Credibly Challenging Iran: A Coordinated Plan to Get Oil Below $40/Barrel

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Bravo to General Wesley Clark for making his way to Dubai for the Arab Strategy Forum taking place here this week. It was fun to see him earlier today make his way quickly across the room to kibitz with former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen who I am traveling with this week in the UAE.
Tomorrow, Clark speaks on a panel along with my New America Foundation/American Strategy Program colleague and CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen. Clark regularly impresses me with his vision of what needs to be done in this region as well as his clarity and bluntness. More on his remarks tomorrow.
I plan to write more when I get a bit more time about various aspects of this conference — and particular want to mention my brief meeting this morning with Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.
But let me just put something out there that I learned this evening during a 90 minute discussion from one of the most prominent incumbent national security officials in the Middle East:

This senior policy official stated that he had never seen a Secretary of State as weak, disorganized, and without a plan of any kind than Condoleezza Rice — and this from someone who strenuously insists that he and many other regional foreign policy officials want to be supportive of her and the U.S.
He stated that American withdrawal from Iraq — despite the growing clamor for that — would yield a complete change in the profile and character of nearly every one of the Middle East’s 22 countries. He said that several governments in the region — outside of Iraq — could very easily “and would probably fall.”
He said that America would be facing a new roster of regimes that were loyal either to Tehran or to al Qaeda.
He said that there is only one non-military way to break Iran’s current course, and that the military option was not credible and would not be supported in the region. This official said that the only way to stop Iran at this point was to make the price of oil plummet.
He said that America could engineer this with coordinated support from oil producers in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The price of a dramatic increase in oil production would be expeditious movement — real movement — on Israel-Palestine negotiations towards a viable state of Palestine and a clear, coordinated plan on Iran.
He said that though the GCC were close, many-decades-long allies of America that the U.S. regularly ignores its regional allies and has not communicated its basic policy course on Iran.
Without a clear and credible plan, there would be no confidence in America’s effort to knock back Iran’s growing pretensions and nothing would be done on the oil front.
But it seemed clear to me that this prominent person believed that it was well within the power of major oil suppliers to get the price of oil below $40/barrel — and that this would stifle Iran’s growing influence significantly.
He said that America needed only to get re-engaged, set a course, and build allies to move forward — but that America continues to approach these matters in disconnected, reactive, and ultimately futile ways that show no fundamental understanding of regional realities and demonstrate a lack of strategic vision or common sense.

I cannot divulge this individual’s identity, but while I don’t agree with every point he made, his comments were extremely candid and very important for American policy makers and strategists to hear and consider.
There was more that he said — which I will recount when I have more time to think through how to frame his comments responsibly and in a way that protects his identity.
More on this conference and these side discussions soon.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

97 comments on “Credibly Challenging Iran: A Coordinated Plan to Get Oil Below $40/Barrel

  1. furniture says:

    Perhaps muzzling others — or asking for them to muzzle themselves — will be unnecessary if people use the little wheel.
    http://www.bm58.com/

    Reply

  2. Office Furniture Supplie says:

    It’s economics by war. War for greed doesn’t sell well to most people, so terror has to hyped and manufactured and created to make the uninformed go along and support it.

    Reply

  3. mmo365.com says:

    “I know I’d feel pretty goddamned ashamed…”
    posted by What On Earth
    Your language is trashy,too. But there’s a little wheel in the center of the mouse. You can turn the wheel and it moves the screen right over anything you may find objectionable.
    Perhaps muzzling others — or asking for them to muzzle themselves — will be unnecessary if people use the little wheel.
    http://www.mmo365.com

    Reply

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  5. nessus says:

    Jimmy Carter’s courageous book trumps the ISG’s report in defining one of the root causes of the Iraqi debacle, and it didn’t cost the American taxpayer a dime.

    Reply

  6. Jim DiPeso says:

    OPEC typically has followed a “Goldilocks” strategy – nudging the oil market towards a price that returns enough revenue to keep the existing petro-regimes in place, but not so high that the oil addicts – er, buyers – start thinking seriously about fuel efficiency and oil alternatives.
    OPEC appears to have taken a calculated risk to move the Goldilocks price point above $60. It’s hard to see how a plan to drive it back to $40 would work, or if it did, work long enough to change Iran’s behavior.

    Reply

  7. sed says:

    insightful but to me seems aptly filed under:
    “ain’t gonna happen” – particularly the oil under $40 item.

    Reply

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  10. Pissed Off American says:

    “Have you ever considered asking a question, or is the prospect of learning and good-faith participation too much for your ideologically-warped and evolutionarily-underdeveloped brains to handle?”
    Been there, done that, and I STILL haven’t a clue why Steve thinks Reid walks on water, nor why he decries Harmon prostituting herself to AIPAC, yet doesn’t seem to mind that 99% of the other Dems are servicing the same trick.
    In fact, I have seen many people query Steve about some of his standpoints and opinions. You musta missed those occasions. It might have been because your head seems to be firmly implanted in your…oh…….never mind.

    Reply

  11. ... says:

    “I know I’d feel pretty goddamned ashamed…”
    posted by What On Earth
    Your language is trashy,too. But there’s a little wheel in the center of the mouse. You can turn the wheel and it moves the screen right over anything you may find objectionable.
    Perhaps muzzling others — or asking for them to muzzle themselves — will be unnecessary if people use the little wheel.

    Reply

  12. What On Earth Is Wrong with You People? says:

    Painful.
    Another bright, shining example of how this excellent blog is overrun by the most delusional, idiotic and self-important trash on the web, most of which seem to hail from the bowels of the far-left. To the 80% of posters that should be pretty easy to identify: in the name of all that is good, decent and abides by the most elementary principles of logic, STOP IT. Steve makes serious, reasoned arguments that deserve equally reasoned consideration that you are patently incapable of or unwilling to provide.
    The incessant name-dropping does get old, but Steve is even good enough to read the comments section and make replies. Have you ever considered asking a question, or is the prospect of learning and good-faith participation too much for your ideologically-warped and evolutionarily-underdeveloped brains to handle?
    The broader point: your uninformed opinion is not in significant demand and is genuinely irrelevant. If you love so much to see your own lunacy made public, I of course cannot stop you. But, for your own sake, you should at least undertake the process of public self-humiliation with your eyes open.
    Steve, please don’t let the idiot-corps deter you (and this hasn’t been a problem so far). Many of us truly enjoy this blog, especially the parts we disagree with, and appreciate the contribution to the discourse.
    If I held such baseless and absurd views as rabidly as many of you do (or any view as rabidly), I know I’d feel pretty goddamned ashamed.

    Reply

  13. Pissed Off American says:

    When pondering the tepid contributions the ISG made to a realistic recipe for “saving” Iraq, a thought occured to me; Where were the “great thinkers” from the “coalition of the willing”? Who represented Great Britain in this so called “study group”? Australia? Here, all this time, that pathetic monkey in the White House has made a point to impress upon us that there is a “coalition” of allies helping us in Iraq. Well, where the fuck are they now? Shouldn’t they have been part the “thought process” seeking a solution to this deadly and dismal clusterfuck?
    Oh, oops, I forgot, the “uniter not a divider” grand poo-pah “decider” was just spewing horseshit with all his blathering about a “coalition of the willing”. Maybe Poodle Boy Blair can come up with a “study group” of his own. Why the fuck not? I mean geez, SOMEONE must have an answer how to extricate ourselves from this mess in Iraq without nuking the place. I got it! How about Austin Powers? By God, he’d fit right in.

    Reply

  14. Carroll says:

    Posted by p.lukasiak at December 7, 2006 05:26 PM
    >>>>>>>>
    Well, as I said it’s going to be interesting to watch the dems go from denial to justifying to disappointment to outrage.
    Looks like you have already hit the justifying phase. I expect the dems justifying to hit on minimun wage, health care goodies and other domestic bones thrown to the public…while they ignore the underlying rot that will eventually bring the whole ponzi scheme down….the refusal to meet the Iraq realities head on, the refusal to admit that US/Isr status quo in the ME isn’t going to continue and that Iran isn’t going to cave on their demands, sanctions or not, the refusal to admit that world wide dynamics have changed for the foreseeable future and not in our favor, the refusal to admit that we are hemmorging money we don’t have hand over fist,…the 2006 election was not people voting for dems it was people voting against Bush policies. You can enjoy the cake crumbs the dems throw you but not for long, because if we don’t get our foreign policy straightened out we are also done on the domestic front.

