"The official reason for printing the cartoons was, according to the editor-in-chief, to challenge the way freedom of speech is practised in Denmark as it is allegedly being restricted due to a growing Muslim influence. Before publishing the cartoons, they were shown to a series of experts who explained that they most certainly would provoke anger among Muslims who would feel offended by the way their prophet was portrayed. So, the printing of the cartoons was from the very beginning planned as a malicious provocation," Sven Tarp points out.
The article then explains the official and real motives:
"It is always difficult to guess the personal motives of those who take inappropriate decisions. And these motives are, indeed, of little interest. What is important is the historical context in which the decisions are taken and the role generally played by the decision-makers. From that point of view, it is easy to conclude that the publication of the cartoons is part of a national agenda promoted by the Danish ruling circles with a double purpose:
"- to divide the Danish working class into nationals and foreigners, Christians and Muslims, in order to weaken its resistance to the brutal imposition of neo-liberal policies at a very specific moment where the Danish economy is momentarily one of the most thriving within the general framework of a crisis-ridden capitalist world economy;
"- to weaken -- by creating an artificial image of the Muslim world as an enemy -- the growing demand among the Danish people that Danish troops should be withdrawn from Iraq where they are taking part in the illegal occupation headed by U.S. imperialism.
"From the very beginning, the whole issue has been treated with a mixture of arrogance and stupidity, both by the editors of Jyllands Posten and by the Danish government. It soon became clear that the Muslim peoples did feel offended. The Muslim society in Denmark, in early October, organized demonstrations and called on the newspaper to apologize for the publication. This was refused with the false pretext of defending freedom of speech.
"On October 19, ambassadors from 11 Muslim countries requested a meeting with the Danish government in order to discuss the cartoons. In a very arrogant manner, the rightist government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen refused to meet the ambassadors for a discussion that might have prevented subsequent events.
"In an action unheard of in the history of Danish diplomacy, 22 former Danish ambassadors publicly criticized the Prime Minister's refusal to meet with representatives of Muslim countries. They were backed by former Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, a cold warrior and rightist politician who, however, is sensible to these kinds of cultural problems. But the government stuck to its own decision. It apparently was not unhappy with the fact that the cartoons caused disunity and distracted popular attention from the social consequences of its planned 'welfare reforms' that were announced last autumn.
"It was only when the national agenda turned into an international crisis of unprecedented dimensions that the government and the newspaper decided to take action. But even then, their arrogance prevented them from saving what could be saved. The editor of Jyllands Posten, for example, apologized to Muslims because they felt offended, but he did not apologize for publishing the offensive cartoons, because such an apology, according to him, would be a violation of his freedom of speech! In this way, the apology was not enough to end the protests and neither was the appearance of the Danish Prime Minister on Arab and Muslim television channels where he didn't deliver the message expected from him."
Sven Tarp then explains the reactionary politics of the newspaper.
"Jyllands Posten is one of Denmark's largest newspapers with a long tradition of rightist policy. In the 1930s, it was infamous for defending pro-Nazi positions. After the Second World War, it turned completely pro-NATO. During the war in Vietnam, it was a loyal ally of U.S. imperialism. Today, it is an arduous defender of the Zionist state of Israel and the imperialist occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the growing pressure on Iran, Syria and other independent countries.
"Jyllands Posten is considered the unofficial organ of expression of the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. As such, it is not an innocent player in the present crisis. Its defence of freedom of speech is nothing but hypocritical.
"During the last years, Jyllands Posten has transformed itself into a national platform of the most rabid attacks against communists and other progressive people. Even the most idiotic anti-communist professor has free access to its columns. The freedom of speech practised by the newspaper is used to distort, silence and criminalize communist and progressive ideas. The way the former socialist countries in Europe and the Danish communists who were active during the Cold War are portrayed is just as insulting as the 12 cartoons."
On the principle of freedom of speech Sven Tarp writes:
"According to legend, the Danish national flag, Dannebrog, fell ready-made down from the sky in the year 1219 during the battle of Lyndanisse where the Danish crusaders fought to Christianize the pagan Estonians. Eight hundred years later, Jyllands Posten and the ruling Danish bourgeoisie is presenting freedom of speech as a sacred, absolutist principle that, in a similar way, fell ready-made down from the sky in its present narrow-minded and intolerant Danish version.
"For the Danish communists, freedom of speech is a beautiful principle that takes its concrete form according to the concrete historical context and the social class that practises it. It is a necessity for the free development of individual human beings and their participation in the democratic processes of modern society. But it cannot be accepted as an unlimited right of the ruling class to insult other people and cause tension, violence, war and destruction. Freedom of speech should always be subordinated to ethics and the rules of civilized behaviour among peoples and nations."
The full text of the article can be found here.
In the News
Harper Prepares New Legislation to
The made-in-Ontario LAV III.
"While doing so, Harper also facilitated more Canadian arms sales this past year than previous governments have ever sanctioned -- a $14.8 billion contract over 10 years to sell Light Armored Vehicles (LAV III) made in Ontario. They are being assembled at a branch plant of U.S.-based General Dynamics, the sixth largest arms manufacturer in the world, with sales of over $31 billion in 2012.
"Canada's weaponry is being sold to Saudi Arabia, the largest arms buyer in the Middle East. It is also the country that has funded the radicalization of Islam for over 40 years, and is the leading exponent of a rigid form of Islamism which preaches rejection of 'infidels.'
"Saudi Arabia is the country in the world where women cannot drive and where days ago a reporter who dared question the strict laws of the country was publicly flogged, fined (over $250,000) and imprisoned for 10 years.
"Not only is Canada selling to the leading Islamist state, it is also selling to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and even to Iraq, all countries with questionable human rights records. Canada is indiscriminately distributing arms right into the centre of the Middle East, arms which can easily end up in the hands of violent extremists.
"When in the spotlight, Stephen Harper condemns the 'international jihadist movement' and says Canada will do what it can to eliminate the threat embodied by this movement.
"Yet out of the spotlight, he's selling large amounts of weaponry to the very part of the world where he says this threat is coming from."
Bell calls the reasoning "purely amoral."
"These arms sales are directly powered by the Canadian
through the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). This agency, in the
of armaments, 'promotes international defence procurement cooperation
... Working as Prime Contractor, the Corporation stands behind every
contract ... thus ensuring a high success rate for projects involving
contracts from start to finish.'"
