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

The Iranian Nuclear Deal

This is a Good Thing™.

I suspect, however, that one of the main reasons for it is to bring Iranian oil back online fully, thus pushing down the price of oil further, which will damage many countries the US wants damaged and will help the US economy (no, the US is not yet an oilarchy itself, low oil prices are still better).

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  1. The Tragically Flip

    Nothing this big happens without some of the actors having multiple motives and some of those are bound to be bad, but yes, in broad terms, greatly reducing the odds of neoconservatives managing to foment a war with Iran is undoubtedly a good thing. Also, reducing the harm done to Iranian civilians via punitive sanctions is a good secondary effect here.

  2. Tom

    So Obama decided he wants Iran to fight IS, and Saudi Arabia and Israel are useless. Considering the Shiite Militias trained by Iran are taking ground while the ISF falls apart and the Kurds sit on the sidelines having reached the maximum extent they can even with massive air support.

    Iran has the forces and numbers willing to go toe-to-toe with IS. This deal releases $100 billion in assets that Iran will immediately throw into its economy. They’ll never make the mistake of investing that money in the west ever again, the West doesn’t respect their property.

    Plus from Iran’s perspectives, they won, the US acknowledged their right to enrich Uranium and told Israel to STFU.

  3. Pelham

    Isn’t cheap oil a terrible development? Gives us less incentive to get off the stuff.

  4. S Brennan

    A little off topic…well…a lot, but protesters shouting down Bernie Sanders, making him look foolish…


    Did Hillary’s peeps get protesters to disrupt a Netroots Nation meeting she refused to attend because of it’s hostility toward her? Talk about hitting two birds with one stone.

    But Hillary wouldn’t…would she? A good indication will be…if she has something to say that uses this to her advantage…something that disses Netroots/Sanders.

    If Hillary wasn’t so far to the right…I’d say, she and Richard Nixon were, birds of a feather.

  5. Mallam

    SB: Don’t blame Sanders’ shortcomings with race and gender on Hillary Clinton. He has a history of being not so good outside of his comfort zone, which Shakesville documented in detail.

    Meanwhile, O’Malley owned up to his mistake, spoke with Goldie Taylor and Elon James White…while Sanders cancelled his meetings with the activists. Self-inflicted wound. He needs to do better if he’s going to attract the AA vote that he will need to succeed in the primary and GE.

  6. Synoia

    What cheap oil? Petrol (gas) prices are $4.25/gal and above in California.

  7. S Brennan

    Mallam, excellent! That’s the spirit! don’t defend, keep Hillary’s DEMOCRATIC adversaries under fire, bravo! You’ve been schooled well.

    But to those patrolling the boards, cyber attackers of all things to the left of Hillary [that’s practically, the known universe], had your web-crawler been set correctly, you’d know I’m not a Bernie fan, I’ve said something far more damming about him on this board…what…three days ago.

    No, this shouting down Bernie Sanders, making him look foolish…by an organization that is not a “black lives matter” group, that has not been visibly protesting “black lives matter” suddenly showing up and delivering a…wait for it…


    Sure has Hillary’s peeps fingerprints all over it, getting protesters to disrupt a Netroots Nation, a meeting she refused to attend because of it’s hostility toward her? Talk about hitting two birds with one stone…Ding Ding!

    …and patrolling the nets for just this type of commentary…ooohh, what a tell.

    But Hillary wouldn’t…would she? As I said, if Hillary wasn’t so far to the right…I’d say, she and Richard Nixon were, birds of a feather.

  8. RJMeyers


    Checked out parts 1 through 4 of the Shakesville look at Bernie Sanders. Reminds me of why I stopped reading those blogs, as they are no better than the depths of the right wing blog/media-sphere. Has Shakesville been bought out like a lot of the other big blogs? They’ll often sell quietly behind the scenes and then start featuring sponsored content that plays itself off as real opinion. The amount of willful misinterpretation and lack of sincerity in that series was off the charts, making me suspect that the author is either a complete idiot or has been paid.

    I have no specific sympathies for Bernie Sanders, other than that he seems to be the candidate with the best overall agenda, but… the hatchets are out for him already. Wow.

