Brown pretends to be tough on Russia

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is trying to reassert his authority on the cheap, by publishing an anti-Russian diatribe in today's Guardian (a left-leaning newspaper). It's an impressive exercise in weasel words and tough-sounding emptiness.

Before I take you through it in detail below the fold, let me note again that this sets the tone for public discourse on the topic. Newspapers, even if they have different information on the underlying conflict, have to report the aggressive declarations by Brown and others, and cannot fail to paint that as increased tension with Russia. As Russia responds (and it often does in rather unsubtle ways), reality follows discourse, further inflames it, and the whole process takes a life of its own. Pundits, even well intentioned ones, can then go on to pontificate about evil Russia and a small number of concepts, such as the "energy weapon", enter public lore and become "acquired concepts" (I'm tempted to write "acquired conceits") even when the facts on the ground are rather different.

But by then, the Mission has been Accomplished: the discussion is no longer about our failing energy policies (or rather, the lack thereof), or about our leaders' incompetence, but about the Enemy which wants to hurt us and against which We Must Stand Firm (Behind our Beloved and Fearless Leaders).

I understand our leaders trying this: after all, this is all they have to run on. But why, oh why, does our media have to fall for it hook, line and sinker?

This is how we will stand up to Russia's naked aggression

As European leaders meet, the Prime Minister says security is linked to the politics of energy

"We will stand up" to "Russia's naked aggression" - the stage is set. Once you've read the title, you know how it's going to be, there's really no need to go beyond. We are going to be provided with an enemy, and fearless leaders to fight it. And we know that this is what goes on TV - you get the headline and the subheader as "comment" by the talking heads. Evil Russia is stealing our energy and making us pay dearly for it and We Will Not Tolerate It.

Twenty years ago, as the Berlin Wall fell, people assumed the end of hostility between East and West, and a new world order founded on common values. As part of this, 10 Eastern European states joined Nato and intensified co-operation with Europe and more wanted to follow. But Russia's hostile action towards Georgia suggests that they are unreconciled to this new reality. Their aggression raises two urgent questions for us: how best to stabilise Georgia now, and how to make it clear to Russia that its unilateral approach is dangerous and unacceptable. War in Georgia also poses a serious longer term issue - how can we best create a rules-based international system that protects our collective security and safeguards our shared values?

Sigh... Where to begin? This is history rewriting on a grand scale...

  • our "common values" are embedded, if anywhere, in the Council of Europe, of which 47 countries are members, including (to quite a bit of debate in the 90s, as the wars in Chechnya raged on) Russia. NATO does not represent "common values", it is a military organisation created to defend its members against the Warsaw Pact, as run from Moscow. Its explicit - and still sole, despite desperate efforts to change that - raison d'être is to prepare for war with Russia. Making that organisation, rather than the Council of Europe or, more prosaically, the European Union, the embodiment of our values, speaks volumes - as does Brown's failure to even mention the EU in that paragraph...
  • bam, out of the blue, Russia decided to attack poor weak Georgia. No mention of how this conflict originated in the short term (a Georgian attack), no discussion of the complex past history of South Ossetia (whether you look at the last 15 years or the past 2 centuries) - and no reference whatsoever to our policies towards Russia (bringing NATO to Russia's borders, cancelling the ABM treaty, ignoring them on Kosovo, just to note recent events). Nope. We're the good guys, they are the bad guys. It is so because we say so, we, the good guys.
  • as to creating a "rules-based international system" - how about, you know, us actually following the rules that already apply to us under the existing international system? Like not invading countries on a whim? Not deciding on our own which separatist provinces deserve independence from the countries they are a part of and which don't? Not threatening attack on various others because they do things we don't like? It is legitimate for organisations that focus on international rights or human rights and criticize our own failings to criticize Russia for its patchy record; it is quite another thing to hear the same from governments that engage in the exact same behavior they criticize at this very moment!

At tomorrow's European summit in Brussels we will first unite to alleviate the suffering of the 100,000 Georgian civilians left without homes. The UK has already pledged £2m, and I will urge partners to meet not only Georgia's immediate needs but its long-term reconstruction and development needs. We will deploy peace monitors to better judge violations of the ceasefire, appoint a senior figure to drive the humanitarian and political effort, and support the Nato Georgia Commission, with a Nato team sent to Georgia.

Ooooh. 2 million pounds?! How amazingly generous. That's sure going to help. But never mind, let's create more "Nato Georgia" thingies that take a life of their own, can be ignored if needed (hey, you don't actually want us to fight against Russia's army, do you?), but help create the perception in the meantime that we're standing by our proud new ally against the evil invaders. Let's keep NATO on the forefront, and sneakily suggest that the EU is doing NATO's bidding (note that the EU is still not mentioned: a "European summit" is nicely ambiguous in that respect).

Georgia has felt the consequences of the conflict. It is important that the summit also demonstrates to Russia that its actions have real consequences.

Hmmm... I look forward to such a demonstration...

No one wants a new Cold War or the encirclement of Russia.

Let's deny the obvious. I find it particularly noteworthy that Brown feels ready to acknowledge the "encirclement of Russia": that means that this (i) is the reality and (ii) that it will be pushed further. It's denied, so those that say it's happening can now be dismissed as lackeys of Russia, unserious, cowards or any combination thereof as said encirclement proceeds further (or attempts to anyway).

But when I spoke to President Medvedev yesterday, I told him to expect a determined European response. As David Miliband has said, there can be no return to 'business as usual' unless and until Russia commits fully to Georgia's territorial integrity and withdraws to its previous positions.

Ooooh. He talked to Medvedev! (not to Putin?) In a stern tone! To tell him to do something he is clearly not doing (having recognized South Ossetia's independence) or ... or else! The "demonstration" stepping up... to the naive public at home.

Russia has emerged as a significant economic power, with its trade increasing fourfold. It has done so by reaping the benefits of a stable global order based on agreements that make trade and investment both possible and profitable, bringing greater stability and certainty to international relations.

Yes, Russia's rising prosperity is clearly due to agreements that make trade profitable (codewords for the WTO. As we know, trade is always profitable and must be expanded) but to which it is not yet a party. It has nothing to do with the higher prices for its main exports (oil, gas and metals) or with the relative stability imposed by Putin and his KGB cronies in lieu of the chaos of the Yelstsin years. No, anything good that happens to Russia has to be claimed by the West's neoliberal policies. Not only we're the good guys (ie everything we do is good by definition), but everything that's good anywhere can and should be credited to us to. Others are, well, othery and cannot, also by definition, do any good. Life can be so simple.

Equally, when Russia fights secessionist movements in Chechnya or Dagestan, it expects others to respect its territorial integrity and not to recognise declarations of independence.

Hmmm.... Let's not mention the fact that we didn't really care about Chechnya back then, because we still had access to Russia's oil&gas resources then ("we" being the Western oil majors, of course). In fact, I distinctly remember that in 1999-2001, in the early years of Putin's presidency, the UK and US had rather friendly relationships with Russia, whereas France was in a really tense one as its government (well, what do you expect from 35-hour-promoting socialists) and media were rather vocal about Chechnya - an attitude that was mostly criticised by the Anglos as needlessly disturbing business.

So when Russia has a grievance over an issue such as South Ossetia, it should act multilaterally by consent rather than unilaterally by force. I believe Russia faces a choice about the nature of its responsibilities as a leading and respected member of the international community. My message to Russia is simple: if you want to be welcome at the top table of organisations such as the G8, OECD and WTO, you must accept that with rights come responsibilities. We want Russia to be a good partner in the G8 and other organisations, but it cannot pick and choose which rules to adhere to.

Ack. Again, where to start? Bullet points ahoy: here we go again!

  • "it should act multilaterally by consent rather than unilaterally by force," says the head of the government of one of the countries that invaded Iraq despite being told in no uncertain that the invasion was not approved by the UN Security council? Who the fuck does he think he is kidding? (Sad answer: a lot of people, including most of our pundit class);
  • more to the specific point, Russia actually went to the Security Council on 8 August to ask for international intervention, as Georgian troops were attacking South Ossetian with heavy artillery. They followed the existing diplomatic procedures, but their claims were ignored or rejected.
  • Russia is a member of the G8, an increasingly pointless body, is not a member of the OECD (described by the Economist as a "think tank"), nor one of the WTO (its membership having been blocked for years by the USA for reasons totally unrelated to the current crisis). What's the value of these carrots, exactly, after years of dangling them in front of the Kremlin's eyes and denying them, or emptying them of their substance?
  • "it cannot pick and choose which rules to adhere to" - nope, that's only a prerogative of the Good Guys. (I mean, that's the only way to make sense of what would otherwise be breathtaking double standards).

That is why I will argue tomorrow that Russia should accept Georgia's territorial integrity and international mechanisms for addressing these conflicts, and withdraw troops to their previous positions. And, in the light of Russian actions, the EU should review - root and branch - our relationship with Russia. We should continue to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and may need to meet more regularly as the G7. We are also reflecting on the Nato response. We must re-evaluate the alliance's relationship with Russia, and intensify our support to Georgia and others who may face Russian aggression .

So the thing to do if we are unhappy with Russia is to "strengthen the transatlantic relationship", ie to fall in line even more rigidly behind Washington's (provenly toxic) positions? Doesn't this sound like hiding in mama's skirt (or rather, behind papa's big fists) in a schoolyard fight one started?

More interestingly, this is where we see the absolute cowardice in Brown's position: more regular meetings of the G7 means that there won't actually be a confrontation with Russia about its membership in the G8, just more meaningless meetings without Evil Russians to pretend that we're "standing up to them" (safely from a distance). And "reflecting" on NATO's response. That has to be the lamest, weakest line - in diplo-speak, it means, basically, "please stop hitting us, we agree to everything, just give us the time to set our ties properly before we say yes!"

But, as we know, the target here is not Russia, it's the public over here, and what matters is the repetition, yet again, of the words "Russian aggression," along with more calls for "Atlanticism", ie deciding to not have a common European position and impose division by preeemptively aligning with the extremist position coming from Washington. Bluster, posturing and empty threats that look so manly.

The strangest part is that Russia responds, mostly with surprise, by pointing out that this is empty bluster - and this is taken as yet more aggression (they are contradicting, or worse, mocking, our leaders again!) rather than at simple face value. Clearly they do not play the same game.

No nation can be allowed to exert an energy stranglehold over Europe and the events of August have shown the critical importance of diversifying our energy supply.

Hmmm... Right after "Russian aggression" comes energy. Again, the target is not Russia, but the uninformed public and the naive punditry. As far as I can remember, the war did not cause any disruption in supply - indeed, as the tension between Russia and Georgia built up and turned into actual war, oil prices were collapsing... (for other reasons, but still). The markets obviously took a pretty relaxed view of the impact of this conflict on energy supplies. And the markets are always right, as Brown himself endlessly reminds us (and indeed he will do so before this article is over).

Some pipelines were temporarily cut as conflict raged, but the significance of that is rather different from what pundits might think. The Baku-Supsa oil pipeline was closed, but this was significant only insofar as the much larger Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline had been closed the week before (because of events in Turkey which were, as far as I can tell, totally unrelated to the Georgian crisis) and the route to Supsa was used as a substitute. The Baku-Erzurum gas pipeline, which follows the same route, was also closed, but that pipeline only supplies Turkey with small volumes of gas. Despite multiple claims by the Georgians to that effect, the pipelines were not attacked by Russia (something that BP, which operates all of them, confirmed repeatedly) - but that, of course, did not prevent pundits from saying it did happen (or that it "could" have happened), nor of falsely linking the overall closure of the BTC pipeline to the Russian intervention.

