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[Feb 09, 2020] US troops have stolen tens of millions in Iraq and Afghanistan

Many of these crimes grew out of shortcomings in the military's management of the deployments that experts say are still present: a heavy dependence on cash transactions, a hasty award process for high-value contracts, loose and harried oversight within the ranks, and a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there.
Notable quotes:
"... "this thing going on" ..."
"... a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there. ..."
May 09, 2015 | slate.com

The Fraud of War: U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have stolen tens of millions through bribery, theft, and rigged contracts.

U.S. Army Specialist Stephanie Charboneau sat at the center of a complex trucking network in Forward Operating Base Fenty near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that distributed daily tens of thousands of gallons of what troops called "liquid gold": the refined petroleum that fueled the international coalition's vehicles, planes, and generators.

A prominent sign in the base read: "The Army Won't Go If The Fuel Don't Flow." But Charboneau, 31, a mother of two from Washington state, felt alienated after a supervisor's harsh rebuke. Her work was a dreary routine of recording fuel deliveries in a computer and escorting trucks past a gate. But it was soon to take a dark turn into high-value crime.

She began an affair with a civilian, Jonathan Hightower, who worked for a Pentagon contractor that distributed fuel from Fenty, and one day in March 2010 he told her about "this thing going on" at other U.S. military bases around Afghanistan, she recalled in a recent telephone interview.

Troops were selling the U.S. military's fuel to Afghan locals on the side, and pocketing the proceeds. When Hightower suggested they start doing the same, Charboneau said, she agreed.

In so doing, Charboneau contributed to thefts by U.S. military personnel of at least $15 million worth of fuel since the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. And eventually she became one of at least 115 enlisted personnel and military officers convicted since 2005 of committing theft, bribery, and contract-rigging crimes valued at $52 million during their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a comprehensive tally of court records by the Center for Public Integrity.

Many of these crimes grew out of shortcomings in the military's management of the deployments that experts say are still present: a heavy dependence on cash transactions, a hasty award process for high-value contracts, loose and harried oversight within the ranks, and a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there.

Charboneau, whose Facebook posts reveal a bright-eyed woman with a shoulder tattoo and a huge grin, snuggling with pets and celebrating the 2015 New Year with her children in Seattle Seahawks jerseys, now sits in Carswell federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, serving a seven-year sentence for her crime.

[Feb 09, 2020] Bush older acted as a gangster in Kuwait war: he was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Bush older was the first president from CIA. He was already a senior CIA official at the time of JFK assassination and might participate in the plot to kill JFK. At least he was in Dallas at the day of assassination. .
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

SolontoCroesus , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 5:20 pm GMT

That Iraq is to say the least unstable is attributable to the ill-advised U.S. invasion of 2003.

Nothing to do with 9 years of sanctions on Iraq that killed a million Iraqis, "half of them children," and US control of Iraqi air space, after having killed Iraqi military in a turkey-shoot, for no really good reason other than George H W Bush seized the "unipolar moment" to become king of the world?

Maybe it's just stubbornness: I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

According to Jeffrey Engel, Bush's biographer and director of the Bush library at Southern Methodist University, Gorbachev harassed Bush with phone calls, pleading with him not to go to war over Kuwait

https://www.c-span.org/video/?310832-1/into-desert-reflections-gulf-war

(It's worth noting that Dennis Ross was relatively new in his role on Jim Baker's staff when Baker, Brent Skowcroft, Larry Eagleburger & like minded urged Bush to take the Imperial Pivot.)

According to Vernon Loeb, who completed the writing of King's Counsel after Jack O'Connell died, Jordan's King Hussein, in consultation with retired CIA station chief O'Connell, parlayed with Arab leaders to resolve the conflict on their own, i.e. Arab-to-Arab terms, and also pleaded with Bush to stay out, and to let the Arabs solve their own problems. Bush refused.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?301361-6/kings-counsel

See above: Bush was determined to "seize the unipolar moment."

Once again insist on entering into the record: George H Bush was present at the creation of the Global War on Terror, July 4, 1979, the Jerusalem Conference hosted by Benzion and Benjamin Netanyahu and heavily populated with Trotskyites – neocons.

International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., 1981.
(Wurmser became Netanyahu's acolyte)

Z-man , says: Show Comment January 21, 2020 at 7:05 pm GMT
@SolontoCroesus

I think Papa Bush is responsible for the "imperial pivot," in the Persian Gulf war aka Operation Desert Storm, 29 years and 4 days ago -- January 17, 1991.

Yes I remember it well. I came back from a long trip & memorable vacation, alas I was a young man, to the television drama that was unfolding with Arthur Kent 'The Scud Stud' and others reporting from the safety of their hotel balconies filming aircaft and cruise missiles. It was surreal.
You are correct of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Feb 09, 2020] OPEC has almost 80% of World oil reserves

Notable quotes:
"... that every nation produces what oil they can produce. Production must have some relation to reserves. ..."
"... The normal R/P ratio is around 20. That doesn't mean a nation with an R/P ratio of 20 will run out of oil in 20 years. Because as their production declines, their R/P ratio will still hold at about 20 because they are producing less oil therefore their reserves will go further. So an R/P ratio of about 20 is the norm for normal size conventional fields. ..."
"... For giant and supergiant fields the R/P ratio would be greater and for smaller fields, as well as shale fields, the R/P ratio would be smaller. ..."
"... Using OPEC's reserves data for both OPEC and Non-OPEC, OPEC has an R/P of 109 while Non-OPEC has an R/P ratio of about 12. That OPEC number is absurd beyond belief. ..."
"... If we exclude the heavy oil then OPEC's share is close to the 70% I suggested. How does this square its share of the production numbers for the world. This was my original question. I would like to read what the thoughts of other posters are on this as well. ..."
Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

What is the explanation that Non-OPEC produces more than OPEC, but OPEC has 70% of world reserves?

Although this might have been the case in the early history of oil production, I would think that this should not be the case near the peak. If I recall correctly, Campbell thought that OPEC's stated reserves are actually the estimated values produced by the government for each OPEC country?


Ron Patterson 12/12/2019 at 11:08 pm

No, no, no, OPEC has almost 80% of World oil reserves: OPEC Share of World Oil Reserves, 2018

Well, 79.4% to be exact Some people really believe that unbelievable crap. Well hell, there are still people who believe the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around the earth. So why should we be surprised? Some people will believe anything.

I would like to think that most people on this list know that OPEC quoted reserves is pure bullshit.

Hey, we have a president who lies every time he tweets. And sometimes he tweets 200 times a day. And perhaps 45% of the nation believes him. The capacity of humans to believe the absurd is unbounded.

Anyway if IEA and EIA projections are made on the basis of OPEC claimed reserves, we have a serious problem.

Ron Patterson 12/13/2019 at 2:15 pm
Well, I have always stated, on this blog as well as The Oil Drum, that every nation produces what oil they can produce. Production must have some relation to reserves.

The normal R/P ratio is around 20. That doesn't mean a nation with an R/P ratio of 20 will run out of oil in 20 years. Because as their production declines, their R/P ratio will still hold at about 20 because they are producing less oil therefore their reserves will go further. So an R/P ratio of about 20 is the norm for normal size conventional fields.

For giant and supergiant fields the R/P ratio would be greater and for smaller fields, as well as shale fields, the R/P ratio would be smaller.

If a giant or supergiant field is nearing the end of its life, but infill drilling, creaming the top of the reservoir, this will throw a monkey wrench into their R/P ratio. While in its prime, the field may have had an R/P ration of 40 or even greater, its R/P ratio while being creamed will be much smaller, less than 20.

Using OPEC's reserves data for both OPEC and Non-OPEC, OPEC has an R/P of 109 while Non-OPEC has an R/P ratio of about 12. That OPEC number is absurd beyond belief.

Seppo Korpela 12/15/2019 at 5:55 pm
Ron,

According to Hubbert methodology, at the peak production the number of years to exhaust the reserve is N = 2/a in which "a" is the intrinsic growth rate

dQ/dt=a Q (1-Q/Q_0)

From Laherrere's reports for world peak, this is between 0.04 and 0.05. This means that the R/P ratio is between 40 and 50 at the peak. Thus if we say that 1/2 of the reserves are left at the peak and we take Laherre's URR = 2500, this gives R/P=1250/35=36 years. These are ball park figures, but suggest that R/P ~ 20 is low. These numbers are for the entire world and for example for North Sea at its peak Hubbert's analysis gave a = 0.12, so R/P=2/0.12=16.6, and this illustrates the fact that smaller fields are closer to your number R/P=20.

If we exclude the heavy oil then OPEC's share is close to the 70% I suggested. How does this square its share of the production numbers for the world. This was my original question. I would like to read what the thoughts of other posters are on this as well.

[Feb 09, 2020] How long can Haftar take the oil out of play before oil prices start to rise?

Notable quotes:
"... Haftar is a US citizen and has ties to the CIA. The USA's position on Libya is unclear to me. I am not sure the US government is supporting any side. Turkey is the only country I see providing support to Tripoli. It seems to me the usual suspects either back Haftar or are watching from the sidelines. ..."
"... W.r.t Libya, they were producing ~7% of the MENA region consumed oil in 2011, and about 3% of the total MENA production (not big, but enough income to run a country). ..."
"... Before my last post, I was thinking to myself: "Didn't Haftar secure/surround most of the oil infrastructure around 2014?" I was sure I had read it somewhere. But if memory serves he was on a major advance, and then withdrew/got pushed, and made a second comeback in the past 2 years. ..."
"... Haftar has clearly switched sides since his twenty years in Langley. Very common in the Middle East, suddenly switching sides. ..."
Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
goldhoarder , Jan 23 2020 18:17 utc | 41

casey , Jan 23 2020 15:29 utc | 2

How long can Haftar take the oil out of play before oil prices start to rise?

c1ue , Jan 23 2020 15:36 utc | 3

@casey #2
Libya was never a major producer - and their production levels fell after "the revolution" and are still really low. Not at all clear it matters compared to say, US fracking production.
Haftar is a US citizen and has ties to the CIA. The USA's position on Libya is unclear to me. I am not sure the US government is supporting any side. Turkey is the only country I see providing support to Tripoli. It seems to me the usual suspects either back Haftar or are watching from the sidelines.

Jon_in_AU , Jan 23 2020 18:28 utc | 43

c1ue@3

You seem to have a panache for declaring "truths" to the bar here and often seem very agenda-driven, with all due respect.

W.r.t Libya, they were producing ~7% of the MENA region consumed oil in 2011, and about 3% of the total MENA production (not big, but enough income to run a country).

They were producing in range of 800,000 - 1.2M bpd (wikiped says 1.65M) prior to the NATO/US/ZIO neo-lib/con blood-lust orgy of death unleashed since 2011.

I know that 3% is not big cookies, but it seems significant to me. When taken at 'oil production per capita, they sit in the top 10 (until Haftars' latest maneuvers) which means more ability to spend per citizen. The US sits at 23rd place on this metric. It is bang-for-your-buck that matters for the people on the ground.

They do hold sizeable reserves, and it is all on the heads of the West that they are not prospering (albeit under a dictator with a crazy taste in fashion; at least he wasn't Reagan, Bush 1&2, Clinton 1&2, Obama, or the current dumpster-fire).

If I were in the MENA axis, I would certainly have an inclination to sabotage/destroy ALL oil infrastructure globally, via whatever means possible. Because that would turn all of those happy little consumers in the "developed" world against their masters for breach of the social contract (read delusion) that we live under.

Jon_in_AU , Jan 23 2020 18:54 utc | 51
Laguerre@14

Before my last post, I was thinking to myself: "Didn't Haftar secure/surround most of the oil infrastructure around 2014?" I was sure I had read it somewhere. But if memory serves he was on a major advance, and then withdrew/got pushed, and made a second comeback in the past 2 years.

I'm going to have to go and do some more reading on Libya, once I've finished reading Super Imperialism.

My reading list seems to be growing faster than my ability to keep up of late, thanks to the collective resources of all you Barflies post. :O)

Laguerre , Jan 23 2020 18:56 utc | 52
Haftar is a US citizen and has ties to the CIA.

Posted by: goldhoarder | Jan 23 2020 18:17 utc | 41

Haftar has clearly switched sides since his twenty years in Langley. Very common in the Middle East, suddenly switching sides.

goldhoarder , Jan 23 2020 19:05 utc | 53
"Haftar has clearly switched sides" Other some Western press making a bit of noise I see no evidence of this. In fact the opposite. Any drone strike attempts on Haftar you can link me to? LOL. Don't pay attention to what the press says. Pay attention to who is getting bombed and who is not. At the end of the day that is how you tell the truth.
c1ue , Jan 23 2020 19:18 utc | 59
@Jon_in_AU #51

What Libya produced before its "revolution" isn't the issue. They used to produce 1.5M bpd - they're supposedly producing over 1M bpd now. How much is actually exported vs. used internally or "lost"?

Sure, 1M bpd is significant compared to world oil production of 82M bpd, but my original point still stands: 1M bpd (a net fall of 500K bpd vs pre-revolution) is not very significant vs. the US' increase of oil production by 6M bpd in the same period (2014-2019).

... ... ...

krillchem , Jan 23 2020 20:24 utc | 83
c1ue@59

"Sure, 1M bpd is significant compared to world oil production of 82M bpd, but my original point still stands: 1M bpd (a net fall of 500K bpd vs pre-revolution) is not very significant vs. the US' increase of oil production by 6M bpd in the same period (2014-2019)."

Three issues arise:
(1) The fracking boom generally only produces condensates NOT OIL, especially in the Permian basin (96%) which must be blended with heavy crude to process it at US refineries. Furthermore, some 90% of fracking companies or their investors are losing money and the boom appears to be short lived.

(2) Fracking has huge environmental costs that are literally dumped onto society as a whole (Tragedy of the Commons) such as the recent radioactive brine issue.
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/oil-gas-fracking-radioactive-investigation-937389/

(2) The US is still a net hydrocarbon importer especially heavy crude such as the Russian Ural blend. Little wonder why Venezuela and Iran are targets for conquest by the "Masters of the Universe".

(3) The 1M bpd of petroleum from Libya is actually OIL and this cutoff has caused panic from Italy which imports most of this oil and must rapidly substitute oil from other sources:
https://www.libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/libya-exports-one-million-barrels-crude-oil-italy

krollchem , Jan 23 2020 23:50 utc | 121
c1ue@101

“Yes, fracking production has heavily benefited from cheap money.”
This is a ode word for malinvestment. As a result of poor planning these wildcat fracking operations fail to properly plan the resource extraction stream leading to failures to plan for such components as roads, fracking sand inputs and pipeline capacity.
https://mises.org/library/malinvestment-not-overinvestment-causes-booms

“Fracking has fundamentally changed the role of imported oil in the US.”
Fracking is just a short term stopgap as wells deplete rapidly. Once the condensate boom goes bust the US will have to invade a couple of other oil producing countries to promote democracy and the amerikan way.

“It has fundamentally changed the energy mix in electricity generation - from coal to natural gas.”

Yes, in the short term low natural gas prices have dramatically reduced the use of coal in the US (excepting metallurgical coal). Currently natural gas prices are at about $2.00/1000cuft or $71/1000m3. The price is so low that many producers are shutting down, as they cannot make money due to the massive short-term glut (malinvestment again).

In many places such as the Permian there is massive flaring to get rid of the excess gas rather than using it for the public good. This is not to say that no one is making money off this problem as gas pipeline operators are charging several dollars per 1000cuft to take it off the producer’s hands. There is a movement to use some of this gas to run well-head operations and the larger companies are better at it due to economies of scale.

As you know, Cheniere is doing well by helping Trump sell “freedom gas” to Europe at about $213 per 1000m3 on long term contracts. The US is covering this up by increasing foreign aid enough to cover the additional costs of “freedom gas”.

“And the net reserves of oil and natural gas enabled by fracking is still far above the total amount of money burned in the creation of this industry - even at the low oil and historically low natural gas prices today.”

Please elaborate on this statement as I am missing the point. Can you post a comprehensive paper on environmental costs into the fracking cost-benefit analysis.

“As for panic in Italy - Italy is the closest EU country to Libya. A cutoff will affect some people, but there seems to be plenty of other sources happy to step in.”

krollchem , Jan 23 2020 23:55 utc | 122
krollchem@121

Here is the rest of my comment

“As for panic in Italy - Italy is the closest EU country to Libya. A cutoff will affect some people, but there seems to be plenty of other sources happy to step in.”

This is a lot of oil to substitute as indicated by the recent Trump threats to Haftar to turn on the spigot. In addition, changing the blend requires some refinery operation changes which might be expensive depending on the substituted oil composition.


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

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

Source: Le Monde Diplomatique

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

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

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

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

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

Privatising oil

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

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

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

Reassuring the oil giants

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

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

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

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

Iraq's one real asset

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

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

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

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

Purge of the Ba'ath

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

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

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

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

Baghdad-Irbil rivalry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feb 09, 2020 | www.amazon.com

J. Montz , October 29, 2012

Engdahl is Concise, Relevant, & Thought-provoking

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

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

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

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

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

Other topics covered include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notable quotes:
"... Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli ..."
"... But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse. The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis: "...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC." ..."
Feb 09, 2020 | www.vice.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse. The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis: "...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

collin says:

February 28, 2013 at 8:47 am

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

Sean Gillhoolley says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:09 am

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

EliteCommInc. says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:26 am

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

Regime change

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

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

John Thacker says:

February 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

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

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

Thomas O. Meehan says:

February 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm

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

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

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

spite says:

February 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

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

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

James Canning says:

February 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm

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

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

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

James Canning says:

February 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm

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

Jim Evans says:

February 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

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

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

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

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

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

But obviously it didn't go according to plan.

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

Syria is potentially also a stepping stone to Iran.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe the Plutocrat says:

February 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

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

niccolo and donkey says:

February 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

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

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

What do you guys think?

niccolo and donkey says:

February 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Thomas O. Meehan asks:

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

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

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

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

Rossbach says:

February 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

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

Scott McConnell says:

February 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm

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

H. Zigy says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm

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

Wesley says:

February 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm

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

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

EliteCommInc. says:

February 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm

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

Escher says:

February 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm

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

Fran Macadam says:

March 1, 2013 at 1:28 am

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

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

James Canning says:

March 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm

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

James Canning says:

March 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm

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

Roarke's Drift says:

March 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Scott McConnell wrote "Ankara should be the strongest actor"

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

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

TGGP says:

March 2, 2013 at 12:38 am

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

PeaceAndProsperity says:

March 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notable quotes:
"... The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Rarely do pundits apologize for the horrendous Iraqi losses inflicted by the war: more than a million deaths and millions more wounded with varying lifelong disabilities, including thousands of tortured prisoners, with an estimated 16,000 of them still unaccounted for . Twenty-eight percent of Iraqi children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and 2.8 million people are still ..."
Feb 28, 2013 | www.theamericanconservative.com

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

Unfortunately for our children, manipulating the truth became the norm for the Bush administration, which invaded Iraq on what we know now (and the administration almost certainly knew then) were utterly false pretenses. Thanks to these lies, Americans, including our soldiers and civilians serving in Iraq, were convinced Saddam Hussein was linked to the 9/11 attacks and had weapons of mass destruction, two of the ever-evolving reasons for getting into the war. Many still believe this. Engaging in mass deception in order to justify official policy both degrades and endangers democracy. But by far, it is ordinary Iraqis who have suffered the most.

We know now beyond any doubt that Iraq was not involved in 9/11 and had no weapons of mass destruction. But as Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst with the Iraqi portfolio, wrote on March 14, "Intelligence did not drive the decision to invade Iraq – not by a long shot, despite the aggressive use by the Bush administration of cherry-picked fragments of intelligence reporting in its public sales campaign for the war." Indeed, this was a war in search of a justification from the very beginning, and any little lie would have worked.

It is very fortuitous for all those politicians, policy makers, and bureaucrats with Iraqi blood on their hands -- Republicans and Democrats both -- that the only courtroom they've been shuffled into is the court of public opinion, where most received light sentences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feb 08, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Feb 07, 2020] How They Sold the Iraq War by Jeffrey St. Clair

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon. ..."
"... This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception." ..."
"... During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted. ..."
"... When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. ..."
"... Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war." ..."
"... The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. ..."
"... Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. ..."
Mar 20, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The war on Iraq won't be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "rogue state" were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don't need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair's plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student's website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister's bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair's speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don't explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.

The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn't fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.

Take Charlotte Beers whom Powell picked as undersecretary of state in the post-9/11 world. Beers wasn't a diplomat. She wasn't even a politician. She was a grand diva of spin, known on the business and gossip pages as "the queen of Madison Avenue." On the strength of two advertising campaigns, one for Uncle Ben's Rice and another for Head and Shoulder's dandruff shampoo, Beers rocketed to the top of the heap in the PR world, heading two giant PR houses: Ogilvy and Mathers as well as J. Walter Thompson.

At the State Department Beers, who had met Powell in 1995 when they both served on the board of Gulf Airstream, worked at, in Powell's words, "the branding of U.S. foreign policy." She extracted more than $500 million from Congress for her Brand America campaign, which largely focused on beaming U.S. propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens.

"Public diplomacy is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time," said Beers. "All of a sudden we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves, but for the outside world." Note the rapt attention Beers pays to the manipulation of perception, as opposed, say, to alterations of U.S. policy.

Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It's a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.

The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of "freedom" to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: "This war is about peace."

Beers quietly resigned her post a few weeks before the first volley of tomahawk missiles battered Baghdad. From her point of view, the war itself was already won, the fireworks of shock and awe were all after play.

Over at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld drafted Victoria "Torie" Clarke as his director of public affairs. Clarke knew the ropes inside the Beltway. Before becoming Rumsfeld's mouthpiece, she had commanded one of the world's great parlors for powerbrokers: Hill and Knowlton's D.C. office.

Almost immediately upon taking up her new gig, Clarke convened regular meetings with a select group of Washington's top private PR specialists and lobbyists to develop a marketing plan for the Pentagon's forthcoming terror wars. The group was filled with heavy-hitters and was strikingly bipartisan in composition. She called it the Rumsfeld Group and it included PR executive Sheila Tate, columnist Rich Lowry, and Republican political consultant Rich Galen.

The brain trust also boasted top Democratic fixer Tommy Boggs, brother of NPR's Cokie Roberts and son of the late Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana. At the very time Boggs was conferring with top Pentagon brass on how to frame the war on terror, he was also working feverishly for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 2002 alone, the Saudis paid his Qorvis PR firm $20.2 million to protect its interests in Washington. In the wake of hostile press coverage following the exposure of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers, the royal family needed all the well-placed help it could buy. They seem to have gotten their money's worth. Boggs' felicitous influence-peddling may help to explain why the references to Saudi funding of al-Qaeda were dropped from the recent congressional report on the investigation into intelligence failures and 9/11.

According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent "messaging advice" to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld's mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn't an "axis" at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.

Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .

At the top of the list was John Rendon, head of the D.C. firm, the Rendon Group. Rendon is one of Washington's heaviest hitters, a Beltway fixer who never let political affiliation stand in the way of an assignment. Rendon served as a media consultant for Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, as well as Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Whenever the Pentagon wanted to go to war, he offered his services at a price. During Desert Storm, Rendon pulled in $100,000 a month from the Kuwaiti royal family. He followed this up with a $23 million contract from the CIA to produce anti-Saddam propaganda in the region.

As part of this CIA project, Rendon created and named the Iraqi National Congress and tapped his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the shady financier, to head the organization.

Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon handed the Rendon Group another big assignment: public relations for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Rendon was also deeply involved in the planning and public relations for the pre-emptive war on Iraq, though both Rendon and the Pentagon refuse to disclose the details of the group's work there.

But it's not hard to detect the manipulative hand of Rendon behind many of the Iraq war's signature events, including the toppling of the Saddam statue (by U.S. troops and Chalabi associates) and videotape of jubilant Iraqis waving American flags as the Third Infantry rolled by them. Rendon had pulled off the same stunt in the first Gulf War, handing out American flags to Kuwaitis and herding the media to the orchestrated demonstration. "Where do you think they got those American flags?" clucked Rendon in 1991. "That was my assignment."

The Rendon Group may also have had played a role in pushing the phony intelligence that has now come back to haunt the Bush administration. In December of 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the inner circle of the Bush White House preferred the intelligence coming from Chalabi and his associates to that being proffered by analysts at the CIA.

So Rendon and his circle represented a new kind of off-the-shelf PSYOPs , the privatization of official propaganda. "I am not a national security strategist or a military tactician," said Rendon. "I am a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager."

What exactly, is perception management? The Pentagon defines it this way: "actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning." In other words, lying about the intentions of the U.S. government. In a rare display of public frankness, the Pentagon actually let slip its plan (developed by Rendon) to establish a high-level den inside the Department Defense for perception management. They called it the Office of Strategic Influence and among its many missions was to plant false stories in the press.

Nothing stirs the corporate media into outbursts of pious outrage like an official government memo bragging about how the media are manipulated for political objectives. So the New York Times and Washington Post threw indignant fits about the Office of Strategic Influence; the Pentagon shut down the operation, and the press gloated with satisfaction on its victory. Yet, Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that while he was killing the office, the same devious work would continue. "You can have the corpse," said Rumsfeld. "You can have the name. But I'm going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have."

At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America's most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.

Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.

Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam's regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn't have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn't even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.

This charade wouldn't have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: "Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception."

During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted.

What the Pentagon sought was a new kind of living room war, where instead of photos of mangled soldiers and dead Iraqi kids, they could control the images Americans viewed and to a large extent the content of the stories. By embedding reporters inside selected divisions, Clarke believed the Pentagon could count on the reporters to build relationships with the troops and to feel dependent on them for their own safety. It worked, naturally. One reporter for a national network trembled on camera that the U.S. Army functioned as "our protectors." The late David Bloom of NBC confessed on the air that he was willing to do "anything and everything they can ask of us."

When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war's first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. Of course, nearly every detail of her heroic adventure proved to be as fictive and maudlin as any made-for-TV-movie. But the ordeal of Private Lynch, which dominated the news for more than a week, served its purpose: to distract attention from a stalled campaign that was beginning to look at lot riskier than the American public had been hoodwinked into believing.

The Lynch story was fed to the eager press by a Pentagon operation called Combat Camera, the Army network of photographers, videographers and editors that sends 800 photos and 25 video clips a day to the media. The editors at Combat Camera carefully culled the footage to present the Pentagon's montage of the war, eliding such unsettling images as collateral damage, cluster bombs, dead children and U.S. soldiers, napalm strikes and disgruntled troops.

"A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion," predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.

Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post's pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.

Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post's editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings "a quirk of war."

The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn't object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan's personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a "strategic setback for the United States." This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, "Where'd you get that? Iraqi television?"

The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times' Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled "Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast," arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam's secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation's most bellicose Islamophobe. "The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar," wrote Mylroie and Pipes. "The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad."

In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation's most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador's assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.

Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. "There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way," said Benador. "If not, people get scared." Scared of intentions of their own government.

It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration's gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn't want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.

Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC's firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network's executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue's show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered "a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives."

The memo warned that Donahue's show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, "a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.

It's war that sells.

There's a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.

This essay is adapted from Grand Theft Pentagon.

[Feb 07, 2020] Iraq Russia Look To Boost Military Ties While US Threatens Sanctions

Feb 07, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Iraq & Russia Look To Boost Military Ties While US Threatens Sanctions by Tyler Durden Fri, 02/07/2020 - 19:45 0 SHARES In more continuing fallout over the Jan.3 assassination by drone of the IRGC's Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iraq and Russia are preparing for deepening military coordination , reports the AP .

Iraq's Defense Ministry announced Thursday that increased "cooperation and coordination" is being discussed with Moscow amid worsened relations with Washington, which even last month included President Trump issuing brazen threats of "very big" sanctions on Baghdad if American troops are kicked out of the country.

This week Iraqi army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Othman Al-Ghanimi and Russian Ambassador Maksim Maksimov met to discuss future military cooperation. Crucially, Gen. Ghanimi highlighted Russia's successful anti-ISIS operations over the past years , especially in Syria where the Russian military has supported Assad since being invited there in 2015.

Iraqi helicopters file image.

On Russia's role in Iraq, Ghanimi said Moscow had provided "our armed forces with advanced and effective equipment and weapons that had a major role in resolving many battles," according to the ministry statement.

It's been long rumored that since late summer Baghdad and Moscow have been in talks to deliver either Russia's advanced S-400 or S-300 anti-air missile defense systems - a prospect which US officials have condemned.

Like other areas of the Middle East, as US adventurism heightens pressure for a US withdrawal, Russia appears to be seizing the opportunity to move in. This much was affirmed in AP's reporting, via at least one anonymous senior official :

A senior Iraqi military intelligence official told The Associated Press that Russia, among other countries, has come forward to offer military support in the wake of fraught US.-Iraq relations following Soleimani's killing .

"Iraq still needs aerial reconnaissance planes. There are countries that have given signals to Iraq to support us or equip us with reconnaissance planes such as Russia and Iran," said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

Many military analysts have of late noted that the "blowback" from the incredibly risky operation which killed Soleimani will be a hastening of American forces' exit from the region.

It could also actually serve to increase Baghdad's dependency on Iran - something which appears to be already in the works. And now we have confirmation that Moscow will seek to benefit as well from the worsened US-Iraq relations, certainly now at the lowest point since the 2003 invasion and US attempt to build a new government. Tags Politics War Conflict


Toshie , 6 minutes ago link

After bombing Iraq for the last 29 years, It's actually surprising that the Iraqis still let US soldiers on Iraqi soil.

BobEore , 21 minutes ago link

At last! After a full week of playing coy... about delivering any further bad newz from the muddled east which might further demolish the spirits of our local lovers of spirit cookin, 'death to amerika' shoutin jihadi huggin regimes

our fearless ferret newz aggregator have delivered us something to chew on.. and spit out! What febrile gems of crude agitprop await the wondering gaze of the gallery? How bout...

Russia, among other countries, has come forward to offer military support in the wake of fraught US.-Iraq relations following Soleimani's killing .

as a clear example of the genre of laughable attacks upon common sense and truth in media... faculties which - when employed - direct our attention to some simple facts curious scrubbed from this whitewash with which "white hat" superhero Russkies... trundle around the globe delivering toyz that made loud noise... to downtrodden 'strongman' regimes

as mere tokens of friendly 'solidarity fo'ever or whatever. Simple facts... such as...

due to an unfortunate episode in fellow neo-Bolshevik statecapitalist paradise Sinostan... the neo-Bolshie paradise on the Muscovy is facing a collapse of its bread earner gas n oil sales... such that the only thing tween it and yet abother state bankruptcy... is the burgeoning Russian armaments industry! Selling guns and munitions to downtrodden strongman regimes is the last best hope it seems... for a Russia foiled at every turn by Urusalems steady burnnnn

and with a neo-mercantilist flourish which it has clearly learned... from watching the chinks perform their 'resource extractive' shakedown ... of shaky regimes around the world.... Moscow now seeks to extract from cash poor states which need guns with which to threaten either their own citizens, or those of neighboring states..

UUUGE concessions in the form of .... diamonds, metals, petroleum resources... or strategic real estate... in return for its deadly 'product line!' All of which is 'totally fine'... if you read tween lines...

so that ...WHEN EVIL CHABADDY talmudic GANGSTERS living in the wester world... peddle their wares of weaponry to weirdo regimes.... THAT IS .... A BAD THANG!

BUT butt... when evil chabbaddy talmudic oilygarch GANGTAS WITH RUSSKY PASSPORTS do the peddlin.... with the approval of the Kremlin puppet regime...

its all GOOD!

HE HE HEH... WHO really buys into this ******** anyhoo? Only an echo chamber o tiresome russo-talmudic trolls workin the board nite n day!

Brazen Heist II , 29 minutes ago link

You can tell alot from Amercuh's reaction to the Russian strategy of ringfencing the world with defensive weapons like the S-400/S-300.

Who gets triggered like a little temper tantrum princess over defensive weapons? Offensive assholes, that's who!

Americuh had it good for so long, but now there's competition and they are squealing like pigs.

Don't buy Iranian oil! Don't buy Huawei! Don't build Nordstream! Hey sport...shut the **** up. Countries will trade with who ever the hell they want.

booboo , 21 minutes ago link

I probably wouldn't mind it so much if Hillary wasn't complicit in helping the Russians "Ringfencing the world"

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/429292-the-case-for-russia-collusion-against-the-democrats

Einstein101 , 8 minutes ago link

Who gets triggered like a little temper tantrum princess over defensive weapons? Offensive assholes, that's who!

I think you got it all wrong. It's not about defensive or Offensive. It's about money and market share, who sells to whom what, and who's profiting.

Brazen Heist II , 35 minutes ago link

Its a no brainer.

Russia and Iran actually fight ISIS.

Meanwhile da sanctmonious west, israel and ksa support an entire cosmos of headchoppers then bitch about terryrism!

The west is morally bankrupt in this fight. It supports terrorism to justify its occupations.

Iraq is better off partnering with Russia. The US needs to piss off from MENA, its a goddamn cancer.

China can provide reconstruction aid without the (((moronic strings attached)))

Einstein101 , 7 minutes ago link

Just remind me who killed the head of ISIS.

El Chapo Read , 43 minutes ago link

Do you know who should be looking to make strategic military partnerships with Russia?

The USA.

To contain Red China and Israel.

Two predominantly Christian nations should look out for one another.

Freddie , 39 minutes ago link

The USA is not run by Christians.

El Chapo Read , 37 minutes ago link

Where did I say that?

I know we have our own internal issues to deal with.

Putin started de-zionizing from day one of his command.

BobEore , 19 minutes ago link

lol...

Two predominantly Christian nations

please provide details.

Tom Angle , 13 minutes ago link

America is far from a Christian nation. No nation that murders babies for body parts is a Christian nation (yes abortion funded by the government and the part being sold). America will feel the rather of God for that.

frankthecrank , 47 minutes ago link

Those helicopters just look like junk--total pieces of ****. I know two guys who saw them up close and personal--not even as advanced inside as US gear in the late '60s.

LOL

too f'n funny.

El Chapo Read , 41 minutes ago link

They work and can be serviced by a Russian farmboy - as designed.

Now go back to sucking Lockeed Martin/Boeing/Raytheon's cut cocks, as well as their (((financiers))) and the whole of K Street.

Brazen Heist II , 32 minutes ago link

They're called flying tanks for a reason

Too bad your state of da art militrary couldn't take down goat herders in Afghanistan after 20 years. The Russians at least pulled out after 10 years. Does that mean America is doubly stoopid?

LOL

Einstein101 , 21 minutes ago link

"goat herders in Afghanistan" hiding in caves in the mountains are a challenge to any military. The Russians were there too, you know.

