Friday, December 19, 2014


President Putin, picture courtesy

The decline of oil prices from $100 in mid 2014 to $57 now is no coincidence, nor does it have anything do with supply and demand as oil demand has certainly not halved in six months.

It is seriously suspected that oil prices are being manipulated by U.S. to crush Russia and to make them pay for re-possessing Crimea from Ukraine. When sanctions and all else failed, U.S. seems to have decided to hit Russia, where it hurts most - in the pocket. The Russian Ruble is in a free fall and despite a recent raise in Russian Central Bank rate from 10 to 17%, the Ruble is not even half its worth what it was a year ago.
According to some estimates, it is costing Russia around $70  a barrel to extract oil, if that is accurate, Russia is in net loss of $13 per barrel it produces and sells. This could hit Russian economy hard, inflation could sky rocket, post Soviet style bread lines could form again with possible loss of popularity for Putin from its current 85% level. And that is exactly what U.S. may be hoping to accomplish. Such a policy may have a short term impact, but long term, it could have a devastating effect on the world economy.
A desperate Putin with his back to the wall could adopt 'Destroy West' policy by turning off oil taps overnight to Western Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil. The already fragile European economies will not be able to withstand such a shock and may go into recession or even a depression, which in turn would hit all the economies of the world, including that of the U.S. resulting in a 1930s style worldwide depression.
The Obama Administration needs to reign in its anti Russia hawks and think long and hard about the consequences such a policy. Better sense should prevail before the bear hits back with a vengeance.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Will the 2016 U. S. Presidential Election be between two dynastic candidates - Jeb Bush v Hillary Clinton?

(Photo courtesy the sleuthjournal)

The 2016 U.S. Presidential elections are less than two years away and by early 2016, front runner  candidates will begin to emerge. However, at this point in time, it seems that Jeb Bush (Republican) could be pitched against Hillary Clinton (Democratic).

However, 23 months in politics is a long time and one slip, one bad move, one un-thoughtful speech can derail a candidate and not all candidates have the capacity or resilience like candidate Barack Obama, who came back from the brink a couple of times and won the nomination of his party.

Jeb Bush is a credible candidate, he is the only Republican to have won two full terms as Governor of Florida. He is a moderate Republican and  may attract independent voters who now form the largest group in U.S. elections. Also, he is fluent in Spanish and his wife is from Mexico, which could be a major attraction to 17% Latino population in the U.S. But being pro immigration reform, he is not the darling of the ultra right wing Republicans who are hell bent on deporting 11 million illegal immigrants from U.S., so winning the party nomination may be a challenge, but if he looks like a winning candidate, the party will rally around him.

Other challengers will of course emerge from both parties, but more so from Republican than Democratic Party. Mitt Romney is still harboring Presidential ambitions, so are probably Marco Rubio (son of a Cuban), Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and a couple of others. A black candidate by the name of Ben Carson, a Pediatric Neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins could also pose a serious challenge to Jeb Bush.

Ben Carson by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Dr. Ben Carson

Hillary Clinton is clearly the front runner in the Democratic Party and having lived in the White House for eight years and having successfully held the position of Secretary of State in President Obama's fist term, she has earned the right. However, a challenge could still come from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is astute, very together and fully familiar with Government policy. She was part of President Obama's team that oversaw the economic recovery of U.S. after the 2008 crash. She is stickler for rules and regulations and has helped greatly in regulating the once wayward financial institutions. In 2012 she won the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, which was temporarily won by Republican Scott Brown after Kennedy's death. She is probably a better candidate than Hillary Clinton, but she does not have the grass root support of the party, so her nomination will be an uphill task.
Elizabeth Warren--Official 113th Congressional Portrait--.jpg

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Dynastic Politics
Jeb Bush is the son of former President George H. W. Bush and younger brother of former President George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton is the wife of former President Bill Clinton. Questions may arise about entitlement and dynastic politics. The voters in other countries i.e. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka are already questioning the value of dynastic politics. A case in point, the recent Indian elections, where dynastic politics was one of the factors in Congress Party's substantial defeat at the hands of BJP.

