This is the second part of my review, as yet unpublished, on Colin Campbell's book Oil Crisis. The earlier half, which focuses more narrowly on the energy issues rather than Dr Campbell's political views, is to be found here.
Offering his views on immigration, Campbell acknowledges that this can invite controversy in our politically correct age: “Mention of migration is a delicate issue leading to accusations of racism, which has become formally an illegal activity.” Nevertheless, he plunges in: “Personally, I have no hesitation to admit to being a racist...In an expanding world there might be room for everyone, but in a contracting one it makes sense for each tribe to look after itself as well as it can. Already, the indigenous Dutch find themselves almost outnumbered in their overcrowded home, being now forced to emigrate in increasing numbers to places like Australia, having been squeezed out by newcomers.” (p.296)
Among other highlights, in chapter 8, US vice-president Dick Cheney is assigned the responsibility for planning 9/11 (“the double simulation”), with airliners flown by remote control into the World Trade Center [note US spelling!] and the Pentagon (Obviously, his aim, after he accidentally shot a friend while hunting, appears not to be good enough for this to be the case). I was also surprised to learn that the Al Qaida leader, rather than hiding from the Americans in remote areas of Pakistan, had met with the CIA in Dubai in 2000 and “was easily controlled” (p.192) and may instead be “living happily in Freetown, Sierra Leone” (p.208).
Elsewhere, he dismisses Afghanistan’s elected post-Taliban government as a “puppet regime” (p.192) and writes in admiring tones of the bombings carried out by Iraqi “patriots” (p.126).
He also cites an article “Zionism and American Jews” by Alfred Lilienthal, published in 1981, “A key work on this subject…explains the role of the powerful Jewish lobby in Washington”, (note 9, p. 208). There is no further details given in the bibliography, but this appears to refer to an article first published by the Instite for Historical Review, by an author of the same name with the same title also published in 1981, in the Institute’s Journal of Historical Review. The Institute is a study and publishing group which promotes the work of prominent Holocaust deniers such as David Irving.
For Labour, Sweden might be a model, for the PDs, Hong Kong. Like Sargent, Campbell plumps for Cuba, where “force of circumstance has imposed a self-sustainable life-pattern” (p.198). However, he neglects to mention that Fidel Casto’s unique mixture of Stalinism and sex tourism is sustained by a fraternal gift from Hugo Chávez of Venezuela of some 90,000 barrels of crude every day, worth some six million dollars at current prices.
All in all, the influence accorded to this eccentric individual shows that, thanks to the Greens, whatever happens to oil, Ireland in years to come will see no shortage of bullshit.
Peter Nolan was, for a time, a notably unsuccessful energy trader.
If you still suffer from the delusion that we live
in a democracy, then Ireland’s prospective new energy policy should
open your eyes. Last Sunday saw the publication of the Green Paper on
energy, the most significant planning document on energy for 20 years.
The Green Paper promises investment in new technologies and a new focus
on protecting the environment.
However, as usually happens in
Irish politics, politicians are instead granting privileges to special
interests at the expense of the public. All that is new is that this is
now justified by doubtful claims as to the environmental benefits and
cost advantages of renewable energy. In the 1970s, haunted by the fear
of ever-more expensive oil, the government invested in the huge
Moneypoint generating plant in Co Clare, powered by coal. The feared
oil shock never materialised. ... The Green Paper, echoing the Oireachtas
committee’s report, makes a heavy rhetorical commitment to renewable
energy, in spite of the cost disadvantages. It stresses biofuels
extracted from fuel crops such as rape, wheat or sugar beet as a route
towards lower energy costs and environmental protection. Here we see
the farming lobby triumphant. Domestic sugar beet is offered as a
solution - as if Ireland is akin to a boggy Kuwait. The fairyland
economics of European agriculture seriously distort the economics of
biofuels. Brazilian sugar cane can produce ethanol for transport at
about a third of the cost of crops grown in western Europe, according
to the IEA, but faces tariff barriers that make it uneconomic.
use of biofuels to deliver reductions in greenhouse gases that cause
global warming is also doubtful. Each ton of carbon dioxide avoided,
the IEA estimates, comes at a cost of some $200 to $400. This is more
than ten times the cost of alternatives, like sponsoring clean energy
projects in developing countries through Kyoto’s clean development
mechanism or buying reductions through the EU emissions trading system.
In essence, with the CAP in slow and painful decline, the Irish farming lobby have formed an alliance with idiotic politicians and cyncial bureaucrats to lock in subsidies for the domestic production of biofuels - rape, wood and even sugarbeet, uneconomic even at the peak of oil prices and yielding no environmental benefit. For the Irish public, too much sugar in the diet is bound to be unhealthy.
" According to its profile,
Israel is a single female, 58 years old, a Taurus, who lives in Jerusalem.