The result is again, "Russian aggression" and "pipeline closed" beign closely associated in everybody's minds. And hey, "energy stranglehold" and "Russia" in the same sentence is all good - it takes attention away from "energy" and "European policies" (or the lack thereof).

The tenfold increase in the world oil price in the past decade has demonstrated that diversification from oil is also an economic necessity.

A rare sane sentence in that article - the content of which will of course be ignored as that apparent sanity is used for other purposes than actually solving problems.

The UK will go from being 80 per cent self-sufficient now to having to import almost two-thirds of our gas and more than half of our oil by 2020 - precisely as markets become more volatile as more people chase fewer natural resources. And with states such as Russia increasingly using their energy resources as policy tools it is apparent that the security grounds for this shift are stronger as well.

So, as long as the UK had enough oil for itself, all was fine, and all discussion of energy dependency was unnecessary (yes, I distinctly remember mockery coming from across the channel and directed at the many continental European countries that worried about long term supplies in the not so distant past). but now that the UK is running out of oil and gas for itself, it becomes an overwhelming issue that hysterically drives everything away - and has to be imposed on the rest of Europe - which are cowards if they don't join in.

Without urgent action we risk sleepwalking into an energy dependence on less stable or reliable partners.

That sentence would be correct with another verb tense: "without action we sleepwalked into an energy dependence on less stable or reliable partners." The dependence is already there: oil is now mostly controlled by countries that fit that description, and any one of a dozen of them can wreak havoc on the global market by withholding production. Think Saudi Arabia or Russia, or course, but also Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola, Kuwait - or, more interestingly, China, Norway, Iraq or Brazil - or the USA. Any country that can take a million barrels per day of capacity from the global market can cause a massive price hike. The impact of Gustav in the coming days could give yet another demonstration of that state of fact.

And an important point to note is that oil produced in the UK or the US does not belong to UK citizens or the US citizens, it belongs to the oil companies that have acquired the rights to the relevant fields - and they can do whatever they want with that oil, starting with selling it to the highest bidder. which means, of course, that even a self-sufficient country's citizens will need to pay the full market price for oil, just like the citizens of oil-poor countries: neither owns any oil reserves...

As to gas, its reserves are even more concentrated than those of oil, with Russia, Iran and Qatar controlling over two thirds of the total. And there is no global market, as gas only goes where infrastructure, ie pipelines and LNG terminals, will take it - under the long term contracts that such infrastructure requires to be financed and built. So gas, in a very practical sense, belongs as much to those that have long term supply rights at the end of the pipeline as to those that actually have the reserves. In that case, the dependency goes both ways, and the partners have a serious incentive to deliver - and indeed Russia has: it certainly has been a highly reliable supplier over the past 40 years, even through the Soviet period, the break-up of the Soviet Union and the chaos that followed.

That is why we in the UK are putting in law our commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, looking to replace our ageing nuclear power plants, to encourage greener fuels to power our homes and businesses and to transform the way we travel.

Nice non sequitur. Let's remind people that we're also pretending to be green, and that this supposedly helps on the separate problem of oil use. Let's provide a further gentle push for nukes (which provide electricity, not transport, today) and biofuels (which are an absurdity from every perspective in Europe) and altogether pretend we have policies in place, without ever mentioning demand reduction or even energy efficiency.

Europe also needs to take action.

Oh yeah, let's pretend too that the UK are leaders, and that (the rest of) Europe has done nothing on the energy front for all these years. The arrogance and hubris is, as usual, breathtaking.

Tomorrow's summit must add urgency to the work on Europe's energy agenda. We must more rapidly build relationships with other producers of oil and gas. Our response must include a redoubling of our efforts to complete a single market in gas and electricity, a collective defence to secure our energy supplies.

Sigh... The single market, as I wrote in the FT last year, encourages market players to invest in gas-fired plants, as they are easier to finance and less risky in the short term. Gas-fired plants mean more demand, for a very long time, for the very gas that we are warned Russia threatens to withhold from us. Even if we find alternate suppliers (would Earlier Evil Country Iran do, if they were ever in a position to export gas?), would it not be a better bet to, you know, not increase our demand for gas? The fact that this question is not even touched by Brown demonstrates, more than anything else, that he is not interested in solutions but in finding scapegoats to blame and to use to rebuild his reputation for toughness and decisiveness.

And, if I may be impertinent once more, what exactly does he mean by "building relationships with other suppliers?" Entering into long term supply contracts? Building infrastructure that links their supplies with our markets via an unbreakable physical link? (you know, what Germany, Italy and France have done with Russia) Or invading them, rewriting their oil laws, and giving away their reserves to oil majors (which, as Iraq amply demonstrates, does not work, as the locals usually get uppity when they see that they are being looted)?

I will also be pressing European leaders to increase funding for a project to allow us to source energy from the Caspian Sea, reducing our dependence on Russia.

BTC already exists, than you very much. There is no gas available in the Caspian (even including Iran) to make a pipeline from over there worthwhile unless it is filled with Russian gas. Nabucco is a non-starter, if its goal is to avoid Russian gas. But hey, let's keep on repeating "Nabucco, Nabucco, Nabucco" like a mantra, and discreetly pushing the completion date by a year each year, so as to look like we're finding other sources of gas.

I will encourage European partners to use our collective bargaining power rather than seek separate energy deals with Russia. And because the environmental necessity is urgent, we must deliver an ambitious 2020 climate and energy package by the end of this year.

Again, will anybody EVER tell me what a common bargaining position towards Russia would be? and how would it be determined? According to energy consumption? To gas consumption? To gas imports? To gas imports from Russia? And, presuming that a joint position is reached, what will happen, beyond merging into one giant EU-Russia contract the relatively small number of existing bilateral contracts? A better price? (what would be better? a different index to oil? A non-indexation to oil? who will decide what price formula is most advantageous?) And if a "better" price is obtained compared to the existing framework, who gets the difference? but, more genrally, what will prevent Russia to use the "energy weapon" against Europe any better than it can prevent it against France or Germany? How will gas be allocated in the case of cuts by Russia?

As long as nobody even makes suggestions to all these questions, these ideas for a "common negotiating position" towards Russia are just pointless blather, bluster and, more to the point, a distraction.

More than 10 years ago Alexander Solzhenitsyn - who died just days before this latest chapter in the history of his country - wrote: 'We were recently entertained by a naive fable of the happy arrival of the end of history, of the overflowing triumph of an all-democratic bliss; the ultimate global arrangement had supposedly been attained. But we all see and sense that something very different is coming, something new, and perhaps quite stern. No, tranquillity does not promise to descend on our planet, and will not be granted us so easily.' The past few days have seen some of his predictions realised.

Meh. I have not found the original quote, but I'm pretty sure that he did not have Russia in mind when he wrote this - but rather the USA. (Accurate info here welcomed)

This is why the changing global order cannot be governed by institutions designed in the middle of the last century. We now know how much more we have to do to create an effective system of international rules. We must strengthen the system of global governance to meet the challenges of our interdependent world. We must reshape our global architecture to meet the new challenges: climate change, energy security, poverty, migration. And in doing so we must stand up for both our vital interests and our essential values.

Another non sequitur. I'm sure that the institutions Brown has in mind have only one member with veto rights, and he's so proud that he has the right phone number to know beforehand when the veto will be used.

:: ::

Mr Brown: in order to stand up to your values, you must be true to them. In order to stand up for your vital interests, you have to ensure that you actually have those interests (and not those of a very small subset of the people you claim to represent) at heart.

But again, this is not about policies. They're pathetic. This is about politics, and stories. and Brown is selling the irresistible story of the good guys standing up to the evil enemy that seems to be threatening us. That this is is distracting us from policy is not an unwanted side effect, it is the very purpose of articles like this one.

but if nobody calls him on it, then ... it works. And it gets repeated by people, like Jeremy Leggett, an otherwise respected peak oiler, and it gets legitimized even in otherwise skeptical crowds. (this post is already long enough as it stands, but you can read my debunking of Leggett's article here).

Meanwhile, our aggressive grandstanding is fast alienating Russia, which might one day wonder why we think we have a God-Given Right to receive any of the gas under their toundra. The mindless posturing has very real consequences in the real world.


Earlier articles on the topic (Georgia):

On European Tribune

Wannabe NATO member on war path by Jerome a Paris on Aug 8th, 2008

Georgia: oil, neocons, cold war and our credibility by Jerome a Paris on Aug 10th, 2008

US Transporting Georgian Troops Out of Iraq to Fight Russia by ManfromMiddletown on Aug 10th, 2008

The warmongers have lost yet another war by Jerome a Paris on Aug 11th, 2008

Blackwater in Georgia? Now We Can Call Them Mercs. by ManfromMiddletown on Aug 11th, 2008

Medvedev calls end to Georgia operations by Jerome a Paris on Aug 12th, 2008

What does Russia Want? by wiseprince on Aug 12th, 2008

The Polish press on the Ossetian conflict (LQD)by MarekNYC on Aug 12th, 2008

Things to know and understand about Russia. Now. by US expat Ukraine on Aug 13th, 2008

Bush sends U.S. troops to Georgia to deliver humanitarian aid by Magnifico on Aug 13th, 2008

Contradicting the 'West' bashing by Martin on Aug 14th, 2008

The Russkies are back. Praise the Lord by Colman on Aug 14th, 2008

So. What to do with Russia? by Jerome a Paris on Aug 16th, 2008

99 Luftballons by poemless on Tue Aug 19th, 2008

Better and better... by Colman on Aug 26th, 2008
Recent Articles & Editorials:

Georgia's Miscalculation by Anatol Lieven, Washington Post, August 9, 2008

Has Georgia Overreached in Ossetia? by Tony Karon, Aug. 09, 2008

Why South Ossetia, why now? by Peter Lavelle, August 9, 2008

A Path to Peace in the Caucasus by Mikhail Gorbachev, Washington Post,  August 12, 2008

Georgia Tries out the Bush War Doctrine, Loses Badly By Gary Brecher, August 12, 2008.

The west shares the blame for Georgia, by Anatol Lieven, Financial Times, Aug 13 2008

Vladimir Putin's mastery checkmates the West by Michael Binyon, The Times, August 14 2008

Blowback From Bear-Baiting by Patrick J. Buchanan, August 15, 2008

Russia Never Wanted a War by Mikhail Gorbachev, New York Times,  August 19, 2008

Who Started Cold War II? by Patrick J. Buchanan, August 19, 2008

Vladimir V. Putin: Neo Con by Erin Solaro, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 21, 2008
Background Articles:

The New American Cold War By Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation,  June 21, 2006

The Missing Debate By Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation, May 1, 2008

Cheney Starts New Cold War Over Oil, by Mark Ames, 3 June 2006

nice Jerome.. glad to see somebody calling the bluff on how we are all being brainwashed day in, day out by pathetic leaders and an obliging (but self-serving) media.

hard to pick a favourite quote from your piece, but i think this is hard to beat:

Oh yeah, let's pretend too that the UK are leaders, and that (the rest of) Europe has done nothing on the energy front for all these years. The arrogance and hubris is, as usual, breathtaking.