In the opinion of the author, "The violent assaults in and outside Paris are symptoms of a militaristic, violent malaise that grips the world, fuelled, among other things, by a relentless flow of lethal firepower that leaves the entire human community awash in fear and anger, shredding our aspirations for peace to ribbons.
"Our Prime Minister is in the thick of it, sparking the tension with sometimes inflammatory rhetoric and war-like condemnation of the 'bad guys.' Meanwhile, his policies only accelerate the distribution of weapons to those same countries and cultures he rejects.
"It's time for a different way -- a more honest, truly peace-building, warmhearted, inclusive above-board way."
In related news, non-governmental peace group Project Ploughshares recently analyzed the federal government report Export of Military Goods from Canada, 2012-2013. In the analysis, Ken Epp shows that Saudi Arabia has been the largest purchaser of arms from Canada (the report does not include the value of military exports to the U.S.) to the tune of USD$422.3 million and USD$152.8 million worth of arms and military goods from Canadian companies in 2012 and 2013, respectively. This comprises about 92 per cent of all exports to Saudi Arabia by Canadian companies.
According to Epp, ground vehicles and components dominated the shipments, most of them armoured vehicles built by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London, Ontario. The government report states that the total value of military exports by Canadian companies to the countries in the Middle East in 2012 exceeded USD$704 million, more than three times the value of such exports to NATO countries for that year.
On January 15, international negotiations got underway on Iran's nuclear program in Geneva, Switzerland. These negotiations are of great importance for people all over the world. The main subject of the negotiations is the use of nuclear technology and the level of uranium enrichment needed by Iran for the peaceful development of nuclear energy to meet its needs. Coupled with this is the demand by Iran to remove the economic and other sanctions imposed by the U.S. and big European powers to destroy its economy and in this way force Iran to submit to the foreign dictate.
The discussions began last year between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: Britain, China, France, the Russian Federation and the U.S., plus Germany. They could not be completed within the time frame allotted so all parties agreed to extend the negotiations for another six months.
In following the reports on the negotiations, it is important to establish the aim of both the negotiations as well as the reporting on the negotiations. The aim of the sanctions is also important to establish. In this regard, greatest coverage is being given to Israel's offensive to derail the negotiations. Thus far its main method to destroy any possibility of finding a negotiated solution is to declare that no negotiations with Iran are possible and Iran must be forced to destroy all its centrifuges and give up its program to develop nuclear energy. This approach would certainly lead to a breakdown in negotiations and the imposition of more economic sanctions to try to break Iran and ultimately lead to open war, which the Israelis have been clamouring for all along.
The inter-imperialist contradictions regarding attempts to undermine negotiations could not be any sharper. In a joint press conference at the White House on January 16, 2015, US President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron both appealed to the US Congress not to push for new sanctions against Iran. Obama declared that he would veto any legislation containing new sanctions. Openly challenging Congress which is being pressured by the Israeli lobby, Obama stated, "I've consistently said we leave all options on the table. But Congress should be aware that if this diplomatic solution fails, than the risks and likelihood this ends up at some point a military confrontation is heightened. And Congress will have to own that as well," the president said. "And we may not be able to rebuild the kind of coalition we need in that context if the world believes we were not serious about negotiations."
Clearly the fragile unity between the US and Europe, which is already collapsing because of differences over the sanctions being pushed by the US against Russia, is what is at stake as negotiations with Iran begin.
While Israel and reactionary forces in the U.S., Canada and some European powers are raising the danger of Iran developing nuclear weapons, the fact of the matter is that Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while Israel is not. Israel has yet to even acknowledge that it possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons. As a signatory to the treaty, Iran is subject to monitoring of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Inspections have been carried out on a regular basis but the reports and conclusions these inspections have reached are distorted by those with suspect aims. When talking about the dangers of countries developing nuclear weapons it is important to point out that the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia, Pakistan, India and Israel among others, already possess thousands of such weapons which pose grave dangers to the peoples of the world, especially the danger of nuclear blackmail if they do not toe the line the imperialists demand.
Meanwhile, the countries that are seeking to sabotage the upcoming negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program intend to call for even more severe economic sanctions in order to break Iran with the ultimate threat of a open war.
Besides Israel, reactionary forces in the U.S. and Europe are also active in pursuing a dangerous policy of warmongering and aggressive attacks against the government of Iran and the Iranian people but none more so than the Government of Canada under Stephen Harper. At a time when what is needed is calm discussion and negotiations to find solutions to the international situation, especially in North Africa and Central and East Asia, the Harper Conservatives are using lies and distortions to promote a policy of outright military attacks against Iran.
On January 6, an article appeared in the Globe and Mail entitled, "Looking for a Way to Talk to Iran, Ottawa Backs 'Direct Diplomacy.'" This "direct diplomacy" has nothing to do with diplomacy. It has nothing to do with negotiations and dialogue to solve problems. It is in fact an irresponsible and dangerous plan to bypass the government and elected leaders of Iran and to interfere directly in the internal affairs of Iranian society. This is a continuation of the same strategy which is being implemented against other countries including Russia, Iraq and Syria. In fact, it takes its cue directly from the Obama playbook, which has made it very clear that the U.S. will deal directly with citizens of various countries and NGOs that do its bidding and bypass governments altogether.
The Canadian government calls these reprehensible actions, which interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, "direct diplomacy." The article in the Globe and Mail announces funding for this project, which will be launched and run by the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. The article explains, "First launched during the lead-up to Iran's 2013 presidential election, the project was touted as a method for bypassing Tehran and offering a platform for dissidents and human-rights activists in the country."
While preparations were underway for successful discussions on Iran's nuclear program to begin, the Harper government was actively expanding its "direct diplomacy" project which does nothing more than seek regime change by inciting protests and violence in Iran. This project is called, "Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran." It involves an all-sided assault on Iranian society through technology designed to overwhelm online networks. It also involves launching YouTube and Twitter accounts in Farsi.
The Globe and Mail quotes the well-known professor at the Munk School Janice Stein, who stated, "the next phase will involve the creation of a digital public square that will bring together the tools that have already been established, create new ones and expand the project's reach into other countries and regions."
A Canadian official added that while Iran would remain a focal point for the "direct diplomacy" project, its expansion would allow the Munk School to look at other locations where a similar strategy could be used, such as Russia and so-called Islamic State-controlled regions of Iraq and Syria. He explained that future projects could include platforms to help people access restricted web sites and generate "counter narratives" that could challenge the message of a repressive regime.
