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May 03, 2008


If you want to make this attack on McCain work, you need to really go after his strength. Call it what it is: a lie.

The claim that he has an energy policy which would "eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East" is an obvious lie which will insult the intelligence of anyone who thinks about it for 2 seconds.

Call it out for what it is, or acknowledge that you are part of the reason McCain, will pay no price whatsoever for any of his bullsh1t.

Not "people". They didn't use to punish Saint McCain for misstatements. They would "sometimes just decide to take him off the record because they don't want to see him flame out and burn up a great story." Later they took a liking to George W. Bush (the recovering alcoholic you'd most want to have a beer with), continuing to attack Gore all the while.

[McCain is] extremely undisciplined and that’s ultimately going to cost him.

John Dean has an essay up contrasting Goldwater and McCain which I find partially convincing. Dean says that McC is no Goldwater Conservative. Clearly, that's right. But of course there aren't any *other* powerful true-AU2 Conservatives around, either. Dean delivers a refrain we've heard before: that what we have now is the 'revised' version of conservatism, the 'Pauline' version, if you will. Well, yes and no. Of course it's been corrupted, since it doesn't work in it's basic form - conservatism is not really a *program*, per se. But on the other hand, as lost causes go, it's been pretty succesful; disasterously successful. Decent as Goldwater might have been personally, there's a direct line from him to now, a coherent story.

The one thing McCain and Goldwater do have in common as campaigners is the lack of 'discipline' - the lack of policy coherence, actually. It's not just anybody saying something dumb eventually. What McCain says isn't just dumb, it's really incoherent. Just like Goldwater. These guys don't care about 'policy'! They're Conservatives with a few Guiding Principles. It may be Vague at tiimes, but in your heart, you know he's right. Let other people grub around in policy!

Dean's piece is surely right about the contrast in character between the two. Incoherent though it was as a program, AU2 really cared about ideology, believed in what he said for the most part. McCain is like Goldwater in the bad sense; he's an exponent of the the authoritarian/rightist contingent which found a teat to suckle in Goldwater coalition. But he doesn't seem to have strong convictions otherwise.

I pity the fool who thinks McCain is just totally 'playing along' with the conservatives and 'doesn't really mean it'. Ho ho ho.

I think energy independence is the single largest national security challenge we face.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Achieving energy independence in any sort of near term is not possible. The notion that we need to design a foreign policy that doesn't recognize this seems wrong-headed to me.

Certainly we ought to be trying to reduce our dependence on oil, but we too often hear "Middle Eastern oil" or "foreign oil" cited as the problem, rather than just oil. As long as we continue to use as much oil as we do, we are going to be dependent on foreign sources. No foreign policy can change that.

Oil is a big deal and there will be wars fought over it. As oil gets more important, the wars will become more open and somebody will just take the middle eastern oil. The Arabs and Iranians don’t have the organizational ability to defend the resource. The Russians or Chinese would just move in, purge resistance, and start pumping, as there is nowhere to hide in the desert.

It is important to keep Western forces in remote bases to prevent the grown-ups from just taking the oil.

As an aside, the Sierra Club crowd is actually doing the United States a big favor by preventing domestic drilling. In 2008, the best thing to do with oil is store it for future use. When recess is over, and we need the oil, it will still be there.

That oil is a big deal over which wars are fought is not news.

From Wikipedia:

To...ensure a safe supply of oil and other critical resources, Japan would have to challenge the European colonial powers over the control of oil rich areas such as the Dutch East Indies. Such a move against the colonial powers was however expected to lead to open conflict also with the United States. On August 1941, the crisis came to a head as the United States, which at the time supplied 80% of Japanese oil imports, initiated a complete oil embargo. This threatened to cripple both the Japanese economy and military strength once the strategic reserves would run dry. Faced with the choice of either trying to appease the U.S., negotiate a compromise, find other sources of supply or go to war over resources, Japan chose the latter.

Yes Virginia, a war is being fought over big oil so your daddy and all his friends can continue driving their SUVs and continue voting for the downwardly mobile status quo. This will help to insure that others will continue making all the real sacrifices so the various "deciders" can live in the lap of luxury... including that ultimate luxury, willful ignorance. And no, there is no class war... yet.