Germany would to have to be the world leader in energy policy (with Japan a possible rival for that title). Denmark has outdone itself and Spain is now sprinting through the field as well.

If countries like the UK, USA and Australia had just a fraction of the courage that these European countries have displayed in commiting to new and renewable energy solutions, our energy and climate crisis could be solved in just a short couple of decades. As it is, we keep making things worse.. much worse.


Jerome, you said "Mr Brown: in order to stand up to your values, you must be true to them."

I think he is being true to his values, which IMHO are to grab as much power as possible for as long as possible with little regard for the consequences because he knows best how to run everything. Maybe he is just following the example of Tony B liar and setting himself up for a profitable series of US lectures when his time is up?

Brown said "That is why we in the UK are putting in law our commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050"

By 2050 he will be long dead. Of course yesterday they announced yet another piece of gesture politics when they axed stamp duty (a 1% sales tax) on homes worth up to £175,000 from 125k. Instead they could have allowed the cost of improving the insulation to be offset. This would promote employment, reduce CO2 emissions, gas and electric consumption for many years to come and requires no breakthroughs nor huge capital investments, just like reducing speed limits to 55mph/90kmh, banning sales of new gas guzzlers now....

To my mind the Ossetian incident will not be the only one, Russia has drawn a line in the sand and said they will not accept a further reduction in their influence in their own back yard and they (the world) cannot be ruled by US diktat. The US does not have the ability to battle Islam and Russia at the same time.

It would be interesting if the EU, Russia and China jointly went to a gold standard.

Shame on you Mr. Brown.

Shame on you Jeremy, the PO movement didn't deserve this.

With the failure of Britain's electricity supply system getting closer and closer, these coward tactics do anything to get the UK out of the hole it dug for itself. British leaders, with their infinite wisdom, programmed the progressive shut-down of the country's Nuclear park to the exact decade Oil and Gas production from the North Sea would enter terminal decline. Brilliant.

And when things start to get ugly, with the slightest cold winter menacing to leave the UK's gas storage facilities empty, you just hit the drums of war.

For more background on this mess:

Nuclear Britain

Daddy, will the lights be on at Christmas?

The European Gas Market

Jerome, I'd be interested to hear in your view of what Europe's preferred medium of storage and load shaping might be in the absence of natural gas. as far as i can tell storage/extrinsic value is a significant value driver for ccgts. i don't see how this role (seasonal and intraday load shaping) can be replaced with any baseload capacity (renewable or otherwise) and wondering what you'd envision in the place of gas, especially in areas with no hydropower.

As a matter of fact, I think that we should keep a significant fleet of gas-fired power plants - but use them on a partial load basis, as peakers or as temporary suppliers when renewables are less available.

What matters is to limit the number of MWh produced by gas, rather than the number of MWs of capacity from gas-fired plants.

Generally, the goal is not necessarily to eliminate gas usage, but at least to limit it - and certainly to avoid building it up.

"we should keep a significant fleet of gas-fired power plants - but use them on a partial load basis..."

Second this, the gas-fired power plants are generally the newest so better these than coal. Nowadays weather forecats are pretty accurate so we will know ahead of time if the wind is likely to be having a rest and thus will need more gas/electricity. It would be sensible for the UK to have much better gas storage facilities for winter peaks.

We need gas to manage wind intermittency.

Currently the UK has around 12 days storage for NG, and from memory France about 99 days and Germany 120.
We are not in a position to manage anything, whether a winter cold snap, a supply interruption or intermittency of renewables.

So Brown chooses to upset a major supplier.

I never thought I would say this about Alec Salmond , but at least one UK politico looks like he has a brain:

1,000 new hydro schemes to power Scottish homes

By Jenny Howarth
SCOTLAND is set to enter a new era of hydro power after an influential report revealed untapped potential for more than 1,000 new schemes across the country, The Scotsman can reveal.
The study, commissioned by the Scottish Government, reveals enough extra hydro potential to power a quarter of the nation's homes.

It shows there are still 657 megawatts of financially viable hydro electricity schemes to exploit, which would power about 600,000 homes.

Scotland hopes for big increase in hydro power
• Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent
• The Guardian,
• Tuesday September 2 2008
• Article history
A new generation of large hydroelectric dams and smaller plants across the Highlands could produce enough clean energy for more than half a million homes, a ministerial taskforce has estimated.
A report published today by Scottish ministers suggests that up to 128 new dams and scores of smaller schemes powered by the natural flow of a river could be built across the western and southern Highlands, generating enough electricity for a quarter of Scotland's homes. Scottish executive officials said this would be a "significant step forward" to meeting the Scottish National party's ambitions of generating half the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Yesterday, water began flooding into the reservoir for the largest new hydro scheme to be built in a generation after the first minister, Alex Salmond, ceremonially closed a sluice gate at Glendoe, a 200 megawatt scheme buried under a mountain near Loch Ness.

The propaganda machinery is in full gear for WWIII. Germany was the enemy of the west last time and now the nato/Eu stretches much further and wants full control. Too bad they have no more resources.

Such open hypocrisy as seen in this case by the MSM press and Merkel, Brown and Sarkozy is just incredible. They must have studied Hitler's march into Sudetenland and Austria and false flag operation as excuse to invade Poland. Just ignore facts and they will go away. Bush's quote on "making reality" comes to mind here.

It seems they have picked an enemy to make up for the chaos resulting from zero planning for their low energy future and for their credit crisis and it is named Russia. Now a nice provocation is called for to deflect from these extremely severe internal problems before elections in USA, Germany, UK, etc. could bring in people with possibly other points of view based on rational thinking.

The population is perceived as analagous to that in Orwell's novel 1984. Unfortunately virtually all commentaries by normal people on MSM newspaer sites in Germany , France, UK are pro Russia. They can't fool us with their lies. But I guess most people just play computer games and watch game shows so they can afford to ignore facts, such as attempted ethnic cleansing and potential genocide supported by NATO forces (training, weapons from NATO/Israel,etc. to Georgia).

Iraq war was done to get oil and control Middle East/Persian Gulf. Control of Georgia would enable attack of Iran from north by a very subservient minor league country (like baltics) and stationing of ICBMs or so and control of pipeline routes. Since Russia fought back against this genocide and obvious power grab for the region they now have "Russian aggression" as an excuse to demonize and isolate Russia so that Nato can get in to Georgia anyway with massive troops ("peacekeepers"- say 100,000 or so NATO troops).

It is like reading a script from a Greek tragedy. We know it ends like in WWII with Hitler shooting himself in defeat in the middle of rubble but this time it could be much much worse and western powers and media(who do no own research due to lack of funds, all just copy from each other and are brain dead by the way, relying on a stereotype concept of Russia from their cold war childhoods) want to bring such an end upon us all instead of planning for a low energy localized future.


"I don't know what to do without my Mercedes and credit card and endless growth. Oh, now it's gone so I have to blame someone else for taking it anyway and damn the consequences."

Incredibly Russia had their big collapse crisis ahead of us(1990s) so are now acting like adults. The West has the golden spoon in its mouth and lacks a sense of limits and how to deal with suffering responsibly.

The maniplation of media content (like what they showed of Putin's ARD interview on ARD a couple days ago, namely 10 minutes out of an hour) is incredible.

Just wait till true oil/gas shortages, rolling blackouts in Europe/N. America and 20% or more unemployment due to credit/energy crisis. Then the press censure and internet control will be complete. Only one message will get across like in Soviet times. Pravda was good only as toilet paper back then and from what we saw during this minicrisis this will certainly be the case in The West. So we know what to expect in the future. Only trust what you hear from eye witness accounts by the grapevine. The plan of TPTB is clear, so just follow the money trail to the military industrial credit complex.

The propaganda machinery is in full gear for WWIII.

I do not think so. It appears Bush provoked Saakashvili's South Ossetia adventure to help McCain get elected. There is no longer term reason to start another cold war. A world war might be starting, but it cannot be one where Russia is on the other side. That would be suicidal for the West.

Europe is much too dependant on Russian gas and oil for this to get out of hand. That is why, as Jerome points out, so much of this is bluster. Brown does not want to do anything that really hurts the Russians. They are just beginning to realize that they do not have real alternatives to this dependence as long as they depend on oil and gas.

I think that some of the elite opinion in the US is starting to realize that the Russians actually handled this pretty well. They defended the two separatist regions and then only secured a few strategic points leading into them and necessary to defend them. They never threatened the pipelines which do not run anywhere near the disputed areas. They have now withdrawn almost all their troops back into the two disputed provinces. The Russians did not over react.

It is very frustrating for the lords of the universe in the US and Britain that they have lost control of the world's oil and gas resources. They need an enemy so they can explain it to their publics. But this is just the anger stage of coming to terms with it. So they bluster. Maybe soon they will start to do something to really solve the problem. The world really needs to get rid of Bush so that this problem can begin to be seriously addressed.

The UK will go from being 80 per cent self-sufficient now to having to import almost two-thirds of our gas and more than half of our oil by 2020 - precisely as markets become more volatile as more people chase fewer natural resources.

This is pure propaganda. The proportion of UK gas consumption varies by season, and over last winter (Dec 2007 - Feb 2008), the important months in that more gas / electricity from gas-fired power stations is used to heat homes, we imported about 30% of our gas needs. By 2020 our annual average imports are likely to be 80-90% of our consumption, unless UK consumption dives which is in very fact likely (in my opinion), although the UK Dept of Business Enterprise, presumably one of the bodies advising Brown, has our natural gas consumption increasing to 2020.

Importing half our oil by 2020? Unless Brown is forecasting a catastrophic collapse in UK oil consumption/demand, who knows, we are likely to be importing about 80-85% of our oil consumption by 2020 (assuming consumption of about 1.7 Mb/d as it is now, and indigenous production of about 300,000 b/d, not unreasonable).

Note the bizarre implication in Brown's statement that the oil and gas markets will not become 'volatile' until about 2020. And this man is our leader? I didn't vote for him (and neither did anyone else, unlike Medvedev).

Re the Solzhenitsyn quote yoy will find it used here

or try

Boundary Issues
by David Remnick
New Yorker 25th August 2008

On a bright September day in 1993, not long before he ended his two decades in exile, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered a rare public address in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein....and then Remnick quotes the same piece ...

Solzhenitsyn anticipated the persistence of the old and unrepentant élites, the former Communist Party chiefs and K.G.B. officials who so easily transformed themselves into “democrats” and “businessmen”: ...

"We were recently entertained by a naïve fable of the happy arrival at the “end of history,” of the overflowing triumph of an all-democratic bliss; the ultimate global arrangement had supposedly been attained. But we all see and sense that something very different is coming, something new, and perhaps quite stern. No, tranquility does not promise to descend on our planet, and will not be granted us so easily. "

So he was doing a Joe Biden per Kinnock as it were.

If you google "Vaduz+Solzhenitsyn" or "the overflowing triumph of an all-democratic bliss" you will find this has been picked up by many commentators.

For us all here at the ForthComing UK Energy Deficit, Brown's thoughts refect the sterility of thinking about UK energy security for the last decade.

The total result is ;

1. Improvements in LNG gas ports and pipelines.
2. Norwegian pipeline completed
3. A very, very modest amount of renewables installed at a huge cost
4. Use of nuclear power plants extended beyond design life that's about it.

Now we are entertained to a "renaissance" of our nuclear industry against a background of closing University Chemistry and Physics departments.

