. So the financial backers will get hit, but will eventually see returns due to Russian efforts. Russia could have built the entire pipeline themselves, but preferred to have European partners.

At the end of WWII most of Europe used coal for energy. The US had a goal to convert Europe to oil, since the US was the major world exporter of oil. One of the stated reasons was to make Europe dependent on US oil and give the US political leverage over European countries. So this whole thing is about the US projecting their geopolitical dominance schemes to Russia. As it has turned out, for more than 70 years Russia and previously the USSR has never done that as a policy. The reason being that once you do that you lose trust as a trade partner. But this is even worse as the US is interfering in trading among European partners that has nothing to do directly with the US.

CB on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 6:31pm
When the USSR started building gas pipelines

@The Wizard

to Europe at the start of the 1980's, the US had just gone through the Oil Shock of 1978–79 . The US has not been a net exporter of oil for well over 75 years. It is only this year that this has changed through the extensive use of fracking.

The oil shortage of the 1970's brought about the end of power generation using oil. The US, a major exporter of coal, was pushing the use of American coal for energy security in Europe since WWII.

CB on Tue, 12/24/2019 - 8:47pm
Just came across this report on US coal

@CB

Trump Makes American Coal Great Again -- Overseas
U.S. coal exports have exploded. Can that continue?
April 4, 2018
...
The export boom is the one part of Trump's pledge to help the coal sector that is coming true.

Production ticked up a bit last year after a disastrous 2016 but is still at the lowest level since 1978. And despite plenty of promises to bring back jobs to coal country, coal mining employment only grew by some 1,100 jobs last year; mining employment is down about 40 percent since 2012. Meanwhile, closures of coal-fired power plants continue apace, with more than two dozen plants shutting down early last year alone, which means less domestic demand for coal.
...
And the Trump administration's other policies don't look like they'll end up helping coal much either. The push to increase exports of natural gas to Europe, Asia, and Latin America undermines the overseas market for U.S. coal, since both can be used to generate electricity. And as U.S. coal is shipped abroad, its price at home tends to rise slightly -- making coal even less attractive as a power source there.

"Unfortunately, most of the policies the Trump administration is pursuing inside and outside of energy do not help domestic coal production," Book says.

[Dec 25, 2019] Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia

Dec 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

pogohere , Dec 24 2019 18:17 utc | 107

Kevin @ 18

Try this: Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia – May 15, 2017

by Thane Gustafson


A review @ Amazon:

Thane masterfully succeeded in uncovering the fundamental drivers of the Russian oil industry and its interdependency with the political complex through a comprehensive and convincing historical analysis, with plenty of meaningful insights and endearing anecdotes. Rooted in Soviet legacy and having gone through the 90s bust-boom roller coaster and 2000s state reconsolidation the industry is a unique globally isolated eco system, and, with Russia as a whole, is at a crossroads. A must read for any decision maker in the O&G business.

I've read it and this review is a good summary.

[Dec 25, 2019] Freedom gas

Dec 25, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al December 24, 2019 at 2:35 am

Euractiv: How a EURACTIV journalist inadvertently coined the 'Worst Phrase of the Year' 2019
https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/how-a-euractiv-journalist-inadvertently-coined-the-worst-phrase-of-the-year-2019/

It's official: "Freedom gas" is the Worst Phrase of the Year, according to the Plain English Foundation. But where does the expression come from? EURACTIV did not have to look far to get the answer

So where does the whole story come from?

On 1 May, EURACTIV's energy and climate reporter Frédéric Simon attended a briefing with US energy secretary Rick Perry in Brussels. He recalls the events below.

The four journalists in the room had spent about an hour asking Perry a basic question: why would Europeans choose to pay for expensive LNG imported from the US when they have access to cheap Russian gas?

"But my surprise soon turned to dismay when Perry suddenly took a grave face and started talking about the Normandy landings during WWII for which commemorations were planned days after."

Here's what Perry went on to say: Seventy-five years after liberating Europe from Nazi Germany occupation, "the United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent," the US energy secretary told reporters that day.

"And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it's in the form of liquefied natural gas," he added. "So yes, I think you may be correct in your observation," he said in reference to Fred's suggestion about 'Freedom gas' .
####

Quite instructive about the mindset (f/king nuts) they are over in the States. They really do live in their own universe where no-one picks up their dogs' (and their own) crap. They neither notice the smell nor link to the slipperyness underfoot to their own actions. They don't care either.

Moscow Exile December 24, 2019 at 4:35 am
They like to talk about the European "blood-debt" to the USA.

I don't know what they think a large number of unfortunate young men were doing on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches in June, 1944, or indeed that there were such beaches. Even moreso, they are apparently unaware of the over 22 million Soviet citizens who died 1941-1945 during what is known as "The Great Patriotic War for the Fatherland, 1941-1945"..

The what???

[Dec 25, 2019] Analysts have identified a way to increase the export of Gazprom to bypass the Ukraine The Eugal pipeline built to deliver gas from "Nord Stream-2 " to end users, will be operating in 2020, despite US sanctions

Dec 24, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile December 24, 2019 at 10:47 am Аналитики назвали способ нарастить экспорт "Газпрома" в обход Украины

Analysts have identified a way to increase the export of Gazprom to bypass the Ukraine The Eugal pipeline built to deliver gas from "Nord Stream-2 " to end users, will be operating in 2020, despite US sanctions. "Gazprom" will redirect gas to this pipeline from "Northern stream-1", experts say

The capacity of the Eugal onshore gas pipeline, built specifically for delivering gas from the Nord Stream-2 offshore gas pipeline to end users, may allow Gazprom to increase supplies to Europe bypassing the Ukraine, despite the fact that the United States has imposed sanctions against laying the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline. , said experts interviewed by RBC.

The Gascade Gastransport operator, controlled by Gazprom and the German Wintershall Dea , will commission the first of two Eugal pipelines with a capacity of 30.9 billion cubic metres per year from January 1, 2020 (total pipe capacity should be 55 billion cubic metres), which will go from German Greifswald on the Baltic Sea to the south to the border with the Czech Republic, the Eugal press service said on December 20. And the next day it became known that the European pipe-laying company Allseas had suspended the construction of Nord Stream-2 (which should pump 55 billion cubic meters per year) in the Baltic Sea.

Eugal will lay another 36 billion cubic metre capacity OPAL landline, built to pump gas from the first Baltic gas pipeline of Gazprom and partners, Nord Stream-1, which achieved at full capacity 55 billion cubic metres per year back in October 2012. Since 2013, Gazprom could only use 50% of OPAL capacity because of restrictions, and in 2016, the company received permission to connect to 90% of the pipeline capacity. However, in September 2019, Gazprom was forced to reduce gas pumping through OPAL, and then through Nord Stream-1, because of a decision of the European Court of Justice, which, in lawsuit filed by Poland, limited supply by almost half – from 90 to 50% of capacity , or up to 18 billion cubic metres per year.

"The launch of Eugal will ensure a full load of Nord Stream-1. About 20 billion cubic metres of gas per year can be delivered via a new land gas pipeline, which volume was lost because of restrictions imposed as a result of Poland's victory in court", said Mikhail Korchemkin, director of East European Gas Analysis, to RBC. The remaining 17–20 billion cubic metre Gazprom can pump through a second branch from the offshore gas pipeline NEL , which runs only through Germany to the west of Greifswald, so Poland could not achieve restrictions on its capacity.

At the peak of capacity, OPAL pumped up to 103 million cubic metres of gas per day owing to a decision of the European Court to decrease transit to 50 million cubic metre. Last week, it fell to 12 million cubic metres per day. This is due to an increase of 115 million cubic metres per day in supplies to the NEL gas pipeline, as well as an increase in transit to Europe through the territory of the Ukraine, Korchemkin points out.

"Now most of the gas from Nord Stream-1, which continues to operate at its design capacity, is sent to the markets of northwestern Europe through NEL, that is, the limitation of the use of OPAL by the decision of the European Court has practically had no affect on the load of Nord Stream", added Deputy General Director of the National Energy Policy Fund, Alexey Grivach. According to him, after the introduction of Eugal, part of the gas can go to Central Europe through a new onshore gas pipeline, depending on the current market needs and the optimization of Gazprom's export portfolio.

Despite the impending U.S. sanctions, the possibility of using Eugal to pump Gazprom's gas was recognized in November by Arno Bux, chief commercial officer of gas transmission operator Fluxys, which is a minority shareholder in Gascade. According to him, since 2020, from 80 to 90% of the Eugal capacity has already been booked for 20 years at auctions. "Since the transportation facilities are reserved on a ship-or-pay basis (" transport or pay "), the potential delays of the Nord Stream-2 project do not affect Eugal's revenues", he told Interfax, noting that the flows from the gas pipeline Nord Stream 1 can be routed through Eugal.

"We cannot predict the volumes that will be transported through Eugal, because it depends on requests from transport customers", Gascade spokesman Georg Wustner told RBC on December 23, declining to specify whether gas supplies from Nord Stream-1 will begin on January 1 through a new onshore pipeline. A representative of Gazprom Export declined to comment; the press service of Nord Stream AG (operator of the Nord Stream-1 project) did not respond to a request from RBC.

[Dec 25, 2019] US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo want to expand trade with Russia, but the US Congress continues sanctions

Dec 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Dec 24 2019 18:12 utc | 106

Lavrov on the 22nd appeared on what looks to be an interesting program on Russia's Channel One-- "The Great Game Show" with a transcript at the link. Most of the questions deal with Lavrov's recent trip to the Outlaw US Empire and his meetings with Trump and Pompeo. I found Lavrov's remarks about Congress most revealing as they're very similar to what he says about the tiny Russophobic nations other NATO nations seem to feel they can't break with the overall consensus despite its being idiotic. His response is related to the illegal sanctions laid against the construction of Nord Stream 2:

"They are threatening it. I said it will be built, no matter what, despite all these threats. First, I am convinced that the Europeans understand their commercial interest. Second, this implies an interest in the context of maintaining long-term energy security. Third, they were, of course, humiliated. The statements were, nevertheless, made, including those from Berlin which shows that our European partners still retain a sense of dignity.

"I am confident that, just like the TurkStream project, Nord Stream 2 will be implemented, and TurkStream will start operating some two or three weeks from now.

"US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo want to expand trade, but the US Congress continues to bombard our relations with sanctions. A situation that has now shaped up in the United States shows that, in their striving to revise election results and the will of the American people, these Congressmen are ready to do anything, including absolutely reckless things that, I would say, are not worthy of serious politicians."

As you read the transcript, you'll realize that this is a very serious program where the truth of the overall situation is being revealed and remarked upon in a manner that would be unimaginable here within the Outlaw US Empire, and I presume the program is viewed by a majority of Russians. It should certainly be read in relation to what Putin said at his presser on the topics covered and at the Informal CIS Summit .

Many are busy with their plans for the holidays, and the combined transcripts will take 4-6 hours to read, so perhaps bookmark them to read before New Year when more time's available.

[Dec 25, 2019] https://off-guardian.org/2019/12/24/sanctions-security-and-the-nord-stream-2-pipeline/

Notable quotes:
"... It would have been simpler and much cheaper to supply the gas through land pipelines via Ukraine, the Baltics and Poland. But the undersea pipelines had to be built because the Levantine dual nationals parachuted in by the State Department to rule over Ukraine and the Baltics on Washington's behalf have shown themselves to be totally unreliable economic partners. Ukraine refused to pay for gas that was supplied and stole gas intended for European countries. The rabid Levantines in the Baltics and Poland were equally hostile. They could have made billions in transit fees, but they always insisted on cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Bulgaria blocked South Stream on Washington's instructions and lost a reliable source of cheap gas and $400 million a year in transit fees. A lot of money and a lot of jobs for a poor country. US satellites pay a high price to kowtow to Uncle Sam. Russia developed its own port facilities in the Baltic and Riga is now a ghost town. ..."
"... Its surprising how history repeats itself. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, Napoleon achieved dominance over continental Europe. Only Britain stood against him. Napoleon tried to bring Britain to heel through economic warfare, the Continental System, ordering European countries not to trade with his sole remaining enemy. His orders were ignored all the way from Spain to Russia, and this lucrative trade continued. The invasion of Russia and the debacle at Moscow were an attempt to enforce the Continental System. In a similar fashion, Washington's hubris and unbridled arrogance are now alienating even its most abject, cringing, servile satraps like Macron, Merkel, and Erdogan. With the same result. ..."
"... Uncle Sam sees Nord-2 as an energy superpower challenge to energy supremacy which equates to American supremacy & hegemonic supremacy writ large across the world. If the pinko commie bastards in the Russian Federation make inroads by unilaterally making massive energy deals with the entire EU we will see American interests clamoring for market inroads & market share so that the pinko commie bastards in the Russian Federation don't make a dime. ..."
"... Uncle Sam is in actuality a waning ex-superpower thug that is yesterday's man but can't stand being taken out of the limelight being the narcissist nation it is. ..."
"... Zackarova is bang on in that the USA is wholly incompetent to govern their own business interests let alone other sovereign interests. Nord-2 is necessary infrastructure that the USA wants to thwart for their own monetary benefit. ..."
"... Stepping aside from the geopolitics for a moment. In terms of economics the US is attempting to push Russia out of natural gas markets. ..."
"... Greenpeace is yet another "NGO" that is heavily influenced by the National Endowment for Democracy a CIA front that supports US Imperialism. ..."
"... One wonders if the invertebrates of the EU will ever tire of being bullied by the Global Bullying Thug in Chief? The clerico-fascists of priest-ridden Poland one can understand, and the phony 'greens' of Greenpeace the sell-out specialists, but the others are just like mongrel dogs-the more you kick them, the more they lick your boots. ..."
Dec 25, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Jen ,

What would Dr Kampmark consider to be an ecologically cleaner alternative to Nordstream I and 2? The US proposal to supply LNG via an endless conga line of tankers across the North Atlantic would be an ecological nightmare, to say nothing of the specialised port facilities that need to be built to accommodate the tankers, the extra pipelines needed to pipe the gas to areas of Europe away from the Atlantic and the potential for accidents and disasters during annual hurricane season. Europe needs the best energy supply solution possible from a sustainability POV and other POVs and while Nordstream I and 2 may not be perfect, other solutions are either worse, more expensive or less certain and stable in the long term.

RobG ,

Shale gas is also poop. Only someone totally corrupt or totally insane would buy such junk from the USA.

The collapse of an empire brings up such interesting stuff.

I am of course a Russian troll for stating the obvious, so a merry Christmas from the Kremlin.

Let nuclear bombers fly, baby. Who wants another Christmas. The majority of the present American government (including Trump) are evangelical Christians who believe in the Rapture . You wouldn't put such people in charge of a car park, let alone put them in charge of the biggest nuclear weapons arsenal on the planet.

But that's where we are at the moment.

The Presstitutes will never tell you any of this.

RobG ,

I find this a bit of a strange piece, for reasons that many others have pointed out here in the comments. With regard to the environmental angle, I should perhaps point out that by far the biggest polluter on the planet is the US military.

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

The US Military pollutes everything under the sun far past Internet & the over 900 worldwide bases it occupies. Heck, the US MIC pollutes all sports venues with their propagandistic parades of adherence to state & flag military shows.

In the USA they make you stand in honour of the military at sports events.

I'm glad I don't go down to the USA for the USA Grand National Drag Racing events just because of the MIC pollution at events. Their propaganda pollution is all over the Internet and that is toxic waste that we all have to sift through on our way to real news aside from institutional American killing of the third world.

GI-Joe turned out to be anything but a good hippie in my book.

MOU

ttshasta ,

The article mentions Rex Tillerson, yet fails to mention Qatar. Exxon Mobil & Exxon Mobil Qatar, that Tillerson worked for, want to run an LP pipeline from the Norths Pars gas field, the worlds largest, and Qatar owns 2/3 of,through Saudi Arabia, through Jordan, Syria, through Alleppo then through Turkey on to Europe. Thus Qatar, S.A. and Turkey have sponsored the foreign invasion of Syria that the the dolts at NPR to this day call a civil war. The US's Al Udeid air base in Qatar is the largest in the region, Cheney has been to Qatar many times as have Barack and Michele Obama, John Ashcroft was paid $2.5 million to defend Qatar from post 911 terrorism charges.

Does it seem the article misses the elephant in the room? US Qatari investments must profit?

Never forget the Clintons, Qatar donates to Clinton Foundation, State Dpt. sells weapons to Qatar (diverted to Syria?), candidate Clinton to declare no fly zone over Syria as POTUS.

In 2016 Thierry Messan's Voltairenet dot org translated an article from Petra the official Jordanian press paper that S.A. financed 20% of Clinton's campaign, which is illegal under US law. Subsequently, and conveniently, Saudi Prince M.B.S. declared Petra had been hacked and the report was false. I rely on Thierry's translations, and his voluminous site.

https://www.voltairenet.org/article193378.html

Jen ,

Excellent comment. As always, one should follow the money trail.

paul ,

I've never understood the argument that buying Russian gas is a threat to the security of European countries. Russia doesn't supply the gas out of altruism, it does so because it wants their money. They are dependent on Russian gas. Russia is dependent on their money. Mutual dependence, mutual gain.

During the Cold War, Russia always supplied every last gallon of oil and every cubic foot of gas that contracts obliged it to deliver. It did so, again because it wanted their money. Simple as that.

It would have been simpler and much cheaper to supply the gas through land pipelines via Ukraine, the Baltics and Poland. But the undersea pipelines had to be built because the Levantine dual nationals parachuted in by the State Department to rule over Ukraine and the Baltics on Washington's behalf have shown themselves to be totally unreliable economic partners. Ukraine refused to pay for gas that was supplied and stole gas intended for European countries. The rabid Levantines in the Baltics and Poland were equally hostile. They could have made billions in transit fees, but they always insisted on cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Bulgaria blocked South Stream on Washington's instructions and lost a reliable source of cheap gas and $400 million a year in transit fees. A lot of money and a lot of jobs for a poor country. US satellites pay a high price to kowtow to Uncle Sam. Russia developed its own port facilities in the Baltic and Riga is now a ghost town.

Uncle Sam is now waging economic warfare and imposing sanctions on its previously most loyal and obedient satellites, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Turkey.

Its surprising how history repeats itself. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, Napoleon achieved dominance over continental Europe. Only Britain stood against him. Napoleon tried to bring Britain to heel through economic warfare, the Continental System, ordering European countries not to trade with his sole remaining enemy. His orders were ignored all the way from Spain to Russia, and this lucrative trade continued. The invasion of Russia and the debacle at Moscow were an attempt to enforce the Continental System. In a similar fashion, Washington's hubris and unbridled arrogance are now alienating even its most abject, cringing, servile satraps like Macron, Merkel, and Erdogan. With the same result.

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

Uncle Sam sees Nord-2 as an energy superpower challenge to energy supremacy which equates to American supremacy & hegemonic supremacy writ large across the world. If the pinko commie bastards in the Russian Federation make inroads by unilaterally making massive energy deals with the entire EU we will see American interests clamoring for market inroads & market share so that the pinko commie bastards in the Russian Federation don't make a dime.

Uncle Sam is in actuality a waning ex-superpower thug that is yesterday's man but can't stand being taken out of the limelight being the narcissist nation it is.

MOU

john ward ,

So many sources one cannot trust ..Russian Greenpeace, NATO, the Merkel Bundesrepublik, the European Commission, the Texan oil business, the Saudis and the Pentagon. How on Earth is anyone on Earth supposed to make an informed decision based on such a truth-strangulating tangle of hegemonic propaganda? From The Slog archives:
https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/analysis-the-factors-that-make-pompeo-russiaphobia-oil-pipelines-water-supply-and-brexit-inseparable/

pàul_m ,

Can you imagine being dependent on the usa for anything never mind fracked gas at twice the price.no doubt brave new worlder boris will go for it.gb inc looks over and done with.

Guy ,

"Can you imagine being dependent on the usa for anything" Yes I can .I live in Canada and they basically own our country, for all intent and purposes .
They did not conquer us militarily but they so corporately.

MASTER OF UNIVE ,

Zackarova is bang on in that the USA is wholly incompetent to govern their own business interests let alone other sovereign interests. Nord-2 is necessary infrastructure that the USA wants to thwart for their own monetary benefit.

The USA is anachronism, insolvent, and lacks common sense as well as entrepreneurial spirit & business acumen.

MOU

padre ,

How very concerned about environment we are, when somebody else is "destroying" it!

paul ,

The US certainly showed how concerned it was about the environment with the North Dakota pipeline.

Francis Lee ,

Stepping aside from the geopolitics for a moment. In terms of economics the US is attempting to push Russia out of natural gas markets. If a company did this it would be attempting to construct a monopoly and be subject to anti-competitive laws. If the US becomes the sole supplier in Europe then it has a stranglehold, both economic and political, on Europe. That's the strategy, and it seems blatantly obvious.

But the construction being put on this sordid little play by the Anglo-American MSM is that the US frackers – who never make a profit – are doing Europe a really big favour by enabling them not to become dependent on Russian gas. The Europeans should there for be grateful for US LNG since it will enable to diversify away from Russian gas.

The reality is, however, that once you become dependent on a single overseas crucial energy source you have been unceremoniously grabbed by the short and curlies.

Antonym ,

Simply connect more European harbors to the existing gas pipeline network and choose the LNG supplier you want. Not rocket science but Dutch PM Rutte was sold on abolishing natural gas because of CO2, while trees from North America for burning in power plants was fine.

Neighbour PM Merkel Germany wants gas but not nuclear (a scientist!). France wants nuclear but rely on a new unproven expensive design.
Political inmates are running the EU madhouse.

John Deehan ,

In this article, it misses the whole point of why the USA wants to impose sanctions, rather late in the day, on companies involved in its construction. Namely, the continued attempts by it to isolate The Russian Federation and its its long term strategy of preparations for war. Moreover, the omission of the reasons why Russia built the gas pipeline could not be more striking. The coup in the Ukraine made the transit of Russian gas to western Europe via its territory open to pressure from the USA. Hence why the Russians built the pipeline in the first place. It's the same reasons why the USA is attempting to prevent other Russian gas/oil pipelines in other parts of the world.

Francis Lee ,

If anything illustrates the reality of the EU-NATO 'alliance' it is this. The US to Germany – and by extension the rest of the EU – 'You will take expensive US LNG gas and like it' Me Tarzan you Jane. This brazen realpolitik illustrates the true nature of the vassalised EU. And of course Poland, Romania – please station your inter-mediate range missiles here – and the Baltic uber-Petainist elites come chiming in 'America the Beautiful.' More than anything this explodes the idea of the EU as a third geopolitical bloc. It is an occupied region always has been and is composed of countries which can't actually defend their own interests whilst privileging the US.

Gutless and spineless!

George Cornell ,

Indeed. And as reluctant as I am to entertain it, the Brutish ( spellcheck wants it to be British, no irony there) US is forcing any vertebrate in the EU to crave armed forces. Why poor EU countries buy the bollocks that is the relentless pressure or requirement from NATO to buy American and Israeli arms is beyond me. They should be much more frightened of the Americans than the imaginary bogeymen to the East.

Gezzah Potts ,

You mean like the Azov Battalion, Right Sector and C-14? Those bogeymen Tim? Some of whom are now in Hong Kong helping Joseph Wong and his mates fight for 'freedom and democracy' with some help from people in, er, Langley Virginia. Oh, and Nancy Pelosi.

Tim Drayton ,

Well, I support the right of all peoples to self-determination as a universal right and oppose imperialism/neo-imperialism regardless of who does it, so your false dichotomy does not apply to me.

Gezzah Potts ,

I thought you were referring to the neo nazi thugs in Ukraine that sprung up like weeds after rain following the overthrow of Yanukovych by you know who. No, it wasn't Putin. And no, I'm not a fan either. All bullshit pushed by Mr Hopey Changey that has put the world in grave peril.

In fact the changes of nuclear war are greater than any time in history. And what happened when the Berlin Wall came down Tim? Bush solemnly promised Gorbachev that NATO would not move one inch eastward. And where are NATO now?

paul ,

Then no doubt you support the right of the Crimea and Donbas to self determination from the CIA installed Fascist Coup Regime.

George Cornell ,

Oh for Chrissake! And where were you about Gitmo? And Iraq, and Yemen, and Syria, and Libya? And the lithium in Afghanistan makes it morally justified? Put the photo of Kissinger on a bearskin rug in your drawer and tell me about how the 95% of Crimeans who wanted to be part of Russia invalidates what happened there.

Come back to me about the sandbars in the South China Sea. Now there's a place to increase your debt.!

lundiel ,

Russia isn't occupying any of Ukraine. There are Russian volunteers and Russia is giving them some weapons and no doubt finance but the Russian army isn't at war with Ukraine.

Jay ,

If they were, the war would have been on Kiev's doorstep.

Francis Lee ,

The only people 'taking' seven percent of the Ukraine are those who already live in the Donbass and Crimea are the Russian-speaking inhabitants who have lived there for generations and who are defending their homeland against the Ukie Army and its Waffen SS look-alikes in the Azov Battalion and various other neo-nazi outfits like Praviy Sektor, and the Tornado Battalion and Dnipro1 and other charming little outfits such as 'Patriots of the Ukraine' – backed by right-wing fanatics in the Ukrainian Rada namely Biletsky and Parubiy.

These people are the direct descendants of the scum of the murderous Banderist pro-Nazis who were responsible for mass extermination of Russians, Jew, and above all, Poles in Volhynia in the far west of the Ukraine between 1943-45. The Ukrainian Insurgent army (UPA – led by Shukeviych) was the military wing of Bandera's OUN-B (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists). Unfortunately for for Mr B, he had an unfortunate rendezvous with a KGB hit-man in Munich in 1955. RIP.

Long live the heroic resistance of the Peoples Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Frank Speaker ,

Exactly Francis. Some of my family were massacred by these bastard who were their neighbours: a woman cut upon at the front, a woman with a wooden stake driven through her head, two children thrown down a well. That NATO aided and abetted these same evil scum to overthrow a democratically elected government and re-start their murderous ways – this time around upon the ethnic Russians in the wast of the country – I cannot forgive my political leaders who have done this.

That our MSM completely ignore this situation, I cannot forgive them, and that's why I am here.If there's a place called hell, I hope there's a special place reserved for our leaders and media owners who have done this.

eddie ,

They are occupying Jacque Schitt, but their 93rd aid convoy to the Donbas in November, consisting of 45 trucks, was not imaginary.

Gall ,

Greenpeace is yet another "NGO" that is heavily influenced by the National Endowment for Democracy a CIA front that supports US Imperialism.

I'm ambivalent on the issue of pipelines ( see Keystone XL Pipeline being driven through Indian Land in total violation of the Laramie Treaty) since they are environmentally destructive but the fact is that this is all about politics and has nothing to do with protecting the environment.

If "Russia's" Greenpeace was so concerned about the environment they'd worry about their backyard first such as the network of pipelines being run through Siberia.

richard le sarc ,

One wonders if the invertebrates of the EU will ever tire of being bullied by the Global Bullying Thug in Chief? The clerico-fascists of priest-ridden Poland one can understand, and the phony 'greens' of Greenpeace the sell-out specialists, but the others are just like mongrel dogs-the more you kick them, the more they lick your boots.

Tutisicecream ,

Boats of LNG floating across the Atlantic to Poland is not energy security. Whatever the politics of Nord Stream 2 we may be assured the US has not got our back in Europe on this.

We may also be in need of energy sooner than we think, as professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University suggests. Unlike the Guardian her catastrophe theory goes in the other direction where in the next few years Earth will enter into a cooling phase. That will set off a series of events leading to a mini ice age as happened with the Maunder Minimum of the 17th Century.

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/ice-age-astrophysicists-climate-change/

[Dec 25, 2019] Gazprom has purchased a pipe-laying ship which would allow the company to build undersea pipelines despite sanctions

Dec 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Yeah, Right , Dec 23 2019 23:27 utc | 61

@4 Annie "Gazprom does not have the expertise"...

https://sputniknews.com/business/201605211040013151-gazprom-new-ship-sanctions/

"Gazprom has purchased a pipe-laying ship which would allow the company to build undersea pipelines despite sanctions. The new vessel may be used to build the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline to Europe."

Apparently the Russians think several steps ahead of the Americans.


karlof1 , Dec 24 2019 0:38 utc | 67

Yeah, Right @61--

This article has all one needs to know about Russia/Gazprom's ability to finish the job abandoned by the Swiss cowards, although their ships are apparently still on station. Yes, there'll be a delay, but that won't matter much. Pissing off the Germans was the absolute wrong move!

Yeah, Right , Dec 24 2019 9:02 utc | 88
@80 Jen It is much too late for the Danes to step in and stop Nord Stream 2.

Their permission was required because the pipe enters their economic zone, but once that permission was given then the pipelaying started on the basis of "good faith". If the Danes attempted to renege then I would imagine that it would be Russia and Germany who would tie up Denmark in legal red-tape, not the other way around, and by the time this got to court the pipeline would be completed and the gas would be flowing.

The USA's only hope now is that its sanctions scare off companies like Allseas, but that hope relies on the western conceit that Russia is too technologically backward to be able to take over and finish the job.

But the Russians are very capable, and extremely wily: if you look at my original post you will see a link from 2016 where the Russians are already spelling out exactly what they intend to do.

They acquired a suitable pipeline-laying ship at last three years. They admitted at the time that they acquired it that it made no economic sense for them to acquire such a ship.

Economics be damned. They bought it because they had to consider the possibility that the USA is run by a bunch of duplicitous shits.

Pretty astute reasoning, as it turns out.

mk , Dec 24 2019 10:03 utc | 89
@ Nord Stream 2

As I'm following the case closely, a few supplements.

The problem with the high tech Russian pipelaying vessel is that it is deployed in the Far East and would need months to get to the scene. The Russian Fortuna lacks the technical permission from the Danes to work in their waters, but it is suspiciously idling at the German Coast. NorthStream 2 could ask Denmark to get a special allowance for the Fortuna to work, and that is not so far-fetched as it seems because Denmark has a new government since last June.

The Fortuna will at least finish the German part of the pipeline. A German court yesterday has turned down a complaint by environmentalists who are worried about wintering birds.

The sanctions are a huge strategical blunder of the USA. Yes, the Germans are pissed off, from the bosses of the chemical industry to the "ordinary people". You can almost hear the tectonic subterranean crack that moves Germany away from the Anglosphere towards Russia.

In German politics, the Transatlanticians are now in the defensive. The most powerful transatlantic institutions are IMO the various intelligence services, BND, BfV and so on. They have certainly initiated the "scandal" about the murdered Georgian djihadist (you remember, two Russian diplomats were expelled immediately) in order to sabotage the Normandy talks and NordStream 2 and push Merkel to distance herself from Russia. This has failed, obviously. Stupid white men.


[Dec 25, 2019] Germans angry at US for Nord Stream meddling

Dec 25, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star December 24, 2019 at 4:43 pm

An excellent show from last week. However still relevant with some reminders from the 80s that are quintessential irony. Sanchez's journalistic delivery is impressive.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/6nSAhjsYx-w?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

[Dec 25, 2019] Rapoza in his review for Forbesof the Russia/Ukraine gas deal suggests that Russia did not really have to give up very much, it would be to Ukraine's advantage to stop fucking around and concentrate now on the issues,

Dec 25, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman December 23, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Rapoza's latest effort, for Forbes, is his review of the Russia/Ukraine gas deal that everyone is talking about. His take, in summary, is that Russia did not really have to give up very much, it would be to Ukraine's advantage to stop fucking around and concentrate now on the issues, that Ukraine dropped a very large amount in claims in return for not very much money (although he does not say how likely Ukraine would have been to win them in court, and my personal opinion is not very), that Nord Stream II will be completed with not a significant amount of delay, and that Russia can implement the same no-gas-through-Ukraine in five years if it does not like the way things are going.

[Dec 25, 2019] https://www.stalkerzone.org/the-gas-war-has-retreated-but-the-most-interesting-thing-is-yet-to-come/

Dec 25, 2019 | www.stalkerzone.org

The Gas War Has Retreated, but the Most Interesting Thing Is Yet to Come December 22, 2019 Stalker Zone

As usual, the range of interpretations of gas agreements is wide and full of water. Most of them have hidden recognition of groundlessness, because even a simple reading of the document requires above average schooling.

Here is this document, where it is written in black and almost white that the parties agreed on such and such conditions:

All talk about a Ukrainian victory or a Russian victory should be left to politicians for domestic consumption, although, to be fair, it is worth noting: Ukrainian functionaries immediately claimed it is a victory for Ukraine. This sounded against the background of the absence of fanfare in Russia, which, in the face of the most difficult negotiations, would be extremely inappropriate.

Why?

Because Gazprom is Gazprom, not Russia. Confusion in concepts is a very characteristic phenomenon for immature structures and individuals on both sides. So talk of Russia allegedly forgiving Ukraine $3 billion in credit has nothing to do with the topic at all. There is no word in the document about this, which is natural, because, I will repeat: Russia is not Gazprom.

However, the Naftogaz fanfare coming from Vitrenko's mouth is also understandable on the other hand: the board (8 people) will not have to return millions of dollars already distributed to their pockets as part of the prize according to the results of the Stockholm Arbitration . Moreover, now, if Gazprom pays the claim amount, the premium will increase significantly.

As for the amount Gazprom has pledged to pay – about $3 billion – it is less than 1% of the assets of the Russian gas giant (not to be confused with capitalisation). Few will notice this drop in the ocean. And for Naftogaz? In the absence of up-to-date information about the assets of this structure, I believe that the figure is comparable to all assets, especially since, according to the current reform, the Ukrainian gas transit system, the market value of which is no more than $1.5 billion (according to the Chairman of the Board Kobolev ), leaves from under Naftogaz in general.

Conclusion: tactically Naftogaz and its board benefited from a contract with Gazprom. Strategically, as it seems, Gazprom at least did not lose, firstly, significantly reducing the term of the contract and the volume of pumping on the gas transit system of Ukraine, taking into account the forthcoming and inevitable implementation of " Nord Stream-2 " and, secondly, leaving itself the right to disagree with transit tariffs, which remain the subject of negotiations:

Point 2.2.3 The organising company [Naftogaz] will contact LLC "Operator of gas transit system of Ukraine" for the reservation of capacities of the gas transit system of Ukraine

Point 3.2 The Ukrainian side will take all necessary measures (create all necessary conditions) by 29.12.19:

What went on behind the scenes went almost unnoticed:

1. Ukraine's demand for imported gas, which is still falling due to the decline in production capacity, will be covered from the volumes approved by the agreement (65 billion m3 in 2020 and 40 billion m3 in the following 4 years). The volume of imports according to various estimates remains at about 20 billion m3 per year. Tariffs will not be applied on all the Russian gas that Ukraine will consume from pumping on the gas transit system and will be implemented on the territory of Ukraine at its own expense. The volume subject to a transit tariff will be determined by the difference between the entrance to the Ukrainian gas transit system and the exit to Europe.

2. All preliminary talk about gas discounts for Ukraine was not included in the agreement. Thus, the price of gas remains the subject of bargaining and is inevitably dependent on the transit tariff: the higher the price of transit – the higher the price of gas and, accordingly, vice versa.

3. In fact, the issue of direct gas supplies to Ukraine is not worth discussing at all. I.e., in the event of a non-agreement on the price, all gas will come to Europe, Ukraine will earn from transit, but these earnings will be offset by the increased price of gas on the reverse. Thus, even in the event of pumping all gas to Europe, earnings from transit, according to experts, will not even cover the cost of servicing the Ukrainian gas transit system.

Lastly, Gazprom – which is not Russia, but behind whose back Russia certainly stands, and was opposed by both Ukraine and the European Union, represented by the European Commission, as well as the United States with its global interests – managed, at a minimum, to minimise its tactical losses and preserve strategic Russian interests.

The gas war appears to have retreated, but the most interesting thing is yet to come.


Aleksandr Dubrovsky

[Dec 25, 2019] In return for that $3 billion, which will be pocketed by many Yukitard bastards, I am sure, Gazprom's never ending altercations with the Yukie gas outfit over compensation and claims and counter-claims have had a line drawn under them.

Dec 25, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile December 23, 2019 at 10:12 pm

I linked a Russian newspaper article above which analysed the deal and in which it was pointed out that the $3 billion that Gazprom coughed up is 1% of the annual turnover of that company. And another thing that the article pointed out was that the deal is between Gazprom and Naftogaz not Russia and the Ukraine. In return for that $3 billion, which will be pocketed by many Yukitard bastards, I am sure, Gazprom's never ending altercations with the Yukie gas outfit over compensation and claims and counter-claims have had a line drawn under them. I suppose that's really why the Porky bloc in the rada is taking action against the deal: they fear that their nice little earner is being stifled, in that penalties imposed by arbitration courts against Gazprom have seemingly ended.
Moscow Exile December 23, 2019 at 10:40 pm
$3 billion that Gazprom coughed up is 1% of the annual turnover of that company.

No!

The source that I linked to previously: The Gas War Has Retreated, but the Most Interesting Thing Is Yet to Come .

To reiterate:

All talk about a Ukrainian victory or a Russian victory should be left to politicians for domestic consumption, although, to be fair, it is worth noting: Ukrainian functionaries immediately claimed it is a victory for Ukraine. This sounded against the background of the absence of fanfare in Russia, which, in the face of the most difficult negotiations, would be extremely inappropriate.

Why?

Because Gazprom is Gazprom, not Russia. Confusion in concepts is a very characteristic phenomenon for immature structures and individuals on both sides. So talk of Russia allegedly forgiving Ukraine $3 billion in credit has nothing to do with the topic at all. There is no word in the document about this, which is natural, because, I will repeat: Russia is not Gazprom.

However, the Naftogaz fanfare coming from Vitrenko's mouth is also understandable on the other hand: the [Naftogaz] board (8 people) will not have to return millions of dollars already distributed to their pockets as part of the prize according to the results of the Stockholm Arbitration. Moreover, now, if Gazprom pays the claim amount, the premium will increase significantly.

As for the amount Gazprom has pledged to pay – about $3 billion – it is less than 1% of the assets of the Russian gas giant (not to be confused with capitalisation). Few will notice this drop in the ocean. And for Naftogaz? In the absence of up-to-date information about the assets of this structure, I believe that the figure is comparable to all assets, especially since, according to the current reform, the Ukrainian gas transit system, the market value of which is no more than $1.5 billion (according to the Chairman of the Board Kobolev), leaves from under Naftogaz in general.

Conclusion: tactically Naftogaz and its board benefited from a contract with Gazprom. Strategically, as it seems, Gazprom at least did not lose, firstly, significantly reducing the term of the contract and the volume of pumping on the gas transit system of Ukraine, taking into account the forthcoming and inevitable implementation of "Nord Stream-2" and, secondly, leaving itself the right to disagree with transit tariffs, which remain the subject of negotiations

My stress.

[Dec 25, 2019] Japan Proposes Dumping Radioactive Waste Into Pacific As Storage Space Dwindles

Dec 25, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Japan Proposes Dumping Radioactive Waste Into Pacific As Storage Space Dwindles by Tyler Durden Tue, 12/24/2019 - 23:30 0 SHARES

As the decade comes to an end, the future of nuclear power in the west remains in doubt. Almost nine years ago, a powerful underwater earthquake triggered a 15-meter tsunami that disabled the power supply and cooling at three of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The accident caused the nuclear cores of all three damaged reactors to melt down, prompting the government to issue evacuation orders for all people living within a 30 kilometer radius of the damaged reactors, a group that included roughly 100,000 people.

And the evacuation zone:

Now, the Epoch Times reports that Japan's Economy and Industry Ministry has proposed that TEPCO gradually release, or allow to evaporate, massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water being stored at the power plant. TEPCO, or the Tokyo Electric Power Co, is the owner of the Fukushima plant, and is also responsible for leading the clean-up of the damaged reactors.

But as regulators have stepped in to try and guide TEPCO as it struggles to dispose of all the contaminated water, one ministry has offered a proposal that is almost guaranteed to anger the fishermen who have resisted all of TEPCO's other plans for dumping the contaminated water.

In its Dec. 23 proposal, the ministry suggested a "controlled release" of the contaminated water into the Pacific. Offering another option, the ministry also suggested allowing the water to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods.

The government is stepping up the pressure on TEPCO to do something as Fukushima's 'radioactive water crisis' worsens. The problem is that TEPCO is running out of room to store the contaminated water.

But the ministry insisted that the controlled release of the contaminated water into the sea would be the best option because it would "stably dilute and disperse" the water from the plant, while also allowing the government and TEPCO to more easily monitor the operation.

And as we have reported , the Japanese fishing industry isn't the only party that objects to the government's plan. South Korea has also complained to the IAEA about TEPCO's plans to dump the radioactive water.

The project is expected to take years to fully dispose of the water.

Still, the fishermen are bound to be skeptical because of one radioactive element that TEPCO has been unable to remove from the contaminated water: It's called tritium.

Fukushima fishermen and the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations have strongly opposed past suggestions by government officials that the water be released to the sea, warning of an "immeasurable impact on the future of the Japanese fishing industry," with local fishermen still unable to resume full operations after the nuclear plant accident.

The water has been treated, and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., states that all 62 radioactive elements it contains can be removed to levels not harmful to humans except for tritium. There is no established method to fully separate tritium from water, but scientists say it isn't a problem in small amounts . Most of the water stored at the plant still contains other radioactive elements including cancer-causing cesium and strontium and needs further treatment.

Tritium is routinely found in nuclear explosions and other nuclear accidents, including the meltdown at Three-Mile Island back in 1979. But experts at the IAEA recommend that the controlled release of the tritium-laced water at Fukushima into the sea is probably the best option for handling the situation - even if the Japanese decide to wait until after the Summer Olympics in 2022.

The ministry noted that tritium has been routinely released from nuclear plants around the world, including Fukushima before the accident. Evaporation has been a tested and proven method following the 1979 core meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear plant in the United States, where it took two years to get rid of 8,700 tons of tritium-contaminated water.

TEPCO says it is currently storing more than 1 million tons of radioactive water and only has space to hold up to 1.37 million tons, or until the summer of 2022, raising speculation that the water may be released after next summer's Tokyo Olympics. TEPCO and experts say the tanks get in the way of ongoing decommissioning work and that space needs to be freed up to store removed debris and other radioactive materials. The tanks also could spill in a major earthquake, tsunami, or flood.

Experts, including those at the International Atomic Energy Agency who have inspected the Fukushima plant, have repeatedly supported the controlled release of the water into the sea as the only realistic option.

On Dec. 22, some experts on the panel called for more attention to be given to the impact on the local community, which already has seen its image harmed by accidental leaks and the potential release of water.

"A release to the sea is technologically a realistic option, but its social impact would be huge," said Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo sociologist and an expert on disasters and social impact.

Other possible strategies for disposing of the contaminated water have included injecting the water deep into the Earth's crust. Another strategy, which called for storing the nuclear waste in large industrial tanks outside the plant, was ruled out because of fears that leaks in the tanks could contaminate some of Japan's most important fishing waters.

[Dec 24, 2019] NorthStream II sanctions means more gas for China: Pride goeth before a fall. Washington is proud of itself, but a day will come when it will count the cost, and mutter, "What the fuck was I thinking?

The USA government acts as a gangster and should expect that other power will behave equally bad toward the USA. That's a very bad, disastrous calculation, even in view of the current USA technological superiority (which might shrink in the future)
Dec 21, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman December 21, 2019 at 8:12 pm

Pride goeth before a fall. Washington is proud of itself, but a day will come when it will count the cost, and mutter, "What the fuck was I thinking?" It was not ever going to actually interrupt, and then seize for itself, Russia's share of the European gas market – that was just another example of its addled belief in exceptionalism and its ability to overcome any and all limiting factors, including distance and capacity.

What it HAS done is reveal itself as a petulant global child who will break anything that does not please it, and therefore a dangerous and unpredictable business partner.

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Northern Star December 21, 2019 at 9:30 pm
Ummm Mark
You , other people (or nations) shouldn't think 'bad thoughts' about 'Murica!
Northern Star December 21, 2019 at 6:19 pm
https://jimmydorecomedy.com/
Moscow Exile December 22, 2019 at 1:40 am
Thus spake the official Washington arsehole in Germany:

The American Ambassador in Berlin Richard Grenell, about whom it has already been requested in Germany that he be recognized as persona non grata because of his repeated attacks against the German leadership, has said that the sanctions imposed by Washington against the pipeline "Nord Stream-2" had been introduced in the interests of the EU and many countries of Europe are grateful for them.

"Seriously: from 15 European countries, the European Commission and the European Parliament have all expressed their concerns about the project. We have long heard from our European partners that the United States should support their efforts. Therefore, sanctions represent a very Pro-European solution", said Grenell to the publication Bild am Sonntag . [A German arsewipe publication of the first magnitude -- ME]

According to him, European diplomats have allegedly already repeatedly expressed their gratitude for the measures taken by Washington.

Recall that the United States, which from time to time has opposed the emergence in Europe of a strong competitor for its gas, imposed sanctions against the pipelines "Nord Stream-2" and "Turkish Stream", requiring that the companies involved in their laying immediately stop construction. In response, the German government has said it "rejects such extraterritorial sanctions" directed "against German and European companies.

source

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Moscow Exile December 22, 2019 at 2:02 am
Just found the RT take on the above:

Oh, really? US envoy to Germany says Nord Stream 2 sanctions 'EXTREMELY PRO-EUROPEAN' despite Berlin & EU criticism
22 Dec, 2019 07:31

Seems like Grenell has his head so far up his own arse, or someone else's, that he has lost all sense of reality.

Like Like

Northern Star December 22, 2019 at 3:44 am
Your link didn't seem to work

https://www.rt.com/news/476586-nordstream-germany-grenell-sanctions/

Like Like

Northern Star December 22, 2019 at 3:50 am
LOL!
Same problem with my link!

