Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

Edward Luttwak on the Middle East

Something I think is long overdue:

http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=9302  .
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 29th, 2007 6:49pm
right, so his main points are:

(1) we could beat iran, they are weak

(2) Iran deserves contempt because they are running out of oil

(3) we must ignore Iran until they represent immediate danger*



* code for 'want to develop nuclear weapons'**
** code for 'want to develop nuclear power'***
*** code for 'run out of oil'




as an aside:
" even with high oil prices, Saudi Arabia's annual per capita income, at $14,000, is only about half that of oil-free Israel."

Just out of interest, what % of Israels overall income comes from the US in one form or another?
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:05pm
Israel — GDP: $170.3 billion (2006 est.) (purchasing power parity)


AID = 3 Billion a year about 96 billion up to this point.
Permalink google is the way 
July 29th, 2007 7:09pm
right @ aid, but obviously 'aid' is only one method of routing money to a country you want to help.

what % of Israels overall income comes from the US in one form or another?
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:12pm
Not sure about loan forgiveness.

Exports:
   
$42.86 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
 
machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
Exports - partners:
 
US 38.4%, Belgium 6.5%, Hong Kong 5.9% (2006)

so 38% of 43 billion is 16 billion.
Permalink google is the way 
July 29th, 2007 7:14pm
interesting, that is quite a lot lower than I expected.


where does all the rest of the money come from?


I dont seem to be able to find the same figures...my google-fu is weak...do you have the links?
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:16pm
assistance here
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/U.S._Assistance_to_Israel1.html

trade numbers here
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/is.html


i think the history of the early israeli wars will probably yield evidence that the US was instrumental in allowing the state to exist, but I don't actually know.  maybe they got it done on war crimes alone.
Permalink google is the way 
July 29th, 2007 7:20pm
http://www.wrmea.com/html/us_aid_to_israel.htm

that confirms the aid figures...actually makes you wonder why they would bother, with aid figures that low compared to gdp you could easily argue that Israel didn't need it.
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:21pm
If you're going to compare the cash contributions that Israel receives from the US (apparently about 1% of GDP), then it is only fair to compare and contrast the contributions of $ and people that the US spends to defend other countries, such as: the UK; France; Germany; Saudi Arabia; Japan; Korea; etc. etc. etc.

Any of those countries picking up the cost of defending them?
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 29th, 2007 7:21pm
Oil's obviously been a curse to the Arabs.
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 29th, 2007 7:22pm
LOL

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html


Budget:
 
revenues: $104.6 billion
expenditures: $100.6 billion; including capital expenditures of $7.6 billion (2006 est.)

Iran just couldn't _quite_ stay within budget.  incredible.  I have exactly the same problems iwth my personal budget.
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:26pm
haha, Palestinians get lots of aid too. From US, Europe, Arabs. Compare, contrast. Turkey should just give them some land for having betrayed them 90 years ago.
Permalink Send private email pissing me off 
July 29th, 2007 7:29pm
"If you're going to compare the cash contributions that Israel receives from the US (apparently about 1% of GDP), then it is only fair to compare and contrast the contributions of $ and people that the US spends to defend other countries, such as: the UK; France; Germany; Saudi Arabia; Japan; Korea; etc. etc. etc. "

huh?  why?  the point I was aiming for...but clearly failed to achieve....was that a prime reason Israel was doing so well compared to the oil rich arab countries was that the US was effectively subsidising them...not necessarily via direct aid, but certainly by diverting funds into Israel via commercial companies.

the idea being that if the US would just have done the same for comparable arab countries, they would now be doing as well as Israel appears to be.


it could still be the case of course, it would be interesting to go through the trade figures for earlier years in Israels history and see if there was an early improvement caused by the support of the US that Israel has succcessfully capitalised on.

Im really not trying to prove any wrong on the part of Israel that would need to be defended by looking further afield, I was just attempting a defence of the arab numbers.
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:31pm
"----i think the history of the early israeli wars will probably yield evidence that the US was instrumental in allowing the state to exist, but I don't actually know."----

Actually the first country to recognize Israel was Stalinist Russia. US support didn't start until the 60s (remember that Eisenhower forced the Israelis to withdraw in 56).