(When asked if Israel's close ties with the United States meant that
she should perhaps be listed as "in a relationship," the young official
Saranga and other Israeli officials are proud of Israel's MySpace page
and other nascent efforts to break into new media. They point to some
early improvement in relations that have gone beyond American youth.
"We were surprised by the kinds of people who wanted to be friends with
Israel," one of them told me, mentioning that the blog sometimes
receives visitors from Saudi Arabia and Iran. For a while, he said, Israel's bloggers were regularly conversing with
someone from the United Arab Emirates, though eventually it became
clear that he was only interested in trying to sell them real estate.
Sounds as if they've been having the same problems with comments as Neil Clark.
I've long suspected that Iran would be an unchallenging military adversary for the US; after all, this is the military that spent six years futilely battering against the same Iraqi army that the Americans blasted out of Kuwait in a hundred hours in 1991. Foreign Policy has more information on the state of the training and equipment of the Iranian armed forces and Revolutionary Guards in this story from May last year and concludes that bad organisation and lack of equipment mean that
It is hard to envision Iran’s ramshackle forces giving a modern Western
force the “burning hell” Iran’s leaders have promised. Only Iranian
ingenuity has kept the military from falling into complete disarray,
according to Pike. “Their understanding of war is about a century
behind America’s understanding of war,” he says.
What a week! I've been scrambling madly to keep up since I got back from Dublin last Thursday. Hence no posting at all. I've been busy, busy, busy. I didn't even get to see that controversial documentary on Channel Four questioning the science of global warming.
Today was the culmination, with three deadlines. My Business & Finance small-caps column was due in the morning - my recent bearish views on the market during last week's dead cat bounce seems abundantly vincidated this week; I still think that the credit bubble is dangerous, that a US recession is possible, but not certain this year and that geopolitical risk over the confrontation with Iran needs to be reflected in oil prices. As a stock pick, I recommended YouGov, the British internet polling firm which has been on AIM since mid-2005. Nobody in the market has the marketing savvy or the internet expertise of these guys, the same team behind the online conservative TV station 18 Doughty Street.
I also had to deliver a training presentation, which was a bit stressful to prepare. Although I slightly mistimed it, I think that I delivered it quite well. We may be opening these to more clients, and even journalists, in the future too.
I missed my Magill deadline too - not a good thing to do, but the story can wait.
This is the interview with Dr Michael Scheuer, the founding head of the CIA's Station Alex, the "virtual" unit headquartered in Langley, devoted to combatting Osama Bin Laden, that Richard and I wrote up for Magill in September 2005, in time for the 4th anniversary of 9/11. Dr Scheuer is described as an obsessive and determined character who would begin work before dawn and rapidly got to grips with the novel threat of Al Qaeda. He also was the first to propose some serious violence to stop him, advocating his kidnap and/or killing by Afghan associates of the CIA, an operation that seems, by various accounts, including the 9/11 Commission (which refers to Scheuer as "Mike") to have withered somewhere in the chain of command between then CIA director George Tenet and President Clinton, also involving the White House office of counter-terrorism co-ordinator Richard A Clarke.
Clarke, incidentally, also seems to have been the person who did the most to kill any possibility of US military intervention to stop Rwanda's genocide in 1994, at least in Samatha Power's telling.
Scheuer's second book, Imperial Hubris, which I reviewed in detail for the Jerusalem Post, was critical of the conduct of the war on terror under President George W Bush, calling for either radical changes in US foreign policy to defuse tensions with Muslims, such as ending support for Israel and the Arab oligarchies, and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan or a step-up in the violence used to produce terror and devastation in the Islamic world. In spite of a number of close readings of the book, I never figured out which exactly Dr Scheuer was advocating or in what mix. Mainly, his thesis that western policy is to blame for the Al Qaeda campaign chimed well with the critique of much of the European left and many realist scholars of international relations.
Scheuer, who describes himself as a die-hard Republican and "moderate isolationist" found himself embroiled in controversy over his denigration of Israel and its American advocates.
Still, he remains a popular analyst, often appearing on the BBC and US television. Whatever reservations I have about his analytical skills and some of his political attitudes, I think that there is no doubting his patriotism, dedication to his work at the CIA and the judgement he showed in his anti-terrorist role before being removed in 1999.
Mike Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA, headed the team covering Osama Bin Laden, from 1996-1999. In this time, he was responsible for building up the first analysis showing the scale and global reach of the growing threat from Al Qaeda and he organised a number of attempts to capture or kill the terrorist leader. In his recent bestselling book, “Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the Terror”, published anonymously before he left the Agency last year, he criticises the US government for giving a distorted picture of the threat and shying away from the measures needed to counter it.
Q: Why do Al Qaeda attack us?
The political leaders of both parties have lied about the motivation of bin Laden and other Islamic militants. They are attacking America because they believe US foreign policies are a threat to the survival of Islam and Muslims. They are not attacking us because of our freedom, liberties, elections, or because female movie stars go about in public with bare midriffs.
