The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

EU Delusion on Sanctions and Europe’s Future

While the EU was considering more sanctions against Iran because it attacked Israel in retaliation for Israel bombing its embassy, Russia is sending Iran:

Meanwhile America is threatening China that if they don’t stop sending Russia “dual use” goods, the US will slap on more sanctions.

Boo hoo.

Let us remember the results of chip sanctions. China now owns the legacy part of the industry, and is making progress western “experts” said would take decades in years. Huawei has recovered from the sanctions and created its own OS. It is now a massive electric vehicle manufacturer in addition to everything else. BYD will soon become the largest EV manufacturer in the world, eclipsing Tesla. Something about its cars being cheaper, and Tesla gave up on building a cheap version of their cars. Maybe Tesla will survive because the US keeps all Chinese EVs out, but my guess is that if Musk stays CEO, Tesla’s best possible future is as a luxury EV manufacturer. Their “Cyber Truck” is a disaster.

Iran has built a formidable military with hypersonic missiles while under sanctions, sanctions which started at the same time the Islamic Republic was created. But now, what I’m sure happens, is that China sells Russia goods and Russia trans-ships them to Iran. That hasn’t undone the sanctions completely, but as the world moves away from using the dollar as the medium of trade and routes around US, EU and anglosphere banks, the effects of the sanctions will continue to diminish.

There’s very little that Iran needs (though still some) that China and Russia don’t make. And anything sold to Russia by, say, India, can also make its way to Iran. Cutting Russia off almost entirely gives it no reason to play by Western rules, and it doesn’t.

This is especially true now that America has taken Russian reserves and will be giving them to Ukraine. Anyone who trusts the US with their money who isn’t a complete ally, or satrapy, is a fool. There’s a reason why money used to be frozen before, but not actually taken. There’s a big difference between the two.

But let’s move back to Europe. This article from FT is to the point, German gas prices are two-thirds higher, structurally, than they were before the Ukraine war.

That’s after prices dropped massively. The simple fact is that US natural gas costs a lot more. Russia was selling Europe and Germany oil and gas for bargain prices. Russia’s still willing to sell, but Europe has its head up its ass.

The recent history of European industry is simple. When the Euro came into effect, it raised everyone’s prices except Germany’s, pretty much. Industry in all of Europe except Germany was badly damaged (this was especially bad in Italy which was more of an industrial power than most realized.) Germany, in effect, received a subsidy: the Euro was worth less than the German Mark.

Germany has (had) a lot of heavy industry: a lot of energy intensive industry. To get energy for this, Germany got cheap, below market Russia oil and natural gas. Russia got bulk sales of one of the few things it had to sell and Germany kept its industry competitive.

Those days are over, essentially permanently.

And the problem is that Germany’s dominance was in legacy heavy industry and automobiles. They aren’t creating a lot of new tech and science. They don’t have large new industries developing. They don’t have scale costs like China does. They relied on being very efficient and already dominating industries.

But those industries are leaving. A lot of them are going to America, the actual company facilities, but the production is, effectively, also moving to China and other countries.

I know I’m a bit of a stuck record on this (do youngs understand that simile?) but Europe is walking into its decline with its leaders acting as if it’s no big deal, indeed as if they are, to use my father’s crude insult still “King shit of turd island.” Sanctioning Iran, lecturing Africans and acting as if they are superior in every way: the only truly civilized people in the world.

Even as they do, the foundations of their prosperity, their “garden” are eroding out from under them at the speed of soil blowing away during the Dust Bowl.

They’re insane. Completely detached from reality, and some of the stupidest elites in the world, even exceeding America’s very high bar.

The Sun always sets. European leaders seem determined to make it set as soon as possible.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – April 21 2024


French Troops Have Been Forced To Withdraw From Three African Sahel Countries In the Last Two Years


  1. Feral Finster

    Europeans are ruled by puppets, and europeans themselves have less self-respect than whipped dogs.

