Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How long can the current stock market bull run last? In one chart

This is how a jobless recovery looks like. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out why the current recovery is not sustainable. Our next question is how long can the current stock market bull run last?

Guest Post : Zionism And The American Dream

Zionism And The American Dream

Ideology Trumps Rationality

Zionists like to claim there “no limit expansion” doctrine for Israel is on a twin track with the so-called American Dream so we can ask this question. What about the Global Caliphate dream or nightmare of ISISI? Is that also “historically valid”?
We can forget the short-lived American foreign policy doctrine that Israel must be defended because, for a period of time, it controlled several major transport routes for oil from the Arabian peninsula to America and its allies in Europe. The “oil handle” for US aid of all kinds to Israel was short-lived but support to Israel is a cornerstone of foreign policy, and Congress is at this moment rushing to vote about $225 million to strengthen Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system.

What are the real motives why the US and its European allies support and promote Israel's role in the Middle East knowing it can only generate conflict?  We might ask if strident support for Israel and presently-hysterical opposition against Russia isn't designed only to cause conflict? 
Taking the brutal and unacceptable Israeli punishment invasion of Gaza, the public in the US and Europe has already turned off. It is alarming to them but it is not their concern. Many see it as totally unwarranted but they can't do anything about it. Many say the IDF military action will only cause more bloodshed, later on, and is another proof that the Palestine-Israel “peace process” means nothing. Unfortunately they are right.
This is nothing to do with “the oil handle” in Middle Eastern politics. Neither the Gaza nor Ukraine crises, we can note, has for the moment caused the “oil paranoia index” or the oil price to sharply move up. Oil prices are falling due to wholly rational supply-demand factors as the global economy shudders on the brink of another 2008-2009 slump. Long gone are the days of the 1973-1974 oil shock when “Arab solidarity” plus the Shah's Iran also seeking higher oil prices, supposedly a political reaction to Israel's victory in the Yom Kippur war, set an oil embargo against some of Israel's main backers. Oil prices rose by 350%. Such is the fantastic rewriting of history that the so-called 'Arab oil embargo'  of 1973-74 is now hailed by some as the first step in saving the planet from Global Warming! (see

The Zionist Travel Brochure
Rewriting history never stops. Zionism ir periodically rehabilitated as a natural ally of American foreign policy, not only in the Middle East but also in the Ukraine and anywhere else! Although Zionism may be exciting and conspiratorial to some, there is no problem finding Zionists who claim it is a wholly-natural and legitimate doctrine that all Americans and west Europeans can support.
Several recent major essays, and previous books by Micheal B. Oren (a former Israeli ambassador to the US) pursue this rehabilitation theme.
Oren in fact writes travel brochures about an imaginary Land of Israel. In a recent long article for 'Wall Street Journal' he noted that if you were foolish enough to get into your car, and travel out of present-day Israel for even the distance which separates Los Angeles from San Francisco or Berlin and Paris, you would not like what you find. Outside Israel's “western-type democracy” there is civil war, rebellion, collapsed economies, huddled refugees and bomb damage everywhere. Presumably you would take the Israeli number plates off your vehicle before you tried this dangerous tourism. Traveling in armor-plated vehicle convoys like the IDF does in Gaza might be a better idea.
Zionism is called a heroic doctrine but Oren does not dwell on why Orthodox Jews dismiss Zionism as anti-religious or even heretical and apostasic. It cannot be called a religious doctrine. Instead, he gives chapter and verse on Zionism's claims to heroism. Oren gives the example of the massive numbers of IDF reservists who are periodically mobilized – for the unheroic task of fighting children in Gaza! - and who rush to put on their “uniforms that are invariably too tight or too baggy”, sign out their guns and other weapons and rush to the war front. Though they can be investment bankers or computer geeks as well as jazz drummers or family men and women, “they all know that some of them will return maimed or not at all”.
Death is heroic. This is the price of defending The Nation and for Zionists the duty to expand The Nation far and wide, in fact to unknown (or even unknowable) limits. This is one major problem of Zionism and for Zionists. How do you write a travel brochure for an imaginary land that has no frontiers? From the very start of modern Zionism which can be exactly dated as 1897-1905, the where and how of expanding the Land of Israel has always been a dispute-prone confused mess of arguments and counter-theories. The subject has never been settled.
The core ideology is to a certain extent defined, to be sure. The “modernized version” of Zionism is usually attributed to Theodor Herzl around 1897 although the concept stretches far back in Jewish history..Critics and supporters of Zionism wrestle with its hard-edged ideology of expansion and its fuzzy-edged definitions of where and how that expansion should take the Land of Israel.

