Israel

Cuba’s Second Special Period – 2016

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Published on Peak Surfer on June 12, 2016

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"Cuba’s economy minister told the Cuban Parliament last week, in a closed session, (drum roll) that the country would have to cut fuel consumption nearly a third in the second half of this year."
 

Foodlines in Soviet Union 1991 (photo by A. Bates)

The story of Cuba’s Special Period has been told here before, but just to refresh. (light bongo beat) In 1992 the Soviet Union was undergoing great social upheaval at home and in the shifts that followed could no longer support its massive foreign aid dole-out to client states such as Cuba. Without Russian fuel and food aid — and more importantly without the Eastern European export market for its sugar and other commodities — and still under the 30-year-old embargo imposed by the United States, Cuba sank into catastrophic recession. The caloric intake of its population shrank by a third. Oxen replaced tractors and combines. Cuba teetered at the brink of collapse.

In the face of these challenges, the spirit of the 1953-59 student-led revolt revived and bolstered the willingness of the population to come together, tighten their belts and do what needed to be done. (light guitar comes in with the bongo beat) Urban gardens led by permaculture instructors arriving from Australia and South America sprung up along sidewalks, on balconies, and on rooftops. Bicycles, horse taxis and “camels” (massive 300-passenger buses) replaced the diesel classic car fleet. Ride share coops, farmers coops, barefoot doctors and street markets ignored the daily power blackouts and kept the country alive, even thriving. (conga beat picking up, maracas coming in) It was an historic moment, although if you ask the average Cuban, as we did four years ago, they would tell you they would never want to repeat the experience.

Generalisimo Batista and his rival, medical student Ernesto "Che" Guevara


When we visited in 2012 we noticed, and blogged here, that Cuba was doing some remarkable things but that much of their economic development came from and is planning to go forward on, their alliance with friends in the South, notably Venezuela and Bolivia. Instead of being addicted to Soviet fossil energy, they were becoming enslaved to Orinoco Heavy. (castanet roll) Cuba uses 80,000 barrels per day of Venezuelan oil, but when we visited they had ambitious plans for offshore fracking, a giant harbor that would handle oil supertankers and Chinese container ships too large to dock in Miami or Houston, and a revival of the sugar industry using Brazilian next-gen technology to make ethanol. In Havana, the neighborhood gardens were still there, but they were beginning to look a little seedy. (tambourine, cow bell)

Following the student-led revolt, conditions improved markedly.


Cuba’s economy minister told the Cuban Parliament last week, in a closed session, (drum roll) that the country would have to cut fuel consumption nearly a third in the second half of this year because the Venezuelan spigot was slowly squeezing shut. Venezuelan oil exports to Cuba have dropped 40% since January. As the news rippled out through Havana there was a universal sense of Déjà vu. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t be fooled again (as George W. Bush said in his being-folksy mode, unable to recall where he was in the fool-me-twice-shame-on-me proverb and so reverting to a rock anthem lyric from his Yale fraternity days).

 

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

Venezuela is running dry, as is neighboring Mexico, and bargain basement crude sales to bolster Venezuela’s economy don’t help. Venezuela can no more supply the Citgo stations in Havana than it can keep the lights on in hospitals in Caracas.

Since we are not exactly getting the White House morning briefing we can only speculate on connections between the US military/intelligence community (triple oxymoron there)’s goals in Venezuela. We know that as the curtain comes down on the Pentagon-mesmermized Drone King Administration and up on an uncertain successor, it could be a chessboard moment. (bass drum and brushed cymbals)

 

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

We know, for instance, that the shortages in Venezuela are specific products, so other food and consumer goods remain available. Could it be that the crisis in Venezuela is less about the oil economy and more about black ops by opposition elements? Those elements would include domestic food companies controlled by long-standing opponents of the Bolivarian revolution of 1999. They control, for instance, 62% of every arrepa, a staple of Venezuelan cuisine.

The market distortion is curious. Venezuelans can purchase yogurt, cheese, teas, vegetables, chocolate and fruit, but not meat, corn flour, milk, coffee, and personal hygiene products like soap, toilet paper, sanitary napkins and diapers. In a managed socialist economy you’d think the reverse would be true. It is only when you look at the ownership of the companies where scarcity exists that it begins to make sense.
 

V.P. candidate Mike Pence and actor Everett McGill – Under Siege 3?

The Friday night military coup in Turkey is another one of those things that can be explained by other factors but the timing is curious. There is no love lost in either Washington or Moscow for the Erdogan regime. Russian press and other sources linked Turkey to the CIA-covert resupply chain for the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), which the Syrian Army, supported by spectacular Russian air strikes, is in the process of decimating. Erdogan was a klutz, but he was Washington’s klutz. He made that very clear when he shot down a commercial Russian airliner and then okay’ed a new pipeline to take offshore oil and gas Israel was stealing from Gaza through Turkey to Europe. That will potentially square US accounts with kleptocrats in Kiev who keep siphoning gas meant for Europe and not paying for it.

 

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

As we penned this Friday night this we were watching the air battle over Ankara not knowing who was fighting for whom over what. That Russia Today is a more reliable witness than The New York Times is the new normal.

Cubans have been here before, and actually, this time it may not be as bad. The embargo is lifting. Although Donald Trump is out-polling Hillary Clinton in Florida, especially with Cuban-Americans, his war-chest is no match for hers and

Havana 2012 (photo by A. Bates)

nationwide, at this point in the election cycle, he is a diminishing threat to US-Cuba détente. (muted instruments, brushed cymbals, then just bongo) With air routes opening, tourist hotels being planned, and Havana’s notorious nightclubs a shorter hop than Las Vegas for half the population of the United States, Cubans only have to hold their breath while they turn off the fans 8 hours per day.

Then the

Blowback Paris: Exxonomics 102

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Publishes on the Peak Surfer on November 13, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

"‘If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks, they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.' – George W. Bush, 2006"
 

 

This past week a number of our respected readers took us to task for our post, Exxonomics 101, not because we were wrong (although we were visited by our usual gaggle of climate deniers) but because we had made so many bald statements about US foreign policy without referencing sources.

We wrote:

"That whole shooting match in Syria, driving millions of refugees into Europe, is about whether Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia and Iran and a proponent of a gas pipeline from Iran across Kurdistan to the sea, will be deposed by ISIS terrorists trained by CIA in the Colonel Kurtz style of spectacular horror and funded by the Pentagon so that the US could instead build a pipeline to European markets through Syria from Iraq. The Russian Air Force, with a new generation of fighters that can fly circles around anything built by Lockheed Martin, is looking like it will decide that one. It is pulverizing ISIS."


We find our critics' point about undocumented sources valid, so this week we'll dive deeper into the morass which is petropolitics in hopes of speeding the day it will become paleopolitics. This will be about three times longer than our usual post. We could have broken it into three parts – a four semester course in Exxonomics – but we could just visualize our regular readers slipping out for a smoke in the parking lot.

On Friday evening Paris was attacked by a coordinated, well-armed guerrilla group that caused at least 129 deaths and 352 injuries, 99 critical, while losing 8 jihadis. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. As we shall show in this post, direct responsibility for the attack traces back to President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Parenthetically, Sen. Bernie Sanders on September 18 voted against the United States financing, training and arming ISIS by proxy astroturf Syrian "freedom fighters.") The Paris attacks are being called France's worst terrorist attack, but only a day earlier, ISIL attacks on Beirut left 41 dead and 181 injured and in the week before IS is believed to have downed a Russian passenger jet over Egypt with 224 people on board. 

The President of France was quick to link the attacks to its own military action in Syria, calling for stronger efforts at "regime change" to oust Assad. In the Syrian conflict, France is anti-Assad. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is pro-Assad. Russia is an ally of Assad. The ISIS targeting has nothing to do with President Bashir Al-Assad. It has to do with confusion.

The Origins of ISIS

In our humble opinion, it should be abundantly clear that the Beltway NeoCons, who were unable to gain much traction for their most wacky ideas with Carter, Bush-I or Bill Clinton, burned rubber with Bush-II, a.k.a. Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice. Yahoooo! Just wait until they meet Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Pushed to the fore during that golden era of unaccountability was the proposition that for Right Wing Christianity to prevail over Fundamentalist Islam in the Battle of Armageddon to come, it will be necessary to fragment the Middle East and to get those Oil Sheiks and Gas Kings who are busy spending petrodollars on military hardware to fight each other.
 

Ronald Reagan meets with future Al Qaeda leaders in the White House

Zbigniew Brzezinski:

Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.


Last week touched some nerves when we described the US’s 9/11 moment as a new Pearl Harbor,  despite the loss of fewer civilian casualties that day than when GHW Bush galloped through Panama City chasing after one of our assets gone off reservation. Then followed the “smoking gun” Kabuki at the UN Security Council, untold billions in small bills being offloaded from numerous C-130J Super Hercules for delivery to non-state-actors, the downing of Paul Wellstone’s plane, and we’ll anthrax your mailbox if you oppose us on this.

We know, even fellow travelers like James Howard Kunstler just closed their laptops and walked away. If you are allergic to conspiracies, well, sorry. Conspire means to breathe together. If you are willing to stick around, then take a deep breath.

We opined long ago that the YouTube'd kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl was at the behest of the CIA because he was a loudmouth. The orange jumpsuit was a pretty good “tell” that this was not just a ragtag band of rag-head discontents putting a knife to his throat. Now we propose to prove that.

Here are a few more threads:

Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists,  a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country.

Similarly, the U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction (despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers).

In a thorough but very long post by Washington's Blog on September 11, 2015, Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo observes:

Iraq’s fate was sealed from the moment we invaded: it has no future as a unitary state. As I pointed out again and again in the early days of the conflict, Iraq is fated to split apart into at least three separate states: the Shi’ite areas around Baghdad and to the south, the Sunni regions to the northwest, and the Kurdish enclave which was itching for independence since well before the US invasion. This was the War Party’s real if unexpressed goal from the very beginning: the atomization of Iraq, and indeed the entire Middle East. Their goal, in short, was chaos – and that is precisely what we are seeing today.

Europe is reeling from the waves of refugees pouring across every border as people from all walks of life flee from the randomized violence wrought by this atomization, set against a background of unsustainable population growth, resource depletion and rapid climate change. In Syria, with a population of little more than Florida, some 250,000 civilians have been killed by the violence brought about by the Western attempt at regime change. And yet there seems to be a disconnect between cause and effect, as a disproportionate amount of money is spent to atomize more while band-aids like border detention centers are erected to further victimize the victims.

"You will find that regime change– whether it was in the early '50s in Iran, whether it was toppling Salvador Allende in Chile or whether it was overthrowing the government Guatemala way back when– these invasions, these– these toppling of governments, regime changes have unintended consequences." –– Sen. Bernie Sanders


It seems evident to us, if not to most, that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were initiated to the strategy of inflicted chaos some time ago, perhaps during the 2008 transition when Brzezinski was on the Obama foreign policy team, or maybe earlier, when Obama studied under Zbiggy at Columbia. Since 2010 they have extended the plan to other parts of the Empire. Hence Victoria Nuland’s mischief in Kiev — the Balkanization of the Balkins if you will. Puerto Rico wants to become the 51st State but they may have to stand in line behind Estonia.

One of our critics said we were not known as an expert on foreign affairs, but, hey, news flash! We don’t claim to be expert on anything. We are merely opinionated, like Donald Trump or Quentin Tarrentino. Still, it might be worth tracing the evidentiary breadcrumbs we have been following.

The ‘Skittles’ Theory

Brian Whitaker, writing for The Guardian in September, 2003, said the game plan among Washington's hawks has long been to reshape the Middle East along US-Israeli lines.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. “We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,” he said.

    ***

They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the [Pentagon] hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr. Mubarak believes that would be bad. The hawks, though, believe it would be good.

For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.
 

    ***

The “skittles theory” of the Middle East – that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes – has been around for some time on the wilder fringes of politics but has come to the fore in the United States on the back of the “war against terrorism”.

Its roots can be traced, at least in part, to a paper published in 1996 by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Entitled “A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm”, it was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Binyamin Netanyahu. As the title indicates, it advised the right-wing Mr Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ….”
 

    ***

The paper set out a plan by which Israel would “shape its strategic environment”, beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.

With Saddam out of the way and Iraq thus brought under Jordanian Hashemite influence, Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and “roll back” Syria. Jordan, it suggested, could also sort out Lebanon by “weaning” the Shia Muslim population away from Syria and Iran, and re-establishing their former ties with the Shia in the new Hashemite kingdom of Iraq. “Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them”, the paper concluded.
 

    ***

The leader of the “prominent opinion makers” who wrote it was Richard Perle – now [2003] chairman of the Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon. Also among the eight-person team was Douglas Feith, a neo-conservative lawyer, who now holds one of the top four posts at the Pentagon as under-secretary of policy.
 

    ***

Two other opinion-makers in the team were David Wurmser and his wife, Meyrav (see US think tanks give lessons in foreign policy, August 19). Mrs Wurmser was co-founder of Memri, a Washington-based charity that distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light. After working with Mr Perle at the American Enterprise Institute, David Wurmser is now at the State Department, as a special assistant to John Bolton, the under-secretary for arms control and international security.

