The U.S. Dollar: A Victim of Its Own Success

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America’s most powerful weapon of war does not shoot, fly or explode. It’s not a submarine, plane, tank or laser. America’s most powerful strategic weapon today is the dollar.

The U.S. uses the dollar strategically to reward friends and punish enemies. The use of the dollar as a weapon is not limited to trade wars and currency wars, although the dollar is used tactically in those disputes. The dollar is much more powerful than that.

The dollar can be used for regime change by creating hyperinflation, bank runs and domestic dissent in countries targeted by the U.S. The U.S. can depose the governments of its adversaries, or at least blunt their policies without firing a shot. Continue reading

The Road to War: China vs the US

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In 2016 Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, declared that there was no doubt, in his mind, that the US would go to war with China in the South China Sea in the next five to 10 years.

A US-Chinese military conflict would be on top of a vow by Trump in his inaugural presidential address, to not only take on radical Islamic terrorism but to “eradicate it from the face of the Earth.” This would be done by building up America’s already supreme military. “Our military dominance must be unquestioned,” the billionaire businessman, who now controlled the most powerful political office in the world, declared in his first address to the nation.

A year and a half after that speech, the United States is not at war with China, but its economic saber-rattling is arguably the beginning of a confrontation between the world’s largest and second-largest economies. Trump’s tariff threats against not only China but Europe, Canada, Mexico and its other trade partners, are also symbolic of a shift in US foreign policy towards a more isolationist stance – one that may not strictly be due to Trump’s belligerent personality. This article will get into the antecedents of this economic and military showdown and point the way to some possible future scenarios, including a war in space. Continue reading

Trump Calls the European Union a Foe: ‘What They Do to Us in Trade’

 

President Donald Trump said during a Sunday interview with CBS News anchor Jeff Glor that the European Union is a foe.

“What’s your biggest competitor, the biggest foe globally right now?” Glor asked the president

“Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” Trump said. “Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” Continue reading

President Trump Sends NATO Into Meltdown

Note: Please see the video at the source.

 

After threatening to walk away from the alliance over spending issues, he claims the other members have agreed to his demand during an emergency meeting.

After hinting that the U.S. might withdraw from the alliance if NATO’s members won’t adhere to their commitment to spending requirements, President Donald Trump sent the heads of state from all 29 member countries scrambling into emergency session—after which he emerged claiming a new victory.

The president got the ball rolling on the final day of the NATO summit in Brussels by tweeting:

“What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.” Continue reading

New US-Israeli “Project Iran” is headed by IDF’s Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon

 

Project Iran” was set up during Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott’s talks with top US brass in Washington on June 29 for coordinated US-Israeli military operations against Iran.

IDF Operations Chief Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon was named to head it. He was with the chief of staff when he sat down with Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Joseph Votel, head of CENTCOM in Washington. At 53, Alon accepted the post although he was ready to retire from the service after an impressive career spanning 34 years. It included valuable experience as commander of special operations forces and oversight of the integration of special undercover units in the intelligence corps for action behind enemy lines. He led several combat divisions before being promoted to OC Central Command. In 2015, he took over the General Staff’s Operations Branch. Eisenkott persuaded him to stay on as the first holder of a job just created of Director of the “Iran Project” – the IDF codename for a newly-established US-Israeli task force for executing potential decisions to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, ballistic missiles and/or military bases in the Middle East. Continue reading

Trump: ‘Germany Is Totally Controlled by Russia’

 

President Donald Trump shared on Twitter Wednesday a video of sharp words he directed toward NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about Germany being “totally controlled by Russia” regarding their energy relationship.

“Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump told Stoltenberg at a bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium. Continue reading

U.S. Seeks to Thwart Iran Flying Millions in Cash Out of Germany

Foreign ministers including Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas take part in a Comprehensive Plan of Action ministerial meeting on the Iran nuclear deal

Foreign ministers including Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas take part in a Comprehensive Plan of Action ministerial meeting on the Iran nuclear deal / Getty Images

 

Iran in need of cash after President Trump reimposed sanctions

Top Trump administration officials are working to stop Germany from allowing Iran to fly more than $350 million in cash out of the country and back to Tehran as part of a bid by the Iranian regime to restock its coffers ahead of a major financial crackdown by America, according to conversations with senior U.S. diplomats and officials on Capital Hill.

The Trump administration is already working to stop the German government from allowing this transfer following weekend reports that Iran is poised to fly around 300 million Euros out of the country as part of an ongoing scheme to skirt tough new U.S. economic sanctions, which were put back into effect after President Donald Trump decided to abandon the landmark nuclear deal. Continue reading

Iran Threatens Gulf Oil Producers

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(Photo Credit: Asharq al-Awsat English Archive)

 

Wednesday, while most Americans were otherwise preoccupied with the Independence Day holiday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened an open act of war against his neighbors:

“The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran’s oil exports. They don’t understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region’s oil is exported. The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero… It shows they have not thought about its consequences.” Continue reading

Trump To OPEC ‘Allies’: “Reduce Oil Prices Now” Or Lose US Defense Shield

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Update: For the umpteenth time this year, President Trump has lashed out at OPEC over soaring oil prices (and therefore gas prices): “The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help. If anything, they are driving prices higher.”