These "counter-narratives" are a form of incitement of hatred and disinformation in the name of high ideals. They reveal the crisis in which international relations are mired where countries such as Canada use their superior access to technology, membership in NATO and integration with the U.S. imperialist armed forces, to wage cyber warfare to effect regime change.
Canadians require an anti-war government which would immediately restore diplomatic relations with Iran and all countries on the basis of recognizing that all countries have the right to self-determination and are equal, whether big or small, and have the right to defend themselves. Economic and other sanctions now in force against the Iranian government and people should be withdrawn because Iran is violating no international laws of any kind.
Solutions to the problems and dangers which face both the Iranian people and peoples of the region and the world can be found on the basis of high level dialogue and negotiations. Iran is neither a small nor weak country. Canada's attempts to effect regime change to serve foreign interests will not succeed but they are very dangerous to the peace and security of the peoples.
U.S. War Preparations in Asia
On January 2, U.S. President Obama signed an executive order imposing further sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the fraudulent basis that the DPRK is responsible for the cyber attacks on Sony Pictures last month. The executive order cites the "provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions" of the government of the DPRK which "constitute a continuing threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." It is interesting to note that Obama is accusing the DPRK of all sorts of crimes that in fact are being carried out by the U.S. against the DPRK! The sanctions target certain officials of the Workers' Party of Korea and officials of companies which are spuriously linked with arms trading and which are no longer allowed to use the U.S. financial system. The sanctions prohibit U.S. citizens from dealing with those targeted.
This is a desperate action by the
U.S. to obfuscate the
situation and cover up that there is no evidence that the DPRK was
way for these cyber attacks against Sony Pictures. Furthermore, if past
indication, the U.S. modus operandi
is to always falsely accuse the
using the technique of the "big lie" in order to provoke that country,
aggression against it and push for regime change. This was the same
that was used to justify economic sanctions against the DPRK for the
torpedoing of the south Korean frigate the Cheonan on March
2010. Despite the bogus report created by the Joint Investigation Group
included Canada, no actual evidence was found linking the DPRK to this
incident. To the contrary, much evidence that came to light, thanks to
independent researchers in south Korea, indicated the great
that the DPRK was involved in the incident.
The executive order imposing the latest sanctions
against the DPRK is an
act of aggression and an escalation of the yet unfinished Korean War.
further isolate the U.S. warmongers in the international arena because
principled stand taken by the DPRK in its own defence and its call for
a peace treaty with the U.S. and for diplomatic solutions to conflicts
U.S. The sanctions against the DPRK stand in sharp contrast with the
being forced to abandon decades of sanctions against Cuba "that did not
to Obama himself, and the re-establishment of U.S.-Cuba relations last
-- as a result of diplomacy at the highest levels.
The executive order against the DPRK is contemptible. Peace- and justice-loving people in Canada, the U.S. and around the world should demand that it be withdrawn and that a peace treaty be signed between the U.S. and DPRK to end the Korean War and normalize relations between the two countries. The U.S. should withdraw all its troops and weapons from the territory in south Korea.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has expressed unusual willingness since the beginning of the new year to resume DPRK-South Korea summits and hold direct dialogue with the United States.
The United States, which holds a stake in the Korean Peninsula's peace and stability, needs to seize this opportunity to listen to the DPRK's voice and join hands with other pertinent parties to resolve the decades-old predicament.
In the first significant move since the DPRK's leader Kim Jong Un came to office three years ago, the DPRK's representative to the Six Party Talks Ri Yong Ho and former U.S. Special Representative for DPRK Policy Stephen Bosworth are scheduled to begin two days of talks on Sunday, January 17 in Singapore.
Last year, the DPRK's diplomatic activities focused on its relations with Russia and Japan. This year, they have shifted toward South Korea and the United States.
In his New Year's speech on January 1, Kim said, "There is no reason not to hold highest-level talks" with South Korean President Park Geun-hye if the right atmosphere is created.
In response, Park said at her New Year's press conference that she could meet with Kim if it promotes inter-Korean relations, but she noted that the DPRK should show sincerity toward resolving issues through dialogue.
Pyongyang also clearly knows that whether the inter-Korean talks can resume depends on the United States which is the dominant player of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
Moreover, to fulfill Kim's promise to boost economic development and improve the people's well-being, the DPRK needs a peaceful external environment.
The DPRK has long regarded South Korea-U.S. joint military drills as a serious threat to its security on a divided peninsula. Starting talks with the United States will be a shortcut for the DPRK to resume negotiations with South Korea.
However, the U.S. response to Pyongyang has been negative and disappointing. U.S. President Barack Obama on January 2 signed an executive order to impose sanctions on the DPRK government, disregarding its proposal to jointly investigate the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment over a comedy film, "The Interview."
Despite the rejection, DPRK made a "crucial" proposal on January 9 to the U.S. side, demanding the suspension of joint U.S.-Korean military drills in exchange for a temporary suspension of its nuclear tests, and made it clear that it is ready to sit with Washington anytime, if the United States needs to hold talks regarding the issue.
Unfortunately, the DPRK's olive branch was rejected once again, as the U.S. side sensed a subtle threat in the initiative.
However, the DPRK has never given up its efforts to talk directly with the United States. A senior Pyongyang representative at the United Nations said January 13 that the DPRK is ready to explain the intention behind its proposal directly to the United States, if the latter wants "additional explanations about our proposal."
Actually, the proposal, if adopted this year, may bring about many changes on the Korean Peninsula, as the DPRK sees the large-scale war exercises undertaken by the United States and South Korea every year as the root cause of the escalating tensions and the danger of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.
On the 70th anniversary of the end of Japanese colonial rule and the division of the peninsula, it is high time the United States patiently listen to the DPRK's appeal for peace to help achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and safeguard its peace and stability through dialogue and consultations.
(January 16, 2015. Slightly edited for style by TML.)
Washington's flat refusal on January 10 of Pyongyang's proposal to temporarily suspend nuclear tests in exchange for a halt to joint military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea does no good for trust-building and the realization of peace on the divided peninsula.
In fact, the offer, which the United States deemed an "implicit threat," is a gesture of goodwill from the Democratic People's Republic Korea (DPRK) for a peaceful solution to the decades-long crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
The proposal is the latest effort at easing tensions made in recent months by the Kim Jong Un administration to initiate trust-based dialogue or detente with the United States and South Korea.
Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki outright slammed the proposal for what she said "inappropriately links routine U.S.-South Korea exercises" and the possibility of a nuclear test by the DPRK, and said that this "is an implicit threat."
The U.S. failed to notice, or chose to ignore, the potentially positive change to the intense atmosphere surrounding the Korean Peninsula that could come if the proposal was implemented.
National security is the "priority of priorities" for any country on the planet, let alone a nation like the DPRK that has been isolated and sanctioned for decades.
Quite contrary to what Psaki said, the possibility of nuclear tests by Pyongyang and U.S.-South Korea military exercises are not separate issues.
For one thing, the nearly 40-year-old military exercises, which Uncle Sam uses as the Sword of Damocles, have failed so far to bring peace and reconciliation to the peninsula.
For another, the annual large-scale war games in South Korea and "its vicinity" encourage brinkmanship on the peninsula, and constitute the main cause -- if not the root cause -- of an anxious and sensitive DPRK.
Believe it or not, a cornered and reckless DPRK is not a blessing to the region or the world at large. Blind arrogance and constant neglect of the olive branches the country has offered might be the last straw for the isolated nation.
Just as China has repeatedly urged, trust-based dialogue is the only way out of the decades-long stalemate and for the resumption of the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the peninsula, and that has been endorsed by the international community.
It is greatly hoped that the United States seizes the opportunity and positively responds to the DPRK's latest offer. After all, peace on the peninsula and rapprochement between long-time foes need reciprocal actions. Now the ball is in Washington's court.
(Xinhua, January 11, 2015. Slightly edited for style by TML.)
The U.S. Empire uses its military occupation of Japan as its main base for predatory wars in Asia. The U.S. war to conquer valiant Korea, which continues to date, is prosecuted from U.S.-occupied Japan. Likewise, U.S.-occupied Japan served as a base for the U.S. predatory war to destroy the independence of Vietnam and turn it into a vassal state, which the victorious Vietnamese thwarted with courage, great sacrifice and honour. The U.S. militarists have used occupied Japan as the forward spear against the struggle of the Chinese in their anti-colonial struggle to affirm their rights as an independent people.
U.S.-occupied Japan is an open wound on the body politic of Japan, Asia and the world. The Japanese people cannot move their country forward to contribute to peace unless they end the U.S. military occupation of their homeland. An important aspect of the military occupation is the cultural aggression that serves to emasculate the people and their thinking so as to deprive them of political empowerment. The cultural aggression is aimed in particular against the large Japanese industrial proletariat. Worldwide, U.S. imperialist cultural aggression has at its core a racist and anti-communist ideology.
U.S. occupation of Japan is a festering sore and great danger to progress and peace. Each time certain advances are made to bring together the peoples of East Asia, the U.S. military itself or its paid mercenaries launches a provocation to destroy any steps towards peace and friendship.
Canadians must do everything they can to end this debacle of history and force the U.S. imperialists to bring their troops back home. The struggle to form an anti-war government in Canada and break all ties with the U.S. military is a necessary aspect of reining in the U.S. warmongers.
With President Obama's "pivot to Asia," the scope and frequency of the U.S. armed forces participating with the Japanese and puppet South Korean militaries in major war exercises has been rising in recent years accompanied with mounting anti-Korean and anti-Chinese rhetoric. The United States Pacific Command coordinates constant military exercises on mainland Japan, the Korean Peninsula and throughout the waters of East Asia in preparation for a pre-emptive attack on China or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Advanced U.S. weaponry often makes its debut in Japan, where soldiers are constantly trained in using the most destructive weapons of mass destruction including nuclear armed missiles.
The annual amount the Japanese government gives the U.S. military to sustain its occupation was reported to be 674 billion yen (CAD$6.63 billion) in 2014. In addition to money from Japan, the U.S. government says it spends another CAD$6.26 billion dollars annually to maintain its occupation. The U.S. military's fixed facilities in Japan have an accumulated value of about CAD$57.3 billion dollars.
The Japanese government's 2014 payment of 674 billion yen is equivalent to around $122,000 per U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan. U.S. occupying troops total 54,355 personnel along with approximately 40,000 dependents and another 5,500 U.S. civilians working in Japan for the U.S. Department of Defense. The budget includes money for wages of Japanese employees on U.S. bases, construction costs including soundproofing of residences for U.S. service personnel, land rents used by the U.S. forces, and realignment of the U.S. military in Japan amongst other things. Japanese government funds have been used to build 12,900 military installations for the U.S. forces such as blast-proof shelters for fighter jets, airport runways, piers and berths for warships, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and housing, schools, and hospitals for U.S. troops and their families.
U.S. military forces are spread throughout Japan at 83 facilities operated directly by the U.S. and another 49 facilities jointly operated by the U.S. and Japanese militaries. The headquarters of the United States Forces in Japan is located at the Yokota U.S. Air Base in the western region of Tokyo.
Major installations include a port in Tokyo for the United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka, the base for the United States Seventh Fleet. The U.S. Seventh Fleet based in Yokosuka has played a critical role in the U.S. wars of aggression in Korea and Vietnam. Yokosuka was the site of many anti-war protests during the late 1960s and '70s. The nuclear-powered USS George Washington is currently based at Yokosuka.
One hundred and thirty USAF warplanes are stationed at the U.S. Misawa Air Base 684 km north of Tokyo, in Aomori Prefecture. The base is home to 5,200 U.S. military personnel, as well as 350 U.S. civilian employees and 900 Japanese national employees. The Misawa Passive Radio Frequency space surveillance site is used for tracking satellites using the signals they transmit. The Misawa Security Operations Center (although secret) is believed to be one of the largest ECHELON ground stations in the world, a "Five Eyes" operation that excludes the Japanese.
The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force is based in Okinawa a
kilometres southwest of the main Japanese islands, where the Kadena Air
is also located, a site of constant demonstrations demanding the
U.S. troops from Okinawa. Also located in Okinawa is the hated Marine
Air Station Futenma, a United States Marine Corps base located right
the busy city of Ginowan, just nine km northeast of Naha, the capital
Futenma is home to approximately 3,000 Marines of the 1st Marine
Wing where warplanes continuously take off and land. The people of
have led an important struggle for removal of the base, which was
years ago but stalled by successive Japanese governments in Tokyo.
elected officials in Okinawa want Futenma removed completely and not
relocated in Japan. The recently elected Governor of Okinawa has vowed
veto any landfill work needed to move Futenma to a northern location on
island and demands instead the complete removal of the base. In concert
the people of Okinawa, the elected officials from the southern islands
entire U.S. military occupation of Japan ended immediately and are
engaged in a historic showdown with the Tokyo central dictatorship.
