History – First Draft 04.16.2015

A Shifting Narrative on Iran
Iran will always be the enemy

So now we arrive at 2015 and a former Israeli intelligence chief has openly said what most of the rest of the world has long known: Netanyahu is a liar when he talks about Iran. Concurrently, the P5+1 group of negotiators have concluded a marathon 18 months negotiation by achieving a framework agreement with Iran which will substantially diminish its ability to enrich uranium at all, will greatly reduce its stockpile and will also subject all of its research facilities to intrusive inspections. In return sanctions on Iran will slowly be lifted, but it should be observed that most of the major concessions were made by the Islamic Republic, where there is considerable pressure from the public to make Iran again a normal member of the international community…

…Sensing defeat, Netanyahu and his tame congressmen clearly decided a sharp change in direction would be necessary and, presumably guided by the warm and friendly hand of AIPAC, a new approach was concocted combining two essential elements. First, it was claimed that Iran cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement because, as Chief U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman put it “deception” is in the Iranian leadership DNA. That would mean that Iran might appear to be going along with the agreement but it would secretly be manufacturing a weapon. Just exactly how that would take place under an intrusive inspections regime is not clear, but the idea is to plant the seed that Iranians are intrinsically deceitful and dangerous.

The second argument, which began to evolve before the framework agreement was announced and which not surprisingly has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, is that Iran is threatening and dangerous by virtue of its behavior beyond its nuclear program. Congressmen and pundits have begun to bleat that Iran “now dominates four Arab capitals” and it also “supports terrorism.” One op-ed writer who should know better has described the development of a new Persian Empire.

The first argument is sheer fantasy and racist to boot but the second argument, intended to shift the narrative in a new direction, is actually the more ridiculous. Iran has a struggling economy, a relatively weak military, and much of its outreach to Shi’a communities in neighboring states is in response to the hostility surrounding it engineered by the U.S., Israel and the Sunni ruled regimes in the Persian Gulf. Creating and exploiting a limited sphere of influence as a defensive measure is far from uniquely Iranian.

To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran
MARCH 26, 2015

Iran Framework Deal Reached, Officials Confirm
Talks Aimed at Finalizing Deal by End of June
by Jason Ditz, April 02, 2015


Oil_040115History – First Draft 2015


Saudi Arabia’s oil exports at the beginning of 2015 are 450,000 barrels per day (5%) lower than they were 2 and a half years ago. They are 1 million barrels per day ( 11%) lower than they were a decade ago in 2005.


The “Exceptional” U.S. Suffers Crushing Defeat in Debaltsevo
The Battle Behind the Fog of Propaganda

Additionally, the US-backed proxy-army saw many of its crack troops and top-notch units destroyed in the fighting leaving Kiev unable to continue the war without assistance from allies in the US or Europe. The full impact of the defeat will not be known until angry troops returning from the front amass on the streets of the Capital and demand Petro Poroshenko’s resignation. The Ukrainian President is responsible for the massacre at Debaltsevo. He was fully aware that his army faced encirclement but ordered them to remain in order to satisfy powerful right-wing elements in his government. The disaster is even more terrible due to the fact that it was entirely avoidable and achieved no strategic purpose at all. Extreme hubris frequently impacts outcomes on the battlefield. This was the case at Debaltsevo.

The debacle ensures that the bumbling president’s days are numbered. It’s nearly certain that he will either be replaced or hanged sometime in weeks ahead. He has already flown his family to safety out of the country, and there’s growing speculation that both Washington and the far-right nationalists who occupy the Security Services will insist on his removal. That paves the way for a second Ukrainian coup in less than a year, a grim reminder of the tragic failings of US policy in Ukraine.



Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Iran and six world powers will agree to continue negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June, officials say.

AP’s Jack Gillum reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton used multiple devices for email and mixed work and personal concerns at least once during her tenure as secretary of state.

The German carrier says its insurers are setting aside $300 million to deal with possible costs resulting from the Germanwings jet crash.

Dismayed over the slow pace of post-war reconstruction, Gaza Strip residents are returning to uninhabitable structures while they wait for promised aid to arrive.

Two distillers say economic development in their small town is being hampered by a law governing what can be marketed as “Tennessee Whiskey.”