It is evident that even if we throw our lot in with Areva the costs of nuclear power will not be as low as it is from our prehistoric and crumbling plants as capital and consruction costs are soaring... nor can we expect to see any such power for at least a decade.

Meanwhile are far sighted planners are spending £250 + per child to vaccinate 12/13 year old girls against a sexually transmitted virus that might induce cervical cancer which currently kills some 1,000 women (most over 60) a year - detected by an expensive smear system which will still continue. Benefits - probably in 40 years time ... Total annual cost £50 Mn + which if spent on planning for nuclear energy would have placed us in a better position today.

Never mind, improved technology is allowing us to squeeze a few more barrels from the North Sea .. so that's alright then.

Let's blame the Russkis.

BTW Putin / Medvedev and the oily gas gang are in Tashkent yesterday / today signing up Uzbek gas for the next decade or so.

A CNN interview text from 30th Aug.

a google english translation of Putin ARD interview:

T. ROTH: This must mean that you are in any case otvedete its troops?

V. PUTIN: Certainly. We importantly - to ensure security in the area. In the next phase - South Ossetia to help secure their borders. And we have no more reason to stay there, in the safety zone. During this work, we would welcome cooperation with European institutions and with the OSCE, too.

T. ROTH: In the face of the crisis in relations, which, of course, there are now (with the U.S., with Europe), the contributions you can make to ensure that this crisis has descended to nothing?

V. PUTIN: Firstly, I talked about this yesterday your colleagues from the "CNN". It seems to me that to a large extent the crisis was provoked, including our American friends during the struggle. This, of course, the use of administrative resources in the most deplorable its performance to ensure the advantage of one of the candidates, in this case, the ruling party.

T. ROTH: You have the facts?

V. PUTIN: We have an analysis of the situation. We are aware that there was a lot of American advisers. This is a very bad arm one party of ethnic conflict and then push her to address these ethnic problems through armed. This much, seemingly simpler, at first glance, than to years of negotiations and seek compromises, but it is a very dangerous path. Developments is revealed.

But instructors, "teacher" in the broadest sense - personnel, training to work on its military equipment - where it must be - at ranges and in training centres, and where were they? In the combat zone. It already suggests that the leadership knew about the forthcoming U.S. equities and, moreover, likely took part, because without top management team American citizens in the conflict zone had no right to stay. In the security zone could stay only local citizens can stay the OSCE observers and peacekeeping forces. And there we found traces of U.S. nationals, which is not part of the first nor the second nor the third category. This is the question. Why top management allowed the U.S. presence there of their nationals who had no right to stay in that zone of security? And if they allowed this, then I am under the suspicion that this was done specifically to organize a small victorious war. And if he had not received - from Russia to create the image of the enemy, and already at that motivated the electorate to unite around one of the presidential candidates. Certainly, the candidate of the ruling party, because such resources may possess only the ruling party.

Here's my reasoning and assumptions. That's your business - to accept this or not. But they have the right to exist, because we found traces of American citizens in the combat zone.

T. ROTH: And the last question I wanted to ask you, I got very interested in it. Not do you think that you personally are themselves trapped in an authoritarian state? In the current system set up you will receive information from your special, you get information from various sources, including from the highest economic environment. But even the media are sometimes afraid to say something different, which is contrary to what you want to hear.

Do not get so that you created system itself is now close to you a broad view, the opportunity really to see those processes that are now taking place in Europe, in other countries?

V. V. PUTIN: Dear Mr. Roth, you described our political structure as authoritarian system.

You mentioned during our discussion today, several times on common values. Where to set these values?

There are fundamental principles. Well, let's say, the human right to life. Here in the U.S., let's have the death penalty, and we, in Russia, and you do not, in Europe, no. Does this mean that you are going to go, say, block NATO, because there is no full convergence of values of the Europeans and the Americans?

Now take this conflict, we are now discussing with you. Are you do not know what happened in Georgia in recent years? Mysterious death of Prime Minister Zhvania. The massacre with the opposition. Physical dispersal of protest rallies opposition forces. Holding national elections actually in a state of emergency. Then this criminal action in Ossetia with many human victims. And this, of course, democratic country with which we need to conduct dialogue and you want to take in NATO and possibly the European Union.

And if another country defends its own interests, just right to life of its citizens, nationals, who carried out the attack - we have 80 people killed immediately. 2000 innocent civilians killed there in the end. And we have that, can not protect the lives of its citizens there? And if we protect their lives, then we will select sausage? What Nosotros choice - between life and sausage? We choose life, Mr Roth.

Now about the other values - freedom of the press. Look how these developments are covered in the press the United States, which is considered to be svetochem democracy. And in Europe too.

I've been in Beijing when these events began. A massive shelling of Tskhinvali, ground operations have already begun Georgian troops have been many sacrifices - nobody did not say the words. Your company is silent, and all American companies kept silent, as if nothing happens - silence. As soon as the aggressor gave on rye, his teeth smashed, as he only threw all American weapons and ran without looking back - all at once remembered, and about international law, and a vicious Russia. Immediately all zagolosili.

Now about the sausage, the economy. We want normal economic relations with all our partners. We are very reliable partner. We will not let anyone.

When we built the pipeline system in the Federal Republic of Germany in the early 60 - ies, where our partners from abroad are also advised Germans to disagree with this project. You should know about it. But then the German leadership has taken the right decision, and together with the Soviet Union, the system was built. Today is one of the most reliable source of hydrocarbons German economy. 40 billion cubic meters of Germany receives annually. In the last year and this, and will, be assured that.

Now let us look more globally. What was the structure of our exports to European countries, and in North America? At 80-plus percent - this commodity group products: oil, gas, petrochemicals, wood, various metals, chemical fertilizers. That is all what desperately needs the world and European economy. It is a very popular products in world markets.

We have opportunities in high-technology areas, but they are still very limited. And, indeed, even without an agreement with the EU, say, in the supply of nuclear fuel, we are not allowed improperly to the European market. Incidentally, because of the position of our French friends. But, they know about this, we discussed with them a long time.

But if someone wants to disturb these ties, we can not do anything with this. We do not want.

We very much hope that our partners will also perform their obligations, as we performed and we intend to discharge their obligations in the future.

This is something that concerns our exports. As for your exports, that is for us imports, Russia is a reliable and large market. Now I do not remember the figures, but the supply of, say, the German engineering industry to the Russian market grow from year to year. They are simply very large today. Someone wants to stop supplying us? We will buy elsewhere. To this should be, I do not understand?

We call for an objective analysis of the situation. Our hope is that common sense and justice will prevail.

We - the victim of aggression. We look forward to the support of our European partners.

T. ROTH: I warmly thank you for this interview, Mr. Prime min

When you haven't got any real power you act tough. Bush/Cheney/McCain and Brown are all acting tough, saying things they can't back up. Everyone knows from footage of Stalingrad in 1942 just how tough the Russians can be if provoked. The Baltic countries can act as independent as they want, but if people think Russia is going to allow seperate oil pipelines to be completely sovereign, then guess again. In this era of oil being worth over a hundred dollars a barrel, Russia isn't about to let these regions do anything they want, because oil is power.

After watching the US invade a weak country like Iraq, it's fun to see the consternation surrounding the failed efforts to send 'ONE' humanitarian aid ship to Georgia. The Russians countered with an armada of ships that intimidated the US into retreating. Ouch!!!

It's so hilarious to watch Brown, Bush and McCain bluster empty veiled threats against Russia, knowing full well we are at their whim of their oil and natural gas that is crucial to world supply.

Excellent deconstruction. I thought the West would base its continued policy on the Big Lie it's constructed. In its reportage on Georgia's act of terrorism, The Guardian shows it's no longer a left-leaning publication--a point Media Lens has made for several years now.

How many years of oil and gas exports at current levels can Russia deliver? 20-25 for gas, much less for oil? Then what? Blair and Brown have dug a big hole and continue to sink the UK into it and now want to drag the EU with it.

The UK and Russia have been antagonists for most of the years since the Napoleanic Wars. But now the natural conditions of the two countries are quite apparent, with the UK being in dire condition and not doing much to improve. Are the Tories and LibDems standing beside Brown on this or are there some differing, saner views?

So the Guardian published a piece written by the PM?

Please look at the kind of stuff written by the staff ('This is a tale of US expansion not Russian aggression'):

Using the resource lever as a weapon cuts two ways. Australia is thinking of cutting uranium supplies for Russia's lack of accounting on materials

The Russian ambassador was on TV muttering vague threats. Don't see how that will help.

Glad you brought up this "stage show" being put on by the EU. Bravo.

All I hear left and right is how bad Russia is. However this is mostly by people reading and listening to MSM. Any other source or analysis of this situation is not available to them or they have no inclination to look for it.

the discussion is no longer about our failing energy policies (or rather, the lack thereof), or about our leaders' incompetence, but about the Enemy which wants to hurt us and against which We Must Stand Firm (Behind our Beloved and Fearless Leaders).

I think you hit the nail on the head here. Those issues and global warming have simply evaporated from any up front discussion in the media.

I understand our leaders trying this: after all, this is all they have to run on. But why, oh why, does our media have to fall for it hook, line and sinker?

Here we need to look at who owns Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, Fox News and who set the pension plans and salaries for BBC. I suspect we will immediately recognize that they are on the same page as those drumming up this policy.

Few people read Asia Times or Le Monde Diplomatique.

Enjoyable rant!

But let's face it, the demonstrated way to knock over the Russian regime and make its people suffer is to... stop buying Russian oil. That's what kicked over the Soviet Union's tent in the 1980s.

Of course, since the other lot selling oil in the Gulf are somewhat wont to pass on the money to terrorists, if we stop buying oil from them that'll choke off the Islamic radical terrorists, too.

Clausewitz said that "war is nothing but the continuation of politics by other means." Nowadays we might say that being green is nothing but the continuation of politics by other means.

Of course, simply buying less oil, today, is not something an elected representative dares say. Isn't the right to drive in the UN Declaration of Human Rights or something?

Self-reliance can cut oil required:

On a fundamental level Western countries have an almost insurmountable problem. How does one maintain ones position of dominance in the world when one is becoming inexorably more dependent on outside sources of energy.

It would appear one has two choices. There's a 'passive' approach, one simply pays for the energy one needs, if it's available, and uses it as efficiently as one can; or one decides to opt for a more 'activistic' strategy where one sets out to wrestle control of the energy sources one needs, by force if necessary.

In the first approach one bows to the inevitable and accepts that the world is changing and new centres of wealth and power are emerging; China, Brazil, India, Russia. The relative historic balance of global power is shifting and trying to stem this movement is futile, best learn to live with it as best one can.

The second approach is an attempt to mold or even reverse the flow of history and oppose change and deny that the era of absolute Western dominance is drawing to a close, the curtain is decending and new, powerful, actors are coming on stage.

How the West deals with its new, and relatively diminished role in the world is going to be the crucial question for the rest of our lifestimes, more pressing and more important, with potentially worse consequences than global warming or peak oil, namely global warfare, as one uses military power to agressively defend ones position against the newcomers who threaten our global hegemony. But, hey, five hundred years is a good run for an empire, maybe we should just bow out gracefully?

Whilst the Western Europeans seem to have learned terrible lessons from their history, lessons steeped in blood and destruction and war, and has bee forced to reject the dream of global empire back by massive military force, the United States appears set on a different and very costly course.

