Not Quite Yet

Kill all the “peak oil” talk, and hopefully the idea of even more painful prices at the pump. According to the Belfer Center’s Geopolitics of Energy Project, we still have a little wiggle room left with recent findings. I’m already familiar with the massive deposits Brazil found — the way they’ve handle the foreign direct investment in these oil projects has me feeling more optimistic about their growth than any country not named China or India. Angola and a couple of other African countries have managed to stumble upon a couple of fields as well. I always wondered what type of lifespan we’re looking at in these new-found oil black gold mines and it looks like the project just might have the answer and them some. From the research update,

1) field-by-field analysis of all projects underway in the most relevant countries in terms of production growth to 2020; 2) oil depletion rates, as calculated by several, influential sources; 3) the oil price-level and the other most relevant factors (geopolitics, political decisions, etc.) that may affect production growth in this decade. Moreover, a special, detailed focus is devoted to assess the geological, economic, and technical realities which support the development of U.S. shale oil, that may represent the biggest new oil frontier in many decades and a real “paradigm-changer”. The results of this research will later be analyzed in terms of potential impact on the oil market, oil geopolitics, other energy sources, and environmental/climate change public policies

Sounds good to me. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this.

Oh, Greece, We Hardly Knew Ye

Peeped this over at Naked Keynes. A much needed look at some of the troubles facing Greece, from the Greeks themselves. What’s most interesting about it is the realization of how little we’ve actually heard from the people there. Reports have everyone in a government position running around like a chicken with their heads caught off, completely incapable of dealing with this level of brinkmanship. The people are considered to be pissy cry babies that aren’t willing to cooperate. They answer almost every call to sacrifice with Molotov cocktails. It’s all their doing and now they have the nerve to kick and punch as the EU forces the serum down their gullets. It’s a really easy way to look at it since it denies any complexity. This also happens to be the wrong and totally fucked up way to look at it. I’m guilty of sympathizing with that view too, but I was just trying to make Turkish friends


We don’t care about Jeremy Lin, it’s all Bulls here… Edition 80% of the coverage I’ve seen on Africa and cellphones were in The Economist. Finally someone else pays atttention. Good reading on Boko Haraam. Target knows when you’re knocked up. Because AI and TO own. How to make non toxic glass cleaner. Did this the other day.

Hug it Out

Hello, reader(s), it’s the day after Monday the Thirteenth, Garfield’s least favorite day of the year. For the rest of us, it’s Valentine’s Day. The only thing I’m crossing my fingers on, concerning the 14th, is a lack of bloody Valentine lore involving Syria. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem likely given Assad’s “emboldened” approach since the infamous double veto in the UN Security Council. This failure has brought us a wealth of material in the blogosphere, focusing on R2P and where America should go from here. The most discussed route at the moment is arming the seemingly fractured Syrian opposition, to provide self-defense and the tools for a miracle. This humble blogger would like to suggest a less destructive track. I’m talking about negotiation.  Yes, I know the opposition claims they won’t sit down and talk unless Assad’s exile is on the table, but we shouldn’t allow a belligerent to make such demands at the expense of the people’s  immediate safety.  As it stands, I couldn’t find much literature on forcing a non state actor to negotiate, so for blogging sake, I will assume it’s possible. Negotiation also allows us to gather much-needed intelligence on the Syrian opposition, to which we can better work with(or ignore) should talks break down. Bargaining during this phase we can assume to be ex ante should call for a ceasefire. The observance of this could save a massive amount of lives as those with the means make their way to refugee camps outside of the Syrian state.

Before I get into the negotiation, I’d like to talk about R2P for a moment, since it is with its passing moment in the saga, that brings us to the current dangerous juncture. The idea that America, the international community, has the responsibility to protect is something I don’t agree with. I feel that it implies that it’s in the job description and the only job they have is to advance their own interests. America isn’t putting its job security at risk for ignoring Darfur. It may be the right thing to do, and something I’d like, but I feel considering it as a responsibility puts too much blood on our hands. The international system already provides enough incentives, punishments and other conflict reducing mechanisms to make most world leaders play fair. Repeated use of R2P is a doctrine suitable for an empire, and the United States is not that. We are currently experiencing the waning years of the US’ uni-polarity(There should still be at least two decades of US dominance to go, just not immediate post cold war levels). If it was an empire, states would not be able to pursue their own interests. During the US uni-polar moment, there have been attempts to expand beyond its reach and it espoused values it wished were universal. This does not equal a peaceful time for the pole, history shows us a nation the spent most of its time at war. A quarter of our history of war, were spent in the last twenty years.

