Cheap oil is vanishing



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The United States is awash in shale oil. Iran, once OPEC’s second-largest producer, is slowly ramping up production. Oil consumption in the Western world has been flat since the 2008 financial crisis. The “peak oil” theory has pretty much vanished, along with The Oil Drum, the bible of peak oil believers. Rest in peace. Or turn in your grave – because the price of oil tell a different story.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil futures are up 13 percent over one year. Since 2009, they have climbed every year except 2012. In Europe, the Brent crude futures are flat for the year after rising three years in a row. Brent, the de facto global benchmark, trades at about $113 (U.S.) a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the North American benchmark, is at $106. For the sake of argument, let’s say the world is valuing oil at $110. With the abundance of shale oil in the United States – hundreds of billions of barrels (in theory) – you would think the price would be less as the United States challenges Saudi Arabia for top producer status.

While the oil forecasters were pumping out bearish calls, the market itself has stuck to its triple-digit price outlook. Oil buyers know that prices can’t go into gradual, long-term decline, or even stay flat, when the world’s conventional oil fields are in decline.

Exotic production – shale deposits, oil sands, biofuels, natural gas liquids – are supposed to fill the gap. But this so-called unconventional production is expensive and probably insufficient to cover the drop off in cheap, conventional production. Prices will rise to the point that demand will have to level off or fall. The “peak oil” and “peak demand” theories are really opposite sides of the same coin.

Shale Oil Exploration

Richard Miller, the former BP geochemist turned independent oil consultant, delivered a sobering lecture at University College London that laid out the case for dwindling future oil supply. His talk was based on published data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the International Energy Agency, the International Monetary Fund and other official sources.

The data leave no doubt that the inexpensive oil is vanishing quickly. Conventional oil production peaked in 2008 at about 70 million barrels a day and is slowly declining. Saudi Arabia pumps about 10 million barrels a day. The math says a new Saudi Arabia has to be found every three years to offset the conventional oil drop off. Good luck. That’s why the Russians, Canadians and Americans are so eager to lock up the Arctic. It’s hoped that the Arctic may contain vast new oil reserves.

About one-quarter of conventional production comes from the 20 biggest fields and most of them are in decline, some precipitously. North Sea oil production peaked at 4.5-million barrels a day in 1999. This year’s production is forecast at between 1.2 million and 1.4 million barrels a day. The so-called Forties field, the North Sea’s biggest, has been losing 9 per cent a year for more than 20 years. Ditto two other North Sea biggies – Brent and Ninian.

Great Britain shed its status as an energy powerhouse about a decade ago, when it became a net energy importer. Last year, Britain spent almost £22 billion ($38 billion) buying foreign oil, natural gas and coal.

Repeat this phenomena all over the world, from Mexico to Indonesia. Indonesia’s oil production has been in steady decline since the mid-1990s, and the country has gone from oil exporter to importer, at which point it got kicked out of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. While new exploration and technologies will extend the life of some of the gasping old fields, the long-term downward trend is intact.

Conventional fields are running out of steam just as world demand is starting to climb, which can only put upward pressure on prices. The International Energy Association (IEA) estimates that oil demand will rise by 1.2 million barrels a day in 2014, or 1.3 percent, to 92.4 million barrels.

The increase is driven by increased economic activity in the developed world and ever-rising demand in China and in other countries in the developing world. China is willing to pay almost any price for oil because oil drives its growth more than it does in the West, where energy use is less intensive per unit of economic output. China has also developed a love affair with traffic jams. The number of cars and motorbikes in China increased twenty fold between 2000 and 2010. It is forecast to double again in the next 20 years.

The oil shills, the tech geeks and most, but not all, oil companies would have you believe that non-conventional energy will fill the gap as the cheap, easy-to-pump oil heads gently into the night. It might, but at what price and cost to the environment? Or it might not at any price.

Deep-sea production is monstrously expensive and risky, as BP found out when its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico blew up. The Alberta oil sands also spew out more carbon dioxide than conventional production. Most biofuels, such as U.S. corn-based ethanol, are taxpayer-subsidized economic horror shows with dubious environmental benefits.