    Hell, the United States commits an act of war on his german catamite by blowing up NS and the response of the german political class is to stare at their shoes and mumble something about how bad slaves deserve their beatings.

  2. Willy

    Current Chinese economics often (but not always) knows how and where to use its government. Maybe they’re currently in the sweet spot of their own anacyclosis, awaiting an inevitable insanity of late-stage capitalism (or mixed-economism)?

    Whatever Germany “the economic miracle” was doing back in Iron Curtain days, maybe it should consider returning to?

    I wouldn’t use Iran as an example of a successful anything, outside of religious elites successfully dominating their nation. I’ve tried looking up whether commons are better off in Mullah Iran than they were in Shah Iran. But sadly, there as everywhere else, people tend to project their own personal conditions and biases onto the whole of their society. And so Iranian opinion/answers to that question are all over the place. Had Mosaddegh been permitted, would they be more like Turkey, with a moderately noticeable higher standard of living? I do see the Iranian economy as currently being Venezuala’d, though their BRICS alliances may be forcing USAIN elites to reconsider such policies.

  3. Jan Wiklund

    And the non-Europeans say so freely, for example Kishore Mahbubani:

    But would the Europeans listen? No way! We don’t bother about natives.

    And, by the way, the racist language has recently appeared again, as MondeDiplo noticed:

  4. j

    You will rarely go wrong if you expect the politicians to be spineless and brainless. Those two things are career-limiting in a major way.
    On a deeper level of analysis brains do come back in play though, very much necessary. It’s just that the career of a politician is not about advancing public interest, but about advancing the private interest of themselves, and their donors. Work in public interest bears fruit on timescales that are not relevant in a career oriented around election cycles. Work in private interest, on the other hand, pairs with it very nicely. The donor money is uqiquitous and comes in clutch, especially in the election season. All you have to do is a small favour. So it ends up that pretty much any brains move in private interest up there is brainless and spineless in public interest. This is the current state of democracy in a nutshell, and many a government ever, really.
    That being said, European leaders also have no place to go. E.g. when Germany started to reconsider the Ukrainian war under public pressure, they got the Nord Stream blown up. It’s a rock and a hard place situation. The message is clear: you _will_ fall in line.
    This is the deal with Nato membership. Suserainity. It is not a useless endeavour to consider the Nato bases in Europe as an occupation force that never left. Europe has outsourced its’ security to the US, and it’s a package deal. Renegotiation, or rejection of the deal is extremely expensive, all in capital cultural, social, political, economical and so on. It’s basically career suicide. So it’s not going to happen any time soon.
    The end result is Europe will go down to give a breath of fresh air to the US. Do not expect the US to pause in it’s farts to say “thanks”.

  5. mago

    Been dazed and confused so long it’s not true . . .
    The Delta blues musicians lamented it, while the contemporary ruling class embodies it.
    Those European movers and shakers and law makers groomed and doomed by their toxic training/indoctrination from their handlers up above . . .
    I’ll omit my constant riff on hormonal and endocrine system imbalances and the behavioral effect.
    No. I’ll just note the obvious as usual, and that is, there’s some sick shit out there.

  6. Hvd

    If you will the Nordstream blow up was a particularly subtle form of 1956 Hungary

  7. NR

    So we’re just stating things like “the United States blew up Nordstream” as fact now? Cool. Can we do the same thing for stories that make Russia look bad? Or is there a double standard at play here?

  8. Z

    So we’re just stating things like “the United States blew up Nordstream” as fact now?

    Right?! Why can’t we just stop with all the finger pointing at the U.S. and simply admire the accuracy of the adamant predictions by The Uncrowned Queen of Ukraine Victoria Kagan-Nuland and Genocide Joe, the Lead Stiff of Weekend at Biden’s, that it would happen?