A fifth member of the team was James Colbert, of the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa) – a bastion of neo-conservative hawkery whose advisory board was previously graced by Dick Cheney (now US vice-president), John Bolton and Douglas Feith.

The rise of the Islamic State

"At times it can resemble Andy Kaufman in the wrestling ring, taunting Memphis hayseeds that he's from Hollywood, where people use their brains." — Bill Maher on the ISIS threat.

On October 14, 2015, Sophie Shevardnadze interviewed FBI whistleblower Sibel Edwards for the back story on US covert support for ISIS. President Obama had just come out to say the rise of Islamic State was never properly addressed by the U.S. intelligence community. Dangling from the President's puppet strings, Vice-President Biden then stepped to the Press Room podium to scapegoat NATO and its Arab allies, saying it was they who funded jihadists, not the US. (Laughter). This is still the official position. Lets look at the evidence.

 
 


This video from LiveLeak shows an Apache attack helicopter following a huge ISIS convoy of white pickup trucks crossing from Iraq to Syria but instead of attacking is more or less “escorting” it across the border. The key "tell" is not the Apache but the Toyotas. While crossing the desert for 3 days in a very long convoy line, they did not elicit a military response from NATO or the US in spite of 24/7 satellite surveillance.

That still does not pin it on the US. ISIS could be supported by our NATO allies, whom Biden says are the real bad actors here. The Apache might just be supporting evil NATO.

But then, U.S. counter-terror officials launched an investigation into how ISIS got so many of those identical Toyota pickup trucks for their convoys.

The Spectator reported:

The [Toyota] Hilux is light, fast, manoeuvrable and all but indestructible (‘bomb-proof’ might not, in this instance, be a happy usage).  The weapons experts Jane’s claimed for the Hilux a similar significance to the longbows of Agincourt or the Huey choppers of Nam. A US Army Ranger said the Toyota sure ‘kicks the hell out of a Humvee’ (referring to the clumsy and over-sized High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle made by AM General).

    ***

The fact is the Toyotas were supplied by the US government to the Al Nusra Front as ‘non-lethal aid’ then ‘acquired’ by ISIS.


This is how it was outlined by PRI (Public Radio International):

Recently, when the US State Department resumed sending non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the delivery list included 43 Toyota trucks. Hiluxes were on the Free Syrian Army’s wish list. Oubai Shahbander, a Washington-based advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, is a fan of the truck.

“Specific equipment like the Toyota Hiluxes are what we refer to as force enablers for the moderate opposition forces on the ground,” he adds. Shahbander says the US-supplied pickups will be delivering troops and supplies into battle. Some of the fleet will even become battlefield weapons.

That’s exactly what happened, along with shoulder-fired Manpad ground-to-air missiles, TOW antitank missiles and other fancy smart weapons. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

The U.S. and its regional allies agreed to increase shipments of weapons and other supplies to help moderate Syrian rebels hold their ground and challenge the intervention of Russia and Iran on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. officials and their counterparts in the region said.

It now appears that while Russian fighter jets can evade or outrun Manpad missiles, ISIS may have used a Manpad to shoot down a Russian civilian airliner last week, killing more innocent civilians than died in Paris.

Al Nusra Front is literally Al Qaeda. The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

Here is a part of last month's exchange between Sophie Shevardnadze and Sibel Edwards:

SS: Now, the former CIA chief and the ex-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. is looking at at least a 30-year war against ISIS, which is not at all what the White House is telling the public. Is he exaggerating? What’s your estimate?

SE: I would say it’s a very short period; I’m really surprised, because we just talked about the brand change. The war against Al-Qaeda was declared as a “forever war” and it has been expanding. I mean, when the war against Al-Qaeda started, it was supposed to be in Afghanistan, and we started chasing Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and Pakistan with all the drone attacks, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the fact that this was going to be a forever war… and now that the brand has changed to ISIS, I’m very surprised that the former FBI director is stamping it with a short-time period. I believe 30 year period is very short, unless that have already in plan other sects or other factions that they are going to declare the “world’s great and most dangerous terrorists”, I would say it’s a very short period of time. We currently are more interested in an ongoing, never-ending, perpetual war, so I would, if you compare it with what we have been characterizing – or our government and the media – Al-Qaeda, I’m surprised that he has put such a short time-stamp on ISIS. Considering the attraction, or the attractiveness, of the brand, because it has the world “Islam” built into it, and let’s just forget Al-Qaeda. I mean, Al-Qaeda was the just the noun, the name – and this case you’re looking at the far-reaching implications. Now you declare that current greatest threatening organization that has the word “Islam” built into it – and I think it’s much more attractive to be used. So, I would say, yeah, it should be forever. I’m surprised it’s 30 years.
 

***

SS: All right, here’s another possible and interesting turn of events – FBI chief James Comey warned terrorists are working on an effort to attack the U.S. very-very soon. Is the U.S. ready to respond?

SE: We have to look at different things and see why this statement was made. Is it based on some sort of facts and real solid intelligence gathered, or is it the fact that… for example, we have had for the TSA, for the flights, the threat level has been really low, and when that goes for a long time, people get antsy, they say “This is really annoying to have all these screens out there and going through them, we haven’t had any terrorist threats really, the level has not been blinking red or even orange, it’s been yellow, let’s go through the rainbow colors” – so, it’s time to re-energize the Americans with the fear of terrorism. We need to have more expenditure for things to put in place, because we can go ahead and increase the threat level within the airports. Let me give you an example. If you look at the stock market and stock prices for all the military-industrial complex-related companies and firms, you will see how they have just gone up tremendously since the brand switch from Al-Qaeda to ISIS, and this is, again, the brand-change I’m referring to, this is when you say “yes, now we can go ahead and produce and sell more to the government and it will spend billions more”. So, the same thing is true for the internal security, fear-mongering factors on the ground in the U.S. It’s time to re-energize that fear, and that is exactly what they are doing. What’s going to follow this is there’s going to be more measures put in place, whether it’s in the airports, or whether it’s the hiring within the FBI, or increasing the number of informants. Those are the things that are going to follow this announcement: “we have to have more expenditure, because of the public consent, because the fear level is going to go up, and therefore those expenditures are going to be justified” – and it is that simple as that.

A quick history refresher on Syria:

  • The U.S. carried out a coup in Syria in 1949. The reason? In late 1945, the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) announced plans to construct the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line (TAPLINE) from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean. With U.S. help, ARAMCO secured rights-of-way from Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The part crossing Syria stalled in the Syrian parliament.
  •  In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once more agreed to use Arab extremists – including the Muslim Brotherhood –  to effect regime change in Syria. A joint CIA-MI6 operation was launched to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbors, and then to “eliminate” the top figures.
  • The U.S. has been arming the Syrian opposition since 2006, years before the present uprising started.
  • It was the “rebels” – not the Syrian government – who carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria.
  • The CIA plotted to poison the Iraqi leader in 1960.
  • In 1963, the U.S. backed the coup which succeeded in killing the head of Iraq.
  • Until he was toppled by a popular uprising, the US supported the tyrannical rule of the Shah of Iran and supplied his military with the latest in weapons and aircraft.
  • Syria controls one of the largest conventional hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Syria controls of one of the main oil arteries of the Middle East, the pipeline which connects pro-western Iraq’s oilfields to Turkey.
  • Syria possessed 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate.
  • Syria also has oil shale resources with estimated reserves that range as high as 50 billion tons, according to a Syrian government source in 2010.
  • Syria is the key link in the flow of any oil or gas from Iraq or Iran to the Mediterranean and thence to Europe.
  • Because of the sordid role of the US in his country's history, Bashir Al-Assad tilts towards Russia and Iran, and away from the US and Iraq.

The New York Times writes:

President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.

After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
 

    ***

The fluidity of battlefield alliances in Syria means that even mainline rebels often end up fighting alongside the Nusra Front, whose suicide bombers are relied on by other groups to soften up government targets.

“Even the groups that the U.S. has trained tend to show up in the same trenches as the Nusra Front eventually, because they need them and they are fighting the same battles,” Mr. Lund said.
 

    ***

Current and former American officials acknowledge the government’s lack of deep knowledge about the rebels. “We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition is,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Iraq and Syria. “Frankly, we don’t have a clue.”

Washington’s Blog wrote in September:

And yet, as the Wall Street Journal,  PBS, CNN, New York Times, Medium, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh and others note, the U.S. and its allies have poured huge amounts of weapons and support to the Syrian Islamic “rebels”. This is in spite of the CIA warning President Obama that arming rebels rarely works.

Washington wants regime change in Syria, so it’s making up a myth of the “moderate Syrian rebel” who hates Assad and ISIS. But they “don’t have a clue” as to whether such a mythical unicorn actually exists (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).

Its about Russia

Before the Russian Air Force entered the picture, ISIS had more than tripled the size of its territory in Syria and greatly expanded its territory in Iraq. Q: What does the Russian Air Force call all those stockpiles of expensive new arms and billions of dollar bills that ISIS has sitting on air-dropped, shrink-wrapped pallets all over Syria? A: Target practice. 

Despite US unwillingness to cooperate with Russia in destruction of ISIS and the White House complaining that President Vladimir Putin was targeting its anti-Assad forces, Russia has been cooperating with the US-sponsored, Anti-Assad Free Syrian Army (FSA). Putin said on Friday that FSA had shared their intelligence on ISIS positions and convoys, which were then targeted by Russian airstrikes.

On November 9, 2015, RT-TV interviewed Oxford University's Sharmine Narwani about the conflict between the Russian anti-ISIS offensive and the US military objectives in Syria.

RT: What are the reasons, do you think the [US-Arab] coalition is breaking apart? How can the coalition increase the efficiency of its actions?

US air attack on Kobani, Syria 10/8/14. © Umit Bektas/Reuters

 SN: I see the coalition breaking apart or being redundant for two reasons. One is the lack of common objectives among the 11 actors participating in the coalition, but the other is more in lines with military strategy in fighting any war or conflict, anywhere. We’ve heard this over and over again in the Syrian conflict – you need a coordination of air force and ground power. The US-led coalition does not have this. Part of the reason it doesn’t have this is because it entered Syrian air space and violated international law in doing so against the wishes of the Syrian government. So it cannot coordinate with the Syrian government who leads the ground activities, whether it is the Syrian army or various Syrian militias that are pro-government; or Hezbollah – a non-state actor from Lebanon; or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their advisory capacity. The Russians of course do enjoy that relationship, so their airstrikes are not only both valid and legal, but also useful – a coordinated effort to target ISIL and other terrorist organizations.

RT: Do you think the US doesn’t have real intentions to fight ISIS, and that is the main reason of instability of its coalition?

SN: Absolutely. The US-led coalition has failed in attaining goals to defeat ISIS, not just because it cannot lead a coordinated military effort in air, land and sea in Syria, or because it lacks legality, or because the member states of the coalition have diverging interests. But I think the US interest as well has to be called into question. I mean: does the US want to defeat ISIS? I would argue very strongly based on what we’ve seen in the last year that the US is not interested in defeating ISIS. The US is interested in perhaps controlling ISIS’ movements, so that it helps to create a geopolitical balance on the ground that will provide the US government and its allies with leverage at the negotiating table. So they don’t want ISIS to take over all of Syria [because] that poses threats to allies in the region. They don’t want ISIS and other terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and others, and the various coalitions they have formed to lose ground, because at the end of the day the only pressure there are going to be able to apply on the Syrian government and its allies is what is happening on the ground. And they need something; they need advantage on the ground that they can take with them to the negotiating table in Vienna. 


Its About Israel

General Wesley Clark – former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO – said:

It came back to me … a 1991 meeting I had with Paul Wolfowitz.

    ***

In 1991, he was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy – the number 3 position at the Pentagon. And I had gone to see him when I was a 1-Star General commanding the National Training Center.
 

    ***

And I said, “Mr. Secretary, you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm.” And he said: “Yeah, but not really, because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, and we didn’t … But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran, Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”


Former U.S. Secretary of Defense – and former 12-year Republican Senator – Chuck Hagel said of the Iraq war in 2007:

People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.

General John Abizaid – the former commander of CENTCOM with responsibility for Iraq – said:

Of course it’s about oil, it’s very much about oil, and we can’t really deny that.

President George W. Bush said in 2005 that keeping Iraqi oil away from the bad guys was a key motive for the Iraq war:

‘If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks, they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.”

The Cheney Energy Task Force Report, Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century — a full five months before September 11 — describes how the West is facing the biggest energy crisis in its history because of Peak Oil. It named Saddam Hussain as a threat to American interests because of his control of Iraqi oilfields and recommended the use of ‘military intervention’ as a means to fix the US energy crisis.

One of the most telling passages in the document reads:

Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to … the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets.

Haaretz reported soon after the Iraq war started in 2003:

The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.

The Prime Minister’s Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as a “bonus” the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the Americans for the official telegram.

The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40 percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and then across Jordan to Israel. The U.S. telegram included a request for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was in use prior to 1948.  During the War of Independence [what Jews call the 1948 war to form the state of Israel], the Iraqis stopped the flow of oil to Haifa and the pipeline fell into disrepair over the years.
 