The American Dream – 20 Centuries of Exile
The danger for Americans, rather than Europeans who have a very different history and very recent tragic experiences of expansionary creeds on their continent, is that the so-called American Dream is also expansionary and fuzzy-edged. Oren and other writers defending Zionism often refer to this, saying it is a major reason why Americans can “naturally support Israel” while the US renews its Cold War expansionism – against Russia.
The analogy between the American urge to expand and conquer, and the Zionist ideology of expansion because of “20 centuries of exile” snaps at this point.  Americans were not subjected to 20 centuries of exile. Zionists however claim the analogy stands and the USA is the natural ally of Israel because of a shared expansionary urge. They both have a “road map” with no limits and only vaporous details of the roads, trails, rivers and seas, canals, other nations, or whatever that might help or hinder their Dream Tour - but nobody is obliged to agree with that.
Going back to Herzl, called the father of modern Zionism, his road map of the 1880s was concentrated on Palestine. His economic plan could be called a farming and light industry strategy somewhat like Club Med with organic tomatoes and handwoven raffia bags for the tourists! By the time of the First Zionist Congress in 1897 however, the road map had deliberately been made fuzzy-edged, and much wider spread. At that Congress the concept of a world Jewish network “uniting the whole of Jewry” with appropriate institutions and irrespective of where Jews lived, was defined. The Congress approved the follow-up action to create this network, with pressure put on the governments of countries where any sizeable number of Jewish persons lived, to allow migration and regrouping of Jewish people in these countries. After that, things became fuzzy-edged again.
Apart from the Palestinian road map, already by late 1897, there was an Ottoman Empire road map. The Russian and east European Zionist travel brochure was also on the drawing board. Herzl was however already under attack from inside the Congress, as well as outside. The movement called Cultural Zionism, for example the writings of Ahad Ha'am Ginsberg, argued that Herzl's political Zionism was putting the cart in front of the horse. Ginsberg and others said there was no clear Jewish cultural identity and Jewish colonialism using fuzzy-edged road maps would, even in the case of Palestine, cause immediate hostility from neighboring Arab communities. He was right.
The Hitler Milkshake
Almost anywhere in Beirut you can buy a Hitler milkshake, and Hitler burgers also exist, of course halal! Zionists like Michael B. Oren can ironically claim that a majority of Arab public opinion denies the Nazi genocide of Jews ever happened – and is glad it happened. Turks are also genocide-deniers, and American denial of the total elimination of some Native American tribes is recurrent. The total elimination of all Tasmanian Aborigenes is another example, where full admission and recognition of this genocide by the Australian state took more than 100 years. The simple fact is these atrocities happened, exactly like the Rwanda massacre or the slave trade.
The problem is that My Genocide is better – that is worse – than Your Genocide. Much more important is why a German massacre of Jews, and others, planned and executed by the Nazi state in 1941-1945, in Europe, would give “moral superiority” to Israel whenever it attacks Gaza in the 21st century. Arab public opinion reacts very sharply to that grotesque defence of Zionism.
Graciously or otherwise, Michael B. Oren and some other defenders of Zionism concede that “not all of Zionism's critics are bigoted”. Oren can admit that a growing number of progressive Jews think and say that Zionism is too militant and nationalist. Some say that by its own excesses of “revenge on History”, against Nazi Germany, Zionism has serious problems for retaining its popularity in Israel and sympathy in the USA and European countries.
The danger is clear. Zionism has to prove it works and is a success. It can do that within the present borders of Israel or it can pursue its fuzzy-edged road map. It can do that with or without extremes of jingoist nationalism. It can develop or forget its Alpha Male Nation complex of superiority, strangely mixed and mingled with  a drift to theocracy and the police state
Zionists have to maintain the pretence that  “democratic ideals are integral to Zionism”, but the quest to produce even an image of Democratic Zionism has directly led to the unwinding of Israel. Israel of today is multicultural and multi-ethnic. More than 20% of its population is not Jewish. Israel is in fact a typical western-type crony capitalist society with vast extremes of wealth and massive social injustice – between Jews or anybody else.
Zionism only exacerbates these already-dangerous fissures in society by its absurd, as well as absurdly unjust and brutal treatment of Palestinians. Sooner or later, the continuing call by unrepentant Zionists for more and further expansion and colonization will have to end. One simple reason for this count-down is that taking more land, with the people on it, and bringing them into a democratic Israel where people can vote will only, and can only, further dilute and erode the 1897-era or 1948-era image of “Israel's moral foundation”. Plenty of Israelis, whether Zionist or not, say the Jewish Homeland will be forced to choose between being Jewish or remaining democratic.
Unsurprisingly but tragically, diehard defenders of Zionism like Michael B. Oren say that “Failure is the price of sovereignty”. They say that Israeli statehood means making hard choices which can end in failure. They say that the Jewish state is always threatened by annihilation. They say the war footing must be permanent and Palestinians are ungrateful, devious and cannot be trusted. They say America will always be there to understand and help.
They conclude that Israeli statehood and sovereignty may be a mess but it is Our Zionist Mess. There is no alternative. So much for Zionism.
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

