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Geopolitics - Sept 17

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Petroleos de Venezuela to Convert Accounts Away From Dollars

Steven Bodzin, Bloomberg
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez instructed Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, to convert its investment accounts from dollars to euros and Asian currencies to reduce risk.

The decision may help weaken the dollar as the Federal Reserve prepares to lower interest rates this week, said Philip Wee, an economist at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore. The currency has fallen against 14 of the 16 most-active over the past year, partly as governments signaled they may diversify their holdings away from the U.S., the world's primary destination for reserves.

Venezuela moved some of its reserves into euros last year, along with other oil producers including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. The $50 billion Qatar Investment Authority said Sept. 4 it was looking for options in Asia to counter a weak dollar. China is starting a fund to look for higher returns on some of its almost $1.4 trillion holdings.

... Chavez, speaking in his weekly address on national television yesterday, said the U.S. has bought goods from around the world, paying with paper that is ``a bubble.''
(17 September 2007)


Greenspan clarifies Iraq war, oil link

MSNBC news services
Says he told White House ousting Saddam was 'essential' to world supplies
---
Clarifying a controversial comment in his new memoir, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he told the White House before the Iraq war that removing Saddam Hussein was "essential" to secure world oil supplies, according to an interview published on Monday.

Greenspan, who wrote in his memoir that "the Iraq War is largely about oil," said in a Washington Post interview that while securing global oil supplies was "not the administration's motive," he had presented the White House before the 2003 invasion with the case for why removing the then-Iraqi leader was important for the global economy.

"I was not saying that that's the administration's motive," Greenspan said in the interview conducted on Saturday. "I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?' I would say it was essential."
(17 September 2007)
Related:
Greenspan Misses Cheney's Memo: Spills the Beans on Oil by Ray McGovern (former CIA analyst)
Greenspan: Ouster Of Hussein Crucial For Oil Security (Washington Post)
Greenspan, Kissinger: Oil Drives U.S. in Iraq, Iran (Common Dreams)


Iraq Oil Reality vs the NY Times

Sarah Meyer, Index Research
The New York Times, like many American newspapers, has been lax in its reporting of the problems with the ‘benchmark' Iraq Oil Law. Mainstream Media has preferred to swallow the Bushline about "sharing" Iraq's oil, when in fact Bremer's Law was nothing about ‘sharing' and everything about American imperial control of Iraq's oil.

Paul Krugman , (NY Times 14.09.07) as one can see from the following articles, did not discover the story of the Hunt oil contract. Thus his editorial was not, as reported by Raw Story, (14th Sept) a "bombshell."

In order that MSM don't continue their charade of ‘discovery' and hopefully return to old - style reportage and research, following is a continuing Iraq Oil Timeline from 31.08 - 15.09.07
(15 September 2007)


The Next War

Wesley K. Clark, Washington Post
...Think another war can't happen? Think again. Unchastened by the Iraq fiasco, hawks in Vice President Cheney's office have been pushing the use of force. It isn't hard to foresee the range of military options that policymakers face.

The next war would begin with an intense air and naval campaign. Let's say you're planning the conflict as part of the staff of the Joint Chiefs. Your list of targets isn't that long -- only a few dozen nuclear sites -- but you can't risk retaliation from Tehran. So you allow 21 days for the bombardment, to be safe; you'd aim to strike every command-and-control facility, radar site, missile site, storage site, airfield, ship and base in Iran. To prevent world oil prices from soaring, you'd have to try to protect every oil and gas rig, and the big ports and load points. You'd need to use B-2s and lots of missiles up front, plus many small amphibious task forces to take out particularly tough targets along the coast, with manned and unmanned air reconnaissance. And don't forget the Special Forces, to penetrate deep inside Iran, call in airstrikes and drag the evidence of Tehran's nuclear ambitions out into the open for a world that's understandably skeptical of U.S. assertions that yet another Gulf rogue is on the brink of getting the bomb.

But if it's clear how a war with Iran would start, it's far less clear how it would end. How might Iran strike back? Would it unleash Hezbollah cells across Europe and the Middle East, or perhaps even inside the United States? Would Tehran goad Iraq's Shiites to rise up against their U.S. occupiers? And what would we do with Iran after the bombs stopped falling? We certainly could not occupy the nation with the limited ground forces we have left. So what would it be: Iran as a chastened, more tractable government? As a chaotic failed state? Or as a hardened and embittered foe?

Iran is not the only country where the next war with the United States might erupt. Consider the emergence of a new superpower (or at least a close competitor with the United States). ...

Any future U.S. wars will undoubtedly be shaped by the experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, however painful that might be. Every military refights the last war, but good militaries learn lessons from the past. We'd better get them right, and soon. Here, the lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan couldn't be more clear: Don't ever, ever go to war unless you can describe and create a more desirable end state. And doing so takes a whole lot more than just the use of force.

...Above all else, we Americans must understand that the goal of war is to achieve a specific purpose for the nation. In this respect, the military is simply a tool of statecraft, one that must work in tandem with diplomacy, economic suasion, intelligence and other instruments of U.S. power. How tragic it is to see old men who are unwilling to talk to potential adversaries but seem so ready to dispatch young people to fight and die.

Wesley K. Clark, the former supreme commander of NATO, led alliance military forces in the Kosovo war in 1999. He is a fellow at the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA, and the author, most recently, of "A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country."
(16 September 2007)
Related on U.S. military strategies:
The New Counterinsurgency by Tom Hayden (The Nation)
Team Bush intends to 'transform the Middle East' by Marko Beljac, a Monash University PhD student (Australia) and maintainer of the blog Science and Global Security.


Shortfalls in Russian oil deliveries to Germany

Vladimir Socor, Eurasia Daily Monitor (Jamestown Foundation)
Russian oil deliveries to Germany through the Druzhba pipeline fell abruptly in the month of August by some 30%. Lukoil is mainly responsible for the deliberate reduction in supplies that had been pre-contracted. Supply shortfalls had begun in July on a small scale, before the abrupt August drop. The German government and affected companies kept this development under tight wraps until the Sueddeutsche Zeitung broke the story in its August 24 issue. . .

. . .Once the story broke, Lukoil remained secretive about the reasons behind the reduction in supplies. According to one theory, Lukoil was seeking to squeeze an intermediary out of the Russo-German oil trade. . .

Other theories in German and Russian oil-trade circles hold that:

1) Lukoil's cuts may seek to force up the price of supplies to Germany for the next contract period;

2) deliveries through the Druzhba pipeline became less profitable since Belarus raised the transit fee by 30%, to $3.6 per ton;

3) Russia's state pipeline monopoly Transneft, operator of the Druzhba system on Russian territory, may have begun redirecting part of the flow from that pipeline toward Russian Baltic maritime export terminals;

4) Lukoil may be aiming to intimidate the German refineries' owners into ceding share packages to it as a "guarantee" of steady supplies in the future; or

5) the Russian state itself is trying to demonstrate that supplies have become too tight to suffice for all customers and that only the politically favored ones can count on steady supplies from now on.

(5 September 2007)
Wikipedia: The Jamestown Foundation is a Washington-based think tank whose stated mission is to "inform and educate" policy makers about events and trends which it regards as being of current "strategic" importance to the United States. Its website claims that: "Jamestown's material is delivered without political bias, filter or agenda." However, given the tone of its articles, it could be claimed that the foundation usually takes a rather Western Cold War approach.

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