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Mission actually accomplished

by Jerome a Paris Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:28:58 PM EST

New York Times, 14 October 2001
''If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he'd turn off the tap,'' said Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington. ''He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel'' -- about six times what it sells for now.

WTI (and Brent both) went above $144 today.


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Well, that's bin laden's mission accomplished.  Our mission is finally seeing the light of day, though i would guess there's still a fair amount of work to be done.

That's a brilliant catch, J.  Though lo and behold, he didn't do it, we did.  With our own addictions, with our own blindness, and with our own refusal to see reality.

Silver bullet or not, it's nice to know we're providing a reasonable alternative to the insanity that goes for conventional wisdom among the Serious.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:42:08 PM EST
And where is bin Laden now? Serving justice for 9/11, or playing chess in some embassy in Islamabad? I ought to be sure the White House has him where it wants. Still a useful prick after all those years...
by das monde on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 11:25:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Florida.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 04:17:16 AM EST
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Dead of kidney failure in Tora Bora in 2001?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:57:53 AM EST
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Oh, no, the terrorists have won!

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:44:13 PM EST
We have found the terrorists, and it is us...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:47:00 PM EST
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It must be because of something the Democrats did!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The terrorists followed us home in tanker ships, disguised as sweet, sweet crude.
by Magnifico on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:49:15 PM EST
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Light, sweet crude. "I like my women like I like my oil — light, sweet, crude."

Il faut se dépêcher d'agir, on a le monde à reconstruire
by dconrad (drconrad {arobase} gmail {point} com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:59:26 PM EST
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n/t

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 07:04:54 PM EST
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Hypothetically. If you were an American living in the States, what would you do now?

by Magnifico on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:48:05 PM EST
Hypothetically, i'd shit in my pants.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 07:18:51 PM EST
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Learn to live on less income and make sure I work in an industry that produces necessities rather than products for conspicuous consumption.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 08:21:27 PM EST
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Sit back and watch the Europeans who think they are in a better situation?
by asdf on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 10:04:19 AM EST
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Buy a bike.

You can do well with two bikes, if you only have one. A light, fast bike for getting from here to there. And a sturdier bike for doing your groceries. If you have a big family, get something along these lines:

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 10:34:25 AM EST
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Bin Laden is an economist?
by Ralph on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 07:26:30 PM EST
I wonder if it will occur to Bin Laden that he didn't need to blow up the Twin Towers.  It would have been more elegant to just wait for the market to take its course.  Of course that probably would have taken a little longer than it has this way, but a lot fewer Muslims would have died.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 10:05:22 PM EST
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Fewer Muslims dying would not have worked so well for AQ recruitment.
by Magnifico on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 10:08:18 PM EST
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Yes, let's not fool ourselves that bin Laden is in any way interested in what happens to America. What he wants/wanted was to be the one to bring it down himself.

For about the same reason, Sarkozy must be seething that Ingrid Betancourt was freed and that he can't claim credit for it.

by Dagonz on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 03:47:57 AM EST
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But Sarkozy is communicating his best to change this correct impression.
Wanna bet that if you poll the French electors in a month, a majority is convinced he liberated Betancourt?

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.
by lacordaire on Sat Jul 5th, 2008 at 06:27:30 AM EST
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I suspect that the most basic reason Bin Laden preferred destroying the Twin Towers and much of what followed had to do with the needs of his psyche and those of his followers.  A spectacular attack such as that feeds his and his follower's sense of "inner omnipotence," much as Bush's response fed his and those of his supporters.  A truly ugly symbiosis and a classic example of  Hegelian "Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis" sequences.  Just too bad about everyone else.  Socio-political psychopathology in action.

Eli Sagan, in his excellent book THE HONEY AND THE HEMLOCK-Democracy and Paranoia in Ancient Athens and Modern America, notes that we, as a species, have so many psychological debilities that it is a wonder we can even live together in complex societies as well as we can.  Especially true in the USA.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 01:29:31 PM EST
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Plus, slowly rising oil prices would not have kept Bush in power or heightened U.S. paranoia. Bush was the perfect patsy for the plan.

Personally, I doubt the attack would have occurred with Gore in the White House.

Bush accelerated the fall of America by a century. What would likely have been a gradual decline has been compressed into 7 brief years. It was a win-win situation for Bush and bin Laden. Bush and his base got rich and bin Laden and his base got America to implode.

by Magnifico on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 10:12:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does seem that way, doesn't it.  Sweets to the sweet, sort of. :-/

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 11:26:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why did he pick $144? Does it have some symbolic meaning in Islam, or was it a nice round number in some other currency? In the latter case, has it passed that figure as well?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 03:03:34 AM EST
I dunno.  It has no special meaning in Islam that I'm aware of, but I'm not any kind of expert in Islam.  And since oil is priced in dollars, I think he used dollars in the original statement.