Guest Post : The Long Descent – Peak Oil And Decline

The Long Descent – Peak Oil And Decline

Western Decline Paradigm Redux
The current re-edited version of “The Long Descent” from New Society Publishers, by John Michael Greer was first published in 2008 when things looked mighty different for many things, including the economy. In 2008 oil briefly hit $147 per barrel in Nymex trading. Using the doctored US official CPI figures we would need over $160, or in real terms probably north of $170 to beat that today.

The two ASPO (Peak Oil Study Association) annual conferences preceding the 2008 run-up of prices were momentous events with huge press and media attention, and in the case of the Pisa conference had a delegation of ministers from Rome and over one hundred of their bodyguards in attendance. The 2006 peak oil event in the Cooper Union, NYC was likewise a massive multi-day event with total media coverage. Peak oil doom seemed credible – but was the 2008 run-up of oil prices a rush towards doom down a path greased or goosed by Goldman Sachs when it pushed Sem Group into receivership? That story was “Did Goldman goose oil prices?” and is easy to find on the Internet.
I personally find it incredible that the time-worn paradigm of Western Decline - but only using the oil handle - is still being recycled in 2014. Greer's angle, basically, is that oil is the lifeblood of industry and without oil industrial civilization is finished.
The western decline paradigm can't be precisely dated as to its origins, but well before 1900 this genre-material was fully-fledged. We could even take the British science writer W. S. Jevons and his Coal Question of 1865 as an outrider. He subtitled his coal question as An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines. For sure and certain the fear of coal supplies running out accelerated the decision made by a young Winston Churchill to accelerate the shift of the British Navy's war fleet to oil fuel. It also triggered a British takeover of Iran with lasting sequels. Today's war fleets, and commercial shipping fleets are the focus of intense efforts to reduce or substitute their oil needs, including the re-use of coal!

Industrial Decline
After the 1914-1918 war, and in the 1930s Great Depression the declinist genre went “near-viral”. During the 1930s everything, including industry declined but it was hard to point the finger at oil as even a minor cause. The End of Empires moved to center-stage as the elite's key obsession and we can ask a few questions to John Michael Greer. Did the Roman Empire collapse because it ran out of oil? Did the Ottoman Empire disappear because it ran out of oil?
If we ask if the “American Empire” collapsed or is collapsing because of no more cheap oil we first have to believe there was an American Empire to start with. Where is it? Does it physically exist or are you are talking about Puerto Rico and Guam? If you are talking about Ukraine, go and see to Mr Putin about it! In any case the US now produces almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia or Russia and the USA's combined oil and gas output is well ahead of either of them. We can argue US and western civilization in general is declining with oil – not because of it.
For some reviewers, Greer is “beyond any doubt the greatest peak oil historian in the English language”. Oil decline is a long and twisting story and Greer is very economical on facts when it suits his purpose. His claimed personal status as Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids of America ( likely helps his strange writing style and frequent disinterest in reality as he recycles what was best assembled by Richard Duncan, well before year 2000, as the Olduvai Gorge theory ( One key supporter of Duncan's original thesis was Prince Charles of England but nobody talks about Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge any longer. The subject we could quip, has fallen off a cliff!
In brief, the Olduvai Gorge theory is post-industrial. The world's industries are “transient pulse” and are certain to end by the 2030's. Presumably all science and technology will be de-learned and forgotten. The decline will be mainly due to oil, coal and gas running out simultaneously, and after that we return to the Stone Age. William McDonough is generally credited with the saying that “The stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones. It ended because it was time for a rethink about how we live”. That isnt true but it is a nice one-liner.