On final day of Iran nuclear talks, U.S. puts the odds of a deal at 50-50

The self-imposed deadline for a framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program is midnight Tuesday, and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf puts the odds of a deal at 50-50. And while there is some speculation that the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, could continue into Wednesday, “March 31 is the deadline,” Harf told reporters. “It has to mean something. And the decisions don’t get easier after March 31.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is rejoining the talks on Tuesday, put the odds of success considerably higher: “They are probably not 100 percent but you can never be 100 percent certain of anything.”
Source: VOA, Reuters

Airtsrike kills at least 40 at Yemeni refugee camp

An airstrike targeting Houthi rebels in north Yemen killed at least 40 people and wounded another 200 at a refugee camp on Monday. Yemen’s state news agencySaba, now controlled by Houthis, said Saudi planes had intended the bombs for a rebel camp nearby. Saudi military officials said they were trying to confirm what happened. “It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp,” Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said. A humanitarian worker said the strike hit a truck filled with Houthi fighters at the camp gate, killing nearby camp residents as well as fighters.
Source: Reuters, The New York Times

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan falls behind in vote count

An early vote count from Nigeria’s election has opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan by two million votes. While the lead is formidable, many of the country’s large states in the south have not declared their results yet. A former military ruler whose defeat in the last election resulted in rioting that left 800 dead, Buhari has made fighting the Islamist militant group Boko Haram a centerpiece of his campaign. If Buhari wins, Jonathan would be Nigeria’s first incumbent to lose a presidential election.
Source: BBC News, Al Jazeera

State of the World – April 2015



U.S. oil council: Shale won’t last, Arctic drilling needed now
Study predicts shale boom won’t last long, says companies should start probing for oil now
Mar 27, 2015

“There will come a time when all the resources that are supplying the world’s economies today are going to go in decline,” said Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil and chairman of the study’s committee [shocking], in an interview with the Associated Press. “This is will be what’s needed next. If we start today it’ll take 20, 30, 40 years for those to come on.”


Leave the Houthis Alone!
Why are we on the same side as the Saudis – and al Qaeda – in Yemen?
by Justin Raimondo
March 27, 2015

In spite of US-based news accounts reporting the current conflict to be between the Saudis and “Iran-backed rebels,” the evidence for the Tehran-Houthi connection is tenuous to nonexistent. There is no evidence of Iranian involvement beyond political (i.e. rhetorical) support. Indeed, as Christopher Boucek and Marina Ottoway report in their book, Yemen on the Brink, “some Yemeni officials have confided that such assertions are unfounded.” Doctrinal differences between the Zaydi sect of Shi’ism and the Iranians over important theological issues within Islam preclude Tehran from providing any substantial support for the Houthi insurgency beyond mere words. Neoconservative pundits who point to the Houthis’ success with alarm mirror the propaganda of al Qaeda, which denounces the Zaydi “takfiris” (apostates) in similarly hysterical terms. The Houthis, for their part, have never attacked Americans or American interests in Yemen, as acknowledged in a series of classified cables sent by the no-longer-present US embassy.cheney_1

State of the World 2015, Pt.II


State of the World 2015, Pt.II

The US oil bust is getting uglier

In the latest week, drillers idled another 41 oil rigs, according to Baker Hughes. Only 825 rigs were still active, down 48.7% from October. In the 23 weeks since, drillers have idled 784 oil rigs, the steepest, deepest cliff-dive in the history of the data.

Obama Stands Up for America
And tells the Israelis he’s had enough
by Justin Raimondo, March 23, 2015

The Israelis wanted us to declare war against over one billion Muslims – to essentially concede bin Laden’s point that he represented Islam. And we went along with it for a while: the neoconservative project to “drain the swamp” of the Middle East and propel it into modernity by force of arms was taken up by the administration of George W. Bush, with disastrous results. But even Bush had his limits. At the end of his last term, when the Israelis were pressuring Washington to launch a military strike against Iran, Bush – having apparently reached the endpoint of his capacity for appeasing Tel Aviv – declined to do so (over Dick Cheney’s objection).


It’s Official: The Pentagon Finally Admitted That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons, Too

It would be good to keep in mind that these extraordinary breakthroughs in technology have one purpose—fighting wars—and are intended to give still greater advantage to advanced nations like the US and Israel that dwarf more primitive adversaries. Many of the new technologies, it is true, will find commercial applications that improve everyday lives (some already have). Yet it is also true that our advances in high-tech killing power have not subdued all the enemies.

