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Peak oil in Asia: where will the oil come from for the Asian Century?

Peak oil in Asia: where will the oil come from for the Asian Century?

Asian oil production peaked above 8 mb/d for the period between 2008 and 2016 (with spikes in 2010 and 2015). The 2015 peak was mainly caused by peak oil in China. Since then Asia’s decline  was almost 800 kb/d or 9%.

Asia-Pacific-oil-production_BP-1965_2018
Fig 1: The Asian oil peak lasted 8 years

The rest of Asia peaked already in 2000 (the year Australia peaked) followed by a very modest decline of 1.1% pa. Let’s go through the countries one by one.

In the following, net oil imports are defined as the difference between oil consumption and production. Please see the note at the end of this post.

Indonesia_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 2: Indonesia is in terminal production decline since the 1990s
Australia_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 3: Australia’s net oil imports
Malaysia_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 4: Malaysia is a net importer since 2010
Vietnam_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 5: Vietnam’s net imports are increasing fast
Thailand_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 6: Thailand was always a net importer

Thailand’s consumption increases faster than production.

India_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 7: India’s consumption exceeded 5 mb/d in 2018

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Dying Days Of An Empire

The Dying Days Of An Empire

Caravaggio Conversion on the way to Damascus 1600-01

Something’s been nagging me for the past few days, and I’m not sure I’ve figured out why yet. It started when Donald Trump first called off the alleged planned strikes on targets in Iran because they would have cost 150 lives, and then the next day said the US would do sanctions instead. As they did on Monday, even directly targeting Trump’s equal, the “Supreme Leader Khameini”.

When Trump announced the sanctions, I thought: wait a minute, by presenting this the way you did, you effectively turned economic sanctions into a military tool: we chose not to do bombs but sanctions. Sounds the same as not doing a naval invasion but going for air attacks instead. The kind of decisions that were made in Vietnam a thousand times.

However, Vietnam was all out war (well, invasion is a better term). Which shamed the US, killed and maimed the sweet Lord only knows how many promising young Americans as well as millions of Vietnamese, and ended in humiliating defeat. But the US is not in an all out war in Iran, at least not yet. And if they would ever try to be, the outcome would be Vietnam squared.

Still, that’s not really my point here. It’s simply about the use of having the world reserve currency as a military weapon instead of an economic one. And I think that is highly significant. As well as an enormous threat to the US. The issue at hand is overreach.

While you could still argue that economic sanctions on North Korea, Venezuela and Russia are just that, economic and/or political ones, the way Trump phrased it, comparing sanctions one on one with military strikes, no longer leaves that opening when it comes to Iran.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vietnam’s Energy Dilemma Is About To Become A Crisis

Vietnam’s Energy Dilemma Is About To Become A Crisis

Hanoi

Vietnam can’t seem to get a break. The country lies just beneath China, its giant neighbor to the north, and shares many of the same socialist ideals that Beijing promulgates. However, Sino-Vietnamese relations have been a source of tension for years dating back to the colonization of Vietnam by China centuries ago – a historical fact that the average Vietnamese citizen has never forgotten. Even after the protracted and costly war between North Vietnam and the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government, that ended more than 40 years ago, China (which had proven a valuable ally for Hanoi during the war) turned on its smaller communist ally and invaded the country in 1979. It was a brief but bloody border war which showed Beijing that Vietnam could still hold its own.

Fast forward several decades and Hanoi is still trying to placate Beijing while at the same time rapidly improving relations with one-time adversary Washington. In fact, U.S.- Vietnamese relations, both trade and bilateral, have improved so much recently that the two sides could now arguably be called allies in the Asia-Pacific region. Of course, much of that alliance, similar in some respects to the decades-old U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, is born of necessity. The U.S.-Saudi alliance was berthed in the aftermath of World War 2, held together amid shared concerns during the cold war, and remains amid worries over Iranian hegemony ambitions in the Middle East. The U.S.-Vietnamese alliance is largely held together over the mutual aim of both Washington and Hanoi to keep China’s economic and military ambitions in check in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the volatile South China Sea, where Beijing claims as much as 90 percent of the troubled body of water.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Declassified Cables Reveal US Plan To Nuke Vietnam

Recently declassified documents from the Vietnam era reveal that the United States’ top military commander in Saigon activated a plan in 1968 to place nuclear weapons in South Vietnam, but was overruled by President Lyndon B. Johnson, reports the New York Times

The commander, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, had been preparing the nuclear option in secret – drafting plans to have nuclear weapons on hand in case American forces should find themselves near-defeat in the battle of Khe Sanh – one of the most gruesome battles in the war.

