The Saudi/Israeli/US Relationship


"Saudi Arabia is reportedly threatening to scale back its decades-old partnership with Washington over the Obama administration's perceived weakness in dealing with Syrian leader Bashar Assad, and its recent furtive overtures with the Saudis' arch-enemy, Iran.
Articles citing anonymous sources familiar with Saudi policy — though notably, no articles in major Saudi publications — have quoted the head of the Kingdom's intelligence services, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, as warning of a "major shift" or "scaling back" in the relationship.
According to the source cited by the Reuters news agency, the prince told European diplomats "the shift away from the U.S. is a major one… Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.""  Washpost


I have said for several years that SA was likely to turn away from the US relationship in search of a situation in which it is not dependent on the US as its sole protector.  The forces of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC are inconsequential.  Except for Pakistani troops who have been "loaned" to them from time to time, the forces of the GCC are of negligible weight as instruments of combat power.  Some will argue that the point of US materiel sales to Saudi Arabia is not actual use of Saudi forces, but rather the wondrous effect of Saudi political support and Saudi money in the region.  There has also been the benefit of Saudi money to some illegal US covert projects when funds could not be obtained from the US Congress.  Lastly, the direct financial benefit that has been provided to US based foundations, think tanks, lobbyists, public relations firms and journalists has been impressive for decades.  It is not an accident that this story of Saudi unhappiness is being pushed hard in the press.

The Saudis and their Likud phantom allies are unhappy that they recently have failed to move US policy with regard to Syria and Iran.  So much money (Saudi), so much political and propaganda effort (Likud/AIPAC) has been expended that these two governments are understandably unhappy at any sign of resistance on the part of the US to foreign manipulation.

Well, to hell with them both!  They need us.  We do not need them.  The US is well on its way to energy self-sufficiency and neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia is really important to the defense of US core interests.

It will be a brave new world.  pl

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76 Responses to The Saudi/Israeli/US Relationship

  1. r whitman says:

    They may threaten to turn away but where else can they go? China would rather partner with Iran and the Russians do not need them.

  2. Bandolero says:

    r whitman
    Obviously the Saudis try to turn to France:,-Saudi-agree-to-back-Syria-opposition-Minis.aspx
    France is under immense budget pressure, and has, in comparison to it’s financial means, an oversized military and military industry.
    However, I doubt it will work. I think if the Saudis won’t change their sectarian policies France may soon find out that the French move to team up Europe with that medieval dictatorship may weaken the German-French relations and bring new pressure on the French budget. The Germans didn’t deny the Saudis the Leo tanks to see France fill the position, and I doubt the French public will feel very well when they are being seen to be in a “community of values” with Saudi Arabia.
    However, I see some timid signs that the Saudis may try to move away from their policy of overtly sectarian jihad incitement:
    So, I think, that story needs to be followed closely, to see if there will be some humanitarian progress in Saudi Arabia.

  3. Matthew says:

    Col: If Jerusualem falls Western Civilization will immediately perish. It is Munich all over again. Persian tanks will emcamp on the Potomac.
    It’s gibberish when I write this. But if I were paid by the FDD, AIPAC, or the AEI, it would be “scholarship.”
    On a serious note, do the Saudis really want an America that withdraws its active protection? Arabists like me would love to see the Saudi “royals” toppled.
    Gingrich used to talk about “internationalizing” their oil fields. The Saudis are playing a very dangerous game.

  4. Richard Armstrong says:

    I respectfully disagree sir. China has a relationship of convenience with Iran – consider it to be playing AAA baseball while waiting to be called up to the show.
    Replacing the US in SA is playing int the Bigs. Lots of prestige, an opportunity to sell lots of their new generation of aircraft and helicopters. A very good reason to rehearse their infant blue-water navy (does the Peoples Liberation Army Navy sound strange or is it just me?). Those just the military benefits.
    SA is a much better diplomatic toe hold in the ME than any other country. Other Gulf states will follow SA’s lead and cozy up to China as they did with the US. The US influence in the ME is one great big factor in our being a “world power”. It will be time same for China as well.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I would think also that Chinese would take one look at the Middle East and decide that “Thanks but no thanks.”
    I doubt that they get involved beyond transactional levels – there is nothing in it for them and they do not understand those remote people in Western Asia.

  6. Norbert M. Salamon says:

    IT is debatable that SA could turn to Russia after the threat re Olympics site so cleverly enunciated by the Price of Darkness to President Putin.
    China is not pleased by the Muslim “uprising” in Western Provinces, without doubt having some footprints [or rather money prints] courtesy of the Prince of Darkness, the one time ambassador to USA.

  7. CK says:

    China just passed the USA as the largest importer of oil.
    The USA is, thanks to the Bakken in North Dakota and the huge new fields in Texas and of course the hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale gas formation is not so much an oil and other energy import dependent as it had been.

  8. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Indeed. In fact, if the reports are to be believed, the Saudis have been issuing veiled (or not so veiled) threats against the Russians. The Russians have already been pushed on pretty hard through their support for the Salafist Jihadis in the southern tier of Russia. So, little likelihood of a rapprochement there, I should imagine. And Islamist adventurism in the west of China will not win them friends in that quarter, either.
    Somewhat off thread, but not entirely perhaps, is an article by Abolhassan Bani-Sadr that I recently encountered:
    Any thoughts as to the accuracy of his account of the events and politics of immediately post-revolutionary Iran? If true, it would be quite a different account than that we have been led to believe. And parenthetically, although he doesn’t come right out and say it, I think that he viewed the movie, Argo, as an attempt to keep Iran demonized at a time when there was a chance that diplomacy might yield fruit.

  9. oofda says:

    Thanks for highlighting the great financial benefits that the press, think tanks and lobbyists have been receiving from SA. Also your point that “neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia is really important to the defense of US core interests” is spot-on. They actually are deterimental to our core interests in fact.

  10. jonst says:

    “Well, to hell with them both! They need us”!
    Precisely. They are a very wealthy, very, very, wealthy indeed, plumb, Pillsbury dough boy soft, bejeweled, man walking through a very dangerous, and desperately poor, under-policed, neighborhood..who has just casually dismissed his bodyguards. Good luck.