Like Like

Moscow Exile December 22, 2019 at 2:18 am
About Russia's New Gas Transit Agreement with Ukraine
December 21, 2019
Stalker Zone
Moscow Exile December 22, 2019 at 7:31 am
Just two events that occurred during Saturday night have turned into one of the main news stories in recent months and years: Russia, the Ukraine and the European Commission signed a trilateral agreement on the transit of gas over the coming years from Russia to the EU via the Ukrainian GTS, and President Trump signed a law on the defence budget, in which US parliamentarians have written separate clauses concerning sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the pipeline "Nord stream – 2″

If anyone has forgotten, allow me to remind you that Vladimir Putin has never talked about the categorical refusal as regards the transit to Europe via the Ukraine of Russian gas. Always, he has only stressed that it is a question exclusively of a commercial nature, without any political overtones, and that such transit be carried out on favourable terms. Vice-Premier of the Russian government Dmitry Kozak has said about the new contract to be signed before the New Year that he parties had agreed on favourable terms. In addition to this, the Ukrainian side said that "Gazprom" had agreed to pay "Naftogaz" $3 billion, according to the decision of the Stockholm arbitration. So, can the Ukraine celebrate a "victory"?

So far, only Kiev has stated this figure of $3 billion. On the Russian side, there has been no confirmation of this yet, but even if the Kiev figure is correct, I do not see much reason to celebrate "victory", for if Russia has paid this money to the Ukraine ($2.6 billion + penalties), then the Ukraine is obliged to return $4.5 billion to Russia (3 billion Eurobonds + penalties). The balance is not in favour of Kiev. In addition, the Ukraine has pledged to stop all legal disputes on gas issues. Yes, in one case there is a dispute between economic entities, and in a second case there is a dispute about sovereign debt. However, since both Naftogaz and Gazprom are budget-forming state companies, to a certain extent this difference in debt statuses is leveled.

Now on transit. There is no denying that for Russia it is not only important but necessary to transit gas through the Ukraine at the moment, since under long-term contracts with Europe, Gazprom is obliged to supply the volumes of gas stipulated in them, regardless of the circumstances. Otherwise, the Russian company would have to pay heavy fines and penalties. By concluding the contract, Gazprom has once again proved its reliability as a supplier, which, by the way, was has already been emphasized by the European Commission following the negotiations.

The only thing currently known about the transit contract is that it has been concluded not for 10 years as Kiev had wanted, but for 5 years. Apparently, a longer term is not relevant, chiefly because of complete uncertainty about the future of the Ukraine -- by the way, in the next few days Kiev is likely to start an active struggle against the agreements already reached, and if something threatens them at the moment, it is only Ukrainian instability. According to data received from the Russian company, the volume of transit through the Ukraine next year will be about 65 billion cubic metres. This is certainly a very significant figure, but it is significantly less than the 90 billion cubic metres pumped through the Ukrainian GTS in 2017. In 2021-2024, the annual transit volume will drop to 40 billion cubic metres. This volume allows the Ukrainian GTS to operate at a plus rather than a minus, but Kiev will not receive any significant financial gain through it.

By the way, a certain demand for Ukrainian transit will remain after the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline has reached its design capacity, as European gas demand grows annually and a number of fields operated in the EU countries are decommissioned in the coming years. As for NS-2 itself, by the time the sanctions are imposed, less than 50 kilometres will have been left on one pipeline and about 70 kilometres on the other. Even if the Swiss company gathers up its belongings, Russian pipe-laying ships will finish the job, and even though they lay pipes 3 times slower, they have absolute immunity from American sanctions. One of them is now located in the area of Indonesia, and the second pipe-laying ship, "Fortuna", which, by the way, has already participated in the implementation of "NS-2", is in a German port and is ready to start working within a few days. [My stress! See that Finnish troll? -- ME]

So, by and large, the question is only one of time. But in any case "SP-2" will be completed in terms of installation, testing and commissioning, and can be put into operation, at most, at the end of the first half of 2020.

Patient Observer December 22, 2019 at 2:27 pm
I really really doubt that the US military will attack overtly or covertly. The US already announced that it will sanction other Russian energy projects if North Stream is placed in operation.
Mark Chapman December 22, 2019 at 5:12 pm
I don't imagine that will be necessary. Be pretty hard to argue then that they were not acting solely in their own interests, wouldn't it? It would make a hell of a thriller novel, though – the pipeline is on the seabed, so any American efforts to tamper with it would probably have to be from underwater. A submarine has no business being there, so its mission would have to be super-secret and plausibly deniable. And in that scenario, if it simply disappeared, the Americans would have to just proceed as if it never existed. There you go, Karl; a great book idea, you should write it. But I want 20%; 30% if I have to proofread it before publication to take out all the rhapsodizing about freedom and democracy, and rewrite the ending where the Americans blow up the pipeline and miraculously escape, sailing home to a ticker-tape parade and leaving Putin with angry tears running down his face.

Bulgaria is an instructive example here. Remember when it stopped South Stream in its tracks, and was the hero of America and the EU? And Bulgaria strutted and swaggered, and was pretty proud of itself while it waited for the rewards of its bravery. And then the USA built them a Middle School or a new fence or something, I forget, and there were lots of 'well done, old chap!' compliments, and and then that was it. Bulgaria did not become everyone's preferred business partner and the destination of enormous foreign investment. And then, gradually, everybody stopped talking about what a great and brave thing Bulgaria did, and it just sort of sat there with its mouth half-open, trying to take in how skillfully it had been creampied, and evidently all for nothing.

And eventually, Bulgaria repented, and went back to Russia and Putin, cap in hand. And Russia received it warmly, like a brother who fell in with a bad crowd but was not really, at heart, bad himself. It did not say that Bulgaria must prove itself by repudiating its former friends. It seemed willing to let bygones be just that.

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

It is not even too much of a stretch to imagine that might one day be Ukraine as well, although it certainly could not be under the current conditions. The nationalists would have to be purged, hard. And there would have to be a completely new political administration. But there's time, and lots of it. The west is not going to make a prosperous paradise of Ukraine, it is only interested in stripping it of anything of value, and in the meantime it will go down and down, because nobody wants to put any money into it. Except, ahem; Russia.

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Moscow Exile December 22, 2019 at 11:49 am
And as predicted above:

by the way, in the next few days Kiev is likely to start an active struggle against the agreements already reached

Партия Порошенко инициирует санкции против поставок газа из России
22.12.2019 | 22:12

Party Poroshenko initiates sanctions against the supply of gas from Russia

The faction of "European solidarity" in the Ukrainian Parliament initiates sanctions against the Russian gas supplies directly, reports RIA "Novosti".

As stated by the ex-President and leader of the faction of Petro Poroshenko, the political force will require the convening of the national security Council on this issue, and "implementation of sanctions" against the gas supplies from Russia

In the best interests of Banderastan?

Or of the Exceptional Nation?

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Mark Chapman December 22, 2019 at 6:47 pm
I thought Poroshenko was facing a corruption investigation. Shouldn't he be keeping his head down?

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Jen December 22, 2019 at 8:20 pm
The only place where Porky will keep his head down is in a trough full of truffles paid for by North American and European taxpayers through the IMF.
yalensis December 23, 2019 at 4:05 am
The people who elected Zelensky expected him to put Porky behind bars. But, surprise surprise, Zel is a wimp who couldn't bring himself to buck his American overlords.
Said Overlords like Porky and want to keep him around, as the new leader of the Opps, with hope he gets back into power some day.
Porky is the Ukrainian version of Saakashvili, there is simply no getting rid of him!
karl1haushofer December 22, 2019 at 7:47 am
"German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Berlin "firmly rejects" U.S. sanctions but would not retaliate."

How surprising.

Mark Chapman December 22, 2019 at 5:53 pm
What if Germany, angered by American high-handedness, decided to move away from the US dollar. Could that happen?

It could. Analysts caution that it would be unwise for Washington to laugh at efforts by nations to make themselves less dependent on the dollar, because it also makes those nations less susceptible to American sanctions. The world outside America is getting fed up with the USA's sanctions-happy punishments, which have mushroomed from 5 targeted countries at the start of the George W. Bush administration to 22 targeted countries at the end of 2018.

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/28418/ofac-sanctions-and-the-new-dollar-diplomacy

One of the ways Russia has hardened its economy against American tampering is in increasing its use and accumulation of gold as a hedge, which is immune to 'freezing' by the USA, so long as the gold is held in Russian vaults. That's the key, and momentum is slowly gathering in other countries. Hungary repatriated all its gold from the Bank of England in October of this year, and increased its holdings tenfold as well. Romania has submitted a bill to parliament which mandates that only 5% of the country's gold can be stored abroad. Currently about 60% of its 103 tonnes is stored at the Bank of England. In 2017 Germany repatriated around $31 Billion worth of gold which had been stored in New York and Paris. This week, Poland and Slovakia called for a return of their gold, which is being held by, you guessed it, the Bank of England. The lesson of Venezuela's stolen gold was not lost on anyone, and the less foreign gold the Bank of England has in its vaults, the less useful it is to Washington and its 'freeze' orders.

http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1576513102.php

Germany was chafing at US bullying back in 2018, and talking up policies to pull away from the US dollar. Would this latest example of American meddling make them more, or less inclined to pursue financial policies which did not include the United States as a partner, do you think?

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/05/europe-seeks-alternative-to-us-financial-system-germany-france-sanctions/

Moscow Exile December 22, 2019 at 11:05 am
AKADEMIK CHERSKIY

Oh look! Under Russian flag. So is the USN navy thinking of sinking it?

Position Received: 2019-12-22 18:31 UTC
10 minutes ago

42.79881° / 132.8823°

Near Vladivostok

Incapable of laying 50 kms of pipeline?

If the Swiss Allseas, which owns Pioneering Spirit and Solitare, decides to stop work on Nord stream-2 in connection with U.S. sanctions, the work to be completed TUBES Fortuna

Moscow Exile December 22, 2019 at 9:00 pm
The Gas War Has Retreated, but the Most Interesting Thing Is Yet to Come
December 22, 2019
Stalker Zone

"Russia" is weeeeeeeak!!!!

Moscow Exile December 23, 2019 at 2:51 am
Meanwhile

Nord Stream 2 will be operational in 2nd half of 2020 despite US sanctions setting project timing back – top German official

23 Dec, 2019 09:17 / Updated 1 hour ago

karl1haushofer December 23, 2019 at 4:23 am
More potential trouble for NS2: https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/natural-gas/122119-nord-stream-2-pipelayer-allseas-suspends-operations-on-us-sanctions

"According to S&P Global Platts Analytics, Nord Stream 2 would have to seek alternative vessels and contractors to complete the remaining section of pipe in Danish waters if the sanctions are enacted.

"While the most challenging parts of Nord Stream 2 have been laid in water depths of around 200 meters, the remaining section in Danish waters at 90 meters depth remains complicated," it said.

Russian companies operate capable offshore pipe-lay vessels, which have completed projects in challenging Arctic conditions, including the MRTS Defender, which worked on the offshore stretch of the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta pipeline.

Platts Analytics believes MRTS Fortuna could be used to complete Nord Stream 2, but is capable of laying just 1 km/d.

A further obstacle, according to Platts Analytics, is that the Danish permit application states that it is assumed that the vessels used to complete the Danish section will have dynamic positioning capabilities (such as those of the Allseas vessels) which are not present on MRTS Fortuna.

A Russian pipelaying vessel that already has dynamic positioning capabilities, Akademik Cherskiy, could be used, but it would take up to two months to arrive to Danish waters as it is currently stationed in Russia's Far East."

karl1haushofer December 23, 2019 at 4:27 am
It is surprising that the Gazprom management didn't prepare for this situation! If this article is correct the only Russian vessel that can be used to finish the project is currently stationed in Vladivostok, and it will take about two months for it to arrive to Danish waters.

The sanction threat has been looming for months, but it seems that Gazprom did not prepare for it in any meaningful way.

I would be pleasantly surprised if this project is finished in 2020.

Mark Chapman December 23, 2019 at 4:42 am
Karl, this is no attitude for the Christmas season – don't be so dour and pessimistic. It takes two years to build a specialized ship, at a minimum, and that's just a regular design like an LNG tanker – should Gazprom have built two or three, only to have the Americans laugh and not impose sanctions? Then you would have chuckled ruefully over how foolish Gazprom was to waste its money; there's no pleasing you. Only two days ago you were moaning over how the entirety of the funds spent so far would be wasted; the pipeline could not be completed, America is just too strong. You can go back and look. Now it looks as if it can be completed, just the remainder will be done at about a third the speed it could have been. But the money which would have gone to Allseas will be saved, and really there's no hurry now; they have 5 years if they need it. In 2 months the worst of the winter weather should be over, and any further slowdowns between now and completion can be blamed on the Americans, whose fault of course it is. It would have been done now but for American pressure on Denmark to hold out.

I wouldn't say it couldn't have turned out better, but all things considered the results are not that bad for Russia and not very good for the USA, which has incurred a lot of resentment and ill-will in exchange for really nothing. It is not going to stop the pipeline from completing, but it has made a lot of enemies, and even the Poles have stopped yapping and do not appear to be celebrating too loudly, lest they anger other Europeans.

Trond December 23, 2019 at 10:46 am
""While the most challenging parts of Nord Stream 2 have been laid in water depths of around 200 meters, the remaining section in Danish waters at 90 meters depth remains complicated," it said."

Norwegian divers welded pipelines at 900 meters depth (And, yes they had some problems).

90 meters is now a problem?

Mark Chapman December 23, 2019 at 2:31 pm
Let me guess – the United States has threatened to confiscate the assets in the USA of any company which sells dynamic-positioning systems to the Soviets (oops! I mean the Russians!), and so now they will have to develop the technology themselves. Why not just threaten to slap sanctions on anyone giving 'aid and comfort' to the Russians? I mean, they're the enemy, right? Right?? So nobody sell them boots or warm clothes, or anything. See how they like laying pipe in their skivvies, barefoot.

Say, I'll bet that attitude is good for market share for the remaining American businesses still operating in Russia. And speaking of that, here's another example – gosh, there are so many – of America's love affair with sanctions; CAATSA, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. According to an analyst at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, it's a failure , because it did not prevent Turkey from buying the S-400 system from Russia when they were supposed to buy the Patriot from the USA, or prevent Egypt from buying the Sukhoi S-35 from Russia when they were meant to buy the F-35. Oh, but they were frustrated in that because Israel did not want them to have it. Washington never misses an opportunity to show Israel it still loves it despite all the actions Israel makes it take against its own best interests.

"Egypt turned to Moscow for the Su-35 aircraft after being frustrated in repeated attempts to get a foothold in the F-35 program, a move closely watched in Israel, which remains the only country in the region to receive the fifth-generation aircraft."

America threatened Egypt with – you guessed it – sanctions if it continued with plans to buy Russian fighters worth $2 Billion in sales, but Egypt basically ignored them, only not laughing because it would be impolite to laugh.

"The Egyptian leadership views the US threats as not credible, based on a long history of Egyptian/US relations where the US has made threats and even withheld assistance, but in the end has always capitulated," said Andrew Miller, who was director for Egypt and Israel military issues in the Obama administration's National Security Council."

Egypt also bought the two MISTRAL class light assault carriers that Washington made France cancel the sale of when Russia had already paid a security deposit, which had to be returned. Egypt quickly purchased helicopters from Russia to outfit its new ships.

In fact, America seems to be losing its grip on the Middle East and Africa. And its newly-discovered and somewhat childlike faith in sanctions as a cure-all is ruining its traditional alliances and eroding its global reach. Much less-powerful countries now routinely ignore its threats to impose sanctions and more sanctions. The fewer foreign businesses interested in locating significant assets in the United States – so as to prevent their being seized in a fit of pique – the less influence Washington can bring to bear through sanctions. Its most loyal toady, the UK, will soon no longer be a part of the EU, while nations jostle one another in eagerness to get their gold back from the Bank of England where the United States cannot slap a 'hold' order on it through its devoted proxies.

Moscow Exile December 23, 2019 at 4:27 am
Russian dolts just don't have the technology, isn't that right ?

From the Finnish naysayer:

In retrospect the biggest mistake Russia did was to start the Nord Stream 2 project without possessing the technology to complete the project and relying on the Western technology. This made Nord Stream 2 and Russia vulnerable for the sanctions and this vulnerability was exploited.

Will Russia learn and not start any major project in the future without having the means to complete the project itself without relying on the West? I doubt it.

Russia has ships to complete Nord Stream 2 pipeline without European help
23 Dec, 2019 11:27 / Updated 41 minutes ago

Yes, they hired the biggest and probably best pipelayer to do the job: who could blame them for that?

But they dropped a right bollock in choosing such shit, lily-livered firm ashas Allseas turned out to be.

Who in their right minds would hire Allseas now?

Like Like

Cortes December 23, 2019 at 5:51 am
As mentioned earlier, commercial contracts normally include provisions for frustration – supervening illegality can prevent performance of obligations contracted under different circumstances and no one would expect a company to commit suicide. It's just a business problem. But a business problem which, as Mark states, leaves the instigator – the USA – diminished by its own actions.
Patient Observer December 23, 2019 at 6:18 am
Every contract has Force Majeure provisions to address factors beyond the control of the supplier. The list includes of acts of God (weather, for example), civil unrest, labor disputes, etc. "US sanctions" need to be added.
Northern Star December 23, 2019 at 5:38 am
According to ME they were within 50 kilometers of landfall. According to Karl the replacement vessel can lay pipe at a 1km/day rate. The resulting calculation isn't rocket science mathematics. Ribbons will be cut and valves will be turned on in a few months to the clink of vodka and champagne glasses.
Northern Star December 23, 2019 at 5:54 am
Peskov did not say a fuckin' thing about "hope" that the pipeline will be completed. He stated that the sanctions will NOT work to bring about substantial delay.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-nord-stream-kremlin-idUSKBN1YR0RU

Moscow Exile December 23, 2019 at 6:17 am
Two pipelines are being laid in parallel. One line , if I rightly recall, has 50 kms left to be laid, the other 75 kms. The Russian pipelayers, again if I rightly recall, lay at one third of the speed as did the Allseas vessel. The Russians are also aware of the geopositioning requirement that the Danes may impose. Only one Russian pipelayer, the one at present in the Far East, has this capability. from here

"Pioneering Spirit" and" Solitaire" crossed the border of Swedish and Danish waters on 27 and 28 November, respectively, since which time the former has covered 89 km, the latter -- a little less than 70 km, i.e. they move at a speed of 3.5–4.5 km per day. This means that they should be able to complete the construction within a month. But maintaining this momentum depends on the weather conditions.

There was only 1 month's worth of laying left when Allseas fucked off.

The Russians are seemingly, from the troll's point of view, faced with such insurmountable odds that he is coming in his pants. They'll never finish the job.

Like when they said they would never finish that bridge, across the petersburg-Simferopol train crosses for the first time this coming Christmas Day?

Moscow Exile December 23, 2019 at 12:11 pm
From same source as above, namely Moskovskiy Komsomolets :

According to a representative of one of the contractors involved in the creation of the offshore section of "Nord Stream – 2", Gazprom began to insure against sanctions against companies involved in laying the pipeline in October. The Fortuna pipe-laying barge, built in 2010 at a Russian shipyard and later upgraded at Chinese shipyards, has been used. This vessel has been based for about two months in the German port of Mukran, where the pipes required for the gas pipeline construction are shipped.

According to an MK interlocutor who wished to remain anonymous, despite the fact that Fortuna is the most powerful domestic vessel in its class, it is unlikely that it can fully replace Allseas pipelayers. "Fortuna" is able to do such works, but the speed of the project will be slowed down. "Fortuna specializes in laying infield and linear pipelines on land, while Gazprom charters vessels with foreign registration for offshore sections.

At the same time, Fortuna has experience working in deep water areas. As part of the Sakhalin-3 project, the barge was deploying an underwater production facility in the Kirinskoye field at a depth of 100 meters. The depth of the sea in the Danish section of the NS-2, which remains to be completed by Gazprom, does not exceed this mark, while Fortuna has a depth limit of 200 meters", explains the MK interlocutor.

Yeah, according to the Troll:

it is surprising that the Gazprom management didn't prepare for this situation! If this article is correct the only Russian vessel that can be used to finish the project is currently stationed in Vladivostok, and it will take about two months for it to arrive to Danish waters.

The sanction threat has been looming for months, but it seems that Gazprom did not prepare for it in any meaningful way.

I would be pleasantly surprised if this project is finished in 2020.

For "pleasantly surprised" above, read: "bitterly disappointed".

[Dec 24, 2019] Sanctions, Security and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline OffGuardian

Dec 24, 2019 | off-guardian.org

The United States is less concerned with matters green. Nord Stream 2 poses a security threat.

Trump's former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, saw it as "undermining Europe's overall energy security and stability."

US energy secretary Rick Perry argues that "Russian gas has strings attached." The claim is that Germany will be come too reliant and Ukraine further weakened. Ukraine had been the premier gatekeeper for Russian gas supply, with 40 percent of Europe's total amount transiting through Ukrainian soil. A slump in gross domestic product occasioned by an end to transit fees is considered imminent.

Other European states have been crankily concerned about the prospect of Gazprom's deepening involvement in the continent's energy market. Poland's anti-monopoly body UOKiK showed a measure of that opposition by fining France's Engie Energy (ENGIE.PA) 40 million euros in proceedings against Gazprom.

In February, EU ambassadors agreed that the project be subjected to greater scrutiny. A Franco-German compromise was struck : Nord Stream 2 would be placed "under European control".

The Trump administration's actions against Gazprom and Russia's energy influence, found in a provision of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), can hardly be seen as noble endeavours.

The provision threatens sanctions and the freezing of assets against entities laying down the pipeline unless their activities cease "immediately". The United States has its own energy interests in Europe, and wishes to frustrate the effort. Market share is at stake.

The suspension of laying activities on the part of Allseas, a Swiss company, suggests that Trump's announcement is already biting.

"In anticipation of the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)," went a company statement , "Allseas has suspended its Nord Stream 2 pipelay activities." The company would "proceed, consistent with the legislation's wind down provision and expect guidance comprising the necessary regulatory, technical and environmental clarifications from the relevant US authority."

The angle taken by the European Union, Germany and Russia can hardly surprise. Themes of energy security are reiterated. The Nord Stream 2 consortium makes the claim that, "Completing the project is essential for European supply security." Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova spikily condemned the sanctions measure. "A state with a $22 trillion national debt prohibits creditworthy countries to develop the real sector of their economies!"

For a EU spokesman, this constituted "the imposition of sanctions against EU companies conducting legitimate business." A German government spokesman suggested that such actions "affect German and other European businesses, and we see the move as meddling in our internal affairs." Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has sees it as an infringement of sovereignty. "It is up to the companies involved in the construction of the pipeline to take the next decisions."

Nothing is quite so simple. Gas pipeline politics has always been contentious. One state's sovereign promise is another's weakening. Concessions made to corporate monopolies are risky, capable of fostering insecurity as much as reassurance. Those who control the tap control a country's future.

But the imposition of any sanctions regime signals another bout of economic violence. In the international market, where governments operate as ready gangsters for corporate interests, prompted by such motivations as seeking more natural resources, tools of state become handmaidens of economic self-interest...

[Dec 23, 2019] Energy Analysts Deliver More Bad News for US Fracking Industry's Business Model

Dec 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Energy Analysts Deliver More Bad News for US Fracking Industry's Business Model Posted on December 22, 2019 by Lambert Strether Lambert here: Yet another bezzle.

By Justin Mikulka, a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmogBlog .

This month, the energy consulting firm Wood MacKenzie gave an online presentation that basically debunked the whole business model of the shale industry.

In this webinar, which explored the declining production rates of oil wells in the Permian region , research director Ben Shattuck noted how it was impossible to accurately forecast how much oil a shale play held based on estimates from existing wells.

" Over the years of us doing this, as analysts, we've learned that you really have to do it well by well," Shattuck explained of analyzing well performance. "You cannot take anything for granted."

For an industry that has raised hundreds of billions of dollars promising future performance based on the production of a few wells, this is not good news. And particularly for the Permian, the nation's most productive shale play , located in Texas and New Mexico.

Up until now, the basic premise of the fracking business model has been for a company to lease some land, drill until finding a high-volume well, hype to the press this well and the many others it plans to drill on the rest of its acreage, and promise a bright future, all while borrowing huge sums of money to drill and frack the wells.

Throughout the seminar, Wood MacKenzie analysts emphasized that companies can't reliably predict future oil production by "clustering" wells, that is, estimating volumes of many future wells based on the performance of a small number of nearby existing wells, and described the practice as potentially "misleading."

Shattuck called out how the old business model of firms borrowing money from investors while hoping for future payouts on record-breaking wells no longer works. He summed up the situation:

" We're transitioning to a point in time, where the investment community was enamored of the next well and how big it might be. That has changed for a variety of reasons. One very important reason is the next well might not be bigger. It might be smaller."

The fracking industry is now being asked to produce positive financial results -- not just promises of new super wells, or cube development, or artificial intelligence. And yet the industry couldn't deliver profits while drilling all the best acreage over the last decade. Now, shale companies need to do that with oil wells that may not produce as much.

Seven years ago, Rolling Stone referred to the fracking industry as a " scam " while profiling the "Shale King" Aubrey McClendon, the man generally credited with inventing the business model the shale industry has used the past decade. Today, McClendon's old company Chesapeake Energy is in danger of going bankrupt .

Perhaps investors are finally catching on.

Are Child Wells the New Normal?

Last year I covered the issue of child wells , or secondary wells drilled close to an existing "parent" well, and the risk they posed to the fracking industry. Child wells often cannibalize or damage parent wells, leading to an overall drop in oil production.

At the time, I cited a warning about this situation from Wood MacKenzie, which said, "Closely spaced child well performance presents not only a risk to the viability of the ongoing drilling recovery but also to the industry's long-term prospects."

Over a year later, has the shale oil industry abandoned this approach or are child wells still an issue?

During this month's webinar, Ben Shattuck answered that question, making a statement that should strike fear in the heart of shale investors and the owners of all this shale acreage:

" We know we're on the cusp of a child-well world."

One of the biggest problems with fracked oil well production is child wells, and according to Shattuck, that looks like the new normal. When the bug in an unprofitable business becomes the main feature of the business model, its future is definitely at "risk."

In the Eagle Ford shale, average production per foot of well length and per pound of "proppant" has been falling steadily. Mr Kibsgaard blamed the decline on a rising proportion of child wells, which are now up to about 70 per cent of all new wells drilled https://t.co/uG58KcNNJp

-- Alexander Stahel (@BurggrabenH) October 19, 2018

Fracking's Fatal Catch-22

As long as shale firms could keep borrowing and losing money to drill new wells, producing more oil was simple. When profits weren't a concern, the debt-heavy business model worked. But similar to the dot com boom and bust, the fracking industry is learning that if you want to stay in business, you need to make a profit.

Without a doubt, drilling and fracking shale can produce a lot of oil and gas in the right geological regions. It just usually costs more to get the oil and gas out of the rock than the fossil fuels are worth on the free market. Now, however, the much-lauded "shale revolution" is facing two big issues -- the best rock has been drilled and few are eager to loan money to drill the remaining acreage.

E&E News recently highlighted what this reality means for Texas's Eagle Ford shale play, where production is now 20 percent lower than at its peak in early 2015. For an oil basin that's only been producing oil via fracking for just over a decade , that is a pretty grim number. However, an analyst quoted by E&E News highlights the secret to making money while fracking for oil: Simply stop fracking.

"Generating free cash is easy: Stop spending on new wells," said Raoul LeBlanc, vice president for North American unconventionals at IHS Markit. "The catch is that production will immediately move into steep decline in many cases."

# IHSM arkit forecasts capital spending for shale drilling & completions to fall by 10% to $102 billion this year. By 2021, we'll see a near $20 billion decline in annual spending. What's causing this? Raoul LeBlanc comments- https://t.co/7q1QTiWZVs @HoustonChron

-- IHS Markit Energy (@ IHSM arkitEnergy) November 8, 2019

Ah, the catch. To generate cash while fracking requires companies to stop fracking and sell whatever oil they have left from rapidly declining wells. Because fracked wells decline quickly even when everything goes perfectly, if a producer isn't constantly drilling new wells, then the oil production of a field drops off very quickly -- the "steep decline" noted by LeBlanc.

That's exactly what happened in the Eagle Ford shale, an early darling of the fracking industry, and most of the top acreage in the Bakken shale play in North Dakota and Montana has already been drilled, and will likely see similar declines.

LeBlanc emphasizes this point again in the Journal of Petroleum Technology , where he is recently quoted saying that the decline rates in the Permian region have "increased dramatically" for new fracked wells.

A year and a half ago, DeSmog launched a special series exploring the finances of the fracking industry , putting a spotlight on its financial failings. At the time, optimism about the future of fracking was still filling the pages of the financial press.

The initial article kicking off the series closed with a quote from David Hughes, a geoscientist and fellow specializing in shale gas and oil production at the Post Carbon Institute . For years, Hughes has been warning about the optimistic estimates for shale oil and gas.

Hughes told DeSmog that with the finances of fracking, "Ultimately, you hit the wall. It's just a question of time."

With the industry on the cusp of a "child-well world," that wall appears to be approaching quickly -- unless you still believe the industry promises that fracking's big money is right around the corner.


PlutoniumKun , December 22, 2019 at 7:55 am

As the article says, the key scary thing for investors and the industry about fracking is that fracked wells don't tail off over years like conventional ones – they stop producing quite abruptly. Once the sweet spots are sucked dry, the drop off in production will be calamitous with all sorts of potential impacts through both the oil/gas and the finance world. It will probably happen far too quickly for most investors to jump off the carousel in time. It will be a game changer when it happens (and probably, sadly, quite good news for the Gulf States).

In past years, whenever I've expressed scepticism about the finances of fracking, the usual response is 'but those guys wouldn't be putting in billions unless they knew there was lots of oil and gas there'. What they don't seem to grasp is that making money from oil and gas exploration is not the same as making money from oil production. Its not about selling on the fuel. Its about first of all extracting money from investors for the exploration (and getting your cut), then its about developing a prospect and selling it on for a big profit. They don't really care if the well is profitable in the long term or not. I know of at least one oil company (not in fracking, mostly off-shore), which has made millions for its owners over the 40 years of its existence, despite the fact that it has never sold one barrel of oil, nor ever found a field which could be brought to full production. All their profits have come from their cut in selling on prospective fields, not one of which has ever come to production.

Jerry B , December 22, 2019 at 3:54 pm

===Its about first of all extracting money from investors for the exploration (and getting your cut)==

==All their profits have come from their cut in selling on prospective fields, not one of which has ever come to production===

What that tells me is there are a lot of investors that have soo much idle money floating around the world and can literally throw huge sums of money at some venture and if the venture fails oh well.

Many authors (Susan Strange, etc.) have used the term Casino Capitalism and this seems to fit that.

It's like taking millions of dollars and making an idle bet at the roulette wheel and if you lose oh well it was just pocket change or I'll just make up the losses on some other scam. Meanwhile millions of people are homeless, without healthcare, hungry, etc. It's is long past time to storm the castles! Pitchforks Up!!

Noel Nospamington , December 22, 2019 at 7:59 am

I predict a nightmare of numerous abandoned wells as the many unprofitable fracking companies go belly up, leaving the public with an expensive environmental mess to clean up.

Just another example of western cronie capitalism where you privatise all profit, and socialise all losses including both monetary and environmental.

The only way to stop this is to make shareholders personally responsible for such losses including environmental clean up, even after a company goes belly up. Only then will shareholders demand long term viability and more sustainable environmental practices, instead of only short term profits.

PlutoniumKun , December 22, 2019 at 8:46 am

A much simpler way is to simply insist that any license to drill can only be granted if it is tied to a certified insurance bond for correct capping and abandonment. It would be interesting to see just how many insurance companies would be willing to take on that risk.

XXYY , December 22, 2019 at 10:09 am

This should be the norm for all resource extraction permits: mining, logging, drilling, whatever. A "restoration bond" has to be in place to finance the restoration of the site after the valuable resources have been carted away.

This would be cheap in some cases, and very expensive in others (e.g., uranium mining). It would be a way of factoring the externalities (as economists like to call them) into the overall cost of the project, as well as decreasing the odds that fly by night operators will trash the planet.

The Historian , December 22, 2019 at 10:26 am

Just a very small quibble:
The days of the big pits for uranium mining are over. Most uranium, and I think all uranium in the US, is now mined by in-situ leaching. You wouldn't know you were near an uranium mine any more except for the small pumps in the field.
https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/mining-of-uranium/in-situ-leach-mining-of-uranium.aspx

This link has a good picture of what a uranium mine now looks like:
https://trib.com/business/energy/in-situ-leach-process-drives-wyoming-uranium-ambitions/article_c5f8b9b7-da51-5f3f-86f4-79d1698bcb2f.html

Eclair , December 22, 2019 at 11:22 am

"You wouldn't know you were near an uranium mine any more ."

Alas, the residents of Red Shirt, South Dakota, a tiny Lakota community on the fringes of the Pine Ridge Reservation, know about uranium mining. Past uranium mining activity has resulted in the leaching of radioactive materials into their ground water and wells. Even the nearby Cheyenne River has been contaminated. They can't drink the water. Or use it for irrigation or fishing. The entire region is an official National Sacrifice Area. Just a bunch of poor Indians.

The Defenders of the Black Hills are now fighting efforts to mine uranium using in-situ leach mining. In this process, holes are dug, water and solvents injected to dissolve the uranium, then the waste water is brought to the surface and temporarily stored in mud waste ponds. Sounds like 'fracking?' Concerns are for the spread of contaminants in ground water and aquifers. Where you can't see it.

The Historian , December 22, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Granted, no type of mining is without its problems.

But you could live in an area like mine where well water has to be tested routinely for the high levels of uranium that occurs naturally in our water. No uranium mines around here.

drumlin woodchuckles , December 22, 2019 at 8:16 pm

You have uranium in your water, so let everybody have uranium in their water. Is that it?

The Historian , December 23, 2019 at 1:01 am

I'm going to be polite and ignore the tone of your comment. I was merely pointing out that uranium mining is not the only reason for high uranium levels in ground water. There is a lot of uranium in the earth's crust and it is dissolvable in water. All well water should be checked for uranium levels but it is rarely done.

JTMcPhee , December 22, 2019 at 10:47 am

"Restoration bonds" would just become another "wetlands mitigation meets emissions trading" scam. https://www.cfact.org/2016/01/29/federal-wetlands-mitigation-bank-scam-threatens-popular-california-golf-course/

I'd favor forcing the investors and executives that want to erect these horrors to personally (along with their family members) do the on-site labor of closing and cleanup, while breathing the air and drinking the water that locals do. Still, of course, possible to game even that by capturing the regulatory process of setting cleanup standards and requirements, a la the federal and state Superfund programs.

Malum prohibitum vs. malum in se

" Latin referring to an act that is "wrong in itself," in its very nature being illegal because it violates the natural, moral or public principles of a civilized society. In criminal law it is one of the collection of crimes which are traditional and not just created by statute, which are "malum prohibitum." Example: murder, rape, burglary and robbery are malum in se, while violations of the Securities and Exchange Act or most "white collar crimes" are malum prohibitum." https://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1201

George Stubbs , December 22, 2019 at 7:44 pm

The public won't be asked to fund the cleanup because there will be no cleanup. The responsible parties aren't interested, and our government is no longer interested either. It's another one of those issues in which communities without power will insist on government action, and they will be ignored.

Wukchumni , December 22, 2019 at 8:28 am

"We know we're on the cusp of a child-well world."

Do it for the children!

I hope the whole fracking thing goes down in flames financially before they desecrate the Sierra Nevada, finger crossed and all that.

Ignacio , December 22, 2019 at 10:38 am

I wonder if could it be the case that some government considers strategically important to keep production from free-falling, no matter if the economics are not sound, and shifting the cost to the Treasury. MMT to the rescue of shale plays and financiers.

If the article is correct, calling for a plateau as soon as in 2021, the shale boom will prove more transient than expected.

JTMcPhee , December 22, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Clearly, Obama and Trump were/are all-in on the "strategic importance" of frack-extraction. https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/11/the_nerve_obama_takes_credit_for_americas_energy_independence.html

I can't keep up with all the interlocks and back-scratches. But Banksters are getting rich, the intermediators in exploration and production are getting rich, the petroleum Bigs are getting rich and using the notional global competition and Market to damage one "nation's" comparative advantage to their own ends. And as with all the behaviors leading to the conclusion that humanity is a failed, and maybe more honestly a plague species, all the incentives and flows of power are in the direction of what I believe it was a Reagan appointee offered as the moral underpinning of globalization and ruination: "God gave us dominion over the planet, and Jesus is coming back real soon and if we have not used up the whole place in accordance with His Holy Word as i read it, He is going to be really pissed "

As with all the stuff we NCers read here, everything seems to drive the truly awake soul in the direction of despair and that sense of vast futility, and that mindset of "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die " And screw future generations – past generations said that to us, so why should we, or some small elite among us, who now are in a position to have all our pleasure centers fully engaged and satiated to the max, behave "Responsibly?" "Responsible people maximize shareholder value (and executive looting)!"

Rats, roaches, obscure creatures from the deeps of the ocean, that enormous mass of living cells that we are learning inhabit the whole crust of the planet and maybe far deeper toward the hot center, they'll make it right, eh? After the last human has mouldered? Here's hope for you (though not for "us" and our death-wish ways): There Is A Colossal Cornucopia Of Exotic Life Hiding Within Earth's Crust https://www.forbes.com/sites/robinandrews/2018/12/11/there-is-a-colossal-cornucopia-of-exotic-life-hiding-within-earths-crust/#453227553b3d

Gregory Etchason , December 22, 2019 at 8:46 am

5 million EV takes inevitably back to nuclear energy. Without nukes you can anticipate losing your residential AC for several hours/day. PG&E is the future.

The Historian , December 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

Perhaps you should read this:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/amorylovins/2019/11/18/does-nuclear-power-slow-or-speed-climate-change/#1ef5f9d3506b

There are a lot more problems with nuclear energy than just waste.

Grumpy Engineer , December 22, 2019 at 11:25 am

The Forbes article is crap. Any analysis of electricity costs coming from renewable power that does not include the costs of the energy storage systems required at high penetration levels will underestimate the costs. Badly. The solar panels and wind turbines are the easy part. The energy storage systems will easily cost 10X as much (and take 10X as much time). Because of this, we've seen renewable energy deployment efforts stall out in Germany, Spain, China, Denmark, and elsewhere, as they bumped into grid stability issues that require storage to mitigate. And the storage costs too much.

bob , December 22, 2019 at 11:37 am

Using "batteries" also produces a 10%* net loss to charge the batteries right off the bat. You need 110% of the electricity to get to same 100% you were getting before the battery. Rather than batteries helping, they actually end up using more electricity. That's also before counting the electricity to make the battery.

* that's best case, theoretical, scenario.

Batteries are net users of electricity. The do not make it.

The Historian , December 22, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Perhaps you should read this?
https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/63033.pdf

The Forbes article talks about balancing the grid so that variable energy sources can be incorporated reliably. To whit:

Actually, battery storage, though often cost-effective today, is rarely needed to "firm" the output of variable renewables (photovoltaics and windpower), because there are eight ample cheaper methods.

I believe the author's thesis is for the electricity from renewables to be fed into the grid when it is available, not to store it.

Do you think nuclear power plants run continuously and are never taken off the grid? Do you think we use huge storage batteries when they are down?

bob , December 22, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Both your quote, and the pdf 'talk about' that. That's all they do. The forbes author really is a treat. "There are 8 ample, cheaper methods" What are those eight methods? why only 8? No further details.

"I believe the author's thesis is for the electricity from renewables to be fed into the grid when it is available, not to store it."

It seems you noticed it too. No details, just numbers spelled out as words and asserted as evidence.

The Historian , December 22, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Well, unfortunately the link that explains his 8 methods is behind a paywall.

But I think we are talking apples and oranges here.

The author of the Forbes article is talking about how a grid works. When a power plant is taken off the grid, energy is moved in from some other area to take up the slack as long as that power plant is offline. He expects that should be done with renewable energy also.

If you are depending on only one form of renewable energy, then of course you would need batteries when that form of energy is not available. But batteries are an added cost and not as efficient as moving energy via the grid. A better method would be to have many types of renewable energies available so that you can switch between them as necessary. It is what he means when he is talking about needing to firm the output of variable renewables.

So for example, in my area, the winds kick up when the sun goes down so it makes sense to switch from solar to wind power at dusk.

The Historian , December 22, 2019 at 5:49 pm

I forgot to add that his main thesis is that when you compare the costs of energy going into the grid, then nuclear power doesn't look so good.

Grumpy Engineer , December 22, 2019 at 7:26 pm

I'm don't buy Amory Lovins' thesis. Bob's criticism is correct. The other 8 methods aren't listed. The required sizes and associated costs aren't listed. It is impossible to judge the viability of the scheme he envisions when the relevant information is missing.

A real plan would list nameplate GW for all types of generation assets and GW and GWh for all energy storage assets. In other words, full details.

The only "plan" I've seen for supplying US energy needs with 100% renewable power that actually contained full details came from Mark Jacobson of Stanford University: https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pdf . To his credit, he did the time-domain analysis necessary to determine the amount of load-sharing and energy storage necessary to keep the lights on through even extended periods of unfavorable weather.

Unfortunately, his "solution" required two things: (1) expanding US hydro capacity by a factor of 10, and (2) deploying a stupendous 541 TWh of energy storage. Neither is feasible. The first would cause massive flooding and ruin river ecosystems if ever run at full power, and the second would cost over $100 trillion at today's energy storage costs of $200/kWh. His plan was so wildly unrealistic (and yet popular with Democrats) that a team of scientists and engineers issued a formal rebuttal: https://www.pnas.org/content/114/26/6722 . Jacobson's plan has been debunked .

The South Koreans deployed their nuclear fleet for approximately $3000/kW. At this cost, we could completely de-carbonize the US electrical system for less than $2.5 trillion. It would be quite the bargain in comparison.

The Historian , December 23, 2019 at 12:31 am

The South Koreans do have one of the lowest costs for nuclear energy production – a LCOE of about $2021/kWe compared to the US of $4100/kWe and the world average of $4702/kWe – but the way they do that is by having much looser regulations and by severely underestimating the decommissioning, waste management, and accident compensation costs. Is that what you want for nuclear energy in the US?

I think it's kind of dangerous to just throw numbers around unless you understand what they actually mean.

Ignacio , December 22, 2019 at 10:40 am

Nuclear cars? You must be kidding!
/s

The Historian , December 22, 2019 at 10:46 am

If you want nuclear airplane engines, I know where you can get a couple:

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

Jokerstein , December 22, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Ah, the wonderful "Heaters". They are situated outside EBR-1, just south of ID-20, west of Idaho Falls, and east of Arco.

The whole of the area around there is a fascinating place to visit for a nuclear nerd like me, plus you have the wonderful Craters of the Moon NM there too.

Other interesting places to visit are Atomic City, which has a population of around 25, and is a weird time capsule from the '60s, plus Big Southern Butte, which is a, er, big butte.

You can also find a gate leading off ID-20 to the north, into INL (Idaho National Laboratory), which used to be the access road to the army's SL-1 reactor, which underwent a steam explosion due to a core excursion in 1961, and is (as far as is admitted) the only nuclear accident that led to immediate deaths in the US.

For a really interesting review of nuclear history read the three books by James Mahaffey. He was a nuclear plant operator for a while, and describes the little pastime of "reactor racing", which was seeing who could get a reactor up to nominal operating capacity in the shortest time.

Louis Fyne , December 22, 2019 at 8:49 am

blame the Fed/zero interest rates.

At every Dem. presidential primary debate, there should be multiple monetary policy questions and someone(s) should be blasted the Fed every time.

The Fed isn't "independent." -- its nominal independence is itself a form of political bias.

The Rev Kev , December 22, 2019 at 9:06 am

I guess that this means that Trump and his crew will make another run at Venezuela – before the fracking industry goes down the gurgler. All of Venezuela's oil fields are like a big box of chocolates in America's backyard. But if they try to take it, like life, you never know what you are going to get.

Susan the Other , December 22, 2019 at 12:29 pm

That's probably the most accurate forecast. And it has been eerily quiet lately.

James , December 22, 2019 at 7:27 pm

They are engaging in long term siege warfare targeting Venezuela's economy. They can't invade every country.

Samuel Conner , December 22, 2019 at 10:04 am

Am I right in guessing that this will significantly impact forecasts of aggregate US domestic oil production? Do we remain the global "swing" producer?

ambrit , December 22, 2019 at 11:33 am

As PlutoniumKun says above, the collapse of the shale field production will be great news for the Gulf Coast's petroleum industry. Not only is the Gulf a proven reserve, but with the inevitable higher prices for crude oil, many more of the offshore wells will become profitable.
The American shale collapse will also be good news for other world producers of petroleum. OPEC will regain some of it's lost political influence.
On the down side; all forms of shipping and transportation will have a spike in per unit costs. A canny politician could use this factor to push an onshoring of lost industrial and manufacturing capacity. Put Americans back to work in America. That will be a winning strategy.

JTMcPhee , December 22, 2019 at 12:35 pm

" many more of the offshore wells will become profitable." For some definition of "profitable." "Externalities? A fig for your externalities!"

ambrit , December 22, 2019 at 10:00 pm

Yes, well, I generally assume that the definition of "profitable" in use in the board rooms of the giant conglomerates 'rules the day.' Until some method of 'regulating' the actions of the board rooms of industry are brought into play, I'm afraid we are stuck with some version of the status quo.
Just as the German usual suspects moved nations into 'Realpolitik' after the War, so too have the modern Austrian usual suspects moved the world into 'Realeconomik.' Both have led our best of all possible worlds into a Neoliberal Paradise.

