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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Carbon Sequestration Poised for Public Acceptance

Amid media reports regarding an ethanol glut in the United States and protectionist European biodiesel producers seeking to impose tariffs against US (government subsidized) competitors, carbon sequestration is poised for popular and political acceptance worldwide.

The term is used to describe the long-term storage of carbon in natural repositories, like trees or soil. Trees, via photosynthesis, breathe in carbon and convert it to cellulose. Forests are natural carbon sinks. They take carbon out of the air and put it into a natural product--a tree.

The keys to carbon sequestration are (a) verification, also known as certification, and (b) a system of transferable credits, which creates a global market based on carbon offsets. The credits can be purchased by power companies emitting carbon over their allowable limits and traded like currency in an open market. Projects that can prove they're sequestering carbon will have a new stream of revenue.

Altough cars and industry are assumed to be the main greenhouse gas producers, electricity generated by coal-fired power stations for residential and commercial use accounts for a huge proportion of global CO2 emissions, the major cause of global warming and climate change.

Across the industrial and developing world, foresters and conservation advocates are working to ensure that forest conservation qualifies for offsets.

In addition to the global cooling effect of tropical reforestation, planting forests reduces erosion, increases water capture, and provides valuable timber, which may be sustainably harvested.

Sustainability is vital. According to the World Wildlife Fund, "cutting of trees and unsustainable management of forests lead to the loss of nearly 36 million acres of natural forests each year--an area bigger than the state of New York. The world's poorest people bear the brunt of forest loss, since forest resources sustain most of the 1.2 billion people in the world who live in extreme poverty."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ecuador's Correa: Pay Us for Not Producing Oil

A case of carbon mitigation or carbon extortion?

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa--who has threatened to default on his country's $10.3 billion foreign debt--wants wealthy nations to pay Ecuador $350 million a year in exchange for a promise to never exploit an estimated one billion barrels of oil that is believed to exist under its pristine Yasuni rain forest.

The $350 million is about half of what Ecuador says it could earn each year from extracting Yasuni oil.

In foregoing the potential revenue stream, the South American nation would become the first country in the world to deliberately leave significant oil reserves underground in order to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The proposed annual payments would be used for a variety of purposes, including renewable energy projects, providing healthcare and education to the country's impoverished masses (60 percent of the population is poor), and promoting ecotourism and sustainable development for the Amazonian region.

Ecuador says it would be sequestering the equivalent of 436 million tons of carbon dioxide.

The 2.4 million-acre (982,000-hectare) Yasuni National Park is home to at least two indigenous tribes that live in voluntary isolation--hunting with spears and blowguns--in one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

Environmentalists have praised Correa's initiative as a creative carbon offsetting scheme; but critics question if politically unstable Ecuador, which relies on oil for nearly half of its export revenues, can keep a promise of this magnitude to the international community.

Correa, who is Ecuador's eighth president in 10 years, is a close ally of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez. Like Chavez, he is a proponent of "21st century socialism" and part of an anti-American axis that also includes Evo Morales in Bolivia and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.

Correa is expected to win a big political victory Sunday, when Ecuadoreans vote for increased state control of the economy and to dissolve a unicameral Congress that he calls "corupt and incompetent."

Post Script: China Confidential's correspondent in Caracas reports that Chavez is fascinated by Correa's proposal, seeing it as a test case for Venezuela, which could make staggering sums, theoretically, by abstaining from massive heavy oil development in the country's Orinoco River belt.

Karzai Would Welcome 'Esteemed Mullah'

Six years after 9/11, the "War on Terror" has sadly come to this--an offer to negotiate with Islamist mass murderers.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Saturday offered to negotiate with Mullah Omar--the fugitive Taliban leader who sheltered and assisted Al Qeada when he was in power and is still allied with the terrorist organization--and give Taliban leaders government positions.

Karzai made the shocking offer only hours after a suicide bomber in army disguise attacked a military bus, killing 30 people--nearly all of them Afghan soldiers.

Showing signs of desperation and fatigue, Karzai has called for negotiations with the Taliban with increasing frequency in recent weeks. He has also offered to meet with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister and pro-Taliban, anti-American, Islamist warlord.

"If I find their address, there is no need for them to come to me, I'll personally go there and get in touch with them," Karzai said. "Esteemed Mullah, sir, and esteemed Hekmatyar, sir, why are you destroying the country?"

Karzai said he has contacts with the Taliban through tribal elders but that there are no direct and open government communication channels with the wanted leaders. Omar's whereabouts are not known, although Karzai has claimed he is in Quetta, Pakistan, an Al Qaeda/Taliban center across the border from Afghanistan's Kandahar province.

"If a group of Taliban or a number of Taliban come to me and say, 'President, we want a department in this or in that ministry or we want a position as deputy minister ... and we don't want to fight anymore,' ... If there will be a demand and a request like that to me, I will accept it because I want conflicts and fighting to end in Afghanistan," Karzai said.

"I wish there would be a demand as easy as this. I wish that they would want a position in the government. I will give them a position," he said.

Although the US Embassy in Kabul does not support talks with the Taliban, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is believed to be in favor of changing the policy.

Her position--reflected in Karzai's initiative--confirms China Confidential's analysis that the US foreign policy establishment is pushing for an accommodation with supposed "moderate" Islamists. The Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood--and certain members of the nuclearizing Iranian mullahocracy--are all considered potential partners for peace. Only Al Qaeda remains outside the zone of diplomacy.

Reforestation Project Planned for Central China

Carbonpositive has signed a memorandum of understanding for a reforestation project and sustainable timber harvesting operation in Chongqing (formerly known as Chungking) in central China.

Subject to further research and feasibility studies, the project will be carried out by the company’s local China operation, Sunshine Technology, in partnership with the Tongnan County Government.

Sunshine Technology will plant, maintain and sustainably harvest fast-growing timber species on 27,000 hectares of deforested land. Ownership of the trees will be shared with local landowners. Land agreements are to be negotiated by county government on the company’s behalf.

The venture includes the construction and operation of a local processing factory for the manufacture of timber products, such as fibreboard.

The sustainable harvest and replanting model is designed to balance economic, social and ecological objectives, with particular emphasis on generating income for local farmers.

The project will also contribute to the replacement of imported timber, which is often illegally harvested from native forests in Asia, amid rapidly growing demand for wood in China. Local markets are expected to be found for the timber, with the project located not far from Chongqing city, which has a population of 10 million.

Carbonpositive also aims to generate carbon credits for the carbon sequestered over time on the reforested land.

The company develops sustainable agro-forestry and bio-energy projects in non-industrialised countries.

These projects produce resources, such as timber and biodiesel, in ways that protect the local environment and help build a sustainable local economy. They are also designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and generate Certified Emissions Reductions wherever possible under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism.

Long a base for heavy industry, Chongqing is emerging as an important trading center. Its status as the gateway to West China has brought it abundant central government funding through the government’s "Go West" program, which has been used to support extensive infrastructure projects. A new domestic terminal at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport has been completed, along with a vast high-speed traffic network and a monorail system capable of transporting 200 million passengers a year. Most major roads in the city center are being upgraded, and docks are being expanded. With the (controversial) Three Gorges Dam in place, large cargo barges can now make the journey from Shanghai in three to four days.

Friday, September 28, 2007

On China's Rise and Global Warming

Question: Will China's rise poison the planet?

Answer: Yes, unless urgent action is taken--by Beijing and Washington.

The data is depressing. Not only is China poised to overtake the United States as the world's leading source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming; China's emissions growth will soon exceed that of the entire industrialized world combined.

China has set serious targets for clean energy and energy efficiency. But even if China meets those targets--which is doubtful--its greenhouse gas emissions will increase by a whopping 2.5 billion tons over the next five years. The Kyoto Protocol imposed 1.05 billion tons in reductions on the world's wealthest nations, including the US, which rejected the accord.

China must do more to combat global warming. And the US needs to adopt and embrace a carbon cap-and-trade system, or an emission permit trading system, or a carbon tax. Or all three--ASAP.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

China Curious About New Biodiesel Process

China Confidential has learned that after promoting the processing of jatropha and waste vegetable oils into biodiesel through variations of the classic transesterification method, Chinese energy experts would like to learn more about a completely different, competing technology, which has been developed by Finland's Neste Oil. The company says it is using the breakthrough biodiesel technology at its Porvoo refinery to produce a superior petro-diesel replacement fuel from vegetable oils--including jatropha imported from India--or animal fats.

