Friday, April 30, 2010

The End of the Republic?

It is a sad state of affairs for the Republic when the only people willing and able to speak the truth, the relevant truth, are its generals.  In the last few months the US military has taken the ideological lead in changing American foreign policy and in calling attention to the most important economic and geo-political issue of our time.  The politicians, journalists and bankers are either afraid, have extra-national interests at heart or are making too much money now to want to disucss the future.

The most dangerous threat to our democracy is the power of AIPAC and its apologists to involve the United States in wars to promote Israeli interests and diminish American power and resources.  The biggest threat to our economic prosperity is the potential for oil demand to outstrip supply.  Instead of being the most talked about, written about, argued about subjects in our country, these topics are generally left out of mainstream political and journalistic discourse.

How did this happen?  Why has our media and political class avoided the two 800lb gorillas staring us in the face?  Only our military has the courage to discuss them publicly.  In the last few months the US Military has warned us that we are very close to reaching peak oil, and that the Israeli dominance of our foreign policy is damaging us as a nation.  The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times don’t like editorializing about the power of AIPAC or Peak Oil.  For them it's not news.


CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus dispatched a team to Washington to give an unprecedented briefing to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in January, to discuss a "growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel" and that "America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding."  The bottom line: the soldiers were finally telling Washington that enough was enough with the “special relationship” with Israel

The US military has been in Iraq for seven years and it's important to remember how we got there.  The Neoconservatives had been pushing for a regime change in Iraq since the Clinton Administration, but there was no leverage for it.   Why did they want to change the regime in Iraq?  Did they see an imminent military, political or economic threat to the US from Sadam Hussein?  No.  Sadam Hussein posed no threat to the US and they were well aware of that.  Did they want to help the people of Iraq live in freedom?  Not likely.  Why not help Egyptians, Palestinians, Saudi Arabians or North Koreans find political freedom?  The main goal of the Neoconservatives was to realign the Middle East for the benefit of Israel.  The Neoconservatives were motivated by a desire to strengthen Israel, not the United States.

The events of September 11 opened a window of opportunity for them.  With the excuse of weapons of mass destruction and the willingness of a President fixated on war, they were able to orchestrate the invasion of Iraq.  Their strategy was to remove Sadam Hussein from Iraq and install a more open, progressive Shiite regime.  The Iranian youth, bottled up under years of religious rule, were supposedly going to overthrow the Iranian mullahs once they saw how their fellow Shiite brothers were fairing in a more open, secular society.  Syria, buoyed by cheap oil from Iraq would also fall by the wayside without Sadam Hussein’s placid support.

Time Magazine’s Joe Klein described the power of the Neoconservatives to form US foreign policy “"I do believe that there is a group of people who got involved and had a disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy. There were people out there in the Jewish community who saw this as a way to create a benign domino theory and eliminate all of Israel's enemies...”

Retired General William Odom, former NSA Chief for Ronald Reagan said "It's pretty hard to imagine us going into Iraq without the strong lobbying efforts from AIPAC and the neocons, who think they know what's good for Israel more than Israel knows."

Andrew Sullivan put it this way “America is not Israel. And once that distinction is made, much of the neoconservative ideology collapses.”

And then there is the Project for a New Amercian Century (PNAC), founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, both hardcore Neoconservatives.  PNAC ostensibly pushed for the promotion of democracy in the world, but in reality it was just another pro-Israeli lobby. A week after 9/11 they wrote a letter to the Whitehouse, with the main focus on forcing regime change in Iraq.

...even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.

The war in Iraq is the brainchild of Neoconservatives bent on changing the face of the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, with little or no regard for the consequences for the United States.  Invading Iraq was probably the worst response the US could have had to 9/11.  The world stood by America’s side as we hunted down Osama Bin Laden and his cronies in Afghanistan.  But once we turned our sites on Iraq, our friends and foes alike understood that this was no longer a response to radical terror, but a strategic war to improve the position of Israel in the Middle East.

The United States lost standing in the world, seriously damaged its relationship with Europe and the Muslim world, not to mention the human and material costs of a war fought completely in the interest of Israel.  The US military bore the biggest brunt of this exercise in Israeli foreign policy.  And the US media?  Lips sealed like a cheap whore.