  11. Tony says:

    “Well, to hell with them both! They need us. We do not need them…” Amen to that.
    I doubt Saudis cut the funding for the US think tanks, lobbyists etc. In fact, they may increase the funding since apparently those stooges have failed to push the US policy in favor of SA/Israel. I really hope the outcome of US negotiations on Syria and Iran is something really meaningful.

  12. Once a crack in SA/USA relationship appears the Royal Family
    better have its flight capital salted! IMO of course!

  13. Duncan Kinder says:

    According to this article, “The REAL Reason for Saudi Arabia’s Shift Away from U.S.” is that “China just dethroned the U.S. as the world’s largest importer of oil.”
    This may not be the “real” reason or the only reason, but it it almost certainly at least a factor.

  14. Fred says:

    Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud is upset? Isn’t he the ‘prince’ who warned President Putin that he controls Chechan jihadis? CBS News senior correspondent John Miller (hopefully no relation to Judith Miller) needs to do a little expose of Prince Bandar and his terrorist connections. Then again maybe someone should check to see what Saudi funded gratuities have made it to which members of the press.
    “Israel’s Minister of International Relations Yuval Steinitz tarred US President Barack Obama with the brush of appeasement …”
    Sadly few in Congress seem to realize the US is the superpower and Israel the client state.

  15. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, ” Persian tanks will encamping on the Potomac” which would be followed by a demand for a certain number of comely blonde women – no doubt.
    “Iraníes pueden odiar a Estados Unidos, pero sin duda les encanta a las americanas!”

  16. turcopolier says:

    I had no idea that you were so polyglottish. pl

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Trying to teach myself some Spanish; earlier in life I wasted my time on learning French.

  18. FB Ali says:

    China has a “special relationship” with Pakistan. It caught the latter on the rebound from its US alliance, and finds it useful as an opening to the Muslim world and as a counter-balance to India. Pakistan depends on Chinese largesse and uses it to show the US it has an alternative patron.
    Pakistan also has a “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia. It depends on it for aid and backing in foreign relations. The Saudi royals (and their Gulf minions) depend on Pakistan’s military when needed.
    Nixon used Pakistan to undertake his rapprochement with China. If the Saudis decide to swing away from the US, they may well use Pakistan’s good offices to cosy up to the Chinese. The latter play a wily game: they make friends but no commitments, and the depth of their friendship depends on the client state’s performance.

  19. turcopolier says:

    Mais non, monsieur Jefferson disait que chaque homme civilise a deux langues, sa propre et le Francais. pl

  20. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    I remember when Pakistan, perhaps in the time of your bete noire, Dhia al-Haq, brokered a sale of Chinese IRBMs to Saudi Arabia. pl

  21. Medicine Man says:

    It sounds like such a shift would constitute a reduction in funding for the Washington DC boondoggle manufacturing industry. Sounds like a win to me.

  22. Lamoe2012 says:

    I’ve all ways thought the present huffing and puffing by SA was to put pressure on people in the beltway either partly or totally dependent on money from SA, to put pressure on the WH. SA knows the US is a far bigger stick than Pakistan or any group of partners they could bribe or rope together. I don’t think SA be successful. BHO has one unpopular war he has escaped from and is trying to get out of another. I think this guy just wants Syria to go away.
    I think BHO painted himself into a rhetorical corner, and a highly amused Russia tossed him life line, while bolstering Syria. How SA will respond will be interesting to watch.

  23. Peter C says:

    The big fit that SA may throw is by-passing the oil traders use of Greenbacks as the currency of trade and go to the Euro.
    Katie bar the door if that comes to pass!!

  24. bth says:

    Col. why do the Saudis need us for Syria? Can’t they buy enough munitions and radicals to finish the job? I don’t understand why they wouldn’t push to topple Assad without us anyway?

  25. Fred says:

    “… the depth of their friendship depends on the client state’s performance.” I sure hope they learn this lesson in Foggy Bottom quick.

  26. Fred says:

    Back to the books I go.

  27. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang,
    China has done quite a bit for Pakistan. It is said to have provided it the blueprints for constructing a nuclear weapon. Later on it either facilitated, or at least did not object to, Pakistan trading this technology to the North Koreans in return for acquiring missile technology from them.
    This was not done out of pure altruism. It suited China to build up Pakistan militarily as a counter to India.

  28. Ulenspiegel says:

    This is an interesting self-delusion:
    The USA still imports 45% of its crude, a situation that will not change due to the high decline rate of shale oil wells.
    In addition, the oilprice is now 4 times higher than 10 years ago, i.e. with slightly reduced import volumes the USA pays much more for crude, actually, from a financial point of view the SA are now better of than a few years ago. (They spoil a lot with their high domestic demand but that could be changed).
    Production of unconventional oil requires high price of crude, therefore, it is a quite naive assumption that higher unconventional production will lead to lower price.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think so too.

  30. oofda says:

    Or at least to Babelfish

  31. jon says:

    I agree with the analysis generally, but I think there are two factors to consider. One, is that the Saudi and Israeli urgency may be that they are seeing the steam run out of their play to destabilize and replace governments in the region with friendlier and less capable leaders. The Egyptian Army ousting the Muslim Brotherhood was a setback for the Saudis, though much less so for the Israelis. Iran, with its new president, is gesturing towards rapprochement with the West; and the West is welcoming that. There may be an element of calculation that the timing of military action should be offset from the US election cycle.
    Secondly, the US still has a very heavy reliance on imported oil. OPEC and production is now much more diversified, so the Saudis may have difficulty organizing another boycott. But small changes in production output, or preferential sales to others, might pinch supplies to the US and cause prices to spike. The US is making very good strides to diversify energy production, particularly in renewable electricity. Despite phenomenal growth, it is still a rather small part of the overall mix. With national policies and support, that could be accelerated, but it is doubtful that Congress will do so. We should also remember that energy efficiency and conservation are crucial (and inexpensive) components of energy demand. Despite strides in improving energy utilization, we still expend about twice the energy per unit of GDP produced, compared to Europe and Japan. The US boomlet in oil and gas production may be rather fleeting, and the larger new supplies of oil, whether oil shales, tar sands or deep ocean, are much more expensive to get to and require much larger energy and refining expenditures to extract and refine into useful fuels and petrochemicals than the light, sweet Arabian crudes.