---"even with high oil prices, Saudi Arabia's annual per capita income, at $14,000, is only about half that of oil-free Israel."_---

That GDP per capita includes Asian workers, many of whom earn after perks the equivalent of $1500-$2000 a year, a vast number of children becuase until recently the Saudi birthrate was 6.2, and that most women don't work. I suspect incidentally you're quoting PPP GDP. In real terms Saudi's GDP is around $7500 per capita.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 29th, 2007 7:36pm
Luttwek appears from the article to  be a racist scumbag, but his suggestion that the Middle East should not be the preocuupation it is in US policy is correct. But then, I doubt if LWP would be prepared to see the consequent lack of US military and financial support for its present overlords.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 29th, 2007 7:44pm
wow, new zealand has a slightly lower gdp than Israel:

$26,200 (2006 est.)


that is quite impressive when you consider the advantages new zealand theoretically has over Israel in terms of arable land and so forth.

ah! but then NZ has only 4 million people, whereas israel is around 6 million....maybe that gives an advantage?
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:45pm
When Europeans/UNians cry foul that Asians can't vote in Arab countries like they cry about the Gaza Stripeans (who actually do vote), let us know. Double standards so obvious only a Semitic/Roman/Ethiopian/Gallic/Kashmiri nose in front of face is more visible.
Permalink Send private email pissing me off 
July 29th, 2007 7:48pm
how do you spell 'straw man' ?

seriously, who the fuck in this thread has claimed anything of the sort?  that the fuck does your post have to do with anything whatsoever?  how the fuck do you manage to survive being this stupid?
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 7:53pm
> Turkey should just give them some land for having betrayed them 90 years ago.

Turkey didn't cobble up the Sykes-Pikot agreement.
Permalink Peter 
July 29th, 2007 7:56pm
Hmm, usually I extort money from unsuspecting island salesmen.

Once in awhile, I get a gigolo gig. Those are tougher and, just between you and me, I might not report the income to the tax people.

What do you do?
Permalink Send private email pissing me off 
July 29th, 2007 7:56pm
Well, Peter, Turkey lost in WWI. They were at fault for committing to the wrong side. Had they joined the British/French, it would be the Viennese wiening about their Jewish overlords.
Permalink Send private email pissing me off 
July 29th, 2007 8:00pm
I have a Semitic/Roman/Ethiopian/Gallic/Kashmiri nose.

Does that make me a strawman?
Permalink strawdog soubriquet 
July 29th, 2007 8:04pm
"he point I was aiming for...but clearly failed to achieve....was that a prime reason Israel was doing so well compared to the oil rich arab countries was that the US was effectively subsidising them...not necessarily via direct aid, but certainly by diverting funds into Israel via commercial companies."

Oh, sorry, didn't understand. Aid isn't very effective at all in stimulating a country's economy, if it isn't counterproductive (witness the Palestinian Authority), I don't think that it has made that much of a difference.
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 29th, 2007 8:27pm
I don't think that Luttwak is racist. It's not racist to criticize a culture, whether it's your own or someone else's.

Calling someone racist is a good way to shut down an argument without addressing it.
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 29th, 2007 8:30pm
is it racist for Israelis to appropriate the vernacular of the palestinians?
Permalink Oppy 
July 29th, 2007 9:03pm
He's certainly racist. Look what he said about Italians.

I think aid should be SUBTRACTED when calculating a Quality Of Life index as it generally represents internal disaster, unwanted outside interests and is tied to arms purchases.
Permalink trollop 
July 29th, 2007 9:05pm
those lucky folks in ethiopia

http://freeinternetpress.com/story.php?sid=12791

the government is blocking the disaster of aid!  lucky dogs!
Permalink Oppy 
July 29th, 2007 9:08pm
"ot necessarily via direct aid, but certainly by diverting funds into Israel via commercial companies"

This is a pretty ridiculous argument, that Israel exports goods to the US and other countries, therefore those countries are 'supporting' them.

So, the US is 'supporting' China as well, in return for the goods we buy from them?

And we are 'supporting' Saudi Arabia and Canada and Russia since we buy oil from them as well?
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 29th, 2007 9:20pm
"if the US would just have done the same for comparable arab countries, they would now be doing as well as Israel appears to be"

The fact of the matter is that almost all of Saudi foreign income comes from oil sales. Which are made to... [ insert answer i bet you can guess ].
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 29th, 2007 9:22pm
"This is a pretty ridiculous argument, that Israel exports goods to the US and other countries, therefore those countries are 'supporting' them. "

no, its not. one possible way to divert funds toward a country (or specific people within that country) is to use companies created for that purpose and hire them.

It is something that is fairly commonly done by the US (and other countries as well I assume) as it has immense benefits in terms of not showing up as aid.

"So, the US is 'supporting' China as well, in return for the goods we buy from them? "

that is a different issue, the difference being motivation.

but, to answer your rather irrelevant and offtopic  question, in any reasonable sense _yes_ the US is supporting China by continuing to purchase goods from it.

"And we are 'supporting' Saudi Arabia and Canada and Russia since we buy oil from them as well?"

obviously. 