    ***

National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said yesterday that the port of Haifa is an attractive destination for Iraqi oil and that he plans to discuss this matter with the U.S. secretary of energy during his planned visit to Washington next month.
 

    ***

In response to rumors about the possible Kirkuk-Mosul-Haifa pipeline, Turkey has warned Israel that it would regard this development as a serious blow to Turkish-Israeli relations.

Some of the seeds for the current conflict were sewn between 1932 and 1948. As Wikipedia explains:

Mosul-Haifa Pipeline 1935

The Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline (also known as Mediterranean pipeline) was a crude oil pipeline from the oil fields in Kirkuk, located in north Iraq, through Jordan to Haifa (now on the territory of Israel). The pipeline was operational in 1935–1948. Its length was about 942 kilometres (585 mi), with a diameter of 12 inches (300 mm) (reducing to 10 and 8 inches (250 and 200 mm) in parts), and it took about 10 days for crude oil to travel the full length of the line. The oil arriving in Haifa was distilled in the Haifa refineries, stored in tanks, and then put in tankers for shipment to Europe.

The pipeline was built by the Iraq Petroleum Company between 1932 and 1935, during which period most of the area through which the pipeline passed was under a British mandate approved by the League of Nations. The pipeline was one of two pipelines carrying oil from the Kirkuk oilfield to the Mediterranean coast. The main pipeline split at Haditha with a second line carrying oil to Tripoli, Lebanon, which was then under a French mandate. This line was built primarily to satisfy the demands of the French partner in IPC, Compagnie Française des Pétroles, for a separate line to be built across French mandated territory.

The pipeline and the Haifa refineries were considered strategically important by the British Government, and indeed provided much of the fuel needs of the British and American forces in the Mediterranean during the Second World War.

The pipeline was a target of attacks by Arab gangs during the Great Arab Revolt, and as a result one of the main objectives of a joint British-Jewish Special Night Squads commanded by Captain Orde Wingate was to protect the pipeline against such attacks. Later on, the pipeline was the target of attacks by the Irgun.

In 1948, with the outbreak of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the official operation of the pipeline ended when the Iraqi Government refused to pump any more oil through it.

Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported in 2014:

A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week.

In a video uploaded to YouTube Monday … Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms. Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, on July 22.

International Business Times reported in 2003:

Halliburton [which Dick Cheney was President of] is one of the firms thought by analysts to be in line to make a killing in any clean-up operation after another US-led war on Iraq.

All five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the UK, France, China, Russia and the US — have international oil companies that would benefit from huge windfalls in the event of regime change in Baghdad. The best chance for US firms to make billions would come if Bush installed a pro-US Iraqi opposition member as the head of a new government.

Representatives of foreign oil firms have already met with leaders of the Iraqi opposition. Ahmed Chalabi, the London-based leader of the Iraqi National Congress, said: ‘American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil.’

Thomas Harrington, professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, writes:

To read the cold-blooded imperial reasoning in both of these documents—which speak, in the first case, quite openly of the need to destabilize the region so as to reshape Israel’s “strategic environment” and, in the second of the need to dramatically increase the number of US “forward bases” in the region ….

To do so now, after the US’s systematic destruction of Iraq and Libya—two notably oil-rich countries whose delicate ethnic and religious balances were well known to anyone in or out of government with more than passing interest in history— and after carefully calibrated efforts to generate and maintain murderous and civilization-destroying stalemates in Syria and Egypt (something that is easily substantiated despite our media’s deafening silence on the subject), is downright blood-curdling.

And yet, it seems that for even very well-informed analysts, it is beyond the pale to raise the possibility that foreign policy elites in the US and Israel, like all virtually all the ambitious hegemons before them on the world stage, might have quite coldly and consciously fomented open-ended chaos in order to achieve their overlapping strategic objectives in this part of the world.

Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo observed:

“[T]he actual purpose [of the Iraq War] was to blow the country to smithereens: to atomize it, and crush it, so that it would never rise again.

“When we invaded and occupied Iraq, we didn’t just militarily defeat Iraq’s armed forces – we dismantled their army, and their police force, along with all the other institutions that held the country together. The educational system was destroyed, and not reconstituted. The infrastructure was pulverized, and never restored. Even the physical hallmarks of a civilized society – roads, bridges, electrical plants, water facilities, museums, schools – were bombed out of existence or else left to fall into disrepair. Along with that, the spiritual and psychological infrastructure that enables a society to function – the bonds of trust, allegiance, and custom – was dissolved, leaving Iraqis to fend for themselves in a war of all against all.

“… What we are witnessing in post-Saddam Iraq is the erasure of an entire country. We can say, with confidence: We came, we saw, we atomized.”

Mass deaths from terrorist attacks are now doubling every 2 years

Washington's Blog asks:

Why? This is the question that inevitably arises in the wake of such an analysis: why deliberately destroy an entire country whose people were civilized while our European ancestors were living in trees?

The people who planned, agitated for, and executed this war are the very same people who have advanced Israeli interests – at America’s expense – at every opportunity. In “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” a 1996 document prepared by a gaggle of neocons – Perle, Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was urged to “break out” of Israel’s alleged stagnation and undertake a campaign of “regime change” across the Middle East, targeting Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and eventually Iran. With the exception of Iran – and that one’s still cooking on the back burner – this is precisely what has occurred. In 2003, in the immediate wake of our Pyrrhic “victory” in Iraq, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared to a visiting delegation of American members of Congress that these “rogue states” – Iran, Libya, and Syria – would have to be next on the War Party’s target list.

The Washington Post reported in 2010:

The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks.  That is the conclusion of the three-page classified paper produced in February, 2010 by the CIA's Red Cell, a think tank set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to provide "out-of-the-box" analyses on "a full range of analytic issues."

We have Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange to thank for that disclosure. The President, when he is not reading to his daughters, is currently thanking Private Manning for her patriotism by torturing her (solitary confinement without reading material) over possessing expired toothpaste and the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair in her Ft. Leavenworth prison cell.

Forceful Persuasion: Coercive Diplomacy as an Alternative to War by Alexander L. George of Stanford University describes how the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.

Terrorism is defined as:

 The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

It seems to us, in our humble, non-expert opinion, that the War on Terror should not continue for generations more, but be brought to a swift end with an FBI raid and trial of the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, and on the private residence of Hillary Clinton, whose face is pictured at the top of this post.

The Dimming Bulb 2: Peak Electricity

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 18, 2015

City Lights 2012 - Flat mapComposite Night Image of the Earth taken by the NASA Suomi NPP Satellite in April-October 2012

Discuss this article at the Energy Table inside the Diner

LAST CHANCE TO TAKE THE ENERGY SURVEY BEFORE THE COUNT!

A few days ago, doing my usual Web Surfing for Collapse articles to link to on the Diner and our new r/globalcollapse Reddit sub, I ran into an article on the Greanville Post titled WHAT IS EUROPE. CONTINENT OR PENINSULA?

europe-map-of-europe-nightlights-satellite-woodleywonderworksThe article featured as its Header Pic a NASA image of Europe taken at night from Space.  The image is actually just a crop of the much larger composite night time map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite from April through October 2012, which I reduced in size and heads this article.   The full size pic in all its glory can be accessed by hitting the link under the header photo to the NASA website.

What that article was meant to show was how Europe really isn't a "Continent", although it is defined as such in most of your Geography Textbooks, but really just a Peninsula of the much larger Eurasian land mass.  However, that is not what really struck me when I looked at the Header Pic, what struck me was the vast difference between the Brightness of the Eurozone versus the Darkness of the African continent below, at least the portion of it visible in that cropping.  Africa is the "Dark Continent" in more ways than one here.

During the middle of the 19th century, Africa was referred to as the "Dark Continent," because little was known about the mysterious land itself. The term "Dark Continent" was most likely used for the first time by United States explorer and journalist Henry Stanley.

Obviously, with that thin band of lights on the Northern end of Africa, it's pretty obvious they're burning a whole lot less energy there than is going on nightly on the European Peninsula.  Although most often conversation amongst Energy Kollapsniks TM revolves around the availability of Liquid Fossil Fuels for powering the transportation systems we use, in reality it is the Electricity that defines the culture and lifestyle of Homo Industrialis.  When you look at the whole Map of the Globe lit up like a Suburban McMansion at Christmas, you can actually track the progression of Industrialization; you can see why the countries that are in control of Industrial culture are who they are and why everybody else out there is not particularly happy these days.  I have discussed this aspect of Industrial Civilization and Electricity before in The Dimming Bulb, in this installment I want to look at it from the Historical and Geopolitical perspectives.

You can easily tell where the Industrial lifestyle began, and you can trace it's march around the Globe as well.  The Brightness of the lighting tells the whole story if you know just a little history, and it tells you a lot about where things are going in the future too.  Before we go Back to the Future though, let's do a little review of how this all got started.

Practical application of Electricity began in the mid 1800s, and by the late 1800s the frst central power stations came online in Jolly Old England and in the Northeast of the FSoA.

Central power stations and isolated systems

The first central station providing public power is believed to be one at Godalming, Surrey, U.K. autumn 1881. The system was proposed after the town failed to reach an agreement on the rate charged by the gas company, so the town council decided to use electricity. The system lit up arc lamps on the main streets and incandescent lamps on a few side streets with hydroelectric power. By 1882 between 8 and 10 households were connected, with a total of 57 lights. The system was not a commercial success and the town reverted to gas.[16]

The first large scale central distribution supply plant was opened at Holborn Viaduct in London in 1882[17] Equipped with 1000 incandescent lightbulbs that replaced the older gas lighting, the station lit up Holborn Circus including the offices of the General Post Office and the famous City Temple church. The supply was a direct current at 110V; due to power loss in the copper wires, this amounted to 100V for the customer.

Within weeks, a parliamentary committee recommended passage of the landmark 1882 Electric Lighting Act, which allowed the licensing of persons, companies or local authorities to supply electricity for any public or private purposes.

The first large scale central power station in America was Edison's Pearl Street Station in New York, which began operating in September, 1882. The station had six 200 horsepower Edison dynamos, each powered by a separate steam engine. It was located in a business and commercial district and supplied 110 volt direct current to 85 customers with 400 lamps. By 1884 Pearl Street was supplying 508 customers with 10,164 lamps.[18]

By the mid-1880s, other electric companies were establishing central power stations and distributing electricity, including Crompton & Co. and the Swan Electric Light Company in the UK, Thomson-Houston Electric Company and Westinghouse in the US and Siemens in Germany. By 1890 there were 1000 central stations in operation.[7] The 1902 census listed 3,620 central stations. By 1925 half of power was provided by central stations.[19]

City Lights 2012 - Flat map Lights UK April-October 2012

City Lights 2012 - Flat mapLights NE USA April-October 2012


The wiring spread outward from there, and India got wired up pretty well.

City Lights 2012 - Flat mapIndia Lights April-October 2012

South America a bit less wired.

south-america-space-nightLights South America April-October 2012

Africa barely got wired at all.

Africa_Space_NightLights Africa April-October 2012

So how come India got wired up but Africa did not?  Ask yourself who was running the show in India in the 1800s?  It was the main colony of the declining British Empire, the one the Sun Never Set On because they were running all those new Lightbulbs!  LOL.  The Brits were not at the time in charge of Africa, really nobody was far as Westerners were concerned, that's why it got called the Dark Continent, besides the fact it was populated by dark skinned natives.

As time went by into the early 1900s, a couple of other places got decently wired up, Japan & China.

City Lights 2012 - Flat mapLights China & Japan April-October 2012

In the mid to late 1800s, the Anglo-Amerikan Industrial Empire was in an Expansionary Phase, and the Gunboats of Cmdr. Matthew Perry "opened" Japan forcibly in the 1850s to join the expanding Industrial Empire, as I covered some time back in the Mr. Peabody Visits Japan article. Still in the Coal fired period at this time, the Gunboats weren't using Oil yet.  The Brits were bizzy trying to make China the same kind of colony that India was, but unfortunately had some Boxers willing to fight them on this.

By the end of the 19th century, the Western powers and Japan had forced China’s ruling Qing dynasty to accept wide foreign control over the country’s economic affairs. In the Opium Wars (1839-42, 1856-60), popular rebellions and the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), China had fought to resist the foreigners, but it lacked a modernized military and suffered millions of casualties.

The Chinese weren't happy Kowtowing to the Japanese, and the Japanese weren't happy Kowtowing to the Gaijin Imperialists either, so everybody got in a big ass fight over this eventually.  The fight was called WWII, which got ended with this:

https://awesometalks.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/ng30.jpg

The Nips were outclassed with Industrial Killing and their well wired Island was turned into an Industrial Factory for Carz and Electronic toys, starting with Transistor Radios moving through Walkmans up to the latest in Smartphones, though of course in recent years have had serious competition on this stuff from the other slaves on the Asian Continent from Korea to Thailand to China.

However, at this point in the post-WWII years the further Wiring of the World began to slow, if not come to a complete halt.  With the Victory over Japan and Germany, why was further electrification of Africa and South America not undertaken?  SA is a little more wired than Africa, but not by much.

south-america-space-nightLights South America April-October 2012

As with most places that have been wired up post WWII, it's mostly along the coastline not much going into the interior.  There are a few reasons for this.

