Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

NYT doing Cheney's dirty work again.

by Jerome a Paris Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:18:20 PM EST

poemless's diary already addresses that topic to some extent, but it seems that a number of people are intent on creating a new cold war, and it is scary to see so many newspapers jump on the bandwagon with little or no perspective, and with obviously very little knowledge of what they are talking about.

Look at that map from the NYT:

There are so many errors in it that it's scary. And that's the point: to scare us. Doing Cheney's job.


  • "Pipelines give oil suppliers leverage. So why are more than half of the pipelines and comments about gas pipelines? In some cases, like the Venezuelan project, or the Ukrainian dispute, you cannot even tell from the text

  • the pipeline from Turkmenistan is a gas pipeline. It is blithely connected in Russia to the pipeline from Azerbaijan, which is an oil pipeline

  • The pipeline East from Irkutsk they suggest is an oil pipeline; again, it is connected to the gas pipelines going West

  • The conflict in Chad was the other way round: it's the World Bank that suspended its loans because Chad was not using the oil money as agreed under the terms for the Chad-Cameroon pipeline (i.e. for education or a stabilisation fund rather than to buy weapons)

  • most of all, it vests all power in a pipeline in the seller (which "decides which countries get connected and, if displeased, turn the spigots off"). This is absolutely silly, and false. Ask the Turkmens who has the power on the pipeline connecting them to Russia, their sole buyer...

  • the Iran-India pipeline is typical of this. Such a pipeline will only ever happen if it makes sense for both (or even for all 3 as it transits via Pakistan), if all can agree to it, and can commit to the massive investments it will require - and if all can trust the other(s) for 20+ years not to fuck it up in any way. And the main reason to trust them is that the pipeline is good for them and that you will also have the power to take it away from them. (As of today, it's really not clear that this pipeline will be built in the foreseeable future. US opinion on this is mostly irrelevant)

A pipeline is a bilateral, or even a multilateral project. It is like a chain - as weak as its weakest link. which means that each party can make it fail, and all are needed to make it succeed. All have the power. The seller can stop to sell, the buyer can stop to pay, and the transit country can cut the flow. As I wrote earlier, a pipeline is like a marriage with kids. It's a multi decade project where each party has committed something to the other (one to produce, one to transport, one to buy) at great expense that can only be recovered wit hte cooperation of all.

But oil and gas pipelines are very different. Gas markets do not exist outside of the gas pipeline network, plus a few LNG regazification terminal connected to it. The infrastructure defines the markets, and absolutely constrains where the gas can go (and where it can come from). For instance, Russia cannot export its gas anywhere but in Europe. Gas markets are de facto regional, and there are very few links between Asia, Europe and North America. LNG is creating some opportunities to arbitrage between them, but it's still limited. You have less than 200 LNG tankers on the planet, and most of them are contracted on fixed itineraries between one liquefaction terminal (in the exporting country) and one regazification terminal (in the importing country) - and behave almost like maritime pipelines.

Oil markets are global, and a lot more flexible. oil can be transported by rail, on rivers, by tankers and by pipelines. Pipelines, again, are the least flexible means of transport, as it imposes an origin and a destination. Bu it imposes BOTH

What's happening is that the buyers today suddenly feel that they need to buy the stuff more than the sellers need to sell it, and feel at a disadvantage. In a full frontal confrontation - i.e. if relationships break down, it would be the buyer which will beg the seller to reestablish the trade. And what we have today is bluster by our über-buyer, Cheney's America, to make believe to the seller that it will never, ever beg, and that it will go to war rather than do that, and thus that the other side should not think about cutting the gas. to which the other side responds, miffed, "but why are you accusing me of cutting anything? I'm happy with our relationship? Aren't you? Should I worry? Should I look elsewhere?" and thus Cheney "haha, you ARE looking elsewhere, I knew it. You're gonna pay for it!"

But there is no leverage in pipelines, just pain for everybody.

So it's a big disappointment to see papers like the New York Times or the Guardian peddle the Cheney/Blair "war of the worlds" vision of energy markets. This is the vision whereby, in order to make people forget that it is their incompetent and short termist energy policies and their refusal to consider any demand side action (to reduce demand through conservation or efficiency) that has brought about the current energy crisis, they invent external enemies to blame for that situation. Russia seems to be the ideal bogeyman - a long history of confrontation with the "evil empire" makes us easily willing to see that country suspiciously, a more authoritarian leader readily painted into a power-hungry imperialist, and the worst sin - a country hostile to the religion of free markets and willing (despite a mixed record) to trust the hand of the State.

Maybe a trip down memory lane is worthwhile, via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty:

In 1982, as the Soviet Union was beginning construction of a $22 billion, 4,650-kilometer gas pipeline from Urengoi in northwest Siberia to Uzhhorod in Ukraine with the intention of supplying Western Europe, the CIA issued a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) titled "The Soviet Gas Pipeline In Perspective."

Exploiting European Dependence

The NIE, regarded as the definitive product of the U.S. intelligence community, reached several conclusions, among them that the Soviet Union "calculates that the increased future dependence of the West Europeans on Soviet gas deliveries will make them more vulnerable to Soviet coercion and will become a permanent factor in their decision making on East-West issues."

In addition, according to the NIE, the Soviets "have used the pipeline issue to create and exploit divisions between Western Europe and the United States. In the past, the Soviets have used West European interest in expanding East-West commerce to undercut U.S. sanctions, and they believe successful pipeline deals will reduce European willingness to support future U.S. economic actions against the USSR."

(...)

Washington apparently dealt with these concerns in a direct manner initially. In January 1982, U.S. President Ronald Reagan purportedly approved a CIA plan to sabotage a second, unidentified gas pipeline in Siberia by turning the Soviet Union's desire for Western technology against it. The operation was first disclosed in the memoirs of Thomas C. Reed, a former Air Force secretary who was serving in the National Security Council at the time. In "At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War," Reed wrote:

"In order to disrupt the Soviet gas supply, its hard-currency earnings from the West, and the internal Russian economy, the pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines, and valves was programmed to go haywire, after a decent interval, to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to pipeline joints and welds.

"The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space," he recalled, adding that U.S. satellites picked up the explosion. Reed said in an interview that the blast occurred in the summer of 1982.

Hey, let's do like our hero Reagan and blow up some Russian pipelines! That'll help those wimpy Europeans understand that they should not become too dependent on evil Russian gas!

Display:
I'm trying to understand this.  Do you really think this all comes down to the US not liking Europe's dependence on Russian pipelines?  It does seem that eventually everything comes back to oil, but it also seems like Iran is the big sticking point here.  That and our basic inabilty to keep Russia under our thumb.

I feel a bit like I've had the wind knocked out of me, the way this "new Cold War" insanity hit so suddenly.  