The peak oil crowd has thinned out, to be sure, but it won’t disappear. U.S. shale oil doesn’t mean oil is about to become cheap and plentiful. The fall off in conventional oil production is real, and scary.

 

Pakistan TV Report Contradicts US Claim of bin Laden’s Death

I have been suspicious of administration reports about the killing of Obama bin Laden from day one. The entire incident just stinks to high heaven. Let’s quickly reexamine the inconsistencies in the government’s account of the incident:

  • Initial reports of the raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan compound had him hiding (presumably in cowardly fashion) behind a woman using her as a human shield as he fired on U.S. troops. Then he’s unarmed. Now there are allegations from his daughter, who was on the scene, that bin Laden was taken alive and executed later, mob style.
  • bin Laden family members who are now in Pakistani custody have also claimed that no shots were fired by anyone living in the compound.
  • Then, after killing him, they dump his body in the Arabian Sea, using the excuse that he had to be interred within 24 hours as a Muslim, and it wasn’t possible to bury him because they didn’t want to create a shrine. Does our military go out of its way to bury every Muslim they kill within 24 hours? Absolutely not, in fact I’ll bet they leave most of those bodies as a treat for the dogs and the crows. We’ll now never know whose body that was. Or exactly how he was killed. Or even if he was killed. All the physical evidence has been conveniently disposed of.

And now the following from Paul Craig Roberts via LewRockwell.com:

In my recent article, “Creating Evidence Where There Is None,” about the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden by a commando team of U.S. Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan, I provided a link to a Pakistani National TV interview with Muhammad Bashir, who lives next door to the alleged “compound” of Osama bin Laden. I described the story that Bashir gave of the “attack” and its enormous difference from the one told by the US government. In Bashair’s account, every member of the landing party and anyone brought from the house died when the helicopter exploded on lift-off. I wrote that a qualified person could easily provide a translation of the interview, but that no American print or TV news organization had investigated Bashir’s account.

An attorney with a British Master of Laws degree in international law and diplomacy, who was born in Pakistan, provided the translation below. He writes: “I have no problem with being identified as the translator, but would prefer to remain anonymous.”

The translator provides these definitions and clarifications:

“Gulley” is generally referred (in Urdu) to a sidewalk or pavement. Also for the space between two houses.

“kanal” is a traditional unit of land area, so that one kanal equals exactly 605 square yards or 1/8 Acre; this is equivalent to about 505.857 square meters.

Muhammad Bashir refers to himself as “We.” This is common respectable language for the self; to use the plural term instead of singular. The English language equivalent would be the “Royal, We.”

Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan.

The translator:

I have translated the entire text of the video.

I have tried my best to keep words in a chronological order, but in some cases this is not possible, as in translation words must be replaced in reverse order to make sense! However, I have had to put a few words in brackets to clarify meaning. If you want to ask about any section – please supply time stamp and I will supply a contextual text.

Video Transcript:

welcome back! – Muhammad Bashir, Abotabad Area, Bilal Town resident, Looks like an ordinary person, but he is no ordinary person! Muhammad Bashir, lives in Abotabad’s, Bilal Town Opposite Bin Laden’s House.

Night of 2nd May Muhammad Bashir was on the roof of his house, whereupon, the entire OBL, American operation was seen with his own eyes.

Last night, when our team was in Abotabad, Bilal Town, near OBL house, Muhammad Bashir approached me and said that:
“Sister, I want to tell you something that is a great burden on my heart and conscience” – Listen to what he said:

00:59 Muhammad Bashir: I.. today… would like to comment about todays Abotabad operation events, until now, what I am about to say, no person has said.

01:08: Reporter: But, Muhammad Bashir sahib appeared frightened. While speaking to me, Muhammad Bashir sahib phoned his relative; leader, M.E.A. of Jamaat-e-islami, Abotabad, Abdul Razaq Abaasi on the phone.

01:21: reporter: Tell me your name and where do you live?
Muhammad Bashir: – One minute, first I need to speak to him…I am going to give an interview, a complete interview. Shall I give a
complete interview or half?
Reporter: Complete! – complete!
Muhammad Bashir: I first need to phone him, I need to speak to him
Reporter: I could of…

01:39: Reporter: Muhammad Bashir sahib, on that night’s events of the American operation, that took place, he expressed such comments about circumstances that have never been expressed before, therefore, we checked his ID card, his place of residence and we can confirm that he definitely lives there and we also approached senior politicians and asked about him, after hearing his comments, we were amazed – now you watch what he said.

