Tag Archives: Iran

Understanding the Geopolitical Landscape in 2023… What It Means for Your Portfolio, by Chris MacIntosh

Buy companies that make ships. From Chris MacIntosh at internationalman.com:

Global Geopolitical Landscape

Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital put out a note to clients sometime ago, “I Beg to Differ” and the below paragraph in particular resonated with me.

First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it (a bad sign for anything involving an attempt at superiority). All the first-level thinker needs is an opinion about the future, as in “The outlook for the company is favorable, meaning the stock will go up.”

Second-level thinking is deep, complex, and convoluted. The second-level thinker takes a great many things into account:

  • What is the range of likely future outcomes?
  • What outcome do I think will occur?
  • What’s the probability I’m right?
  • What does the consensus think?
  • How does my expectation differ from the consensus?
  • How does the current price for the asset compare with the consensus view of the future, and with mine?
  • Is the consensus psychology that’s incorporated in the price too bullish or bearish?
  • What will happen to the asset price if the consensus turns out to be right, and what if I’m right?

The difference in workload between the first-level and second-level thinking is clearly massive, and the number of people capable of the latter is tiny compared to the number capable of the former.

First-level thinkers look for simple formulas and easy answers. Second-level thinkers know that success in investing is the antithesis of simple.

Here is a brief example of how to employ second-order thinking with Taiwan

It is worth considering a lesson from World War 2 because it’s vitally important, and — as far as I can tell — not only do most Americans not know it, but the current bunch of podium donuts in the US don’t appear to either.

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Why the War Party Needed To Demonize Iran, by David Stockman

The War Party always needs at least one scary enemy. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

When the 77-Years War ended in 1991, the Shiite theocracy ensconced in Tehran was an unfortunate albatross on the Persian people. But it was no threat to America’s homeland safety and security, either.

The very idea that Tehran is an expansionist power bent on exporting terrorism to the rest of the world is a giant fiction and tissue of lies invented by the Washington War Party and its Bibi Netanyahu branch in order to win political support for their confrontationist policies.

Indeed, the three-decades-long demonization of Iran has served one overarching purpose. Namely, it has enabled both branches of the War Party to conjure up a fearsome enemy. In turn, this threat is used to justify aggressive policies that call for a constant state of military mobilization and maintenance of a vast armada of expeditionary forces – forces which bleed that nation’s fiscal resources but do nothing at all for the security and safety of the American homeland.

Indeed, Iran has not been demonized by happenstance. When the Cold War officially ended in 1991, the Cheney/neocon cabal  then domiciled in the Pentagon deeply feared the kind of drastic demobilization of the U.S. military-industrial complex that was warranted by the suddenly more pacific strategic environment. That is to say, the kind of drastic reduction in military spending which occurred after both WWI and WWII, and appropriately so.

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Russia, India, China, Iran: the Quad that really matters, by Pepe Escobar

The Eurasian Axis Quad is going to end up controlling Eurasia, not the United States. The Quad has a huge home field advantage. From Pepe Escobar at thesaker.is:

Southeast Asia is right at the center of international relations for a whole week viz a viz three consecutive summits: Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh, the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Bali, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.

Eighteen nations accounting for roughly half of the global economy represented at the first in-person ASEAN summit since the Covid-19 pandemic in Cambodia: the ASEAN 10, Japan, South Korea, China, India, US, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand.

With characteristic Asian politeness, the summit chair, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (or “Colombian”, according to the so-called “leader of the free world”), said the plenary meeting was somewhat heated, but the atmosphere was not tense: “Leaders talked in a mature way, no one left.”

It was up to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to express what was really significant at the end of the summit.

While praising the “inclusive, open, equal structure of security and cooperation at ASEAN”, Lavrov stressed how Europe and NATO “want to militarize the region in order to contain Russia and China’s interests in the Indo-Pacific.”

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Russia strategises with Iran for the long haul in Ukraine, by M. K. Bhadrakumar

The U.S. will soon be down to one ally in the Middle East—Israel. Even there it’s more an abusive relationship than a partnership. From M. K. Bhadrkumar at indianpunchline.com:

Ali Shamkhani (L), representative of Supreme Leader and  secretary of Supreme National Security Council, met Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of  Russia’s Security Council, Tehran, Nov. 9, 2022

Ignoring the hype in the US media about White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s Kissingerian diplomacy over Ukraine, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, former KGB counterintelligence officer and longstanding associate of President Putin, travelled to Tehran last Wednesday in the equivalent of a knockout punch in geopolitics.

Patrushev called on President Ebrahim Raisi and held detailed discussions with Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the representative of the Supreme leader and secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. The visit marks a defining moment in the Russia-China partnership and plants a signpost on the trajectory of the war in Ukraine.