Neste built the 60 million gallon a year plant at a cost of about $125 million. An identical second plant will come on line in 2008. Both are based on the company's NExBTL (Next Generation Biomass To Liquid) production technology, which seems similar to hydrogenation processes developed by Italy’s ENI and Brazil’s Petrobras. (The Petrobras product, called H-Bio, is actually not biodiesel because it is made by mixing refinery petroleum with vegetable oil from soy, sunflower seeds, cotton and castor beans.)

Neste, which aims to be a global leader in biodiesel, has not disclosed the per-gallon cost of producing its fuel.

In February, Neste and Total announced that they had decided to discontinue their project to build a plant to produce diesel fuel from renewable raw materials at a Total refinery in France. Feasibility studies on the project, which was announced in 2005, showed that building the plant at Dunkirk would have proved too expensive.

In addition, Neste is working with Austrian oil refiner OMV Aktiengesellschaft to build a 65 million gallon a year biodiesel plant based on NExBTL technology at a site near Vienna, Austria.

According to a Wikipedia entry on the process, the technology "entails direct hydrogenation of plant oil, which is triglyceride, into the corresponding alkane. This removes oxygen from the oil. Unlike the yellow transesterified biodiesel, the product is a clear and colorless paraffin, with a good cetane number (85 to 99) and better properties than even petrodiesel. It requires no modification or special precautions for the engine."

In transesterification, virgin or waste vegetable oils or tallow are mixed with methanol and a chemical agent, such as sodium hydroxide, to produce pure, non-toxic, biodegradable biodiesel, known as B100 in the United States. B100 can be blended with petro-diesel at any ratio for use in unmodified diesel engines. Pure biodiesel can also be used without blending, which prevents the fuel from gelling in colder climates.

Neste is also working on a wood-based biofuel process.

The company's biodiesel investments support the view that petroleum refineries may have an economic advantage in producing biodiesel compared to conventional producers. Like Petrobras, Neste says its technology can be smoothly integrated into traditional petroleum refinery operations.

The big biorefinery model is also of interest to PetroChina (the listed arm of China National Petroleum Company), which is investing heavily in biodiesel but finds itself fighting for feedstock with hundreds of smaller firms. The competition for waste vegetable oil is especially intense, forcing many Chinese biodiesel companies to shut down or suspend operations.

In the United States, ConocoPhillips recently announced a deal with Tyson Foods to use fat from Tyson's rendering plants to make "renewable diesel" fuel in COP's refineries. COP reportedly developed the process using soy oil in Ireland, using its existing oil refinery there.

In the meantime, Volvo has announced that it is ready to build and sell, at 24 months' notice, diesel-engined trucks that run on any of seven different renewable liquid and gaseous fuels, including biodiesel, which won't produce a net gain of harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after being manufactured, distributed, and burned.

Post Script: The traditional oil industry's response to renewable fuels is intriguing. Most companies seem inclined to downplay demand for biofuels, stressing development of cleaner-burning, non-renewables. Others, attracted to the traditional oil trading model as a means of dominating the emerging sector, are apparently ready to invest substantial capital in biodiesel-like alternatives, as in the case of Petrobras and COP, or actual biodiesel, as in the case of Neste (although the company's new fuel is technically not a true biodiesel because, while made from vegetable oils and animal fats only, it is not produced through the transesterification process). Put differently, a petroleum refining and marketing company--lacking its own oil reserves--is less likely to push a process that mixes petroleum with natural raw materials than a vertically integrated company that both produces and refines petroleum.

Either way, the petroleum industry's interest in biofuels is worrisome to independent producers who are already feeling the pressure of rising feedstock prices. Regardless of their commitment to combating climate change by reducing reliance on the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming, the last thing the independents want is to simply serve as catalysts, or agents for change, without reaping their projected economic rewards.

Memo to the Media

Two definitions to consider regarding Iran's Islamist regime.

1. Moderate: Mullahocracy member or supporter who wants to acquire nuclear weapons but is willing to slow down or stop Iran's suspect nuclear enrichment program in order to preserve the peace and reserve the option of resuming nuclear development when conditions allow. A moderate may also believe in surreptitiously acquiring an atomic warhead or two--or a few crude nuclear or radiological (dirty) bombs--from North Korea and other rogue suppliers.

2. Extremist: Mullahocracy member or supporter who is unwilling to compromise--and ready to risk war with the United States--over the nuclear issue.

Comment: Collision Course to Catastrophe

Taiwan's bid for United Nations membership could spark a serious crisis with China, which warned the self-ruled island Tuesday that its planned referendum on joining the world body could endanger regional peace.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province. An Anti-Secession Law authorizes use of force against Taiwan if it moves toward formal independence or if it refuses reunification under Chinese terms. Genuine negotiations are a non-starter.

To back up its threat, Beijing has amassed an arsenal of ballistic missiles opposite the island; at least 100 are added annually; and the People's Liberation Army is clearly preparing for invasion and conquest.

Antisatellite and cyberwarfare tests are aimed at disrupting US military communications. The modernization and expansion of the Chinese navy is in large measure aimed at deterring the US from intervening in a future cross-Strait conflict.

Taiwan's pro-independence president, Chen Shui-bian, believes he has a window of opportunity that will permanently shut tight after the closing ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. Chen is betting that China won't dare attack Taiwan before the games. His thinking reflects the conventional wisdom: the Olympics are too important to mess up; Beijing won't make the mistake Moscow made by invading Afghanistan only a half-year ahead of its 1980 summer Olympic Games.

But the conventional wisdom could be dead wrong. The PLA's credibility is more important than the Communist Party's politics of prestige. Red China has a red line, which Taiwan should avoid crossing if at all possible.

No nation--including the US--is prepared to risk a war with China in order to defend Taiwan. As much as the island may deserve its independence, it is alone and adrift, alienated from an international community that is committed to accommodating--or appeasing--China's rise.

The US is obligated to help Taiwan to defend itself under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act. But defense is subject to interpretation. Selling arms is one thing; fighting is another matter, entirely. Bogged down in Iraq, the US is desperately seeking China's help in dealing with Iran and North Korea. The last thng Washington wants is a confrontation with China.

There is an urgent need for effective diplomacy....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Open Memo to Chinese President Hu Jintao: Israel Could be Sitting Atop Huge Heavy Oil Reserves

MEMO

TO: PRESIDENT HU JINTAO
FR: CHINA CONFIDENTIAL
RE: OIL OPPORTUNITY

Here's a way to balance China's controversial energy diplomacy, which includes support for nuclear-arming, Islamist Iran and genocidal, Islamist-leaning Sudan. Your government can direct its giant, state-owned energy companies to explore for oil in under-explored Israel. This American ally, which would welcome Chinese investment, could actually be a net exporter of oil.

Really. In deference to the oil-rich Arab world (the policy predates the Islamist overthrow of Iran's pro-Western Shah), the major oil companies have ignored Israel. The big independent oil companies have overlooked Israel for economic reasons, abandoning the field to tiny startups--mainly thinly capitalized firms founded and led by highly motivated dreamers and adventurers.

In the United States, which was once the center of world oil production, more exploration wells have been drilled in most states--and in many counties--than in all of Israel. It only produces about 2,000 barrels of oil a day.

But the Jewish state has untapped potential that Chinese energy expertise and capital could unlock. A few hundred million dollars--a pittance in the oil business--would probably be sufficient to prove or condemn Israel's prospects, the most tantalizing of which is the heavy oil (both crude and tar sands) that has been observed in the Dead Sea vicinity since Biblical times. And the heavy oil--given the history of rift valley plays, salt domes, seismic activity and other data--could be sitting atop awesome reserves of conventional crude.

Israel's heavy oil deposits--including both tar sands and gummy heavy crude--are located along the western margins of the Dead Sea. The area has been associated with heavy oil since Biblical times. The book of Genesis refers to bituminous pits in the valley of Heimar, on the southwestern shore of the land-locked, salt sea. The destruction of the Dead Sea Plain cities of Sdom and Gomorrah, as described in Genesis, is considered by some scientists to have been caused by the ignition of solid bitumen that may have overlain the shallow southern part of the sea and adjacent areas.

The intriguing historical record points to the possible presence of large heavy crude deposits beneath the Sea itself. It was known to ancient Greeks as Lake Asphaltites--from which the term asphalt was derived--because of the lumps of semisolid petroleum that were washed up on its shores from underwater seeps. In Roman times, much of the asphalt recovered from the Asphalt Fishery was taken to Egypt, where, under the Pharoahs, it was used for many purposes, including the waterproofing of cisterns. Exploitation of Dead Sea heavy oil, or asphalt, was the world's first petrochemical business.

