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21 March 2011


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Byron Raum

We can find other friends amongst the Arabs - Egypt, Libya, etc. It is rather surprising that if it happens, it would be despite President Obama rather than because of him; and the Saudis are not going to stop selling oil.

There is going to be a demarcation in the Arab world between the liberated and the non-liberated. If I may steal a term, between Old Arabia and New Arabia (With no apologies to Secretary Rumsfeld.) I wonder how stark these lines are going to be in the Arab mind.


"Change you can believe in"

Wait until Saudi Arabia comes apart at the seams.

At least all the "Green Weenies" will be happy.

As we all march back toward the medieval ages in our donkey carts.


It's not entirely clear to me what the U.S. could have done to support Saleh. Saleh's been running away from the U.S. in public since news was leaked about how closely he was cooperating with the U.S. to battle AQAP. Saleh reportedly apologized to the White House after blaming regional unrest on U.S. plotting.



Are you saying that if a new government emerges in Saudi Arabia it will quit selling oil?

William R. Cumming

Helpful post! So a military with unknown political skills seizes power in Yemen which sits in a rather strategic position IMO. The US ramped up its activities several years ago but it (US) seems to like military coups since DOD thinks it understands the "military mind"! Tragically this means further breakdown in Arabia and more soon to follow. And yes PL in part at least because the US is a "Faithless Friend" always stupidly manuevering for limited and temporary advantagem without ever understanding the cultural dynamics or languages of its (the US) victims. Perhaps time for a foreign policy elite purge in the US? Sic Semper Tyrannis!

 Charles I

Highlander, unless you know how to live indefinitely without stores and electricity, apparently Donald trump's your man for President.

I heard him interviewed on CBC radio this morning. If elected President, he "will call the Saudis and OPEC and deal with these stupid oil prices".

He promised to rebrand America and deal with the Indians, Koreans and Chinese, all of whom have screwed the US for years of job losses.

Mark Gaughan

""Green Weenies""?

Peter Principle

"Saudi Arabia? They are going to move much closer to China in terms of business, defense, etc."

Business, yes. Defense, no. They're about 20-30 years too early for that.

Faithless or not, Uncle Sam is still their most important regime prop.


When I read some of these comments, it's clear that many people who supposedly support democracy don't want Arab democracy. Sen. Kerry made that clear. When democracy tries to topple an oil despot who depends on the US, we will ignore the murder of protestors and focus instead on Iranian "meddling." (Of course, the Iranians are meddling. Why should they support a Sunni tyrant?)

Arab democracy is coming. At least by helping crush the Brother Leader in Libya, we may get some credit.


Well, if SA thinks we are "faithless", wait till they get a load of China.


Highlander, don't be such a prick. For you, that might be hard, but come, give it a try.

Col & others - please pardon my priapic prose - he started it! (please delete if deemed inappropriate)

Anyway, "Coup in Yemen" sounds scary for KSA, and hence for US, but, per the title of this Committee of Correspondence, I find it easy to root against tyrants. What portion of the effective Yemeni military has now flipped?

One interesting larger question here (and Libya, Afghanistan, etc) is that the "modern nation-state" may not make sense in a place like this where tribal loyalty rules. Would Yemen make more sense as two or more separate states? Would Libya?



"We can find other friends amongst the Arabs - Egypt, Libya, etc."

Why? They don't have that much oil to sell us.

Furthermore, would you really like the Chinese to have their hands around the throat of the West, with the ability to choke off our oil supply at will?

This is the price we pay for our lopsided support of Israel uber alles.

Patrick Lang


"Defense, no." Not correct. their needs are for exactly what China can gove them and a threat t oIran from behind is not the least of it. pl

Farmer Don

"Saudi Arabia? They are going to move much closer to China in terms of business, defense, etc. the government there has decided that the US is a faithless friend and that they must find other protectors. they are not going to help us much. pl"

This is really where I think the US has lost it's way. With out the money provided to government by strong businesses and a well paid population it will not long be able to afford to insert it's will around the world.
The money from economic activity comes first, then world wide clout, not the other way around.

Ken Hoop

Prominent conservative of the 1960s, James Burnham, asserted if the US simply stayed out of the Middle East and supported or opposed no one, the oil would be sold to us at market prices. Can anyone here without conceding oiligarch/Zionist control of our government and Ike's dreaded m-i complex working in broad synchronicity, explain why Burnham was and
still is wrong?

William R. Cumming

Prognositication: Within two decades the principle oil buyers from Iran, Iraq, the Gulf States and SA will be in East and S. Asia. Little of that oil will be coming to the Western Hemisphere. The only question I have is whether new majority MUSLIM Nigeria will also be sending the bulk of its oil production East as opposed to west. And note all of these countries year by year absorb more and more of their own production with that "take" now having highly significant impacts on world supply.