..I cant shake the feeling that you have some devastating insight waiting at your fingertips, but it would have to be pretty impressive to overcome the obvious-as-hell fact that foreign trade is often wielded as a political weapon...


"The fact of the matter is that almost all of Saudi foreign income comes from oil sales. Which are made to.."

Saudi Arabia only sells its oil to the US?  I didn't know that.  I thought it sold all its oil through OPEC to a variety of foreign states.

ah well, live and learn.

oh, btw, I agree entirely that my hypotheses re israel doing so well because it is supported by the US didn't stand up particularly well.

...just in case that was your point...
Permalink sizzlinSneakler 
July 29th, 2007 9:32pm
-----"It's not racist to criticize a culture, whether it's your own or someone else's. "-----

So, if I say that Jewish culture consists of lying, scheming to take over your host country, using financial and media clout to gouge goyim and silence opposition, then I wouldn't be being anti-semitic?
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 29th, 2007 11:09pm
well done stephen.  I think youve understood what he was saying.
Permalink sniffinSniveller 
July 29th, 2007 11:14pm
"Saudi Arabia only sells its oil to the US?"

Now what's that logical fallacy called? Oh yes, straw man. Ascribe something the other person hasn't said, then disprove it.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 29th, 2007 11:48pm
sorry, I thought that was what you intended to say with this statement:

"The fact of the matter is that almost all of Saudi foreign income comes from oil sales. Which are made to... [ insert answer i bet you can guess ]."

'almost all', I guess you ahve some wriggle room there. 

so you only intended to say/imply that Saudi sells almost all its oil to the US?
Permalink sniffinSniveller 
July 30th, 2007 12:02am
"I don't think that Luttwak is racist. It's not racist to criticize a culture, whether it's your own or someone else's. "

REALLY?

so if someone said in certain cultures people marry their sisters/brother to keep the money in the family and are basically bunch of smelly money grubbing circumicized assholes, it wouldn't be construed as racist?
Permalink Dan Denman 
July 30th, 2007 12:24am
Almost all Saudi foreign income IS from oil sales. There's a problem with that or it's misleading?

And most of it is to... well, the US is their biggest customer, and China is their second biggest.

The US uses 20.73 million bbl/day.
The entire world, including the US uses 82.59 million bbl/day.

Is it a surprise that the US is the biggest customer of [country x]?
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 2:33am
"The main categories of Saudi exports during 1990 were 74.11 percent crude oil; 16.9 percent refined oil; 5.71 percent petrochemical products and plastics and 3.99 percent other commodities. During 1991 the value of the Kingdom's exports increased by 7.6 percent to SR178,974 million (U.S.$47,726.43 million). The main categories of these exports were 78.1 percent crude oil; 13.3 percent refined oil; 5 percent petrochemical products and plastics and 3.6 percent other commodities. The non-oil exports recorded a marginal decline from 9.7 percent in 1990 to 8.6 percent in 1991." - http://www.saudia-online.com/exports.htm
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 2:36am
FYI China Oil Consumption: 6.534 Million bbl/day (2005)

Yes, that's for the whole country of more than a billion.

India Oil Consumption: 2.45 million bbl/day (2004)

Yes, that's for the whole country of more than a billion.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 2:46am
And it goes without saying that China now has substantially more heavy industrial factories than the US, by more than a factor of 100. So where is all our energy use going to? Cars, air conditioning, keeping the lights and climate control running at night in offices with nobody in them for 16 hrs a day... but you see, all that is really really necessary. We can't live without it.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 2:48am
Your Saudi figures are very much out of date. What Saudi has done very well is to leverage its cheap oil and gas into related industries.

It has a steel plant, not because it is rich in iron ore (it imports all of it) but because it uses natural gas to take out the oxygen in the ore, and to run the generators that power the arc furnaces. It produce fertilizer because fertilizer is energy intensive, and plastics because plastics come from oil.

There are also a large number of industries that serve the home market. Air conditioners are assembled in Dhahran, there are loads of paint factories, and it also produces a lot of food hydropnically, and is home to the largest dairy farm in the world.

Now it still depends on oil for foreign exchange and government revenue, and the economy would collapse if it was found that you could make fuel from air tomorrow, and it is still true that Israel has a large number of hi-tech industries which Saudi will never aspire to but the matter is a little simpler than just pumping oil out of the ground .
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 30th, 2007 4:42am
"So, if I say that Jewish culture consists of lying, scheming to take over your host country, using financial and media clout to gouge goyim and silence opposition, then I wouldn't be being anti-semitic?"

To me, no. Racism would be saying that Jews were that way by birth. Southern racists used to say that African Americans were genetically inferior, which is strange, considering how many were their children.

