Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Putin Already Playing Nuclear Poker With Trump

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat. The decision to utilize nuclear weapons is made by the president of the Russian Federation.”

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Monday, December 19, 2016

CBS' 'Face The Nation' Downplays Henry Kissinger's Doubts That Russia Sought To Elect Trump

Dr. Kissinger: “I can’t quite understand what their purpose would be because in all the polls Hillary was far ahead, and they could not have had information on the polls that others didn’t have.  And then to antagonize the president-to-be by getting into an open support of the opponent doesn’t make any sense to me.  They were hacking, but the use they allegedly made of this hacking eludes me.”

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Trump's "Full Throttle" Energy Policy Could Devastate Putin's Petrostate (Tillerson to Deliver the Message?)

Putin’s regime is based on Russia’s oil and gas resources, which, despite his pledge to diversify, account for a quarter of the economy and half of state revenues (two thirds if other minerals are included). Putin can live with a stagnant economy and popular unrest, but he cannot survive a large and irreversible loss of Russia’s oil and gas earnings.

Basic economics explains how a Trump “high resource case” would undermine Putin’s petrostate: The first US fracking revolution made the US energy industry the “swing” or “marginal producer” on the world market. No matter what OPEC or Russia produces, the long-run price of oil will be set by the break-even cost of US unconventional oil and gas. The break-even is currently between $50 and $60 a barrel, but it is headed to lows of $40 or below.  We should not underestimate the technological ingenuity of the fracking industry.

But wait! Will not President Trump, known admirer of Putin, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Order of Friendship recipient, use their immense political clout to cash in on lucrative Russian deals. Will not Trump and Tillerson throw money at their “bromance” partners, Putin and his Rosneft sidekick Igor Sechin, and save Russia’s failing petrostate?

What deals are we talking about? Over the near term, oil prices rule out large international investments in Russia, even if sanctions were lifted. At best, the Shells and BPs will try to salvage what they can from past mega-investments at $100 oil. No one is standing in line to throw their money away on loss-making Russian mega-deals, least among them an ExxonMobil headed by Tillerson’s successor.

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The 'Putin Directed The Leaks' Story Is Less Than It Appears

he NBC report intimates that our spies and intelligence officials know Putin’s innermost thoughts on matters of great importance, such as his preferences on the next US President. If so, NBC’s sources know more than Russian officials, pundits, oppositionists, and media about what Putin, isolated in in his Moscow suburban palace, is up to. Few officials seem to know how the Putin kleptocracy works. Is it a one-man show or is it run by a Kremlin Politburo?
As to linking Putin to a specific nefarious act, efforts by western intelligence and investigative press to link Putin to murders of renegade reporters, ex KGB turncoats, and notable political figures (Boris Nemtsov) have failed, but somehow NBC informants have been able to find almost “inconvertible evidence” of Putin’s personal involvement in the US election. His personal involvement may have been simply to sit back and enjoy the show.
As I have written on numerous occasions, the WikiLeaks disclosures have been a godsend for Putin to “show corruption in American politics,” as the NBC “bombshell” now claims. After surviving a much-criticized parliamentary election, the Kremlin media could regale the Russian public with US press accounts of a rigged election, conspiracies against the peoples’ candidate, Bernie Sanders, the riches of Soros, Goldman Sachs, and the Saudi princes determining the outcome, and the Clintons growing rich from their political connections. Putin could now ask: Who gives these Clintons the right to criticize me? What more was sweet revenge against Hillary Clinton could Putin ask for?

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Battle Over Russian Hacking Is Over The Legitimacy Of The Trump Presidency

Trump has resisted pressure to agree that Russia was behind the hacks and was trying to get him elected.  Trump’s political instincts are again serving him well. If he were to endorse the leaked intelligence community’s “high level of confidence” not only in the hacking but also in its intent, he would be signing on to the illegitimate President narrative the Democrats are pushing.

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