US imperialism was once a fearsome force - mainly for ill. Under the latter heading, Washington’s savage destruction of Vietnam four decades ago comes readily to mind. But now the American Imperium has become just a gong show on the Potomac - even as its weapons have gotten more lethal and its purposes more spurious and convoluted. There is no more conspicuous proof than Obama’s quixotic “war” on ISIS.
"We Are About To Arm Some Rebels And Drone Some More Folks" - Obama Statement On Passage Of Syrian StrategySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/18/2014 19:02 -0400
Moments ago, the Senate passed a $1 trillion government-funding bill that according to the Hill, also gave the president new authority to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The legislation, which has now been approved by both chambers of Congress, now heads to the White House for Obama?s signature. While the stopgap bill will prevent a government shutdown on Oct. 1, the vote will be remembered for a controversial provision that allows Obama to start a new training program for rebel fighters in Syria. In other words, not only will Obama arm some folks, he will also drone some other folks, the same folks he was arming a year ago.
In the past month, a group of radical Islamic extremists based in the Middle East beheaded at least 23 people and enforced a ban on Christianity by arresting a group of people for practicing the faith in a private home. No, we're not talking about ISIS. The real culprit is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the America’s closest global allies.
Former BP CEO Warns "Sanctions Will Bite West" As US Gives Majors 14 Days To Wind Down Russian ActivitiesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/14/2014 16:04 -0400
while sanctions until this moment had been largely intended to specifically allow energy companies to continue their status quo in Russia, as of this Friday, it is precisely the E&Ps that are being targeted, as we noted on Friday, and as Reuters follows up today, reporting that some of the world's largest companies, namely Exxon, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, Norway's Statoil and Italian ENI, will have to be put their Russian projects on hold: to wit, the companies will have 14 days to wind-down activities. And yet Russia may once again have the last laugh: enter Tony Hayward, the infamous former CEO of BP (and current Chairman of Glencore) who may have been disgraced by his handling of the Macondo spill but his comments on how the Russian sanctions will play out, are spot on. As the FT reported moments ago, "US and EU sanctions against Moscow are in danger of turning round and biting the west by constraining global oil supply and pushing up prices in coming years, the former chief executive of BP has warned."
For a mass of people so easily terrified by guys in caves funded and armed by our intelligence services and “allies” in the Persian Gulf, the American public talks with such armchair bravado when it comes to launching bombs from drones and sending other people’s children to die. Makes you wonder though, which one is it? Is the American public actually the tough guy soldier it pretends to be when cheering overseas military interventions, or is it really a scared, propagandized, coward hiding in one of our nation’s endless cubicle rows? Unfortunately, based on recent opinion polls demonstrating approval for military action against ISIS, it appears to be the latter. The former is merely a front put on by that terrified, economically insecure, silently suffering automaton.
Q. What are traders talking about at the present time here at the New York Stock Exchange?
Cashin: We are concerned about two questions. First, how will the Fed do in keeping money reasonably easy without causing inflation? Second, where do we stand with the current geopolitical challenges? For now, these challenges seem to be short term concerns. But should we begin to see a financial contagion and pressure building on banks in Europe, perhaps out of the Ukraine situation, things could theoretically turn into what I call a «Lehman moment». That is when markets come under pressure but seem to be under control, and then things change suddenly.
Washington’s Iraq-Syria Policy: Throwing the Ball to a Midget Surrounded by an Entire Team of 7-Foot Basketball PlayersSubmitted by George Washington on 09/12/2014 14:04 -0400
Who Do You THINK Will End Up With the Ball?
Here’s the giant flaw in Obama’s incendiary strategy. The Peshmerga can be counted upon to ferociously defend Kurdistan against ISIS encroachment, and the Shiite militias will doubtless accomplish the same in their own territories. But no one with a modicum of historical knowledge would think it sane to send them up into the Sunni lands of the Euphrates valley to mop-up after the American bombs, missiles and drones. In short, once Washington is in full bombs away mode there will be no Free Syrian Army or reconstituted Iraqi army to finish the job. So what Obama actually launched last evening was Operation Blowback - Washington's stupidest military campaign yet.