Tom Angle , 12 minutes ago link

Yes that was said about the T34.

frankthecrank , 51 minutes ago link

two losers in the same pea pod. How cute.

This way, when the Russian soldiers run away crying from US soldiers in Syria, the I-Ranians can run away with them.

Maxamillia , 59 minutes ago link

I Love President Putin...

I have Not Said That Lately.

I Think He Knows it...

Yes I Live In My Own mind...

But as Mere Humans Do We Not All...

They Are Your Friends If You Let Them... Just make Sure The Friendship Is Based On TRUTH.

Hold Not Back your Faith, President Putin... These people Need Yahushua..........

frankthecrank , 51 minutes ago link

https://twitter.com/staceyheaver/status/649730231041847296/photo/1

Einstein101 , 50 minutes ago link

Just make Sure The Friendship Is Based On TRUTH.

Don't kid yourself. Putin is smart, probably the smartest leader out there. But what motivates him are the best interests of Russia. He doesn't care much about Friendships, not with Iran, not with Syria or Israel...

Arising , 1 hour ago link

...certainly now at the lowest point since the 2003 invasion and US attempt to build a new government.

U.S meddling and regime change- nothing new.

Besides- anyone buying Russian military equipment will get much more 'bang for their buck' compared to over-priced, failure ridden U.S (((M.I.C))) crap.

Einstein101 , 1 hour ago link

Baghdad and Moscow have been in talks to deliver either Russia's advanced S-400 or S-300 anti-air missile defense systems

I don't think those systems are that advanced. Both are quite old. I'm sure US (and Israel) have the means to jam and neutralize both those system, about the same as the Israelis evade the whole Syrian air defense system.

hoytmonger , 1 hour ago link

The Russians have in their possession several undamaged Israeli missiles which landed in the Syrian desert.

Including a David's Sling missile.

I'm sure the Russians have developed electronic measures against them by now.

Einstein101 , 1 hour ago link

I'm sure the Russians have developed electronic measures against them by now.

Could be... though I think the Israelis probably made the needed modifications.

ComeOnThink , 53 minutes ago link

Yeah, sure, because the Israelis will know what electronic measures the Russians have developed as a result of examining those missiles, right?

How, exactly?

Do the Russians send the Israelis the results of their studies, along with a Request For Comment?

Honestly, you are so full of it.

frankthecrank , 50 minutes ago link

Yeah--that tube gear sure rocks in this day and age.

For stereos...............

Shue , 1 hour ago link

"Lowest point since the 2003 invasion and US attempt to build a new government."

There's the problem right there, the JUSA thinks "their type of Government" has to be accepted by Iraqi's. This is why amongst countless other thing Iraqi's have had it with the JUSA.

hoytmonger , 1 hour ago link

Israel has been getting three quarters of their oil from the Kurds in Iraq, illegally and at a discounted price.

The US is rumored to be establishing a new "state" in the oil rich areas of Western Iraq and Eastern Syria, presumably for the Kurds.

If this is true, the US will inevitably come under attack.

The Syrian Army has begun to block their patrols recently.

Einstein101 , 1 hour ago link

The Syrian Army has begun to block their patrols recently.

Are you kidding me? the Syrian army is a wreck . It will never confront the US military.

hoytmonger , 1 hour ago link

Really?

https://southfront.org/in-video-syrian-army-confronts-u-s-patrol-in-northern-al-hasakah/

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-blocks-us-military-convoy-from-important-highway-in-hasakah/

Einstein101 , 1 hour ago link

Note this:

"According to the Damascus-based Al-Watan newspaper," enough said.

Freddie , 37 minutes ago link

Mr. Vindman - how's your brother? Is he at temple?

Dickweed Wang , 1 hour ago link

Maybe if sanctions don't work in the future the US can make countries they don't like go to their room without supper.

ThrowAwayYourTV , 1 hour ago link

Is this what they call global trade?

tmosley , 1 hour ago link

If Russia can ally with Iraq, Iran, and Azerbaijan, they can bypass Turkey into Syria, at least to some extent. That would allow the US to exit.

gino the hood , 1 hour ago link

they can sail past or through turkey. they have treaties. russia is already in the countries you mentioned. they are just quiet about it.

tmosley , 1 hour ago link

Russia can't sail past or through Turkey while also being at war with them, which is what they are going to have to do if they want to stop Turkey from taking Syrian (then Iraqi, then Kuwaiti, then Saudi) oil fields, in the absence of a US presence in the region.

Shue , 58 minutes ago link

Turks have a weak army, remember when Sultan Erdo fired the majority of capable generals and Officers?

sirpo , 1 hour ago link

the 2003 invasion and US attempt to build a new government.

build a new government.?

Ho Ho Ho you funny man you make me laugh

HoserF16 , 1 hour ago link

"Blow-Back" can be a real ************...

Hoser

Einstein101 , 1 hour ago link

Iraq & Russia Look To Boost Military Ties While US Threatens Sanctions

What I think about that? I'm not quite sure, but my gut feeling is that US need not impose itself on someone that does not want us.

Marman , 50 minutes ago link

There is another guy that posts here with your exact name.

He is a suspected Hasbara agent and would be screaming about Iran being behind this and therefore Israel has the right to preemptively nuke Iraq.

Dart Vader , 1 hour ago link

SITUATION CRITICAL: 2020 What You REALLY DO Need To Be Afraid Of. Mannarino https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sIjFRR2Iec&feature=em-uploademail

Nov1917Sucks , 1 hour ago link

Putin suks as much Netanyahu dik as Trump. And the dum arz Christians in Russia, much like US Christians dont give a faq!! Christians have been ignorant sheep to dictators for 2000 years!

gino the hood , 1 hour ago link

just because every oligarch is jewish doesnt mean christians are stupid.... hhhmmm? how many millions have been murdered by jewish invented communism?

madashellron , 1 hour ago link

The Joos best friend Trump just **** in his diaper after reading this article.

Dart Vader , 1 hour ago link

..time for a good spanking before changing the diaper..

hanekhw , 1 hour ago link

...except the Russians are not complete morons to let themselves get screwed like the US. Just ask the people of Venezuela how Russia has 'saved' their country.

Aussiestirrer , 1 hour ago link

Hahaha keep up the good job of creating more and more enemies chump you fool.....once a bully, always a bully and that goes for chump and the usa

has bear r us , 1 hour ago link

no single military in the world can beat the usa military but a coalition of many of them will kick zionazi ***. putin is building a real coalition of the willing to counter the dying zionazi empire.

Dr. Winston O'boogie , 1 hour ago link

Putin is Chabad Lubavitch.

A great many awakening people continue to be in thrall to the cult of personality that's been built around Vladimir Putin. They have passively and uncritically accepted the endless barrage of Putin-worshiping propaganda put out by sellouts in the alternative media, and they have not bothered to look into things for themselves. If you are one of these people, take a moment to set down emotionally-held beliefs and open your mind.

http://www.dutchanarchy.com/vladimir-putin-chabad-lubavitch-mobster-globalist-messiah/

has bear r us , 1 hour ago link

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/01/putin-gives-respects-to-palestinian-color-guard-invites-abbas-to-victory-day/

there is a large and powerful jewish presence in russia. do you think they would approve of this? who is controlling who?

kanoli , 2 hours ago link

Russia wants three things:

1. Buyers for their weapon systems, which are admittedly superior to those made in the USA, especially air defense.

2. Reduce the footprint of the Anglo-American Empire in the Middle East and Asia, which are their backyard.

3. Eliminate US-Saudi-Israel-funded terrorists in Daesh/Al Queda in the ME.

I wish them all the best in all three of those goals.

zoo , 1 hour ago link

Yea, but are those weapons Environmentally friendly? are they Greta approved?

Arising , 1 hour ago link

Answers:

1. Russia, unlike the U.S, is building a lot of civilian industries and Putin recently asked his military factories to adjust to other civilian industries and requirements- The U.S is going in the opposite direction.

2. This is already happening- other countries have seen how loyal Russia has been to their promises to the Assad government. The U.S turns on a dime as is convenient in any given week.

3. To the frustration of the axis of evil (US-Saudi-Occupied Palestine) this has been Russians biggest success to date.

Nov1917Sucks , 2 hours ago link

I have always wondered why the world that is being sanctioned does not hack and attack the US financial system more. Maybe just a matter of time. You cant tell me that Malta, The Caymans, Panama and others are not vulnerable!

kanoli , 1 hour ago link

That's coming. First they had to build their own system. Destroying the Anglo-American financial system without an alternative is like cutting off your air supply while 200 feet underwater.

J S Bach , 2 hours ago link

Yes, indeed. Why WOULDN'T the Iraqis seek relations with ANY country outside the sphere of their destroyers to bond with? The Iraqi people, though "primitive" by our standards, are still human beings with as much right to grow, develop and live as we zombies of Zionism in the once noble West. We, of course, will be propagandized to the contrary. They will be shown as "terrorists" or "Russiaphiles" if they dare to resist the mantle of tyranny imposed on them by the Israeli/U.S. forces.

mike_1010 , 2 hours ago link

If USA imposes sanctions on too many countries, then USA will end up sanctioning itself.

Iraq is now producing close to 5 million barrels of oil a day, most of which is for export. If USA sanctions this oil production and sale, then some countries will need to choose between paying sky high prices for oil, or pay for Iraqi oil in alternative currencies and ignore US sanctions.

5 million barrels of oil a day even Saudi Arabia doesn't have the capacity to replace.

And if alternative currencies become popular for buying and selling oil, then US ability to run trade deficits and budget deficits will be curtailed by declining US dollar and higher interest rates for borrowing in US dollars in international markets.

Iraq is pumping record oil

RafterManFMJ , 2 hours ago link

The US has a one word diplomatic lexicon: Sanctions!

Im sure it gets tiring for the rest of the planet

Nov1917Sucks , 2 hours ago link

Trump responded by sending Putin a photo of him suking Netanyahus dik!

[Jan 30, 2020] So it is a matter of change the flag in the US bases and all will be OK?

Jan 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

DFC , Jan 30 2020 18:02 utc | 63

A bit off-topic but seems that may be US will be Iraq, but who remains is NATO:

https://middle-east-online.com/en/iraq-considers-nato-role-instead-us-led-coalition

So it is a matter of change the flag in the US bases and all will be OK?

[Jan 29, 2020] US Halts All Weapons Deliveries To Iraq As Local Demands For Troop Exit Grow

Notable quotes:
"... When have contracts ever meant anything to the USA? ..."
Jan 29, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
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Gringo Viejo , 21 minutes ago link

For those of you unaware, hundreds if not thousands Iraqis are being slaughtered.

For our need for their oil. And of course, Israeli needs.

hhabana2112 , 27 minutes ago link

Stable genius, President Bone Spurs, fucked this one up. Focus on the country, you dumb ***.

bing dang , 33 minutes ago link

China selling air conditioner to iraq. Usa sells f16. Uhhh who is more popular in a desert?

ThunderStruck , 1 hour ago link

No problem, Putin will happily sell them superior fighter/bombers that can actually fly in the rain and not succumb to small arms fire from the ground. He'll also equip them with the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system that can easily knock that flying barrel of pig ****, better known as the F-35, out of the sky with one shot..

ToSoft4Truth , 58 minutes ago link

Later when we mention the Wounded Warrior headache issues we'll get down arrows.

not-me---it-was-the-dog , 58 minutes ago link

great......then iraq can sell their used f-16's to iran.

ShakenNotStirred , 54 minutes ago link

"Superior" like the S-400, world-famous for MIA?

dogismycopilot , 1 hour ago link

I think Iraq needs a potable water infrastructure more than some overpriced F-16 Falcons. Base models probably at that!

MsCreant , 46 minutes ago link

Wow. What a way to win friends and influence people. Help them. What a concept. Invade and erase their standard of living. Then take their oil.

Spinifex , 17 minutes ago link

Invade and erase their standard of living.

Correction. Sadam was 'supported by the U.$. (so U.$ didn't really have to invade, except U.$. stabbed him in the back, and Iraqi's had MUCH higher standard of living under Sadam... until U.$. put sanctions on them and KILLED a half million Iraqi children because the 'PRICE WAS WORTH IT' (according to *** Princess Madeleine Albright)

Aussiestirrer , 1 hour ago link

Well done chump...keep isolating the usa...now iraq can buy russian weapons. Haha what a dumb clam....

has bear r us , 1 hour ago link

the trump card is not playing 6million d chess. he is playing the jewlander card of killing the top dog over and over again as just a bloody murderous act that achieves nothing. hamas is stronger than ever. trump is a stable genius among horses not humans.

the murder of soulmani is just another jewlander directed clusterfuck move of many clusterfuck moves since shrub avenged the death threat to his father and the wmds that were found to be degraded chemical weapons sold to saddam during the war with iran.

luffy0212 , 1 hour ago link

2010-2020 Was the Stalingrad for the world. The decade the empire and their americunt fodder capitulated on all fronts. The decade that'd serve to fully turn the tie of history in favor of those God has deemed worthy of him. The following decade is the mass decline of the empire and its parasites till they reach the end of the precipice to feel in full the misery they've seethed onto their victims.

Lost in translation , 1 hour ago link

When have contracts ever meant anything to the USA?

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

I agree gtfo, but why scorch them again and again and again when they never harmed the US??????

STR88 , 1 hour ago link

They deserve to be bombed because they asked the US to leave, after destroying their country based on a lie and then occupying it for 20 years? You are a complete ******* idiot.

Bebochek , 25 minutes ago link

On sale now, America bombed my country into Democracy and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.

omegaone , 1 hour ago link

Been sayin that for years bro. With the world pretty much filled up except for the tundra, I think a good old fashioned dose of self-determination is in order. No more immigration. No more refugees. Let every country fix their own goddamned problems and let the bodies fall where they may. Period.

Spinifex , 23 minutes ago link

Leave a scorched earth.

Oh yeah..? Scorched Earth??? What the **** for? Iraq never harmed the U.$. Russia never harmed the U.$. North Korea never harmed the U.$. Iran never harmed the U.$. Venezuela never harmed the U.$. Bolivia never harmed the U.$.!! Libya, Somalia, Vietnam etc etc etc... What did they ever do to the U.$. And look what the **** you are doing to them. You're a ******* hypocrite. U.$. needs a good SCORCHED EARTH Policy imposed on it. And hardly a country on the planet will shed a tear... Not even IsraHell...

luffy0212 , 8 minutes ago link

Where's sherman when you need him?

P Dunne , 1 hour ago link

This is how American Foreign Policy alienated Venezuela, Venezuela was one of the first export customers for the F16 but sbsequently GHW Bush refused to sell Venezuela spare parts unless they acquiesced to American pressure on oil royalties.

Venezuela shifted to Russia and has spent more than $40 Billion modernizing their military, none of the weapons were purchased from the USA.

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

That's how the US rolls. Selling friends and buying enemies. Only Trump has been very very clear about that unlike his predecessors.

luffy0212 , 1 hour ago link

Trump lacks Tact. Good because it has speed up the demise of the empire.

TBT or not TBT , 1 hour ago link

And now Venezuela bestrides the planet like a colossus! Such an amazing strategy.

luffy0212 , 36 minutes ago link

Why haven't you pussies attacked it?

Afraid Venezuela will set the example for all of Latin America on how to slap a yankee bitch.

DEDA CVETKO , 1 hour ago link

Funny that the locals are not happy with our gift-bearing. human pyramid-building saviors. How so utterly ungrateful. We brought them democracy, human rights and genocide, and they now want us out. Shame!

We should immediately send them Madeleine Albright to explain to them that the deaths of 600,000 Iraqi babies was actually a good thing and "God's work". That'll do!

you_do , 1 hour ago link

It shows how evil the USSA is:

They do not honour a contract from 2016 and come up with a non-existent contract about costs when they are asked to leave...

Whopper Goldberg , 1 hour ago link

Jews gotta ***

Cardinal Fang , 1 hour ago link

Stevie Wonder: Iraq, Iran, Ukraine and Chevrolet...Chevrolet...lol

https://youtu.be/RxsBc5p-dPU

attah-boy-Luther , 1 hour ago link

Iraq is presently in negotiations for the S-300 and S-400 systems.

So......a big Ouch....for MIC......

Whopper Goldberg , 1 hour ago link

bullies and aggressors NEVER win in the long run

Adios, Useless Snakes!!!!!!!!!!!!

TBT or not TBT , 58 minutes ago link

The long run is made up of a series of short runs.

mailll , 1 hour ago link

Good, now the Iraqi's can get missile defense systems from Russia instead, that aren't designed to turn off when Israel ends up attacking them. But then again, they will need no missile defenses systems, since they have become closer allies to their former enemies, Iran and the Saudi's, thanks to us. Winning!

alter , 1 hour ago link

We should bomb the **** out of Iraq again, destroy their military equipment, raid their banks, blow up their refineries and then leave, because they want us to.

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

Might take a while, still looking for those WMD.

Spinifex , 14 minutes ago link

still looking for those WMD

I thought they found 'some'... 200 can of fly spray bought from 7/11 in warehouse somewhere... Tony Blaire was right. WMD found.

Shemp 4 Victory , 1 hour ago link

We should bomb the **** out of Iraq again, destroy their military equipment, raid their banks, blow up their refineries and then leave, because they want us to.

Microcephaly detected.

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

/s not.

luffy0212 , 1 hour ago link

You're one piece of ****. I'm glad to know nothing but fire awaits you below.

veteranstoday.com/2020/01/28/trumps-headache-victims-and-fakers-list-now-number-50-real-tbi-wounded/

Another 50 cunts to add to the list. At least they'll feed the planet with rotten decomposing matter.

alter , 1 hour ago link

Still crying about Salami, ******* muzzrat? lol

luffy0212 , 1 hour ago link

https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/01/28/middle-east-monitor-cia-chief-behind-soleimani-assassination-killed-in-downed-plane-in-afghanistan/

Another Iranian journalist who writes for Mashregh newspaper, described as having close links to IRGC, tweeted not long after the news broke out: "We will attack them on the same level as they are attacking us."

The world weeps a hero against you parasitic scum.

Aussiestirrer , 1 hour ago link

So do a complete rerun again???

Bebochek , 21 minutes ago link

America already tried that and it didn't work alter.

ebworthen , 1 hour ago link

Well uh...yeah.

Conquer or leave.

We decided to waste a lot of lives, **** around, not leave but leave, let Iran move in.

roark183 , 1 hour ago link

Good decision President Trump.

Now you just need to follow it up with a complete troop withdrawal from Iraq. You can abandon that 100 acre military compound, disguised as an embassy.

The Iraqi government want US troops out. The Iraqi people want US troops out of their country. Shucks, even the American people want US troops out of Iraq, so they can come home and defend our southern border.

Let the Iraqis and Iranians sort out their own differences.

Aussiestirrer , 58 minutes ago link

Dont you mean the joooos?

4Celts , 1 hour ago link

Iraq has many more important infrastructure needs at the moment , and 1.8 Billion spent on these particular missile systems seems fishy .

mailll , 1 hour ago link

And China is coming to the rescue. All of our brave American soldiers that died so Iran and China can get the spoils. Winning!

Kan , 1 hour ago link

If you think the isrhll held companies that own those wells give a **** about china showing, your crazy, they own china, they funded the communist party out of jewyork.... Who do you think got all those oil wells in syria, iraq, libya.... Genie oil and some other inclusive board member oils companies.... They run china so they care not a bit either way, probably thank them for the good cheap labor that knows how to read and write..

4Celts , 1 hour ago link

The US and Israel are purposely denying Iraq And Syria from using their oil sales to rebuild both their countries, and sovereign wealth funds . Gross.

TBT or not TBT , 59 minutes ago link

Ha ha ha ha.

Aussiestirrer , 56 minutes ago link

Us soldiers did not die for victory..they died for the rich! As a well known line that often gets tossed around says...War is not meant to be won....it's meant to be continued

logically possible , 33 minutes ago link

It's sad American soldiers are too young, too brainwashed, too low IQ to realize this before it"s too late.

Whopper Goldberg , 1 hour ago link

Looks like Russia and China will have some new customers.

TBT or not TBT , 1 hour ago link

They're such a great credit risk after all.

Minamoto , 1 hour ago link

America destroyed most of Iraq's infrastructure during the invasion and its aftermath... has America compensated Iraq?

RenegadeOutcast , 1 hour ago link

yes, it has dutifully sold it a ton more weaponry and other stuff, and only at 150% markup.

liberty, yeah?

TBT or not TBT , 1 hour ago link

Liberty is not a big thing in Islamic infected places.

flashmansbroker , 1 hour ago link

The West really need to cut our losses and leave.

It is a worry about who will move in, probably china and Russia but we can't keep on a perpetual war.

Nixon, for all his faults did get the U.S. out of Vietnam and I think Trump will have to do the same.

Reign in Fact , 1 hour ago link

islam is perpetually at war with us, however it's true that we should GTFO and send all islamists back to sort their affairs in the desert.

Fair trade. We get our soldiers back, and station them along our own border instead of protecting theirs, and they get their jihadis back.

FestusBro , 1 hour ago link

Get their Jihadis back in plastic bags in cardboard boxes.

TBT or not TBT , 57 minutes ago link

Ilhan Omar is ready to ship. Tlaib too. All our imams and CAIR members. Let's do this.

CamCam , 1 hour ago link

No kidding, if not for anything else but we can't afford it any longer (let alone the ethical violations)

Element , 1 hour ago link

What ******* war? There's not even an insurgency.

Heavenstorm , 1 hour ago link

If US leaves anytime soon, I figure Bolton will testify against Trump this week and lies about it.

DogeCoin , 1 hour ago link

We will stay there so long as AIPAC, Israel, and the MIC demand that we stay there. The dumbed down US populace won't do **** all about it as we bleed our treasure, resources, and lives for American Corporate Imperialism and Greater Israel. Don't you Trumptards love your Messiah delivering the greatest Middle East Piece plan of all time?

tmosley , 1 hour ago link

>Trumptards

You are ignored.

LetThemEatRand , 1 hour ago link

I wonder if when tmosley logs in and reads the comment section to ZH he sees like 3 comments.

logically possible , 1 hour ago link

All three comments are his.

[Jan 29, 2020] The New Kremlin Stooge

Jan 29, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile January 25, 2020 at 12:15 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue you know who.

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

Like Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Like

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

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

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

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

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

Like Like

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

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

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

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

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

Oh wait

Like Like

[Jan 28, 2020] Syria Army Liberates Maarat al-Numan - U.S. Plans New Mischief

Jan 28, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

John Gilberts , Jan 28 2020 20:10 utc | 23

Terrorism to Turkey means the PKK/YPG Kurds in Syria which also fight Turkish forces within Turkey and Iraq. In east Syria the Kurds are cooperating with U.S. troops who occupy the Syrian oil resources. Turkey wants Syria to at least disarm the Kurds. The Kurds though use their U.S. relations to demand autonomy and to prevent any agreement with the Syrian government.

Neither Ankara nor Damascus seem yet ready to make peace. But both countries have economic problems and will have to come to some solution. There are still ten thousand of Jihadis in Idleb governorate that need to be cleaned out. Neither country wants to keep these people. The export of these Jihadis to Libya which Turkey initiated points to a rather unconventional solution to that problem.

The U.S. has still not given up its efforts to overthrow the Syrian government through further economic sanctions. It also pressures Iraq to keep its troops in the country.

After the U.S. murder of the Iranian general Soleimani and the Iraqi PMU leader al-Muhandis its position in Iraq is under severe threat . If the U.S. were forced to leave Iraq it would also have to remove its hold on Syria's oil. To prevent that the U.S. has reactivated its old plan to split Iraq into three statelets :

At the height of the war in Iraq Joe Biden publicly supported it. The original plan failed when in 2006 Hizbullah defeated Israel's attack on Lebanon and when the Iraqi resistance overwhelmed the U.S. occupation forces.

It is doubtful that the plan can be achieved as long as the government in Baghdad is supported by a majorities of Shia. Baghdad as well as Tehran will throw everything they have against the plan.

After the U.S. murder of Soleimani Iran fired well aimed ballistic missiles against U.S. forces at the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi in Anbar province and against the airport of Erbil in the Kurdish region. This because those are exactly the bases the U.S. wants to keep control of. The missiles demonstrated that the U.S. would have to fight a whole new war to implement and protect its plan.

From the perspective of the resistance the new plan is just another U.S. attempt to rule the region after its many previous attempts have failed.

Posted by b on January 28, 2020 at 16:28 UTC | Permalink

Nine months ago, a group of Iraqi politicians and businessmen from Anbar, Salah al-Din and Nineveh provinces were invited to the private residence of the Saudi ambassador to Jordan in Amman.

Their host was the Saudi minister for Gulf affairs, Thamer bin Sabhan al-Sabhan, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's point man for the region.

It is not known whether Mohammed al-Halbousi, the speaker of parliament with ties to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, attended the secret Amman conference, but it is said that he was informed of the details.

On the agenda was a plan to push for a Sunni autonomous region, akin to Iraqi Kurdistan.

The plan is not new. But now an idea which has long been toyed with by the US, as it battles to keep Iraq within its sphere of influence, has found a new lease of life as Saudi Arabia and Iran compete for influence and dominance.

Anbar comprises 31 percent of the Iraqi state's landmass. It has significant untapped oil, gas and mineral reserves. It borders Syria.

If US troops were indeed to be forced by the next Iraqi government to quit the country, they would have to leave the oil fields of northern Syria as well because it is from Anbar that this operation is supplied. Anbar has four US military bases.

The western province is largely desert, with a population of just over two million. As an autonomous region, it would need a workforce. This, the meeting was told, could come from Palestinian refugees and thus neatly fit into Donald Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century" plans to rid Israel of its Palestinian refugee problem.

Anbar is almost wholly Sunni, but Salah al-Din and Nineveh aren't. If the idea worked in Anbar, other Sunni-dominated provinces would be next.

At least three large meetings have already been held over the plan, the last one in the United Arab Emirates. The timing indicates that the plan was initiated when John Bolton as Trump's national security advisor.

To split Iraq into three statelets the U.S. would control is a long standing neoconservative dream .

Canada also has troops in the Kurdish/Erbil region. One wonders if/when Iraq will demand they go as well, since they are part of the US-led coalition and reflect US/Israeli geostrategic objectives there


dh , Jan 28 2020 20:18 utc | 24

@20 Strange isn't it? The statement by ISIS is most unusual. Prevailing wisdom has them allied with US/Israel against the Syrian government.
les7 , Jan 28 2020 20:24 utc | 25
It seems to me that in the Idlib pocket we are seeing an emerging Russian form of offensive/deterrence military strategy when up against proxies backed by the overwhelming force of empire.

By using proxies the empire forfeits much of its military mass advantage.

The repeated strike and ceasefire combined with continual negotiation approach negates the hybrid/media warfare of the empire which requires a period of time to mobilize public opinion. The empire cannot maintain more than three foci for that dis-information campaign due to the social engineered response it has manufactured

By constantly maneuvering, especially in coordinating with friends like Xi, opportunities of attack open up

Choosing moments of maximum empire distraction is also part of the process

This is a far cry from the classic mass formation attack strategy that most present warfare strategists endlessly debate.

Let the empire wear out it's own heart through an abuse of the hybrid/media warfare til it's own people vomit up the diet of fear

[Jan 25, 2020] Wolf Richter The Great American Shale Oil Gas Bust Fracking Gushes Bankruptcies, Defaulted Debt, and Worthless Shares nak

Jan 25, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Wolf Richter: The Great American Shale Oil & Gas Bust: Fracking Gushes Bankruptcies, Defaulted Debt, and Worthless Shares Posted on January 24, 2020 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield Jerri-Lynn here. I've previously crossposted many segments of Justin Mikulka's excellent series for DeSmogBlog on fracking follies. Here's Wolf Richter's take on the issue, wrapped up with a discussion of collapsing prices for oil and natural gas.

By Wolf Richter, editor of Wolf Street . Originally published at Wolf Street

Following the sharp re-drop in oil and natural gas prices in late 2018, bankruptcy filings in the US by already weakened exploration and production companies , oilfield services companies, and "midstream" companies (they gather, transport, process, or store oil and natural gas) jumped by 51% in 2019, to 65 filings, according to data compiled by law firm Haynes and Boone . This brought the total of the Great American Shale Oil & Gas Bust since 2015 in these three sectors to 402 bankruptcy filings.

The debt involved in these bankruptcies in 2019 doubled from 2018 to $35 billion. This pushed the total debt listed in these bankruptcy filings since 2015 to $207 billion. The chart below shows the cumulative total debt involved in these bankruptcies since 2015.

But this does not include the much larger losses suffered by shareholders that get mostly wiped out in the years before the bankruptcy as the shares descend into worthlessness, and that then may get finished off in bankruptcy court.

The banks, which generally had the best collateral, took the smallest losses; bondholders took bigger losses, with unsecured bondholders taking the biggest losses. Some of them lost most of their investment; others got high-and-tight haircuts; others held debt that was converted to equity in the restructured companies, some of which soon became worthless again when the company filed for bankruptcy a second time. The old shareholders took the biggest losses.

The Great American Fracking Bust started in mid-2014, when the price of WTI dropped from over $100 a barrel to below $30 a barrel by early 2016. Then the price began to recover, going over $70 a barrel in September and October 2018. But then it began to re-plunge. By the end of 2018, WTI had dropped to $47 a barrel.

Two major geopolitical events in the Middle East – the attack on Saudi Aramco's oil facilities last September and the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani – that would have shaken up oil markets before, only caused brief ripples, quickly squashed by the onslaught of surging US production. At the moment, WTI trades at $56.08 per barrel, which is still below where the shale oil industry can survive long-term:

And 2020 is starting out terrible for natural gas producers. The price of natural gas has plunged to $1.90 per million Btu at the moment, a dreadfully low price where no one can make any money. Producers in shale fields that produce mostly gas, such as the Marcellus, are in deeper trouble still, because oil, even at these prices, would be a lot better than just natural gas.

Producing areas with constrained takeaway capacity (it takes a lot longer to build pipelines than to ramp up production) are subject to local prices, which can be lower still. In some areas, such as the Permian in Texas and New Mexico, the most prolific oil field in the US, where natural gas is a byproduct of oil production, limited takeaway capacity has caused local prices to collapse, and flaring to surge.

The chart shows the spot price for delivery at the Henry Hub:

Texas at the Epicenter.

The most affected state, in terms of the number of bankruptcy filings, is Texas, the largest oil producer in the US. Since 2015, the state had 207 oil-and-gas bankruptcy filings, of the 402 total US filings. In 2019, Texas had 30 of the 65 US filings.

Delaware, obviously, is not into oil and gas production, but into coddling corporations, and many companies are incorporated in Delaware, including some oil-and-gas companies in Texas. When they file for bankruptcy, they do so in Delaware. These are the eight states with the most oil-and-gas bankruptcy filings since 2015:

Bankruptcy filings are triggered when the E&P companies no longer get funding from Wall Street or from their banks to continue with their perennially cash-flow negative operations and service their debts. And this is what is happening now. Wall Street and the banks have started to demand that these companies stick to an entirely new mantra in the fracking business: "live within cash flow."

When E&P companies run short on funding, they cut back on drilling activity which puts the squeeze on oilfield services companies that provide products and services to the oilfield, including drilling and completing wells. And then these OFS companies go bankrupt.

This is what happened to oilfield-services giant Weatherford which filed for a prepackaged bankruptcy last July . Back in 2014, before the oil bust, it had 67,000 employees; by July, it was down to about 26,000. The reorganization plan allowed Weatherford to shed $5.8 billion of its $7.6 billion in long-term debt. Old shareholders got wiped out. The creditors got 99% of the restructured company's new shares.

In its report on the OFS bankruptcies, Haynes and Boone cited this pressure from Wall Street and its cascading effect, which Weatherford had pointed out in its bankruptcy filing:

We note that Weatherford, in its July 2019 filing, attributed its insolvency in part to reduced drilling activity by producers who have also been dramatically affected by the commodity price slump since 2015. Investors' pressure on producers to "live within cash flow" is further reducing demand for OFS services and supplies leaving the OFS sector with little near term hope for a turnaround in prospects.

What this sector needs are much higher prices for oil and natural gas. But that cannot happen while production continues to surge. A large-scale culling in the sector – a lot more bankruptcies – could reduce production, and support higher prices.

But as soon as prices rise above certain levels, with investors still chasing yield at every twist and turn, the flood of new money will wash over the sector again, with investors having already forgotten by then that shale oil and gas was where money went to die every time. And this new money will cause a new surge in production, which will collapse prices once again. It's a cycle that the shale industry has a hard time getting out of, under the current loosey-goosey monetary conditions.


Clive , January 24, 2020 at 4:37 am

The cratering of natural gas prices is bad news for any attempt to encourage renewables.

From my own situation, I made a substantial capital investment in moving my domestic space heating from gas to ultra-high efficiency air source heat pumps.

The economics worked out as broadly favourable (this wasn't my motivation, but it helped justify the investment). My heat pumps have a raw (non-seasonally adjusted) coefficient of performance of a little over 5. So I get 5kW of heat for every 1kW of electrical input). Here in the UK I was paying 14 pence per kW/hr for electricity compared with 3.5 pence for natural gas. With a AFUE efficiency on the gas heat of 90% my heat pumps generated heat at just under 3 pence per kilowatt, the gas heat would work out, net, at around 3.8 pence. So I saved about 10% to 15% in energy costs doing space heating via renewables. Again, here in the UK market, electicity is about one-third to 40 percent from zero-carbon sources, wind, hydro and nucelar. So my carbon footprint for space heating using heat pumps was hugely lower (maybe up to half).

I've just got my utility's latest quote on energy prices. Electricity charges are about the same. But I'm being quoted 2.5 pence per kilowatt hour for natural gas.

There's no way my air source heat pumps can compete with that. I might as well just burn the gas and say screw the carbon dioxide emissions. I won't, of course. I'll grin and bear it. But the shale glut and the uneconomic (wasted) investment in overproduction is massively distorting the energy market.

Ignacio , January 24, 2020 at 5:36 am

Yes. Those are the calculations to be done. I am in the same situation though in Spain the "spread" between gas and electricity prices in energy terms is smaller compared with the UK and will probably get even smaller in the future despite the natl gas glut (because tariff policies and investment in renewables). I am paying about 0,14€/kWh on electricity consumed (fixed power contract apart but I needn't change it) and gas is at 0,06€/kWh. The seasonal coefficient of performance of my reversible air/water heat exchanger is 4.5 by Eurovent (third party certification of performance) so current expenses relative to natural gas are 0.14/(0.06 x 4.5) = 0,52 that means I save 48% relative to the gas boiler. In fact a bit less because the seasonal COP of the condensation boiler was about 1.05. But then, there are other advantages about getting freed of natural gas: not needed periodical inspections. Also my boiler was ageing and requiring more frequent revisions and repairs. In Spain the electrical mix is now about 60% renewable + nuclear (approx). Gas prices are also more volatile.