Susan the Other , December 22, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Didn't Chesapeake Energy declare bankruptcy a good ten years ago? And then restructured itself into a shale fracking company with the extreme help of the Obama administration? When Obama "pivoted" away from KSA he went straight to US drillers. Allowing any hype necessary to get the needed investments. Obama was clearly panicked. I wonder if it is possible that that is when he learned that Aramco's reserves were only a fraction of the Saudi hype? Bin Sawbones was subsequently allowed to provide the estimate of the worth of KSA's oil reserves at 2 Trillion. The IPO went forward at that estimate and just today there is an article in ZH about Aramco's actual value being much less. It looks to me like we just up and left KSA. Why on earth would we do that unless they were running dry? And why would they have fought that obscene war with Yemen unless they (the Saudis) were getting desperate? Secure people generally don't do things that stupid. And the next logical question might be, How long will Russian reserves hold up as they supply both China and the EU? The simple answer is it is all just a question of time. We need to envision a lifestyle that is far more compatible with the planet. Fracking was just a distraction. A farce. It would be better to own warm sox than oil shares. And electricity is not going to help us out if we do not aggressively restrict our use. I'd just like to know why we can't all come together and admit this one elemental fact.

ObjectiveFunction , December 22, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Drainage! Draaaainage, Eli, you boy! Drained dry. I'm so sorry.

Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching? And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake.

I drink your milkshake! slurp I drink it up! Every day I drink the Blood of Lamb from Bandy's tract.

John k , December 22, 2019 at 1:59 pm

The last man standing might be profitable.
Not so long ago gas was much higher I think the peak during a pre fracking cold winter was $15 now under $3. Plus we're exporting the stuff bc us price is so far below Eu price. But us price is clearly unstable Bc it's too low for frackers to break even, much less make money.
It's the large fracking production that's driven price down to sub $3. Maybe foolish investors and banks will soon stop burning $, after which price will rise towards $10 as this happens utilities will really jump on solar bc gas will be increasingly non competitive.
Ca should refuse all utility requests to build more gas-fired generating plants existing ones will be shut over the next decade as solar plus storage price continues falling and gas price rises.

ptb , December 22, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Additional Reading – stats on US oil production by well productivity: https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/wells/

From graphs 2 and 3, you can see that half or more of the national oil production comes from about 50,000 high producing wells (out of roughly 1mm total). These are of course on the treadmill of decline and need continuous investment to be renewed.

Note the changing oil price, esp. collapse in mid 2014. (aside: when was Nixon impeachment?)
https://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart

Anyway after 2014 the national production responded to the price collapse within about a year. This is what is somewhat different about fracking -- the short time horizon and the outsize contribution of the "top" wells -- constant depletion and investment -- results in a fairly fast response to the price environment.

Factor in pipeline capacity shortages come and go, affecting the share of $$ taken by the midstream. In any case, they're losing money when the WTI price is in the $50-$60 range. What does that mean? Great question.

kiers , December 22, 2019 at 5:19 pm

So, the shale/fracking industry has ~$200bn in debt, god only knows how much market cap is at risk on Shale and fracking alone, and it's COMPLETELY UN PREDICTABLE. And people buy shares in this snake oil on the market? SEC sleeping? what a crock.

James , December 22, 2019 at 7:29 pm

Don't worry – it is "contained to subprime".

kiers , December 22, 2019 at 9:38 pm

I suspect that shale plays like OXY, with marketwatch assigning a "beta" of (get this!) 0.99 to this stock, are fundamental misallocations of capital. In a political sense, it's a red state SOE type play that doesn't pass snuff. I saw the entire Wood MacKenzie webinar linked in Lambert's article, and even THEY themselves are amazed at the range of valuations in the shale sector. No two wells can be compared truly. The webinar references when Ben Shattuck asked a wall street analyst for their comps on some company, and Wood MacKenzie's analysis using on the ground depletion knowledge, was 40% lower, versus a higher paid wall street "comps" analysis!

This entire sector is SNAKE OIL, imho, not to mention the environmental degradation not on the balance sheets. But it is politically privileged, so we must zip it.

[Dec 23, 2019] The US' Impending Nord Stream II Sanctions Support The Three Seas Initiative

Dec 21, 2019 | astutenews.com

Trump is expected to sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2020 which mandates the imposition of sanctions on companies involved in Nord Stream II's construction, but while this crafty move isn't expected to seriously impede the project since it's already in its final stages, its importance derives in the fact that it signals extremely strong support for the interests of the US-backed "Three Seas Initiative" whose Polish leader has objected to this game-changing pipeline on geopolitical grounds.

***

The US Senate's approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2020 means that Trump will likely sign it into law very soon, which is troublesome for Trans-Atlantic relations because it mandates among its many sometimes unrelated provisions the imposition of sanctions on companies involved in Nord Stream II's construction. This crafty move isn't expected to seriously impede the project since it's already in its final stages after Russia secured Denmark's permission back in October to construct a crucial segment of this pipeline through its maritime territory, which will facilitate the project's completion and thus strengthen Russia's strategic partnership with EU-leader Germany. That outcome will likely accelerate the ongoing rapprochement between Russia and the bloc's Western European members that became obvious to all after Macron's successful visit to Moscow in late August, but which is in turn compelling the US to double down on its commitment to the Polish-led " Three Seas Initiative " (TSI) that it envisages functioning as its wedge for retaining influence in the strategic Central European space between those two.

The impending NDAA 2020-connected sanctions should therefore be seen as an extremely strong signal of support for this trans-regional integration structure because they satisfy the demands of its Polish leader for the US to impose costs upon Germany for its reinvigorated strategic partnership with Russia. Barely reported on at the time, it's significant to mention that a bipartisan resolution was submitted to the House of Representatives at the end of October shortly after Russia secured Denmark's support for Nord Stream II mandating that Congress prioritize its support for the TSI in the aftermath of that development, with a specific focus on energy and physical connectivity projects. The grand strategic goal that the US is aiming to achieve is to create a so-called "cordon sanitaire" that would serve to divide Russia from Western Europe by exploiting the preexisting animosity that the many states between them have towards Moscow, and it will likely end up being one of the main drivers of American foreign policy towards the continent for the foreseeable future.

In pursuit of that objective, the US is also making strategic outreaches to Belarus , knowing very well that its wily leader Lukashenko is more than willing to "balance" between the West and Russia in a risky attempt to extract more (mostly economic) "concessions" from each of them. It goes without saying that this policy will probably ramp up now that Nord Stream II is a fait accompli and the "cordon sanitaire" is more significant than ever in the current context. That former Soviet Republic, however, is unlikely to engage in a decisive "pivot" against Russia, though from a zero-sum standpoint, the gradual moves that it's making towards the West can indeed be interpreted as being "mildly" against Russia's long-term interests. Still, there isn't much that Russia can do since it must avoid the perception that it's putting overwhelming pressure on Belarus or even plausibly considering doing so since that notion would only accelerate the very same trend that Moscow wants to reverse. Minsk, it must be said, recognizes how geostrategic its position is for both the Russian-led Eurasian Union (EAU) and the Polish-led TSI, so it'll try to play them off against the other, all with the US' passive support.

The US isn't the only Great Power spreading its influence through the TSI, as China is also rapidly on the ascent there too. The Balkans are becoming more important of a destination for Chinese foreign direct investment than ever through the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), most visibly manifesting itself in Beijing's plans to construct a high-speed railway from the Hungarian capital of Budapest to the Greek port of Pireaus (the "Balkan Silk Road"). It also holds yearly meetings with the leaders of the TSI countries and others in this region through the 17+1 format that was recently expanded to include Greece (having been the 16+1 previously). In addition, Belarus is a key node on the Eurasian Land Bridge, with China investing in the " Great Stone " industrial park that it envisages becoming a major export center along that route. None of this is to imply whatsoever that China is "teaming up" with the US to "contain" Russia in Central & Eastern Europe, but just to point out that China's infrastructure investments will greatly help to connect the region along the north-south axis, after which the US will likely exploit these apolitical and purely economic projects for its strategic ends vis-a-vis Russia.

Even so, while the TSI space is certainly geostrategic, its economic importance pales in comparison to Western Europe's. The German economy alone is larger than all of those states' combined, so Russia isn't exactly losing out in the economic sense as a result of the US' TSI plans. It is, however, at risk of this "cordon sanitaire" being used as its rival's trans-regional platform for putting military pressure upon it, which has already been happening ever since most of its states joined NATO and then doubled down on their commitment to it after the onset of the New Cold War in 2014 following Crimea's reunification with Russia in response to the US-backed coup in Ukraine. Poland and increasingly Greece bookend this pro-American military structure, while Ukraine and possibly soon even Belarus could ultimately become its eastern-most appendages by proxy. Russia still has instruments of influence that it can leverage in an attempt to keep this trend under control, though it's seemingly on the defensive in recent years and appears unable to gain any successes on this front, instead choosing to concentrate on Western Europe through Nord Stream II and other measures.

Looking forward, the rise of the TSI as the US' preferred continental proxy is all but assured, though it's unclear whether or not it'll succeed with its fundamental purpose of keeping Russia and Western Europe apart. Classical geopolitical thought suggesting that it would doesn't take into consideration the much more complex nature of contemporary International Relations whereby a conventional military clash between the TSI states and Russia is unlikely for reasons of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) stemming from many of the former's memberships in NATO, and their other memberships in the EU mean that a successful EU-Russian detente would force them to facilitate trade between Western Europe and Russia if even a single state vetoes the continuation of sanctions in the future. Altogether, it can therefore be said that Russia's successful completion of Nord Stream II would flip the strategic dynamics by once again returning Moscow to a position of strength whereas Washington would then be the Great Power on the defensive instead. Still, the TSI's potential shouldn't be underestimated either since it might lead to some surprises for both Western Europe and Russia if its American patron has a few tricks up its sleeve that it's wiling to teach its regional partners.


By Andrew Korybko
Source: One World

[Dec 22, 2019] Autopsy of the Minsk agreements

Notable quotes:
"... Are the security forces loyal to him to the extent that he could realistically counted on them to carry out a crackdown on the "Nazis"? ..."
"... I am sympathetic to a lot of what Putin has felt it necessary to do, but I must say, I don't buy the incessant use of the term "Ukronazi." Sounds propagandistic. ..."
"... What about the Ukrainian people? A large majority of them voted for some sort of reconciliation with the separatists and Russia. They did so twice: once for Zelenskii, and once again for his party. Does that count for nothing? ..."
"... I think the plan is to wait until Russia collapses from Western sanctions, and then invade Crimea and Donbass. They didn't give up on the territory by any means, which is why I don't think that any ceasefire in Donbass will hold. It is going to remain a slow-burning conflict, the regime will continue to complain about "Russian invasion" and international investors will continue to avoid the Ukraine. ..."
Dec 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

The recent Paris summit and the few days following the summit have brought a lot of clarity about the future of the Minsk Agreements. Short version: Kiev has officially rejected them (by rejecting both the sequence of steps and several crucial steps). For those interested, let's look a little further.

First, what just happened

First, here are the key excerpts from the Paris Conference and from statements made by "Ze" and his superior, Arsen Avakov right after their return to Kiev:

Paris Conference statement: source

The Minsk agreements (Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014 and the Minsk Package of Measures of 12 February 2015) continue to be the basis of the work of the Normandy format whose member states are committed to their full implementation ( ) The sides express interest in agreeing within the Normandy format (N4) and the Trilateral Contact Group on all the legal aspects of the Special Order of Local Self-Government – special status – of Certain Areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions – as outlined in the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements from 2015 – in order to ensure its functioning on a permanent basis .They consider it necessary to incorporate the "Steinmeier formula" into the Ukrainian legislation, in accordance with the version agreed upon within the N4 and the Trilateral Contact Group.

President 'Ze' statement on Ukrainian TV: (unofficial, in-house, translation) source

" The most difficult question is the question of the transfer of the border control to Ukraine. It's very funny, because its our border and the transfer of the control to us. But, it's a weak sport, the Achilles' heel of the Minsk Agreement." "It's what was signed by us, unfortunately. We can discuss this for a very long time. Possibly, the conditions were as such." "But we signed that we will get the control over our border only after the elections on the temporarily occupied territories." "We dedicated a very long time to this question, we discussed it in details, we have a very different positions with the president of Russia ." "But this is the Minsk position, we have to understand this. I only like one thing, that we started talking about this. We agreed that we will continue talking about this in details and with the different variations during our next meeting." "This is also a victory, because we will have a meeting in four months."

Q. What do you think, is it possible to change the Minsk Agreement? source

" This will be very difficult to do, but we have to do it. We have to change it . First, we have to understand that it's been over four years since the Minsk Agreement was signed. Everything changes in our life. We have to understand that it wasn't my team that signed the Minsk Agreement, but we as a power have to fulfill the conditions that our power at the time agreed back then. But? I am sure that some things we will be able to change. We will be changing them." "Because the transfer of the Ukraine's border after our control only after the elections, – it's not our position. I said about this don't know how many times, but this is the final decision ."

Arsen Avakov's statement on Ukrainian TV: (unofficial, in-house, translation):

" The philosophy of the border control the part of the border that we don't have control over is 408 kilometers. It's not that easy to take it over, to equip it, even to get there across the enemy territories. It's a procedure. As a compromise, we offered the following scheme: we will start taking the border under our control stating with the New Year, little by little, reducing the length of the border that is not controlled by us, and a day before the local election we will close the border, we will close this bottleneck. And this way will get the control over the border. Why isn't this a good compromise? Considering, that at the same time according to the Steinmeier Formula, they have to disarm all the illegal armed formations of this pseudo-state DNR. This is how we see the compromise."

In other words, both the official President and real President of the Ukraine agree: the Ukraine will not implement the Minsk Agreements as written, made law by the UNSC and clarified by the so-called Steinmeier Formula.

Ukrainian propagandists on Russian TV (yes, Urkonazi and hardline nationalist propagandists do get air time on Russian TV on a daily basis – for an explanation why, see here and here ) went into damage control mode and explained it all away by saying " these are only words, what matters is what Zelenskii signed in Paris ". They are wrong. First of all, statements made in their official capacity by the President or the Minister of Internal Affairs do represent OFFICIAL policy statements. Second, this explanation completely overlooks the reason why Ze and Avakov said these things. That reason is very simple: Ze caved in to the Urkonazis, completely. He now uses EXACTLY the same rhetoric as Poroshenko did, in spite of the fact that the only reason he was elected is that he presented himself as the ultimate anti-Poroshenko. Now all we see is Poroshenko 2.0.

So in the behind-the-scenes (but very real) struggle between the Zionist camp (Kolomoiskii and Zelenskii) and the Urkonazi camp (Avakov and Poroshenko), the latter have successfully taken control of the former and now the chances for saving a unitary Ukraine are down to, maybe not quite zero, but to something like 0.0000001% (I leave that one under the heading "never say never" and because I have been wrong in the past).

So what happens next?

That is the interesting question. In theory, the Normandy Four will meet again in 4 months. But that assumes that some progress was made. Well, it is possible that in a few sections of the line of contact there will be an OSCE supervised withdrawal of forces. But, let's be honest here, the people have seen many, many such promised withdrawals, and they all turned out to be fake. Either the Ukronazis return to the neutral zone (claiming huge victories over the (sic) "Russian armed force"), or they resume bombing civilians, or they never even bother to change position. Any withdrawal is a good thing if it can save a single life! But no amount of withdrawals will settle anything in this conflict.

Second, there are A LOT of Ukrainian politicians who now say that the citizens of the LDNR have to "return" to Russia if they don't like the Urkonazi coup or its ideology. They either don't realize, or don't care, that there are very few Russian volunteers in Novorussia and that the vast majority of the men and women who compose the LDNR forces are locals. These locals, by the way, get the Ukie message loud and clear: you better get away while you can, because when we show up you will all be prosecuted for terrorism and aiding terrorists, that is ALSO something the Urkonazis like to repeat day after day. By the way, while in Banderastan all Russian TV channels are censored, and while they also try to censor the Russian language Internet, in Novorussia all the Ukrainian (and Russian) TV stations are freely available. So as soon as some Nazi freak comes out and says something crazy like "we will create filtration camps" (aka concentration camps) this news is instantly repeated all over Novorussia, which only strengthens the resolve of the people of the LDNR to fight to their death rather than accept a Nazi occupation..

I said it many times, Zelenskii's ONLY chance was to crackdown on the Nazis as soon as he was elected. He either did not have the courage to do so, or his U.S. bosses told him to leave them unmolested. Whatever the case may be, it's now over, we are back to square one.

The most likely scenario is a "slow freezing" of the conflict meaning now that Kiev has officially and overtly rejected the Minsk Agreements, there will be some minor, pretend-negotiations, maybe, but that fundamentally the conflict will be frozen.

That will be the last nail in the coffin of the pro-EU, pro-NATO so-called "Independent Ukraine", since the most important condition to try to salvage the Ukrainian economy, namely peace, is now gone. Furthermore, the political climate in the Ukraine will further deteriorate (the hated Nazi minority + an even worse economic crisis are a perfect recipe for disaster).

For the Novorussians, it's now clear: the rump-Ukraine* does not want them, nor will Kiev ever agree to the Minsk Agreement. That means that the LDNR will separate from the rump-Ukraine and, on time, rejoin Russia. Good bye Banderites and Urkonazis!

The rump-Ukraine will eventually break-up further: Crimea truly was the "jewel of the Black Sea" and its future appears to be extremely bright while the Donbass was the biggest source of raw materials, energy, industry, high-tech, etc. etc. etc.). What is left of the Ukraine is either poor and under-developed (the West) or needs to reopen economic ties with Russia (the South).

Besides, Zelenskii and his party are now trying to rush a new law through the Rada which will allow the sale of Ukrainian land to private interests (aka foreign interests + a local frontman). As a result, there is now a new "maidan" brewing, pitting Iulia Timoshenko and other nationalist leaders against Zelenskii and his party. This could become a major crisis very fast, especially now that is appears that Zelenskii will also renege on this promise to call for a national referendum on the issue of the sale/privatization of land .

As for the Russians, they already realize that Ze is a joke, unsurprisingly so since he is a comic by trade, and that the Ukrainians are "not agreement capable". They will treat him like they did Poroshenko in the last years: completely ignore him and not even take his telephone calls. Right now, there is just a tiny bit of good will left in Moscow, but it is drying up so fast that it will soon totally disappear. Besides, the Russians really don't care that much anymore: the sanctions turned out to be a blessing, time is on Russia's side, the Ukronazis are destroying their own state and, finally, the important stuff for Russia is happening in Asia, not the West.

The Europeans will take a long time to come to terms with two simple facts:

Russia was never a party to this conflict (if she had, it would have been over long ago). The Ukronazis are the ones who won't implement the Minsk Agreements

This means that the politicians who were behind the EU's backing of the Euromaidan (Merkel) will have to go before their successors can say that, oops, we got our colors confused, and white is actually black and black turned out to be white. That's okay, politicians are pretty good at that. The honeymoon between Kiev and Warsaw on the one hand and Berlin on the other will soon end as bad times are ahead.

Macron looks much better, and he will probably pursue his efforts to restore semi-normal relations with Russia, for France's sake first, but also eventually the rest of the EU. The Poles and the Balts will accuse him of "treason" and he will just ignore them.

As for Trump, he will most likely make small steps towards Russia, but most of his energy will be directed either inwards (impeachment) or outwards (Israel), but not towards the Ukrainian conflict. Good.

Conclusion

It's over. Crimea and the Donbass are gone forever, the first is de jure , the latter merely de facto . The rump-Ukraine is completely unconformable (barring some kind of coup followed by a government of national unity supported Moscow – I consider this hypothesis as highly unlikely).

If you live in the West, don't expect your national media to report on any of this. They will be the LAST ones to actually admit it (journos have a longer shelf life than politicians, it is harder for them to make a 180).

PS: to get a feeling for the kind of silly stunts the "Ze team" is now busying itself with, just check this one: they actually tried to falsify the Ukrainian version of the Paris Communique. For details, see Scott's report here: https://thesaker.is/kiev-attempted-to-change-the-letter-and-meaning-of-paris-summit-communique/ . If the Ukraine was a Kindergarten, then "Ze" would be a perfect classroom teacher or visiting entertainer. But for a country fighting for its survival, such stunts are a very, very bad sign indeed!

(*rump-Ukraine: In broad terms, a "rump" state is what remains of a state when a portion is carved away. Expanding on the "butcher" metaphor, the rump is what is left when the higher-value cuts such as rib roast and loin have been removed.)


Oscar Peterson , says: December 18, 2019 at 7:55 pm GMT

I said it many times, Zelenskii's ONLY chance was to crackdown on the Nazis as soon as he was elected. He either did not have the courage to do so, or his U.S. bosses told him to leave them unmolested.

Are the security forces loyal to him to the extent that he could realistically counted on them to carry out a crackdown on the "Nazis"?

For the Novorussians, it's now clear: the rump-Ukraine* does not want them, nor will Kiev ever agree to the Minsk Agreement.

So what is the Ukrainian thinking here -- that they are better off simply cutting bait on the east and letting Russia deal with the headache of the Donbass's antiquated infrastructure? And that a truncated Ukraine would at least be mostly free of internal pro-Russian sentiment?

I am sympathetic to a lot of what Putin has felt it necessary to do, but I must say, I don't buy the incessant use of the term "Ukronazi." Sounds propagandistic.

bob sykes , says: December 18, 2019 at 11:48 pm GMT
What about the Ukrainian people? A large majority of them voted for some sort of reconciliation with the separatists and Russia. They did so twice: once for Zelenskii, and once again for his party. Does that count for nothing?
Felix Keverich , says: December 19, 2019 at 12:51 am GMT
@Oscar Peterson

So what is the Ukrainian thinking here

I think the plan is to wait until Russia collapses from Western sanctions, and then invade Crimea and Donbass. They didn't give up on the territory by any means, which is why I don't think that any ceasefire in Donbass will hold. It is going to remain a slow-burning conflict, the regime will continue to complain about "Russian invasion" and international investors will continue to avoid the Ukraine.

Anonymous [176] Disclaimer , says: December 19, 2019 at 1:21 am GMT
"Russia collapses from Western sanctions" If that is the plan, then Russia has already won. And, of course, she has.
vot tak , says: December 19, 2019 at 1:20 pm GMT
"That reason is very simple: Ze caved in to the Ukronazis, completely. He now uses EXACTLY the same rhetoric as Poroshenko did, in spite of the fact that the only reason he was elected is that he presented himself as the ultimate anti-Poroshenko. Now all we see is Poroshenko 2.0."

This is interesting. It implies z actually meant what he said in order to gain votes to get elected. In fact, he is very similar to trump in this respect. Lied about desiring an end to the conflict (conflicts in the case of trump), but once in office continued the aggressive policies (and expanded them in the case of trump). Actually, if one considers poroshenko as the ukraine version of obama/clinton and zelinsky as trump, it looks like the ukrainian regime is following in the footsteps of the american regime.

Tsar Nicholas , says: December 21, 2019 at 1:09 pm GMT
It's not just Minsk that has been abandoned by the Kiev junta. Kiev itself has been abandoned by the EU, which now looks to Nordstream-2 for its energy supplies from Russia, thus bypassing the thieves in Ukraine. Even sanctions from the Supreme Sanctioner in DC is not going to persuade the Germans to shiver in the winter.

[Dec 22, 2019] Having a US Ambassador that thinks of himself as a Proconsul of Germany has not lessened any tensions either

See also Nord Stream 2: Trump approves sanctions on Russia gas pipeline BBC
Dec 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The Rev Kev , December 21, 2019 at 9:41 am

"Nord Stream 2: Trump approves sanctions on Russia gas pipeline"

The Russians will probably finish that last segment themselves but the German reaction will be the one to watch out for – if there is one. Without Nord Stream 2, Germany will have to accept having a smaller economy because of insufficient energy to power it which will have knock-on effects in taxation, revenue raising & allocation, etc.
This will make them less competitive against the US and other economies and if they are forced to buy US gas shipments, it will play hell with their budget due to the excessive cost. Having a US Ambassador that thinks of himself as a Proconsul of Germany has not lessened any tensions either. So we will see if there is any German reaction.

curious euro , December 21, 2019 at 9:57 am

When Russia finishes the pipeline, which is not really sure since the swiss special ships might finish in time or might be actually needed to finish the pipeline, then why would a reaction from Germany be needed?

If/when the pipeline is done, Germany will take the gas from it for e.g. its chemical industry. From what I understand, the US hasn't sanctioned users of russian gas in general, "only" companies who actively build on the pipeline, like the owner of the special ships used.

If the US however doubles down and sanctions users of russian pipeline gas, then it will probably have a big fight on its hand. Then not only Germany is affected but almost all EU countries, except Poland and the Baltics of course.

The Historian , December 21, 2019 at 10:00 am

Frankly, I just don't get the logic behind this move by Trump. Is he saying that he thinks that Germany is a colony of the US and that the US gets to determine where they get their resources? That is pretty high-handed, even for the US.

xkeyscored , December 21, 2019 at 10:55 am

I think that's exactly what these sanctions are about. "The US considers the project a security risk to Europe" certainly sounds colonialist, and "The Trump administration fears the pipeline will tighten Russia's grip over Europe's energy supply and reduce its own share of the lucrative European market for American liquefied natural gas" sounds like the USA wants to tell Europe what to buy and where.
I'm not sure about pinning it all on Trump though: " Congress voted through the measures as part of a defence bill last week and the legislation, which described the pipeline as a "tool of coercion", was signed off by Mr Trump on Friday."
(Quotes from the BBC article)

bob , December 21, 2019 at 11:50 am

Why have NATO. Do you need a military against a country that you buy gas from. You give them enormous amounts of money and they can shut the switch at any time. Maybe we should bring Russia into NATO to defend against aliens.

Louis Fyne , December 21, 2019 at 12:19 pm

(mild hyperbole) Belgium would fall apart without the cash from all the Eurocrat jobs in Brussels.

And where would aspiring technocrats go without a stint at Nato on their CVs think of the bureaucrats and politicians!

John A , December 21, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Russia asked to join NATO, but were rejected. NATO needs a bogey man enemy to justify forcing all its members to spend 2% of GDP on US military equipment. The first thing American arms salespersons did when the Berlin Wall fell was to head to Eastern Europe to sell arms.

Zamfir , December 21, 2019 at 2:14 pm

It might be high-handed, but it's not new. Variations of this game have gone on since the 80s, when the first gas exports from Russia were starting. This is an upswing in aggression, but it's mostly a continuation of standard US policy.

I am not even sure that the increased aggression comes from Trump. It's more that gas producers in the US are now more powerful than a decade ago (and somewhat desperate due to low gas prices in the US), so their interests add to the old-school geopolitics.

EU Colonized , December 21, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Well Germany and EU are sure behaving as if they are colonies. Zero fight for what is good for EU. Think Russia sanctions. Hurt only EU, not US and a little bit Russia, which now have moved to produce themselves the stuff EU was selling to Russia. EU has screwed itself on the long-term by order from the US. US is not Europe's friend, but is making sure that it gets weaker and cannot offer an alternative, economical, social or military.

ptb , December 21, 2019 at 4:58 pm

If you want to amuse yourself you can see the ships here :

They appear to be returning to port. Were last working just to the SSE of Bornholm (the Danish island).

Here is a gazprom map of the route as of Oct . Most of the remaining route, the segment in German EEZ waters going in the southwest directon from Bornholm, is shallow water.

Oregoncharles , December 21, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Any reaction will probably be very on-the-quiet.

I keep wondering when Europe will decide to throw off the shackles. A complicating factor may be history: they'd rather an American master, mostly far away, than a German one.

Mo's Bike Shop , December 21, 2019 at 10:29 pm

Didn't we interfere with Japanese oil supplies once? For large values of happy, I can say I'm happy with synopsizing the result of World War 2 as being about 'Who had the most oil?' I feel like we are now vaporizing so many kinds of capital to maintain energy dominance. Can the US please stop fighting WWII sometime before WWIII

[Dec 21, 2019] When you owe the bank a little money, the bank owns you. When you owe the bank a lot of money, you own the bank.

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

HuntingtonBeach x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 11:16 am

When you owe the bank a little money, the bank owns you. When you owe the bank a lot of money, you own the bank.

[Dec 21, 2019] "Money is a token in a message flow system used to convey information to control the flows of matter and energy" ~ George Mobus

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Survivalist x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 3:24 pm

"Money is a token in a message flow system used to convey information to control the flows of matter and energy" ~ George Mobus

https://static.financialsense.com/historical/broadcast/insider/fsn2016-0415-mobus-u4t7x9w.mp3

I guess it's hard to convey information when you create tokens and splash them about in preferred corners.

[Dec 21, 2019] Again, rule of thumb the cost of a conventional well in our field is approximately 1/100 of a shale oil well ($70K range v $7 million range).

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

shallow sand x Ignored says: 12/14/2019 at 8:18 pm

HB. I have used leases developed in our field in the past ten years to demonstrate that shale is high cost. Again, rule of thumb the cost of a conventional well in our field is approximately 1/100 of a shale oil well ($70K range v $7 million range).

Here are some examples with production through 10/31/19:

8 producers 4 injection wells. Cumulative BO 83,466. YTD BO 2,085. First production 4/2003.

10 producers 4 injection wells. Cumulative BO 116,065. YTD BO 2089. First production 9/2005.

10 producers 4 injection wells. Cumulative Bo 55,595. YTD BO 3,023. First production 3/2006.

4 producers 1 injection well. Cumulative BO 37,418. YTD BO 1,289. First production 8/2008.

8 producers 3 injection wells. Cumulative BO 42,494. YTD BO 2,328. First production 10/2008.

4 producers 1 injection well. Cumulative BO 19,216. YTD BO 1,220. First production 12/2010.

8 producers 3 injection wells. Cumulative BO 46,463. YTD BO 1,877. First production 8/2011.

4 producers 2 injection wells. Cumulative BO 10,700. YTD BO 634. First production 10/2011.

8 producers 3 injection wells. Cumulative 59,592 BO. YTD 4,956 BO. First production 11/2011.

1 producer. Water disposed of in adjoining lease. Cumulative BO 7,872. YTD BO 444 BO. First production 5/2012.

8 producers 3 injection wells. Cumulative 56,500 BO. YTD 3,858 BO. First production 6/2012.

4 producers 1 injection well. Cumulative BO 11,758. YTD BO 1,457. First production 6/2013.

2 producers. Water disposed of on adjoining lease. Cumulative 3,524 BO. YTD BO 393. First production 11/2013.

6 producers Two injection wells. Cumulative 25,988 BO. YTD 3,233 BO. First production 9/2014.

Figure in anywhere from $60K-80K to drill, complete and equip each well including electric, flow and/or injection lines. Figure another $20-30K for a tank battery.

Assume anywhere from 12.5 to 20 percent royalty.

Of course, some projects do better than others. But compare this to shaleprofile.com wells.

There was very little drilling in our field from 1987 to 2003. There has been very little since 2015. Century plus year old stripper field.

Shale is expensive oil.

shallow sand x Ignored says: 12/14/2019 at 8:37 pm
There have also been many reclamation projects in our field during 2005-2014 of abandoned wells wherein the producers went bust in the 1990s, with 1998 being a knockout blow.

We took over 2 wells drilled in the 1950s they were abandoned in 1998. We just had to equip them and build a new tank battery. We also took over three wells also drilled in the 1950s where we had to do the same, plus plug the injection well and convert one producer to an injector. These work well at $55-65 WTI also.

I can also point to many projects developed in our field in the 1980s where cumulative per well has topped 40K BO to date.

Conventional oil is a much better deal than shale usually when you can find it. And also when you aren't trying to pay for 8 figure CEO pay, skyscrapers and jets out of it.

Shale just has the scale. Huge scale. Worldwide game changing size.

HuntingtonBeach x Ignored says: 12/16/2019 at 10:37 am
Shallow, I can't thank you enough. Alot to digest here. My first glance gave me the feeling shale drilling dollars are about half as productive. Maybe you have a better number.

When a new field is drilled, is it always under pressure without the cost of lifting it from the hole? Then once the pressure is exhausted it becomes a stripper?

A lot of the Huntington Beach field lays under the ocean. There is over a mile long row of wells along the shoreline. I'm assuming they go horizontal under the ocean. Only a few wells have lift Jacks. Can strippers wells go horizontal?

shallow sand x Ignored says: 12/16/2019 at 1:13 pm
There isn't enough down hole pressure here for natural flow. Everything goes on pumping unit immediately and injection wells are also drilled at the same time as production wells.

To put into perspective, the field was originally drilled over 100 years ago. Waterflood was initiated on a large scale right after WW2. Many wells were plugged in the late 1960s-early 1970s when oil prices were low. The field was redrilled in the late 1970s – early 1980s. Little activity after 1986, until prices took off during the Iraq War.

For example, we operate a lease that was originally drilled in the 1950s. It was plugged out in 1972. In 1979-81, all of the plugged wells were drilled out (casing had not been pulled). New injection wells were drilled.

Cumulative from 9 producing wells since 1979 is over 140K BO with production currently at 5.5 BOPD. It is difficult to tell what these wells produced from 1953-1972, because they were part of a larger unitized waterflood project. Our guess is around 200-250K BO during that time frame.

Only a small company would be interested in 9 wells making 5.5 BOPD, but they have been economic even during the worst part of 2016 (barely during Q1 – 2016).

There haven't been HZ wells drilled in the shallow zones (1,500' and below). However, there has been some success with 1,800'-5,000' TVD hz wells. Not sure of the economics.

There has been success with slick water fracks in deeper vertical wells also.

shallow sand x Ignored says: 12/17/2019 at 11:25 am
Correction. Project discussed above was not economic Q1 2016.

Had not included overhead, which is primarily labor. Labor is usually the major expense with stripper wells.

[Dec 21, 2019] OPEC November Production Data " Peak Oil Barrel

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Mike Sutherland x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 12:23 am

"Peak in tight oil will be 2024 to 2026."

No way. It's already here, and there will be no rebound. BTW I did carefully read your comments above Dennis and thank you for your time to respond. As always, your responses are significantly better than what my caustic remarks deserve.

As has been said many times, money does not equal geology. Even if a new tranche of 'investment' could be begged, borrowed, or stolen (likely stolen) it would be spent to build new drilling equipment, pay for new leases/roads/infrastructure, with all of it into new wells that will produce less than any before them. If inflation is a factor (and it is), the borrowed & eventually defaulted upon money will buy less than before.

Shale started bad, and it will stay bad. No shale well was a gusher instead, they all needed huge horsepower, millions of gallons of water, hundreds of tons of sand, and lots of investment dollars just to get started. None of these were ever a Texas gusher. To me, this is no business model to follow, it is a debacle.

We have seen hundreds of shale companies go bankrupt over the last couple of years. Going forward, there won't be hundreds of bankruptcies because there won't be hundreds of shalies to go bankrupt. Like the motorcar companies of old, it'll go from dozens of market participants to a handful through M&A and bankruptcies. There is still plenty of surface carnage to come and it is far from over. Bear in mind, this is largely the same crowd that kept exclaiming a dropping 'breakeven' price from 2010 forward, to the point where $20 was wildly shouted from the rooftops (particularly from John Mauldin) as the point of profitability. Of course, none of it was true. Now we see at long last that $60 (and probably $75) was the true breakeven point. Lots of C-suite executives should be in jail for their malfeasance, but of course none are and with the exception of Aubrey McClendon, all of them are still 'at large'.

So with all this in mind and to round off a long screech, I summarize by saying that 2019 is peak shale.

TonyEriksen x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 1:51 am
Peak shale is either 2019 or 2020. Ovi and I guess that peak shale month February or March 2020.
Eulenspiegel x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 5:27 am
This is a good guess in my opinion.

The small companies, which have gotten only B class land will have to reduce, leading the decline.

The bigger ones can continue to grow to a certain amount – but using up their A class land. Especially all non-Permian will see this very soon and start declining. So Permian growth soon will not be enough to keep up all shale decline – and this at the cost of the Permian Tier A claims.

Oil production from shale will have a long future if prices settle at 100$ – but with worse land it will just not be a bit boom.

A boom means high drilling everything costs, in a long calm era everything has more normal prices (why should a truck driver carrying fertiliser to farm tows earn much less than a truck driver delivering sand to a hole). And so finally some money can be earned in the oil spot.

If the Democrats take over and get more green, taxes on oil production will be increased anyway, and tax credits cut – so more calm drilling anyway. This is a big "if", I don't know how the D – R battle stands now.

[Dec 21, 2019] It (Shale) still reminds me of the old joke, "Well, we're still losing money with every unit sold, so let's just make it up with volume."

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

TonyEriksen

x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 6:28 am
" The golden age of U.S. shale is far from over, with an expected slowdown in the Permian Basin likely to be temporary, according to the new U.S. Energy Secretary.

The shale boom helped transform the U.S. into a net exporter of crude and petroleum products in September from a major importer a decade ago. Even as growth is set to slow next year in the Permian and elsewhere as drillers respond to investor demands for capital restraint, Dan Brouillette said the shale boom has further to run."

Shale boom has further to run. Time will tell.

https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/us_energy_sec_shrugs_off_permian_oil_slowdown-18-dec-2019-160598-article/

Paulo x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 6:09 pm
It (Shale) still reminds me of the old joke, "Well, we're still losing money with every unit sold, so let's just make it up with volume."

[Dec 21, 2019] Permian Drillers Are Struggling To Keep Output Flat

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

SRSrocco x Ignored says: 12/12/2019 at 1:27 pm

Permian Drillers Are Struggling To Keep Output Flat

Newer wells in the Permian see their oil and gas production declining much faster than older wells, and operators will need to drill a large number of wells just to keep current production levels, an IHS Markit analysis showed on Thursday.

IHS Markit has analyzed what it calls the "base decline" rate, calculating the actual or expected production of all the operating wells at the start of the year and tracking their cumulative decline by the end of the year. Over the past decade, the base decline rate of the more than 150,000 producing oil and gas wells in the Permian has "increased dramatically," according to the analysis.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Permian-Drillers-Are-Struggling-To-Keep-Output-Flat.html

LOL,

Steve

[Dec 21, 2019] New wells depleting fasting than old wells partly explains why the monthly legacy loss keeps increasing from month to month. It's now close to 600kbd/month, according to EIA DPR.

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

TonyEriksen x Ignored says: 12/14/2019 at 12:01 am

dclonghorn,

Your article goes into a lot of depth. I noticed these statements:
"The main driver of Legacy Loss is Total Production, which is logical.
In Permian, higher Initial Production (IPt) increased legacy loss, probably because new wells deplete faster than old wells"

New wells depleting fasting than old wells partly explains why the monthly legacy loss keeps increasing from month to month. It's now close to 600kbd/month, according to EIA DPR.

The chart below from the article shows Jan 2015 as Peak Shale No 1 as legacy loss was above new monthly shale production. The author says when "red line gets above new monthly initial production then that's Peak Shale No 2", which might happen as soon as early 2020. This is shown by the dashed line "IPt minus Legacy Loss" reaching zero, which means Peak Shale No 2. The author says that this could happen if WTI stays at $55.

dclonghorn x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 10:01 pm
Interesting article on seeking alpha about why Opec can now push up the price without starting a third shale boom.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4310727-analysis-why-opec-can-push-up-price-and-not-risk-third-shale-boom

The basic premise is that productivity per completion has stalled, and there is no longer a huge overhang of cheap frac spreads keeping the frac market oversupplied.

[Dec 21, 2019] Shale finances in the tank: $300 billion of already accumulated and un-repayable debt, and Wall Street financiers demanding repayment on their investments,

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Mike Sutherland x Ignored says: 12/17/2019 at 1:00 am

And what, Dennis? How, pray tell, will 17 million horsepower -and other infrastructure including manpower – magically re-appear in 2020 and inflate another peak? With existing shale finances in the tank, $300 billion of already accumulated and un-repayable debt, and Wall Street financiers demanding repayment on their investments, your prognostication for a rebound has a tinge of 'wildly unrealistic' about it.
HuntingtonBeach x Ignored says: 12/17/2019 at 2:27 am
ExxonMoble boe per day is 2.25 millon and has a market value of $300 billion. The tight oil shale play over the last decade has increased production 7 million bpd. Is $300 billion of debt really out of line? Do you have CFO experience with a multi-billion dollar company?

In the trucking industry the major freight companies running 24/7 turn their tractor fleet over on a 5 year rotation receiving 20 cents on the dollar at retirement. Ready mix trucks are turned over after 10 years rotation at 20 cents or less on the dollar running 12/5. When the business environment is good. It's easy to delay retirement a little to meet demand. When times are difficult, the old trucks sit in the yard and can be stripped for parts.

I have to question your hair on fire comment. Do you know the life expectancy of a drilling rig for a large corporation ? The related article is talking about retiring 10 percent. That's a 10 year rotation. Maybe replacement is just cost efficient verses down time. The big boys don't work on the same time frame as the little guy.

shallow sand x Ignored says: 12/17/2019 at 9:27 am
HB. $300 billion divided by 7 million comes to over $42,000 per barrel of debt. IMO that is a high level of debt unless oil prices recover to 2011-14 levels.

Only the best oil production is selling for that in our part of the world and that is production with a decline rate of 3% per year or less.

Regarding XOM, keep in mind that includes not just the upstream, but the midstream and down stream, both of which are substantial.

XOM also has substantial international upstream assets which are generating substantial cash flow at $60s Brent.

[Dec 21, 2019] The only reason there is any production of shale oil at all is that there is a combination of cheap money and a plethora of desperate investors starved for yield

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Mike Sutherland

x Ignored says: 12/17/2019 at 1:33 am
The only reason there is any production of shale oil at all is that there is a combination of cheap money and a plethora of desperate investors starved for yield. Well guess what, the investors want a return on their investment and the cheap money is drying up. So, artificial life support is being withdrawn and the patient is now expected to get off the emergency room gurney and start working for his keep. We shall see how that turns out.

This whole exercise in perfidy is much like Uber, that has never made a profit to date, and yet was supported by billions of investor dollars. The whole ignominious affair put hundreds of thousands of cabbies into destitution and bankruptcy, i.e those who didn't enjoy the largess of investors willing to put up with loss-making operations for years on end.

Uber and Shale; the twin shitstorms of inequity, capital misalocation, and widespread collateral damage to their respective proximal markets.

Hickory x Ignored says: 12/17/2019 at 11:32 am
I agree with your concerns Mike. It seems to me that debt will be accumulated in the system until it needs to be defaulted on. The governments of the world have become expert on kicking the can down the road.
But that path will end one day, perhaps suddenly. Default will come via one of several mechanisms- currency devaluation and debt write-off, for example. Whatever method, it will severely hurt those who were expecting pensions or government payments (Medicare/SS), or to live on savings or investment yield. These things will be massively de-valuated. Negative interest rates you have been hearing about are just the early symptom of this process. A president who cannot release his tax returns because he has a long pattern of committing severe financial crimes, is another. The extreme accumulation of wealth among the super wealthy is yet another.
I have given up expecting a 'fair' or rational game.
Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 12/16/2019 at 8:52 am
The EIA has December 2019 C+C production at 12.99 million bpd. They have December 2020 at 13.28 million bpd. That is an increase, December to December of .29 million bpd. Quite a comedown from the over 2 million bpd increase in 2018.

[Dec 21, 2019] The problem with shale is that it is expensive oil, despite what companies such as XOM and CVX put out publicly. However, it has a big advantage in that it is onshore, USA.

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

shallow sand x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 8:19 am

HB. The problem with shale is that it is expensive oil, despite what companies such as XOM and CVX put out publicly. However, it has a big advantage in that it is onshore, USA.

I think part of the reason that XOM, CVX, COP, MRO and other companies with worldwide operations keep at it is because it is onshore lower 48.

I remember when everything that these companies were doing was international. It required employees to live in some less than desirable places. Recall the stories I have related here about employees of these companies having less than 24 hours to leave Libya, or being herded out of the office in Venezuela at gunpoint.

Working offshore can't be a picnic. Also, the liability is great, see BP's disaster.

The management and employees want shale to work very badly. And it does at a high enough oil price. Unfortunately, the price hasn't been there since 2014. But they keep making stuff up because they don't want to be sent back to the Middle East and other tough places, or work offshore deepwater.

But what has been bad for the companies has been great for consumers. I can't believe how much Bernie and Elizabeth ignore the benefit shale has been to the US economy.

What would have happened without US going from less than 5 million BOPD to almost 13 million in eleven years? I suspect a lot of bad things. My primary beef is that the companies lie about what price they need for shale to work and completed too many wells when prices were low.

I think maybe shale is finally figuring out they need above my preferred $55-65 WTI price band. We have been slightly below that and it appears things are really slowing down.

[Dec 21, 2019] Interesting article by HFI Research yesterday, making the case for the start of a multi year bull market for oil

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

TonyEriksen x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 5:14 pm

Interesting article by HFI Research yesterday, making the case for the start of a multi year bull market for oil.
https://seekingalpha.com/article/4312385-oil-things-are-starting-to-look-brighter

Also lots of Goldman Sachs charts, with the one below showing a peak plateau from 2022 to 2025. The legend is missing 3 shale plays. The bottom dark blue is Delaware (Permian), Midland (Permian) above and Bakken, the grey.

My own guess is US shale oil will peak in 2021.

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump administration sanction companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

Highly recommended!
Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 6:27 am

The new US defense bill, agreed on by both parties, includes sanctions on executives of companies involved in the completion of Nordstream 2. This is companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

This could include arrest of the executives of those companies, who might travel to the United States. One of the companies is Royal Dutch Shell, who have 80,000 employees in the United States.

Hightrekker x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 12:28 pm
So much for the "Free Market".
Hickory x Ignored says: 12/12/2019 at 11:28 pm
Some people believe 'the market' for crude oil is a fair and effective arbiter of the industry supply and demand. But if we step back an inch or two, we all can see it has been a severely broken mechanism during this up phase in oil. For example, there has been long lags between market signals of shortage or surplus.

Disruptive policies and mechanisms such as tariffs, embargo's, and sanctions, trade bloc quotas, military coups and popular revolutions, socialist agendas, industry lobbying, multinational corporate McCarthyism, and massively obese debt financing, are all examples of forces that have trumped an efficient and transparent oil market.