“Should the situation in the DMZ area change dramatically, we should be prepared to introduce weapons of greater effectiveness against massed forces,” General Westmoreland wrote in a cable that was declassified in 2014 but did not come to light until Mr. Beschloss cited it in his forthcoming book.

“Under such circumstances, I visualize that either tactical nuclear weapons or chemical agents would be active candidates for employment.” –NY Times

The plan to use nukes, code-named Fracture Jaw, would see nuclear weapons placed in South Vietnam for use on short notice against Vietnamese troops. It was scuttled by LBJ after Johnson’s National Security Adviser, Walt Rostow, alerted the president to the plan in a memorandum.

The president immediately rejected the plan and ordered a turnaround, according to presidential assistant Tom Johnson, who took notes during the meetings on the issue which were held in the family dining room on the second floor of the White House.

The White House national security adviser, Walt W. Rostow, alerted President Lyndon B. Johnson of plans to move nuclear weapons into South Vietnam on the same day that Gen. William C. Westmoreland had told the American commander in the Pacific that he approved the operation. (NYT)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Dystopian Vietnam Launches 10,000-Strong Cyber-Unit To Combat “Fake News”

Reuters has revealed a rather disturbing Orwellian tale of Communist-ruled Vietnam marching towards a complete censorship of the internet.

Government officials have announced a new, 10,000-strong military cyber warfare unit used to combat ‘fake news’, amid a much larger crackdown on critics of the state.

The announcement came in a speech on Christmas Day given by Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, a deputy head of the military’s political department. According to state-run media, Lt Gen Nguyen revealed the 10,000-strong army of state-owned hackers called “Force 47″, will be targeting enemies of the Communist party who “create chaos” online.

Lt Gen Nguyen further said, “in every hour, minute, and second, we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views.”

“Force 47” could be compared to the so-called 50-cent army, employed by Communist China, who are paid 50 cents for every website that is censored. Communist-ruled Vietnam has certainly escalated this latest attempt to control the internet, especially the ability to censor political dissidents on social media.

Bloomberg reports, the disclosure of the unit is the government’s effort to put more pressure on YouTube Inc. and Facebook Inc. to remove accounts promoting anti-party views.

Facebook this year removed 159 accounts at Vietnam’s behest, while YouTube took down 4,500 videos, or 90 percent of what the government requested, according to VietnamNet news, which cited Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan last week. The National Assembly is debating a cybersecurity bill that would require technology companies to store certain data on servers in the country.

Vietnam, one of the top countries in the world for Facebook users, has struggled with internet censorship.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How America Spreads Global Chaos

How America Spreads Global Chaos

The U.S. government may pretend to respect a “rules-based” global order, but the only rule Washington seems to follow is “might makes right” — and the CIA has long served as a chief instigator and enforcer, writes Nicolas J.S. Davies.


As the recent PBS documentary on the American War in Vietnam acknowledged, few American officials ever believed that the United States could win the war, neither those advising Johnson as he committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, nor those advising Nixon as he escalated a brutal aerial bombardment that had already killed millions of people.

Air Force F-105s bomb a target in the southern panhandle of North Vietnam on June 14, 1966. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force)”

As conversations tape-recorded in the White House reveal, and as other writers have documented, the reasons for wading into the Big Muddy, as Pete Seeger satirized it, and then pushing on regardless, all came down to “credibility”: the domestic political credibility of the politicians involved and America’s international credibility as a military power.

Once the CIA went to work in Vietnam to undermine the 1954 Geneva Accords and the planned reunification of North and South through a free and fair election in 1956, the die was cast. The CIA’s support for the repressive Diem regime and its successors ensured an ever-escalating war, as the South rose in rebellion, supported by the North. No U.S. president could extricate the U.S. from Vietnam without exposing the limits of what U.S. military force could achieve, betraying widely held national myths and the powerful interests that sustained and profited from them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How an economic theory helped mire the United States in Vietnam

How an economic theory helped mire the United States in Vietnam

File 20170921 21037 1o4ru9z
Rostow, front right, visited Vietnam in 1961.
AP Photo/Fred Waters

Questions of how the U.S. got mired in the Vietnam War and whether it was ultimately winnable have fascinated historians for half a century – most recently in Ken Burns’ new 18-hour documentary.

A little-remembered aspect of the debacle is the important role played by a prominent economic historian named Walt Whitman Rostow, whose theories on economic development helped persuade Americans – and two presidents – that the fight in Vietnam was right and that we must prevail.

The Burns documentary, from what I have seen, does not dwell much on economics, my area of expertise. But this was an important part of why Americans were there.

Rostow’s rise

Rostow, left, looks over a map with Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor in 1961 ahead of their trip to Vietnam to observe and evaluate the political and military situation there and report back to President Kennedy. From his earliest days at the White House, Rostow urged more involvement in the Vietnam.   AP Photo/Bill Allen
Rostow came to prominence in the 1960s after his theories on economic development caught the eye of the Democratic Party and John F. Kennedy, who was campaigning for president.