Peter , January 24, 2020 at 6:08 am

I among other things was designing, sourcing and installing high efficient NG powered floor heating system in the North West of British Columbia. I once participated in 2012 in a symposium by a supplier of heat pump systems.
The maximum savings one could expect because of the demand of the system (basically a reverse refrigerator with a compressor demanding the most power) was actually 30% of the cost of gas.
However – and that is the big one – a gas powered system at the time using high efficiency boilers cost about 5 – 7$/ square foot, depending how much electronic controls you threw into the system.
This way a new house install at an average 2500 square foot house would set you back an average of 15 grand. Installing a heatpump system with either 8 -10′ buried PEX loops or wells to 100′ deep would add between 25 – 30 000$ on top minus the cost for the boilers at an average of 4500$.
And the typical heat-pump unit would cost between 8-10 000$ with a lifetime of about 10 years, double the cost of a boiler who usually have a somewhat longer lifespan.

The reason: air heat extraction systems in Canada do not work, when the heat is needed the air temp. is at about – 5 to – 35C ..so only subsoil extraction works with attending cost of machinery and labour.

The conclusion by all 25 contractors attending was quite unanimous – heat pump systems in Canada except maybe in the most southern portions – are a waste of resources and money.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 7:08 am

Even here in mild England, despite having a heat pump installation which has capacity for the space heating load even on a design condition day for winter extremes (let's say minus 5C) I have done a lot of data logging which has shown that in some not exactly challenging or unusual climatic situations, the heat pump performance doesn't meet anything like submittal sheet claims.

A few weeks ago, I'd forgotten to run the systems overnight at a low setpoint (but enough to keep the space at a reasonable temperature -- I usually pick 16C or the low 60s F). When I went into the kitchen / breakfast nook at seven o'clock-ish it was freezing cold (okay, maybe not freezing, about 14C) with an outside temperature of 1 or 2C (low 30s F).

I turned the heat pump on, set it to a high output as I needed the space to warm through relatively quickly before I had coffee then had to leave.

After less than five minutes, the outdoor unit went straight into a defrost cycle. Why? Because it was one of those typically English damp, foggy mornings (where there was almost 100% RH outside). Even though the outdoor coil would have been, say, 2 or 3C, as soon as the system started, the coil surface temperature would have crashed to minus 3 or 4C -- whereupon the saturated outside air promptly froze the coil solid. Coefficient of performance would have been less than one for the twenty minutes or so I needed to heat the space. I'd have been better off firing up the gas heat.

Only an isolated and probably unusual use case. But a good illustration that green technology has limits. For US climate zone 3 or 4 inhabitants, I suspect heat pumps will only ever be viable in the shoulder months. For the severe winters you guys get, I can't see how you can avoid combustion heat sources. Not to say that renewables such as air source (or ground source) heat pumps aren't a partial solution, but the capital costs will be high, probably prohibitively so for a monovalent system and overall carbon emissions savings won't be especially spectacular.

Ignacio , January 24, 2020 at 7:51 am

Coastal temperate US regions might the best. Many inhabitants there. But I guess it works in Texas, New México, Arizona (may be not so well in high plains north to the Canyon) and others. May be Arkansas for instance and north up to Iowa?. It has to be noted that when temperatures go close to 0ºC or below, and for long hours, performance is much worse. So, in Madrid (a urban heat island itself) this occurs in winter for about 3-10 hours during the night (I set thermostats at 19ºC during the night) in an average January day and it is not big deal.

But, again, the climate is very important indeed. It has to be carefully analysed.

vlade , January 24, 2020 at 8:26 am

IMO Air heatpump is good for Oz, NZ and the likes, with the south UK being marginal now, but not-applicable once Gulf Stream goes :)

ground-water, or water-water HP are needed for anything that gets freezing 3-4 months a year, but that, as you say, has nontrivial capital costs, unless costs of carbon goes up by a lot.

And, TBH, there are problems even with that. Say if ground-water is using subsurface loop, it actually has a measurable impact on the soil temperature over few years, which is bad for a number of reasons. Water-water can be ok if the water source is running water and not over-used, but I've seen water-water sources that were using ponds freeze large ponds that under normal circumstances would never fully freeze.

That said, ground-water well driven HPs are IMO very good for large office or apartment buildings, especially if they work both ways (i.e. cooling into ground in the summer, avoiding city heat islands).

JohnnyGL , January 24, 2020 at 9:00 am

I think the broadest lesson to be drawn from Clive's experience is that investment capital is actively making it difficult to transition away from fossil fuels because investment managers and underwriters absolutely insist on continuing to invest in fossil fuel projects, even if it loses tons of money!!!

How can we compete with rich, powerful people who insist on wasting money!?!?!!

inode_buddha , January 24, 2020 at 10:35 am

I have long wanted to use geothermal heat pump. In my case it simply won't happen, sadly. For one, I would never be able to get the permit to drill the well in city limits. Two, the equipment would cost more than my older, poorly insulated house itself. Three, our state government has allowed and caused some of the highest electric prices in the nation, despite having a huge hydro electric plant in town. We don't get that electricity, it gets sold to NYC at greatly inflated prices. We don't get the money either. Instead we are forced to import our electricity with full taxes and tariffs on it.

Last week, the temperatures were down to -15C at night And of course the snow.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 11:46 am

Yes, the condition of the building is such a crucial aspect. I used to have beautiful hardwood window frames, but there were an unmitigated disaster for energy efficiency and creating a good building envelope. They were an almost complete thermal bridge. And they could only accommodate the thinnest of double glazing. In a really cold winter's day, I'd have to set the leaving air discharge temperature fairly high on the heat pump indoor coil to get warm, which hampered efficiency. I was able to change to triple glazing (which fixed the problem and significantly reduced heat loss but, again, at a cost ) because the property is modern. If I'd had an older property, the windows would only have been part of the problem (solid or poorly insulated walls and an un-insulated slab, for example, would be worse). And the chances of getting permission to replace windows in a historic house would be slim, certainly with the UK's tight building control.

And as you say, if you're in zone 5 or 6, you're a bit stuffed with regular drops to -15C (5F). My heat pumps guarentee operation down to -15C, but capacity takes a nosedive. Luckily, design conditions here in southern England are -5C, which reduces capital cost massively. And if design conditions demand operation is guaranteed down to -20C (c. 0F), there is not much choice of air source equipment available at any price. The only unit I know which is rated down to below -30C is a Panasonic mini split, which here in the UK costs nearly £2,000 (c. $2,600) for a 3/4 ton unit. Out of reach for most. So you're left with ground source, but -- as you say about NYC -- forget that idea in, say, London where tunnels and utility wayleaves can't be interfered with. And ground conditions are difficult too, with a heavy clay.

Green tech is not a panacea. I don't want to be discouraging, just the opposite. But some of the talk about how practical it is is fanciful.

inode_buddha , January 24, 2020 at 1:47 pm

I do believe that much good is possible by greatly revising and liberalizing the building codes, but practally trying to accomplish this is like pulling teeth. For some reason there is large political resistance to change in this area. Older buildings can easily be made quite efficient with current tech, but then the problem becomes an economic one. How to overcome the first costs when the cost of upgrading is more than the structure itself?

FWIW many homes in my area were built in the 70s and 1980s with the assumption that electric power would be free, or nearly free once the original bond issue for the power plant was paid off. LOL the bastards managed a 30% rate hike the same year they paid it off, using every little excuse possible.

ambrit , January 24, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Reading your reply, I was struck with just how underdeveloped the building insulation field is. I have seen blow in and spray in foam retrofit insulation systems used in commercial construction. (I particularly remember a system for inserting expanding cellular foam into the void spaces in concrete block walls. [Yes! It can be done!])
Saying the above, I have read about the building insulation codes in the Nordic countries being very 'tight.' Anyone from there care to enlighten us?
All the above is referencing winter heating. Where we live, summer time air conditioning is the main energy sink.

Harry , January 24, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Excellent points. Of course there is one plus. In the US we also need cooling in the summer. My impression was that the heat pump systems could provide this as well, and very economically.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Yes, we had a hot summer (hot by north European standards at any rate, we had about 10-15 days in the low 90s F and only a single day over 100F, maybe another few weeks in the 80s) and my A/C cost was well under $100 for the whole cooling season, just because the heat pumps with variable speed compressors and larger coil surface areas are so efficient when in A/C mode.

As ambrit says above, even with low US electricity costs (in some areas, anyway), I don't know how feul-poor folks manage in the south and so-cal with 10 SEER equipment and poorly insulated homes when you have day after day at 95-100F.

Synoia , January 24, 2020 at 8:31 pm

It's dry in SoCal. One can easily survive by opening the windows, avoid direct sun on windows, and dress accordingly.

I lived in the tropics under the same conditions, no direct sun on windows, behind insect screen. That, one bed sheet to cover oneself, and a ceiling fan worked well.

Clive , January 24, 2020 at 7:16 am

Yes, the avoidance of service costs for gas-fired equipment plus the utility connection fee for the gas service does make me consider the idea of moving away from gas as a fuel source entirety. I must run the numbers on that to see how it might work out. It's a good point to consider for anyone looking at the long-term costs for air source water or space heating.

Ignacio , January 24, 2020 at 5:46 am

And you UKers are not precisely big spenders of electricity in per capita terms. About half than French with all that nuclear power in place. Guess that how the power is delivered to the grid has an important effect in consumption patterns.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 24, 2020 at 8:09 pm

If natural gas prices stayed cratered just long enough to exterminate thermal coal beyond hope of revival in many countries before the natural gas prices went back up . . . would that be a good thing?

Felix_47 , January 24, 2020 at 5:03 am

Can someone at NC explain why the government allows burning flared gas? If it was outlawed production would drop for oil as well until some way to store and use the gas was developed. It seems burning natural gas at the wellhead must increase CO2 since gas is a hydrocarbon.

JohnnyGL , January 24, 2020 at 9:10 am

I think you've answered your own question. The US govt has long had a policy to INCREASE oil/gas production, side effects be damned.

There's a collective action problem among producers where they'd all benefit if they all agreed to drop production 20%, say. But, each individual player benefits if they get to cheat on those production cuts.

Plus, they've all floated a ton of high interest debt, which requires that they put capital to work to generate cash flow to service that debt. It's clear that we're in the 'ponzi finance' stage of the cycle where new debt has to be issued to keep up payments on the interest of the older debt. That's why the bankruptcies are perking up.

Bond underwiters, investment mgrs, oil services execs, and other players are all very incentivized to keep getting new deals done.

ptb , January 24, 2020 at 9:19 am

First of all, it seems to be up to the states (?). There actually are regulations in Texas (the Permian basin is the marginal-cost producing location in the US, where most of these stories are centered). But the state is a friend of the industry and these regs are loosely enforced. Secondly, emitting unburned natgas (mostly methane) is even worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Thirdly, they are drilling for oil, not gas, and are hoping to maximize the oil-to-gas ratio. With low natgas prices and smaller amounts per well than elsewhere in the US, putting in pipe for natgas is not economical. In fact the oil-gas-ratio varies in simple geographic pattern that was known for years. The best, i.e. oil-rich land was claimed early, subsequent waves of development that came on line during the oil price spike in mid 2000s, are now getting killed. Fourthly, the ones losing money can't afford the extra ongoing capital investment anyway – recall the very short life cycle of wells in fracking. They are certainly cutting corners in other environment related tasks, like wastewater disposal.

So will it stop? Not at the moment no. On the legal front, not until the next Ralph Nader comes along and we get another wave of federal public interest legislation like we had in the 70s (which neither major party wanted at the time, just like now, and always). Economically, also no. The marginal producers who were late to the gold rush will exit, but there is no shortage of oil at even $50. The wildcard is in international developments. We are suppressing production and export of conventional oil from Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Venezuela. We are suppressing transport of natural gas from Russia to the EU. There is also unconventional oil in Canada. I.e. US policy is supporting prices. Net effect on global oil and gas use? None, since we just produce the difference ourselves, with a bunch of extra natgas the world doesn't want, and can't be stored, so we burn it. Sucks.

Pym of Nantucket , January 24, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Flaring is usually classed as solution gas flaring, emergency flaring and just unwanted gas flaring.

These days flaring unwanted gas is rare because of the huge waste. But not long ago producers could just flare stuff they didn't feel like getting to market, so entire reservoirs of gas were burned just to get to the oil. This mostly doesn't happen anymore.

Emergency flaring happens in production or refining when a sudden unwanted flow of gas manifests and for safety reasons, it must be disposed of rapidly. This appears a sudden very large luminous flares over short timescales. Again, this is rare and essentially can't be avoided. Flaring is much safer than just releasing.

Solution gas flaring is the bubbles of gas dissolved in liquid that come out of solution during production as liquid pressure drops close to the wellhead. These need to be collected or they would fill up liquid storage tanks. The volume and composition of the gas flows determines the cost of collection. Companies have to balance the cost of collection vs. the damage to the environment if flared. They usually try to make a case that the containment cost (the cost to produce it to market, since the market value is usually minimal) is prohibitive and request a permit to flare. This is the usual minimum compliance approach of most resource development.

Basically, the conditions to obtain flaring permits vary with jurisdiction and are based on a balance of revenue vs. environmental damage. These days most places encourage developers to collect solution gas, but for remote locations in sour plays, that is costly to the viability of the play.

drumlin woodchuckles , January 24, 2020 at 8:12 pm

If no one will build the gas-flaring oil fielders a free pipeline from oilfield to gas-market, and building their own pipeline would cost more than what the oilfielders could sell the gas for; they will just burn it in place. The other alternative would be for them to release the methane UNburned into the air, which would be even worse than burning it first.

Peter , January 24, 2020 at 5:49 am

But as soon as prices rise above certain levels, with investors still chasing yield at every twist and turn, the flood of new money will wash over the sector again, with investors having already forgotten by then that shale oil and gas was where money went to die every time

This among the agricultural folk is called the "Schweinezyklus" or "pig cycle". Typical for larger scale farming when from a previous oversupply the market has tried up, raising prices and everyone increasing again their pig production till – again – the market collapses.
I studied agricultural economy and production in the early 1970's when this type of cycle became typical when farmers moved from mixed production providing risk compensation to dual or even single products.

Peter , January 24, 2020 at 10:41 am

has tried up didn't catch that, shoud read "dried up" of course – or even better: crashed

ambrit , January 24, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Indeed, the situation you refer to looks suspiciously like a process of financialization of agriculture. Not to wax nostalgic for the "good old days" of backbreaking labour and crummy living standards, but agriculture used to be a form of 'calling.' Now it's just a job. Of course, the serfs and other 'forced' agricultural labourers of yesteryear disproved the ethos of Goldsmith's "The Deserted Villiage."
There was a Golden Age, but it was not evenly distributed.

BrianM , January 24, 2020 at 8:54 am

Frankly it is hard from Wolf's figures to know if he is even right. $207bn of defaulted debt sounds like a lot of money, but is that from a total of $250bn or $2.5tn? I have no idea if this is a lot of the industry or a little. And 2019 may be worse than 2018 for defaults, but both 2016 and 2017 were way higher than that. Are things really getting worse or not? I am deeply sceptical about the financial viability of fracking, but the case being made here doesn't justify the sensation rhetoric.

jefemt , January 24, 2020 at 9:03 am

Heat: Superinsulated tight homes with air-exchange conservation remains the low hanging fruit

A refrigerator and incandescent light bulb provide a lot of heat, if one can preserve it

John Rose , January 24, 2020 at 10:19 am

In 1993 I built a house guaranteed to use 6,192 Kwh per year for heating and cooling here in central PA, near Harrisburg. That includes resistance electric heat for backup. At that time the cost was less than $40 a month.
Following the specifications to achieve this added about $2,500 to the cost of this 1288 sq.ft. house. It was a result of government requirements but no subsidies except for administrative cost by the utility. Those requirements were subsequently dropped and the program disappeared.

ambrit , January 24, 2020 at 12:21 pm

My question would be, was this program dropped because of complaints from the general public, the homeowners as a group, or the builders and developers? $2 USD a square foot added to construction expense wasn't chicken feed back in the 1970s.

Michael , January 24, 2020 at 10:45 am

Great article! It causes me to wonder, are the neocons trying to start a shooting war in the Middle East to drive up US petroleum prices? Make America Great at least Texas. ;-)

Pym of Nantucket , January 24, 2020 at 2:33 pm

I feel like supply control over there is more about petrodollars and perhaps efforts to hurt Russia and Iran. Meanwhile the US seems to essentially be dumping oil with QE and repo money funding money losing small fracking plays. I figured ages ago the plan was always to have the supermajors mop up the wreckage at pennies on the dollar when the party ends.

Mike , January 24, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Paper bankruptcies seem like a small price to pay for the gain in geopolitical influence of all that extra production. Not being at the mercy of someone turning down the crude tap can foster much more unilateral, terrible decision making in the middle east.
The invisible hand of the market did well to coddle a massive infrastructure buildup I saw first hand in the Eagle Ford in Texas. Long term well production may have dropped off significantly faster than the sales pitch but all of those wells will still be in place to re-fracture when the market demands it.

Jack Parsons , January 24, 2020 at 5:42 pm

How do I short fracking?

Synoia , January 24, 2020 at 8:35 pm

Short Continental Resources, Howard Hamm's Company,

He's the Genius who married his corporate Lawyer, and then went womanizing.

[Jan 25, 2020] Is $90 Oil Possible An Interview With Jay Park

3% decline per year means 30% decline in a decade. You can't replace this amount with the new fields, so the consumption should shrunk and price of oil jump over $100.
Jan 25, 2020 | safehaven.com

Jan 17, 2020,

... ... ...

JP: It is interesting to look back seven or so years when the talk of peak oil was very real. Then, too, everyone said all the easy resources had been found and produced, and called for $200 oil. But technology has proven that sentiment to be false. I suspect the same will be true in the future as tech advances march on.

Yes, today's resources are more expensive, but we are still managing to make it work at $60 oil.

Still, in the last five years, we have seen far less exploration and discovery of oil than what we are consuming. That disparity can't continue forever - we need new oil. And with existing fields declining at 3-4% per year you need to find a lot of new oil. The new oil that may be coming online in Guyana, Brazil, and Norway this year will close that gap to some extent, even with less growth from US shale than we have seen in recent years.

JS: Aside from Iran, do you see any other geopolitical time bombs that people are overlooking?

JP: Venezuela, but it's difficult to see Maduro leaving soon. He's survived US sanctions and local opposition. Even if the Maduro government is replaced, it would take a number of years for Venezuela's oil industry to come back.

Perhaps a more urgent venue is Mexico. Its oil industry is facing significant challenges in the coming years.

In 2016, I helped Pemex do its first ever joint venture and we developed the first-ever farm out structure for Mexico. Farmout is a very common oil and gas transaction in which someone with a lot of land but not enough money to explore it enters into a transaction with an oil company, swapping capital for land. This was the first time in 70 years that Pemex had done one of these.

The concept of hydrocarbon reforms in Mexico was based on this idea: let's let private capital take some petroleum grants and let Pemex use its massive acreage opportunities and allow it to do joint ventures. I thought those reforms were good and produced fast results, with farmouts being made and new discoveries and production happening. Within a few years, things were already moving.

The fruits of that were just starting to be seen when the new government came in and stopped it. There are great shale opportunities within Mexico, but they are undeveloped and the shale boom has bypassed the country. The regime that makes unconventional oil work has clearly been demonstrated in other countries, but Mexico has failed to capitalize on this. To make this work, the petroleum regime would need to be a concessions regime and a regime with a relatively low government take – 50% or less. That's not Mexico today.

JS: So what's the solution?

JP: The key to success for any government is focusing on exploiting as many types of resources as efficiently as possible.

Different kinds of resources require different recipes - different terms. In Alberta, where I'm from, we have five different regimes for five different resources. And all five get exploited. Nothing is wasted.

Take that back to Namibia. It's got a 5% royalty and 35% corporate income tax on its oil reserves – it's an attractive environment because they haven't found anything yet as the country is vastly underexplored. They aren't taxing the resource high because they want people to find it. It needs to be handled on a case by case basis but when looking for new opportunities in oil exploration the petroleum regime should always be one of the key things you look at. Good geology, good fiscal terms, and a good petroleum regime -- that's the formula, and at Recon Energy Africa , we think we have found that in Namibia's Kavango Basin.

JS: Thanks for your time Jay.

As the race to tap Africa's true potential as a major oil and gas producing region heats up, other companies are also vying for their own piece of the pie, including

By. James Stafford of Oilprice.com

[Jan 24, 2020] It's amazing all the money in the State Department and other intelligence agencies should be attracting the best minds. Yet a bunch of us sitting here watching this from our boring office jobs realize how genuinely stupid US foreign policy has been.

Jan 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Danny , Jan 24 2020 15:11 utc | 25

It's amazing all the money in the State Department and other intelligence agencies should be attracting the best minds. Yet a bunch of us sitting here watching this from our boring office jobs realize how genuinely stupid US foreign policy has been.

A separate Sunni state in West Iraq would be doomed. We need to leave these people alone, we've made enough foolish mistakes and this will get a lot of people killed. That's along with US troops being put in harms way for ridiculous reasons like stealing Syrian oil and now occupying Iraq against their parliaments wishes.

Back in the day you told someone you were American and they wanted to shake your hand and ask you about this place or that. Now they want to spit in our faces

[Jan 23, 2020] The crimes of Iraq war still are unpunished

Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jan 23 2020 22:33 utc | 106

"The REAL 'terrorists' –-death is not a laughing matter, murder is a crime."

Vanessa Beeley provides a short, incomplete, list.

I look at the pictures of today's refugees and see the faces of yesterday's. I see the conditions they inhabit, the squalor and filth, and I see the same in pictures from the past. I read the words of hatred directed at those innocents and recall the same words being said of their predecessors.

And the source of the words and plight of the innocents both present and past come from the same portals or power--The Imperialist West and its Zionist progeny. How many millions have died to enrich their purse, to increase the size of the estates, to serve as their slaves? How many more in the future will share their fate?

Will humans ever evolve to become peaceful animals and save themselves?

[Jan 21, 2020] How a Hidden Parliamentary Session Revealed Trump's True Motives in Iraq by Whitney Webb

Notable quotes:
"... The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They have refused to finish building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for Iraq giving up 50% of oil imports. So, I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it. Today, Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement. ..."
"... After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened [that there would be] massive demonstrations to topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, whereby a third party [presumed to be mercenaries or U.S. soldiers] would target both the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from atop the highest buildings and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement." ..."
"... It could also explain why President Trump is so concerned about China's growing foothold in Iraq, since it risks causing not only the end of the U.S. military hegemony in the country but could also lead to major trouble for the petrodollar system and the U.S.' position as a global financial power. Trump's policy aimed at stopping China and Iraq's growing ties is clearly having the opposite effect, showing that this administration's "gangster diplomacy" only serves to make the alternatives offered by countries like China and Russia all the more attractive. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

After the feed was cut, MPs who were present wrote down Abdul-Mahdi's remarks, which were then given to the Arabic news outlet Ida'at . Per that transcript , Abdul-Mahdi stated that:

The Americans are the ones who destroyed the country and wreaked havoc on it. They have refused to finish building the electrical system and infrastructure projects. They have bargained for the reconstruction of Iraq in exchange for Iraq giving up 50% of oil imports. So, I refused and decided to go to China and concluded an important and strategic agreement with it. Today, Trump is trying to cancel this important agreement. "

Abdul-Mahdi continued his remarks, noting that pressure from the Trump administration over his negotiations and subsequent dealings with China grew substantially over time, even resulting in death threats to himself and his defense minister:

After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I also refused, and he threatened [that there would be] massive demonstrations to topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event of non-cooperation and responding to his wishes, whereby a third party [presumed to be mercenaries or U.S. soldiers] would target both the demonstrators and security forces and kill them from atop the highest buildings and the US embassy in an attempt to pressure me and submit to his wishes and cancel the China agreement."

"I did not respond and submitted my resignation and the Americans still insist to this day on canceling the China agreement. When the defense minister said that those killing the demonstrators was a third party, Trump called me immediately and physically threatened myself and the defense minister in the event that there was more talk about this third party."

Very few English language outlets reported on Abdul-Mahdi's comments. Tom Luongo, a Florida-based Independent Analyst and publisher of The Gold Goats 'n Guns Newsletter, told MintPress that the likely reasons for the "surprising" media silence over Abdul-Mahdi's claims were because "It never really made it out into official channels " due to the cutting of the video feed during Iraq's Parliamentary session and due to the fact that "it's very inconvenient and the media -- since Trump is doing what they want him to do, be belligerent with Iran, protected Israel's interests there."

"They aren't going to contradict him on that if he's playing ball," Luongo added, before continuing that the media would nonetheless "hold onto it for future reference .If this comes out for real, they'll use it against him later if he tries to leave Iraq." "Everything in Washington is used as leverage," he added.

Given the lack of media coverage and the cutting of the video feed of Abdul-Mahdi's full remarks, it is worth pointing out that the narrative he laid out in his censored speech not only fits with the timeline of recent events he discusses but also the tactics known to have been employed behind closed doors by the Trump administration, particularly after Mike Pompeo left the CIA to become Secretary of State.

For instance, Abdul-Mahdi's delegation to China ended on September 24, with the protests against his government that Trump reportedly threatened to start on October 1. Reports of a "third side" firing on Iraqi protesters were picked up by major media outlets at the time, such as in this BBC report which stated:

Reports say the security forces opened fire, but another account says unknown gunmen were responsible .a source in Karbala told the BBC that one of the dead was a guard at a nearby Shia shrine who happened to be passing by. The source also said the origin of the gunfire was unknown and it had targeted both the protesters and security forces . (emphasis added)"

U.S.-backed protests in other countries, such as in Ukraine in 2014, also saw evidence of a " third side " shooting both protesters and security forces alike.

After six weeks of intense protests , Abdul-Mahdi submitted his resignation on November 29, just a few days after Iraq's Foreign Minister praised the new deals, including the "oil for reconstruction" deal, that had been signed with China. Abdul-Mahdi has since stayed on as Prime Minister in a caretaker role until Parliament decides on his replacement.

Abdul-Mahdi's claims of the covert pressure by the Trump administration are buttressed by the use of similar tactics against Ecuador, where, in July 2018, a U.S. delegation at the United Nations threatened the nation with punitive trade measures and the withdrawal of military aid if Ecuador moved forward with the introduction of a UN resolution to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding."

The New York Times reported at the time that the U.S. delegation was seeking to promote the interests of infant formula manufacturers. If the U.S. delegation is willing to use such pressure on nations for promoting breastfeeding over infant formula, it goes without saying that such behind-closed-doors pressure would be significantly more intense if a much more lucrative resource, e.g. oil, were involved.

Regarding Abdul-Mahdi's claims, Luongo told MintPress that it is also worth considering that it could have been anyone in the Trump administration making threats to Abdul-Mahdi, not necessarily Trump himself. "What I won't say directly is that I don't know it was Trump at the other end of the phone calls. Mahdi, it is to his best advantage politically to blame everything on Trump. It could have been Mike Pompeo or Gina Haspel talking to Abdul-Mahdi It could have been anyone, it most likely would be someone with plausible deniability .This [Mahdi's claims] sounds credible I firmly believe Trump is capable of making these threats but I don't think Trump would make those threats directly like that, but it would absolutely be consistent with U.S. policy."

Luongo also argued that the current tensions between U.S. and Iraqi leadership preceded the oil deal between Iraq and China by several weeks, "All of this starts with Prime Minister Mahdi starting the process of opening up the Iraq-Syria border crossing and that was announced in August. Then, the Israeli air attacks happened in September to try and stop that from happening, attacks on PMU forces on the border crossing along with the ammo dump attacks near Baghdad This drew the Iraqis' ire Mahdi then tried to close the air space over Iraq, but how much of that he can enforce is a big question."

As to why it would be to Mahdi's advantage to blame Trump, Luongo stated that Mahdi "can make edicts all day long, but, in reality, how much can he actually restrain the U.S. or the Israelis from doing anything? Except for shame, diplomatic shame To me, it [Mahdi's claims] seems perfectly credible because, during all of this, Trump is probably or someone else is shaking him [Mahdi] down for the reconstruction of the oil fields [in Iraq] Trump has explicitly stated "we want the oil."'

As Luongo noted, Trump's interest in the U.S. obtaining a significant share of Iraqi oil revenue is hardly a secret. Just last March, Trump asked Abdul-Mahdi "How about the oil?" at the end of a meeting at the White House, prompting Abdul-Mahdi to ask "What do you mean?" To which Trump responded "Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil," which was widely interpreted as Trump asking for part of Iraq's oil revenue in exchange for the steep costs of the U.S.' continuing its now unwelcome military presence in Iraq.

With Abdul-Mahdi having rejected Trump's "oil for reconstruction" proposal in favor of China's, it seems likely that the Trump administration would default to so-called "gangster diplomacy" tactics to pressure Iraq's government into accepting Trump's deal, especially given the fact that China's deal was a much better offer. While Trump demanded half of Iraq's oil revenue in exchange for completing reconstruction projects (according to Abdul-Mahdi), the deal that was signed between Iraq and China would see around 20 percen t of Iraq's oil revenue go to China in exchange for reconstruction. Aside from the potential loss in Iraq's oil revenue, there are many reasons for the Trump administration to feel threatened by China's recent dealings in Iraq.

The Iraq-China oil deal – a prelude to something more?

When Abdul-Mahdi's delegation traveled to Beijing last September, the "oil for reconstruction" deal was only one of eight total agreements that were established. These agreements cover a range of areas, including financial, commercial, security, reconstruction, communication, culture, education and foreign affairs in addition to oil. Yet, the oil deal is by far the most significant.

Per the agreement, Chinese firms will work on various reconstruction projects in exchange for roughly 20 percent of Iraq's oil exports, approximately 100,00 barrels per day, for a period of 20 years. According to Al-Monitor , Abdul-Mahdi had the following to say about the deal: "We agreed [with Beijing] to set up a joint investment fund, which the oil money will finance," adding that the agreement prohibits China from monopolizing projects inside Iraq, forcing Bejing to work in cooperation with international firms.

The agreement is similar to one negotiated between Iraq and China in 2015 when Abdul-Mahdi was serving as Iraq's oil minister. That year, Iraq joined China's Belt and Road Initiative in a deal that also involved exchanging oil for investment, development and construction projects and saw China awarded several projects as a result. In a notable similarity to recent events, that deal was put on hold due to "political and security tensions" caused by unrest and the surge of ISIS in Iraq, that is until Abdul-Mahdi saw Iraq rejoin the initiative again late last year through the agreements his government signed with China last September.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center left, meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, center right, in Beijing, Sept. 23, 2019. Lintao Zhang | AP

Notably, after recent tensions between the U.S. and Iraq over the assassination of Soleimani and the U.S.' subsequent refusal to remove its troops from Iraq despite parliament's demands, Iraq quietly announced that it would dramatically increase its oil exports to China to triple the amount established in the deal signed in September. Given Abdul-Mahdi's recent claims about the true forces behind Iraq's recent protests and Trump's threats against him being directly related to his dealings with China, the move appears to be a not-so-veiled signal from Abdul-Mahdi to Washington that he plans to deepen Iraq's partnership with China, at least for as long as he remains in his caretaker role.

Iraq's decision to dramatically increase its oil exports to China came just one day after the U.S. government threatened to cut off Iraq's access to its central bank account, currently held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, an account that currently holds $35 billion in Iraqi oil revenue. The account was set up after the U.S. invaded and began occupying Iraq in 2003 and Iraq currently removes between $1-2 billion per month to cover essential government expenses. Losing access to its oil revenue stored in that account would lead to the " collapse " of Iraq's government, according to Iraqi government officials who spoke to AFP .

Though Trump publicly promised to rebuke Iraq for the expulsion of U.S. troops via sanctions, the threat to cut off Iraq's access to its account at the NY Federal Reserve Bank was delivered privately and directly to the Prime Minister, adding further credibility to Abdul-Mahdi's claims that Trump's most aggressive attempts at pressuring Iraq's government are made in private and directed towards the country's Prime Minister.

Though Trump's push this time was about preventing the expulsion of U.S. troops from Iraq, his reasons for doing so may also be related to concerns about China's growing foothold in the region. Indeed, while Trump has now lost his desired share of Iraqi oil revenue (50 percent) to China's counteroffer of 20 percent, the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq may see American troops replaced with their Chinese counterparts as well, according to Tom Luongo.

"All of this is about the U.S. maintaining the fiction that it needs to stay in Iraq So, China moving in there is the moment where they get their toe hold for the Belt and Road [Initiative]," Luongo argued. "That helps to strengthen the economic relationship between Iraq, Iran and China and obviating the need for the Americans to stay there. At some point, China will have assets on the ground that they are going to want to defend militarily in the event of any major crisis. This brings us to the next thing we know, that Mahdi and the Chinese ambassador discussed that very thing in the wake of the Soleimani killing."

Indeed, according to news reports, Zhang Yao -- China's ambassador to Iraq -- " conveyed Beijing's readiness to provide military assistance" should Iraq's government request it soon after Soleimani's assassination. Yao made the offer a day after Iraq's parliament voted to expel American troops from the country. Though it is currently unknown how Abdul-Mahdi responded to the offer, the timing likely caused no shortage of concern among the Trump administration about its rapidly waning influence in Iraq. "You can see what's coming here," Luongo told MintPress of the recent Chinese offer to Iraq, "China, Russia and Iran are trying to cleave Iraq away from the United States and the U.S. is feeling very threatened by this."

Russia is also playing a role in the current scenario as Iraq initiated talks with Moscow regarding the possible purchase of one of its air defense systems last September, the same month that Iraq signed eight deals, including the oil deal with China. Then, in the wake of Soleimani's death, Russia again offered the air defense systems to Iraq to allow them to better defend their air space. In the past, the U.S. has threatened allied countries with sanctions and other measures if they purchase Russian air defense systems as opposed to those manufactured by U.S. companies.

The U.S.' efforts to curb China's growing influence and presence in Iraq amid these new strategic partnerships and agreements are limited, however, as the U.S. is increasingly relying on China as part of its Iran policy, specifically in its goal of reducing Iranian oil export to zero. China remains Iran's main crude oil and condensate importer, even after it reduced its imports of Iranian oil significantly following U.S. pressure last year. Yet, the U.S. is now attempting to pressure China to stop buying Iranian oil completely or face sanctions while also attempting to privately sabotage the China-Iraq oil deal. It is highly unlikely China will concede to the U.S. on both, if any, of those fronts, meaning the U.S. may be forced to choose which policy front (Iran "containment" vs. Iraq's oil dealings with China) it values more in the coming weeks and months.