And yet, the problems with the oil market during this time of upslope will look placid in retrospect, as we enter the time beyond peak.
I see no reason why it won't turn into a mad chaotic scramble.
We had a small hint of what this can look like in the last mid-century. The USA responded to military expansionism of Japan by enacting an oil embargo against them. The response was Pearl Harbor. This is just one example of many.
How long before Iran lashes out in response to their restricted access to the market?
People generally don't respond very calmly to involuntary restriction on food, or energy, or access to the markets for these things.

[Dec 21, 2019] Russian Pipeline Work Halted on Threat of U.S. Sanctions - Bloomberg

Dec 21, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com
AllSeas Group SA said it would halt operations on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany on expectations the U.S. Congress will pass legislation to sanction companies working on the project, which critics say will bind Europe more tightly to Moscow.

The contractor said in a two-line statement it would suspend work "in anticipation of the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act."

... ... ...

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, the main Senate sponsor of the sanctions, wrote a letter with Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson to AllSeas Chief Executive Officer Edward Heerema Wednesday warning the company that it would face "crushing and potentially fatal" sanctions if it continued work on the pipeline.

"The consequences of your company continuing to do the work -- for even a single day after the President signs the sanctions legislation -- would expose your company to crushing and potentially fatal legal and economic sanctions," they wrote.

[Dec 21, 2019] Energy crisis looms as forecasts ignore US shale oil quality

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Survivalist x Ignored says: 12/19/2019 at 3:44 pm

Energy crisis looms as forecasts ignore US shale oil quality

https://www.anasalhajji.com/publications/oil-market-general/energy-crisis-looms-forecasts-ignore-us-shale-oil-quality

Freddy Gulestø x Ignored says: 12/20/2019 at 4:30 am
Good article, I believe it will not only be related to US shale oil quality but also a more or less collapse in US shale , to use the shale pioneer Mark Papas words from 2019 " the best in US shale is behind " but the investors choose to not believe him as it not fits with what the shale producers had presented them. Perhaps this time wall street will learn a lesson that might be quite exspensive. I am waiting for how much Exxon will write down of their assets in Permian, that might be higher than Chevron have annonsed.
Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 12/20/2019 at 10:24 am
Tight oil output will not increase as much as forecast by IEA and OPEC so it is not likely a refining wall at the World level will be be reached. As to demand outrunning supply, when that occurs oil prices will rise to a level that demand is destroyed to the point that supply will equal consumption as it must over the long term. Demand (consumption) cannot be higher than supply (output) for very long as stocks cannot be less than zero plus pipeline fill and minimum storage tank levels needed to keep the overall refinery and distribution system functioning. Oil prices will rise from 2020 to 2030, of that we can be sure, unless a severe World recession occurs (I expect this to begin in 2030+/-2 years and last for 2 to 4 years if World economists remember their Keynesian economics, otherwise it could be 5 to 7 years, if nonsense like fiscal austerity in the face of severe recessions is recommended and we are foolish enough to forget the lessons of 1929-1933.)
Watcher x Ignored says: 12/20/2019 at 2:05 pm
Oil quality is not the way to address or label the issue. Quality is a word traditionally used in oil to describe sulphur content, not a scarcity of middle distillates in the yield. Needs a different word.

Further, from the article, diesel is not the consumption growth heavy constituent. It's jet fuel. Up 3.7% last year. Gasoline was up almost 1%.

[Dec 21, 2019] IHS says that modest growth is expected in 2022, but they don't quantify how much growth. I believe this sentence was added because IHS does not want to be accused of implying US oil production has peaked.

Notable quotes:
"... Given decreasing money available to shale oil, declining frac spread counts and falling rig counts, I now guess that US peak oil month is Nov 2019. Permian oil production should continue increasing slowly but it's not enough to offset falling production from other shale basins and other conventional oil basins. ..."
Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

TonyEriksen x Ignored says: 12/18/2019 at 6:49 pm

EIA weekly supply estimates released, declining from the last two weeks of Nov at 12.9 mbd down to 12.8 mbd for the first two weeks of Dec.
https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=WCRFPUS2&f=W

HFIR is showing a US peak for 2019 in November of 12.7 mbd.
https://twitter.com/HFI_Research/status/1207413992848674816

IHS stated that "The new IHS Markit outlook for oil market fundamentals for 2019-2021 expects total U.S. production growth to be 440,000 barrels per day in 2020 before essentially flattening out in 2021. Modest growth is expected to resume in 2022."
https://news.ihsmarkit.com/prviewer/release_only/slug/energy-base-decline-rate-oil-and-gas-output-permian-basin-has-increased-dramatically-b

EIA STEO says US oil production in 2019 is 12.25 mbd. That means that IHS is forecasting 12.69 mbd in 2020. This 0.44 mbd growth is assumed to come from the 7 US shale regions on EIA DPR. In 2019, shale region production was 8.60 mbd. 2020 shale region production is forecast to be 9.04 mbd, after 0.44 mbd growth. EIA DPR says that Jan 2020 shale region production is 9.14 mbd which is greater than 9.04 mbd which means that IHS 0.44 mbd 2020 growth implies that a US peak oil is happening about now.

IHS says that modest growth is expected in 2022, but they don't quantify how much growth. I believe this sentence was added because IHS does not want to be accused of implying US oil production has peaked. Dan Yergin, vice chair of IHS, founded CERA in 1982 which is now owned by IHS. Dan Yergin "clearly doesn't care about converting peak oilers. He really wants to influence Washington." In other words, IHS says modest growth in 2022, to please Washington politicians. US shale growth might increase in 2022, even with higher oil prices, but I'm guessing it won't.
http://transitionvoice.com/2011/09/whos-afraid-of-daniel-yergin/

Given decreasing money available to shale oil, declining frac spread counts and falling rig counts, I now guess that US peak oil month is Nov 2019. Permian oil production should continue increasing slowly but it's not enough to offset falling production from other shale basins and other conventional oil basins.

TonyEriksen x Ignored says: 12/20/2019 at 5:05 pm
North American shale is expected to hit an inflection point in 2020. Our expert, Raoul LeBlanc, VP of Unconventionals, shared his insights on what's ahead for North American #shale markets.
https://ihsmarkit.com/research-analysis/video-north-american-shale-hits-an-inflection-point-in-2020.html

[Dec 21, 2019] Keep an eye on 10 year US treasuries. If they become just a little less liquid and yields rise as i believe they will

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

HHH x Ignored says: 12/12/2019 at 11:27 pm

Price of oil does have problem that will play out over next 6-8 months. Without a trade war and Brexit hanging over markets. There isn't a whole lot of reason to be holding government bonds which yield next to nothing or less than nothing in some cases. Fed is buying bills so Repo market won't implode into another 2008. Only problem is they need to be buying coupons or treasuries also. They are buying some treasuries but it's not near enough to hold interest rates down. Yields on debt are going to rise without something like a trade war holding them down. That is a problem if your long oil.

Keep an eye on 10 year US treasuries. If they become just a little less liquid and yields rise as i believe they will. These OPEC cuts aren't going to mean as much as some might think.

[Dec 21, 2019] The Israel Lobby's Hidden Hand in the Theft of Iraqi and Syrian Oil by Agha Hussain and Whitney Webb

Notable quotes:
"... One key, yet often overlooked, player behind the push to prevent a full U.S. troop withdrawal in Syria in order to "keep the oil" was current U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield ..."
"... Over the course of his long diplomatic career, Satterfield has been known to the U.S. government as an Israeli intelligence asset embedded in the U.S. State Department. Indeed, Satterfield was named as a major player in what is now known as the AIPAC espionage scandal, also known as the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal, although he was oddly never charged for his role after the intervention of his superiors at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration. ..."
"... WINEP's close association with AIPAC, which has spied on the U.S. on behalf of Israel several times in the past with no consequence, combined with Jeffrey's long-time acquaintance with key U.S. figures in Iraq, such as McGurk, provided an ideal opening for Israel in Iraq. Following the implementation of Jeffrey's plan, Israeli imports of KRG oil constituted 77 percent of Israel's total oil imports during the KRG's occupation of Kirkuk. ..."
"... the role played by the U.S. Israel lobby in this capacity, particularly in terms of orchestrating oil sale agreements for Israel's benefit, is hardly exclusive to Iraq and can accurately be described as a repeated pattern of behavior. ..."
Dec 18, 2019 | astutenews.com
The outsized role of U.S. Israel lobby operatives in abetting the theft of Syrian and Iraqi oil reveals how this powerful lobby also facilitates more covert aspects of U.S.-Israeli cooperation and the implementation of policies that favor Israel.

Kirkuk, Iraq -- "We want to bring our soldiers home. But we did leave soldiers because we're keeping the oil," President Trump stated on November 3, before adding, "I like oil. We're keeping the oil."

Though he had promised a withdrawal of U.S. troops from their illegal occupation of Syria, Trump shocked many with his blunt admission that troops were being left behind to prevent Syrian oil resources from being developed by the Syrian government and, instead, kept in the hands of whomever the U.S. deemed fit to control them, in this case, the U.S.-backed Kurdish-majority militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Though Trump himself received all of the credit -- and the scorn -- for this controversial new policy, what has been left out of the media coverage is the fact that key players in the U.S.' pro-Israel lobby played a major role in its creation with the purpose of selling Syrian oil to the state of Israel. While recent developments in the Syrian conflict may have hindered such a plan from becoming reality, it nonetheless offers a telling example of the covert role often played by the U.S.' pro-Israel lobby in shaping key elements of U.S. foreign policy and closed-door deals with major regional implications.

Indeed, the Israel lobby-led effort to have the U.S. facilitate the sale of Syrian oil to Israel is not an isolated incident given that, just a few years ago, other individuals connected to the same pro-Israel lobby groups and Zionist neoconservatives manipulated both U.S. policy and Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in order to allow Iraqi oil to be sold to Israel without the approval of the Iraqi government. These designs, not unlike those that continue to unfold in Syria, were in service to longstanding neoconservative and Zionist efforts to balkanize Iraq by strengthening the KRG and weakening Baghdad.

After the occupation of Iraq's Nineveh Governorate by ISIS (June 2014-October 2015), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) took advantage of the Iraqi military's retreat and, amidst the chaos, illegally seized Kirkuk on June 12. Their claim to the city was supported by both the U.S. and Israel and, later, the U.S.-led coalition targeting ISIS. This gave the KRG control, not only of Iraq's export pipeline to Turkey's Ceyhan port, but also to Iraq's largest oil fields.

Israel imported massive amounts of oil from the Kurds during this period, all without the consent of Baghdad. Israel was also the largest customer of oil sold by ISIS, who used Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk to sell oil in areas of Iraq and Syria under its control. To do this in ISIS-controlled territories of Iraq, the oil was sent first to the Kurdish city of Zakho near the Turkey border and then into Turkey, deceptively labeled as oil that originated from Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS did nothing to impede the KRG's own oil exports even though they easily could have given that the Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline passed through areas that ISIS had occupied for years.

In retrospect, and following revelations from Wikileaks and new information regarding the background of relevant actors, it has been revealed that much of the covert maneuvering behind the scenes that enabled this scenario intimately involved the United States' powerful pro-Israel lobby. Now, with a similar scenario unfolding in Syria, efforts by the U.S.' Israel lobby to manipulate U.S. foreign policy in order to shift the flow of hydrocarbons for Israel's benefit can instead be seen as a pattern of behavior, not an isolated incident.

"Keep the oil" for Israel

After recent shifts in the Trump administration in its Syria policy, U.S. troops have controversially been kept in Syria to " keep the oil ," with U.S. military officials subsequently claiming that doing so was "a subset of the counter-ISIS mission." However, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper later claimed that another factor behind U.S. insistence on guarding Syrian oil fields was to prevent the extraction and subsequent sale of Syrian oil by either the Syrian government or Russia.

One key, yet often overlooked, player behind the push to prevent a full U.S. troop withdrawal in Syria in order to "keep the oil" was current U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield. Satterfield was previously the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, where he yielded great influence over U.S. policy in both Iraq and Syria and worked closely with Brett McGurk, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran and later special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led "anti-ISIS" coalition.

Over the course of his long diplomatic career, Satterfield has been known to the U.S. government as an Israeli intelligence asset embedded in the U.S. State Department. Indeed, Satterfield was named as a major player in what is now known as the AIPAC espionage scandal, also known as the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal, although he was oddly never charged for his role after the intervention of his superiors at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration.

David Satterfield, left, arrives in Baghdad with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Joey Hood, May 7, 2019. Mandel Ngan | AP

In 2005, federal prosecutors cited a U.S. government official as having illegally passed classified information to Steve Rosen, then working for AIPAC, who then passed that information to the Israeli government. That classified information included intelligence on Iran and the nature of U.S.-Israeli intelligence sharing. Subsequent media reports from the New York Times and other outlets revealed that this government official was none other than David Satterfield, who was then serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs.

Charges against Rosen, as well as his co-conspirator and fellow AIPAC employee Keith Weissman, were dropped in 2009 and no charges were levied against Satterfield after State Department officials shockingly claimed that Satterfield had "acted within his authority" in leaking classified information to an individual working to advance the interests of a foreign government. Richard Armitage, a neoconservative ally with a long history of ties to CIA covert operations in the Middle East and elsewhere, has since claimed that he was one of Satterfield's main defenders in conversations with the FBI during this time when he was serving as Deputy Secretary of State.

The other government official named in the indictment, former Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, was not so lucky and was charged under the Espionage Act in 2006. Satterfield, instead of being censured for his role in leaking sensitive information to a foreign government, was subsequently promoted in 2006 to serve as the Coordinator for Iraq and Senior Adviser to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In addition to his history of leaking classified information to AIPAC, Satterfield also has a longstanding relationship with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a controversial spin-off of AIPAC also known by its acronym WINEP. WINEP's website has long listed Satterfield as one of its experts and Satterfield has spoken at several WINEP events and policy forums, including several after his involvement with the AIPAC espionage scandal became public knowledge. However, despite his longstanding and controversial ties to the U.S. pro-Israel lobby, Satterfield's current relationship with some elements of that lobby, such as the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), is complicated at best.

While Satterfield's role in yet another reversal of a promised withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has largely escaped media scrutiny, another individual with deep ties to the Israel lobby and Syrian "rebel" groups has also been ignored by the media, despite his outsized role in taking advantage of this new U.S. policy for Israel's benefit.

US Israel Lobby secures deal with Kurds

Earlier this year, well before Trump's new Syria policy of "keeping the oil" had officially taken shape, another individual with deep ties to the U.S. Israel lobby secured a lucrative agreement with U.S.-backed Kurdish groups in Syria. An official document issued earlier this year by the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political arm of the Kurdish majority and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a New Jersey-based company, founded and run by U.S.-Israeli dual citizen Mordechai "Motti" Kahana, was given control of the oil in territory held by the SDC.

Per the document, the SDC formally accepted the offer from Kahana's company -- Global Development Corporation (GDC) -- to represent SDC in all matters pertaining to the sale of oil extracted in territory it controls and also grants GDC "the right to explore and develop oil that is located in areas we govern."

The SDC's formal acceptance of Global Development Corporation's offer to develop Syrian oil fields. Source | Al-Akhbar

The document also states that the amount of oil then being produced in SDC-controlled areas was 125,000 barrels per day and that they anticipated that this would increase to 400,000 barrels per day and that this oil is considered a foreign asset under the control of the United States by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

After the document was made public by the Lebanese outlet Al-Akhbar , the SDC claimed that it was a forgery, even though Kahana had separately confirmed its contents and shared the letter itself to the Los Angeles Times as recently as a few weeks ago. Kahana previously attempted to distance himself from the effort and told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom in July that he had made the offer to the SDC as means to prevent the "Assad regime" of Syria from obtaining revenue from the sale of Syrian oil.

The Kurds currently hold 11 oil wells in an area controlled by the [Syrian] Democratic Forces. The overwhelming majority of Syrian oil is in that area. I don't want this oil reaching Iran, or the Assad regime."

At the time, Kahana also stated that "the moment the Trump administration gives its approval, we can begin to export this oil at fair prices."

Given that Kahana has openly confirmed that he is representing the SDC's oil business shortly after Trump's adoption of the controversial "keep the oil policy," it seems plausible that Kahana has now received the approval needed for his company to export the oil on behalf of the SDC. Several media reports have speculated that, if Kahana's efforts go forward unimpeded, the Syrian oil will be sold to Israel.

However, considering Turkey's aversion to engaging in any activities that may benefit the PKK-SDF – there are considerable obstacles to Kahana's plans. While the SDF -- along with assistance from U.S. troops -- still controls several oil fields in Syria, experts assert that they can only realistically sell the oil to the Syrian government. Not even the Iraqi Kurds are a candidate, considering Baghdad's firm control over the Iraq-Syria border and the KRG's weakened state after its failed independence bid in late 2017.

Regardless, Kahana's involvement in this affair is significant for a few reasons. First, Kahana has been a key player in the promotion and funding of radical groups in Syria and has even been caught hiring so-called "rebels" to kidnap Syrian Jews and take them to Israel against their will. It was Kahana, for instance, who financed and orchestrated the now infamous trip of the late Senator John McCain to Syria, where he met with Syrian "rebels" including Khalid al-Hamad – a "moderate" rebel who gained notoriety after a video of him eating the heart of a Syrian Army soldier went viral online . McCain had also admitted meeting with ISIS members, though it is unclear if he did so on this trip or another trip to Syria.

In addition, Kahana was also the mastermind behind the "Caesar" controversy, whereby a Syrian using the pseudonym "Caesar" was brought to the U.S. by Kahana and went on to make claims regarding torture and other crimes allegedly committed by the Assad-led government Syria, claims which were later discredited by independent analysts. He was also very involved in Israel's failed efforts to establish a "safe zone" in Southern Syria as a means of covertly expanding Israel's territory from the occupied Golan Heights and into Quneitra.

Notably, Kahana has deep ties -- not just to efforts to overthrow the Syrian government -- but also to U.S. Israel lobby, including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) where Satterfield is as an expert. For instance, Kahana was a key player in a 2013 symposium organized by WINEP along with Syrian opposition groups intimately involved in the arming of so-called "rebels." One of the other participants in the symposium alongside Kahana was Mouaz Moustafa, director of the "Syrian Emergency Task Force" who assisted Kahana in bringing McCain to Syria in 2013. Moustafa was listed as a WINEP expert on the organization's website but was later mysteriously deleted.

Kahana is also intimately involved with the Israeli American Council (IAC), a pro-Israel lobby organization, as a team member of its national conference. IAC was co-founded and is chaired by Adam Milstein , a multimillionaire and convicted felon who is also on the boards of AIPAC, StandWithUs, Birthright and other prominent pro-Israel lobby organizations. One of IAC's top donors is Sheldon Adelson, who is also the top donor to President Trump as well as the entire Republican Party.

Though the machinations of both Kahana and Satterfield to guide U.S. policy in order to manipulate the flow of Syria's hydrocarbons for Israel's benefit may seem shocking to some, this same tactic of pro-Israel lobbyists using the Kurds to illegally sell a country's oil to Israel was developed a few years prior, not in Syria, but Iraq. Notably, the individuals responsible for that policy in Iraq shared connections to several of the same pro-Israel lobby organizations as both Satterfield and Kahana, suggesting that their recent efforts in Syria are not an isolated event, but a pattern.

War against ISIS is a war for oil

In an email dated June 15, 2014, James Franklin Jeffrey (former Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and current U.S. Special Representative for Syria) revealed to Stephen Hadley, a former George Bush administration advisor then working at the government-funded United States Institute of Peace, his intent to advise the KRG in order to sustain Kirkuk's oil production. The plan, as Jeffery described it, was to supply both the Kurdistan province with oil and allow the export of oil via Kirkuk-Ceyhan to Israel, robbing Iraq of its oil and strengthening the country's Kurdish region along with its regional government's bid for autonomy.

Jeffrey, whose hawkish views on Iran and Syria are well-known , mentioned that Brett McGurk, the U.S.' main negotiator between Baghdad and the KRG, was acting as his liaison with the KRG. McGurk, who had served in various capacities in Iraq under both Bush and Obama, was then also serving Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. A year later, he would be made the special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led "anti-ISIS" coalition and, as previously mentioned, worked closely with David Satterfield.

James Jeffrey, left, meets with Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, April 8, 2011, at an airport in Irbil, Iraq. Chip Somodevilla | AP

Jeffrey was then a private citizen not currently employed by the government and was used as a non-governmental channel in the pursuit of the plans described in the leaked emails published by WikiLeaks. Jeffrey's behind-the-scenes activities with regards to the KRG's oil exports were done clandestinely, largely because he was then employed by a prominent arm of the U.S.' pro-Israel lobby.

At the time of the email, Jeffrey was serving as a distinguished fellow (2013-2018) at WINEP. As previously mentioned, WINEP is a pro-Israel foreign policy think-tank that espouses neoconservative views and was created in 1985 by researchers that had hastily left AIPAC to escape investigations against the organization that were related to some of its members conducting espionage on behalf of Israel. AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, is the largest registered Israel lobbyist organization in the US (albeit registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act would be more suitable), and, in addition to the 1985 incident that led to WINEP's creation, has had members indicted for espionage against the U.S. on Israel's behalf.

WINEP's launch was funded by former President of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Barbara Weinberg, who is its founding president and constant Chairman Emerita. Nicknamed 'Barbi', she is the wife of the late Lawrence Weinberg who was President of AIPAC from 1976-81 and who JJ Goldberg, author of the 1997 book Jewish Power, referred to as one of a select few individuals who essentially dominated AIPAC regardless of its elected leadership. Co-founder alongside Weinberg was Martin Indyk. Indyk, U.S. Ambassador to Israel (1995-97) and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1997-99), led the AIPAC research time that formed WINEP to escape the aforementioned investigations.

WINEP has historically received funding from donors who donate to causes of special interest for Zionism and Israel. Among its trustees are extremely prominent names in political Zionism and funders of other Israel Lobby organizations, such as Charles and Edgar Bronfman and the Chernicks . Its membership remains dominated by individuals who have spent their careers promoting Israeli interests in the U.S.

WINEP has become more well-known, and arguably more controversial, in recent years after its research director famously called for false-flag attacks to trigger a U.S. war with Iran in 2012, statements well-aligned with longstanding attempts by the Israel Lobby to bring about such a war.

A worthy partner in crime

Stephen Hadley, another private citizen who Jeffrey evidently considered as a partner in his covert dealings discussed in the emails, also has his own past of involvement with Israel-specific intrigues and meddling.

During the G.W. Bush administration, Hadley tagged along with neoconservatives in their numerous creations of fake intelligence and efforts to incriminate Iraq for possessing chemical and nuclear weapons. Hadley was one of the promoters from within the U.S. government of the false claim that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi officials in Prague.

Hadley also worked with then-Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Lewis Libby -- a neoconservative and former lawyer for the Mossad-agent and billionaire Marc Rich -- to discredit a CIA investigation into claims of Iraq purchasing yellowcake uranium from Niger. That claim famously appeared in Bush's State of the Union address in 2002.

What this particular claim had in common with the 'Iraq meets Atta in Prague' disinformation, and other famous lies against Iraq fabricated and circulated by the dense neocon network, was its source: Israel and pro-Israel partisans.

The distribution network of these now long-debunked claims was none other than the neoconservatives who act a veritable Israeli fifth column that has long sought to promote Israeli foreign policy objectives as being in the interest of the United States. In this, Hadley played his part by helping to ensure that the United States was railroaded into a war that had long been promoted by both Israeli and American neoconservatives, particularly Richard Perle -- an advisor to WINEP -- who had been promoting regime change in Iraq for Israel's explicit benefit for decades.

In short, for covert intrigues to serve Israel that would likely be met with protest if pitched to the government for implementation as policy, Hadley's resume was impressive.

Israeli interests pursued through covert channels

Given his employment at WINEP during this time, Jeffrey's intent to advise the KRG to sustain Kirkuk's oil production despite the seizure of the Baiji oil refinery by ISIS is somewhat suspect, especially since it required that 100,000 barrels per day pass through ISIS-controlled territory unimpeded.

Jeffrey's email from June 14, therefore, demonstrated that he had foreknowledge that ISIS would not disturb the KRG as long as the Kurds redirected oil that was intended originally for Baiji to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline, facilitating its export and later sale to Israel.

Notably, up until its liberation in mid-2015 by the Iraqi government and aligned Shia paramilitaries, ISIS kept the refinery running and, only upon their retreat, destroyed the facility.

In July 2014, the KRG began confidently supplying Kurdish areas with Kirkuk's oil per the plan laid out by Jeffrey in the aforementioned email. Baghdad soon became aware of the arrangement and lashed out at Israel and Turkey, whose banks were used by the KRG to receive the oil revenue from Israel.

One would normally expect ISIS to be opposed to such collusion given that the KRG, while a beneficiary of the ISIS-Baghdad conflict, was not an ally of ISIS. Thus, a foreign power with strategic ties to ISIS used its close ties to the KRG and assurances that it was on-board for the oil trade, to deliver a credible guarantee that ISIS would 'cooperate' and that a boom in production and exports was in the cards.

This foreign power -- acting as a guarantor for the ISIS-KRG understanding vis-a-vis the illegal oil economy, represented by Jeffrey and clearly not on good terms with Iraq's government -- was quite clearly Israel.

Israel established considerable financial support as well as the provision of armaments to other extremist terrorist groups active near the border between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Southern Syria when war first broke out in Syria in 2011. At least four of these extremist groups were led by individuals with direct ties to Israeli intelligence . These same groups, sometimes promoted as 'moderates' by some media, were actively fighting Syria's government – an enemy of Israel and ally of Iran – before ISIS existed and eagerly partnered with ISIS when it expanded its campaign into Syria.

Furthermore, Israeli officials have publicly admitted maintaining regular communication with ISIS cells in Southern Syria and have publicly expressed their desire that ISIS not be defeated in the country. In Libya, Israeli Mossad operatives have been found embedded within ISIS , suggesting that Israel has covert but definite ties with the group outside of Syria as well.

Israel has also long promoted the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, with Israel having provided Iraq's Kurds with weapons, training and teams of Mossad advisers as far back as the 1960s . More recently, Israel was the only state to support the KRG independence referendum in September 2017 despite its futility, hinting at the regard Israel holds for the KRG. Iraq's government subsequently militarily defeated the KRG's push for statehood and reclaimed Kirkuk's oil fields with assistance from the Shia paramilitaries which were responsible for defeating ISIS in the area.

A 2014 map shows the areas under ISIS and Kurdish control at the time. Source | Telegraph

This arrangement orchestrated by Jeffrey, served the long-time neoconservative-Israeli agenda of empowering the Kurds, selling Iraqi oil to Israel and weakening Iraq's Baghdad-based government.

WINEP's close association with AIPAC, which has spied on the U.S. on behalf of Israel several times in the past with no consequence, combined with Jeffrey's long-time acquaintance with key U.S. figures in Iraq, such as McGurk, provided an ideal opening for Israel in Iraq. Following the implementation of Jeffrey's plan, Israeli imports of KRG oil constituted 77 percent of Israel's total oil imports during the KRG's occupation of Kirkuk.

The WINEP connection to the KRG-Israel oil deal demonstrates the key role played by the U.S. pro-Israel Lobby, not only in terms of sustaining U.S. financial aid to Israel and ratcheting up tensions with Israel's adversaries but also in facilitating the more covert aspects of U.S.-Israeli cooperation and the implementation of policies that favor Israel.

Yet the role played by the U.S. Israel lobby in this capacity, particularly in terms of orchestrating oil sale agreements for Israel's benefit, is hardly exclusive to Iraq and can accurately be described as a repeated pattern of behavior.


By Agha Hussain and Whitney Webb
Source: MintPress News

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump is stealing Syria's oil for the Saudis caucus99percent

Dec 21, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

caucus99percent free-range politics, organic community

Trump is stealing Syria's oil for the Saudis

gjohnsit on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 4:28pm President Trump recently said the quiet part out loud .

"We may have to fight for the oil. It's O.K.," he said. "Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there's massive amounts of oil." The United States, he added, should be able to take some of Syria's oil. "What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly," he said. The goal would be to "spread out the wealth."

At the very least this amounts to pillaging, but then respect for the law isn't on Trump agenda.


Trump is "protecting" Syria's oil in the exact same way that the mob "protects" a small businessman from arson.
Not kind of the same way. EXACTLY the same way.

Trump comment US intends to keep the oil in Syria. Guard with US armored forces. Bring in US oil companies to modernize the field. WHAT ARE WE BECOMING.... PIRATES? If ISIS is defeated we lack Congressional authority to stay. The oil belongs to Syria. https://t.co/Leko5s1hXF

-- Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) October 28, 2019

So what "great companies" would be willing "to go in there" and "spread out the wealth?"
That company turned out to be ARAMCO .

Sources have disclosed that the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, commonly referred to as Aramco, has sent a delegation of experts to discuss investment opportunities in the oil fields and wells in the Eastern Syrian city of Deir Ez-Zor.

According to the oppositionist news site Deir Ezzor 24, Aramco "started implementing practical steps in this field, where a group of the company arrived in an official mission to al-Omar oil field in the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside."

There is no legal means to do this. This is the outright theft of resources.
And it keeps getting worse.

It is believed that the investments will be made through contracts signed between Aramco and the US government , whose armed forces have steadily been increasing their military presence in terms of manpower and equipment around the oil fields.

That is trafficking in the sale of stolen property, but it gets even worse than that.

The Kurdish Syrian Defence Forces (formerly known as the YPG) currently control most of the country's oil fields and have shifted towards an alliance with the Syrian government after losing American protection in the north-east of the country in the wake of Trump's "withdrawal" and ensuing Turkish offensive dubbed "Operation Peace Spring" to clear the area of Kurdish militias

So we can't even pretend to be doing this for the benefit of the local population, our regional allies, or any other justification except naked theft.
Trump should be in jail for this.

"I think in this case we are not talking about an operation associated with a huge share of risk, but, on the contrary, about a well-thought-out operation."
- Professor RSUH Grigory Kosach

The Pentagon is enthusiastically cooperating in this blatant violation of international law.
US troops have returned to six out of 16 bases in Syria that had been previously abandoned during the October withdrawal.
What's more, our military is settling in for the long haul.

Barely two months after US President Donald Trump's demagogic announcement that he was pulling US troops out of northeastern Syria to fulfill his campaign promise to bring a halt to Washington's "endless wars," the senior civilian and uniformed Pentagon chiefs told a House panel Wednesday that there is no foreseeable end to the American presence there.
...
Esper went even further, insisting that US military forces had to remain in Syria not so much to counter any existing military force, but rather an "ideology".

"I think the defeat, if you will, will be hard because it's an ideology," Esper told the House panel after repeated questions regarding US strategy in Syria. "It's hard to foresee anytime soon we would stamp it out," he added.

Everyone that somehow finds a way to defend Trump based on his so-called aversion to foreign wars needs to take a good, hard look at this. Because THIS is 100% Trump's doing.

gjohnsit on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 4:44pm
Back in May this happened

4 people killed

US-led forces have blown up three oil tankers in Syria as the United States increases its pressure on Syria by thwarting the oil trade between the PKK/YPG and the Assad regime, according to local sources quoted by several media sources.

The YPG are our Kurdish allies that the warmongers were so concerned about just a few months ago. We "care" about them, right up until they want to sell oil to the Assad regime. Then they deserve death.
That's OUR oil.

CB on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 6:54pm
I don't think Trump really knows WTF he is doing.

I think the powerful foreign policy cabal in Washington have him by the balls and give them a squeeze when he gets off point.

One day he is pulling out. The next day he says he staying in to "protect" the oil fields. The third day he sends US forces back in so he can sell the oil so that the Syrians don't "steal" it.

What's going to happen on the fourth day when a half dozen American soldiers get eviscerated by a roadside bomb while on patrol?

edg on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 9:04pm
Rumsfeld was right.

War can pay for itself if you steal enough oil. We'll turn a good ROI on our Syria adventure before you know it.

snoopydawg on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 9:30pm
Doing illegal wars is an impeachable offense

but just like congress won't make him withdraw troops from Yemen and stop supporting the Saudis, they are in complete agreement with him doing that.

Israel bought Syria's oil from ISIS all during Obama's tenure as he watched them take it out through Turkey.

But it's Russian aggression that is causing all the problems in the Middle East right? And Iran's too. Why we can't make deals for resources instead of spending gawd only knows how much money. But then the defense companies wouldn't get all of our money now would they? We pay for the defense companies CEOs large bonuses and salaries. Great gig!

[Dec 21, 2019] Extortion (noun) The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats

May 05, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Realist , April 30, 2019 at 14:20

Regarding your last sentence: this is the great truth that Washington's world hegemonists would have you forget. Taking into account the untapped vast resources of Canada and Alaska and its expansive offshore economic zones extending deep into the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean, the North American anglosphere could be entirely self-sufficient and do quite nicely on its own for hundreds of years to come, it just wouldn't be the sole tyrannical state presumably ruling the entire planet.

Why, it might even entertain the idea of actually cooperating with other regional powers like Russia, China, the EU, India, Iran, Turkey, the Middle East, greater central Asia, Latin America and even Africa to everyone's benefit, rather than bullying them all because god ordained us to be the boss of all humans.

America's major malfunction is its lack of historical roots compared to the other societies mentioned. All those places had thousands of years to refine their sundry cultures and international relationships, certainly through trial and error and many horrible setbacks, most notably wars, famines, pestilence, genocide and human bondage which people did not have the foresight to nip in the bud. They learned by their mistakes and some, like the great world wars, were doozies.

The United States, and some of its closest homologues like Canada, Australia, Brazil and Argentina, were thrown together very rapidly as part of developing colonial empires. It was created through the brute actions of a handful of megalomaniacal oligarchs of their day. What worked to suppress vast tracts of aboriginal homelands, often through genocide and virtual extinction of the native populations, was so effective that it was institutionalized in the form of slavery and reckless exploitation of the local environment. These "great leaders," "pioneers" and "founding fathers" were not about to give up a set of principles -- no matter how sick and immoral -- which they knew to "work" and accrued to them great power and riches. They preferred to label it "American exceptionalism" and force it upon the whole rest of the world, including long established regional powers -- cultures going back to antiquity -- and not just conveniently sketched "burdens of the white man."

No, ancient cultures like China, India, Persia and so forth could obviously be improved for all concerned merely by allowing a handful of Western Europeans to own all their property and run all their affairs. That grand plan fell apart for most of the European powers in the aftermath of World War Two, but Washington has held tough and never given up its designs of micromanaging and exploiting the whole planet. It too is soon to learn its lesson and lose its empire. Either that or it will take the world down in flames as it tries to cling to all that it never really owned or deserved. The most tragic (or maybe just amusing) part is that Washington still had most of the world believing its bullshit about exceptionalism and indispensability until it decided it had to emulate every tyrannical empire that ever collapsed before it.

Realist , April 30, 2019 at 02:08

"ex·tor·tion /ik?stτrSH(?)n/ noun The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats."

"Racketeering refers to crimes committed through extortion or coercion. A racketeer attempts to obtain money or property from another person, usually through intimidation or force. The term is typically associated with organized crime."

I see. So, American foreign policy, as applied to both its alleged enemies and presumed allies, essentially amounts to an exercise in organised crime. So much for due process, free trade, peaceful co-existence, magical rainbows and other such hypocritical platitudes dispensed for domestic consumption in place of the heavy-handed threats routinely delivered to Washington's targets.

That's quite in keeping with the employment of war crimes as standard "tactics, techniques and procedures" on the battlefield which was recently admitted to us by Senator Jim Molan on the "60 Minutes" news show facsimile and discussed in one of yesterday's forums on this blog.

Afghanistan was promised a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs as incentive to bend to our will (and that of Unocal which, unlike Nordstream, was a pipeline Washington wanted built). Iraq was promised and delivered "shock and awe" after a secretary of state had declared the mass starvation of that country's children as well worth the effort. They still can't find all the pieces left of the Libyan state. Syria was told it would be stiffed on any American contribution to its rebuilding for the effrontery of actually beating back the American-recruited, trained and financed ISIS terrorist brigades. Now it's being deliberately starved of both its energy and food requirements by American embargoes on its own resources! North Korea was promised utter annihilation by Yankee nukes before Kim's summit with our great leader unless it submitted totally to his will, or more likely that of Pompous Pompeo, the man who pulls his strings. Venezuela is treated to cyber-hacked power outages and shortages of food, medicines, its own gold bullion, income from its own international petroleum sales and, probably because someone in Washington thinks it's funny, even toilet paper. All they have to do to get relief is kick out the president they elected and replace him with Washington's chosen puppet! Yep, freedom and democracy blah, blah, blah. And don't even ask what the kids in Yemen got for Christmas from Uncle Sam this year. (He probably stole their socks.) A real American patriot will laughingly take Iran to task for ever believing in the first place that Washington could be negotiated with in good faith. All they had to do was ask the Native Americans (or the Russians) how the Yanks keep their word and honor their treaties. It was their own fault they were taken for suckers.

[Dec 21, 2019] Please consider looking at the Wikileaks video linked below? It illustrates a barbaric type of war crime-free unaccountability to "international law," including a lawless US military Rules of Engagement modus operandi

Mar 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

ChuckOrloski says:

March 12, 2019 at 5:25 pm GMT • 200 Words @AnonFromTN Superfluously impossible, AnonfromTN said: "It is simple, really. The US needs a law prohibiting anyone with dual citizenship to hold public office."

Hi AnonfromTN.

Hard to comprehend how you persist to deny how the "US law" is Zionized. (Zigh) Israeli "dual citizenship and holding "Homeland" public office is an irretractable endowment lawlessly given to US Jews by ruling international Jewry.

They barged into our Constitution like a cancer and feast upon The Bill of Rights.

What's worse now is how livin' the "American dream" has reversed, and at present, President t-Rump demands huge increases in war funding.
No one gets informed that future wars converge with Israel's will.

Please consider looking at the Wikileaks video linked below? It illustrates a barbaric type of war crime-free & unaccountability to "international law," including a lawless US military Rules of Engagement modus operandi, which governed the serial killing activity of an Apache attack chopper crew in the Baghdad sky. Look close at the posed threat!

Tell me AnonfromTN? As you likely know, Bradley Chelsea Manning is, and under "Homeland" law, in-the-klink for exposing the war crimes to America. Is their one (1) US Congressman raising objection to the imprisonment? Fyi, you can look at the brave writing of Kathy Kelly on the Manning case, and which appears at Counterpunch.org.

AnonFromTN , says: March 12, 2019 at 6:01 pm GMT

@ChuckOrloski I can only agree. The patient (the US political system) is too far gone to hope for recovery. As comment #69 rightly points out, our political system is based on bribery. Lobbyism and donations to political campaigns and PACs are perfectly legal in the US, while all of these should be criminal offenses punished by jail time, like in most countries. Naturally, desperate Empires losing their dominant position resort to any war crimes imaginable, and severely punish those who expose these crimes.

I can add only one thing: you are right that greedy Jews are evil, but greedy people of any nationality are just as evil as greedy Jews. Not all greedy globalists and MIC thieves are Jews, but they are all scum. I watch with dismay the US Empire heading to its crash. Lemmings running to the cliff are about as rational as our degenerate elites. Israel influence is toxic, but that's not the only poison the Empire will die from.

[Dec 21, 2019] Syria Accuses US Of Stealing Over 40 Tons Of Its Gold by Eric Zuesse

Mar 08, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2019 - 23:55 240 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Syrian National News Agency headlined on February 26th, "Gold deal between United States and Daesh" (Daesh is ISIS) and reported that,

Information from local sources said that US army helicopters have already transported the gold bullions under cover of darkness on Sunday [February 24th], before transporting them to the United States.

The sources said that tens of tons that Daesh had been keeping in their last hotbed in al-Baghouz area in Deir Ezzor countryside have been handed to the Americans, adding up to other tons of gold that Americans have found in other hideouts for Daesh, making the total amount of gold taken by the Americans to the US around 50 tons, leaving only scraps for the SDF [Kurdish] militias that serve them [the US operation].

Recently, sources said that the area where Daesh leaders and members have barricaded themselves in, contains around 40 tons of gold and tens of millions of dollars.

Allegedly, "US occupation forces in the Syrian al-Jazeera area made a deal with Daesh terrorists, by which Washington gets tens of tons of gold that the terror organization had stolen, in exchange for providing safe passage for the terrorists and their leaders from the areas in Deir Ezzor where they are located."

ISIS was financing its operations largely by the theft of oil from the oil wells in the Deir Ezzor area, Syria's oil-producing region, and they transported and sold this stolen oil via their allied forces, through Turkey, which was one of those US allies trying to overthrow Syria's secular Government and install a Sunni fundamentalist regime that would be ruled from Riyadh (i.e., controlled by the Saud family) . This gold is the property of the Syrian Government, which owns all that oil and the oil wells, which ISIS had captured (stolen), and then sold. Thus, this gold is from sale of that stolen black-market oil, which was Syria's property.

The US Government claims to be anti-ISIS, but actually didn't even once bomb ISIS in Syria until Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, and the US had actually been secretly arming ISIS there so as to help ISIS and especially Al Qaeda (and the US was strongly protecting Al Qaeda in Syria ) to overthrow Syria's secular and non-sectarian Government. Thus, whereas Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, America (having become embarrassed) started bombing ISIS in Syria on 16 November 2015 . The US Government's excuse was "This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike." They pretended it was out of compassion -- not in order to extend for as long as possible ISIS's success in taking over territory in Syria. (And, under Trump, on the night of 2 March 2019, the US rained down upon ISIS in northeast Syria the excruciating and internationally banned white phosphorous to burn ISIS and its hostages alive, which Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had routinely done to burn alive the residents in Donetsk and other parts of eastern former Ukraine where voters had voted more than 90% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom Obama's coup in Ukraine had replaced . It was a way to eliminate some of the most-undesired voters -- people who must never again be voting in a Ukrainian national election, not even if that region subsequently does become conquered by the post-coup, US-imposed, regime. The land there is wanted; its residents certainly are not wanted by the Obama-imposed regime.) America's line was: Russia just isn't as 'compassionate' as America. Zero Hedge aptly headlined "'Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away': US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes" . Nobody exceeds the United States Government in sheer hypocrisy.

The US Government evidently thinks that the public are fools, idiots. America's allies seem to be constantly amazed at how successful that approach turns out to be.

Indeed, on 28 November 2012, Syria News headlined "Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Machinery in Broad Daylight" and presented video allegedly showing it (but unfortunately providing no authentication of the date and locale of that video).

Jihadists were recruited from throughout the world to fight against Syria's secular Government. Whereas ISIS was funded mainly by black-market sales of oil from conquered areas, the Al-Qaeda-led groups were mainly funded by the Sauds and other Arab royal families and their retinues, the rest of their aristocracy. On 13 December 2013, BBC headlined "Guide to the Syrian rebels" and opened "There are believed to be as many as 1,000 armed opposition groups in Syria, commanding an estimated 100,000 fighters." Except in the Kurdish areas in Syria's northeast, almost all of those fighters were being led by Al Qaeda's Syrian Branch, al-Nusra. Britain's Center on Religion & Politics headlined on 21 December 2015, "Ideology and Objectives of the Syrian Rebellion" and reported: "If ISIS is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place." Almost all of those 65,000 were trained and are led by Syria's Al Qaeda (Nusra), which was protected by the US

In September 2016 a UK official "FINAL REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON COMBATING TERRORIST AND FOREIGN FIGHTER TRAVEL" asserted that, "Over 25,000 foreign fighters have traveled to the battlefield to enlist with Islamist terrorist groups, including at least 4,500 Westerners. More than 250 individuals from the United States have also joined." Even just 25,000 (that official lowest estimate) was a sizable US proxy-army of religious fanatics to overthrow Syria's Government.

On 26 November 2015, the first of Russia's videos of Russia's bombing ISIS oil trucks headed into Turkey was bannered at a US military website "Russia Airstrike on ISIS Oil Tankers" , and exactly a month later, on 26 December 2015, Britain's Daily Express headlined "WATCH: Russian fighter jets smash ISIS oil tankers after spotting 12,000 at Turkish border" . This article, reporting around twelve thousand ISIS oil-tanker trucks heading into Turkey, opened: "The latest video, released by the Russian defence ministry, shows the tankers bunched together as they make their way along the road. They are then blasted by the fighter jet." The US military had nothing comparable to offer to its 'news'-media. Britain's Financial Times headlined on 14 October 2015, "Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists" . Only America's allies were involved in this commerce with ISIS -- no nation that supported Syria's Government was participating in this black market of stolen Syrian goods. So, it's now clear that a lot of that stolen oil was sold for gold as Syria's enemy-nations' means of buying that oil from ISIS. They'd purchase it from ISIS, but not from Syria's Government, the actual owner.

On 30 November 2015 Israel's business-news daily Globes News Service bannered "Israel has become the main buyer for oil from ISIS controlled territory, report" , and reported:

An estimated 20,000-40,000 barrels of oil are produced daily in ISIS controlled territory generating $1-1.5 million daily profit for the terrorist organization. The oil is extracted from Dir A-Zur in Syria and two fields in Iraq and transported to the Kurdish city of Zakhu in a triangle of land near the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Israeli and Turkish mediators come to the city and when prices are agreed, the oil is smuggled to the Turkish city of Silop marked as originating from Kurdish regions of Iraq and sold for $15-18 per barrel (WTI and Brent Crude currently sell for $41 and $45 per barrel) to the Israeli mediator, a man in his 50s with dual Greek-Israeli citizenship known as Dr. Farid. He transports the oil via several Turkish ports and then onto other ports, with Israel among the main destinations.

After all, Israel too wants to overthrow Syria's secular, non-sectarian Government, which would be replaced by rulers selected by the Saud family , who are the US Government's main international ally .