    Reply

  15. p.lukasiak says:

    “The interesting part is going to be watching the progressive lefties go from denial, to disappointment to outrage at not getting what they voted for.”
    We knew exactly what we were voting for — a flawed Democratic majority that, even with its flaws, was infinitely preferable to the “Rubber Stamp Republicans”.
    I’m not the least bit surprised that Holy Joe and some other Dems (and Republicans) are exploiting the “talking to Iran” issue — its a win-win situation for them to do so, because they have absolutely no control over whether the Bush regime talks to Iran or not. More to the point, Iran is holding all the best cards right now, and talks with Iran are bound to fail until Bushco finally decides to cut and run….

    Reply

  16. Carroll says:

    Posted by Easy E at December 7, 2006 03:51 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    You are right. In fact the dems are more ideological on Israel than the repubs. Therefore more dangerous concerning Iran.
    I don’t think we have reached the tipping point quite yet on the public’s awareness of the AIPAC hold on congress. But I think it is growing and will be excerbated by the Dems in the next two years…so 2008 will be very interesting.
    Even if the dems just keep harping on sanctions for Iran that won’t satisfy Israel, it doesn’t acheive their ultimate goal.
    Anyway the dems will now be fully exposed on the Israel-foreign policy- AIPAC issue…as well as the corruption, lobbying issue. The interesting part is going to be watching the progressive lefties go from denial, to disappointment to outrage at not getting what they voted for.

    Reply

  17. Carroll says:

    Concerning the Israeli part in the ME problems & questions, I think we do well to remember and stress that Israel’s determination to take out Iran is not because they are afraid Iran will nuke them sooner or later. That is nonsense. If the Arab countries wanted to get rid of Israel all they have to do is band together and starve them out economically. The US has prevented that happening so far with threats and with rewards to various countries for favoring Israel in trade matters. The goal of Israel is to be The economic powerhouse in the ME, they have always intended to acheive this thru US intervention.
    The same applies to Palestine, the non blind can see that security is not the reason for Israel occupying Palestine….note that EVERY time Israel issues one of their “statements”…the tag line on every one is..”Palestine must honor all PRIOR agreements”. It’s that “prior agreements” that Israel is stuck on, the ‘recongize Israel” is just the icing covering the cake… because the “prior agreements” is where the water and other resources they need from Palestine comes in.
    I have said it a hundred times and I will say it again…Israel is not concerned about their security…they are concerned about their economics and land expansion. The terror hype and hysterica is to cover the intent and rouse the sheep.
    This interesting little news blip reminds us of why Israel wants Iran to be once again Israel friendy…which it was before the US supported Shah was dethroned.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6260982,00.html
    A lot of people forget or didn’t know that Iran once supplied Israel with oil and cooperated on weapons development and provided Israel with some very lucrative contracts.
    It’s economics by war. War for greed doesn’t sell well to most people, so terror has to hyped and manufactured and created to make the uninformed go along and support it.

    Reply

  18. Dan Kervick says:

    David N. – no problem

    Reply

  19. Easy E says:

    Posted by: DonS at December 7, 2006 03:26 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Pelosi led Congress will continue to take marching orders from AIPAC.
    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0527-23.htm

    Reply

  20. DonS says:

    Well, Holy Joe and the rest of that ilk says we shouldn’t talk to Iran. So let’s just see how the ‘Congress’ lines up behind this particular recommendation; we already know what the AIPAC talking point/marching order is. No?

    Reply

  21. Easy E says:

    Another reason why U.S. will attack Iran…..
    IRAN PLANS TO REDUCE USE OF DOLLAR IN TRADE
    http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=148236

    Reply

  22. Easy E says:

    Israelis piqued by nuclear “confirmation”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/nuclear_israel_gates_dc
    Hmmm.

    Reply

  23. Easy E says:

    ISRAEL REJECTS IRAQ STUDY IDEAS
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6217656.stm
    How surprising.

    Reply

  24. Den Valdron says:

    R. Weber, You can bite my shiny metal ass.
    That said, on a third look, it appears likely that I did misread that particular point, and in fact, the proposal does suggest that the United States and Europe, as quid pro quo, force Israel into a peace settlement with the Palestians.
    I can only suggest that the notion was so breathlessly inane on so many levels that nauseau forced me to misread it.
    First, it seemed contrarian to the overall theme of confronting and bridling the Iran/Al Quaeda menace. No so much at cross purposes, but largely unrelated in any wholistic sense. Its as if in addition to fighting the war on terror, Bush announced that he was going to paint smiley faces on all the fish.
    Second, the notion of two quid pro quos, or the one big fix solution seems suspect in and of itself. America should stay in Iraq and get tough with these Muslims, and they’ll all happily fall into line with Massah, and then they’ll drop the price of oil to $40 a barrel, Iran will be crushed and a greatful west will force Israel to give a fair deal to the Palestinians? Yeah, pull the other one.
    Third, it hardly seems rational. $40 barrel prices would be a boon to Western Economies, particularly Israel’s, and would reduce Israel’s motivation and economic pressure to settle. Presumably, weaker gulf and arab economies would be in far less effective a position to support the Palestinians, leaving a weak and powerless constituency even weaker and more powerless. So, with the strong strengthened and encouraged, the weak weakened and reviled, this becomes the basis for an equitable and lasting settlement? The most likely outcome is either nothing at all, or a settlement dictated on such onerous terms that Al Quaeda will recruit off of it for the next fifty years. Simple wish fulfillment is what it is.
    I dunno, in a ‘plan’ which bears all the hallmarks of being crazy and simplistic and utterly unrealistic on every level, this little notion takes the cake. A poorly thought out afterthought, soldered unevenly to a poorly constructed edifice.
    I do admire R. Weber’s suggestion that what is intended is to first drive prices up to $100 per barrel or better to collapse the worldwide economy and eventually reach $40 per barrel. It’s as crazy ass as the rest of the proposal, but its got a nice ironic sting. It reminds me of that joke about the Genii who grants a man his wish to have an 8 inch prick.
    In any event, my original point remains that this miraculous proposal is entirely self serving based on hysterical exaggerations and fabrications.

    Reply

  25. Matthew says:

    p.lukasiak: You have hit upon China’s constructive engagement. Bush’s problem is that people don’t resent or fear China. That is going to be a huge advantage for China over the next 20 years.
    I also doubt that China, despite their human rights problems, would be assinine enough to callously talk about “birth pains of the new” ME while watching Beirut burn–while supplying the gasoline (i.e., jet fuel).

    Reply

  26. Linda says:

    Thank you, Rich. I’d add that West Coast think tanks like Hoover Institution and RAND to your list. Whynobody picks up on RMI–look at the other 70 or so comments on this thread that started out about $40 a barrel oil.
    We waste too much of our human resources–not just on wars–but our time, energy, and minds on pointing fingers at each other and debating and get so excited that simple, direct common sense solutions are ignored.
    It’s very clear that nobody can predict the future or figure out what political or diplomatic strategy can work in the ME. It is important to our security and economy because of the oil. And we can do a lot of things to become less dependent on their oil.
    I think that Bush is the worst president in my lifetime that goes back to FDR. However, he at least mentioned our dependence and addiction to oil in his State of the Union message. I don’t think there is going to be any bipartisan solution to Iraq that will work in the next two years. I do hope that there is a bipartisan comprehensive energy independence program ASAP as the sooner we start, the better off we will be.

    Reply

  27. Frank says:

    Re my earlier post, this URL has a more detailed commentary about Carter’s new book, and the stir in the Israli lobby it has created.
    http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/12/06/thank_you_jimmy_carter.php

    Reply

  28. p.lukasiak says:

    “Larjani is in Dubai to propose that the Gulf nations pull out of military arrangements with the U.S., and instead, ally with Iran who will move in and provide the security umbrella the U.S. once did. He’s proposing regional autonomy in a way that is similar, it seems to me, to the policies Chavez is pursuing in South America. I’d be interested to know how he was received by the Arab officials present. If you know.”
    aha! this may well be what Steve’s buddy was talking about when he said a US withdrawal would result in a “complete change in the profile and character of nearly every one of the Middle East’s 22 countries”….
    ….however, in this instance, I think that Larjani is using Iran as a stalking horse/proxy for China, which for the last six years has demonstrated a far more rational approach to the mid-East than Bushco has…. (Let’s align regionally with Iran is far more palatable than ‘lets dump the US, and get ourselves a reliable and sane ally with China, which already has good relations with Iran”)

    Reply

  29. David Noziglia says:

    Dan:
    Hope you find this amid the clutter.
    I reread your post, and it is clear you were talking about the Saudis and Gulf Arabs. It’s just that there has been so much criticism of Rice among the other postings here, that I did not notice you carefully make that distinction.
    My sincere appologies. I blew up for no reason.
    However.
    To get to your actual point:
    When I lived in Saudi Arabia, while there was considerable discrimination and sexism, there was also considerable thoughtfulness among the educated Saudis that I dealt with in business, government, and academia. They lived with the Wahabi attitude towards women, but they did not share it. Remember, the Saudi government at one point did try to allow women to drive, but protests from the Wahabi ulema forced them to back down on this.
    There have been many papers and books that have talked about how in many of the Gulf Arab states, the undemocratic ruling elites are actually quite a bit more liberal and progressive (if one can use those terms) than the general population. In any case, if we don’t know who is doing the talking, even if it’s a Saudi, speculation about his general sexism and racism is pointless. They are not all alike.
    Anyway, again, my appoligies for blowing up at a slight that you did not make.

