Shale Oil Gas Pitches US Against Saudi Arabia

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By Joergen Oerstroem Moeller*

SINGAPORE (IDN | YaleGlobal) - Shale oil and gas has been labeled a game changer. Statistics would suggest that, yes, the new technologies and discoveries associated with hydraulic fracking change the energy picture and economic outlook, in particular for the United States, but less so than predictions would have it a year or two go.

The greater impact won’t be on the US economy, but rather US-Saudi relations and stability for the Middle East. President Barack Obama met King Abdullah March 28, and both leaders recognize that the geopolitical ground shaped by their common interest in stable oil prices has shifted, creating a new imbalance that could spill over into Mideast security policy.

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And Now The Obama Doctrine

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An Analysis by Gary Sick*

WASHINGTON D.C. (IDN | POMEPS) - Over the past quarter century, the most accurate single factor to explain security developments in the Gulf, as well as the best predictor of the future, has been and is U.S. policy in the region. Since it began to be a significant force, U.S. policy has undergone at least five major shifts. The current policy, which I will call the Obama Doctrine, represents the latest, and possibly one of the most important, iterations.

The United States has become the dominant military, diplomatic, and economic presence in the Gulf. It is, in effect, a leading Gulf power. This has become such an accepted condition that it is easy to forget just how recent and exceptional it is.

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Jobs Fails To Keep Pace As US Economy Grows

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By Ashok Bardhan* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERKELEY (IDN | Yale Global) - The US economy seems to suffer from a bout of schizophrenia, as it cannot decide whether it’s doing well or not. There has been stable, albeit not spectacular, growth in the post-crisis phase, but analysts point to many headwinds. The bubble word is back, this time in the stock markets, and above all else increasing employment seems stubbornly resilient to macro-management.

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China Striving For New Economic Balance With US

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By Stephen S. Roach* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW HAVEN (IDN | YaleGlobal) - Once again, all eyes are on China. Emerging markets are being battered in early 2014, as perceptions of resilience have given way to fears of vulnerability. And handwringing over China is one of the major reasons.

Of course, Federal Reserve tapering – reductions of the US central bank’s unprecedented liquidity injections – has also been a trigger. That makes it much tougher for emerging economies overly dependent on global capital flows – namely, India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey – to finance economic growth. But the China factor looms equally large. Longstanding concerns about the dreaded hard landing in the Chinese economy have once again intensified. If China falls, goes the argument, reverberations to other emerging markets and the rest of the global economy will be quick to follow.

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USA Practicing ‘Non-Aligned Strategy’ in Asia

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By Chintamani Mahapatra* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

NEW DELHI (IDN) - As territorial and maritime disputes in Asia have sparked regional cold wars, the United States appears to have adopted a non-aligned strategy to navigate in troubled political space of the continent.

Non-alignment as a diplomatic instrument of state craft has been known to American Administrations for centuries. Although the term “non-alignment” was not used, the need of such a strategy was first articulated by first President of the United States – George Washington. In his farewell address, Washington warned against the folly of getting involved in the European entanglements.

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NATO and Russia Caught in New Nuclear Arms Race

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - The U.S. government is unofficially accusing Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, by flight testing two-stage ground-based cruise missile RS-26.

Although the U.S. government has not officially commented on the alleged Russian violation of the INF, which prohibits both countries to producing, testing and deploying ballistic and cruise missiles, and land-based missiles of medium (1,000 to 5,500 kilometres) and short (500 to 1,000 kilometres) range, high ranking members of the government in Washington have been leaking information to U.S. media, in a moment of particular tense relations with Moscow.

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Middle East: Obama Between Rapprochement and Resignation

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By Anthony Rusonik* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

TORONTO (IDN | Geopolitical Monior) - US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy driver, at times fuzzy, appears in sharper focus as the president confronts the challenges of his second term.

What began in 2009 as global rapprochement and retrenchment grounded in realpolitik, in stark contrast to President George Bush’s over-extended messianic interventionism, now seems to have mutated into resignation, or at least hesitation and indecision. If the United States is not resigned under Obama, friends and foes alike can be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

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Daughter Takes Kennedy’s Peace Torch To Japan

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By Taro Ichikawa | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TOKYO (IDN) - Caroline Kennedy was just 20 years old when she accompanied her uncle, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, to Hiroshima, site of the first U.S. bomb attack that killed 140,000 people on August 6, 1945. In a Senate hearing in September, confirming her appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, she said she was deeply moved by her visit in 1978 that included a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

In her video message to the people of Japan posted before assuming office on November 12, 2013, she remarked that her trip to Hiroshima had left her "with a profound desire to work for a better, more peaceful world".

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When Freedom and Sovereignty Are Hollow Words

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Image credit: Wikimedia CommonsBy Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) The German political comedian Karl Valentin once coined a wonderful phrase to parody the cowardice of people who betray their own will: “Mögen hätt’ ich schon wollen,” Valentin mocked them, “aber dürfen habe ich mich nicht getraut.” Loosely translated: “I actually would have loved to want, but I did not dare to can.”

Valentin’s grim humour is a perfect match for the present predicament of European governments vis-à-vis the U.S. and British global surveillance of telecommunications, revealed by the brave Edward Snowden. All heads of governments, from Angela Merkel in Germany to Mariano Rajoy in Spain, passing through François Hollande of France, have expressed their alleged outrage towards the U.S.  spying of their official and private telephone and Internet communications. All of them have used the same expression: What the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been doing all these years is “unacceptable.”

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No More U.S. Money For Overseas Coal Plants

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By Athena Ballesteros of World Resources Institute
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued on October 29, 2013 a policy document ending Washington’s support for multilateral development bank (MDB) funding for new overseas coal projects except in narrowly defined circumstances. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard explained: "By encouraging the use of clean energy in multilateral development bank projects, we are furthering U.S. efforts to address the urgent challenges of climate change." World Resources Institute’s Project Manager of International Financial Flows and Environment Project, Athena Ballesteros, analyses the significance of the initiative in a blog.

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‘Endless Enemies’ Inflict US Foreign Policy

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By Julio Godoy | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - During the early 1980s, distinguished U.S. international affairs journalist Jonathan Kwitny started a journey throughout the world, to analyse his country’s foreign policy since the late 1940s. Kwitny, who had reported among other media for the Wall Street Journal, came to a disparaging conclusion: The U.S., which had emerged as the champion of the “free” world for its decisive intervention against Nazi Germany and Fascist Japan, and as such stood against the Soviet Union, did not care for democracy and human rights, but only for what its governments considered as “national interests”.

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