The Iranian state media quoted Raisi as saying, “The development of the extent and expansion of the scale of war [in Ukraine] causes concern for all countries.” That said, Raisi also remarked that Tehran and Moscow are upgrading relations to a “strategic” level, which is “the most decisive response to the policy of sanctions and destabilisation by the United States and its allies.”

The US State Department reacted swiftly on the very next day with spokesman Ned Price warning that “This is a deepening alliance that the entire world should view as a profound threat… this is a relationship that would have implications, could have implications beyond any single country.” Price said Washington will work with allies to counter Russian-Iranian military ties.

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Rewiring Eurasia: Mr. Patrushev goes to Tehran, by Pepe Escobar

A critical link in the Eurasian bloc is that between Russia and Iran. From Pepe Escobar at thesaker.is:

The meeting this week between two Eurasian security bosses is a further step toward dusting away the west’s oversized Asian footprint.

Two guys are hanging out in a cozy room in Tehran with a tantalizing new map of the world in the background.

Nothing to see here? On the contrary. These two Eurasian security giants are no less than the – unusually relaxed – Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

And why are they so relaxed? Because the future prospects revolving around the main theme of their conversation – the Russia-Iran strategic partnership – could not be more exciting.

This was a very serious business affair: an official visit, at the invitation of Shamkhani.

Patrushev was in Tehran on the exact same day that Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu – following a recommendation from General Sergey Surovikin, the overall commander of the Special Military Operation – ordered a Russian retreat from Kherson.

Patrushev knew it for days – so he had no problem to step on a plane to take care of business in Tehran. After all, the Kherson drama is part of the Patrushev negotiations with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Ukraine, which have been going on for weeks, with Saudi Arabia as eventual go-between.

Besides Ukraine, the two discussed “information security, as well as measures to counter interference in the internal affairs of both countries by western special services,” according to a report by Russia’s TASS news agency.

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Europe’s Biggest Enemy Isn’t Russia Nor Islamic Terrorism, but Israel, by Martin Jay

Europe shouldn’t mistake either the U.S. or Israel as a friend. From Martin Jay at strategic-culture.org:

When Joe Biden took office, many pundits said that at least relations between the U.S. and EU would be restored. But the Iran deal is the ultimate test of just how much he loves the old continent.

Just how far will Israel go to scupper the so-called Iran deal from being signed by both Iran and the West? And will it play a fair game or use underhand and covert tactics to achieve its goal of the deal never being signed? Recently, we have seen the talks in Vienna progress as even the Americans say that certain key negotiating points have been taken out of the deal from the Iranians which has made the negotiations move closer to an agreement; we have also seen though Israel pulling out all the stops, from a PR and lobbying perspective at least.

And then there is the murky subject of skullduggery to destroy the talks. If you’re one of these people who believes in fairies at the bottom of the garden or that certain toothpastes can make your teeth whiter, then you might not buy into Israel using Mossad to derail the deal. Attacks on U.S. forces for example in Iraq, supposedly carried out by Iran-backed militias would normally have most people pointing the finger at Iran, proclaiming that Tehran is not at all serious about the deal but just playing along for time so that it can roll out a nuclear bomb. Then there is the curious case of the Salman Rushdie attack, which, again, many would point out could be attributed to the Iranians who still have a very much ‘alive’ fatwa against the British writer. Indeed, even the Supreme Leader is reported to have made a comment against Rushdie when he heard of the knife attack.

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‘Samarkand Spirit’ to be driven by ‘responsible powers’ Russia and China, by Pepe Escobar

Russia and China are making noteworthy progress putting together their Eurasian federation, which is spreading out far beyond Eurasia. From Pepe Escobar at thesaker.is:

The SCO summit of Asian power players delineated a road map for strengthening the multipolar world

Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years.

When in 329 BC Alexander the Great reached the then Sogdian city of Marakanda, part of the Achaemenid empire, he was stunned: “Everything I have heard about Samarkand it’s true, except it is even more beautiful than I had imagined.”

Fast forward to an Op-Ed by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev published ahead of the SCO summit, where he stresses how Samarkand now “can become a platform that is able to unite and reconcile states with various foreign policy priorities.”

After all, historically, the world from the point of view of the Silk Road landmark has always been “perceived as one and indivisible, not divided. This is the essence of a unique phenomenon – the ‘Samarkand spirit’.”

And here Mirziyoyev ties the “Samarkand Spirit” to the original SCO “Shanghai Spirit” established in early 2001, a few months before the events of September 11, when the world was forced into strife and endless war, almost overnight.

