Friday, November 02, 2007

Money for Nothing and Your Chicks for Free

Stratfor notices Iran is trying to refurbish its declining oil refining industry by planning 8 new refineries. But it needs the money. Can it continue to punch the West in the face while pulling money out of it's pocket?

Iran's national oil company announced plans Nov. 2 to build eight new oil refineries with the ultimate goal of becoming a net exporter of refined oil products. Bringing foreign investors in on the project will prove essential to provide the necessary know-how, but given the current state of international condemnation bearing down on them, the Iranians may have to choose between international brinksmanship and energy independence.



My guess is that Iran can both punch the West and reach into its wallet at the same time. There's a school of thought which asserts that if we are nice enough, the enemy will give us a break. The New York Times magazine describes an interview with Barack Obama aboard his campaign airplane in an article curious entitled Is (His) Biography (Our) Destiny?.

“If I am the face of American foreign policy and American power,” Barack Obama mused not long ago aboard his campaign plane, “as long as we are also making prudent strategic decisions, handling emergencies, crises and opportunities in the world in an intelligent and sober way. . . .” He stopped. He wanted to make sure he got this just right, and he had got a little caught up in rebutting the claim, which Hillary Clinton has artfully advanced, that he is not prepared to handle emergencies. Obama stopped picking at his grilled salmon in order to stare out at the sky for a few moments. “I think,” he said, in that deep and measured voice of his, “that if you can tell people, ‘We have a president in the White House who still has a grandmother living in a hut on the shores of Lake Victoria and has a sister who’s half-Indonesian, married to a Chinese-Canadian,’ then they’re going to think that he may have a better sense of what’s going on in our lives and in our country. And they’d be right.”

Perhaps they would. Obama’s supporters believe that his life story and the angle of vision it affords him hold out the possibility of curing the harm they would say we have done to ourselves through our indifference to the views of others and through the insularity of a president who seems so incurious about the world.

The idea is appealing enough. If we care about others then they will care about us. But is it true or true only if we assume foreign statesmen are motivated by the same values that motivate us? The logical problem with Obama's assertion is that it assumes that people -- especially leaders in other countries -- care anything about grandmothers living on the shores of Lake Victoria or half-Indonesians living anywhere. All the available evidence suggests that many foreign leaders couldn't care less if their people lived or died. What slack they might cut us if they knew he had a grandmother in Africa is anybody's guess.

My fearless is prediction is that there will be any number of enlightened politicians who will fall all over themselves in a rush to provide whatever Iran needs -- whatever Iran does.

15 Comments:

Blogger NahnCee said...

Russia and China have been protecting Iran in the Security Council for years. Why wouldn't they also actually go into Iran and build them nice oil facilities at a reduced price or for free in exchange for an unimpeded flow of oil, and in Russia's case, a chance to kick America in the teeth?

I don't think Iran will have any trouble at all funding their new oil enterprises.

11/02/2007 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

The idea is appealing enough. If we care about others then they will care about us

That kind of immature contract with the world will guarantee a negative exchange for sure.

And Nahncee is right: but it's not just the Russians and the Chinese. It's been Europe's policy for a long time...

..Iran is part of the absolute power/absolute corruption equation. Their trick is to see if they can actually get those refineries up and running. Seems like they've been dithering a long time. And their economy shows it.

11/02/2007 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

I understand that Iran has been trying to update its dilapidated oilfield equipment for some time with the aim of reducing operating costs and increasing capacity. The only sources of such equipment are the U.S., Canada, and Japan. They did not bother to ask the U.S. and Canada and Japan were "encouraged" to turn down Iranian procurement requests.

I am sure that a President Obama would rectify that bit of economic aggression straightaway.

So, is Diplomacy the art of saying "Nice Doggie" while pointing to your grandmother in her grass hut?

Tonight the History Channel had a 1 hr show on the Iranian nuclear problem and efforts to handle it. It was revealed that Iran sent agents to shop among the remains of that country's nuclear program and the Clinton Admin responded by sending agents to kidnap and beat the crap out of the Iranian contacts. I wonder if that counts as torture?

So then Iran turned to China, which after providing some help was "encouraged" to stop doing that.

The story of the inadequately screwed up nuclear blueprints provided through a Russian in the employ of the CIA was told as well.

11/02/2007 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The NYT pieces goes on to report:

I heard him say, “I want to go before the United Nations and say, ‘America’s back!’ ” This is a bit too multilateral even for some of his advisers, who take a more skeptical view of the U.N. than he does. But for Obama, our willingness to be constrained by rules that govern others may take precedence over the rules themselves.

But what are the rules that govern others? Is it the writ that runs in Saudi Arabia? Darfur? Iran? North Korea? Syria? That would be the law of the jungle. Or does Obama really, should he come to think of it, want the world to be governed by the rules that govern us? The UN Declaration of Human Rights or the Geneva Convention for example? Either will do for so long as the rules are the same for all. But that would be unfair.