01:57: Muhammad Bashir: The events that happened are thus; we were awake, we were not asleep.
02:00: Muhammad Bashir: a Helicopter came, and circled and dropped some people there.
02:07: Muhammad Bashir: in that house… where they are saying; Osama lives here, on that house’s roof, they dropped people, after that, the helicopter returned and went back.
02:16: Reporter: How many people were they?
02:18: Muhammad Bashir: They were ten, twelve people
02:20: Muhammad Bashir: After that it left and for approximately 20 minutes, there behind us, on those mountains, it kept going around, the top of the mountains.
02:27: After 20 minutes, it returned. When it returned, at that time there were TWO more helicopters arrived. One came from the West and one came from the North. When it approached for landing, after that…

At this point; Video cut and resumed:

02:41: Muhammad Bashir: that helicopter, there was an explosion within it and there was fire within it, immediately, we came out and arrived there. When we arrived, the helicopter was on fire, it was burning. After that, about twenty minutes later the Army arrived, the police arrived. They moved all of us back…
03:04: Muhammad Bashir: …and all the people inside it, all of them…we think; if Osama was inside it, or inside this house – then who took him to the Americans?
03:16: Muhammad Bashir: Because America…the helicopters that America is saying; IT carried out the operation. If America did this operation and it’s army came and it’s helicopter came, then that helicopter that came from the American’s, within that, all the people that came, those people with the explosion were finished, got destroyed!
03:35: Muhammad Bashir: Within it, there was fire, those people, all of them died!
03:39: and if Osama was there, they would have put him in the helicopter. Obviously, if the helicopter caught fire, Osama could have died there. If their own people were gone, (dead) so could have Osama. After that, the fallen helicopter was destroyed after this, how can Osama be, with them in America? this is a strange thing!

Video cut & resumes
03:59: Muhammad Bashir: They are saying we killed Osama here. After that, they picked him up and took him away.
04:04: Muhammad Bashir: PICKED HIM UP AND TOOK HIM AWAY – how did they do this? This, what we are thinking!
04:07: Muhammad Bashir: The Americans’ helicopter that came, that fell here and got destroyed!
04:09: Reporter: There was only ONE helicopter?
04:11: Muhammad Bashir: ONE helicopter landed down here, the second helicopter came from above and went towards Mansera. It did not land. No second helicopter landed!
04:20: Only ONE helicopter, that first dropped it’s passengers, the SAME returned to pick the people and there was an explosion within it.
04:27: Reporter: People were inside it?
04:29: Muhammad Bashir: People were inside it!
04:30: Reporter: How do you know this?
04:32: Muhammad Bashir: These people, we seen them all
04:34: Reporter: In the helicopter… you saw dead people?
04:36: Muhammad Bashir: We saw dead people!
04:38: Reporter:How many people?
04:39: Muhammad Bashir: This, we could not count, within the compound there was fire.
04:43: Muhammad Bashir: and we… the gate was open, we entered the gate, at that time the Army had not arrived.
04:48: Muhammad Bashir: Police had not arrived. Some people from the agencies, were present, but they did not prevent anybody, they kept entering, every person was looking , now, nobody is saying, but everyone from the mohalla (neighborhood) and all the people present from the mohalla arrived first. We saw the gate open, we entered inside, saw the burning helicopter, the people inside were dead. After that everything was lifted. Now, there is nothing there!
05:16: Reporter: How many dead bodies did you see?
05:18: Muhammad Bashir: Look, you cannot count, the dead bodies were in pieces everything else was broken pieces, some here, some there, some broken, some half, some like this.
05:27: Reporter: Tell me fully – what happened?
06:30: Reporter: Tell me the full events
05:31: Muhammad Bashir: I told you, this is…
05:32: Reporter: You did not…I cannot believe this, that’s why.
05:36: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what I have said – that’s it!