Canadians can play a role in this important battle for peace by fighting for the formation of an anti-war government in Canada. An anti-war government would cut all ties with the U.S. military including its spy networks and agencies used for political destabilization. An anti-war government would take up its social responsibilities to demand the U.S. military leave Japan and South Korea and let the peoples of Asia settle their problems themselves by their own efforts without outside interference. As it stands, the presence of the U.S. military in Asia is the main factor against resolving any issue peacefully. U.S. interference includes constant war games, threats of military surprise attacks, the sale of advanced weaponry, U.S. imperialist cultural aggression, and its active meddling in the political affairs of others to destabilize regimes and put in power malleable flunkies.
All out to Build
Committees of People's Empowerment
that Fight for Democratic Renewal and an Anti-war Government!
1. ECHELON is a signals intelligence collection and analysis spy network operated on behalf of the five signatory nations to the UK-USA Security Agreement -- Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The agreement is referred to as the Five Eyes. ECHELON has been described as a software system to control the download and dissemination of intercepted commercial satellite trunk communications (including those via Internet) for military and industrial espionage purposes. The system has evolved beyond its military/diplomatic origins to also become a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications. Britain's Guardian newspaper summarized the capabilities of the ECHELON system as, "A global network of electronic spy stations that can eavesdrop on telephones, faxes and computers. It can even track bank accounts. This information is stored in Echelon computers, which can keep millions of records on individuals." Officially, Echelon does not exist but is known to be connected with the U.S. National Security Agency and used to disrupt Internet usage worldwide and cause provocations with the DPRK, China and other countries in preparation for regime change and war.
(Sources: Akahata, Japan Press Weekly, Mainichi Shimbun, Wikipedia. Photos: Japan Focus, H. Hamaya, Mainichi Shimbun, Center for Strategic and International Studies, T. Morizumi)
Discussion of Oil Prices
Oil has become a strategic resource in the modern world. Oil is necessary for industrial mass production, transportation and warfare.
A human-centred outlook towards oil regards the resource as necessary for mutual development of all peoples to a modern standard wherein all nations are regarded as equal without reference to size or development, where the rights of all peoples are affirmed and force is not used to settle conflicts amongst nations, and the short and long term consequences of the use of oil on the social and natural environments are important considerations in nation- building.
A capital-centred outlook regards oil as necessary for empire-building to amass and concentrate greater power and social wealth for the dominant Empire from the subjugation of the world's peoples and exploitation of their resources and work, to restrict competitors' access to resources, workers and markets, and to suppress all resistance to empire-building through predatory war and other means wherein the short and long term consequences of the use of oil on the social and natural environments are dismissed as impediments to empire-building.
In reaching superpower status and hegemony over the world, the U.S. has built military bases and stationed its naval forces throughout the world to control the production and distribution of oil and increasingly natural gas as well, and restrict access of competitors to these and other resources and to engage in subversion and armed combat to eliminate resistance to U.S. empire- building.
The worldwide deployment of U.S. armed forces is the backbone of its empire-building project. The U.S. military in alliance with corrupt, coerced and bribed governments exercises dictatorship over the world's peoples, their resources and social wealth. It now seeks to consolidate its hegemony with a pivot to Asia, which requires a strengthened grip on old Europe, and isolation and subjugation of Russia.
Any government that steps out courageously on a path of independence from the U.S. Empire does so knowing that the entire military, political, espionage and aggressive cultural weapons and accumulated social wealth and economic strength and connections of U.S. imperialism will be unleashed against it. The people striving for independence must use the power of their state and mobilize their people in defence of their right to be in the battle against the U.S. Empire. The independent state skillfully and bravely must find ways and allies to deprive the U.S. Empire of the power to deprive the world's peoples of their independence and right to be.
The striving for independence includes, importantly, the securing of oil if it lacks a ready source and finding buyers if it has quantities for export. The U.S. Empire does not make this an easy task for any people, creating situations whereby nations must rely on the U.S. and be beholden to it. The global U.S. military force attempts to block transportation of oil and other resources from countries striving for independence, which either need oil or want to export it. Within this worldwide blockade, U.S. sanctions on the economies of independent countries are important economic weapons employed in concert with actions of coerced and compliant sycophants against the popular will.
The monopoly control of prices is another weapon the U.S. Empire employs against the peoples of the world. To facilitate the manipulation of the price of oil to attack those peoples and states striving for independence that have oil for export, the U.S. Empire has formed Fortress North America combining the three states of Mexico, Canada and the United States. Fortress North America has flooded the world with oil and natural gas, especially from fracked shale in the U.S. and oil sands in Alberta. Both production methods have prices of production well above the current $48 per barrel realized price and both are widely considered harmful to the social and natural environments.
All the incremental growth of oil in the world in recent years has come from the U.S. and Canada. Saudi Arabia announced it would continue to produce its current amount to maintain a grip on its market share. U.S. oil production has expanded to 9.14 million barrels a day, the highest level since January 1983. Canadian production of crude has climbed to a record 3.5 million barrels a day. Estimates are that one million barrels of oil production per day cannot find buyers at any price and is being stored. Similar frantic expansion has been occurring in the natural gas sector, along with proposals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) refineries for sea transport. Natural gas prices have declined to $3.14 per million British thermal units, down 26 per cent during 2014. Oil and natural gas corridors going east, west and south are at various points of expansion coordinated by Fortress North America, where security of oil and natural gas supply in preparation for war is a major consideration.
The financing of frenetic energy expansion without concern for particular economic or environmental consequences has come mainly from the U.S. government pouring trillions of dollars into the coffers of the largest private financial enterprises far in excess of growth in the economy's goods and services sector. This excess money supply has subsequently been doled out to the oil, gas, pipeline and LNG developers in chaotic anarchic abandon without consideration of the glut of supply and ensuing destructive consequences. Some of this borrowed money is now in danger of default because of low realized prices and mass layoffs have already been announced in the energy sector. The incoherence of letting loose competing capitalists with easy money in such a sensitive important basic sector of the economy, unleashing anarchy and destruction in production and prices not to speak of the environmental considerations and hostile global politics is a serious indictment of the Obama and Harper dictatorships and their complete disregard for humanity's future. They are unfit to rule!