What on earth do we have to gain from it?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:36:59 PM EST
it's Cheney wanting to deflect the blame coming his way for not planning for the post-cheap energy world, by pointing to a plausible enemy:

"see, it's not our fault if gasoline is at 3$/gal. it's those evil Russians /Iranians playing power games with the (our) oil in the(ir) pipelines"

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:49:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you recall what the Bush admin focused on before 9/11? It was this same new Cold War - both with China (spy plane incident) and Russia, with the Missile Defense System added as not just rhetoric but quite real strategic "message". So I think Cheney et al see a good opportunity to prepare the ground for another defense of Full Spectrum Dominance.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:49:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But this isn't before 9-11.  

We are in wars in Iraq and Afganistan and soon to be in Iran.  Not to mention that tonight we are sending our troops into the war on immigrants.  We have no money to pay for really very basic services like healthcare and social security let alone missile defense...  The government is full of Cold War vets and the Neo-Con philosphy is a relic of the Cold War, but then Bush looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul (note to George, learn not to fall for Russian men, they are baaad news, however unbearably charming...) and for the most part I think this Admin and Putin had very similar approaches to a lot...  Putin's been curbing democracy since he got in office and this Admin has been mum all along.  Suddenly they care?  Please...

I've yet to see an intelligent argument for why we would want to burn our bridges with Russia.  I think we have more to lose from such a move than does Russia.

Hubris, of course.  Megalomania, undoubtedly.  But I can see what supporters think we have to gain from going after Iraq, Iran, Mexicans, commies in South America.  I just don't see the logic in reviving the Cold War.  Whoever dies with the most money (oil, gas) wins?  I'd like to see the odds of America winning this...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:19:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote this on the dkos thread, but it fits weel with what you wrote:

One thing that has always struck me in the books by Tom Clancy, which are a good introduction to the mindset of the assertive internationalist hawks, i.e. a good part of the mostly sane conservative foreign policy apparatus, is the respect the guy has for the Russians. They are the enemy, but they 'know the rules', and they are 'civilised', and they understand the stakes. They are taken seriously.

What's happening today is that Russia is treated with the same contempt reserved for Haiti or Sudan or other God- forsaken place that can be blatantly insulted, scorned, ignored or bullied. Cheney wants to play the big boys' games but he doesn't even have the discipline to take the game seriously.

Incompetent, arrogant fool.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing that has always struck me in the books by Tom Clancy, which are a good introduction to the mindset of the assertive internationalist hawks, i.e. a good part of the mostly sane conservative foreign policy apparatus, is the respect the guy has for the Russians. They are the enemy, but they 'know the rules', and they are 'civilised', and they understand the stakes. They are taken seriously.

What they respected was power and the skill at using it. Hence the different treatment of a powerless third world country. People like Bush I and his team were always amoral pragmatists, albeit competent ones. A few months ago an article in the NYT quoted Scowcroft as being bewildered by what the hell Cheney had become. The catch is that I think Cheney was always a bit like this - he strongly opposed the Bush I/Baker/Scowcroft policy of engaging with Gorbachev on what basically amounted to an attitude of 'commies are evil and can't be trusted'.

Whenever I see Cheney in action I'm always reminded of Churchill's old quip about John Foster Dulles,  - 'a bull who carries his own china shop with him'.  JFD and his ilk in the Republican Party of the day were also unable to understand that the internationalist hawks of the Truman administration were not appeasing wimps who were afraid of using US power, but people who understood how to weigh costs and benefits. And like Cheney the JFD types saw themselves as tough minded realists.  Back then, though, we had a sane and very experienced president in Eisenhower to restrain them, now we've got Bush II.

by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:59:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying being an amoral pragmatist is a bad thing?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's just say I have a few qualms about some of the tactics they used - making sure that Latin American states remained US clients was not a pretty process to take one example.
by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:16:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it was nasty and mistakes were made (remember Nicaragua?) but it was only a small piece in the big game. We were at war with the Soviet union and in the end we won. That's the only thing that matters. After 1991 though, everything has changed.

We can't go around being assholes in the name of freedom and democracy anymore as the vast threat to freedom and democracy (and the West) is no more. Some people (like Bush II) mean that after the 2001 terrorist attacks, everything has changed again. I don't agree.

But make no mistake. I think many (but not all) of the interventions, coups and assasination we did during the Cold war were warranted.

But then I am the evil ET rightist. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:19:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We were at war... we won... We can't go around... we did during the Cold war...

Who we?

I think many (but not all) of the interventions, coups and assasination we did during the Cold war were warranted.

Name just three. (I can't think of a single one.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:15:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he means the assasination of Olof Palme.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:17:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I have stated quite a few times, I liked Olof Palme. He did many interesting things like pushing the Swedish nuclear weapons program, building our nuclear power plants in direct opposition to a referendum, selling artillery to India using bribes, instituting an illegal domestic anti-communist surveillance system not controlled by the state but by the social democrat party and being a very close friend to the US.

So, I liked him. I forgive his romantic Cuban and Palestinian leanings as it was all for show anyway.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:49:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We as in the West, Europe and the US.

Some examples:

  • The Greek civil war.

  • The Korean Police Action.

  • Supporting rightwing dictatorships in Asia, like Tawiwan and South Korea.

  • The support of Israel throughout all it's wars (or at least until 1982).

  • The support of the Shah (but the coup against Mossadegh was likely a big mistake-a to make-a).

  • The military support to Saddam Hussein against Iran.

  • Supporting the mujahedin in Afghanistan.

  • The Gulf War (not really qualified, but still a Western intervention).


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • Supporting Franco, as well as Salazar and his successors.
  • Manipulating the post-WWII Italian electoral system


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:51:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least the Italian manipulation resulted in some neat election posters.

Especially the one to the left.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:57:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guilio Andreotti and Bettino Craxi make neat poster boys for the manipulation of Italian democracy.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:01:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that theme was a direct continuation of one of Mussolini's themes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:46:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get it: Mussolini was a son of a bitch, but he was an anticommunist son of a bitch.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:50:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. Better our bastard than theirs. It's cynical yes, but that's war. It's not nice.