Video Cut!
05:39: Reporter: When you saw the American craft, (Helicopter) what did you think, why they came here?
05:42: Muhammad Bashir: We thought… this is it…why did they came? we thought why did they come? maybe..we… did not expect them to do anything, we thought maybe our Army is arriving at some centre and the army people were sleeping,
there was no explosions or events taking place, nothing was happening, everybody was sleeping, for 20 minutes or so…
06:05: Reporter: The craft landed in front of your house, how did you feel about this?
06:08: Muhammad Bashir: I thought..just…understand…imagine..we thought we’re dead!

Video cut:
06:13: Reporter: But, how did the Americans return?
06:16: Muhammad Bashir: This is what I am saying; their Craft came and the helicopter was destroyed, HOW, could they return?
06:22: Reporter: Tell me this; you say, that you saw the dead bodies yourself….
06:25: Muhammad Bashir: one more thing, Madam, may I tell you; The people who were dropped from the craft, That walkway … that ..where our gates are…they banged them hard…and shouted… don’t come out…don’t do this, don’t do that, if you come
out you will be shot..we will do this, we will do that, all the people who were dropped, all of them spoke Pashtu
(Afgahni Language) – Pakhtun!
06:49: Reporter: Who were these people?
06:49: Muhammad Bashir: This I do not know! Those who were dropped from the craft (helicopter), those people.
06:54: Reporter: This, somebody else told me – that they spoke Pashtu.
06:57: Muhammad Bashir: They WERE Pashtun! we do not know if they were working for the Americans, we do not know if they were working for Pakistan, we do not know if they were army people or civilian, what people, BUT they SPOKE PASHTU!
07:07: Reporter: You said you heard they were asking for Osama?
07:09: Muhammad Bashir: No, they didn’t ask me about Osama, they just said, do not come out, if you come out from your house, we will shoot you!
07:16: Reporter: Were these Pakistani people?
Muhammad Bashir: who?
07:18: Reporter: The ones who were saying that if you come out, we will shoot you.
07:20: Muhammad Bashir: They said that in Pashtu!
07:22: Reporter: so did they..were you coming out…exactly where were you, where was you standing when this happened?
07:26: Muhammad Bashir: Inside the house, on top of the roof, I was not in the house, just on top of the (flat)roof
07:29: Reporter: from Above the roof these people in the helicopter…
07:30: Muhammad Bashir: I was on the roof, sitting, no, lying down, on the roof,lying and watching this and what was happening
07:37: Reporter: Fear, was you not afraid? did you not think to phone someone?
07:40: Muhammad Bashir: From the house, They were calling me from downstairs, the children were calling me, come down, come down, and I told them stop making noise! go into your rooms, I am watching what is happening. Afterwards, I found out about this, that, Osama was killed here!
07:53: Reporter: How did you get inside? (the compound)
Muhammad Bashir: where?
Reporter: when there was fire.
Muhammad Bashir: the gate was open, when there was fire, the gate was open.
08:02: Reporter: The house gate was open?
08:03: Muhammad Bashir: The outer gate, the big gate, was open.
08:06: Reporter: You came from upstairs to downstairs?
08:08: Muhammad Bashir: I came down, from my own house into the gulley, I didn’t go alone inside the other house, 200 other people went inside! Everybody saw it!
08:15: Reporter: All 200 saw the dead bodies?
08:17: Muhammad Bashir: Everybody saw this.Whoever went inside they saw everything!
08:20: Reporting:the events at that time that are in your mind, please express them.
08:28: Muhammad Bashir: I have told you this and this, in my mind, this is what I have seen, when we were there, when we entered the gate, When the helicopter exploded, it scattered everywhere, one piece fell over there, one fell here, one here, a lot of pieces fell in the gulley outside, they reached up to the gulley and our house and also some pieces managed to reach onto my roof. so, the area of the open space there (in front of the house) is about four Kanal in size. It is a very large compound. You cannot see all of it from one location. Four Kanal is a big area, only in a small area you could possibly see everything. There I saw some people, in broken pieces, someone’s leg, someone’s arm, someone’s torso, someone’s head. Beside this, I did not see intensely, who are they, how are they, because I thought that one of our own craft had fallen and the people within it were our own people. Because they spoke Pashtu they could be pakistani.
09:35: Muhammad Bashir: but language does not necessarily mean.. by speaking it…the American language could be spoken, the agents can speak all sorts of languages. It could be that it is the American army and they could speak Pashtu and the people would think that it is our own people.
09:54: Reporter: Seeing the dead bodies – did you not feel fear?
09:57: Muhammad Bashir: But we were thinking about ourselves at the time, but seeing the dead bodies who felt frightened?
10:00: Reporter: When you went inside, what did you do after that, how did you come out?
10:02: Muhammad Bashir: we came out, our Army reached there, when the army arrived, they moved all the people back. Move aside, move aside! So we moved aside.Then they closed the area down.
10:13: Reporter: did Rais see this?
Muhammad Bashir: What?
Reporter: where was your cousin?
10:18: Muhammad Bashir: My cousin was at that time in the house.
10:20: Reporter: Did he go with you?
10:21: Muhammad Bashir: He was with me, but I did not notice when he was picked up.
10:28: Reporter: Has he returned yet?
10:29: Muhammad Bashir: Yes, he has returned. They picked him up and took him away.
10:32: Reporter: What is he saying?
10:34:Muhammad Bashir: I have not met him yet, he is at home they will not let him come out, we are not allowed to visit him, they will not let him come out.We have not met.
10:40: Reporter: You was not able find out, but since when have you been allowed out.
10:45: Muhammad Bashir: I did not go home, by going home…
Reporter:You have seen the fire you have seen the bodies how long did you stay there?
Muhammad Bashir: approximately, after five or six minutes, I left and came out..five, six minute..what happened …. the reason we left, was that after we entered, there was another small explosion, I do not know if the engine fail and there was another fire, it was a small explosion, after this explosion all the people ran out.
11:06: Muhammad Bashir: when we went out, nobody let us go back in again.
11:11: Reporter: Besides you, why is nobody else saying these things? why are you alone in this?
11:16: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what we have seen, that is what we are saying and we are speaking for this reason that, we are sad that such humble and nice people of our town, that has never seen such events, no fighting, no arguments, no animosity, No murders, such nice people of ours in this town and they have been branded as terrorists.
11:43: Reporter: Tell me; two helicopters came, lifted and took the rest of the people?
11:46:Muhammad Bashir: No – they did not take the rest of the people, because they did not even land, One came from the West and it left towards the North, the one that came from the North, left towards the South. They did not land!