The question is, are you right or not?

Speaking of which, what have the Arab cultures given the world since the Moghul invasions, besides oil and revenge? What technology, philosophy, art, what?

The fact is that Arabs have done very well for themselves when they leave the Middle East, particularly the Lebanese.
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 30th, 2007 5:46am
Huh, OK, non-petrochemical products were 12 percent of total Saudi exports for 2005. Is that recent enough? If you have the numbers for 2006, please post them.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 5:50am
"it is still true that Israel has a large number of hi-tech industries which Saudi will never aspire to..."

And how many Saudis actually work in these various plants? Almost everything actually done in these societies is done by foreigners. They even need Americans to defend themselves.
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 30th, 2007 5:50am
My source for that was Hashim Yamani, Saudi Minister of Trade and Commerce. Perhaps he is the wrong person to ask?
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 5:51am
I will say this though. The Saudis and the US have something in common. Both are blind to the inevitability of a future changed world when the oil dries up.

It's great that Saudi is trying to improve things and yes their non-oil industries have grown an astonishing 50% in the last 17 years.

But, as was said, the salaries for all that comes from oil and the expertise and labor are imported from other countries. That's not sustainable. When the oil runs out, the entire rest of the economy will collapse also since there will be nothing to pay the laborers and have enough left over for the gargantuan Saudi welfare system. You'd think you could put the illiterate lay about Sauds to work in these factories, but you can't because they don't know how to run these factories themselves.

However, that's all fine anyway because when the oil runs out there will be no market for any of their exports anyway since the entire world economy is going to go to fuck shit.

So what to do with the US? US is same way. When oil runs out, we are fucked because we have our heads in the sand in ostrich like ignorance about the inevitable. We refuse to cut down consumption to the point where alternative energy schemes are possible.

US using many times more oil per capita than any place else in the world is going to have a much bigger problem than other places. France will probably not have any major problems because they are intelligent enough to have been planning for this for some time by building nuke plants and having electric trains and public transport infrastructure.

Iran is trying to be smart and build nuke plants for this inevitability. If I were them, I would fight the US to the death over this issue since when the oil stops, the US will have NO military power at all. Jets won't fly and the only ships that will be usable will be nuclear powered, and those are not real good for maneuvering in combat.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 6:00am
-----"And how many Saudis actually work in these various plants? Almost everything actually done in these societies is done by foreigners. They even need Americans to defend themselves."-----

About 75-80% Saudiization. The jobs in the high tech plants pay reasonably well and so the Saudis go for them. There are foreign workers in them but no new foreign workers are being taken on, except possibly the odd westerner at the top level and Asians for the cleaning jobs.

The banking sector was more or less completely Saudiized in the second half of the nineties. It is rare to see a non-Saudi working now (actually when I go to the bank I normally find three or four ex-students behind the counter.

For the last three or four years we've been seeing Saudis working in the big supermarkets as checkout staff. That never used to happen.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 30th, 2007 6:40am
wowzers, news from the front lines we can usezes. and students are okay with being bank tellers? where is the glory of proud peoples? such a pity.
Permalink worldSmallestViolin 
July 30th, 2007 6:43am
Hm, Ok, the supermarket thing is a big change and a very good sign.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 6:52am
Hold me, PE. I'm feeling good.
Permalink worldSmallestViolin 
July 30th, 2007 6:54am
There never was a problem with Saudis being bank tellers. The problem was they needed training. At the start of Saudiization you would find whole branches that never did a transaction because nobody knew how to work the computers. Very different now.

The bank tellers were graduates, not current students. With regard to technical jobs in the factories (foremen, machine operatives and crane drivers) the situation was best summmed up by one of my students at the steel plant in 1999. "You know, five years ago nobody wanted their daughter to marry a technician, but now they all do because they realize you've got a steady job."

The one job that should have been almost completely Saudiized ten years ago is that of the taxi driver. However Saudi taxi companies have wasta, (most are owned by minor royals) and it was much more profitable to charge the South Asian or Philipino driver an exorbitant daily rent for the  taxi, than to pay the legal wage to a Saudi who would only work the stipulated eight hours. As a result the companies managed to keep getting extensions to keep their foreigners. The proportion of taxis owned by Saudi drivers is increasing however, and there have always been loads of Saudis moonlighting as taxi drivers.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 30th, 2007 6:57am
Wow, the Royal family is acknowledging demographics. I guess the sheer number of unemployed young men has got them to change their tune.

Probably too late, though. The House of Saud will fall sooner or later. It won't be missed (except for the worse lot that will follow them).

If we don't have another way of powering our lives, then we're fucked as well.
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 30th, 2007 9:00pm

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