    Reply

  30. Easy E says:

    U.S. does have responsibility of fixing the Pottery Barn, though it will have to be done indirectly somehow because of our lost moral standing and credibility in the eyes of the victims (and world). Also, a component of fixing the Pottery Barn should be bringing the criminals to justice. Impeachment may be the wrong the path, but Federal charges should be vigorously pursued after they are out of power.

    Reply

  31. pauline says:

    from Craig Roberts —
    “Many Americans have the absurd notion that the only limit to U.S. power is the will to use it. This absurd idea provides the Israel Lobby with a vocal American minority that is easy to exploit in behalf of “standing tough” in the Middle East. The main reason that neither Republicans nor Democrats can come to their senses about Iraq and America’s disastrous Middle East policy is that the Israel Lobby will not let them.
    Right-wing Israeli governments suffer the same delusion as neoconservatives about limitless U.S. power. They believe that the power of their lobby can ensure that American power will be used to destroy all of Israel’s enemies.
    The U.S. is likely to remain mired in Iraq until Israelis cast out this delusion. No amount of U.S. power can make it possible for Israel to both steal Palestine from Palestinians and have peace. No number of U.S. invasions of Islamic countries can win “the war on terror.” As long as right-wing extremism prevails in Israel and as long as the U.S. interferes in the internal affairs of Muslin countries, the formula for calamity remains in place.”
    http://www.antiwar.com/roberts/?articleid=10122

    Reply

  32. Frank says:

    Jimmy Carter’s new book “Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid”” discussing the Israeli/Palestinian fiasco/tragedy drama is the new entry into the ME peace seeking equations. This courageous book finally makes aware to the American public, what really is happening in the “holy” land. It unmasks Israel’s policys of dealing with the Palestinians as resulting in fait accompli apartheid in the West Bank.
    Israel, under Bush’s extraordinary unbalanced ME diplomacy blunders, has become a viable candidate for “axis of evil” status.
    Israel is a major, albeit proxy player, in the Iraq fiasco. What is happening there between the Israelis and the Palestinians, affects how the world, and especially the ME countrys, view America’s joke of a “balanced diplomacy” for peace anywhere in the world . I was surprised that Steve’s “friend” did not mention the root core of what causes ME countrys to mistrust us . His friend’s ridiculous forty dollars a barrel “solution” to some of the ME ills, is a herniated observation, and not worthy of an intellectual exchange of diplomatic ideas. Perhaps Israel’s role in the ME tragedy was discussed, but in keeping with Steve’s extraordinary diplomatic sensitivities, he is thinking about how to broach “the elephant in the room subject” without alienating the Jewish lobby in America. Well Carter’s book, and the ISG report has done it for him. The biggest plus of the ISG report is the recommendation that we reengage with gusto, the seeking of a peaceful two state solution in that very troubled land.
    As the shocking facts of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians finally percolates to the American people’s psyche through Carter’s new book, pressure will be brought to bear on our leaders to be balanced in practicing ME diplomacy. We lost what little credibility we had held by Lebanonese politicians through our blantant shameful support of Israel’s “over the top” bombing of Lebanon. Killing over a thousand, mostly innocent Lebanese, because of the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers? An honest broker we just have not been in anything having to do with Israel.
    Jimmy Carter’s courageous book trumps the ISG’s report in defining one of the root causes of the Iraqi debacle, and it didn’t cost the American taxpayer a dime.

    Reply

  33. MP says:

    Carroll writes: “Like POA, I think what a lot of us want is justice for this disaster. Because fore one thing jusitce is good and the dead deserve some justice..for another, melting out some justice to the creators of this nightmare might prevent future cannibals from trying to repeat this con.”
    It might be worthwhile doing a little research into what are, in fact, and what have proven to be, impeachable offenses for the Executive. For example, lying the American public into a war may not be one of them–and I don’t think it is. Unfortunately.

    Reply

  34. MP says:

    I have to agree with POA. Iraq IS broken. It’s been obvious for a long time now that there are no good options, and each option is fraught with terrible, and hard-to-predict consequences. (Of course, it’s easy to string out scenarios, but no one knows what will really happen.) Having said that, the Pottery Barn Rule does apply: We broke it, and we need to try hard to do the next best thing. We have a responsibility not to simply throw up our hands in rage.

    Reply

  35. Rich says:

    YES, LINDA!!!
    Why on earth East Coast think tanks can’t/ won’t/ haven’t picked up on Lovin’s and RMI’s work AND RUN WITH IT is beyond me. It’s a huge failing, both in terms of the spread of ideas, the imperative to compete economically and maintain national security, but ESPECIALLY re the functioning of American policy apparatus.
    If ANYbody really wants to counter Bush/Cheney/neocons with a viable alternative, they’d pushing RMI’s work with a nonstop, 24/7 unending, full-court press.
    Instead, we get the same folks talking to the same people–who confess they’ve “exhausted” all the options they’re capable of conceiving.
    Linda wrote:
    First of all, suggest people visit http://www.rmi.org, the Rocky Mountain Institute and look at the work and ideas of Amory Lovins. It is very possible to quickly free ourselves of dependence on ME oil significantly in a few years with a smart domestic policy that won’t be that painful for anyone and would put us in the put us in the lead internationally as well in all kinds of alternate fuel, more efficient everything technologies, i.e., be good for business and foreign policy as well.
    Posted by Linda at December 6, 2006 02:47 PM

    Reply

  36. marky says:

    I think that comparing Iranian hegemony to Al Qaeda success is totally inappropriate. I realize that I”m not the first person to remark on this.
    But really, what is so bad about Iranian hegemony?
    I don’t care for their government, but I don’t care for many governments in the ME. Iran seems to be governed by rational self interest to a great degree, which I consider a significant positive.
    I’m sure they want stability, which is more than you can say for the Bush administration, with its praxis of Ledeen’s “creative destruction”.
    It’s quite possible that Bush’s Iraq fiasco has made Iranian hegemony the best of several bad options.
    It should go without saying, but to make it explicit, I don’t favor Iran because I want Israel to suffer, nor do I give any credence to the idea that Iran seeks to create a second Holocaust.
    If I did so believe, my opinion would be different.

    Reply

  37. Carroll says:

    Posted by eatbees at December 7, 2006 12:41 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Thank you eatbees…for agreeing….it’s lonely out here in the real world. Most people, for some reason don’t notice the ground shifting under their feet.

    Reply

  38. Carroll says:

    And speaking of “plans”….I am totally going to throwup…yuck!
    Listening to Lieberman’s response to the ISG as he says we should never ever talk to Iran for help on Iraq…never ever, must continue the “Wur” on terriers….forever and ever amen.
    And now we have Brad Sherman, uber Israeli, agreeing with Lieberman that never should we talk to Iran..never….we must defeat Iran instead and destroy their nukies…
    And Biden again (who like Cheney wants Iraq divided into three states)..no talkie to Iran……Iran bad, bad, attack Iran instead.
    I hope all the dems take note of their DemNeoCONS. You are now going to see the dems not only support but encourage Bush’s refusal to engage other countries in the ME on Iraq despite the advice of people who KNOW better.
    I told you there was no difference in them. I can’t wait to see how the dems spin their new Iraq stand. And why are they doing that?…Huummmm?

    Reply

  39. Carroll says:

    Posted by aum at December 6, 2006 11:54 PM
    >>>>>>>>>
    Well I have to join in POA’s rage….someone has to rage, otherwise things stay the same, the guilty and delusionals just get more emboldened. The public could do with a little more rage if you ask me.
    I do think POA is right in that Iraq “can’t be fixed”.. in the sense that the US can’t “fix” Iraq as it planned at the outset. I have bet money that Iraq ends up being ruled by whatever fraction fights the hardest and last the longest..and it isn’t going to be by the US/Israel friendy puppets they envisioned.
    Like POA, I think what a lot of us want is justice for this disaster. Because fore one thing jusitce is good and the dead deserve some justice..for another, melting out some justice to the creators of this nightmare might prevent future cannibals from trying to repeat this con.