The two problems the United States faces are that the economic base for its gigantic military empire is crumbling and decaying. It's difficult to maintain a huge overseas empire when one is increasingly in debt to ones rivals. Borrowing two billion dollars a day from China and other nations to support ones consumer habits isn't a sustainable economic strategy over the long term. Having to import vast quantities of energy from abroad also undermines ones position and sovereignty. Spending more than half the national budget on a vast, bloated, military machine, creates an 'unbalanced' and 'top-heavy' society, with too many resources 'wasted' on 'unproductive militarism' instead of the 'real economy.' In this way one undermines the very foundations of ones own prosperity, wealth and ultimately power, and independence; which again seems to feed those 'nationalist' forces that see United States power in the world under attack and demand that even more resources are diverted to protecting the empire by shear force of arms. A vicious and dangerous circle is hereby created. Global military power, the trappings of empire, effectively obscuring the true scale of ones economic and cultural decline.

Of course the real danger is when the 'militeristc myth' gets completely out of control and the country is drawn or slides into wars of 'survival' which paradoxically lead to bankrupcy and and even faster and steeper decline, sacrificing the empire in order to save it!

It would appear one has two choices. There's a 'passive' approach, one simply pays for the energy one needs, if it's available, and uses it as efficiently as one can; or one decides to opt for a more 'activistic' strategy where one sets out to wrestle control of the energy sources one needs, by force if necessary.

What about the alternative of building a new energy infrastructure based on the resources that are in good supply: nuclear, wind and solar?

Still thinking within the box. Even here on TOD I see too much of that. The general problems of resource depletion - of which peak oil and climate change are only two facets (plus economy, plus toxic environment, plus economic inequality) - cannot be solved in isolation but require an overall systems approach. Starting with "first do no harm", if you ask me, but even that we might have moved beyond. We might be into triage.

Both the 'passive' and 'active' mentioned above, however, are tweaks to business-as-usual. Not really a choice. There are, however, more than two choices. Plain old dumb LESS or a more sophisticated version of Powerdown. Whether they are genetically and socially possible is a ripe question, but there is no doubt that we're going to get a whole of more of LESS in a short enough time unless we proactively adopt some version of Powerdown. Business-as-usual isn't going to work; it has already stopped working.

cfm in Gray, ME

We cannot conserve our way to a solution because by 2050 nearly all fossil fuels are used up on the current trend with the available fossil fuels. We need to build an alternative energy infrastructure unless we want the end of civilization. That might be fine with you but it is not for me.


I agree, only I don't see how one can move a whole society 'outside the box' especially one as 'successfu' and complex as ours. Those people who advocate root 'n' branch change are in a tiny minority, and unless this tiny minority are at the same time the 'elite' that owns and controls society, nothing much is really going to change, at least not rapidly. A powerless, though 'right' intellectual 'cult' are not going to gain control of the ship of state any time soon. And there's the rub. Looking at our current political system, how it functions, how parties work, how long it takes to move up the system towards political power, which is arguably less important than economic power, take years and is slow process, far closer to 'reform' than 'revolution, radical, structural, change'. I don't think our society is built for that kind of thing.

Looking at Westminster, for example, is profoundly depressing business. The political class seems to be diliberately choosing to obscure the real problems we face as a society in favour of 'illusions'.

Which is to say, while some of us can think of mitigation and amelioration, the actual--and possibly inevitable--course of "Western Civilization" is to accelerate as fast as possible at the most thorough self-destruction.

Yes, that is the most likely scenerio.

"Western Civilization" is not going to be saved. Even in the low-probability scenerios it does not survive.

Turn it around: The collapse of North America is a given. The collapse of Britain is guaranteed. The collapse of Europe is more than likely. After collapse, there is quite a good chance that there will be humans living in all these places. What will they be doing? Will they be approaching sustainability? Or will they be in an endless downward spiral (all too possible)? What can we do NOW that will help them to be reaching sustainability THEN?

Of course, I don't actually know. But I do know that our institutions are and will be of no help, and if there is any help at all it will come from outside-the-box people who care about this and create some small, seed-like things that persist and prove useful.


I agree. Personally I'd prefer to see a far greater emphasis, no, that's not right; I'd like to see us change course as a society and move forward towards a radically different and sustainable future for our civilization.

I'm not really an advocate of the two strategies I named. But I do think the 'war strategy' is infinitely more dangerous.

I'm not sure about nuclear either which I believe is riddled with problems; not least the problematic nature of the true economic costs of the nuclear cycle, not least the way we finance and deal with decomissioning and 'disposal' of nuclear 'waste'. I feel rather 'agnostic' about nuclear. I'd really like it to be cheap, plentiful and safe, and a realistic alternative, but I have my doubts.

I'm also sceptical about whether wind and solar can really fill in the gap left by declining fossil fuels.

I think I lean towards the idea that we have to, or don't really have a choice, we need to cut our consumption of fossil fuels and energy right back. This is, of course, a drastic 'cure' and arguably 'unrealistic' inside the framwork of our current economic paradigm/civilization.

I think I lean towards the idea that we have to, or don't really have a choice, we need to cut our consumption of fossil fuels and energy right back. This is, of course, a drastic 'cure' and arguably 'unrealistic' inside the framwork of our current economic paradigm/civilization.

I favour conservation too, but the degree of cutback in consumption needed would be unlikely to leave many of us alive, in my view, if other energy sources aren't used.

Here is an assessment of the potential for renewables in the UK:
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air (

As can be seen, even if the cost, which is huge, is basically not taken into account, or the many technological breakthroughs needed, in crowded northerly countries at least it simply cannot cover our needs.

In practise, France has run successfully for many years on nuclear power, and at reasonable cost.
Any risk, even if we were still using Chernobyl type reactors without containment vessels, which no-one is, must be minimal compared to the many billions who will surely die in the event of 'power-down'

If Business as Usual totally ceases, so for the vast majority of us, will Breathing as Usual.

When resources get tight, people fight for them - we can be sure of that from history.


I think the problems of nuclear have been wildly exaggerated. Except for the really old ones, nuclear sites will not get decommissioned. The reactors will just get replaced with new ones. We will not dispose of nuclear waste per se. We will reprocess the partially spent fuels into fuel for other reactors. After reprocessing, we will have about 5% of the original three cubic meters per year per reactors of true waste. This true waste then has relatively short half lives, is very small and can be safely buried.

I am in the camp that says that we can build our way out of this. We have three abundant sources of energy which we can use to replace virtual everything we now do with fossil fuels. (I am working on articulating a strategy of how this can happen, the first part of which should appear on TOD soon.) Mankind is just not going to let civilization go cold if there is an obvious and not too painful way out, which I believe there is. The drive to live is too strong and the consequences of a power down are much too dire.

Conservation is a very important mitigation that will allow us to bridge the gap as we build a new energy infrastructure but it is not a solution in itself. We have to move on from fossil fuels. I do not know for sure if it will work but think it is better to go down trying to do the best for civilization.


We can build our way out but we have very little time.

War seems less of a risk than anarchy and famine.

Around 2030 total fossil fuel production goes below where it is now. We sure better have a solution well under way by then. I expect oil to peak around 2010.

Net Oil Exports will be seriously depleting by 2009. We have to be building substantially before then.

2009 starts in 118 days, and little of substance has started.

There is another choice -- it is the elephant in the room. All that oil and gas energy isn't worth anything if no one uses it -- it has to be monetized, and non-consumer societies can't do that. Peasant societies didn't have oil, didn't need oil, and won't need oil in the future.

If the entire world can be converted to a "market" economy (Chicago School, neo-con wet dream) through expansions of NAFTA, Eurozone, FTAA, conversion of NATO from military pact to consumer society, etc. then the suppliers of oil can be engulfed, and won't have to be fought.

This would be rather like some ancient, primitive saprophytic organism engulfing the precursors of today's chloroplasts and mitochondria and becoming a "cell".

It seems unlikely, but in utopian dreams, it remains possible.

Talk is cheap. To me, the main question is whether our herd mentality is being pushed toward or away from nuclear war. People shouting insults at each other don't matter much to me.

Jerome, this is a BRILLIANT article, THANK YOU.

Just a few more thoughts.

1. This is a continuation of the anglo-saxon strategy of World Domination. The main goal is to prevent the emergence of a strong alliance in Eurasia, especially to prevent an alliance of Germany and Russia. (If you do not believe this, read the book: The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski)
2. London is Washington's puppet 100%. For this reason alone, the UK should be kicked out of the EU. There can be no independent foreign policy for the EU with London participating. There is one thing that London does not want at all: a common European voice. (I am using capital cities, because it is totally irrelevant who is leading the government).
3. The short term goal now it seems is to blame the energy crisis on Russia. This furthers the anglo-saxon goals of divide an conquer. Divide Europe and conquer the Middle East.
4. Europe should have appeased Russia while it still could. But it is getting late. In light of recent events Russia will make steps. Slowly and methodically. Pipeline projects towards China may enjoy a priority. Already oil export towards the west is falling at alarming rate: 5%.
5. If Washington further escalates this, Russia may take steps that WILL hurt, like supplying opposition forces in the Middle East with military hardware. Or cutting production in unison with Iran / Venezuela, etc.

It is now the 2nd round of the Cold War and this time it could turn cold literally.

Very well written, very clear and straight to the weakness of the US-UK-NATO line.

Thank you.

Yes, thank you Jerome,

Immanuel Wallerstein has a piece on US-NATO-Europe - Can NATO Survive Georgia? - on Agence Global this week. Well worth reading for background on the development of NATO and the growing tensions between, particularly, France and Germany, and the US.

Yesterday Medvedev said Saakashvili was a "political corpse" and Russia didn't recognise his regime as Georgia's legitimate government. He could probably say the same about Gordon Brown.

I wonder who is actually being isolated? I've long believed that the fall of the British Empire won't be complete until the Union is dissolved. Also that as Europe leans further towards Russia, the pull on Britain will likely rip it apart. It also looks increasingly like Gordon is the right man to do the job.

This Winter is going to be rather interesting.

De-colonization is proceeding apace in Ulster, Scotland and Wales... my mixed ancestry has mixed feelings about this!

Burgundy, are you one of those ex-patriot Poms who are pushing up real estate prices in selected regions of France?
This concerned French property owner Wants to Know.

Yes, I left the UK back in 2004 after reading the writing-on-the-wall and now live in France :)

Judging by the number of properties suddenly appearing on the market, I'd be very surprised if real estate was going up here in France.

"This concerned French property owner..."

a (French) property owner is concerned by rising prices?? how completely unselfish of you:-)

Thanks for that article,Jerome.In Australia we have a Brown clone - The Honourable Mandarin KRudd.

We have just had 9 SAS soldiers wounded,some seriously, in a Taliban ambush in Afganistan.This campaign is nothing more than another neocon stuff-up.Forget the terrorist threat.It is part of the geopolitical shenanigans being inflicted on so many innocent people.

As a Vietnam veteran I find it a rather hard to hear of more good men being thrown away to satisfy the ambitions of fools.