  9. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    @RJM: Speaking as a self-exiled former Shakesviller, I doubt Melissa was bought.

    I think she just went off the deep end and started a Haruhi-damned cult.

  10. Mallam

    I don’t think so, RJM. Either way, I don’t see what was so wrong about what was written, especially when in my opinion his past problems are being played out in real time on Black Twitter as we speak.

  11. Ian Welsh

    Sanders is an economic populist, not an identity politician. Shakesville is a site built around identity politics.

    Clinton was smart not to go to NN. As for African Americans, they have my great sympathy for how they are treated, and I don’t mind them hassling pols, that’s how you get shit.

    If Bernie is the Democratic candidate, African Americans will vote for him. If they cost him the primary for Clinton or anyone else, they won’t get the benefits they want on the other side in terms of police policy, Clinton will be as good for African Americans as Barack Obama has been (in real terms, not at all), and they won’t get the economic policy benefits which only Sanders, of the field, promises.

    Much sound and fury, meaning very little. One of the keys to keeping America under oligarchical control is splitting identity politics from economic populism.

    Plus ca change, etc…

  12. All of the talk about “today’s low oil prices” cracks me up. Oil is just over $50/bbl, and that is not low, and certainly not cheap. In 1998 oil was $11.90/bbl and in 2000 it was just under $27.50/bbl. In part that is due to higher costs of extraction, but mostly it is due to cartel pricing. Read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. They got us so used to high prices that we think $50/bbl is cheap.

  13. markfromireland

    “Oil is just over $50/bbl, and that is not low, and certainly not cheap.”

    It mightn’t be cheap but it’s not expensive enough. There are two fuels I’d like to see become so expensive that they’re effectively priced out of the market:

    1: Coal.
    2: Petroleum.

    Until that happens we’re just stampng harder on the accelerator as we race to the bottom.


  14. Mike McCarron

    My feeling was it was intended to keep Iran from joining the AIIB–

    You are more capable than I am in assessing this as a legitimate reason, but that is where my head went. I’ve always enjoyed your efforts here. Best wishes–Mike

  15. S Brennan

    Addressed to Ian;

    Not that Webb has a chance in hell, way too of an independent thinker and not afraid to reject DC groupthink, but he is an economic populist [so no support from the “New Democrats”]. Bernie is from the “liberal” side, Webb is from the “conservative” side.

    This was published November 15, 2006, in WaPo two years before the Great Recession, by Webb…when he was running for Senate.


    “The most important–and unfortunately the least debated–issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America’s top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.

    Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic’s range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year, while the minimum wage for workers amounts to about $10,000 a year, and has not been raised in nearly a decade. When I graduated from college in the 1960s, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker made. Today, that CEO makes 400 times as much.

    In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn’t happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners’ pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.

    Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate “reorganization.” And workers’ ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.

    This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris. When I raised this issue with corporate leaders during the recent political campaign, I was met repeatedly with denials, and, from some, an overt lack of concern for those who are falling behind. A troubling arrogance is in the air among the nation’s most fortunate. Some shrug off large-scale economic and social dislocations as the inevitable byproducts of the “rough road of capitalism.” Others claim that it’s the fault of the worker or the public education system, that the average American is simply not up to the international challenge, that our education system fails us, or that our workers have become spoiled by old notions of corporate paternalism.

    Still others have gone so far as to argue that these divisions are the natural results of a competitive society. Furthermore, an unspoken insinuation seems to be inundating our national debate: Certain immigrant groups have the “right genetics” and thus are natural entrants to the “overclass,” while others, as well as those who come from stock that has been here for 200 years and have not made it to the top, simply don’t possess the necessary attributes.

    Most Americans reject such notions. But the true challenge is for everyone to understand that the current economic divisions in society are harmful to our future. It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.

    America’s elites need to understand this reality in terms of their own self-interest. A recent survey in the Economist warned that globalization was affecting the U.S. differently than other “First World” nations, and that white-collar jobs were in as much danger as the blue-collar positions which have thus far been ravaged by outsourcing and illegal immigration. That survey then warned that “unless a solution is found to sluggish real wages and rising inequality, there is a serious risk of a protectionist backlash” in America that would take us away from what they view to be the “biggest economic stimulus in world history.”

