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 21:50 -0500
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 11:07 -0500
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.
If there was one thing the Obama administration did not need as it is careening from one international crisis to another, was compounding comparisons to the Carter administration and its botched attempt to rescue US hostages in 1980 Iran also known as Operation Eagle Claw. Well, as of moments ago, that comparison is now in play following what the Pentagon just revealed was a botched attempt to recue a number of American hostages held by ISIS, "early this summer." The reason why the mission failed: "tho hostages were not there." Why? "We don’t know. And that’s the truth. When we got there, they weren’t there. We don’t know why that is." At least we tried to rescue some folks.
You know you’ve lost the plot when Egypt, Iran, China and the United Nations all feel so comfortable they have the moral high ground that they publicly chastise the U.S. about events in Ferguson.
Putin Says The Petrodollar Must Die, "The Dollar Monopoly In Energy Trade Is Damaging Russia's Economy"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/14/2014 10:15 -0500
PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA SHOULD AIM TO SELL OIL AND GAS FOR ROUBLES GLOBALLY, AS DOLLAR MONOPOLY IN ENERGY TRADE IS DAMAGING ECONOMY
This is especially the case in Ukraine where the currency has lost more than half of its value versus gold (see chart above and below). Gold in Ukraine Hrvynia is up 70% since the start of 2014. People who own gold in Ukraine would laugh at you, if you said that gold is not a safe haven. As would people in many countries in South America, the Middle East and Africa.
- Police fire tear gas, stun grenades at Missouri protesters (Reuters)
- Putin’s Pipeline Bypassing Ukraine at Risk Amid Conflict (BBG)
- Russia's Largest Oil Company Seeks $42 billion to Weather Sanctions (WSJ)
- Shells hit central Donetsk, Russian aid convoy heads towards border (Reuters)
- U.S. Tightens Sanctions, Putting More Russian Companies at Risk (BBG)
- How to Blindly Score 43% Profit Overnight in China Stocks (BBG)
- Tears guaranteed: San Diego Pension Dials Up the Risk to Combat a Shortfall (WSJ)
- Euro Recovery Halts as Germany Shrinks, France Stagnates (BBG)
- Billionaire Found in Middle of Bribery Case Avoids U.S. Probe (BBG)
- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama 'Hug It Out' on Martha's Vineyard (WSJ)
Here Comes The European Triple-Dip: Negative German GDP Sends Bunds Under 1% For The First Time EverSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/14/2014 06:11 -0500
The hammer finally hit for Europe when overnight both Germany and France reported Q2 GDP prints that missed expectations, the first actually contracting at a 0.2% rate with consensus looking for -0.1%, while France remained flat vs expectations for a tiny 0.1% rise. As a reminder, this GDP is the revised one, which already includes the estimated contribution of drugs and prostitution, suggesting the actual underlying economic growth is far worse than even reported. Then again, this is hardly surprising considering all the abysmal data out of Europe and the rest of the world in recent weeks, and with the Russian trade war sure to trim even more growth, look for all of Europe to join Italy in its first upcoming triple-dip recession in history.