Patrick Lang

Farmer Don

Canadian philosopher - You are the man who urged me to make Claude Devereux a more moral family man. pl


Farmer Don is right that power comes from a strong economy. Burnham, cited by Ken Hoop, at 2:59 p.m., was probably right about staying out of Middle East politics. I posted a similar idea on a thread last week. http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2011/03/oil-energy-and-the-markets.html?cid=6a00d8341c72e153ef014e5fe83407970c#comment-6a00d8341c72e153ef014e5fe83407970c

Higher prices will have a mixed result. While they may make things more difficult for some, they will open opportunities for perfecting alternative energy sources and stimulate less wasteful habits. It has been my observation that the oil price is really quite artificial. For years, the ceiling price on oil is set by the oil producers at the highest price at which alternative energy source are not stimulated. Every time the price of oil goes up high enough to make alternatives economically competitive, the price mysteriously drops until the alternative energy projects die off. I see nothing changing that until all oil is gone and that is a long time in the future.

I disagree with WRC that oil will stop flowing West. The oil will flow to whomever is willing to pay the market price. Certainly, increasing development in the now undeveloped areas of the world will increase the price, but that will happen whether or not we engage in MENA politics.

Somehow, though, issues of human rights and democracy are important and we should not prod revolution while not standing up to help those who would develop a new modernism in MENA. A developing and prosperous culture and industry in MENA will benefit us far more than any attempt we might gain otherwise from supporting authoritarian regimes in the area.

We should focus on helping toward the formation of just societies much more than trying to tie up the oil. We will have to buy at the same market prices regardless of what we do or how well we support the authoritarians.

William R. Cumming

Ken Hoop! I believe the dynamics of the oil "market" now [note that I don't believe in any way it is a free market--taking guidance from Daniel Yergin's THE PRIZE--1994 that concludes oil producers problem has always been too much production not too little] as opposed to the 1960's is far different. But as always could be wrong and probably am.

Cloned Poster

The Great Game plays out, who has the cash and the balls to make a move.

Sarkozy, he has doubled downed on libya, hence kill Khadafi.

Cameron, Operation Brave Stiff upper lip from Eton will serve him well.

We have no hero from the freedom fighters of Libya yet to galvanise the suckers that support this folly.

Patrick Lang


Sign me with the suckers. pl

different clue


Japan and the European countries have much higher taxes on gasoline than we have. (I don't know if they have higher taxes on diesel fuel as well). I don't know if they spend the tax money collected on conservation and weaning-off-of-all projects. But I think the higher price that the higher taxes cause pushes European and Japanese
consumers to value energy efficient cars, appliances, etc.; more than we have been pushed to value them. (Several years ago I took a short trip with a group to Prague and Budapest. They still had their legacy mass-transit systems which we don't so much have any more.
And their cars seemed in general much smaller than ours, but still very stylish and trim and so forth. (Except for the few Trabis and Polskis I saw in Budapest).

So if we raised our gas and diesel taxes up to European/Japanese levels; we would be creating the same bias on customers to choose energy efficient items that now exists on customers in Europe and Japan. If we did it slowly enough to adjust without social trauma, but steadily enough for everyone to know we were all committed to the change and would not go back; in ten years we would end up with as wide a range of efficient cars, appliances, etc. to choose from as the Japanese and Europeans have now.

And we could use the tax money for national-scale efficiency investments and weaning-off-of-oil investments. For example, many threads ago Professor Kiracofe said that nationally unifying and inspiring public infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam (and the TVA dams) would be good for us now. Well . . . perhaps a high and steady gas and diesel tax could pay for a nationwide system of fairly speedy passenger rail running along the medians between the sets of lanes of all our superhighways. And these could be electric trains such as our group took from Prague to Budapest.


Sign me with the suckers. pl



Ah, Diff Clue, I see you're a "Green Weenie" like me. Yes, we "should" be investing in infrastructure, using cheap carbon energy to build the post-carbon economy (rather than pissing it away mud-boggin' in Afghanistan). But there might be five Congressional districts in the USA where a politician would have a chance of being elected after proposing significant gas taxes (SF, Portland OR, VT, maybe Ann Arbor?).

People need cars to get to work, to the food store. Wages aren't rising. Hell, I've got a decent middle-class job, & I'm already squeezed by high gas & oil (heat) prices.

Still, I partially agree: I'd love to see a flexible federal oil tax, designed to ratchet up as (when? if?) barrel prices decline next.

In the meantime, TAX THE RICH.

And yes, even, tax me, because I have the sense to recognise that by historical or global stadards, I'm rich too.

But still, tax the really rich guys most.



Are you saying that if a new government emerges in Saudi Arabia it will quit selling oil?

Posted by: steve
Nope, but the world oil trade and pricing is conducted at the operating margins, and Saudi excess production capacity(if indeed they have any,is the largest component in that equation.)

The Saudi princes are Sunni muslim, and the dominant tribes in the major oil region are Shiites.(Shiites,just like those bad boys across the gulf, we call Iranians, but they are really just the Persians of old).

And like most tribes,in that less than paradise like corner of the world, they hate each other's guts. All of this dynamic has the same potential for oil as a old nuclear power plant, setting on a fault line next to an ocean.

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