    More troubling is this: If it remains unchecked, this bifurcation of opportunities and advantages along class lines has the potential to bring a period of political unrest. Up to now, most American workers have simply been worried about their job prospects. Once they understand that there are (and were) clear alternatives to the policies that have dislocated careers and altered futures, they will demand more accountability from the leaders who have failed to protect their interests. The “Wal-Marting” of cheap consumer products brought in from places like China, and the easy money from low-interest home mortgage refinancing, have softened the blows in recent years. But the balance point is tipping in both cases, away from the consumer and away from our national interest.

    The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of “God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag” while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet. But this election cycle showed an electorate that intends to hold government leaders accountable for allowing every American a fair opportunity to succeed.

    With this new Congress, and heading into an important presidential election in 2008, American workers have a chance to be heard in ways that have eluded them for more than a decade. Nothing is more important for the health of our society than to grant them the validity of their concerns. And our government leaders have no greater duty than to confront the growing unfairness in this age of globalization.”

    – Jim Webb

  16. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    The modern “Left” in the USA has sacrificed not only economic populism, but also anti-war/anti-imperialist politics, to identity politics.

    The most recent antiwar movement largely dried up once the Malefactors of Great Wealth (aka the 1%) selected Obama to be Prez, even though Obama has continued, if in shrewder fashion, the bipartisan policy of maintaining and expanding the Empire of Capital. However, the Official Liberals say nothing, so as not to mar the Historic Presidency.

    (“Empire of Capital” rather than “American Empire”. Uncle Sam is not Sauron. Capital is Sauron. Uncle Sam is merely the Lord of the Nazgul.)

    Many liberals and leftists in the USA realize these things, but dare not say so for fear of having the scarlet “R” forcibly sewn onto their garments.

    The Malefactors of Great Wealth knew what they were doing when they selected an Oreo to be their Chief Puppet, instead of the usual ofay honky mo-fo.

  17. Lisa

    Well we shall see if the Iran deal ever gets implimented.

    But in my framework I see this as a victory for the ‘new’ neo-cons (NNCs) within the US over the ‘old’ ones (ONCs).

    Everyone in the poltical/military/naitonal sexurity/etc elites in the US eliest are neo-cons. We have the old’ ones, ‘Israeli firsters’ who have been dominant to date in US policy. Their position is for the US to dominate the Middle East to the benefit of Israel mostly (and a bit to Saudi Arabia now). They still want the US to be dominate worlwide but see the ME as the lunchpin of that, control the oil/gas and thus control the planet (but make sure Israel is primary). Of course Russia must be attacked but they want to it to be via IS (etc) and up through the caucus.

    The ‘new’ neo-cons want to to shut down/encircle/control, etc Russia and China with ‘right in you face’ showdowns and see the ME as a distraction in that. In their eyes a deal with Iran is mostly intended to neutralise is as a China/Russia ally, with longer term plans for Iran gas/oil to replace Russian gas/oil to the EU. In other words get it off the chessboard so the US can get back to the ‘real business’.

    Obama is ‘new’ neo-con with a history of trying to (sometimes succeeding) resist the ONCs (re the attack on Syria). In this he is sided with the US Military and more and more of the State Dept (and all the associated think tanks, etc). His strategy to date has been to put enough into the ME to head off poltically the ONCs, while focussing of Russia (first) and China (second).

    If it wasn’t so frightening it w0uld be funny to see the US military, thumped repeatedly in the ME (etc) wars being so gung ho for a miltary showdown with Russia. I am so reminded of the comment by the German General who said after the Battle of Britian and being told of the plan to attack the Soviet Union “at last a real war”.

    However don’t write off the ONCs yet, they will fight tooth and nail to kill the Iranian deal and suck the US right back into the ME, in this are backed by the formidable political power of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Of course this is also Russia’s and China’s preferred option too.

  18. fgb

    The sanctions were never about Iran’s fictitious desire to become a nuclear power, only about its persistent flouting of the Washington Consensus.

