FM newswire for June 22, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. Bad news for Europe.  Norway may have much less natural gas than previously estimated:  “European energy security: The future of Norwegian natural gas production“, B. Söderbergh et al, Energy Policy, December 2009
  2. Lots of detail; otherwise a confused mess:  “The Birth of a Bomb“, Der Spiegel, 17 June 2010 — A history of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
  3. Watching your drinking water burn:  “Onshore Drilling Disasters Waiting to Happen: An Interview With ‘Gasland’ Director Josh Fox“, The Nation, 17 June 2010 — Bad news about shale gas.
  4. Bad news about finances of the States (not just California):  “California on ‘verge of system failure’“, Globe and Mail, 18 June 2010 — “The Golden State, like many others, is nearly bankrupt and desperately needs a bailout”
  5. Forecast on the FM website 3 years ago:  “Razing the City to Save the City“, New York Times, 20 June 2010 — See here, here, and here.
  6. Amateur night in Washington:  “US Officials Dispute, Downplay July 2011 Afghan Pullout Date“, Jason Ditz, AntiWar, 20 June 2010 — “Gates: Pullout ‘Absolutely Has Not Been Decided'”
  7. Bad news for our troops:  “Sharp rise in Army deaths from small arms fire prompts inquiry into Taliban snipers“, The Independent, 21 June 2010
  8. We’re not the only animals that kill for territory:  “Chimpanzees kill to win new territory“, New Scientist, 21 June 2010
  9. Important:  “War shatters the peace of northern Afghanistan“, The National, 21 June 2010
  10. US Coast Guard: Bigger Missions, Fewer Dollars“,  International Relations and Security Network (ISN), 21 June 2010
  11. More on the battle of our largest untapped energy source:  “A Colossal Fracking Mess“, Vanity Fair, 21 June 2010 — “The dirty truth behind the new natural gas”
  12. Recommended:  “Populism, American Style“, Henry Olsen, National Affairs, Summer 2010 — A history of populism in America.

Thoughts after reading the profile of General McChrystal in Rolling Stone magazine

Link to the Rolling Stone article here.  McChrystal is not stupid, despite many comments to that effect by people who’ve read the RS article (e.g, Michael Cohen).  We can only guess what’s going on.  Perhaps (guessing) he’s signalling dominance, a political gamble going into the next battle of the Af-Pak War — about the 2011 exit date (in colonial wars the key battles occur in the Imperial capital; the insurgents need only survive until the foreign forces leave from exhaustion of political support back home).   McChrystal knows that in a street fight one always kicks a downed opponent.  McChrystal has assessed Obama, and believes he has the stronger position.  We will soon see if he’s right.

Whatever the outcome, this illustrates the power of the military in American political system, greater than ever before in our history.   If Obama does not fire McChrystal, he looks weak.  If he fires McChrystal, conservatives will criticize him for damaging the war effort — firing a General with brass balls — because of his personal views (the RS article contains almost nothing about policy).  A Roosevelt (either one), Truman, or Eisenhower would have quickly reassigned him for something like this, IMO.  I believe Obama will do so.

Background information, from the Uniform Code of Military Justice:  888 Article 88 — Contempt Toward Officials:

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

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