11/02/2007 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

I'll say this: the Iranians have some chutzpa. Sure, our infrastructure is falling apart, we don't take good care of our toys, let's invite in some furinners to build us some new toys. We'll pay them with, um, something.

If Saddam is anything to go by all this takes is money. In fact Iran is not flush these days. They have a reputation for not paying their bills. Maybe they'll offer a profit-sharing deal. Maybe they'll get Chavez to kick in some dough. Either way they won't get free money from Russia or China.

Remember the Iranian plan to build an oil bourse in Teheran that would trade oil all in Euros not dollars? That deal fell through. Not sure they'll be able to invite too much foreign investment into their country.

I don't understand why the Baluchis haven't lit up the oil refineries they've already got before now with a few anti-tank rockets.

11/02/2007 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Wretchard:
Saddam said "the law is defined two inches above my signature."

This is the Norm in much of the world, including the U.N. internally. So is Obama willing to accept this definition?

I fear that he is not only willing to accept it, but also to embrace it as a policy of his own. For different reasons, of course, but the effect would be the same.

11/03/2007 05:03:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

If Obama truly believes this mild messianism and carries his innocence into the White House, one can't help but wonder about the features -- and the consequences -- of his inevitable disillusionment.

His potential for volatility would be far less were he a charlatan.

11/03/2007 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"If Obama truly believes this mild messianism and carries his innocence into the White House, one can't help but wonder about the features -- and the consequences -- of his inevitable disillusionment."

I've long said here that watching the Dems at foreign policy is akin to watching a child with a loaded gun. Obama is an uber-Dem. He isn't smart enough to know that the U.N. isn't the Mickey Mouse Club and that the unspoken response to his naive "America's back!" is America has never left, it's just been a bit harder to screw.

11/03/2007 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Tonight the History Channel had a 1 hr show on the Iranian nuclear problem and efforts to handle it. It was revealed that Iran sent agents to shop among the remains of that country's nuclear program and the Clinton Admin responded by sending agents to kidnap and beat the crap out of the Iranian contacts. I wonder if that counts as torture?

So then Iran turned to China, which after providing some help was "encouraged" to stop doing that.


ROFLMAO! You know, I have never considered the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade to be an accident caused by the use of an outdated map. Right, old map.

Anyway, Iran's weakspot is gasoline. It produces oil enough it has not the refining capacity to supply its own needs and has to import gasoline. That weakness provides an attack vector against Iran. Iran is working to correct that.

11/03/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Barack Obama's candidacy for President exemplifies the worship of exoticism in America.

If there is one constant defect within American culture, it is a disinclination to accept the beauty of one’s self, seeing it only within other people. When I grew up, I noticed how white women would get permanents and black women would make their hair straight. In America, there is a tendency to reject one’s own culture, history, body, and hair in order to embrace weird ideas from exotic peoples.

Barack Obama appeals to those who worship the exotic. They can exalt him as a guru, confident that his exotic family tree will bestow congenital wisdom upon him. The worship of the exotic shaman as the fount of wisdom appeals, to quote the immortal words of Tom Lehrer, to “a hard core who seem to equate authenticity with artistic merit and illiteracy with charm”.

The worship of the exotic is hardly new. Ancient Romans worshipped in mystery cults; Roman women would buy the sweat of gladiators and imitate the blond hair of German barbarians. One century ago, the exoticism of Mata Hari swept men off their feet (and into her bedroom). I sometimes think of postmodern exoticism as the love child of Martin Heidegger’s philosophical worship of authenticity and his erotic worship of exoticism in the avatars of Hannah Arendt and Elisabeth Blochmann.

The worship of the exotic is coming perilously close to becoming a state religion. Variously called “diversity” or “political correctness”, the worship of exoticism presumes that a culture will always be enhanced by the addition of a strange-looking person with an exotic background. This state religion assumes that only ethnic minorities have anything to culturally contribute to the greater good. So, Barack Obama confidently rattles off his supposedly exotic family tree, knowing it will be seen as proof of his good judgment as he descends from Olympian heights to save America from itself.

But does Barack Obama really understand other cultures? I doubt it. I doubt he even understands himself.

Exoticism is overrated. That which one generation regards as exotic becomes normal to the next generation. In any case, every person is exotic to somebody. America is exotic to much of the rest of the world. That which you regard as normal may be something people in far-off places marvel at. It may not seem exotic to shop at a supermarket, fill up at a gas station, or go to a modern bathroom, but each of these experiences would be exotic to some people. There are some places where a grilled cheese sandwich would be perceived as exotic; get used to being seen with fascination by somebody.