On 9 November 2014, when Turkey was still a crucial US ally trying to overthrow Syria's secular Government (and this was before the failed 15 July 2016 US-backed coup-attempt to overthrow and replace Turkey's Government so as to impose an outright US stooge), Turkey was perhaps ISIS's most crucial international backer . Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's leader, had received no diploma beyond k-12, and all of that schooling was in Sunni schools and based on the Quran . (He pretended, however, to have a university diploma.) On 15 July 2015, AWD News headlined "Turkish President's daughter heads a covert medical corps to help ISIS injured members" . On 2 December 2015, a Russian news-site headlined "Defense Ministry: Erdogan and his family are involved in the illegal supply of oil" ; so, the Erdogan family itself was religiously committed to ISIS's fighters against Syria, and they were key to the success of the US operation against Syrians -- theft from Syrians. The great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann, who was personally acquainted with many of the leading political figures in Africa and the Middle East, headlined on 22 June 2014, "US Embassy in Ankara Headquarter for ISIS War on Iraq – Hariri Insider" , and he reported that the NATO-front the Atlantic Council had held a meeting in Turkey during 22-23 of November 2013 at which high officials of the US and allied governments agreed that they were going to take over Syria's oil, and that they even were threatening Iraq's Government for its not complying with their demands to cooperate on overthrowing Syria's Government. So, behind the scenes, this conquest of Syria was the clear aim by the US and all of its allies.

The US had done the same thing when it took over Ukraine by a brutal coup in February 2014 : It grabbed the gold. Iskra News in Russian reported, on 7 March 2014 , that "At 2 a.m. this morning ... an unmarked transport plane was on the runway at Borosipol Airport" near Kiev in the west, and that, "According to airport staff, before the plane came to the airport, four trucks and two Volkswagen minibuses arrived, all the truck license plates missing." This was as translated by Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research headlining on 14 March, "Ukraine's Gold Reserves Secretly Flown Out and Confiscated by the New York Federal Reserve?" in which he noted that, when asked, "A spokesman for the New York Fed said simply, 'Any inquiry regarding gold accounts should be directed to the account holder.'" The load was said to be "more than 40 heavy boxes." Chossudovsky noted that, "The National Bank of Ukraine (Central Bank) estimated Ukraine's gold reserves in February to be worth $1.8 billion dollars." It was allegedly 36 tons. The US, according to Victoria Nuland ( Obama's detail-person overseeing the coup ) had invested around $5 billion in the coup. Was her installed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk cleaning out the nation's gold reserves in order to strip the nation so that the nation's steep indebtedness for Russian gas would never be repaid to Russia's oligarchs? Or was he doing it as a payoff for Nuland's having installed him? Or both? In any case: Russia was being squeezed by this fascist Ukrainian-American ploy.

On 14 November 2014, a Russian youtube headlined "In Ukraine, there is no more gold and currency reserves" and reported that there is "virtually no gold. There is a small amount of gold bars, but it's just 1%" of before the coup. Four days later, bannered "Ukraine Admits Its Gold Is Gone: 'There Is Almost No Gold Left In The Central Bank Vault'" . From actually 42.3 tons just before the coup, it was now far less than one ton.

The Syria operation was about oil, gold, and guns. However, most of America's support was to Al-Qaeda-led jihadists, not to ISIS-jihadists. As the great independent investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva reported on 2 July 2017 :

"In December of last year while reporting on the battle of Aleppo as a correspondent for Bulgarian media I found and filmed 9 underground warehouses full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin. They were used by Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria designated as a terrorist organization by the UN)."

The US had acquired weapons from around the world, and shipped them (and Gaytandzhieva's report even displayed the transit-documents) through a network of its embassies, into Syria, for Nusra-led forces inside Syria. Almost certainly, the US Government's central command center for the entire arms-smuggling operation was the world's largest embassy, which is America's embassy in Baghdad.

Furthermore, On 8 March 2013, Richard Spenser of Britain's Telegraph reported that Croatia's Jutarnji List newspaper had reported that "3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November. The airlift of dated but effective Yugoslav-made weapons meets key concerns of the West, and especially Turkey and the United States, who want the rebels to be better armed to drive out the Assad regime."

Also, a September 2014 study by Conflict Armaments Research (CAR), titled "Islamic State Weapons in Iraq and Syria" , reported that not only east-European, but even US-made, weapons were being "captured from Islamic State forces" by Kurds who were working for the Americans, and that this was very puzzling and disturbing to those Kurds, who were risking their lives to fight against those jihadists.

In December 2017, CAR headlined "Weapons of the Islamic State" and reported that "this materiel was rapidly captured by IS forces, only to be deployed by the group against international coalition forces." The assumption made there was that the transfer of weapons to ISIS was all unintentional.

That report ignored contrary evidence, which I summed up on 2 September 2017 headlining "Russian TV Reports US Secretly Backing ISIS in Syria" , and reporting there also from the Turkish Government an admission that the US was working with Turkey to funnel surviving members of Iraq's ISIS into the Deir Ezzor part of Syria to help defeat Syria's Government in that crucial oil-producing region. Moreover, at least one member of the 'rebels' that the US was training at Al Tanf on Syria's Jordanian border had quit because his American trainers were secretly diverting some of their weapons to ISIS. Furthermore: why hadn't the US bombed Syrian ISIS before Russia entered the Syrian war on 30 September 2015? America talked lots about its supposed effort against ISIS, but why did US wait till 16 November 2015 before taking action, "'Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away': US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes" ?

So, regardless of whether the US Government uses jihadists as its proxy-forces, or uses fascists as its proxy-forces, it grabs the gold -- and grabs the oil, and takes whatever else it can.

This is today's form of imperialism.

Grab what you can, and run. And call it 'fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption'. And the imperial regime's allies watch in amazement, as they take their respective cuts of the loot. That's the deal, and they call it 'fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world'. That's the way it works. International gangland. That's the reality, while most of the public think it's instead really "fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world." For example, as RT reported on Sunday , March 3rd, about John Bolton's effort at regime-change in Venezuela, Bolton said: "I'd like to see as broad a coalition as we can put together to replace Maduro, to replace the whole corrupt regime,' Bolton told CNN's Jake Tapper." Trump's regime wants to bring clean and democratic government to the poor Venezuelans, just like Bush's did to the Iraqis, and Obama's did to the Libyans and to the Syrians and to the Ukrainians. And Trump, who pretends to oppose Obama's regime-change policies, alternately expands them and shrinks them. Though he's slightly different from Obama on domestic policies, he never, as the US President, condemns any of his predecessors' many coups and invasions, all of which were disasters for everybody except America's and allies' billionaires. They're all in on the take.

The American public were suckered into destroying Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Syria in 2011-now, and so many other countries, and still haven't learned anything, other than to keep trusting the allegations of this lying and psychopathically vicious and super-aggressive Government and of its stenographic 'news'-media. When is enough finally enough ? Never? If not never, then when ? Or do most people never learn? Or maybe they don't really care. Perhaps that's the problem.

On March 4th, the Jerusalem Post bannered "IRAN AND TURKEY MEDIA PUSH CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT US, ISIS: Claims pushed by Syrian regime media assert that US gave ISIS safe passage out of Baghuz in return for gold, a conspiracy picked up in Tehran and Ankara" , and simply assumed that it's false -- but provided no evidence to back their speculation up -- and they closed by asserting "The conspiracies, which are manufactured in Damascus, are disseminated to Iraq and Turkey, both of whom oppose US policy in eastern Syria." Why do people even subscribe to such 'news'-sources as that? The key facts are hidden, the speculation that's based on their own prejudices replaces whatever facts exist. Do the subscribers, to that, simply want to be deceived? Are most people that stupid?

Back on 21 December 2018, one of the US regime's top 'news'-media, the Washington Post, had headlined "Retreating ISIS army smuggled a fortune in cash and gold out of Iraq and Syria" and reported that "the Islamic State is sitting on a mountain of stolen cash and gold that its leaders stashed away to finance terrorist operations." So, it's not as if there hadn't been prior reason to believe that some day some of the gold would be found after America's defeat in Syria. Maybe they just hadn't expected this to happen quite so soon. But the regime will find ways to hoodwink its public, in the future, just as it has in the past. Unless the public wises-up (if that's even possible).

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump comes clean from world s policeman to thug running a global protection racket by Finian Cunningham

Highly recommended!
In any case withdrawal from Syria was a surprising and bold move on the Part of the Trump. You can criticizes Trump for not doing more but before that he bahvaves as a typical neocon, or a typical Republican presidents (which are the same things). And he started on this path just two month after inauguration bombing Syria under false pretences. So this is something
I think the reason of change is that Trump intuitively realized the voters are abandoning him in droves and the sizable faction of his voters who voted for him because of his promises to end foreign wars iether already defected or is ready to defect. So this is a move designed to keep them.
Notable quotes:
"... "America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.rt.com

President Trump's big announcement to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan is now emerging less as a peace move, and more a rationalization of American military power in the Middle East. In a surprise visit to US forces in Iraq this week, Trump said he had no intention of withdrawing the troops in that country, who have been there for nearly 15 years since GW Bush invaded back in 2003.

Hinting at private discussions with commanders in Iraq, Trump boasted that US forces would in the future launch attacks from there into Syria if and when needed. Presumably that rapid force deployment would apply to other countries in the region, including Afghanistan.

In other words, in typical business-style transactional thinking, Trump sees the pullout from Syria and Afghanistan as a cost-cutting exercise for US imperialism. Regarding Syria, he has bragged about Turkey being assigned, purportedly, to "finish off" terror groups. That's Trump subcontracting out US interests.

Critics and supporters of Trump are confounded. After his Syria and Afghanistan pullout call, domestic critics and NATO allies have accused him of walking from the alleged "fight against terrorism" and of ceding strategic ground to US adversaries Russia and Iran.

'We're no longer suckers of the world!' Trump says US is respected as nation AGAIN (VIDEO)

Meanwhile, Trump's supporters have viewed his decision in more benign light, cheering the president for "sticking it to" the deep state and military establishment, assuming he's delivering on electoral promises to end overseas wars.

However, neither view gets what is going on. Trump is not scaling back US military power; he is rationalizing it like a cost-benefit analysis, as perhaps only a real-estate-wheeler-dealer-turned president would appreciate. Trump is not snubbing US militarism or NATO allies, nor is he letting loose an inner peace spirit. He is as committed to projecting American military as ruthlessly and as recklessly as any other past occupant of the White House. The difference is Trump wants to do it on the cheap.

Here's what he said to reporters on Air Force One before touching down in Iraq:

"The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world. It's not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous." He added: "We're no longer the suckers, folks."

Laughably, Trump's griping about US forces "spread all over the world" unwittingly demonstrates the insatiable, monstrous nature of American militarism. But Trump paints this vice as a virtue, which, he complains, Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in.

As US troops greeted him in Iraq, the president made explicit how the new American militarism would henceforth operate.

"America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said.

'We give them $4.5bn a year': Israel will still be 'good' after US withdrawal from Syria – Trump

This reiterates a big bugbear for this president in which he views US allies and client regimes as "not pulling their weight" in terms of military deployment. Trump has been browbeating European NATO members to cough up more on military budgets, and he has berated the Saudis and other Gulf Arab regimes to pay more for American interventions.

Notably, however, Trump has never questioned the largesse that US taxpayers fork out every year to Israel in the form of nearly $4 billion in military aid. To be sure, that money is not a gift because much of it goes back to the Pentagon from sales of fighter jets and missile systems.

The long-held notion that the US has served as the "world's policeman" is, of course, a travesty.

Since WWII, all presidents and the Washington establishment have constantly harped on, with self-righteousness, about America's mythical role as guarantor of global security.

Dozens of illegal wars on almost every continent and millions of civilian deaths attest to the real, heinous conduct of American militarism as a weapon to secure US corporate capitalism.

But with US economic power in historic decline amid a national debt now over $22 trillion, Washington can no longer afford its imperialist conduct in the traditional mode of direct US military invasions and occupations.

Perhaps, it takes a cost-cutting, raw-toothed capitalist like Trump to best understand the historic predicament, even if only superficially.

This gives away the real calculation behind his troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan. Iraq is going to serve as a new regional hub for force projection on a demand-and-supply basis. In addition, more of the dirty work can be contracted out to Washington's clients like Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who will be buying even more US weaponry to prop the military-industrial complex.

'With almost $22 trillion of debt, the US is in no position to attack Iran'

This would explain why Trump made his hurried, unexpected visit to Iraq this week. Significantly, he said : "A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking", regarding his decision on withdrawing forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Since his troop pullout plan announced on December 19, there has been serious pushback from senior Pentagon figures, hawkish Republicans and Democrats, and the anti-Trump media. The atmosphere is almost seditious against the president. Trump flying off to Iraq on Christmas night was reportedly his first visit to troops in an overseas combat zone since becoming president two years ago.

What Trump seemed to be doing was reassuring the Pentagon and corporate America that he is not going all soft and dovish. Not at all. He is letting them know that he is aiming for a leaner, meaner US military power, which can save money on the number of foreign bases by using rapid reaction forces out of places like Iraq, as well as by subcontracting operations out to regional clients.

Thus, Trump is not coming clean out of any supposed principle when he cuts back US forces overseas. He is merely applying his knack for screwing down costs and doing things on the cheap as a capitalist tycoon overseeing US militarism.

During past decades when American capitalism was relatively robust, US politicians and media could indulge in the fantasy of their military forces going around the world in large-scale formations to selflessly "defend freedom and democracy."

Today, US capitalism is broke. It simply can't sustain its global military empire. Enter Donald Trump with his "business solutions."

But in doing so, this president, with his cheap utilitarianism and transactional exploitative mindset, lets the cat out of the bag. As he says, the US cannot be the world's policeman. Countries are henceforth going to have to pay for "our protection."

Inadvertently, Trump is showing up US power for what it really is: a global thug running a protection racket.

It's always been the case. Except now it's in your face. Trump is no Smedley Butler, the former Marine general who in the 1930s condemned US militarism as a Mafia operation. This president is stupidly revealing the racket, while still thinking it is something virtuous.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

dnm1136

Once again, Cunningham has hit the nail on the head. Trump mistakenly conflates fear with respect. In reality, around the world, the US is feared but generally not respected.

My guess is that the same was true about Trump as a businessman, i.e., he was not respected, only feared due to his willingness to pursue his "deals" by any means that "worked" for him, legal or illegal, moral or immoral, seemingly gracious or mean-spirited.

William Smith

Complaining how the US gets no thanks for its foreign intervention. Kind of like a rapist claiming he should be thanked for "pleasuring" his victim. Precisely the same sentiment expressed by those who believe the American Indians should thank the Whites for "civilising" them.

Phoebe S,

"Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in."

That might mean they don't want you there. Just saying.

ProRussiaPole

None of these wars are working out for the US strategically. All they do is sow chaos. They seem to not be gaining anything, and are just preventing others from gaining anything as well.

Ernie For -> ProRussiaPole

i am a huge Putin fan, so is big Don. Please change your source of info Jerome, Trump is one man against Billions of people and dollars in corruption. He has achieved more in the USA in 2 years than all 5 previous parasites together.

Truthbetold69

It could be a change for a better direction. Time will tell. 'If you do what you've always been doing, you'll get what you've always been getting.'

[Dec 21, 2019] Our pointless attempt at containing Russia has failed caucus99percent

Dec 21, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

Putin has said he will keep the Ukraine pipeline

Putin: Moscow Will Keep Gas Pipeline Through Ukraine
Thursday, 19 December 2019 08:08 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Moscow planned to keep gas transit via Ukraine irrespective of a number of gas pipelines Moscow currently builds to bypass its ex-Soviet neighbor.
...
"This is a very difficult, sensitive topic. We would like to solve this problem," Putin said at his annual press conference in Moscow.

"We will look for a solution that is acceptable for all parties, including Ukraine. That's despite the construction of infrastructure such as Nord Stream 1, Nord Stream 2, TurkStream. We will preserve gas transit through Ukraine."
...
Putin said on Thursday that Russia would be ready to give Ukraine a discount of 20-25% for gas purchases. "I am confident we will reach an agreement ... We have no desire to exacerbate the situation ... or use this to influence the situation in Ukraine itself."
...

This gives Ukraine three options:

  1. keep buying Russian gas from Europe
  2. swallow their pride and buy discounted gas direct from Russia
  3. freeze in the dark

snoopydawg on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 7:49pm

Obama sure screwed over Ukrainians didn't he?

Yes it was corrupt before the violent coup, but at least people could live nicely and be warm during winter. People have frozen during the winters since and many of them had to go back to work because of the damn IMF loans that hurt big time.

Congress said that they had to put sanctions on Nordstream because of Russia aggression. One article listed all of the aggressions they have done.

Invaded Iraq.
Supported the Honduran coup.
Invaded Libya
Invaded Syria....well you get the drift. Sorta like how Iran has destabilized the Middle East as pompous Pompeo is saying. It's the effing hypocrisy!

[Dec 20, 2019] War Denialism and Endless War by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... One of the most revealing and absurd responses to rejections of forever war is the ridiculous dodge that the U.S. isn't really at war when it uses force and kills people in multiple foreign countries: ..."
"... The distinction between "real war" and the constant U.S. involvement in hostilities overseas is a phony one. The war is very real to the civilian bystanders who die in U.S. airstrikes, and it is very real to the soldiers and Marines still getting shot at and blown up in Afghanistan. This is not an "antidote to war," but rather the routinization of warfare. ..."
"... The routinization and normalization of endless, unauthorized war is one of the most harmful legacies of the Obama administration. ..."
"... When the Obama administration wanted political and legal cover for the illegal Libyan war in 2011, they came up with a preposterous claim that U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities because there was no real risk to them from the Libyan government's forces. According to Harold Koh, who was the one responsible for promoting this nonsense, U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities even when they were carrying out a sustained bombing campaign for months. That lie has served as a basis for redefining what counts as involvement in hostilities so that the president and the Pentagon can pretend that the U.S. military isn't engaged in hostilities even when it clearly is. When the only thing that gets counted as a "real war" is a major deployment of hundreds of thousands of troops, that allows for a lot of unaccountable warmaking that has been conveniently reinvented as something else. ..."
Dec 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

One of the most revealing and absurd responses to rejections of forever war is the ridiculous dodge that the U.S. isn't really at war when it uses force and kills people in multiple foreign countries:

Just like @POTUS , who put a limited op of NE #Syria under heading of "endless war," this op-ed has "drone strikes & Special Ops raids" in indictment of US-at-war. In fact, those actions are antidote to war. Their misguided critique is insult to real war. https://t.co/DCLS9IDKSw

-- Robert Satloff (@robsatloff) December 15, 2019

War has become so normalized over the last twenty years that the constant use of military force gets discounted as something other than "real war." We have seen this war denialism on display several times in the last year. As more presidential candidates and analysts have started rejecting endless war, the war's defenders have often chosen to pretend that the U.S. isn't at war at all. The distinction between "real war" and the constant U.S. involvement in hostilities overseas is a phony one. The war is very real to the civilian bystanders who die in U.S. airstrikes, and it is very real to the soldiers and Marines still getting shot at and blown up in Afghanistan. This is not an "antidote to war," but rather the routinization of warfare.

The routinization and normalization of endless, unauthorized war is one of the most harmful legacies of the Obama administration. I made this point back in the spring of 2016 :

Because Obama is relatively less aggressive and reckless than his hawkish opponents (a very low bar to clear), he is frequently given a pass on these issues, and we are treated to misleading stories about his supposed "realism" and "restraint." Insofar as he has been a president who normalized and routinized open-ended and unnecessary foreign wars, he has shown that neither of those terms should be used to describe his foreign policy. Even though I know all too well that the president that follows him will be even worse, the next president will have a freer hand to conduct a more aggressive and dangerous foreign policy in part because of illegal wars Obama has waged during his time in office.

The attempt to define war so that it never includes what the U.S. military happens to be doing when it uses force abroad has been going on for quite a while. When the Obama administration wanted political and legal cover for the illegal Libyan war in 2011, they came up with a preposterous claim that U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities because there was no real risk to them from the Libyan government's forces. According to Harold Koh, who was the one responsible for promoting this nonsense, U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities even when they were carrying out a sustained bombing campaign for months. That lie has served as a basis for redefining what counts as involvement in hostilities so that the president and the Pentagon can pretend that the U.S. military isn't engaged in hostilities even when it clearly is. When the only thing that gets counted as a "real war" is a major deployment of hundreds of thousands of troops, that allows for a lot of unaccountable warmaking that has been conveniently reinvented as something else.


chris chuba3 days ago

It isn't just physical war that results in active service body bags but our aggression has alreay cost lives on the home front and there is every reason to believe it will do so again.

We were not isolationists prior to 9/11/2001, Al Qaeda had already attacked but we were distracted bombing Serbia, expanding NATO, and trying to connect Al Qaeda attacks to Iran. We were just attacked by a Saudi officer we were training on our soil to use the Saudis against Iran.

It remains to be seen what our economic warfare against Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, and our continued use of Afghanistan as a bombing platform will cost us. We think we are being clever by using our Treasury Dept and low intensity warfare to minimize direct immediate casualties but how long can that last.

SilverSpoon3 days ago
"War is the health of the State"

And our state has been very healthy indeed in recent decades.

Ray Joseph Cormier3 days ago • edited
This article confirms what the last Real Commander-in-Chief, General/President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about when he retired 58 years ago.
His wise Council based on his Supreme Military-Political experience has been ignored.
The MSM, Propagandists for the Military-Industrial Complex, won't remind the American People.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well.
But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.
Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.
We recognize the imperative need for this development.
Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.
Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military
machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

http://rayjc.com/2011/09/04...

Lee Green3 days ago
The psychological contortionism required to deny that we are at war amazes me. US military forces are killing people in other countries – but it's not war? Because we can manufacture comforting euphemisms like "police action" or "preventive action" or "drone strike," it's not war? Because it's smaller scale than a "real" war like WWII?

Cancer is cancer. A small cancer is still a cancer. Arguing that it's not cancer because it's not metastatic stage IV is, well, the most polite term is sophistry. More accurate terms aren't printable.

[Dec 19, 2019] Provoking a War with Russia by Larry C Johnson - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Dec 19, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Provoking a War with Russia? by Larry C Johnson Larry Johnson-5x7

The anti-Russian insanity that dominates the politics of America is dangerous, stupid and detached from facts. Two news items from Wednesday (December 18th) should scare the hell out of you.

The first concerns Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which is nearing completion and will deliver gas to Europe. According to Reuters :

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to slap sanctions on companies building a massive underwater pipeline to bring Russian natural gas to Germany, but it was uncertain whether the measures would slow completion of the project.

Senator Jim Risch, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the sanctions will prevent the project's completion and are an "important tool to counter Russia's malign influence and to protect the integrity of Europe's energy sector."

Nord Stream 2, led by state-owned Gazprom, would allow Russia to bypass Poland and Ukraine to deliver gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany. U.S. lawmakers say Ukraine could lose billions of dollars in transit fees if it is built.

This is not the fault of the Democrats. This is being driven by Republicans, with Senator Ted Cruz leading the charge .

The Trump administration should use sanctions to halt the construction of a pipeline that would allow Russia to transport natural gas directly to Europe, potentially generating cash to fuel President Vladimir Putin's military aggression, says Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline "would make Europe even more dependent on Russian energy," Cruz told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. "And that makes Europe susceptible to economic blackmail, because Putin has already demonstrated he's perfectly willing to cut off the gas in the dead of winter to try to force people to do what he wants."

Russia's "military aggression?" Did Russia invade Iraq twice in the last 29 years? Did Russia launch a war in Libya? Did Russia arm and train insurgents in Syria? I think Ted Cruz has not been paying attention to world events over the last thirty years. The number one country engaged in foreign military aggression is the United States. Hands down.

Here are the actual military facts about Russia:

So why is this pipeline now a redline in the sand that Russia dare not cross? Apparently because it will give Russia a way to make more money to finance its massive military buildup (hopefully you understand sarcasm) and, more importantly, will cost Ukraine lost income. Can't afford to have Ukrainian oligarchs running out of money that they are sending to Democrat and Republican consulting firms and candidates.

While it is unlikely that the sanctions will prevent the pipeline from being completed, largely because they come too little, too late, this is not going to hinder efforts to punish Russia :

A new Bloomberg headline reads "U.S. Concedes Defeat on Gas Pipeline It Sees as Russian Threat" just following new sanctions included in the House and Senate passed 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week.

But two administration officials tell Bloomberg it's too little too late, despite Trump's heightened rhetoric of calling Germany "a captive to Russia" and charging Berlin with essentially giving "billions" of dollars to Russia:

Senior U.S. administration officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the administration's take on the project, said sanctions that passed Congress on Tuesday as part of a defense bill are too late to have any effect. The U.S. instead will try to impose costs on other Russian energy projects, one of the officials added.

Seriously, that United States has no right to threaten Russia in this way. It is reminiscent of the sanctions that the United States imposed on Japan prior to World War II that blocked Japan's access to critical oil and rubber supplies. That was a precipitating factor in Japan's decision to attack us on December 7, 1941.

If you think I am just being chicken little, I suspect you did not read the recent comment of Deputy Chief of General Staff of Russia, Valery Gerasimov :

NATO exercises near the border with Russia reflect the alliance's preparations for a large-scale military conflict, Russia's chief military officer said in remarks published Wednesday.

The chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, said at Tuesday's meeting with foreign military attaches that NATO's activities have heightened tensions and reduced security along the Russian border.

Asked if the Russian military sees a potential threat of war, Gerasimov said that Moscow doesn't see "any preconditions for a large-scale war."

He added, however, that Western pressure on Russia could trigger "crisis situations" that may spin out of control and provoke a military conflict.

The anti-Russia hysteria in the United States is tying the hands of Donald Trump to act responsibly to protect America. If he vetoes the bill put forward by the Congress he will be accused, as he has been for more than two years, of catering to Putin.

The fanatics and frauds waving the Russian threat ignore the fact that the United States and Russia work closely and productively on the Space Station. Our astronauts and their cosmonauts co-exist peacefully in space and we rely on the Russians to haul our folks to and from the Space Station. In Syria, the Combined Air Operations Center (i.e., CAOC) communicates daily with Russian counterparts to ensure that their respective air assets do not fire on each other or inadvertently wander into a combat space. This has been going on for more than three years.

Russia still has nuclear weapons. It is their ultimate deterrent against another invasion. The memory of losing more than 12 million soldiers in World War II remains vivid and painful. The U.S. public can barely remember that we lost less than 500,000 soldiers, marines and sailors in World War II. Our inability to remember coupled with unjustified belligerence is pushing us towards a war with Russia that would be beyond catastrophic.

Posted at 02:47 PM in Larry Johnson , Russia , Russiagate | Permalink

Reblog (0) Comments


catherine , 19 December 2019 at 03:23 PM

''The Trump administration should use sanctions to halt the construction of a pipeline that would allow Russia to transport natural gas directly to Europe, potentially generating cash to fuel President Vladimir Putin's military aggression, says Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas''

I don't know how many times I have ..Who do these politicians think they are !!??
They were not elected to 'run the world'. WE must get rid of them.
The Col told me awhile ago that the CIA doesn't do 'accidental deaths' ....too bad.

Adrian E. , 19 December 2019 at 04:05 PM
At least, these sanctions are not only directed against Russia, but also against Western Europe.
First,the sanctions directly affect not only Gasprom, but also Western European companies that are involved in building the pipelines (since only a small part of the work remains to be done, Nordstream 2 can probably be finished without some of them, but if everything continues as before, some Western European companies involved in building the pipelines would clearly be affected by US sanctions, among them a specialized Swiss company).
Second, the purpose of the pipelines clearly is not only to help Russia selling gas, but also to help Germany buying Russian gas.
The sanctions are not anti-Russian sanctions, but sanctions against Europe, including Russia, Germany, and other European countries.
Especially in Germany, there is absolutely no tolerance for such sanctions with which the US wants to force Europeans to buy uncompetitive expensive US fracking gas. There are talks about European countersanctions against the US. The US may hope to exploit disagreements among EU countries. After all some EU countries like Poland are against Nordstream. But the US should not rely on this - such blatant interference in European matters is clearly not tolerated by the EU. An appropriate countermeasure might be punitive Tarifs on US fracking gas exports - there is not much demand for it, anyway, but it would make sense to prevent any significant amounts of US fracking gas from being bought in Europe as long as the US wants to force Europeans to buy it.
In any case, these anti-European sanctions show once more that the US has become a pariah nation that has isolated itself and has no real allies any more (except perhaps Saudi Arabia and Israel).
Adrian E. , 19 December 2019 at 04:23 PM
I would not call these sanctions only anti-Russian sanctions. They are just as well directed against Western Europe.

First, it is not only Gasprom which is involved in building the pipeline (although it is the owner), but also European companies (among them a Swiss one). Since Nordstream II is almost finished, the services of some of these companies may not be necessary any more, but if they continued normally, also some Western European companies would be sanctioned.

Second, obviously, the purpose of the pipelines is not only to help Russia selling gas, but also to help Germany (and other Western European countries that will receive it via Germany) buying Russian gas.

In Germany, there is very little tolerance for such sanctions, and people talk about counter-sanctions against the US. An appropriate measure could be punitive tariffs on US fracking gas. There is little demand for US fracking gas in Europe, anyway, since it is more expensive, but it may make sense to make sure than no significant amounts of US gas are sold in Europe as long as the US wants to force Europeans to buy it.

The US may hope to exploit disagreements about Nordstream within the EU. After all, some countries like Poland are against it. But the US should not rely on this tactic working. Such blatant interference in European energy supplies with sanction will hardly be tolerated by the EU.

In any case, these anti-European sanctions show one more how much the US has become a pariah country that has isolated itself and hardly has allies any more (except perhaps Saudi Arabia and Israel).

I agree that one of the motives for these anti-European sanctions is anti-Russian insanity in the US. But another important motive is disrespect of the US for Western Europe, which it seems to regard as a kind of colonies or vassal states it can tell what to do.

In Europe, there is still a certain gap - while polls show that the US is very unpopular, among European elites, pro-US forces still have a certain influence. But probably, it won't take very long until European countries will adapt their policies towards the US in the direction a majority of their citizens wants. Another such example of US folly is the idea that Germany should pay more for the presence of US troops. According to polls, about half of the German population wanted US troops to leave, anyway, even before the question of increased payments was raised, and if the US is serious about this demand, the consequence that it will lose its military bases is obvious.

Harlan Easley , 19 December 2019 at 04:48 PM
John Titor
Factotum , 19 December 2019 at 04:53 PM
Who recently described Russia as third tier country, with an economy no bigger than the state of New York?
Factotum , 19 December 2019 at 04:55 PM
Send in Greta Thonburg. She'll show them. More use of fossil fuels zut alors! Who will even be buying Russian energy. How dare they.
Paul Damascene , 19 December 2019 at 07:43 PM
I credit you with possessing the good sense, seemingly rare, to not wish to enter into a direct military conflict with Russia, particularly out of some hyper inflated sense of threat, owing (no less) to their aggression. Kudos to you for acknowledging which country is the number one threat of military aggression in the world.

The sarcasm of referring to a mounting Russian threat is merited insofar as their military budget is actually falling as a proportion of output.

I would suggest, however, when assessing the strength of the enemy you rightly argue that it is stupid to provoke, that you do not limit yourself to the prevailing think-tank approaches to assessing that threat. It's pretty obvious to most people that comparing an Su-35 to an F-35 in dollar terms makes the F-35 3 or 4 times the military threat of the Sukhoi. Ditto with an Su-57 to F-22 comparison.

But it would be better to listen to actual military experts with technical training in the STEM disciplines needed to provide the analysis. I would suggest you look at the work of A. Martyanov's work, a retired Russian naval officer writing occasionally US Naval institute Blog. Or visit his blog, Reminiscence of the Future, through which you could get more background on his books, including the latest, The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs.

His concern is that (while some of us use these CIA factbook-type analysis to cool off the hysterical claims of threat) Russia hawk politicians and think-tank military pseudo-experts are using these to seriously downplay Russia's capacity to counter American aggression. Would welcome your thoughts on his work.

Andrei Martyanov (aka SmoothieX12) , 19 December 2019 at 08:11 PM
Russia's 2018 GDP of $1.66 trillion, which is just 8% of America's total GDP of $21.5 trillion.

Larry, it is patently and, actually, grossly untrue on both counts. Nor comparison of military budgets is legitimate tool. In fact, all this is in the foundation of the United States failing, time after time, having a good grasp of the military balance.

Ghost Ship , 19 December 2019 at 09:07 PM
Last winter LNG from the Russian Yamal gas field was delivered to the United States. Perhaps Washington should deal with its own dependence on Russian energy before it starts pressuring Europe.
Stephanie , 19 December 2019 at 10:41 PM
The goal is to overturn the government of Russia, just like the goal has been to overturn the government of Bolivia (Mission Accomplished), Venezuela, Cuba, China, Russia, North Korea, Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Syria... This is imperialism. It's history is long and has been successfully practiced by far by the British and Americans. And it's goal is the theft of the resources, human and natural, of the countries targeted. It is old news. Nothing has changed for two hundred years. My God, the original Crimean War was fought for exactly the same reasons as the current Crimean War although the actual fighting is of a different scale and different style. Permit me to include in the litany above Native Americans who were slaughtered for their territory. It is astonishing that President Trump seems to be less than enthusiastic about this program, but it certainly recommends him highly if he is. And today, we may ask who is behind this program. It is certainly not the American people.

[Dec 19, 2019] US Concedes Defeat On Russia's Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Even As Sanctions Passed

Dec 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

A new Bloomberg headline reads "U.S. Concedes Defeat on Gas Pipeline It Sees as Russian Threat" just following new sanctions included in the House and Senate passed 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week.

But two administration officials tell Bloomberg it's too little too late , despite Trump's heightened rhetoric of calling Germany "a captive to Russia" and charging Berlin with essentially giving "billions" of dollars to Russia :

Senior U.S. administration officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the administration's take on the project, said sanctions that passed Congress on Tuesday as part of a defense bill are too late to have any effect . The U.S. instead will try to impose costs on other Russian energy projects, one of the officials added.

Image via nord-stream2.com/Unian

The Bloomberg report sees this as a rare admission of defeat :

The admission is a rare concession on what had been a top foreign-policy priority for the Trump administration and highlights how European allies such as Germany have been impervious to American pressure to abandon the pipeline. It also shows how the U.S. has struggled to deter Russia from flexing its muscles on issues ranging from energy to Ukraine to election interference.

The resolution contained in the defense spending bill, expected to be immediately signed into law by Trump, are measures which specifically target companies assembling the pipeline -- a last ditch US effort to block the controversial 760-mile, $10.2BN project that would allow Russia to export natural gas directly to Germany, depriving Ukraine of badly needed gas transit fees along the current route for Russian supplies.

Washington's position has long been that it weakens European energy security, while Merkel's Germany has rejected Trump's "meddling" in European energy affairs, which the Europeans have lately sought to diversify.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a February visit to Poland said Nord Stream 2 ultimately "funnels money to Russians in ways that undermine European national security."

Via Bloomberg

It's expected to double Russian gas shipments to the EU's biggest economy Germany, while others fear -- including dissenters within Merkel's own ruling coalition -- it will give Moscow significant geopolitical leverage over Europe while also punishing Ukraine.

The new US sanctions measures will target executives of companies operating vessels laying the pipeline , and will further seek to hinder those companies' ability to operate on the project. It's been spearheaded by Russian giant Gazprom and five European energy companies, including French electricity and gas firm Engie SA and Royal Dutch, and the Swiss company Allseas Group SA, among others, and is nearing completion, expected soon this coming year.

Bloomberg reports further, "Trump has indicated that he'll sign the legislation passed Tuesday. The penalties on companies building the project, led by Russian energy company Gazprom PJSC, would be effective immediately, according to a Senate Republican aide."

In total, continues Bloomberg, "Some 350 companies are involved in building the undersea link, most notably the Swiss company Allseas Group SA, whose ships are laying the last section of pipe in Danish waters."

Regardless, Gazprom head Alexei Miller has for months said it's "past the point of no return" and that nothing would derail it. "We are working from the idea that Nord Stream 2 will be realized strictly in accordance with the planned timetable," he previously told shareholders.

RealRussianBot99 , 4 minutes ago link

As an european i say fuckmerica

Tirion , 6 minutes ago link

THE UNITED STATES CORPORATION needs to keep its nose out of European energy policy! In fact, it needs to keep its nose out of everybody else's business.

[Dec 19, 2019] One cannot understand any Ukraine politics and scams (and Uk-RF politics and conflicts) without understanding the role of gas, and of Ukraine as a bottleneck for a LOT of the gas flowing between Russia and the EU. The Ukrainians have always been fiddling the Russians and their gas.

Dec 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Lurker in the Dark , Dec 19 2019 1:49 utc | 56

My apologies if this has been posted before, but here is a news conference broadcast by Interfax a few days ago detailing a joint French-Ukrainian journalistic investigation into a huge money laundering scheme using various shadow banking organizations in Austria and Switzerland, benefiting Clinton friendly Ukrainian oligarchs and of course the Clinton Foundation.

The link is short enough to not require re-formatting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4309z--JcGk&feature=

Really?? , Dec 19 2019 2:57 utc | 68

Lurker #56

From the Youtube video it is all about the gas.

Of course. I have said this repeatedly. I say this with confidence because I have read a book that is solely about Gazprom and all aspects of gas production, distribution, payment etc. etc. within and outside Russia. Which of course includes the major special problem of Ukraine. You cannot understand any Ukraine politics and scams (and Uk-RF politics and conflicts) without understanding the role of gas, and of Ukraine as a bottleneck for a LOT of the gas flowing between Russia and the EU. The Ukrainians have always been fiddling the Russians and their gas. And then the EU got into the picture and caused more trouble for Russia. Anyhow, it is fitting that the scam described in the video runs on GAS.

[Dec 18, 2019] Saudi Aramco team arrive in Syria's oil fields

Dec 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Thinking123 , 16 minutes ago link

Saudi Aramco team arrive in Syria's oil fields: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20191217-saudi-aramco-team-arrive-in-syrias-oil-fields/

It is believed that the investments will be made through contracts signed between Aramco and the US government, whose armed forces have steadily been increasing their military presence in terms of manpower and equipment around the oil fields. Despite initially claiming to scale back troops from Syria, US President Donald Trump announced in October that America had " secured " and taken control of the oil in the Middle East.

uhland62 , 1 hour ago link

It's up to us now to expose the mendacity, although Pompeo admitted to lying, which gives us a bit more credibility.

I have been stung and yes, I expose as much mendacity as possible. Whether it makes a difference, I don't know but some seeds have taken roots.

Arising , 1 hour ago link

Russia should just grow a pair of balls and say 'NO'

No more attacks on Syria from NATO because last time you lied.

No more sanctions, or we will block black sea to NATO terrorists.

No more terrorist attacks from the occupiers of Palestine.

No more wrongly accusing other nations of doing what NATO specialises in- Terrorism.

No more standing on the sidelines and watching the U.S-Zio regime steam roll into a war with Iran.

'NO'

DarthVaderMentor , 1 hour ago link

The sad reality is that the Washington Post, New York Times and most of the mainstream TV and radio media are worse liars and better propagandists for the US Military-Industrial Complex than Pravda was for the Soviet Communist Party. There is no and never was an fair and balanced journalism. There's even no professional journalism!

My Russian opponents and Latin friends now laugh that I don't believe anything coming from US media today and I'm hoarding hard and untraceable assets just like they do in the Eastern Bloc, Middle East and Cuba. The 21st Century might yet be the century of dictators and their storm troopers who learned their lessons from Hitler and Stalin.

If populism and Trump don't survive the coup it'll be pretty grim times for the non-elites in America. The revenge from the weirdos and the leftist globalist Marxists will definitely start US Civil War 2.

Giant Meteor , 2 hours ago link

Yes and thank you for stating fundamental and obvious truths ..

on the other hand ,

"The Washington Post performed a service to the country by shedding light on the disinformation used to sustain endless war. But the Post's intentions are also political, seeking to undermine Trump's electoral chances by damaging Trump's military credentials as well as his standing amongst military personnel. What Washington's elite and the Post do not know, or perhaps prefer to ignore, is that such media investigations directed against political opponents actually end up doing irreparable damage to the political and military prestige of the United States."

The Washington Compost May well have an ax to grind with and motive for publishing newfound truthiness, it's a miracle ! I fail to see however, just how Trump takes credit in the bull **** fog, of the longest running war, motivations department.

other than that ...

And so in closing, I would be more inclined to believe sir, propagandizing, the propaganda, with such an opinion, is just another kin to, let's say, the impeachment farce in example. Or in the words of "The father of modern day marketing", an obvious attempt at further shaping public opinion, for the masses, an opinion that grows more weary, more suspicious, more distrustful, and divergent from government and their various mouth pieces, by the day.

Stating obvious points such as you have, and blowing it with flawed analysis, is not a good look ..

Washington Compost, has a much more simple, damaging ,and nefarious agenda.

Truth is being revealed, regarding the mountain of year on year lies, spoon fed to the bewildered, inflamed, dispassionate, and cowed citizenry, as the bull **** gets harder to peddle, more impossible to digest whole.

And is happening with or without the post, and likewise, various other "main stream" mouth pieces and government hacks (in the interests of national security, of course.)

*Note. Lots of editing, this comment.

Xscream , 2 hours ago link

Very similar to the Pentagon papers revealing the truth about Vietnam policy. We never learn as a nation. Wars never go as expected.

[Dec 18, 2019] Erdogan clearly believes he can monopolize gas transit between Central Asia/Middle East/Eastern Mediterranean and Europe.

Dec 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

c1ue , Dec 17 2019 20:35 utc | 13

This doesn't seem very complicated to me.
Turkey is emboldened by Turkstream (and by the Ukraine/Georgia stalemate) - Erdogan clearly believes he can monopolize gas transit between Central Asia/Middle East/Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. This would be a huge geopolitical and economic benefit for Turkey - far above and beyond any religion based "leadership" Turkey could benefit from the Muslim world.
Russia doesn't really care as it already has a pole position regarding natural gas to Europe - Erdogan's actions will only serve to slow down any buildout of competing supply from Central Asia/Middle East. Erdogan is likely being financially backed by Qatar as well - they also stand to benefit if Turkey can carve out a pipeline domination in the Eastern Med.

Piotr Berman , Dec 17 2019 20:51 utc | 15

"Follow the money..." If I recall correctly, Haftar got a nice pile of money from Russia in the form of Libyan banknotes that he ordered, and the status of those banknotes was unclear, but in LNA zone they are as good as the central bank notes. Legally, payments for Libyan oil have to go to that bank, and the operations, location and loyalty of that bank deserve an investigative article.

Erdogan has too little money to succeed, IMHO. If he were flushed, he would place nice weapon orders in UK, France, Germany and USA, as KSA + UAE did, and as we know from Yemen, that secures NATO blessings, either verbal or quiet. His military is probably in a better shape than Egyptian, if vulnerable to attacks by mysterious submarines. The coastal highway from Egypt is surely good enough for military vehicles, but it is vulnerable to attacks from air.

Putin's priority number 2 in the region is South Stream, so he will probably not supply mysterious submarines, Greece could being irate over maritime claims, and Egypt would have the most obvious motif. My conclusion is that the sultan's dog's barks a lot, and sometimes bites, but with some caution. Libyan expedition has the smell of Sicilian Expedition, a notable event during the Peloponessian war.

snake , Dec 17 2019 21:08 utc | 16
Egypt will not tolerate a Muslim Brotherhood led Libya as its neighbor. Before the Turkish support allows the GNA government to defeat Haftar Egypt will intervene. The situation can thereby soon develop into an intense war during which Turkish troops fight on Libyan grounds against the Egyptian military.

<=I think if Egypt intervenes in Libya it will strengthen the brotherhood in Egypt and Libya and may terminate brother Sisi's rule.

i agree with Psychohistorian's Mezran quote.. a Russian Turkey agreement will foreclose USA and British access to oil from Libya, Egypt and Turkey( new OPEC will form).

frances , Dec 17 2019 22:42 utc | 19
Now the GNA is a UN construct so Turkey supporting it should not be a big deal politically for the west. As for the CIA fellow, if he is working as closely as he appears to be with Russia, I think Turkey stepping in is just as suggested:
"...from the karlof1 link:
""Mezran suggested. "If the Turks become the major supporter of the GNA, not the Europeans or the Americans, and the Russians are the ones who are the major supporter of Haftar, then all it would take is an agreement between Moscow and Ankara to solve the Libyan problem, causing much damage to American and European power.""Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 17 2019 20:25 utc | 11.
I particularly like the strategy cutting out the Central Bank by the General and Russia, looks to me like there is a master plan being rolled out and it is moving quickly. Perhaps Peace is breaking out:)
ben , Dec 17 2019 22:58 utc | 20
b said; "After the NATO war destroyed Africa's richest country Libya is still split."

Another "mission accomplished" by the evil empire. They couldn't stand for any leader to share the wealth of the nation with it's people, so a lesson was given, and is still in effect.

psychohistorian , Dec 17 2019 23:36 utc | 21
@ Posted by: ben | Dec 17 2019 22:58 utc | 20 who wrote
"
b said; "After the NATO war destroyed Africa's richest country Libya is still split."

Another "mission accomplished" by the evil empire. They couldn't stand for any leader to share the wealth of the nation with it's people, so a lesson was given, and is still in effect.
"

Thanks for that perspective. That is THE reason that I continue to call out Hillary "We came, we saw, he died" Clinton as the war criminal I hope she is prosecuted for in her lifetime.

Matthiew , Dec 18 2019 0:11 utc | 23
If you want a way better analysis from a professional strategist read the following:
"Turkey's Libyan Gamble Is A Shrewd Geostrategic Move"
https://www.globalresearch.ca/turkey-libyan-gamble-shrewd-geostrategic-move/5697857
Antoinetta III , Dec 18 2019 0:24 utc | 24
Does anyone have an idea of both the size and combat readiness of Egyptian forces?

Would Sisi be in a position to send in a force of, say, 50,000 or 100,000 troops with armour and air cover? If so, he could end both the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Quaeda problem in Libya as well as nip one of Erdogan's meddlesome adventures in the bud.

A User , Dec 18 2019 0:40 utc | 26
I want what Libyans want, but it seems nobody can be arsed to find that out. I strongly suspect Libyans' preference would be for neither of these two foreign funded options since both of these grubby groups are committed to maintaining the repeal of the petroleum act which has protected Libyans from rapacious foreign corporations and foreign-state owned enterprises who put sweet FA into any of their hosts' economies while meddling unceasingly in host politics to ensure everyone but them gets screwed.