In 1960, Rostow, then a professor at MIT, published an influential book called “The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto.” The book describes how an economy transitions through five distinct stages of development, from basic (little use of technology, like much of central Africa and South Asia in the mid 20th century) to advanced (characterized by high levels of mass consumption, such as the U.S. or France).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Killing of History

The Killing of History

One of the most hyped “events” of American television,The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.  Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”.  Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”.

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When Was America’s Peak Wealth?

When Was America’s Peak Wealth?

A few days ago, I wrote an essay entitled “Not Nearly Enough Growth To Keep Growing”, in which I posited, among many other things, that “..the Automatic Earth has said for many years that the peak of our wealth was sometime in the 1970’s or even late 1960’s” along with the question “..was America at its richest right before or right after Nixon took the country off the gold standard in 1971?”

That same day, I received an email from (very) long time Automatic Earth reader and afficionado Ken Latta, who implied he thought the peak of American wealth was even earlier. That turned into a nice conversation. I really like the way his head works to frame his words. And Ken knows what he’s talking about by grace of the fact that he was a witness to it all.

I like that he defines wealth as “best measured by the capacity to be utterly wasteful”, and the early 1960’s in America as “a golden age, overshadowed, of course, by excess hubris.”. And I wonder many of you would agree that America was at the summit of its wealth perhaps as much as 55-60 years ago?

Here’s his first mail:

Ken Latta: Ilargi, A darned good editorial, but I would like to suggest a different baseline for America’s peak wealth. As experienced by the common man, now pronounced “deplorable”.

In my humble estimation based on having been there at the time. Peak wealth occurred somewhere in the neighborhood of 1963. It was a time when the Beach Boys and their music biz competitors were making money with songs about hi-powered cars and a life of surfing waves. Working Joes bought those cars and drove them on the street. Those on the coasts spent inordinate amounts of time surfing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Disappointments of War in a World of Unintended Consequences

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Disappointments of War in a World of Unintended Consequences

And No Kidding, That’s the Literal Truth When It Comes to War, American-Style 

It may be hard to believe now, but in 1970 the protest song “War,” sung by Edwin Starr, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That was at the height of the Vietnam antiwar movement and the song, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, became something of a sensation.  Even so many years later, who could forget its famed chorus?  “War, what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing.”  Not me.  And yet heartfelt as the song was then  — “War, it ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker.  War, it’s got one friend, that’s the undertaker…” — it has little resonance in America today.

But here’s the strange thing: in a way its authors and singer could hardly have imagined, in a way we still can’t quite absorb, that chorus has proven eerily prophetic — in fact, accurate beyond measure in the most literal possible sense.  War, what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing.  You could think of American war in the twenty-first century as an ongoing experiment in proving just that point.

Looking back on almost 15 years in which the United States has been engaged in something like permanent war in the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, one thing couldn’t be clearer: the planet’s sole superpower with a military funded and armed like none other and a “defense” budget larger than the next seven countries combined (three times as large as number two spender, China) has managed to accomplish — again, quite literally — absolutely nothing, or perhaps (if a slight rewrite of that classic song were allowed) less than nothing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is David Brooks Pushing For Another Vietnam?

The Largest US Foreign Policy Blunder Since Vietnam Is Complete: Iran Readies Massive Syrian Ground Invasion

The Largest US Foreign Policy Blunder Since Vietnam Is Complete: Iran Readies Massive Syrian Ground Invasion

On Thursday, in “Mid-East Coup: As Russia Pounds Militant Targets, Iran Readies Ground Invasions While Saudis Panic”, we attempted to cut through all of the Western and Russian media propaganda on the way to describing what Moscow’s involvement in Syria actually portends for the global balance of power. Here are a few excerpts that summarize what’s taking shape in the Middle East:

Putin looks to have viewed this as the ultimate geopolitical win-win. That is, Russia gets to i) expand its influence in the Middle East in defiance of Washington and its allies, a move that also helps to protect Russian energy interests and preserves the Mediterranean port at Tartus, and ii) support its allies in Tehran and Damascus thus preserving the counterbalance to the US-Saudi-Qatar alliance. 

Meanwhile, Iran gets to enjoy the support of the Russian military juggernaut on the way to protecting the delicate regional nexus that is the source of Tehran’s Mid-East influence. It is absolutely critical for Iran to keep Assad in power, as the loss of Syria to the West would effectively cut the supply line between Iran and Hezbollah.

It would be difficult to overstate the significance of what appears to be going on here. This is nothing short of a Middle Eastern coup, as Iran looks to displace Saudi Arabia as the regional power broker and as Russia looks to supplant the US as the superpower puppet master. 