Myth versus Myth
Greer's new version of “Long Descent” is described as fleshed out with additional examples and analysis. Casual bookstore browsers will find themselves attacked by “Greer’s mantra” on the future of industrial society – exclusively western, in fact - but Greer himself is able to complain that too many people are fixated on only two possible outcomes. These are business as usual and imminent apocalypse. Reconciling the two is impossible, but he tries.
People cling to polar opposites because of “existing cultural narratives” - that is two opposed and exclusive social paradigms – progress versus decline. The fundamental human reason for this is dialectical thought which takes us back to Parmenides and the late 6th century BC. Socrates said that Parmenides alone among the wise (Protagoras, Heraclitus,Empedocles, Epicharmus, and Homer) denied that existence is change and motion. He said reality is timeless and unchanging, and he was the father of dialectics. In other words any concept that you develop I can use to say the exact opposite.
The important point is that neither has to be true.
So Greer tries to square the circle by coining the term “catabolic collapse” as opposed to a purely theoretical concept of “anabolic collapse” which is oxymoronic – because it would mean collapse by larger and larger and more organized social entities being generated. Which is not collapse. Also he should note, catabolic reactions in our human bodies release energy, they do not dissipate it.
“The Long Descent” is styled as an attempt to help average readers make sense of the coming age of decline but as I already mentioned, decline paradigms are almost certainly hard-wired into our civilization like the others. The belief in progress and the fear of decline probably run together like ADN and RDN twin-strands in the human psyche.  When it concerns fast collapse, economic decline since 2008 is running so fast it is a lot easier to believe in than oil decline.
Greer's version of peak oil theory is described on the book jacket as “fleshed out” but his stuff on peak oil is rather skinny. Skeletal in fact. The “narrative” is unchanged since at latest 2008 and probably before. In fact his treatment of the subject is little different from Richard Duncan teetering on the edge of the Olduvai Gorge, first published in 1989.

The Long Emergency
The existence of polar opposite paradigms is certainly a predicament rather than a problem, which Greer uses over and over again to describe his oil-fired version of the Western Decline paradigm. He says that the predicament of peak oil is not a problem that we can solve. I say it will be self-solving but not necessarily through progress.
The Long Emergency by oil peakster Jim Kunsstler also treads the path to the Olduvai Gorge, but we can get there without oil. Many authors did it long ago, like Aldous Huxley or George Orwell. Huxley could be called “partly progressive” in his decline theory, for example on massive improvements in the efficacity of soft drugs to better control the masses. The progress-through-technology paradigm is a massively developed genre today, for example those who promote salvation by solar energy or by nanotechnology and the genetic re-engineering of food and fuel plants and microorganisms.
Talking only about oil or more precisely “hydrocarbon liquids”, a fast growing new genre of writing hails shale oil and shale gas fracking as salvation for industrial civilization. Greer of course calls this a band-aid and dismisses all “quick fixes”  because he thinks they will not be developed fast enough or they will not work – that is slow fixes will not head off his Long Emergency. Is this logical?
It would be educational for Greer to try the variable-speed fixes. The paradigm that he sets up says that some problems are only problems and therefore solvable, but predicaments like peak oil are impossible to solve. This is easy to call sophistry, a speaking trick rigorously criticized by Socrates a long time ago. The stratagem is to move the mental goalposts and get in a few easy goals because the keeper wasn't moved with the posts.
Greer like most other declinists heavily works the social psychology of decline, using more sophistry with his claim that because both the myth of progress and the anti-myth of apocalypse exist, this blinds our perception of real problems – that is predicaments!  Because we are hungry for Paradise or Disaster, we cannot accept Greer's Middle Way of Decline, where civilization heads for collapse in a gradual, downward step-by-step process of repeated crises and weakening recoveries. There is no sudden and catastrophic free fall of oil supplies although, quite amazingly, the International Energy Agency's more recent forecasts and statements on “long-term oil supply” can easily be interpreted as saying just that – by about 2035 or 2040.

The Price of Oil
What the IEA and Greer are saying in not-so-different ways is that oil has to get more expensive. The big problem is that oil is expensive already. This is not so much sophistry as rhetoric – which Socrates also heavily criticized. We are invited to believe that whatever the price of coal, natural gas, solar power or any other form of energy, oil will get more expensive – but we will go on using it! Back in 2008 for example, talk about oil at $250 per barrel was new normal. Today's oil fear is let us say $150 per barrel (of course depending on ISIS and “special factors”).
But natural gas in the USA at today's price of not even $4 a million BTU prices this gas at $23 per barrel equivalent. Put another way do you prefer whisky at $50 per bottle or $15 for a product, whisky, with a basic production cost of below $5 a bottle ? Certainly not remarked by Greer, the boom and bust in ethanol fuel production rising on the back of overpriced oil results in world ethanol production running at around 50 billion litres a year of 98-degree proof alcohol, enough to give every man, woman and child (if they drink alcohol) on the planet around 25 bottles each of 48-degree alcohol per year!
Aldous Huxley would certainly approve, but ethanol fuel output is now zero-growth because it is too expensive, takes too much land and water, and nobody wants that much alcohol.
Greer has to scenarize decades of economic contraction mainly driven by high oil prices and chronic energy shortage, alongside declining public health, political turmoil, and the wipeout of knowledge and culture. His scenario says the First Crisis will be followed by a respite of perhaps 25 years during which industrial civilization’s cutting down and back on its previous lavish oil demands caused by universal motoring, climate-controlled buildings, plastics and modern medicine and other facets of civilization will buy it some breathing room. Some but not enough. The crisis returns and the ride on the downward elevator resumes. Everybody tries to buy oil, whatever its price.
The long emergency gets longer because Greer's end-times civilization at the bottom of the Olduvai Gorge - an agrarian civilization built around local communities and sustainable resources – will take so long to happen that, he says, no one alive today will be around to see the end result. This of course is simply another dose of sophistry because it enables Greer to start talking about what we should do in the “between times” preceding the end-times.