Our democratically elected politicians?  Silenced by the fear of being blackballed by AIPAC.  In the latest spat between Jerusalem and Washington, AIPAC wrote a letter “implicitly rebuking the Obama Administration for its confrontational stance toward Israel.”  It was signed by 76 Senators (33 Democrats) who normally can’t agree on the time of day.  The letter states.

"We recognize that our government and the Government of Israel will not always agree on particular issues in the peace process. But such differences are best resolved amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies. We must never forget the depth and breadth of our alliance and always do our utmost to reinforce a relationship that has benefited both nations for more than six decades.

Why did 76 Senators sign that letter, and 333 Representatives sign a similar letter?  Why did so many top Democrats including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer side with AIPAC over their President?  According to the Washington Post “Democratic candidates depend on Jewish supporters to supply as much as 60 percent of the money raised from private sources”
  
If Washington is controlled by AIPAC, and our media has a very strong pro-Israeli bias, who can speak the truth?  There is one place where AIPAC, the Neoconservatives, their media apologists and the Wall Street/Washington Nexus don’t have any influence: the US Military.

Apart from the almost treasonous power that AIPAC and its media lackeys wield in America, there is another big problem.  Oil.  Again, our traditional mainstream media have avoided the story of Peak Oil.  It is considered too fringe.  Yet the concept of Peak Oil is 100% real, no one denies it, nor denies that its creator, M. K. Hubbert got it right when he said America would hit Peak Oil in the early 1970’s.  Peak Oil just means that 50% of all available oil is extracted and oil production has hit its maximum potential.  The problem that Peak Oil represents is that there comes a point after Peak when supply does not meet demand.  Prices skyrocket and the world economy comes to a grinding halt.  What is not clear is the time frame.  In the graph below, as the supply drastically falls, the prices moves in the other direction.


The International Energy Agency (IEA), the quasi official world body for calculating oil reserves, puts its official estimates at reaching peak somewhere around 2020; however, there are important doubts about their calculations.  Many oil producing countries use their reserves as collateral for loans, giving them a big incentive to exaggerate.

In a recent report by Oxford University and endorsed by former UK chief scientist Sir David King, the date for reaching Peak Oil was moved forward considerably.  From the Daily Telegraph.

Sir David said he was "very concerned" that Western governments were not taking the concept of "peak oil" – where demand outstrips production – seriously enough, while China is throwing all its efforts into grabbing as many energy resources as possible. Sir David continues.

"The IEA functions through fees that are paid into it by member countries," he said. "We're not operating under that basis. This is objective analysis. We're not sitting on any oil fields. It's critically important that reserves have been overstated, and if you take this into account, we're talking supply not meeting demand in 2014-2015."


On April 10, 2010, another UK paper, The Guardian, reported on a US Military briefing about the prospects of oil shortages by 2015.

"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: "While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India."

It goes on to say. "One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest"

Interestingly, neither of these stories was picked up by the New York Times, LA Times or the Washington Post.  It seems our ‘free press’ is neither interested in who is dictating our foreign policy nor what we will do in a few years when oil supplies will only meet 85% of world demand.  The US Military consumes 300,000 barrels of oil a day and has over 80,000 troops still in Iraq, but on Wall Street “27 barrels of crude were being traded every day on the New York Mercantile Exchange (2008) for every one barrel of oil that was actually being consumed in the United States...” 

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the two largest energy trading companies in America and according the US Senate up to 60% of the price of oil is purely speculative.  With supply and demand steady, Wall Street speculation is the only thing driving oil prices from 147$  to $34 and back to $85 in in less than two years by using all sorts of trading tecniques including hoarding (contango). Peak Profits trump Peak Oil.

What does it mean for a democracy when the only people who can speak the truth are its generals?   What does it mean when a foreign government and its apologists control a nation’s foreign policy and send it on military adventures?

When asked what influence Goldman Sachs had in Washington, Representative Ron Paul said the following. “Well, I don't know exactly, but we do know that they usually have a say in who's secretary of the Treasury. And they also have influence, I think, with the people who get appointed to the Federal Reserve.”

I will not describe here the details of the Wall Street/Washington Nexus as it has been exhaustively discussed and documented.  If you have any doubts, here are two very good descriptions, one by MIT Professor and former Chief Economist at the IMF Simon Johnson The Quiet Coup and the other is by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Obama’s Big Sellout.