Hopefully, all that ended in 1991 and the short and awful 20th century is over and we are swiftly progressing into Brave New World (in a positive sense). At least we were until 2001 and the Bush overreaction.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:38:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One...Two...Three...Four...I don't want your dirty war...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 03:34:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now bypassing for a moment that Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan, curbing of long-term investments, US credit bubble from Clinton's time on, etc. consitute a progress to a Brave New World; you don't think the "Bush overreaction" was a direct result of previous developments? Remember, Dubya's crew got schooled in international politics in Reagan's time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:03:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you need to spend some time with Nicaraguan, Salvadora, Guatemalan, Chilean [I think you have very many of those as refugees in Sweden, BTW], Dominican, Timorese, Iranian, Congolese... and tell them to their faces that their countries had to be destroyed in order to be saved.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:54:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you don't get it. They were destroyed in order to save "us".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, makes me feel so much better.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:44:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another unfortunate but very real fact. War again, I'm afraid.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:39:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get it either. Migeru (a Spaniard) and I (from Hungary) are no part of your "we".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 03:59:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get it, DoDo, we should celebrate our fine patriots for their anticommunism:


The end justifies the means.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, if we are here, trick question to Starvid: do you think 1956 deserved support from the USA or not?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:37:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You owe me a diary on that, I think ;-)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:40:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tabled, for the 50th anniversary :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:46:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did it deserve support? Yes of course, but what could the West have done? Any action could have initiated a nuclear war. The satellite states in central and eastern Europe were a no-go area until the very end.

There was nothing to do. Don't think I am some coldhearted SOB who don't give a shit about the Hungarians. It could just as well have been the opposite situation, with Sweden becoming part of the eastern bloc after WW2.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was a trick question, because DoDo's narrative of the 1956 revolution is of a "true socialist" revolution against Stalinism. Or at least that's what I expect to read in his 50th anniversary diary.

But of course, from a realpolitik point of view it deserved to be supported as a way to undermine the Soviet empire.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:06:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I misunderstood what you meant by "support". I had tank battalions and para brigades in mind. But smuggling weapons and radio's etc could of course have been an idea.

In the end I wonder what good it would have done. The Russians would have crushed the revolution anyway in the end. Tanks can only be fought with other tanks if the oppressor is willing to use tanks against protesters and revolutionaries, no matter their political allegiance.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The Russians would have crushed the revolution anyway in the end.

"The Russians" did just as much as "The Swedes" or "The Spanish" or "The English".  Maybe you meant "The Soviets"?  Or, even better, "The Soviet leaders".  Europe still has a long way to go before this insane nationalism goes the way of the dodo - no offense to DoDo :-)

BTW, being a conservative Swede must be quite a case of mental gymnastics.  I'd be interested to hear your defense of Sweden's actions before, during, and after WWII.

by slaboymni on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:09:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very easy, I don't defend them at all!

Or rather, the biggest mistake was the de-militarization of 1925 (1929?). With that decision our hands were tied. The biggest crime was telling Finland we would come to it's aid as an ally during the 30's while only giving limited help when the Soviet Union invaded.

While the transit of German troops and the iron exports were immoral, I can't say I would have opposed them back then. The result would probably have been a German invasion and they would easily have defeated us.

Still, I wouldn't have blamed the Allies if they had bombed the Swedish iron mines or the ore railroad to Narvik. Swedish ore was exported on a large scale to Germany.

The repatriation of Soviet soldiers (to Gulag...) who had fled to Sweden was a case of criminal appeasement as we at that moment had a choice as our military was far stronger than just a few years earlier. I hope I have answered your question.

And on the Hungary issue I didn't mean to offend. I obviuosly didn't mean the Russian people when I said "the Russians". I am under no illusions of how much say Boris Vladimirovich from Vytegra had in that decision. I meant the Soviet Union, the Soviet military or the Soviet leadership.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:26:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My narrative is more complex than that, but wait 'till 23 October :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:25:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did it deserve support? Yes of course

The US thought otherwise, thinking PM Imre Nagy, as a communist, is not to be trusted.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the most infamous provocations by that part of the local far-right which aligned itself with right-populist Fidesz was a magazine cover celebrating the fighters on the fascist side in the 1944 siege of Budapest as freedom fighters, defenders of Europe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We as in the West, Europe and the US.

You have to be more precise. Not everyone of you in the "West", "Europe" and the US was gung-ho about the Cold War, many in fact were at the receiving end of it (see Migeru's replies). To the hell with the rest?

#  The Greek civil war.

Why do you think that one was justified? It would seem a poster case against, especially given the fact that Greek communists were left on their own by Stalin. (No wonder Greece's population is the most anti-American in Europe.)

# The Korean Police Action.

Likewise, why do you think that one was justified? It wasn't even successful (see Kim Jong Il), and discredited the UN as peacemaking force.

# Supporting rightwing dictatorships in Asia, like Tawiwan and South Korea.

These too seem more poster cases against.

# The support of Israel throughout all it's wars (or at least until 1982).

Definitely a poster case against. Supporting Israeli aggression gave friends to the Soviet Union in the first place.

# The support of the Shah (but the coup against Mossadegh was likely a big mistake-a to make-a).

Considering that the support for the Shah lead to the Iranian Revolution, why do you consider this one as positive?

# The military support to Saddam Hussein against Iran.

You won: two Gulf Wars, and a 20-year delay for Iran's surrogates (SCIRI and Badr, Daawa) to take over under circumstances when you can't even undermine them and have to smile, and of course those ubiquitous RPGs in Iraq - and all this wasn't against the Soviet Union, which was subcontractor in this business.

# Supporting the mujahedin in Afghanistan.

Gave you a destroyed Afghanistan, al-Qaida, and a flood of heroin into Europe. I thought Mossadekh's deposal would have been seen by you as less contentious a fuckup than this one.

# The Gulf War (not really qualified, but still a Western intervention).

Do you agree with Madeleine Albright?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I think most of those were worth it as well.

  1. Greek Civil War - the communists were at least as bad as the government, so why not support them?

  2. Korea - Kim Jong Il was even worse than the South Koreans. Much worse.

  3. Supporting right wing dictatorships in Taiwan and South Korea. - way to little pressure on them to democratize (though interestingly enough, strong pressure to break the traditional landowning elites through land reform IIRC).  Any here who are sympathetic even in the slightest bit to Castro, or don't mind Chavez's support for him, should be positively giddy about the results in those two places - they started out poorer than Cuba, faces the same difficulties of hostile neighbours and being cut off from natural markets, and ended up much more prosperous and democratic.

  4. Support for Israel in all its wars - well both Americans and Soviets supported Israel in 1948, both opposed it in 1956, not much support in 1967, yes, justified in 1973, not in 1982.

  5. Iran was a complete fuck up on both moral and purely 'realist' grounds.

  6. Supporting Saddam against Iran - no, not justified.

  7. Supporting the mujaheddin - yes worth it, the screw up came in washing their hands of it after the Soviets withdrew.

  8. The Gulf War - absolutely worth it and justified.

My problem with the cold war tactics was the consistent choice to support brutal pro-American dictatorships against neutral or somewhat hostile democratic forces.
by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:25:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Supporting right wing dictatorships in Taiwan and South Korea. - way to little pressure on them to democratize (though interestingly enough, strong pressure to break the traditional landowning elites through land reform IIRC).  Any here who are sympathetic even in the slightest bit to Castro, or don't mind Chavez's support for him, should be positively giddy about the results in those two places - they started out poorer than Cuba, faces the same difficulties of hostile neighbours and being cut off from natural markets, and ended up much more prosperous and democratic.
Er... South Korea, Japan, the philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia were all US client states, so the isolation argument doesn't count.

