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."
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."
Not many things are funny about Syria at the moment, but this certainly is.
(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.”
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 recently. The constant stream of news about increasing US production keeps many people bearish on crude, but so far they have been wrong.
Chart by: StockCharts
Dear Readers! We are happy to report that we have reached our turn-of-the-year funding goal and want to extend a special thank you to all of you who have chipped in. We are very grateful for your support! As a general remark, according to usually well informed circles, exercising the donation button in between funding drives is definitely legal and highly appreciated as well.
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Reality is a Formidable Enemy
Political Correctness Comedy We have recently come across a video that is simply too funny not be shared. It also happens to dovetail nicely with our friend Claudio's recent essay on political correctness and cultural Marxism. Since this is generally a rather depressing topic, we have concluded that having a good laugh at it might not be the worst idea. How to most effectively create a “safe space” on campus Cartoon by Nate Beeler It is especially funny (or...
- Fresh Mainstream Nonsense on Gold Demand
They Will Never Get It... We and many others have made a valiant effort over the years to explain what actually moves the gold market (as examples see e.g. our article “Misconceptions About Gold”, or Robert Blumen's excellent essay “Misunderstanding Gold Demand”). Sometimes it is a bit frustrating when we realize it has probably all been for naught. Gold wants to know what it has done now... Photo credit: Ajay Verma / Reuters This was brought home to...
- Drowning the Fir
Presidential Duties Our editor recently stumbled upon an image in one of the more obscure corners of the intertubes which we felt we had to share with our readers. It provides us with a nice metaphor for the meaningfulness of government activity. First, here is a look at the picture – just quietly contemplate it for while and let it work its magic on you: Yes, these two gentlemen are actually watering a tree in the middle of a downpour... Photo via...
- The Wonder Years Are Over
Everybody Is Unhappy PARIS – “France?” We were in a cab on the way from Charles de Gaulle Airport yesterday. We had innocently asked our cab driver how things were going in the country. He had some thoughts... French president Francois Hollande: against all odds, he managed to attain the most powerful position in French society. And yet, even he is unhappy. Photo credit: Patrick Kovarik / AFP “France is a mess. We have 5 million people unemployed. And...
- Switzerland About to Vote on “Free Lunch” for Everyone
Will the Swiss Guarantee CHF 75,000 for Every Family? In early June the Swiss will be called upon to make a historic decision. Switzerland is the first country worldwide to put the idea of an Unconditional Basic Income to a vote and the outcome of this referendum will set a strong precedent and establish a landmark in the evolution of this debate. The Swiss Basic Income Initiative in a demonstration in front of parliament. As we have previously reported (see “Swiss...
- Gold – The Commitments of Traders
Commercial and Non-Commercial Market Participants The commitments of traders in gold futures are beginning to look a bit concerning these days – we will explain further below why this is so. Some readers may well be wondering why an explanation is even needed. Isn't it obvious? Superficially, it sure looks that way. As the following chart of the net position of commercial hedgers illustrates, their position is currently at quite an extended...
- Heretical Thoughts and Doing the Unthinkable
Heresy! NORMANDY, France – The Dow rose 222 points on Tuesday – or just over 1%. But we agree with hedge-fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller: This is not a good time to be a U.S. stock market bull. Legendary former hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller at the Ira Sohn conference – not an optimist at present, to put it mildly. Photo credit: David A. Grogan / CNBC Speaking at an investment conference in New York last week, George Soros’ former partner...
- Staying Home on Election Day
Pretenses and Conceits The markets are eerily quiet… like an angry man with something on his mind and a shotgun in his hand. We will leave them to brood… and return to the spectacle of the U.S. presidential primaries. On display are all the pretenses, conceits, and absurdities of modern government. And now, the race narrows to the two most widely distrusted and loathed candidates. US election circus: Deep State Rep vs. Rage Channeller The first, a loose...
- How the Deep State’s Cronies Steal From You
Expanding in Ireland DUNMORE EAST, Ireland – We came down the coast from Dublin to check on our new office building. For this visit, we wanted to stay somewhere different than we normally do. So we chose a small hotel on the coast, called the Strand Inn. Irish landscape with alien landing pads. Even the guys from Rigel II have heard about Ireland's corporate tax rate. Photo credit: Tourism Ireland It is an excellent place for seafood and soda bread on a...
- The World's 100 Most Influential Hacks, Yahoos and Monkey Shiners
Hacks and Has-Beens NORMANDY, France – What has happened to TIME magazine? Henry Luce, who started TIME – the first weekly news magazine in the U.S. – would be appalled to see what it has become. Time cover featuring the sunburned mummy heading the globalist IMF bureaucracy (which inter alia advocates that governments should confiscate a portion of the wealth of their citizens overnight, even while its own employees don't have to pay a single cent in taxes). Once you...
- The Japanese Popsicle Affair
Policy-Induced Contrition in Japan As we keep saying, there really is no point in trying to make people richer by making them poorer – which is what Shinzo Abe and Haruhiko Kuroda have been trying to do for the past several years. Not surprisingly, they have so to speak only succeeded in achieving the second part of the equation: they have certainly managed to impoverish their fellow Japanese citizens. Shinzo Abe and Haruhiko Kuroda, professional yen assassins Photo credit:...
- Kuroda-San in the Mouth of Madness
Deluded Central Planners Zerohedge recently reported on an interview given by Lithuanian ECB council member Vitas Vasiliauskas, which demonstrates how utterly deluded the central planners in the so-called “capitalist” economies of the West have become. His statements are nothing short of bizarre (“we are magic guys!”) – although he is of course correct when he states that a central bank can never “run out of ammunition”. BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda Photo credit:...