The Arabs and Iranians don’t have the organizational ability to defend the resource.

That is so true. Who can forget the 2006 war where Israel, with one of the most powerful and well trained military forces on the planet, just waltzed into Lebanon and achieved all their military objectives quickly and without issue. I mean, making Nasrallah hand back the two Israeli soldiers whose capture ostensibly triggered the war was the ultimate humiliation. Of course, the IDF's obliteration of Hezbollah's military capabilities and political legitimacy was complete and total.

Oh wait. None of that happened. What actually happened was that a western country with a powerful army and the most advanced weaponry in the world failed to achieve its military goals. Its assault into southern Lebanon was checked by an adversary that made skillful use of asymmetric warfare. It did not recover its captured soldiers. It did not eliminate Hezbollah's military capabilities. In fact, it strengthened Hezbollah politically, and by openly negotiating with it, demonstrated that Hezbollah was a real power in the region that had achieved a level of legitimacy normally reserved for national governments.

I would also point out that the United States military has been unable to maintain order in Iraq. While this may be due to incompetence of American military personal, or a general lack of resources (given America's longstanding poverty and unwillingness to seriously fund its military), I suspect the primary reason is that fighting insurgencies in the modern era is obscenely hard.

The Russians or Chinese would just move in, purge resistance, and start pumping, as there is nowhere to hide in the desert.

How the frak do you think the Russians or Chinese could purge resistance after an invasion? Do you think those countries have tons of arabic speakers? Do you think they have intelligence networks that have penetrated deeply into Iranian or Saudi society? Seriously, how do you expect a Russian or Chinese soldier to figure out which Arabs are in the resistance and which are cooperating? Have you literally learned nothing from the last 5 years of war?

Do you understand that the US spends more on its military than Russia and China do combined? And given how much trouble we've had securing one country of 25 million people, you expect that Russia or China, with a substantially smaller military budget, could conquer Iran, which has 75 million people, and eliminate all resistance? Do you understand that it takes a lot of people to run an oil extraction and processing and transport operation? Do you understand that this infrastructure is extremely vulnerable to low cost attacks? Seriously, how would you plan to defend thousands of miles of oil pipelines?

Do you really think the rest of the world would just sit back and watch? That Pakistan and India will ignore the provocation without using their nuclear arsenals? For that matter, how do you think the Russians and Chinese would supply their armies? Chinese supply lines seem to go right through Pakistan and a few small mountain ranges...

You know, I'm not sure who should be most insulted by this comment. On the one hand, it basically claims that Arabs are too stupid to fight effectively. On the other hand, it implies that Russian and Chinese people are too stupid to think strategically. What a tossup.


I don’t think you understand the concept of unrestricted warfare. The oil is in flat areas and offshore. The Russians wouldn’t need Arabic speakers; they have warplanes.

Bill, I'm intrigued. Please explain more about how this plan would work. The Russians bomb all the cities killing everyone, and then what? Will that be a nuclear or conventional attack? If conventional, will it be harder than the allied air attacks against Germany in WWII that failed to significantly reduce German military production? Do these attacks kill everyone who operates the oil infrastructure? Because you need hundreds of thousands of people to keep that much oil flowing. How do you think they'll figure out who is vital and who can be killed with their unrestricted bombing? Will they use magical bombs that can discriminate between ordinary people and people that are needed to run the oil industry? Even if they manage to segregate the folks with critical knowledge, after they kill everyone else, what incentive will those people have to cooperate?

More generally, assuming they kill a large chunk of the population, um, why wouldn't Iran blow up its oil infrastructure? Or is your theory that the Russians will be able to neutralize resistance so quickly that the Iranians won't have a chance? And you think they'll be able to do plan for this assault without anyone noticing large fleets of aircraft flying towards them? Are you aware that radar exists? That flight time from Russia to the middle east is nonzero? Have you heard of this thing called air defense? Are you absolutely certain that Iran won't have nuclear weapons by the time this war happens?

Can you tell me more about how China would attack? I mean, how many long range heavy bombers do you think the PLAAF has? Most analysis suggest that the PLAAF and the PLAN would have difficulty achieving air superiority over the Straits of Taiwan...but you think the PLAAF can project air power thousands of miles away? Where exactly do you think these PLAAF bombers will refuel? Why will Pakistan and India allow them overflight rights? I mean, if I were one of those countries and a fleet of heavy bombers invaded my air space, I would, you know, try to shoot them down. For that matter, I'm still waiting for your explanation as to why other nations that depend on the oil will just sit back and do nothing.