There comes a point when the free market strangles freedom and a democracy becomes hopelessly corrupted by oligarchs.  We are dangerously close that point.  When one inquires as to why the Peak Oil question is not front page news, you only have to look to Wall Street and the fortunes they have made and will continue to make speculating on oil.  

And the citizens of the Republic?    As Huxley put it “the really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, news-paper editors and schoolteachers…”  Who needs ministries of propaganda when you have Fox News, CNN and The New York Times?
Maybe we should look to the past for guidance. 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt “They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred.”

Let us not forget Mr. Obama's comments regarding the multimillion dollar bonuses for Blankfein and Dimon for the fabolous job they did collapsing the world economy.  “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Do we have the courage to say now is the time?


Purchase Robert Bonomo's novels on Amazon

13 comments:

  1. what a powerful quote by FDR, & perhaps more poignant today, as there's no president (in sight) with the resolve to challenge a corporate/economic industrial complex. i'm presently reading 'the shock doctrine' by naomi klein; it's profound(ly scary) & enlightening. much of your article reminded me of it. it's baffling how the US media manage to stifle the various national debates we should be having, and articles like this are a necessary rupture of that absurd silence. in the 1st half of the article i might have focused more on the particular yet compatibile interests of the corporate behemoths in Iraq & those of AIPAC, as i think that's how these collusions have been historically forged and maintained.

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  2. I can't comment on much of the article as I am not familiar with many of its claims. I disagree with the notion of their being an attempt to capture Bin Laden.The Bush Administration had no interest in finding him. As for Peak Oil and it being kept out of the main stream media I fully agree with the artice on those points.

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  3. Peak Oil is true and frightening. But Israel through AIPAC, NPAC and neocons, has been able to manipulate the United States into invading Iraq on their behalf. We are fighting a proxy war for Israel in Iraq? What have you been smoking?

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  4. Peak Oil is a big fantasy as Global Warming , Napoleon.
    Published reserves will supply the world for 40 years without a single extra barrel being discovered.Your article is a total nonsense.

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  5. I suppose peak oil could be a fantasy if no more cars or petrol based industry were added to the world economy. But that ain't gonna be so. I don't argue with what's above, except that neocons are motivated more in service towards their own interests vs. those of Israel. Since both happen to align then advancing Israel is still a mutually beneficial project for both factions, even though I fully agree that it isn't beneficial for the US as a whole. Most of all, I see a recurring problem of sunken costs behind this sort of criticism. These costs have become the built-in limitations against our ability to take on the proactive kind of changes needed to deal with real global challenges. The world system we've constructed today is essentially dependent upon several assumptions in order to provide its wide range of benefits to many people in the US and elsewhere. Petroleum remains the linchpin for energy and money is the central determinant for gaining access to the political realm. As such, those who want to participate in our world system are left with no other options and must pursue the same patterns of consumption and consolidation of social power. Obama is a great example of one who certainly knows enough about the world to see its crucial flaws, but has little capacity to effect systemic changes and must conform like anyone else. And he's the President of the baddest nation to ever sit on this earth! The frightening thing to me is not that no one will stand up to ensure the US addresses serious global challenges in an effective manner, but that probably no one can. The structure of our global system largely prevents worthy changes except in cases of reaction to severe crises. It's not that the media won't cover peak oil, but it doesn't make any sense to do so according to the limitations of business models in mass media journalism. Increasing awareness about peak oil at large isn't worthwhile to the NYTimes since the average individual has almost no influence over society's use of oil. Increasing awareness and acceptance of peak oil among high level industry and business managers would be more effective, but those few individuals are not the target audience of large media outlets like NYTimes. So I condemn the media for failing to bring up more critical issues and at the same time forgive it for not having the freedom to do so. It is very interesting and requires a good deal of abstract thinking to see how much freedom has been unconsciously surrendered during our march into modernity. We have achieved an incredible wealth of benefits for humanity, no less this machine I'm typing on right now, through the application of technological processes. And those processes could not have been achieved without organizing systems around an energy source such as oil or the financial markets which push and pull capital towards innovative places. But in the same moment, taking those roads has closed off other choices and left us with many new burdens. Unfortunately our emphasis on the benefits of modernity has left us considerably deaf to its downsides. This isn't surprising since most incentives point toward the positives to be gained through modernity. When thinking about the sunken costs of our world system that prevent fresh and independent approaches, and stop short meaningful reforms, it's hard to avoid coming to any other conclusion than some kind of revolution. But anyone who's been near violence knows what that kind of power can and can't achieve, and at what tremendous cost. I may just end up hoping for a non-human factor like peak oil to force change in our current system than rely upon any minority activism. When rising energy costs and reduced access to even core benefits of modernity touches more people, then the time for new revolutionaries will be in trying to maintain and guide their immediate communities through such changes without having to draw new battle lines in the sand. Sand and what's underneath it is being fought over too much already.