The Obama administration and the ones to follow are not ignorant of a hegemon’s heavy hand. It’s no wonder Obama speaks of “leading from behind”. If these foreign conflicts taught us anything, it is the truth of the multipolar/multicivilizational world Samuel P. Huntington spoke of. A world where the core states of civilizations gain power relative to the US after exhausting itself in two extended conflicts and a financial crisis that some think it will never fully recover from.  If we are to believe we can’t force our values on civilizations outside of ours with hard power(Iraq, Afghanistan taught us that), intervention loses its attractiveness. It’s less attractive because R2P can be a costly doctrine if you are not advancing your own interests. Now if we are shown a window where intervention is presented as an attractive option, it would almost have to look similar to Libya. Gadhafi may have been inching towards Benghazi, but the progress previously made by rebels presented a situation where we could be close to certain that providing a no fly zone would eventually bring victory and regime change. R2P without boots on the ground, arming rebels, would have nowhere near the desired effect for Damascus. For more on the subject, I would suggest reading Dan Trombly’s excellent post on arming the Syrian opposition and other options. If we are to accept a multicivilizational world and the coming of multipolarity, R2P’s implementation will continue to be rare and not a viable option for Syria. Instead, the “responsibility” to protect should lie within the core states of civilizations in the future — as it may be in their best interests. The Arab League, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, if this doctrine means anything to them, should take the lead on belligerents in their sphere of influence. In the present, intervention is not an option or a costly one to anyone but the United States and NATO. Despite a go at the UN security council, I do not believe intervention was the US’ intent because the level of commitment/difficulty conflicts too much with its interests.

On the subject of arming rebels, refer back to the Dan Trombly piece or anyone else you hold in high regard. Those for and against arming the opposition believe it will lead to a complete mess.  This is why I am proposing negotiation. I understand that I’m not onto anything groundbreaking even though no one seems to bring this up. There’s a healthy chance breaching the subject would reveal one as slow of the mind if previous posts didn’t already do the trick. That’s okay because this blog will not haunt my career should I be blessed to have one. The Opposition said they will not sit at the table until it is certain that Assad will be stepping down. There’s nothing saying that this will change, but are good reasons to make the attempt.

Lets say we exhaust every diplomatic option in trying to get the Free Syria Army and Assad to sit at the table. What does Russia say then? This is what they asked for and when we know this to be impossible, under what pretense do they veto another security council vote? The attempt of negotiation may be precursor to international action via UN. Now lets say negotiation is possible. Negotiation should provide a ceasefire that opens the door for the exodus of Syrians who may have been trapped in their suburbs. It may temporarily stop the bloodshed and in the best case, stop it completely(aside from minor non state actor skirmishes involving minorities). Negotiation allows us to see just how unified the opposition is. Some believe it’s just a collective of armed men, working in their respective area, answering to no one. The Negotiation would allow us to figure out just who we will be working with in the future, assuming they eventually succeed. Negotiation allows us to feel out the level of blowback we could be facing in arming them. Finally, who knows, maybe the Alawites give Assad up in hopes of not being slaughtered. It’s currently unknown how each side would feel about concessions (discussed at length in link) with the dismissal of Assad(I am still assuming there’s a dictatorship), but it’s worth looking into. I’m just throwing it out there, because I believe it’s an important part of the process that is somehow missing. To skip this step and fan the flames of war seem pretty irresponsible to me. Everyone knows this, but we assume we can’t get these two sides to sit down, so lets hope that they’re wrong. I’m not that enthusiastic about the future of Syria with or without Assad, I just want what’s best for the people.

