Washington’s strategy in Iraq is in shambles, but not just because America’s spanker-in-chief is really a wimp at heart. The problem is far more generic. To wit, the geographic territory of Iraq is not a nation; it is an arbitrary series of lines on a map drawn 100 years ago by dandies in the foreign offices of two fading empires (the British and the French) - which lines encircled numerous tribes, ethnicities and religious confessions which had no interest in sharing a common statehood.
More Sanctions: Europe Will Ban Purchase Of Russian Bonds; However Russian Gas Exports Remain UntouchedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/01/2014 09:18 -0400
Over the weekend, insolvent, debt-dependent Europe thought long and hard how to best punish Russia and moments ago reached yet another milestone in deep projective thought: as Reuters reports, Europeans could be barred from buying new Russian government bonds "under a package of extra sanctions over Moscow's military role in Ukraine that European Union ambassadors were to start discussing on Monday, three EU sources said." This will be in addition to the ban on the debt funding of most Russian corporations. So as Europe's 7-day ultimatum for the Kremlin to "de-escalate" counts down, Putin has a choice: continue operating under a budget surplus and ignore Europe's latest and most amusing hollow threat which is merely a projection of Europe's biggest fears, or spend himself into oblivion as Europe has done over the past decade and become a vassal state of the Frankfurt central bank.. Somehow we doubt Putin will lose too much sleep over this latest "escalation"...
The enemy of your enemy is your... frenemy; and so it is across the Middle East as the WSJ notes the spread of The Islamic State has united many parties once at odds with each other to become 'strange bedfellows'.
Dispassionate look at the week ahead, without the hysterics of the sky is falling or the mother of all crises is around the corner.
The sheep have been told their confidence is at a 7 year high by the propaganda peddlers working at the behest of the oligarchy. The sheep are also told that 10 million jobs have been added since the GOTUS played his first round back in 2009. The sheep have been told the record highs in the stock market prove that all is well. If the .1% are doing fantastic, some of the wealth must be trickling down. The sheep are told that QE and ZIRP were really to save Main Street and not the bonuses of Wall Street (at record highs by the way). The sheep are told to fear ISIS, Iran, Assad, Putin, and China. The sheep are told U.S. energy independence is just around the corner and to ignore the fact that gas prices have tripled since in the last ten years. The sheep are told drones will keep them safe and the DHS militarizing the police is just for their safety and security. The sheep are told guns are dangerous in their hands, but not in the hands of the government. The sheep passively eat their iGadgets and barely bleat while being led to the slaughter house.
Obama's National Security Council Meeting Has Concluded: Here Are The People Bringing You ISIS "Strategy"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2014 21:01 -0400
Shortly after Obama admitted to the world he has no strategy how to deal with ISIS, about two weeks after the "humanitarian" bombing of Iraq started, he rushed into a meeting of his National Security Council. Two and a half hours later, the meeting has finished and we hope the president finally does have a strategy, one that isn't determined solely by Qatari natural gas pipeline interests.
Exactly one year ago Obama proposed to take Bashir al-Assad to the woodshed because he had allegedly unleashed a vicious chemical attack on his own citizens. That was all pretext, of course, because even the CIA refused to sign-off on the flimsy case for Assad’s culpability at the time - a reluctance corroborated since then by the considerable evidence that hundreds of Syrian civilians were murdered during a false flag operation staged by the rebels with help from Turkey. Now the White House is threatening to bomb Syria again. Washington should call off the bombers and get out of harm’s way. The American Imperium has failed and the prospect of bombing both sides of an irrelevant non-country’s ancient tribal wars ought, at last, to make that much clear.
When President Obama bragged earlier that "The United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world..." adding that "no other nation can do what we do," we should have guessed some more war-mongering was coming... and sure enough. As AP reports, it appears Syrian airstrikes are on their way, but there's a mind-blowing twist in US foreign policy: "In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets." In the words of the Guinness commercial, Brilliant.