I've been trying to find out more about when he said this and what the original context was, but it's hard to search for now because the Interwebs are full of people talking about oil actually reaching $144.  But it seems to have come from a 1999 interview with Al Jazeera correspondent Jamal Abdel-Latif Ismail.  This article in a journal published by the US Army ("Military Review") describes the interview and the book that the correspondent wrote later.  The petro-politics matter comes up at the end, on page 6 of the Web version, and the syntax is a little jumbled so it's hard to figure out what he means:

Ismail describes Bin-Laden's belief that America robs Saudi Arabia of its oil wealth. Bin-Laden explains that during the reign of King Faisal, the United States paid only 70 cents per barrel [of oil]. In the 1973 oil crisis, the Muslims asserted their economic power using oil as a weapon, and prices began to rise to $40 per barrel. When the [oil] prices leveled off to $36, the United States pressured Gulf countries to increase their production to lower prices. Bin-Laden labels this "the great swindle." Doing basic math, Bin-Laden explains that from $36 the price was lowered to $9 per barrel, he relates the retail price at $144 per barrel, or a loss of $135. He multiplied $135 by the 30 million barrels produced in the Islamic world daily, totaling a loss of $4.5 billion per day for Muslim nations. He breaks down the loss over 25 years to $30,000 for every Muslim man, woman, and child. Although this is an oversimplification of petroleum production and evolution of agreements between oil companies and oil-producing nations, it is highlighted to demonstrate the skill with which Bin-Laden panders to the disenfranchised, giving them an alternate history.

So it sounds from that like he thinks oil is just intrinsically worth $144 a barrel, but there are obviously some translation problems and it's just paraphrased here.  I'm looking for the original interview in Arabic to see if I can figure it out, but I'm kinda busy today too.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 04:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Found the interview on YouTube (here's part 6 of 10) but it's about an hour and a half long and I'm not sure when he does the oil thing, and my internet connection is pretty slow so it takes the video clips a while to load.  I don't have time for this right now, will try to get to it later.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:08:38 AM EST
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As I read it, his point at the time was:

We (Saudi Arabia) get paid $9 per barrel for light, sweet crude.

Petrol (and other fractions) sell at a price of $144 a barrel.

Thus, we're missing out on $135 per barrel.

Now, in part this is intentional neglecting of the hard work that the people who turn oil into petrol do. But, at the same time, it's a classical indictment of the colonial system that pays peanuts for raw materials and then reaps huge profits from finished goods, supported by restrictions on knowledge, capital and technology transfers that the colonial system implies.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 06:35:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they just need to get their own refining industry, then.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 06:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well... sure... but I think that was Bin Laden's point, that the leaders in various parts of Arabia had collaborated with the US to enrich themselves and the US to the cost of the Arab peoples.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 07:21:06 AM EST
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They have invested significant amounts in petro-chemical complexes at Yanbu and around Damam.  The fact that they are using so much oil as feedstock for their own petrochemical industries is one of the reasons they have less to export.  Some of their export is of higher value refined product, such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel and some is as plastic products.  I would expect this to be an increasing portion of their production over the next 10-20 years.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 01:38:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see you had already made basically the same point I just did (though without mentioning the role of taxes explicitly). Did the professional Bin Laden watchers really all get this wrong, and what does that say about the trustworthiness of anything else they say about him?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 07:13:50 AM EST
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Ah, right, I skipped right over the word retail.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 08:04:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In which case, the consulted quoted above is misquoting Bin Laden.  Or is there a different $144 reference?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 08:06:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bin-Laden labels this "the great swindle." Doing basic math, Bin-Laden explains that from $36 the price was lowered to $9 per barrel, he relates the retail price at $144 per barrel, or a loss of $135.

He says "retail price". Could he have been referring to the retail price at the time rather than making a prediction for the future. At 159 litres per barrel, this works out at around 1$ (not much different from a Euro at the time), which may have been a reasonable retail price in many countries. (Not having owned a car for ages, I don't have a good feel for prices that far back).

In other words, I conjecture that he was regarding all of the European taxes on fuel as being thefts from the Saudis as well, and was not making any prediction at all. If I'm right, he must be having a good laugh sitting in his cave watching the coverage of his "prediction" coming true.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 06:56:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / MARKETS / Commodities - Oil soars to new high above $146

Crude oil prices jumped above $146 a barrel on Thursday boosted by a drop in US stockpiles and concerns about the medium-term supply and demand balance. The rise brings the oil price surge since January to 55 per cent.

Henry Paulson, the US Treasury secretary, said on Thursday that the "predominant factor" behind the rise in oil prices was supply and demand.

"[It] is the fact that global production and capacity has not increased appreciably over the last 10 years and the demand has continued to grow and inventories are at low levels," Mr Paulson said in London.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 07:35:12 AM EST
Saudi Arabia this month increased its production to 9.7m barrels a day, the highest level since mid-1981, in an attempt to lower prices. But its efforts have been dwarfed by supply falls elsewhere, particularly in Nigeria, but also in Mexico, the North Sea and, to a lesser extent, Russia.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 07:37:12 AM EST
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