A sad but seemingly unavoidable possibility thirra. I wonder how many folks here understand that the initial Viet conflict was initiated by French efforts to regain control of pre WWII commodities (tin and rubber?). That the initial US effort to support France led to the broader effort to prevent communism (the terrorists of that ere) from spreading. A much more popular effort, at that time, then bleeding for business interests. Whether it’s part of an intentional goal or not, Russia is driving the various gov’t bodies to align themselves for the future battle for dominance (survival) in the oil market IMO. At this time it seems as though there are three main alliances possible: the USA, Russia and China. We could spend weeks speculating on which countries allow themselves (voluntarialy and otherwise) to fail under which shadow. I think few folks realize how many of the oil producers are aligning themselves with China through their (China) efforts to own interests in many of the exporters fields globally. Obviously the EU could not stand against Russia militarily on its own. But are they in a position to do so economically? I think not. Others have pointed out Russia’s dependence upon their oil export revenue. I feel that such considerations will matter little to the decision making process. If Russia’s political power base can make its desired gains even at the expense of the average Russian citizen it will do so without hesitation.

I have an 18 year old boy.

He is as fit as a butchers dog.

A couple of weeks ago he did 44 mountain country miles in 9 hours.

Physically and tempramentally he is an ideal candidate for infantry school.

And we have politicians (who have never fought) looking for a fight, with an enemy we dont have. That we cannot defeat.

Great... Just fookin great...

I should have let him become a couch potato...

The politicians can send there kids first. Then the media types.

There is no fookin way I will lay this kid on an alter to stupidity.

Jerome: Great article....but..

"But why, oh why, does our media have to fall for it hook, line and sinker?"

The media hasn't fallen hook, line and sinker.
Nor is the media simply complicit. The media is
in CAHOOTS with the industrial military complex and the goverments that wield them.The most dangerous endeavor, when lies are the state mantra, is to tell
the truth.
A person when discovering that the world is dangerous,
has a choice to make on a personal level.
#1: Go along to get along.
#2: Stand against it and fight.
Not a hard choice when all is considered. You can fight and draw down on yourself the wrath of the powers that be...or, keep quiet or even join forces with them and die a miserable death anyhow. Knowing the full and complete nature of the world at large and
understanding the full ramification of ones personal
actions,will allow a person to not be frustrated by it
The frustration on a personal level will be no longer
complicated by personal ignorance. Just the normal
everyday, mundane, human struggle, will remain.
Make no mistake that the media is being duped. The media is crucial to the machine and gets lubed and oiled and greased to function exactly as it was designed too.
I personally have a nature which predisposes me to actually enjoy a brawl I have little chance of winning. I couldnt possibly enjoy defeating adversary
after adversary, who wasn't a worthy challenge.
I suspect all peoples enjoy this same predispostion.
Thats why bully's and facists are always angry,bitter
When a person takes a side because they know its right...but unlikely to win. As opposed to choosing a side based only on the likely victor...thier life takes on a meaning and has rewards that can't be defined by earthly measures.
Sadly, all to many people sell their existance for a
mere mess of pottage.

To all UK readers here present.

Stock up on candles, firelighters, canned food, water, gas bottles , tilly lamps etc and before the clocks change.

What, no faith in our beloved leader?

More seriously, is Euan back yet - his latest assessment should be interesting, although probably not cheer-conducive.

It looks as though the financial ponzi scheme with the lending by vastly over-leveraged banks will collapse in October, led by the Bank of England stopping accepting duff bank paper for money - they have thrown up to £200bn into the banking black hole to date:

The ECB will have to follow suit, and then the Fed, or currency fluctuations will do for them.

Presumably this means a stock market crash and full-blown depression.

Darling, the guy with access to the figures, was obviously sugar-coating it by saying conditions were the worst for 60 years.
77 years might be a better estimate.

"Darling, ... was obviously sugar-coating it by saying conditions were the worst for 60 years."

i think that by saying it is the worst for 60 years it shows how our chancellor has no idea of economics. It is difficult for me to know by what measure things are the worst, in the past unemployment has been much higher together with inflation, strikes...

Of course we know that worse times are probably ahead but that is not what he said.

He has access to our accounts, and knows how much money has been dropped bailing out the banks, and what budget deficit the real likely negative growth will produce.
I would guess that looking at his accounts they are indeed in worse condition than at any time since 1948, when we were essentially bankrupt.

From the above article...

When Bank Governor Mervyn King first unveiled the Special Liquidity Scheme in April he indicated that it might be used for £50bn, while debt specialists forecast a total take-up of £90bn-£100bn by the time the scheme closed on October 20.

And another...

LONDON, Aug 31 (Reuters) - The Bank of England said on Sunday it had no plans to extend an innovative six-month scheme designed to ease strains in the mortgage market.
The Bank unveiled its special liquidity scheme in April in an attempt to free up banks' balance sheets and boost confidence in the financial system. It gave lenders a six-month window in which to exchange hard-to-trade mortgage assets for government bills.
The window for participation in the scheme closes in the week of Oct. 20.
The Sunday Times reported the central bank would allow an informal extension of the scheme specifically for building societies. It said societies structuring covered bonds in order to use the scheme would be given access even if their preparations slipped past the cut-off date.
The Bank of England denied such a move was afoot.
"There are no plans to extend the scheme, either formally or informally," a Bank spokesman told Reuters. "The scheme will close as planned during the week of October 20." (Reporting by Christina Fincher; Editing by David Holmes)

I think IF they don't extend the scheme, you're right... depression time. But surely despite their denials, they will extend it.

According to UBS, the actual drawings could be as high as £200bn:

The ECB is also making growling noises that it will halt the vast amounts of money that it is pumping into the system every month:
"Credit Crisis II" by Christopher Laird, FSU Editorial 08/25/2008

Politically, it is much more difficult for the ECB to continue support than for the Fed, as it is essentially transferring money from Germany, Holland etc to Spain and other southern nations.

However, the weakness of the UK position in both the current account and balance of payments, together with the weakening economy which will shortly throw large numbers out of work, further adding to Government financial strain, mean that the BOE will likely be the first to crack.

It is not that they want to withdraw liquidity, they are just running out of money to do otherwise.

If the money injected into the Banking system is lost, as seems likely, that is 4 times Northern Rock, which in the event of a downturn will also loose almost all the £50bn put into it.

I agree, the UK is in a terrible economic position, and whatever the government does now, things are going to be very bad.

Do you not think the political pressure to embark on massive monetary inflation will be followed? Surely they will choose to bail-out the bank balance sheet losses before they are forced to pay retail depositors - since the FSCS has insufficient funding to meet the failures that would be expected if the SLS isn't extended.

If they don't prevent bank failures, or pay out compensation to depositors of failed institutions, there will be social chaos. Do you think they will let this happen in short-order, when they could hyperinflate (monetise the debt) first?

I've got absolutely no idea, Andy.
Unfortunately, it looks as though the bankers and the Central Bankers haven't either.
Trying to predict what will happen is rather like trying to guess where the bodies will end up after a traffic accident.

However, a few determinants are clear:
Leveraging has gone ever higher, so that just a few write downs will crash a bank, and this has a domino effect.

The housing market is an example of this. Prices in 2007 were based on multiples of joint income of up to 6 times.
All we have done so far is shave a little of the froth off - historically ratios have been around 2.5 times the main earner only's income, with a substantial deposit.
Unfortunately, a recession, or likely a depression is coming, and so job insecurity increases. The loss of just one job when you owe so much is fatal, so the multiples must come back.
Vast numbers of jobs in the UK are in financial services, essentially taking debt and re-packaging it, and it is precisely this which is unwinding, so job losses will be enormous.
In the housing market then, you are talking about a real price decline from around £187k at peak, through today's £167k, to around £65k - and that is on the assumption that real incomes do not decrease.

This massive increase in unemployment will also feed through to Government finances, already deep in the red.

The choices then would seem to be either deflation, or massive inflation.
No Government will allow small depositors to loose their money, even if the currency they pay them back in is worthless.
Doubtless the bias would be to inflation - the BOE would be strong-armed one way or another.
The difficulty there is that the Government has to roll over huge amounts of debt, and pay for imports, including food and fuel for agriculture.
The US is such an important part of the world system that creditors would loose too much by pulling their funds, but that is not the case for the UK, so much as they want to use the inflationary option, it is not clear whether they will be able to.

My guess would be that it will play out as huge Government cuts, and stagflation, with asset prices dropping by around 10% a year, as has been the case up to now, whilst simultaneously inflation, or more correctly perhaps reduced earnings running at another 5-10%.

The whole system though is so unstable that even if I knew loads about it, which I certainly don't, trying to predict what way it will break is hopeless, with hyperinflation possible.

My best guess would be break-down this winter, especially if there are power cuts - Russia is likely to have to cut back on gas exports, politics aside, due to coal shortages, and the UK works on short terms spot market buys, not long term contracts like everyone else, and so is at the back of any queue.

Thanks Dave - like your traffic accident analogy!

I'm expecting a winter of discontent too. Hopefully nothing even worse than that (like an attack on Iran, or complete fall out with Russia). I think that initially the US can afford to inflate more than the UK can (as you say, because of dollar hegemony), but at some point, that ability might be curtailed much more suddenly than it will be here - causing massive financial dislocations. It does seem that the recent steep fall of sterling, is foretelling of us importing much goods inflation, especially if they indefinitely extend the SLS.

I've just realised, this article and Brown's actions prove that he has a cunning plan to improve Britain's finances.
The burden of an ageing population and pension payments should be reduced at a stroke through the magic of hypothermia!
Reduced energy supplies go so much further when there are less people, and it would save the National Health service a fortune!

Many a true word spoken in jest

OOO Dave! Don't say that.....

Actually, I'm in a much better position than most seniors: very compact, insulated living space, independent sources of wood fuel, which provides both cooking and heating, fully-organised capacity to live off-grid (on board my well-found smaller vessel).

But I know a lot of people who are right in the path of this juggernaut, and powerless to get out from under. Whenever TS starts hitting TF -- and yes indeed, this Winter is looking ominous -- there are a lot of my age-group who are going to be dependent on informal, rallying-round neighbour-help just to keep hypothermia at bay. It's a bloody insidious thing. I'm amazed at how easily I chill now, when a consider what a tough I used to be.

Oddly though, despite everything, the Times do indeed look ever more Interesting to me -- in the primary sense of the word. You'd think I'd be cowering. But I think it's just the thought of so much that I've detested about our society for so long finally looking as if it's about to unravel. Just hope to god it doesn't then slide into something even worse. As you say, completely unpredictable.

Very well put, Jerome.

It seems the people are being set up for a blame game, Brown covering his *ss like this.

This piece also illustrates extremely well that we cannot count on our governments when it comes to preparing for Peak ____(fill in blank). Let alone mitigation of some sort; forget about it. The politicians (not just in the UK or US, but accross Europe) washing their hands in innocense, drowning their responsibilities and accountability in a sea of lies.

Fortunately, Moscow so far has taken a very intelligent, modest approach. However the modesty could easily vanish. For example if Iran is attacked. ("Dutch intel: US to strike Iran in coming weeks" Unconfirmed)

Anyway, there is one aspect in Russian NG exports to Europe which is also relevant, which is that is is not at all certain Russia is able to comply with its longterm gas delivery contracts (mainly in this stage through underinvestment). If that is to happen in a few years Euro-Russian relation will come under even more severe pressure.

Hate to say it, but I also see all ingredients for WWIII in place.

PS. I thought the "terrists" were our enemy? Did we already beat them? Or are they just to invisible that we need a more visible enemy?


This is, of course, a crucial question. Does Russia really have the energy reserves easily available to supply Western Europe with all we require?