Far from being attuned to the feelings and emotions of far-off peoples, Barack Obama appears to be blind to the contradictions of his own heritage. For one thing, if there were any reparations for American slavery, the money would come from his own pocket. His ancestors owned black slaves, yet none of his ancestors was ever owned by a New World slavemaster. Never mind that any proposed slavery reparations would combine the sins of racist taxation, collective punishment, and ex post facto law; Barack Obama endorses reparations.

Barack Obama’s endorsement of Dorothy Tillman is no accident. Given her tireless crusade to institute slavery reparations, his endorsement could lead one to reasonably infer sympathy for what she stands for. Barack Obama said, “I think the reparations we need right here in South Carolina is investment, for example, in our schools.”

Good schools for all children would be part of basic fairness. We are one nation. As a matter of basic decency, we should care about the welfare of our neighbors and ensure opportunity for all of our people’s children. As one nation, we must not base any policy decision upon an inherently divisive ideology of reparations. Reparations effectively means a system of race-based taxation much like what the State of California instituted against Chinese Americans one century ago. Barack Obama’s rhetoric is not merely racist, but a clear signal of intent to institute a new regime of American apartheid based upon the principle of one race sending tribute to another race.

Is Barack Obama prepared to embrace his white heritage? Is he prepared to embrace the fact that his Kenyan father was culturally very different from American blacks? Is he prepared to embrace the fact that some black Africans are very proud of their slave dealing ancestors and sneer at the American descendants of slaves, saying, “We didn’t send our best over”?

Does Barack Obama’s seemingly multicultural heritage truly give him any insights into the mentalities of Dutch farmers, Romanian nurses, Russian soldiers, Japanese office workers, or Bolivian silver miners? Does he even understand the lives of supposedly “ordinary” Americans? Can he understand any grievance that does not base itself upon hatred of white domination? Can Barack Obama comprehend any grievance other people may feel against him? I have my doubts.

Barack Obama is neither as exotic as he appears nor is he as profound as his supporters may imagine. He is an educated and intelligent man with both the advantages of affluence and a pedigree that appeals to tokenism. He is also a deeply conflicted man who pines for the father who abandoned him and carries himself with the confidence that Islamic schooling gives a man, a man who has not fully reconciled himself to his heritage on his mother’s side of his family.

Empathy from a president isn’t enough; a president needs toughness and courage. Barack Obama may be a great professor to take a class from in college, but I wouldn’t want him guarding my back in a knife fight.

11/03/2007 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Would he give students extra credit for flag burning?
That is the question!

11/03/2007 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Buckhead said...

That extended international family tree for Obama gives a little context to him removing the flag lapel pin and refusing to say the pledge of allegiance.

That may help him in the democrat primaries where a primary allegiance to "international norms" fits the world view, but it'll make him Spam in a can in the general election.

11/03/2007 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

Obama's unfitness for office has been starkly clear for weeks now, and this reality is only emphasized with every additional debate.

The article cited here was supposed to be a puff piece... but it only works if you are a birkenstock - wearing organic sheep farmer in Iowa, or perhaps a Wellstone zombie still waiting for Cheney to be indicted for the assassination.

Mrs. Clinton's non-performance in the last debate is as close as the media will ever allow her to come to a "she ain't got NO CLOTHES" moment.

What a time we live in. The Democrats have NOBODY fit for leadership positions. NOBODY, not since they forced Lieberman out.

They are kids. Coffee house kids going to change the world. Except that they are by and large grandparents, or of that age, and really should have owned up to the failure of their political and economic theories by now - especially since the next president either sets the final course for victory over Islamofascism via democratization or presides over the strike that will make 9/11 look like a shoplifting job in a dollar store.

And the Republicans... (deity's name in vain) in a handcart; their best are out of office or disinterested in serving as peers with the jaded, flaccid, corrupt, hacks that have risen to the top of the serving elected class. And I don't blame them. The only saving grace - and it's a minor thing only - is that out of the Republican field of presidential candidates, at least four are fit for the office. Fit, as in demonstrated ability as executives in situations where success or failure actually meant something.

Something more than "advocating" for school improvements in Arkansas or for "women, children, and minorities"....

We've picked a bad time to be down to one broken party. A bad time.

11/03/2007 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

We've picked a bad time to be down to one broken party. A bad time.

But, as usual, it's edifying to look at what the other guys have to lead *their* states and countries. There's only a couple of leaders in the whole world whom I still respect, among them being Queen Elizabeth and John Howard in Australia.

Everyone else seems cowardly, short-sighted, or viscerally anti-American, and in the case of the Middle East, just plain uneducated and stupid.

11/04/2007 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Doc99 said...

Iran is about to receive a large loan from the World Bank.
http://www.nysun.com/article/65833

11/05/2007 11:57:00 AM  

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