First one is that by and large, most population centers and Big Shities lie along the coastlines.  Reasons for this?

1- It's easiest to do trade with many places via boats.  You can put a lot of cargo on a boat and move it around the world over the oceans without using a whole heck of a lot of energy to do it.  In fact in the Sailing Era, that energy was all Renewable.

http://www.portmellon.net/uploads/1/0/0/7/10078822/5846457_orig.jpg

Even in the modern Container Ship era utilizing Fossil Fuels, this is relatively low energy consumption.  The ships can run on "Bunker Fuel", which is basically unrefined Oil.

http://www.transinfo.am/img/services/big/1392130262-7142.jpeg

2- Coastline areas are usually pretty flat land condusive to large scale Agriculture.  The fresh water flows down from higher elevations to these neighborhoods, so you have a continuous source of water if you are at the mouth of a decent size river, long as nobody upstream is using it all or contaminating it.  New York Shity at the terminus of the Hudson River or London at the terminus of the Thames river are typical examples of this.

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/estuaries/media/est01c_600.jpg

http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/14/78514-004-9E98EDAD.jpg

3- It's relatively EZ to get rid of all your WASTE if you are right on the coast.  The Sewage goes into the Big Sink of the Ocean.

https://www.sydneywater.com.au/Publications/Reports/AnnualReport/2007/images/WollongongSTP_above.jpg

Woolongong Sewage Treatment Plant in Oz

So the vast increase in global population since the Industrial Era began has occurred mostly at the coastlines, which of course is not Good Newz with Sea Level rising.  Just ask Miami.

http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/miami-flooding.jpg

For the most part, the Build Out phase stopped in the early 1970s at the latest, and the last 40 years has been all about continuing to bring in the necessary energy to all the places already built out to keep running them.  In some of the older industrial Big Shities like Detroit, that has already failed/collapsed.

http://opencityprojects.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/7499108236_7fd417857d_c.jpg

So your next question is just how does all the energy flow INTO the places it still goes to?  This is a pipeline and transport question mainly, although there are many geopolitical conseqences of trying to take energy stores from one location and move them to another one.  Let's look at the current pipeline networks for Oil and NG in North Amerika and Eurotrashland.

http://www.refinerlink.com/userfiles/RL%20MAD%20Pipeline%20Map.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YDdCkW9AqmY/UT31FYeVCDI/AAAAAAAABdc/1239kdVouUc/s1600/pipeline+accidents+final+animation1-2.gif


As you can see the greatest density of pipeline networks is in the TX/LA/OK neighborhood, and then filtering up from there to the North East and Upper Midwest.  This of course because in the early days, all the BIG FINDS of EZ to extract low EROEI oil in the FSoA came in these locations, and then that oil needed transport to the Industrial centers of the Midwest and to the Northeast trading ports with Europe.

As the amount of oil that could be extracted at a cheap price inside FSoA borders began to decline, those same networks were used to ship around Oil accessed/stolen from other big repositories on earth, most notably Saudi Arabia of course.  The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) was built to be able to offload oil from VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carriers), more commonly referred to as Super Tankers.

http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LaDOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/LOOP/Loop%20Images/clove.gifhttp://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LaDOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/LOOP/Loop%20Images/loop.gif

A few more large pipelines were built as time went by to move the oil out of the ground to the places that were burning it, most notably the Alaska Pipeline:

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) includes the trans-Alaska crude-oil pipeline, 12 pump stations, several hundred miles of feeder pipelines, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. TAPS is one of the world's largest pipeline systems. It is commonly called the Alaska pipeline, trans-Alaska pipeline, or Alyeska pipeline, (or the pipeline as referred to in Alaska), but those terms technically apply only to the 800 miles (1,287 km) of the pipeline with the diameter of 48 inches (122 cm) that conveys oil from Prudhoe Bay, to Valdez, Alaska. The crude oil pipeline is privately owned by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

The pipeline was built between 1974 and 1977 after the 1973 oil crisis caused a sharp rise in oil prices in the United States. This rise made exploration of the Prudhoe Bay oil field economically feasible. Environmental, legal, and political debates followed the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968, and the pipeline was built only after the oil crisis provoked the passage of legislation designed to remove legal challenges to the project.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/Trans_alaska_international.jpg

http://assets.enuygun.com/media/lib/750x525/uploads/image/2880.jpeg

As the Wiki article indicates, it only became economical to build this behemoth of a pipeline after the Arab Oil embargo of the 1970s drove up the price of Oil.  Lately there has been talk about building a natural gas (NG) pipeline out of there, either going across into Canada to join up with the current system of NG pipelines down there, or along the same route as the Oil pipeline down through Alaska, to be shipped out by liquifying the gas and dropping it onto specialized Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) ships, for sale then to the Japanese and Chinese slaves.

The problem with either of these pipelines being built is that the price you can get for NG doesn't justify the CapEx for building it.  You'll never even pay off building the pipeline, much less make a profit off of it at the current prices.  You would have to bet the price the consumer will pay for it will rise substantially, but how can that happen with fewer people working all the time at ever downward spiralling wages?  So both projects have stalled, although the Alaska Goobernator is still pushing for it because something is necessary to keep the economy running around here as the Oil in the Prudhoe Bay fields depletes and gets lower prices all the time.  He's got a huge hole in the state budget these days, and things are getting desperate down in Juneau.

Stalling also is the drive for further Oil exploration either in the Arctic Ocean or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Shell Oil recently stopped their exploration there after sinking around $9B into that White Elephant, and this week Da Goobermint decided not to offer up any leases for the oil companies to even bid on.  Why not?  Because they will get the same result that the Brazilians got a couple of weeks ago when they offered up leases for sale in the supposed Giant Oil Reservoirs in Deep Water off their shores.  They got no bidders practically speaking.  Same as the NG pipeline for Alaska, with the price of Oil as low as it is, the CapEx involved in accessing and drilling up this Oil is huge, and you can't pay it off at the prices the consumers of the oil can afford to pay.  Although Environmentalists are gladdened by this decision and hope some Polar Bears will be saved, this decision has nothing to do with Environmental consciousness on the part of Da Goobermint or the Oil Companies.  It's strictly an economic decision.

Now let's move over to Europe, where you see a similar history and similar economic issues as far as continuing to move the Oil from under the ground where it still remains to the places that have been burning it since Oil replaced Coal as the main energy driver for their industrial economy.  First, let's look at the Pipeline Maps for Europe:

http://static1.squarespace.com/static/546f7732e4b095d2722abd0f/t/5499bde8e4b0439c6133934f/1419361773962/?format=750w

http://www.mappery.com/maps/Proposed-European-Crude-Oil-Pipelines-Map.mediumthumb.gif

As you can see, similar to the build out of Oil Pipelines in North America from where the Oil was found down in TX and OK to where it was burned in places like Detroit and Cleveland in the early part of the 20th Century, pipelines were built to take Oil from where it was found in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and bring it to the Industrial Factories  where it was being burned, primarily in Britain and Germany in the early 20th Century.  While the Boxers were fighting in China, you had a similar battle going on in Europe over who would get to control the Oil coming from MENA, and the first big battle was fought for this, that was WWI.

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/n3mzmahboqu4lhmtgqkp.jpg

The Brits won this war against the Krauts, with the assistance of their then still flush with oil former colony of the Amurkans.  They carved up MENA into a bunch of random countries from the old Ottoman Empire with the Sykes-Picot Agreement to insure the flow of energy would come their way after the war.

The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France,[1] with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916.[2] The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.[3]

The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence.[4] An "international administration" was proposed for Palestine.[5] The terms were negotiated by the French diplomat François Georges-Picot and Briton Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes–Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, "the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted."[6]

As you can see here, even prior to WWII and the Holocaust, there was an "agreement" about Palestine, later to become Israel.  Essentially, Israel was designed to be the Military Base from which to maintain control over all of MENA Oil assets.  Endless Military Aid has been furnished to the Israelis since WWII as a means to maintain this control, and the warfare down there between the Israelis and all the Arab states which surround them has been virtually continuous since WWII.

Despite the ongoing wars down there through the time period, overall the Oil was successfully transported through the pipeline system to the factories in Northern Europe, and even the Krauts who lost both WWI and WWII actually did fine here, since the same banksters financed both sides in the battle and after the war was finished, refinanced rebuilding of all the factories in both Britain and Germany that had been destroyed in the war to begin with!  LOL.

Like North America with the building of the Alaska Pipeline, the Northern Europeans also got a fresh infusion of Juice with the discovery of North Sea Oil, and both Britain and Norway got a big bonus from this over the last 40 years, but this bonanza is starting to run thin now, and there are no new good sources of local Oil to be accessed at anything within a reasonable price range to justify the CapEx.  So the Western European Nations are getting desperate for Oil and NG, and their last, best hope for this is…the RUSKIES!

Mother Russia still has a decent supply of Oil left, not just in the Arctic Ocean but out there in the vast land mass of Siberia too!  What's the problem?  PIPELINES!  Getting the Oil from where it still is in Mother Russia to where the Eurotrash would like to burn it will take extensive construction of new pipelines, which in some cases are even longer than the fucking Alaska Pipeline!  Besides that, the Eurotrash are competing against the Chinese, who would like to have new pipelines for this treasure trove of still remaining Fossil Fuel Energy piped in THEIR direction.  Who if either will the Banksters finance for contstruction of said new pipelines?  Just like Alaska, they won't fund either one of them, because there is no Return on Investment (ROI).  in no place left on Earth is it possible to sell the energy at a price the consumer can afford to pay for it.

Knowing all of this, it is now possible to predict where the Lights will go off first and how the Powerdown off Industrial Civilization will proceed.

You have two Legacy Infrastructure Projects here, built out from the beginning of the 20th Century to move the energy around, the Electrical Grid and the Pipeline Network.  Both systems are decaying, and the ROI for either fixing and maintaining what has already been built or for building new ones simply is not there anymore.  It just costs too much to drag the energy out of the ground and move it over to places where fewer and fewer people all the time can afford to burn it.  The persistent GROWTH necessary to finance such a system has come to a halt now.  The population of Homo Sap across the whole planet has exceeded the capacity of the planet to support that population on an Environmental and Resource level, and so that population must and will contract.  The easily accessed Fossil Fuel Energy that allowed for the exponential growth of this population is now all gone, it exists now as CO2 up in the atmosphere.

The population of Homo Sap will begin its decline first in the Peripheral countries, better known as the "3rd World".  Similarly, the Lights will start going off first in these countries, and the Legacy Pipeline and Electrical Grid systems that deliver the Energy to the 1st World Nations will continue to function a while longer, but become ever more difficult to maintain and to continue to input new Energy to ever more impoverished consumers of the Energy, and they too will then begin to shut down one by one at first perhaps, but at some point the whole system will crash.  This may occur in tandem with or shortly after the crash of the monetary system controlling this distribution of Energy.

The Last Big Shities to still have Lights On from central grid power?  In all probability, Berlin,the City of London and New York Shity on Wall Street, the centers of the Finance that built the whole system to begin with.  When the Lights Go Out on Broadway, you can say that TEOTWAWKI has arrived.  It may take a little while yet, but you can watch the progress inward, you can see it happening in real time.  It's not a conjecture anymore, it's reality.

More Econ & Energy Blogs & Rants off the keyboard & microphone of the Rogue Economist, AKA Reverse Engineer

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US-Israel Wage War on Iran in Syria

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on April 4, 2015

Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air ove Gaza City

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April 4, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – The ongoing conflict in Syria has always been a proxy conflict aimed at  Iran, as well as nearby Russia, and more distant China. As far back as 2007, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh warned in his 9-page New Yorker report “The Redirection Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” that a region-wide sectarian war was being engineered by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel – all of whom were working in concert even in 2007, to build the foundation of a sectarian militant army.

The report would cite various serving and former US officials who warned that the extremists the West was backing were “preparing for cataclysmic conflict.”

In retrospect, considering the emergence of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), Hersh’s warning has turned out to be prophetic. The destabilization of Syria and Lebanon were noted in particular as prerequisites for a coming war with Iran. Confirming this would be the lengthy policy treatise published by the Brookings Institution in 2009 titled, “Which Path to Persia?”

In it, it is openly discussed that regime change for the purpose of establishing regional hegemony is the only goal of the United States and its regional partners, with attempts to frame the conflict with Iran as an issue of “national security” and “global stability” serving as mere canards.

Throughout the document, US policymakers admit that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are merely one of several pretexts being used to foster political subversion from within and justify war from beyond Iran’s borders.

More importantly, Brookings details explicitly how the US will wage war on Iran, through Israel, in order to maintain plausible deniability. It states specifically under a chapter titled, “Allowing or Encouraging an Israeli Military Strike,” that:

…the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives). 

Various diplomatic postures are discussed in consideration of the best formula to mitigate complicity amid a “unilateral” Israeli strike on Iran. Of course, and as the report notes, US-Israeli foreign policy is unified with Israel’s defenses a product of vast and continuous US support. Anything Israel does, therefore, no matter the political or diplomatic facade constructed, it does with America’s full backing – hence the inclusion of “encouraging” in the title of the chapter.

