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.
Whatever Russia does, doubt does not even enter the equation. The answer is sanctions. So here we go again. No one ever lost money betting on the stupidity of the usual, unknown “senior US officials” – who are now spinning the latest sanction package is to force Moscow to “respect international law and state sovereignty.” A cursory examination of the historical record allows this paragraph to be accompanied by roaring laughter. As for Russia’s "isolation", companies are barred from, in Washington-Wall Street newspeak, "important dollar-denominated funding sources." Or, euphemistically, "Western capital." This means the US dollar and the euro. Anyone following superimposed moves towards a multipolar world knows Russia does not need more US dollars and euro.
Smuggled oil could be a pivotal issue for the U.S. as it seeks to destroy IS. The militant group sells oil at a reduced price – perhaps around $25 per barrel. At first, it sold the oil to middlemen, who moved the oil to Iran, Syria, Jordan and Turkey. But as IS’ operations grew, they forced out the middlemen, beat back other militant groups, and are now providing security to their own convoys of oil tanker trucks heading out of their territory to market. Air strikes may succeed in destroying vehicles and other military equipment under IS control, but cutting off the flow of money – specifically from oil smuggling – will likely go further in weakening the Islamic State.
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.
The rise of Islamic State has upended geopolitics in the Middle East and, as The Economist notes, drawn America's military back to the region. Though ISIS is popular among militants, the group has no allies on the political stage, making it even more isolated than the official al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. As The Economist's "relationship mosaic" above visualizes the rapports among countries, political groups and militant organizations in the Middle East.
"The apparently long-term rupture of Russia's relations with the West offers an opportunity to the Chinese leadership to enhance its already close relationship with the Kremlin and thus turn the global geopolitical balance in its favor - not unlike former US president Richard Nixon and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger who reached out to Chairman Mao Zedong in 1972. The Russians, angry with Washington, are now more amenable to giving China wider access to their energy riches and their advanced military technology. The Western sanctions pushing Russia out of the international financial system are also making Moscow more ready and willing to back the Chinese yuan against the US dollar." - China Daily
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.
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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).
Russia And Iran Put Oil-For-Goods Deals Into Motion As Iran Signals Similar Arrangements Coming With ChinaSubmitted by GoldCore on 09/10/2014 14:32 -0500
Russia-Iran Oil-for-Goods Contracts
Representatives of the Russian and Iranian governments met in Tehran yesterday for the 11th meeting of the Iran-Russian Trade Council, where details of a ground breaking oil-for-goods swap between the two heavily sanctioned countries were revealed.
With both countries now sanctioned by the West, Russia and Iran have been in extensive negotiations on how to facilitate Iranian oil exports without breaching the UN Security Council nuclear deal that was agreed between Iran, Germany and the five UN Council permanent last January.
When we exposed the shift in Russia's military doctrine towards one of nuclear deterrence and pre-emptive strikes, many eschewed it as fantastical thinking of extremists. They were wrong. Speaking at a defense meeting this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he is taking charge of Russia's military-industrial complex:
*PUTIN SAYS NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE READY BY DEC, CALLS ENSURING NUCLEAR DETERRENT TOP DEFENSE TASK TO 2030
This does not seem like de-escalatory conversation as NATO continues to push - to justify its existence - and Putin now prepares an increasingly Cold-War-esque response threat (following an overnight nuclear missile test).
Summer is over and many Europeans may have to keep warm this coming winter by thinking about their summer holidays while wrapped in blankets, praying for a short winter or for the world to come to its senses. It both cases, they may well be disappointed. The never-ending conflicts in the Middle East, mayhem in Libya, uncertainty in the Gulf and a war in Ukraine are all going to take a toll on the energy supplies this winter. Result? Many cold Europeans, many angry Europeans and many very pissed off Europeans. And what does history tell us about cold, angry, pissed-off Europeans?
While NATO is contemplating its existential purpose in a world where the Cold War has suddenly come back with a vengeance, and the military alliance has found itself woefully unprepared to deal with a Russia which no longer accepts the supremacy of the west (appropriately enough NATO is doing this on a golf course) Russia is also strategizing, only instead of issuing "sharply-worded catchphrases" and hashtags, a Russian general has called for Russia to revamp its military doctrine, last updated in 2010, to clearly identify the U.S. and its NATO allies as Moscow's enemy number one. That in itself is not disturbing: we reported as much yesterday and is merely more rhetorical posturing. Where things, however, get very problematic is that the general demands that Russia spell out the conditions under which the country would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the 28-member military alliance.
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 08:18 -0500
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"...