The blazing stupidity of some of the ridiculous schemes hatched by US diplomats is staggering.

Take a look at Wikileaks Docs Reveal Secret Scheme To Wean China Off Of Iranian Oil Supply by Joe Weisenthal at the Business Insider, and I will show you exactly what I mean.

Very interesting nugget from the WikiLeaks dump showing how the world of economics, security, and energy collide.

Specifically, the documents reveal a plan, hatched by the US, whereby Saudi Arabia would guarantee China ongoing supply of oil in exchange for China weaning itself off Iran.

A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches

Weisenthal points to A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches and uncovers this gem.


9. (C) Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Prince Torki told visiting NEA A/S Feltman on January 26 (ref C) that FM Saud had pressed the Chinese Foreign Minister hard on the need to be more active in working with the rest of the international community and the UN Security Council to counter the threat of Iran developing a nuclear weapon. FM Saud told FM Yang that Saudi Arabia was convinced Iran intended to develop anuclear weapon, despite its assurances, and that only concerted international action could stop that.

While no explicit bargain was discussed, Dep FM Torki explained that Saudi Arabia understood China was concerned about having access to energy supplies, which could be cut off by Iran, and wanted to attract more trade and investment. Saudi Arabia was willing to provide assurances on those scores to China, but only in exchange for tangible Chinese actions to restrain Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons.

…try and leverage their economic relationship with China for political gain with respect to sensitive regional issues, such as Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are significant and growing. After patiently focusing on building the economic relationship since 2006, FM Saud’s public and private prodding of FM Yang indicates the Saudis are ready to try and cash in some political chips. End comment.

Global Economic Illiteracy

Because oil is fungible, the entire conversation is an exercise in blatant stupidity. It does not matter one bit if Iranian oil goes to China or not, as long as it goes somewhere. Oil that does not go to China may go to Europe or Japan and any price changes would quickly go away as supplies were re-routed.

Of course if Iranian oil was shutoff altogether, you have a different situation, one in which the only guarantee would be enormously higher prices for everyone, not a guaranteed supply to China.

Negative Effects of Mountains of Stupidity

That such conversations occur at all is a testament to global economic illiteracy. Did anyone in the US or Saudi Arabia benefit from this stupidity?

The answer of course is no. In fact, there is negative benefit from accumulating mountains of stupidity in that someone might look at it, think it’s important, and try and act on it.

For example, I can easily imagine diplomatic idiots starting to worry about oil going to China because of “guarantees” arising from those comments. This in turn would necessitate a need to work out our own “guarantees” that allegedly would supersede any Saudi “guarantees” to China.

In fact, I would be shocked if such conversations did not occur, even though the idea that any “guarantees” would be honored in the face of a real crisis with oil supplies is more than a bit foolish.

The solution is to fire every one of these secret deal-makers because they are doing more harm than good. Indeed the best way to prevent leaks is to not have moronic conversations in the first place.

Meltdown in US Foreign Policy

Inquiring minds are reading Spiegel Online’s commentary A Superpower’s View of the World

251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy.

What does the United States really think of German Chancellor Angela Merkel? Is she a reliable ally? Did she really make an effort to patch up relations with Washington that had been so damaged by her predecessor? At most, it was a half-hearted one.

The tone of trans-Atlantic relations may have improved, former US Ambassador to Germany William Timken wrote in a cable to the State Department at the end of 2006, but the chancellor “has not taken bold steps yet to improve the substantive content of the relationship.” That is not exactly high praise.

And the verdict on German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle? His thoughts “were short on substance,” wrote the current US ambassador in Berlin, Philip Murphy, in a cable. The reason, Murphy suggested, was that “Westerwelle’s command of complex foreign and security policy issues still requires deepening.”

Such comments are hardly friendly. But in the eyes of the American diplomatic corps, every actor is quickly categorized as a friend or foe. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia? A friend: Abdullah can’t stand his neighbors in Iran and, expressing his disdain for the mullah regime, said, “there is no doubt something unstable about them.” And his ally, Sheikh bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi? Also a friend. He believes “a near term conventional war with Iran is clearly preferable to the long term consequences of a nuclear armed Iran.”

A Political Meltdown

Such surprises from the annals of US diplomacy will dominate the headlines in the coming days when the New York Times, London’s Guardian, Paris’ Le Monde, Madrid’s El Pais and SPIEGEL begin shedding light on the treasure trove of secret documents from the State Department. Included are 243,270 diplomatic cables filed by US embassies to the State Department and 8,017 directives that the State Department sent to its diplomatic outposts around the world.

There is much more in the Spiegel article including a nice interactive map showing a time lapse of 251,287 documents, where the majority of the cables originated from, and where they had the highest level of classification.

That interactive map will take a while to load. Speigel also discusses specifics about Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Germany.