Today, an alleged “fallout” between the US and Israel has been grabbing headlines. Beyond the most superficial of political commentary, there have been no real manifestations of this “fallout.” Israel is still receiving immense aid both military and political from the United States, and Israeli foreign policy is still one with Washington.

The purpose of the feigned “fallout” is to produce room between the US and Israel, so that possible upcoming “unilateral” actions taken by Israel can be disavowed by a “cold” US.

The BBC’s article, “Netanyahu row with Obama administration deepens,” reported that:

A row between the US and Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened, with the Israeli leader accusing America and others of “giving up” on trying to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. The US secretary of state questioned Mr Netanyahu’s judgement on the issue.

This is precisely the political charade implied by the Brookings Institution in their 2009 report as being necessary before any so-called “unilateral” action by Israel could be taken. In reality there is no row, simply a need for establishing plausible deniability ahead of an egregious act of unwarranted, unjust military aggression.

The War on Syria: Containing Iran Before, During, and After Airstrikes 

Such theatrics are but one troubling sign that aggression toward Iran is still very much in the cards, that current negotiations are but a smokescreen for preparations to strike Iran anyway regardless of what concession it is willing to make, and that such aggression may take place once the US and its regional partners believe Syria has been reduced to its weakest state possible – if outright regime change is seen as impossible.

Brookings states clearly that:

As the conclusion discusses, an air campaign against Iran’s nuclear sites would likely have to be coupled with a containment strategy—before, during, and especially after the strikes. Containment would be necessary to hinder Iran from reconstituting its nuclear program, prevent it from retaliating against the United States and its allies, and to deal with Iran’s support for violent extremist groups and other anti-status quo activities. 

Admittedly, part of that containment strategy have been attempts to destroy Syria and Lebanon – where the majority of Iran’s regional support is based and where Iran would marshal support from in the immediate aftermath of an unprovoked attack on its territory by US-Israeli aggression.

In addition to propping up terrorists across the region to attack Iran’s allies abroad, the Brookings report dedicated an entire chapter to “Inspiring an Insurgency: Supporting Iranian Minority and Opposition Groups.” Here, Brookings talks about backing the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – the latter being a verified terrorist organization, previously listed by the US State Department as such, and guilty of killing not only Iranian civilians throughout decades of terrorism, but also US military personal and US civilian contractors.

For those who have difficulties believing the US would back Al Qaeda terrorists for the purpose of overthrowing the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Syria, they need only look at overt and continuous support for MEK terrorists in a bid to overthrow the government of Iran to uncover the reality of Washington’s willingness to sponsor terrorism.

Brookings would openly admit that:

…even if U.S. support for an insurgency failed to produce the overthrow of the regime, it could still place Tehran under considerable pressure, which might either prevent the regime from making mischief abroad or persuade it to make concessions on issues of importance to the United States (such as its nuclear program and support to Hamas, Hizballah, and the Taliban). Indeed, Washington might decide that this second objective is a more compelling rationale for supporting an insurgency than the (much less likely) goal of actually overthrowing the regime.

Brookings describes in exceptional detail how the US would organize its proxy terrorists. It would claim:

Insurgencies take a long time to succeed, when they succeed at all. It takes time for insurgents to identify leaders and recruit personnel, establish bases and gather equipment, and learn tactics and proficiency with weapons. It takes even longer to win popular support, erode the morale of the government’s armed forces, and then undermine the government’s legitimacy. 

It would also claim:

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could take care of most of the supplies and training for these groups, as it has for decades all over the world. However, Washington would need to decide whether to provide the groups with direct military assistance…

And finally, it would admit:

To protect neighboring countries providing sanctuary to the insurgents. Any insurgency against the Iranian regime would need a safe haven and conduit for arms and other supplies through one or more of Iran’s neighbors. 

This precise strategy has been implemented regarding Syria. Material support for terrorists operating in Syria has been provided for years by the West, with the West’s vast media monopolies providing rhetoric to undermine the legitimacy of the Syrian government, and US-created sanctuaries outside of Syria (primarily in Turkey and Jordan) for terrorists to to seek safe havens in and through which a torrent of arms, cash, equipment, and fighters flow.

When understanding that the war in Syria is but a lead up to a larger conflict with Iran – with a literal signed confession created by US policymakers clearly serving as the foundation for several years of American foreign policy across the Middle East – one begins to understand the urgent imperative incumbent upon those who, for the sake of their own self-preservation, are tasked with stopping it.

Russian and Chinese efforts to obstruct US designs in Syria are about more than selfish regional interests, they are a matter of self-preservation, stopping the conflict in Syria from spilling into Iran next, southern Russia afterwards, and eventually enveloping western China as well.

That the US has committed itself to fueling chaos in Syria despite the unlikelihood of actually overthrowing the government in Damascus, costing tens of thousands of innocent people their lives, illustrates the callousness of US foreign policy, highlighting that Western sponsorship of terrorism around the world constitutes perhaps the most egregious, continuous, and most horrifically demonstrable threat to global peace and stability in our age.

As the US and Israel conduct their latest diplomatic charade, a harbinger of even more chaos to come, those concerned must read the policy papers of the West and understand the true nature of their methodology if ever they hope to expose it and stop it.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

Israel-Hezbollah War Escalation

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on January 28, 2015

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The Next War In The Middle East Has Begun And Israel Vows ‘To Act Powerfully On All Fronts’

Israel and Hezbollah are at war.  On top of everything else that is going on in the world, now we have a new war in the Middle East, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next.  Israel has been preparing for this moment for more than 8 years.  So has Hezbollah.  According to some reports, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of 50,000 rockets since the end of the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006.  If all-out warfare does erupt, we could potentially see tens of thousands of missiles rain down into an area not too much larger than the state of New Jersey.  And of course the Israeli military is also much more sophisticated and much more powerful than it was back in 2006.  If cooler heads do not prevail, we could be on the verge of witnessing a very bloody war.  But right now nobody seems to be in the mood to back down.  Hezbollah is absolutely fuming over an airstrike earlier this month that killed six fighters and a prominent Iranian general.  And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is “prepared to act powerfully on all fronts” in response to a Hezbollah ambush that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven.  Just such an incident is what sparked the war between the two sides back in 2006.  But this time, a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could spark a full-blown regional war.

Earlier this month, Israel launched a surprise assault against a group of Hezbollah fighters that Israel believed was planning to conduct terror attacks inside their borders.

But in addition to killing six Hezbollah fighters, a very important Iranian general was also killed.  Needless to say, Iran is furious

Iran has told the United States that Israel should expect consequences for an attack on the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights that killed an Iranian general, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Revolutionary Guards General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi died alongside six fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group in the January 18 attack on forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

And we didn’t have to wait too long for a response.  An IDF convoy was hit by anti-tank missiles near the Lebanon border.  Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven were wounded.  The following is how the Jerusalem Post described the attack.

The terrorists launched five or six anti-tank missiles from a distance of at least four kilometers from their targets, striking the vehicles as they drove two kilometers from the international border.

In the heavy Hezbollah ambush, a military D-Max vehicle containing a company commander and his driver from the Givati Brigade was the first vehicle hit.

This prompted all of those inside an IDF jeep behind it to quickly evacuate their vehicle before it, too, was hit and destroyed with missiles.

Just over an hour after that attack, mortar rounds struck an Israeli military position on Mt. Hermon.

In response to those strikes, the Israeli military hit back at Hezbollah positions on the other side of the Lebanese border…

Israel struck back with combined aerial and ground strikes on Hezbollah operational positions along the border, the military said.

At least 50 artillery shells were fired at the villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba, according to Lebanese officials.

But Israel is probably not done.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising a “disproportionate” response to the Hezbollah attacks, and he says that Hezbollah should consider what Israel recently did to Hamas before taking any more aggressive action…

“To all those trying to challenge us on the northern border, I suggest looking at what happened here, not far from the city of Sderot, in the Gaza strip.  Hamas absorbed the hardest blow since it was founded last summer, and the IDF is ready to act with force on any front.”

If things continue to escalate, we might not just be talking about another Hezbollah-Israel war.

In the south, tensions between Israel and Hamas remain near all-time highs.  In the event of a full-blown war, Hamas probably could be easily convinced to join the fray.  And if Hamas jumps in, the rest of the Palestinians might not be far behind.

In addition, ISIS now has territory near the border with Israel

Because of the strategic importance of the terrain, Iran and Hezbollah have been building infrastructure there for some time.  But their interest in the Golan skyrocketed in December.

The reason: ISIS gained a foothold there when the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade of the Free Syrian Army “defected” from the de facto alliance with the U.S.-Arab coalition against Assad, and declared its allegiance to ISIS.  The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had been one of the most active rebel factions holding territory directly adjacent to the “area of separation” between Syria and Israel administered (in theory) by the UN.  In particular, it has held the southern line of confrontation with Syrian regime forces, in the transit corridor leading to the Quneitra border crossing.

Needless to say, ISIS would be extremely interested in any conflict with Israel.

And of course there are all of the other surrounding Islamic nations that are not too fond of Israel either.

The truth is that the Middle East is a perpetual tinderbox.  One spark could set the entire region on fire.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to do all that he can to undermine Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The animosity between the two is well known, and now an “Obama army” of political operatives has been sent to Israel to help defeat Netanyahu in the upcoming elections.

The “leader” of this “Obama army” is Jeremy Bird, who was the national field director for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.  But he has plenty of company.  Just check out the following list that was compiled by WND

—–

Besides Bird, the 270 Strategies team includes the following former Obama staffers:

  • Mitch Steward, a 270 Strategies founding partner who helped the Obama campaign build what the U.K. Guardian called “a historic ground operation that will provide the model for political campaigns in America and around the world for years to come.”
  • Mark Beatty, a founding partner who served as deputy battleground states director for the Obama campaign. He had primary responsibility for Obama’s election plans for the battleground states.
  • Marlon Marshall, a founding partner at 270 Strategies who joins the team after holding several key positions in national Democratic politics, most recently as deputy national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Betsy Hoover, a founding partner who served as director of digital organizing on the Obama campaign.
  • Meg Ansara, who served as national regional director for Obama for America where she was responsible for overseeing the 2012 programs in the Midwest and southern states.
  • Bridget Halligan, who served as the engagement program manager on the digital team of the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Kate Catherall, who served as Florida deputy field director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
  • Alex Lofton, who most recently served as the GOTV director of Cleveland, Ohio, for the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Martha Patzer, the firm’s vice president who served as deputy email director at Obama for America.
  • Jesse Boateng, who served as the Florida voter registration director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
  • Ashley Bryant, who served most recently as the Ohio digital director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Max Clermont, who formerly served as a regional field director in Florida for Obama’s re-election campaign.
  • Max Wood, who served as a deputy data director in Florida for the 2012 Obama campaign.

—–

As the first month of 2015 wraps up, our world is becoming increasingly unstable.

In addition to the oil crash, the collapse of the euro, looming stock market troubles, civil war in Ukraine, tensions with Russia, an economic slowdown in China and imploding economies all over South America, now we have more war in the Middle East.

And if lots of missiles start flying back and forth between Israel and Hezbollah, it could potentially spark the bloodiest war in that region that any of us have ever seen.

An alternative view: lest we forget on Remembrance Sunday.

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog onNovember 9, 2014

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An alternative view: lest we forget on Remembrance Sunday.

You can persuade me of many things. But not that my Dad giving up three years of his life was worth it….or made any difference to anything

Last night marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today is the 96th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The Wall existed in the first place because Soviet fascism knew no other way to keep its captives inside the cage. It was also a direct result of the collapse of Germany in 1945. Idiot holocaust denial claptrap about numbers aside, Hitler came to power on the back of an inflationary depression for which the Jews were largely blamed…and in which the currency was referred to as Jüdenkonfetti. My father read Mein Kampf in 1937, and immediately volunteered for the RAF. He was right wing, but an idealist with insight who knew the Nazis were coming.

You may think all these somewhat random observations, but in fact they are closely interlinked. What we should Remember on the Remembrance Sunday is just how we much can learn from the past…and just how little changes in the future if we don’t learn from the past. You may need to read that twice or more often. Then continue as normal.

The First World War began in August 1914 because a collection of six treaties had been signed, a very obscure radical had assassinated a fairly obscure Archduke, and two sides of the same Royal family were playing a game called Battleships. Somewhere between 8 and 10 million people died as a result. For nothing. You can be certain it was for nothing, because Germany remained bitter about losing, and that too was a major factor in Hitler’s rise to power. The Arab nations who fought against the Turks were cheated out of their gains – a spectre still with us today – and Hungary lost two thirds of its territory simply because it was part of the losing Hapsburg dynasty’s empire.

The Second World War began on September 3rd 1939. Billed as a fight to eleminate fascism, it did this by taking the most cruel fascist regime in history, the USSR, to its bosom after 1941. In fact, the war was fought against Germany and Japan to protect three Empires: the British, American, and Russian. Thirty years on, weapons had become more efficient, and the idea of bombing folks was considerably more in vogue….as indeed it still is today. So this time, 48 million people died. For nothing. You can be certain it was for nothing, for the following reasons:

1. The two main winners claimed it as a victory for liberty and democracy. 70 years on, both countries are bankrupt, and heading pell-mell towards corporacratic dictatorship. Viciously brutal religious fascists are murdering infidels on an industrial scale. The Special Relationships solution to this is….to bomb folks. In Vietnam, the solution was…to bomb Cambodia. In Iraq, the solution was to bomb Baghdad. Some bombing of Syria is already taking place.

