Monday, October 9, 2017

Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century?

Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century?

The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically.
The impact of the Arab Spring, the retraction of the U.S. military, and diminishing economic influence on the Arab world - as displayed during the Obama Administration - are facts.

The emergence of a Russian-Iranian-Turkish triangle is the new reality. 

The Western hegemony in the MENA region has ended, and not in a shy way, but with a long list of military conflicts and destabilization.

The first visit of a Saudi king to Russia shows the growing power of Russia in the Middle East. It also shows that not only Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also Egypt and Libya, are more likely to consider Moscow as a strategic ally.
King Salman’s visit to Moscow could herald not only several multibillion business deals, but could be the first real step towards a new regional geopolitical and military alliance between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia. 
This cooperation will not only have severe consequences for Western interests but also could partly undermine or reshape the position of OPEC at the same time.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is currently hosting a large Saudi delegation, led by King Salman and supported by Saudi minister of energy Khalid Al Falih.
Moscow’s open attitude to Saudi Arabia—a lifetime Washington ally and strong opponent of the growing Iran power projections in the Arab world—show that Putin understands the current pivotal changes in the Middle East.

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and even the UAE, have shown an increased eagerness to develop military and economic relations with Moscow, even if this means dealing with a global power currently supporting their archenemy Iran. Analysts wonder where the current visit of King Salman will really lead to, but all signs are on green for a straightforward Arab-Saudi support for a bigger Russian role in the region, and more in-depth cooperation in oil and gas markets.

In stark contrast to the difficult relationship of the West with the Arab world, Moscow seems to be playing the regional power game at a higher level. It can become an ally or friend to regional adversaries, such as Iran, Turkey, Egypt and now Saudi Arabia. Arab regimes are also willing to discuss cooperation with Russia, even though the country is supporting adversaries in the Syrian and Yemen conflicts and continues to supply arms to the Shi’a regime in Iran.

For both sides, Moscow and Riyadh, the current constellation presents a win-win situation. Moscow can reach its ultimate goal in the Middle East: to become the main power broker and knock the US from the pedestal. For Riyadh, the option to counter the Iranian threat, while also bolstering its own economy and hydrocarbon future, is now within reach.
King Salman’s trip could go down in history as the point of no return for the West. Pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Salman of Saudi Arabia could replace historic pictures of King Saud and U.S. President Roosevelt (Bitter Lake, 1945). In a few years, King-to-be Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman might tell his children that this was one of the pillars that changed not only the Middle East but also supported his Vision 2030 plan of becoming a bridge between the old (West) and the new (Russia-Asia).

Iran warned of a “crushing” response if the US designates the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist entity Monday.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said US plans to target the Revolutionary Guard, a powerful branch of the Iranian military, as part of punishments against the regime, would be a “grave and strategic mistake.”
“But if they do, our response will be firm, decisive and crushing and the US needs to accept the consequences,” Qasemi said at a press conference, according to Iranian media reports.
“I hope wise people in US will take necessary measures to stop this.”
Qasemi also described as “baseless” claims that Iran is working with North Korea on nuclear weapons development. Such accusations are, he said, “Iranophobia.”
The warning came the day after the chief of Revolutionary Guard threatened that if the United States designates the unit as a terrorist group, Iran will consider the US Army equivalent to the Islamic State terror group.
Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari also said that if new sanctions against Iran go into effect, the US will have to “find a new place for its military bases, 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) away, outside the range of Iranian missiles,” according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif also said Iran would issue an “appropriate response” to the move, vowing that the IRGC would not stop its activity.
The moves are expected to come in concert with a decision by US President Donald Trump to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear accord, while not dismantling the deal itself.
The planned actions actions against Iran include financial sanctions on anyone who does business with the IRGC, as well as millions of dollars in rewards for information leading to the arrest of two operatives of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.

Here’s a surprisingly profound question: What is a promise? Dictionaries offer various definitions. I like this one: “An express assurance on which expectation is to be based.”

That definition captures the two-sided nature of a promise. One party offers an assurance, which the other converts into an expectation. You deposit money in your checking account, and the bank assures you that you can have it back on demand. You expect that the bank will fulfill its promise when you visit an ATM.
Governments likewise make promises, but those are different. Government is the ultimate enforcer of promises, but we have no recourse if it chooses to break them – except at the ballot box. As we’ve seen in recent weeks regarding public pensions, that’s ineffective when the promises were made long ago by officials who are no longer in office.
The federal government’s keeping its promises is important for everyone in the US, because almost all of us are part of the largest public pension system: Social Security. We pay taxes our whole working lives and expect the government to give us retirement benefits. But what happens if it can’t?
Three weeks ago we visited the problems with local and state pensions. Last week we looked at European pensions. This week we are going to take a hard look at the unfunded liabilities and debt of the US government. And even though the federal unfunded pension liabilities dwarf those of state and local pensions, I want to make it clear that I believe the state and local problems will be far more intractable.
I have to warn you: You may be hopping mad when you finish reading this.

Federal debt as a percentage of GDP has almost doubled since the turn of the century. The big jump occurred during the 2007–2009 recession, but the debt has kept growing since then. That’s a consequence of both higher spending and lower GDP growth.

In theory, Social Security and Medicare don’t count here. Their funding goes into separate trust funds. But in reality, the Treasury borrows from the trust funds, so they simply hold more government debt.
The Treasury Department tracks all this, and you can read about it on their website, updated daily. Presently it looks like this:
• Debt held by the public: $14.4 trillion
• Intragovernmental holdings (the trust funds): $5.4 trillion
• Total public debt: $19.8 trillion

Among the many tidbits, it contains a table on page 63 that reveals the net present value of the US government’s 75-year future liability for Social Security and Medicare. That amount exceeds the net present value of the tax revenue designated to pay those benefits by $46.7 trillion. Yes, trillions.

Where will this $46.7 trillion come from? We don’t know. Future Congresses will have to find it somewhere. This is the fabled “unfunded liability” you hear about from deficit hawks. Similar promises exist to military and civil service retirees and assorted smaller groups, too. Trying to add them up quickly becomes an exercise in absurdity. They are so huge that it’s hard to believe the government will pay them, promises or not.

Now, I know this is going to come as a shock, but that $46.7 trillion of unfunded liabilities is pretty much a lie. My friend Professor Larry Kotlikoff estimates the unfunded liabilities to be closer to $210 trillion. 

When presidential candidate Ben Carson last year quoted Kotlikoff’s numbers, the Washington Post, New York Times, and other mainstream media immediately attacked him. Of course, the journalists doing the attacking had agendas, and none of them were economists or accountants. None. Zero. Zip.

1 comment:

WVBORN56 said...

Perhaps this week! The feast of Tabernacles ends mid week and it would be fitting to shed this temporary dwelling for our permanent dwelling provided by Jesus. :)

Scott the one article posted today gives me hope it is indeed soon with Russia, Turkey and Iran appearing in the same headline. Ezekiel 39 could certainly be in the very near future! The USA losing power/influence and potentially our ally Saudi Arabia is also a significant development.

Keep looking up!