  32. Bandolero says:

    FB Ali
    I would see the motivation of China’s great efforts to build strong relations with Pakistan including with the Pakistani military different.
    I would characterize that motivations as the following:
    1. Ensure Pakistan’s cooperation in fighting islamic extremism flowing over the border to Western China (Uighurs/West Turkistan problem komplex)
    2. Give motivation to Pakistan to not make trouble and stay calm in the three nation border conflict of China/Pakistan/India (Kashmir-conflict problem). China’s overwelming interest is that that fragile region stays calm. Though China’s army is arguably the strongest of the three partys there, wars breaking out there may seriously harm China’s development. China especially fears that the US may use Pakistan as a proxy to build up pressure on China for other reasons and harm China’s development the peaceful relations with India there.
    3. Give motivation to Pakistan to play a constructive role in the framework of SCO in Afghanistan (Afghanistan/AfPak-Conflict). China’s interest is that Afghanistan should be a peaceful and stable country and trouble-making foreign powers (ie Turkey, Saudi, US) should stay out of the region – or play constructive roles, so that China and Russia can develop the region economically. Conflict and drug production harm the great Chinese-Russian project of developing the central Asian region, which they see as their backyard and fragile soft underbelly.
    If Pakistan goes along with China and the SCO, it will be a big strategic win for China and Russia, because they will then have managed to create a big ring (The ring is: Russia – China – Pakistan – Iran – Armenia – Georgia – Russia; elections in Georgia are on Sunday to finish the ring there) around the landlocked and resource rich countries of central Asia, making it thereby impossible for any outside countries to interfere there.

  33. Bandolero,
    As the issues overlap, it may be appropriate to suggest some tentative answers to an issue you raised in our exchange about the Putin/Bandar conversation on a previous thread on this one.
    You asked: ‘Why did Bandar go to Putin when it was clear beforehand that Putin would smear him his protection and bribe racket sauce in his face?’
    On Bandar, a useful source is the 2006 biography by William Simpson, clearly prepared with its subject’s cooperation. This portrays him as a key intermediary in a three-way pattern of cooperation in various forms of covert operation between Reagan, Fahd, and Thatcher. One driver of this was fear of a victory of the Communists in the 1983 Italian election.
    In relation to the crucial 1985 Al Yamamah arms-for-oil contract which Thatcher negotiated, Simpson suggests that this had a political objective – to facilitate covert arms purchases, initially of course with funding for the mujahedin in Afghanistan being a key objective.
    An aspect of this was that Bandar and his associates brought their own style of ‘court politics’ to Britain. Unsurprisingly, they realised that Thatcher’s Achilles heel was her love for her son – who did very well out of al Yamamah.
    An irony was that, while ‘rollback’ and ‘liberation’ in the Soviet Union were clearly what some of her American associates wanted, the prospect of the Russians abandoning what had been a kind of covert alliance aimed at keeping Germany permanently divided sent Thatcher, and much British opinion, into a flat panic.
    Some of the same networks which had grown up in the late Cold War were, subsequently, involved in the ‘colour revolutions’, and also support for insurgents in Chechnya and, possibly, in the North Caucasus and elsewhere in the post-Soviet space. One element here was the search for energy sources which were not dependent on Russian goodwill.
    In my view, the fear that energy issues would bring Russia and Germany together was a significant underlying aspect. An anti-German agenda which had earlier worked against ideas of ‘rolling back’ Russian power now worked in support of them.
    Another element coming into this complex mix was provided by the oligarchs who fell foul of Putin. It is clear that large elements of the British elite brought into the version of Russian realities disseminated by the Yukos oligarchs and Berezovsky, and their associates.
    An accumulating body of evidence suggesting that elements in British intelligence may have cooperated with the former, and certain collaborated closely with the latter. And this is in a way unsurprising, as Berezovsky’s obsessive desire to get even with the figure he had so disastrously underestimated, and who turned into his nemesis, made him a valuable instrument in relation both to the Ukraine and to Chechnya.
    Accordingly, it may well be that Bandar’s perceptions of Putin are shaped both by his experiences of dealing with elite circles in Britain, and also by the views these have formed of Russian politics and in particular of the current Russian regime and the personality of its leader.
    While the USG was wise enough to avoid entanglement with Berezovsky, the views of Bandar’s American contacts are likely to have been close to those of his British ones. The end result may have been that he thought he could, as it were, approach Putin as though he were Berezovsky.
    While I agree with you that the reports of the conversation leaked by the Russians are probably largely accurate, I also think it possible that Bandar may have been offering rather more than they made apparent.

  34. F5F5F5 says:

    I really can’t see SA shifting its strategic alliance to China or anything.
    Personally I think SA is only putting pressure on Washington to “finish the job” in Syria, and help in regional competition issues, mainly against Qatar, Turkey, and Iran.
    Qatar, Turkey, and SA put their chips all over Africa and the Middle East. Qatar and Turkey are mostly behind MB types, and SA behind salaf movements.
    They all want to gain regional influence, and islam is a card like communism was a card for USSR and China way back when.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think that might have been the case at the time of Mr. Jefferson but I do not think that the Torch is with France any longer.
    I think that that Torch has passed to the English Language.
    Probably on religious Catholic philosophy there is much in French that is not available in English but I cannot think of any area in which the scholars writing in English are not either comparable or superior.
    Brazil is a country that models herself on US, and not on France.
    The days of France defining “civilization” ended a long time ago.

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Of course, Indian leaders could have countered that by a positive program.
    For example, it is within the power of India and feasible within her geography to construct a highway to China through Arundachal Pradesh or (Occupied) Sikhim to (Occupied) Tibet.
    Chinese could then transship their goods across India to Chenai or Mumbai.
    It could have been a Win-Win situation for both countries; especially India with her 700 million souls making a living on $ 1 per day could have benefited from the auxiliary jobs that such a high-way would have created.
    But this made too much sense for these aspiring junior-imperialists.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree.