12:00: Studio Reporter: these events that we showed you from Abotabad, there are many more things that we discovered about the compound where OBL was staying, there were vegetables planted there, what kind of vegetables, the person who grows the vegetables is the cousin of this person (Muhammad Bashir), whose interview we have shown. An extraordinary thing that he has said and he has sworn repeatedly on the veracity of his statement. this is from his own account and upon this account do view this. Yesterday we found out and it has been confirmed that there were two Ashfaq’s who lived there (in the compound):Mr Arshad and Mr Tariq who went shopping locally and used to buy international brands, the items they found in the house, dry dates, dried meat and things like this, this person who you saw in the
interview in his house there was food from OBL’s house, he was given Kaabli Pillau (Rice) and such items were presented to him, There the view of local mosque people, what they think of OBL all these things we will present to you in an exclusive program an important newsbeat, todays time is finishing, do write to us at [email protected] where you can get other information as well and you can join us at newsbeat with Fareeha Idrees thats my favourite bit, do write to us, the time is up now, By your permission to leave, take care of yourself, In Allah’s care.

13:20: Reporter: I am now at standing in front of Abdullah Bin Zubair Mosque, this is the same mosque that is within walking distance from OBL’s house. Are you saying that if people found out that OBL was living here, would they be happy?
1st man: Possibly, people could be happy.
2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah.

End of translation

Anyone fluent in Urdu who wishes to dispute the translation should do so.

I asked the translator if he might contact the Pakistani news organization and inquire if the reporters had further investigated Bashir’s story. He replied that he could do so, but exactly 24 hours later “for some unknown reason” the news organization started to discredit Bashir by connecting “him to his cousin, who is accused of receiving foodstuffs from the household of OBL.”