2. The third winning combatant no longer exists, having collapsed under the weight of its own repression. It has been replaced by a vaguely official mafia of moguls, and the condition of the average Russian citizen is as bad as ever.

3. The alleged main loser was divided into two countries, and given billions in Marshall Aid. 70 years on, it is the dominating member of a European Union who size and illberal tendencies would’ve pleased Adolf Hitler no end. In 2014, a United Germany has meted out the precise same brainless austerity it last donated to Greece in 1944.

4. The Grossdeutschland created by Hitler went for Lebensraum in the East. After the fall of the USSR, the EU did precisely the same thing, and it has had exactly the same effect on Russia’s dictator as it had on Stalin: an uneasiness and new invasions to deter the spread of Brussels am Berlin. In turn, just as Hitler found the Eastern States truculent and passionately nationalist, so to are the newer EU members refusing to do the Superstate’s bidding.

5. Today, the vast majority of “thinking progressives” vilify Israel. Anti-semitism in central, east and south eastern Europe is as nastily casual as it ever was. Israel hasn’t covered itself in glory, but 75 years after the Iranian Ba’ath Party held secret meetings with SS representatives – following which a letter bulging with fulsome praise for annihilation plans for the Jews was dispatched to the Reichschancellery – Iraelis still find themselves surrounded by hostile Arabs as bitter as ever about the way they were cheated in 1919, 1926, and 1947.

Nearly 60 million dead. For nothing. History has carried on into a future which George Orwell foresaw as early as 1948.

After the War in Britain, Labour swept to power on a mood of radical change and forward to a better, classless future for all. Today, the same snotnosed, superior and patronising socio-educational elite that drove pre-Empire loyalist Toryism is in control…and more powerful than ever, comprising as it does the great majority of both Coalition and Shadow Cabinets.

“Remember the glorious dead” say these same idiots – many of whose grandparents profiteered in both Wars. There is no glory in any death that achieves nothing.

On Remembrance Sunday, this is what we should remember:

War solves nothing and changes precious little. And ideologies reverse progress.

Chill Winds

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler
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Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  August 25, 2014

The new year officially starts in January, but for me, and perhaps many of you, the internal calendar re-sets at the end of the summer, where the programming of the school year lingers on. As the torpor of August sweeps away, one senses that heavier action lies ahead. Footsteps quicken in the crisping air, the days get shorter, and a new urgency propels events.

Consider, for instance, all the damage and destruction that ISIS (or ISIL or IS) has been able to pull off in summer heat that averages 110 degrees in the daytime in that part of the world. Many Americans would have trouble hoisting a jumbo shrimp out of a cocktail cup in that kind of weather, let alone scrambling around a desert with 30 pounds of firearms and extra ammo. The US has once again lulled itself into a false sense of security that it can control a battle theater with air power alone. So, here at summer’s end, we’re congratulating ourselves for “saving” the Mosul dam with drones and air strikes, but you can be sure that the next move is up to ISIS, and it will be calculated to horrify.

The Mosul dam is rated “the most dangerous dam in the world” by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Its instability is legendary — it was built by Saddam Hussein on water-soluble gypsum and requires extraordinary routine “re-grouting” operations to hold it together. What happens if ISIS controls the few roads that allow cement trucks to get there? I guess we’ll find out in a month or so.

West of there, in North Africa, Libya is in the process of completely cracking up. Islamist militias hold the old capital, Tripoli, where they destroyed the main airport and blew up a major oil storage facility. A rump national government fled to Tobruk near the border with Egypt. In between, south of Benghazi, lie Libya’s oil fields, a nice potential prize for Islamic maniacs, if they can manage to keep them operating, which is saying a lot. The Libyan fields are managed by the European oil companies Total (France), Eni (Italy), and Repsol (Spain). Their technicians have been fleeing the scene lately. Under Gaddafi. Libya contributed 1.6 million barrels a day to world oil production. Lately, it was running around 600,000 b/d. Where will it go from here?

Ukraine and Russia stand in an uneasy stalemate at summer’s end. Ukraine would like to regain control over the far eastern provinces around Donetsk and Luhansk where a lot of heavy industry from the Soviet days still operates. The trouble is: Ukraine is broke. It can’t pay its army. It can barely fuel its planes and tanks. The country faces related challenges getting in its renowned grain harvest this year with no money and little fuel. And it will soon feel the cold fingers of a harsh winter around its throat, with poor prospects for receiving the Russian gas and oil it has always depended on. Russia’s Putin seems to have wanted little more than Ukraine’s cooperation in its Eurasian Custom’s Union. But the USA and its NATO allies stuck their beaks in and tried to prevent that from happening, shoving Humpty-Dumpty Ukraine off a wall. Now that historically sore beset country has busted up and it is not likely to be put back together. Its best chance for continued survival would be to revert to a dependent relationship with Russia — grain for gas and oil — but we are still working to prevent that, in what may be looked back on as the dumbest geopolitical ploy of the new century.

Israel is increasingly cast as the bad guy in the Middle East. The threat of annihilation has made its leadership a little meshuggah over the years, but when all is said and done a cessation of rocket fire into that country would go a long way to starting some kind of diplomatic dialogue where there can be none for now. A large body of world opinion holds that firing rockets into Israel is a legitimate expression of political grievance. The problem is that it exactly resembles warfare. In fact, the most sedulous apologists for it have not really tried to define it otherwise. The net result is that acts of war are met with war. In the meantime, Israel continues to dismantle the Hamas command-and-control infrastructure. There is no other way to stop the rockets except to agree to cease to exist, and that, as they say in Hollywood, is not an option.

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

 

Bombs of Democracy: A Failure to Communicate

Off the microphone of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on August 9, `2014

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Democracy comes to you - bomber


Snippet:

…So you get out of this what we got here now, which is the way the dopes running the show want it. To paraphrase from Cool Hand Luke, It is a Failure to Communicate. Not the inability of the FSoA to communicate Democracy to other countries by dropping Death from Above on them, no it is not that failure at all. It is the failure of the people dropping these bombs to realize that it just wont work anymore. They keep digging one bigger hole after another, in the “You Break It, You Own It” paradigm. Deal here is, all these folks want to Own are what is left of the Assets of any of these places (the remaining Oil), they don’t want any of the Liabilities (all those impoverished people).

Solution? Eliminate as many impoverished people as possible through War, Starvation and Disease, then once they have bought their Ticket to the Great Beyond, THEN you go in and scarf up the remaining resources! Plenty of Conspiratorial Theorists out there who will tell you this is the Ultimate Plan of the Illuminati, and will cite the Georgia Guidestones Number of 500M People as Target for Global Human Population as evidence for this Master Plan. It could be true, but there are some problems with the plan overall…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

Also don’t miss the Top Grossing Rant on the Diner, ANTI-DOLLARS!!!, now past 900 Listens and reaching for the 4 Digit Milestone.  Help me get my Elvis Suit and Listen Today to ANTI-DOLLARS!!!

RE

Beware: Israel the Eager Provocateur

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on August 8, 2014

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August 8, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – With hostilities once again erupting between Israeli forces and Palestine, onlookers must keep in mind the greater agenda in which the current violence is playing out and the stated agenda of achieving hegemony over the Middle East in which Israel plays a pivotal role – as the “unilateral aggressor.”

FOB Israel 

Of course, Israel does nothing unilaterally. It is a stunted, militaristic faux-state that depends entirely on the West for its continued existence. From the funds it builds its military with, to the very hardware it buys and maintains, starting from the day the modern state of Israel was founded up to and including today, Israel is in reality a state-sized forward operating base (FOB). Wikipedia defines a FOB as follows:

“The base may be used for an extended period of time. FOBs are traditionally supported by Main Operating Bases that are required to provide backup support to them.[citation needed] An FOB also improves reaction time to local areas as opposed to having all troops on the main operating base.”  

As such, Israel’s constant and otherwise irrational belligerence makes perfect sense. An FOB’s priorities are not prosperity and peace as would a nation’s, but rather to engage forward into enemy territory. The trick over the years has been to portray Israel as a nation, while propping up its constant belligerence and aggression as “self-defense.” To keep this illusion in motion, Israel and its regional and Western collaborators have even created full-time enemies, including Hamas itself – a creation of Israeli intelligence and to this day primarily propped up by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of which are defacto regional partners with the West and of course Israel itself.

The Wall Street Journal reported in their article, “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas,” that (emphasis added): 

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with “Yassins,” primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric.

 

This is in fact exactly what Hamas is still being used today for – to counter real opposition movements by dividing against each other different factions of Muslims and secular organizations alike, in confusion and armed combat, preventing a greater, unified front against Western expansion and exploitation throughout the region. Extremist groups closely aligned to Hamas, including Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, would flood into Iraq during the US occupation to “serendipitously” disrupt united Sunni-Shia’a resistance, and create bloody infighting that broke the back of meaningful opposition against foreign occupation. The same method is being used again in Syria, and with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) incursion into Iraq weeks ago, yet again against Baghdad



Divided and in perpetual conflict, the Arab World across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has not been able to create strong, secular, nationalist nations to protect Arab socioeconomic and political interests. In the process, the West has been able to exploit, divide, and conquer regions of MENA over and over again. Israel’s role as the ultimate casus belli, instigator, and aggressor, has been instrumental in keeping this hegemonic enterprise alive and well with the region kept in a perpetual and crippling defensive posture. 

Israel’s Role as “Unilateral Aggressor” is Stated US Policy

Logistically, it is obvious Israel does not exist without Western support, and therefore does not act without Western approval. The illusion of its unilateral aggression is designed specifically to lend the West plausible deniability for brutality and unprovoked aggression it believes it cannot afford to be associated with directly. This is stated across years of US policy papers, including the most definitive report on the subject, Brooking Institution’s 2009 report “Which Path to Persia?” 

The report itself conspires to use covert provocations to trigger a war with Iran, to undermine it politically through foreign-sponsored “protests” augmented by covert armed groups, the direct funding, arming, and use of listed terrorist organizations against the Iranian people, and specifically the use of Israel to attack Iran with covert Western backing to make it appear as if Tel Aviv took the steps unilaterally. It specifically states: 

“An Israeli air campaign against Iran would have a number of very important differences from an American campaign. First, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has the problem of overflight transit from Israel to Iran. Israel has no aircraft carriers, so its planes must take off from Israeli air bases. It also does not possess long-range bombers like the B-1 or B-2, or huge fleets of refueling tankers, all of which means that unlike the United States, Israel cannot avoid flying through someone’s air space. The most direct route from Israel to Iran’s Natanz facility is roughly 1,750 kilometers across Jordan and Iraq. As the occupying power in Iraq, the United States is responsible for defending Iraqi airspace. “Which Path to Persia?-page 105 (.pdf)

“From the American perspective, this negates the whole point of the option—distancing the United States from culpability—and it could jeopardize American efforts in Iraq, thus making it a possible nonstarter for Washington. Finally, Israeli violation of Jordanian airspace would likely create political problems for King Abdullah of Jordan, one of America’s (and Israel’s) closest Arab friends in the region. Thus it is exceedingly unlikely that the United States would allow Israel to overfly Iraq, and because of the problems it would create for Washington and Amman, it is unlikely that Israel would try to fly over Jordan.” Which Path to Perisa?-page 106 (.pdf)

“An Israeli attack on Iran would directly affect key American strategic interests. If Israel were to overfly iraq, both the Iranians and the vast majority of people around the world would see the strike as abetted, if not authorized, by the United States. Even if Israel were to use another route, many Iranians would still see the attack as American supported or even American orchestrated. After all, the aircraft in any strike would be American produced, supplied, and funded F-15s and F-16s, and much of the ordnance would be American made. In fact, $3 billion dollars in U.S. assistance annually sustains the IDF’s conventional superiority in the region.” Which Path to Persia-page 106 (.pdf) 

“…the Israelis may want to hold off until they have a peace deal with Syria in hand (assuming that Jerusalem believes that one is within reach), which would help them mitigate blowback from Hizballah and potentially Hamas. Consequently, they might want Washington to push hard in mediating between Jerusalem and Damascus.” -page 109 (.pdf) 

With the US fully withdrawn from Iraq and Damascus significantly weakened, many of these problems have been adequately addressed, and with the US’ perceived “failure” in and “withdrawal” from the region being eagerly reported by the Western press itself, the stage is set for the ultimate staged “unilateral” attack by Israel, not only against its own Hamas provocateurs, but through a series of dubious associations, Hezbollah, Damascus, and even Iran itself. 

Of course, another possibility exists. As seen before, Israeli belligerence and intentional role as regional arch-villain has been used to undermine targets throughout the region as well as boost others up. That Hamas’ current and most public supporters are Israel’s own regional collaborators, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a quick and humiliating stalemate for Israel would help boost the credibility of Riyadh and Doha across the region ahead of renewed pushes against both Damascus and Baghdad. 