Finally, I hate to tell you this, but Russia is a net oil exporter. Russia does not need to go to war over oil.

OK Turbulence;

US out. Insert Five Spetsnaz brigades (or the Chinese equivalent) to seize the platforms and build an airstrip. Land a few planes. Kill anyone who comes within 100 miles. Build a permanent air base on Kharg Island.

Both the Soviets and the Chinese have starved eight figures of their own. Neither would bat an eye at twenty million Iraqis.

You don't understand, Turbulence. The Russians/Chinese will take over the oil fields so they can RULE THE WORLD!


Thanks John. Here's your checker.

US out. Insert Five Spetsnaz brigades (or the Chinese equivalent) to seize the platforms and build an airstrip. Land a few planes. Kill anyone who comes within 100 miles. Build a permanent air base on Kharg Island.

WTF? 5 brigades is about 25,000 special forces soldiers. How do you "insert" that many troops? We're not talking about dropping half a dozen seals from a US submarine...Again, why can't Iran or any other country shoot these planes down? If the Russians or Chinese are using something like the C-17, they'll need 250 aircraft to move those troops. Putting aside the question of whether they have 250 suitable aircraft, um, I really think everyone is going to notice 250 giant slow vulnerable aircraft lumbering towards Iran.

Once you capture the island, you still need to transport oil. For China that means oil tankers going through the Straits of Hormuz into the Indian Ocean and then to the Pacific. But the Straits are narrow and shallow; sinking a few tankers and making them impassible would be quite easy. And oil tankers are incredibly vulnerable. Every year, cheap anti ship missiles that can be mounted on small boats get cheaper; land based versions have a range measured in hundreds of miles. How on Earth do you plan to defend those oil tankers? How do you plan to keep the Iranians from blocking the Straits? Getting the oil to Russia is even harder. Were you planning on sending the tankers around the Horn of Africa? Or were you thinking of using a pipeline into southern Russia? That pipeline would travel through hundreds of miles of Iranian territory just begging for sabotage.

How on Earth do you resupply 25,000 soldiers. Do you have any idea how much food, refined fuel, and ammunition five brigades require? You want them to shoot at anything that comes close, but the Iranians don't have to get close: they can blockade the whole damn island and starve them out. Besides, how many Russian special forces are actually trained at managing and operating a major oil complex? This is one of those places where reading Arabic is quite helpful; if you don't know what the buttons in the control room do, then bad things are likely to happen. How are these soldiers supposed to defend themselves? They'll be incredibly vulnerable to naval bombardment; paratroopers can't really carry 155mm shells, or at least not many of them.

Look, Bill, it is obvious that you've given this zero thought. Just admit that and stop wasting my time.

I’m now breaking my two-beer rule. But…

A Spetsnaz brigade is around a thousand men. I get the distinct impression that the Chicago Police Department could do the job if the Spetsnaz was busy. And if Chicago was busy, we could call Des Moines.

Oil in Iraq is not pumped by Arabs. They just collect the royalties. English is spoken in the oil facilities. The pumping will continue.

If you think the Iranians can blockade an island, Google Operation Preying Mantis.

Bottom line; oil will become increasingly important. An isolated presence in Iraq is the right strategy. Good night.

You still haven't explained how the Russians or Chinese transport 5000 men without being shot down or how they resupply them.

I don't think Preying Mantis helps your case. A lot has changed over the last 20 years. American naval doctrine now requires USN vessels to keep very far from shore due to the increasing danger from anti ship weapons. And the USN is significantly larger and has significantly greater capabilities for projecting power so far away. The Russian navy and the PLAN are much smaller and are focused on very different missions. Yeah, the Russians talk nearly continuously about how they plan on building 37 new super carriers over the next 20 years, but they've been talking that way for decades. In any event, there are many navies that have a strong interest in denying Russian/Chinese control, like, say, the USN.