Wikipedia: concession defin

Damn, It Kinda Sucks For Me Here

In the January 28th print edition of The Economist, I read an article that glossed over the subject of affirmative action in Brazil. I have some issues with piece, but it’s still pretty informative if you’re clueless about Blacks in Brazil. If you thought I was talking about a porn title(Even if you know better, click, I will reference it constantly without providing quotes), then the link is a definite pro-click. Brazil is currently the holder of the second largest black population in the world. Nigeria owns the title, and boy is the crown/head heavy over there. Second blackest is a pretty interesting title to hold for a country not in Africa, and Brazil responded with mix results. One of the mixed results is affirmative action. Here is part of an argument for getting rid of it,

Importing American-style affirmative action risks forcing Brazilians to place themselves in strict racial categories rather than somewhere along a spectrum, says Peter Fry, a British-born, naturalised-Brazilian anthropologist. Having worked in southern Africa, he says that Brazil’s avoidance of “the crystallizing of race as a marker of identity” is a big advantage in creating a democratic society.

The idea of affirmative action being unwanted because they can’t pretend that they’re the rainbow nation, is making me twitch in disgust. Oh no, we have to admit race exists within our class consciousness and respond appropriately! The Black Brazilian experience is clearly different from that of the Americans, but similarities do exist. There are a several quotes pointing this out. This is one of the more explicit,

In Brazil you have an invisible enemy. Nobody’s racist. But when your daughter goes out with a black, things change,

Things change, because like in America, black people are expected to play certain roles. One of these roles is not the guy carving out a future with your daughter. Parents are uneasy about a black boyfriend because he is believed to be inferior in a variety of ways. Racial stereotyping isn’t exclusive to white parents. Just try being black, and in an interracial relationship involving Arab, Asian, Hispanic or Centaur(it really doesn’t seem to matter) parents. In many cases your love will be a huge no-no. Why is this? All across the world, being black carries a set of negative connotations. Being black supposedly means you aren’t smart and/or hard-working enough: you’re just a physical specimen good for hard labor and entertainment. In Brazil, many are comfortable with them on farms, in something as gross as favelas, in the service industry and on the pitch, but not in the office- not in their blue-eyed daughters. People are usually color-blind until you invade their personal space with all your blackity blackness.

I’m sorry, but you just don’t become the last nation to abolish slavery, and get to say you’re in a post-racial society. It just doesn’t work like that. IPEA’s empirics, supplemented by personal anecdotes(in the article), should be more than enough to make the case for affirmative action. It still managed to make Brazilians of European descent swoop down on the article’s comment section, to complain about providing benefits to those of African descent. The rejection of opportunity is a direct attack on the humanity of blacks, and very powerful psychological blow. They come in, make their case for dumping it and leaving blacks exposed to what they believe to be a merit based society. The reasoning lends itself to the narrative of black failure being the natural outcome of  inferior people competing with white excellence. The reality is the system had marginalized these people, and then failed them. How do you expect someone to move up without access to higher education?

Affirmative action isn’t a state response to hatred for someone’s color, it is a direct challenge to ill-gotten privilege. The policy creates social remittances that will reverberate throughout the black community. It will help change the black identity for the better, as long as the Brazilians response to recognizing race is a positive one. It isn’t the occupation of undeserved roster spots, it is host to the transformation of the franchise. Education is the key to making the transition from provincial people to global citizens. To deny this only reinforces existing inequalities – it is also a selfish and morally bankrupt act. The state made the correct decision in bringing affirmative action to its institutions. Keep up the good work.

Links(Super Bowl and “STOCKTON, HOMIE!” Edition)

On Saturday I have Nick Diaz and Werdum. On Sunday, Giants. The domestic violence and the super bowl myth. Former NBA Player Casey Jacobson’s Blog, where he explains just how weird Darko is. Why Grad students shouldn’t be themselves during Interviews. Good read, funny and depressing. Good read on some of the ridiculous things that can make its rounds in a black person’s(like myself) schooling or inbox. Real disturbing read on the crime rate within the prison population. Gates wants the GOP to chill out over Iran.