  38. turcopolier says:

    Chacun a son gout. pl

  39. Fred says:

    For the occaisional word, but not the grammar. But will that make me civilized? Besides, next time I’m in Paris I’d like to be able to order dinner coherently.

  40. Perhaps wrong in my analysis but Banda crucial link in SA/USA relations because of his contacts with USA political and economic elites and understands how few of those elites have deep policy positions other than being greedy for more personal wealth. SA elites know that the oil will run out someday. They hope to influence that future.
    In contrast the Chinese know that their principal commodity is Chinese demographic surpluses and the best way to exploit that surplus. That Chinese talent pool appears to be more inexhaustible than oil.
    Like other Communists historically Islam is viewed by the Chinese as a political belief system as are other religions.

  41. Bandolero says:

    David Habakkuk
    Bandar’s coziness with the anti-communist transatlantic right winger elite and the zionists is as well known as his involvement in their dealings involving weapons, black money and covert wars. Given Bandars experience it’s only all the more surprising to me that Bandar obviously didn’t grasp who Putin is and what he stands for: law and order, nationally and internationally.
    Putin doesn’t care at all who rules Syria, but what he is interested in is that the era of illegal US-sponsored color revolutions, covert wars and blatant aggressions – especially against friends of Russia – comes to an end. If Bandar is interested in having much influence in Syria, he shall have proposed to invest some billions in Syria, thereby propping up some friends in Syria to get political influence and eventually have his friends win elections there. Bandar seems really not to grab this, all he can think about is blatantly illegal activities like sponsoring terror, running covert wars and handing out bribes.
    And you’re right, David, according to the media the conversation between Putin and Bandar lasted several hours and was also about energy and investments. But the essence was a try to bribe Russia and an attempt to threat Russia with terror.
    Regarding Thatchers sudden panic that the dissolution of the Soviet union brought a united Germany, it’s quite typical for the cold warriors that they didn’t think about their actions up to the end. And I may add, thanks to George W. Bush and his friends, regarding Germany some of Thatchers worst fears came true. Bush and his rightwing fellows tried at the same time to oust Schröder and to prepare to attack Iraq. After Schröder defended himself by making his opposition to the war against Iraq the main election topic in Germany 2002 and won the elections this way, Bush and his fellows ran campaigns to punish the German export industry on the US market for this.
    Schröder therefore packed much of the German industrial captains into a plane to China and told them to work on that tiny market with huge potential. At that time many of his transatlantic and zionist opponents laughed about his move to try compensate losses on the US market with gains in China – at that time a market hardly the size of Switzerland. Today, nobody laughs about it anymore. China is, outside the EU, Germany’s trade partner number one, and the German strength on the Chinese markets is one of the important factors of Germany’s economic strength.
    And yes, energy is also very important. The link to the article with the photo of Schröder and Voscherau I posted with that in mind in my comment in the “Open thread”. Shortly before the transatlantic elites managed to shoot down Schröder 2005, Schröder signed the Nordstream gas pipeline deal with Putin. After the election, Schröder took the position of the chairman of Nordstream. In addition to that, comrade Voscherau from Hamburg took the position of chairman of South Stream, where they outmanovered the transatlantists strategic Nabucco project.
    In the end, what the cold war style warriors reached with their short-sighted, dirty and violent campaigns, is that Germany is leading the whole of the EU ever closer to Russia and China, spelling the end of the US empire and the beginning of the KPCh being the leading power in the world. Quite ironic, yes.

  42. turcopolier says:

    There was a period of my life in which I spent a lot of time with Bandar. you do not understand him. he is filled with a great and expansive egotism that makes it difficult for him to understand anyone. He seeks continuously to be dismissive of people so as to magnify in his mind his supposed superiority. he is really very childish in a way that many Saudis share. When he was ambassador in DC, he was caught talking to his father Sultan on the telephone about the gullibility of the Americans in believing what he told us. I enjoyed watching Admiral Crowe’s face when he read that as he was specifically mentioned. p

  43. elkern says:

    I want one of those Flag Pins!!! (pic at top of thread)
    Thx, Col Lang for highlighting the “relationship” between SA/ISR. Nobody likes the Saudis – NOBODY – except maybe other Saudis, and I’d bet even that is raret.
    Israel’s alliance with SA is a huge strategic/karmic mistake – and it’s just as bad for SA. Both think they can deal with the other once they’ve dispensed with Iran. Both are convinced of their inherent superiority, sancified by their religions.
    Israel rightly views SA as a corrupt medieval oligarchy; SA rigthly views Israel as a temporary inconvenience with a neolithic tribal religion.
    Both view us (US) as a very strong & useful farm animal. So far, we’ve performed that function quite well for them both. Let’s stop.
    Still, it’s gonna get ugly – real ugly – at some point. I will shed no tears at all for the end of the House of Saud; but I’d prefer to see Israel find a decent way to survive, learning to live as one nation among many.

  44. Bandolero says:

    Yes, you are right. I don’t understand Bandar and I never met him.
    And you’re also right, that it’s just hard to understand for me that such a guy, decades in the business of covert and black activities, is so childish and apparently does not grasp at all what he is doing and who he is dealing with. I therefore helped me out with my assumed Ali Khamenei’s primitive thinking that the defining feature of zionists and wahhabis is arrogance and ignorance and he therefore doesn’t like them.
    I wonder whether you noticed this WSJ paragraph:
    When President Obama briefly threatened to strike Syria for using chemical weapons on its citizens, Saudi Arabia understandably sought a larger U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf to protect against a potential Iranian counter-strike. The U.S. told Riyadh it lacked the ships to meet the request, another shock to the Saudis.
    Looks to me like Chuck Hagel doesn’t like Bandar very much neither.

  45. different clue says:

    The little I have read about fracking indicates that it requires huge amounts of water and that water becomes so polluted as to be unusable after its one fracking use. Frackable oil and gas reserves in the West may end up using so much water as to force a conflict and a choice for the West between fracking or farming/ranching. (Or am I wrong?)