In 1840, an American geologist described large quantities of floating asphalt that drifted ashore after earthquakes. As recently as 1925, a mass of asphalt weighing around 150 tons rose from the Dead Sea bottom near Ein Gedi, a Biblical site now associated with an Israeli kibbutz (communal farming village). Exploratory drilling for conventional crude since Israeli independence has produced a wealth of information concerning occurrences of solid and semisolid types of heavy oil--commonly dismissed by Israelis are uneconomic "tar and asphalt shows."

In the early 1980s, an independent US exploration company established the existence of shallow on-shore heavy crude deposits with a test drilling, sampling, analysis and mapping program. The effort was led by Joseph Barnea, a former director of the United Nations (UNDP) natural resource exploration program--whose resume included major discoveries in the developing world. An Israeli national, Barnea promoted heavy oil development as a consultant to UNITAR following his retirement as a full-time UN civil servant. He helped the government of Alberta, Canada to develop its deposits of tar sands.

But interest in Israeli heavy oil (and alternative energy) plummeted with the falling price of conventional crude and the end of the first energy crisis. The US and the rest of the industrialized world went back to sleep, believing that the era of cheap oil would last forever, never imagining the meteoric ascent of China, which has become the second-largest importer of oil after the US.

Today, Israel continues to import all its oil, except for small production squeezed from some aging, marginally commercial wells. Seventy-five percent of the oil Israel consumes comes from Russia and the former Soviet Union; the rest, from West Africa, Egypt and Mexico. Iran was an important supplier before the Islamic revolution.

While coal will remain China's principal energy component for years to come, demand for oil is increasing. For this reason, your government has embarked on a global quest for oil supplies, including conventional and heavy oils. From Canadian tar sands to Venezuelan heavy crude--the giant chain of deposits beneath the Orinoco River belt--China's state-owned oil companies are apparently willing to consider petroleum plays that are considered too risky by Western companies.

Why not consider Israel?

Iran's President Got What He Wanted at Columbia

The dreadful decision by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger to invite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address the Ivy League school is certain to do more harm than good, despite Bollinger's dramatic denunciation of the Iranian leader.

In an apparent effort to mitigate the damage likely to result from providing a prestigious, internationally televised forum for the head of the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, Bollinger called Ahmadinejad "a petty and cruel tyrant" and described his denial of the Holocaust as "ridiculous." He also noted Columbia's ties to Israel through alumni who have emigrated there and academic cooperation, and asked Ahmadinejad, who has threatened to destroy the Jewish state, if he also intends to annihilate Columbia.

But Bollinger's seemingly well-intentioned introduction of Iran's president could backfire, as shown by the rousing applause he received when he said that in Iran it is not customary to insult an invited guest with offensive comments aimed at "vaccinating" an audience against his views. This will play well in Iran and across the Middle East and also resonate among appeasement advocates and in Left-liberal circles generally throughout the United States and Europe. Liberal media pundits are also likely to be influenced; within hours of the Iranian president's speech, the MSNBC cable TV network's Chris Matthews was expressing criticism of Bollinger and sympathy for Ahmadinejad, reminding his viewers of alleged US crimes against Iran, including installing the (pro-US) Shah in a CIA-assisted coup more than five decades ago.

Bollinger's remarks will also be crticized by diplomats around the world: a head of state, no matter how awful, is a national representative; an insult to a head of state is traditionally taken as an insult to his country. Better to have not invited the Iranian president in the first place, professional diplomats will say. (We say: there is no need for damage control when one debates a person who operates within a civilized society's accepted zone of discourse. The fact that Bollinger felt the need to do what he did shows how stupid and unnecessary the event was and how fundamentally flawed his thinking is. A zealous civil libertarian, Bollinger is committed to a cockeyed concept of tolerance that not only includes domestic Nazis and other hate-mongers but also, as evidenced by today's media circus, enemy leaders.)

Instead of undermining Ahmadinejad by allowing him a venue in which to reveal his fanaticism and ignorance, the event is more likely to undermine US foreign policy. Ahmadinejad was legitimized and humanized by his appearance, which could also be interpreted in a conspiracy-obsessed region as having been secretly organized by an anti-war faction within the Bush administration assumed to be headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The federal government could have limited Ahmadinejad's movements to the United Nations and the vicinity of his nearby Manhattan hotel pursuant to the UN headquarters agreement. There was no obligation on the part of the government to permit the leader of a nuclear rogue nation that is arming and aiding America's enemies in Iraq to travel uptown to the Columbia campus.

Post Script: Matthews made much of Ahmadinejad's apparent acknowledgement that the Holocaust happened. In the commentator's view, this so-called new development proved that Bollinger was right to have invited the Iranian president but wrong to have denounced him before letting him speak. Nonsense. Ahmadinejad's remarks reflect a somewhat more sophisticated Iranian line on the Holocaust--actually similar to the Al Qaeda postion--which is that Nazi Germany's slaughter of European Jewry was exaggerated and exploited--and actually assisted--by the Zionist movement in order to establish Israel. Islamist Iran, as China Confidential has reported, has forged an alliance with foreign neo-Nazis, including professional Holocaust deniers. As sponsored guests of the regime--which also harbors Al Qaeda operatives--the neo-Nazis are frequent visitors to Tehran.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Technology's Role in the Future of Energy

EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert Olsen, Chairman of ExxonMobil International, delivered the keynote speech at a major European offshore oil industry conference that was held in Aberdeen, Scotland, on September 4. In view of the importance of the subject matter, we have decided to republish the speech in its entirety, except for the speaker's brief introductory and closing remarks. Regardless of one's opinion of the oil industry, Olsen's analysis of the interconnected energy and environmental crises that threaten, respectively, to wreck the global economy and ruin the global environment, merits serious study and consideration, especially since it runs counter to the doom-and-gloom outlook of the peak oil crowd. One prediction worth noting: by 2030, Olsen says, solar and wind will account for only one percent of global energy demand--"just a fraction of the overall energy mix." ExxonMobil expects that most of the world’s growing energy needs will continue to be met by oil, gas and coal for decades to come.


The complex, intertwined challenges of energy security of supply, economic growth and environmental protection are on the minds of governments and consumers alike, and there are many who frankly are unsure of our ability to handle all three successfully.

Given that the global economy needs continuing supplies of energy to grow, ExxonMobil sees an important future for oil and gas. The earth has a tremendous resource base; our industry has historically proven its proficiency in meeting challenges; and our company and others are investing heavily in new technologies that will enable us to continuously improve.

Today’s global energy sector is truly interconnected, with international oil companies making significant contributions to the development of national resources. That trend is not likely to change--indeed, it is expected to continue to grow significantly. Effective collaboration and innovative technology will be the keys to our success.

Long-term planning is critical to meeting the world's future energy challenges. As such, ExxonMobil prepares a detailed long-term energy supply and demand outlook each year. This assessment is used in our annual business planning process.

The outlook, which extends to 2030, incorporates data and input from a variety of respected sources, including the International Energy Agency and the US Department of Energy.

By 2030, worldwide energy demand will be almost 40 per cent greater than today--close to 325 million oil equivalent barrels per day. And that assumes we will achieve an energy efficiency improvement of nearly 45 per cent by the end of the outlook period.

Most of the growing demand for energy will occur in developing countries where 80 per cent of the world's population lives, as they move toward industrialised societies. Access to energy will not only lead to more economic growth in the developing world, but also assist with improving living standards for the many people who lack even the most basic of necessities. One billion people today lack safe drinking water and 1.6 billion lack electricity.

About 80 per cent of the world's energy needs through 2030 will continue to be met by fossil fuels. Of the other energy sources, wind and solar are projected to grow rapidly. But by 2030, they will still only account for about one per cent of global energy demand - just a fraction of the overall energy mix. So, it will be the conventional energy sources - oil, natural gas and coal - that will need to meet the bulk of the world's energy requirements over the coming decades.

And the resources are available. According to the US Geological Survey, there are more than three trillion barrels of conventional, recoverable oil across the globe. When non-conventional forms are taken into account--such as shale oil and heavy oil--the estimated resource base grows to more than four trillion barrels.

When you consider that since the dawn of the oil industry, we have collectively produced just one trillion barrels, you can see that resources are adequate for the foreseeable future.

The challenge lies in access and timely development. We no longer find and produce oil and gas in the manner our forefathers did in the 1800s. Our industry has evolved over time, and it will be the continued emphasis on technological advancements that will be critical to our future successes.