    This is simply a quid pro quo.

  19. Lisa

    “its persistent flouting of the Washington Consensus.” Not so sure about that. The sanctions forced Iran into flouting them. IMHO it was more about forcing regime change and and getting another Shah back in power.

    The west’s ideal solution in the past would have been for Iraq to beat them in their (Iraq started) war, grab many of their oil producing areas and put in a puppet for the rest.

    Their ferocious resistance and, at the end, their winning of that war (until the US directly intervened) meant a change in tactics towards a ‘long game’…which failed spectacularly.

  20. Ivory Bill Woodpecker


    Actually, in the more distant past, the West’s ideal solution would have been genocide of those inconvenient natives who had the nerve to live on the land (and resources under it) the West wanted (how dare those natives?).

    However, Hitler and his merry crew went and gave genocide and slavery a bad name by committing them against other white people. (“No, Adolf, you stupid mo-fo! You’re only supposed to slaughter and enslave Injuns and N***ers and Sand N***ers and other “Lesser Breeds Without The Law”! “Looken sie, schwienhund! Ich bin surroundeden by uzzer weiss folks und Ich haben no choissen, dummkopf!”)


  21. Tom


    How the US crosses a river:

    How the Russians cross a river:

    How the even more insane Russians cross:

    It should also be pointed out that under the CFE treaty the USSR and US exchanged their MBTs for comparative tests in 1990.

    The US test fired the M1A1HA’ main gun at Soviet T-72Bs. The rounds bounced off at normal combat ranges, bear in mind the T-72 is a downgraded T-64. The T-72B’s main gun punched clean through the M1A1HA’s frontal and turret armor at normal combat ranges. The Shtora protection system jammed the guidance systems of TOW and Dragon making them useless and the US had no counter or comparable system. Shtora also jammed the thermal sights making them useless. The Soviets declared the M1A1HA inferior in every way to their models.

    In the 1980s, Iraqi T-72 Urals consistently engaged Iranian Chieftains without losses and were immune to TOW hits.

    1982, the T-72 Ural equipped units of the Syrian Army engaged the Israeli Army outnumbered 3 to 1 with minimal air support from a few brave pilots flying nap of the earth through the Lebanese Mountains. They defeated the Israelis, their Merkavas’ 105mm rounds bouncing off their armor. The Syrians captured several Israeli Tanks.

    1991: Saddam had T-72 Urals, some locally produced models, and Chinese knockoffs which blew their caps. They did not have the refinements of the T-72As or Bs, or even the T-72Ms. So of course they got destroyed easily, they also had substandard ammo, and were place out in the open in the middle of the sand and rain season which blinded them. Despite that Iraqi Forces got four confirmed kills of M1A1HAs from declassified data released from that war, and prevented US forces from encircling the bulk of their forces in Kuwait, enabling them to escape.

    Any event, Cold War gone Hot wuld have seen the Soviets easily trounce the NATO forces in a conventional battle. Luckily Gorby was such an incompetent leader.

  22. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    If Tom is correct, why did the USSR lose the Cold War?

    I lived through roughly the 2nd half of the Cold War (I was born in 1963), and while I’m pleased that it ended, I still don’t quite understand how and why the USSR failed.

    Is it just simply that Communism was such an unpleasant system that not enough people wanted to live under it, or do deeper reasons exist?

  23. Tom

    @Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Because Gorby destroyed it from within through sheer incompetency that makes current Western Leaders seem competent by contrast. The USSR needed a strong man like Putin in the late 1980s, they got Gorby instead.

  24. S Brennan


    I doubt anybody could have save the Soviets…it was oil prices…beginning, middle & end.

    Brezhnev was Mr. Crony and Andropov was efficient at the spy business…but not much else.

  25. Tom

    @S Brennan

    The USSR was the largest producer of oil in the 80s, it was all stockpiled. They had the largest and most advanced rail system in the world. The largest and most advanced Airlines in the world, and the most advanced military.