All these years, the culture of the SCO has been evolving in a distinctive Chinese way. Initially, the Shanghai Five were focused on fighting terrorism – months before the US war of terror (italics mine) metastasized from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.

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SCOTT RITTER: Washington’s Russian Drone Fantasy

The U.S. and Europe have sold short Russian military capabilities every step of the way in the Ukraine war, so it should come as no surprise that they continue to do so concerning Russian drones. From Scott Ritter at consortiumnews.com:

The information warfare campaign by the U.S. and its allies on behalf of Ukraine appeared to engulf Putin’s visit to Iran last week. 

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, center, with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Oct. 7, 2021. (NATO)

According to the official U.S. government narrative, a “desperate” Russia — suffering significant battlefield reversals in Ukraine including the loss of “large numbers” of reconnaissance drones while its own military industrial capacity lacks the ability to provide adequate replacements due to Russia’s “economic isolation” — has turned to Iran for assistance.

“Our information,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan declared, “indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAV’s [unmanned aerial vehicles], including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline.” Sullivan said. “It’s unclear whether Iran has delivered any of these UAVs to Russia already.”

Sullivan’s assessment was drawn from U.S. intelligence reports indicating that Russian officials had twice visited Iran — on June 8 and July 5 — for the purpose of observing at least two versions of Iranian UAVs in operation.

Both visits took place at Kashan Airbase, in central Iran. The Kashan facility has been publicly identified by Israel as the main training facility for Iran’s UAV program. According to Sullivan, these visits represent the first by Russian officials. “This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs,” Sullivan noted.

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PATRICK LAWRENCE: 21st Century Order

Whether the West likes it or not, some of the world’s most substantial countries are building a new world order without them. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

As a piece of the new world order that is under construction, Putin’s trip to Tehran last week was of singular importance. 

Railway station constructed in 2013 in Kazandzhik, Turkmenistan, an important crossroad of the Trans-Caspian Railway and North-South Transnational Railway. (Balkan Wiki, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

At last we were able to read, last week, a New York Times story that concerned the Russians but not the brutal Russians. However, if we are not reading about the brutal Russians and their brutal military and their brutal attacks on civilians in Ukraine, we are obliged to read about the lonesome Russians, the pariah Russians, the Russians the world has forsaken. We are never going to read about ordinary, just plain Russians in the Times or in the rest of the mainstream press as it apes the Times. This we must accept.

Vladimir Putin traveled to Tehran last Tuesday for a summit with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. This was an unusual occasion: The Russian president has not been much for foreign travel since the Covid–19 pandemic erupted; it was his second state visit outside the Russian Federation since Russia intervened in Ukraine last February.

And it is a big deal, deserving of our attention. It marks another step, a considerable one, in the construction of the diplomatic, political, and economic infrastructure that will — I don’t consider this a daring prediction — define the 21st century. We witness the new world order many of us anticipate as it is being built.

The new world order many of us anticipate, if you have not noticed, ranks high among the great unsayables in American discourse and among American media. No, we’re still stuck on our “rules-based international order,” which is clunky code for the hegemony America defends. It is hopelessly passé at this point but remains lethally destructive.

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The power troika trumps Biden in West Asia, by Pepe Escobar

As the Eurasian axis takes shape, there’s one simple fact that will override American desires to stifle it. The Eurasian nations are playing on their own territory, the U.S. is not. From Pepe Escobar at thesaker.is:

The presidents of Russia, Iran, and Turkey convened to discuss critical issues pertaining to West Asia, with the illegal US occupation of Syria a key talking point.  Oil and gas, wheat and grains, missiles and drones – the hottest topics in global geopolitics today – were all on the agenda in Tehran this week.

The Tehran summit uniting Iran-Russia-Turkey was a fascinating affair in more ways than one. Ostensibly about the Astana peace process in Syria, launched in 2017, the summit joint statement duly noted that Iran, Russia and (recently rebranded) Turkiye will continue, “cooperating to eliminate terrorists” in Syria and “won’t accept new facts in Syria in the name of defeating terrorism.”

That’s a wholesale rejection of the “war on terror” exceptionalist unipolarity that once ruled West Asia.

Standing up to the global sheriff

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own speech, was even more explicit. He stressed “specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue” and most of called a spade a spade: “The western states led by the US are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart.”

So there will be “extra steps in our trilateral format” aimed at “stabilizing the situation in those areas” and crucially, “returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.” For better or for worse, the days of imperial plunder will be over.

The bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines – Putin/Raisi and Putin/Erdogan – were even more intriguing. Context is key here: the Tehran gathering took place after Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan in late June for the 6th Caspian summit, where all the littoral nations, Iran included, were present, and after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s travels in Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, where he met all his Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts.

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