  46. different clue says:

    If the Saudis topple, what follows them? The Islamic Emirate of al Quaedarabia? Wouldn’t that be even worse?

  47. confusedponderer says:

    Re: Bandar being “caught talking to his father Sultan on the telephone about the gullibility of the Americans in believing what he told”
    … same as Bibi getting caught on tape bragging to some settler kids about how easily America is moved: “I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction.”
    Doesn’t word get around about presumed Allies allies boasting of their success in playing the US for a sucker? I mean, fool me once and all that.

  48. Bandolero,
    ‘Regarding Thatchers sudden panic that the dissolution of the Soviet union brought a united Germany, it’s quite typical for the cold warriors that they didn’t think about their actions up to the end.’
    From mid-1987, two former Western intelligence analysts with whose work I was familiar, Ambassador Raymond Garthoff and Michael MccGwire, both then at Brookings, began saying that Gorbachev’s embrace of the ‘common security’ agenda of the Palme Commission might herald radical changes in the Soviet security posture. Their arguments were not based upon any kind of credulous acceptance of Soviet propaganda, but upon a highly technical analysis of the evolution of Soviet military strategy, which both had spent a lifetime studying.
    Before going into the CIA in 1957 and then on to the Foreign Service in 1961, Garthoff had been a pioneer of the academic study of that military strategy. By contrast, MccGwire had served twenty-five years in the Royal Navy, beginning as a midshipman in May 1942, in the course of which he had become its leading expert on its Soviet counterpart. The fact that figures with such different backgrounds were saying essentially the same things was only one of many reasons for taking their arguments seriously.
    I picked up the story at the end of that year, and it quickly dawned on me that, if ‘common security’ meant anything, the Russians weren’t going to be enforcing the Brezhnev doctrine by military force, the whole European order was unstable, and the question of German reunification would inevitably have to be confronted.
    After frustrating months trying unsuccessfully to hawk what was clearly the most important security story of my adult lifetime around British broadcasting organisations, I ended up producing a couple of documentaries for BBC Radio at the start of 1989. Obviously we asked people in Moscow what would happen if an Eastern European country wanted to leave the Warsaw Pact. The Foreign Ministry official gave, on tape, the answer that had been given, for some time, to anyone who asked the question: that force would not be used to stop this happening.
    I vividly remember quite how frustrating it was trying to explain to bone-headed people in Washington and London that this is the kind of statement middle-ranking officials would not be making, if those at the top had any intention of going back on it. It really did seem to be ‘imperial management 101’.
    Obviously it followed that Lord Ismay’s definition of the purposes of NATO – ‘to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down’ – was called radically into question. The notion of ‘reversibility’, applied to Russia, was simply silly: the possibility of catastrophic implosion posed a far greater danger to Western security than that of a renewed Russian military threat. In relation to Germany, it seemed to me the height of folly for any British government to oppose the country’s reunification, or indeed to go on trying to ‘keep the Germans down.’
    As to the United States, its proper role in the international system appeared to me a complicated question, not least because the post-war Pax Americana, of which Dean Acheson has to be seen as the principal architect, produced workable solutions to a whole range of problems in Europe and beyond. What I did not believe then, and am certainly no more inclined to believe now, was that transforming that Pax American into a unipolar global order, in which Britain and Israel would be junior partners to the American hegemon, was going to be workable in the long term.
    Trying to explain to people in Britain some of the potential dangers of attempting to maintain such a vision of global order has, however, been as frustrating as trying to explain to them that the Russians were retreating was. In February 2007, the chief economics commentator of the FT, Martin Wolf, published an article entitled ‘As long as it is trapped, the Russian bear will growl.’ I had an exchange of e-mails with him, in which I attempted to explain that Russia was not trapped at all, but had perfectly viable options in the East, and it might not be totally wise to drive the country into the arms of China. I found myself talking to someone whose mind was, essentially, closed.
    One question however. I do wonder if opinion in Germany – and also Europe – may not be more divided than you appear to be suggesting. One of the experts whose views I put to Martin Wolf was Alexander Rahr, then Director of Russian Programs at the German Council on Foreign Relations, and now, apparently Research Director of the German-Russian Forum. Last August he wrote as follows:
    ‘The expansion of the European Union and NATO to the east to include former socialist states in their ranks has put Germany’s commitment to its eastern policy on hold. Fearing Russia’s neo-imperialist aspirations, they were reluctant to bring Russia closer to Europe. The emergence of new geopolitical conflicts between the United States and Russia further limited Germany’s ability to act. A new era started in Germany in 2006, with the arrival of Angela Merkel to power. The new chancellor is convinced that a “sacred union” with the United States is the only option for Germany. This is what she stands for. Even facts disclosed by Edward Snowden that German citizens and politicians were spied on by American secret services did nothing to change her mind.’
    (See )
    I would be interested in your take on his analysis — also on the question as to whether Merkel’s view has been in any way effected by discovering that she was one of those spied on.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There would be a struggle among tribes for control of the oil wells.
    Potentially, there could be large urban refugees from their larger cities out of the country as their water supply if their water supply is disrupted.
    I should think it would be at least 10 times worse than the current situation in Libya.
    Attacks against Iraq’s Shia also cannot be ruled out as people with hatred for Shia would indulge in their Jihad against them.

  50. Miss Fibration says:

    Bandolero, your description of Schröder’s China turn is interesting. Can you please point me towards more in-depth descriptions?

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    About Mr. Khamenei, you are seriously underestimating him by characterizing his thinking as “primitive”.
    His opposition to Zionists and Wahabis is principled – within the traditions of Shia Thought.
    “Arrogance” is specially reserved for the leaders of the United States.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You are quite right about Germany; here is an oblique reference to their success and French failures:
    La France a diminu’e.