They find irregular ways to fight back. They blow the legs off our soldiers. They plant home-made bombs in crowded restaurants. They recruit children to serve as their guided missiles. They capture and slaughter innocent bystanders, while our side merely bombs the villages from high altitude. The victims do not see our way as pristine or preferable. Their suffering becomes their global recruiting.

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“The third reason for Grant’s success is the great imponderable: great generals are not just smarter than their opponents, they’re luckier. And the luck is generally due to superior intuition.

Napoleon had wanted his generals to have this quality. But intuition is a talent that can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. And Grant had it. At some level he simply knew his opponents would quit the fight, and this belief (or insight, or intuition) enabled him to brush aside all the potential disasters that could take place. Where Halleck––and many other Union generals––could only see the potential for disaster, Grant saw victory.”
-John Mosier



*** *** ***




No Future For You

State of the World 2015




Putin just made a huge decision that may explain his strange disappearance
March 18th

By targeting Dadayev — the former deputy commander of a paramilitary unit formed by Kadyrov and run by the Chechen leader’s cousin, Adam Delimkhanov — the Federal Security Service (FSB) seemed to be ultimately targeting Kadyrov.

And now it appears that Kadyrov has successfully beaten back the FSB’s assault.

It was amid this turmoil that Putin vanished from public view on March 5, just six days after Nemtsov was assassinated and three days before Dadayev was charged.

“Putin appeared, live and legitimate, at exactly the same moment when Interfax reported that the Nemtsov assassination wasn’t a contract hit,” political analyst Leonid Volkov wrote on Facebook.

“Putin had to make a choice. Either feed Kadyrov to the FSB-men, or give up the FSB to Kadyrov. It’s a difficult and unpleasant choice … And he chose the one and only thing he could choose: Kadyrov.”



Obama snubs Binyamin Netanyahu and criticises Israel PM’s ‘divisive rhetoric’
March 19th

The secretary of state John Kerry, who has fought hard on the Middle East peace process, and was in Switzerland for the final stages of nuclear talks with Iran that Netanyahu has fought hard to scupper, pointedly refused to respond to questions about the Israeli election results.

State Department officials later said that Kerry called Netanyahu to congratulate him on the results. “It was a brief phone call,” said Jen Psaki, his chief spokesperson. “They did not discuss substantive issues.”

Analysis Netanyahu’s victory is clear break with US-led peace process
Palestinians see ‘long and difficult road of struggle’ against Israel after Netanyahu wins fourth term after rejection of two-state solution

Washington’s frosty response to Netanyahu’s unexpectedly decisive victory came as analysts predicted that relations between Israeli prime minister and the US president would not recover until Obama’s term comes to an end.

The rift between the Obama administration and the Israeli government reached rock-bottom earlier this month, after Netanyahu snubbed the White House by using a controversial speech before the Republican-dominated Congress to denounce the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

“What I see is Netanyahu waiting this out until Obama’s successor is in post,” a well-placed diplomatic source told the Guardian. “The Israelis have good enough contacts in Congress and the Pentagon to keep going until either Hillary Clinton or a Republican president is elected in 2016. Israel will ride this out.”


March 18th

Along with being a recruitment center, the former billiard club also serves as the headquarters of Korchynksy’s political organization, “Bratstvo” (in English, the Brotherhood). I find Korchynsky in a side room furnished with a large billiard table, worn-out leather sofa, armchairs and a piano. Lying on the piano are the notes of Chopin’s funeral march and the lyrics to the German national anthem, whose first verse, beginning “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” harkens back to the Nazi era. It is perhaps an unfortunate choice of song for a political figure that is often described as an extremist, ultranationalist and fascist.

Korchynsky does not pretend to be moderate, but he doesn’t appreciate the worst epithet used against his forces.

“We are not Nazis,” he tells me. “We are patriots and nationalists.”

Korchynsky is nearly a caricature of a Russian-hating Ukrainian nationalist. His silver hair contrasts with his dark, bushy mustache, which is turned down at the edges in the Cossack style. The St. Mary’s Battalion, which is one of more than a dozen private groups fighting alongside the Ukrainian Army against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, is Korchynsky’s creation. It is also one of the more unusual volunteer formations in the ragtag forces taking on the separatists, incorporating an ideology that manages to mix Christian messianism with Islamic jihadism.


