Congress Is Asked for Support on Syria, Which Is not Required Anyway

On Saturday, the president decided to ask Congress for a vote in support of a 'limited strike' against Syria (whatever that is – as John Glaser notes, promises of 'limited war' should be taken with a grain of salt). Since then, the administration has reportedly 'increased the pressure on Congress'. The always dependable war hawk John McCain is already saying that it is out of the question for Congress to deny the administration's request. A summary of the associated to and fro can be seen at the WAPO.

Meanwhile, secretary of state John Kerry opines that the president has the right to order a military strike against Syria with or without Congressional approval. That must be due to the famous 'limited strikes' footnote to Section 8 of the US constitution. Seriously though, there is the 'War Powers Resolution' of 1973, the constitutionality of which has never been tested. This resolution delimits what types of conflicts the president can engage in without Congressional approval, but it has already been ignored by two presidents (Reagan and Clinton) and has been held to be unconstitutional by every president since it was made law. Its aim was to reduce presidential power following the undeclared Korea and Vietnam wars. The UK government meanwhile has given up on a Syrian strike after its defeat in the House of Commons.


“A day after Barack Obama vowed to put any intervention in Syria to a vote of both the Senate and House of Representatives, Kerry said the administration was confident of winning a motion of the kind that David Cameron unexpectedly lost last week. "We don't contemplate that the Congress is going to vote no," Kerry said, but he stressed the president had the right to take action "no matter what Congress does".


He said the Obama administration's clear preference was to win a vote in Congress, which could come as early as next week, after politicians return from their summer recess on 9 September. He could "hear the complaints" about presidential abuse had Obama not gone to Congress, and its backing would give any military action greater credibility: "We are stronger as a nation when we act together." But he added: "America intends to act."

On Sunday, Britain definitively ruled out any involvement in military strikes against Syria even if further chemical attacks take place.

William Hague, the foreign secretary, said Britain would offer only diplomatic support to its allies. "Parliament has spoken. I don't think it is realistic to think that we can go back to parliament every week with the same question having received no for an answer."


(emphasis added)

So the vote seems to be a pure formality, if Kerry is to be believed. However, the New American doubts that an attack would be constitutional without a Congressional vote in favor.


Jihadists in Syria Worry They are the Actual Target

Meanwhile, some of the West's dubious new friends in Syria worry that they might actually end up being shot at. According to the BBC:


“In theory, any US-led strike against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad is a gift to the jihadists fighting to overthrow him.

The hailstorm of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) that is expected to rain down on Syria's bases and command-and-control centres – if President Barack Obama wins Congressional approval – would certainly hurt the jihadists' enemy, although perhaps not fatally.

Yet instead of being welcomed in jihadist ranks, the prospect has triggered alarm and confusion there and amongst other Islamist groups. Many are convinced that the real target of any US strikes will be the numerous anti-Western Islamist militias that have proliferated in the two-and-a-half-year-long civil war in which more than 100,000 people have already been killed.

"An imminent US attack will target al-Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions," announced a message on Twitter on 25 August from an account that supports one of the two most effective jihadist fighting forces in Syria.

It went on to list what it believes will be the primary targets of a US missile strike: Syrian government radar and other air defence systems, Scud missile depots and vehicles involved with chemical weapons. It says "the second barrage will most probably be with cruise missiles", and lists the targets as al-Nusra Front and ISIL training sites, high-ranking and senior leaders of the prominent jihadist factions and finally, Sharia courts.


Whether or not Syria's jihadist groups are in America's sights, they are taking no chances.

"Do you think we trust the Americans?" one fighter from the rebel group Liwa al-Islam was quoted as saying, adding: "They gave Assad two weeks' notice to clear his bases. We know we are the real target."


(emphasis added)

Not many things are funny about Syria at the moment, but this certainly is.



worried jihadistsWorried jihadists in Syria. Actually, they don't look particularly worried.