    They had it all, all it needed was a good leader like Putin to marshal it. Gorby wasn’t it. The USSR to survive just needed to go China’s route. Instead, Gorby just started dismantling the state itself without stopping to think of the unintended consequences which were totally foreseeable, then doubling down till the economy utterly collapsed as he failed to have a replacement state policy ready to go. Putin has spent all his time in power cleaning up Gorby and Yelstin’s messes and has succeeded in turning RUssia around and getting all the inputs and outputs properly aligned. Once the Armatas, Kurganets, and Bumerangs are ready for mass production, Putin can start dumping the legacy systems on the open market to pay for the transition.

  26. VietnamVet

    The fall of USSR was the first color revolution. It was successful for two reasons, the disconnect between reality and propaganda and the party elite were greedy. They wanted more wealth and status.

    Today we are all ruled by oligarchs but the world is split along by ethnic religious fault lines. Greece is subjugated by Germany because of their Greek Orthodox religion. The German counter argument is that the Danes and Swedes like them pay their bills and never would need to be bailed out, again and again. These hatreds are used to generate war profits and to facilitate plunder capitalism. The Iranian deal is contrary to the general trend towards war. Although, Scott Walker, said he will be ready for war on day one of his Presidency.

    Feel good propaganda does not work when 30% of American families have their children living with them because they cannot get a good job and the endless wars. My guess is that as petroleum and potable water become scarce the Anglo-Mestizo fault line through the American Southwest will erupt. In the end the plutocrats’ paid guns will rule. Ukraine is a preview of what is coming to North America.

  27. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    I wouldn’t worry about Scott Walker becoming Preznit. Jeb!’s daddy used to head the CIA. I reckon Jeb! has gotten his dad’s former minions searching diligently for every skeleton in the other GOP candidates’ closets.

    I wouldn’t worry about Trump, either. “Behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” Jeb!’s minions only need to find Trump’s great crime.

    If by some bizarre chance there are no skeletons to be found (sh’yeah, right 😉 ), the CIA is entirely capable of manufacturing skeletons.

    Barring the death or serious illness of Jeb! or Hillary, it’s going to be Jeb! vs. Hillary in 2016.

  28. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    At the end of the day, who wouldn’t rather live in the rainbow Oz of capitalism than the monochrome Kansas of Communism?

    The true color of Communism is not red, but dishwater gray.

    That may have been the greatest weakness of the Soviet bloc.

  29. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Could Communism ever have invented rock ‘n’ roll, or video games?

  30. Ian Welsh

    The evidence I’m aware of is that the Soviet system was genuinely disfunctional when it came to consumer good, production of such, and so on. Yes, it could have transitioned far better (and remained under Party control), but there were real problems with production (including in food, which is ludicrous.)

    Olson’s Power and Prosperity deals well with the problems of command economic systems.

    “Capitalist” systems have other pathologies. I’m currently considering writing a small e-book/pdf on the logic of capitalism, its variants, pathologies and so on, because it seems virtually no one even understand what capitalism is.

  31. Otis

    “Could Communism ever have invented rock ‘n’ roll, or video games?”

    Rock, Jazz & the Blues were gifts from American Black culture. That music and culture were both greatly influenced by the Unpaid Guest Worker Program that exclusively employed almost all Black families in the U.S. a few generations ago.
    So as far as an economics system can ever be credited with “inventing” a style of music I guess Capitalism should be acknowledged for nurturing the horrors of human bondage in service of some mighty fine music.

  32. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Ian mentioned the pathologies of capitalism, and Otis reminded us of one of its most notorious pathologies, which still thrives:

  33. fgb

    Not so sure about that. The sanctions forced Iran into flouting them. IMHO it was more about forcing regime change and and getting another Shah back in power.

    However, a big part of the reason the Shah fell was the loss of bazaari (bourgeois) support, due in no small part to his almost comical bias in favour of Western businesses over local ones. Six of one…

  34. fgb

    “Could Communism ever have invented rock ‘n’ roll, or video games?”

    Don’t forget Tetris…

  35. fgb

    It’s been noted that the current order of things seems kind of flaccid in the culture department compared to the close of the 20th century.

    So this version of capitalism doesn’t exactly bubble with gaiety, either…outside of the equities markets, anyway.

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