    Reply

  40. eatbees says:

    Carroll stated:
    “Well, there is only one plan that will work…and that is accepting that they are all going to have to find some compromise with the various states and ‘movements’ in the ME who don’t like the US imposed status quo power ‘balance.’
    “The days of the US maintaining favored states and potentates for their own/shared interest is over.”
    On this one I agree with Caroll completely — on everything except that he may be a bit too optimistic on any future U.S. role, even assuming the U.S. quickly follows his advice.
    I think you started off on the wrong foot, Steve, with your headline, “Credibly Challenging Iran” which makes me wonder, why are we challenging Iran? Shouldn’t we be seeking to cooperate in any way possible with this rapidly rising, relatively democratic, technically advanced nation?
    I read a David Ignatius column on Ali Larijani and he seems like a smart guy. He obviously isn’t telling “us” what “we” want to hear, if “we” are Washington think tankers or Saudi prince/diplomats, but he gives a realistic assessment of the current power balance in the Middle East, which is more than we’re getting from our own leaders. So maybe we should listen to him.
    Larjani is in Dubai to propose that the Gulf nations pull out of military arrangements with the U.S., and instead, ally with Iran who will move in and provide the security umbrella the U.S. once did. He’s proposing regional autonomy in a way that is similar, it seems to me, to the policies Chavez is pursuing in South America. I’d be interested to know how he was received by the Arab officials present. If you know.
    I’m excited to hear that you actually met with Larijani, though I’m disappointed that you call your meeting “brief” as opposed to the 90 minutes you spent with the Saudi prince. Please give us more details on that. The reason I came over here today was to suggest you seek out a meeting with him, as the best possible use of your time in Dubai.

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  41. aum says:

    “Iraq is broken. It amazes me, reading the many intelligent posts here, and watching these fucking geniuses on TV, completely disregard reality. IRAQ IS FUCKIN’ BROKEN. That ignorant Monkey in the White House, propped up and egged on by a bunch of criminal fanatics, has involved us in a situation we CANNOT FIX. If we stay, the dying will escalate. If we go, the dying will escalate. You CANNOT put this Humpty-Dumpty back together again. And all this mental masturbation about what tomorrow may bring, or how best to “save” the situation in Iraq, is pathetically delusional. Events have spiraled out of our control. There ain’t no solution. But we surely should hang these lying pieces of shit that decieved us into this mess.”
    This is a rotten attitude brother. Despite the difficulties that we face, if we give in to negativity and rage our life will surley be such.
    Can you show us a smile? 🙂

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  42. Pissed Off American says:

    Iraq is broken. It amazes me, reading the many intelligent posts here, and watching these fucking geniuses on TV, completely disregard reality. IRAQ IS FUCKIN’ BROKEN. That ignorant Monkey in the White House, propped up and egged on by a bunch of criminal fanatics, has involved us in a situation we CANNOT FIX. If we stay, the dying will escalate. If we go, the dying will escalate. You CANNOT put this Humpty-Dumpty back together again. And all this mental masturbation about what tomorrow may bring, or how best to “save” the situation in Iraq, is pathetically delusional. Events have spiraled out of our control. There ain’t no solution. But we surely should hang these lying pieces of shit that decieved us into this mess.
    And why in God’s name is this idiot Bush still our President? How much does he have to fuck up before we get rid of him?

    Reply

  43. bAkho says:

    Maybe Steve’s friend does not understand the Bush ME policy. US policy under Bush is to undermine and overturn regimes that are unfriendly to US and/or Israeli interests by either cowering those countries into compliance or changing their regimes by force. Lebanon is a prime example. Back the Syrians out of the way, then let Israel invade. Not only does Bush have no interest in solving the Palestinian-Israel conflict, Bush policy is to support whatever it is the Israelis want to do.
    However, a policy where the Israelis win and everyone else loses is a non-starter. No matter how competent Rice may be, the policy she is required to pursue is a loser. The best way to make yes-men look dazed, confused and disorganized is to give them a task that is impossible.
    Prediction: The one recommendation of BakerHamilton that Bush will roundly reject is to jumpstart the IsraelPalestine peace talks.
    BTW- Condi Rice was the so-called “Soviet Expert” during the Bush I administration that missed the breakup of the FSU. That alone is good reason to question the abilties of Secretary Rice, isn’t it?

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  44. Dan Kervick says:

    David Noziglia,
    What the hell are you barking at? I didn’t suggest that any people in this comments section were motivated by either sexism OR racism. But do I think your typical Saudi or Gulf princeling or middle-aged oil baron is motivated by sexism or racism? You bet. So my point was just that while I am ordinarily happy to receive confirmation of pre-existing impressions about the weaknesses of Condoleeza Rice as a public servant, I am not about to trust the deliverances of these desert nobles on the subject. If Rice lived in some of their countries she wouldn’t even be given the keys to a car, let alone the keys to the foreign ministry! So they hardly stike me as the most objective observers.

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  45. r.weber says:

    Sorry to see this “best of the blogs” polluted with such comments as those by “Den Valdron”, who acts as if a blatant misreading of the major points of Steve’s piece gives him the right to make ignorant, ad hominem comments. Given that this is another in a sequence of Arab Strategy Forums which has a website where one can check the participants…
    http://www.asf2006.ae/web/redirect.php?scriptname=people_speakers
    …any sincere commentor would check to see that there are no participants outside the Sunni Arab states except for USA, UK, France, Germany, India and one participant from Iran (Larijani). From Steve’s comment that the senior official was proposing that concerted GCC action could drive the price of oil below $40/bbl in exchange for US pressure on Israel to produce “…real movement — on Israel-Palestine negotiations towards a viable state of Palestine and a clear, coordinated plan on Iran”, it should be obvious that the individual was from KSA (and checking the list at URL should also reduce that to 1 or 2 names with the one most close associated with US as most likely). Given that KSA seems to be near the limit of their production, the most clever way to achieve $40/bbl oil, as already mentioned by previous commentor, would be to cut back production temporarily to cause a price spike to 80-100/bbl. This would quickly precipitate a world wide recession to dry up the demand side. Then KSA could regulate the tap again to catch the price a 40/bbl on the way down. This is similar to what they did at a slower pace in the 1980s.

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  46. p.lukasiak says:

    Den….
    I’m not so sure that it was necessarily an Israeli that Clemons was quoting — given that the “message” here was identical to the moronic op-ed Obaid that Clemons featured, it could be the Saudis. (You are correct, however, in seeing this as coming from an “Israeli” perspective — but there are close ties between certain segments of the Saudi royals and Israel).
    What I think is notable is that Clemons bothered to essentially promote the PRECISE same bullshit twice on his blog — once from Obaid, and now this “anonymous source.” To me the real question is why Clemons is trying to make an issue out of this ridiculousness….
    An ridiculous it is…. Its not like Iran’s credit is bad — if oil drops to $40, it can certainly afford to maintain its influence on “borrowed” money with future oil sales as collateral. And as others have noted, the only way that is going to happen is if the Saudis cut back production so severely that oil prices skyrocket, precipitating a world-wide recession resulting in a mammoth reduction in demand for oil.
    And of course the whole “Al Qaeda or Iran” forced choice is even more assinine — one wonders what Clemons is trying to prove by promoting this kind of complete idiocy. The only thing I can come up with is that Clemons is so involved with his own sense of self-importance that he’ll publish virtually anything to get attention at this point….

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  47. Marky says:

    If we’re talking about symbolic gestures which will be appreciated around the world, I suggest human sacrifice, using ex-presidents.
    We can start in 2009.

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  48. Bill Camarda says:

    So, what we’re saying here is… our future depends on George W. Bush doing something he is utterly indisposed to do… and doing it with exceptional sophistication and care.
    Pretty infinitesimal odds, wouldn’t you say?

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  49. Anwar al-Coyote says:

    Affordable gasoline? Better get the Suburban ready for the gas lines. Better get the hot-off-the-presses Iraq Study Group Report. Affordable gasoline and James Baker has got a deal for the working poor and partisan politics are now dead in the water so to speak and secret sources and what, no quotable source? How about instead of “challenging” Iran, America just practice a little diplomacy. Now that would be a novel concept. Condoleeza Rice and world class diplomacy? Not in this life. Not on a bet. By the by, who’s idea was the Iraq preemption anyway?

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  50. Mike P. says:

    A bit off topic, but today I’m even more impressed with Clark’s statesmanship. Not because of his grasp of Middle East issues, but because he made “his way quickly across the room to kibitz with former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen.” I mean, it was during his primary campaign in ’04 that Shaheen said he wasn’t a “real Democrat,” after all.
    /snark

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  51. Carroll says:

    Oh gawd!…it gets nuttier and nuttier. When are we going to talk about how to accomdate the “changing” ME in a productive way instead of planning how to continue imposing the US status quo?
    Everybody has a “plan” to protect “their” interest…the US, the ME kingdoms, the Israelis. All swimming against the tide.
    Well, there is only one plan that will work…and that is accepting that they are all going to have to find some compromise with the various states and “movements” in the ME who don’t like the US imposed status quo power “balance.”
    The days of the US maintaining favored states and potentates for their own/shared interest is over.
    Get use to it. Make new friends.