(Photo via AFP)



Syria and Poison Gas – A Contradictory Report

Mintpress, an alternative news site, has published a report that is contradicting the official story of the poison gas attack in Syria, specifically with regard to who was actually responsible for it.  The Mintpress report can be seen here. It states that people interviewed by its reporters on the ground in Syria claim that rebel forces were supplied with Sarin by Saudi Arabia, and that the incident was basically an accident, because they didn't know how to properly handle the stuff. On the surface, this is not necessarily less credible than the official line, considering that the official line has a long history of been wrong on many occasions, usually deliberately. Also, one must consider that Assad seems to be the last person likely to actually profit from a poison gas attack.  For the sake of completeness, there are also speculations that people lower down in the Syrian army's command structure may have acted on their own, without the Syrian leadership's placet.

An assessment of the Mintpress report's credibility compared to the official account can be found at the 'Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting' blog, penned by Jim Naureckas. The article also contains some background information regarding Mintpress and the reporters working for it (at least Mintpress admits it cannot independently verify numerous aspects of the story). A summary of the official accounts can be seen at the BBC (entitled 'What We Know', which doesn't seem to be much, if by 'we' they mean us hoi-polloi).

One can probably not rule out that rebel forces have come into possession of nerve gas, although if they have, it seems more likely that it came from a Syrian government stock pile that Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar.

Anyway, let us assume that the Mintpress story is true. That should not necessarily be seen as an impediment to bombing Syria, as there is by now a well-established tradition of bombing completely different people when Saudi nationals do something bad, as long as they are in the general vicinity.


Meanwhile in Libya: Oil Supply Dries Up 

In another country that has been a recent subject of intervention, not all is well. As so often in the region, oil is the bone of contention. Libyan crude oil output has completely collapsed by now to 100,000 bbl./day, from its normal level of 1.6 m. bbl./ day.

A group of former rebels referred to as the 'guards' has occupied Libya's ports, alleging that government officials are falsifying export data and are selling oil for their own account. The government in turn charges that it is the 'guards' who are selling oil on the black market. Our guess would be they are all in it in some shape or form – it's probably a disagreement between thieves.


A weeks-long blockade by guards at key Libyan oil terminals has sent production plunging to under 100,000 barrels per day in a major blow to the economy, an official says. Guards, mostly ex-rebels who helped topple veteran strongman Muammar Gadaffi in a 2011 uprising, have been on strike since late July and imposed a blockade on oil terminals.

They accuse the authorities of corruption by selling crude in excess of documented cargo, while the government say the guards have been trying to sell oil on the black market.

'Oil production now stands at less than 100,000 barrels per day,' Saad Ben Shrada, a member of parliament's energy commission, told Al-Hurra TV. His comments come after the commission issued a statement saying the production plunge is costing Libya several billion dollars in lost revenues.

The commission urged 'the thwars (ex-rebels) to stop this act of vandalism. Oil production is at almost zero,' the statement said. Libya was producing between 1.5 million to 1.6 million barrels of crude oil per day before the striking guards imposed the blockade on the country's main export terminals. The parliamentary commission warned that the militia's actions 'will encourage other (groups) to carry out similar acts'.

Libya is almost entirely dependent on oil and gas for its foreign exchange earnings, with hydrocarbons accounting for more than 80 per cent of its GNP and up to 97 per cent of its exports. The commission also took a swipe at Libya's National Oil Company (NOC) for declaring on August 21 a force majeure at the main terminals of Zueitina, Ras Lanouf, Al-Sedra and Brega in the east of the country.”


(emphasis added)

Crude oil prices have actually risen the most this year just prior to the 'guards' beginning their occupation of Libya's ports. Thereafter a sideways consolidation began. They have also not reacted much to the news about a possible strike against Syria. It actually seems that crude oil does best when there are no news 'supporting' it. Meanwhile production in Texas has doubled over the past two years, reaching a 32 year high recently. The constant stream of news about increasing US production keeps many people bearish on crude, but so far they have been wrong.



crude oilWTIC crude: doing best when it is not 'supported' by news – click to enlarge.