Other Times
Anybody who wants to can check my long article “The Pangea Resource Mountain”.  Falling off that mountain would be vastly more impressive, and difficult, than falling off the Olduvai Gorge! Carbon resources of this planet – which do not not instantly equate to carbon energy resources – are insanely massive. The reason is stellar physics and that is rather fundamental. You can check up the C-N-O sequence of spallation and other processes. The right kind of GRB-gamma ray burst hitting our planet could trigger a massive and almost instant – possibly only a few minutes – transformation of the Earth's atmosphere by the C-N-O sequence.
Since 2008 a lot has happened, not only in energy. With a global warming handle to hide the Oil Fear label, low carbon energy and energy saving are now a new paradigm, not only in the developed countries. India for example simply used a government edict or decree to outlaw all use of any fuel but natural gas for public transport and taxis in New Delhi. We can do the same.
Claims by writers like Greer that “oil shortage” was a major driver of the 2008 economic crisis are just that – claims that I dispute – but since 2008 energy demand and especially oil demand is very slow growing. The outright decline of western civilization, in countries that have been de-industrializing for a long time, is not easy to pin on the spectre or myth of rare-and-therefore-expensive oil. 
Greer unsurprisingly tells us we have to “revitalize antique tools”, such as wooden ships and fireless cookers – and why not Zeppelin airships? He talks a little bit about urban utilities and their redesign, but as I work in that area myself I can say that both for greenfield and “rehab” or urban rehabilitation projects we can easily cut energy demand by at least 60% for the same quality and reliability of urban services, with no cost penalties. He of course features organic farming as a solution to industrial food production but here again things are moving fast, and not exclusively because oil is overpriced.
The final part of his book shifts to the spiritual dimension of the changes ahead. Nowhere does he seriously discuss the politics of change. His simplistic claim is that when human labor again becomes cheaper than machines, people will relearn presently-forgotten skills and will abandon consumerism in favor of “more spiritually fulfilling pursuits”. Without the energy slaves, back to slavery!
Greer is right for once when he says people will lose faith in the religion of progress, but this is above all political and it has already happened. The real world effects even include ISIS and the Flash Mob, which are uber-political. He is right to say that when people lose faith in the religion of progress they shift back to existing religions, but they also change in other ways.
Saying that all this is caused and driven by peak oil is a fantastic claim. What we have, in fact, is one more decline paradigm that has emerged and mutated in front of our noses.
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

Guest Post : Foreign Policy And Chaos Theory

Foreign Policy And Chaos Theory

Western Primacy in a Multipolar World

This is a nice theory but neither of its two parts exists. John Kerry, for example heavily uses “multipolar world” as his best excuse for the USA's powerlessness because, he says, the multipolar world is so complex and the different parties all disagree. Two absentees from this theoretical world are Russia and China, and India is drifting away, also. The outright debacle of US (and western) foreign policy now playing out in Iraq underlines there is no such thing as western primacy.

ISIS has delivered US foreign policy the largest poke in its stomach for a long time – that is since earlier this year and the debacle over Syrian regime change motivated or excused by the claimed use of chemical weapons by Bashr el-Assad. In any case, ISIS did not need western help to extend its control over a large part of Syria and use it as a springboard to attack Iraq.The unreal standoff with Russia over the Ukraine lurches onward, threatening nuclear war with the second-biggest nuclear weapons power of the planet, and dealing the fragile European economy another body blow, through Russian counter-sanctions. This is how the USA of Obama helps its “allies and friends”?
According to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes ('The Three Trillion Dollar War') the enduring costs to the USA of the Bush-and-Obama war in Iraq will be massive, in fact so large that if all Iraqi oil production was exclusively given, not sold, to the USA perhaps 20 years or more would be needed to get anywhere near break-even for the US. This is American primacy in the now shrunken “international community” segment or drifted-off appendage to the supposed “multipolar world”?.