  9. Right, America never armed genocide committing terrorists in Central America, never overthrew Irans democratically elected government for oil, never killed 500,000 Iraqi children in the 90’s, never committed a false flag to justify murdering millions and millions in Vietnam.
    They sure as hell did not blow up Nordstream regardless how many times you replay Biden saying America will “end” the pipeline, or American military officials “gratified” at the “tremendous opportunity” and how “one way or another” it will be gone.
    Seriously if we are going to accept the war crimes America admits to committing as truth we must mindlessly believe whatever they tell us about their chosen enemies. Just like Iraq had WMD’s, Hamas raped 100,000 women, China is offensively surrounding itself with American military bases, bombing Libya is peace, causing a famine in Afghanistan is freedom, Genocide is defense, and Assad painted Syria in chemical weapons for fun and giggles.

  10. NR

    You’re right, we should only mindlessly believe what the pro-Russian social media accounts we follow tell us. Those are the only acceptable sources of information.

  11. someofparts

    Scott Ritter gave an eye-opening explanation of the immense significance of Iran’s strike against Israel in response the attack on their embassy.

    Also noticed today that Congress decided to go ahead and steal Russia’s 300 billion. This is bound to speed up the flight from the greenbacks. When enough countries stop buying our money the standards of living around here will crater.

    I will be moving what savings I have to gold and then calling friends/relations who own their homes to start conversations about moving in with them if the Social Security checks stop.

  12. someofparts

    j –

    Tucker Carlson suggested that the best human vessels for evil are the weak-minded.

    FWIW, Carlson had a long interview with Joe Rogan which I personally enjoyed a great deal.

  13. bruce wilder

    “So we’re just stating things like “the United States blew up Nordstream” as fact now?”

    I do not think we are allowed facts, at least not timely facts. Like children are not allowed to play with matches or guns. And, for similar reasons, at least as those reasons are understood by our betters, our (secret?) rulers.

    The media feature a lot of “information” in forms that feature few facts: projections, for example, of “trends” that continue long enough to become dire emergencies . . . some day.

    WMD in Iraq were once such a projection. Surely the Hitler of the Month was seeking nuclear and chemical weapons and even if the evidence was doubtful surely that is not a risk we should take? Such is the power of narrative.

    Today some European leaders are adamant that the Russians must be stopped before they invade still more European states. I read a fair number of news items on the Ukraine war: quite a few include both a claim by Ukrainian officials and a disclaimer that the claim could not be independently verified. So, the rhetoric of narrative and projection comes fast and cheap; facts elude our intrepid journalists.

    One story about Nordstream is that it was blown by a girl and five guys in a rented sailboat. Another story is that was accomplished by a crew of highly skilled deep-water demolition divers operating from a specialized vessel under cover of a NATO exercise. But, hey, could have been anybody! Maybe the Russians blew it themselves? They are damn sneaky that way. Look how they got Trump elected with a few cheezy Facebook ads, half of which ran after the election!

    Propaganda that gets you to believe stuff that isn’t true by aligning with what you want to be true is easy stuff. Propaganda that stops you from living in a shared reality where you might talk over facts with your neighbors and reason together about cooperation on doing something political — that’s an art! It is exhausting and dispiriting, this business of being fearful or outraged by maybe-someday while never being engaged with what manifestly is now, because you just cannot know if it is, or is just a “conspiracy theory” which only a crazy person would think was true.

    I think the vacuum where verified fact should be induces some of the rampant speculation about elite plots that fills so much of X-twitter and obscures what little factual comes our way.

    The thing to really notice about the Nordstream sabotage — besides the “obvious” point that Biden and company threatened it pretty openly — is that supposedly democratic Denmark, Sweden and Germany do not want (us) to know. The people who could investigate and establish verified facts have shrugged and remained silent.

    Does that license me to believe whatever I want? I do not want to believe whatever I want to believe (outside the confines of the religious or philosophical beliefs I may adopt for the sake of psyche). I want to believe what is objectively, factually true. I want to live in a democratic society with a shared respect for shared reality. Apparently that is too much to ask.

  14. bruce wilder

    It is possible that “There’s no evidence . . . ” is passing “We’re only here to help . . .” in the far corner turn around the track even as we type.