Now that I think of it, funny how we've glossed over US support for Sukarno, Suharto, and Marcos with barely a mention.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:30:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Huh? BTW, remember: you argued from a war against the Soviet Union.

  2. That's my point. The Korean War was on one hand not successful, on the other hand cemented a dictator's power by permanent military standoff (remember 1984).

  3. Both Cuba's and Venezuela's poverty are linked to US action (embargo and sabotage resp. supported coups and disastrous IMF 'reforms'), while the other two grew rich on exports to the US, so your comparison doesn't make much sense. As democratisation in the latter grew from the fight against, not from the US-supported dictators, crediting the US action with it is a bit rich. The US action delayed democracy, didn't help it (and left various stumbling bocks and unexploded mines behind). As for what this has to do with fighting the Soviet Union, I don't know.

  4. 1948, 1956: you yourself say it's nothing to do with fighting the Soviets. I note that while support for Israel's unannounced 1967 attack on its neighbours was implicit, it included covering up the Israelis' sinking of a US reconnaissance ship, which was almost 'answered' by a nuclear bomb on - Kairo. The two Cold War sides did become supporters of opposed sides in the conflict by 1973, but you should explain the strategic gain therein.

  5. The mujahedeen had a meeting in the USA towards the end of the eighties, taped by the FBI, on which they declared that the next enemy to take on will be - the USA. Nothing was deemed necessary to be done about it. That washing their hands later-on was structural to the US foreign policy elite's approach to the entire Afghanistan policy, no other outcome was possible with these. As for Afghanistan, methinks a repressive Soviet puppet state building public housing and widening education would have been preferable for the population to a landmine-infested country in ruins ruled by mujahedeen zealots.

  6. As part of the Cold War, how? And I again ask: do you agree with Madeleine Albright?

My problem with the cold war tactics was the consistent choice to support brutal pro-American dictatorships against neutral or somewhat hostile democratic forces.

Tactic or overall policy? Anyway, makes one wonder why you'd prefer to side with one superpower over another, especially given that Sweden was/is nonaligned.

(BTW, if it's not too personal, what is your age?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:35:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC Starvid said early in his ET career that he was an Economics undergraduate.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:39:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh-oh-eh - Marek, sorry, I must have overlooked your handle, I thought I am responding to Starvid...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:49:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Supporting a friendly morally dubious government against a hostile morally dubious rebellion.

  2. It cemented two dictatorships, one absolutely horrible and hostile, one bad and friendly. Without the war you would have just had the former.

  3. South Korea was cut off from its industrial centers, from China, and from the USSR. Taiwan was cut off from China. They survived and prospered.  It's also a bit simplistic to see democratization as just opposition by anti-American populations. There's a strong element of that in South Korea, but US encouragement of the process in the eighties also played a role, similar to what Gorbachev hoped to accomplish in Eastern Europe. In Taiwan it was strongly pushed by pro-US leaders with the support of the US against the hardliners of the Kuomintang.

  4. In strictly US terms I've already explained elsewhere why I think it made sense for the US to support Israel in 1973 - it was going to win anyways, the only question was how.

  5. Umh, no, nothing to do with the Cold War.

Tactic or overall policy? Anyway, makes one wonder why you'd prefer to side with one superpower over another

Policy. And while I know your question was aimed at Starvid I'll answer it anyways. US actions in the Third World were as ugly as anything the Soviets did. But both domestically and in Europe, they were vastly different.

by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. The situation in Eastern and Central Europe was always different from the rest of the world. Why risk having a single potential Soviet ally if you could avoid it? What would the situation with Turkey have looked like if Greece would not have been a NATO member. But true, this example goes against the principle "Fight the Soviet Union, do not fight non Soviet communism" which was so sucessful when followed (China-Nixon) and so disastrous when it was opposed (Vietnam).

  2. The Korean war was a victory. The North Korean invasion was repelled even if North Korea was not occupied by South Korea and the UN, to it's own great loss.

  3. Taiwan and South Korea did not grow rich on US support (though they received support, just like Cuba got from the Soviets) but on hard work and state supported export industries. Democracy came as a result of wealth and a large middle class and not the other way around.

  4. Israel was used as a tool by the US (though many people like to say it's the other way around :p ) to stop any Mideast state to grow to strong and control the oil which the West needed. The Soviet Union had plenty of oil itself (at least until they peaked, ha!).

  5. Maybe better for the Afghans but not for us. The Afghan war helped bleed the Soviets. And then we have the risk of having Russian aircraft in Afghanistan, within striking distance of the Straits of Hormuz. And who knows? They might have stirred up trouble in Baluchistan, intervened and bam! the Soviet Union stretches to the Indian Ocean.

The threat of al-Qaida terrorism we helped create back then is nothing compared to the former threat of the former Soviet Union. Which is why Bush and his cronies seem so silly talking about World War IV.

8. To keep control of the oil, most vital of resources. To keep the Iranians (fresh from an islamic revolution and raving mad) from becoming too strong (and frankly, to exact revenge for the embarrassing hostage episode ). Something we could still be playing at if it weren't for the insane invasion of Iraq (controlling the oil that is).

If I agree with Albright? I guess you are talking about the infamous "are 500.000 dead children worth it?" quote.

Well. Those fatalities are entirely on the conscience of Saddam Hussein. He could have avoided them without any trouble at all. It's like asking if the holocaust is the fault of the Allies because they didn't firebomb the concentration camps.
Maybe the sanctions could have looked different. But would that have made any difference? Maybe, maybe not. Could Saddam easily have avoided killing those children? Yes. That the sanctions were necessary to contain Saddam Hussein is obvious. If the sanctions were entirely lifted it would have been only a matter of time until he invaded someone again.

But I guess the US can't use that argument anymore.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:51:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something we could still be playing at if it weren't for the insane invasion of Iraq (controlling the oil that is).
Who is we again?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A bit sloppy use of the we there, sorry. Before 1991 it would have been the West. Today it seems interest are perceived as vastly different on the two sides of the Atlantic.