Following yesterday's confusing exuberance, which saw the sluggish market rise in the last hours of trading as the latest Scottish poll showed a reverse of the "Yes" momentum (and fading Gartman's latest reco of course), overnight European jitters have re-emerged once more following a speech by Catalonia's Artur Mas, who has long pushed for independence of the region, and who said that while there are different ways Catalonia can vote, the important issue is that Catalans vote somehow. Mas says Spanish govt will likely try to block Catalan vote "the reasons why the central government is blocking the vote are political not legal", which in turn has once again brought attention to Europe's artificial, unstable and temporary political and monetary union, which threatens a reversion of the nightmare days from 2012 when Mario Draghi was promising he would do everything in his power to send the EUR higher (as opposed to now).
It appears that, in a rush to get his strategy out the door, President Obama overlooked his key "do nothing stupid" foreign policy plan.
- OBAMA SAID TO SEEK CONGRESS AUTHORITY TO ARM SYRIAN REBELS
So - to be clear - the strategy to defeat ISIS is to arm more of the same "rebels" that ultimately split off and became, well, ISIS?
For the terrorist group known as the Islamic State, Syria and Iraq were a good place to start their campaign, but in order to survive and prosper it knew from the outset that it had no choice but to set its sights on the ultimate prize: the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.
While overnight US equity futures have done nothing notable, what everyone's attention has been fixed on, in addition to the GBP and the read-through to all things UK-ish ahead of the Scotland independence referendum, is the sudden flare up in USDJPY trading and volatility, which exploded by some 100 pips in the past 24 hours hitting fresh post-2008 highs, on what appears to be a major capital reallocation move (it surely is not driven by any news) and/or forced squeeze. What is more perplexing is the change in correlations signals, because while until recently the USDJPY was synonymous with the E-Mini, and thus the S&P, as of late the USDJPY pair has moved tick for tick with the 10Year yield: almost as if the NY Fed's favorite HFT trading shop was instructed to change its vast array of signal inputs away from the S&P and to force a gentle levitation in the 10Y.
After being solidly ignored for weeks, suddenly the Scottish independence referendum is all anyone can talk about, manifesting itself in a plunge in the GBPUSD which ha slide over 100 pips in the past 24 hours, adding to the slide over the past week, and is now just above 1.61, the lowest since November 2013. In fact, the collapse of the unionist momentum has managed to push back overnight news from Ukraine, major Russian sanction escalations, Japan GDP as well as global trade data on the back burner. Speaking of global trade, with both China and Germany reporting a record trade surplus overnight, with the US trade deficit declining recently, and with not a single country in the past several month reporting of an increase in imports, one wonders just which planet in the solar system (or beyond) the world, which once again finds itself in a magical global trade surplus position, is exporting to?
As if the fearmongery and vitriol of UK, Europe and the US were not enough, the Middle-East's 'allied' leaders are now opining on the threat of ISIS. As FOX News reports, The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that jihadists could target the United States and Europe if leaders across the globe do not react to growing terrorist threats as Islamic State militants make advances across Iraq and Syria. "If neglected, I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America," blasted King Abdullah, adding Cameron-esquely, "they know no humanity." Of course, this is quote ironic given the Saudi's funding of various terror groups throughout the region.
The violent protests that raged yesterday have turned deadly as clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters left 3 dead and at least 470 injured according to The WSJ. The military, who are acting as mediators between PM Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan have warned both sides that they neither support the others view or sanction further use of violence to suppress crowds. Mr. Khan exclaimed to the people, "if you want to be free, if you want to have a real democracy, the time has come;" as another protester noted "the police were brutal, but that is good because whenever blood is shed in a movement, it turns into a revolution." Meanwhile, the so-called "soft-coup" as WaPo refers to it continues to harden (threatening $3bn of US aid) as Prime Minister Sharif is left with fewer and fewer options.