I don’t usually mind Twitter personality and defenestrated Vox Media founder Matt Yglesias that much. But a couple weeks back he engaged in an argument I’ve been dying to make a video about for years. So with this video I took the opportunity to complain about the irritating data point that Defense Spending has fallen as a percent of GDP, and how meaningless it is in the context of the US federal budget. I feel like I got outside my wheel house a bit, maybe diving a little too deeply into accounting I don’t fully understand, but I think it makes for a fun video.
The Turkish elections are finally here. It’s been a while since I’ve addressed Turkiye in a produced video. It’s been so long the country has a new name! But I have been doing a ton of research. My following of Turkish news fades in and out, but over the past couple months I have read three biographies of Turkish president Erdogan, and I think that has helped me produce some pretty solid analysis of what we’re about to see this weekend.
Today’s produced video is brief, but it provides a ton of information. If you want to learn more allow me to suggest the two Turkish election related podcasts that we have also uploaded this week.
This is the sort of thing I should talk more about. US empire works in big, loud and violent ways, but that’s not where the true power lies. The power is in offices and courts around the country and around the world. The Southern District of New York, the subject of today’s video, is one of those locations of power. The thing that keeps me from doing more video on US legal domination is complexity. Sure, I can read an article unpacking some aspect of the legal-regulatory complex, but how do I know I’ve got a trustworthy interpretation? The extraordinary case of Steven Donziger and Chevron is a rare animal. Commentators across the ideological spectrum are disturbed, so I can feel confident making some comments. I hope you enjoy it.
Geopolitics Entrepreneur Peter Zeihan has been one of the most requested topics on this channel for the past couple years. I’ve put together a couple less formal videos dealing with his ideas, but this is the first produced effort. I decided I had to do it after Zeihan’s Joe Rogan appearance at the beginning of this year. A very amateurish, years old, clip critiquing Zeihan quickly became one of my channel’s most viewed videos. Here’s hoping this much more carefully crafted video does well!
It’s absurd how little we know about what the United States is up to in Africa. Because people care about it more, there is a fair amount of scrutiny of US actions in the Middle East. But in Africa the Pentagon has been doing essentially whatever it wants, with very little scrutiny… for over 20 years now! With today’s video I attempt to use some recent reporting to pull the veil back a bit.
Sometimes video scripts come easy. 6 years ago I predicted that Saudi Arabia as we know it would be done by 2030. Today I double down on that by addressing the most common objection to the idea I have gotten by far. A week or so back someone tweeted at me that Saudi Arabia was safe because people will always need oil. Within five hours of receiving that tweet I had this script written and ready to go. The world doesn’t have to give up on oil to end the Saudi royal family. We just have to use like 5-10% less of it. In today’s video I describe this simple, under acknowledged economic point, with graphs and the results of a real world experiment that Covid was generous enough to hand us in 2020.
It’s been a while since I’ve looked at US involvement in the Middle East in depth. I’ve been doing a deep dive into the history of Yemen for months now, but that was mostly pre-1983, when the US decided to make the Middle East our daily problem with the founding of Centcom. Over the past month or so I’ve dived deep, not just into the “Greater War For the Middle East” (as Andrew Bacevich calls it) but also into the unified combatant command structure that is solidifying US empire all over the world. My view on all of this is… somewhat grim. I hope the video isn’t too much of a downer.
Some analysts I trust have gotten a little too complex on this topic. Yes, there are many concrete reasons why Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the oil market at the beginning of this month makes sense. The fact that prices have not risen much since the announcement is an indication of just how quickly the world recession is destroying oil and gas demand. But the fact remains that Saudi Arabia decided to make this cut a month before the November mid-term elections. This is a calculated slap in the face to Joe Biden and the Democratic party. It is not, however an insult to the United States as a whole, as I explain in today’s video.
I think about history a lot. And when historians look back to the beginning of this century, I’m beginning to get the sense that the only story they will be able to tell is one of US imperial consolidation. This could easily be just one part of a three-parter, but I don’t think I’m going to bother to tell the other parts of the story, because they are adequately covered elsewhere. Most know that US oil and gas is now dominant in the world, and that the US dollar is stronger than it has ever been. But few understand how much our own foreign policy disasters cleared the way for that dollar and petro-supremacy. With today’s video I lay that out…
This one was a bit of an ordeal, honestly. A full 30 minutes of produced video, which is only part three of four, got a bit daunting. Every step of the way was a bit of a struggle. I hope it’s worth watching. Heading back to do more YouTube Drama before I attempt “Yemen vs. Empire” Part 4.