So we as in they, the Americans and the British, and the rest of their coalition.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:35:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What DoDo and I are trying to tell you is that even before 1991 "the West" is not as monolythic a concept as you make it sound. Greece has been mentioned as having a very anti-american population because of US support for the fascists during their civil war, as well as for the dictatorship of the 1960's/70's. Spaniards are (were) not too keen either because of American support for Franco since Eisenhower in 1955, same thing with Portugal and the support for Salazar and his successors. The communist party was the largest party in Italy (as can be seen from the fact that most mayors were communist) and the only one to survive Mani Pulite as the corrupt system that unraveled then [1991... coincidence? I don't think so, it had outlived its "usefulness"] had as its only purpose to prevent the Communist party from attaining government democratically. By the way, part of why people in Spain and Portugal liked the EU so much was that the EU refused to allow the dictatorships to join.

So I repeat: you should maybe talk to some of the people on the receiving end of "the West"'s policies, because we tend not to be so grateful. It would have been much better for you to fight your cold ward on your own soil or with your own population on the line. No pain, no gain.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Soviet Union had plenty of oil itself (at least until they peaked, ha!).
So, what happens to the US when the world peaks?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There will be interesting times, to say the least.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:31:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the end we won

BTW, just curious, which version of the Cold War victory claim do you adhere to?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:51:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A mix of them all. Soviet military overspending (due partly to Reagan military spending), the uselessness of planned economy, the Homo Sovieticus, peaking of Soviet oil production. Basically it was the economy and all the nasty shocks that further aggravated it.

Also very important is the opposition to Soviet imperialism among the peoples of central and eastern Europe.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:33:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Soviet military overspending (due partly to Reagan military spending)

There was much more serious military overspending in earlier periods of the Soviet Union - while the collapse came after disaramment talks.

the uselessness of planned economy, the Homo Sovieticus, peaking of Soviet oil production.

These had nothing to do with Western action, just noting.

Basically it was the economy and all the nasty shocks that further aggravated it.

North Korea shows rather starkly that economic collapse doesn't necessitate system collapse. (What's more, the real economic collapse came after the end of 'communism' and the Soviet Union, with the introducion of free-market economics.)

Also very important is the opposition to Soviet imperialism among the peoples of central and eastern Europe.

Thanks for acknowledging us here, but this again had nothing to do with Western action, and we got free with much milder action than when we got stopped in 1956, 1968 or 1980. You have to look for the reason of the end of the Cold War and the Soviet system somewhere else.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 03:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economic collapse had a lot to do with the fall of the dictatorship in Poland, and that in turn showed the other Soviet puppet states that the Soviets were not willing to enforce their control at the price of mass bloodshed.

Poland's economy in 1988 had been completely starved of all capital investment since the mid seventies and unsurprisingly that meant that it was running into serious problems, with production beginning to decline. It was heavily indebted and couldn't get more loans from the West. The Soviet economy wasn't collapsing but it wasn't in good shape either, and they weren't willing to provide massive financial aid to Poland. The PZPR couldn't cut wages without facing widespread strikes. So Jaruzelski and co decided that they'd try to throw some bones to the opposition in return for acquiescence for the inevitable pain that dealing with the mess would cause. But Solidarity insisted on major, substantive concessions - semi-free elections and their own press. It then swept the elections in early June 1989 and installed its own government toward the end of the summer. The Soviets did nothing, Hungary which had already been playing with reforms accelerated, the population of other states was emboldened to try to change things as well. By the end of the year the Soviet empire in ECE was dead.

And in the USSR, one major motivating factor for Gorbachev and co. was the fact that the economy was stagnating.

On military spending - sure the Soviets weren't spending as much as in other periods, but they were spending a lot more than the USA which, btw, was also spending less than in earlier Cold War peaks. That also mattered.

Nobody (rational) is saying that any one factor explains the end of the USSR, just that each of those cited played a role.

North Korea simply shows that if you're ruthless enough then economic collapse doesn't mean political collapse- as shown earlier in the USSR and China under Stalin and Mao. But the leaders of the Soviet Union weren't anywhere near as ruthless as that by the 1980's.

by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:31:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My answer to why the Soviet system collapsed is in part included in yours, but I won't yet articulate it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:39:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cannot wait!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Soviets were not willing to enforce their control at the price of mass bloodshed.
So that's why the Soviets lost the cold war: they lacked nerve, they didn't have what it takes to be a global hegemon.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:42:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gorbachev and co weren't willing to play that game anymore, so yes. Mainly for moral reasons from what I can tell, but also realist ones - mass bloodshed would have cost money while screwing up their economic ties with the West. They would have emerged with their empire intact, but weakened, while the opposing side would be more unified and would lose nothing. Again, no single factor explains it all.
by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:52:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haha.  But maybe it had more to do with an increase in pragmatism than loss of nerve ...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:59:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pragmatism? I would say Gorbachev was an idealist. He truly believed he could reform Soviet communism and make it democratic and economically viable.

Of course, I'm snarking on the 'nerve' bit.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:50:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to look for the reason of the end of the Cold War and the Soviet system somewhere else.

Ok, I very much value your opinion, but I am perplexed...

Western influence, economic collapse, opposition from to Soviet imperialism among the people of Central and Eastern Europe, military overspending ... you don't believe these things played a significant role in bringing down the Soviet Union?  I mean, obviously not one of those things alone did it (which is why I hate the way America congratulates itself for the accomplishment...) and I don't think we should leave out the basic will of the Russian people.  But I'm not sure you can discount those things listed above...

And I think you are right about the overmilitarization under, say, Stalin (though there is a difference between military spending during the threat of world wars and during peace-time arms races) and that the worst economic collapse came in the 90's, but those things don't disqualify arms races and economic collapse (or the brink thereof) from being important factors in ending the Cold War.

Where do you suggest we look?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:52:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This article is not exactly about the reasons of the Soviet collapse, but it does take a matter-of-fact "it was an economic collapse" approach...
A slightly more commonsense explanation is this: during the pre-perestroika "stagnation" period, due to the chronic underperformance of the economy, coupled with record levels of military expenditure, trade deficit, and foreign debt, it became increasingly difficult for the average Russian middle-class family of three, with both parents working, to make ends meet. (Now, isn't that beginning to sound familiar?) Of course, the government bureaucrats were not too concerned about the plight of the people. But the people found ways to survive by circumventing government controls in a myriad of ways, preventing the government from getting the results it needed to keep the system going. Therefore, the system had to be reformed. When this became the consensus view, reformers lined up to try and reform the system. Alas, the system could not be reformed. Instead of adapting, it fell apart.

Russia was able to bounce back economically because it remains fairly rich in oil and very rich in natural gas, and will probably continue in relative prosperity for at least a few more decades. ... When I say that Russia bounced back, I am not trying to understate the human cost of the Soviet collapse, or the lopsidedness and the economic disparities of the re-born Russian economy.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is this Dmitri Orlov fellow?  This is the second time I've been sent from ET to read his stuff in as many days...