Nice Theories
One clear danger arising from the fog of what passes for “western foreign policy” today is that this non-policy constantly twists and turns, or writhes like a beheaded snake between a range of outdated and invalidated theories. We can give an example. One of Vladimir Putin's senior strategic advisors, Sergei Glazyev says that he believes American encirclement of Russia is only a prelude to American economic, political and then military attack on China. With Russia out of the way, so to speak, China will be easier to weaken and destroy.
To be sure Glazyev cites America's war against Islam, called “war on terror” as a supporting strand to his main argument. The already 13-year-long American war against Islam enables and justifies the US military presence in wide swaths of west Asia and Eurasia. Russia gets in the way, so Russia has got to go. Many commentators in Europe but not many in the USA have remarked Hillary Clinton's almost joyous use of her electoral one-liner “Putin is another Adolf Hitler”, which nicely underlines the extreme aggressivity of the USA's political elite today.
The simplest reason is paranoia and this begets more paranoia. Glazyev says that Russia won't be able to go it alone and will urgently have to find partners in an anti-war coalition facing the USA. He gave other planks of this international paranoia theory – including the USA's evident paranoia - but he avoided saying that US leadership or statesmanship is now a hollowed-out term.
Call it post-chaos leadership. Chaos theory as we all know says that if a parrot or butterfly falls off a tree in Amazonia this can start World War III or cause a surprise recovery of the economy. Unexpected causes can start a ramifying process of ever-growing change.
American aggression is by paranoia and default. The abandonment of leadership and the dereliction of government are two major strands of deconstructing western society today. Nobody has to say this deconstruction was willed or planned – that is the meat of the booming conspiracy theory industry. 
However the net result is an imaginary Grand Conspiracy. With no surprise, international relations and foreign affairs now surf in the void, using Plot Theory as the default choice for “explaining everything”. For example and at present we have Putin's Plot to steal Ukraine away from the west, the naughty boy, but immediately after him it will be the Chinese Plot which terrorises Middle America. China might withold Donald Duck flashlight supplies to Wal-Mart, or something dastardly like that.
This is the “high intellectual content” of  foreign affairs today – but down on the ground, in the real world, ragtag armies of killers like ISIS can lay waste to entire countries. Hiding all this in fogs of conspiracy suits the new and flat muppet world like burgers suit muppet eating habits.

Does Obama Believe?
If we were childish enough to believe what Obama says, we would believe the American war in Iraq is all over now and only “extended peacekeeping operations” are needed. This is a total travesty of the real situation. Obama flatly refuses to put “US boots on the ground” so the peacekeeping will have to be aerial. Obama, quickly joined by France's president Hollande says that the Humpty Dumpty of Iraq can be put back together again. They do not explain how.
We can ask questions but will not answers. Chaos theory says Obama and his “allies and partners” stumble from crisis to crisis with no road map at all except a virtual New Imperial American road map, of which Hillary Clinton has the details, if they exist. This is the flipside of reality, a sort of reverse-video image of the world where up is down, black is white and defeat is victory. The ISIS takeover of a half of Iraq is a perfect example!
To be sure Obama, even if he's suicidal with his domestic opinion poll ratings will not be admitting this. Whatever we could or might say about the putative “New Imperial American dream” is its crisis-prone nature – but we are obliged to add that perhaps it doesn't exist.
This dream only stumbles from crisis to crisis and its supposed “high level strategic goal” of wiping out the Chinese after the Russians is pure madness.
Somebody has to explain all this to the consumer/voter middle classes, and Hillary Clinton has failed. What we find is that the conspiracy theorists, now in charge of what passes for “foreign policy”, all believe in the New Imperial dream, simply because its so fantastically unreal. Their support theory is that showing “the masses” enough gore-war images will lead them to slaver for more, just like Pavlov's dogs. They have a sadistic streak, we are told, because they are white supremacist racists when they are not straight nihilists or simply Jehova's End-Times believers.