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  52. Linda says:

    First of all, suggest people visit http://www.rmi.org, the Rocky Mountain Institute and look at the work and ideas of Amory Lovins. It is very possible to quickly free ourselves of dependence on ME oil significantly in a few years with a smart domestic policy that won’t be that painful for anyone and would put us in the put us in the lead internationally as well in all kinds of alternate fuel, more efficient everything technologies, i.e., be good for business and foreign policy as well.
    Problem in this country is that we don’t listen to really smart people like Lovins, and being “smart” however one defines it. Being smart doesn’t necessarily mean being competent in any position or correct in any situation. Robert McNamara and Don Rumsfeld are not exactly stupid nor were some of the most evil figures in history. Condi is good at talking fast on her feet and avoiding questions she doesn’t want to answer. And race and gender make it very difficult to pin her down and get her to answer questions directly. It’s just not politically correct or acceptable for a white male Democrat on Foreign Relations Committee to do that—and not easy for Barbara Boxer even. Unfortunately, Barbara Jordan is no longer alive as I’m sure that she would be the perfect person to hold Condi accountable.

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  53. Matthew says:

    We have 140,000 troops in the country to the West of Iran; we have 20,000+ troops in the country to the East of Iran. We also have a huge naval base right across othe Gulf and who knows how many thousands of troops in Kuwait. And Iran is “meddling” in Iraq? What kind of Kool-Aid are they serving in Dubai?
    Is Steve’s next conference in Bogata. Maybe the participants can talk about how we can blockage Venezuela until they vote in a rightwing thug/free trader.
    I happen to like Wesley Clark. But if the thinking above is representative, we are doomed.

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  54. David Noziglia says:

    Dan:
    To be polite about it, screw you.
    “the judgment about Rice may be infected with a certain amount of out and out sexism and racism.”
    Not one person has brought up the issue of her sex or race before this. We are talking about her performance, and only her performance. You are the sexist/racist with your attempt to use sex and race to exempt Rice from being judged on the basis of her actions and statements.
    Your statement above is both insulting and morally reprehensible.
    Why don’t you say that we shouldn’t criticize Cheney and Rumsfeld because they’re old? Or Bush because he’s an idiot?
    The POINT, sir, is the damage they are doing to our COUNTRY!
    And that is the ONLY point!

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  55. Dan Kervick says:

    On a separate matter, as much as I would like to jump all over Condi Rice, we might want to consider the possibility that in a throughly patriarchal country, whose leadership class tends to accumulate large numbers of wives, and which has a history of anti-African racism, the judgment about Rice may be infected with a certain amount of out and out sexism and racism.

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  56. Dan Kervick says:

    Yes, I understood the proposal the same way MP does. The *price* for the reduction in oil prices is that the US work to get something done in Palestine.
    We have an election in 2008, and our economy is slowing down. In exchange for doing something on the Israel-Palestinian front, the Saudis (I assume it’s them, and that Steve’s unnamed security pro is someone like Prince Bandar) will do what they can to drive oil prices way down, which will in turn give the economy a major short-term boost leading in to the election. As to whether they can actually do this, I have no idea.
    The other price, as the Saudis have already communicated to us last week in the WaPo, is that we *stay* in Iraq.
    Perhaps implicit in all this is the implied threat that, whether the Saudis can lower oil prices or not, they can certainly do things that would *raise* these prices.

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  57. Alfred says:

    If you seriously wish to lower the price of oil, try persuading Americans to drive half as much and to use small cars. Since this something that cannot be achieved with the current American populace, dream on.

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  58. dan says:

    The idea is ludicrous for a number of reasons:
    Firstly, there is no excess capacity in the Gulf region that can magically be tapped to bring the price down to the $40 per barrel level. There’s also the small matter of most of the Gulf economies actually requiring the current pricing levels to keep their economies running AND invest in future production. Take the price down to $40 per barrel, which is not possible anyway absent a recession, and you collapse the current hydrocarbon investment climate – this comes back to bite you in the ass within 2 years.
    The world’s largest producer is now Russia – you think they’re going to play along in this game?
    The only way to bring the price down is for the US to play a game of chicken with the SPR and make 2 million barrels of oil per day available. This strategy would, at best, only work for a year – and it would leave the US strategically denuded in perpetuity.
    Considering that a few years ago, Iran was surviving with oil prices in the $12-18 barrel range, why does anyone think that a year of $40 oil would make the slightest bit of difference?

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  59. Cameron says:

    Global warming is likely a greater threat to our standard of living than either Iran or al Qaeda will ever be. Sacrificing any chance we have of reigning-in CO2 emissions by forcing the price of oil to $40/barrel would be truly sad.

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  60. jhm says:

    One should consider the source, as has been pointed out, when someone who has the most to lose comes selling fear of change. Other than that, I would agree with the oildrum.com reader, in that the only way that KSA could realistically drop oil to $40/bl is to cut production, raising the price so fast as to precipitate a global recession. T o state the obvious, I don’t think this will happen (at least not on purpose).

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  61. MP says:

    Den writes: “DS, I addressed the magical proposition that dropping the price of oil to 40 dollars a barrel would force the Palestinians to give Israel a peace settlement. My point remains that the Palestinian issue was largely ignored in a way that no Muslim would. It remains the single most widely cited regional irritant for muslims. Nor would any muslim look at the Palestine issue as deriving from Palestinian intransigence supported by vast oil revenue. Let’s be serious here.”
    But I don’t think that’s the direction of the argument posed. It’s not that dropping oil would force the Palestinians to do anything. Rather, dropping oil prices would be SA’s inducement to the West to get Israel to make peace with the Palestinians and give them their own true state. That’s the argument on this thread, anyway. There’s nothing here that I see about Arab oil bucking up Palestinian intransigence. Moreover, I don’t think that “real movement on Israel-Palestinian negotiations” is a course of action rightwing Israelis are ever too much in favor of. So I think you’re a bit off on the identity of this person. But only Steve knows for sure.

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  62. Rich2 says:

    Condoleeza Rice hasn’t gotten a lot of support–from underlings or overlings. Much of this officials’ word is pretty clear, even for those of us scoring at home.
    She’s lost critical assistants, had to contend with Bush and Cheney themselves, and dealing laterally with John Bolton couldn’t have been easy.
    But she’s a smart woman–nominally–and could only have entered the job through conscious decision.
    And she still chose to continue, to toe the party line, to dole out the kool-aid, to stubbornly cling to the PR line of spin in interview after interview. (Her words during the Israel’s bombing of Lebanon were particularly telling, incl the repeated notion that you can “kidnap” a soldier.)
    What I’m getting at is how AMAZING it is that someone so smart can willingly apply the MO of the Bush admin. Talk tough, act tough, never admit to anything but Admin talking points–
    –and never, ever acknowledge that ONLY a political process can resolve the Iraq etc. situation or extricate the US from the MidEast. (Unless the point is to stay.)
    Last time I saw Condi speak she was letting fly with the e-post-factos and situtaion-pro-antes and Gosh! wash she smart!
    So smart she . . . isn’t very smart at all. Ignoring that wee little principle about political solutions trumping military tactics, it’s a fatal flaw. Can’t put all the pieces together again.
    Even the Pottery Barn doesn’t let you stay in the store and break lots and lots and lots more pottery–because if you/the Bull took your b.s. and left the china shop–why THEN there’d be CHAOS! The Pottery Barn makes you pay–and makes you leave.
    Of course, our Founding Fathers knew all that. Which was the point of having a country called America in the first place. Forget that little detail, and the lessons it holds as American foreign policy is prosecuted, and the cost in blood, treasure, reputations, moral standing, and political just causes–will all be lost.
    And that’s not the kind of mistake you can undo.

    Reply

  63. dantonj says:

    Steve, you have to remember this adminstration is like that guy in the Fedex commercial. They are always wrong. It is simply a given they are not competent enough get us out of this mess. Tell your friends at the summit to do their best to hang on for the next 2+ years. Then, maybe, we will have people in charge who know what they are doing.

