One can read "The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama" to get a true sense of Obama's "the best defense is a relentless drone everyone offense, ignore collateral damage and take out a few Americans in the process" policy. Or one can stare at rising stawks and enjoy their Obamaphones. Obe can't have both.
In a letter to Congress (below), AG Eric Holder admitted that the administration deliberately killed American Anwar al-Awlaki (the radical Muslim cleric) in a drone strike in September 2011 adding, as the NY Times reports, "the decision to target Anwar al-Awlaki was lawful, it was considered, and it was just." As RT notes, there was collateral damage, as it has been widely reported but rarely acknowledged in Washington that two other US citizens - Samir Khan, and al-Awlaki's teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki - were executed in that same Yemen strike. With Holder’s latest admission, however, a fourth American - Jude Mohammed - has also been officially named a casualty of America’s continuing drone war; bringing the total 'known' Americans killed under the US Drone War to 4 since 2009.
- Investigators hunt for clues in marathon bombing (Reuters)
- Investigators scour video, photos for Boston Marathon bomb clues (Reuters)
- 'Act of Terror' Kills at Least Three, Injures About 140 as Bombs Wreak Carnage on Marathon Crowd (WSJ)
- Brent Crude Below $100 (WSJ)
- Slower China Growth Signals Days of Miracles Are Waning (WSJ)
- Central Banks at Ease Limit Risk Political Backlash (BBG)
- Merkel plans to quit midterm, says author (FT)
- Monte Paschi Prosecutors Seize $2.3 Billion of Nomura Assets (Businessweek)
- Treasuries back on investors’ buy lists (FT)
- J.C. Penney Said to Seek Ways to Separate Real Estate for Cash (BBG)
- Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown (Reuters)
- Putin Calls for Stimulus Plan After Recession Alarm (BBG)
- TIPS in Longest Selloff Since ’08 as U.S. Bancorp Cuts (BBG)
Until recently Tunisia was considered to be a minor league and relatively underexplored venue in Africa’s rapidly expanding oil & gas scene. [Yet another example of the slow re-colonization of the African continent - a topic we have been discussing for months now - most recently here] This situation has quickly changed with new bid rounds and forced relinquishments creating an opportunity for new companies to come in. Major American E & P companies like Shell have jumped at the opportunity to acquire ground that had been dominated for decades with little to no work conducted, mostly by European State oil & gas companies in this former French protectorate. For the first time major spending has been committed to test Tunisian basins which are arguably equally prolific as those in neighbouring environments with more work performed, such as Libya. Should Tunisia now be on energy investors watch list?
Think of a rhino that puts its head down, and just charges through the bushes. Everything gets trampled in the process.
In light of today's enormous domestic and international challenges, the United States today needs, more than ever, an effective grand strategy. Without one, the nation is in a dangerous state of drift. In the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential elections and in the midst of grueling battles over spending and deficit crises, American politics is highly polarized with the electorate and their policymakers deeply divided on domestic issues. Turning to foreign policy, the picture is equally troubling. The United States struggles without a coherent grand strategy, while the American people, its friends and allies, and competitors wonder what principles guide Washington's foreign policy. What, they must ask, does the United States want to achieve in its foreign policy, and what leadership role does it seek to play in this rapidly evolving world order. Simply put, grand strategy is a broad set of principles, beliefs, or ideas that govern the decisions and actions of a nation’s policymakers with public support on foreign policy.
The Obama drone program has been shrouded in secrecy, but after the leaking of the 'kill list' white papers, Russia Today notes, many critics are demanding transparency from the administration when it comes to the exact number of causalities. Due to the confidentiality of drone strikes abroad, it has proven difficult to get an accurate figure - until now. As Wired.com reports, US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has estimated that 4,700 people have been killed. As of now it is unclear how he obtained that figure, but his 'approving' comments raise questions about the accuracy of these attacks: "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida." Graham did not offer an estimate of how many innocent people the drones have killed. Given the 430 or so strikes known about, this would imply around 10 kills per strike - but judging from the context of his remarks, Wired.com suspects, he's not counting the strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wouldn’t be the first time that a U.S. senator has offhandedly revealed specific and unacknowledged information about the drones, following Diane Feinstein's 2009 gaffe, but Graham’s disclosure underscores the extraordinary secrecy around the centerpiece of U.S. counterterrorism efforts - a military action in all but name, operated by an agency that need not explain to the public how it carries out the program.
The oil and gas game can be a tricky one for junior companies, but if played right the pay-off can be massive. At a time when juniors are risking a lot in volatile venues in the Middle East and Africa, Canada’s Aroway Energy (ARW) is planting its feet firmly in homeland soil and in conventional plays. Why? Because for the smaller juniors this is not a long-term game and blowing all your capital to drill a single unconventional well in a risky frontier won’t pay off. Canada still has plenty to offer for juniors, even though you have to kiss plenty of frogs to find the prince. The end game, after all, is merger and acquisition. In an exclusive interview Aroway CEO Chris Cooper discusses: How to make or break a junior oil and gas company; Why rail is becoming more attractive than pipeline transit; Why most juniors won’t make it big in risky frontiers; Why Keystone XL will get the green light; Why oil and gas prices will increase; Why the smaller juniors will stick to the conventional plays; How the asset market is heating up … and what is ideal; Why having control of infrastructure is key to success; Where Canada’s oil and gas industry will be in a decade; What every junior’s goal should be.