Pursuing Policy at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

So first we have to take out Putin and then the Chinese. The big problem, here, is that China is on a fast track away from the supposed “multipolar world” that we supposedly have. China has rapidly become distant and less-known to the west, due to a host of different factors. India has also started growling about what its Bank of India chief openly calls western sabotage of the global economy.
For the Chinese elite, national identity and unity are critical life supports for their own continued existence, and they will quickly snap that China suffered 70 years of Western imperialism and wealth-sucking from about 1870 to 1940. They know exactly who is to blame. They don't respect White Muppets or their so-called “public opinion”.They will not waste time on games and ruses like the game of economic sanctions, before kicking back hard at what the Chinese press and media increasingly says, not hints, is a Western consumer world with leaderships who have gone lobo.
The Chinese really don't have time for the new game of “western foreign policy”.
For sure the heroic special forces of the west can foment and probably arm the Uyghur Muslim revolt in western China, with their so-respectable friends in Saudi Arabia, and gloat over civil strife and mass killings in Chinese cities. This however is a long way from crippling China before invading it! Divide China perhaps – but certainly not rule it.
As for Iraq in particular and the Middle East in general it is not hard to find conspiracy theorists chirping that even the ISIS or 'Deach' movement is under western control. If ISIS has not yet expanded into Lebanon (which it's doing), this is because it was told to wait by The Minders. Although the dearly departed Osama Bin Laden has disappeared from his Abbottabad niche – and there is no longer any reason for the American war in Afghanistan - the all-knowing “military-industrial complex” keeps it ticking over a little longer until the Islamic insurrection across the border in China is fully mature. Its all planned! For us the muppets!
So everything is under control, and do you want sugar in your tea?
Reality Denial is Schizophrenia
After flirting with chaos so long you end up marrying it, you inevitably get mass schizophrenia. This disease was fully-defined about 100 years ago and is mostly self-willed, although it can be due to biomedical causes like certain kinds of medication. It is not yet formally linked with a diet of Twinkies and McDonalds washed down with Coca Lite and 24/7 news-and-views shows, but that could come.
Reality can be taken or left, and mass schizophrenia rejects it. There is no past, and as Mrs Thatcher told us an awful long time ago, there is No Future. In her case and for good measure she added that Society Doesn't Exist. There will henceforth only be muppets running round like witless lemmings listening to soundbytes from Hillary Clinton. Paradise on Earth!
This is not going to get us anywhere – or as Obama is finding out every day, it gets us nowhere, fast.  Our friends in the conspiracy theory industry will chime that “the minders did it” to the so-called masses, but the net result is these “masses” are walled-up in a wonderland of imagination. Bounded only by their madness. 
There are no road maps. Charting a road map hat does not exist is as impossible as navigating the flaky and shaky Israel-Palestine road map “to peace”.Obama and his “friends and partners” will have to fumble along, flirting with chaos, until chaos is so real it is easy to prove. Neither Hitler nor Stalin ate Twinkies, used Internet or were Americans, we can note, but they did really bad things. In their madness they bought any conspiracy theory which was going, and thrived on them. They paid creative persons to invent conspiracies for them on an industrial basis.
There is no problem charting this road map to No Future which unfortunately is exactly where so-called “western foreign policy” resides today. RIP.
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

Guest Post : Writing Off America's Losses In Iraq And Ukraine

Writing Off America's Losses In Iraq And Ukraine

Spend and Defend

It is impossible to get exact figures and numbers on how many Iraqi civilians and American soldiers died in Iraq post-2003, nor on how much it all cost US taxpayers and the Federal government. We can probably say at least 4,500 American lives, over 100,000 Iraqi lives and $1700 billion spent doing what? Although star players in the rush to war in 2003 such as Paul Wolfowitz memorably said that “Iraq floats on a sea of oil – so we had to intervene” the lure of cheap oil was played down as the main war aim. Today, we can pretty much forget all about that. Obama's present fumbling in a so-called humanitarian war against ISIS will help oil prices upward at a time when basic supply-demand metrics are driving its price below the “magic three digit” level of $100 a barrel.

When or if ISIS uses its kamikaze scorched earth tactics to blow up the Mosul and Haditha dams, electric power plants under its control, roads and bridges and pipelines under its control, Iraq's oil exports could shrink. Libyan style.

The Iraq war is very like the US financial system. There is no willingness to write off the massive losses, which go on growing. Any trick or subterfuge will be fumbled into place to keep the party going, even if its one-day-only. The now large and always growing likelihood that Iraq blows apart at the seams into a long civil war – in which the local “players” don't have much interest in oil except to deny it to their enemies – is the direct result. The direct result of America's refusal to accept its Iraq war was a total failure. It made things worse, not better.

Only an idiot in any western country, or any other country, will deny that the American war was about oil. Iraq floats on a sea of oil – remember? The direct result, today, is that the US and whatever “friends and allies” like France who want to join the lost cause, will set about putting Humpty Dumpty Iraq back together again. They will not succeed, but they will try, using their taxpayers money and borrowed funds. Meanwhile, the price of oil will rise.