Chart by: StockCharts





We are happy to report that our funding target has been reached – once again, a hearty thank you to all contributors, your support is greatly appreciated!

As a result of us having gotten from A to B, the annoying graphic is hereby retired. However, be aware that the donations button continues to exist. It is actually perfectly legitimate to use it during the non-funding season as well; assorted advantages we have listed that often result from doing so are likewise persistent (i.e., increased happiness, children including you in their songs, potential obtaining of privileges in the hereafter, etc., etc.). Unfortunately we can't promise that it will make the gold price go up, but we're working on that.

Thank you for your support!


To donate Bitcoins, use this address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke


Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • underpass-libraryThe Baby Boomer Survival Guide (Part I)
      The Yellow Machines Go Silent PARIS – What should you do if you are running out of time and money? This is the question we get from readers over 50… over 60… and sometimes over 70. We baby boomers were famously “na… na… na… live for today.” Now, it’s tomorrow. And many of us – often through no fault of our own – are having trouble making ends meet. At the Diary, we write about the world of money. About economic policy and how it affects you. But what if,...
  • US-winds-down-quantitativ-012Faith in Central Banks Dwindles
      Even Bloomberg Notices that Something is Amiss As anyone who hasn't been in a coma knows, assorted central bank interventions have failed to achieve their stated goals over the past several years. A recent article at Bloomberg focuses on their failure to reach their “inflation” targets. Of course, this particular failure is actually reason to celebrate, as it means that consumers have at least been spared an even sharper decline in their real incomes than has been underway in spite...
  • 3 EURO FRONTEU Moloch in a Fresh Bid to Inflate
      Brussels Alters Capital Requirements to “Spur Lending” Saints preserve us, the central planners in Brussels are giving birth to new inflationist ideas. Apparently the 2008 crisis wasn't enough of a wake-up call. It should be clear by now even to the densest observers that a fractionally reserved banking system that flagrantly over-trades its capital is prone to collapse when the tide is going out. 2008 was really nothing but a brief reminder of this fact. The political and...
  • St._Benedict_delivering_his_rule_to_the_monks_of_his_orderThe Baby Boomer Survival Guide (Part II)
      A Lehman Moment for Commodities? LONDON – Today, we continue our philosophical look at what you should do if you are running out of time and money. (You can catch up on Part I here.) Where do we begin? With how to add wealth? Or how to lose it? The way to lose it is simple. You buy something that is not worth the money you paid for it. You are instantly poorer, whether you know it or not.   The pleasingly plump. Illustration by jdeer69     DJIA, daily...
  • SwanUS Stock Market: A Retest or Worse?
      Gray Swans and Black Swans By Monday's close, the S&P 500 Index was closing in on the low established in the August swoon – such a retest was essentially our minimum expectation, as V-shaped rebounds are very rare. The question is now whether it will only be a retest, or if something worse is in the offing. No-one knows for sure of course, but we'll briefly discuss what we are looking at in this context.   Image via NYTimes   It is interesting that as the market...
  • doom2Climate Fanatics Run Into Public Relations Snag
      Scientists Turn into Stalinists Last week, we happened  to stumble across a press report about a group of climate scientists so eager to shut up their critics that they want to employ the State's police, courts and jailers for the purpose. Specifically, a group of academic (and presumably tenured) climate alarmists supporting the “CAWG” theory (CAWG=”catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”) have written a letter to president Obama, attorney-general Lynch and OSTP director...
  • utopia-deniedSwiss Parliament Shoots Down Socialist Utopia
      No “Unconditional Basic Income” Similar to the minimum wage initiative pursued by Geneva-based socialists (which was rejected in a referendum - see “The Swiss Remain Sane” for details), another Utopian socialist dream has just floundered in Switzerland. As the European press reports, this time parliament has shot down a radical proposal forwarded by Socialist Party representative Andreas Gross.   Photo via   Gross wanted the State to pay...

Support Acting Man


Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Realtime Charts


Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from]


THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Buy Silver Now!
Buy Gold Now!