March Open Thread

Just realized I haven’t been here in a month. I’ve been waiting for a train that never showed up because of the snow. Seriously. And also, that dress is white and gold.


The F-35B can’t carry its most advanced weapon until 2022

Who Killed Boris Nemtsov?
A verdict has already been reached – without evidence
by Justin Raimondo
March 02, 2015

So, we return to the question at the head of this column: Who killed Boris Nemtsov? The answer is: we don’t know, at least not at this point, and one can only marvel at the investigative prowess of talking heads who “solved” this crime from a distance of several thousand miles, hours after it occurred. Nemtsov’s many enemies include the oligarchs he allied himself with, and then later turned on, who were no doubt eager to exact their revenge. Beresovky, who met his own mysterious death years earlier, was one of his biggest enemies. Once in collusion, the rapacious oligarch and the would-be reformer fell out in the “war of the bankers” that preceded the end of the Yeltsin era: it was Beresovsky who had Nemtsov fired from his job as economic advisor to Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko.

Heroes and Villains
by James Howard Kunstler
March 02, 2015

It is more than ironic that Snowden was also Mr. Ed, because if you take his comportment on film at face value, never was there such an exemplary and seemingly normal American young man. His heroism resided largely in his amazing composure under the strain of events. He spoke English clearly and calmly, and reacted to the weighty events he set in motion with startling equanimity. He appeared to know exactly what he was doing, and with quiet, unshakable moral commitment. And then he disappeared down the gullet of America’s modern times nemesis, Russia, where he continues to taunt with his very existence, the NSA gameboys, lizard-lawyers and puppet-masters who cordially invite him back home to face, ho-ho, our vaunted justice system. Of course any six-year-old understands that they would love to jam Snowden down some federal supermax memory hole as an example to any other waffling NSA code-jockey having second thoughts about reading your grandpa’s phone records.

Don’t Touch Me There


American Psycho

Drill, Baby, Drill!!!

The Shale Revolution is like Saturn, it devours its own children.




Rouhani: Countries Behind The Oil Price Drop Will Suffer

No nation or company has control over the price of oil. Neither Saudi Arabia nor ExxonMobil nor Halliburton nor Goldman Sachs have anything but the slightest influence over how high or how low the prices go. This is because the price of oil is the result of two factors of which one is not controlled by any single entity and the other is only observable in retrospect. These are supply and demand.

The additional 3 million barrels per day (mbpd)of production that the United States has brought online in the last 5 years probably has more to do with the collapse of the price of oil in the last six months than any other factor with the exception of global demand stagnation.

In the last decade, Saudi Arabia’s exports have only fluctuated between about 7 and 8 mbpd. Look at the extreme volatility in the global price of oil over that period. To believe that Saudi Aramco and Saudi Arabia have any control is delusional.

At $100/barrel Saudi brings in about $280 Billion/year. At $45/barrel figuring an arbitrary lifting cost of $10/barrel, Saudi brings in only $108 Billion/year, or one third the cash.

The CIA’s World Factbook shows Saudi’s GDP as $718 billion with a budget in 2013 of $302 billion in revenues and $258 billion in expenditures – basically in line with their oil revenues. A drop to $108 billion will cause pain, how much and to whom is arguable.
Saudi could cut its production by 2 mbpd as it has done in the past. However there is no guarantee this in itself would push the price of oil back to $70 or $80/barrel. It would, however, guarantee a 25% drop in Saudi oil revenue to $75 billion/year. Pain.

Iran, on the other hand, has been suffering under sanctions for years already. They have a GDP of $987 Billion with a baseline export market only a quarter of Saudi’s. They also have a government budget of only $47 billion in revenue and $67 billion in expenditures.

Rouhani is basically correct.

A Little Bit Of Oil Speculation
Jan 8th, 2015

As for American foreign policy makers? To assume that they have thought further out ahead than their itineraries, is to demonstrate a severe lack of rationalism. If there is one thing that the US has proven during its 20 years of global benevolent US hegemony, it’s that no US policy will ever be successful at achieving any of its stated goals, with the exception of lining the pockets of the military industrial complex and the state bureaucratic apparatus. As we have seen, there has been no shortage of that recently, so all is well in Washington.

Lower Oil Prices Will Not Turn Producers into Pushovers


Open Thread December


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