IMO the amerikan interest is less about oil & other Libyan resources than ensuring that Libya can never again support North African nations who the empire is determined to annex and form into a vast super-national state where governments have no control, but corporations do.

AFAIK, both cliques in Libya are proponents of Arab nationalism which intend to pretend the black african and berber populations are all foreigners despite both groups having a longer history of living in the region than arabs do.

Arabs entered this region, the Magreb, about 647 AD fighting to take control off the indigenous population of the Magreb which up until then comprised myriad african ethnicities & language groups until around 709 when Arabs united under the banner of Islam had complete control.

There really hasn't been a demographic based census in Libya, most likely because the role of black africans or as the imperialists like to refer to them 'sub-saharan' (which of course implies they are outsiders) has always been contentious among some Libyans who consider themselves to be 'Arabs' or as they like to claim, the ruling class.
Generally the bulk of lighter skinned Libyans class themselves as Berber-Arabs, while other Libyans (eg Muamar Ghaddaffi -may he rest in peace) consider themselves to be Berber.

The iFUKUS intervention promoted a mob claiming to be solely Arab and therefore the legitimate rulers of the nation. They also reckoned all black africans in Libya were foreigners. A genocidal campaign of terror and good old amerikan style lynching of black folks followed. We rightly see the sociopath in H Clinton at this time, but what about Oblamblam, WTF was he thinking?

Eventually some bright spark saw that killing was wasteful, so those black Libyans remaining were rounded up and sold into slavery - to 'owners' primarily in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Who knows if Libya can ever find another leader as enlightened as the Colonel? All we do know is that there is no chance of such a leader emanating from either Haftar's gang or the 'UN-recognised' gang.

Libyans don't deserve either of these agglomerations of arseholes which is why they are copping them. A big message from the big states that any nation which indulges in such caring and sharing of neighbours & friends as Libya did, must be severely punished so no other decent society will dare try that on.

Haassaan , Dec 18 2019 0:43 utc | 27
@16 Snake

"<=I think if Egypt intervenes in Libya it will strengthen the brotherhood in Egypt and Libya and may terminate brother Sisi's rule."

I think Snake is on to something here. The power balance in Egypt is fairly evenly divided with only a slight advantage to Sisi over Muslim Brotherhood forces.

Who would benefit from an Egyptian Civil War?

flankerbandit , Dec 18 2019 1:01 utc | 28
@ Matthiew...

'Thanks' for the Andrew Korybko link...Pfft...

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 1:08 utc | 29
Part 1

What Turkey is seeking is fair treatment and recognition of rights it feels that it has in the Mediterranean Sea. What a group of nations (Israel, Egypt, Greece and the US – hereafter referred to as The Group) is attempting to do is deny Turkey any rights at all.

Those that disagree with Turkish claims have the following position:

1. Greek "owned" islands, which in some cases (e.g. Kastellorizo) go really close to the Turkish coast, exclude Turkey from any significant rights to the Mediterranean.

2. Turkey has no claim to the area around Cyprus.

3. Cyprus is partnered with Israel, Egypt, Greece and the US for energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea and Turkey is not included.

4. In January 2019, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum was convened as a means for Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Israel, Italy and the Palestinian Authority to develop a regional natural gas market. Turkey was excluded from this forum and was very upset. (A month later ExxonMobil announced a new gas discovery in Cypriot waters.)

In other words it is a melange of denying rights, legal assertions and exclusion tactics.

Now look at a map of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and then tell me - Is it reasonable that Turkey should have practically no rights at all? Any fair-minded person would recognise that Turkey does and all reasonable people would recognise that all the countries bordering the area of exploration have rights and should cooperate and work together and none should be excluded. What is happening is that The Group wants it all.

It is a very big mistake to believe that Turkey is in the wrong and also that it will back down on this.

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 1:12 utc | 30
Part 2

The Excluded Countries

In addition to Turkey, the countries that are excluded appear to be Syria, Lebanon, and Libya. It is right that The Group is seeking to exclude all these other countries?

It doesn't matter whether the oil and gas are viable (it may or may not be) what is happening is that Turkey is not being allowed any recognition and they are choosing to assert (take) their rights (because there is no other option available to them). If Turkey did not do so then they would lose any future rights to the Mediterranean at all.

Syrian, Lebanon and Libya are obviously too weak to assert their rights. Although the Palestinian Authority participated in Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum I don't really expect Palestine to benefit much and it should be noted the Palestinian Authority is are far too weak to do anything – I'm afraid they are just being used.

Greece and Cyprus are being used as pawns by the US (why else would US Ambassador Pyatt be based in Greece? This kind of disruption is his speciality) and Greece is being set to confront Turkey.

Now look at a map of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and then tell me - Is it reasonable that Turkey should have practically no rights at all? Any fair-minded person would recognise that Turkey does and all reasonable people would recognise that all the countries bordering the area of exploration have rights and should cooperate and work together and none should be excluded. What is happening is that The Group wants it all.

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 1:15 utc | 31
Part 3

Libyan GNA

The reason why Turkey does not want the Libyan GNA to fall is because they fear that Haftar will fall into line with The Group and further strengthen Turkey's exclusion from the Mediterranean energy exploration. So it is in Turkey's great national interest to secure Libya as an ally. Also, the GNA are still recognised as the legitimate government of Libya by the UN so in legal terms Turkey is not doing anything wrong in recognising and supporting the Libyan GNA.

As regards the Turkey/Libyan Maritime Zone - What is happening is that Turkey and Libya are showing The Group that it to can carve out areas and claim to areas of the Mediterranean Seas just as much as they can.

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 1:17 utc | 32
Part 4

Cyprus

It was widely believed that the 2015-17 Cyprus reunification talks where positive and the closet ever to reaching a settlement. Who should be blamed for the collapse? Many believe that is was the Greek Cypriot side that was a fault. The big sticking point was that the Turkish Cypriot side wanted some 40,000 Turkish troops to remain based in the North of the Island because of fears over security. At the time the Greek Cypriot side said it was impossible to accept the continued presence of Turkish troops. This was a big mistake, Cyprus would have been federally united and in 10 years time the Turkish troops could well have been greatly reduced. When the talks collapsed the talk was of inevitable partition.

And what do we see in 2019? Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot President, wants to reopen talks "exactly where they left off" - A belated recognition that it was the Greek Cypriots that threw away what would have been a fantastic settlement and a fairly blatant attempt to peel away Turkish Cypriots from Turkey (Anastasiades call for a resumption of talks seems to have come with some unnecessary hostile remarks directed at Turkey), and hasty desire (now that there has been a gas discovery off the coast of Cyprus) to rescue the agreement because The Group now they can use this agreement to further marginalise Turkey.

flankerbandit , Dec 18 2019 1:51 utc | 33
I like Frances's take on this...ie smells like a master plan between Russia and Turkey...

Why not...?...the Sultan and VVP deciding to carve up some territory, as in the old colonial days...?

Russia and Turkey are getting closer all the time...Helmer's take about the 'Stavka' not being fully on board with this notwithstanding...

The very useful clue is from that Atlantic Council article...the rule to apply here is to just be for everything they are against...and be against whatever they are for...

In this case they are agitating for the West to step up to the plate and arm the GNA...even a fly zone for farg's sakes...

Yeah...everything but let Turkey and Russia divide the spoils among themselves right...?...throw a wrench into the spokes at any cost...?

But the thing is that Trump is not interested in any new wars or proxy wars...and I think a Libya 2.0 is going to be an extremely hard sell anywhere, with the disaster of Killary's 2011 adventure still fresh in everyone's minds...

So nobody is stepping in...there is a vacuum there and I think that there may be some grand bargain cooking behind the scenes with VVP and the Sultan...who knows how far this thing could go...?

It's already causing HUGE headaches in Sodom on the Potomac...as is clear from the shrieks of agony from the likes of the Atlantic Council and many others...

Duncan Idaho , Dec 18 2019 1:55 utc | 34
Even though oil is on stage, it seems we are not dealing with Norway.
ADKC , Dec 18 2019 2:17 utc | 35
Part 5

Military Conflict

Turkey may not be the best militarily; they are slow and ponderous but they are strong enough to move forward, occupy and hold space and take a significant amount of attrition while doing so. Turkey is strong enough to be able to assert "facts on the ground" even if they have to absorb several hard blows - they have been learning a lot from Russia on this.

With regards to Libya, Turkey cannot be prevented from moving forward, occupying space, supplying the Libyan GNA, providing military equipment and troops, etc. UNLESS their lines of supply are cut and this means that The Group would have to attack first and sink a Turkish ship.

And this would mean that Greece (the obvious party that might be set-up for this role) would attack Turkey and sink a Turkish ship? This would be an act of war against Turkey and Turkey would, as a result of such action, be fully (and legally) entitled to respond. So, commonsense tells you that Greece and The Group can't really do this.

If The Group enables Haftar to sink a Turkish ship then Turkey will be able to claim an attack against them, and retaliate and occupy Libya and expect NATO support whilst doing so. The effect of such an act by Haftar's forces would inevitably result in victory for Erdogan (counter-intuitive though that may seem).

While Turkey and Erdogan's association with the Muslim Brotherhood can be seen as a vector that ensures Egypt's hostility towards Turkey's presence in Libya can this really express itself militarily?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a strong movement in Egypt which has been around for a very long time. Effectively this excludes Egypt from joining any direct attack on Turkey because they will fear the unintended consequences that will arise within Egypt.

I'm afraid The Group, in seeking to exclude a major country like Turkey (with an obvious major interest in the Mediterranean), is taking the first step towards war. Sinking a Turkish ship would be another step towards war. Turkey will win any conflict as long as they are prepared to accept some hard blows (and they will be). The Group will lose any conflict because they are only able to strike small (sink a ship at most) or strike huge (annihilation); they have no middle game – Turkey will be able to absorb small blows and China & Russia will not allow Turkey to be destroyed.

At present, Turkey has nothing to lose (as far as the Mediterranean Sea energy exploration goes) - it follows that in any military conflict that Turkey will gain. Military conflicts have to be settled by negotiation - it is only a western delusion that wars are fought to unconditional surrender or absolute destruction. It is The Group and, in particular, Greece that will lose (Greece has a lot to lose in any conflict - no matter how well it goes for Greece - they will have to give up something, even if they think they have won, because that will be price of ending any conflict (because it always is unless you can annihilate your adversary).

It is not Turkey that is over-reaching- it is The Group (Israel, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and the US) that have overplayed their hand and have most to lose.

The only thing that makes any sense in terms of a strategic plan is that it nothing more than machinations by the US seeking to bring chaos closer to the heart of Europe. From the outset, The Group knew what they were doing to Turkey and they knew how Turkey would feel about it and how Turkey was likely to react.

div> On paper, Erdogan may have easy superiority in Libya, but he may get into troubles for two reasons:
1) Libyans, currently quite fractured, actually both major coalitions are riven by internal lack of cohesion. To compare, Assad government had no business surviving, but the opposition was split into moderates, i.e. small time gangsters and bandits having difficulties making units of more than 100 people, and jihadists who had some abstruse reasons to hate each other. And Turkey did not make such a good job in Idlib, Afrin and north Aleppo.
2) Egypt. Forget about ground troops, they would probably focus on air supremacy. This is an Achilles heel of an expeditionary force. If they are intelligent (a risk that has to be consider), they may hit the moment Turkey attempts to expand its foothold. Just letting it slide would be a considerable loss of face for al-Sisi

Posted by: Piotr Berman , Dec 18 2019 2:19 utc | 36

On paper, Erdogan may have easy superiority in Libya, but he may get into troubles for two reasons:
1) Libyans, currently quite fractured, actually both major coalitions are riven by internal lack of cohesion. To compare, Assad government had no business surviving, but the opposition was split into moderates, i.e. small time gangsters and bandits having difficulties making units of more than 100 people, and jihadists who had some abstruse reasons to hate each other. And Turkey did not make such a good job in Idlib, Afrin and north Aleppo.
2) Egypt. Forget about ground troops, they would probably focus on air supremacy. This is an Achilles heel of an expeditionary force. If they are intelligent (a risk that has to be consider), they may hit the moment Turkey attempts to expand its foothold. Just letting it slide would be a considerable loss of face for al-Sisi

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 18 2019 2:19 utc | 36

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 2:48 utc | 37
Part 6

Kastellorizo – A Greek Island off the Turkish Coast

Greece "owns" Kastelorizo, an island which is only about 2 kilometres off the coast of Turkey. "Ownership" of islands such as Kastellorizo is meant to "give" Greece the "right" to exclude Turkey from the Mediterranean Sea? I'm afraid that this is an absolutist, simplistic and unrealistic position.

The "ownership" of Kastellorizo has changed many times throughout history and has been "owned" by Turkey (the Ottomans) on a number of occasions. If you look at the maps you can see that Kastellorizo is part of the same geological formation as the nearby Turkish coast. It's akin to claiming "ownership" of my doorstop and then claiming that you "own" everything outside the walls of my house (including my garden, car, garage, dog, cat, etc. and then telling me I can't even use my doorstep or leave my house. If you did that to me, I would push you aside and that is what Turkey is doing to Greece.

I know that many, many Greeks fundamentally disagree but they are just being partisan, unfair and realistic and are allowing themselves to getting carried away with hostility towards Turkey.

Kastellorizo could have been assigned to Turkey at the end of the WWII as part of the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 but instead, the "ownership" of Kastellorizo was removed from Italy and given to Greece.

In any military conflict between Turkey and Greece (like, for instance) sinking a Turkish Ship, then islands Kastellorizo will be immediately taken into "ownership" by Turkey and it will be a long time, if ever, that Greece can think about re-"owning" Kastellorizo. Essentially, the issue of Kastellorizo and its "ownership" would be settled and there would be very little Greece could do about it.

When Greece asserts is rights to the Mediterranean Sea based on "ownership" of islands such as Kastellorizo and uses such "ownership" to deny Turkey rights to the Mediterranean Sea it is just being provocative and unreasonable and inducing Turkey.

Petri Krohn , Dec 18 2019 3:07 utc | 38
Turkey is wrong if it thinks something in international law allows it to annul the freedom of the seas and block pipelines. I will repost what I wrote on October 31:
MARITIME LAW EXPLAINED

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) from 1958 guarantees to all countries the right to lay cables and pipes in international waters. This is part of the freedom of the seas. Laying cables and pipes is not "economic" activity as defined in the 1982 treaty that gave countries the right to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Pipe laying is affected only by the little-known Espoo Convention from 1991 that obliges the parties to carry out an environmental impact assessment of certain activities at an early stage of planning. Nowhere in the treaty does it say that it can be used to stop the freedom of navigation or other freedoms of the seas.

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 3:11 utc | 39
Piotir Brennan @36

Turkey does not need and doesn't intend to conquer Libya.

All Turkey has to do is maintain the Libyan GNA which is the government legally recognised by the UN.

Only the Security Council can remove recognition of the Libyan GNA and this would be a fairly cynical move by the West if attempted (and, I imagine, would be vetoed by more than just Russia and China).

Military aircraft are vulnerable when ground troops have access to modern surface to air missiles and are trained in their use. Expect Libyan GNA forces to have copious supplies of the ground and shoulder-launched versions of these weapons. What good did aircraft do for Saudi Arabia in Yemen? There is no winner here, only stalemate and that's more than good enough for Turkey.

The only way to prevent Turkey from achieving its aims is to sink it's supply ships. This would be a rash and extremely inadvisable act.

I would advise policymakers and Governments (particularly, The Group) to see where this is all heading and not go down this path.

Copeland , Dec 18 2019 3:12 utc | 40
The coming debacle may present few heroes for our consideration. The weakest states are probably headed for the smash-and-grab treatment at the end of the day. How is one to believe that Erdogan gives a damn about the government in Libya?--any government? Hafter and the GNA are both pretenders who have only marginal support in that country. These are but stick figures in a land that's been thrown into a howling anarchy, thanks to the military operation that Obama green-lighted. Since Erdogan is dealing with virtual nonentities, this aggression is his aggression. And this illegal sea lane is his insult to international law and prior agreements that recognize the rights of regional nations. It looks a lot like an act of war or at least a pretty serious provocation.

Greece, for one, ought to be worried about this development, as some of the resources it counts on as its territorial right is threatened here.

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 3:31 utc | 41
Petri Krohn @38

I don't believe that any of the Mediterranean Sea is "international waters" it's all been carved up into Exclusive Economic Zone's (EEZ)- there's nothing left! The Group are carving everything up for themselves and left Turkey (and a number of other countries e.g. Syria) with very little.

Any person thinking rationally would be able to see that Turkey has been treated unfairly and will see Turkey has been left with no effective (peaceful) way to get any redress.

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 3:39 utc | 42
Copeland @40

This is just partisan rubbish.

All Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean nations need to do is get together, cooperate and share.

The actions of The Group (Israel, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and the US) are the ones that are causing all the difficulties because they have tried to grab everything for themselves and exclude everyone else.

Greece and the rest of The Group need to include Turkey, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Palestine (and remove the US).

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 3:44 utc | 43
ADKC @37

The last sentence of Part 6 should have read:

When Greece asserts is rights to the Mediterranean Sea based on "ownership" of islands such as Kastellorizo and uses such "ownership" to deny Turkey rights to the Mediterranean Sea it is just being provocative and unreasonable and inducing Turkey to consider military options.

Copeland , Dec 18 2019 3:57 utc | 44
Turkey controls the Dardanelles (the entrance to the Black Sea) by treaty. Turkey has been treated as it deserves. The Aegean Sea is recognized as Greek waters; and that probably includes the seabed beneath it. When Greece was at its most vulnerable after the recent financial collapse, Turkish air force ramped up overflights of Greek territory, some of it pretty aggressive, just to rub salt in the wound. It wasn't very neighborly. It looks like Erdogan's new sea lane trespasses the Greek island of Rhodes and several others.
ADKC , Dec 18 2019 4:46 utc | 49
Matthiew @23 posts a link to a very good analysis in Global Research by Andrew Korybko called Turkey's Libyan Gamble Is a Shrewd Geostrategic Move

What Andrew Korkblko suggests is that the pipeline, that Turkey is obstructing with the "Turkey/Libyan Maritime Zone", is not really about Cypriot gas (which b. believes will be too small and uneconomic to justify a pipeline) but about Israeli gas which is intended to be piped under the Mediterranean Sea into Europe as a competitor to Russian gas. Maybe the whole thing about Cypriot gas is just a smokescreen to disguise the true origins (Israel) of the gas.

What, I suppose, Israel is trying to achieve is to minimise the number of nations that have a say about (and, I guess, a cut of) the pipeline. So, the attempt to cut Turkey and other weaker countries out of share (gas transit fees) has forced Turkey to move on its long-held grievance about being treated unfairly in the Mediterranean Sea.

Are we about to see a war in the Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey caused by US and Israeli machinations?

ADKC , Dec 18 2019 6:15 utc | 54
BTGX @52

I am not talking about rights that are legally justified by "ownership" - what I am saying is that the whole of the Mediterranean Sea and its resources should be shared fairly and reasonably by all nations of the Mediterranean.

The proposed gas pipeline is just an example where a small group of nations (Israel, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and the US - The Group) have got together to grab what they can for themselves and exclude others.

Your argument is essentially we have the legal right, we are recognised under international law, therefore we can do what we like, we can have it all, and you, who have been excluded, you will have nothing. But, anyone can see that this is unreasonable and the path to disaster.

But in some ways all this is now moot. The pipeline appears to be really about Israeli gas and the lack of wisdom in trying to exclude Turkey. If The Group has any sense they will share the booty with Turkey. If not, they will get Greece to sink a Turkish ship - the outcome won't be good for Greece.

[Dec 17, 2019] The Best And Worst Oil Predictions Of 2019 Zero Hedge

Dec 17, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Best And Worst Oil Predictions Of 2019 by Tyler Durden Mon, 12/16/2019 - 19:50 0 SHARES

Authored by Julianne Geiger via OilPrice.com,

There's nothing like wild volatility to destroy the integrity of those high-end bankers and analysts who are brave enough to make oil price predictions year in and year out.

But the forecasting nightmare doesn't stop them, even at the worst of times.

In the final month of last year, banks and analysts were brave enough to divulge their predictions for 2019.

At that time, the second year of the OPEC agreement was coming to a close; the U.S. had re-imposed sanctions on Iran four months earlier with waiver extensions; and the average price of a Brent barrel for December was changing hands at $56.50, compared to the month earlier average of $65.20. WTI averaged $49 in December 2018. OPEC had agreed to cut production again for 2019.

So who should we look for when it's time to forecast what oil prices will do in 2020? That depends on their track record the last time around.

Here are some of the best and worst oil price predictions of 2019:

The World Bank

For 2019, the World Bank was one of the first on the scene to provide its outlook in late 2018.

The Bank said the most important factor for 2019 would be OPEC, specifically the lack of spare production capacity among OPEC members. This lack of oil production capacity would provide "limited buffers" should there be a sudden shortfall in the supply of oil "raising the likelihood of oil price spikes in 2019."

While WB acknowledged that the world was currently in a state of oversupply, it could swing the other way quickly. In the first month of 2019, the World Bank conservatively predicted that Brent would average $67 per barrel for the year -- a $2 per barrel decrease from its June 2018 predictions for 2019. The WB was quick to add that the "uncertainty around this forecast is high."

How did they do? Aside from needlessly worrying the market with OPEC's lack of capacity, it turns out their prediction was a bit high. The average price of the Brent barrel in Q1 2019 was $63.30; for Q2 it was $68.30, and Q3 at $61.90. November's average was $62.70.

Citi

Citi's forecast for 2019 , also made in December 2018, was more sober-minded, with the bank predicting that Brent would average $60 for the year. It, too, predicted a volatile market for the next year, largely because the U.S., Russia, and Saudi Arabia -- the top three oil producers in the world--all had different views as to what that perfect oil price should be. The bank also predicted that oil production in the United States would continue to offset much of what OPEC would cut -- a prediction that turned out to be close to reality: US production has increased 1.2 million bpd this year -- precisely what OPEC agreed to cut.

How did they do? Not terrible. Its primary range was for Brent to trade between $55 and $65 per barrel--a generous $10 price range. Even with that big range, oil sat above $65 for the better part of February through May.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML)

Also in mid-December 2018, BAML took a stab at making Brent price predictions , forecasting that oil would resume its path back up to $70 average in 2019, with a potential for higher prices in Q2. Similar to Citi and World Bank, BAML said that oil prices would be volatile.

How did they do? It's hard to argue with the fact that oil indeed appears to be trending upward, which could be interpreted as "resuming its path back up to $70". And Q2 was in fact higher, with oil prices actually surpassing $70 for a time in April and May.

However, BAML lost a bit of credibility in our book when it hedged its forecast by saying that "the only certainty is uncertainty." BAML hedged further in April when it said oil prices had a higher chance of hitting $100 than what the market consensus was, due to OPEC supply cuts, a slowdown in US shale, and IMO 2020 regulations.

BAML further watered down its predictions in August when it said oil could fall to $30 or $40 should China decide to import substantial amounts of oil from Iran, despite the US sanctions.

The EIA

A month after Citi, WB, and BAML ponied up their predictions, the EIA came out with its own. Its prediction for 2019 , provided in its January 2019 Short Term Energy Outlook, was that Brent would average $61 per barrel. Around this time, specifically at the start of the year, Brent was trading at $53.80 and WTI was trading at $45.41 .

How did they do? Not half bad. Brent traded at an average of $61.90 for the 3rd quarter 2019, and November's average was $62.70 -- less than $2 off per barrel for a prediction made 11 months ago in a volatile market.

That's it for the predictions made at the start of the year. But other predictions along the way, armed with a half a year or more of actual data, are noteworthy as well.

FX Empire: Using adaptive dynamic learning (ADL), FX Empire predicted in July of this year that oil prices would rotate between $47 and $64 between July and October, before falling in November and December to a range between $45 and $50. FX Empire said it could actually dip below $40 by the end of 2019, or in early 2020.

How did they do? FX Empire's ADL appears to be pretty far off the mark. This CL=F is today trading at $59.42, nearly $20 higher than it's sub-$40 prediction for the end of the year.

Goldman Sachs' Jeff Currie : In October, Currie, head of Goldman's commodity research, warned that oil prices could fall as low as $20 per barrel for WTI if oversupply were to result in full storage facilities. With nowhere to put it, explains Currie, the price of oil would fall dramatically as production would have to crash. However, crude oil inventories in the United States are not dramatically up, and are almost even-steven with this time last year, down a total of 1.41 million barrels over the last 50 weeks. Global oil inventories are a different story, though. In Currie's defense, he did say that there was a less than 50% chance of oil falling below $20 barrel.

How did they do? By our math, that 50% hedge would have made Goldman correct either way.

IEA : Piggybacking off Goldman's October forecast for the oil-inventory-pocalypse, the IEA's Fatih Birol said that these low prices would force the US to cut production, resulting in a price hike once again. In July, the IEA predicted that slowing oil demand would cap oil prices, and keep them from moving too much higher. At the time, Brent was trading at $63.01, with WTI trading at $56.18.

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How did they do? With Brent trading on December 12 at $64.47, the $1.50 increase comfortably falls within the not-too-much-higher range, so we'd say the IEA's prediction was spot on.

Analyst Poll : In August, Reuters polled 51 economists and analysts, who thought Brent would average $65.02 in 2019. At the time, Brent had averaged $65.08, so the $65.02 wasn't stepping out on a long limb.

How did they do? Wisely, the analysts cited the US-China trade dispute and risk of an economic slowdown as the reason for its new forecast, which was down from $67.47 for the month before. Still, the price prediction was a bit high.

RBC Capital Markets : RBC's Helima Croft in May suggested that Brent could top $80 over the summer due to Iranian tensions.

How did they do? RBC got it partially right. Iran tensions did indeed escalate. Iran repeatedly made threats to close Hormuz, drone strikes attacked Saudi Aramco's oil infrastructure, and Iran seized a British oil tanker and held onto it for months. Still, prices didn't get anywhere near $80. But this isn't your daddy's oil market. A year or two ago, tensions in the Middle East -- especially ones that are more than just threats, would have sent oil prices soaring. But the market is today permanently spooked with the trade war negotiations with China and slow oil demand growth, meaning these geopolitical risks no longer pack the same punch.

Iran : In June, a top military aide to Iran's Supreme Leader issued a prediction which was really more of a warning: that the first bullet fired in the Persian Gulf would push oil prices above $100 per barrel. At the time, oil was trading at $61.67.

How did they do? Not well. Things did heat up in the Gulf, and bullets -- many of them -- have been fired over the last month after major fuel protests in Iran. There were also drone strikes over Saudi Arabia that did significant damage to oil infrastructure, which took offline over 5 million bpd. Still, oil got nowhere near $100.

Eurasia Group : Henry Rome, a senior analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, agreed that these same Iranian tensions could push prices above $100, and a major confrontation with Iran "would likely" send prices above $150.

How did they do? Even worse than Khamenei's military aide.

WSJ Poll: At the end of April, a week or so after the US announced that it would not extend the waivers to buyers of sanctioned Iranian oil, WSJ-polled analysts expected Brent to average $70 per barrel in 2019 -- an increase of $2 per barrel from its previous poll a month earlier.

How did they do? Oil was already trading at $70 at the time of their prediction, so it wasn't really a huge leap of faith at the time. Still, prices failed to get any higher than that for the remainder of the year, rendering their prediction in the far-too-high category.

[Dec 13, 2019] The process of waging war is lucrative - positive outcomes (gas and oil) are a bonus.

Dec 13, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

NickStanford , 10 Dec 2019 12:24

I think it should have been seen as a thirty year campaign and the same with Iraq and Libya. The northern Ireland campaign took 30 years and many people are as bitter as they ever were much of it secondhand from younger people who weren't even alive during the conflict. The idea of a quick war is a very big mistake I think and flawed short-term thinking.
Piet Pompies -> MrMopp , 10 Dec 2019 12:24
Most decorated Marine officer ever? I thought that was Chesty Puller?
sammer -> tenientesnafu , 10 Dec 2019 12:24
That was very well put. Thank you for being so succinct.
easterman -> MrMopp , 10 Dec 2019 12:23
The process of waging war is lucrative - positive outcomes (gas and oil) are a bonus.
MyViewsOnThis , 10 Dec 2019 12:22
The West and the USA in particular have always taken the stand that their ideology is the only right one. That they have a right to interfere in the interns, affairs of other countries but their own internal affairs are sacrosanct.

So - USA, with UK support decided that Saddam Hussein had to be removed. They moved in to do so - they killed Saddam but had no plan to return the country to a functioning nation. Instead they facilitated the unleashing of internal wars and have now left the citizens of that country in utter turmoil.

& then went and repeated the exercise n Libya.

Decades ago, Britain decided that Palestinians could be thrown out of their homes to make way for the creation of Israel and laid the foundation for the Middle-East turmoil that has caused untold misery and suffering. They followed that up with throwing out the Chagosians out of their homes and making them homeless. Invited Caribbean's to the 'Mother Country' to serve their erstwhile lords, ladies, masters and mistresses only to then drive to despair the children and grandchildren of the invitees who had contributed to the 'Mother Country' for decades.

easterman , 10 Dec 2019 12:21
Lest we forget Cheney salivating over the gas in the Caspian Basin http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/west_asia/37021.stm
Piet Pompies -> cephalus , 10 Dec 2019 12:19
Yep, biggest terrorist state in the world, ever.
KoreyD , 10 Dec 2019 12:19
We are 18 years into an illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. We are the invaders, the terrorists. The Taliban are fighting for their country, they may use brutal methods but so did the French, Dutch, Russian freedom fighters during the Nazi invasions. America's puppet regime in Afghanistan is reminiscent of the Quislings of WW2. And to use drones to kill Afghans and to say it is progress that there is more transparency is the height of hubris. All it does is show the corrosive effect of unfettered power in America and it's military. Why do we tolerate this inhuman action on another country's society? America is by far the greatest contributor to the rise in terrorism in the world and if not somehow stopped the greatest threat to world peace. It keeps on invading country after country with it's MSM propaganda machine claiming it is spreading Democracy throughout the globe. Thank you America !

[Dec 09, 2019] Crisis amid Plenty: The Politics of Soviet Energy under Brezhnev and Gorbachev

Dec 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

pogohere , Dec 9 2019 1:25 utc | 57

john brewster @ 18

Speaking of Shane Gustafson: this is an excellent book:

Crisis amid Plenty: The Politics of Soviet Energy under Brezhnev and Gorbachev (Princeton Legacy Library) Paperback – February 1, 1991

Although the Soviet Union has the most abundant energy reserves of any country, energy policy has been the single most disruptive factor in its industry since the mid-1970s. This major case study treats the paradox of the energy crisis as an essential part of larger economic problems of the Soviet Union and as a key issue in determining the fate of the Gorbachev reforms.

One of the theses of the book is that the Soviet industry had a "silo" structure: the various components (exploration, drilling, production, transport, export) didn't coordinate with one another and depended on the glue of communist party apparatchiks to keep the system functioning. Gorbachev is said to have eliminated that glue and chaos ensued.

Schmoe@ 36

Re: "Due to an EU ruling related to foreign-affiliated pipelines (or some variation of that), it will likely be forced to operate at 50% of capacity."

[Dec 09, 2019] We will see on Nordstream 2 sanctions' effectiveness. Generally, US sanctions, when aggressively enforced, are extremely effective (and lethal in many cases).

Notable quotes:
"... The sanctions against Russia are not that broad but they have impacted Russian energy E&P efforts in difficult to reach environments. ..."
"... That is just common sense...large Euro energy companies are partners in Nordstream and have invested billions...do you think they are just going to throw up their hands and say 'Ok we give up'...? ..."
"... And supposedly the owners of those ships [there is actually only one company in the world, Swiss-based Allseas, that operates these deep sea pipe-laying ships] are going to drop Nordstream because they don't want to lose potential US business in the Gulf of Mexico... ..."
"... That is bullshit...what pipelines are being planned for the Gulf...?...Zero... ..."
Dec 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Dec 8 2019 20:32 utc | 35

@ 17 in re "...strong Nordstream 2 sanctions..."

We shall see how strong. I'd put money on the Germans doing business with their natural Eastern partners. Business is business, suzerain occupation since 75 years notwithstanding.

Actually I harbor doubts about the strength of imperial ability, as the natural reaction every time they use dollarweapon, is the weakening of the weapon...

That Good Man V Putin, I'm sure we all recall, recently spoke to this matter...signing off with "they (or the dollar) will collapse soon."

zerohedge > "The Dollar Enjoyed Great Trust Around The World. But For Some Reason It Is Being Used As A Political Weapon, Imposing Restrictions. Many Countries Are Now Turning Away From The Dollar As A Reserve Currency. US Dollar Will Collapse Soon."


Schmoe , Dec 8 2019 20:50 utc | 36

karlof1, c1ue

We will see on Nordstream 2 sanctions' effectiveness. Generally, US sanctions, when aggressively enforced, are extremely effective (and lethal in many cases). The sanctions against Russia are not that broad but they have impacted Russian energy E&P efforts in difficult to reach environments.

I would also add that:

a) LNG prices are currently at incredibly low levels and if they hold at these levels importation of LNG could minimize Germany's hit, and Qatar last week announced it will expands its LNG export capabilities;

b) Russia / Gazprom did not finance Nordstream 2's construction; initially I believe Gazprom did so but a consortium of 4 Netherlands (including Royal Dutch Shell), Austrian and German companies later assumed the financing obligation;

c) Due to an EU ruling related to foreign-affiliated pipelines (or some variation of that), it will likely be forced to operate at 50% of capacity.

Based on a) - c) there is much less than meets to eye for Nordstream 2.

A more likely outcome than violation of US sanction IMO is an asymmetric response from Germany; perhaps the EU aviation authorities will deny whatever Band Aid Boeing puts our for the 737 Max's MCAS system. Or Germany approves Huawei's 5g equipment.

Schmoe , Dec 9 2019 3:42 utc | 63
@pogohere

I'm not sure how I missed those Nov 16 posts so thanks for forwarding. This quote will be interesting:

"With some 85% of the pipeline already laid, new congressional sanctions aimed at companies participating in the pipeline's construction will not stop it.

Instead, they will become a new bone of contention between the United States and Europe.

That is just common sense...large Euro energy companies are partners in Nordstream and have invested billions...do you think they are just going to throw up their hands and say 'Ok we give up'...?

Even a child can see this Spiegel diarrhea for what it is...

And supposedly the owners of those ships [there is actually only one company in the world, Swiss-based Allseas, that operates these deep sea pipe-laying ships] are going to drop Nordstream because they don't want to lose potential US business in the Gulf of Mexico...

That is bullshit...what pipelines are being planned for the Gulf...?...Zero...

Yet the Russians are the world's gas and pipeline superpower and have more pipeline projects in the works...

As if Allseas is going to risk their biggest customer for some bullshit US sanctions...[they are also laying the Turkstream pipeline..."

Any company whose operations are all international will unfortunately have to think long and hard about losing accessing to dollars. Open violations of US Sanctions are still almost unheard of - Rosneft in Venezuala, Reliance Industries might now be buying Venezuelan oil - so I would not be pollyanish about their power. Note that European companies will not use Instinex out of fear of losing access to dollars.

mk , Dec 9 2019 8:10 utc | 74
@Nick 58

Your questions are absolutely justified. The original story was written by Georg Mascolo, the German Dana Milbank, i.e. the chief mouth piece of the intelligence services. This is an obvious attempt to put pressure on Merkel to hamper relations with "Evil Russia" just prior to a possible breakthrough in the Normandy talks. The German services, especially the BND, are the last strongholds of Transatlanticism here, and they try to brace themselves against any rapprochment between Russia and Germany. But this will be in vain. It's simply that the geopolitical imperative is too strong: the two countries fit together perfectly in terms of their respective needs and abilities.

[Dec 08, 2019] As Winter Comes Pipeline Wars Heat Up -- Strategic Culture

Dec 08, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Tom Luongo December 8, 2019 © Photo: Wikimedia For all of 2019 December has been a magnet. A number of major geopolitical issues come to head this month and many of them have everything to do with energy. This is the month that Russian gas giant Gazprom was due to finish production on three major pipeline projects – Nordstream 2, Turkstream and Power of Siberia.

Power of Siberia is here. It's finished. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping christened the pipeline to begin the month. Next month Putin will travel to Turkey to join President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open the first of four potential trains of the Turkstream pipeline.

It is only Nordstream 2 that continues to lag behind because of insane levels of pressure from the United States that is dead set against this pipeline coming online.

And the reason for that is the last of the major energy issues surrounding Gazprom needing resolution this month, the gas transit contract between it and Ukraine's Naftogaz.

The two gas companies have been locked in legal disputes for years, some of which center on Crimea's decision to break away from Ukraine and rejoin Russia in 2014. Most of them, however, involve disputes over costs incurred during the previous and expiring gas transit contract.

The particulars today are ultimately irrelevant as these lawsuits have been used as nothing more than blackmail to keep a new contract from getting signed. Ukraine has sued Gazprom in courts, like in Sweden, that rule not by the tenets of contract law but rather through the lens of social justice.

These have been political decisions that allowed Naftogaz to seize Gazprom's European assets, further complicating any resolution to the conflict. These policies were pursued aggressively by former Ukrainian President and long-time US State Department asset Petro Poroshenko and they have done nothing to help Ukraine.

All they have done is strip-mine the country of its assets while keeping a war to prevent the secession of the Donbass alive.

This dovetails with the external pressure applied to EU member states, like Denmark, to delay if not outright thwart completion of Nordstream 2.

Opposition to Nordstream 2 in the US is all about leveraging influence in Ukraine and turn it into a client state hostile to Russia sharing a border with Russia. If there's no gas transit contract and there's no Nordstream 2 then US LNG suppliers can sell gas there and deprive Russia of the revenues and the business.

It's truly that simple. But that strategy has morphed over the years into a convoluted chess match of move/countermove in the vain hope of achieving something that looks like a victory. But this isn't a game of real chess but rather a timed match.

Because the end of 2019 was always coming. And Ukraine would eventually have to decide as to which direction it wanted to go. Moreover, that same choice was put in front of the EU who have clearly, in the end, realized that the US under President Trump is not a long-term reliable partner, but rather a bully which seeks its goals through threat and intimidation.

Stay with the US or green light Nordstream 2. The choice in Europe was clear. Nordstream 2 gets finished, as Denmark finally granted the final environmental permit for its construction in October.

That delay moves the completion date out into 2020. And that now gives the US Senate one last chance to stop the completion of the pipeline because everything else to this point has failed, including the EU changing the rules on its gas pipeline rules to force Gazprom to 'unbundle' the pipeline from the gas flowing through it.

Germany amended that directive to allow Nordstream 2 to be regulated at the German federal level and not at the EU level. This was as much of a win as could have been hoped for.

This prompted the response from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee head Jim Risch who wants to sanction anyone assisting Gazprom building the pipeline to be sanctioned and forced out of business.

"The reason for the push is that this window is closing. A lot of Nord Stream is done already. It will cost them dearly. I think if those sanctions pass [the companies] will shut down, and I think the Russians will have to look for another way to do this if they can do this," Risch said.

In reality the window has closed.

At the end of the day even if this legislation passes there will be no way to stop the pipeline from being completed or the gas to flow through it. With so little of the pipeline left to complete there is no practical way to stop it from happening. Risch and other US senators are hoping to strand Nordstream 2 as an unfinished boondoggle but that's folly.

The German government wants this pipeline, therefore the German government will put up the funds to ensure the contractors are paid and the pipeline completed.

There is a limit to the extent which sanctions can block commerce and once completed the US will have no ability to sanction the gas flowing through the pipeline. It's a sad and pathetic state of affairs that so much time, manpower and capital was wasted to stop a pipeline that is necessary for Germany's future.

It also highlights the hypocrisy of US policy since there isn't a peep out of the US on Turkstream, which will stitch NATO ally Turkey to Russia via 15.75 cm of natural gas every year. Eventually it will replace the lost South Stream pipeline as the other trains are built and contracted for.

All of the countries in eastern Europe are hungry for a piece of Turkstream's future. Serbia Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy and Greece are all potential customers.

And all of these countries that currently get their gas from Ukraine are at risk if nothing gets resolved between it and Russia. This is why the meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Zelensky is so important. It has the opportunity to begin reversing the damage done to the basic fabric of Ukraine and Europe by agreeing to a path to ending the war in the Donbass and coming to an agreement on gas transit.

There are more than $12 billion in lawsuits outstanding that Naftogaz has pending against Gazprom. With Nordstream 2 a fait accompli that is all the leverage Zelensky has at that meeting.

This game is a microcosm of the way the US foreign policy establishment uses Europe as the battleground in the war against Russia. And given the way the political winds are shifting, Europeans are getting very tired of it.

This is why gas storage facilities in Europe are full, there is real fear that Gazprom will walk away from the talks with Ukraine and will wait out the completion of Nordstream 2. Gazprom offered an extension of the current contract on the condition that Ukraine drop the lawsuits.

Naftogaz said no. We'll see if Zelensky is smart enough to say yes.

[Dec 07, 2019] China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline is now operational

Dec 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , December 02, 2019 at 06:52 AM

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-12/02/c_138600270.htm

December 2, 2019

China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline in operation

HARBIN -- The China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline was put into operation on Monday.

At the gas-distributing and compressing station in the city of Heihe, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, the data screen was switched on, indicating parameter variations of the gas passage. The station is the first stop after the Russia-supplied natural gas enters China.

The pipeline is scheduled to provide China with 5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas in 2020 and the amount is expected to increase to 38 billion cubic meters annually from 2024, under a 30-year contract worth 400 billion U.S. dollars signed between the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Russian gas giant Gazprom in May 2014.

The cross-border gas pipeline has a 3,000-km section in Russia and a 5,111-km stretch in China.

Shao Hua, general manager of Heihe City Natural Gas Development Co., Ltd. of China Gas, said that the border city of Heihe still largely relies on coal for heat. With the Sino-Russian natural gas pipeline's operation, the city now has access to a stable supply of clean energy.

Heihe has registered 30,000 households for switching to natural gas for heating. It will take one year to complete full coverage of the gas network in the city, according to the company.

China's natural gas consumption reached 280.3 billion cubic meters in 2018. The country's demand for natural gas will continue to soar toward 2040, outstripping domestic output by around 43 percent, according to an International Energy Agency report.

China aims to raise the use of natural gas to 10 percent of the country's energy mix by 2020 and 15 percent by 2030, said the National Development and Reform Commission.

anne -> anne... , December 02, 2019 at 06:56 AM
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-25/how-russia-china-gas-pipeline-changes-energy-calculus-quicktake

November 25, 2019

How Russia-China Gas Pipeline Changes Energy Calculus
By Olga Tanas, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Dan Murtaugh - Bloomberg

Russia is pivoting its energy business to the east. The world's largest exporter of natural gas has built an enormous pipeline running from Siberia to the Chinese border to feed China's insatiable energy appetite. The new conduit, called the Power of Siberia, is part of a plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin to reduce his country's dependence on gas markets in Europe and tap into the fast-growing economies of Asia. For China, whose domestic energy production can't keep up with demand, the pipeline offers a vital new source of supply....

Paine -> anne... , December 02, 2019 at 08:09 AM
"Deep Sam "
Is pushing Russia and China together. It's good for great game high jinx to have a formidable opponent. Nixon be damned

[Dec 07, 2019] Either the price deflator has to drop rapidly, or oil has to rise dramatically or we get an MMT moment.

Dec 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

joe , December 03, 2019 at 08:30 AM

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cMone6KRUmM/XeaI5OEmqDI/AAAAAAAACig/jg1Dz3V8IVMb3DLU_l1E917irAi84VD4wCLcBGAsYHQ/s400/fredgraph%2B%252843%2529.png
---

Another fun chart with oil prices and the implicit price deflator. Oil used to mostly follow the implicit deflator, until 2014.

The index start is different so there is some data discrepency, but it is clear that we have become an oil economy, we dig it up and sell it to more advanced economies, just like Nigeria.

Further, it you were to include the median home price over the housing bubble you will see that median, aggregate home price rose with oil, mainly because oil is about 15% of the input to home construction, and oil tripled in price.

The true home bubble was in California and Florida, a result we discovered in about 2010, and was reported on this blog.

We knew what was happening with oil shocks and chose to ignore it so we could have a nice Dean Baker style narrative. That is, we knew the truth and preferred the deception, which we also knew at the time. Ex post it is obvious our fake narrative resulted in increased inequality, which we have now proven.

We, the folks on this blog, were a natural experiment, mostly a natural experiment of boomers faking it, in full knowledge of the consequences. We got the expected result, low real GDP growth while interest charges, as a percentage of real growth, going through the roof.

Now we have another natural experiment. Either the price deflator has to drop rapidly, or oil has to rise dramatically or we get an MMT moment. Dunno the outcome. But we are really good at having the MMT moments. We can show that we have become better MMTers as each generation gains more technology and knowledge applied to central banking.

[Dec 06, 2019] Shale's Debt-Fueled Drilling Boom Is Coming To An End

Dec 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Shale's Debt-Fueled Drilling Boom Is Coming To An End by Tyler Durden Thu, 12/05/2019 - 22:05 0 SHARES

Authored by Nick Cunningham via OilPrice.com,

The financial struggles of the U.S. shale industry are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, but drillers in Appalachia are in particularly bad shape.

The Permian has recently seen job losses , and for the first time since 2016, the hottest shale basin in the world has seen job growth lag the broader Texas economy. The industry is cutting back amid heightened financial scrutiny from investors, as debt-fueled drilling has become increasingly hard to justify.

But E&P companies focused almost exclusively on gas, such as those in the Marcellus and Utica shales, are in even worse shape. An IEEFA analysis found that seven of the largest producers in Appalachia burned through about a half billion dollars in the third quarter.

Gas production continues to rise, but profits remain elusive. "Despite booming gas output, Appalachian oil and gas companies consistently failed to produce positive cash flow over the past five quarters," the authors of the IEEFA report said.