If you think a few American police officers are equipped to launch military assaults against fortified targets defended by an entrenched adversary, then...well...I guess the racist belief that Arabs are all stupid and can't fight or think or plan or work gets you out of all sorts of logical predicaments. I'm still curious how these incredibly stupid Arabs managed to frustrate the IDF in their little war. Or were you thinking that the Des Moise police department could do a better job than the IDF?

Finally, I still want to hear about how you protect the incredibly vulnerable oil tankers from anti-ship weapons. Perhaps if you drink a few more beers, you can conjure up a magic force field...

Turbulence sounds bitter.

I'll note that random guesses about my emotional state don't constitute explanations for how your crazy plan could ever work in the real world. I suppose you'd have to know a lot more about the world in order to answer those questions. Keep drinking: maybe it will make you more knowledgeable.

Keep drinking: maybe it will make you more knowledgeable.

Y'know, that would make a great ad slogan for a beer company.


You sound dumb.

The truth is that nobody wants to admit is that drivers do better after two beers though.

9:29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.


This, to me, is the core of Islam. I think it involves the subjugation of non-believers by believers. Please share your opinions on Mohammed’s word.

I'm afraid I don't understand what my opinions on Islam or the Koran have to do with the logistical and tactical infeasibility of these future wars you claim are inevitable. If you have no answers to the questions I raised, that's fine, just say so. There's no reason to confuse the issues by talking about completely irrelevant bits of Islamic theology.

I think there are two bad assumptions here

1) that America needs to own the energy sources it uses, it doesn't- countries do what they do best - if America does growing food better than making biofuels then in general you should grow food and trade it for biofuels (although you might break that rule on a case by case basis).

2) if arabs stop selling you oil you will still have pleanty of energy. In general it is not about energy it is about CHEAP energy - i.e. its just about money. It makes no sense to make yourself energy independent via making yourself food dependent or otherwise disadvantaging yourself.

The situation where oil is vital is when there is an imminent or current global level war going on so you need energy fast without bottle necks. I.e where the other side might deny you immediate supply of oil and force you to use up all your reserves. But its a bit of a worry if the US as a whole is working on that assumption because it implies you think you are in serious danger of fighting and loosing WWIII.

As the the debate above,
I think China would be making a big mistake to try to secure Iraq (although they might be able to do what BOB says) because their current policy is to support local warlords to do the dirty work and that works far too well to make invasion a viable alternative.

The obvious plan is: China and Russia ally and use up most of their nucckulahr arsenals on the oil heartlands. This will turn them to glass, increasing the albedo, so the average temperature will drop significantly. It will also dry up the gulf, so the armies can march in instead of having to use ships. The first cleaning up operations will be done by people form labor camps. Russia can supply China with oil and gas long enough for the radiation to subside to levels that the yellow monkeys can tolerate (while still high enough to keep soft Westerners out). Then they will totally rebuild the infrastructure (even the US war planners considered them obsolete, so destryoing the old one is actually saving money). Because the CIA and the US press are a bit slow on the uptake, nobody worth listening to will even notice that anything has happened before they have all of it running smoothly again. No need for pipelines because the oil export will utilize mutated flying ponies. This scheme will be greatly helped by the combined Venezuelan/Cuban invasion of the Southern US supported by the gay and liberal 5th columnists.
Seriously, the Russians are unable to even sufficiently control Chechnya and that despite a certain lack of restraint in the use of force that is the envy of the current WH inmates. Neither China nor Russia have any need to actually invade the Middle East militarily. Especially with the star of the US fading the oil countries are highly willing to do business with Moscow and Beijing.
Of course some in the US are honest enough to say: we need to occupy those countries otherwise they could sell the oil to somebody else and that is intolerable*. To claim that "we" are protecting those countries from immediate Russian/Chinese/Vogon invasion casts doubt on the speakers state of mind or honesty.

*I hear the German minister of finances is plotting to send the Bundeswehr to annex the neighbouring tax havens of Luxembourg/Liechtenstein etc. to prevent the Austrain/Swiss alliance from doing the same.

"The truth is that nobody wants to admit is that drivers do better after two beers though."

That is simply not true. Furthermore, your hallucinatory attempts to play the 'Great Game' are pretty threadbare and are obviously fueled by more than 'a couple' (where have I heard that before) beers.