Whichever route Israel takes, it will be apparent soon enough. Should the conflict expand rapidly and involve Hezbollah, the final battle may be underway. If the conflict remains limited to Hamas, the possibility that the Israel is trying to lend Hamas’ public sponsors in Riyadh and Doha credibility and momentum throughout the region will be greater. 

Israel: The Bottom Line

What Israel is doing across the region is both criminal and demands condemnation. However, it must be condemned in the context of a belligerent client regime acting not in the best interests of the Israeli people or toward peace, prosperity, and coexistence with its neighbors, but rather for foreign interests that see the nation instead as a massive forward operating base. Protesting Israel alone is not enough. Boycotting Israeli businesses and industries is also fruitless and even helps play into the engineered strategy of tension constructed by Israel’s sponsors. Israel does not fund its military might by local cottage or even national industry, it does so via immense foreign aid.

Instead, to protest and undermine Israel’s role as regional provocateur, target the corporate-financier interests that feed it billions of dollars annually. Separate, isolate, and protest Israel’s political leadership rather than Israel’s existence and population. Reach out to Israelis who oppose their government’s current posture of perpetual provocations, and those in the middle who may be swayed one way or another.

By throwing rocks at Israel as a whole, one plays into the besieged mentality the government invests immense resources in perpetuating among common Israelis. Those who might otherwise see their government as the villain will seek its protection against irrational external hatred directed at the entire nation rather than at those responsible for its criminal extraterritorial brutality – whether it is in the occupied territories of Palestine, or across the borders of its neighbors in Syria, Iraq, Iran, or beyond.

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Modern Era Causes and Conclusions

Of the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 7, 2014

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Snippet:

…What with all the Geopolitical Doom going on in Ukraine as NATO tries to put the Thumbscrews to Vlad the Impaler, California on the verge of drying up and Blowing Away sending Californicators in the OPPOSITE direction BACK to Oklahoma (which is not doing much better really) and Ebola Virus being scare mongered throughout the MSM, one theater of collapse I have notably MISSED covering so far is the ongoing War between the Israelis and the Palestinians inhabiting the so called “Gaza Strip”, which is where after the creation of the State of Israel in the aftermath of WWII is where a lot of displaced Palestinians ended up.

As anyone who has been alive for the last half century knows, this is not a new War, just the latest flare-up in a war ongoing since Israel was created as a modern state back in 1948 or so. From 1917 after the end of WWI when the Brits clobbered the old Ottoman Empire with the modern machines of warfare, the neighborhood belonged to them as a Colony, but in 1948 the VERY dominant FSoA and the newly created United Nations basically created Israel by Fiat, and the surviving Jews from Europe and WWII migrated there en masse…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

War Zones

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air ove Gaza City
Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  July 21, 2014

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summed it up the other day when he said, “We use our rockets to protect our women and children; they [Hamas] use their women and children to protect their rockets.”

Some time ago, the Left adopted the Palestinians as their pet oppressed minority group so there is nothing that Israel might do that will be okay with them, except to commit suicide, that is, cease to exist — which is the stated policy of Hamas. Every time Israel refuses the suggestion that it cease to exist, the Left becomes inflamed. They cannot imagine why Israel would prefer to fight for its existence than to roll over and die.

The Palestinian leadership doesn’t really want to talk about any resolution to the enduring crisis in which Israel is granted the right to exist. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for negotiation, and so they have literally painted themselves into a geographical corner of the region called the Gaza Strip where one of their other policies is to grow the Palestinian population in the hopes of eventually wiping Israel off the map by sheer demographic pressure. The political Right Wing of Israel is using exactly the same tactic in the contested West Bank. All of that is tragic, of course, because when the oil age comes to an end the entire region of the southern Levant will probably support one-twentieth of the population of all ethnic groups.

The New York Times reported that street protests against Israel had broken out in London and Paris, giving the impression that some broad national sentiment was being expressed when, in fact, the protesters were from the large Muslim communities that these nations had foolishly invited to immigrate there. Has anyone in the West still failed to notice the pugnacity of Islam in our time? Islam does not want to co-exist with the West anymore than the Palestinians want to grant Israel the right to exist.

Luckily for the West, there is enough animosity between the Islamic factions to distract Islam from its mission to defeat all the great-and-small Satans cluttering up their world. All this is happening as that world lurches into the twilight of the oil age, which until lately had given so much financial leverage to Islam. Really, the entire Middle East, including Israel, has overpopulated itself so severely that the only plausible outcome is the desperate fight over what’s left. A hundred and fifty years ago a mere half million people inhabited the place that is now Israel, and more than 90 percent of them were Arabic. Then came the great Industrial explosion of activity, migrations, and soaring birth rates thanks to fossil fuels. When that phase of history concludes, the population there will go down accordingly.

Over millennia, Israel or Palestine or the Levant (take your pick) has been under the dominion of rotating empires: Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Egyptian Mameluks, the Turks, Great Britain. Who owns what has been an expression of a particular slice of time, and the current time is no different. As a geographical crossroads of trade and cultures, the region is one of the most fought-over places in the world and may continue to be as long as human beings are around. Hamas and the Palestinians in effect declared war on Israel by lobbing rockets out of Gaza and now Israel is answering. The Palestinians have got the war they asked for and they are trying to manipulate world opinion by mingling their war machine in the heart of their population center of Gaza City. Their choice.

The other hot zone in the world right now, Ukraine, got hotter the past week when somebody or some faction shot down a commercial Malaysian airliner. The question that no news organ has so far raised: why are any commercial airlines routing their planes over a war zone? Especially a war zone where other airplanes have been shot down recently. Just how dumb has the human race become?

And as sad as this incident may be, what business is it of the USA to get involved over a downed flight of a foreign airline that originated in the Netherlands and was carrying passengers overwhelmingly of Dutch nationality? Our presumption to involve ourselves in this is flat-out insane. It’s the kind of behavior that leads to world wars.

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

 

Fear and loathing at Hotel Babylon

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar

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THE ROVING EYE

isis-interview

Originally published in Asia Times on June 26, 2014
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So now a huge Hardcore Sunnistan stretches all the way from the suburbs of Aleppo to Tikrit and from Mosul to the Jordanian/Iraqi border – the same one that dissolved in 2003 when Shock and Awe turned into Mission (Un)Accomplished.

In an eerie echo of Dick Cheney’s army’s footprints reverberating in the sands of Anbar province, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and their coalition of the willing (jihadis, Islamists, Ba’athists and tribal sheikhs) now pose as the “liberators” of Iraqi Sunnis from the clutches of an “evil” Shi’ite majority government in Baghdad.

In addition, ISIS also controls the PR wars. Here, a jihadi details how any sort of possible Washington “kinetic” involvement will be interpreted as an unholy alliance between the Empire and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against the underdogs.

From a Sunni perspective, it’s down with Iraq’s Counter-terrorism law; down with de-Ba’athification (with the ascent of neo-Ba’athist Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia – JRTN, led by former Saddam honcho Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri); down with the Interior Ministry in Baghdad going after Sunni politicians; down with protests being crushed.

At the same time, it’s the return of the US-sponsored Sahwa (Sons of Iraq) – who fiercely fought al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2007, the mother of ISIS – and the return of assorted Shi’ite militias (Muqtada al-Sadr not only repelled the new wave of US “military advisers” – that’s how it started in Vietnam – but also warned that his own badass Men in Black will “shake the ground” fighting ISIS.) The mid-2000s are the new normal; it’s gonna be militia hell all over again.

Mesopotamia, we got a problem. Neo-Ba’athists want nothing but a secular Iraq run by Sunnis, Saddam-style (rather former neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi.) ISIS wants a Caliphate extending all across the Levant under Sharia law. Something’s got to give.

What will give will be the Iraqi nation itself – the balkanized, protracted (intended) consequence of the 2003 invasion and occupation, finally transmogrified into Jihad Central.

It’s payback time
The Obama administration’s “strategy” (remember “Don’t Do Stupid Shit”, the Ukraine strategy?) is to impose regime change on al-Maliki; after all, he had the bad taste of refusing to let US troops keep occupying Iraq past the 2012 deadline, and on top of it his government is close to Tehran.

Thus the answer to the now legendary question of how the US intel satellite maze failed to capture that long column of ISIS Men in Black in their gleaming white Toyota Land Cruisers crossing the Syrian-Iraq desert wasteland. Call it the Mother of All Intel Failures (remember Saddam’s talk of Mother of All Battles?)

Here we have trademark Empire of Chaos “revenge” against Baghdad, Tehran and – why not – Moscow (after all Russian president Vladimir Putin offered full support to al-Maliki to fight the jihadis.) Iraq duly merges with Ukraine. And as for payback redux, it’s – almost – all spelled out here.

As for the Beltway-peddled myth – once again – of “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists”, this week Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria pledged its allegiance to ISIS. This means that ISIS now virtually controls both sides of the border, at Albu Kamal in Syria and Al-Qaim in Iraq. As a bonus, ISIS and allied Sunni tribal sheikhs also surrounded the US-controlled Camp Anaconda in Iraq and are ready for a long-term mortar game. Will Beltway “analysts” ever learn?

That little fiction known as Jordan – run by King Playstation, aka Abdullah – will be ripe for the taking as soon as hardcore Salafis from Zarqa (Zarqawi’s hometown) totally align with ISIS. Add that piece of real estate to the embryo Levantine Caliphate and we’ll be talking major business – oil refineries possibly included.

“Don’t Do Stupid Shit”, applied to Syria and Iraq, means that the Obama administration has gone (almost) no holds barred in its “Assad must go” policy, by the way a Ba’ath government; what’s implied is that Washington is an ally of ISIS in Syria, while a (determined?) foe of ISIS in Iraq. Assad’s “sin” is that he’s an ally of both Tehran (like al-Maliki) and, most of all (from an American perspective), Hezbollah. And now comes the Obama administration’s latest “Stupid Shit” – in the form of weaponizing “appropriately vetted” rebels in Syria.

Lording over this suspension of disbelief scenario, the whole Beltway, White House included, sells the illusion it is thoughtfully deliberating whether the real dangerous Men in Black here are in fact from ISIS – and what to do about them.

As some sort of Washington-Tehran cooperation against ISIS becomes self-evident, that poses a major problem for the perennial Bomb Iran crowd in the Beltway, as well as for hardliners in Tehran; after all ISIS has erected a massive geostrategic barrier between Iran and Syria, threatening Tehran’s connection with Hezbollah.

Likudniks will go no holds barred to prevent any cooperation. But that will be a detail anyway. Baghdad may get all the help it needs from Iranian special forces and militias such as Muqtada’s. ISIS does not have the manpower or the expertise to lay siege to Baghdad; people in Sadr City alone would rip them to shreds. Not to mention attack Najaf and Karbala, the Shi’ite holy cities, which are already protected by heavily armed popular brigades.

Will NATO meet Jihadistan?
Kirkuk is now under virtual Kurd control. Its “devolution” to Baghdad will be immensely problematic – and that’s a major euphemism. Kirkuk produces around 670,000 barrels of oil a day. Up to 300,000 are exported via the pipeline to Ceyhan, in Turkey. Yet only 120,000 barrels a day have been online these past few weeks.

Iraq’s total production is 3.3 million barrels a day – the bulk concentrated in the south, around Basra. There’s no realistic evidence ISIS would ever be able to capture Basra.

So the problem remains some refineries in the north such as Baiji. Elite Iraqi counter-terrorism forces can deal with it. If ISIS by any chance would be able to hang on to some oil and gas – a major if – that’s certified joy for, most of all, market speculators. And soon there might be thousands of US special forces “securing” Iraqi oil fields and the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Assad’s Syrian Army can – and it’s already – contributing to fight ISIS. In the end, ISIS can realistically be repelled by the Syrian Army, elite Iranian special forces, Shi’ite brigades and yes – an imminent cameo by those second-hand fighter jets from Russia and Belarus.

ISIS won’t take over Baghdad. But like a freak mutant, in a Hardcore Sunnistan goes Hollywood fashion, it might go even more bonkers and try to take over Amman, Doha and even Riyadh.

The Empire of Chaos will keep betting on – what else – chaos. And it’s going swimmingly its way – from the real possibility of a final push towards a Great Kurdistan (in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and even Iran) to sectarian militia hell all across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Yemen. Not to mention all possible ramifications in Northern Africa, Central Asia and the North Caucasus.

What will Hillary Clinton, the Hillarator, do? In this case, one’s gotta wait for early 2017. She could always pull another “We came, we saw, he died” and triumphantly stage a second coming in the Levant as a droned Athena singing Light My Fire.