  53. jon says:

    Fracking, tar sands, and oil shale have several substantial environmental impacts. I didn’t want to wade into that in my post, for reasons of space. Water use, contamination, and destruction of aquifers are important parts of those impacts. The degree of severity would vary with the specifics of the fields being developed, and other nearby or regional issues.
    For instance, lack of suitable subsurface water would likely not matter very much to ranchers, but it might be essential to farmers relying of irrigation water for crops, or for towns and cities that use wells to supply drinking water.
    Disposal of fracking wastes can also pollute other lands, and surface and subsurface waters, if not handled properly. Lands excavated for tar sands extraction will likely never be used for other, productive purposes.
    There may be large regional impacts from fracking, such as portions of the Appalachian shoulder not having local waters suitable for drinking or irrigation. That is a regional calamity, but is unlikely to be existential for the US. Other countries with less lands and resources may not fare as well. A bigger question would be whether larger scale impacts from continued/increased carbon combustion won’t put the US in a very difficult position. Rising sea levels, more frequent and severe storms, warming climate and changes to agriculture and forestry, the possibility of widespread worldwide dislocations due to migration and food insecurity (famine) may press greatly on the US, its allies and its interests.
    Prudence would suggest that the US hedge its interests by rapidly and aggressively maximizing the amount of renewable energy that we produce. Perhaps the least important outcome of doing that would be that we lessen the political pressure that we would come under from oil producing countries, and the Middle East in general. Without oil and the wealth it provides, Saudi Arabia’s (for instance) geopolitical importance is reduced to its position astride some major shipping lanes.

  54. Castellio says:

    Well, Bibi’s quote was well known long before the 29 standing ovations in Congress.
    Max Blumenthal has more cajones than all the elected reps together. QED.

  55. Bandolero says:

    David Habakkuk
    You are right, since the election of Obama opinion in Germany is very much pro-US again. The published opinion was and is almost 100% pro-US, I think that’s a relict of the allied victory in WWII, and the public opinion is also very US-friendly in general.
    However, that is somewhat superficial. When it comes to political decisions, take the war on Libya, Syria, NATO expansion, monetary policy, trade, then the public opinion is often a lot aligned with the policy ideas of Russia and China, often without the public noticing that.
    In the political parties of Germany, transatalantist ideologues are also deeply entrenched, especially in Merkels business friednly CDU party. However, that’s all changing and has less and less real influence, because the growing importance of the business ties to China and Russia change all that more and more.
    In effect, Germany’s government makes a very cautious foreign policy, paying lip service to the sacred alliance with the US again and again, but trying not to make China and Russia angry when push comes to shove. Look at Germany’s cautious policy regarding Libya and Syria. On Libya, Germany voted on UNSC 1973 with Russia and China. On Syria, Germany has shown solidarity with NATO by stationing Patriots in Turkey, but 100 km behind the Syrian border, to make clear they are only used as defense weapons, thereby effectively denying the Turkish wish to use them to declare a no-fly-zone over northern Syria. Germany also pressured Britain and France not to give weapons to “rebels”. Regarding Merkel: you may read what Anglo-Saxons think on her monetary policy in the EU in the New Statesman:
    Merkel is effectively denying the European NATO states the warchest they would like to wage against the interests of China and Russia. Instead, Merkels austerity policy led to Britain and France having to reduce their defense spending.
    I’m familiar view the views of Alexander Rahr, and I think he has a remarkable sound understanding of German, western and Russian politics. He is a tireless advocate for better German-Russian relations. In March he came under fire from the transatlantic propaganda machine in Germany for being to blunt in his criticism of the hypocritical US-led global order and Germany’s foreign policy following the US. I bet the transatlantic ideologues follow everything what he says closely, with the purpose of trying to wage another propaganda campaign against him.
    I think, his remark that Merkel stands for a “sacred union” of Germany with the US was helpful to stregthen Merkel and the German-Russian relations. The last thing what Merkel wants is Rahr praising her, and it gives her a justification for marketing herself a tick more Russia-friendly in the name of pragmatism.
    Regarding Merkel personally, I think she is a very complex personality and even people who work close with her don’t understand what she really wants. I think the best way to describe her is that she made unideological pragmatism her only ideology. Everyone who underestimates her or confuses her ideology of popular pragmatism with indifference makes a big mistake. She is very tough and has completely routed the whole league of conservative ideologes of old man in her party and many more once powerful transatlantic figures in Germany and the EU. Look at her record.
    Regarding the phone tapping, I expect that she is not surprised and will continue to pay lipservice to the sacred alliance with the US. And, I think, at the same time she will push for pragmatic legislation that ensures that the US phone tapping in Europe will stop and the privacy rights of EU people are respected by the US. If that means, that the intel cooperation between the EU and the US will be seriously hampered, and the EU thereby takes another concrete step toward China and Russia – let’s call it a balanced policy – she will argue that it’s not her fault, but she has to protect the privacy of her citizens, and she loves the US very much. That’s what I predcit.

  56. Bandolero says:

    Miss Fibration
    No, I can’t point you towards more in-depth descriptions. I lived that history, and just wrote how I remember it. I just googled that story a bit and was surprised that there is so few information around on the net about that very defining time in German history. And what I found on the net is all so deeply spin-doctored by the neocon perspective and hatred against Schröder, Russia and China, that it’s almost unreadable.
    If you are interested, here are some links (English and German) I found, though:
    March 2003: US boycott against Germany and France: Richard Perle, a prominent adviser to the Pentagon, threatened on a top Berlin TV talk show that Germany will be economically and politically “punished.”
    December 2003: Wirtschaft zufrieden mit China-Reise (Economy happen with China trip),15184890,15975750.html
    You may see here an account of Schröder 2002-2005 from what seems to be a neocon ideologue, to get an impression how hateful the atmosphere in Schröder-neocon-relations was at that time:
    A special role in that relationship had the German carmaker Volkswagen (VW). Before Schröder was Chancellor, he was governour of the German state Niedersachsen, and more importantly, head of the board of VW. The state Niedersachsen owns a share in VW, and therefore the governour of Niedersachsen is automatically head of the board of VW, which, at that time was, measured on a world scale, a mid-sized carmaker company.
    At the time of Schröder becoming chancelor VW was already somehow present in China, but after the Schröder-Bush-fallout over the Iraq war, Schröder pushed that a lot further (and took many other industry captains to China, too). The result is, that VW is now, as Forbes put it, “The World’s Leading Automaker”:
    Much, or most, of it’s profit VW makes in China: WSJ: VW Profit Soars on Chinese Demand:
    And VW’s profits are phenomenal: Spiegel 2013: 22 Milliarden Euro – Volkswagen macht Rekordgewinn (30 bn US-Dollar – VW posts record profit)
    Most of that strength comes from China, where VW is the number one, thanks to Schröder’s China-turn. Compare the VW story to French carmakers like PSG and Renault, which turned to the Southern-Europe, North African market instead of turning to China. To survive, they currently close car factories, lay off lot’s of workers and, as they may be too small to stay competitive with giants as VW, GM or Toyota, it’s not clear if the French carmakers survive at all.
    Other German industry companies have seen a similar successful China-Schröder story, albeit not on such a massive scale as VW.
    From last year, I found a quite acceptable account of contemporary German relations with the east at national interest:
    Basically it says the same what I said here in that regard, just in a bit different way.