Bill’s longing for an Islamic Götterdämmerung does seem to blow the tracks from beneath his wheels or at least switch him off to a dead-end siding.
I empathize with his fantasy of possessing a a superior road map to the impending crisis of civilization; but perhaps therapy would help.

But of course delusions are seldom so easily dispensed with, especially when religious intolerance comes into play. That applies both to Islamist intolerance and anti-Islamic intolerance (though the former is admittedly the more pressing challenge). Bill’s crusade is happily small potatoes in the larger scheme of things.
And happily as well, Bill’s self-appointed role of agent provocateur does offer grist for the mill of some excellent counter-commentary.

I started composing a contribution immediately after reading Bernard’s comment near the head of the thread, eager to amplify. I soon quit, finding that as I began to enumerate the hazards, I found the tone riddled with bitterness. Sounded too much like Bill’s usual and I didn}t want to leave a stain on the page.

But now I have a more direct avenue to say what I wanted having just come from— wait for it—bloggingheads!
In our latest episode Will Wilkinson of Cato is inquiring of Charles Morris who’s just published The Trillion-Dollar Meltdown. Morris while struggling with speech speaks with reflective intelligence about a world, the financial, with which he is intimate. He is a gentleman of an older school and is possessed of an unquestionable commitment to the market. The courtesy of his thoughtfulness is a treat.

So, to what I wanted to say: mimicking Morris, people are going to have to adjust to new patterns of spending, saving, and consumption. He further said, It’s going to be very difficult. At which point he kind of subliminally was stricken and looked away.

He pointed out that all of US capital investment comes from China and the Arab states. (Bill?)

The nation has been on a consuming binge fueled by equity home loans. That excess is now zero.

The portion of the economy occupied by consumer spending is now higher (IIRC the norm at some point, maybe fifteen years ago, was 57% and now is 75%) than it’s ever been.

Then there’s Iraq.

And oil.

Hoo boy, Bernard, you said a mouthful.

Bill has evidently forgotten about the Carrier Strike Group we (for the last few years) keep at least one of, in the Gulf, including right this second.

There's no fargan way that the Sovs (who are, by the way, the ONLY major power in the world that could do this, besides us) could mount such an operation without telegraphing, in a major way, their intentions. Call it something like: steaming a huge chunk of naval firepower down toward the Gulf, and then launch a large Backfire raid to try and hammer back our carrier(s) and associated fleet defenses, which are pretty damned capable.

The Chinese could pull something like that off in maybe another decade, possibly, if they cash in their US government bonds and buy some naval weaponry, and possibly some airplanes.

Again I suggest that arguing from a position that has Turbulence agreeing in any minor way (except water-wet kind of stuff) is probably a good indicator that you're wrong. Completely and utterly wrong, Bill.

I just watched an interesting lecture given by Elizabeth Warren titled the Coming Collapse of the Middle Class. (h/t Not Atrios)

"Consumption binge" is a little bit misleading, though it's true that savings have gone negative. But the bulk of the money is going into things like housing and medical insurance, not excatly "consumption" in the usual sense.

[This is not to disagree with Bernard Yomtov and felix culpa -- our energy consumption pattern likely has to change. I'm just pointing out the bind in which a large number of people find themselves.]

You sound dumb.

Bill, this violates our posting rules. Please take the time to reexamine them.

rai— hey thanks.

Point of fact I had originally written spending binge but I changed the word for emphasis.
I’d been planning to watch the bloggingheads segment again; now all the more reason to do so. But after seeing the Elisabeth Warren video I’ll have a much clearer framework fot what Morris says.
Warren’s analyses/conclusions are more disturbing than I could have imagined.

Again, thanks.

my pleasure.

US out.

Na ga happen. Not in our lifetimes, anyway.

drivers do better after two beers though.

Only in their own minds.

Thanks -

" They would 'sometimes just decide to take him off the record because they don't want to see him flame out and burn up a great story.'"

Someone should tell Bob Somerby that "novel" isn't synonymous with "fiction." Using "novel" to subsume novellas, novelettes, short stories, and all forms of fiction results in weird, awkward, and confusing usage such as "Before that, Robinson worked quite hard, as 'Outlook' editor, to craft ugly novels about Candidate Gore. "

Short stories, or novellas, or serials, maybe, but clearly not novels.

They're not even romances.

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