Bashir’s cousin is the person who, according to the reporter (see 12:00 time line)
had a vegetable garden inside the wall of the alleged bin Laden compound. Is it likely that with a hunted and dangerous person hiding within, locals would be permitted to have vegetable gardens inside the compound? The cousin’s vegetable garden obviously had to be redefined as “receiving foodstuffs from OBL.”

The translator offers his view on the 13:20 timeline:

“The final seconds of the video clip contain random people to generate and show some kind of sympathy with OBL in the district.

“It would be very difficult to find people in Pakistan who sympathies with OBL or the Taliban. The only people who do sympathies are the poor illiterate people who do not know about the religion and can easily be convinced of a distorted version of Islam.
Therefore, the closing part of the video contains, out of context expressions:

“1st man: Possibly, people could be happy. (Meaning it is possible that SOME people could be happy.)
2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah. (Meaning; he claimed to be Muslim, so he must have believed in Allah.)

“Therefore, it seems that although initially, the TV station was overjoyed with this interview, they changed their tune, twenty four hours later. (for some unknown reason.)”

Readers can arrive at their own conclusions. It seems clear that under intense pressure and serious threats from the US government, the Pakistani government fell in line with the US government’s claim that a commando raid had killed bin Laden and all had returned safely, and that the TV news organization also got the message to get in line.

It is likely that the many witnesses who observed the dead from the helicopter crash have been warned to keep quiet. However, a news organization, should one be so inclined, could certainly interview Bashir and the 200 others who saw the dead bodies. A good reporter, perhaps accompanied by trained psychologists, would be able to tell if people were lying out of fear and encourage some to speak anonymously.

I am confident that no news organization believes that it could confront such an important US national myth in this way. The killing of bin Laden satisfies the emotional need for revenge and justice. In the least, a news organization that challenged the government’s story would be cut off from all government sources and be denounced by politicians and a large percentage of the US population as an anti-American terrorist-serving organization.

OBL’s death will remain one of those many “truths” that rest on nothing but the government’s word.

Air Conditioning Afghanistan Troops Costs $20 Billion Per Year

If people realized how much we were wasting in stupid wars that should never have been fought, there might be far more protests.

Please consider Among The Costs Of War: $20B A Year In Air Conditioning?

The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion, according to a former Pentagon official.

That’s more than NASA’s budget. It’s more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It’s what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.

“When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we’re talking over $20 billion,” Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus’ chief logistician in Iraq. He’s now in the private sector, selling technologies branded as “energy-efficient” to the Department of Defense.

Why does it cost so much?

To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

Anderson calculates more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack. Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125-degree heat require a lot of fuel. Anderson says by making those structures more efficient, the military could save lives and dollars.

Still, his $20.2 billion figure raises stark questions about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In the wake of President Obama’s announcement this week that 33,000 American troops will soon return home, how much money does the U.S. stand to save?

Dollars And Cent

The 33,000 troops who will return home by the end of next year match the numbers sent to Afghanistan in 2010, at a cost of about $30 billion. That comes out to about $1 million a soldier.

But the savings of withdrawing those troops won’t equal out, experts say.
“What history has told us is that you don’t see a proportional decrease in spending based on the number of troops when you draw them down,” Chris Hellman, a senior research analyst at the National Priorities Project, tells Martin.

“In Afghanistan that’s going to be particularly true because it’s a very difficult and austere environment in which to operate,” he says.

That means most war expenditures lie not in the troops themselves but in the infrastructure that supports them — infrastructure that in some cases will remain in place long after troops are gone.

“We’re building big bases,” American University professor Gordon Adams tells Martin. The costs of those bases are, in economic terms, “sunk” costs, he says.
“We’re seeing this in Iraq. We’re turning over to the Iraqis — mostly either for a small penny or for free — the infrastructure that we built in Iraq. But we won’t see back any money from that infrastructure.”

And more importantly, Hellman says, “[Afghan President Hamid] Karzai indicated a couple years back that [Afghanistan] wasn’t going to be a position to support their own military forces 15, 20 years out. I suspect we’re going to be called on to pay a substantial part of that bill going forward.”