  57. turcopolier says:

    Miss Vibration? pl

  58. CK says:

    That the USA is not autarkic in oil is true.
    The significant decline in imports of energy is
    also true. The duration of the decline is a matter of disputation among folks who like to speculate about tomorrow.
    45% is significantly smaller than the previous 60+%.
    For as long as it lasts, the USA is relatively better off than it has been since 1975.
    It is a bit early in the game to be able to determine how quickly shale fields decline, if I remember correctly the doomcriers have been wailing about how quickly every form of crude declines — except those that have belief in the abiogenic creation of crude.
    China is spending more on crude than the USA is.
    Crude is fungible. Once it enters the international flow, crude flows to whoever is demanding it the most.
    Price was not mentioned. The reason price was not mentioned is that price is irrelevant in a fiat currency world. The USA gives beautifully engraved paper and gets useful stuff. The Chinese knew that trick 3000 years ago, when they deem it beneficial they will reuse the old trick.
    The reason price of unconventional production was not mentioned is the same as the non mention of the price of conventional production. Not relevant. Prices in international trade have been not relevant since the world went off any form of real standards for currency and substituted politicians promises for virtuous goods. That is why it is LEGAL to melt down American coinage pre 1965 for the silver and gold content, but not legal to melt down current coinage for the copper and nickel content. Pennies and nickels are still virtuous. The rest of the coinage has no intrinsic value.
    The relevancy is who is writing the check for your production and whose check is BIGGER. For the foreseeable, checks from the PRC will be bigger.
    The Sauds like it big.

  59. Bandolero says:

    Babak Makkinejad
    I agree. Excuse my bad joke.
    AFAIK Ali Khamenei read many of the classics on which the western civilization is built on, from Kant to Hegel, and his ideas of building Irans islamic civilization are partly based on what he deems shortcomings of the western classics. And, I think, he is arguably one of the best contemporary players on the geopolitical chessboard.

  60. Bandolero says:

    I have no idea who that user is. Strange nick. Maybe “Miss Fibration” can explain the nick.

  61. Bandolero,
    Ah yes, Richard Perle. We had him by satellite link on the television programme on the transatlantic security relationship back in 1986, in the course of researching which first I came across the work of MccGwire and Garthoff.
    Rarely have I taken such a dislike to anyone, as it were, at first sight. It seemed to me that, if this was the kind of leadership we were going to get from the United States, the ‘special relationship’ was decidedly a mixed blessing.
    But then both the Tories and then Labour decided that the retreat and collapse of Soviet power was a vindication of Reagan and Thatcher, and our elites became – in large measure – neoconservative.
    On the same programme we also had your countryman Karsten Voigt and the Frenchman François Heisbourg, now Chairman of the IISS. But this brings one to the point that there may be some very complex fault lines developing.
    Some days ago the noted Eurosceptic Telegraph writer Ambrose Evans-Pritchard had a column in which he explained that:
    ‘An astonishing new book by François Heisbourg – La Fin du Rêve Européen (The end of the European dream) – argues that the “euro cancer” must be cut out to save the rest of the EU Project before it is too late.’
    (See )
    While I certainly would not take anything which Evans-Pritchard has to say on trust, I was interested by what he went on to write:
    ‘Reading between the lines, he seems to have been shocked into writing this book by Germany’s role in the Libyan crisis, its refusal to provide transport planes (a routine courtesy for Nato allies) to help France “stop another Srebrenica massacre” in Benghazi, even after intervention had been approved by the UN Security Council and the Arab League.
    ‘The splendid Joschka Fischer called Germany’s decision to line up with Russia and China “a scandalous mistake,” warning that Germany risked waking up one day to find itself in “a very precarious position” if it continued to play this game.
    ‘You can perhaps read too much into the Libya episode, but the Franco-German body language has not improved much over Syria. Or as my esteemed Telegraph colleague Con Coughlin puts it: that Germany’s default position is now pro-Moscow.
    ‘You might conclude – though Prof Heisbourg does not go so far – that Germany is no longer an ally of France in any meaningful sense in defence and foreign policy (or indeed trade), and if so that has shattering implications. You might even conclude that the EU is already dead, an empty shell.’
    A curious element of the article, however, is that Evans-Pritchard ignores the fact that, on Syria, most British public opinion sided with Moscow. The opposition to the idea of military action in Syria expressed in comments on articles in the Daily Telegraph was vitriolic.

  62. Any educated guesses as to what follows the demise of rule in SA by the Royal Family?
    I have always assumed the Royals would flee!

  63. turcopolier says:

    SA is a tough and repressive police state. Such an event is unlikely. pl

  64. Miss Fibration says:

    Thank you Bandolero. That Scaruffi guy sounds a bit crazy.

