22 December 2003
It seems that the ‘powers that be’ are upping the ante. So now we have the USUK imperium (such as it is) issuing ‘alerts’ and warnings that the ‘terrorists’ are about to do ‘something’ terrible. And no doubt, like all the previous ‘alerts’ this one will pass. And moreover, there seems to be some disagreement over whether there really is a major alert even as BBC Radio 4 news led with it this morning (22/12/03), all mention of it mysteriously disappeared completely from the 1pm and evening (5pm) editions. (See also “FBI agents say White House scripting ‘hysterics’ for political effect“ and “U.S. Concerned by Heightened Security Threats: But counter-terrorism officials dismissed a report that there was credible information pointing to a possible imminent strike against New York City.”)
So what happened? How can something so potentially disastrous as to warrant leading the news in the AM with the all the talk of something “even bigger than 9/11” happening, disappear completely by the PM? Methinks I’m being jerked off by the ‘news-meisters’. Moreover, such blatant manipulation of peoples’ fears must be as obvious to just about everyone else as it is to yours truly.
Meanwhile…a quick perusal of the economic news reveals an incipient economic disaster brewing. Oil prices rising, output falling. All the plans so central to the invasion of Iraq have come to nothing, centering as they did on curbing the power of OPEC by releasing Iraq’s oil onto world markets:
SLIDING $ – PLANT SHUTDOWNS – NIGERIAN PROBLEMS HIT CHEVRON TEXACO
NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) – ChevronTexaco Corp…the 2nd-largest U.S. oil company… domestic oil and gas output fell 1 percent to 2 percent, reflecting natural declines in production from older fields.
…Civil unrest [in] Nigeria, where production was down 7 percent at 118,000 bpd in the fourth quarter compared [to] last year. Facilities hit by local unrest this year remain shut in, but the company plans to re-enter these plants next year.
…The company is also taking losses…. U.S. dollar continues to slide [against] Euro and other key currencies. Forex losses totaled $77 MN 1st 2 months of the Q4…. The dollar continued to decline in December…
[M]ost investors expected oil to fall once the U.S. wrapped up its invasion of Iraq, but supply disruptions, tight inventories and OPEC production quotas have kept crude prices high all year.
U.S. West Coast and Gulf Coast gasoline crack spreads narrowed amid lower seasonal demand, high prices for crude oil and a rebound in inventories…weakness outweighed wider profit margins for jet and diesel fuel.
Outside U.S., refining gains were offset by lower marketing margins in Asia and the U.K. ChevronTexaco’s Pembroke refinery in the U.K. was shut down for a major scheduled turnaround through early November, and experienced reduced output for several weeks after start-up…(resulting in much reduced UK oil trade surplus down to £100Mn)
And perhaps most important of all, it would seem that within the space of only eight months, the ‘victorious’ US armed forces are in disarray with disaffection spreading rapidly amongst the troops. A quickening realisation that the reasons for the invasion were a complete invention coupled to the utter incompetence of the imperium’s managers must have come as a real shock to all concerned. It is after all, one thing to go into battle armed to the teeth and quite another to find that the suppliers (Halliburton etc) have been cutting corners in order to max out on profits for its shareholders. Not that this is new to the arms merchants it’s just the scale of it that is so shocking.
U.S. defense stocks tumble after Saddam capture
December 16, 2003 10:44:00 AM ET
NEW YORK, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Defense stocks sagged on Monday as investors worried that the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could mean slower sales for companies that sell arms and supplies to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Ceramic body armor maker Ceradyne was one of the biggest decliners, tumbling more than 18 percent to $34.68, while Engineered Support Systems Inc., a maker of generators and protective shelters for the military, slipped 1.2 percent to $58.17.
The Standard & Poor’s aerospace and defense index was down 0.6 percent.
“Everything under $1 billion market cap that I follow sold off today,” said Steven Gish, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners. “It’s a reaction to Saddam being captured and expectations that there may not be as many sales of hardware or equipment.”
Analysts, including Gish, saw the sell-off as unwarranted, however.
“Just because we found Saddam doesn’t blow the investment thesis out of the water,” said Eric Hugel, an analyst with investment bank Stephen’s Inc. “There are so many dollars being spent on troops to retrofit and transform.”
Other decliners included Moog Inc., a maker of precision control parts for military aircraft, which fell 4.5 percent to $48.51. ManTech International Corp, which develops and tests secure communications systems, lost 4.3 percent to $22.58. Anteon International Corp., an operator of intelligence systems for the United States, closed down 3.2 percent at $35.30. REUTERS
And the total lack of preparation is not confined to the US forces, the bumbling Brits have revealed their total inability to wage imperialist war too. A lying Minister of Defence Hoon, when confronted by the families of dead soldiers has nothing to say as he hides behind the empty words of his civil servants who could only offer the following to widow of a dead soldier forced to give up his body armour because 200,000 units of the armour had gone missing somewhere in Kosovo:
“Soldier’s widow demands apology from ‘lying’ Hoon‘
An Army spokesman said that Mrs Roberts [widow of dead soldier] was free to have another meeting with Mr Hoon at any time, but insisted that the MoD had kept her informed of developments.” – Independent 20/12/03 p.2.
What a comedown from the ‘glorious’ days of Empire. No wonder the rhetoric approaches the hysterical. Yet the defeats make the imperium all the more dangerous. Like a cornered animal, gaining the support of a populace that’s had enough and one moreover, that no longer believes the lies it’s being fed, is far more of a threat to the imperium than the ‘terrorists’ will ever be.
And after all the bluster that surrounded the capture of Saddam last week, it’s amazing how he has all but disappeared from the news barely a week later. And no mention of the stories in the Brit press surrounding the exact nature of his arrest eg:
Saddam was held by Kurdish forces, drugged and left for US troops
Revealed: who really found Saddam?
Revealed: who really found Saddam?
Kurds Seized Saddam First:
In fact the entire enterprise has all the hallmarks of a ‘staged for the media’ event (see also “Saddam capture felt made for TV“)
Observers are now wondering whether capturing Saddam was such a good idea, for like Osama, on the loose, the imperium can keep Saddam’s carefully crafted demonic image intact. Doped up but still defiant, the US are now faced with the real problem of what to do with him and critically, if allowed any kind of public platform, what will he have to say about his ertswhile paymasters? So expect no rush to ‘judgement’. More than likely, he’ll succumb to some ailment or ‘accident’ whilst in captivity aka Lee Harvey Oswald (see also, “Albright thinks Bush hiding bin Laden“).
All in all, the new year brings with it an imperium in disarray faced with a mountain of problems; political, economic and military, none of them solvable if it maintains the current trajectory of increased repression at home and the inability to launch more diversionary adventures abroad. Perhaps its proxy Israel will be let off the leash but even if it does go down that route, it will, like the Iraq misadventure lead to even more intractable problems, a rising isolation and increasing separation from ‘old’ Europe that smarmy Blair will be unable to rescue any more than he could the first colonial disaster of the new millenium.