We get attacked for a couple of reasons. First, Bin Laden thinks we’re far weaker and less able to taken pain than the Saudi royals and the rest of the dictators. The second thing is that he doesn’t think those governments can survive – Israel included – without the support of the Americans. His goal in attacking us is not to occupy California, it’s just to get us out of the way so that he and his allies can go after the other governments.
We must prepare to fight savagely a patient, well-led, and religiously motivated enemy for as long as we decide to maintain our current foreign policies toward the Muslim world.
Q: Does oil play a role?
Political leaders have wilfully failed to do anything to improve America’s energy security since the first OPEC oil embargo. For thirty years, we have left our economic welfare in the hands of massively corrupt and anti-Western Arab princes. And now we are paying extortionate prices for fuel, and our children in the military are dying, in part, so we can pay even more extortionate prices in the years ahead.
Q: What was your opinion of the London attacks?
The London attacks struck me, especially the first one, as precisely in al-Qaeda’s modus operandi of separate simultaneous attacks. Strategically, it hit the three big things - mass casualties, economic damage, and symbolic impact. They proved that the eight strongest men on Earth couldn’t stop it.
The way I look at London is that it’s another in the secondary campaign that they’re conducting against America’s allies. Britain, France, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Spain – they’ve all been attacked since 9/11.
Q: Why in your book do you warn that America’s use of force to date has been “dainty” and counsel that without radical changes in foreign policy, America must, “get used to and good at killing”?
I’ve been treated both as an appeaser and as a warmonger in reviews, but there’s a great aversion to considering force. In my experience the idea of collateral damage of killing someone when you’re after someone else is a showstopper. One time they had a chance to kill bin Laden and there was an Arab prince having lunch with him and they said ‘No, you can’t do that’. You’re never going to get a chance to kill him when there would have been less collateral damage. The US government is palsied by this. I used to think it was all rhetoric and it was just people being either duplicitous or saying the right thing for the media, Bin Laden is alive today because people were afraid of collateral damage.
Q: You’ve taken criticism and have even been accused of anti-Semitism for saying that Israel is employing covert, clandestine intelligence activities, using lobbyists, spies and even Washington’s Holocaust Museum to influence or control US foreign policy. What is your response to this?
I am unperturbed by such statements and accusations. Calling people anti-Semitic is just a way to denigrate and shut-up speakers who raise topics the slingers of that epithet do not want to debate. I am a firm supporter of Israel’s right to do anything and everything it believes is necessary to defend its territory and people. That is the right of every nation state.
What we have is the ability of Israel to influence very important policymakers and very important leaders in the United States – the media elites, the governing elites, and certainly in the cabinet. That’s a public activity, and a less public activity we know have this unfolding case before the courts on activists from AIPAC [the main pro-Israel lobbying group] were getting classified information from American civil servants.
Q: Who should be America’s allies?
I think there are very few countries in the world where the United States is obligated to support a country largely without question, and I think it stems from two World Wars. I would only put the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand in that particular basket of countries towards whom our nation has a debt of honour.
Q: Will America and its allies win the war against Al Qaeda?
Eventually it’s going to dawn on Republicans and Democrats alike that their chance to win this war was when they had a chance to kill him. It’s gone and the chance to win has passed.
I think the best terms on which this can finish is that we get out of the way and let whatever’s going to occur in Islamic society occur. There are so many scores to settle, there’s sectarian differences that are going to be fought out, there is retribution against people like [Egypt’s President] Mubarak and the Saudi royals. It’s going to be a messy Islamic civilization for a long time but it’s not necessarily one that can remain united against us, the West, once we’re out of the way, because I think we’re only the target because we’re seen as the prop for the ones they hate the most which is their own government.
I subsequently read his magnum opus "The Gulf War Did Not Take Place" as well. First written as a series of essays in the French communist party daily Humanite, it was overpoweringly silly. He repeatedly mentioned Timosoara, the town where protests by minority Hungarians precipitated the downfall of the Romanian dictatorship in 1989, as an example of the misuse of hyperreality: his outraged tone hinted that he and the majority of Romanians might not share the same conception of reality. In practise, this has always been the art of politics, to do what observers and opponents cannot understand. In the words of Machiavelli, in chapter eighteen of the Prince:
Men in general judge more by their eyes than by their hands, because seeing is given to everyone, touching to few. Everyone sees how you appear, few touch what you are; and these few dare not oppose the opinion of many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them.
My interview with the Harvard human rights scholar, Samantha Power, who won the Pulitzer prize for her book on world inaction in the face of genocide from Armenia to Kosovo, A Problem from Hell, appears in this month's Magill magazine. Some of the Magill archive is now also available online too, although the current issue is accessible to subscribers only. Power, who was born in Dungarvan before immigrating to the US at the age of nine, attended Yale before becoming a freelance foreign correspondent covering the wars in the former Yugoslavia for the Economist, Boston Globe, US News & World Report and others. This was done in collaboration with my friend Patrick Belton of OxBlog.