Technology has long been the answer to our most difficult energy questions. Through the years, innovation has enabled our industry to overcome countless obstacles in finding, producing and delivering a product that so many people consider just another commodity.

From the first wells in Pennsylvania, to today's complex, multi-billion dollar projects, our industry has developed and deployed new technologies throughout its history, with a stunning record of achievement.

For instance, in our Sakhalin operations in northeast Russia, ExxonMobil is using leading-edge extended-reach drilling technology to reach oil and gas reserves that are more than 11 kilometres from the shore. And we're doing it with pinpoint accuracy in some of the most difficult operating conditions in the world.

Recent advances in LNG technologies are enabling natural gas to be delivered safely and efficiently anywhere in the world. For example, new liquefaction trains, which ExxonMobil has developed in partnership with Qatar Petroleum, are 60 per cent larger than the previous generation. That has enabled us to cut costs by more than 25 per cent, making imported LNG globally competitive.

Europe will be one of the primary beneficiaries of these efforts. Two European LNG regasification terminals are currently under construction - Adriatic LNG at Rovigo, Italy, and South Hook at Milford Haven, Wales. Combined, the two terminals will have the capacity to process 2.8 billion cubic feet of gas per day. Both are expected online in 2008.

But not only are we working on technology to access new resources, we are also working hard to get more out of existing ones. Maximising recovery from existing fields offers tremendous potential.

The development and application of enhanced oil recovery methods such as waterflooding, gas injection and thermal recovery of thick and heavy oils have extended the productive life of hundreds of fields across the globe.

Here in Europe, our innovative multi-fracture and multi-zone stimulation technologies have helped us access tight gas reserves in places like Germany, allowing us to produce gas resources that were previously unattainable. As these technologies continue to evolve, they will play a major role in increasing recoverable resources from fields throughout Europe, and the world.

These types of breakthrough technologies are making the unconventional resources conventional, and enabling us to produce energy more effectively, more efficiently and with less environmental impact than ever before.

No discussion about the realities facing our industry today would be complete without addressing the issue of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

This challenge, like the others I have discussed this morning, is also of immense duration and scope. It is a global issue, with potential impacts touching all corners of the world.

The evidence shows that the earth's average temperature has warmed about seven-tenths of a degree celsius in the past century. Many global ecosystems, especially polar ones, are showing signs of warming. CO2 emissions have increased during this same time period, and the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use are two significant drivers of the increase.

Whilst climate remains a continuing area of scientific study, it has become increasingly evident that climate change poses risks to society and ecosystems. Therefore, it is prudent to take actions that address these risks, keeping in mind the central importance of energy to the world economy.

Studies have shown that significant advances in energy efficiency, along with expanded use of nuclear and alternatives, can deliver substantial emission savings. But if we are to stabilise CO2 levels in the atmosphere it will require more dramatic technological breakthroughs, given the rapidly rising global energy demand. Significant efforts need to be directed towards this goal, without a pre-determined view on what the eventual winners will be.

This is the reason that ExxonMobil is taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and why we are supporting breakthrough technology research to help reduce the "gap" tomorrow.

Our industry has been quick to seek improvements in energy efficiency in its own operations. In addition, many in our industry have recognised the need for new technologies and are investing in research. Let me give you some examples of what ExxonMobil is doing in these areas.

Since 1999, the steps we've taken to improve energy efficiency at our own facilities have resulted in the avoidance of 12 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions last year alone ... the equivalent of taking about two million cars off the road.

Much of that reduction is due to our commitment to cogeneration at our refineries and chemical plants. Today, we have interests in 85 cogen units worldwide, with a combined capacity to provide about 3,700 megawatts of power ... enough electricity to meet the demands of nearly seven million European homes.

We are also partnering with automobile and commercial engine manufacturers on R&D programs that could yield fuel economy improvements in internal combustion engines of up to 30 per cent, with lower emissions.

Our partners in addressing climate change include governments, too. ExxonMobil and others are teaming up with the European Union to assess the viability of geological carbon storage, based in part on our experience in the North Sea Sleipner gas field, where we've sequestered one million metric tons of CO2 each year since 1998.

This initiative--CO2ReMoVe--is working to advance carbon capture and storage technologies by studying current projects at sites throughout Europe and Algeria. This approach holds great promise in becoming a major contributor to reduced emissions over the coming decades.

We're also a founding sponsor of the Global Climate and Energy Project, based at Stanford University, which epitomises the approach to exploring step-changing technology. By accelerating research into promising new energy technologies with economic and environmental potential on a worldwide scale, scientists at GCEP are moving toward breakthroughs that could lead to meaningful, worldwide emissions reductions.

GCEP scientists are researching how hydrogen and solar energy can be made economic; how engine and fuel systems can be made significantly more efficient; and how biofuels can be made more abundant. With a 100 million dollar commitment, ExxonMobil is proud to serve as the lead sponsor for GCEP's groundbreaking work.

Just as technology has continually been the driver of progress in our industry, I am confident that future technological advances will enable an effective response to the challenge of climate change.

Governments also play an important role in mitigating the risks of climate change. Many thoughtful policy proposals have been put forward aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

ExxonMobil's goal is to be a constructive participant in the dialogue about various policy options and to help progress thinking on this important issue. To that end, we are participating in a number of discussions with policymakers, environmental leaders, industry representatives, think tanks and trade groups.

Any effective and sustainable approach to addressing climate risk must incorporate common-sense, proven risk-management principles--assessing costs and benefits, while taking the actions most likely to achieve benefits at the lowest cost.

Policies must also balance the need to address climate risks with the continual need to meet the energy requirements of economic development, improving public health, and assisting in lifting people out of poverty in the developing world.

In general, we believe that maximising the use of markets to select and deploy technologies will best serve society's interests in the long term. Where a variety of needs and options exist with different costs and scale, markets work well.

Achieving a uniform and predictable cost for carbon across the economy would enable market mechanisms to work effectively to this end. Uniformity ensures economic efficiency, whilst predictability facilitates good decisions affecting energy consumption today, and investment in the technologies needed to reduce emissions over time.

Administrative simplicity and transparency for both companies and consumers are also essential characteristics of an effective policy framework. This helps businesses plan their investments and helps consumers understand the impact of policy on the goods and services they purchase.

Given the global nature of the challenge, effective policies should also offer a path to global participation. Focusing on the developed world alone cannot constrain global CO2 emissions. Failure to bring in the developing world will create imbalances, and could make the problem worse.

Finally, we must ensure that any sound policy continues to adjust as climate science develops, and we can see the impacts of climate policy on the world's economies.

We know that the European Union has designed and is operating a cap-and-trade system in an effort to control greenhouse gas emissions from large sources. Indeed, it is a system that our businesses in Europe continue to operate under with success.

However, what businesses operating in Europe are seeking is a uniform and predictable cost for carbon. Through the first phase of the trading scheme, we have seen carbon prices fluctuate widely between a high of 30 euros and a low of 25 euro cents per tonne.

As further policy frameworks are developed, we believe that other policy mechanisms might be more effective in providing a clear, long-term price for carbon. We believe these alternative approaches should be equally analysed and debated.

For example, an upstream cap-and-trade system--that is, a system placing a limit on carbon at the point where the fuel enters the commercial world rather than at the point of emission--offers potential advantages in terms of efficiency and simplicity. It reduces the number of regulated entities and provides a uniform cost of carbon to the entire economy.

Similarly, a carbon tax could enable the cost of carbon to be spread across the economy as a whole in a uniform and predictable way.

Of course, all these policy options carry significant challenges as well as potential benefits. Poorly considered versions of any policy can have negative consequences.

My purpose in sharing these thoughts with you is not to make a definitive case for one system over another. I do so to show that decisions of this kind are complex, that policy options need to be given careful consideration, and that constructive dialogue is crucial to meeting the climate change challenge.

I would be remiss if I did not also discuss the important role governments play-- not only in implementing effective climate policy, but also in helping the world maintain an affordable, reliable flow of energy.

The path to energy security does not lie in attempting to insulate domestic economies from the global marketplace. Instead, it lies in open, competitive markets, international trade, diversity of supply, and the strengthening of relationships between producing and consuming nations.

The value of such an interconnected marketplace is that energy security is enhanced when there are more participants, better relationships, and more diverse sources of supply.

The projects our industry undertakes span decades, require huge investments, and utilise cutting-edge technologies that evolve throughout project lifecycles. Long-term planning is critical--planning that looks beyond the current business cycle, relies on stable frameworks, and goes beyond political term limits.