    Reply

  64. David Noziglia says:

    Everybody, and I mean everybody, in this discussion and in every other forum I’ve ever been exposed to, is stuck on the idea of a magic bullet.
    Of course, the administration is filled with the worst examples of this. The idea that invading a country would cause its population to spontaneously get out their copies of Aynn Rand and create a libertarian paradise from scratch was sheer lunacy. The idea that this would then serve as an “example” to get every other country in the Middle East to blossom into a libertarian democracy, embrace Israel, and open the spigots on their oil fields full blast was an even greater fantasy.
    And though I certainly agree with Steve’s source about Condie’s incompetance, the rest of the analysis is similar wishful thinking.
    How can anyone think that:
    — All Saudis or anyone else has to do is give the U.S. a reason, and we can, hey, presto, solve the Israel/Palestine issue.
    — Al-Qai’ida, or Islam, or anything else in that part of the world, is a single entity that can act in concert.
    — Electric cars or solar power or some other tech fix can solve the problems of energy dependence, corporate power concentration, global warming, etc. Cheap fossil fuel has not only determined the design of the gas-guzzler SUV’s we all drive, it has determined the design of the cities, houses, shopping malls, businesses, and lives we inhabit. Changing the energy use patterns of the world will take not just energy-efficient light bulbs and plug-in cars; it will take a complete replacement of the way we live, so that we don’t have to get in a car and drive somewhere to buy a bottle of milk, much less drive for an hour or two each way every day to go to work.
    So, have at it, and keep arguing about the deck chairs. I gotta go back to looking at job listings in New Zealand. . . . .

    Reply

  65. Den Valdron says:

    DS, I addressed the magical proposition that dropping the price of oil to 40 dollars a barrel would force the Palestinians to give Israel a peace settlement.
    My point remains that the Palestinian issue was largely ignored in a way that no Muslim would. It remains the single most widely cited regional irritant for muslims.
    Nor would any muslim look at the Palestine issue as deriving from Palestinian intransigence supported by vast oil revenue. Let’s be serious here.
    The incumbent national security policy official is simply another right wing stooge from the IDF establishment or the loony wing of the Knesset, pontificating diarhetically about how Americans should die and Arabs should suffer in order to keep Israel’s third and fourth tier security concerns happy.
    Steve is merely dressing up someone’s deeply corrupt and deeply self serving, murderous agenda, and presenting it to us as informed and insightful commentary.
    Which suggests that Steve can’t distinguish real thinking from con jobs. Not good.
    Honestly, this is so appalling that I may absent myself from this blog before I get banned.

    Reply

  66. Matthew says:

    Of course Condi’s job is impossible. How can you make people in the ME believe America cares about them when we rushed jet fuel to Israel this last summer so that they can vandalize Lebanon? And what better way to show that you care, than destroying a defenseless nation? Condi is actually a great SOS: She has shown the world America’s “Real” Near East Policy in all its heartless brutality. Arab liberals need to wake up and see the Gollum they have embraced. No wonder they are losing the hearts and minds of their own people to the Iranians.

    Reply

  67. tucker's bow tie says:

    A fascinating report, Steve – why, let’s push oil below 40, that’ll solve our problems!
    In Dubai, the whiff of desperation emanating from the Washington corridors mingles with the stench of the dead from Iraq’s streets.
    Reminds me of another recent post in which you wrote..
    “If there were brlliant, silver bullet ideas that might help this country move quickly beyond its problems, it would have been in such a crowd where such notions might be taken seriously and have impact.
    But nothing. Absolutely nothing. People were depressed and dismayed about current conditions. One very, very senior Bush administration official when asked by me what ideas he had to stabilize Iraq and stop our slow bleed situation said he had exhausted what he felt was possible.
    Another top tier official when another guest pushed him to move the President into some rational deal-making that might trigger a more fruitful trend, ominously said ‘don’t hold your breath.'”

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  68. Pissed Off American says:

    John Stuart………
    The lies that Condi engaged in selling us, in the lead up to this illegal war in Iraq, remove the relevancy of her competence, or lack thereof. She is simply a criminal, who bears a tremendous amount of the blame for this clusterfuck that masquerades as the GWOT. As such, she should be removed from public service, investigated, indicted, and punished. I can forgive incompetence, but I cannot forgive treason.

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  69. JohnStuart says:

    Condi is not a fool. Nor is she clue-less. She is simply in over her head.
    I first worked with her when she ran the Russia shop at the NSC. In that setting, she was organized, informed, insightful and effective. She was working at her level of competence and confidence. And she was well supervised.
    She has, indeed, been a poor Secretary of State & I share the Middle Eastern Diplomat’s assessment of her performance in that role.
    But before you all pile on the disparaging adjectives, remember that this is a tough and demanding job. Moderately competent people who are effective in smaller environments will fail in this one (Colin Powell comes to mind).
    Of all the Secretaries with whom I have worked, George Shultz stands out as the most effective (and I have worked with Henry K).
    George was effective as the President of Bechtel, as a professor at Stanford, and in several cabinet positions.
    He is a couple of orders of magnitude more competent than Condi. That said, I do urge you to acknowledge that she is not a fool.
    JohnStuart

    Reply

  70. Edward Nashton says:

    Dear Steve,
    There is no way that this is going to happen. OPEC (read Saudi Arabia) has said again and again that they are happy with the price of oil at $60. If Saudi doesn’t ramp up its production (it’s really the only country out there with significant spare capacity) then you won’t see oil dive below $50. The only way I could envision such a scenario is if the United States provided significant incentives to the Saudis –the likes of which I don’t think I could conceivably imagine nor would like to. I will say this, if oil were to drop to $40, that would cost OPEC hundreds of billions of dollars. That money has got to come from somewhere since these states, are not, let’s say, economically diverse…and it certainly ain’t coming from a more serious “attempt” at Middle East peace. It’s amazing to me the extent to which these neoconservatives in the administration are stuck in a utopian psychosis. Cheap oil and Iran disarmed? What could be better than that!

    Reply

  71. DS says:

    Den: “I notice there’s no reference at all to the Palestinian situation”
    Steve’s post: “The price of a dramatic increase in oil production would be expeditious movement — real movement — on Israel-Palestine negotiations toward a viable state of Palestine.”
    I guess Ariel Sharon’s ghost stopped using the terms Judea & Samaria.
    Learn to read, Den.

    Reply

  72. Marky says:

    Den,
    Your iron restraint is truly Teutonic.
    I’m in awe.
    Other commenters: I’m really curious what energy economists think about getting the price of oil down below $40. Between Peak Oil, Chinese and Indian demand, Saudi reserve uncertainty, global warming issues, I really wonder.
    How about a conservation policy?
    Too bad about Reagan being elected, wasn’t it?
    The day I hear a neocon or conservative rue what Reagan did to our energy security, that is the day I will take them seriously.
    Not that Reagan’s election had any impact on the Iranian situation, of course.

    Reply

  73. Den Valdron says:

    Y’know, posts as dumb as this, Steve, and the fact that some people take it half seriously, persuade me that not only are you dicks losing Iraq, but you deserve to lose Iraq, and you deserve to have your military shredded like a puppy in a meat grinder, and you deserve to be run out of the region on a rail, and you deserve to lose a half centuries accumulated good will and influence; because it seems that these days, the only thing your entire foreign establishment can conceive is different kinds of horrifically violent or disruptive belligerence.
    Shame to say it, but you people make Saddam Hussein look enlightened. You’ve turned Iran into the Good Guys by default.
    What the hell is wrong with you all?