In short, the Pentagon’s contention that Russia and Iran have formed a Mid-East “nexus” isn’t akin to the Bush administration’s hollow, largely bogus attempt to demonize America’s foreign policy critics in the eyes of the public by identifying an “axis of evil.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Warmongering

The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Warmongering

I have spent a few days reading Yves Engler’s book, The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy (2012) about the inhumane, cold-hearted and ruthless actions of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This has left me feeling nauseated and ill. Today, sitting in a coffee shop in Vancouver, I looked across the sunny street at Indigo Books and they had a huge banner inscribed with “The world needs more Canada” in their front window. If it’s Harper’s Canada we are talking about, the world certainly does not need more Canada.

Early on before Harper was PM, people warned that if Canadians elected this guy there would be big trouble ahead. He was to be feared. But not enough people really believed that he would unleash the most right-wing agenda ever seen in good old progressive Canada, the big geographical country with lots of resources and billed as a fine place to live. We hike in the mountains and toast our peacekeepers in faraway stormy lands. “It’s all good” as my son might say.

Engler is in his mid-thirties and has established himself as a Chomsky-styled iconoclast. He has punctured holes in Canada’s beloved myths. Canada’s esteemed diplomat and former PM, Lester B. Pearson, doesn’t look too good after Engler takes the myth apart, brick by brick. In Engler’s portrait, Pearson was an ardent cold warrior, supported colonialism and apartheid in South Africa, Zionism and coups in Guatemala, Iran and Brazil. He also supported the US war in Viet Nam and pushed to send Canadian troops to Korea. Engler certainly poked a stick in a hornet’s nest. Really? Couldn’t be so. Not sweet Lester.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

A Fine Balance: China’s Need for Resources and Stability in the South China Sea

A Fine Balance: China’s Need for Resources and Stability in the South China Sea

The shift in demographic and economic weight from Europe to East Asia has intensified over the past 20 years, which makes East Asia and its coastal areas increasingly important – a critical shift in current and future international relations dynamics underscored by the United States’ (US) “Pivot to Asia” or East Asian foreign policy of the Obama administration. Four Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, plus China/Taiwan either partially or fully claim sovereignty over the South China Sea and its territorial features: islands, reefs, and atolls. Given the importance of the South China Sea’s islands and sub-soils, we seek to assess whether a Chinese policy towards the South China Sea’s territorial disputes endangers regional stability and cooperation.

Economic and Strategic Importance of the Spratly Islands

China’s extensive borders, surrounded by sea and a rich diversity of neighbors, from large Russia, unstable Afghanistan, to maritime neighbors such as the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan, presents a host of security challenges. The South China Sea forms part of the complexity of China’s border security challenges. The following claimants surround the South China Sea: China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. Territorial disputes contribute to regional volatility. The Sea is considered a flashpoint for conflict in the Asia Pacific Region. There are two groups of islands in the South China Sea: the Paracel and Spratly Islands. China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim all of the Paracel and Spartly Islands, while Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei only claim parts of the Spratlys. Claims put forward by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam are historically based, whereas claims made by Malaysia and Brunei are based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS), the proximity principle, and the continental shelf principle. The Philippines’ claim is based on proclaimed discovery of unclaimed islands in 1956.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chinese State Paper Warns “War Will Be Inevitable” Unless U.S. Stops Meddling In Territorial Dispute

Chinese State Paper Warns “War Will Be Inevitable” Unless U.S. Stops Meddling In Territorial Dispute

Whereas over the past year, ever since the outbreak of the hostilities over the fate of Ukraine following the Victoria Nuland orchestrated presidential coup, relations between Russia and NATO have devolved to a Cold War 2.0 state as manifested by countless interceptions of Russian warplanes by NATO jets and vice versa as depicted in the following infographic…

… at least China was mercifully allowed to stay out of the fray between the Cold War enemies.

This all changed this month when first the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress this month cast China as a threat to regional and international peace and stability, followed several weeks ago when, with China aggressively encroaching into territories in the South China Sea claimed by US allies in the region such as Philippines, Vietnam and Japan, the US decided to get involved in yet another regional spat that does not directly involve it, and started making loud noises about China’s territorial expansion over the commodity-reach area.

China promptly relatiated by threatening a US spy plane during a routine overflight, while immediately thereafter the US retaliated at China’s escalation, and warned that building sea “sandcastles” could “lead to conflict.”

Far from shutting China up, earlier today China said it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew over parts of the disputed South China Sea in a diplomatic row that has fuelled tension between the world’s two largest economies.

Quoted by Reuters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday China had lodged a complaint and that it opposed “provocative behaviour” by the United States.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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