Many of the new jobs in the U.S. and Canada since the economic crisis in 2008 have come from the energy sector. The U.S. oil industry has showed 50 per cent employment growth since 2009 almost all from fracking wells and exploration. Now, according to Tom Runiewicz, a U.S. industry economist at IHS Global Insight, if oil stays around $56 a barrel till the middle of 2015 (it has since fallen to $48), a sharp drop of direct employment will occur and companies providing services to the oil and gas industry could lose 40,000 jobs, while oil and gas equipment manufacturers may lay off 6,000 workers. The New York Times reports, "U.S. states dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oil prices may have on their local economies."
What has driven this expansion in oil and natural gas supply and transportation, quite knowingly at odds with apparent demand and using production techniques considered by many in the sector to be hazardous to the social and natural environments? The first answer would be greed, as energy companies using cheap government supplied money and publicly funded infrastructure have seized millions of dollars in profits at least until realized prices recently fell. The second answer would be a political decision of the U.S. Empire to form Fortress North America to secure oil and natural gas resources in preparation for war and to flood the global market with excess supply to depress prices to attack specifically Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, Canadian workers have become collateral damage in the U.S. economic aggression against other countries, anarchy of production and subsequent collapse of prices. On January 13, oil sands firm and Canada's biggest energy company Suncor announced that due to low oil prices, it would be reducing its 2015 budget by $1 billion, holding off on an expansion project and cutting some 1,000 jobs. Other large energy companies have announced similar layoffs.
Oil is presently trading at about $48 per barrel, well below the $74.55 Suncor used when it prepared and released its original 2015 budget. Notably, the Globe and Mail reports, "Suncor did not reduce its production expectations for 2015. It predicts it will churn out between 540,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day and 585,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day this year." This continued, "churning out" and desperation to complete the Keystone and other pipelines make clear that Fortress North America is not intended to ensure the well-being or security of those who live within its borders or that oil production in Canada is linked to the needs and development of the national economy. Oil production is not planned in any rational coherent manner integrated seamlessly into the broad economy, taking into consideration the social and natural environments. No, oil and natural gas production is one more weapon in the arsenal of the U.S. Empire to feed its insatiable war machine and its aggressive global politics, while the people and their needs are expendable.
The deliberate production of a glut in oil and natural gas, using methods known to be harmful to the social and natural environments, targets Russia and its natural gas market in Europe and oil sales elsewhere. The aim appears to be not only to weaken those three oil producing states, labelled antagonists to the U.S. Empire, with regard to their export income but also to wean the European energy market away from Russian natural gas and into the orbit of the U.S. Empire eventually to be supplied with LNG from Fortress North America.
People of Crimea celebrate decision to secede from Ukraine, March 16, 2014. (Xinhua)
A major part of this plan has been for the U.S. spy agencies and Special Forces to destabilize Ukraine, which culminated in a coup d'état last February and persecution of and aggression against those regions of Ukraine perceived as close fraternally and politically to Russia. The coup d'état installed a fascist government under the control of the U.S. Empire. The people in Eastern Ukraine rebelled and responded defensively organizing themselves to beat back the assaults of criminal gangs unleashed by the coup forces. They also held a successful referendum in Crimea to break with the Kiev coup regime and rejoin Russia. In response to the Ukrainian resistance, the U.S. Empire together with sycophants in Europe and the likes of Canada initiated a war of sanctions against Russia and stationed increased numbers of U.S.-led NATO troops and weapons of mass destruction near Russia's borders.
The U.S. Empire has told old Europe in words and actions that it should now rely on energy supplies from Fortress North America instead of Russia. The proposal to supplant Russia as the major supplier of natural gas into Europe, along with the collapse in the price of oil and natural gas and speculative pressure on the Russian currency decreasing its relative value with others, and a broad increase of U.S.-led NATO military forces on Russia's borders are aimed at regime change in Russia or at least serious disruption and weakening of its independent strength. Monopolies of the U.S. Empire could then move into Russia unimpeded to seize its resources and workers, and suppress any Russian dreams of a stable Eurasian economic cooperative market with Russia in the middle, which now exists in an initial form as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The U.S. Empire believes it can put old Europe more firmly in the U.S. camp through attacking and weakening Russia, and by using its espionage services and Special Forces to create a climate of anarchy and violence throughout Europe that draws it into the U.S. "war on terror." From a position of strength in Europe and with Russia suppressed, the U.S. Empire could intensify its pivot to Asia to surround China, the Indian sub-continent and South East Asia and bring them under U.S. dictate assuring global dominance of the U.S. Empire.
Empire-building is fraught with grave dangers including the possibility of a catastrophic world war with nuclear weapons. The responsibility of the people is to stop empire-building before the situation spirals out of control. Our social responsibility as Canadians is to disengage Canada from Fortress North America and begin our own nation-building project in opposition to the warmongering U.S. Empire and in unity with the peoples of the world who are striving for independence and the affirmation of their right to be.
The New Year statement of CPC(M-L) reads, "The use of force to settle conflicts amongst nations and overt pro-war propaganda pervade the monopoly-controlled media and Parliament with jingoistic fervour. History demands that the people organize themselves for an anti-war government that removes Canada from the integrated Northern Command, NATO, NORAD and any other participation with the aggressive U.S. military forces and perfidious spy agencies of torture and interference in the sovereign affairs of the world's peoples. [...]
"In 2015, let us build the organizations and voice of the working class movement and people's striving for empowerment and an anti-war government! All out to make the Committees for People's Empowerment and Renewal Update a success! Defeat Harper in 2015!"
(With files from TML, RT, NYT, Financial Post, Bloomberg News, Globe and Mail)
The U.S. is behind the current drop in oil prices as it is aiming to undermine the economies of large petroleum producers Russia and Venezuela, Bolivian President Evo Morales told RT in December.
Morales said that it's "a pity" that the U.S. remains on a "wrong course" by continuing to use sanctions against its political rivals.
"[The U.S. thinks] we are living 200, 300 or 500 years ago, instead of today. But all the past should remain in the past. The U.S. should realize this," he told RT's Spanish channel.
America is acting like other large empires did for centuries as they "disseminated strife and hatred inside and outside, wishing to establish political control over other nations and to plunder them economically," Morales said, in an apparent reference to the Spanish conquistadors' invasions of Latin America. The Bolivian President also denounced Europe for being "U.S. accomplices" in implementing sanctions worldwide.