His "about" page is funny...

Along with providing curious Web-tourists with some mild diversion, ClubOrlovTM also strives to bridge the semantic gap between two extremes:

Those who love Dmitry Orlov and want to join his club
Those who hate Dmitry Orlov and want to club him

ClubOrlovTM is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

I haven't read the whole link you provided, but from this bit, the WHY behind the comment "the system could not be reformed" is still unanswered...  If it were solely an economic matter, some kind of NEP 2.0 or Chinese model economy might have been preferred (maybe they were, who knows...), but instead, they went ahead and opened the floodgates of ideological change...


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Orlov is a peak-oilist. I got to his text by following a link in a comment to one of rdf's Daily Kos diaries, the one that islinked from his latest ET diary.

The way I read this,

it became increasingly difficult for the average Russian middle-class family of three, with both parents working, to make ends meet
is why the sytem needed to be reformed, and
the people found ways to survive by circumventing government controls in a myriad of ways, preventing the government from getting the results it needed to keep the system going.
is the reason why it couldn't be reformed. I suppose Orlov's point is that the Soviet System, precisely because the economy was so inefficient and unresponsive, managed to go on on autopilot after it was dead, sort of like hair and nails growing on a corpse. By the time the government tried to do something (perestroika, glasnost, liberal reform) the very act of doing something was the jolt that made the system fall apart. Sort of like an overheated liquid boiling over as a result of a small perturbation. But I speculate.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:32:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about Marek, but history teaches me that amoral pragmatist = producer of long-term problems.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:16:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, that self-proclaimed pragmatists are often both clueless and ideology-driven.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First of all we tend to remember the blowback but forget the successful stuff. Thus lots of talk about the 1953 coup in Iran (under JFD btw) and little mention of the fact that most of the dirty stuff worked out fine from an amoral standpoint - Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, etc.  And anyways, in the long run we're all dead ;) You deal with the problems that exist now, and worry about what happens a decade or three down the line when the time comes.
by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine compared to what? What would have these places been like without 'fine' US intervention?

One of the most poisonous effects of globalisation has been its tendency to stamp out effective local-scale business development. When United Fruit rolls into town and says 'This is what we pay you - and if you fight back we'll take over your country and you lose anyway' the distortion on local economies is huge and fantastically destructive.

In a very simple and direct way more trade means prosperity. The real value of wealth in a culture isn't absolute GDP but the richness and density of the transactions that take place in it and around it. Monopolising small-scale markets makes sure those transactions never happen. The result is lower local spending ability and fewer trade opportunities for everyone - except for the elites, who mostly either sit on their money and buy stupid pointless stuff with it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 08:00:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The real value of wealth in a culture isn't absolute GDP but the richness and density of the transactions that take place in it and around it.

spot-on TBG!  again I refer bavk to Jane Jacobs, who btw died  in late April -- the 25th, I believe, one day prior to the Chernobyl anniversary so many diarists were commemorating.  I meant to write sonething about her work -- which has literally changed my life -- but got busy with other projects.  Jacobs asserted many decades ago that the root of vibrancy and health in urban areas is that very "richness and density" of interactions, a fractal fine-grainedness and deep diversity -- the opposite of monoculture and top-down authoritarian simplification-by-force.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the sum total of health in any systems is maximised by biomimicry -- of a rich i.e. functional biome.  this means an enormous density, complexity, and vitality down to the finest microbiotic level of detail -- maximum niche occupancy and maximum niche count.  the inevitable result of "plantation" (monocropping whether agricultural or economic) is a fundamental inefficiency resulting in poverty (i.e. a stripped or dysfunctional biome).  wealth may accrue at higher levels of predation in a decaying biome (this seems to have happened more than once in evolutionary time) but it is a transient phenomenon as it undermines the  richness and density at the microlayer.  without this richness and density at the roots, eventually external inputs are required to prevent die-off (bankruptcy) -- whether cultural, agrarian, or whatever.

haven't time to spell it all out but the parallels should be pretty clear;  overapplication of Taylorism  (everything's a nail) plus hyperpredation leads to systemic bankruptcy and far lower overall energy throughputs than a functioning system would show.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 08:21:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurry up with a full-blown diary.

I saw a couple of obituaries of Jane Jacobs, but the importance of her work passed me by. I look forward to reading more.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:38:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine compared to what? What would have these places been like without 'fine' US intervention?

I don't understand your objection. The thread started with me explaining that these people were amoral and used very ugly methods. I then said that from the perspective of amoral traditional center right realism it worked out fine more often than not. That means fine for US power. In the case of Latin America, making sure that every country remained a client state of the US. Washington used diplomacy, development aid, bribes, torture, and murder in that task.  The welfare of the local population was at best a means of accomplishing their ends, at worst collateral damage.  

by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 09:01:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So then Iran also worked fine for 26 years...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:17:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't think that the current breakdown of US influence in Latin America is a direct consequence of those 'realist' policies? What about the flood of drugs into the USA? Elsewhere, what about the creation of the Sunni Islamist fundamentalist internationale in Afghanistan?

I really meant long-term consequences.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:04:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If by "long-term" you mean one generation away. Which means the realists end up having to fight their own monsters, or their parents' monsters in some cases.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:09:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
most of the dirty stuff worked out fine from an amoral standpoint - Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, etc.
I am tempted to time-machine you back to Poland under Jaruzelski, Marek.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are in wars in Iraq and Afganistan and soon to be in Iran.  Not to mention that tonight we are sending our troops into the war on immigrants.  We have no money to pay for really very basic services like healthcare and social security let alone missile defense...

Similar arguments have been made earlier. Missile defense and tax cuts make no sense after the end of the New Economy Bubble, some said in 2001. There will be no Iraq War after the tax cuts, some said in 2002. Iran war is impossible with troops bound down in Iraq, many still say today.

Putin's been curbing democracy since he got in office and this Admin has been mum all along.  Suddenly they care?  Please...

What they care about is cutting Putin's wings. Beside all the nice words about looking into eyes. This didn't stop with 9/11: they used the Afghanistan War to get Central Asia out of Russia's military sphere and into the US one. Then came the color-coded Revolutions. Attempts to stop Russian-European space cooperation.

I just don't see the logic in reviving the Cold War.  Whoever dies with the most money (oil, gas) wins?

Basically yes, but they of course don't believe they'll die. Think 1984.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they used the Afghanistan War to get Central Asia out of Russia's military sphere and into the US one. Then came the color-coded Revolutions.

