Last week some of the beaches in the South of France finally reopened. But there were some new rules to observe and I couldn’t resist sharing a few photos of this experience: Continue reading
During the night on Sunday, 26 January, five Katyusha rockets were launched on the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Three of them allegedly made a direct hit with at least one striking the embassy dining hall. This event followed the massive demonstrations in Baghdad demanding the U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Indeed, the tensions in the Middle East are unlikely to dissipate any time soon… Hopefully however, they won’t lead to the “horrendous” and “devastating” world war that a bi-partisan panel commissioned by the U.S. Congress predicted might break out within four years. Continue reading
- Trump Administration put their credibility on the line by taking a hard line on Iranian oil exports, pledging to collapse them to zero.
- Iranian officials matched the rhetoric by promising to close the Straits of Hormuz entirely to oil traffic. A third of world’s traded oil production transit through that choke-point.
- Assurances of ramped-up oil production from Saudi Arabia and Opec appear as firm as a wet noodle.
U.S. taking a hard line on Iran oil exports
Over the Easter weekend we’ve seen an escalation of Trump Administration’s rhetoric toward Iran. On Monday, 22 April, State Secretary Pompeo issued an official statement pledging that after their expiry on May 2, the U.S. would not renew any of the waivers enabling Iran to export crude oil. Iran’s oil exports have already dwindled from 2.5 million barrels per day last April to around 1 million barrels, and the official U.S. policy is to bring Iranian oil exports to zero.
In taking the hard line against Iran, the Trump administration has put its credibility on the line. Secretary Pompeo followed up the official announcement on twitter, stating that, “maximum pressure” means maximum pressure. Trump backed him up promising “full sanctions…”
Measured by historical standards, the price of oil has been extremely volatile in recent years. From over $114 per barrel in the summer of 2014 it collapsed more than 75% in only 18 months’ time. Then it tripled to $86/bbl in October 2018, only to drop by 40% to $52/bbl two months later. The question is, why is the oil price so very volatile? Is the market foreshadowing greater disruptions in the future? A closer look into oil supply and demand fundamentals suggests that a great crisis could be in the making – possibly with alarming repercussions.
The looming oil shortage
In 2012 a report produced by the UK Ministry of Defence predicted that oil prices would rise significantly out to 2040, and by “significantly,” they meant to $500 per barrel. From today’s perspective, this may seem farfetched. However, we should not dismiss UKMOD’s warning lightly. This could turn out to be the most important development facing humanity for decades to come. Continue reading
One of the main themes used to demonize Putin in the west are the incessant insinuations that he is corrupt and that his corruption enabled him to build up massive personal wealth. But while these allegations are invariably presented with zero evidence, we do have some evidence that Putin is in fact not corrupt (at least not in the way it is being implied in western media – but this will be a topic for another discussion). I found the testimony from Sharon Tennison very interesting in this regard as well. Tennison is the founder and president of Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI) and had worked in Russia (and the USSR) for 30 years. In the course of her activities, she has had at least one personal encounter with Putin and had over the years came to know many other American officials and businessmen who had worked with him. According to Tennison, none of those officials “would describe [Putin] as ‘brual,’ or ‘thuggish,’ or other slanderous adjectives and nouns that are repeatedly used in western media.” Continue reading
Almost from the very start of his presidency, Vladimir Putin has been relentlessly vilified in the western media. If their portrayal of Mr. Putin reflected the objective truth, we should believe that the man has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. As I noted in the first in this series of excerpts from “Grand Deception,” systematic demonization of a nation’s leader predisposes many people to consent to war or regime change as means to help a stricken nation rid itself of a rotten, tyrannical leader. If we detest Vladimir Putin, we might approve of our intelligence communities orchestrating a coup to throw him out of power, even if the blood of some Russians is spilled in the process. It should be an honorable deed done for a greater good. Indeed, those who are desperate to have a regime change in Russia should be very keen for us to detest Mr. Putin. Hence the nonstop, un-nuanced negative coverage. Here I offer a different perspective: what if Putin isn’t an arch-villain? What if he does in fact have redeeming qualities? Should we not try to get to know the man a bit better before we shrug off another regime change or war to rid the world of tyrants? Continue reading
Western corporate media has cast Vladimir Putin as the main villain of today’s geopolitics. If their coverage of Russia’s president were truthful and objective, we’d have to conclude that Putin has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, that he is the greediest, most ruthless tyrant since Genghis Khan and that he had turned his government into a lawless mafia state. Indeed, unflattering, negative coverage of Vladimir Putin is pervasive, but where concrete evidence should be presented, ceaseless repetition of allegations is taken as sufficient proof.
Joseph Goebbels’ technique of the big lie entails deceiving people with big, brazen lies and repeating them unrelentingly. If truth is to set us free, we must spread it with boldness and determination. We must push back and expose the lies. They who desire wars are few, and we who desire peace are many. Even if they can silence some of us, they can not silence us all. Do your part, reject fear and the lies, and together we can put an end to today’s dystopian state of permanent war. Continue reading
In the past year, quite a few people have asked me why I wrote “Grand Deception,” my twice banned book about Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act and the historical relations between Russia and the West. Several of them suggested that I write down what I had told them, since it seems relevant given the risk of military threats we are facing today. So here goes… Continue reading
Positive reviews are one of the most gratifying rewards in publishing a book, but reviews that are as thoughtful and generous as the one I’ve recently received from Harley Schlanger is a rare thing. More rare still is a review that actually adds depth and perspective to the subject matter and is a worthwhile read in itself. Here goes: Continue reading
It is commonly accepted that, after 70 years of Communist dictatorship, Russia’s 1990s transition was inevitably going to be a massive train wreck. This is yet another convenient misconception that western intellectuals like to embrace. The foregoing article seeks to dispel this notion and set the historical record straight. It is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book, “Grand Deception: the Truth About Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Anti-Russia Sanctions”. The book’s previous incarnation was banned last summer.