As a result, the role governments play--in maintaining stable fiscal and regulatory environments and in allowing access to energy resources--is crucial to future energy security. They are vital to an industry that is highly capital-intensive and operates over such long time horizons.

Our industry has proven time and again that it will accept risk, even for projects that require massive investment. But only if measures are in place that allow us to operate effectively and resolve issues fairly. The tremendous energy infrastructure that successfully moves oil and gas around the world is proof that the industry will make large and prudent investments when it perceives long-term value and a reliable level of stability.

And that is the key.

When governments encourage investment, when oil and gas companies focus on developing new technologies, and when both work together to protect the environment, together we can successfully develop the energy the world needs to power growth and prosperity in the future.

Israel May Have Captured NK Nuke in Syria

Britain's Sunday Times reported last night that an elite Israeli commando unit--members of the legendary Sayeret Matkal--captured North Korean nuclear materials and killed several North Korean nationals at a secret Syrian installation before its destruction by the Israeli Air Force earlier this month. The paper quoted "informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem."

"Nuclear materials" could be an understatement. Analysts tell China Confidential Pyongyang may have provided Damascus with an actual nuclear bomb or warhead.

Alternatively, the plutonium bomb-producing, Stalinist/Kimist regime may have supplied Syria with enriched uranium from a suspected parallel nuclear program.

Either way, North Korea's nuclear tag-team partner, Iran, had to have been involved in the project at Dayr az-Zawr in northern Syria, which was wiped out on Sept. 6. The two countries have cooperated in nuclear and missile development for years. More recently, North Korea has reportedly been helping Iran to accelerate production of a nuclear weapon; the cooperation may include preparations for an underground bomb test.

North Korea, as previously reported by China Confidential, may have also helped Iran to build and test a missile launching system that could be concealed and used aboard a civilian cargo ship. There is no known defense--except for a good offense--against this type of attack, known as a Scud-in-a-bucket. Given time to develop or acquire atomic warheads, Iran can be expected to arm and deploy sleeper ships at sea--a fleet of seemingly innocent, foreign flagged vessels--each of which could be capable of attacking US coastal cities with nuclear-tipped missiles.

China--ally of both Syria and Iran--had to have known what it's Korean vassal was up to in the Middle East.

But Beijing could also have tipped off the United States or Israel--who knows? The leaders of booming, energy-starved China may be dangerous; but they're not insane. The last thing they want to see in the Middle East is a nuclear exchange that could wipe out much of the world's oil supplies.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Confidential Sources: Brzezinski Brain Behind Columbia's Invitation to Iranian Monster-in-Chief

It's quite possible that US Senator Barack Obama's foreign policy adviser, Zbignew Brzezinski, was involved in the decision by Columbia University to invite Iranian monster-in-chief Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at the Ivy League school.

Columbia is located in New York City, about seven miles north of where the World Trade Center stood until September 11, 2001, when the twin towers were attacked by Al Qaeda--an Islamist organization whose leaders, members and supporters have since been sheltered and assisted by Iran.

The idea for Ahmadinejad's appearance, set for this Tuesday, may have even originated with Brzezinski, who taught international relations at Columbia for many years before moving on to become National Security Advisor to US President Jimmy Carter. As noted below, Brzezinski is an old hand at US-Islamist intrigue.

China Confidential sources claim that Brzezinski convinced Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, that there is an urgent need for citizen diplomacy to delay--or derail--what Brzezinski regards as a determined drive by the Bush administration to unnecessarily go to war with the Islamist nation over its suspect nuclear program. Brzezinski, according to these sources, believes that providing Ahmadinejad with a prestigious forum could help to humanize the Iranian leader, shed light on possible peaceful solutions to the nuclear standoff, and altogether make it more difficult for the US to attack Iran.

The sources offered no opinion on whether or not Brzezinski was somehow also behind Ahmadinejad's unssuccessful attempt to defile the Trade Center site, known as Ground Zero, with an incredibly odious and propagandistic wreath-laying visit. But Bollinger is expected to ask his guest about that as well as questioning him about the Holocaust, Israel and the nuclear issue.

Obama, who is running for President, has accused the White House of rushing to war with Iran without giving diplomacy a chance to succeed.

About the cast of characters in this appalling affair:

(1) Ahmadinejad, who has vowed to destroy Israel, denied the Holocaust, and threatened the US, is a former professional terrorist and assassin who has aligned himself as Iranian president with the mullahocracy's most extreme elements--a cult of messianic zealots inspired by mad visions of global Shiite domination.

(2) Brzezinski played a key role in Carter's betrayal of Iran's last ruling Shah, an American ally overthrown by the Ayatollah Khomeini with the help of the country's mullahs and their indoctrinated followers as well as legions of leftwing students and other disaffected but non-Islamist Iranians (all of whom were subsequently crushed or sidelined by the Khomeini regime). Brzezinski is also the unrepentant author of America's covert operation to arm Islamists in Afghanistan in order to lure the Soviet Union into invading that country. His ideas about using Islamism against Moscow date at least to the late 1970s. In fact, the Polish-born cold warrior continues to argue for an "accommodation" with supposed moderate Islamists for purposes of countering resurgent Russia. Brzezinski was professor and director of the Research Institute on Communist Affairs at Columbia (1960s leftwing student activists accused the institute of accepting CIA funding). He joined the Columbia faculty after Harvard denied him tenure. He is currently a professor of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

(3) Bollinger is a respected, left-leaning lawyer-intellectual and influential civil lberties expert who seems bent on broadening his controversial concept of a "tolerant society"--i.e. one that permits and even encourages free speech by home-grown neo-Nazis and other violent and venomous creatures--to include promoting dialogue with America's worst foreign enemies ... in short, to borrow Stalin's handy definition of a foreign Communist, a useful idiot. (Would Bollinger, had he been running Columbia during the reign of the Soviet monster, have dreamed of bringing him to the university? Need we ask? After all, Bollinger is a true champion of tolerance--for tyrants and terrorists.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Growing Pains for Chinese Biodiesel

Chinese biodiesel may be faltering.

China's total output last year was about 60 million gallons. Production for 2007 could increase to 88 million gallons. Trouble is, there are no government mandates for biodiesel production in China. Nor are any mandates or tax incentives in sight. (US producers depend on mandates and subsidies because of unexpectedly high feedstock prices--mainly soy--which keep biodiesel from being price-competitive with petro-diesel.)

Quality is another issue. Chinese biodiesel is typically so poor that it can't be used for motor fuel.

Still, China is investing heavily in the large-scale cultivation of jatropha--a hardy, inedible oilseed crop that is an ideal biodiesel feedstock--and big collection and refining schemes for recycled cooking oil, or restaurant grease, also known as waste or used vegetable oil.

WIth the exception of China, Asian nations are almost exclusively committed to using palm oil as feedstock for biodiesel.

Pure, biodegradable biodiesel, known as B100 in the US, is made by mixing virgin or waste vegetable oil (or tallow) with methanol and a chemical agent such as sodium hydroxide in a process called transesterification. B100 can be blended at any level with petro-diesel for use in unmodified diesel engines. In addition to motor fuel for cars, trucks and boats, biodiesel can be used as a substitute for heating oil and also burned in a generator to produce electricity.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Tolerance for Terror

Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University, is a tolerant man. In fact, he is the author of The Tolerant Society, a book that asserts that a free society is strengthened by tolerating its most offensive and extreme elements--like Nazis, for instance.

Or leaders of nuclear-arming, terrorist-sponsoring rogue states.

In Bollinger's book, a mass-murdering foreign foe is just another world citizen, someone worthy of respect and ... tolerance. Instead of being put in prison, Bollinger believes, he should be given a ... platform ... not for hanging ... as in the case of the tyrant Saddam ... but for ... speaking. To the students and faculty of a great university and, via mass media, the residents of a great city and people all over the world.

Really. As reported this week, Columbia's envelope-pushing, left-leaning lawyer-intellectual is also the author of an academic atrocity--an invitation to the Hitler-admiring but Holocaust denying Iranian monster-in-chief Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia, which is located at the northern end of Manhattan's Upper West Side, in New York CIty--a municipality that is home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel. The community includes elderly Holocaust survivors, their children and grandchildren, as well as most of the families of the victims of the Islamist attacks of 9/11.

All of whom, according to Bollinger, should be ... tolerant ... of Ahmadinejad, whose government has harbored and aided Al Qaeda leaders and threatened to destroy Israel.