With Europe and the US on one side, and Russia and China on the other, the saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" could best describe the current geopolitical situation
The 'Sunni Turn' Against The 'Shiite Crescent': How The Strategic Stupidity Of Washington (And Its Allies) Created ISISSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/25/2014 22:50 -0400
The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) is being touted as the newest “threat” to the American homeland. We are told by everyone from the President on down that if we don’t attack them – i.e. go back into Iraq (and even venture into Syria) to root them out – they’ll soon show up on American shores. ISIS didn’t blast Sykes-Picot to pieces: we did, and now we must live with the consequences. Nemesis has taken her pound of flesh. The best course now is to learn the lesson every child has to absorb before he can attain adulthood in more than merely a physical sense: actions have consequences. Applied to the Middle East, this lesson can only have one meaning: stay out and keep out.
With all of England on edge because the ISIS executioner of James Foley, known as "Jihadi John" sported a British accent, and who may or may not have been identified as Abdel-Majed Bary, although UK government sources have not yet officially revealed his identity, one person has decided it is time to not waste yet another crisis. The person: London mayor Boris Johnson who as the Guardian reports, has called for the presumption of innocence to be reversed in cases where Britons travel to Iraq or Syria and said he wants the jihadist who beheaded an American journalist to be killed in a bomb attack. If Johnson's proposal for a "swift and minor" law change passes, any Brit traveling to Iraq or Syria will automatically be branded a terrorist and suffer the appropriate consequences.
As Iran continues to negotiate with world powers over its controversial (but purely for peaceful purposes, of course) nuclear program - with hard-liners demanding more concessions from the West - The Telegraph reports that a brief video, which aired on the Arabic-language Al-Alam TV, shows what the channel says are parts of an Israeli drone, scattered in an unidentified desert area. Text accompanying the footage says the drone was downed on Saturday and identifies it as a Hermes 450, a known Israeli model. The Iranian TV station also says the model is dubbed "Spy Goddess." However, as The Telegraph adds, there were no visible Israeli markings in the footage and Israel's military has declined comment on the matter... and Iran will sue Israel legally over its alleged violation of Iran's air space.
From Arab Spring-related uprisings in Libya or Egypt, to a civil war in Syria and now violence in Iraq and the Ukraine, geopolitics are impacting oil. True, geopolitical risk measured by combat deaths does not always correlate well with market volatility. But wars and conflict are easy to spot on an oil price series. With combat deaths rising four fold in the last 10 years, oil markets should prepare for more turmoil. BofA 's Francisco Blanch asks "Can the US preserve geopolitical stability?" America still takes up 38% of global military spending, but appetite for foreign adventures has been low. As an example, a drop in US combat deaths in recent years has been mirrored by a rise elsewhere. Following a drop to multi-decade lows, implied vol in long dated oil options at 15% looks cheap. Oil after US hegemony may not be as steady.
India, Pakistan Intensify Shooting Across Border; Iran Downs Israel Drone; ISIS Seizes Military AirportSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/24/2014 12:07 -0400
Since in the New Normal no geopolitical events appear to have any adverse impact on risk and asset prices (because the central banks are always there to protect investors should the market "plunge" by say 5%) with general newsflow completely irrelevant on what has been a straight line up in the S&P since the announcement of QE4 in December 2012, one might as well see how much further geopolitical events can be pushed further before it all crashes. In other words, time for this weekend's geopolitical update which covers everything from India, Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Iraq, Syria and Qatar.
It is clearly not in the interests of the long-standing members of the EU to escalate a 'sanctions and financial conflict' with Russia. This is why politicians are walking on eggshells, paying lip-service to America and the scared Eastern fringe members of NATO while hoping this goes no further. So long as this is the case it is clear that NATO members are powerless to stop Russia from wresting control of all or parts of Ukraine from the government in Kiev. Putin knows this; unfortunately it is not clear to us that the American government does. All in all it seems likely that after a period of slow-burn as Putin dictates the pace of developments, the political situation in Ukraine will deteriorate with some unhelpful nudges from Russia.