Morales said that President Obama "should stop imposing sanctions" and pay more attention to America's internal problems.
"[...] I am sure that the oil prices' plunge was provoked by the U.S. to undermine the Russian and Venezuelan economies. This is my opinion," Morales said.
He urged Russia and Venezuela to "join their efforts" in countering the U.S.' "aggressive policies."
Morales said, "I am sure the U.S. aggression related to oil price cuts will not last long. Is $60 per barrel a feasible price? Washington is not interested in this. All the U.S. is interested in is an economic assault on some countries to overthrow their presidents. But they will not succeed in this task."
(RT News, December 19, 2014)
Venezuelan President Maduro addressing Governors and Ministers, December 22, 2014.
The U.S. is conducting an oil war to destroy Russia and Venezuela, the latter country's President Nicolas Maduro said on December 9.
One more objective pursued by the U.S. is to destroy OPEC, he said.
"A real oil war is underway," he said. "Its goal is to destroy Russia, to drive Russia into a collapse as a global power and President Obama admitted the fact in a radio interview today."
Simultaneously, the current slump in oil prices is also aimed at Venezuela, Maduro believes. "It seeks to turn our country into a colony, to destroy our independence and our revolution with the aid of an economic collapse."
He recalled that the price of Venezuelan oil totaled $95 per barrel back in September and it plummeted to a mere $48, or by 50 per cent, by the end of December.
"Still, neither Russia nor Venezuela will surrender and we'll continue our struggle and they won't overpower us," Maduro said.
(TASS News, December 30, 2014)
The U.S. and its allies are pursuing a regime change policy towards Russia, deliberately introducing sanctions and attacking the ruble through manipulation of world oil prices, the head of Russia's external intelligence agency has said.
Mikhail Fradkov, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), warned that Moscow is aware of U.S. moves to oust Putin from power.
"Such a desire has been noticed, it's a small secret," Fradkov -- a former prime minister -- told Bloomberg on December 4. "No one wants to see a strong and independent Russia."
He also attributed the more than 30 per cent drop in oil prices partly to U.S. actions. Lower prices for one of Russia's main exports places immense pressure on the ruble, which is also suffering from sanctions. The ruble has lost 39 per cent of its value against the dollar as of December 2014.
Foreign investment funds are taking part in ruble speculation via intermediaries, Fradkov said. "Any speculation has specific schemes and the schemes have a number of participants."
(RT News, December 5, 2014 (excerpts))
A plunge in oil prices has sent tremors through the
global political and
economic order, setting off an abrupt shift in fortunes that has
interests of the United States and pushed several big oil-exporting
particularly those hostile to the West, like Russia, Iran and Venezuela
-- to the
brink of financial crisis.
The price plunge may also influence Iran's deliberations
over whether to
agree to a deal on its nuclear program with the West; force the
of the Middle East to reassess their role in managing global supply;
a boost to the economies of the biggest oil-consuming nations, notably
the United States and China.
The price drop, said Edward N. Luttwak, a longtime
Pentagon adviser and
author of several books on geopolitical and economic strategy, "is
down America's principal opponents without us even trying." For Iran,
is estimated to be losing $1 billion a month because of the fall, it is
Congress had passed the much tougher sanctions that the White House
against, he said.
Venezuela, which has the world's largest estimated oil
reserves and has
used them to position itself as a foil to American "imperialism,"
percent of its export earnings from petroleum before prices fell. It is
having trouble paying for social projects at home and for a foreign
rooted in oil-financed largess, including shipments of reduced-price
to Cuba and elsewhere.
"It is a big boost for the U.S. when three out of four of our active antagonists are seriously weakened, when their room for maneuver is seriously reduced," Mr. Luttwak said, referring to Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
The only major United States antagonist not hurt by the drop in oil prices is North Korea, which imports all of its petroleum.
David L. Goldwyn, who was the State Department's
coordinator during President Obama's first term [...] said of the low
price of oil [...] "it harms Russia and puts pressure on Iran."
Another casualty of the price collapse has been Belarus, a former Soviet territory long reviled by American officials as Europe's last dictatorship. It produces no significant amount of crude oil itself but has nonetheless taken a big hit. This is because its economy depends heavily on the export of petroleum products that Belarus produces using crude oil supplied, at a steep discount, by Russia.
Marwan Muasher, a former foreign minister of Jordan who
is now a vice
president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, predicted
domino effect in Syria as Russia and Iran find it difficult to sustain
economic, military and diplomatic support for President Bashar al-Assad.
[F]ormer K.G.B. agents close to Mr. Putin have long believed that Washington engineered the collapse of the Soviet Union by getting Saudi Arabia to increase oil output, driving down prices and thus starving Moscow of revenue.
In many ways, the recent price fall really is the United States' work, flowing to a large extent from a surge in American oil production through the development of alternative sources like shale.
By offsetting declines in conventional oil production,
increases in shale oil
output have allowed overall American crude oil production to rise to an
average of about nine million barrels a day from five million a day in
according to the United States Energy Information Administration. That
four-million-barrel increase is more than either Iraq or Iran, the
third-largest OPEC producers after Saudi Arabia, produces each day, and
put strong downward pressure on world prices.
(December 24, 2014)
What Are the Military Costs of Securing "Our" Oil?
[...] As bad as the costs of pollution and global warming are, as taxpayers we pay another cost for oil. Each year, our military devotes substantial resources to securing access to and safeguarding the transportation of oil and other energy sources. I estimate that we will pay $90 billion this year  to secure oil. If spending on the Iraq War is included, the total rises to $166 billion.
This year, the U.S. government will spend $722 billion on the military, not including military assistance to other countries, space exploration, or veterans' benefits. Defending American access to oil represents a modest share of U.S. militarism.
Calculating the numbers isn't straightforward. Energy security, according to national security documents, is a vital national interest and has been incorporated into military objectives and strategies for more than half a century. But military documents do not attach a dollar figure to each mission, strategy, or objective, so figuring out which military actions relate to oil requires plowing through various documents and devising methodologies.
The U.S. military carves the world up into regions -- Europe, Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, South America and North America -- each with its own command structure, called a "unified combatant command." I arrived at my estimate of military spending related to securing oil by tracing U.S. military objectives and strategies through these geographic commands and their respective fleets, divisions, and other units. I only considered conventional spending, excluding spending on nuclear weapons. [...]