One outspoken critic is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). He notes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost hundreds of billions of dollars so far, and he argues a larger troop drawdown isn’t a national security risk.

“When you have this many people in a country that doesn’t want you there — that has no economy, no infrastructure and a corrupt government — and you’re trying to stabilize it and build them into a viable nation? I’m not sure we have enough time, and I definitely know we don’t have enough money,” Manchin says.

Do the Troops Deserve Air Conditioning?

Some may be asking if US troops deserve air conditioning? The question may sound reasonable, but it poses a false dichotomy. There are more important considerations.

First and foremost, US troops deserve to not be put in harm’s way for no reason. The simple fact of the matter is that there is no legitimate reason to be in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iraq, or in 140 other countries at a cost to US taxpayers. Thus, the air conditioning question should never arise in the first place.

If other countries want us there, they should foot the bill. If they don’t want us there then we should leave.

The US could cut its military budget by 50% or more with no detriment to actual defense of the United States. In fact, there would probably be a huge improvement in the defense of the United States. The reason is simple – terrorist problems have arisen because we are meddling in countries where we have no business being in the first place.

Iraq vs. Vietnam

For an interesting perspective, please consider Iraq War Deaths Exceed Vietnam War Numbers

However, it is not fair to just look at US deaths. Wikipedia notes “the Vietnamese communist government in 1995 estimated that 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians on both sides died in the war.”
The absurd war in Vietnam did not end until US citizens got fed up with it and demanded change. Unfortunately millions of lives were ruined before change came.

Hotel California

How much more will people put up with now before they demand change?

How long will the US remain in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Before answering that last question answer this one: How long has the US been in South Korea
and Japan?

As with the Hotel California, the US may check out, it just never leaves.

Courtesy of: Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Is Osama bin Laden’s Killing a Con Job?

Wouldn’t you think that after spending trillions of dollars and killing hundreds of thousands of people, that after ten years, we could catch Osama bin Laden alive, the man who is supposed to be the mastermind of evil itself. Ironically by the time we found him bin Laden couldn’t have been more than just a tired, sick old man. He would probably have died naturally in a few years anyway, if he wasn’t already dead.

It’s also troubling that the federal administration can’t seem to get their story straight. First bin Laden is hiding behind a woman, using her as a shield as he returned fire. Then he’s unarmed. Now there are allegations from his daughter, who was on the scene, that bin Laden was taken alive and executed later, mob style. bin Laden family members who are now in Pakistani custody have also claimed that no shots were fired by anyone living in the compound.

The whole thing smells fishy. If official reports are true and we knew he was in the compound then why didn’t we take him alive – at nearly any cost. Think of the information he would have had! But instead our government seemed to go out of its way to kill him, which seems to me to be incredibly stupid… Unless they don’t want him talking.

bin Laden said several times that he had nothing to do with the events of 9/11. But former President George W. Bush used him, and 9/11, as the justification for entering Afghanistan and shredding the constitution. It would have been interesting to know who Osama thought was actually behind 9/11.

Then, after killing him, they dump his body in the Arabian Sea, using the excuse that he had to be interred within 24 hours as a Muslim, and it wasn’t possible to bury him because they didn’t want to create a shrine. Does our military go out of its way to bury every Muslim they kill within 24 hours? Absolutely not, in fact I’ll bet they leave most of those bodies as a treat for the dogs and the crows. We’ll now never know whose body that was. Or exactly how he was killed. All the physical evidence has been conveniently disposed of.

All that remains is the word of the US government, which lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections, about Iranian nukes, and, according to thousands of experts, about 9/11. Suddenly the government is telling us the truth about bin Laden’s death? I don’t believe it.

Think about this for a moment… The U.S. government has just taken it upon itself to assignate  someone without even a show trial like Saddam Hussein got. Yes it was Osama bin Laden, but even he deserves a trial, doesn’t he? The government has always had professional killers in its employ. But it at least had the decency to deny their existence. Now it brags about them, and parades them.

Americans were jumping and cheering around Times Square as if it was V-J Day when bin Laden’s killing was announced. It’s sad and degrading to celebrate a murder. We are celebrating a murder performed by contract killers. That’s what SEAL Team 6 does – much like the Army’s Delta Force. They’re told to go somewhere and kill any person or persons their “superiors” say, and they do it. If you wear a uniform, and work for a state, murder becomes acceptable, with no questions asked by anyone.