  15. Feral Finster

    “So we’re just stating things like “the United States blew up Nordstream” as fact now? Cool. Can we do the same thing for stories that make Russia look bad? Or is there a double standard at play here?”

    The fact that nobody dares investigate this tells us all that we need to know.

    MH17 hadn’t hit the ground yet before we were duly assured that Russia and only Russia was responsible.

  16. Jan Wiklund

    The Europeans are hardly unique in their ways.

    Timur Kuran explained (in Landes, Mokyr & Baumol [ed]: The invention of enterprise, Princeton 2010) the debilitation of the Muslim world after 1200 in three ways: they never invented the corporate body, their states never practiced protectionism but remained “libertarian” and let merchants carry the economy, and after 600 years of success they were full of hubris and could never imagine that they needed to learn anything from others.

    Two of these seem very appropriate for the North Atlantic world of today.

  17. Jan Wiklund

    Bruce Wilder 22 April: “Look how they got Trump elected with a few cheezy Facebook ads, half of which ran after the election! ”

    If you can get a president electecd in the US by running a few facebook ads, anyone can do it.

    And it is not illegal to run a facebook ad.

    I suppose Trump god elected just because the alternative seemed even lousier from the viewpoint of the US electorate. It is as simple as that. You don’t need any Russian explanation. Occam’s razor apply!

  18. Mel

    Point of information:
    Does anybody know the exact nature of the $300bilion of Russian assets that are being seized?
    Are they bank deposits, Treasury bonds, common stock, gold, Aeroplan points, real estate? Just looking around I haven’t seen anybody explain this.

    It makes a difference to me because if it’s bank deposits the bank, particularly if it’s a central bank, has total control over the customer assets that it administers anyway. There’s zilch difference between an account being frozen forever and an account having its balance written down to zero (aka stolen).
    MMT explains how US$ aid to Ukraine is accomplished by simply writing a bigger balance into the Ukraine central bank’s account at the FED. Euro aid similarly, except it’s the ECB that does the writing. ECB has rules about writing into balances, but they’ve broken those rules before.

    Given that, the whole issue about “stealing” Russian assets is just a neener-neener move. If, that is, if the assets are bank balances.

  19. Soredemos


    I really love the idea that Russia blew up a pipeline it itself completely controlled the flow of, eliminating any possible future leverage it may have provided. They literally had zero reason to do something so monumentally stupid. If Russia didn’t want fuel flowing through it…they could just not send fuel through it. Turn off the spigot at the origin port…which was in Russia.

    Blowing it up didn’t benefit them in the slightest. The US side, though…

  20. Willy

    Bezos blew Nordstream. Because Amazon is so hot now. They’re fueling with RNG now and you should too.

    Strange how “America” is always the enemy. Not the dishonest libertarians, plutocrats, corporate psychopaths, corporate media or wingnut cultist who don’t usually use honest debate as their first strategy to acquire power (real or perceived depending on status). With such a viewpoint, that would mean that “Americans” are also the enemy, which leads to a random commentary crying out from the wilderness to be heard by practically nobody.

    Maybe somebody should be figuring out why the hell so many international consumers keep buying through Amazon, with its 50% product profit tax (meaning obviously higher prices than any other ‘Sears catalog knockoff’)? Crack that code, and maybe we’ll start being heard, once again.

  21. When spoken to reject unseemly aspects of our oligarch run society “There is no evidence” is at best another form of “if we don’t test for it, it doesn’t exist”. Though more times then not it really means “we know it’s true but admitting that would be bad for the powers at be so we flood the narrative with insults, fallacies, and ad nauseam repeats of there is no evidence.”
    Let’s recall some proven past examples of “there is no evidence” turning into “yep that’s true”
    1- There was no evidence opioids were unsafe, addicting and ineffective.
    2- There was no evidence Vioxx caused heart attacks
    3- There was no evidence police departments were corrupt and brutalizing people
    4- There was no evidence the government was spying on people
    5- There was no evidence The Gulf of Tonkin was an American false flag
    6- There was no evidence of a housing bubble and massive financial fraud
    7- There was no evidence the military was lying about how the successful Afghanistan war was going
    8- There was no evidence Covid vaccines could cause myocarditis, blood clots, heart attacks, increased mortality, that the injection didn’t stay in the injection cite, that the mRNA could change cells DNA
    9- That Israel was bombing hospitals and killing civilians

    One would think people would obtain some self awareness and stop parroting “there is no evidence” after being wrong over and over and over again.