One continually hears words like 'gigantic' 'vast' and 'enormous' in the Western media to describe Russia's oil and gas reserves. However, it's highly debatable that their reserves are really as 'vast' as many Western economic and financial journalists suppose. What surprises me is that these terms are used by leading journalists in journals and newspapers that set the tone for public debate.

As Russia's economy grows and developes they will use more and more of their energy for themselves, squeezing their ability to export. Will they be able to ramp up production to meet both domestic and foreign demand? Is it just a question of investment in infrastructure? Surely the Russians are aware of the enormous economic and political advantage of just letting the oil and gas remain in the ground?

But how will we in the West, especially in Europe react if Russia cannot or refuses to export all the energy we need? How will we interpret such a development? Will we accept that Russia is doing it's best to maintain supplies in the current circumstances, or will we choose to see a malign hand at work, the Russians diliberately trying to strangle us and force us to bow to their will? Usually conspiracy theories are frowned opon in our serious media, but maybe that doesn't apply to our conspiracy theories, conspiracy theories that one believes, or needs to believe?

Britain's, or rather the political/ruling elite's attitudes to Russia are hard to understand. I'm puzzled. Given that Russia is such large and growing market for consumer goods and such an important supplier of energy, why would London choose a course of confrontation with Moscow? Is it because one is desparately looking for someone to blame for Britain's dire economic and energy situation and the 'Russian Bear' is a easy target? One refuses to see where resposibility really lies, with the disasterous policies of successive governments and prefers to blame internal and domestic problems on foreigners.

Britain has chosen sides. The ruling elite see Britain's future as an American brigdehead or trojan horse in Europe. One wonders if this strategy has been examined properly? Is it really in Britain's intersts, given its geographical location, and trade links, and energy needs, to isolate itself increasingly from the rest of Europe and confront and antagonize Russia on behalf of a foreign power, the United States?

It's well-known in European circles that Britain's standing has never been lower and Britain's influence has been severly damaged by Blair's uncritical and disasterous alliance with the Bush Whitehouse. Britain, in Bruxelles at least, isn't listened to at all. The New Labour government are seen as American poodles and Britain has effectively no independent foreign policy of its own any more. This fundamentally weakens Britain position in Europe. As one friend expressed it to me, 'Why listen to the pipe, when one can listen to the piper?'

Britain has withdrawn from mainstream European politics and voluntarily chosen to become an American client state, not even an ally, but merely an auxillary. Instead of chosing to become a first-class European state, London chose to become a second-class American one.

Russia has the largest reserves of NG in the world. If they cannot comply with their contractual obligations it is because not enough new gas is being brought online in time, which is, in this stage, due to underinvestment.

However for oil it is a totally different story. According to Khebab/Brown, Russia's URR has been 80% depleted. Still the largest producer in the world, but for how long no one knows.

As for your puzzlement, my guts feeling is that Brown is covering his *ss and/or starting to work public opinion to distract the public eye from Londons' failure to implement an energypolicy. (the coming winter may be an "interesting" period for the UK)

Old Chinese proverb:

"He who builds pipelines over one border is safer than he who builds across many borders."

Most of that Russian gas will not go west.

"One wonders if this strategy has been examined properly?"

NOPE. The strategy is set in Washington and not London.

I would be interested in knowing just who the "ruling elite" is.

It seems to be a nearly invisible group of (?) human beings who inhabit many parts of the world, and who have much in common with each other, and very little in common with their notional origins.

It seems as though concepts such as "France" and "England" and increasingly, "United States" have very little real meaning in terms of power flow in the world.

Britain has withdrawn from mainstream European politics and voluntarily chosen to become an American client state, not even an ally, but merely an auxillary. Instead of chosing to become a first-class European state, London chose to become a second-class American one.

Who withdrew "Britain?" It looks more and more like British, American, Dutch, German, bankers are calling the shots. All of us citizens of this brave new world are at their mercy, and our votes in our home countries are meaningless.

Yes, but when the bankers disagree with each other, what happens? I assume that Germany had banks in 1913 financing its fantastic industrialization, but they didn't have the power of old Britain's banks. The US followed its banks' sympathies in 1917.

The subsequent disasters seem to have reduced the ability of banks to dictate foreign policy until the Reagan globalization.

I have long suspected that the real power in the world is the biggest concentration of wealth, the mountain of gold that Spain stole from Peru and Mexico that in turn leaked away to Amsterdam and London. Military power can be maintained for a while after the cash is gone, but eventually is exposed. Now the "vault" of the US has been emptied. Are the bankers already deciding at this moment that the US is finished, and looking for a new host body to inhabit?

Britain has chosen sides. The ruling elite see Britain's future as an American brigdehead or trojan horse in Europe. One wonders if this strategy has been examined properly? Is it really in Britain's intersts, given its geographical location, and trade links, and energy needs, to isolate itself increasingly from the rest of Europe and confront and antagonize Russia on behalf of a foreign power, the United States?

Orwell was very prescient.

As for current gas contracts with Russia, there's likely enough gas to fulfill them. The problem is more gas is required, but just how much will be available and for how long? Further, in 50 years when the gas will surely be gone, what will be used to power the baseline? And this question could be repeated for every further 50 year increment; that is, if anyone is thinking that far into the future.

One day the factories will move to the energy, not the other way around.

Then again, the 3 great eras of the industrial age have been the British era, the American era, and now the Chinese era. All three of these states relied on coal to industrialize. So maybe nothing has really changed.

Meanwhile, I would again like to note that Britain, the US and Israel now seem to have similar economic systems. Starting in the 1990s with the Likud Party-sponsored "Clean Break" paper, Israel created a content-free economy of "defense software", which seems to have overheated the economy, which always leads to a real estate boom. Unfortunately for Israel, the only place to have the boom is Palestinian land, and it requires water and oil too.

Meanwhile the delusion of high-tech software-driven military supremacy jumped to the US and UK, soon followed by much wackier real estate bubbles that created the fake growth needed for taxes for more defense spending. Then came the wars in Lebanon and Iraq and the sudden panic as Israelis, Americans and Britons began to understand their economies were worthless paper. Too bad the neocon virus got to Spain and Italy just long enough. Now enough countries are sick to start a global depression.

Neoconservative economics - economics practiced by those who believe that resources spontaneously spring forth from "power", not the other way around. If you can find out who spread this sort of thinking to the Labor Party you will have found the neocon agent working precisely to make Britain a US client state.

It looks like the only substantive menace the EU has come up with, is blocking Russian access to the WTO.

But is that such a potent threat? Would the benefits of WTO membership outweigh its disadvantages, for Russia? They would, after all, be expected to play by the rules thereafter, rather than nakedly strong-arming their commercial partners (viz. their current blackmailing of Turkey).

I suspect that, like the USA, they believe they are better off negotiating bilateral agreements from a position of strength, rather than conforming to nicey-nicey multilateralism (Collapse of the seven-year Doha round... end of the GWB presidency ... Coincidence? No, legacy).

i.e. aside from the strictly military stuff, is there anything at all that the EU can threaten / negotiate with Russia over? How weak is our position? Very weak indeed. Pity the EU leaders.

Russia stated previously that they do not wish to join the WTO. This threat has no substance except as a lie to the public.
What will be next? Will the EU threaten to stop oil exports to Russia? ;-)

I'm not sure why we need, or would want, to threaten Russia with anything. Our position in relation to Russia isn't weak at all. Western Europe is Russia's largest customer for oil and gas, at present. We want their energy, they want to sell it to us, we have the money, they need the money.

Of course the relative positions of Russia and the EU are changing. They changed dramatically twenty years ago when Russia went into almost free-fall economically and the West seemed politically, ideologically, economically and militarily, triumphant. But times change, and Russia has stabilized and is riviving. This may annoy some people who dreamed of a permanently weak, encircled and dismembered Russia, but it's perfectly possible for us to have normal relations with Russia that are mutually beneficial for Europe and Russia. However, we shold be wary as hell of being dragged into a confrontation with Russia by right-wing, ultra-nationalists, in Eastern Europe who mistakenly believe that they can confront Russia to their advantage and settle lots of old scores and seek revenge, and that we will come and bail them out when things go disasterously wrong.

"Our position in relation to Russia isn't weak at all"

But yes, it is VERY WEAK indeed. They can cut exports by lets say 33% and enjoy the same revenue with the resulting price increase.

The only thing that stops the Russian of playing tough is that they would rather have Europe as an ally than an enemy. Therefore they wait for US power to weaken. Time is on their side.

"I'm not sure why we need, or would want, to threaten Russia with anything"

What about to gain free cheap access to Russia's resources? IMO this has always been about this - the privatisation of the Russia's energy and other assets by Western majors, thus securing our access to Russia's natural wealth for pennies on the dollar. We almost did it during Eltsin time, but now Putin brought things back under Russian control. All we do now is using whatever leverage we have left to obtain whatever we can... Ironically by alienating Russia during all those years we lost almost any leverage we had, arriving to the point we need them more than they need us. After all Russia can decide selling its energy to China if it decides to. What do we do then??

It increasingly seems that all we have left is just words and empty threats...


I sort of agree with you, but I think we need to differentiate between the two 'Wests'; there is the United States West and the European West. They are not the same. Even in Europe itself one has at least three 'Wests'. This is getting silly, but there's the UK West, the Central European West, and the Eastern Europe West. None of the main European Wests agree on how to 'tackle' a strong, revived and assertive Russia. We've become used to Russia on its knees, and we've got used to it. It made things so much easier. We did whatever we wanted and Russia was too weak to respond. All that has changed.

Britain and the Eastern Europeans are closest to each other and follow the American lead, as client states should. But Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain - are pursuing a far more pragmatic, cynical, amoral and realistic line. Is one really going to endanger ones relationship to a country as large, powerful and potentially rich as Russia, in order to support a tiny country like Georgia which is temporarily under the sway of an ultra-nationalist, agressive, adventurist, delusional, and American trained gangsters? I think not.

Of course the 'West' has adopted policies towards Russia that were incredibly short-sighted and potentially dangerous. Instead of supporting the development of 'social democracy' in Russia along Scandinavian lines, we bet on a total collapse social economic and social collapse which would open Russia up to foreign dominantion, the creation of semi-colonial system, and probably the eventual dismemberment and division of the spoils. However, given Russia's history this 'plan' was always very risky and arguably delusional. Not only that, it 'proved' to most Russians that there were powerful forces in the West that were determined to undermine and destroy Russia at almost any cost.

Russia is in a strong position, but that advantage looks very transient.
According to west texas and khebab, the ability to export oil and gas which is so fundamental to it's economy will wither away very fast.
The demography of Russia is also quite ruinous, with the Slav population in steep decline, and only the muslims increasing.
Of course, the rest of Europe's demography is also problematic, but they start from a much higher base.
It is obvious that the power of China will continue to grow, and having large resources such as coal and a shrinking population is not a recipe for security.

Russia is somewhat in a position of 'use it or loose it' then, and it's power base is hollowing out.

Maybe partially true for oil, but not so for Natural Gas. Russian reserves are truly vast and there is also the huge potential of reducing domestic usage to free up exports. AFAIR Russia exports just 1/4 of the NG it produces, but these exports form 70% of Gazprom's revenue stream. But there is a plan to address that - in the next few decades Russia will replace domestic NG for electricity (1/3 of Russia's electricity is from NG) with coal and nuclear, which would free enough gas to keep Europe warm at least until mid-century. This gives a comfortable time lag for transitioning to nuclear/renewables etc.