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  6. Very interesting comment. I fully agree with you conclusion, while it is more romantic to dream of revolution, better to let Peak Oil and overwhelming debt rid us of the banksters and their lackeys. Greed usually sets to good a trap, even for the folks with PHD's from MIT. They will want more and more, even as all hell is breaking loose, and that will be their undoing.

    We have a Constitution, and a Republic, and for as corrupt as it is, almost completely, the wake up call will not only rid us of the usurers and war mongers, but hopefully by activating the populace through that wonderful gift our forefathers gave us, the chance to go to the ballot box every two years.

    If the coming mess can rid us of banker thieves, war mongers, and weak-kneed journalist and at the same time, make it patriotic again to think, but not just about Britney Spears, it will be all for good. I hope for a bloodless renaissance of the Republic, even if I did seem a bit pessimistic in the piece above.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful response.

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  7. Charles Lee,

    You dismiss Peak Oil by stating "Published reserves will supply the world for 40 years". Just one problem, reserves are not the same thing as rate of extraction. It does not mater how large the reserves are if you can't pump them at a rate to keep up with demand, and at an affordable cost to boot.

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  8. Stillmeadow,

    One word:Profit. If supply is to meet demand this one would significantly go down.Hence the oil producing countries /OPEC/quotas.Rates of extraction are kept artificially low to sustain the ridiculous prices of 1.75 euros per litre, for example in Athens,Greece today.Thanks God it is still 2.80$ per gallon/3.754l/ in New Jersey.God Bless America.

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  9. There will be 3 stages to this unfolding financial crisis:

    1. The initial shock waves started in America in 2008. Those shock waves hit every part of the financial sector across the globe. America has been recovering ever since while the rest of the world's major economic regions have yet to play their part in this crisis separate from events in America.

    2. The Crisis then moves to Europe, who now has to contend with not only the rumblings of a superpower, but it's own homemade problems that have been stewing for years in the form of the ill-conceived and hastily thrown together European Union. When the wold becomes volitile, Europe simply cannott adjust in a timely and orderly manner due to its poor demographics, rigid institutions and lack of revenue streams.

    3. Number three we have yet to see materialize, but it will take place in China. Last but certainly not least, China is the text book example of a bubble that is about to burst. This will expose China's REAL economic strength separate from a fancy manipulation of the books.

    The conclusion is: America will once again come out the winner, IRONICALLY. The earthquake that started in the USA broke a few windows and crumbled a few facades, but in Europe and the rest of the world, it devastated [or will devastate] whole structures, knocking down confidence that once flourished in regions so much so that talk of challenging America became not if but when.

    The old adage that if America sneezes the rest of the world gets sick has never been more true. As it turns out, this financial crisis will peel back the rotten layers of the onion to expose the true strength of nations economic might and resilience. As it unfolds we are beginning to see that the 21st century is shaping up to be once again an American one. The recent unexpected rise in the Dollar is symbolic of this. Contrary to premature and grossly erroneous predictions of America's decline, this financial crisis will right the ship once again in favor of the country that many have written off too many times only to see them standing on top of the hill waving at everyone below.

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  10. Contempt for our "democratically-elected" leaders? Love of the military? Do you really want the end of Democracy, and a military take-over of the US?

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  11. Have you all forgotten the magic of plankton in the waters of the Middle East that produce those mighty oceans of oil?

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  12. Generals?Military coup?Arms clamour?Maybe Chillean style executions at the stadium?Jeez, man, whatever you are smoking, it must be a really good stuff.......This is US, the greatest and most progressive country in the world, not Taiwan,Paraguay or Russia.Jeez.

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  13. >The biggest threat to our economic prosperity is the potential for oil demand to outstrip supply.
    expand existing & build new public transportation:
    Metro trains inside a city
    Commuter trains to and through suburbia
    Regional trains beyond
    Inter-Urban and Inter-City trains doing what their names imply
    Trams/Streetcars/Lightrail in medium density and greater metropolitan area

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