Of the seven companies analyzed, five had negative cash flow, including Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy, EQT, Range Resources, and Southwestern Energy. Only Cabot Oil & Gas and Gulfport Energy had positive cash flow in the third quarter.

The sector was weighed down but a sharp drop in natural gas prices, with Henry Hub off by 18 percent compared to a year earlier. But the losses are highly problematic. After all, we are more than a decade into the shale revolution and the industry is still not really able to post positive cash flow. Worse, these are not the laggards; these are the largest producers in the region.

The outlook is not encouraging. The gas glut is expected to stick around for a few years. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has repeatedly warned that unless there is an unusually frigid winter, which could lead to higher-than-expected demand, the gas market is headed for trouble. "A mild winter across the northern hemisphere or a worsening macro backdrop could be catastrophic for gas prices in all regions," Bank of America said in a note in October.

The problem for Appalachian drillers is that Permian producers are not really interested in all of the gas they are producing. That makes them unresponsive to price signals. Gas prices in the Permian have plunged close to zero, and have at times turned negative, but gas production in Texas really hinges on the industry's interest in oil. This dynamic means that the gas glut becomes entrenched longer than it otherwise might. It's a grim reality plaguing the gas-focused producers in Appalachia.

With capital markets growing less friendly, the only response for drillers is to cut back. IEEFA notes that drilling permits in Pennsylvania in October fell by half from the same month a year earlier. The number of rigs sidelined and the number of workers cut from payrolls also continues to pile up.

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The negative cash flow in the third quarter was led by Chesapeake Energy (-$264 million) and EQT (-$173 million), but the red ink is only the latest in a string of losses for the sector over the last few years. As a result, the sector has completely fallen out of favor with investors.

But gas drillers have fared worse, with share prices lagging not just the broader S&P 500, but also the fracking-focused XOP ETF, which has fallen sharply this year. In other words, oil companies have seen their share prices hit hard, but gas drillers have completely fallen off of a cliff. Chesapeake Energy even warned last month that it there was "substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern." Its stock is trading below $1 per share.

Even Cabot Oil & Gas, which posted positive cash flow in the third quarter, has seen its share price fall by roughly 30 percent year-to-date. "Even though Appalachian gas companies have proven that they can produce abundant supplies of gas, their financial struggles show that the business case for fracking remains unproven," IEEFA concluded. Tags Business Finance

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[Dec 06, 2019] The Gas war led to the creation of Russia-China pipeline and lessened the dependence of Russia on sales of the gas to the Westtern countries

Dec 06, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

POWER OF SIBERIA. Putin and Xi turned on the pipeline on Monday . It carries gas from Russia's Far East into China and has a carrying capacity of 61 billion M 3 per year . There'll be more .

This has no small strategic significance: previously, for foreign sales, Russia was dependent on customers in Europe who are all, to a greater or lesser extent, subject to pressure from the war party.

Added to which transport was affected by Kiev's whims. Turkstream (scheduled to start next month) and the two pipelines to Germany help with the second problem and this one with the first. Sooner or later, Russia-China pipelines would have appeared but I think Ishchenko's argument that the Western war on Russia speeded up the process is credible.

(Come to think of it, now that Putin's hand is imagined everywhere, maybe it's time to consider that he's the American war party's real backer; after all, everything it's touched has turned to dust: from the forever wars, to Iran's increased influence, to the Russia-China alliance and now the furore in the USA over Ukraine – itself another disastrous project.)

[Dec 04, 2019] Trump and Trade: He s Not All Wrong by Dean Baker

Notable quotes:
"... "Employment in the United States has increased steadily over the last seven years, one of the longest periods of economic growth in American history. There are about 10 million more working Americans today than when President Obama took office. ..."
"... "David Autor, an economist at M.I.T., estimated in a famous paper that increased trade with China did eliminate roughly one million factory jobs in the United States between 2000 and 2007. However, an important implication of his findings is that such job losses largely ended almost a decade ago. ..."
"... It is also worth noting that even though our trade deficit has declined from its 2006 peak (the non-oil deficit has recently been rising again), workers are constantly being displaced by imports. The Bureau of Labor Statistic reports there have been an average of 110,000 layoffs or discharges a month in manufacturing thus far this year. If just a quarter of these are trade-related, it would imply that more than 300,000 workers a year are losing their jobs due to trade. ..."
"... The second point is the wage effect, which can go beyond the direct impact of job loss. The oil market can give us a useful way of thinking about this issue. Suppose that Saudi Arabia or some other major producer ramps up its oil production by 1 million barrels of oil a day. This will put downward pressure on world prices, which will have the effect of lowering prices in the United States as well. This could mean, for example, that instead of getting $50 for a barrel of oil, producers in North Dakota will only get $40 a barrel. This will mean less money for workers and companies in the oil industry. In the case of workers, it will mean fewer jobs and lower pay. ..."
"... This can happen even if there is very little direct impact of trade. The increased supply of Saudi oil may result in some modest reduction in U.S. exports of oil, but the impact on price will be much larger. The analogous story with trade in manufactured goods is that the potential to import low cost goods from Mexico, China, or other countries can have the effect of lowering wages in the United States, even if the goods are not actually imported. ..."
"... Finally, the balance of trade will have an impact on the overall level of employment in the economy when the economy is below its full employment level of output. Until the Great Recession, most economists did not think that trade could affect the overall level of employment, but only the composition. This meant that trade could cause us to lose manufacturing jobs in the Midwest, but these job losses would be offset by gains in Silicon Valley and other tech centers. This could still mean bad news for the manufacturing workers who lost their jobs, but the net effect for the country as a whole would still be positive. ..."
"... The Great Recession changed this view, as many economists came to believe that the United States is facing a period of secular stagnation: a sustained period in which lack of demand in the economy constrains growth and employment. In this context, the trade deficit is a major cause of the lack of demand since it is spending that is creating demand in other countries rather than the United States. If we could reduce the annual trade deficit by $100 billion then as a first approximation it will have the same impact on the economy as a stimulus of $100 billion. ..."
"... There is no generally accepted explanation as to why so many prime age workers would suddenly decide they didn't feel like working, but one often invoked candidate is the loss of manufacturing jobs. The argument in this story is that the manufacturing sector provided relatively good paying jobs for people without college degrees. With so many of these jobs now gone, these workers can't find jobs. If this argument is true, then it means that trade has cost the country a large number of jobs even if the economy is back at full employment. ..."
Oct 11, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne : October 11, 2016 at 06:46 AM , October 11, 2016 at 06:46 AM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/trump-and-trade-he-s-not-all-wrong

October 11, 2016

Trump and Trade: He's Not All Wrong

Given his history of promoting racism, xenophobia, sexism and his recently exposed boasts about sexual assaults, not many people want to be associated with Donald Trump. However that doesn't mean everything that comes out of his mouth is wrong.

In the debate on Sunday Donald Trump made a comment to the effect that because of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals, "we lost our jobs." The New York Times was quick to say * this was wrong.

"We didn't.

"Employment in the United States has increased steadily over the last seven years, one of the longest periods of economic growth in American history. There are about 10 million more working Americans today than when President Obama took office.

"David Autor, an economist at M.I.T., estimated in a famous paper that increased trade with China did eliminate roughly one million factory jobs in the United States between 2000 and 2007. However, an important implication of his findings is that such job losses largely ended almost a decade ago.

"And there's no evidence the North American Free Trade Agreement caused similar job losses.

"The Congressional Research Service concluded in 2015 that the 'net overall effect of Nafta on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest.' "

There are a few things to sort out here. First, the basic point in the first paragraph is absolutely true, although it's not clear that it's relevant to the trade debate. The United States economy typically grows and adds jobs, around 1.6 million a year for the last quarter century. So any claim that trade has kept the U.S. from creating jobs is absurd on its face. The actual issue is the rate of job creation and the quality of the jobs.

Here there are three issues to consider.

1) The direct job loss – the jobs that were displaced due to imports substituting for domestically produced goods and services;

2) The wage effects – the downward pressure on the wages of workers that retain their jobs that can result from job loss and also the threat of job loss;

3) The impact of a trade deficit on the level of demand in the economy.

Taking these in turn we now have some pretty solid evidence on some of the job loss attributable to trade. David Autor's work ** found that imports from China cost the economy more than 2 million jobs in the years from 2000-2007.

"Estimates of the net impact of aggregate demand and reallocation effects imply that import growth from China between 1999 and 2011 led to an employment reduction of 2.4 million workers" (page 29).

These are workers who are directly displaced by import competition. In addition, as the article goes on to note, there were more workers who likely lost their jobs to the multiplier effect in the local economies most directly affected by imports.

The impact of trade with China was more dramatic than trade with Mexico and other countries because of the huge growth in imports over a short period of time. However, even if the impact from trade with other countries was smaller, it still would have a substantial effect on the communities affected.

It is also worth noting that even though our trade deficit has declined from its 2006 peak (the non-oil deficit has recently been rising again), workers are constantly being displaced by imports. The Bureau of Labor Statistic reports there have been an average of 110,000 layoffs or discharges a month in manufacturing thus far this year. If just a quarter of these are trade-related, it would imply that more than 300,000 workers a year are losing their jobs due to trade.

Of course people lose jobs for other reasons also, like increased productivity. So the fact there is job loss associated with trade doesn't make it bad, but it is not wrong to see this as a serious problem.

The second point is the wage effect, which can go beyond the direct impact of job loss. The oil market can give us a useful way of thinking about this issue. Suppose that Saudi Arabia or some other major producer ramps up its oil production by 1 million barrels of oil a day. This will put downward pressure on world prices, which will have the effect of lowering prices in the United States as well. This could mean, for example, that instead of getting $50 for a barrel of oil, producers in North Dakota will only get $40 a barrel. This will mean less money for workers and companies in the oil industry. In the case of workers, it will mean fewer jobs and lower pay.

This can happen even if there is very little direct impact of trade. The increased supply of Saudi oil may result in some modest reduction in U.S. exports of oil, but the impact on price will be much larger. The analogous story with trade in manufactured goods is that the potential to import low cost goods from Mexico, China, or other countries can have the effect of lowering wages in the United States, even if the goods are not actually imported.

Kate Bronfenbrenner, a professor of industrial relations at Cornell, documented one way in which the potential to import can have the effect of lowering wages. She found *** that employers regularly used the threat of moving operations to Mexico as a way to thwart unionization drives. While most workers are not typically involved in unionization drives, it is easy to imagine this dynamic playing out in other contexts where employers use the real or imagined threat from import competition as a reason for holding down wages. The implication is the impact of trade on wages is likely to be even larger than the direct effect of the goods actually brought into the country.

Finally, the balance of trade will have an impact on the overall level of employment in the economy when the economy is below its full employment level of output. Until the Great Recession, most economists did not think that trade could affect the overall level of employment, but only the composition. This meant that trade could cause us to lose manufacturing jobs in the Midwest, but these job losses would be offset by gains in Silicon Valley and other tech centers. This could still mean bad news for the manufacturing workers who lost their jobs, but the net effect for the country as a whole would still be positive.

The Great Recession changed this view, as many economists came to believe that the United States is facing a period of secular stagnation: a sustained period in which lack of demand in the economy constrains growth and employment. In this context, the trade deficit is a major cause of the lack of demand since it is spending that is creating demand in other countries rather than the United States. If we could reduce the annual trade deficit by $100 billion then as a first approximation it will have the same impact on the economy as a stimulus of $100 billion.

From this perspective, the trade deficit is a major source of job loss. Our current trade deficit of $500 billion a year (@2.8 percent of GDP) is a major drag on demand and employment. For this reason, a politician would be absolutely right to cite trade as a big factor in the weakness of the labor market.

It is worth noting that many economists (including many at the Federal Reserve Board) now believe that the economy is close to its full employment level of output, in which case trade is not now a net cause of job loss even if it had been earlier in the recovery. There are two points to be made on this view.

First, there are many prominent economists, such as Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, who argue that the economy is still well below its full employment level of output. So this is at least a debatable position.

Second, if we accept that the economy is near full employment it implies that close to 2 million prime age workers (ages 25-54) have permanently left the labor market compared to 2007 levels of labor force participation. (The gap is close to 4 million if we use 2000 as our comparison year.)

There is no generally accepted explanation as to why so many prime age workers would suddenly decide they didn't feel like working, but one often invoked candidate is the loss of manufacturing jobs. The argument in this story is that the manufacturing sector provided relatively good paying jobs for people without college degrees. With so many of these jobs now gone, these workers can't find jobs. If this argument is true, then it means that trade has cost the country a large number of jobs even if the economy is back at full employment.

In short, there are good reasons for a politician to complain about trade as a major source of our economic problems. There is much research and economic theory that supports this position.

* http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/us/elections/fact-check-debate.html#/factcheck-25

** http://www.ddorn.net/papers/Autor-Dorn-Hanson-ChinaShock.pdf

*** http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=cbpubs

-- Dean Baker

[Dec 01, 2019] Ukraine considers the settlement agreement on legal disputes and the signing of a short-term contract to be unacceptable

Dec 01, 2019 | tass.com

MOSCOW, November 28. /TASS/. Russian-Ukrainian gas consultations with the participation of Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, the Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection of Ukraine Alexey Orzhel, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller, the heads of Naftogaz of Ukraine and LLC Gas Transmission System of Ukraine were held in Vienna on Thursday.

This is according to statements by the Russian Energy Ministry and Gazprom. Read also GECF believes Russia and Ukraine will manage to agree on gas transit to EU this year "The parties discussed Russian-Ukrainian cooperation in the gas sector -- settlement of mutual claims for the implementation of contracts, the terms for the transit of Russian gas to Europe from 2020, the prospects for direct purchase of Russian gas for Ukrainian consumers," the statement said.

Russia, the European Commission and Ukraine have been holding consultations on gas transit after 2020. The dialogue is complicated by the ongoing legal disputes between Russia's Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine. Moscow offers a "package solution" that includes a settlement agreement on legal disputes and direct gas purchases at reduced prices. As a fallback, Russia is ready to extend the current transit agreement for the whole year of 2020.

Ukraine considers the settlement agreement on legal disputes and the signing of a short-term contract to be unacceptable. Earlier this month, Naftogaz' executive director, Yury Vitrenko, announced that Ukraine would pump Russian transit gas to its underground storage facilities (UGS), if this gas entered the country without an appropriate contract starting from January 1, 2020.

The next round of trilateral consultations on the transit of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine from 2020 is scheduled for the first week of December.

The existing contracts for the supply and transit of Russian gas through Ukraine expire on December 31.

[Dec 01, 2019] Gas price in Ukraine will be $500 per 1,000 cubic meters if transit is halted - Minister

Dec 01, 2019 | tass.com

At a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on November 27, a gas price for the population was fixed at 8 hryvnias per cubic meter. KIEV, November 30. /TASS/. The gas price for Ukrainians may increase to 12,000 hryvnias (about $500) per 1,000 cubic meters in the event of the termination of transit from Russia from January 1, 2020, Minister of Energy and Environment of Ukraine Alexey Orzhel said on Friday.

"The price of 12,000 hryvnia is possible in the absence of transit," he said speaking on the national television.

Orzhel also recalled that the government had offered Ukrainians the so-called guaranteed price of gas in the amount of 8,000 hryvnias (about $333) per 1,000 cubic meters in case the gas transit is halted from the new year and the cost of gas increases significantly.

At a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on November 27, a gas price for the population was fixed at 8 hryvnias per cubic meter.

[Dec 01, 2019] Gasprom bypassing Ukraine via Turkey

Dec 01, 2019 | tass.com

Gazprom began construction of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline in May 2017. The pipeline with a length of 930 km runs along the bottom of the Black Sea to the coast of Turkey. Further, a land section will stretch for 180 km to the border of Turkey with neighboring countries.

Gazprom began construction of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream in May 2017, managed by South Stream Transport B.V. (100% subsidiary of Gazprom). The offshore section of the pipeline runs along the bottom of the Black Sea to the coast of Turkey. Its length is 930 km. The pipeline will be continues by a 180-km land transit line to the border of Turkey with neighboring countries. The first line will be designed for the Turkish market, the second - for gas supply to the countries of South and Southeast Europe. The capacity of each line is 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The first deliveries are scheduled for the end of 2019. Gazprom announced the completion of deep-sea laying of the offshore section of the first Turkish Stream in April 2018. Turkey is Gazprom's second largest export market. Currently, Russian energy is supplied to this country through the Blue Stream pipeline and the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline. In 2017, Gazprom exported a record volume of gas to the Turkish market - 29 billion cubic meters, which is 17.3% more than in 2016, and 1.7 billion cubic meters (6.2%) more than in 2014 when the previous maximum was set (27.3 billion cubic meters). At the end of May, Gazprom and the Turkish government signed a protocol on the land section of the Turkish Stream pipeline transit line to supply Russian gas to European consumers. Gazprom and the Turkish company Botas concluded an agreement on the basic conditions and parameters for the construction of the section. Joint venture TurkAkim Gaz Tasima A. S. will carry out construction of the land section.

Earlier, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Alexander Medvedev said that in the near future the company would finally determine the route of the second line of the Turkish Stream for gas supply to countries in Southern and Southeast Europe. According to him, two main options are being discussed in accordance with the procedures in the European Union and the European Commission. Medvedev cited Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary as potential markets.

Gazprom's investments in the construction of the Turkish Stream for 2018 are planned at the level of 182.4 bln rubles ($2.76 bln) against almost 93 bln rubles ($1.4 bln) in 2017. The company estimates the cost of laying the pipeline at 7 bln euro.

[Dec 01, 2019] Naftogaz can consider waiving $12.2 bln claims against Gazprom

Dec 01, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile November 30, 2019 at 9:09 am

Is this what could be described as "playing silly buggers"?

30 NOV, 00:54
Naftogaz can consider waiving $12.2 bln claims against Gazprom
Ukraine is ready to do so on condition of compensation

Like Like

Mark Chapman November 30, 2019 at 5:32 pm
The Ukies imagine they are so clever! They will waive a claim they have pretty much no chance of ever being awarded, in return for a lesser amount of guaranteed cold, hard cash plus a transit deal which will commit Russia to giving them at least another $20 Billion in transit fees over 10 years. Russia should pretend to consider it, just to wind them up, and run out the clock on the signing of a new contract. Then say, "I've decided not to after all, old chap".

[Nov 30, 2019] Practitioner's Guide to MMT

Part 1 and Part 2
Nov 30, 2019 | themacrotourist.com
              1. Danny November 28, 2019 at 3:27 pm

                Hal,
                Could you please comment on Dylan Ratigan's comment about $128 Billion being automatically pumped into the banker's hands without public comment by Dodd Frank?

                Is it the same thing as a repo? I'm a non-economist, just a simple fellow, that's getting the hang of this con game.

                https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/11/15/jimmy-dore-with-dylan-ratigan-the-super-rich-have-no-country/

                After the 1 hour 39 minute mark here:
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23Dc2ZfpKmo

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL November 28, 2019 at 6:16 pm

                  I watched the Ratigan video on your recommendation and agree it is a fundamental retelling that pulls the elements together better than anything I'd previously seen. And I completely agree with his assessment that this was the biggest theft in mankind's history.

                  The Fed's highest stated purpose is "the integrity and stability of the banking system". Problem is, that mission justifies anything and everything beneath it. They are not in the business of ensuring a bank obeys the law, and if they break the law, even the "business law" of making terrible business decisions, all the Fed thinks they are required to do is make them whole.

                  So you have a radically anti-capitalist structure at the tippy top of a supposedly "capitalist" system. And that's even before you even get to any discussion of secrecy, subterfuge or malfeasance.

                  Why are we not allowed to know who the recipients were of the *$21 trillion* (GAO number) of free Fed money after 2009? All we can do is follow the bread crumbs: we do know, for example, that 2/3rds of those dollars went to European institutions, including non-bank corporations. Huh? Q: That benefits the Main St U.S. economy how, again? A: It doesn't. This means you can pay no attention whatsoever to the ancillary Fed "missions" around U.S. employment and economic growth.

                  The $128B Ratigan mentions re Dodd-Frank is just a trickle in the tsunami of funds reaching bank coffers. Free money of course is funding massive share buybacks, the *only* cause of stock "rises" since 2009, but what completely infuriates me is what banks are doing around buybacks. It's one thing if buybacks benefit *all* shareholders, but the latest trick (esp by Jamie Dimon) is to take free money, buy back JPM shares, *but those shares are only given to Jamie himself and his top managers*.

                  (Of course until 1982 companies borrowing money to buy back their own shares was completely illegal since it's effect is stock price manipulation).

                  Repo is just a shorter term version of all of these other diverted flows. Completely under all radars, with no Congressional hearings or public scrutiny or oversight.

                  End the Fed.

                  Reply
                  1. Yves Smith Post author November 28, 2019 at 10:46 pm

                    No this is totally wrong and I don't have the time now to debunk it. Ratigan is not a funding markets expert and it shows.

                    Reply
                    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL November 29, 2019 at 1:51 am

                      I always love to be wrong because it means I get to be right again. I'm not a funding market expert either, but I hope you're just correctlng Ratigan's views on the $128B, not the entirety of my ramble? Thx Yves

                  2. cnchal November 28, 2019 at 11:40 pm

                    Interesting comment Dylan made regarding politicians.

                    The political system rewards those that are the best at raising money and character assasination.

                    Trump assassinates his own character better than anyone else. Bernie is great at raising lots of money with small donations from many people.

                    Bernie or bust.

                    Reply
              2. Yves Smith Post author November 28, 2019 at 10:45 pm

                *Sigh*

                I don't write about the repo mess because the commentary on it is generally terrible. This is not "monetizing debt". This is "providing liquidity to the money markets" which is what the Fed is supposed to do!!!

                The Fed got itself into a corner with super low rates and QE. It also stupidly decided to manage short term rates via interest on reserves. Prior to 2008, the Fed intervened in the repo markets every bloody day to hit the target rate and no one cared.

                The Fed drained liquidity too fast. It's been caught out and has had to go into reverse big time. Its refusal to admit that is why everyone is overreacting to the liquidity injections.

                Reply
                1. skippy November 28, 2019 at 11:03 pm

                  You just can't washout that commodity money stain in some peoples minds .

                  Reply
                2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL November 29, 2019 at 1:54 am

                  42 days seems longish to apply to the overnight money markets, no? Macro Voices/Alhambra have a very different perspective

                  Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author November 28, 2019 at 10:41 pm

              Yes, MMT proponents oppose a UBI (or BGI). They want a Job Guarantee. They argue that setting a floor on the price of labor is a much more important way to regulate the economy than diddling with interest rates, plus it increases the productive capacity of an economy, which increases prosperity.

              The will accept a UBI that is lower than a JG as a sort of disability income.

              Reply
      1. xkeyscored November 28, 2019 at 12:39 pm

        Thank you for that link. It certainly sounds like real life, and they say their models predict inequality in various countries to within 1%.
        Any single agent in this economy could have become the oligarch -- in fact, all had equal odds if they began with equal wealth. In that sense, there was equality of opportunity. But only one of them did become the oligarch, and all the others saw their average wealth decrease toward zero as they conducted more and more transactions. To add insult to injury, the lower someone's wealth ranking, the faster the decrease.
        once we have some variance in wealth, however minute, succeeding transactions will systematically move a "trickle" of wealth upward from poorer agents to richer ones, amplifying inequality until the system reaches a state of oligarchy. If the economy is unequal to begin with, the poorest agent's wealth will probably decrease the fastest. Where does it go? It must go to wealthier agents because there are no poorer agents. Things are not much better for the second-poorest agent. In the long run, all participants in this economy except for the very richest one will see their wealth decay exponentially.
        the presence of symmetry breaking puts paid to arguments for the justness of wealth inequality that appeal to "voluntariness" -- the notion that individuals bear all responsibility for their economic outcomes simply because they enter into transactions voluntarily -- or to the idea that wealth accumulation must be the result of cleverness and industriousness. It is true that an individual's location on the wealth spectrum correlates to some extent with such attributes, but the overall shape of that spectrum can be explained to better than 0.33 percent by a statistical model that completely ignores them.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee November 28, 2019 at 8:52 pm

          From "The Highlander:" "In the end, there can be only one."

          Reply

[Nov 30, 2019] The Transparent Cabal The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel Stephen J. Snie

Notable quotes:
"... Another episode in the sad story of recent American government. It starts with a 1996 paper entitled "A Clean Break, A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" published by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. The principal idea was to foment war in the Middle East and consequently destabilize Israel's enemies. ..."
"... No informed American can afford to not know the names Oded Yinon, AIPAC, The Clean Break, The NEOCONS. Knowledge is indeed power. > ..."
"... Hersh hoped that future historians would document the fragility of American democracy by explaining how eight or nine neoconservatives were able to overcome easily the bureaucracy, the Congress, and the press. Stephen Sniegoski, in The Transparent Cabal, has provided a detailed history of how the neoconservative cult achieved the takeover. ..."
"... The neoconservatives do not represent the only case in American history of a small group attempting to take over America. The Plot to Seize the White House (Jules Archer) provided a detailed account of General Smedley Butler's testimony to Congress about a secret plot to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt. Butler, a Republican, authored War is a Racket. ..."
"... In a recently written best-seller two political scientists at the University of Chicago and Harvard (John Meirsheimer and Stephen J. Walt _The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy_) broke a long-standing taboo in the United States and risked charges of anti-Semitism by exposing the role of the powerful Israeli Lobby (AIPAC) in the United States and its push for war against Iraq and with its future sights on Iran. This book echoes many of the claims made by Meirsheimer and Walt and further shows the agenda of the small circle of neoconservatives in directing American foreign policy. The author maintains that the neoconservatives are a "transparent cabal", in that they have operated as a tight-knit secret group but their actions remain transparent. ..."
"... That old canard "anti-semitic" is heard again in one of the reviews of this book. Nonsense!!! If one is anti-semitic simply because he is critical of certain policies followed by Likud, then many Jews living in Israel are also Jew haters. ..."
"... Israeli politicians are, undertandably, looking out for the intestests of their nation state. However, many American pols are beholden to the Israeli lobby (of simply feaful of it) and often place American interests second to that of the lobby. ..."
Nov 30, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Although it is generally understood that American neoconservatives pushed hard for the war in Iraq, this book forcefully argues that the neocons' goal was not the spread of democracy, but the protection of Israel's interests in the Middle East. Showing that the neocon movement has always identified closely with the interests of Israel's Likudnik right wing, the discussion contends that neocon advice on Iraq was the exact opposite of conventional United States foreign policy, which has always sought to maintain stability in the region to promote the flow of oil. Various players in the rush to war are assessed according to their motives, including President Bush, Ariel Sharon, members of the foreign-policy establishment, and the American people, who are seen not as having been dragged into war against their will, but as ready after 9/11 for retaliation


Concerned Citizen , July 13, 2014

How and Why Israel Promoted the U.S. Invasion of Iraq

Every American should read this superb book about the intimate connection between the state of Israel and the Americans who planned and promoted the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 (and who still influence U.S. policy in the Middle East). This very well-researched and well-argued book will enlighten Americans who want to understand how the Jewish State of Israel powerfully shapes U.S. Middle East policy.

Stephen Sniegowski provides a detailed look at the network of die-hard pro-Israel Neoconservatives who have worked in the U.S. government, in think tanks, and in the news media to shape American foreign policy to serve the needs of Israel at the expense of the U.S. From media baron Rupert Murdoch, whose 175 newspapers around the world ALL editorialized in favor of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, to Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and later Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, to Vice President Dick Cheney, to the Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle, the neoconservatives successfully persuaded President George W. Bush to invade Iraq to promote Israel's foreign policy interests.

Sniegowski describes how the Neocons promoted lies about Saddam Hussein's supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction and his supposed ties to al-Qaeda terrorists from a network of think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Middle East Media Research Institute, Hudson Institute, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Middle East Forum, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Center for Security Policy, and the Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

He also traces the influence of Israeli Zionist Oded Yinon on the American Neoconservatives. Yinon wrote an article in 1982 entitled "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s" that called for Israel to bring about the dissolution of many of the Arab states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings. This is basically what is happening to Iraq and Syria today. He also called for Israelis to accelerate the emigration of Palestinians from Israel, whose border he believed should extend to the Jordan River and beyond it.

Yinon's article influenced a paper written for the Israeli Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 by American neoconservatives Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm". This paper stated that Netanyahu should "make a clean break" with the Oslo peace process and reassert Israel's claim to the West Bank and Gaza. Like Yinon's article, it also called for the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the weakening of Syria to promote Israel's interests. It was written five years BEFORE the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. These same three men - Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser - who advised Netanyahu's Israeli government on issues of national security would later advise President George W. Bush to pursue virtually the same policies regarding the Middle East.

If you want to understand how and why powerful pro-Israel neoconservatives in the U.S. misled Americans and convinced President George W. Bush to order the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and how they persuaded the U.S. Congress to give Bush the authority to order the invasion, read this outstanding book.

Baraniecki Mark Stuart , March 13, 2010
The Failure of American Government

Another episode in the sad story of recent American government. It starts with a 1996 paper entitled "A Clean Break, A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" published by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. The principal idea was to foment war in the Middle East and consequently destabilize Israel's enemies.

The policy was adopted by the Israeli pro-settler right wing and Jewish activists in and around the Clinton and Bush administrations such as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser (who all helped produce the original document). They identified as targets Iraq, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia and were handed a golden opportunity after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. Iraq was falsely presented as an Al Qaeda base and the media planted with stories about an imminent attack on the United States using WMD. Despite the CIA knowing all along that the WMD didn't exist, the US still invaded Iraq and the story was quietly and unbelievably changed to "building democracy".

As Sniegoski points out, the war has exceeded the cost of Vietnam and the same activists, now working through Hillary Clinton are looking for "incidents" in Iraq to trigger the next phase of the plan which is a US attack on Iran.

UPDATE October 2014:

And it gets worse: The 911 story itself keeps morphing. Google "Building 7", YouTube "911 Missing Links" or check the article at http://911speakout.org/7TOCPJ.pdf. >

Severo , May 16, 2016
A cornerstone in the quest for understanding the current Middle East Crisis.

Important book for those trying understand the chaos that is currently reigning in the Middle East. From the lies based NEOCON attack on Iraq trumpeted by the mainstream USA media as a fight to save Western Civilization, to the rise of ISIL.

This books will make those connections clear. No informed American can afford to not know the names Oded Yinon, AIPAC, The Clean Break, The NEOCONS. Knowledge is indeed power. >

Paul Sheldon Foote , January 26, 2010
The Neoconservative Cult and the Fragility of American Democracy

On January 27, 2005, [...] posted the remarks of Seymour Hersh (The New Yorker contributor) at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York that a neoconservative cult had taken over the American government.

Hersh hoped that future historians would document the fragility of American democracy by explaining how eight or nine neoconservatives were able to overcome easily the bureaucracy, the Congress, and the press. Stephen Sniegoski, in The Transparent Cabal, has provided a detailed history of how the neoconservative cult achieved the takeover.

Other books have stressed how the neoconservative ideology is contrary to traditional American values: Reclaiming the American Right (Justin Raimondo), America the Virtuous (Claes Ryn), Where the Right Went Wrong (Patrick Buchanan).

"Memoirs of a Trotskyist" in Neo-conservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea (Irving Kristol) provided a neoconservative account of the origins of neo-conservatism. Sniegoski noted correctly that the term neoconservative originated with leftists critical of their former comrades for attempting to infiltrate the Democratic and Republican parties. Thanks to leftists who call neoconservatives the ultra-right and to conservative dupes who think that anyone using a conservative label is a conservative, the neoconservative cancer has spread through the fragile American political body.

The neoconservatives do not represent the only case in American history of a small group attempting to take over America. The Plot to Seize the White House (Jules Archer) provided a detailed account of General Smedley Butler's testimony to Congress about a secret plot to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt. Butler, a Republican, authored War is a Racket.

Unlike earlier secret plots to take over the American government, Sniegoski explained how it was possible for the neoconservatives to operate as a relatively transparent cabal. However, he observed that the neoconservatives used a Trojan horse technique to take over the American conservative movement. The goal of the neoconservatives is to promote endless wars regardless of whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in power.

The neoconservatives do not represent a popular mass movement in America. Instead, the neoconservatives rely upon the co-operation of other groups. Sniegoski provided extensive documentation of which groups enabled the neoconservatives. For example, the Christian Zionists duped their followers into sacrificing money and soldiers. Zionism originated with the writings of Moses Hess (who helped Karl Marx write The Communist Manifesto, was nicknamed the Communist Rabbi, and who is buried in Israel). In 1862, Moses Hess published Rome and Jerusalem. Moses Hess: Prophet of Communism and Zionism (Shlomo Avineri) provided a detailed explanation of the relationship between Communism and Zionism.

The reason for the fragility of American democracy is the failure of many Americans to understand the most basic aspects of the American political system and of their religions.

The Transparent Cabal is an important starting point for understanding how a neoconservative cult opposed to traditional American political and religious values is able to destroy America with endless wars.

New Age of Barbarism , October 14, 2008
A Brilliant Account of the Neoconservative War Agenda.

_The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, And the National Interest of Israel_, published in 2008 by Enigma Editions of IHS Press, by scholar Stephen J. Sniegoski is a thorough examination of the role of the neoconservatives in pushing for war in the Middle East (beginning with the war in Iraq and pushing onwards towards Iran) in order to protect the national interests of Israel. Sniegoski makes the claim that the neoconservatives have been the fundamental force behind the war efforts of the United States and have played a particularly prominent role in the Bush administration. While these claims have now become common knowledge, Sniegoski makes an important contribution by tracing the history of the neoconservative movement and its links to prominent pro-Jewish and pro-Israel groups. In particular, Sniegoski claims that neoconservativism is a tool of Zionism and the Likudniks of Israel. Sniegoski traces out how following the attacks of September 11, the neoconservative war hawks had a profound influence on the thinking of President Bush and offered him a ready made solution to his foreign policy agenda. In this book, Sniegoski also considers and refutes other theories as to the root causes behind America's intervention in Iraq (such as the role of oil and war profiteering) but explains how these theories lack the validity of that which lays the blame on the neoconservatives and their goals for Israeli dominance in the Middle East.

In a recently written best-seller two political scientists at the University of Chicago and Harvard (John Meirsheimer and Stephen J. Walt _The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy_) broke a long-standing taboo in the United States and risked charges of anti-Semitism by exposing the role of the powerful Israeli Lobby (AIPAC) in the United States and its push for war against Iraq and with its future sights on Iran. This book echoes many of the claims made by Meirsheimer and Walt and further shows the agenda of the small circle of neoconservatives in directing American foreign policy. The author maintains that the neoconservatives are a "transparent cabal", in that they have operated as a tight-knit secret group but their actions remain transparent.

This book begins with a Foreword by Congressman Paul Findley (famous author of _They Dare to Speak Out_ and longtime opponent of the Israeli Lobby) in which he explains the importance of Sniegoski's book and deflects the spurious charge of anti-Semitism. Following this, appears an Introduction by noted paleoconservative Paul Gottfried who explains his admiration for Sniegoski's book, offers some comparisons between Sniegoski's claims and those of other individuals, and contrasts the old non-interventionist limited government form of conservativism with that of the neoconservatives.

The first chapter of Sniegoski's book is entitled "The Transparent Cabal" and notes the disastrous consequences that have followed upon the Iraq war spurred on by the neoconservatives. The author explains what he means in calling the neoconservatives a "transparent cabal" and notes the importance of their Middle East, pro-Israeli agenda. The author explains how following the events of September 11, they came to take on a prominent role in influencing the thinking of the president (who had previously shown little interest in the Middle East).

The second chapter is entitled "The "Neocon-Israel" Claim: Bits and Pieces" and exposes the role of Israel's Likudnik party behind the neoconservatives. The author deflects claims of "anti-Semitism" which are frequently hurled at those who make these charges by showing that even many prominent Jews agree with this. Following this appears a chapter entitled "Who are the Neocons?" which shows how the neocons emigrated from their original home in the Democratic party of the McGovernite left into the Republican party as the New Left began to voice criticisms of Israel. The author shows that many of the neocons are actually socialists and Trotskyites parading under the label of "conservative". Further, the author shows the role of various intellectuals centering around New York City in creating the neoconservative movement.

Next, appears a chapter entitled "The Israeli Origins of the Middle East War Agenda" which shows how the goal of Middle East war to further the interests of Israel has been supported extensively by hawkish groups in Israel. The author explains how these groups came to have such a prominent role in influencing the policy of the United States and in suppressing the native population of Palestinians in Israel. Following, appears a chapter entitled "Stability and the Gulf War of 1991: Prefigurement and Prelude to the 2003 Iraq War" in which the author explains the importance of the first Gulf War of Bush I in prefiguring the Iraq War of Bush II. After this, appears a chapter entitled "During the Clinton Years" in which the author shows the continuing role of the neocons during the Clinton years.

Following this, appears a chapter entitled "Serbian Interlude and the 2000 Elections" in which the author explains how the war in Yugoslavia paved the way for the coming Iraq War of President Bush. This also explains the split that occurred among conservatives between those traditional conservatives who opposed the war and the neocons who firmly supported it. Following this appears a chapter entitled "George W. Bush Administration: The Beginning" in which the author explains the role that the neocons came to take in the Bush administration mentioning in particular the role of such figures as Wolfowitz and Cheney and the role of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Following this appears a chapter entitled "September 11", showing how the events of Sept. 11 allowed the neocon agenda to gain prominence in the mind of President Bush.

Next, appears a chapter entitled "Move to War" explaining how the neocons pushed for war against Sadaam Hussein presenting their case to the American people by claiming that Hussein was in possession of WMDs which could be used against America. Following this appears a chapter entitled "World War IV" explaining how the conflict in the Middle East came to be dubbed World War IV by certain intellectuals among the neocons.

Next, appears a chapter entitled "Democracy for the Middle East" showing the role of the neocons in foisting "democracy" onto various nations and their goal of global democratic revolution. The author also explains the role of the thinking of political philosopher Leo Strauss behind many of the neocons and his profoundly anti-democratic philosophy. Following this, appears a chapter entitled "Neocons' Post-Invasion Difficulties" showing how the invasion of Iraq turned out to be more serious and difficult than originally anticipated by the neocons. Next, appears a chapter entitled "Beginning of the Second Administration" showing the continuing role of the neocons under the second Bush administration.

Then, appears a chapter entitled "Israel, Lebanon, and the 2006 Election" showing the role of Lebanon and Syria in relationship to Israel and that of the 2006 election.

Next, appears a chapter entitled "2007: On to Iran" showing how the neocons continued to press for further wars in particular against Iran by alleging among other things that Ahmedinejad was a mad man with possible access to nuclear weapons. Following, appears a chapter entitled "The Supporting Cast for War" noting the role of Christian Zionists (which includes the beliefs of President Bush, although not his father), former Cold Warriors, and even prominent establishment liberals in supporting the Iraq war. The author notes however that the traditional foreign policy establishment elites and many in the intelligence agencies did not support the war, but were disregarded to further the neocon agenda. The author also contrasts the difference between the liberal elites who frequently were pro-war and the popular anti-war movement which had very little power.

Following this, the author turns to a chapter entitled "Oil and Other Arguments" in which the author considers the claims that the war was fought to obtain access to oil or for the interests of war profiteers and shows that while both groups certainly benefited they are not the real reason for the war. The book ends with a "Conclusion" in which the author expounds upon the continuing role of the neocons in influencing American foreign policy and a "Postscript" in which the author notes that no matter who wins the 2008 election that the neocon agenda will likely continue and is not likely to go away anytime soon.

This book offers a fascinating history and account of the role of the neoconservatives in pushing the United States into war. The author makes clear the influence of the Israeli Likudnik party behind the neocons and their goal of strengthening the position of Israel in the Middle East. It is important to understand the fundamental nature of the foreign policy elites who have been pushing us into war against Iraq and now with eyes towards Iran.

Honest Observer , December 30, 2009
CRITICISM OF ISRAEL IS NOT ANTI-SEMITISM

That old canard "anti-semitic" is heard again in one of the reviews of this book. Nonsense!!! If one is anti-semitic simply because he is critical of certain policies followed by Likud, then many Jews living in Israel are also Jew haters.

Let's put aside these negative and nasty characterizations and look at the facts.

Israeli politicians are, undertandably, looking out for the intestests of their nation state. However, many American pols are beholden to the Israeli lobby (of simply feaful of it) and often place American interests second to that of the lobby.

To suggest that there is such a lobby and that it is powerful is hardly anti-semitic. Nor is the author. He is simply stating verifible facts which any student of politics is free to do. He may be mistaken in his conclusions but that hardly makes him anti-semitic. And he may not be mistaken at all. He is not the first to suggest that our leaders are fearful of the Israeli lobby and do its bidding and often to the detriment of American interests .

Dennis R. Jugan , August 28, 2008
History will always link the Iraq War with the term 'neoconservative'

Stephen Sniegoski, a diplomatic historian, is uniquely qualified to write about the neoconservatives' involvement in the prolonged Iraq War originating in 2003. He accurately predicted their activities and allegiance in this entanglement in 1998, three years before the acts of 9-11 and two additional years before a traumatized nation yielded to a nescient, misdirected President, his Vice President/administration, and an ostensibly compliant bi-partisan House and Senate.

The author presents a tight outline which he cogently expands in intelligible detail, maintaining that the origins of the American war on Iraq revolve around the adoption of a war agenda whose basic structure was conceived in Israel to advance Israel's interests. The pro-Israel neoconservatives and a powerful Israel lobby in the United States fervently pushed its agenda. Ironically, he extracts his most persuasive evidence from an extensive neoconservative paper trail that's been clearly recognized by a discreet cadre of vigilant Americans for years. Thus the title, "The Transparent Cabal."

Dr. Sniegoski asks the appropriate question: "Who are the neoconservatives?" He provides insightful answers on their pertinent activities since 1972, those who shaped and mentored them, their immediate family/interconnected family networks, their prominent periodical publications, their past and present leadership, non-Jewish minority members, their persistent rise to positions of political influence and authority, their embrace of Christian Zionists, and their close ties to the extremely conservative Likud Party in Israel. He reveals their tactical affiliations with key, heavily endowed influential think tanks, and a vast number of powerful Israel-centric lobbying organizations that reactively finance and nurture their continued success.

Many readers will recognize his references to writers of previous books, articles and columns -- many of Jewish heritage -- who bravely fight against well financed, mainstream media-dominant opponents and their psychological surrogates active on the Internet. These opponents perniciously engage in personal attacks and retribution, indiscriminately applying irrelevant anti-semitic labels. They persist at attempting to sway public discourse by spreading misinformation, disinformation, and mostly NO RELEVANT INFORMATION to the public.

In various places throughout the book, the author notes curious relationships with current and former elected and appointed officials. He writes about the ongoing 2008 presidential campaign in a postscript, citing past and existing direct influences on specific candidates by the neoconservatives, the Israel Lobby and its supporters.

The book concludes with a summary of the paucity of benefits compared to the predictable losses of the American people over recent years. These are the real consequences of the Israel-inspired plan to "drain the swamp" (a euphemism for destabilizing perceived enemies then establishing precarious nominal democracies) that began with our misadventure in Iraq and was to proceed with subsequent U.S. military interventions in Iran and Syria. The few meager benefits and the enormous losses to the United States are compared to the strategic advantages that the State of Israel derives directly from our five-year induced military involvement in Iraq and our concomitant departure from past, longstanding policies of diplomacy and stability in the Middle East.

Sniegoski counsels, "it is hardly controversial to propose that elites, rather than the people as a whole, determine government policies, even in democracies."

Yet this war has a supporting cast of middle Americans. Many of them were traumatized by the events of 9-11 and reactively saw an act of patriotism in supporting retaliation against a falsely perceived enemy in Iraq. It's time to reconsider false arguments preceding the Iraq War that have only been cosmetically modified until the present day. It's time to dismiss incongruous ideas formed in the cauldron of confusion after 9-11.

Given today's realities, it DOES take patriotism and courage to insist on formally normalizing an entangled, unreciprocated military alliance with an Israeli government that burdens the taxpayers of the United States, promotes angst among its people, and imperils its military forces worldwide.

Know and embrace Thomas Jefferson's ideal of 'eternal vigilance' as citizens of the United States.
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Facts in this book are reinforced in adjacent paragraphs and referenced in nearly 50 pages of notes. Readers are encouraged to read:

James B. Pate , June 12, 2019
The Transparent Cabal

Stephen J. Sniegoski has a doctorate from the University of Maryland and studied American diplomatic history. My review here will refer to him as "S," for short.

This book is about the American neoconservative movement. S goes from its founding through its influential role in getting the U.S. into the Iraq War, then he discusses the War's aftermath. S's argument is that the neoconservative agenda regarding the Middle East is designed to serve the interests of the state of Israel, as those interests are articulated by the right-wing Likud party there. This agenda supports weakening Arab nations surrounding Israel so that they cannot pose a threat to her. According to S, the neoconservatives supported such an agenda since their beginning as a movement, but 9/11 created an opportunity for this agenda to become the foreign policy of the United States during much of the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Here are some thoughts:

A. Looking broadly at the book itself, it is a standard narration of the events surrounding and including the Iraq War. Like a lot of people, I lived through that, so the sweeping narrative of the book was not particularly new to me. The story is essentially that the U.S. went into Iraq expecting to find weapons of mass destruction after 9/11, bombed the country and found that were no WMDs, and traveled the difficult road of trying to rebuild the country, amidst ethnic division, turmoil, and opposition from Iraqis.

B. That said, there were some things that I learned from this book. First, while neoconservatism is said to believe in spreading democracy in the Middle East, it is not necessarily committed to democracy, per se. Initially, it supported a new government of Iraq that would be led by the traditional, pre-Saddam tribal authorities, who were not democratic. Second, S seems to imply that even the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan was unnecessary, since the Taliban initially appeared cooperative in offering to help the U.S. to bring al-Qaeda to justice. Third, there are neoconservatives who have supported undermining even America's allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia. The different groups in Saudi Arabia was also interesting, for, as S notes, Shiites hold a significant amount of control over Saudi oil, even though the political establishment is Sunni. Fourth, S argues rigorously against the idea that the U.S. launched the Iraq War to get more oil. Saddam was offering U.S. oil companies opportunities to drill in Iraq, plus oil companies did not want the oil infrastructure of the country to be disrupted or shattered by war.