Furthermore, the recent signing of the "phase one" trade deal with China revealed another potential facet of the U.S.' increasingly complicated relationship with Iraq's oil sector given that the trade deal involves selling U.S. oil and gas to China at very low cost , suggesting that the Trump administration may also see the Iraq-China oil deal result in Iraq emerging as a potential competitor for the U.S. in selling cheap oil to China, the world's top oil importer.

The Petrodollar and the Phantom of the Petroyuan

In his televised statements last week following Iran's military response to the U.S. assassination of General Soleimani, Trump insisted that the U.S.' Middle East policy is no longer being directed by America's vast oil requirements. He stated specifically that:

Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accomplishments changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible. And options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil . (emphasis added)"

Yet, given the centrality of the recent Iraq-China oil deal in guiding some of the Trump administration's recent Middle East policy moves, this appears not to be the case. The distinction may lie in the fact that, while the U.S. may now be less dependent on oil imports from the Middle East, it still very much needs to continue to dominate how oil is traded and sold on international markets in order to maintain its status as both a global military and financial superpower.

Indeed, even if the U.S. is importing less Middle Eastern oil, the petrodollar system -- first forged in the 1970s -- requires that the U.S. maintains enough control over the global oil trade so that the world's largest oil exporters, Iraq among them, continue to sell their oil in dollars. Were Iraq to sell oil in another currency, or trade oil for services, as it plans to do with China per the recently inked deal, a significant portion of Iraqi oil would cease to generate a demand for dollars, violating the key tenet of the petrodollar system.

Chinese representatives speak to defense personnel during a weapons expo organized by the Iraqi defense ministry in Baghdad, March, 2017. Karim Kadim | AP

As Kei Pritsker and Cale Holmes noted in an article last year for MintPress :

The takeaway from the petrodollar phenomenon is that as long as countries need oil, they will need the dollar. As long as countries demand dollars, the U.S. can continue to go into massive amounts of debt to fund its network of global military bases, Wall Street bailouts, nuclear missiles, and tax cuts for the rich."

Thus, the use of the petrodollar has created a system whereby U.S. control of oil sales of the largest oil exporters is necessary, not just to buttress the dollar, but also to support its global military presence. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the issue of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq and the issue of Iraq's push for oil independence against U.S. wishes have become intertwined. Notably, one of the architects of the petrodollar system and the man who infamously described U.S. soldiers as "dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy", former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, has been advising Trump and informing his China policy since 2016.

This take was also expressed by economist Michael Hudson, who recently noted that U.S. access to oil, dollarization and U.S. military strategy are intricately interwoven and that Trump's recent Iraq policy is intended "to escalate America's presence in Iraq to keep control of the region's oil reserves," and, as Hudson says, "to back Saudi Arabia's Wahabi troops (ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America's foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar."

Hudson further asserts that it was Qassem Soleimani's efforts to promote Iraq's oil independence at the expense of U.S. imperial ambitions that served one of the key motives behind his assassination.

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

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

While other factors -- such as pressure from U.S. allies such as Israel -- also played a factor in the decision to kill Soleimani, the decision to assassinate him on Iraqi soil just hours before he was set to meet with Abdul-Mahdi in a diplomatic role suggests that the underlying tensions caused by Iraq's push for oil independence and its oil deal with China did play a factor in the timing of his assassination. It also served as a threat to Abdul-Mahdi, who has claimed that the U.S. threatened to kill both him and his defense minister just weeks prior over tensions directly related to the push for independence of Iraq's oil sector from the U.S.

It appears that the ever-present role of the petrodollar in guiding U.S. policy in the Middle East remains unchanged. The petrodollar has long been a driving factor behind the U.S.' policy towards Iraq specifically, as one of the key triggers for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was Saddam Hussein's decision to sell Iraqi oil in Euros opposed to dollars beginning in the year 2000. Just weeks before the invasion began, Hussein boasted that Iraq's Euro-based oil revenue account was earning a higher interest rate than it would have been if it had continued to sell its oil in dollars, an apparent signal to other oil exporters that the petrodollar system was only really benefiting the United States at their own expense.

Beyond current efforts to stave off Iraq's oil independence and keep its oil trade aligned with the U.S., the fact that the U.S. is now seeking to limit China's ever-growing role in Iraq's oil sector is also directly related to China's publicly known efforts to create its own direct competitor to the petrodollar, the petroyuan.

Since 2017, China has made its plans for the petroyuan -- a direct competitor to the petrodollar -- no secret, particularly after China eclipsed the U.S. as the world's largest importer of oil.

As CNBC noted at the time:

The new strategy is to enlist the energy markets' help: Beijing may introduce a new way to price oil in coming months -- but unlike the contracts based on the U.S. dollar that currently dominate global markets, this benchmark would use China's own currency. If there's widespread adoption, as the Chinese hope, then that will mark a step toward challenging the greenback's status as the world's most powerful currency .The plan is to price oil in yuan using a gold-backed futures contract in Shanghai, but the road will be long and arduous."

If the U.S. continues on its current path and pushes Iraq further into the arms of China and other U.S. rival states, it goes without saying that Iraq -- now a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative -- may soon favor a petroyuan system over a petrodollar system, particularly as the current U.S. administration threatens to hold Iraq's central bank account hostage for pursuing policies Washington finds unfavorable.

It could also explain why President Trump is so concerned about China's growing foothold in Iraq, since it risks causing not only the end of the U.S. military hegemony in the country but could also lead to major trouble for the petrodollar system and the U.S.' position as a global financial power. Trump's policy aimed at stopping China and Iraq's growing ties is clearly having the opposite effect, showing that this administration's "gangster diplomacy" only serves to make the alternatives offered by countries like China and Russia all the more attractive.

anonymous [331] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 18, 2020 at 5:54 am GMT

One can see how all these recent wars and military actions have a financial motive at their core. Yet the mass of gullible Americans actually believe the reasons given, to "spread democracy" and other wonderful things. Only a small number can see things for what they really are. It's very frustrating to deal with the stupidity of the average person on a daily basis.

This is not Trump's policy, it is American policy and the variation is in how he implements it. Any other person would have fallen in line with it as well. US policy has it's own inner momentum that can't change course. The US depends upon continuation of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Were that to be lost the US likely would descend into chaos without end. When the USSR came apart it was eventually able to downsize into the Russian state. We don't have that here; there is no core ethnicity with it's own territory left anymore, it's just a jumble. For the US it's a matter of survival.

John Chuckman , says: Website Show Comment January 18, 2020 at 3:04 pm GMT
Yes, but we also have this

It is reported this morning (CNN) that Trump bragged about the killing to a crowd at a big fundraising dinner.

Just sick, official state murder for campaign donations.

That's what America is reduced to.

[Jan 21, 2020] Goldstein 2.0 ISIS has a new big bad leader

Notable quotes:
"... For starters, don't be surprised if his "fortification" of ISIS means Donald Trump can't pull out of Syria after all. Or maybe if ISIS attacks on Iraqi civilians/militias result in the Iraqi parliament revoking their request for the US to remove their troops from Iraqi soil. ..."
"... There's the possibility that ISIS will start a resurgence in Libya, meaning that NATO has to get in there and sort things out. Maybe some furious ISIS fighters will be the ones who assassinate Iranian generals in future. It's much less messy that way. ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | off-guardian.org

For starters, don't be surprised if his "fortification" of ISIS means Donald Trump can't pull out of Syria after all. Or maybe if ISIS attacks on Iraqi civilians/militias result in the Iraqi parliament revoking their request for the US to remove their troops from Iraqi soil.

There's the possibility that ISIS will start a resurgence in Libya, meaning that NATO has to get in there and sort things out. Maybe some furious ISIS fighters will be the ones who assassinate Iranian generals in future. It's much less messy that way.

Or, hell, maybe we'll return to the hits of the 90s and early 2000s, and Islamic jihadists will get back to work in Chechnya.

Whatever happens, ISIS are back baby. And that means that some way, somehow, Mr al-Salbi is about to make the foreign policy goals of the United States much easier.

That's what Goldsteins are for.

harry law ,

.... The US have used Islamic state against both Syria and Iraq, [the enemy of my enemy is my friend].

There can be no doubt that the US are going to use Islamic state to disrupt Iraq, just as they had no qualms about watching [from satellites and spotter aircraft] Islamic state travel 100's of kilometres from Syria to Northern Iraq [Mosul] across the desert, whipping up tons of dust in their Toyota jeeps to put pressure on the Iraqi government. Also as they watched on with equanimity when the Islamic state transported thousands of tanker loads of oil from Syria to Turkey, that is until the Russians bombed those convoys, the US must think everyone is as stupid as they are. If the Iraqis don't drive the US out using all means including violence, they deserve to be slaves.

"Sergey Lavrov earlier called the US-led coalition's refusal to combat al-Nusra "absolutely unacceptable."

"Iraqi security expert Kazim al-Haaj said "US Army troops are preparing and training the ISIL militants in al-Qadaf and Wadi al-Houran regions of Al-Anbar province with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks and restarting insecurity in Iraq." https://stephenlendman.org/2020/01/trump-regime-shifting-isis-terrorists-from-syria-to-iraq/

[Jan 20, 2020] The Iraqis want American out, and one day American will leave.

Jan 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

Ko , says: Show Comment January 20, 2020 at 7:23 pm GMT

American interests are to protect oil companies, and fight the inevtible douche (british definition) American's will feel once the dollar is deflated. In a lesser way, wars and interventions are indeed to protect americans – from a massive, sudden, econimic depression of the likes the world has never seen. China and the rest of the world no American empire is going to retract. I only hope we have a sensible leader who can parlay Ameria's role in the world to become a partner in the BRI – ion some way.

The Asia Pivot was never destined to be anything but bluster. Asia is lost, the Asian nations will satellite around China. Southeast Asia is even more lost, Cambodia mioght as well fly the Chinese flag, Thailand will pretend, as it always has, to never have been colonized. Well, Thailand was/is a dog of a nation that's laid down on its back for every nation advancing on it's border.

Myanmar just signed on to the BRI and has given China its derired dams. It's already full of Chinese. The only thing holding China back in Myanmar is the amount of money it has to give spoon to the military, generals, cronies,etc. China already owns almost all of Manadaly and thousands of square milies surrounding Mandalay. It has gas and oil fields in a warm water where those pesky Bengali Jihadis once tried to dominate.
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-china-sign-dozens-deals-bri-projects-cooperation-xis-visit.html

Indial too has bought into Myanmar.
https://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/guest-column/india-many-reasons-engage-myanmar.html

So, it's no wonder Iraq is the last stop of the retreat from the Middle East. The Chinese are moving forward with only the Saudis standing in the way. And who the hell really likes the House of Saud? They're doomed soon, and good riddence. The Iraqis want American out, and one day American will leave.

[Jan 19, 2020] Pompeo idea of deterence means "deterrence to protect [the financial and energy hegemony of] America".

Notable quotes:
"... Pompeo omitted a crucial part of this sentence: "deterrence to protect [the financial and energy hegemony of] America". ..."
"... a regular part of the MSM/cinema diet masticated by the general public that we have completely forgotten that the basic function of the armed forces is the pursuit of vested interests through superior violence. ..."
"... No qualms or BS 'deterrence', armies are for taking other people's stuff by force (land-grabs, etc). I would respect Pompeo a whole lot more (but not much more...) if he just once came out and said: "Iran is run by people who don't want us to take their stuff; we want to undermine them and replace them with paid yes-men who will let us take Iran's stuff. We will use violence and armed force to make this happen. ..."
"... But we have no intention of distributing this loot evenly among our citizens. Instead it will be paid as dividends to select shareholders and spent retooling the military for next poor bastards who stand up to us." ..."
Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Patroklos , Jan 19 2020 5:40 utc | 84

"...deterrence to protect America."

Pompeo omitted a crucial part of this sentence: "deterrence to protect [the financial and energy hegemony of] America".

While this might be obvious to us, the narrative that US foreign policy is about protecting citizens, values and apple pie from 'bad guys' -- and indeed that the militaries of all Western countries are benign police forces preventing ISIS from burning your old Eagles albums and other violations of 'freedom' -- is such a regular part of the MSM/cinema diet masticated by the general public that we have completely forgotten that the basic function of the armed forces is the pursuit of vested interests through superior violence.

It always seemed strange to me that the post-ww2 cinematic template for war-movies, and by extension the basic plot of all reporting of western military activity in the media, always represented the enemy as evil precisely because they use militaries in an instrumental way (i.e for the purpose they were designed). The Germans, or for that matter the Persians in 300 , or any baddies in war films, seek to extend and protect their interests (real or imagined) by deploying armed forces.

The good guys are always identifiable through this idea of 'deterrence': "hey man, all we want is just to live and let live, but you pushed us so we pushed back." Then one stirs in a little 'preemptive deterrence': you looked like you were going to push so we acted. If we 'accidentally' go too far, it's because there is a deranged C-in-C: Hitler, or Xerxes, or some other naughty boy who can be the fall-guy, scapegoat, etc.

To get serious we need to go back a very long way, to, say, the Iliad , which, like all Greek (and Roman) literature, assumes as a premise (and it's tragedy) that the warrior's basic function is to kill, pillage, rape and occasionally protect others from the same. But mostly take by force .

No qualms or BS 'deterrence', armies are for taking other people's stuff by force (land-grabs, etc). I would respect Pompeo a whole lot more (but not much more...) if he just once came out and said: "Iran is run by people who don't want us to take their stuff; we want to undermine them and replace them with paid yes-men who will let us take Iran's stuff. We will use violence and armed force to make this happen.

But we have no intention of distributing this loot evenly among our citizens. Instead it will be paid as dividends to select shareholders and spent retooling the military for next poor bastards who stand up to us."

Just once.

[Jan 19, 2020] Gangsternomics in directing the course of Iraq's future economic and political development

Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Jan 19 2020 5:20 utc | 83

@ Peter AU1 78

Tom Luongo, who frequently cites b, has coined a new word for Trump's and his minions tactics. Tom asks:

Does Gangsternomics Meet its End in the Iraqi Desert?

In the aftermath of the killing of Iranian IRGC General Qassem Soleimani a lot of questions hung in the air. The big one was, in my mind, "Why now?"

There are a lot of angles to answer that question. Many of them were supplied by caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi who tried to let the world know through official (and unofficial) channels of the extent of the pressure he was under by the U.S.

In short, President Trump was engaged in months of what can best be described as gangsternomics in directing the course of Iraq's future economic and political development.[/]

Iraq's importance goes much farther than just protecting the petrodollar to the U.S. It is the fulcrum now on which the entire U.S. defense against Eurasian integration rests. The entire region is slipping out of the grasp of the U.S.

And this started with Russia moving into Syria in 2015 successfully. We are downstream of this as it has blown open the playbook and revealed it for how ugly it is.

Trump's crude gangster tactics in Iraq, Venezuela, Bolivia and to a lesser extent in Syria cannot be hidden behind the false veil of moral preening and virtue signaling about bringing democracy to these benighted places.[/]

What began in Syria with Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and China standing up together and saying, "No," continues today in Iraq. To this point Iran has been the major actor. Tomorrow it will be Russia, China and India.

And that is what is ultimately at stake here, the ability of the U.S. to employ gangsternomics in the Middle East and make it stick.[.]

By the time Trump is done threatening people over S-400's and pipelines the entire world will be happy to trade in yuan and/or rubles rather than dollars.[.]

full article here

[Jan 19, 2020] In Bullying Iraq, America is Starting to Look Like the New Evil Empire

Jan 19, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The U.S. has occasionally exerted pressure on democratic allies, but never treated them like servile pawns. Until now. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) and his wife Susan (R) wait to board a helicopter to the US embassy at the terminal at Baghdad International Airport on January 9, 2019.(ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

January 17, 2020

|

12:01 am

Ted Galen Carpenter A policy statement that the State Department issued on January 10 asserts that "America is a force for good in the Middle East." It adds, "We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq." Yet the Trump administration's recent conduct toward Iraq indicates a very different (and much uglier) policy. Washington is behaving like an impatient, imperial power that has concluded that an obstreperous colony requires a dose of corrective discipline.

Washington's late December airstrikes on Iraqi militia targets, in retaliation for the killing of an American civilian contractor working at a base in northern Iraq, greatly provoked the Iraqi government and population. Massive anti-American demonstrations erupted in several cities, and an assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad forced diplomats to take refuge in a special " safe room ."

The drone strike on Iranian General Qassem Soleimani outside Baghdad a few days later was an even more brazen violation of Iraq's sovereignty. Carrying out the assassination on Iraqi territory when Soleimani was there at the invitation of Prime Minister Adel Abdull Mahdi to discuss a new peace feeler from Saudi Arabia was especially clumsy and arrogant. It created suspicions that the United States was deliberately seeking to maintain turmoil in the Middle East to justify its continued military presence there. The killing of Soleimani (as well as two influential Iraqi militia leaders) led Iraq's government to pass a resolution calling on Mahdi to expel U.S. forces stationed in the country, and he promptly began to prepare legislation to implement that goal.

Trump's initial reaction to the prospect that Baghdad might order U.S. troops to leave was akin to a foreign policy temper tantrum. He threatened America's democratic ally with harsh economic sanctions if it dared to take that step. As Trump put it, "we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before, ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame."

Over the following days, it became apparent that the sanctions threat was not just a spontaneous, intemperate outburst on the part of President Trump. Compelling Iraq to continue hosting U.S. forces was official administration policy. Senior officials from the Treasury Department and other agencies began drafting specific sanctions that could be imposed. Washington explicitly warned the Iraqi government that it could lose access to its account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Such a freeze would amount to financial strangulation of the country's already fragile economy.

U.S. arrogance towards Baghdad seems almost boundless. When Mahdi asked the administration to " prepare a mechanism " for the exit of American forces and commence negotiations towards that transition, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flatly refused . Indeed, the State Department's January 10 statement made it clear that there would be no such discussions: "At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership -- not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East."

Throughout the Cold War, U.S. leaders proudly proclaimed that NATO and other American-led alliances were voluntary associations of free nations. Conversely, the Warsaw Pact alliance of Eastern European countries formed in response to NATO was a blatantly imperial enterprise of puppet regimes under the Kremlin's total domination. Moscow's brutal suppression of even modest political deviations within its satellite empire helped confirm the difference. Soviet tanks rolled into East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956, and Czechoslovakia in 1968 to crush reform factions and solidify a Soviet military occupation. Even when the USSR did not resort to such heavy-handed measures, it was clear that the "allies" were on a very short leash.

Although the United States has occasionally exerted pressure on its allies when they've opposed its objectives, it has not attempted to treat democratic partners as servile pawns. That is why the Trump administration's current behavior towards Iraq is so troubling and exhibits such unprecedented levels of crudeness. America is in danger of becoming the geopolitical equivalent of a middle school bully.

If Washington refuses to withdraw its forces from Iraq, defying the Baghdad government's calls to leave, those troops will no longer be guests or allies. They would constitute a hostile army of occupation, however elaborate the rhetorical facade.

At that point, America would no longer be a moral "force for good" in the Middle East or anywhere else. The United States would be behaving as an amoral imperial power imposing its authority on weaker democratic countries that dare adopt measures contrary to Washington's policy preferences. America might not yet have replaced the Soviet Union as (in Ronald Reagan's words) the "evil empire," but it will be disturbingly far along the path to that status.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at The American Conservative , is the author of 12 books and more than 850 articles on international affairs.


me 2 days ago

"America is in danger of becoming the geopolitical equivalent of a middle school bully"?

Its not a mere prospect, its history. The US has been a bully for many years, at least for the last 20 years, if not more.

It is 100% irrelevant what American think of their "moral standing" in the world. In terms of foreign policy, it only matter what OTHER countries think, right or wrong. The rest of the world already think the US govt is a bully. The fact that Trump, became president is simply the icing on the big reveal cake. Yes, foreign powers helped Trump win the election, but that was simply an effect on the margin. The majority of Trump supporters do not need Russian interference to be swayed by him. Trump action embodies that which his supports wanted for many many years.

What Trump has done is give foreign allies something tangible, indisputable proof to point to, every time the US come knocking on their door ask for help on "this", "that" and the "other thing". From now on, they will make sure the get favorable terms in writing, rather than verbal agreements.

Gary Sellars me a day ago
Upvoted, even though you repeat the BS allegations of Russian "interference". Social media traffic mining by a privately-owned clickbait operation and an email leak to Wikileaks from the DNC by a disgruntled insider is not "Russian interference". A handful of FB ads taken out both before and after the elections, and slamming BOTH trump and Shrillary is likewise evidence of nothing.

"Russiagate" is a hoax, a monumental LIE foisted onto the US public by a vengeful Democrat party, their political-appointees within government agencies, the corporate media and the Deep State reptiles who need eternal hostility to Russia to justify the $1T per annum gravy train that so enriches them.

John Mann Gary Sellars a day ago
Upvoted, even though your choice of description for the idiotic allegations of Russian interference is not appropriate for genteel society.
Aker John Mann 20 hours ago • edited
Russiagate and other forms of Anti-Russian yapping are but an effort for a risingly dysfunctional society to blame outsiders for failure and dysfunction.

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

Jan 19, 2020 | www.voltairenet.org

30 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translation
Pete Kimberley

Source
Il Manifesto (Italy)

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

Jan 18, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jon_in_AU , Jan 18 2020 15:35 utc | 140

Hausmeiseter@121

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

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

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

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

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Jan 16, 2020] The Plateau of Shale Production the Biggest Story of 2020

Notable quotes:
"... Such is the extent of the shakeout in the U.S. shale industry that Permian Basin oil production is closer to peaking than many forecasts suggest, according to one energy investor. ..."
"... Adam Waterous, who runs Waterous Energy Fund, regards the sector's financial position as unsustainable after years of disappointing returns for investors and negative free cash flow. With capital markets now largely shunning shale producers, the impact will begin to show in oil and natural gas output from the largest U.S. oil patch, he said. ..."
Jan 16, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

X says: 01/13/2020 at 6:45 pm The Plateau of Shale Production the Biggest Story of 2020?

https://www.financialsense.com/podcast/19463/slowing-shale-production-be-story-2020-says-adam-rozencwajg Reply

TonyEriksen says: 01/14/2020 at 1:48 am

Production from these selected top 9 US shale oil companies might be about to fall as shown by decreasing quarterly crude oil production changes in chart. ExxonMobil (XOM) shale oil is growing fast about 11% per quarter but probably not enough to offset declines from other operators.

EOG
Pioneer
Concho
ConocoPhillips
Marathon
Occidental incl Anadarko acquisition
Diamondback
Devon
ExxonMobil

XOM data is taken from shaleprofile.com, averaging three months into a quarter, then multiplying by 75% to get crude oil. 75% is used because Pioneer Natural Resources crude to total shale oil is 75% and Pioneer operates in the Permian which is also XOM main basin.

Dennis Coyne says: 01/14/2020 at 9:57 am
Pretty sure shale profile reports crude plus condensate, for "oil" production. As the data matches pretty closely with the EIA's tight oil estimates by play when Oklahoma output is excluded (shaleprofile only reports Oklahoma output on the subscription service.)

In short, one should not assume 75% of what is reported at shale profile is the "crude" portion of output. In fact all US output is reported as crude plus condensate, all the way back to 1860.

There is also Chevron, BP, and Shell operating in US tight oil, all have deep pockets and will be unaffected by the tightening up of the credit markets. In the past 2 years these 5 have doubled their tight oil output, though most of the increase occurred in 2018 when oil prices were higher.

Output may drop, that in turn will lead to higher oil prices and higher tight oil output, also the majors will be able to pick up cheap assets as smaller oil companies that have not been financially prudent go bankrupt, that may accelerate the growth of tight oil output from the majors as oil prices rise.

Dennis Coyne says: 01/14/2020 at 10:55 am
Here is output from 5 oil majors for US tight oil from

https://shaleprofile.com/blog/us-monthly-update/us-update-through-september-2019/

Output was 839 kb/d in Sept 2019, 402 kb/d in Sept 2017, and 686 kb/d in Sept 2018.

Output from Shell, Exxon/Mobil, Conoco-Philips, Chevron, and BP.

Synapsid says: 01/14/2020 at 7:18 pm
DC,

Liquids produced at natural-gas processing plants are excluded. Those are the NGPLs if memory serves and are not NGLs which I think of as coming from NG at the well head.

In other words liquid from NG is listed two ways: The stuff obtained at the well head (NGL) and the stuff obtained farther down the line at NG processing plants (NGPL), and the latter is not included as oil. This is from my failing memory but so is my ability to find my way home most of the time.

Hmm it's been a while since Port.

Dennis Coyne says: 01/15/2020 at 7:49 am
What some do not realize is that the natural gasoline (which condenses from the natural gas stream at standard temperature and pressure of 1 ATM, 25 C) has always been included in the crude plus condensate data in the US since 1860. The lower carbon chain products (C2, C3, C4) are not liquids at STP, they are gases and remain in the natural gas stream until they are separated at the natural gas processing plant. The definition given by the EIA is quite clear on this point.
TonyEriksen says: 01/14/2020 at 6:46 pm
In the Permian basin, the ratio of crude to total oil (incl NGL) produced by Pioneer has fallen from 81% at beginning of 2016 to 75% at the end of 2019. If this fall is similar for other Permian producers then it may be harder to continue increasing Permian crude production.

TonyEriksen says: 01/14/2020 at 6:50 pm
The comparison between oil production from shaleprofile.com and from Pioneer is very close, as shown by the two green lines. For 2019Q3, shaleprofile production was 286 kbd compared to 290 kbd from Pioneer quarterly report. Note that both these numbers include crude, lease condensate and NGLs.
http://www.pxd.com/

Freddy Gulestø says: 01/14/2020 at 9:35 pm
I read an very interested report here on this forum where US geological Institute had estimated break even prices for Thiere 6 to 1. Thiere 6 was categorizized as sweet spots with more than 800 kbpd. As I remember this had break even cost 18 usd each barrel and to next class you could aproximately multiplay it with 3. I believe this is much of the core knowledge the Pioneer Mark Papa is estimated US future shale production at wich again is related to change in rock quality. What we know is in 2014 -2015 I believe US could earn money at least with some borrowings at 30 usd WTI , 5 years after tjey cant earn money at 60 usd WTI even with huge improvement in drilling efficiency that it is a reason to believe will go much slower in future. Labour cost and all other will continue to increase. It might be break even price in 2025 will be above 120 usd WTI iff Thiere 5 runs out as same as Tiere 6 the sweet spots. This mean we will be back to the situation before 2014 when the main source off oil was offshore, and investment was there. It simply means US need to cut more cost in shale oil, develop more oil from wells drilled in less quality rock but this challange might be very hard to solve even for Exxon that is ramping up, the question will be if their barrels are profittable at 42 usd WTI as they predict. Perhaps Mr. President could give tax release, or simply start buy up the 1500 billion in depth that need to be payed next 4 years.
Dennis Coyne says: 01/15/2020 at 10:58 am
Tony,

Some people may consider natural gasoline (which condenses from Natural gas in the lease separators) as "NGL", I consider this this to be lease condensate and generally is is mixed with the crude and sold with the crude. Perhaps Pioneer keeps a separate account of "crude" and "condensate", in the US these are usually lumped together as C+C, most of the NGPL produced in the US is Ethane (C2), Propane (C3), and Butane (C4), about 12% of the NGPL is natural gasoline (C5), roughly 600 kb/d of a 5000 kb/d total output of NGPL. Note that the US does not count the pentanes plus from NGPL plants as part of C+C output even though it is chemically very similar to lease condensate. In Canada, for example the pentanes plus from NGPL is added to C+C from the field, not sure why the US does things this way, Canada's approach seems more sensible.

See https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pnp_gp_dc_nus_mbblpd_m.htm

Jack says: 01/14/2020 at 11:20 pm
what are they smoking at the EIA they expect production to keep on increasing through dec/jan while rigs and frac spreads have cratered ..

Great comments on twitter re the data and EIA response to questioning how they get to their numbers

https://twitter.com/ZmansEnrgyBrain?lang=en

TonyEriksen says: 01/15/2020 at 12:41 am
Such is the extent of the shakeout in the U.S. shale industry that Permian Basin oil production is closer to peaking than many forecasts suggest, according to one energy investor.

Adam Waterous, who runs Waterous Energy Fund, regards the sector's financial position as unsustainable after years of disappointing returns for investors and negative free cash flow. With capital markets now largely shunning shale producers, the impact will begin to show in oil and natural gas output from the largest U.S. oil patch, he said.

"We think we are at or near peak Permian" production, Waterous said last week in an interview. "The North American oil market has been grossly overcapitalized, which is not sustainable."

Predicting peak Permian output for 2020 isn't a mainstream view. There's plenty of debate about how much production growth in the West Texas and New Mexico patch may slow this year as shale drillers slash capital spending, but the consensus is that supplies will rise, albeit at a slower pace. Tai Liu, an analyst at BloombergNEF, said in a report Tuesday that the pessimism may be overdone.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-14/peak-permian-oil-output-is-closer-than-you-think-investor-says

Watcher says: 01/15/2020 at 2:57 am
Just because there are newcomers I will re offer up a consideration.

If you have to have it, and you do have to have it, you are not going to let a substance created from nothingness on a whim by the local Central Bank get in the way.

This is a peak oil blog, and that means scarcity. When something that you have to have is scarce, then you are going to go get it. The concept of price is a parameter of value -- value that exists only in the imagination of counterparties. Oil moves food and your stomach doesn't care about the imagination of counterparties. So don't be so sure that price determines production. Or consumption.

Anybody notice that the price is rather a lot less than it was five or six years ago? How does production compare to then?

HuntingtonBeach says: 01/15/2020 at 11:38 am
"'There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know."

Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively.

Supply and demand is the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.

Watcher, we don't live in a perfect world of instant information and production.

" Over the past five years, the industry and its investors "mistook a massive structural change for a simple cyclical event," he said. "It's impossible to continue to have uneconomic production and capex.""

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-14/peak-permian-oil-output-is-closer-than-you-think-investor-says

Watcher, maybe some day you will figure out you need to apologize to Dennis for your ignorance and demeanor. Until than your the loser.

Watcher says: 01/15/2020 at 10:46 pm
It is basic stuff. I can show you many time periods of increasing price that aligned with increasing consumption.

And again, worst of all, you know I can show those time periods.

The theory fails. If you find even one instance where it is wrong, it fails. That's the scientific method. The hypothesis is proposed. Experiments are observed. If even one fails to support it, that's failure. That's how it's always worked.

There is no oh, but. Price is lower than 6 years ago and production is higher. 2010 to 2014 price rose from $95/b to $112/b. Consumption 2010 89 bpd to 2014 93 mbpd. I found that without breaking a sweat.

The theory fails. Embrace a new one. And why be surprised? It's a substance whose value derives from whimsy and counterparty imagination

Lightsout says: 01/15/2020 at 4:17 am
US gas production in decline.
https://amp.ft.com/content/6a39af48-3719-11ea-a6d3-9a26f8c3cba4?segmentid=acee4131-99c2-09d3-a635-873e61754ec6&__twitter_impression=true
Dave P says: 01/15/2020 at 1:43 pm
Search the article name in google and open it from there, this gets around the paywall for me.

[Jan 16, 2020] The average price for 2019 was $56.72 WTI for 2019 doesn't seem to be exciting anyone.

Jan 16, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

shallow sand x Ignored says: 01/10/2020 at 1:53 pm

$56.72 WTI for 2019 doesn't seem to be exciting anyone.

That was the average price for 2019.

I think the major agencies see US C + C topping 20 million BOPD by 2030.

Along with the slow but steady increase in renewables, just not much of a reason to get excited about oil. Reminds me a lot of the 1990s.

Jack x Ignored says: 01/10/2020 at 3:59 pm
So rigs and frac spreads continue to fall yet almost all experts predict continued LTO growth . it would appear the day of reckoning is coming and the majors in the Permian will not save the day .. wasn't everyone hoping for a pick up in rigs and spreads as budgets were meant to be renewed in the new year
Jack x Ignored says: 01/10/2020 at 7:53 pm
I think independents are finally getting it that they can't simply look to increase production as soon as the POO goes up.

I think the change has solely been bought about by investors requiring a return on investment, I'm not sure we can surmise that LTO producers will act as they have in the past, I suspect it will take a sustained period of high POO before LTO producers open the spigots it will create even more of a boom/bust scenario going forward ..

Stephen Hren x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 7:36 am
I agree with you Jack, a large increase in oil prices seems unlikely to have much boost in LTO production for several years because banks will want significant loan payback before increasing drilling budgets. Dennis' model is an excellent BAU projection, but we live in more dynamic times than that imho. Banks will need a consistent high oil price to lend like they did in the past. That seems unlikely given possibility for recession, war, EV adoption, increased regulation from Democratic prez, etc.

Wall Street is obsessed with the shiny new thing and that is not FF production. Tesla's share price now more than GM and Ford combined.

Stephen Hren x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 9:35 am
Debt mountain for shale producers 2020-2023. Maybe once they get past this mountain banks will be ready to loan again and rig counts and frac spreads will increase. But only if there's a consistently high oil price during this period so banks have confidence to lend and debt is substantially reduced.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/US-Oil-Companies-Face-240-Billion-Debt-Mountain.html

shallow sand x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 8:01 am
It's all about the Permian and has been for quite some time.

None of the other shale basins have enough rigs running to grow production significantly.

The Bakken is probably the most economic besides the Permian, and it seems the operators there are in maintenance mode with regard to production.

There are still 397 rigs running in the PB. That is still a large number. I suspect there are more locations left there than in the remaining shale basins combined (not counting the ones which produce mostly natural gas).

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 8:49 am
It takes rigs to drill wells and frak spreads to complete them. No, rigs and frak spreads have not improved their efficiency that much in such a short time. And drillers and frakers are not working that much faster.

What you are seeing, or are about to see, is a slowdown in completions. The frak spreads that are being retired have obviously just finished completing a well. But they will not be completing another one. That's why you see a lag between falling rig and frak spread count and completions.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 11:59 am
Hell, that's all we need Dennis. If the total number of national frac spreads fall then the total completions, nationwide, will fall. If production falls everywhere except the Permian, then that decline will offset any increase in the Permian.

Okay, we know that the lions share of frac spreads are for oil therefore???

I think you are way overplaying your hand with this efficiency stuff. Last time when rigs and frac spreads declined, then production declined. Why should it be any different this time?

The simple fact of the matter is: "The total number of frac spreads are falling". Therefore completions will fall because retired frac spreads frac no new wells. Yes, it is as simple as that. Saying the remaining frac spreads will be more efficient therefore completions will not fall, is just wishful thinking at best, and total nonsense at worst.

The Primary Vision Frac Spread Count is 275 for the week ending January 10th, 2020.