  22. Forecasting Intelligence

    Agree entirely Ian.

    And how long until Trump pulls the rug on the Europeans? What’s your take on the US elections.

    Will the Donald win?

  23. mago

    And the winner looks like Lucky Streak, no, it’s Dark Alley coming from the backfield. . . it’s incredible, he’s passing them all. Amazing! The dark horse wins!
    Put my money on the bob tailed nag/somebody bet on the bay.
    And those camp town races repeat and repeat until it’s all over Baby Blue.

  24. NR

    I can think of at least one reason Putin would blow up the NS pipelines–it sends a powerful message that things are not going to go back to “business as usual” with Europe to anyone in Russia who might have been thinking that they would. And if he can use it as more fuel for his propaganda efforts, so much the better. Europe had already said they didn’t want Russian gas at that point anyway.

    But in any case, my point was not to say that “Russia did it.” We don’t know who did it. We don’t have conclusive proof pointing to anyone, and yet some people here are acting like we have the literal word of god that it was the United States.

    And for every instance where “there was no evidence” turned into “yep that’s true,” there are just as many if not more where “there was no evidence” either turned out to be false (such as the claim that mRNA can alter someone’s DNA, that is physically impossible: or was simply never proven.

    People could stand to be self-aware about that, too.

  25. Ian Welsh

    We don’t know for sure is not the same thing as “we have very strong reasons to believe.”

    Personally, I’d bet very strongly the US was involved (at the least, approved of someone else doing it and knew about it) in destroying the pipelines because it was very much in America’s perceived interests and the US has the ability and a record.

    You’ve got a position and you’re defending it fiercely, I’d (gently, I like you and your comments) suggest that you consider why you’re defending it so strongly. That the terrorist attacks on Russia were not American backed is a fairly strong position, that the pipeline attacks weren’t is nowhere near as strong.

    Of course, we don’t know 100% (that is a defensible position). But since no one is going to give us proof, we are reasonably entitled to assume that the country with the strongest set of motives, means and opportunity is responsible or involved.

  26. Mark Level

    Although Oakchair, Sorodemos & bruce wilder (among Ian & others) all nailed the need for critical as well as unprejudiced thinking, basic use of Occam’s razor, I’ll add my $2 comment. (2 cents no longer means anything.)

    About 2-3 months before Bush Jr. invaded Iraq I saw Harper’s editor emeritus Lewis Lapham & a libertarian from Oakland’s Independent Institute speak for about 2 hours, predicting the disaster that the invasion would be quite accurately.

    I purchased a Lapham book and while he was autographing it for me I spoke to him about his quoting Rumsfeld’s “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence” viz the (now we know) non-existent WMDs, pointing out to him that this bizarre psuedo-tautology, (which he may have already known) originated in the UFO believers’ “community.” I don’t think the Libertarian speaker was Scott Horton, but he of course demolished “Bloody” Bill Kristol in an Oxford style debate on the Iraq War, citing the myriad Hitler #6,7,8 ad infinitum hate figures that the US has trumpeted, including figures as minor as (CIA asset & drug-runner for years) Manuel Noriega.

    We’ve recently had 2 regular commenters here fall into Nietzsche’s trap, as translated by Walter Kaufmann, that “Convictions make convicts.” 1 insists that Hitler #73 Putin blew up his own pipeline, the other insists that all of the “Hamas committed systematic (planned) rape on Oct. 7” fabrications that have been debunked by The Electronic Intifada, The Grayzone, Mondoweiss, & (months later) by the mainstream The Intercept are false, & multiple rapes have occurred when not even 1 has been substantively documented. (Which of course is not to say that one or more could not be documented in the future.) But we’re 6+ months on & there’s still not the name of any actual victim living or dead, any supporting forensic evidence, etc. Additionally Israeli leaders continue to speak of “beheaded babies” (debunked), “babies burned in an oven” or “hung on a clothes line” (!?) etc. showing massive bad faith and arrogance.