U.S. Central Command has an "area of responsibility"
from the Arabian Gulf region through Central Asia and was specifically
created in 1980 during the Carter administration because of the
reserves. Two-thirds of the world's oil reserves and nearly half of
supplies reside within these twenty countries. Aside from joint
exercises with oil-producing nations, securing oil fields, and a host
oil-related tasks, the command closely monitors the Strait of Hormuz.
half of all oil transported throughout the world passes through this
which has been periodically threatened with disruptions. I estimate
of conventional military spending is directed at supporting the
strategies of Central Command, and three-quarters of that spending is
to securing and transporting oil from and through the region, as shown
U.S. Pacific Command ensures transportation of oil, specifically through the Strait of Malacca, one of the two most important strategic oil chokepoints. Fifteen million barrels of oil per day flow from the Middle East and West Africa to Asia. This oil is particularly important to another oil-dependent country -- Japan, an important American ally in the region. Pacific Command is the largest of all the commands, covering half of the globe. It is also responsible for the largest number of troops and is an important provider of training and troops to U.S. Central Command. Given information on bases, assigned troops and other indicators, I estimate that about 35% of conventional military spending is required for missions and strategies for this command and about 20% of that amount is needed for securing the transport of energy throughout the region.
U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command also have resources devoted to securing access to energy. Initially formed to protect Western Europe, [...] European Command is currently postured to project power toward the energy-rich areas of the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. Alongside NATO, European Command is increasingly focused on energy security in Europe, especially since the revision of NATO's Strategic Concept in 1999. Finally, the command was also responsible for overseeing the set-up of the newest command, U.S. Africa Command, which was motivated by competition for newly discovered oil reserves. I estimate that around 25% of the military budget is devoted to military strategies relating to Europe and Africa, and of that, about two-fifths can be attributed to securing oil and energy supplies.
U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command are responsible for North and South America and the surrounding waters. While Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela rank in the top five countries from which the United States imports oil, I could not find definitive activities connected with either Northern or Southern Command that would justify inclusion in the estimate.
Dividing the military budget according to geographic regions and reviewing activities in those regions leads me to conclude that about $90 billion will be spent this year for securing access to and the transport of oil and other energy supplies.
But that number does not include the vast sums spent on the Iraq War. In spite of the Bush administration's claims that the United States invaded Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction, evidence points to oil. Since World War II and historic meetings between President Roosevelt and the leader of Saudi Arabia, U.S. policy interests have been focused on establishing a stronghold in the region. Prior to the invasion, the Bush administration had already made plans for the oil industry, and currently, the military surrounds and secures the oil fields.
Since 2003, the Iraq War has cost U.S. taxpayers three-quarters of a trillion dollars, as shown in Table 2. Though spending will decline this year, including the Iraq War brings total spending on securing access to oil to $166 billion. Other analysts might point to the strategic importance of Afghanistan in a resource-rich region, but spending on that prolonged war and occupation is not included in this analysis.
Recently, President Obama appeased the oil industry by
opening large parts
of the East Coast, Gulf waters, and elsewhere to drilling. [...] If
increased, oil prices may drop. [...]
Anita Dancs is assistant Professor of Economics at Western New England College and a staff economist for the Center for Popular Economics.
SOURCES: Energy Information Administration (eia.doe.gov). These estimates are refined and updated from an earlier paper, Anita Dancs with Mary Orisich and Suzanne Smith, "The Military Cost of Securing Energy," National Priorities Project (nationalpriorities.org), October 2008.
[... I]t's impossible to get the whole picture of demand for oil without recognizing one very special oil consumer: the U.S. military. Every tank, armored vehicle, truck, humvee, jet, and missile runs on refined oil, as do most ships. In 2007, the U.S. military consumed about 250 million barrels of oil and 2.6 billion gallons of jet fuel, making it the world's single largest fuel-burning entity. Without oil the Army and Marines could not maneuver, the Air Force could not fly, and most of the Navy could not sail. The United States would be a paralyzed superpower, unable to project power throughout the world. Since all the other military forces in the world also run on oil, the ability to cut their oil lifelines is a tremendous strategic advantage in any conflict. These factors make oil more than just another commodity. Oil is a weapon, a strategic commodity, a national security resource [...]
The world is awash in oil, I'm hearing. The problem is, it's fairly expensive oil.
Take for example Canada. The country has managed to increase its production of oil by a million barrels a day over the last decade. But almost all of that increase has come from oil sands. If you consider only conventional crude oil, Canadian production today would be a third of a million barrels a day lower than at its peak in 1973.
Even without counting environmental costs, that stuff's not cheap. It was profitable when West Texas Intermediate was over $90. But last week [in early December] WTI closed at $66. Here are some of the estimates from the Wall Street Journal:
The break-even price for new oil-sands surface mines is among the most expensive in the world, at around $85 a barrel, according to the Bank of Nova Scotia. Operating costs at existing mines are less than half that amount. But the break-even point for so-called in situ projects, in which bitumen is heated and pumped up to the surface, range between $40 a barrel and $80 a barrel. Such projects represent the majority of future growth.
Or consider the United States, where production
has grown 2 mb/d
since 2004. More than 3 mb/d of that growth has come from fracking of
trapped in tight geologic formations. Without tight oil, U.S.
be down more than a million barrels a day over the last ten years and
5-1/2 mb/d from its peak in 1970.
Estimates again vary, but prices this low have to
severely inhibit new
investment in U.S. tight oil. Without continuing new drilling, U.S.
production would quickly fall. And the economics of deep ocean
which has also been important in supporting production in the U.S. and
the world, have become even more difficult at today's low prices.
Why am I talking about the costs for Canadian and U.S.
Because if it had not been for the success of Canada and the United
world production of crude oil would be down overall over the last
Granted, some of the stagnation in global output has
been due to
geopolitical disruptions, Libya being the most important example. And
production rebounded significantly this fall, contributing to the
But Libya remains a very unstable place. It does not take much imagination to see the recent gains there being reversed again over the next few months. Nor does one have to be an excessive worrier to be concerned about the possibility of geopolitical turbulence in places like Nigeria and Iraq taking out more of their production, which between them accounted for 5.4 mb/d of last year's world oil supply.
So here's the basic picture. The current surplus of oil
was brought about
primarily by the success of unconventional oil production in North
most new investments in which are not sustainable at current prices.
that production, the price of oil could not remain at current levels.
It's just a
matter of how long it takes for the high-cost North American producers
back in response to current incentives. And when they do, the price has
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