Jack x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 2:57 pm
Well said Ron losing frac spreads means that the maximum number of completions able to be completed has decreased – the concept of increased efficiency is a red herring when spreads have fallen 40%!in the past 6 months – spreads efficiency sure hasn't risen 65% in the same time ..

I think we all agree once the worm turns in the Permian LTO production will decrease, I am not sure producers will increase production as the POO rises they do have to pay back a lot of debt and have shareholders to answer to who want a return ..

Freddy Gulestø x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 3:55 pm
From what I have read there is always improvement of efficiency in operation regarding new Buisinesses such as shale. This improvement is normaly linked to exsperiance, increased volumes i.e. but typical it will slow down during time as much of the easy potential will be taken out. I see this as drilling padds, skidding systems as same rig could drill more wells without be dismantled and mounting again. Dere have also been improvements in latheral lenghts, propant, and fluid . But as Slumberger wrote in 2019, they believed max latheral lenght already is reach as if increased cost off equipment will be much higher and also risk increase when operating atbthe limit, more tear i.e. There might still be improvements but more slow than it have been. According to reports the break even price increase 4-5 times each Tiere class, and I believe rock quality will be a main challange in years to come as shale will need higher oil price to earn money, pay back ballons and dividends.
Jack x Ignored says: 01/11/2020 at 8:09 pm
Let's see the next quarterlies from LTO producers noting the continued comments about being profitable under $50. If Permian centric producers cannot profit on maintaining production output we know Houston we have a problem going forward .. will the companies be able to stick to using cash flows from continued operations only or will we see more excuses carted out again .
Stephen Hren x Ignored says: 01/12/2020 at 7:28 am
Gail makes the case for an oil peak for 2018, predicting production down 1% in 2020 in a low-price environment. Her take is worth a read even though she likes to go far out on a limb with little support sometimes

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Recession-Fears-Cap-Oil-Prices-In-2020.html

TonyEriksen x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 1:57 am
Production from these selected top 8 US shale oil companies might be about to fall as shown by decreasing quarterly crude oil production changes as in chart below.

EOG
Pioneer
Concho
ConocoPhillips
Marathon
Occidental incl Anadarko acquisition
Diamondback
Devon

Jack x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 2:32 am
very interesting graph it shows what is evident that independents are being forced into financial discipline at last. I cannot see the majors picking up the slack regardless of what the MSM say, why would they continue with the growth at all costs strategy which has caused noting but carnage for the above 8 producers.
TonyEriksen x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 7:34 am
Majors won't be picking up the slack according to the top 5 from https://shaleprofile.com/2020/01/07/us-update-through-september-2019/

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 12:10 pm
Looks like XOM grew quite strongly. Their pockets are deep, they can buy up assets on cheap as smaller companies fail, fairly standard in capitalism.
Jack x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 4:10 pm
Can XOM do all the heavy lifting itself once the independent growth plateaus then falls is the million $ question. My bet XOM will grow but in a sustainable way, the impact of the Permian increase will be interesting to note in their quarterly how much has that growth cost them is the question ..
Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 4:54 pm
Jack,

If we look at Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, Conoco-Philips, Shell, and Total combined, they have increased combined tight oil output from 400 kb/d to 840 kb/d in the past 2 years (Sept 2017 to Sept 2019). Most of this increase occurred from Sept 2017 to Sept 2018 when oil prices were a bit higher, in the past 12 months output grew by only 155 kb/d. Oil prices matter, low oil prices may kill tight oil output growth, if so, oil prices are likely to rise.

shallow sand x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 9:44 pm
Dennis.

I read some of your models some of the time, so forgive me if this question you have already answered.

When you model the Permian, how many wells are you assuming?

It seems the EFS and Bakken likely do not have years of locations left, at least on a large scale. Likely why there aren't a lot of rigs.

If there are a decade of locations for 400 rigs in the PB, I suspect oil prices will remain range bound.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 01/14/2020 at 9:47 am
Shallow sand,

For my "medium oil price scenario" (maximum WTI price of $83/b in 2018$ reached in 2027), we get about 195,000 total wells drilled, about 110,000 total horizontal tight oil wells get completed from 2010 to 2030 (about 26,000 have been completed through November 2019) so roughly 80k wells completed from Sept 2019 to Sept 2029 in scenario below.

Also link below has spreadsheet you can play with.

Changing row 4 changes completion rate to any rate that seems reasonable. Scenario ends in 2030 for this particular spreadsheet, you can use excel, google sheets, or some other spreadsheet program, it is saved in microsoft excel format.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fyAD5-CngWdgq_kaZ7ow1k7O_dNr8xaW/view?usp=sharing

On prices remaining range bound, that depends in part of how quickly oil consumption grows. From 1982 to 2018 the average rate of growth in annual oil consumption has been about 800 kb/d. My $83/bo model has US tight oil growing by about 385 kb/d over the next 7 years, it is not clear that the rest of the World will be able to fill the 415 kb/d gap each year (assuming the 800 kb/d C+C consumption growth continues for the next 7 years). That is why I expect oil prices to rise.

There has been relatively low offshore oil investment over the past 5 years and this is likely to start affecting World oil output soon, the bumps in output from Brazil and Norway are likely to be offset by declines in other producing nations (Mexico, China, and UK) and it is far from clear that we will see higher output from Iran, Venezuela, Libya, or Nigeria.

As always the future is difficult to predict and I am often wrong, so perhaps oil prices will remain "range bound" in your preferred $55 to $65/bo range. If that is correct Permian output will grow far more slowly, perhaps growing from 4 Mb/d to about 6 Mb/d. The low oil price scenario has about 72,000 wells completed from Sept 2019 to May 2030 in the Permian, about 52,000 wells in all other US tight oil basins for a total of about 124,000 wells for the low oil price scenario over that period. The completion rate falls from 850 in 2030 to zero in 2035 for the low oil price scenario and output falls from 8200 kb/d at the start of 2030 to 2600 kb/d at the end of 2035.

I think it unlikely oil prices will remain range bound when World oil output peaks in 2026, that is only 6 years away, growth in oil output will slow significantly starting in 2024 and oil prices are likely to rise (at the latest) by June 2023.

shallow sand x Ignored says: 01/14/2020 at 11:36 am
Thanks.

That is a lot of locations. Of course, not all locations are the same productivity wise.

Incredible how much oil the Permian Basin has produced and will produce in the next decade.

Interesting how many companies sold out most of their acreage in the PB in the late 1980s and 1990s, thinking it was past its prime.

I know of a small operator that bought leases in the PB and drilled some good vertical wells. Martin Co. I don't know what they paid, but I am sure it was a tiny fraction of the $600 million they sold out for a three years ago.

QEP bought about 9,500 acres from them for $600 million. There was 1,400 BOPD of production from vertical wells at the time of the sale.

I have been looking at the wells QEP has drilled on this acreage. I don't think $600 million for 450 hz locations was a good deal for QEP. There are some good wells, but not enough of them.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 01/14/2020 at 1:13 pm
Shallow sand,

Yes I agree, all locations will not have the same productivity, I use the average for all wells drilled for any given month as I am interested in the entire industry, some operators will have better wells than others, some of this is skill and some of it is luck, I simply assume generic company X will have a well productivity distribution that will be similar to the industry average, in practice this is not likely to be true, but if we think of the entire Permian basin as being run by a single large oil producer (Big Permian Oil Company) it would be approximately correct, if my economic assumptions are correct.

I also find it amazing how much tight oil has been produced (5.6 Gb so for for Permian since Jan 2000) and will be produced ( a total of 29 Gb for my model from Jan 2000 to May 2030, and for longer scenarios out to Dec 2079, about 60 Gb URR for Permian basin alone.) Mike Shellman thinks that is completely wrong, but if the USGS mean estimate is roughly correct and my medium oil price scenario and other economic assumptions are correct, that is what the model suggests might happen. Mike is not a fan of the USGS TRR estimates, their F95 estimate is 43 Gb for Permian Basin URR, my low oil price scenario is in line with that F95 TRR estimate, with a URR of about 37 Gb.

If the TRR is low, oil prices are likely to be higher and a higher percentage of the TRR is likely to be profitable to produce. (For a low TRR scenario the EUR would decrease more rapidly than my "medium" TRR assumption (the basis for my best guess estimates).

I assume new well EUR starts to decrease starting in Jan 2019. In Dec 2018, my model has the average Permian well with an EUR of 378 kbo. Chart below shows how the model assumes the EUR will change from Sept 2019 to May 2030 (end of model scenario) for the Permian scenario I presented above.

Again this is a guess for how future EUR will change based on a TRR scenario (no economics) with 255,000 wells and a TRR matching the USGS mean estimate of 75 Gb for the Permian basin. The rate that the EUR decreases depends on the number of wells completed each month. Chart is small, click on chart for larger chart.

So they paid 1.33 million per well, I agree the wells do not look very good, for a 2017 average well, QEP has cumulative output of 145 kbo, my basin wide average well has about 190 kbo at 24 months, so the QEP wells about 24% lower than average, yikes.

shallow sand x Ignored says: 01/14/2020 at 5:44 pm
QEP was $18/share when they bought the acreage. $4/share now.
Ovi x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 8:31 am
Tony

Great chart. 👍👍👍👍

Watcher x Ignored says: 01/13/2020 at 11:58 am
No evidence of any of that in chart.

[Jan 12, 2020] MIC along with Wall Street controls the government and the country

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
  1. likbez , January 12, 2020 5:30 pm

    Everyone keeps dancing around it: Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi has reported that Soleimani was on the way to see him with a reply to a Saudi peace proposal. Who profits from Peace? Who does not?

    The killing of Soleimani, while a tragic even with far reaching consequences, is just an illustration of the general rule: MIC does not profit from peace. And MIC dominates any national security state, into which the USA was transformed by the technological revolution on computers and communications, as well as the events of 9/11.

    The USA government can be viewed as just a public relations center for MIC. That's why Trump/Pompeo/Esper/Pence gang position themselves as rabid neocons, which means MIC lobbyists in order to hold their respective positions. There is no way out of this situation. This is a classic Catch 22 trap.

    The fact that a couple of them are also "Rapture" obsessed religious bigots means that the principle of separation of church and state does no matter when MIC interests are involved.

    The health of MIC requires maintaining an inflated defense budget at all costs. Which, in turn, drives foreign wars and the drive to capture other nations' resources to compensate for MIC appetite. The drive which is of course closely allied with Wall Street interests (disaster capitalism.)

    In such conditions fake "imminent threat" assassinations necessarily start happening. Although the personality of Pompeo and the fact that he is a big friend of the current head of Mossad probably played some role.

    It's really funny that Trump (probably with the help of his "reference group," which includes Adelson and Kushner), managed to appoint as the top US diplomat a person who was trained as a mechanic engineer and specialized as a tank repair mechanic. And who was a long-time military contractor. So it is quite natural that he represents interests of MIC.

    IMHO under Trump/Pompeo/Esper trio some kind of additional skirmishes with Iran are a real possibility: they are necessary to maintain the current inflated level of defense spending.

    State of the US infrastructure, the actual level of unemployment (U6 is ~7% which some neolibs call full employment ;-), and the level of poverty of the bottom 33% of the USA population be damned. Essentially the bottom 33% is the third world country within the USA.

    "If you make more than $15,000 (roughly the annual salary of a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours per week), you earn more than 32.2% of Americans

    The 894 people that earn more than $20 million make more than 99.99989% of Americans, and are compensated a cumulative $37,009,979,568 per year. "

    ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/income-inequality-crisis_n_4221012 )

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

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

ADKC , Jan 12 2020 2:10 utc | 359

vk @334

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

---------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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MalteseFalcon , 3 minutes ago link

OK kids,

Play time is over.

China needs Iraqi oil to build the BRI.

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

daveeemc2 , 14 minutes ago link

This is the most delicious of irony

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

The american imperial style of intervention is dead.

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

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

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

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

MalteseFalcon , 1 minute ago link

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

yerfej , 26 minutes ago link

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

Rusticus2.0 , 22 minutes ago link

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

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

BobEore , 29 minutes ago link

Excellent Smithers, excellent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

simpson seers , 14 minutes ago link

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

Fireman , 32 minutes ago link

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

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

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

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

BGO , 39 minutes ago link

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

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

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

Fireman , 40 minutes ago link

Understanding why Agent Orange is a meat puppet.

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

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

Wantoknow , 44 minutes ago link

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

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

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

Fireman , 39 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option?

Ask the towel girls at Maralago and Jeffrey Pedovore.

Rusticus2.0 , 49 minutes ago link

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

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

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

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

so it will work like this....

trump's zionist overlords have demanded he destroy iran.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIGA!

Brazen Heist II , 55 minutes ago link

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

Dey hate us for our freedumbs!

Ghost who Walks , 54 minutes ago link

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

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

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

new game , 1 hour ago link

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

meanwhile China rises with Strategic economic investment.

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

moar war...

Arising , 1 hour ago link

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

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

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

Ms No , 1 hour ago link

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

RoyalDraco , 14 minutes ago link

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

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

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

[Jan 11, 2020] Given shale oil dependence on debt / financialisation for "sustainability". I find Denningers analysis that the financial system is about to blow up based on basic exponential algebra relevant

Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ignored says: 12/15/2019 at 11:05 am https://www.market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=237637

Given shale oil dependence on debt / financialisation for "sustainability".

I find Denningers analysis that the financial system is about to blow up based on basic exponential algebra relevant.

His opinion is there is only one escape, and that is to blow up the entire medical industry (20% of GDP) in USA and end deficit spending.

Ironically, Mr. D is a peak oil denier because he thinks we can convert coal and kerogen to liquid fuel. Reply

Spider Man x Ignored says: 12/15/2019 at 4:58 pm

If you live is USA, (I moved a decade ago) and you have a medical procedure you need done. I would recommend not procrastinating and getting it done soon.

8% expense growth (faster than GDP) is unsustainable.

alimbiquated x Ignored says: 12/16/2019 at 11:31 am
The real problem with american health care is bad management. Hospitals have no idea how much it takes to cure a patient, and they sell treatments instead of cures. They don't know how much the treatments cost either, so they just make up numbers. Pharmaceutical companies charge whatever they can get away with, as the price of insulin shows.

Patients need more protection and better coverage so that insurers are forced to keep the healthcare providers honest. That is why insurers need to be forced to provide coverage. Markets economics works because the guy who pays applies pressure to the guy who delivers the goods. This idea needs to be applied to health care, and prices would get back in line with other rich countries.

[Jan 11, 2020] In Iraq The U.S. Is Again An Occupation Force As It Rejects To Leave As Demanded

Jan 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

In Iraq The U.S. Is Again An Occupation Force As It Rejects To Leave As Demanded

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi is following Iraq's Parliament decision to remove all foreign forces from Iraq. But his request for talks with the U.S. about the U.S. withdrawal process was answered with a big "F*** You":

Iraq's caretaker prime minister asked Washington to start working out a road map for an American troop withdrawal, but the U.S. State Department on Friday bluntly rejected the request, saying the two sides should instead talk about how to "recommit" to their partnership.

Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in the capital and southern Iraq, many calling on both Iran and America to leave Iraq, reflecting anger and frustration over the two rivals -- both Baghdad's allies -- trading blows on Iraqi soil.

The request from Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi pointed to his determination to push ahead with demands for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In a phone call Thursday night, he told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that recent U.S. strikes in Iraq were an unacceptable breach of Iraqi sovereignty and a violation of their security agreements, his office said.

He asked Pompeo to "send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism" to carry out the Iraqi Parliament's resolution on withdrawing foreign troops, according to the statement.

"The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities, and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements," the statement added.

The Associated Press errs when it says that the move was "stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani". The move was stoked five days earlier when the U.S. killed 31 Iraqi security forces near the Syrian border despite the demands by the Iraqi prime minister and president not to do so. It was further stoked when the U.S. assassinated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes , the deputy commander of the Popular Militia Forces and a national hero in Iraq.

The State Department issued a rather aggressive response to Abdul-Mahdi's request:

Cont. reading: In Iraq The U.S. Is Again An Occupation Force As It Rejects To Leave As Demanded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humanitarian concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 11, 2020 | aspousa.org

ASPO-USA | January 6, 2013

Commentary: Why Peak Oil Threatens the International Monetary System

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

By Erik Townsend

Introduction

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

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

What is the International Monetary System?

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

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

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

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

Why is an International Monetary System needed?

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

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

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

How does the IMS work?

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

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

Triffin's Dilemma

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nixon proves Triffin right

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

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

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

Exorbitant Privilege

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's holding the IMS together?

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

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

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

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

There's a limit to how long this can last

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elevated Risk

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

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

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

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

The Janszen Scenario

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Peak Oil could cause a Bond and Currency Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rambo to the Rescue?

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

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

Further Reading

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

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

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

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

[Jan 10, 2020] In Iraq The U.S. Is Again An Occupation Force As It Rejects To Leave As Demanded

Notable quotes:
"... Shorter Pompeo: "Our troops will stay and you better do what we say." A foreign force that is asked to leave a country and does not do so is an occupation force. It must and will be opposed. ..."
"... The murder of the 31 security forces and the assassination of al-Mahandes have still not been avenged. The PMU will do their moral duty and fight the foreign occupation forces until they leave. ..."
"... After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I still refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event I did not cooperate and do as he asked ..."
"... Iraq is again negotiating with Russia to acquire S-300 air defense systems. It will need them as the U.S. will have to leave and leave it will. The only choice for its soldiers is between leaving horizontally or vertically, dead or alive. ..."
"... In 2006 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously celebrated Israel's assault on Lebanon as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." The child she dreamed of was never born. Israel lost that war against Hizbullah and the Resistance Axis has been winning ever since while the U.S. has lost again and again. It is time for the U.S. to end that useless engagement and to withdraw from the Middle East. ..."
Jan 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi is following Iraq's Parliament decision to remove all foreign forces from Iraq. But his request for talks with the U.S. about the U.S. withdrawal process was answered with a big "F*** You":

Iraq's caretaker prime minister asked Washington to start working out a road map for an American troop withdrawal, but the U.S. State Department on Friday bluntly rejected the request, saying the two sides should instead talk about how to "recommit" to their partnership.

Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in the capital and southern Iraq, many calling on both Iran and America to leave Iraq, reflecting anger and frustration over the two rivals -- both Baghdad's allies -- trading blows on Iraqi soil.

The request from Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi pointed to his determination to push ahead with demands for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In a phone call Thursday night, he told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that recent U.S. strikes in Iraq were an unacceptable breach of Iraqi sovereignty and a violation of their security agreements, his office said.

He asked Pompeo to "send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism" to carry out the Iraqi Parliament's resolution on withdrawing foreign troops, according to the statement.

"The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities, and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements," the statement added.

The Associated Press errs when it says that the move was "stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani". The move was stoked five days earlier when the U.S. killed 31 Iraqi security forces near the Syrian border despite the demands by the Iraqi prime minister and president not to do so. It was further stoked when the U.S. assassinated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes , the deputy commander of the Popular Militia Forces and a national hero in Iraq.

The State Department issued a rather aggressive response to Abdul-Mahdi's request:

America is a force for good in the Middle East. Our military presence in Iraq is to continue the fight against ISIS and as the Secretary has said, we are committed to protecting Americans, Iraqis, and our coalition partners. We have been unambiguous regarding how crucial our D-ISIS mission is in Iraq. At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership -- not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East. Today, a NATO delegation is at the State Department to discuss increasing NATO's role in Iraq, in line with the President's desire for burden sharing in all of our collective defense efforts. There does, however, need to be a conversation between the U.S. and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership. We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq.

Shorter Pompeo: "Our troops will stay and you better do what we say." A foreign force that is asked to leave a country and does not do so is an occupation force. It must and will be opposed.

The murder of the 31 security forces and the assassination of al-Mahandes have still not been avenged. The PMU will do their moral duty and fight the foreign occupation forces until they leave.

The demonstrators in Baghdad will not be able to prevent that from happening. It is interesting, by the way, that the Washington Post bureau chief in Baghdad thought she knew what they would demand even before they came together:

Louisa Loveluck @leloveluck - 9:48 UTC · Jan 10, 2020
Activists have called for fresh rallies in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today, and crowds expected to build after midday prayers. The demonstrators are rejecting parliament's decision to oppose a US troop presence, fearing repercussions that might follow.

A few hours later Loveluck had to admit that she was, as usual, wrong:

Louisa Loveluck @leloveluck - 11:13 UTC · Jan 10, 2020
"No to Iran, no to America" say signs and chants in Baghdad's Tahrir Square as crowds start to swell. Protesters say they are fed up of their country being someone else's battlefield. "We deserve to live in peace," says 21 year old Zahraa.
...
Rejecting a narrow parliamentary vote backed by Shiite political elites is not the same as openly supporting the US. Chants in Tahrir today reject both the US and Iran.

The U.S. will need to pay better Iraqi 'activists' if it wants them to demand what Donald Trump wishes.

As the Iraqi Prime Minister explained (also here ):

After my return from China, Trump called me and asked me to cancel the agreement, so I still refused, and he threatened me with massive demonstrations that would topple me. Indeed, the demonstrations started and then Trump called, threatening to escalate in the event I did not cooperate and do as he asked

Iraq is again negotiating with Russia to acquire S-300 air defense systems. It will need them as the U.S. will have to leave and leave it will. The only choice for its soldiers is between leaving horizontally or vertically, dead or alive.

As Elijah Magnier say in his summarization of the last week's events: A New Middle East "made in Iran" is about to be born

The US President – who promised to end the " endless wars " – killed the Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes and the Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani believing he could win control of Iraq and achieve regime change in Iran. On the brink of triggering a major war, Trump has spectacularly lost Iran and is about to lose Iraq.

" Beautiful military equipment doesn't rule the world, people rule the world, and the people want the US out of the region", said Iran Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif. President Trump doesn't have many people in the Middle East on his side, not even among his allies, whose leaders have been repeatedly insulted . Iran could not have dreamt of a better President to rejuvenate its position domestically and regionally. All Iran's allies are jubilant, standing behind the "Islamic Republic" that fulfilled its promise to bomb the US. A "New Middle East" is about to be born; it will not be "Made in the USA" but "Made in Iran". Let us hope warmongers' era is over. The time has come to recognise and rely on intelligent diplomacy in world affairs.

In 2006 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously celebrated Israel's assault on Lebanon as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." The child she dreamed of was never born. Israel lost that war against Hizbullah and the Resistance Axis has been winning ever since while the U.S. has lost again and again. It is time for the U.S. to end that useless engagement and to withdraw from the Middle East.

Posted by b on January 10, 2020 at 19:09 UTC | Permalink


Jen , Jan 10 2020 19:30 utc | 1

The sheer arrogance and wilful blindness expressed in the US State Department press statement and WaPo staffer Louisa Loveluck's tweets are astounding beyond belief. It's as if the entire capital city of the US has become a mental asylum / Hotel California, where one can enter but never leave spiritually and morally, though one can take many physical trips in and out of the madhouse.

Iraq definitely does need the S-300 missile defence systems. The most pressing issue though is whether the Iraqis will suffer the delays Syria suffered in acquiring those systems even after paying for them. Time now is of the essence. Iraqi operators need to be trained in those systems. Syria may be able to supply some training but at the risk of letting down its guard in sending some of its operators to Baghdad and exposing them to US drone attacks.

Likklemore , Jan 10 2020 19:39 utc | 2
Thanks b, for your continuing coverage and insights.

the u.s'. leadership believes it can do the same thing over, and over, and over with different results. They will need a very long ladder with the upcoming repeat of Saigon 1975.

They have always underestimated the will and cultures of people they would make subservient.

How is this working for the Iran Puppet Master: Pompous one?

Here is the big mighty with world's powerful military; on their bended knees -

We want to discuss Return to Strategic Partnership With Iraq Instead of Troop Withdrawal

[.]The press release further noted that Washington seeks to be "a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq", while stating that the US military presence in the country will persist in order to fight Daesh* and protect Americans, Iraqis, and US-led coalition partners.[.]

Yes, some friend and partner eh? Insults and thuggery. Exiting will be horizontal.
Go pound sand.


In other news, tomorrow Iran will announce cause of UAI plane crash.

Bubbles , Jan 10 2020 19:43 utc | 3
From the US State Dept's 'aggressive response' link,

"not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East. Today, a NATO delegation is at the State Department to discuss increasing NATO's role in Iraq, in line with the President's desire for burden sharing in all of our collective defense efforts. "

"BUT OUR RIGHT" ??

...


"President's desire for burden sharing in all of our collective defense efforts."

https://www.state.gov/the-u-s-continued-partnership-with-iraq/


Seems like just yesterday that man trump was jabbering on about how the US should get out of NATO and leave those 'losers' to defend themselves.

Geopolitics in the Shining City of the Hill has come to this?

Grabs roll of tinfoil..are the Globalists using this buffoon to makes people yearn for some normalcy only they can provide?

Likklemore , Jan 10 2020 19:50 utc | 4
And with such liars who needs a stick. Narrative changes depending the hour.

Last night: Pompeo told Foxnews-

Pompeo Says US Had No Information on Date, Place of Possible Attack Allegedly Planned by Soleimani
LINK

US President Donald Trump earlier claimed that Washington had eliminated the top Iranian military commander to halt Tehran's plans to blow up the US Embassy in Baghdad.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on a national broadcast that the United States possessed no information about the date and place of an alleged attack planned by assassinated General Qasem Soleimani.[.]

"We don't know precisely when - and we don't know precisely where. But it was real ...

Today
Trump Claims Soleimani Was Planning Attacks on 4 US Embassies


US President Donald Trump in an interview with Fox News said that top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was plotting attacks on four American embassies in the Middle East region before being assassinated by US forces.
"I can reveal that I believe it probably would've been four embassies," Trump said when asked whether large-scale attacks were planned against other embassies.

The House of Fools. Something is out of focus if they have to keep making justifications for the killing.


psychohistorian , Jan 10 2020 19:51 utc | 5
Thanks for focus on the Iran front of the civilization war humanity is in. I find the Ukraine plane crash to be distracting from the bigger picture.

The piece from the US State Department is quite the lie. Bottom line is that Iran is currently sovereign but would cease to be so is they became the "normal" country that private finance empire wants. Iran would then live under the dictatorship of global private finance like the rest of us that mythically believe we are sovereign nations and individuals.

I am pleased to see that humanity is at this juncture in spite of the threat of extinction. Our species is crippled by the cult that owns global private finance in the West and even if this process seems quite indirect to me, at least the socialism/barbarism war is being fought.

Jackrabbit , Jan 10 2020 19:52 utc | 6
USA stays - as predicted by MoA commenters.

b foresees an eventual win by Iraq and Iran but that is uncertain and years away.

USA is not leaving. They believe UN 2249 gives them the right to stay in Syria and Iraq - despite USA claim that ISIS is defeated.

We will likely see a rebranding of USA troops to NATO, an " ISIS resergence", and a civil war in Iraq.

!!

dadoronron , Jan 10 2020 19:55 utc | 7
A few days ago I saw a tweet that Russia was going to sell S-400s to Iran. Has anyone seen confirmation?
Abe , Jan 10 2020 20:00 utc | 8
Good. Iran will star escalating (via proxy force, or maybe even directly if they are feeling bold and determined) and US will start to have casualties. Being nice to bully never works.
nemo , Jan 10 2020 20:04 utc | 9
"A force for good!!??" How Orwellian can you get? If you are truly a force for good, then get out as you have been asked to do!
Sammy , Jan 10 2020 20:09 utc | 10
The sooner Tehran is glass, the sooner the US can pull out of the ME.
Zanon , Jan 10 2020 20:13 utc | 11
Iraq, every parliament party, could start themselves showing they want the americans to leave. They have not done this,
and this is the reason US give not to leave:

US is not willing to withdraw troops from Iraq, says Pompeo

The US argues that the Iraqi parliamentary vote was non-binding, and that its legitimacy was undermined by neither Iraqi Kurds or Sunnis participating.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/10/us-not-willing-to-withdraw-troops-from-iraq-mike-pompeo

At the same time, that will never occur since kurds and sunnis support the americans.
Quid pro quo.

pretzelattack , Jan 10 2020 20:16 utc | 12
why do sunnis support the americans? i can see it with kurds, who have been playing this game for a long time.
pretzelattack , Jan 10 2020 20:17 utc | 13
lofl at "a force for good". same old shit, same old bottle.
Bubbles , Jan 10 2020 20:17 utc | 14
New Rome suffers the same maladies as the first. Uprisings in the Provinces.

Lest we forget, Rome's demands;


" "First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity."

"Second, Iran must stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor."

"Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country."

"Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems."

"Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges."

"Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah [Hezbollah], Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."

"Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias."

"Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen."

"Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria."

"Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior Al Qaida leaders."

"Iran, too, must end the IRG [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Qods Force's [Quds Force's] support for terrorists and militant partners around the world."

"And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyberattacks."

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/20989/pompeos-12-demands-for-iran-read-more-like-a-declaration-of-war-than-a-path-to-peace


Saudi millions/ billions for spreading Wahhabi 7th Century violent ideology around the world is A OK though.

What? It's all about MAGA, right?

james , Jan 10 2020 20:17 utc | 15
thanks b... i share jens view on how outrageous usa official words on this are...

"At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership -- not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East." they just don't give a fuck... everyone here knew that already... as a few of us have been saying - there is no way the usa is going to leave.. they are intent up the same agenda they have been intent on for what seems like forever...

@ 4 Likklemore quote - "Something is out of focus if they have to keep making justifications for the killing." the liar in command saying he was going to cause trouble at 4 embassies.. jesus what a liar and retard trump is if he thinks anyone who has a brain would believe that b.s.

@ 10 sammy... the sooner washington d.c. is glass the sooner americans can wake the fuck up..

Fernando Martinez , Jan 10 2020 20:19 utc | 16
The Iraquis voted on a non-binding resolution. So by being wishy washy, they won't force the USA to leave anywhere.
Linda Jean Doucett , Jan 10 2020 20:25 utc | 17
Who dares to stop them?
Surely no sane country wants to stand against JUSA.

Israel is shaking in its boots so its American poodle must stay to protect them. The sooner the world gets rid of the Jewish infestation from their governments the safer the world will be.

Bubbles , Jan 10 2020 20:29 utc | 18
Fernando 16

"The Iraquis voted on a non-binding resolution. So by being wishy washy, they won't force the USA to leave anywhere."


You should walk a mile in their shoes.

Then opine.

powerandpeople , Jan 10 2020 20:30 utc | 19
As always with the USA President, this is about 2 aspects:
1. Cutting costs to USA
2. Making money for USA

This is the 'leverage' (blackmail, if you prefer)to obtain 'good deals' on the way out the door.

China (Russia to a limited extent) is providing up-front funding for repair to 'war' damaged infrastructure done by the USA.

In return, China gets hydrocarbons.

These are big, expensive projects that China excels at, cutting out the corruption to officials standing in the middle.

Revamping and extending rail infrastructure in Iraq connecting to Iran and also towards Central Asia and beyond.

Big oil pipeline projects taking Iraqi oil to Jordan. Later projects taking hydrocarbons through Syria to the Med, and into Turkey as well.

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

That's why Pres. Trump is jockeying for a small bite of the pie. He has a good chance of getting it. But small.

Evelyn , Jan 10 2020 20:42 utc | 20
#10
Turning Tehran [ substitute : North Korea/Iraq/other designated U.S. enemy] "to glass" in some quarters seems popular.

Facile, reckless, terrorism run amok.

Probably the same gene pool spouting "They hate us for our freedoms."

Lurk , Jan 10 2020 20:43 utc | 21
@ Jackrabbit | Jan 10 2020 19:52 utc | 6
We will likely see a rebranding of USA troops to NATO

Some of their NATO vassals still care about the rule of law and international law. Mikey and Donny might discover that these backward states are "not very helpful" to their cause of rules based order.

USA runs a serious risk of overplaying its hand and alienating some of their european allies. Likely not all, but almost certainly some. That would create a rift in NATO and possibly the EU and compromise USA control over these organizations and their members.

PavewayIV , Jan 10 2020 20:45 utc | 22
Fernando Martinez@16 - You're misunderstanding the situation. The Iraqi parliament did get the majority they needed to pass the resolution as specified in their constitution. They will turn it over to the existing or new PM for implementation. Nothing wishy-washy about it. It's a done deal despite the terrified Kurds and Sunnis not voting to save their own butts from reprisal - either by Iraqi Shia or by the US. I would have done the same thing.

It is the US that is claiming the resolution is nonbinding (in their 'legal' opinion) because the vote wasn't sufficiently representative (in the mind of the US dual-citizen chickenhawk neocons) - despite the fact that two-thirds of Iraqis are Shia and there was more than enough votes to pass the resolution despite the Sunni and Kurd representatives' absence. The US is pouting and will hold its breath until the Iraqis defy their constitution and obey the will of their American masters. In the meantime, the US has refused to recognize the vote and will oppose any efforts for implementation by the Iraqi PM. Trump or Pompeo or one of those idiots stated that clearly and unambiguously - the US has no plans to leave no matter what.

I guess we'll see. Plan B for the US is probably to agitate for the original plan of uprisings to partition Iraq into Kurd, Sunni and Shia statelets. The obedient Kurd and Shia leaders will allow eternal US presence and as many bases as the US wants. It will be enough territory to block the feared 'Shia Crescent' - the US will insist the Kurd and Sunni statelets extend from Turkey down the Syrian border to Jordan, blocking any attempts to connect the Shia statelet to Syria. That's the US plan B for this problem if they can't use 'other means' to stay in present-day Iraq for 'anti-ISIS' operations.

Peter AU1 , Jan 10 2020 20:45 utc | 23
US was hitting Iraqi militias even back when ISIS still held territory and the militias where driving ISIS back.
Then the recent strike on the militia's formally incorporated into Iraqi military and the strike that killed the Iraqi and Iranian.... but then the Iraqi's declare Iran's strike on the US base a breach of sovereignty. Iraqi's that should be allied with Iran for the purpose of driving the US out. US will be in Iraq and the Syrian oilfields for quite some time.
There was the same talk about militia's and whatever hitting US in Syria but that hasn't eventuated and I doubt any thing serious against US will happen in Iraq either. US will have proxies out and about - using its bases as fire support bases with air and artillery to back up its proxies.
karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 20:56 utc | 24
a narrow parliamentary vote...

The vote count I saw was unanimous. Clearly, the Evil Outlaw US Empire is throwing as much bullshit at everything in the hopes that some sticks and clogs peoples's minds. The 737 crash is similar in pointing over there instead of looking at what's just occurred at your feet. Now Trump says four embassies were going to be attacked as he further demonstrates he's losing his mind. Lies and Bluster are the hallmarks of a Paper Tiger.