Ahh, yes.  Thanks for jogging my memory...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I also seem to recall the blocking of some technology transfer or high-tech purchase or what, which got Putin furious, does that ring a bell?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:42:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush said it's "World War III" that began 9/11/01. It's no wonder whatsoever that they are finding enemies everywhere, be it Russia, Solomon islands or France. Such a talk by the president of the US would have caused an uproar after 1991, but now we have reached a point where we can no longer dismiss it as a joke.

I think the mechanism of escalation is very simple. As Rice said, "Are you with us or against us?" Everybody is a potential enemy, a potential threat to them (which in my opinion include Hillary, Biden and Obama), in this World War III mentality.

You may wonder why it has to be a World War. It is because they are driving a new "eternal revolution" to "forcibly achieve democracy and freedom." Just as those driven by the Boshevik ideals never thought twice about their goal, Bush is clear in his vision. Just as Trotsky could not stop at the border, Bush cannot stop the escalation, because any step backward will kill the momentum, the movement, i.e., the revolution itself.  The difference between Trotsky and Bush is that the latter has 1 godzillion times more firepower.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:27:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
World War III? Have the man never heard of the Cold War, which was World War III? If this little (albeit highly destabilising) anti-terrorist campaign qualifies as a world war (which it doesn't) it is World War IV, not World War III.

We are in a world war, we are in World War IV.

- James Woolsey, former CIA chief, current peak oil awareness activist (among other things)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:35:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If this little (albeit highly destabilising) anti-terrorist campaign qualifies as a world war (which it doesn't) it is World War IV, not World War III.

Right, and they don't like that their war is minimized. Their fellow traveller Andrew Sullivan once credited Bush with an inspiring campaign to extend the war beyond a smallish "police campaign" to catch al Qaeda.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:08:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About the last, that "most monumental explosion": Russian sources dismiss Reed's claim as silly boasting, and blame construction deficiencies for the explosion - which, jubilant Reed fails to mention, was ignited by a passing train, killing hundreds.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:41:32 PM EST
I have no idea what's the truth. The important thing is that some in hte West seem proud of their boast, and some today would obviously want to use such simple, and satisfying, solutions to our energy problems... Kaboom. Solved. (Not)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:46:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From my (written) archives: there is quite some confusion here. The biggest pipeline explosion happened near Ufa 4 June 1989, with 645 dead (there were actually two trains englufed in the flames), and this was an explosion around 10 kilotons - this is truly the biggest man-made non-nuclear explosion.

But, Reed's claim is of a circa 3 kt explosion in June 1982. Meanwhile, one KGB veteran called Vasily Pchelintsev claims this is bunk, and says the explosion on said pipeline was in April, due to the lack of heat expansion elements spared by corrupt local officials, and it was relatively minor as it was repaired in one day.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:56:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah! I found an on-line article in which Reed and Pchelintsev battle it out, in Wired.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:01:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This whole thing about consuing oil and gas is strange to me. It is a bit too amateur'ish for someone like NYT to confuse the two. I know in American English "gas" usually implies "petrol," but still, natural gas and oil are two completely different commodities. What the fuck are these people thinking?

Why is NYT getting away with this blatant piece of partisan shit?

Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:15:24 PM EST
Possibly because it isn't partisan? On the US political landscape?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. In cases like this, the primary problem is that Washington elites and the journalist elites (at papers like the NYT) run in the same social circles. They're not interested in objectivity or integrity, they are worried about themselves and their personal standing. Integrity and objectivity requires rocking the boat.

There is also a fear of losing access if you don't tow the Washington line. That has been true for as long as the news "industry" has been primarily corporate.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:59:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what is the Democrat's separate line?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:05:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hahahahaha!!!  Thanks for the comic relief.  


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:08:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They don't have one, I'm talking about the US citizens who aren't represented by a political party. Lack of party variety doesn't mean the press has to follow suit (although you would probably expect it).

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, then we don't disagree at all: NYT isn't partisan, but given that the two big parties don't represent every opinion not to say everyone, that doesn't mean much.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:15:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It certainly does mean a lot. It feeds the disenfranchisement of the citizenry when they understand that corporate influence is what drives policy, not citizen needs.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:23:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a cliche but it's one that doesn't seem to have sunk in yet - the real battle isn't Dems vs Reps, it's between  the Washington bandits and everyone else.

The press are enablers and mostly part of the Washington scene now. Which means they're no longer on the side of the public, and they're not genuinely interested in acting honestly to promote the public good.

One or two individual journalists are exceptions, but mostly it's one big happy corporate family.

Sites like Democracy Now and Kos are taking their place by promoting that public good. And it's going to be a tough struggle to get that mainstream public point of view back at the centre of the debate without allowing it to be poisoned or undermined by corporate spin.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 07:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back in the 1920's, my grandparents in Milwaukee were involved in anarchist politics and read anarchist newspapers. They weren't even radicals really - just interested in (shock) their own interests. My how things have changed.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 08:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean what was best for Rockefeller wasn't best for them?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:12:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NYT isn't partisan
A common mistake in US political circles [might be intentional] is to think that "bi-partisan" means "non-partisan".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:11:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This could very well be the case. After all, both the Dems and the GOP fuel the paranoia, just on slightly different levels. Even if there are some Dems who are more thoughtful on the issue (John Kerry seems to know his shit when it comes to foreign policy, but he is always afraid to admit it), there is really no difference in political discourse.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 07:58:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt it occurs to the av. American to question the difference...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are journalists. They are by choice of profession incompetent (sorry any eventual ET journalists, I am sure you are different).

I have had quite some sweat correcting all the errors in the current torrent of articles on nuclear power in the Swedish press.

It's the same all over the world, I am sure (though Swedish journalist are a breed above all the others when it comes to excelling in incompetence).

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:25:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh!
Every time I visit the Old Country I wonder who the journalists have nominated as "victims of the week": is it Immigrants? The handicapped? or Women? Seriously, it's like Lifetime owned Fox.

Big fish, small pond. Well, small pond, anyway. "Wow, I'm huge, our paper has tens of thousands of readers, I don't need to improve."
(OK, so you don't need to be Yomiuri Shimbun to be good.)

I have a feeling they overdosed on human interest in the late 80's or thereabouts.

Or were you just referring to the dearth of actual facts?
(I could be going off on a tangent as usual...)

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:17:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Victims of the week", very well found! Sweden in a nutshell (can you say that in English?).

That and that they never bother checking facts (which takes 2 minutes with the Internet) and seem to only recruit people who can't spell. Maybe it's part of some quota program.

So both an overdose on human interest and an incredible incompetence and laziness.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:25:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good one.

I generally use the phrase Candynews of the Week: after one week of sucking it, the flavour is gone and a new wrapper is opened. It's mass consumption mentality in the press.

by Nomad on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 09:08:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mmm, candy. Like it.

(I think the word "victim" snuck in because I like Chomsky's phrase "deserving victim".)