    To quote a TV show, “the truth is out there!” And to quote a bumper sticker, “Minds are like parachutes, they only work when they’re open.”

  27. NR

    That the terrorist attacks on Russia were not American backed is a fairly strong position, that the pipeline attacks weren’t is nowhere near as strong.

    I’d agree with this take. Or to phrase it another way, I agree that it’s more likely that the U.S. blew up the pipelines than that it was behind the Moscow terrorist attack. And I don’t even necessarily think it’s more likely that Russia blew up the pipelines than the U.S. (and of course it’s possible it was someone else entirely).

    Where I have an issue is that there seems to be a strong sentiment in the comments here that we can be very loose and casual about believing anything that’s damning to the United States and the West, even when there is very little (or no) evidence that it’s true. But when it comes to things that are damning toward Russia, suddenly we have to be much more rigorous and exacting, and we need absolute, incontrovertible proof to believe anything about them (and often even that isn’t enough).

    I think if we’re going to be intellectually honest, we need to apply the same standards toward everyone. To be clear, I am fully aware that the United States has done many evil things. As has Russia, China, most of Europe, and many other countries. And I think an easy trap to fall into is thinking that just because one nation is bad, a nation opposed to it must be good. That’s certainly not the case.

    And I would also suggest (equally as gently) to both you and the commenters here that when someone is telling you exactly what you want to hear, that is reason to be more skeptical about what they are saying, not less.

  28. different clue


    I was raised in Cultural Left-Wing social circles. I noticed and notice today that many on the Left seem to be antiAmericanitic culturacist antiAmericanites. But I was able to drift largely free of that orientation over time. ( When my youngest brother went into the National Guard, our mother was very hurt and disappointed for a while, though she finally came to terms with it and accepted it).

    American Leftists have the added burden of being American Exceptionalists. They believe that America is the unique source and cause of all the worst evil in the world.
    Noam Chomsky believes in this to a religious degree, for example. So we could call them American Exceptional Evilists. But American Exceptional Evilism is still American Exceptionalism, just standing on its head as seen reflected in a mirror.

    @ readers in general,

    Several decades ago when the History Channel still did programs about history, and sometimes fairly good ones, they had Egyptologist John Romer on with a series about Egypt. They then had him on with a series about Alexander the Great and the Alexandrine Empire. I can’t find any trace of the Alexander series anywhere on Search Engine so here is a link to a set of other videos by John Romer to prove that he ever even existed at all.

    One thing Romer noted about Alexander’s ambition was that Alexander was ambitious to start a somewhat new civilization, not strictly Hellenic or neo-Hellenic, but rather a mix of ” the best of West and East”. We look back on that civilization and call it Hellenistic. It lasted for several centuries.

    And it occurred to me that just as Alexander’s civilization is viewed as Hellenistic rather than Hellenic, American civilization could be viewed as Westernistic rather than Western, given the huge non-Western inputs into the basis of America’s Westernistic Civilization.

    If America and its Culture-civilization decide to understand themselves as Westernistic rather than Western, they ( we) may be able to somewhat disengage ourselves from Europe’s Western Civilization and set ourselves free to pursue a smaller and more long-lasting role and place in the world.

  29. Carborundum

    The key challenge with the qui bono school of analysis is that the analyst frequently has a very incomplete picture of who has the strongest combination of means, motives and opportunities. The actor the non-professional, unsupported Western commentator knows about is usually not the actor that makes the most intrinsic sense. Currency with the meme-of-the-moment on one’s algorithmically curated version of reality is a poor substitute for language skills, area knowledge and operational experience.

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