Meanwhile, what stands for genuine Progressives and the Left are clearly gaining ground as numerous Anti-war rallies took place yesterday and an article appeared in my local rag saying the D-Party Establishment is afraid of a Sanders nomination--2016 in play all over again except no HRC and we know more about the DNC's evilness in not at all being responsive to the public or voting results. IMO, the Political Fight required for genuine change has finally begun and will escalate.

Globally, the current battles are a new phase of a 3 millennial-long war between the Current Oligarchy and the 99% as to who will be the Sovereign--the people collectively or those who've stolen their wealth. Class War--You Bet! We now have definitive proof of how it works and how long it's been ongoing. What we've yet to see is if the 99% have enough brains and solidarity to undo 3,000+ years of Tyranny.

Within this article is a photo of Iranian general Ali Amir Hajizadeh standing at a podium in front of a phalanx of 9 flags belonging to the Axis of Resistance. We need to add our own flags to that Alliance for the enemies of Iran are the enemies of all Earth's people and employ the likes of sammy and other Terrorists to do their bidding.

Kali , Jan 10 2020 20:58 utc | 25
The Iranians attacked by the US in this episode was always about Iraq being seen as moving out of the American-Euro orbit and into the China-Iran-Russia orbit. So of course they will not voluntarily leave, instead they will either be forced out by attacks or more likely they will force either a change in leadership of Iraq or threaten the leadership or bribe the leadership into accepting permanent occupation for "their safety" ala a Mob Protection Racket. This is exposed here Pax Americana: Between Iraq and A Hard Place
ben , Jan 10 2020 21:04 utc | 26
Well, I'm shocked, just shocked, that the U$A won't be leaving as per Iraq's request...NOT!

Did any serious person believe they would?

Empire uber alles...

And still, many will support this regime of cretinous grifters..

Stonebird , Jan 10 2020 21:08 utc | 27
Couple of small points;
1) 32-35 soldiers (4-5 commanders and their command posts - US dixit) were killed in the earlier US attacks, which were heavier in Syria and against the Herzbollah, than those against Iraqian forces on the Syria-Iraqi border. The command posts were eliminated very accurately. This is possibly because they had previously collectively stated that they wanted to eliminate the terrorists in the Anbar desert. (Thought; those "terrorists" may have included embedded "special forces" or mercenaries which the US wanted to protect.)
2) I believe that Iraq was trying to get the S400, (The one that can "see" F35's) rather than the S300.

3) OT? Just who gets the profits from the Oil stolen from Syria, and would have a kickback from the oil that was demanded from Iraq (Al-Mahdi statement)? Conventionally we attribute the money going to the "Pentagon" or "CIA". But I seem to remember that the complete Erdogan family was benefitting before they were kicked out. Is it possible that the Syrian oil is now going straight into a slush fund for some Generals or members of the administration? Is that really why the US doesn't want leave? Profits not geo-politics?

karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 21:09 utc | 28
PavewayIV @22 & Peter AU 1 @23--

Well, we shall soon see what the Iraqis are made of and where their will lies. I expect we'll begin getting that answer this weekend. It does appear Iraqi Patriots will need to drag their fellows along with them, but IMO none will get a better future unless the Outlaw US Empire is driven from Southwest Asia.

Das Kommentariat , Jan 10 2020 21:12 utc | 29
@Lurk | Jan 10 2020 20:43 utc | 21

I expect some spineless eastern European countries (Romania, Poland, etc.) will lend themselves for this. The other members will tacitly accept the NATO branding ...

uncle tungsten , Jan 10 2020 21:14 utc | 30
The last Make America Go Away event was in Ho Chi Minh city.

It was decisive, the only non binding aspect was the ability of the USA to win.

What is it about GO AWAY that the USA elite dont understand? I guess, like Joe Biden a fist full of oil makes it comprehensible. Neandertals.

Likklemore , Jan 10 2020 21:15 utc | 31
@10 sammy

Very telling, but you will envy the dead.

The sooner Iran No. more likely

the sooner Israhell, stripped to its 1948 boundaries, is glass we will have peace on planet earth. Fighting Israhell's wars have daily cost in blood and treasure. In $ 7 trillions and counting.

Hmm. Why? running scared.

Reuters: but Russia denies.
Russian navy ship 'aggressively approached' U.S. destroyer in Arabian Sea: U.S. Navy
"DUBAI (Reuters) - A Russian navy ship "aggressively approached" a U.S. Navy destroyer in the North Arabian Sea on Thursday, the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said in a statement on Friday.
[.]
"The Russian ship initially refused but ultimately altered course and the two ships opened distance from one another," the statement said."

JB , Jan 10 2020 21:19 utc | 32
There will be blood.

No one should cheer this. The people of the Middle East have been bleeding way too long.
The million dollar question is: how tostop a serial killer on the loose, operating in plain sight, when everyone else is either afraid, in a deal or trying to avoid blowing up the whole place (world).

It's tough because the serial killer, (together with his partners in crime EU/NATO), have dismantled the existing world order, however fragile it was. The law is no more.

You would expect that in a situation like this the nations of the world, through the UN, would say - now you must leave Iraq because the Iraqi parliament has spoken. That's the only way the weaker can enforce their decisions agains the stronger peacefully, with the support of the global community. But that doesn't happen because the worst offenders, the serial killers, are members of the UN Security Council. And, the UN General Assembly almost never meets to discuss events crucial for world peace, justice, fairness and equality, such as these.

When all hinges on force, chaos and blood are in store. It is absolutely immoral, unjust and heinous that the people of Iraq, Iran Syria, Lebanon and others should again fight to their death to set themselves free from the deadly claws of parasitic states that are veto-holding members of the UN body entrusted with maintaining world peace, law and order!!! This entire theatre of the absurd is unbearable and should be a call to action for every single decent human being on this beautiful planet.

Here's a rarely excellent, succinct piece:' Why the War never Ends" :
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/52828.htm

ben , Jan 10 2020 21:19 utc | 33
Stonebird @ 27 asked; "Is that really why the US doesn't want leave? Profits not geo-politics?"


IMO, in this new age of corporate ascendancy, profits drive Geo-Politics

Peter AU1 , Jan 10 2020 21:22 utc | 34
karlof1

Magnier has a few comments on the Iraqi divides at his twitter thread and is exactly what I have thought for the last month or so. Those Iraqi groups that are solidly allied with Iran in the fight against ISIS and US are a small minority and US and Israel have been hitting them with impunity for several years now. Most Iraqi's including Shia seem tied up in small time domestic disputes. No Nasrallah's or Kharmenei's in Iraq. Only Muqtada al-Sadr types. Perhaps Sistani may do something but he also seems very much small time domestic - not interested or not capable in the big picture.

ben , Jan 10 2020 21:27 utc | 35
JB @ 32; Kudos JB, an absolutely on target rant. Thanks for the link...
karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 21:28 utc | 36
JB @32--

Yes, you're quite correct, there will be blood, just as there's been blood flowing for the last 3,000 years. That's why I wrote our flags must join those of the Axis of Resistance--this War isn't theirs alone; it's every Earthling's War whether they realize it or not.

james , Jan 10 2020 21:29 utc | 37
@31 likklemore.. in the videos clearly the usa ship is in the wrong...

https://www.rt.com/news/477976-us-russian-ships-aggressive-approach/

Eudoxia , Jan 10 2020 21:30 utc | 38
What if the government of Iraq asks Russia to assist it in safeguarding its airspace from unauthorized entry? The Russians will bring the equipment and the operators & they are already just across in Syria.
PJB , Jan 10 2020 21:31 utc | 39
Totally Orwellian.

Empire of Chaos, Lies and Deceit.

"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." George Orwell in '1984'.

Could any statement better sum up the world we now live in?

karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 21:37 utc | 40
Peter AU 1 @34--

Thanks for your reply! The rhetorical counter to the non-Patriot Iraqis will be that the Evil Outlaw US Empire intends to treat them just like the Zionists treat their Palestinian slaves and have demonstrated so already. There are essentially three choices: Fight, help others to fight, pack up and move to another nation as you're no longer an Iraqi.

William Gruff , Jan 10 2020 21:39 utc | 41
I have often stated that the United States is suffering from mass insanity and violent psychosis.

This is not hyperbole. This is a simple factual statement.

You cannot reason with a rabid dog, and that is what America is right now.

Bubbles , Jan 10 2020 21:39 utc | 42
27

"Just who gets the profits from the Oil stolen from Syria, "

Best estimates I've seen say the oil fields trump is so bent on denying the Assad government from accessing are so damaged they produce 31,000 bpd at best. Whatever discount price comes from that after it's trucked to some market in Turkey or maybe Iraq, it would be less profitable than trump's Taj mahal casino venture.

But hey, he's the greatest business man ever. Just ask him?

It's not about profit, it's about making a dollar here and there to give to the Kurds and keep their America is our friend dreams alive and denying Assad that oil.

It would cost a great deal of money to return the fields east of the Euphrates to their previous production levels.

The Netanyahu plan is to deny the Syrian gov't and it's people the revenue from those wells they used to access to pay for their needs. Only the needs of trump and his people matter.

Joshua , Jan 10 2020 21:43 utc | 43
The current regime in the United States seems to believe that people are only able to believe what the regime tells them to believe. This is not the case. Even the American people want the US military to withdraw from Iraq, from Syria, from the Middle East.
Joshua , Jan 10 2020 21:46 utc | 44
This has been illustrated repeatedly. But, after every 'election', and after every 'poll', the regime chews on the results and rolls it over until they come up with a 'storyline' that says they can do whatever the hell they feel like anyway. More and more people are catching on to this.
Annie , Jan 10 2020 21:48 utc | 45
Elijah Magnier in a Tweet today seemed to imply that Al Mahdi didn't stand up to the US forcefully enough and that there is a split between shia and Sunni as to US presence. Some want the US to stay. He also said Iraq needs a stronger PM that will implement US kicking out of Iraq. He also mentioned that Al Mahdi did not give the ok for PMU forces to go up against US in Iraq.
We will have to see. But if the Iraqi people are demanding US is kicked out then Al Mahdi may be forced to act.
Jackrabbit , Jan 10 2020 21:50 utc | 46
PavewayIV @22

Yeah, that's right.

As in virtual every representative democracy, the Iraqi government carries out the will of the people as expressed through their representatives. So the vote by the Iraqi Parliament is binding on the Iraqi government, not a foreign government .. duh!

AFAIK USA is in Iraq at invitation of the Iraqi government but there's no formal agreement (aka SOFA). So the Iraqi government can ask USA to leave at any time.

Iraq was being nice and diplomatic to invite USA to provide input that helps the Iraqi government determine the timetable for USA to leave. Since USA has refused, we should expect the Iraqi government to demand that USA leave immediately.

Of course, USA has already stated their reasons for remaining despite any lawful demand that they do so.

!!

Cortes , Jan 10 2020 21:51 utc | 47
ben @33

Corporate ascendancy's was accurately described in perhaps the greatest novel of the pomp of the USA:


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Space_Merchants

Pohl's sequel takes it to a terrestrial conclusion.

Likklemore , Jan 10 2020 21:52 utc | 48
@ james 37

Thanks james. Give the u.s. uniformed boys and girls some slack. They are running scared, having to look over their shoulders knowing they are targets and that now things have changed - U.S. stands alone without friends. It's vassal states waiver. after Soleimani killing suddenly, except for IL, the U.S. is alone . article from earlier comment posting is a good read.

Manny , Jan 10 2020 21:55 utc | 49
This site is a mountain of bs.
karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 21:56 utc | 50
james @37--

Here's b's Tweet on the matter:

"'Power-driven vessel A approaches the port side of power-driven vessel B. Vessel A is considered the give-way vessel. As the give-way vessel, A must take EARLY and SUBSTANTIAL action to keep clear and avoid crossing the stand-on vessel B.'
Farragut (A) should have passed behind B."

As b notes, this is almost an exact repeat of what happened last year. The idiots commenting on the USN's twitter thread are pathetic and clearly don't know squat.

And speaking of the Russian Navy, Putin's business today began with "a meeting with the Defence Ministry leadership and the Russian Navy commanders to discuss the key areas of short- and long-term development of the Navy. The meeting was held while the Supreme Commander-in-Chief was visiting the Nakhimov Black Sea Naval Academy" after observing/participating in the previous day's naval exercises on the Black Sea. Currently, the USN is rated as "weak and marginal" by the Heritage Institute, a patriotic think tank, which is outwardly displayed by the lack of navigation skills.

Jackrabbit , Jan 10 2020 21:58 utc | 51
Annie !45: He also said Iraq needs a stronger PM ...

I don't think Mahdi's being a caretaker' PM should matter.

Any democratic government is supposed to carry out the wishes of the people as express by Parliament.

USA is trying to muddy the waters and throw up BS because they fundamentally WILL NOT LEAVE.

!!

Joshua , Jan 10 2020 22:02 utc | 52
And another thing...
Did anybody notice how the 'goodguy badguy show' (impeachment dog & pony show) got shoved to the back burner all of a sudden? Now I guess they are going to wait and see how this 'breakout' aggression move is going to pan out for them.
Ben Zanotto , Jan 10 2020 22:04 utc | 53
"America is a force for good in the Middle East."

Recall that the phrase "for good" also has the second meaning of "permanently, forever, or perpetually."

Surely this was unintentional phrase selection on part of the Imperial spokesman.

jayc , Jan 10 2020 22:18 utc | 54
ISIS was the means - the Trojan horse - to justify the permanent garrisoning of NATO in Iraq and Syria. Before Russia's intervention, NATO and politicians from NATO countries were uniform in proclaiming the "fight" against ISIS would be a "generational struggle" which would take at least 20-30 years to achieve victory. Even after major fighting has reduced the organization to almost nothing, this rationale lives on in the guise of a "continuing threat" represented by ISIS' ideology or aspirations. Permanent NATO garrisons in Iraq and Syria remains the extant policy (ISIS always just the pretext). If the European NATO members balk at the Iraq civil war which the US will quietly propose in the interest of supporting this policy, then it is likely the Kurd regions will suffice as a breakaway NATO protectorate.
ChasMark , Jan 10 2020 22:21 utc | 55
This information was in a comment on Unz.com
Can anyone verify?

("Iris" = the prequel; the Erebus comment tells a story totally different from what Pompeo, congressmen, MSM etc. are reporting.)

Killing Inside Iraq to Punish Iran
Trump-Pompeo foreign policy is not only incoherent, it is insane
PHILIP GIRALDI • JANUARY 7, 2020 •

Iris says:
https://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/killing-inside-iraq-to-punish-iran/#comment-3650417

January 8, 2020 at 1:37 pm GMT •
Iris responded to:

Now Trump will be able to deescalate and Iran will save its face by claiming 80 or so American soldiers dead

with:

"It is good to gather facts, information and try to cross-check it before making educated assumptions on subjects ordinary citizens are not privy to.
Countless insightful American commenters propose very well-supported cases, but come to opposite conclusions with regard to President Trump's real intentions. How could we then know Iran's strategic roadmap?
The Iranian reaction was long coming. The writing was on the wall when Hassan Nasrallah, following one too many Israeli strike on Syria, detailed in his Sept 2019 address that the "Resistance Axis" had the capability to hit strategic Israeli targets that he named.
It is not normal that US sources have not communicated any detail of the consequences of the strikes, so many hours after they took place. The Danes have stated there were "no casualties amongst them", which hints there were casualties amongst other Western nationalities.
Your cynicism is justified by how real-politik is actually conducted. However, it is also very possible that we are living a cornerstone moment in ME's History, a reverse moment of the 2003 invasion of Iraq."

• Replies: @Erebus

Erebus says:
January 9, 2020 at 10:20 am GMT •
@Iris

"Some of what's come out suggests the US has gone full Mafia in response to the last few years' developments in the M.E. There's no geo-political strategy. There's only (bad) gangsterism.
Countless insightful American commenters propose very well-supported cases, but come to opposite conclusions with regard to President Trump's real intentions.

Russia's textbook demonstration of how to combine diplomatic acumen and military efficiency in sorting problems has given impetus to a Russian authored, Chinese backed regional security and development proposal that's been making the rounds through the region's capitals since late summer (at least). Promoted by Iran (mostly via Oman) as a new paradigm in M.E. affairs, it's been well received everywhere except Saudi Arabia who've apparently cited their inability to throw off the American yoke as the primary impediment to their overt support. Notwithstanding, the Saudis have been talking quietly with all parties and have reportedly even sent emissaries to Tehran for "informal" talks on the hush-hush. Soleimani was a significant player in these talks, which were being mediated by Iraq.

In his speech to the Iraqi parliament subsequent to Soleimani's murder, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi revealed an astonishing tale of the sort of strongarming tactics America has employed in response. His speech was to be carried live on Iraqi TV, but the feed was cut immediately after he started by the Speaker.

Nevertheless, his words have leaked to the public. In it he told that Trump had demanded 50% of Iraq's oil revenues, or the US wouldn't go ahead with promised infrastructure rebuilding of the country they destroyed. Mahdi refused that proposal and headed to China where he promptly made a deal to rebuild the country. When the US learned of it, Trump called him to demand that the deal be rescinded and when Mahdi refused Trump threatened to unleash violent protests against Mahdi's rule.

Sure enough, violent protests began shortly thereafter. Again Trump called and when Mahdi again refused to rescind the China deal, Trump threatened him with Maidan-style snipers. Again Mahdi refused, and Iraq's Minister of Defence spoke publicly of "third party" provocateurs killing both protestors and police, threatening to drive the country back into civil war.
Again Trump called, and Mahdi reports that this time he threatened Mahdi and the Defence Minister with assassination if they didn't shut up about "third party" provocateurs. Meanwhile, Mahdi continued to mediate Iranian-Saudi talks and Soleimani was carrying Iran's response to the latest Saudi message. He was to meet Mahdi later the morning of his assassination.

The upshot of all that is that the intent behind Soleimani's gangland slaying was to send the US' message to Mahdi specifically, but also to Iran, the Saudis, and anyone else contemplating M.E. rapprochement that murder awaited them if they continued to work towards peace in the region.
It is not normal that US sources have not communicated any detail of the consequences of the strikes, so many hours after they took place.

Details are emerging re the Al Assad Air Base attack, and if you're an American strategist they ain't pretty. The lack of casualties notwithstanding, satellite photos show that the Iranian salvo hit targets with a very high level of combat efficiency. Any damage assessment will reveal that technically, Iran can hit whatever it wants to hit.

Qiam missiles were used. They're a cheap 'n cheerful derivative of the Soviet SCUD, and Iran has 1,000s of them. Hezbollah likely has 1,000s as well, so the picture is even less pretty if you're an Israeli strategist. Furthermore
Iran informed the Swiss Embassy in Tehran (who represent American interests in Iran) an hour or more before the attack. More than enough time to get personnel out of harm's way. FARS' reports of 80 killed and ~200 injured, frankly look to be a narrative for domestic consumption. It's hard to believe that with the hour+ warning that that many people were hanging around in the line of fire.

My guess about the delay is that the US is simply stunned.

However, it is also very possible that we are living a cornerstone moment in ME's History, a reverse moment of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

I believe that's true regardless of what got hit and the number of casualties. This was a message sending exercise. As unimaginative as it may appear, the salvo sent an unmistakeable signal that went through the region's capitals and beyond. Here's why they're all paying attention

1. Iran struck American assets directly, in a brazenly overt manner. No plausible deniability, proxies or non-state actors involved. It was a State attack on another State's assets. If there is any doubt that the hit on Suleimani was an act of war, there can be no doubt about Iran's response. The bully got punched in the nose in front of his entourage and they're now waiting to see what he'll do. However

2. The IRGC's very high level of confidence in its missiles & missile corps is obviously warranted. If the US and its satraps expected amateur hour, they got the diametric opposite – the equivalent of getting your knife shot out of your hand – and that puts the US in a bad spot.

3. The Qiam salvo was no Kalibrs-from-the-Caspian demonstration of technical prowess, but so far as I can currently tell, more than half of the missiles targetting Al Assad hit bull's eyes and American AD failed to intercept any of them. This stands in stark contrast to Syria's success at knocking down Tomahawks. The Americans claim that the Al Assad airbase had no missile defence systems installed, which seems incredible, but with the silence of the Patriot batteries of Abqaiq looming in the background, all of the USM's regional assets have been exposed as ducks in a barrel. The US simply can't defend them.

It is clear that with its S300 systems and indigenous air defence in place, Iran can destroy American assets while minimizing its own losses. What's more, Iran's S300s have reportedly been networked into Russia's regional air defence systems, and that installing S400s is being actively considered. With either development, Iran's air space is effectively closed. Iran's status as the pre-eminent regional power has been cemented into place, and with the Kremlin's backing there is no way to dislodge it. Every capital must now run its calculus and begin re-thinking its role in the region, or its relationship with it.
Without high efficiency air defence, CENTCOM can't defend even itself, never mind the region's oil infrastructure and perverse allied monarchies. That is now plain as day. Remaining perceptions of its ability to provide security guarantees to its satraps are now gone, and so the US' options have been reduced to a choice between escalation, or going home. There's no there there, and everybody now knows it. The message couldn't be clearer.

Iran has opened the exit door and we're all waiting to see what heads prevail in Washington as the facts settle into them. To keep the Americans focussed, one can expect to see the Iraqi militias begin ratcheting up attacks on American assets in Iraq, and in collaboration with domestic militia's in Syria as well.

The question now revolves around whether the US needs a thousand cuts to absorb the message that its dominance of the M.E. is over.


ADKC , Jan 10 2020 22:25 utc | 56
If the US withdraws from the Middle East the Petrodollar will come to an end and the whole US and the Western financial system collapses. The US and West are trapped by their stupidity in abusing the financial system to fund their wars and build up a level of debt that can never and will never be paid. How can the US leave even if they wanted to?
Pft , Jan 10 2020 22:25 utc | 57
Well, the sun rose in the East again today, so why would anyone be surprised the US wont leave Iraq and all that black gold. Heck, we never left Germany, Japan and South Korea and they got nothing but location going for them (as does Iraq)

As for losing. Wars are not fought with an ending as the principle goal, at least not since WWII. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace. Welcome to Orwells 1984, sans the boot in Oceania (thus far). Cold War followed by GWOT. When the GWOT began to fizzle a mini Cold War with Russia was started by Obama and AQ was replaced with ISIS. Those are fizzling so Trumps pulled Iran from Obamas dust bin.

Empires need enemies to hold them together so they can keep feed the MIC beast and keep it from devouring the hand that feeds them. If an enemy does not exist one is created.

It helps that the majority can be made to believe anything. Ignorance and effective propaganda, the elimination of a free press, and control of education and entertainment make that possible. Nothing can reverse this. Sure, a few might break out of the matrix but they are of no consequence unless they become too visible.

winston2 , Jan 10 2020 22:34 utc | 58
27
The S300 can see F35s just fine.Its not at a fixed model,the appellation is a generic, and denotes a class of missile with a range of 300km.Radars and c&c systems are updated constantly.
They are not your daddys S300s that Greece never updated, you're in for a rude surprise if you think so.
Really?? , Jan 10 2020 22:47 utc | 59
Jen @ 1
"The sheer arrogance and wilful blindness expressed in the US State Department press statement and WaPo staffer Louisa Loveluck's tweets are astounding beyond belief. "
+++++++

One is left gobsmacked and speechless.
An interloper is told to get the hell out of your house and he retorts: "No, we are here to stay and renew our marriage vows with you!"
This is insane.
Surely the world can see that Pompeo and others at State are deranged, out of touch with reality.

Honestly, one is at a loss for words.

As ever, more thanks to b for keeping up with all of this.

chet380 , Jan 10 2020 22:51 utc | 60
@ Sammy 10

The sooner Tel Aviv is glass, the sooner the US WILL pull out of the ME.

Formerly T-Bear , Jan 10 2020 22:57 utc | 61
@ karlof1 | Jan 10 2020 20:56 utc | 24

Referring your observations here concerning DNC may be problematic, instead it might have better standing to fact if DLC (Democratic Leadership Committee) is used as it is a construct of the Clintons in their takeover of the D-party for the 1992 election. It is highly unlikely Hillary replaced that organisation for her attempts at high office. It is also highly unlikely Obama had the interest or motive to replace the Clinton organisation in his Presidency, he hardly replaced Bush 43's administration at the end of eight years. All too much of this information has gone down memory holes and no longer carries sufficient significance to matter for the public but should definitely matter to those interested in modern historical developments. Verification may likely be found by analysing the membership of the D-party's financial committee (membership should be matter of public record) and determine their political allegiances
YMMV

Really?? , Jan 10 2020 22:59 utc | 62
"Iraqi's declare Iran's strike on the US base a breach of sovereignty. Iraqi's that should be allied with Iran for the purpose of driving the US out."

One Iraqi. Two Iraqis .

No apostrophe for plural.

Just for possessive, e.g., "Iran's."

Is that so hard?

No, it is not hard.

Abe , Jan 10 2020 22:59 utc | 63
On completely unrelated note, b, you are aware that your website, as set as it is, gives us government technical ability to identify each and every one of posters here? Regardless where you host your website.

You website imports contents from ajax.googleapis.com. It is spyware used for tracking users across whole internet, every site that uses google api is voluntarily enabling google to track people so they can build surfing history/profile for everyone.

google shares that info with us government.

government compares timestamps of posts here, and can identify people.

HTTPS website doesn't protects anyone here in this regard.

Just for posters to know there is technical possibility.

bjd , Jan 10 2020 23:12 utc | 64
Subvert, Sabotage, Eliminate.
bjd , Jan 10 2020 23:19 utc | 65
Iraq has Trump by the short hairs.
In a few months the election circus will really get underway. If they're smart and patriottic, the PMF will slowly start hitting US targets, forcing Trump's hand. An increased campaign of pressure.
Like Tet '68. The Bagdad Olympics.
Really?? , Jan 10 2020 23:26 utc | 66
karlof1 @50
""'Power-driven vessel A approaches the port side of power-driven vessel B. Vessel A is considered the give-way vessel. As the give-way vessel, A must take EARLY and SUBSTANTIAL action to keep clear and avoid crossing the stand-on vessel B.'
Farragut (A) should have passed behind B."

Video was taken on the US ship, right (voice? Looks to me like the Russian ship (top left) was crossing the US ship's bow from port to starboard of US (closer) ship. I.e., from the port side. Not "approaching the port side." So, as far as I can see, the US vessel had the right of way; the Russian ship should have given way/changed course.

Cf. "1. If another vessel is approaching you from the port -- or left -- side of your boat, you have the right of way and should maintain your speed and direction."

J-Dogg , Jan 10 2020 23:32 utc | 67
I am going to go out on a limb and say the reason for all the western obfuscation is that Boeing is already in trouble due to the 737MAX issues. Boeing being a major component in USA economy needs to be protected from the fact they just lost another plane to mechanical/design error.
karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 23:35 utc | 68
ChasMark @55--

There's lots of info to verify in those comments. For the most part, they're all correct. The exception comes to Iranian air defences, their indigenous designed S-400 equivalent, overall radar net, EW capabilities, and independent internet communications. The overall conclusion is Iran is far better prepared and equipped than Outlaw US Empire/NATO knew. It should also be reiterated that Iran's under Russia's nuclear aegis, which was publicly stated by Putin and an adjutant and clearly repeated to Pompeo and Trump by both Lavrov and Putin. Furthermore as publicly stated, China has Iran's back fiscally. In other words, Iran and its allies have more oomph collectively than the Outlaw US Empire and its vassals, many of the latter actually desire better relations with the CRI troika.

Perhaps the key point made is the supposed inability of Saudi to free itself from the Empire's shackles, which actually does make sense when one thinks long term. The logic of Iran's HOPE Proposal is impeccable and is the only genuine route out of the current dilemma. Clearly, it's been determined the Outlaw US Empire is the sole impediment to implementing HOPE and thus must be ousted from its ability to impede. I wrote back in September when HOPE was introduced at the UNGA that Trump would be a fool not to embrace it instead of oppose it as he could then call the Empire a partner in the project. Clearly, he was advised not to do so.

james , Jan 10 2020 23:40 utc | 69
@ likklemore and karlof1.. i liked the comment on moa twitter feed - "This was an american driving school marked with a very big "L" means "learner". Please drive carefully with max. consideration."

@ 66 really? the other video is better then the one shown in b's twitter feed clip.. check it out in the first video of 2 shown on the rt link.. cheers..

Tony , Jan 10 2020 23:41 utc | 70
The sooner that fat, lying, smirking terrorist thug Pompeo is sacked or killed, the better. He is a huge liability to our world.
karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 23:48 utc | 71
Really?? @66--

That's the impression you'd get when the USN is crossing the oncoming RuN path. I run into those sorts of helmsmen all the time on the ocean outside of Newport, Oregon. Additionally, with all the incidents of terrible navigation abilities seen over the past 3+ years and the lies made to cover them, the USN has zero credibility just like its parent organization the Outlaw US Empire.

Figleaf23 , Jan 10 2020 23:53 utc | 72
It occurs to me that a host country that is no in conflict with an over-staying force can make their life very challenging without having to actually fight them.

Outlaw any commerce between occupying forces and local businesses. Cut the roads to and from the bases. Fly unarmed drones in the path of their aircraft. Delay, deny, defy any requests for cooperation. Divert streams to flood their bases. Get really creative and make their life hell.

William Gruff , Jan 11 2020 0:01 utc | 73
The US Navy never backs down from any challenge! [ video ]
karlof1 , Jan 11 2020 0:07 utc | 74
Formerly T-Bear @61--

Thanks for your reply! From what I observe, there's a lot of political angst within the Empire that Trump's actions and subsequent BigLies have enhanced and brought to the surface. The Act of War was the biggest domestic political error he could have committed, which shows he has zero sense. Sanders is now the #1 D-Party candidate, and he and Gabbard with a genuinely Progressive & Anti-war platform ought to win handily if allowed to.

You may have seen these one two links I've previously posted dealing with the beginnings of the 2020 election season. The first is the initial episode of a series in which I've seen the second, which is here . The second of the three is very entertaining, and all are just shy of 30 min.

Hope you're doing well in post-Brexit Ireland!

ebolax , Jan 11 2020 0:13 utc | 75
Sadly and unfortunately, the US will only withdrawal after it has suffered another catastrophic loss, similar to what befell the soldiers in Lebanon. This is a criminal enterprise sitting atop the US Military. You would figure people putting their ass on the line would try and understand what they're really fighting for, but alas, most do not find out until after they come home.
DFC , Jan 11 2020 0:18 utc | 76
The US has started the chess game in a very poor position, with the pawns and horses deployed too forward in the chessboard (only 5.200 soldiers in Iraq and 10.000 in Kuwait), and the USA military leadership are in a very bad situation, if they try to send massive troops and equipment reinforcement Iran will not be iddle waiting how US is preparing to destroy them as the stupid Saddam did in 1991 and again in 2003, no, Iran will start the war with any pretext before new troops & equipment is deployed in significant amounts.

On the other hand, if Iran escalate, the CENTCOM cannot support the "lost" garrison in Iraq and Kuwait, they do not have enough forces deployed in the theater, and an airlift operation of this magnitude under fire is very dangerous and a ride through hundreds of miles through hostile terrain under harassment from Iranians and PMU troops "Hezbollah style" (as IDF suffer in 2006), and without heavy armor scort and close air support will be almost suicidal.

Iranian have been preparing for a war with USA from 1979, but now the situation is better than ever, I do not give a cent on USA now if they do not retreat quickly from Syria and Iraq (if Trump is enough intelligent it will order soon, but I am afraid he wants to play poker once more), and stop to make threats and provocations.
But they "cannot" retreat, you know, is an electoral year and Trump want to be re-elected above all.

Checkmate!

div> Those oil deals Iraq made with China in exchange for Iraqi electrical infrastructure projects are something Trump will not allow and has threatened Iraq with the terrors of the earth. As Karloff1 suggests the Iraqis have few choices, Trumps State department have been blunt... you are vassals and you will do as you are told or you will be punished. That's plain and we can all be thankful for Trumps honesty. The ball is now in the Iraqi court, either refuse to be vassals and fight for your sovereignty or bow your heads and vacate the field.

Posted by: Harry law , Jan 11 2020 0:30 utc | 77

Those oil deals Iraq made with China in exchange for Iraqi electrical infrastructure projects are something Trump will not allow and has threatened Iraq with the terrors of the earth. As Karloff1 suggests the Iraqis have few choices, Trumps State department have been blunt... you are vassals and you will do as you are told or you will be punished. That's plain and we can all be thankful for Trumps honesty. The ball is now in the Iraqi court, either refuse to be vassals and fight for your sovereignty or bow your heads and vacate the field.

Posted by: Harry law | Jan 11 2020 0:30 utc | 77

juliania , Jan 11 2020 0:33 utc | 78
I am seeing the position of Iraq against Iran as being very similar to the position of Ukraine vis a vis Russia -- as 'younger' to 'elder brother'. Not as lesser to greater, but as family, the ones nearby. Crimea grabbed onto that lifeline - as well they might!

Now a new element of the multipolar world is at early stages of being born. And this was put in effect, if we go back and look, immediately up the invasion of Iraq by Bush Jr. But, clearly, Iraq went through more horror, more destabilization than did Ukraine. The latter had a governmental coup resulting in internal strife; Iraq had a military invasion. So, hopefully the Resistance will be patient with it - like Syria, it is in great need of aid, comfort, and reassurance that no further hegemony will be visited upon it. Sovereignty is the issue and rightfully so.

There are lessons to be learned, after we finish mourning the murders of men who were apparently engaged in the diplomatic efforts to establish this new multipolarity, or at least lay some groundwork for future talks along that line. You don't murder diplomats. Case closed; invaders out! And that is more difficult, more delicate, if up till now you have only yourself survived as a nation by clinging to the skirts of the American empire. Difficult but inevitable.

Iraq now can look toward Ukraine. Has that country done well taking the unipolar path? Hardly. Did South Vietnam? Hardly. But as spring approaches, how are each changing course? The dust is settling; you can see better. Travel with Pepe over the great mountains following real trading routes, of the centuries past. Bring your own unique assets to the fore and let friends visit and see what it is that makes you you. Another name for the Axis of Resistance is Peace and Prosperity. Mutual benefit. It's coming.

In this country, the US, long ago there was a mighty empire, the empire of the Anasazis, in the center of the Southwest. They caused to be built mighty edifices and they suborned the surrounding farming peoples because they had power to predict the seasonal changes and supposedly command rain to fall. Everyone believed it and everyone obeyed. For a time. There was no alternative. Until it didn't rain, and it didn't rain. So, the people left, they went where there were rivers, they abandoned the great Anasazi centre. It is in ruins today. But the people have survived.

We are suddenly in another pivotal moment. And it will be difficult for those of us who willingly or not have benefited from empire. But many of us say with you - invaders out! Peace and blessings to all!