Monday, August 11, 2014

U.S. & Russia are both resposible for the mess in Ukraine. Canada should have stayed neutral in the conflict, restriction on its Agricultural exports to Russia will cost Canadian farmers $500 million+ a year.

The Ukraine is a mess and both United States & Russia are equally responsible. U.S. provided support and instigated rioting against a pro Russian but an elected Ukrainian President. This is part of super power supremacy game as under the garb of friendship, U.S. has been trying to encircle Russia by bringing in some of the former Soviet Union component states into Europe & NATO. Also, the plan to install missiles in Poland and overthrowing an elected Government in Ukraine are part of the same game.

Russia on its part has been opportunistic, first grabbing Abkhazia from Georgia, then Crimea from Ukraine. Russia knows what U.S. is trying to do and it is playing its own game in response to U.S. policies.

Europe is stuck in the middle and while U.S. has been trying to strong arm it against Russia, but as their energy needs are largely met by Russia they are not in a position to be too gung ho. Germany alone imports 30% of its energy needs from Russia and if Russia starts to turn off the tap, not only European, but the world economy could collapse. Fortunately, Russia is not that position yet. In about three years, when their new pipelines will be built to China, they may be able to do just that.

Meanwhile, Canada's Harper Government has taken an untenable hardline on Russia. Both Stephen Harper and his rather immature Foreign Minister - John Baird have been posturing aggressively. Getting involved in super power games is a folly as it will harm Canada's interests. By staying neutral, Canada could have played an important role in bringing Russian & Ukrainian leaders to the negotiating table to find a peaceful solution.

By slapping sanctions on Russia, perhaps the Harper Government forgot that Canada exports a fair bit to Russia. The retaliatory sanctions on Canada will cost $500m+ a year to the Canadian farmers and this just the start. If Harper Government keeps its posture, Russia could tighten the screws further. Mr. Harper is jeopardizing Canada's already fragile economy. Also, the failure of this Government to build any oil pipelines to Eastern or Western Canada is placing Canada at a serious disadvantage. Had a pipeline been built to the Eastern shores, we could have replaced Russia as an oil supplier to Europe.

Canada's history shows that by staying neutral, it has contributed a great deal more and helped end conflicts, which is  why Canada's stature was so high in the world. Sadly, Mr. Harper lowered Canada's prestige in the world.

Sunday, June 29, 2014



MOHAMED FAHMY sentenced to seven years imprisonment for fair reporting.


FIELD MARSHALL (self appointed) Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

War Makes Strange Bedfellows

Photo Courtesy Photo source: AFP/Getty Images/EPA

Only a few months ago some American politicians were singing 'Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran' and now the same politicians are likely to be singing Iran's praises.

The capture of second largest Iraqi city, Mosul by ISIS, Saddam Husain's home town - Tikrit and some smaller cities has not only alarmed the U.S. and the inept Al-Maliki regime in Iraq, but also sent collective shivers down the spines of Iranian Ayatollahs and Jordanian & Saudi Kings. The avowed aim of ISIS or ISIL is to establish an Islamic State in all of the region including Iran. 

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry met with the Iranian Foreign Minister June 16 to discuss cooperation against ISIS. Only a few months ago U.S. was issuing all kinds of threats against Iran and now they are asking their help.  War makes strange bedfellows indeed. The saying 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' seems to be operative here.

Iran has offered help to the Iraqi regime, they would not like to see their puppet regime crumble at the hands of ISIS. They already have some presence in Iraq through the revolutionary guards serving as Al-Maliki's security guards. But if Iran sends in soldiers, the bloodshed will only multiply and ISIS will be able to recruit many more volunteers. Their coffers are full, according to some reports, they have close to $2 billion in assets, especially after robbing Mosul Central Bank Branch, .

Apart from causing a blast here and there, ISIS will probably not be able to cause much damage to Iran. An attack on Iran could prove fatal for ISIS as it did for Saddam in the 80s. If ISIS captures Baghdad, it will be emboldened to move on to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, where they are likely to find support from a portion of the population unhappy with their rulers.

The situation is beyond dangerous and it could set fire to the entire Middle East. All this has been caused by George W. Bush and Co. for setting off events in motion with Iraq's invasion.