Unfortunately for Bollinger, the monster's scheduled speech has shocked and angered many New Yorkers. Responding to an outpouring of criticism, his ... tolerant ... host has vowed to use a planned question and answer session to challenge the Iranian president's views and pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Bullshit. Bollinger's defense is an insult to our intelligence; his invitation to the Islamist killer, a national disgrace, akin to inviting Hitler himself to address New Yorkers on the eve of World War II.

Columbia's president should rescind the inviation and apologize to every New Yorker and every American for his incredibly insensitive and stupid mistake, assuming, to give him the benefit of the doubt, that it was indeed a mistake and not a clumsy attempt to elevate a tyrant in the public eye and thus undermine possible US plans to attack his country in order to end its nuclear program. (Yes, this reporter dares to suggest treason, for it would not be the first time that a prominent intellectual sided with an avowed enemy of his country in order to supposedly save it from itself.)

Meanwhile, every Columbia graduate should notify the university that it will pay a hefty price in cancelled contributions if it insists on welcoming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Broadway and 116th Street.

An Alternative Approach to Iran?

There may still be a way for the United States to persuade Iran to end its balance-of-power-changing nuclear arms program short of appeasing (God forbid) or preemptively attacking the Islamist regime (although the argument for military action grows stronger every day).

In the wake of Iran's provocative threat to retaliate against Israel with missiles and fighter-bombers if the US attacks Iranian nuclear installations, a case could be made that the time has come for Washington to issue its own threat. The US could clearly communicate to Iran that from this day forward, absent its entering into and complying with a serious, verifiable denuclearization deal, the Islamist nation would automatically be blamed, presumed guilty, and held responsible should an Islamist weapon of mass destruction--of any kind--be used against the US or its allies, including, of course, Israel. More specifically, a WMD attack by Iran or any other Islamist nation or Islamist terrorist group against US or allied civilians or military forces would trigger an immediate US response in the form of a nuclear attack aimed at annihilating the Iranian Islamist menace. Every known or suspected site of military and political significance would be subject to utter destruction.

So much for the stick. The threat to retaliate against Iran for any apparent or suspected Islamist WMD attack--nuclear, chemical, or biological--or even a near-nuclear-scale conventional attack--on any American or allied target anywhere on earth could be coupled with a carrot. The US could offer Tehran diplomatic recognition and security assurances, even, in exchange for (a) abandoning its nuclear and missile programs, (b) cutting off aid to anti-American forces in Iraq (the Shiite militias and death squads) and Afghanistan (the Sunni Taliban), (c) backing away from secular (but steadily Islamizing) Syria, and (d) bringing Iran's Lebanese Islamist proxy (Shiite Hezbollah) to heel. Hezbollah would have to give up its own arsenal of missiles, along with its dream of taking power in Lebanon. The US, distasteful as this would be to many Americans, would have to agree to stop trying to topple the Iranian regime.

Removing a constant, credible threat of nuclear destruction could be a powerful incentive to behave, even for Iran's imperialist, missile-mad mullahocracy. Dropping its irrational schemes and dreams would be the price Iran would have to pay for its name to be removed from the list of nations targeted for nuclear annihilation in the event of an Islamist WMD attack. Abandoning allies and proxies would be the price for recognition, normal relations and real security. For all their tough talk about martyrdom and mass suicide, the mullahs might go for the deal.

Even if they don't deal, putting Iran's military under a nuclear sword of Damocles could cause it to finally revolt, though it is hard to imagine the regular armed forces coming out on top in a showdown with the elite Revolutionary Guard. A coup could inspire a mass uprising, however, of oppressed minorities as well as students and disaffected members of the middle class. The regime may be a lot weaker than we think, notwithstanding its capacity for terror and brutality.

This much is certain: traditional diplomacy has run its course, and time is of the essence--and working in Iran's favor. The rogue state has already achieved a certain balance of terror with Western nations with its arsenal of missiles. Allowing Iran to attain a nuclear balance of terror is out of the question.

Iran is not the Soviet Union; the idea that it is possible to peacefully coexist or ideologically compete with a nuclear-armed Islamist regime--i.e. inside the framework of Cold War-style mutally assured destruction--is an unacceptably dangerous delusion. The US contained Soviet expansion in Europe by drawing a line in German sand: Moscow perceived that line to be a tripwire and believed (correctly or not) that crossing it with tanks and troops would trigger a US nuclear response.

Perhaps it's time for the US to draw a line in the sands of the Middle East.

If not now, when?

Post Script: To the above list of conditions for recognition, the following should be added: detaining and deporting to the US or one of its allies any and all Al Qaeda members who may be sheltering in Iran, and ending all cooperation with or assistance to Al Qaeda and associated or affiliated groups--including, of course, the Palestinian Sunni Islamist terrorist movement, Hamas.

New Qaeda Videos Promise More Death

Following the recently released video speech by Osama Binladen--his first in nearly three years--Al Qaeda announced today that its leader will soon declare war on Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, though it is not clear as of this writing if Binladen will appear in a new video or only be heard in an audiotape.

Al Qaeda made the announcement as it released a new video in which the organization's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, called on Muslims to fight the United States and its allies, and to avenge the killing of a pro-Taliban cleric in Pakistan. Zawahri boasted that the US was being defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and other arenas.

In contrast with the pseudo-Left language and bizarre references to historical and contemporary events and issues that marked Binladen's message--e.g. the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy and rising interest rates on real estate mortgages in the US--Zawahri's speech was classically Al Qaeda. Binladen's rant read like it was penned by an American convert to Islam; Zawahri's, as if he wrote it himself, perhaps in a quiet moment in some cave.

The video was part of the organization's propaganda offensive on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of its terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC--the worst-ever attacks on US soil and the worst terrorist attacks in history. While millions of conspiracy-minded Muslims and Western crackpots continue to deny Al Qaeda's responsibility for the 9/11 mega-sneak attacks, which killed 3,000 innocent human beings, Al Qaeda's leaders celebrate the slaughter as a glorious victory for Islam.

"Stand, o nation of Islam under the victorious banner of the Prophet ... and campaign against the crusader banner of Bush," Zawahri said.

"Go forth ... to the mujahideen, bear them arms, back them, defend them and don't be intimidated by the power of America for these two blessed attacks have revealed that it is a power of iron and fire, with no faith or morals or principle....

"Let the Pakistani army know that the killing of Abdul Rashid Ghazi and his students and the demolition of his mosque and two madrasas have soaked the history of the Pakistani army in shame ... which can only be washed away by retaliation against the killers of Abdul Rashid Ghazi and his students."

About 75 of Ghazi's followers were killed in July in an assault on the Lal Masjid mosque complex, which served as a Taliban base in the heart of Islamabad.

Intelligence experts will scrutinize the next Binladen speech to see if he loses the leftist lingo and returns to traditional Islamist terminology--crusaders, infidels, etc--in an effort to hasten Musharraf's fall.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Islamist Iran Again Aided by American Assassin

Media corruption continues.

The liberal mainstream media (forgive the redundancy) are reflexively or intentionally ignoring a big story--the involvement of an American traitor and self-confessed assassin in the suspicious disappearance and probable imprisonment and murder (and worse) of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, following his inexplicably stupid visit to the Iranian resort island of Kish in the Persian Gulf.

That an American with a federal law enforcement background--and a seemingly Jewish name--would travel to the nuclear-arming, anti-American Islamist nation, which is proudly and openly dedicated to annihilating the Jewish state, Israel, is itself beyond belief.

Levinson was last seen at the Maryam, a luxury hotel on Kish. Astonishingly, an American citizen and fugitive claims he met Levinson there.

The man's name is David Belfield. Also known as Daoud Salahuddin, he is a convert to Islam. More important, he has confessed--on camera--to an American television network--to the cold-blooded killing in Bethesda, Maryland 27 years ago of Ali Tabatabai, an Iranian diplomat, who started and led the Iran Freedom Foundation following the Islamist overthrow of Iran's pro-American Shah. Posing as a United States Postal Service mail carrier, complete with uniform and truck, Belfield gunned down Tabatabai--a gentle, courageous soul who had actually once run afoul of SAVAK, Iran's dreaded secret police, because of his democratic leanings. The Shah's aristocratic ambassador to the US, Ardeshir Zahedi, rescued Tabatabai, so to speak, by bringing him to Iran's Washington, DC Embassy, where he worked as a press attache and earned high marks from journalists, including, even, reporters known to be critical of the Shah.

Belfield, who worked for the Iranian interest section of the Algerian Embassy, fled to Iran through Canada. Correction: he was allowed to flee by the Carter administration, which had betrayed the Shah and was bent on currying favor with the new regime, led by the truly evil Ayatollah Khomeini.