Walter , Jan 11 2020 0:36 utc | 79
: Likklemore | Jan 10 2020 21:15 utc | 31

The COLREGS do not apply to the exceptionals...

US destroyer blatantly violated international rules for preventing collisions at sea by making a manoeuvre to cross the Russian ship's course in the North Arabian Sea - @MoD_Russia🇷🇺

ben , Jan 11 2020 0:44 utc | 80
Cortes @ 47; Thanks for the link. Interesting Si-Fi. Maybe not that far fetched after all..

Manny @ 49; Welcome. Keep reading, and once you get through middle-school, maybe you'll change your mind.

Pft @ 57; Good read, thanks!

Walter , Jan 11 2020 0:58 utc | 81
Bearing in mind that Pravda ain't what it used to be this policy, described bluntly in article title : "If NATO strikes Kaliningrad, Russia will seize Baltic in 48 hours" if real, would probably extend to the prevention of similar build-up in the matter of the Iraqi and Iranian "MAGA" programs now developing.

Quote from Pravda> "As soon as we can see the concentration of American aircraft on airfields in Europe - they cannot reach us in any other way - we will simply destroy those airfields by launching our medium-range ballistic missiles at those targets. Afterwards, our troops will go on offensive in the Baltic direction and take control of the entire Baltic territory within 48 hours. NATO won't even have time to come to its senses - they will see a very powerful military buildup on the borders with Poland. Then they will have to think whether they should continue the war. As a result, all this will end with NATO losing the Baltic States," Mikhail Alexandrov told Pravda.Ru describing one of the scenarios for a possible development of events in case of Russia's response to NATO aggression.
Another variant for the breakthrough of the missile defense system in Kaliningrad provides for a massive cruise missile attack on the Russian territory. According to the expert, Russia has cruise and ballistic missiles that it can launch on the territory of the United States.
"If the Americans launch a missile attack on Kaliningrad, then we will strike, say, Seattle, where largest US aircraft factories are located. Having destroyed those factories we will deprive the Americans of the possibility to build their aircraft. They will no longer be able to build up their fleet of military aircraft," said Mikhail Alexandrov.
Russia has efficient air defense systems to intercept cruise missiles. If it goes about a ballistic missile strike, the expert reminded that Russia has a missile defense area in Moscow that can intercept at least 100 missiles and maybe even more, since there are no restrictions associated with the ABM Treaty.


One might assume the same policy would apply for all Ru, and Iran too, as Iran is critical to the survival of Ru.

Paul Damascene , Jan 11 2020 1:01 utc | 82
On the topic of Iran not waiting for a military build up as a precursor to a US assault on Iran...

I wonder if an intermediate step for Iran might be, in cooperation with the PMU, to threaten to attack any new forces coming into Iraq, taking this to be escalation prior to an invasion, and therefore a threat that must countered before it worsens.

Medusa - Perseus , Jan 11 2020 1:14 utc | 83
Posted by: powerandpeople | Jan 10 2020 20:30 utc | 19

you might be interestted in Gordon Hahn's take:

https://gordonhahn.com/2020/01/07/russia-the-eurasian-triangle-and-the-soleiman-assassination/

January 7, 2020
Russia, the Eurasian Triangle, and the Soleiman Assassination

***********************

Likklemore , Jan 11 2020 1:14 utc | 84
@ Walter 79

but there is this query: what are the consequences of taunting? A review of the past year saw the u.s. losing stature and, since 2014, its dollar as world reserve currency being shunned.

Once that goes. Hmmm, and in the Gulf:

2015: Reuters Qatar launches first Chinese yuan clearing hub in Middle East

2017: China will 'compel' Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan and that will affect the dollar

FF
2019: Abqaig - After the Houthis take down of KSA oil facilities, and failure of US defenses does KSA still feel secure?

Working closely with Russia, Soleimani was instrumental in the battles for Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Trump, the braggart, stunned the world. Even their special relationship Brits!
It is reported when Boris was told of Soleimani's murder he said, O, F**K.

January 3, 2020 everything changed and they know not what they have done on behalf of Israel.

jiri , Jan 11 2020 1:18 utc | 85
The attack on al Assad airbase was the US's Suez Moment.

What remains now is to decide how to dismantle the Empire.

Harry law , Jan 11 2020 1:20 utc | 86
An exit from Iraq would make the occupation and theft of oil from Syria untenable,and the land route from Iran to Syria and Lebanon less hazardous. This would be fatal for Israel and will insist the US stay in Iraq. Unfortunately for the US 5,000 will not cut the mustard, how many US troops could Trump put into Iraq to quell an uprising in election year? US bases in the Gulf are extremely vulnerable especially the largest base Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar who many regard as being located in enemy territory. Trump is gambling and many shrinks think he's nuts, I agree..... Psychiatrists: Urgent action must be taken against Trump for creating Iran crisis
https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/10/615852/Trump-is-%E2%80%98dangerous-and-incapacitated%E2%80%99-Psychiatrists
Really?? , Jan 11 2020 1:24 utc | 87
James @ 69

The two videos don't look like the same situation.
The first appears to have been shot from the Farragut's port side; the second, from her starboard side.

And in the first the Russian ship appears to be bearing down on the Farragut off the Farragut's port bow. In the second the Russian ship appears to be overtaking the Farragut, coming up from the starboard side. I don't see how the videos can have been taken at the same time. The rule that seems to apply to the situ in video 1 is:

"Crossing Situation.

When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel."

Since the Russian vessel appears to have the Farragut on her starboard side, the Russian vessel should change course and presumably deflect to starboard. (Once the two vessels were as close as they were, both should have deflected to starboard.) But instead it looks as though the Russian vessel at the last minute deflected to port.

However, video 2 looks like a totally different situ. So to me it remains unclear what the actual disposition of the vessels was. The videos must have been taken at two different points in the encounter.

diveshopingoa , Jan 11 2020 1:26 utc | 88
Thank you b for these great articles and allowing comments.

I want to nod out to ChasMark | Jan 10 2020 22:21 utc | 55 for a great comment.

For decades the US has controlled the world through petro dollars and counterinsurgency warfare. They lost every time at this but its more about the money spent and keeping fluidity within economic circles.

With Iran's missile attack being an eye opener I hope the US is smart enough to know they have lost. MIC spokes person when asked why the base did not protect itself. He said they did not have the hardware to do it. No Patriots because they owned the sky up to that point. What is a Patriot to counterinsurgency. They had a M-901 (TEL) which they got rid of years ago supposedly. It is loaded with six TOW missiles and would generally be used to disable bomb laden vehicles approaching the gate. Counterinsurgency again.

Those days are over. It is the day of the missile and belt and road economic plans. No longer can air craft carriers hang off the coast to control the skies. How will the stunned US MIC bring in additional troops and equipment. Planes or ships are small targets but highly valuable ones. It is not always easy to know how things happen. Like the ships struck this past year in the gulf or KSA oil infrastructure hit, who did it and how is hard to determine.

I imagine the MIC is burning the mid-night oil with the realization that they are now in a war they are totally unprepared to fight. They have 15,000 soldiers strung out in Iraq unprotected from missile attack and no way to protect them. They will talk all BS but it is empty and they know it. They do have two things. One is fear and the other nukes.

There is much talk of weak knees among the Iraqi people and government. That is with good reason. The destruction of city after city. Some they find through the birth of deformed children that some of their cities are radioactive. Of course they are afraid the USA killed a million of them and turned 24 million into refugees. As time goes on they will realize that the bully is not what it was and every new strike by Iran will build the confidence to push the Americans out.

I wonder if the day of the nuke is coming to an end as well. Temper tantrum Trump decides to nuke either Iran or Iraq the world will speak up. Perhaps strike back as the Russians have said. If the point is the oil and gas in the area and the control of it then nukes will destroy that value.

If there was a time that America wet itself it is now. If the 9 flags stand together then move as one their cries will drive the heathen from their home. I also believe that if it happens then the USA is done. Played out.

Richard Steven Hackr , Jan 11 2020 1:27 utc | 89
"Iran could not have dreamt of a better President to rejuvenate its position domestically and regionally."

The problem is that Israel could not have dreamt of a better President to get a war with Launched. In fact, Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli Minister of Justice (some irony there), once said as much explicitly, albeit over the issue of the West Bank, not Iran.

Ayelet Shaked urges Israel to take advantage of Trump and annex West Bank
https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/aylet-shaked-urges-israel-take-advantage-trump-presidency-annex-west-bank

Quote:

In a tweet following a Jerusalem Post conference in New York on Sunday, Ayelet Shaked said it was time for Israel to "establish facts on the ground".
"There is no better time than now," Shaked, who earlier this month was sacked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as justice minister, wrote on Twitter.
"Do not miss Trump's reign - that's what I just said at the Jerusalem Post in New York."

End Wuote

This is because Trump is devoted to Israel and devoted to an antipathy to Iran. The more Iran gains ground in the Middle East, the more Israel will push Trump (and any successor to Trump) to attack Iran. And he will do it - either deliberately or out of incompetence - and the difference doesn't matter.

Really?? , Jan 11 2020 1:31 utc | 90
It occurs to me that a host country that is no in conflict with an over-staying force can make their life very challenging without having to actually fight them.

. . .

Posted by: Figleaf23 | Jan 10 2020 23:53 utc | 72

++++++++++++++
Change all the road and street signs! OK, there are fewer signs in Iraq than there were in Czechoslovakia, but it would still be worth a shot.

William H Warrick , Jan 11 2020 1:40 utc | 91
Condo, Dubya's "House Negro", got a Stillborn baby instead.
Really?? , Jan 11 2020 1:42 utc | 92
That's the impression you'd get when the USN is crossing the oncoming RuN path. . . .

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 10 2020 23:48 utc | 71
++++++++++

Well, when two ships are approaching each other at an angle, they are both crossing each other's path. What counts is, who is going faster and thus will cross the other's bow sooner. It sure looks to me like when they got close the Ru vessel had the Farragut on her (Ru's) starboard side. If the two vessels were going opposite directions but on parallel tracks, they would pass same side to same side (i.e., port to port; starboard to starboard). If they are approaching at an angle, the relative relationship of the two sides will change with the speed of the vessels. You must visualize the situ from each vessel, not one, and gauge speed and relationship when the two courses cross. However, both vessels in proximity have the obligation to take action to avoid a collision. In that situ I believe the default is for both to deflect to starboard.

Wait to see who says uncle first at sea is a stupid game of chicken. Basically IMO both captains broke the rule of avoiding collisions and endangered their crews and their vessels.

Lurk , Jan 11 2020 1:45 utc | 93
Abe | Jan 10 2020 22:59 utc | 63

The "decentraleyes" addon for firefox mitigates some of these data leaks. Apple IOS users are probably fucked any which way.

Jen , Jan 11 2020 1:51 utc | 94
Really @ 66, 87:

In the video where the Russian ship is in the top left-hand corner, the USS Farragut is moving away from the Russian ship. In that video, the Russian ship is travelling behind the US ship and crosses from the

Harry law , Jan 11 2020 1:53 utc | 95
Here is a wonderful and witty must read article by Gary Brecher [the War Nerd] which puts the US predicament in the Gulf into perspective
"Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack."
That's right: no defense at all. The truth is that they have very feeble defenses against any attack with anything more modern than cannon. I've argued before no carrier group would survive a saturation attack by huge numbers of low-value attackers, whether they're Persians in Cessnas and cigar boats or mass-produced Chinese cruise missiles. But at least you could look at the missile tubes and Phalanx gatlings and pretend that you were safe. But there is no defense, none at all, against something as obvious as a ballistic missile.
http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-this-is-how-the-carriers-will-die/all/1/
Jen , Jan 11 2020 1:55 utc | 96
Sorry, accidentally posted too early @ 94 after being interrupted. I meant to say that the Russian ship, travelling behind the Farragut, crossed from that ship's starboard side to its portside. This suggests that the Farragut did not give way in the first video when the Russian ship first approached but steamed on ahead and went in front of the Russian ship.
ben , Jan 11 2020 1:56 utc | 97
Medusa-Perseus @ 83: Thanks for the link. Despite the authors speaking, in the first paragraph, about Iran's "provocations", it's an informative and well written piece.

An excerpt;

"Again, it is high time that Washington get off its high horse and begin to negotiate a new world order with globe's major powers. The prospects for this, however, appear less likely than ever. Unfortunately, when there was still an opportunity to use American power to reshape rather than destabilize the world, the Obama administration chose the latter. With the opportunity to shift course in a mode more imposed by, rather than imposed on the U.S. virtually dissipated, the Trump administration is continuing in the Obama mode of destabilization while falling back on the one-sidedness of the military option–with all the predictable consequences."

imo , Jan 11 2020 2:14 utc | 98
For what it is worth...

An American (a professor at that, but not of culture) once asked back around 2011 the following: "Why do people in the Middle East talk so frequently about humiliation and dignity? Other countries were colonized or lost wars, yet they do not speak about humiliation and dignity. I assume that an answer to this question will help me understand Middle Eastern culture."

The differences between shame and guilt based cultures are interesting.
The terminology was popularized by Ruth Benedict in The Chrysanthemum and the Sword , who described American culture as a "guilt culture" and Japanese culture as a "shame culture." The Islamic Middle East is generally a shame based culture.

In east-west interactions these two distinct worldviews and values systems operate -- i.e. guilt vs shame. For example:

"Loyalty: All Arabs belong to a group or tribe. Loyalty to the family tribe is considered paramount to maintaining honor. One does not question the correctness of the elders or tribes in front of outsiders. It is paramount that the tribe sticks together in order to survive. Once again, Arab history and folklore are full of stories of heroes who were loyal to the end."

http://www.islam-watch.org/Others/Honour-and-Shame-in-Islam.htm

In the Eastern view (well Islamic anyway), there is a stronger sense that one has 'it' (honor) by birth and then risks losing it through various shameful actions etc. As distinct from a work ethic stance where working towards something is the goal.

The main issue at play in the recent Iran-US-Iraqi dynamic from this point of view is not the surface level simpleton MSM narrative of who was the good & bad guys etc. Leave that for the childish unsophisticated 'super hero' mentalities raised on comics.

Rather, in this case, it is the fact/perception that the Arab Iraqi 'host' failed to uphold the accepted ancient honor codes of protecting an invited guest (well at least for three days). Only barbarians do not understand and play by this value system.

So, the USA, as the said culturally ignorant actors, is actually not really the core issue in this case. That is just an inconvenient fact of history.

What is more real and politically charged is the fact that the Iraqi Arab nation (leadership) invited an Iranian (Persian) guest -- allegedly to talk peace deals with the Wahhabi gang -- and failed to uphold/honor the ancient host-guest codes. Even if there was no duplicity involved, the fact remains scratched into the historical record that they failed -- ergo, shame must now be dealt with.

Therefore, the future events will more than likely unfold one way or another according to the honor-shame etiquette process.

Now, of course some in the US hierarchy may well know and understand this dynamic and apply it -- and Gregory Bateson used the term "Schismogenesis" in the 1930s and played his part in WW2 within the (then) Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an institutional precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), against Japanese held territories in the Pacific. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schismogenesis )

Likklemore , Jan 11 2020 2:19 utc | 99
They went for two:

AP reports: US tried to take out another Iranian leader, but failed

LINK
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military tried, but failed, to take out another senior Iranian commander on the same day that an American airstrike killed the Revolutionary Guard's top general, U.S. officials said Friday.

The officials said a military airstrike by special operations forces targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps but the mission was not successful. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a classified mission.[.]

Officials said both Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Shahlai were on approved military targeting lists, which indicates a deliberate effort by the U.S. to cripple the leadership of Iran's Quds force, which has been designated a terror organization by the U.S. Officials would not say how the mission failed.[.]

Shocked I am. NOT.

Parisian Guy , Jan 11 2020 2:20 utc | 100
There has been a similar incident between US and Russian navies a few months ago.

Same claims from the USN against the Russians.
Guess what? The video clearly showed the Russians on the starboard side of the USN ship.

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

Jan 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

juliania , Jan 8 2020 19:35 utc | 212

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jan 8 2020 20:09 utc | 228

Walter @215--

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

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

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

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

[Jan 10, 2020] Pompeo Goes Full Neocon The National Interest

Jan 10, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

November 18, 2019 Topic: Security Region: Americas Tags: Mike Pompeo Donald Trump Foreign Policy Iran Sanctions Pompeo Goes Full Neocon

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pivots back from America First.

by Matthew Petti Follow Matthew Petti on Twitter L ,

https://lockerdome.com/lad/12130885885741670?pubid=ld-12130885885741670-935&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fnationalinterest.org&rid=duckduckgo.com&width=896

[Jan 10, 2020] The Saker interviews Michael Hudson

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

[this interview was made for the Unz Review ]

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

The Saker

-- -- -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

What a truly superb interview!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers from the south seas
Col

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

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

To quote from the article:

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

and

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

and

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

Cheers
Col

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

..

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

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

Much thanks for this interview, Saker

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

Regards
Col

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

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

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

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

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

The lines that really got my attention were these:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geopolitical Scenarios

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

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

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

... ... ...

What's Next?

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

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

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

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

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

Ground War or Air War?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing the Ethnic Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fighting the Last War

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

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

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

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

More articles by: Zoltan Grossman

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

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

Jan 09, 2020 | michael-hudson.com

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Jan 09, 2020] GOP's Mike Lee Blasts Intel Briefers For Telling Senators They Can't Debate War Authorization

Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jason Ditz via AntiWar.com,

After the Trump Administration's 75-minute briefing to the US Senate on the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) was deeply critical , calling it the worst briefing he'd gotten in his nine years in the Senate.

Saying the administration's briefers offered little on the legal or practical justification for the attack, Sen. Lee particularly took umbrage at them warning the Senators that they must not debate the War Powers authorization for a war with Iran .

Republican Senator Mike Lee with Sen. Rand Paul. Image via ABC/Reuters

Those giving the briefing objected to the very idea of the Senate discussing the matter publicly, saying it would "embolden Iran." Sen. Lee noted that this is a power Constitutionally reserved explicitly for the legislature.

"For them to tell us ... for us to debate and discuss these things on the Senate floor would somehow weaken the American cause and embolden Iran in any other actions, I find very insulting ," Lee said, who did not specify to reporters on Capitol Hill which briefer made the assertion.

"It is not acceptable for officials within the executive branch of government -- I don't care if they're with the CIA, the Department of Defense or otherwise -- to come in and tell us that we can't debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran, " Lee added. -- ABC

Not only did Lee express annoyance that there was no pushback from any of the briefers on telling the Senate not to debate something legally in their purview, but he said that while he'd had problems with the language of Sen. Tim Kaine's (D-VA) resolution, he has now decided that he will support the resolution, on condition of some amendments.

*


Boogity , 11 minutes ago link

Senator Lee just got cut off from Uncle Shlomo's slush fund.

IUDAEA_DELENDA_EST , 12 minutes ago link

The CIA works hard.

But for whom?

It is most certainly not The Republic.

SpeechFreedom , 33 minutes ago link

Trump The Zionist Whore!

"Trump is too stupid, or willfully ignorant to know that Soleimani was at the forefront of the US led coalition to eradicate ISIS from Northern Iraq in March 2015.

Soleimani also, as a commander of the Iranian Quds Force, was part of the American-led coalition under US General Tommy Franks fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in the October 2001 Battle of Herat .

Moreover, Soleimani worked to protect Eastern Christians against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, and empowered them to defend themselves as best they could.

As for the flunkie at State, Pompeo put up a clip of a few Iraqis celebrating the death of Soleimani while parroting Trump's own lies that Iranians "hated and feared him."

However, Pompass didn't show the millions mourning Soleimani in Iran, Iraq, and Syria, including the minorities in Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

That's not "hate and fear," that's "honor and respect."

Most Americans never heard of Soleimani -- a soft-spoken man of high refinement -- until his murder last week. Now they're clamoring as if Trump had slain the devil himself."

When World?

Have you not had enough of the *** monstrosity Yet?

Scipio Africanuz , 1 hour ago link

Seems the dam has burst, the [Trump] personality cult is crumbling, and the purveyors of unprovoked aggression are reeling..

So where are the Americans to back up the courageous and retake their congress from the grip of blackmailers and threat issuers?

Perhaps they are gearing up...

[Jan 09, 2020] The USA Has Been Bombing Iraq For 29 Years

Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The USA Has Been Bombing Iraq For 29 Years by Tyler Durden Wed, 01/08/2020 - 21:05 0 SHARES

Over the past days while little real debate over the Iran crisis has happened in Washington or Congress (instead it's merely the default drones and "bombs away" as usual), the American public has been busy online and in living rooms debating the merits or lack thereof of escalation and potential war with Iran.

However, like with many other instances of US foreign policy adventurism, this is typically a "debate" lacking in necessary recent historical context or appreciation for how the domino effect of disasters now facing American security were often brought on by prior US action in the first place. As a case in point, it's not recognized often enough in public discourse that it was the United States under the neocon Bush administration which handed Iraq over to "Iranian influence" and the Shia clerics in the first place .

It must be remembered that Saddam Hussein was a secular Sunni dictator presiding over a Shia majority population, and he was enemy #1 of Iran. Team USA's short-sighted and criminal 2003 invasion and overthrow of Saddam based on WMD lies had the immediate benefit to Tehran of handing the Ayatollah the greatest gift that Iran waged a nearly decade-long war to accomplish, but couldn't (the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War).

U.S. bombing of Baghdad in 2003.

And the neocons within the bowels of the national security state have ever since been attempting to salvage their failed legacy in Iraq by the futile effort of trying to contain Iran and roll back Shia dominance in Baghdad, as Seymour Hersh detailed in his famous 2006 New Yorker piece The Redirection , which accurately predicted the 'long war' against the Hezbollah-Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran axis which would unfold, and did indeed unfold, especially in Syria of the past eight years.

To "situate" the past week's dramatic events, it's also crucial to understand, as The Libertarian Institute's Scott Horton has pointed out , that "The U.S.A. has been bombing Iraq for 29 years. And it looks like it's not over yet."

Below is an essential timeline compiled by Horton of that nearly three decade long history where Iraq has been consistently subject to American bombs and intervention -- yet ironically (and some might say predictably) the situation is still getting worse, more unstable, and more dangerous.

* * *

The U.S.A. has been bombing Iraq for 29 years. And it looks like it's not over yet:

Iraq War I : January -- February 1991 (aka The Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, liberation of Kuwait)

Iraq War I 1/2 : February 1991 -- March 2003 (The rest of Bush I, Bill Clinton years, economic blockade and no-fly zone bombings)

Iraq War II : March 2003 -- December 2011 (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom, W. Bush's invasion and war for the Shi'ite side)

Iraq War III : August 2014 -- December 2017 (aka Operation Inherent Resolve, the war against the Islamic State, which America had helped to build up in Syria but then launched this war to destroy, on behalf of the Shi'ite government in Baghdad, after ISIS had seized the predominately Sunni west of the country in the early summer of 2014 and declared the Islamic State "Caliphate")

Iraq War III 1/2 : December 2017 -- January 2020 (The "mopping-up" war against the remnants of ISIS which has had the U.S. still allied with the very same Shi'ite militias they fought Iraq War II and III for, but are now attacking)

Iraq War IV : Now -- ?

NEW from me: We asked folks to identify Iran on an unlabeled map.

28% of them got it right. Here's where they guessed. https://t.co/XhP5OU9s2n pic.twitter.com/IQ8HYFDKxE

-- Joanna Piacenza (@jpiacenza) January 8, 2020

As Scott Horton suggests, the roots of the current crisis lie all the way back in the mid-20th century :

In 1953, the American CIA overthrew the elected prime minister of Iran in favor of the Shah Reza Pahlavi who ruled a dictatorship there for 26 years until in 1979 a popular revolution overthrew his government and installed the Shi'ite Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in power.

So in 1980, President Jimmy Carter's government gave Iraq's Saddam Hussein the green light to invade Iran, a war which the U.S. continued to support throughout the Ronald Reagan years, though they also sold weapons to the Iranian side at times.

But then in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait in a dispute over debts from the recent war with Iran, with some encouragement by the U.S. government, leading to America's Iraq War I, aka the first Gulf War or Operation Desert Storm at the beginning of 1991.

And that was merely the very beginning.

Read the rest of the story and the excellent brief history of how we got here over at The Libertarian Institute .


Wahooo , 1 minute ago link

I think by now that you understand the US exists to kill people overseas or you are simply mindless and stupid.

Wahooo , 1 minute ago link

I think by now that you understand the US exists to kill people overseas or you are simply mindless and stupid.

J S Bach , 3 minutes ago link

"The USA Has Been Bombing Iraq For 29 Years"

Yep. And the initial excuse (WMDs) was proven absolutely to have been a contrived hoax. Yet, all of the people of that decimated country and surrounding nations who have a vendetta against us are labeled "terrorists". I guess the English language has evolved beyond my comprehension since the usurpation by the tribe of our media and government.

By the definition of "terrorist" - terrorist | ˈterərəst | noun a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims: - I see only the United States of Israel as befitting this word.

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

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

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

#1: No Agreement about an Iranian Threat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Do We Go From Here?

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

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

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

To contact your Representative or Senator, use the following links:

Join the debate on Facebook

More articles by: Anthony DiMaggio

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

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

Jan 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Savvy , 1 hour ago link

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

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

Russia is building infrastructure while the US destroys.

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

Jan 08, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ronny Patterson

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

Russia has Peaked , according to the Minister of Energy.

Russia's Interest In Oil Production Cuts Is Waning

Russia is planning level production for the next 4 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REPLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia did not comply with the cuts in 2019.

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

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

Russia is planning level production for next 4 years.

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

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

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

[Jan 08, 2020] Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge?

Highly recommended!
Iran has incentives to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
Notable quotes:
"... Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ". ..."
"... Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey). ..."
"... These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper. ..."
"... As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump" ..."
"... I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have? ..."
"... The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking. ..."
"... Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ..."
"... Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. ..."
"... We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge? Don't let the neocons like Pompeo sell you on war.

Make the intelligence people show you the evidence in detail. Make your own judgments. pl


Vegetius , 17 September 2019 at 08:37 PM

Whatever else he knows, Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people.
confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 03:51 AM
Vegetius,

re " Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people "

Are you sure? I am not.

Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ".

A good number of the so called grownups who gave such advice were (gameshow style) fired, sometimes by twitter.

Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey).

These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper.

Israel could, if politically just a tad more insane, bomb Iran and thus invite the inevitable retaliation. When that happens they'll cry for US aid, weapons and money because they alone ~~~

(a) cannot defeat Iran (short of going nuclear) and ...
(b) Holocaust! We want weapons and money from Germany, too! ...
(c) they know that ...
(d) which does not lead in any way to Netanyahu showing signgs of self restraint or reason.

Netanyahu just - it is (tight) election time - announced, in his sldedge hammer style subtlety, that (he) Israel will annect the palestinian west jordan territory, making the Plaestines an object in his election campaign.

IMO that idea is simply insane and invites more "troubles". But then, I didn't hear anything like, say, Trump gvt protests against that (and why expect that from the dudes who moved the US embassy to Jerusalem).

confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 07:28 AM
Vegetius,

as for Trump and Netanyahu ... policy debate ... I had that here in mind, which pretty speaks for itself. And I thought Trumo is just running for office in the US. Alas, it is a Netanyaho campaign poster from the current election:

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/a6e60efd3bde0befbcb8b0a95a42bf4c2624e017/57_296_5123_3074/master/5123.jpg?width=1920&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=1958b9e7cf24d7a3a7b024845de08f7e

As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel occupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump"

https://cdn.mdr.de/nachrichten/mdraktuell-golan-hoehen-trump-hights-100-resimage_v-variantSmall24x9_w-704.jpg?version=0964

I generously assume that things like that only happen because of the hard and hard ly work of Kushner on his somewhat elusive but of course GIGANTIC and INCREDIBLE Middle East peace plan.

Kushner is probably getting hard and hard ly supported by Ivanka who just said that she inherited her moral compass from her father. Well ... congatulations ... I assume.

Stueeeeeeee said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 08:31 AM
I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have?

The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking.

The rest of the nation will follow.

prawnik said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
Need I trot out Goering's statement regarding selling a war once more?

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

turcopolier , 17 September 2019 at 09:31 PM
jonst

We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL

Matt said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 12:54 AM
I agree with your reply 100%

these phobias are so entrenched now they're a huge obstacle to overcome,

Mark Twain: "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

William Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false"

Christian Chuba , 18 September 2019 at 05:22 AM
The 'ivestigations are a formality. The Saudis (with U.S. backing) are already saying that the missiles were Iranian made and according to them, this proves that Iran fired them. The Saudis are using the more judicious phrase 'behind the attack' but Pompeo is running with the fired from Iran narrative.

How can we tell the difference between an actual Iranian manufactured missile vs one that was manufactured in Yemen based on Iranian designs? We only have a few pictures Iranian missiles unlike us, the Iranians don't toss them all over the place so we don't have any physical pieces to compare them to.

Perhaps honest investigators could make a determination but even if they do exist they will keep quiet while the bible thumping Pompeo brays and shamelessly lies as he is prone to do.

PRC90 said in reply to Christian Chuba... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
These kinds of munition will leave hundreds of bits scattered all over their targets. I'm waiting for the press conference with the best bits laid out on the tables.
I doubt that there will be any stencils saying 'Product of Iran', unless the paint smells fresh.
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 07:22 AM
1. I am still waiting to read some informed discussion concerning the *accuracy* of the projectiles hitting their targets with uncanny precision from hundreds of miles away. What does this say about the achievement of those pesky Eye-rainians? https://www.moonofalabama.org/images9/saudihit2.jpg

2. "The US Navy has many ships in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy will attack our naval vessels until the Iranian forces are utterly destroyed.: Ahem, Which forces are utterly destroyed? With respect colonel, you are not thinking straight. An army with supersonic land to sea missiles that are highly accurate will make minced meat of any fool's ship that dare attack it. The lesson of the last few months is that Iran is deadly serious about its position that if they cannot sell their oil, no one else will be able to either. And if the likes of the relatively broadminded colonel have not yet learned that lesson, then this can only mean that the escalation ladder will continue to be climbed, rung by rung. Next rung: deep sea port of Yanbu, or, less likely, Ra's Tanura. That's when the price of oil will really go through the roof and the Chinese (and possibly one or two of the Europoodles) will start crying Uncle Scam. Nuff Sed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
nuff Sed

It sounds like you are getting a little "help" with this. You statement about the result of a naval confrontation in the Gulf reflects the 19th Century conception that "ships can't fight forts." that has been many times exploded. You have never seen the amount of firepower that would be unleashed on Iran from the air and sea. Would the US take casualties? Yes, but you will be destroyed.

Nuff Sed -> turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:18 AM
We will have to agree to disagree. But unless I am quite mistaken, the majority view if not the consensus of informed up to date opinion holds that the surest sign that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is that it is withdrawing all of its naval power out of the Persian Gulf, where they would be sitting ducks.

Besides, I don't think it will ever come to that. Not to repeat myself, but taking out either deep sea ports of Ra's Tanura and/ or Yanbu (on the Red Sea side) will render Saudi oil exports null and void for the next six months. The havoc that will play with the price of oil and consequently on oil futures and derivatives will be enough for any president and army to have to worry about. But if the US would still be foolhardy enough to continue to want to wage war (i.e. continue its strangulation of Iran, which it has been doing more or less for the past 40 years), then the Yemeni siege would be broken and there would be a two-pronged attack from the south and the north, whereby al-Qatif, the Shi'a region of Saudi Arabia where all the oil and gas is located, will be liberated from their barbaric treatment at the hands of the takfiri Saudi scum, which of course is completely enabled and only made possible by the War Criminal Uncle Sam.

Go ahead, make my day: roll the dice.

scott s. said in reply to Nuff Sed ... , 18 September 2019 at 11:32 AM
AFAIK the only "US naval power" currently is the Abraham Lincoln CSG and I haven't seen any public info that it was in the Persian Gulf. Aside from the actual straits, I'm not sure of your "sitting ducks" assertion. First they wouldn't be sitting, and second you have the problem of a large volume of grey shipping that would complicate the targeting problem. Of course with a reduced time-of-flight, that also reduces target position uncertainty.
CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:55 AM
Forts are stationary.
Nothing I have read implies that Iran has a lot of investment in stationary forts.
Millennium Challenge 2002, only the game cannot be restarted once the enemy does not behave as one hopes. Unlike in scripted war simulations, Opfor can win.
I remember the amount of devastation that was unleashed on another "backwards nation" Linebackers 1 - 20, battleship salvos chemical defoliants, the Phoenix program, napalm for dessert.
And not to put to fine a point on it, but that benighted nation was oriental; Iran is a Caucasian nation full of Caucasian type peoples.
Nothing about this situation is of any benefit to the USA.
We do not need Saudi oil, we do not need Israel to come to the defense of the USA here in North America, we do not need to stick our dick into the hornet's nest and then wonder why they sting and it hurts. How many times does Dumb have to win?
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
3. Also, I can't imagine this event as being a very welcome one for Israeli military observers, the significance of which is not lost on them, unlike their US counterparts. If Yemen/ Iran can put the Abqaiq processing plant out of commission for a few weeks, then obviusly Hezbollah can do the same for the giant petrochemical complex at Haifa, as well as Dimona, and the control tower at Ben Gurion Airport.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239251

https://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-municipal-workers-block-refinery-access-for-2nd-day/

These are the kinds of issues which are germane: the game has changed. What are the implications?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:08 AM
nuff sed

I have said repeatedly that Hizbullah can destroy Israel. Nothing about that has changed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:17 AM
Yeah, right

It was late at night when I wrote this. Yeah, Right. the Iranians could send their massive ground force into Syria where it would be chewed up by US and Israeli air. Alternatively they could invade Saudi arabia.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:38 AM
Thank you for the reply but actually I was thinking that an invasion of Afghanistan would be the more sensible ploy.

To my mind if the Iranian Army sits on its backside then the USAF and IAF will ignore it to roam the length and breadth of Iran destroying whatever ground targets are on their long-planned target-list.

Or that Iranian Army can launch itself into Afghanistan, at which point all of the USA plans for a methodical aerial pummelling of Iran's infrastructure goes out the window as the USAF scrambles to save the American forces in Afghanistan from being overrun.

Isn't that correct?

So what incentive is there for that Iranian Army to sit around doing nothing?

Iran will do what the USAF isn't expecting it to do, if for no other reason that it upsets the USA's own game-plan.

johnf , 18 September 2019 at 08:41 AM
There seems to be a bit of a hiatus in proceedings - not in these columns but on the ground in the ME.

Everyone seems to be waiting for something.

Could this "something" be the decisive word fron our commander in chief Binyamin Netanyahu?