The Reverse Video Crusade

This again is mostly America's fault. George W. Bush, for a little while after 9 / 11, until he was told to drop the term said the US would launch a Crusade Against Terror. Terror begets terror – it is a communicable disease, like Ebola for example.  ISIS is the latest and worst example of a madhat Crusade to create a Grand Caliphate modeled on something that never existed – The Empire of Terror. Some readers might twitch at that and ask what about Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler? The differences with ISIS include its madcap goal, let alone its rustic methods of oppressing and killing anybody at all who gets in the way. Philosophically speaking, ISIS is 100% Nihilist but it pretends it is Apocalyptic. Not a nuance, you admit?

So the USA of Obama will be pounding sand down into so many rat holes in Iraq that there may be no ground left to stand on. Obama will get even more unpopular in the USA, which before the New Iraq War was thought to be impossible. If oil prices can be driven high enough, this can provide the dream-excuse for another 2008 crash. “It was all due to oil” so it wasn't our fault.

Along their dark but straight path the Madcap Crusaders of ISIS can provide us war pornography news clips on a regular basis, culminating in their version of D-Day when they storm and overruns the US Green Zone in Baghdad. That will be such a spectacle! The US can then abandon everything like it did in Saigon in 1975, and oil prices can go up a little more. After that, oil prices can go straight off the wall, if a triumphant ISIS turns its venom on the “fornicators and apostates” of KSA, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. Obama has probably been told that already, so boots-on-the-ground may be necessary after all.  Obama can then help whoever may be his designated successor to run their 2016 election campaign from the White House war room.

Again just like the economy, there will be a point-blank refusal to stop meddling in Iraq, designed to intensify the ire of the Madcap Crusaders, and feeding a thousand conspiracy blogs on the Web. ISIS is now a valuable but of course secret ally of the West. It is stabilizing the region in its own rather special 11th century way. It is certainly anti-Iran and that's good news to start with, sort of. It is also anti-Kurd but only since last weekend that is no longer good news. ISIS in Syria, rather amazingly but truly was aided by the US Congress NED-National Endowment for Democracy. It is a “semi-democratic movement”, you know.

 The flip explanation of the phenomenon in the Middle East — chaos, murder, economic collapse – is the region is plain overpopulated, so ISIS is helping Agenda 21 but you didn't know that until I told you. The so-called Petromonarchies with their US college-educated elites have made an excellent copy of crony corporate America, reverse video style. Learning every latest slogan going in Mother America, they say they are preparing for After Oil. By not producing food, for example!

The now-easily-scenarized card castle domino collapse of these “apostatic regimes” (dixit ISIS) will certainly help the world along the road to After Oil. Refugee numbers in the Middle East will be rather impressive as the Yazidi trickle turns into a flood of anybody at all who wants to eat. Obama knows all about this, its on his teleprompter somewhere, so its clear that the folks out there in the Middle East have to keep pumping oil and its price has to be nice and high – already a reverse video of why The International Community had to overthrow and kill Saddam Hussein for menacing Kuwait, because he threatened high oil prices!

The New American Oil Conspiracy

Only for humanitarian reasons in the Middle East, oil prices have to stay high. Otherwise they don't eat. Goldman Sachs likes that and the energy market maker banks, even if they get rapped on the knuckles by the US CFTC and other regulators from time to time, also like that. Overpriced oil fits so nicely with constantly pumping up equity prices! It creates the illusion of prosperity.

Although the Ukraine civil war and standoff with Russia has slipped down the breaking news ranks by a little, this operation also holds a genuine prospect of pushing up oil prices in Czar-sized fashion, like ISIS can in Caliphate-sized fashion. When push comes to shove and Russia starts cutting back on oil and gas supplies to Europe – not pussyfooting around with economic sanctions – we will see the proverbial pips squeak. This will be the dream moment for “calling” the Europe-wide slump that the ECB has been “planning” in its own special chaos-type way for some while.

To be sure eastern Ukrainans can burn their furniture to stay warm this winter, and maybe even use their Hryvnia money in the stove also, like Germans did in 1922-23. Kiev has already declared, then withdrawn its threat of shutting down all gas transit in the country. After that, they could move up and on to an oil embargo. The goal of chaos is ultra clear. We have a completely irrational situation.

Everybody sane knows that if ISIS succeeded in establishing a fuzzy-edged Caliphate, they will never be able to govern it, only presiding over epic bloodletting and social collapse. Watching too many You Tube open-air beheadings will however and rather certainly “affect morale” among the technicians running the region's oil infrastructures, the same way that too much bombing in eastern Ukraine is unlikely to “foster democracy” and an impossible reunification of the country.

Conspiracy theorists can accuse Obama and the US of wanting all this to happen because the USA's shale oil production is so impressive and neither Obama nor public opinion cares a damn what happens elsewhere. They can say that, but how is it that Iraq has to be saved, Ukraine has to be saved – and oil prices have to stay high, before the stuff simply becomes unavailable?
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.