  65. Bandolero says:

    David Habakkuk
    My take: When Sarkozy replaced Schröders ally Chirac France made a radical shift from an euro-centric to a transatlantist position. However, Merkel’s Germany kept the euro-centric position. Merkel pushed Sarkozy out of office with her austerity policies and Merkel is now pulling Hollande’s France back to an euro-centric position, using money and economy as tools of influence. The transatlantists are now threatening to break up the Euro. They prefer to have at least a part of Europe in the transatlantist position instead of having the whole of Europe going into a German-led Euro-centric position, where Europe could more and more run a balanced foreign policy, balancing in the meaning of putting the EU closer to Russia and China instead of blindly following the US lead. That such views come now not only from transatlantist lobbyists like Joschka Fischer, but from France, I find quite ironic. It was France who pushed for the monetary union as a way to compensate for the expected win of strength of a united Germany. But now, that the monetary union makes Germany even stronger, some nuts there are threatening to leave it. But the French can’t. The day they would announce it, they would be bancrupt, because their interest rates would shoot through the ceiling. So, they may not like it, but they have to follow Germany. Hollande was unwilling, but has already learned something and he now makes concrete steps – tough defense cuts for example – to have the Grand Nation follow Mutti’s euro-centric leads.

  66. different clue says:

    Would such attacks also be launched against the Shia of SA’s own Eastern Province? Again, it makes me think that perhaps we should limit our wishes to what The Twisted Genius recommended we try to achieve; namely, evaporation of SA’s “meddling money” without actually changing the regime there.

  67. different clue says:

    Many years ago I remember seeing on TV a mid-level Saudi official being interviewed in his modern office. He told us (the TV audience) that Saudis didn’t need the West. They could all go back to the desert living on dates and camels if they had to. I remember thinking that with SA’s present day population that going back to the desert would not be possible. Also, that Saudi official looked like a butter bear. I suspected if he went back to the desert, he would melt there.

  68. How important is the “women being allowed” to drive movement?

  69. BTW France by the end of this decade will march almost completely in lockstep with Germany except for vestiges of it language block culture. Few understand how greatly the majority of the French willingly accommodated to NAZI rule during WWII!e
    IMO FRANCE misses their lost JEWs the most of any Nation as far as their likely contributions since 1940!
    And as always I restate my view that the HOLOCAUST largely
    succeeded in destroying a key element of Western Civilization.

  70. elkern says:

    And (presumably) they have the Wahabi Imams (or whatever they’re called) firmly in tow – or do they? Islam strikes me as a religion which is highly focussed on Justice (it’s version, not ours), and it will only get harder to hide the inequity of the SA regime and the depravity of it’s rulers.
    That’s what I like about ‘outing’ the Saudi-Israeli alliance. How will that play on Al-Jazeera? Can the Saudis really control the info sources coming into their territory?
    I’d bet that Iran is winning the propaganda battle with SA on many fronts. Sensible Westerners are bound to see them as more “democratic” and “progressive” than SA (yeah, LOL, but relatively, it’s true). Iran’s support for Hamas & Hezbolah must count for something among Arabs, especially when SA cooperates with Israel.
    Is the Wahabi heirarchy too corrupt to produce a

  71. turcopolier says:

    “Justice” is a culturally relative term. The Saudi system will not produce a liberator because the products of the system whould believe that liberation meant harsher Hanbali sharia. pl

  72. Charles I says:

    Surely only the U.S. is, er, competent enough to ensure the right jihadis rule post Assad

  73. turcopolier says:

    Charles I
    Bandar is willing to pick them He is competent. Ask him. pl

  74. David H. and others! Chinese and Russian alighnment is never accurate. Totally and/or in part! IMO!
    And Germany largely controls the details of the Russian economy even the criminal affairs of the Russian oligarchs.
    Russian immigration to Germany welcome. Chinese NO!

  75. different clue says:

    I have thought about your comment for some time before thinking about usefully replying.
    We are facing what someone called “the Crisis Crisis”. A crisis for every taste in crises, too many crises to keep up, many crises making other crises worse. I think the most potentially dangerous pre-crisis situation is the festering ooze of radionuclides from Fukushima and whether something goes wrong with the attempt to straighten out the fuel rods in Fukushima #4’s spent fuel pool. I somewhat agree with you that the gravest long term crisis is “global warming”. I say ‘somewhat agree’ because I understand “global warming” to be one outcome of massively excessive carbon dumping into the air. Another outcome of that carbon skydumping is the amount of CO2 entering the ocean, dissolving therein and making the ocean water acidic enough to disrupt the calcium metabolism of all our most favorite edible shellfish sooner and other fish later.
    Its easy enough to say “what” to do about this.
    Renewable energy investment as you point out, and also reducing the amount of CO2 skydumping as well as skydumping of nitrogen oxides, methane, and other “global warming” gases. Also, we should feed and stimulate more plant growth all over the earth so as to increase the photosynthetic suckdown of aerial CO2 and bio-sequestering it into rising levels of plantmass and semistable humus over millions of square miles
    of plantgrowing soil-land. It is more difficult to say “how” to do all this.
    Since we are supposed to be thinking about the Is/US/SA relationship, I wonder how that three-way relationship would be affected if solar-electric energy production reached the point where multi-thousand square mile “solar farms” could produce and deliver industrial amounts of electricity over thousands of miles of transmission lines. If solar energy gets that far, then Saudi (or otherwise) Arabia could devote 50,000 square miles of desert to huge solar
    power farms and sell the current to Europe and other places. That would make Arabia important for more than just sitting astride sea lanes. But of course we could deploy such technology in America and that would make Arabia less important than ever to America’s energy picture. But if the desert countries from Iran to Morocco could devote large areas to profitable solar farms selling power to Europe or whomever, that might make Russia less important to many countries as more electricity made oil and gas less important as an energy source.

  76. elkern says:

    Thanks for introducing me to the term “Hanbali”. It led me down the wiki-tubes to “Bid’ah”, (religious innovation), where I found this line:
    “As a general rule in Shi’a jurisprudence, anything is permissible except whatever is prohibited through divine revelation (i.e. the Qur’an or hadith).”
    …whereas the Sunnis (especially the “conservative” ones, as in SA) seem to look at it the other way – everything is prohibited except what is permitted.
    No wonder I like Iran more than SA. LOL again.

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