Why was Belfield meeting with Levinson? We don't know, exactly, but we suspect that Belfield was again mobilized by his Iranian case officers to eliminate another enemy of the monstrous mullahocracy.

The Dirty Secret in the Middle East

The dirty secret of America's failed democracy promotion project in Iraq is that no nation in the Middle East, except for Israel, ever wanted it to succeed. The Jewish state bought into the Bush administration's reverse domino theory--that democracy, once installed in Iraq, would spread througout the region and perhaps, even, across the whole, dysfunctional Muslim world, transforming one backward dictatorship after another into bastions of "freedom" and free enterprise, and so on and so forth.

But the region's rulers fear and loathe such transformation. From the turbaned totalitarians of Islamist Iran to the secular, authoritarian leaders of Syria and Egypt and the monarchies of Jordan and Saudi Arabia--a family business disguised as a country--the unspoken consensus is that democracy is a menace. Something to be avoided like a plague, or killed in infancy before it can grow into a terrible monster.

Put differently, there is no meaningful constituency for democracy in the Arab/Muslim universe. True, the killers and crooks cloaked in clerical robes and tribal constumes, business suits and army uniforms may feel a modern-day need to appropriate the trappings and terms of democracy--an Islamic republic here, an Arab republic there, pretend parliaments nearly everywhere (excluding medieval Saudi Arabia, naturally, which feels no need to even make believe or play at democracy)--but it's all a charade, as anyone with even the slightest experience or degree of familiarity with these leaders well knows. They are despotic and corrupt to the core. Rule of law and freedom of assembly and expression are alien, terrifying concepts. The rulers understand and appreciate and are experts at using bribery and brute force--the carrot and the stick--secret bank accounts and secret police. Secrecy, not transparency, above all.

Ironically, in the Arab/Muslim universe, the people who most detest democracy are the ones who promote it--up to a point. As shown by the Gazastan disaster, which the United States and Europe were instrumental in creating with the complicity of a weakened Israel, Islamists push for elections in order to attain power and impose Islamist rule. One person, one vote, one time, or, as in the case of Iran, more than one time, provided the purpose of the voting is to choose between Islamist candidates.

How and why the US under President George W. Bush came to believe that it could remake the Middle East along democratic lines is a topic that future historians will analyze and debate for many years to come. Assuming, of course, that there are still historians ... for the enemy that attacked the US on 9/11 aims for nothing less than the end of civilzation as we know it.

One can only hope that there is still time for the US to correct its colossal blunder--i.e. the Bush administration's strategic decision to avoid an all-out war against Islamism after the Islamist mega-attacks in favor of a "war on terror," and a counterproductive (excuse the expression) ... crusade ... for "freedom" and invasion of a mass-murdering, but contained, secular Arab dictatorship.

The thought that it could be too late for the US to change course is simply too awful to entertain. The West must win the war against Islamism. Quickly. Because time works for the enemy, which grows stronger and closer to controlling nuclear weapons with the passing of each month.

As the Israelis say, ein breira--there is no alternative--to victory.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Olmert: Israel Ready for Peace Talks with Syria

Following its stunning, September 6 air raid on a mysterious target that many analysts believe to have been a North Korean-supplied nuclear installation in Syria, Israel is signaling the secular (but steadily Islamizing) Arab nation that it would be wise to sit out the next big regional conflict--a US-Israeli war to finally end the nuclear-arming Islamist regime ruling Syria's Islamist ally, non-Arab Iran, and its Lebanese Shiite proxy, Hezbollah.

Israeli sources say the Jewish state is prepared to offer Damascus a face-saving deal over the disputed, formerly Syrian-controlled Golan Heights. An accord of this kind would give Syria a token gain in Golan, coupled with US financial assistance and security assurances.

This explains why Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that he respected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and was prepared to talk peace with him.

"Like I said in the past, we want to make peace with anyone who is willing to make peace with us," Olmert told reporters in Jerusalem in his first public comment since the aerial attack. "We are willing to enter negotiations with Syria with no preconditions. We have much respect for the Syrian leader and the Syrian policy. They have internal problems but this is no reason not to enter into dialogue with them."

Retired US General Leaps to Iran's Defense

Perfidy!

Deliberately or not, the former commander of American forces in the Middle East has effectively stabbed his own country and its faithful ally, Israel, in the back, telling an influential Washington, DC think tank that the world can live with a nuclear-armed Iran.

John Abizaid, who headed Central Command for nearly four years, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies Monday that while every effort should be made to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the United States and the rest of the world could abide failure.

Really? Tell that to Israel, which Iran's monstrous mullahocracy has vowed to destroy.

"Iran is not a suicide nation," the recently retired four-star US Army general said. "I mean, they may have some people in charge that don't appear to be rational, but I doubt that the Iranians intend to attack us with a nuclear weapon."

The Iranians are aware, he said, that the US has a far superior military capability.

"I believe that we have the power to deter Iran, should it become nuclear," he said, referring to the theory that Iran would not risk a catastrophic retaliatory strike by using a nuclear weapon against the US. "There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran. Let's face it, we lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we've lived with a nuclear China, and we're living with (other) nuclear powers as well."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rumor: Brzezinski Urging Carter to Shield Iran

From China Confidential's correspondent in France comes this rumor: Jimmy Carter's former National Security Advisor, Zbignew Brzezinski, has encouraged the ex-President to make good on his offer to serve as a human shield to deter an American attack on Iran.

As China Confidential reported in June, Carter told delegates to an Irish human rights forum that month that he was ready to travel to Tehran to preserve peace.

Carter's shocking and totally unprecedented idea--imagine if a former American President volunteered to help Nazi Germany--is ironic, to say the least. Iran fell to the Islamist menace under Carter's watch following his betrayal of the pro-American Shah. Brzezinski was the architect of Carter's disastrous policy; stealing a page from imperial Britain's playbook during its Great Game rivalry with Czarist Russia, the Polish-born cold warrior stupidly believed he could use Islamism to bring down the Soviet Union without the risk of blowback.

He was horribly wrong, of course, as shown by 9/11, when Islamist scum--Brzezinski later referred to them as simply "some stirred up Moslems"--slaughtered nearly 3,000 people in the worst-ever attacks on US soil. In this regard, it was Brzezinski who persuaded Carter--a dovish Democrat--to authorize covert military aid to the Islamists of Afghanistan--before the 1980 Soviet invation--in order to bleed Moscow dry. The strategy proved successful. After the invasion, President Reagan expanded the secret war into the largest-ever covert operation in US history.

If not for Carter and Brzezinski--now an advisor to US Senator and Presidential hopeful Barack Obama--clerical fascist Islamism might have remained a contained problem, limited to the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood and historically suppressed Shiite extremists. Democrats who oppose bombing the Nazi-like, nuclear-arming Iranian regime should keep this in mind.

Syria's North Korea-Supplied Nuclear Surprise

Did North Korea supply Syria with nuclear warheads for its missiles?

Yes, say many analysts, which is why Israel had to attack. The Jewish state could not allow a nuclear threat on its northern border. Bad enough that Syria, which is allied with Iran, has enough missiles--and chemical warheads--to devastate Tel Aviv. Nuclear-tipped missiles are an entirely different matter. Israel is a one-bomb country. The brave little democracy reborn in the aftermath of the Holocaust cannot afford to wait while wannabe Hitlers plan a new genocide.

Analysts speculate that on September 6 perhaps as many as eight Israeli aircraft--including advanced F-15s and F-16s armed with 500-pound bombs and Maverick missiles--destroyed the North Korean-Syrian site, which was developed with Iranian support.

The Israeli air raid could cause Syria to stand down when (not if) the United States bombs Iran's known and suspected nuclear and missile sites and the terrorist Revolutionary Guard.

US State Department diplomats, meanwhile, are trying to downplay Pyongyang's perfidious proliferation--cleverly carried out under cover of six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Committed to a politics of appeasement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her chief envoy to the talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher ("Kim-Jong") Hill, are clearly reluctant to press the Stalinist/Kimist/criminal regime-and its ally, China--for full disclosure.

As for China, which is also allied with Iran and Syria, what did the rising Asian giant know, and when did it know it? Answers are in order, but don't look to Washington. Rice and China's best friend in the Bush administration, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson--who made some 70 trips to China as Chairman and CEO of publicly traded investment banking behemoth Goldman Sachs--will go to great lengths to avoid embarrassing Beijing's rulers. They have shown that they can blast and blind US satellites, sabotage US defense-related computer sysems, applaud Al Qaeda (yes, they did that on 9/11), and threaten the US with financial ruin without any serious consequences.