Hillary Clinton said there would be minimal damage from this. It would be amusing to hear her private explanations of that on WikiLeaks.

US a Pawn for Oil Producers

Speigel concludes with an interesting suggestion that the US is nothing but a pawn for the oil producing countries, not the other way around.

On the whole, the cables from the Middle East expose the superpower’s weaknesses. Washington has always viewed it as vital to its survival to secure its share of energy reserves, but the world power is often quickly reduced to becoming a plaything of diverse interests. And it is drawn into the animosities between Arabs and Israelis, Shiites and Sunnis, between Islamists and secularists, between despots and kings. Often enough, the lesson of the documents that have now been obtained, is that the Arab leaders use their friends in Washington to expand their own positions of power.

US embassy cables: browse the database

The Guardian also has an Interactive Map of 250,000 US Embassy Cables that inquiring minds may wish to peruse.

Joe Weisenthal at the Business Insider points out these tidbits.

  • Iran has fortified its weapons cache with the help of Russian-designed missiles and North Korea.
  • Saudi King Abdullah can’t stand Iran. In fact, the entire Middle East is basically uncomfortable with Iran right now.
  • The US has been involved in a dangerous standoff with Pakistan regarding nuclear fuel since 2007 (not surprising at all)
  • Under Hillary Clinton, us diplomats have been urged to help spy on the UN.
  • Afghanistan is seen as corrupt (shocking!)
  • US officials have been wargaming a North Korea collapse (again, not surprising).
  • Vladimir Putin and Sylvio Burlesconi have an unusually close friendship (amusing).
  • The Moral Standards of WikiLeaks Critics

    New York Times writer Joe Klein writes “If a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in ‘freedom’ stands as a human disaster. Assange is a criminal. He’s the one who should be in jail.”

    Glenn Greewald smashes the blazing hypocrisy of Joe Klein right out of the ballpark with his rebuttal The Moral Standards of WikiLeaks Critics.

    Do you have that principle down? If “a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail” because of the WikiLeaks disclosure — even a “single one” — then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a “disaster” and “Assange is a criminal” who “should be in jail.” That’s quite a rigorous moral standard. So let’s apply it elsewhere:

    What about the most destructive “anarchic exercise in ‘freedom'” the planet has known for at least a generation: the “human disaster” known as the attack on Iraq, which Klein supported? That didn’t result in the imprisonment of “a single foreign national,” but rather the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent human beings, the displacement of millions more, and the destruction of a country of 26 million people. Are those who supported that “anarchic exercise in ‘freedom'” — or at least those responsible for its execution — also “criminals who should be in jail”?

    How about the multiple journalists and other human beings whom the U.S. Government imprisoned (and continues to imprison) for years without charges — and tortured — including many whom the Government knew were completely innocent, while Klein assured the world that wasn’t happening? How about those responsible for the war in Afghanistan (which Klein supports) with its checkpoint shootings of an “amazing number” of innocent Afghans and civilian slaughtering air strikes, or the use of cluster bombs in Yemen, or the civilian killing drones in Pakistan? Are those responsible for the sky-high corpses of innocent people from these actions also “criminals who should be in jail”?

    I’m not singling out Klein here; his commentary is merely illustrative of what I’m finding truly stunning about the increasingly bloodthirsty two-minute hate session aimed at Julian Assange, also known as the new Osama bin Laden. The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of — and in some cases directly responsible for — the world’s deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade. And they’re demanding Assange’s imprisonment, or his blood, in service of a Government that has perpetrated all of these abuses and, more so, to preserve a Wall of Secrecy which has enabled them.

    Secret Police Tactics

    My only problem with Glenn Greenwald’s article is that I want to excerpt the whole thing. Since I won’t do that, and since there is much more to see in his excellent article, please click on the link and read the whole thing.

    Hopefully it will leave you with a different perspective about the crazies and their secret police Tactics.

    Finally I want to share an email from reader “SB” in response to my article Amazon Drops WikiLeaks on Request of Sen. Lieberman; Lie of the Day from Hillary Clinton; How NOT to Stop Leaks; Why we have Leaks.

    “SB” Writes…

    Hello Mish

    Thanks for your post. I am 100% in agreement. I’m 65, and as a youngster worried almost daily about being called up for the draft for Vietnam.

    Imagine what might have happened to the Vietnam war effort if the whole mess had been made public from the start.

    I was supportive of the war, and would have gone if called, but the revelations about it over the past 50 years have definitely called that into question. It sure would have been nice to know what folks in the Federal Government were hiding.

    Those who are in favor of prosecuting Mr. Assange need to remember the words, “Secret Police,” and contemplate how close we are coming to that concept in our nation, and in our actions throughout the world.

    We need someone like this to shine the light of day on what passes for proper behavior now.

    Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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