Then Trump escalated his rhetoric, appearing to threaten the withdrawal of support unless action is taken “…the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW! “

This is coming after reports that Trump asked the Saudis to increase production by 2mm barrels and that they agreed.

President Trump has not been shy of expressing his views to OPEC… Continue reading

Taiwan Doubles Down On U.S. LNG

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LNG Vessel. Source: OilPrice

 

Taiwan, which has seen increased military exercises off its coast by Chinese forces this year, has just inked a major energy deal with a U.S. energy firm.

On Monday, Taiwan’s CPC Corp., a major LNG importer, announced a preliminary deal to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from U.S. based LNG producer Cheniere Energy for a period of 25 years. CPC signed a Heads of Agreement to purchase 2 million tonnes of LNG annually from the major gas exporter, which is gearing up to start exports from its second export plant at Corpus Christi, Texas. Continue reading

Iranian President Reopens Nuclear Plant: “We Will Bring The US To Its Knees”

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Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday: “We will bring the US to its knees in this battle of wills.” The Iranian government is continuing to warn of harsh retaliation against the United States after the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

According to PressTV, the threat comes as Washington continues to attempt to bully its allies into halting imports of Iranian oil after Donald Trump unilaterally quit the cornerstone international nuclear agreement instituted by his predecessor, Barack Obama.  Iran has previously said there would be consequences should the US decide to withdraw from the agreement. Continue reading

China and India Establish “Oil Buyers’ Club” to Counter OPEC

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On June 11, major Chinese and Indian oil companies started a formal meeting in Beijing, discussing the establishment of an “oil buyers’ club” to negotiate better prices with OPEC countries. The chairman of China’s biggest energy company China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Wang Yilin, and the chairman of refiner Indian Oil Corporation both attended the meeting. According to the India Times, the two largest energy consumers together accounted for almost 17% of world oil consumption last year. Should this “oil buyers’ club” become a reality, New Delhi, and Beijing will have greater leverage to negotiate with OPEC about oil prices and will also have a significant say in matters such as importing more crude oil from the US. Continue reading

US struggles to counter Chinese maritime hegemony

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has spoken out against China’s strategy of “intimidation and coercion” in the South China Sea, including the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers, and, more recently, the landing of nuclear-capable bomber aircraft at Woody Island. There are, Mattis warned, “consequences to China ignoring the international community.”

But what consequences? Two successive US administrations – Barack Obama’s and now Donald Trump’s – have failed to push back credibly against China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, which has accelerated despite a 2016 international arbitral tribunal ruling invalidating its territorial claims there. Instead, the US has relied on rhetoric or symbolic actions. Continue reading

China Closes The Door On Vietnam’s Oil And Gas Ambitions

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As China tightens the noose over Vietnam’s ability to drill for oil and gas in its own UN-mandated 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the country is turning to solar energy and other renewables to make up for lost ground.

Over the weekend, Singapore-based Sunseap Group broke ground on Vietnam’s largest solar farm, a 168-MW project in Ninh Thuan province. The $150 million project will become operational in June 2019 and supply more than 200 kWh of electricity to the national power grid annually, Sunseap said in a statement. Continue reading

Iran: The Hollowing-Out of the Regime

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Pictured: The Iranian city of Mashhad, enveloped in a haze of air pollution. Of the 500 most polluted cities of the world, Iran with 19 cities comes fifth. (Image source: Tasnim/Wikimedia Commons)

 

  • Iran: The Hollowing-Out of the Regime The analogies with the former East Germany suggest that Iran, too, is ripe for regime change. They also suggest that a change may come in weeks, months or years, depending on chance events and particularly on whether the local authorities and their security forces, at least in some areas, get tired of killing people.
  • What is likely to push such developments forward? The answer is that the new American policy, whether by chance or intent, may be as good as anything.

On December 28, 2017, major protests against the Iranian regime broke out in Mashhad and quickly spread to numerous other urban centers. Mostly merely noisy at first, some turned violent and eventually the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) suppressed the phenomenon, killing some and arresting thousands of others. Protests have continued, but news about them is scanty. How are they to be evaluated?

There are interesting parallels with the twilight of the East German regime. By a coincidence, the Iranian regime is in its fortieth year and the East German regime suddenly collapsed just after its leaders had held a large-scale pompous celebration of its fortieth anniversary in the capital, East Berlin. Continue reading