The thing is he has just pretty much lost an election. Likud might form part of the next government of Israel but most likely not with him at its head.

Does anyone have any ideas on what the future policy of Israel is likely to be under Gantz or whoever? Will it be the same, worse or better?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:51 AM
Yeah Right

The correct US move would be to ignore an Iranian invasion of Afghanistan and continue leaving the place. The Iranian Shia can then fight the Sunni jihadi tribesmen.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:29 AM
Oh, I completely agree that if the Iranians launch an invasion of Afghanistan then the only sensible strategy would be for the US troops to pack up and get out as fast as possible.

But that is "cut and run", which many in Washington would view as a humiliation.

Do you really see the beltway warriors agreeing to that?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:53 AM
Stueee

A flaw in your otherwise sound argument is that the US military has not been seriously engaged for several years and has been reconstituting itself with the money Trump has given them.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:57 AM
Nuff Sed

Re-positioning of forces does not indicate that a presidential decision for war has been made. The navy will not want to fight you in the narrow, shallow waters of the Gulf.

Lars , 18 September 2019 at 09:53 AM
I would think that Mr. Trump would have a hard time sell a war with Iran over an attack on Saudi Arabia. The good question about how would that war end will soon be raised and I doubt there are many good answers.

The US should have gotten out of that part of the world a long time ago, just as they should have paid more attention to the warnings in President Eisenhower's farewell address.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:12 AM
CK

The point was about shore based firepower, not forts. don't be so literal.

CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 10:34 AM
The Perfumed Fops in the DOD restarted Millennium Challenge 2002,because Gen Van Riper had used 19th and early 20th century tactics and shore based firepower to sink the Blue Teams carrier forces. There was a script, Van Riper did some adlibbing. Does the US DOD think that Iran will follow the US script? In a unipolar world maybe the USA could enforce a script, that world was severely wounded in 1975, took a sucking chest wound during operation Cakewalk in 2003 and died in Syria in 2015. Too many poles too many powers not enough diplomacy. It will not end well.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:16 AM
lars

We would crush Iran at some cost to ourselves but the political cost to the anti-globalist coalition would catastrophic. BTW Trump's "base" isn't big enough to elect him so he cannot afford to alienate independents.

prawnik , 18 September 2019 at 10:32 AM
Even if Rouhani and the Iranian Parliament personally designed, assembled, targeted and launched the missiles (scarier sounding version of "drones"), then they should be congratulated, for the Saudi tyrant deserves every bad thing that he gets.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:49 AM
prawnik (Sid) in this particular situation goering's glittering generalization does not apply. Trump needs a lot of doubting suburbanites to win and a war will not incline them to vote for him.
Bill Wade , 18 September 2019 at 10:53 AM
Looks like President Trump is walking it back, tweet: I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!
PRC90 , 18 September 2019 at 11:34 AM
I doubt there will be armed conflict of any kind.
Everything Trump does from now (including sacking the Bolton millstone) will be directed at winning 2020, and that will not be aided by entering into some inconclusive low intensity attrition war.
Iran, on the other hand, will be doing everything it can to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
This may be a useful tool for determining their next move, but the limit of their actions would be when some Democrats begin making the electorally damaging mistake of critising Trump for not retaliating against Iranian provocations.
Terence Gore , 18 September 2019 at 11:35 AM
Pros and cons of many options considered against Iran

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06_iran_strategy.pdf

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

Jan 08, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@Situational Lefty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 08, 2020 | www.voltairenet.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translation
Pete Kimberley

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

Jan 08, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

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

Can you please explain further?

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 08, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

mk | Jan 8 2020 15:23 utc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 07, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

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

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 07, 2020 | www.voltairenet.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

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

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

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

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

The balance of payments dimension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran's role as U.S. nemesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

[1] https://www.axios.com/trump-to-iraqi-pm-how-about-that-oil-1a31cbfa-f20c-4767-8d18-d518ed9a6543.html. The article adds: "In the March meeting, the Iraqi prime minister replied, 'What do you mean?' according to the source in the room. And Trump's like, 'Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil.'"

[2] Michael Crowly, "'Keep the Oil': Trump Revives Charged Slogan for new Syria Troop Mission," The New York Times , October 26, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/26/us/politics/trump-syria-oil-fields.html . The article adds: "'I said keep the oil,' Mr. Trump recounted. 'If they are going into Iraq, keep the oil. They never did. They never did.'"


Toxik , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:22 am GMT

very enlightening. there's always an economic purpose for US foreign policy. Obviously for the 1%
IvyMike , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:24 am GMT
Reads like the rantings of a paranoid conspiracy theorist whack job. Except it's mostly correct and true.
Haxo Angmark , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:17 am GMT
"accelerated global warming". That's a brazen hardLeft lie.

and the central dynamic isn't oil per se; it's the petrodollar.

By forcing the Middle East (and other) oil producers at gunpoint

to accept dollars and only dollars for the oil, ZOG-ruled 'Murka

creates sufficient international demand for the dollar by non-producers to prevent

its debt-drowned/dollar-monetized domestic Ponzi'conomy from

going to hyperinflationary collapse. That's why both Iraq and Libya were attacked.

And Iran is now in the crosshairs

because it sells oil for anything but dollars.

NoseytheDuke , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:22 am GMT

as if it were Iran, not Saudi Arabia that mounted 9/11,

Saudi Arabia mounted 9/11? LOL. As if Michael Hudson is much too smart and well connected to not know that this is bullshit, so why write it? Oh wait, there's more

Behind all this is the Saudi-inspired 9/11 act taking away Congress's sole power to wage war – its 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, pulled out of the drawer ostensibly against Al Qaeda but actually the first step in America's long support of the very group that was responsible for 9/11, the Saudi airplane hijackers.

This article appears to be a bullshit banquet. I shall have to reassess my thoughts on Hudson. If you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem.

Biff , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 4:33 am GMT

So maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending.

The main reason for the U.S. military is dollar protection. Idealogical wars(for Israel) don't get very far without the money.

Fear of this development was a major reason why the United States moved against Libya, whose foreign reserves were held in gold, not dollars , an which was urging other African countries to follow suit in order to free themselves from "Dollar Diplomacy." Hillary and Obama invaded, grabbed their gold supplies (we still have no idea who ended up with these billions of dollars worth of gold) and destroyed Libya's government, its public education system, its public infrastructure and other non-neoliberal policies.

I still don't know why the Libyan war doesn't get the attention it should like Iraq's WMD? The lie of "We were trying to protect brown people in the middle east/north Africa" still stands with most Americans.

BTW, brilliant article by Mr. Hudson.

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:10 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke If Hudson got some minor detail wrong, it ultimately isn't that important as we are all struggling to see through a glass darkly to find the truth in the daily deluge of lies. None of us have connected all of the dots perfectly, though Hudson has connected more than most, more than you or I. And there are layers of narrative about September 11, 2001. The idea that it was Saudi-inspired may not be the deepest level of the story, but neither is it entirely false. And the Saudis provided the manpower for the attacks on the Twin Towers, just as they are providing the boots on the ground, the Wahabi crazies, e.g., ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and others, used by the US/Israeli interests as a proxy army to take out Assad. This is Hudson's larger point.

Hudson gives us a panoramic economic view of the reasons that neoliberal policies have of necessity become militarized (from the Empire's point of view), why for instance the attempt to take out Assad had to be made. It is all about maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency and keeping a steady income stream flowing into the US Treasury, to fund the Empire's wars as well as domestic expenditures. He also explains why this is a war that the US ultimately will not win. Michael Hudson is to be lauded for his laying out the big picture in clear, economic terms. Not only is he not a part of the problem (although you might be, my trollish friend) he is a national treasure and his writing should be read and discussed by all Americans.

Carlton Meyer , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:11 am GMT
The USA now faces two big problems. Iraqis want American troops out and most Americans agree. Now the spinmasters (like Trump) must explain why American troops must stay. The US military now faces a tough logistics problem. Bases in Iraq are supplied via trucks driven by local Iraqis. Most drivers will refuse to work in sympathy with protestors or fear of them. Resupply by airlift is not practical, so thousands more American troops will be needed as drivers who will be vulnerable to attack.
mrtmbrnmn , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:56 am GMT
Once again, as usual, Michael Hudson comes up aces in his analysis. He gets it. It is always about the Benjamins! As for the Trumptard, our cowardly, compromised, corrupt Congress Critters should fugeddibout their farcical trumped up "impeachment" and any ridiculous "trial" in the Senate. It is high time to bring back the Nuremberg Trials. The bloated, bloviating, narcisisstic, ignorant boob and war criminal is ready for his closeup! The same goes for the enablers, whisperers and political ventriloquists who manipulate the dummy.
restless94110 , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 5:58 am GMT
Great analysis with the exception of the bits about the climate warming hoax. One of these days–not long now–this fakery will be completely exposed, and then, a lot of people–including most certainly Mr. Hudson–will have a lot of egg on their faces. We can only pray for the decline of Saudi Arabia, the ending of NATO, the de-dollarization of the world, the withdrawal of all US military from the ME (and most of the rest of the world), and the final debunking of man-made global warming.

May all of these come quickly now.

Ilyana_Rozumova , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:01 am GMT
I just do not think that this article is hitting the nail on the head.
And not only that. There are many other factors.
renfro , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:42 am GMT

America's hatred of Iran is starts with its attempt to control its own oil production, exports and earnings. It goes back to 1953, when Mossadegh was overthrown because he wanted domestic sovereignty over Anglo-Persian oil.

It was the British who wanted Mossadegh overthrown because of their profits in the Anglo Iranian Oil Co.. The US was suckered in by the threat of Iran going communist.

1952: Mosaddeq Nationalization of Iran's Oil Industry Leads to CoupEdit event

Iranian President Mohammad Mosaddeq moves to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in order to ensure that more oil profits remain in Iran. His efforts to democratize Iran had already earned him being named Time Magazine's Man of the Year for 1951. After he nationalizes it, Mosaddeq realizes that Britain may want to overthrow his government, so he closes the British Embassy and sends all British civilians, including its intelligence operatives, out of the country.

Britain finds itself with no way to stage the coup it desires, so it approaches the American intelligence community for help. Their first approach results in abject failure when Harry Truman throws the British representatives out of his office, stating that "We don't overthrow governments; the United States has never done this before, and we're not going to start now."

After Eisenhower is elected in November 1952, the British have a much more receptive audience, and plans for overthrowing Mosaddeq are produced. The British intelligence operative who presents the idea to the Eisenhower administration later will write in his memoirs, "If I ask the Americans to overthrow Mosaddeq in order to rescue a British oil company, they are not going to respond. This is not an argument that's going to cut much mustard in Washington. I've got to have a different argument. I'm going to tell the Americans that Mosaddeq is leading Iran towards Communism." This argument wins over the Eisenhower administration, who promptly decides to organize a coup in Iran.
(see August 19, 1953). [STEPHEN KINZER, 7/29/2003]

Entity Tags: Dwight Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Muhammad Mosaddeq

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran, US-Iran (1952-1953

nsa , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:43 am GMT
The evolutionary purpose of the human animal is to remove the carbon from the earth's crust and return it to the atmosphere ..all the while the abundant cheap energy allowing overpopulation, eventually overshoot, and then extinction. The carbon build up in the atmosphere will then usher in a new golden age of plant life .eventually returning the carbon to the earth's crust and starting the animal-plant rotation cycle anew. It's almost poetic ..your houseplant's genes will outlive yours.
Smith , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 6:47 am GMT
Every war America wages in the ME is in protection of Israel.
Alfred , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 7:06 am GMT
as if it were Iran, not Saudi Arabia that mounted 9/11

Just keep repeating this nonsense enough times and maybe we will believe that it was not Israel and the Deep State.

What "Global Warming"?

The Region From 50-70°S Has Cooled Since The 1980s As North Atlantic SSTs Have Cooled 1°C Since 2004

The fraud is monumental:

285 Papers 70s Cooling

BeenThereDunnit , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 7:23 am GMT
Writing such an article without any consideration of the Zionist dimension is quite a feat. Probably it was done on purpose to muddy the waters. Admit to some part of the story to try and bury another one.

CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) is a lie. To the extent that the world is warming, it is mostly because of natural causes.

The Saudis and others are not American clients. They function in unison and synergeticaly with other globalist elites. They play the role that is assigned to them, but the same can be said about all other factions of these elites. These different factions are clients of each other, so to speak. There is a hierarchy; we know who sits at the top. It's neither the Saudis nor any Anglo-Saxons walking around and making noises in beltway circles.

Still, the guy is an economist purporting financial knowledge. (OTOH, he is evidently not rich.) He may care to comment on the present situation in connection with the Fed's repo bailout and its 90% monetization of US treasury debt.

Ghali , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 8:38 am GMT
America's war of terror is not about "oil"; it is about Israel. The ongoing US war in the Middle East is pushed and promoted by the Israeli regime, the Zionist media (owned by Jews), and wealthy Jews on behalf of Israel.
The US does not need to control the oil. It is already in control of most of it, in Suadi Arbia, Qatar Kuwait, UAE, etc. The so-called "US war for oil" is an old and rusty thesis fabricated by Zionist Jews and designed to deflect attention away from Israel.
anonymous [145] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 8:40 am GMT
It's true that the US grip is slipping and it has been acting here and there to douse the fires that pop up. However, as things become harder to manage-not like the old days-the question becomes how radical will the US become in trying to hold on? It's a nuclear power with all sorts of military hardware that can inflict a huge amount of damage and death. How far will it be willing to go to avoid being dislodged? Would it go nuclear? The US may become a very dangerous country indeed as it throws whatever it has to keep it's position. Scary times ahead.
whattheduck , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 8:42 am GMT
Fantastic Article! The wars are always bankers wars. Follow the money

I got into understanding the financial sector roughly 10 years ago from various economists (Michael included). I've been telling my friends the same thing for a very long time. The fiat money system is what has enabled all the wrong in the world i.e. exponential money printing, exponential population growth. With exponential population growth you have the requirement for food, shelter, water (all natural finite resources).

This can't go forever as it is not sustainable.

Ilya G Poimandres , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 9:02 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke

If you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem.

Western logic – law of non contradiction, law of excluded middle. A real poison! Better the catuskoti.

PetrOldSack , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 9:32 am GMT
Bravo, Michael, that was meant as to the one step further. You are the outsider – insider with balls today. The key strategy of what holds up the US is the toxic pollution in thin air.

Putin, Xi, alternatively, second row Germany – France's elites are up for the next move. Unilateralism is over.

Rational and logic dictates pulling in global population counts, migrations, resources, the long term species survival into the accounting. No US matter, a global essentiality to which should live up local policies. There are myriad variables as to the outcome, what is predictable, is that a status quo on today's terms has come apart. Change is upon the power paradigms.

Pertinent a-n-d relevant piece!

gotmituns , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 9:41 am GMT
Nothing New here, these type of things go back to our Yangtze Patrol in China for Standard Oil and our Marines kicking butt in the Caribbean and Central America for United Fruit in the 1920s and before.
Fluesterwitz , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:13 am GMT
@Toxik Good to see an analysis that goes beyond the usual Trump Derangement- and Israel!- Syndromes. Then again, for individual actors individual motivations (" wag-the-dog attack, or to back Israeli lebensraum drives, or simply to surrender the White House to neocon hate-Iran syndrome.") reasonably play primary, co-equal or supporting roles. It is almost as if people can have a number of intersecting motivations and loyalties.

Eta: spelling

Cowboy , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:16 am GMT
Michael Hudson is an idiot, albeit a useful one. Or possibly he is crypto. In either case instead of naming the jew, he rants about global warming and anti-semite conspiracies concerning jewish lebensraum.

In order to seize Iraqi, Libyan or Syrian oil in general it is wise to leave the infrastructure intact so production can immediately be resumed. In all of Wesley Clark's 7 countries in 5 years the oil production was decimated.

Why destroy the oil infrastructure? Because the primary goal was not oil, but destruction of society, culture, economy, and ultimately genocide and Palestinian style ethnic cleansing. Hudson simply cannot point out the obvious racial supremacist motivations of his judeo-masonic communist masters.

One theory behind the assassination is that both victims had become theats to their respective Iraqi and Iranian leadership, and that both Iran and Iraq were in on the hit. Amadinijad is a crypto-jew and Iran is chock full of Masonic architecture.

[MORE]

https://www.youtube.com/embed/te3aFLuUZm0?feature=oembed

PetrOldSack , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:20 am GMT
@Biff

I still don't know why the Libyan war doesn't get the attention it should

The move or not into Lybia by Erdogan is pertinent as to Libia and it's greater realm these days. It is part of the bargaining as to how Putin and Xi now are part of global decision making. If Erdogan moves, the top layer of decision making globally can be confirmed bi-polar . As in coordinated decision making and the nexus into the potential to impose coordinated policies that the US " and you cannot do anything about it" cannot deflect.

The impotence of it all no player brings something new to the table, the global masses are in for more suppression (veganism?). Quality populations, managed proportional quotas, migrations based on quality of life, global asset management, honest accounting, are into the mist of the generational future.

nokangaroos , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:41 am GMT
At first glance they seem to have found the perpetuum mobile:

Monopoly extorted petrodollar can be invested in furthering the monopoly.

At second, it´s a Ponzi (surprise).

-"[] the Prince who relies on mercenaries will never be safe; (for) they are braggarts among friends and cowards among the enemy."

– Forcing others to undercut you at any cost hollows out the domestic economy,
IOW the "outsourcings" are an inevitable consequence.
When they did it to Germany it caused the Great Depression (that much was "unintended").
This time?

What this translates to is the stakes keep getting higher, the returns diminishing,
and even with good will – and I rate (not J. Ed) Hoover as the last one with that claim –
there is no halfway palatable way out.
Even if the Orange Golem wanted to do the "right" thing (fat chance), he couldn´t;
not with 23T funded debt, ~260T unfunded liabilities (to include pensions) and nothing to export anyone would want.

There´s nothing we can do either – just watch it crash and burn.

eah , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:41 am GMT
I wish there was a LOL option for entire articles.

Leftists never back up claims that US wars are for oil with any facts. For example, they can never point to oil industry lobbyists lobbying for war. But we do see a huge crossover with Jewish Zionist ideologues and those that actively plan and promote war policy.

-- Mike P's Juice Squeeze (@MikePsJuice) January 5, 2020

link

Leftists never back up claims that US wars are for oil with any facts. For example, they can never point to oil industry lobbyists lobbying for war. But we do see a huge crossover with Jewish Zionist ideologues and those that actively plan and promote war policy .

Been_there_done_that , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 10:45 am GMT
Another mixed bag; some interesting points made here, yet accompanied by nonsensical premises or statements, such as:

" reverse global warming and the extreme weather caused by the world's U.S.-sponsored dependence on oil."

and

" the very group that was responsible for 9/11, the Saudi airplane hijackers."

I have come across this phenomenon numerous times already; experts providing valid but controversial information in their field of expertise, who feel a need for then embedding self-negating passages alongside it, as a trade-off; for instance also with gratuitously contrived references to allegedly faked moon landings, or Hollywood's fantastical holocaust narrative. This is a very similar tactic to that of "poisoning the well".

The "Poisoning the Well" Fallacy (Wikipedia)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_the_well

However, on a site like this, one would expect to receive more "pure play" (unadulterated) intelligence.

The_seventh_shape , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:11 am GMT
@whattheduck Follow the money and you find Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, and Paul Singer, Trump's biggest donors. Their concern is not with oil or keeping the dollar as the reserve currency.
NoseytheDuke , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:14 am GMT
@Weston Waroda Obscuring the real perpetrators of 9/11 is not a minor detail whether done intentionally or by accident. Anything and everything that even appears to give credence to the official bullshit narrative about who really did 9/11 is harmful to the nation and the entire world. Exposing the 9/11 perps is the most powerful key that is capable of unlocking the grip on the throat and regaining the reins of the USA. He could have written, "as if were Iran that mounted 9/11" without including, "not Saudi Arabia". The Devil, as always, is in the details.

And then you wrote the following utter nonsense, "And the Saudis provided the manpower for the attacks on the Twin Towers". Read more, comment less.

FB , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:26 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke

This article appears to be a bullshit banquet. I shall have to reassess my thoughts on Hudson.

That's very very far from the truth the article is in fact extremely enlightening as to the mechanics of US imperialism by way of petrodollar hegemony the Giant Ponzi Scheme inner workings laid bare

It's too bad you are monomaniacally fixated on one single issue that you cannot appreciate good knowledge that doesn't pander to your hot button

I naturally don't agree with the silly notion about the Saudi 'hijackers' nor do I agree with the equally silly conclusion that global warming is definitely caused by burning hydrocarbons, rather than much more powerful natural mechanisms and cycles that have been around for eons

Prof Hudson may or may not be on board with these sentiments also, but he chooses his battles carefully as one probably must in order to be taken seriously by a wider and more mainstream [brainwashed] audience

Consider for a moment that all of his authoritative explanations about the economic dimension of our current scam system would be immediately dismissed by the pinheads that control our narratives, as the ravings of a climate denier and 911 truther what good would that do ?

nokangaroos , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:28 am GMT
@nokangaroos As for Israel, this is not elective either not even for "Eretz Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates".

It´s about the water, plain and simple. The groundwater they have been using since independence is fossil (ice age), not replenished and good as gone; as is the Jordan river.
They are already stealing water from the Palestinians, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and it isn´t anywhere near enough.
They MUST have Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa, or it´s game over.

And who is in the way of that? Well Hassan Nasrallah and his merry company!
Ergo, Iran must go. What´s so hard to understand?

(Like "the greatest army in the world" "the most moral army in the world" should take to wearing pink tutus, methinks)

So there also is no hope for peace from this side.

Stephen Paul Foster , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:36 am GMT
@restless94110 "Great analysis with the exception of the bits about the climate warming hoax. "plus, "calling for a new Nurenberg-style [sic] war crimes trial." Nuremberg was a farce, show-trial to give Stalin cover for grabbing eastern and central Europe. For the U.S. to be in the dock in a "new Nuremberg-style war crimes trial," it's people and cities will have to have been bombed to smithereens and its women raped by the victor-armies. Whose armies will have pulled that off?

And, what's with all the typos in this piece?

John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:44 am GMT
@NoseytheDuke

Saudi Arabia mounted 9/11? LOL. As if Michael Hudson is much too smart and well connected to not know that this is bullshit, so why write it?

You're the one who's full of shit, pal.

In 2016, several US Senators called on then President Obama to release 28 pages of official 9/11 report that they claim reveal aspects of Saudi state involvement in the attacks. That is to say, intelligence agencies of the United States government officially acknowledge this fact. So, yes, it is technically correct to say, "Saudi Arabia mounted 9/11." And this is before we get to the Dancing Israelis, which, again, is not a conspiracy theory, but an officially acknowledged reality.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-911-classified-report-steve-kroft/

Herald , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 11:55 am GMT
@Weston Waroda Hudson gets some things right, but he shoots himself in the foot with his "Saudi inspired 9/11" reference. This is a major flaw and to describe it as minor is simply wrong or worse.

The only role played by the Saudis was that of patsy and in doing so they gave just a slither of cover to the actual perpetrators. Such cover, as it was, has long since been blown out of the water. That people can still repeat the Saudis did it line is quite ridiculous, national treasures or not.

We've known for aeons that the US approach to the rest of the world is about oil and its role in keeping the intrinsically valueless dollar afloat. Hudson isn't needed for that and his article reeks of sophisticated damage limitation, concentrating as it does on the reasons why the US does the disgusting things it does.

Right now it is much more relevant to dwell on the unjustifiable brutality, immorality and illegality of the US in its dealings with the rest of the world.

FB , says: Website Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:02 pm GMT
@BeenThereDunnit

He may care to comment on the present situation in connection with the Fed's repo bailout and its 90% monetization of US treasury debt.

Yes, I too would be interested in hearing a coherent analysis on the extraordinary money printing going on now I understand it's up to half a trillion in a single month it sounds like somebody is trying to plug a massive leak in the dam a la the little Dutch boy

Is the deluge coming ?

I also think you dismiss the professor's article based on minor quibbles I don't agree with man-made climate change either, but it doesn't take away from the meat of the article, which is a lot of excellent insight into the inner workings of the imperialist money machine

John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm GMT
@eah This is not a mutually exclusive thing. Why can't it be both a war for Zionism and a war for oil? It's absolutely both! There is no reason to believe that the Zionist lobby and the petrodollar don't exist together in one unholy marriage.
John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:14 pm GMT
@Herald

The only role played by the Saudis was that of patsy and in doing so they gave just a slither of cover to the actual perpetrators.

This is such a bunch of CRAP! It boggles my mind to see some of you folks saying this kind of falsity.

Even mainstream publications like Foreign Policy magazine and Slate contradict this nonsense.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/18/what-we-know-about-saudi-arabias-role-in-911/

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2016/04/saudi-arabia-and-the-28-classified-pages-of-congress-9-11-report.html

Patsy? At absolute minimum, Saudi Arabia was a financial supporter of the attacks. Patsy is not the word for that, buddy!

BuelahMan , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:54 pm GMT
Oil War?

Hudson knows better but won't say it.

It is Eretz Israel's war.

9/11 Inside job , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 12:58 pm GMT
Michael Hudson fails the "9/11 litmus test " by making statements such as "the Saudi-inspired
9/11 act " and implying several times in his essay that the Saudis did 9/11.
Washedup , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:06 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke This one hurts. My man Hudson proves here he is an active disinformation agent. As you note, he is too smart to be a dupe. Starting to think that he and PCR are advanced limited hangout. Their role is to shunt us towards the next prepared phase of the globalist script, which is the collapse of the west and its bogus "salvation" by the "multipolar" NWO led by Russia and China. They want us to beg for this next turn of the screw. They want us to beg for Putin and Xi to "liberate" us. Create problem, offer solution. What they have coming down the pipeline two iterations from now is worse than we can imagine.
Exile , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:11 pm GMT
Oil and economics are part of the equation governing U.S. ME policy, but so are Israeli geopolitics, religion and culture. Making economics the sole focus oversimplifies and over-reduces the holistic reality of our grossly misdirected, hijacked foreign policy.

The synthetic American Second Founding ethos of civic nationalism along with the synthetic mythos of "Judeo-Christianity" are a major element of why America sides with Israel and not the Arabs, Persians or other regional powers. The Jewish-exacerbated and inflamed cultural enmity that Westerners feel toward Muslims, in large part due to mass immigration championed by Jews and false-flag terror from the Dancing Shlomos on 9/11 to ISIS today, is the other side of this pincer movement of cultural and political influence.

The author isn't wrong, but he's an economist. When all you have is a hammer

eah , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:21 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan The United States is now the largest global crude oil producer

Canada also has very significant unexploited oil (and natural gas) reserves:

Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources -- Canada

Although the shale resource estimates presented in this report will likely change over time as additional information becomes available, it is evident that shale resources that were until recently not included in technically recoverable resources constitute a substantial share of overall global technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources .

Canada has a series of large hydrocarbon basins with thick, organic-rich shales that are assessed by this resource study.

The claim that the US has an urgent need to secure oil supplies in the Middle East is not really supported by the evidence vis-a-vis oil production and reserves.

Anon [398] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:30 pm GMT
Reminder the same people who want you to fight Iran also want you to live in a pod and eat bugs. Even in the best case where you actually manage to get back alive, minus a limb or three, what awaits you is a glorified drawer and maggot patties
9/11 Inside job , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:42 pm GMT
@9/11 Inside job However , Michael Hudson does write of " Saudi Arabia's Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Qaeda in Iraq , Al
Nusra) and other divisions of what are actually America's foreign legion " .
Sparkon , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:47 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan B ush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Myers, Rice, Card, Fleischer, Giuliani are Americans, not Saudi Arabians.

"The TV was obviously on."

-- Pres. George W. Bush

But it wasn't. There was no live TV coverage of the first WTC attack.

Pres. Bush lied about his initial knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, presumably to give them more time to succeed. ABC News reported that Bush had been informed about the first WTC attack even before he left his resort hotel that morning.

You are free to think, however, that it was the Saudis who paid for the glue on Bush's chair in that Florida classroom on 9/11. Maybe they even paid Ari Fleischer to hold up that sign for Bush while the WTC was burning:

DON'T SAY ANYTHING YET

Why was his Press Secretary telling President Bush to keep his mouth shut for the time being? How did Fleischer even know what Card had whispered in Bush's ear unless he was in on the plot?

All the talk about the Israelis, Jews, or the Saudis -- and now the dead Iranian general Soleimani -- being responsible for 9/11, but nobody wants to talk about the Americans who were on duty that day, all of whom dropped the ball in one way or another, starting with Pres. Bush, who sat in his chair rather than taking immediate action to defend the United States against ongoing terrorist attacks.

Allowing an enemy or false flag attack to succeed is treason.

9/11 was the treasonous event that opened up this entire ugly can of worms in the Middle East, and elsewhere, Mr. Gettysburg Partisan.

Jake , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:49 pm GMT
@Toxik That is true. Just like the Brit WASP Empire. It was always about more money for the 1 to 5%, and if the white trash – the vast, vast majority of the natives of the British Isles – got hammered over and over, so be it.
ivegotrythm , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:50 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan It is not some of the folks who say that 9/11 is an Israeli false flag, it is all of the folks except for the Israeli trolls. (And there are a lot of those!)
Jake , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:51 pm GMT
@9/11 Inside job The Saudis did do it, along with the Israelis and the Yank Deep State, with full knowledge of the UK Deep State.

The CIA, the Mossad, and the Saudi General Intelligence Presidency were all founded and trained by British secret service.

Jake , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 1:54 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan It is indeed both. Worship of Mammon and worshipful adoration of the Chosen Race.

Anglo-Zionist Empire.

Wizard of Oz , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:19 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke In the course of several threads Ron Unz has referred to the Twin Towers coming down at free fall speed into their own footprints as key evidence against the official story. My recollection is that you have said much the same. Correct?

So I ask what you make of this link provided by LK, one of the chosen for elephant stamps,

https://www.ae911truth.org/evidence/faqs/353-faq-12-what-is-ae911truth-s-assessment-of-the-directed-energy-weapon-dew-hypothesis

and this extract from it

"FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, performed the first technical review of what brought down the Twin Towers and WTC 7. Even in its report, FEMA acknowledges (inconveniently for the official story, which cannot account for this fine destruction of the Twin Towers) that roughly 90% of the Twin Towers' mass fell outside their footprints. Indeed, the entire plaza was covered with steel pieces and assemblies. Some of the structural steel was thrown as far away as the Winter Gardens -- 600 feet"

You clearly care a great deal about 9/11 truth, and Ron's language is that of one convinced that the official story is wrong in ways that matter so I seek to know whether you are given pause and reason to doubt your own certainties by that evidence by the 3000.

Real Unemployment Rate , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:26 pm GMT
Economic hit man Hudson reminds us of how many people Chase Manhattan killed in Vietnam
but somehow claims he doesn't know how the US stole Gaddafi's 44 tons of gold.

The poverty draft works in the US because we let the poor fight the wars for the rich and corporations. Tell me who started the Iraq war, the Mullahs in Iran or the Mullahs in DC?

Hudson works the alternative media to disable dissent. The Democrats and Republicans will send internet dissenters to psychiatric hospitals if they complain too much on the internet. The Iran war really means that everyone needs to go along with the party line or get banned – total agreement between right wingers and left wingers.

Desert Fox , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:26 pm GMT
The wars in the mideast are not for oil, they are for Israel and Israels greater Israel agenda, and since zionists control the FED and IRS the wars for Israel, which were instigated the last time by the joint Israeli and ZUS attack on WTC and blamed on the Arabs to give the ZUS the excuse to destroy the mideast for Israel.
DanFromCT , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:27 pm GMT
@Fluesterwitz Perceptive as many of Dr Hudson's remarks are, the article is itself a wag-the-dog story inasmuch as, were it not for US support for Israel, oil production in the ME would have remained under Western control at low prices indefinitely.

It is not the case that oil prices quadrupled in early '74 because of the US quadrupling the cost of wheat, which, if I recall correctly, had mainly to do with crop shortages in the USSR, as f.o.b. USGulf prices were bid up dramatically from around $1.65 a bushel to nearly $7, and not by the US government or its proxies, but by grain traders. The price of oil quadrupled independently and because of the US yet again backing of Israel in its wars of aggression against the Arab nations.

There's also Dr Hudson's conspicuous misdirection about 9/11, blaming it on the absurd, fairytale narrative for childish minds about nineteen Arabs who couldn't handle a Cessna 150 magically flying jetliners into buildings magically exempted from the laws of physics during 9/11, making it clear he takes readers here for morons. There are several dozen lines of relevant and substantial evidence overwhelmingly disproving the official narrative and implicating Israel. If anything, Dr Hudson's participation in these elaborate efforts at concealing the truth about 9/11 provide powerful evidence that he's a disinformation agent poisoning the well by cognitive infiltration of sites opposing the ME wars.

We don't blame everyday Jews for any of this any more than we blame Italians for crimes of the Mafia, so let's not hear hateful lies that we want these wars ended because we're the haters.

GMC , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 2:42 pm GMT
@John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan I agree JB – Its a multi faceted MOnkey F that has as many end games, as the number of Think tanks – " Thinking of every angle in the quest for Rule." Nokangaroo has it down with water – also. The US isn't just happy owning the America's – they want Europe too, as they play the strong arm game for Israel. Whereas Russia , seems like it just wants Russia , the Slavs, and wishes to trade its goods in mostly – Peace. Wanna be -Israel wants the whole Mid East and the natural resources to itself and China wants a whole lot of the Worlds natural resources through trade and loans that can't be paid back, or it seems to be. They are all the NWO players, but they have different ideas on – Splitting the booty.
YetAnotherAnon , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:03 pm GMT
@Haxo Angmark Tend to agree and I can see Mr Hudson's logic, which explains why the US wants to control (by allies or proxies) Middle East oil despite being self-sufficient – but if that was the only reason, why aren't they flattening wind farms and solar plants all over the world? I assume the Danes don't pay for their offshore electricity in dollars.

I'm aware though that oil is still pretty unique in that it's the most portable form of energy. No one is going to build a battery-powered aircraft carrier.

Maybe it's 50/50 between 'defending Israel' by attacking any functioning unfriendly ME state and keeping the petrodollar, which would explain the attack on Libya, surely no threat to Israel.

Old and grumpy , says: Show Comment January 6, 2020 at 3:12 pm GMT
Two little quibbles. Climate has always been changing. The desire to fill banks and government coffers for essentially the air you breathe is what is new.

The second thing is the Democrats are not anti war. Think of the two parties as participants in a scripted WWE wrestling match. To make matters worse most anti war groups have financially back by a non profit, who is