    Reply

  74. Den Valdron says:

    Hmmm… “one of the most prominent incumbent national security officials in the middle east” eh?
    Whose identity you are not at liberty to divulge?
    Hmmm… so…. Prominent incumbent national security officials on a regional basis? Turkey’s kind of an outsider to the region. Yemen, Oman, Quatar, UAE, Bahrain, all something of jokes. Jordan’s not known for its military prowess. Lebanon, probably out.
    So that leaves… Iran? Probably not, what with them being the enemy. Syria? Same story. Saudi Arabia, possibly, but that whole ‘drop the price of oil’ thing just don’t seem right.
    Who’s that leave? Hmmm….
    Well, I notice that there’s no reference at all to the Palestianian situation, which is pretty much the first thing any muslim or European will start jawing on.
    No mention of that little fracas in Lebanon one way or the other.
    Well, maybe an indirect mention, considering that Condoleeza Rice really made an ass of herself sort of objecting (but not really)(but still too much) to that war. So this might help to explain the hostility and bad reviews to Rice.
    Interesting how they want the US to stay on and keep bleeding in Iraq… for the good of all the other vulnerable states in the region of course. I can’t see a lot of muslims actually taking that position.
    Adamant that everyone is secretly supportive of America in Iraq, except that they can’t show it cause of Rice’s bungling (what horseshit).
    And Ooooooohhhh scarrrrry Al Quaeda will take over everything. Scarrrrrrrry, ooooohhhh oooohhhh. They’ll take over everywhere, the whole region!!!! Scarrrrrrrrrry. And what Al Quaeda doesn’t take over, Iran will!!!!! Yeah, reality check. Al Quaeda in Iran is 3% of the Insurgency, we’re looking at their post-afghanistan high water mark. Big fat hairy deal.
    The thing to do is collapse the price of oil. That’ll bring those dirty filthy smelly Palestinians to their knees. Say what? What the fuck does the price of oil have to do with the Palestinians. The Palestinians got no oil. They got no money. They got no power. They’re a bunch of dirt poor, screwed over, desperate people living in the worlds largest prison. And what they need is another beating to make them surrender nice and proper, finally, and make a settlement?
    So…. Steve, been channelling the ghost of Ariel Sharon????
    Jesus H. Christ on a crutch. This has got to be your lowest, most douchebaggiest point ever. Where did you write this from? A laptop under a urinal in the basement of the Israeli consulate?
    You have the unmitigated gall to present this obvious self serving, unrealistic, Nietzchean, pseudo-nazi will to power, racist, dishonest, homicidal pile of stinking crap as intelligent commentary.
    Let me translate this pile of shit into English for you:
    It is in Israel’s interest that the United States continue to destabilize Iraq, because an American occupied Iraq, no matter how fucked up, is preferable to any local regime which might impose order. Your problems in Iraq derive from not killing enough arabs ruthlessly enough.
    America in Iraq also serves Israel’s interest as a deterrent wall against Iran and Syria, and it keeps the rest of the Persian Gulf honest. Without America, these countries might be free to pursue less Israel friendly policies, such as shooting down Israeli plans invading their airspace.
    There’s no difference between an Arab and an Al Quaeda operative, so if you leave, Al Quaeda gets it all. Except for what Iran gets. But they’re both pretty much the same.
    You should just collapse the price of oil, that will teach Iran a lesson. Don’t worry about Saudi Arabia or Dubai or Kuwait objecting to the damage to their economies, they’re just arabs and if you talk to them tough they’ll do what they’re told.
    And tell Condoleeza Rice that the next time she opens her slut mouth when Israel accidentally on purpose bombs a building full of children, she should just go and find a man with a good hard rod and leave the diplomacy to him.
    What tripe. What utter tripe.
    Steve, I’m going to remember this. You do not serve up distilled liquified shit and call it a ‘lovely red wine with an incisive and mysterious bouquet.’
    Oh, and the first person who calls me an anti-semite over this is an overweight pedophile who sniffs his mothers panties.
    Can’t divulge his identity? Take all of five minutes to put a name to this dick.

    Reply

  75. John says:

    Steve,
    I’m glad to see you’re making a firm connection between oil and foreign policy. Your conversation with “one of the most prominent incumbent national security officials in the Middle East” may not ultimately bring the final solution, but he is on a productive track for thinking about the problem. Since Cheney’s National Energy Policy was released in 2001, national security and energy policy have been firmly joined at the hip. US international behavior has proceeded according to the administration’s view of the imperatives of energy security. Unfortunately, the traditional foreign policy/national security elites seem to have been distracted by what the administration said its policies were (democracy, freedom, WMD, human rights), not to what they actually were. Neo-cons on the other hand were perfectly spewing red herrings while playing smash mouth energy politics, hence Iraq, next Iran. This path was doomed to failure because it failed to bring about the political stability and security vital to long term energy investment. Creative thinking is desperately needed about ways to secure energy that do not involve occupation and bombing. Since energy security requires stability, part of the solution will necessarily require that future US policy address the legitimate aspirations of people in the energy producing world as one precondition for establishing a stable investment climate.

    Reply

  76. Marky says:

    Wpger,
    I don’t favor either option I mentioned,actually.
    It’s an example I made of an arbitrary dichotomy which supposedly encapsulates the ME problem—much like the notion that it’s either Al Qaeda or Iran if the US de-occupies Iraq.

    Reply

  77. Dan Kervick says:

    These guys never quit trying to play us for suckers. First in Amman, now in this latest strategy conference, they are trying to play off American anxieties to get us to do the muscle work to protect their family businesses.
    I can see why many of those most noble kings and princes of the Arabian peninsula are worried about Iran. Iran is one country where people actually get to VOTE for a good part of their government, and that’s a dangerous idea that these refined emirs and their cousins and retainers don’t want to catch on. They must also be worried about the growth of Iranian influence on both sides of the Shatt-al-Arab and in the Persian (oh, excuse me – Arabian) Gulf. And if Iran gains strategic control over some of Iraq’s oil, that seriously diminishes the ability of the Saudis et al to control the oil market and continue to jerk Americans around.
    But honestly, what are all these “Iranian pretensions”, exactly? And why are they bad FOR US, as opposed to the Gulf monarchs and oil oligarchs? It seems Iranians just want to get richer, and provide better lives for their people. And frankly, their leaders seem to be a bit more personally modest and less avaricious than their filthy rich counterparts to the South and West.
    Several thousand US soldiers have been killed over the past few years, many thousand more wounded, and all the rest torn away from their homes and families. For what? Well, while its hard to make out any clear strategy at all, the BEST that can be said is that they have enabled the Shiite and Kurdish communities to begin to break free from decades of brutal subservience and achieve some sort of autonomy and power commensurate with their numbers. Now apparently there are some Americans who want to REVERSE the whole process, put Sunni Arabs back in charge, and give the Sunni suicide bombers and buthchers of civilians a license to go after Shiites. All because some royals in Arabia and some American strategists are now worried about checking Iran power. And they talk about the LEFT betraying our soldiers! I can’t wait to hear our veterans after they have returned home, explaining to their families how they spent four years fighting the terrorists and supporting the government of the Kurds and Shiites in Iraq, and how they then turned Iraq back over to the people they fought because some mad-rich oil barons were worried about Iran horning in on their oil empires. Interestingly, the Bushes have been pals with these guys since they were little fellahs.
    I see Moqtada Al-Sadr put on the cover of Time this week, glowering in deep black robes and coming out of a garish red background looking like Darth Vadar. Who makes these editorial decisions? Who is playing whom here?
    When are these guys at your strategy conference going to step up and do something to get their Sunni brethren in Iraq to stop fighting, huh? That’s where some of their money is ending up after all. If they have such great power over oil prices and the forces of nature, then surely they can get co-religionists to stand down. Or maybe they are not so powerful after all!
    I can’t wait to we figure out how to make our cars run on dung or hydrogen or seeweed, so we tell thsse guys to bugger off. Iranian pretensions indeed!

    Reply

  78. helen says:

    Helen Rosenick
    STATEMENT REGRADING “winnipegeger”
    We can not stay silent reading winnipeger’s endless fabrications. The Jewish community would like to inform this respected forum, that the Australian media is infested with thousands of zionist traitors such as winnipeger. Notice, I did not say hundreds, I said thousands, one day you will understand. Please ignore him. These ADL terrorists and similar “Jewish” organizations, are taking advantage of our free speech, in order to destroy free speech in Australia. Their ‘tricks’ all over the world, all over the internet, is to flood all discussion groups with endless disinformaion. Sooner or later, they destroy all good discusions. This is a clear warning to you from someone who was on the inside of one of these networks. you are not dealing here with just “winnipeger”, you are dealing here with a network of thousands of provocatuers worldwide with unlimited money supply.

    Reply

  79. winnipeger says:

    marky wrote:
    “Here’s a thought experiment: If you want want create the conditions for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, should you: A) lower the price of oil, causing tens of millions of people in the gulf region to suffer, but putting pressure on terrorist backers to sue for peace; or B) cut off US aid to Israel in order to force them to negotiately honestly for peace?”
    Easy choice if you’re a US pundit.”
    but marky, your implying that israel wouldn’t like to have a a viable, peaceful palestinian state as a neighbor right now as opposed to the nightmare of occupation.
    you’re also assuming that american pressure against israel will have any impact on the willingness of palestinian leadership to acknowledge and make peace with her.
    i’m not sure i’d agree.