Bottom line: for the next decades it is in Europe's best interest to be at good terms with Russia. If it chooses not to be, I suspect we will witness quite unpleasant developments in the near future.

Thanks for the correction.
It is also possible that hydrates will be exploited, regardless of the consequences for GW, but if that happens then gas is likely to drop to a cheap input again, as the reserves are so huge.
It is also perhaps worthwhile to consider that over this time-frame coal gasification may kick in, with or without sequestration, and the reserves for that in Europe, especially the UK and Norway, are truly vast:
BBC NEWS | England | Expert predicts 'coal revolution'
Planet Ark : Norway Has Vast, Inaccessible Seabed Coal – Statoi

In war, population isn't as important anymore as decadence.

America had half the population during World War II as today, but it put eleven million citizens into uniform, and even without a draft it would have gotten millions. In 1862-3 the 30 million citizens of the northern US built a million-man army before it instituted a draft. Now look at us.

Russia and China have also started down that road but are not as far down it as the US and UK. The upside: fat, brain-dead sheeple have no enthusiasm for the personal sacrifice of war. The downside: said creatures assume that there's always someone or something else to do their fighting for them. One day, there's no infantry left, only the nukes in your silos.

How tough people are is pretty much a product of how harsh their lives are, and falling living standards in the west may take care of that.

In any case, that is not the only, or even the most important, part of winning a war.
Man for man, the Japanese were certainly 'tougher' than the Allied forces, and the Germans the best soldiers.

None of that could overcome the immense resources brought to bear on them.
Overall American war capability is far greater than Russia's, and they are well aware of this.

Overall American war capability was far greater than North Vietnam's too. Was that only a "limited" war? Well, if we're talking about anything beyond a limited war with Russia, it will go nuclear and all that other war capability is just radioactive glass. Figure it will take even ten nukes getting through to collapse the American stock market for a generation? The investor class in America are the weakest, most cowardly sheeple of all.

My guess is that the Russians don't fancy being radioactive glass either.
Under those circumstances the precision weapons of America count.
Any war would likely be the result of miscalculation anyway, and the military once it kicked off would operate in relation to it;s own sensibilities.
The investor class is important, but not the only influence, and is anyway fractured - the First World War in Europe was ruinous.

can you blame them?

look at the UK wrt conscription.

A large proportion of the 18-35 cohort are muslim and have no loyalty to the UK or its wars.

The White and Afro Caribean (formerly working class) have no stake in the survival of Great Britain as a nation and will not flock to the colours. Why should they? Whats in it for them? What exactly has Nu -Liebor done for them?

The weird thing is you have Brown, Milliband, and even Cameron talking to and about Russia as if we were still capable of putting an expeditionary force into the field. - as if this was August 1914

Truly. We didnt get over the fact that we lost an empire and didnt find a role.

Actually we found a role:

Wankers without parallel.

It is absolutely incredible that tosseurs like this current crop have not worked out our parlous situation wrt energy, clout in the world, standing in the world (as a cock sucking lick spittle of Bush)

And the simple fact that we are bankrupt.

The Germans and other middle europeans have come to a pragmatic view wrt Russia.(hence the lack of 'sanctions' against Russia)

We have snotty little schoolboys like Milliband steering foreign policy. ( boy, has he got to make up for being bullied at school..)

Like I say: buy candles - there is a better than 50 percent chance you will need them this winter - or the next.

"Like I say: buy candles - there is a better than 50 percent chance you will need them this winter - or the next"

My own view back in 2003 was that Britain would be in such a dire position that the only viable option was to leave for another country. It's now 2008 and my opinion is still the same, leave!

Once the British elite start drowning in their own sewage, it will be by standing upon the heads of those that cannot leave that they will extract themselves. By impoverishing the masses (ie. socialising the costs) the elite will retain their wealth and power. The middle-class will be hit hardest and will contract markedly as the service sector shrinks (74% of UK GDP).

Colonial warfare is probably Britain's future as it utilises its wealth and population to acquire the means to survive. Britain IMO cannot become self-sufficient and must therefore have a means of acquiring what it needs. In a World racked by financial meltdown, Climate Change and resource depletion, warfare of some kind is the most likely "means".

I hadn't looked at the pound-dollar rate for almost a year and was very surprised to see it down to 1.7759 from almost 2.00 just a month ago. Perhaps the next Cromwell will promote the Levelers instead of exterminating them.

Britain lacks independent power projection capability. The Navy is great but you must have a fleet of giant drop-nose rough-field cargo jets to operate deep inland. Only the US and the USSR ever obtained the capability to build those monsters, which is very telling.

I suspect that the entire British military is wired into the Pentagon so that it is no more capable of independent thought and action than, say, the army of Georgia. However, the British financial elite do get paid for this service by getting first crack at all US-created business opportunities like Iraq and mortgage bonds... well, maybe that part isn't working out so well.

However, as long as Britain acts as an extension of the US military and rides on US logistical coattails, then its leaders may have expected a payback from the US' own reserves in a resource emergency... well, maybe that part isn't working out so well either. Guess you don't get any prizes unless the US actually wins one of these stupid wars - and you only get what's left over after we finish looting.

Whatever colonial warfare happens, I'm sure Britain will be at our side. We're stuck with each other, symbolized by the joint depletion of the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Brown is disembowelling the Navy by cancelling the destroyers and so on that would be needed to make the carriers they ordered usable.

The financing for them will not happen anyway, and as oil prices rise I doubt the capability to carry out proper training.
The US may be able to stagger on as it is the world's reserve currency and has substantial oil resources of it's own, but the ability of the UK to project power much beyond the channel is likely to draw to a close within 5 years.

No operation to re-take the Falklands could be mounted, that is for sure.

Like I say: buy candles - there is a better than 50 percent chance you will need them this winter - or the next.

And yet again today there is another national grid insufficient margin warning and it's only early September...

See my post in UK Energy Flow Chart 2007 thread.

It is a matter of time UK jumps off the sinking boat of the US hegemony.

As for Eastern Europe it is sort of a strange situation. On one hand most of the states there are simply too corrupt, so it is easy for the US to buy influence; on the other there is the memory of the Soviet times and some of them are genuinely afraid of their powerful neighbor. However by supporting the US "containment" policy, they are alienating Russia, which feels threatened and forced to retaliate, which then enforces their fears and so on... a vicious circle that is in nobody's interest.

I think it is a matter of time European foreign policy converges on this one... In the bottom of this it is the USA that is muddying the water, and it's time as a geopolitical player and a superpower is already running out. Hopefully it will stop short of using it's only real advantage left in order to maintain it, but sometimes when I think about the purpose of this anti-missile shield stationed around Russia gets me shivering about it.

After all Russia can decide selling its energy to China if it decides to. What do we do then??

There is another option for Russia other than selling it's oil to Europe or China.
The Russian government is seriously considering saving some oil for future generations.

A short but rather comprehensive summary of the history of Western bullying of Russia and how we got to where we are can be found here:

The West must stop bullying Russia

I find the bottom line especially telling:

The Russians have now said: This far, but no longer. It would be wise of the West to listen to the warning. It is not in its own best interest to continue bullying and humiliating Russia.

Interesting development in the Ukraine.

I'll put my money on the Blonde.

With the Ukranians I've talked with, the general perception is that most are pro-russian. Meaning of course they are pro-Ukranian at the first place, but they think it is not in their country's best interest to lean too much on the West or to conduct anti-Russian policy.

Therefore I'm putting my money on the Blonde too (I find her position more balanced, while Yushchenko sounds like Saakashvili lite).

This story sounds an awful lot like Naomi Klein's account in "The Shock Doctrine" of how Boris Yeltsin bombed the Russian Parliament and killed hundreds so he could enforce corrupt Western-backed selloffs and pro-business policies. I bet the Ukrainians remember that, even if we don't.

Nice job, Jerome. It's amazing how these sycophants who have the gall to call themselves our "leaders" along with their handmaidens of agitprop from the corporate fourth estate still hold even an ounce of credibility in the mind of a single thinking person in this entire world! Is everyone simply stupid... or are we really just afraid what they might do should we all stand up and insist on revolution. Me thinks it's the latter.

A small correction to your article, Jerome. NATO was not founded in response to the Warsaw Pact. It was formally launched in April 1949 after years of negotiations to be a military alliance against the Soviet Union and its allies in Europe. The 'Warsaw Pact', the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, was signed in Warsaw in May 1955, and was explicitly a response to the formation of NATO.

Phillip Allen
Winsted, CT USA

Thanks for the correction!

Jerome's article ends by asking:

But why, oh why, does our media have to fall for it hook, line and sinker?

It's not complicated. The media are not a charity. Those who survive earn their living thanks to the fees, bribes and ready-to-publish material supplied by advertisers/sponsors (which latter include "universities", "thinktanks" etc.).

Consequently the ones who survive/thrive are those who publish what those sponsors want published. Consequently the media profession naturally becomes populated by people who are happy to go along with this unworthiness and not say anything too out-of-line. Independent thinking is eliminated and replaced by mindless sucking up of the "information" from those respected superiors who fill their feeding trough.

There are a few who somewhat buck this trend (Monbiot for instance) but they are a tiny minority.

And people who are successful in the sense of being well-paid cogs in the establishment wheel fervently believe the meritocracy myth that all the rest along with themselves really are the most talented and most honourable people in society. That's despite the truth almost always being the exact opposite: the inverted meritocracy whereby the scum rises to the top, intellectually and morally.

Why even take seriously a quisling like Brown? For too long Brits have been too proud to admit that their governments are all puppets of US foreign policy and that the Anglo-American fraternities are the real force behind USUK imperialism.

It takes a writer like Guido Giacomo Preparata in his eye-opener, Conjuring Hitler, to spell out the reality of who the movers are behind Bushco, minions like Brown and their predecessors.

So why credit these people with anything other the fact that they are parroting what their puppet-masters dictate? Wouldn't it be better to constantly expose and ridicule them as the quislings they really are?

BTW, should the muppets in Downing Street have any further illusions about extending NATO into the Ukraine, I understand that the deal the new Yuschenko-Yanukovich national front has struck is that it would first require a referendum.


In which case the following is most revealing:

Ukrainians prefer Russia to EU, NATO -- poll

KYIV. Sept 4 (Interfax) - Ukrainian citizens prefer integration with
Russia and other CIS member countries to that with European and
Euro-Atlantic structures, judging by the results of a recent poll posted at the Thursday press conference at the Interfax-Ukraine office in Kyiv.

Twenty-seven percent of the respondents said they wished full-scale
political and economic integration with Russia and other CIS countries, while 26% suggested economic integration within the CIS trade zone.

Only 17% wished the soonest EU membership, and another 23% supported more profound relations with the European Union and a free trade zone.

The Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences' Sociology Institute polled 1,800 Ukrainians nationwide on August 15-27 by request of the Ukrainian Forum foundation.

Forty-three percent said that Ukraine should not join any blocs but
strengthen the national armed forces. Forty-six percent said that the possible accession to NATO would cause Ukrainian destabilization, and about 30% said the opposite.

te dp

Apologies: the CS Monitor article is rather out-of-date! Here is a more recent commentary on Ukraine's politics:

The poll quoted by Interfax, however, results from mid-August last.

Thanks for a great article Jerome - it's a shame that most people who need to read this will probably never see it.

You ask why the media fall for it and that's because they don't think or question too much. They know who butters their financial bread.