Post Script: Syria may actually sit out the coming conflict with Iran. The visit to Damascus by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner could be aimed at talking some sense into the Baathist regime running the still secular but steadily Islamizing nation. Kouchner said Sunday that the world should prepare for war with Iran.

It is unlikely, however, that Hezbollah will hold its fire when the bombing begins. Iran's Islamist proxy knows that its fate is tied to Tehran's turbaned tyranny. Hezbollah is finished as a military-political power--its plot to take control of Lebanon is doomed--the day Iran is defeated. Hence, Hezbollah can be expected to unleash its missiles on Israel as Iran comes under attack, which is why Israel, with US approval, will not hesitate to finally eradicate its Lebanese Shiite foe when Washington moves to crush the Iranian mullahocracy.

Given that accomplishing all of the above could take up to a week--we forecast a three-day war--the big question is: what will the US Democratic Party do? Will the party conflate Iran and Iraq and try to save the Islamist regime, threatening President Bush with impeachment and worse--namely, an international war crimes tribunal, as suggested by Jimmy Carter's former National Security Advisor, the pro-Iran, anti-Israel Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is now advising Presidential aspirant Barack Obama? Time will tell.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

US Bows to China Over N. Korea and Taiwan

The Bush administration is bowing to not-so-peacefully rising China when it comes to two important issues--North Korean arms proliferation and Taiwanese freedom.

1. North Korea. The Stalinist/Kimist/criminal regime has actually stepped up its proliferation activities under cover of the flawed, six-party denuclearization deal, as shown by satellite images and other evidence of North Korean-Syrian nuclear cooperation. But appeasement-minded diplomats in the US State Department downplay the alarming developments because they are desperate to show progress in Korea. Advocates of appeasing Pyongyang also ignore its continued close cooperation--and coordination--with Iran. And the US appeasement camp resists pressure to demand a full accounting from North Korea and China, even though it is inconceivable that China was not aware of what its vassal was up to in the Middle East.

2. Taiwan. The island nation--a thriving democracy that has been self-ruled since 1949--deserves and needs to be a member of the United Nations. UN membership could deter China from making good on its vow to take Taiwan back by force if negotiations to peacefully reunify fail to produce a deal on China's terms. But the Bush administration strongly opposes Taiwan's UN bid. The administration is basically betraying brave little Taiwan in an attempt to appease China. One reason: the administration still hopes to obtain China's support for new sanctions on Iran. Another reason: the embattled administration is intimidated by China, worn out by the war in Iraq, intellectually exhausted and incapable of dealing with more crises and confrontation. Still another reason: China has powerful friends within the administration and across the US foreign policy establishment. Like the lobby for Saudi Arabia, the China lobby can be expected to fight tooth and nail to protect the self-serving economic interests that its members conflate with the US national interest.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fearing the Future, Maliki Looks to Sadr

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is increasingly inclined to try to stike a power-sharing arrangement with Iran's main man in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr, head of the country's most powerful Shiite militia.

Sadr, who recently declared a six-month halt to militia activities, is an avowed enemy of the United States.

Maliki's fear is that political pressures will force US President Bush to withdraw toops from Iraq at a rate that would pave the way for full-scale civil war and a collapse of the Iraqi government.

Brzezinski Advised Obama Bombing Iran Would be War Crime; Ayatollah Threatens Bush with Tribunal

China Confidential has learned that Zbigniew Brzezinski has persuaded US Senator and Presidential aspirant Barack Obama that bombing Iran would be a war crime and an impeachable offense.

Brzezinski, who is well known for his animosity toward Israel, may have also influenced Iran's so-called Supreme Leader to threaten President Bush with an international war crimes tribunal over the Iraq war. The threat by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is sure to resonate with radical Left elements in Europe and the US; demonstrations and mock trials modeled after the late Bertrand Russell's propagandistic mock trial of the US over Vietnam can be expected.

Sources say Obama believes Brzezinski, who was the National Security Advisor to President Carter from 1977 to 1981, has made a convincing case that an attack on Iran would be a unilateral, unconstitutional act of war because, in his view, the Islamist regime is several years away from having a nuclear arsenal and is not threatening the US. Bombing Iran without United Nations Security Council approval would make the US a rogue state, Brzezinski told Obama, and subject President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other US officials and military commanders to an international war crimes tribunal.

Meanwhile, Khamenei said on Friday that Bush had been defeated in the Middle East and would one day stand trial for "atrocities" committed in Iraq.

"I have a firm belief that one day this current US president and the American officials will be tried in a fair international court for the atrocities committed in Iraq," he said in a prayer sermon to mark the onset of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"They have to be held accountable. The United States cannot ignore its responsibility," Khamenei told worshippers, who punctuated his sermon with shouts of "Death to America".

"The situation will not remain like this. One day it was Hitler, then it was the turn of Saddam," he said.

Post Script: The reference to Hitler is intriguing and significant. Sensitive to international criticism caused by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's infamous denial of the Holocuast and embrace of neo-Nazi groups, the mullahocracy is making an effort to publicly differentiate between hatred of Israel and hatred of Jews, even to the point of allowing Iranian TV to broadccast a Holocaust-themed docudrama miniseries about an Iranian diplomat who saved Jews during the Second World War.

Nuclear Flip-Flop? Obama Talked About Bombing Iran and Pakistan When He Ran for US Senate

As reported yesterday, US Senator Barack Obama, a Democrat from Illinois, who is campaigning for his party's Presidential nomination in 2008, has accused the Bush administration of "conflating Iran and Al Qaeda" and not giving diplomacy a chance with respect to stopping Iran's nuclear program. Obama's remarks, made in the context of what was billed as a major foreign policy address Wednesday during a campaign stop in Iowa, place him squarely in the anti-war, appeasement camp with respect to the nuclar-arming Islamist regime. Following the advice of Zbigniew Brzezinski (scroll for the story below), Obama has broadened his opposition to the Iraq war to include Iran.

But three years ago, US Senate candidate Obama expressed hawkish views on Iran. As a Democratic state senator seeking national office, Obama strongly suggested that the US might have to attack Iran--and Pakistan--to prevent Islamists from getting control of nuclear bombs.

On September 25, 2004, just three days after Iran began converting tons of uranium into gas--a crucial step in making fuel for an atomic reactor or an atomic bomb--Obama told the Chicago Tribune that the US should first take the issue to the United Nations Security Council and try to persuade the international community to apply economic sanctions on Tehran.

However, if those measures fall short, the US should not rule out military strikes to destroy nuclear production sites in Iran, Obama said.

He asked: "The big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures, including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point are we going to, if any, are we going to take military action?"

Missile strikes might be a viable, though not "optimal" option, he said, adding that the war in Iraq more or less ruled out the possibility of a land invasion of Iran.

Senate candidate Obama: "In light of the fact that we're now in Iraq, with all the problems in terms of perceptions about America that have been created, us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in.

"On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse. So I guess my instinct would be to err on not having those weapons in the possession of the ruling clerics of Iran. ... And I hope it doesn't get to that point. But realistically, as I watch how this thing has evolved, I'd be surprised if Iran blinked at this point."

A coup in Pakistan, which could put the nation's nuclear weapons in hands of Islamists, would compel the US to consider military action, Obama said.

Obama described radical Islam as a radically different sort of enemy than the Cold War-era Soviet Union.

"With the Soviet Union, you did get the sense that they were operating on a model that we could comprehend in terms of, they don't want to be blown up, we don't want to be blown up, so you do game theory and calculate ways to contain," Obama said. "I think there are certain elements within the Islamic world right now that don't make those same calculations."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Obama Getting Advice from Brzezinski

US Senator and Presidential aspirant Barack Obama has aligned himself with the architect of America's anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan--former President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The controversial cold warrior persuaded Carter to back the Islamists in order to draw Moscow into invading Afghanistan so that it would become bogged down in a long, costly conflict. He hoped to hand the Soviets their own Vietnam.

The strategy is generally credited with helping to bring down the Soviet empire. But the Afghan intervention--which the Reagan administration expanded into America's largest-ever covert operation--blew back horrifically in the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11.

Brzezinski has never expressed regret over his role in backing the jihadists. On the contrary, he has often defended the pro-Islamist intervention in Afghanistan, telling a French magazine, for example, that a few "stirred up Moslems" constituted a small price to pay in return for a strategic Soviet defeat.

Brzezinski also persuaded Carter to betray Iran's Shah in the hope of currying favor with the Ayatollah Khomeini prior to his overthrow of the pro-US monarch.