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 10:31:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Financial Times recently made the same "mistake" on their front page... Oil = petrol = gas = natural gas. This is why Jerome speaks of Cheney/Blair. The NYT does Cheney's biddig, and the FT does Blair's.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:34:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a letter to the editor and/or reporter involved as well as a copy to the ombudsman detailing the mistakes noted would be useful.

The revised NY Times web site makes it fairly easy to find the email addresses of the staff.
This seems to be the page leading to the reporter of the article:
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/jad_mouawad/index.html?inline=nyt-per


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:51:00 PM EST
Ok, let's play this quiz:

After Katrina had knocked out the US raffineries in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama it lead to an immediate slump in the US petrol output and - consequently - to a dramatic price spike to over 3 USD at the pumps in North America.

At this point the International Energy Agency swung into action and released within 24 hrs after the hurricane had struck the Gulf Coast 2 bn barrels of oil p.d. for a period of 60 days to make good on the loss of US production.

Look at the IEA stats and discuss the differences between the Strategic Petrolium Reserves in the US, the Pacific and the EU and explain why the EU saved the USA's greedy ass and what medium effect it has  on global petrol prices.

----->

Stock release and increased production - end October
(thousand barrels)

North America (US):

total oil 27,545

  • crude oil 27,545
  • total other products 0,0
  • of which petrol products (Super, Diesel) 0,0

Pacific (Japan):

total oil 10,704

  • crude oil 6,254
  • total other products 4,450
  • of which petrol products (Super, Diesel) 1,719

EU:

total oil 15,622

  • crude oil 2,494
  • total other products 13,128
  • of which petrol products (Super, Diesel) 6,632

Total World:

oil 53,872

  • crude oil 36,293
  • total other products 17,578
  • of which petrol products (Super, Diesel) 8,351


"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:45:02 PM EST
Cheney as Pot, Putin as Kettle

It's hard to disagree with Vice President Dick Cheney's criticism of Russia on Thursday. Vladimir Putin has indeed reversed the democratizing course set, however clumsily and incompletely, by Boris Yeltsin, and he is using Russia's vast reserves of oil and gas as tools of intimidation and blackmail.

Still, however much we agree with the content of Mr. Cheney's remarks, the unavoidable reaction is to question their motives and usefulness. There was a time when a strong statement from Washington in support of human rights and democratic behavior carried real authority. But of late the human-rights record of this administration has eroded its moral authority, and Mr. Cheney is closely associated with some of its most offensive policies.

Straight from Lithuania, Mr. Cheney traveled to oil-rich Kazakhstan to make nice to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a leader with an awful human-rights record whose recent re-election was fraudulent. President George Bush recently received a similar autocrat, President Ilham Aliyev of oil-rich Azerbaijan, in the White House. Given the global scramble for energy, there's an obvious self-interest for Washington in courting these secular leaders of Muslim nations. But spearing Russia while flirting with its even more undemocratic neighbors confuses the message, especially when done by a vice president identified with oil interests.

The Bush administration has been working hard for weeks to line up Mr. Putin's support for a United Nations resolution aimed at halting Iran's nuclear enrichment activities. Without Russian backing, that effort cannot succeed. In that light, the timing of Mr. Cheney's remarks, which were vetted by the White House, seems rather odd.

[...]
NYT lead editorial, May 9

by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:57:46 PM EST
Wrong answer to the EU quiz.

Sorry, you didn't pass the test. But don't worry that's quite normal. Only 300 people out of 35,000 candidates pass the Concours Generale of the European Commission and are offered a job at the EU institutions.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 07:05:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
?
by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 07:09:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Out and over. You won't have a chance to demonstrate your analytic capacity to interprete an EU chart before 2008.  

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 07:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know you're being gently ironic (I've grown fond of that tone of yours anyhow), but I'm not certain whether you noticed that Marek was only quoting the NYT? (ie. "the pot and kettle" article here)

I also didn't notice it at first, and thought that Marek's position was strange (example, the: "however much we agree with the content of Mr. Cheney's remarks" was completely off with the character we know Marek to be), then I noticed the NYT link at the bottom of his comment.

Just thought I'd say this, but I may have failed the test too ;)

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 07:46:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahhh now I just noticed your quiz above. Ok, I failed too.
by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 07:47:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vladimir Putin has indeed reversed the democratizing course set, however clumsily and incompletely, by Boris Yeltsin

Marek, try saying that to a Russian living in Russia. Yeltsin has turned Russia into a free-for-all Far West type zone, with the country's resources stolen by his friends. He is unanimously despised over there, at least from what I heard.

How Russia was "liberalized" under Yeltsin, on the Gorbachov legacy, with the help of Western advisors, is an incredible story. I'll appreciate any link where this story is analyzed.

by balbuz on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:38:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... particularly how the oligarchs managed to buil their empire by buying out those coupons which had been distributed to the population, but which had no value because there was no market from them. Who were those Western advisors ?
by balbuz on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the democratizing course set, however clumsily and incompletely, by Boris Yeltsin
Whenever I hear a western commentator [like the NYT in this case] talk about Yeltsin's "democratization" I always remember the accolades he received for bombing the Duma in 1993, and how disgusted I was at the West's inability to see a corrupt authoritarian for what he was.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:22:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bravo Jerome you definitely should be interviewed as expert on EuroNews to allay Europeans fears about Gazprom.

Seriously speaking it seems that many people found basis of recent anti Russian campaign in Western media marred by inconsistency, dilettancy and pure lies. Yet such articles continue to leap out, look at Guardian's Prodding The Bear on May 11.

This campaign questions basis, integrity and credibility of Western media, what they reported or failed to report about what's going on in the world.
There were some basic safeguards in Western journalism, different in many countries as it was shown in analysis of last year Pulitzer Prize and Prix Albert Londres winning articles about Beslan tragedy.
 http://www.editorsweblog.org/analysis/2006/05/american_and_french_journalism_compared.php  

There's nothing new in it, we just have to be accustomed to idea that no single truth exists in the world. Everybody has its truth in what he believes in (what he trusts) and we can expect his actions will be determined by this "truth".

The world is changing fast and those who make their decisions on such "truth" will lose at the end because they will be unprepared for changes.

Returning to pipeline economics what do you think about Eastern Europe energy security:
http://www.euractiv.com/en/energy/analysis-energy-dependence-supply-central-eastern-europe/article-1 55274

It seems that market economy should stop all speculations and rhetorics about diversification against Gazprom. However EU countries need to build big gas storage facilities in case transit countries like Poland or Ukraine will start their blackmail policy again.

 

by FarEasterner on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 09:28:17 PM EST
Oh, those evil capitalist Russians, keeping this vital resource from the workers.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:36:46 AM EST


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