In the end, NATO won’t meet Jihadistan. No “responsibility to protect” (R2P) Arabs from killing Arabs. NATO will be – gleefully – “watching” in the sidelines. Because from Northern Africa and across the Middle East to the Caucasus and all the way to Western China, the name of the (burning) game is to keep Dr Zbig Brzezinski’s “Eurasian Balkans” ever simmering in a funeral pyre.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Fourth Turning: The People versus Big Brother

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on March 13, 2014

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“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” 

– Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

“In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”Frank Church on Meet the Press regarding the NSA – 1975

Ever since Edward Snowden burst onto the worldwide stage in June 2013, I’ve been wondering how he fits into the fabric of this ongoing Fourth Turning. This period of Crisis that arrives like clockwork, 60 to 70 years after the end of the previous Fourth Turning (Civil War – 66 years after American Revolution, Great Depression/World War II – 64 years after Civil War, Global Financial Crisis – 62 years after World War II), arrived in September 2008 with the Federal Reserve created collapse of the global financial system. We are now five and a half years into this Fourth Turning, with its climax not likely until the late-2020’s. At this point in previous Fourth Turnings a regeneracy had unified sides in their cause and a grey champion or champions (Ben Franklin/Samuel Adams, Lincoln/Davis, FDR) had stepped forward to lead. Thus far, no one from the Prophet generation has been able to unify the nation and create a sense of common civic purpose. Societal trust continues to implode, as faith in political, financial, corporate, and religious institutions spirals downward. There is no sign of a unifying regeneracy on the horizon.

The core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to propel this Crisis: debt, civic decay, global disorder. Central bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have been able to fashion the illusion of recovery and return to normalcy, but their “solutions” are nothing more than smoke and mirrors exacerbating the next bloodier violent stage of this Fourth Turning. The emergencies will become increasingly dire, triggering unforeseen reactions and unintended consequences. The civic fabric of our society will be torn asunder.

In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

Debt

The core crisis element of debt is far worse than it was at the outset of this Crisis in September 2008. The National Debt has risen from $9.7 trillion to $17.5 trillion, an 80% increase in five and half years. It took 215 years for the country to accumulate as much debt as it has accumulated since the start of this Crisis. We continue to add $2.8 billion a day to the National debt, and the president declares it is time for this austerity to end. The total unfunded liabilities of the Federal government for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, government pensions and now Obamacare exceeds $200 trillion and is mathematically impossible to honor. Corporate debt stands at an all-time high. Margin debt is at record levels, as faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to levitate the stock market borders on delusional. Consumer debt has reached new heights, as the government doles out subprime auto loans to deadbeats and subprime student loans to future University of Phoenix Einsteins. Global debt has surged by 40% since 2008 to over $100 trillion, as central bankers have attempted to cure a disease caused by debt with more debt.

All of this debt accumulation is compliments of Bernanke/Yellen and the Federal Reserve, who have produced this new debt bubble with their zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing that has driven their balance sheet from $935 billion of mostly Treasury bonds in September 2008 to $4.2 trillion of toxic mortgage garbage acquired from their owners – the insolvent Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. This entire house of cards is reliant upon permanently low interest rates, the faith of foreigners in our lies, and trust in Ivy League educated economists captured by Wall Street. This debt laden house of cards sits atop hundreds of trillions of derivatives of mass destruction used by the Wall Street casinos to generate “riskless” profits. When, not if, a trigger ignites this explosive concoction of debt, the collapse will be epic and the violent phase of this Fourth Turning will commence.

Civic Decay

The core crisis element of civic decay is evident everywhere you turn. Our failed public educational system is responsible for much of the civic decay, as a highly educated critical thinking populace is our only defense against a small cabal of bankers and billionaires acquiring unwarranted influence and control over our country. Our children have been taught how to feel and to believe government propaganda. The atrocious educational system is not a mistake. It has been designed and manipulated by your owners to produce the results they desire, as explained bluntly by George Carlin.

“There’s a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest.”

The urban ghettos become more dangerous and uninhabitable by the day. The inner cities are crumbling under the weight of welfare spending and declining tax revenues. The very welfare policies begun fifty years ago to alleviate poverty have hopelessly enslaved the poor and ignorant in permanent squalor and destitution. The four decade old drug war has done nothing to reduce the use of drugs. It has benefited the corporate prison industry, as millions have been thrown into prison for minor drug offenses. Meanwhile, millions more have been legally addicted to drugs peddled by the corporate healthcare complex. The culture warriors and advocates of new rights for every special interest group continue their never ending battles which receive an inordinate amount of publicity from the corporate media. Class warfare is simmering and being inflamed by politicians pushing their particular agendas. Violence provoked by race and religion is growing by the day. The fault lines are visible and the imminent financial earthquake will push distress levels beyond the breaking point. Once the EBT cards stop working, all hell will break loose. Three days of panic will empty grocery store shelves and the National Guard will be called out to try and restore control.

Global Disorder

The core crisis element of global disorder is evident everywhere you turn. The false flag revolution in the Ukraine, initiated by the U.S. and EU in order to blunt Russia’s control of natural gas to Europe, has the potential to erupt into a full blown shooting war at any moment. The attempt by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. to overthrow the Syrian dictator in order to run a natural gas pipeline across their land into Europe was blunted by Russia. Iraq is roiled in a civil war, after the U.S. invaded, occupied and destabilized the country. After 12 years of occupation, Afghanistan is more dysfunctional and dangerous than it was before the U.S. saved them from the evil Taliban. Unrest, violent protests, and brutal measures by rulers continue in Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Venezuela, Bahrain, Brazil, and throughout Africa. American predator drones roam the skies of the world murdering suspected terrorists. The European Union is insolvent, with Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal propped up with newly created debt. Austerity for the people and prosperity for the bankers is creating tremendous distress and tension across the continent. A global volcanic eruption is in the offing.

It is clear to me the American Empire is in terminal decline. Hubris, delusion, corruption, foolish disregard for future generations and endless foreign follies have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to a cascading sequence of debt defaults, mass poverty, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation or deflation, depending on the actions of feckless bankers and politicians. There is no avoiding the tragic outcome brought on by decades of bad choices and a century of allowing private banking interests to control our currency. The “emergency” QE and ZIRP responses by the Federal Reserve to the Federal Reserve created 2008 financial collapse continue, even though the propaganda peddled by the Deep State tries to convince the public we have fully recovered. This grand fraud cannot go on forever. Ponzi schemes no longer work once you run out of dupes. With societal trust levels approaching all-time lows and foreign countries beginning to understand they are the dupes, another global financial crisis is a lock.

The Snowden Factor

With ten to fifteen years likely remaining in this Fourth Turning Crisis, people familiar with generational turnings can’t help but ponder what will happen next. Linear thinkers, who constitute the majority, mistakenly believe things will magically return to normal and we’ll continue our never ending forward human progress. Their ignorance of history and generational turnings that recur like the four seasons will bite them in the ass. We are being flung forward across the vast chaos of time and our existing social order will be transformed beyond recognition into something far better or far worse. The actual events over the coming decade are unknowable in advance, but the mood and reactions of the generational archetypes to these events are predictable. The actions of individuals will matter during this Fourth Turning. The majority are trapped in their propaganda induced, techno distracted stupor of willful ignorance. It will take a minority of liberty minded individuals, who honor the principles of the U.S. Constitution and are willing to sacrifice their lives, to prevail in the coming struggle.

Despite fog engulfing the path of future events, we know they will be propelled by debt, civic decay, and global disorder. Finding a unifying grey champion figure seems unlikely at this point. I believe the revelations by Edward Snowden have set the course for future events during this Fourth Turning. The choices of private citizens, like Snowden, Assange, and Manning, have made a difference. The choices we all make over the next ten years will make a difference. A battle for the soul of this country is underway. The Deep State is firmly ingrained, controlling the financial, political and educational systems, while using their vast wealth to perpetuate endless war, and domination of the media to manipulate the masses with propaganda and triviality. They are powerful and malevolent. They will not relinquish their supremacy and wealth willingly.

Snowden has revealed the evil intent of the ruling class and their willingness to trash the Constitution in their psychopathic pursuit of mammon. The mass surveillance of the entire population, locking down of an entire city in pursuit of two teenagers, military training exercises in major metropolitan areas, militarization of local police forces by DHS, crushing peaceful demonstrations with brute force, attempting to restrict and confiscate guns, molesting innocent airline passengers, executive orders utilized on a regular basis by the president, and treating all citizens like suspects has set the stage for the coming conflict. Strauss & Howe warned that history has shown armed conflict is always a major ingredient during a Fourth Turning.

“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.” The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe -1997

It appears to me the Deep State is preparing for armed conflict with the people. Why else would they be utilizing Big Brother methods of surveillance, militarization of police forces  and Gestapo like tactics of intimidation to control the masses? This doesn’t happen in a democratic republic where private individuals are supposed to know everything done by public government servants, not vice versa. They know the cheap, easy to access energy resources are essentially depleted. They know the system they have built upon a foundation of cheap energy and cheap debt is unsustainable and will crash in the near future. They know their fiat currency scheme is failing.They know it is going to come crashing down.  

They know America and the world will plunge into an era of depression, violence, and war. They also know they want to retain their wealth, power and control. There is no possibility the existing establishment can be purged through the ballot box. It’s a one party Big Brother system that provides the illusion of choice to the Proles. Like it or not, the only way this country can cast off the shackles of the banking, corporate, fascist elites, and the government surveillance state is through an armed revolution. The alternative is to allow an authoritarian regime, on par with Hitler, Stalin and Mao, to rise from the ashes of our financial collapse. This is a distinct possibility, given the ignorance and helplessness of most Americans after decades of government education and propaganda.       

The average mentally asleep American cannot conceive of armed conflict within the borders of the U.S. War, violence and dead bodies are something they see on their 52 inch HDTVs while gobbling chicken wings and cheetos in their Barcalounger. We’ve allowed a banking cartel and their central bank puppets to warp and deform our financial system into a hideous façade, sold to the masses as free market capitalism. We’ve allowed corporate interests to capture our political system through bribery and corruption.

We’ve allowed the rise of a surveillance state that has stripped us of our privacy, freedom, liberty and individuality in a futile pursuit of safety and security. We’ve allowed a military industrial complex to exercise undue influence in Washington DC, leading to endless undeclared wars designed to enrich the arms makers. We’ve allowed the corporate media and the government education complex to use propaganda, misinformation and social engineering techniques to dumb down the masses and make them compliant consumers. These delusions will be shattered when our financial and economic system no longer functions. The end is approaching rapidly and very few see it coming.

Glory or Ruin?

The scenario I envision is a collapse of our debt saturated financial system, with a domino effect of corporate, personal, and governmental defaults, exacerbated by the trillions of currency, interest rate, and stock derivatives. Global stock markets will crash. Trillions in paper wealth will evaporate into thin air. The Greater Depression will gain a choke-hold around the world. Mass bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty will sweep across the land. The social safety net will tear under the weight of un-payable entitlements. Riots and unrest will breakout in urban areas. Armed citizens in rural areas will begin to assemble in small units. The police and National Guard will be unable to regain control. The military will be called on to suppress any and all resistance to the Federal government. This act of war will spur further resistance from liberty minded armed patriots. The new American Revolution will have begun. Leaders will arise in the name of freedom. Regional and local bands of fighters will use guerilla tactics to defeat a slow top heavy military dependent upon technology and vast quantities of oil. A dictatorial regime may assume power on a Federal level. A breakup of the nation into regional states is a distinct possibility.

With the American Empire crumbling from within, our international influence will wane. With China also in the midst of a Fourth Turning, their debt bubble will burst and social unrest will explode into civil war. Global disorder, wars, terrorism, and financial collapse will lead to a dramatic decrease in oil production, further sinking the world into depression. The tensions caused by worldwide recession will lead to the rise of authoritarian regimes and global warfare. With “advances” in technological warfare and the proliferation of nuclear warheads, this scenario has the potential to end life on earth as we know it. The modern world could be set back into the stone-age with the push of a button. There are no guarantees of a happy ending for humanity.

The outcome of this Fourth Turning is dependent upon the actions of a minority of critical thinking Americans who decide to act. No one can avoid the trials and tribulations that lie ahead. We will be faced with immense challenges. Courage and sacrifice will be required in large doses. Elders will need to lead and millennials will need to carry a heavy load, doing most of the dying. The very survival of our society hangs in the balance. Edward Snowden has provided an example of the sacrifice required during this Fourth Turning. How we respond and the choices we make over the next decade will determine whether this Fourth Turning will result in glory or ruin for our nation.

 

“Eventually, all of America’s lesser problems will combine into one giant problem. The very survival of the society will feel at stake, as leaders lead and people follow. The emergent society may be something better, a nation that sustains its Framers’ visions with a robust new pride. Or it may be something unspeakably worse. The Fourth Turning will be a time of glory or ruin.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Click these links to read the first two parts of this three part series:

Do No Evil Google – Censor & Snitch for the State

Google, China, the NSA and the Fourth Turning

Collapse Cafe 2: Syria Resource Limits

Off the microphones & cameras of Gail Tverberg, Brian Davey, Monsta & RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on September 16, 2013

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Discuss this Vidcast at the Diner TV Table inside the Diner

In this edition of the Collapse Cafe, we discuss the Syria political problems from the POV of resource limits and climate change.

How has drought exacerbated the problems faced by the Syrians over the last few years?  Who stands to benefit the most from the conflict and how does Energy in the form of Oil and Natural Gas play a part in the problems.  Who are the main players, and what methodologies besides Warfare might help the population cope with these problems?

Gail Tverberg from Our Finite World and Brian Davey from FEASTA discuss some of their perceptions regarding the issues facing Syria over the coming future and analyze how these problems may not be limited in scope to just Syria, but the rest of MENA and the World at large as well.

Pour yourself a cup of Java, and explore some of the less talked about issues in Syria with us on the Collapse Cafe.

RE

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