C. There were also things in the book that I was interested to learn more about, even though I had a rudimentary understanding of them before. For one, S chronicles George W. Bush's changing views on foreign policy, as he went from rejecting nation-building, while retaining a tough stance, to embracing nation building. In the early days of the Bush II Administration, long before the Iraq War, Condi Rice even explained on news shows why regime change in Iraq would be a mistake at that point. Second, S discusses the coalition that emerged to support the war in Iraq. The neocons wanted to protect Israel, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld embraced the Iraq War as a way to showcase the effectiveness of a lean military. Meanwhile, many Americans, frightened after 9/11, supported the Iraq War as a way to keep the U.S. safe. And Christian conservatives embraced the good vs. evil, pro-Israel stance of neoconservative policy. Third, S strategically evaluates moves that the U.S. made; for S, for example, the surge did not actually work, but more stability emerged in Iraq as different ethnic factions became separated from each other.

D. According to S, the Iraq War was a disaster. It stretched America's military, taking away resources that could have been used to find Osama bin-Laden. Yet, Israel got something that it wanted as a result: disarray among her Arab neighbors. An argument that S did not really engage, as far as I can recall, is that the Iraq War placed Israel even more in peril, since it increased the power of Iran by allowing Iraq to serve as a proxy for Iranian interests.

E. For S, neoconservatism is concerned about the security of Israel. Even its staunch Cold War policy is rooted in that concern, since the U.S.S.R. tended to support Arabs over the Israelis. S acknowledges, though, that there is more to neoconservatism that that. Neoconservatives supported a strong U.S. military intervention in the former Yugoslavia during the Clinton Administration, and neoconservatism also maintains stances on domestic issues, such as welfare.

F. S is sensitive to any charges of anti-Semitism that may be launched against his book. He emphatically denies that he is saying there was a Jewish conspiracy to get the U.S. into Iraq, for he observes that many Jews opposed the Iraq War. Moreover, S does not exactly present the U.S. government as a Zionist Occupied Government (ZOG), for the neoconservatives were long on the margins prior to the Presidency of George W. Bush. Even under Bush II, the traditional national security and intelligence apparatus was critical of the Iraq War, preferring more multilateralism and a focus on stability in the Middle East. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), long a bogeyman of right-wing conspiracy theorists, also had reservations about the Iraq War.

G. S largely depicts the Likud party in Israel, and neoconservatives, as supporting Israel's security as a nation, her protection, if you will. At the same time, S argues that Israel in 2006 was acting aggressively rather than defensively in its invasion of Lebanon, for Lebanon had coveted water-supplies.

H. Near the end of the Iraq War, S demonstrates, neoconservatives were calling on the U.S. to take an aggressive stance against Iran, going so far as to bomb the country. That, of course, is an issue that remains relevant today. S probably regards such a move as a mistake. At the same time, he can understand why Israel would be apprehensive about a nuclear-armed Iran. He thinks that Ahmadinejad has been incorrectly understood to say that Israel should be wiped off the map, but S still acknowledges that a powerful Iran could provide more support to the Palestinians, which would trouble Israel. Although S understands this, he seems to scorn the idea that Israel should get everything she wants and have hegemony.

I. S is open to the possibility that neoconservatives believe that their support for Israel is perfectly consistent with America's well-being. As S observes, the U.S. government since its founding has had people who believe that partisanship towards a certain nation -- -Britain or France -- -is not only good for its own sake but serves the interests of the United States. S disputes, however, that neoconservative policy is the only way to help the U.S. Could not one argue, after all, that the U.S. would want to be on the Arabs' good side, with all the oil the Arabs have? This analysis may be a little dated, since the U.S. now has some alternative sources of energy (fracking), but S makes this point in evaluating the historical stance of neoconservatism.

Philip Collier , September 10, 2014
silence is deafening by Philip Collier

I was interested to see the reviews of this book. Usually if any book suggests that Israel is less than perfect a group of Zionist fanatics surface with several reviews telling us that there nothing wrong Israel or American support of it.

Remarkably there is only one negative review of this book which has to be seen to be believed. This reviewer "yoda" from Israel charges in all seriousness that Sniegoski does not provide evidence that the neoconservatives are "predominantly Jewish " and are " strongly aligned with Israel". Asking the author to provide evidence for such
assertions is like asking him to give evidence that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow .

This is I believe the real reason that that there are relatively few attacks on this book.The author does not engage in shrill denunciations of Israel or of the neoconservatives . What he does do is quote at length what neocoservstives say and provide careful documentation for any factual claims. For the most part the reader is allowed to draw his own conclusions. Should the US continue to finance Israeli repression of Palestinians and perhaps go to war against Iran or anyone else who might object to Israeli policie?

Instead of denouncing Sniegoski "Yoda" should consider the sane Israelis in his own country . For example former Mossad chief Meir Dagan who said that a war with Iran was the "stupidest idea he had ever heard of." Also moviemaker Emmanuel Dror who interviewed virtually all the former directors of the Shin Bett ( Israel's internal security service ) who all called for disengaging from the occupied territories .

perhaps we all would be better off listening to these Isaelis rather than follow the neoconservatives into another disastrous war on the other side of the world.

T. Marsh , November 1, 2009
Fantastic Horror story, wait. This is real

This is going to be a very strange review coming from me. You see, I wrote a novel called "Other Nations" and well, people that liked it a lot, liked it, but then those that really disliked it disliked it because my "aliens among humans" were nice people, likeable people, even charismatic people, everyday suburban types even, living that kind of life. Among us. Next door, in the next city over. They wanted instead to see the aliens among us portrayed as well, pick your favorite genocidal maniac or mind-controlling dictator or creature so dementedly alien that no sense can be made of it. Well!

There are many types of true horror. The kind that passes itself off as my aliens among us are portrayed, well, I guess some people GET IT - and they liked it.

But I'm not here to push my book. I'm here to push THIS BOOK - because my god, this is REAL, not fantasy, it's REAL, not science fiction. And yes, they are among us with well -

BUY THIS BOOK. If you are too broke to buy it, get it from the library - and by all means - READ IT.

Just hope to whatever god you choose that neocons are removed from governmental influence and that their Amen corner is ignored. Hope to god, because if they suceed in doing the INSANITY they want to do - America will be FINISHED - if it's not finished already due to what these Fifth Columnists have done during the 8 years of Twilight Zone (GWB Rule).

And for those Jewish critics on here that might want to compare these neocon FACTS and the other FACTS openly available to all (which is WHY the book is called the TRANSPARENT cabal) - compare it to the Protocols - they better think twice about that. Becauase, you see, what's in here is real, real facts, provably real facts - and if Jews themselves compare this to the Procols? Some folks might get the idea that maybe that is real too. Perhaps George Soros (who is Jewish) needs to speak LOUDER against the neocons. They are, indeed, crazies, as Colin Powell called them. Crazies.

junglejuice , July 17, 2017
Israel's interests revealed

If you want to have an eye opener then read and see who were those Jewish players working and influencing everything in the Bush Admin.promoting war with Iraq, then this is your book of truth. The cabal of Jewish players come out of the woodwork in Stephen Sniegoski's great work. When step by step the plan was a clear war map laid out for the U.S. in detail and after you realize just who was working for whom in this criminal cabal of the American government.

When you have Jewish control of the main stream media and Jewish control in Washington, D.C., don't wonder why the facts were omitted to make all the right connections for the public to see in this lead up to a war from lies.

[Nov 28, 2019] Making Sense of the National Debt

Nov 28, 2019 | research.stlouisfed.org

It will be interesting to see how China responds in reality to the naked hegemony of the US law just passed and signed by Trump about HK. Is China ready to stand up to the bully of dying empire or be cowed into slicing their response even thinner and thinner but not saying NO MORE!

We do live in interesting times.

Transferring my post to this thread, about the decline of US fertility rates:

Japanification of the USA:

Birthrates in the U.S. are falling. Abortions have also hit an all-time low

As we all know, constant population growth is essential for the survival of capitalism, since it is one of the main factors that slow down its tendency of the profit rate to fall. The article seems to agree with this:

Birthrates have been trending downward overall since 2005, sparking concern about potential economic and cultural ramifications. Keeping the number of births within a certain range, called the "replacement level," ensures the population level will remain stable. A low birthrate runs the risk that the country will not be able to replace the workforce and have enough tax revenue, while a high birthrate can cause shortages of resources.

Another related article approaches the issue from another angle:

Social counterrevolution and the decline in US life expectancy

Virginia Commonwealth University professor Dr. Steven H. Woolf and Eastern Virginia Medical School student Heidi Schoomaker analyzed life expectancy data for the years 1959-2016 and cause-specific mortality rates for 1999-2017. The data shows that the decline in life expectancy is not a statistical anomaly, but the outcome of a decades-long assault on the working class.

So, this is not an "anomaly". If it isn't, then there's an underlying cause, which the same article hypothetizes:

Obamacare was part of a deliberate drive by the ruling class to lower the life expectancy of working people. As far as the strategists of American capitalism are concerned, the longer the lifespan of elderly and retired workers, who no longer produce profits for the corporations but require government-subsidized medical care to deal with health issues, the greater the sums that are diverted from the coffers of the rich and the military machine.

A 2013 paper by Anthony H. Cordesman of the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) frankly presented the increasing longevity of ordinary Americans as an immense crisis for US imperialism. "The US does not face any foreign threat as serious as its failure to come to grips with the rise in the cost of federal entitlement spending," Cordesman wrote, saying the debt crisis was driven "almost exclusively by the rise in federal spending on major health care programs, Social Security, and the cost of net interest on the debt."

Meanwhile, conditions for the rich have never been better. This is reflected in the growing life expectancy gap between the rich and the poor. The richest one percent of men live 14 years longer than the poorest one percent, and the richest one percent of women 10 years longer than the poorest.

I wasn't aware of this CSIS report. If true, then this is indeed a very interesting hypothesis.

--//--

The thing I don't understand in the WSWS article linked above is this:

The first nodal point, in the early 1980s, corresponds to the initiation of the social counterrevolution by the administration of Ronald Reagan, which involved union busting, strikebreaking, wage-cutting and plant closings on a nationwide scale, combined with cuts in education, health care and other social programs.

So, Ronald Reagan did a "counterrevolution". That means there was a revolution before him, which I suppose is the post-war "Keynesian consensus", the "golden age of capitalism" of 1945-1975.

I really can't understand the logic behind the Trotskyists: they condemn the USSR and China as "stalinists", i.e. as counterrevolutionaries. But Harry Truman was a revolutionary? Dwight Eisenhower was a revolutionary? Clement Attlee was a revolutionary? De Gaulle was revolutionary?

What kind of nonsense is this?

What is most funny is that these same Trotskyists from the same WSWS website use the rise of labor strikes in China to argue China is a capitalist empire -- but uses the same strikes as evidence there was a revolution in the West during the post-war (by negative, since Reagan's "counterrevolution" was characterized by "union busting, strikebreaking, wage-cutting and plant closings on a nationwide scale, combined with cuts in education, health care and other social programs").

I think Trotskyism is having an identity crisis. They don't know if they are essentially a movement whose objective is essentially to tarnish Stalin's image or if they are closeted social-democrats. They forgot Trotsky fought for the revolution, not personal vendetta.

Posted by: vk | Nov 28 2019 15:44 utc | 12

[Nov 28, 2019] Ukraine vs Iraq

Nov 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Bemildred , Nov 28 2019 17:10 utc | 23

Giraldi brings up again the stupidity of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the predictable and predicted results:

Iran May Be the Only Winner in Iraq

[Nov 28, 2019] The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in late July to pass a bill on sanctions against Nord Stream 2. It was prepared by Republican Senator Ted Cruise and Democrat Gene Shahin, and, in particular, involves a ban on the entry into the United States and the freezing of US assets under the jurisdiction of persons involved in the "sale, lease, provision or assistance in providing" ships for laying at sea Russian pipelines at a depth of 30 metres.

Notable quotes:
"... the United States' high-handedness is taking it dangerously close to making an enemy of Europe. ..."
"... There is nothing remotely fair about carving out markets for your product by eliminating all other choices. I realize Washington will say it is only trying to stop Nord Stream II so that Russia will be forced to transit gas across Ukraine and pay it exorbitant transit fees, and that it is doing Ukraine a favour while not restricting Europe from getting pipeline gas. ..."
"... American strategy is always all about getting everyone else by the balls so that they have no choice but to accept American control and orders. That's called American Global Leadership, which they figure is good for the world because it's certainly good for American investors. ..."
Nov 28, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile November 23, 2019 at 9:33 pm

В сенате США рассказали о способе заблокировать "Северный поток -- 2"
06:37 24.11.2019 (обновлено: 06:54 24.11.2019)

In the U.S. Senate, they have spoken about how to block "Nord stream -- 2"
06:37 24.11.2019 (updated: 06:54 24.11.2019)

MOSCOW, 24 Nov – RIA Novosti. The U.S. Congress intends to include sanctions against the Russian gas pipeline "Nord stream -- 2" in the 2020 defence budget, says Jim Risch, head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, in the latest edition of "Defense News".

Sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the pipeline have been included in a draft law "On National Defense for 2020", said Rish. "The reason for this step is that the window of opportunity is closings. Most of "Nord stream" has already been constructed", said the Senator. However, he expressed the opinion that the sanctions "will convince" the construction company to stop work on the project because the American restrictions "will cost them dearly".

If sanctions are included in the US defence budget, companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 will close, and Russia will, supposedly, have to look for other contractors, says Riesch.
However, he noted that the House of Representatives and the Senate have not yet reached a final agreement on the bill as a whole.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in late July to pass a bill on sanctions against Nord Stream 2. It was prepared by Republican Senator Ted Cruise and Democrat Gene Shahin, and, in particular, involves a ban on the entry into the United States and the freezing of US assets under the jurisdiction of persons involved in the "sale, lease, provision or assistance in providing" ships for laying at sea Russian pipelines at a depth of 30 metres.

For the bill to enter into force, it must be approved by the House of Representatives and the US Senate, as well as US President Donald Trump.

Let the Liberty Bell ring out loud! -- albeit that it is cracked and was never rung on 4th July, 1776, but, as usual, bullshit baffles brains!

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Mark Chapman November 23, 2019 at 11:19 pm
And that'd be Jean Shaheen; the translation managed to get both her name and her gender wrong.

As I have said before now, the United States' high-handedness is taking it dangerously close to making an enemy of Europe. It has made it clear it is trying to restrict Europe's energy choices to American LNG or American LNG.

There is nothing remotely fair about carving out markets for your product by eliminating all other choices. I realize Washington will say it is only trying to stop Nord Stream II so that Russia will be forced to transit gas across Ukraine and pay it exorbitant transit fees, and that it is doing Ukraine a favour while not restricting Europe from getting pipeline gas.

But Washington still aims to control Ukraine and use it as a bastion against Russia, and if it can arrange things so that Russian gas must pass across Ukraine under American control, why, it can conjure stoppages and interruptions of service at its pleasure, as well as helping Ukraine to jack up transit fees so that Russia must either raise its gas prices until American LNG is competitive, or sell at a loss.

American strategy is always all about getting everyone else by the balls so that they have no choice but to accept American control and orders. That's called American Global Leadership, which they figure is good for the world because it's certainly good for American investors.

Moscow Exile November 24, 2019 at 9:35 am

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Mark Chapman November 24, 2019 at 11:32 am
Time is running out for the US to be its usual dick self, and block another country's aspirations in order to advance its own interests.
Mark Chapman November 24, 2019 at 11:41 am
Except when he says "we all", he is talking about less than ten thousand people in a country of 147 million. Yes, few Russians get to breathe the rarefied air of true mental clarity.

So far as I am aware, the latest offer on the table is still for a one-year extension of the current contract, although Russia did agree to drop legal claims and counter-claims between itself and Ukraine, in which Russia claimed Ukraine underpaid/did not pay at all for gas it received. Ukraine has thus far not replied.

https://money.usnews.com/investing/news/articles/2019-11-18/gazprom-proposes-one-year-gas-deal-with-ukraine

Moscow has made some concessions, but there has been no movement at all toward a long-term contract that I have seen. I maintain that a cold winter of frozen bums in Europe would offer a salutary effect. Russia is actually better-placed to deliver LNG by vessel than the USA, as well, as it is much closer.

There must be a limit to European loyalty to the USA in the face of conditions so markedly against its interests, a limit to how much shit it will smear on its own face to keep its partner happy and amused.

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et Al November 25, 2019 at 1:47 am
Apparently U-ropean gas storage networks are full, not to mention that there has been heavy investment in the Austrian Baumgarten storage network, Germany, France, infact just about everywhere except the UK (coz the French will store it for them and sell the gas back at a nice mark up)

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Mark Chapman November 25, 2019 at 12:06 pm
Ukraine has already stated publicly that although its own gas storage bunkers are full, that amount will not likely carry it through the winter if there is an interruption owing to non-renewal of the gas contract, and if the winter is cold and harsh as usual. I imagine Europe is the same; storage facilities are not so extensive that they could take the entire region through a cold winter.
karl1haushofer November 24, 2019 at 1:33 pm
Not surprising that Navalny and his ilk oppose Nord Stream. They oppose anything that is good for Russia. They don't seem to be interested in developing russia into a better place, but tear it apart and ruin it from within. It is rather odd that Russia has these types of people as "opposition politicians". People who hate their own country and don't even pretend to hide their hatred.
I don't see them that dangerous though because they seem to lack wider support and Russia is not currently facing any troubles that would turn people against the current rulers.
And I'm not saying that Russia is ruled by a very competent government currently. The economy should be growing a lot faster than it has been growing for the past ten years. But the current government is still 100x better than Navalny would be. He would probably bring down Russia even worse than Yeltsin did.

[Nov 28, 2019] On January 1st at 10 am Moscow time Gazprom has no reason to keep the gas flowing in the direction of the Ukraine

Nov 28, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile November 28, 2019 at 12:13 am

The finger pointing by Banderastan has started!

"Нафтогаз" пообещал не перекрывать газовый вентиль
03:01 28.11.2019

"Naftogaz" has promised turn off the gas valve
03:01 28.11.2019 (updated: 10:45 28.11.2019)

KIEV, November 28 – RIA Novosti. The Ukraine does not intend to shut off the gas valve, even if Russia fails to sign a new contract on gas transportation, Executive Director of "Naftogaz of the Ukraine", Yuriy Vitrenko, has said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. In his opinion, the valve will be turned off by Gazprom, not Naftogaz.

"But I remind you, that in a letter sent by Gazprom to Naftogaz, in black and white [it states] that on January 1st at 10 am Moscow time Gazprom has no reason to keep the gas flowing in the direction of the Ukraine", he said.

So you Russia is going to hold Europe to ransom, not the Ukraine, right?

Has everyone got that message?

Did hear that EU, USA etc., etc?

Mark Chapman November 28, 2019 at 1:06 am

What happened to all the leverage Ukraine gained by its blinding victory in Swiss arbitration? They should be able to lead Moscow around by the nose now.

[Nov 28, 2019] The appeal court in Sweden has refused to satisfy the appeal of "Gazprom" in a dispute with the Ukrainian concern "Naftogaz", according to Tass. Executive Director of "Naftogaz of Ukraine" Yuriy Vitrenko on "Facebook" called the decision a "complete victory".

Notable quotes:
"... Gazprom sent about 200 BcM to Europe last year, of which 70 BcM went via Ukraine. If Ukraine is completely cut out now, Gazprom could manage about 195 BcM, with every other available pipeline to Europe straining at the rivets. But you need a 'technical reserve' capability, which would take Russia's requirement to 230 BcM. Obviously, the intent is that they should commit to sending this amount through Ukraine, forever. ..."
"... The other interesting figure is included in the claim that 'Ukraine's economy is growing nicely, but loss of transit income would shave 4% off of GDP.' When the initial threat that eventually transit would be stopped was floated, Ukraine squealed that it would bilk it of 2% of GDP. But now somehow that loss would be double but the economy is 'growing nicely'? Ummm .how do you figure? ..."
Nov 28, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile November 27, 2019 at 4:23 am

Well blow me down!

The appeal court in Sweden has refused to satisfy the appeal of "Gazprom" in a dispute with the Ukrainian concern "Naftogaz", according to Tass. Executive Director of "Naftogaz of Ukraine" Yuriy Vitrenko on "Facebook" called the decision a "complete victory".

"Complete victory, Ukraine wins again! We won the appeal at the first complaint of "Gazprom" the decision of the Stockholm arbitration!" said his statement.

It is anticipated that decisions in two other cases in court between the same parties will be taken in 2020.

The Stockholm arbitration court in December 2017 and February 2018 issued decisions on disputes between Gazprom and Naftogaz in respect of contracts for supply and transit of gas, obliging as a result, Russian the Ukrainian company to pay more than $ 2.5 billion. Gazprom appealed against the decision in March 2018, and in May demanded the complete abolition of the "transient" solution.

See: Суд Швеции отказал по апелляции "Газпрома" в споре с "Нафтогазом"
27 ноября 2019, 13:26

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Mark Chapman November 27, 2019 at 11:27 am
What will that mean for the gas deal? Only 16 days remain.

https://www.intellinews.com/ukraine-has-16-days-left-to-do-a-transit-deal-with-gazprom-172367/?source=russia

Ukraine allegedly offered to do a deal in which they would not drop their claim of being owed $2.5 Billion by Gazprom, but would take it in free gas. They say they have not had a reply yet. The same article suggests Russia would be perfectly happy to just run out the clock. Even happier now, I would think.

A few interesting figures are included in the article. For one, the author claims that in order to completely circumvent Ukraine for gas delivery to Europe, it would need pipeline capacity of 230 BcM. Here's how it breaks down – Gazprom sent about 200 BcM to Europe last year, of which 70 BcM went via Ukraine. If Ukraine is completely cut out now, Gazprom could manage about 195 BcM, with every other available pipeline to Europe straining at the rivets. But you need a 'technical reserve' capability, which would take Russia's requirement to 230 BcM. Obviously, the intent is that they should commit to sending this amount through Ukraine, forever.

The other interesting figure is included in the claim that 'Ukraine's economy is growing nicely, but loss of transit income would shave 4% off of GDP.' When the initial threat that eventually transit would be stopped was floated, Ukraine squealed that it would bilk it of 2% of GDP. But now somehow that loss would be double but the economy is 'growing nicely'? Ummm .how do you figure?

The way I see it, Russia has a couple of options; it can just let the clock run out, carry on with Nord Stream II, and pump everything it can right to capacity, without any going through Ukraine. That would leave it about 5 BcM short, obviously with no reserve capability. The USA could be invited to make that shortfall up with its Molecules of Freedom. But that relies on Merkel not suddenly deciding to slap more restrictions on Nord Stream II so that it could not pump to its full capacity – she has apparently said all along that Nord Stream II will not be allowed unless some gas continues to go through Ukraine – the obvious clash of wills is that Russia is trying to ensure that amount is as small as possible, while the west and Ukraine are trying to ensure that amount is as large as possible.

Another option is for Russia to speed up and intensify its own LNG-export capability, and perhaps it can make up the shortfall with its own LNG carriers. Either way, it is plain the Ukies think they have Russia by the balls, and can dictate terms as they like – perhaps they will even add the return of Crimea to their demands for a gas deal, they seem to feel so confident. Let's see how it plays out; only a couple of weeks remain to get a deal done, and it's everyone against Russia.

The look on Vitrenko's face will be priceless if the Russians just close up their briefcases and go home. Not to mention the look on Sefcovic's face. Not to mention the jump in gas prices in Europe.

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[Nov 26, 2019] Support for Restraint Is on the Rise by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... 38% of respondents want to end the war in Afghanistan now or within one year, and another 31% support negotiations with the Taliban to bring the war to an end. A broad majority of Americans wants to bring the war to a conclusion. I already mentioned the survey's finding that there is majority support for reducing the U.S. military presence in East Asia last night. Americans not only want to get out of our interminable wars overseas, but they also want to scale back U.S. involvement overall. ..."
"... The survey asked respondents how the U.S. should respond if "Iran gets back on track with its nuclear weapons program." That is a loaded and potentially misleading question, since Iran has not had anything resembling a nuclear weapons program in 16 years, so there has been nothing to get "back on track" for a long time. Framing the question this way is likely to elicit a more hawkish response. In spite of the questionable wording, the results from this year show that there is less support for coercive measures against Iran than last year and more support for negotiations and non-intervention: ..."
"... With only around 10% favoring it, there is almost no support for preventive war against Iran. Americans don't want war with Iran even if it were developing nuclear weapons ..."
"... There is substantial and growing support for bringing our current wars to an end and avoiding unnecessary conflicts in the future. This survey shows that there is a significant constituency in America that desires a more peaceful and restrained foreign policy, and right now virtually no political leaders are offering them the foreign policy that they say they want. It is long past time that Washington started listening. ..."
Nov 26, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

he Eurasia Group Foundation's new survey of public opinion on U.S. foreign policy finds that support for greater restraint continues to rise:

Americans favor a less aggressive foreign policy. The findings are consistent across a number of foreign policy issues, and across generations and party lines.

The 2019 survey results show that most Americans support a more restrained foreign policy, and it also shows an increase in that support since last year. There is very little support for continuing the war in Afghanistan indefinitely, there is virtually no appetite for war with Iran, and there is a decline in support for a hawkish sort of American exceptionalism. There is still very little support for unilateral U.S. intervention for ostensibly humanitarian reasons, and support for non-intervention has increased slightly:

In 2018, 45 percent of Americans chose restraint as their first choice. In 2019, that has increased to 47 percent. Only 19 percent opt for a U.S.-led military response and 34 percent favor a multilateral, UN-led approach to stop humanitarian abuses overseas.

38% of respondents want to end the war in Afghanistan now or within one year, and another 31% support negotiations with the Taliban to bring the war to an end. A broad majority of Americans wants to bring the war to a conclusion. I already mentioned the survey's finding that there is majority support for reducing the U.S. military presence in East Asia last night. Americans not only want to get out of our interminable wars overseas, but they also want to scale back U.S. involvement overall.

The report's working definition of American exceptionalism is a useful one: "American exceptionalism is the belief that the foreign policy of the United States should be unconstrained by the parochial interests or international rules which govern other countries." This is not the only definition one might use, but it gets at the heart of what a lot of hawks really mean when they use this phrase. While most Americans still say they subscribe to American exceptionalism either because of what the U.S. represents or what it has done, there is less support for these views than before. Among the youngest respondents (age 18-29), there is now a clear majority that rejects this idea.

The survey asked respondents how the U.S. should respond if "Iran gets back on track with its nuclear weapons program." That is a loaded and potentially misleading question, since Iran has not had anything resembling a nuclear weapons program in 16 years, so there has been nothing to get "back on track" for a long time. Framing the question this way is likely to elicit a more hawkish response. In spite of the questionable wording, the results from this year show that there is less support for coercive measures against Iran than last year and more support for negotiations and non-intervention:

A strong majority of both Republicans and Democrats continue to seek a diplomatic resolution involving either sanctions or the resumption of nuclear negotiations. This year, there was an increase in the number of respondents across party lines who would want negotiations to resume even if Iran is a nuclear power in the short term, and a bipartisan increase in those who believe outright that Iran has the right to develop nuclear weapons to defend itself. So while Republicans might be more likely than Democrats to believe Iran threatens peace in the Middle East, voters in neither party are eager to take a belligerent stand against it.

With only around 10% favoring it, there is almost no support for preventive war against Iran. Americans don't want war with Iran even if it were developing nuclear weapons, and it isn't doing that. It may be that the failure of the "maximum pressure" campaign has also weakened support for sanctions. Support for the sanctions option dropped by almost 10 points overall and plunged by more than 20 points among Republicans. In 2018, respondents were evenly split between war and sanctions on one side or negotiations and non-intervention on the other. This year, support for diplomacy and non-intervention in response to this imaginary nuclear weapons program has grown to make up almost 60% of the total. If most Americans favor diplomacy and non-intervention in this improbable scenario, it is safe to assume that there is even more support for those options with the real Iranian government that isn't pursuing nuclear weapons.

There is substantial and growing support for bringing our current wars to an end and avoiding unnecessary conflicts in the future. This survey shows that there is a significant constituency in America that desires a more peaceful and restrained foreign policy, and right now virtually no political leaders are offering them the foreign policy that they say they want. It is long past time that Washington started listening.

[Nov 26, 2019] A New Pipeline Could Undo America's Influence In Asia

Notable quotes:
"... this is why the US went into Afghanistan, to get in between China & Iran ..."
"... The implication of what you just said is that the United States will never leave Afghanistan as in ever. Even if the Taliban take the whole country leaving only Kabul and its surroundings, the US will still opt to stay to have bases to launch drones and aircraft from to dominate the region. ..."
Nov 26, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A New Pipeline Could Undo America's Influence In Asia Posted on November 26, 2019 by Yves Smith By Simon Watkins, a former senior FX trader and salesman, financial journalist, and best-selling author. Originally published at OilPrice

From the moment that the U.S. re-imposed sanctions in earnest on Iran late last year, Pakistan has been looking at ways to resuscitate a deal that had been agreed in principle before the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last May. This deal involved moving as much gas as Pakistan needs from Iran's Asalouyeh into Pakistan's Gwadar and then on to Nawabshah for further transit if required. At the same time, China has been in long-running discussions with Pakistan over the specific projects that Beijing wanted to place in Pakistan as part of its 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) programme. All the while, the U.S. has been trying to stymie any such arrangement but OilPrice.com understands that the Iran-China-Pakistan deal is now back on, and with a vengeance.

China's covert strategic deals are virtually always buried in interminably long anodyne statements that belie the true laser-focused intentions of Beijing and this time is no different. Joint statements just over a week ago from both Pakistan and China sides laid out four projects that are part of a 'broader co-operation' between China and Pakistan. They all sound relatively run-of-the-mill affairs, although still major undertakings, and are: the upgrading of the Pakistan Refinery Karachi, the building out of a coal to liquid engineering plant based on Thar coal at Thar Sindh, the utilisation of Thar Block VI for coal gasification and fertiliser projects, and the finalisation of the feasibility study on South-North Gas Pipeline Project that traverses Pakistan.

The fact that they are much more significant to the global geopolitical balance was evidenced by the U.S.'s furious warnings to Pakistan, based on the fact that all of these projects are in reality a key part of Beijing's planned China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which, in turn, is a cornerstone of the OBOR initiative. Even as it was, U.S. South Asia diplomat, Alice Wells, warned that CPEC – which, vitally, includes heavy financing from Beijing and, therefore, a massive debt obligation to China by the host country over time – will only profit Beijing. As it stands, the cost of just the first round of CPEC projects has risen from an initial costing of US$48 billion to at least US$62 billion right now. "It's clear, or it needs to be clear, that CPEC is not about aid," said Wells. "[The CPEC] corridor is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy, especially when the bulk of payments start to come due in the next four to six years," she added. "Even if loan payments are deferred, they are going to continue to hang over Pakistan's economic development potential, hamstringing Prime Minister [Imran] Khan's reform agenda," she underlined.

The U.S.'s fury would have been much worse if it knew that, in fact, the 'finalisation of the feasibility study on South-North Gas Pipeline Project' whilst true, is just proverbially the tip of the iceberg. "The actual plan is to resuscitate the Iran-Pakistan oil and gas pipelines over time, beginning with the gas pipeline, moving unlimited amounts of Iranian gas to Pakistan, and then into China and the rest of Asia should it be needed," a senior source who works closely with Iran's Petroleum Ministry told OilPrice.com last week. "It is being done in conjunction with Russia, with the twin aims of firstly ensuring that China's 'One Belt, one Road' initiative continues to run smoothly from the East through Pakistan and then Westwards into Iran and onwards into Europe," he said. "And, secondly, to ensure for Russia that Iran's gas does not start flowing freely into Europe as and when the U.S. sanctions are lifted, as this would undermine Russia's power over Europe, which is founded on supplying over a third of Europe's gas," he added.

For China, the new pipeline – integral to its plan of making Iran and Pakistan its client states over time – has the added benefit of putting the U.S. on the backfoot in the ongoing trade war. For Iran, the incentives of closer ties with China and Russia are principally financial but also relate to China being just one of five Permanent Members on the U.N. Security Council (the others being Russia, the U.S., the U.K., and France). For Pakistan as well there is the added incentive that it is tired of being lambasted by the U.S. for its duplicity in dealing with international terrorism. Not that long ago, the U.S. accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban (correct but it was catalysed by the U.S.'s key Middle Eastern 'ally', Saudi Arabia), Al Qaeda (correct but catalysed, funded and logistically supported by the Saudis), the Haqqani network (correct but also funded and logistically supported by the Saudis), and Islamic State (sort of correct but that was also mainly, of course, the Saudis) against U.S. forces, despite taking hundreds of billions of dollars in aid payments.

Islamabad has also been an outspoken critic of renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran. Just after the first wave of the new sanctions were rolled out on 7 August last year, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Faisal said that: "We are examining the implications of the U.S.'s re-imposed sanctions on Iran, however, Pakistan, being a sovereign state, reserves the right to pursue legitimate economic and commercial interests while respecting the international legal regime." Later, in his inaugural speech as Pakistan's then-new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, called for improving ties with the country's immediate neighbours, including Iran, from whose President, Hassan Rouhani, he also accepted an invitation for an early state visit to Tehran. Bubbling back at that time to the top of the list of practical initiatives that could be advanced quickly was the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline (IPP), which, according to the Iran source: "[Imran] Khan personally backs and has made a priority project."

In practical terms, Pakistan certainly needs all the sustainable energy sources it can get. As it stands, the country has seen domestic natural gas production stagnate at around 4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) against demand of more than 6 Bcf/d, which has led to repeated load shedding in many major cities of up to 15 hours a day. Moreover, the supply and demand disparity is set to become even worse very soon, as industry estimates project that Pakistan's domestic gas production is set to fall to nearer 2 Bcf/d by 2020, due to aging infrastructure, whilst demand will rise to around 8 Bcf/d by the same time, driven by rising demand from the power, industry, and domestic sectors as the economy continues to grow by around 5% per year. According to Pakistan's Ministry of Energy (MoE), the planned 0.75 Bcf/d of gas (for five years, in the first instance) that would flow from Iran's supergiant South Pars natural gas field would add around 4,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity into the Pakistan grid, via a direct Iran-Pakistan pipeline.

The original agreement for the IPP, signed between Iran and Pakistan in 1995, was predicated on the pipeline running from Iran's supergiant South Pars non-associated natural gas field into Karachi but the most recent iteration of the route involves the gas running from Iran's Asalouyeh and into Pakistan's Gwadar and then on to Nawabshah. The latest projection of the cost of the pipeline is around US$3.5 billion, according to industry sources, although US$2.5 billion of this has already been invested in the 900 kilometre stretch on Iran's side that has already been completed. Pakistan's 780 kilometre stretch has yet to be started.

Given the geopolitical importance of both Iran and Pakistan to Russia and China, though, as analysed in greater depth in my new book on the global oil markets , finding the money for the remainder of the project will not be a problem at all For China, there is a threefold motivation. First, its plans to integrate the IPP into the CPEC project means that Gwadar is earmarked to be a key logistical node in China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative. Second, it wants to keep Iran as one of its key suppliers of oil and gas in the future. And third, it regards supporting those who the U.S. opposes as being a central plank of its foreign policy, even over and above the short-term tactic of wrong-footing the U.S. in the ongoing trade war. "One immediate reaction [of China to the burgeoning trade war with the US], will be to seek to expand and broaden economic links by offering improved market access to non-U.S. companies, by strengthening supply chain links and by replacing American commodities with imports from emerging market nations," according to Jonathan Fenby, China research chairman at TS Lombard, in London.

"There is a tectonic shift going on that goes well beyond the tariff war, as China seeks to assert itself regionally and tries to establish a wider global role for itself while the U.S. moves from the 'constructive engagement' of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations to regarding China as a 'strategic competitor'," he added. The U.S. clearly sees it the same way, not just based on the latest comments by Wells but also on the fact that as long ago as January 2010, the U.S. formally requested that Pakistan abandon the project in return for which it would receive assistance from Washington for the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and for the importing of electricity from Tajikistan through Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor.


rjs , November 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

this is why the US went into Afghanistan, to get in between China & Iran

The Rev Kev , November 26, 2019 at 9:26 am

The implication of what you just said is that the United States will never leave Afghanistan as in ever. Even if the Taliban take the whole country leaving only Kabul and its surroundings, the US will still opt to stay to have bases to launch drones and aircraft from to dominate the region.

So in twenty years time we might see a story how some young soldier has just arrived in-country to Afghanistan who will be proud that his grandfather took part in the original invasion and that he is now following in his grandfather's and father's footsteps.

Susan the Other , November 26, 2019 at 10:29 am

China, the new world-engineers, has gotta be looking at Pakistan as an industrial water source. They're probably already building several dams to catch the runoff. Perhaps mining too – same mountains as Afghanistan, just the other side, no?

China has the money and manpower. Iran the energy. In fact, we could be thinking the same thing.

Nergis Paul , November 26, 2019 at 11:09 am

Ambassador Wells' warning "..is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy, especially when the bulk of payments start to come due.." indicates the lack of a mirror in the State Dept or a copy of the text of the 13th IMF 'bailout' signed last July.

[Nov 26, 2019] Two Factors To Upend Oil Markets In 2020

Nov 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Nick Cunningham via OilPrice.com,

The major forecasters see an oil supply surplus next year, but those bearish outlooks largely depend on the health of U.S. shale growth in 2020, an assumption that is looking increasingly fanciful.

Financial struggles are well-known, but the dominoes continue to fall. As Bloomberg reported , some drillers have recently seen their credit lines reduced, limiting their access to fresh capital. Twice a year in the spring and fall, banks reassess their credit lines to shale drillers, and decide how much they will authorize companies to borrow. This time around is expected to be the first time in roughly three years that lenders tighten up lending capacities.

The curtailment in lending comes at a time when scrutiny on shale finances is increasing. Share prices have fallen sharply this year as investors lose interest. The industry continues to burn cash , and lenders and investors shunning the industry.

Of course, if drillers cannot borrow to cover their financing gaps, they may be forced into bankruptcy. The cutting of the borrowing base "can be a good precursor to potential bankruptcy because as capital markets stay closed off for these companies, the borrowing base serves as the only source of liquidity," Billy Bailey, Saltstone Capital Management LLC portfolio manager, told Bloomberg.

Not every company is entirely cut off from capital markets. As Liam Denning points out , Diamondback Energy was able to issue $3 billion in new bonds at low interest rates, which highlights the case of "haves and have nots" within the industry.

But the financial stress helps explain the slowdown in U.S. oil production this year. The U.S. added about 2 million barrels per day (mb/d) between January 2018 and the end of last year; but output is only up a few hundred thousand barrels per day in 2019 from January through August.

Confusingly, the IEA still forecasts a substantial increase in U.S. oil production in 2020 at 1.2 mb/d, but not everyone agrees with that optimistic outlook. The credit crunch and financial stress in the shale sector could lead to a disappointment in 2020.

It is against this bewildering backdrop that OPEC+ must decide its next move. The IEA says that OPEC+ is in for some trouble as a supply glut looms – in large part because of shale growth. Others agree, to be sure. Commerzbank said that OPEC's efforts to focus on laggards such as Iraq and Nigeria will be insufficient. "It is a mystery why OPEC should believe that it can avoid this oversupply by making just a few cosmetic adjustments," the investment bank said. "By early next year at the latest OPEC thus risks being rudely awakened."

However, at the same time, the physical market is showing some slightly bullish signs. In the oil futures market, front-month contracts for Brent are trading at a premium to longer-dated ones. The six-month premium rose to $3.50 per barrel recently, up from $1.90 last month, Reuters reports. A large premium is typically associated with a tighter market.

Moreover, there is a chance of a thaw in the U.S.-China trade war, which could provide some tailwinds to the global economy. It's become impossible to trust the daily rumors coming from Washington and Beijing, but the two sides have shown some desire to at least call a truce and not step up the tariffs.

Still, the economy has slowed. The OECD warned that global GDP will decelerate to just 2.9 percent this year, and remain within a 2.9-3.0 percent range through 2021. This is the weakest rate of growth in a decade, and is down sharply from the 3.8 percent seen last year. "Two years of escalating conflict over tariffs, principally between the US and China, has hit trade, is undermining business investment and is putting jobs at risk," the OECD said.

The U.S. and China, then, have a great deal of influence over the near-term prospects for oil. As mentioned, there is still a wide range of opinions on the magnitude of the oil supply surplus in 2020, but a breakthrough in the trade war would immediately shift growth projections, oil demand trajectories, and, importantly, sentiment. Even the mere expectation of an economic rebound would send oil prices rising, at least for a little while.

On the other hand, the thaw in the trade war is far from inevitable. The two sides have shown little evidence, if any, that they are actually making progress on some of the structural issues at hand. There is still the possibility that the talks fall apart and the trade war marches on, or even grows worse.

Because it is generally assumed that the oil market has already factored in some degree of optimism around tariff reduction, which has likely added a few dollars to the barrel of oil, a reassessment to the downside would surely send oil prices tumbling.

[Nov 24, 2019] 25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish On Russia by Caitlin Johnstone

From the point of view of election promise of detente with Russia, Trump clearly betrayed them. He was a neocon puppet from the beginning to the end, His policy was not that different from hypothetical policy of Hillary administration.
Notable quotes:
"... Caitlin Johnstone discredits a CNN listicle on Trump's "softness" towards Moscow. In fact, she writes, the U.S. president has actually been consistently reckless towards Moscow, with zero resistance from either party. ..."
"... It would be understandable if you were unaware that Trump has been escalating tensions with Moscow more than any other president since the fall of the Berlin Wall; it's a fact that neither of America's two mainstream political factions care about, so it tends to get lost in the shuffle. Trump's opposition is interested in painting him as a sycophantic Kremlin crony, and his supporters are interested in painting him as an antiwar hero of the people, but he is neither ..."
"... Anyone who has not read Orwell's 1984 should do so sooner rather than later. The official control of narrative in the novel is what we are presently drowning in. To watch it work so spectacularly is beyond depressing. ..."
"... The complete corruption of Western MSM is the reason many of us regularly read Caitlin and Consortium, all desperately trying to get some sort of a reality-check in an otherwise "Orwellian" media environment. ..."
"... The simple truth here is that in regard to the military (read 'military complex', which includes the deep state and shadow government [intelligence agencies] every president is a puppet. ..."
"... The coup in Ukraine was a major provocation to Russia, but was also a repeat of the Americans' rape and pillaging of Russia under Yeltsin, Clinton's puppet. The per capita median income of Ukrainians has dropped in half from 2013, despite pumping $billions in from the US. ..."
"... Failing impeachment, from the attempts by the Clinton Campaign, to the Congressional sanctions on Russia, to sabotage of Syria withdrawal to the Mueller hoax, to the State Dept hawks protests on Ukraine, the effort to prevent Trump from following through on his campaign promise has been the primary goal of the intelligence community. It is instructive to note that the phone call that has led to the current impeachment inquiry was made on July 26, the day following Robert Mueller's clownish testimony before Congress, effectively ending that line of impeachment. ..."
"... Also note that although the phone call was made in July, nothing was said about it until after John Bolton was fired in September, 2 months later. ..."
Nov 19, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

30 Comments

Caitlin Johnstone discredits a CNN listicle on Trump's "softness" towards Moscow. In fact, she writes, the U.S. president has actually been consistently reckless towards Moscow, with zero resistance from either party.

CaitlinJohnstone.com

CNN has published a fascinatingly manipulative and falsehood-laden article titled " 25 times Trump was soft on Russia ," in which a lot of strained effort is poured into building the case that the U.S. president is suspiciously loyal to the nation against which he has spent his administration escalating dangerous new cold war aggressions.

The items within the CNN article consist mostly of times in which Trump said some words or failed to say other words; "Trump has repeatedly praised Putin," "Trump refused to say Putin is a killer," "Trump denied that Russia interfered in 2016," "Trump made light of Russian hacking," etc. It also includes the completely false but oft-repeated narrative that "Trump's team softened the GOP platform on Ukraine", as well as the utterly ridiculous and thoroughly invalidated claim that "Since intervening in Syria in 2015, the Russian military has focused its airstrikes on anti-government rebels, not ISIS."

CNN's 25 items are made up almost entirely of narrative and words; Trump said a nice thing about Putin, Trump said offending things to NATO allies, Trump thought about visiting Putin in Russia, etc. In contrast, the 25 items which I am about to list do not consist of narrative at all, but rather the actual movement of actual concrete objects which can easily lead to an altercation from which there may be no re-emerging. These items show that when you ignore the words and narrative spin and look at what this administration has actually been doing , it's clear to anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty that, far from being "soft" on Russia, Trump has actually been consistently reckless in the one area where a US president must absolutely always maintain a steady hand. And he's been doing so with zero resistance from either party.

It would be understandable if you were unaware that Trump has been escalating tensions with Moscow more than any other president since the fall of the Berlin Wall; it's a fact that neither of America's two mainstream political factions care about, so it tends to get lost in the shuffle. Trump's opposition is interested in painting him as a sycophantic Kremlin crony, and his supporters are interested in painting him as an antiwar hero of the people, but he is neither. Observe:

1. Implementing a Nuclear Posture Review with a more aggressive stance toward Russia

Last year Trump's Department of Defense rolled out a Nuclear Posture Review which CNN itself called "its toughest line yet against Russia's resurgent nuclear forces."

"In its newly released Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Department has focused much of its multibillion nuclear effort on an updated nuclear deterrence focused on Russia," CNN reported last year.

This revision of nuclear policy includes the new implementation of "low-yield" nuclear weapons , which, because they are designed to be more "usable" than conventional nuclear ordinances, have been called "the most dangerous weapon ever" by critics of this insane policy. These weapons, which can remove some of the inhibit