I believe Osama bin Laden is dead – whenever and wherever he died. I’m glad he’s dead. I don’t like what he believed in. But this is not the way these things should be handled. At least not by a supposedly free country.

Was Osama bin Laden actually a threat to the United States. By his own admission he said he was only up in arms for three reasons:

  1. The U.S. had its troops in Muslim lands;
  2. The U.S. was supporting the stooges running those countries; 
  3. The U.S. was supporting Israel, which he considered an oppressor of the Palestinians.
    If the U.S. desisted from those things, he was presumably happy to leave us alone. Are his demands so unreasonable? It’s not my business what goes on in sovereign nations around the globe, and it’s also not the business of the U.S. government. It has become too expensive – more than one trillion dollars each year – for the U.S. to remain entangled in other nations business.

Ultimately killing bin Laden will not solve the so-called terror problem.

Osama bin Laden is Dead?

If today were April 1 and not May 2, we might dismiss this morning’s headline that Osama bin Laden was killed as an April fool’s joke. bin Laden was killed in a firefight in Pakistan and quickly buried at sea. This morning’s headline has the odor of a staged event. The smell reeks from the triumphant news reports loaded with exaggerations, from celebrants waving flags and chanting “USA USA.” Could something else be going on?

Think about it. What are the chances that a person allegedly suffering from kidney disease and requiring dialysis, aflicted with diabetes and low blood pressure, survived in mountain hideaways for a decade? If bin Laden was able to acquire dialysis equipment and medical care that his condition required, wouldn’t the shipment of that equipment point to his location? Why did it take ten years to find him?

Consider also the claims, repeated by a jubilant US media celebrating bin Laden’s death, that “bin Laden used his millions to bankroll terrorist training camps in Sudan, the Philippines, and Afghanistan, sending ‘holy warriors’ to foment revolution and fight with fundamentalist Muslim forces across North Africa, in Chechnya, Tajikistan and Bosnia.” That’s a lot of activity for mere millions to bankroll (perhaps the US should have put him in charge of the Pentagon), but the main question is: how was bin Laden able to move his money about? What banking system was helping him? The US government succeeds in seizing the assets of people and of entire countries, Libya being the most recent. Why not bin Laden’s? Was he carrying around with him $100 million dollars in gold coins and sending emissaries to distribute payments to his far-flung operations?

No doubt President Obama is in desperate need of a victory. He committed the error of restarting the war in Afghanistan, and now after a decade of fighting the US faces stalemate, if not defeat. The wars of the Bush/Obama regimes have bankrupted the US, leaving huge deficits and a declining dollar in their wake. And re-election time is approaching.

The various lies and deceptions, such as “weapons of mass destruction,” of past administrations has had terrible consequences for the US and the world. But not all deceptions are the same. Remember, the entire reason for invading Afghanistan in the first place was to get bin Laden. Now that President Obama has declared bin Laden to have been shot in the head by US special forces operating in an independent country and buried at sea, there is no reason for continuing the war.

Is it the nature of justice in America to order the assassination of someone located in another sovereign nation who has not been put on trial, no matter how evil he has been made out to be? When a country spends 10-years and billions of dollars to chase a man around the world, only to find him ‘hiding in plain sight’ right next door to a country it has invaded, what does it say about its capability to keep its citizens safe? As the mainstream media is presenting all the information passed along by the US government without questioning any of it, could there be another side to the story that is not being discussed? In light of such an apparent ‘victory’, when will the civil liberties and financial privacies that have been taken so rapidly since 9/11 be reinstated? Regardless of any short-term euphoria, is the country headed in the overall right direction? Has there been any change in the ability of the nation’s leaders to forge real solutions?

Perhaps the precipitous decline in the US dollar in foreign exchange markets has forced some real budget reductions, which can only come from stopping the open-ended wars. Until the decline of the dollar reached the breaking point, Osama bin Laden, who many experts believe to have been dead for years, was a useful bogeyman to use to feed the profits of the US military/security complex.