5% fewer words, slightly shorter than last year but just as hope-full. From a hike (and inflation-indexed) in the minimum wage to a 140x multiplier of genome sciences investment (now that is Keynesian awesomeness); from extending homeownership (and refinancing plans) even more to energy independence; from Apple, Ford, and CAT's US Manufacturing to Bridge-Building and infrastructure spending; and from Trans-Pacific and -Atlantic Trade to cyber-security; it's all gonna be great - because as President Obama reminded us at the start... "Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding," and this won't add a dime to the deficit... oh and that Student loan bubble - no worries, there's a college scorecard so now you know where to get the biggest bang for your credit-based buck. Summing it all up: Guns 9 : 3 Freedom ; Jobs 31 : 17 Tax ; Congress 17 : 40 Work ; Recovery 2 : 0 Unicorns ; Spending 3 : 2 Cutting
Given our recent discussion (here and here) of the rising importance of Africa in the world's power and money echelons, it is not entirely surprising that the NY Times reports that US military command in Africa is actively preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase "unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups" that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region. It would appear Niger will be the most likely place for the base - from which officials envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones though, of course, they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens. “This is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom a more enduring presence for I.S.R.,” one American military official said Sunday, referring to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Perhaps, actually scratch the "perhaps", what is really happening is the US now has a drone base with which to supervise Chinese expansion in Northweast Africa, anda drone fleet to use defensively and offensively as it sees fit.
Military Recruits Young People Through Misleading First-Peson Shooter Games
As reported over the weekend, late on Friday French forces launched a military campaign, consisting primarily of airforce incursions, designed to crush the "Islamic extremists" in the country in order to protect "European interests" (it is unclear what these may be). Parallel with this came the first humiliation for French military forces as a French helicopter pilot was killed nearly at the same time as the offensive was launched. But even more embarrassing was the bungled attempt to rescue a hostage in Somalia, in which the hostage is said to have died (by France at least, not his captors), while at least one French commando is also reported to have been left behind. Moments ago, AP reported on the latest French military developments in Mali, which confirm that when it comes to the words "French military" and "success" will hardly ever be seen side by side. To wit: "Despite intensive aerial bombardments by French warplanes, Islamist insurgents grabbed more territory in Mali on Monday and got much closer to the capital, French and Malian authorities said. In the latest setback, the al-Qaida-linked extremists overran the garrison village of Diabaly in central Mali, France's defense minister said in Paris. Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday the rebels "took Diabaly after fierce fighting and resistance from the Malian army that couldn't hold them back." In other words, "before France sent its forces in on Friday, the closest known spot the Islamists were to the capital was 680 kilometers (420 miles) away"... while "by now sweeping in from the west, they are now only 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Mali's capital, Bamako, in southern Mali." Yet another French military campaign stupendously executed.
Whether it is to serve as a diversion from the ongoing deterioration in the French economy (purchases of French sovereign bonds by the SNB implying "all is well" notwithstanding), to distract public attention from the recent humiliation (and backfire) of the socialist government's "tax the rich" campaign or for whatever other reason, is unclear for now, but what is clear is that over the past two days France has launched a major airstrike and military campaign against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, the pretext being that control of northern Mali by the rebels posed a security threat to Europe. What is also clear is that even as France is protecting "European interests" deep in the heart of African darkness, elsewhere in Africa, the socialist country, whose military "expertise" is best known for building impassable fortifications all around perfectly crossable forests, suffered yet another offensive humiliation when not only was a hostage held by Somalian insurgents, al Shabaab, killed during an attempted rescue operation, but a commando from the "rescuing" team was allegedly left behind during the bungled operation. The cherry on top in president Hollande's first major foreign policy excursion is that the same insurgents subsequently released a statement that the hostage was perfectly safe, even as a French pilot was killed in the Mali airstrikes early on in the campaign, all of which probably makes France wish it had just stayed home.
A beautiful cartoon that exposes the absurdity of the Petraeus saga...
Does China have what it takes to get from here (industrialized export economy) to there (sustainable growth, widespread prosperity)? The same can be asked of every nation: do they have what it takes to move beyond their current limitations to the next level? Consider corruption. Corruption isn't just a "values" issue: corrupt societies have corrupt economies, and these economies are severely limited by that corruption. A deeply, pervasively corrupt economy cannot get from here to there. Corruption acts as a "tax" on the economy, siphoning money from the productive to the parasitic unproductive Elites skimming the bribes, payoffs, protection money, unofficial "fees," etc. By definition, the money skimmed by corruption reduces the disposable income of households and enterprises, reducing their consumption and investment... Pull aside the curtain and what you find is a China crippled by corruption and debt.