    Reply

  80. Easy E says:

    Faced with either TEHRAN or AL QAEDA???
    Some things will just never change. Thinktankmanship continues to foster FEAR POLITICS and PERPETUAL WAR…………..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    THE AL QAEDA MYTH
    Tom Porteous
    We now know that Al Qaeda had nothing to do with the London bombings in July 2005. This is the conclusion of the British government’s official inquiry report leaked to the British press on April 9.
    We now also know that the U.S. military is deliberately misleading Iraqis, Americans and the rest of the world about the extent of Al Qaeda’s involvement in the Iraqi insurgency. This was reported in The Washington Post on April 10, on the basis of internal military documents seen by that newspaper.
    What do these revelations tell us about the arguments of President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Blair that in Al Qaeda the “Free World” faces a threat comparable to that of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, a world-wide terrorist network which seeks to build a radical Islamist empire over half the world?
    That they are threadbare, to say the least. But also that they are cynical, misleading and self serving.
    The London bombings, it turns out, were the work of four alienated British Muslims, with no links to “international terrorist networks”, who had learned how to make bombs by trawling the Internet. They had been radicalized and motivated, according to the report, by British foreign policies in the Muslim world?a view Tony Blair has consistently sought to undermine and discredit. The role of the alleged “Al Qaeda mastermind in Iraq,” Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, we are now told, was cynically misrepresented and exaggerated by the U.S. military’s propaganda units in an effort to discredit and divide the Iraqi insurgency and to provide a retrospective justification for the Iraq war by suggesting a link between Iraq and 9/11.
    Wherever in the world Al Qaeda crops up, its appearance has often been uncannily convenient for the local authorities?dictators, warlords, occupation forces and elected governments alike. And often the precise nature of the Al Qaeda connection turns out, on close examination, to be tenuous or non-existent. But by that time the message has gone out and sunk in: “Al Qaeda was here”.
    It’s almost certain that as the United States ratchets up the pressure on Iran in the coming months the non-issue of Tehran ‘s “links” with Al Qaeda will come to the fore. In fact the groundwork is already being laid. Blair, no less, said ominously in a speech last month that although “the conventional view is that Iran is hostile to Al Qaeda: we know from our own history of conflict that, under the pressure of battle, alliances shift and change.” So as the confrontation with Iran builds, watch out for leaked reports from anonymous security officials about dastardly Iranian-Al Qaeda conspiracies.
    Stripped of exaggeration, romanticism, demonization and myth making, the picture of Al Qaeda which has emerged from the trial in the United States of Zacarias Moussaoui is of a fractious organisation that has been a magnet for bewildered martyrdom-seeking fantasists. At least this has a ring of truth to it.
    This is not to say that Al Qaeda is not dangerous. It is a serious security challenge. It may even one day be a strategic threat, especially if it gets hold of some WMD. But it is not the threat Bush and Blair tell us it is.
    The recent revelations of the non-existent role of Al Qaeda in the London bombings and of the Pentagon’s deliberate exaggeration of Al Qaeda’s role in Iraq reinforce the argument that in their response to the threat of Al Qaeda (the so called “war on terror,” or “Long War”), the United States and its allies are making strategic errors of monumental proportions.
    First, this war, as it is being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not principally fighting “Al Qaeda” but is creating and fighting new enemies: people who don’t like being invaded, occupied and kicked around by foreigners and who are prepared to stand up and resist. These people may eventually become terrorists. But it will have been U.S. policies that created them. If Iran is next on the Pentagon’s list, the same thing will happen there. To the extent that Israel is seen by the United States as pursuing its own war on terror in the Palestinian territories it occupies, it is happening in Gaza and the West Bank too. Second, the Long War is a distraction from the real issues which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency in order to reduce conflict, violence and injustice in the region and thus to reduce the radicalization of a generation of angry and alienated Muslim youth at home and in the diasporas. These include: ending the Israeli occupation of occupied Palestinian territories through negotiation; pursuing peaceful nuclear reduction throughout the region; and engaging seriously with political Islam. Talk of “democratization” without engaging with political Islam is nonsense.
    Third, on the grounds that it is fighting a “just war,” the United States and its allies have justified using levels of violence, coercion and repression?including torture, collective punishment and the killing of large numbers of civilians?which are not only of questionable tactical efficacy, but have led to a collapse of U.S. prestige in a part of the world where it has long been seen as a necessary protector, stabilizer and arbiter.
    The fact that there was no operational link between the London bombers and Al Qaeda shows that its real danger lies in its ability to inspire terrorist attacks. In this it has no better allies and collaborators at present than the United States and Britain under their current leaders.
    Copyright ? 2006 Tom Porteous / Agence Global
    RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF SAYS AL-QAEDA A MYTH
    MNews | 2005
    On the pretext of fighting international terrorism the United States is trying to establish control over the world?s richest oil reserves, Leonid Shebarshin, ex-chief of the Soviet Foreign Intelligence Service, who heads the Russian National Economic Security Service consulting company, said in an interview for the Vremya Novostei newspaper.
    Using the anti-terrorist cause as a cover the United States has occupied Afghanistan, Iraq and will soon move to impose their ?democratic order? on the Greater Middle East, Shebarshin said. ?The U.S. has usurped the right to attack any part of the globe on the pretext of fighting the terrorist threat,? Shebarshin said.
    Referring to his meeting with an unnamed al-Qaeda expert at the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization in the U.S., Shebarshin said: ?We have agreed that [al-Qaeda] is not a group but a notion.?
    ?The fight against that all-mighty ubiquitous myth deliberately linked to Islam is of great advantage for the Americans as it targets the oil-rich Muslim regions,? Shebarshin emphasized.
    With military bases in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, Shebarshin said, the United States has already established control over the Caspian region ? one of the world?s largest oil reservoirs.
    * * *

    Reply

  81. Marky says:

    Here’s a thought experiment: If you want want create the conditions for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, should you: A) lower the price of oil, causing tens of millions of people in the gulf region to suffer, but putting pressure on terrorist backers to sue for peace; or B) cut off US aid to Israel in order to force them to negotiately honestly for peace?
    Easy choice if you’re a US pundit.

    Reply

  82. Alex says:

    And slow if he’s just now figuring out that Rice is incompetent.

    Reply

  83. Alex says:

    I would also say this person is naive.

    Reply

  84. Marky says:

    Just noticed a slick little trick in the article:
    the choices are that regimes will be loyal to Al Qaeda or to Iran.
    Are those supposed to be equally bad alternatives? Should we conflate them the way that Bush did with Saddam and Bin Laden.
    Did he forget to mention that Iran will “wipe Israel off the map”—a locution which, by the way, does not exist in Persian, this translation being fatally flawed according to Juan Cole.

    Reply

  85. clio says:

    …weak, disorganized, and without a plan of any kind…
    Sounds like the Dr. Rice who has been in over her head since the NSC and before. And let’s not even mention her boss.
    The idea of lowering oil prices is interesting, though. Wonder what the unintended consequences migh be?

    Reply

  86. wowgold says:

    Evil monster ages, open a free account number of the area VIP to rob to note lately medium!The quantity is limited, do you want to own?game

    Reply

  87. Finest says:

    Reality On The March:
    Taking the hint from the candy manufacturers, the oil industry, over the summer, slammed the price of oil up over $3.00 a gallon just so’s they could raise it $1.00 after the ‘drop’ in prices in the fall(You see candy manufacturers routinely discontinue a unit size at a certain weight, double it, but triple the price. And you think you’re getting a deal).
    The most horrifying aspect of this bit of news is not that the market can be toyed with, but that there is ONE entity involved, the oil industry, acting as one. If you only have 4 giant oil conglomerates, you have a cartel, acting as an American OPEC. I don’t care what you do, THEY will never allow the price of oil to fall. If you believe the price at the pump is controled somewhere near the Euphrates, I’ve got some Enron stock you’ll love.

    Reply

  88. profmarcus says:

    oh, man… what a stinging indictment of a united states secretary of state…! do ya suppose stuff like this is why she wants to head back to stanford, where she can be weak, disorganized, and plan-less – with TENURE…?
    http://takeitpersonally.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  89. Matthew says:

    No wonder our policies fail. If trying to starve people is our diplommatic weapon, continuing failure will be our reward. Would someone please recommend a positive policy? And what does it say about the legitimacy of these regimes that they need proping up? I thought the Iranians were supposed to be the illegitimate regime.

    Reply

  90. smallrat says:

    “….Breaking News- As the price of oil briefly dropped to $40pb a massive explosion at a major oil refinery in Abqaiq (a.k.a. Buqayq) in eastern Saudi Arabia today sent the price of crude rocketing past $___pb, a new record….”
    crash the oil price to blackmail Iran? Buckle your seat belts for a wild ride

    Reply

  91. gq says:

    I don’t know if you got my post several threads back, but I look forward to your take on what Wes Clark says. Unlike other 2008 presidential contenders, Clark seems like to be the only one that’s not using sound-bites that people want to hear when discussing Iraq and the middle east.

    Reply

  92. selise says:

    $40/barrel for how long?

    Reply

  93. JudyNJ says:

    Lowering the price of oil to $40 a barrel is beyond the power of the oil companies or the Saudis. The Saudi’s have not been able to increase production in the last few years, and they were the last country with spare production.
    (See the oildrum.com for production figures)
    The only way to lower the price of oil would be for the entire world to conserve energy and switch to non-fossil fuels. That is not something that can happen in the short term.

    Reply

  94. RCBev says:

    Wonderful account!! Looking forward to your report tomorrow and an overview on the panel discussion. Always interested in what General Wesley Clark has to say.

    Reply

  95. Marky says:

    This makes sense, but it seems to me that a very negative consequence of lowering the price of oil would be killing the momentum towards changing US policy on global warming.
    Question: is this individual’s view—that other regimes will fall if the US leaves Iraq—typical? I don’t recall hearing many people say that publicly

    Reply

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