Open thread

Please don’t leave me ashamed and humilated, as with the last thread. So few comments, I was hiding my eyes from the neighbors.

The Discussion: 92 Comments

There was some confusion, with me anyway, as there appeared to be two open threads: Out to Lunch and Maybe Another Day or Two. At least now we can all settle on this official open thread.

Btw, I just returned from The Three T’s where Richard W has a new post. We should all congratulate him as his site now boasts its very own trolls. A tear came to my eye as I read the stinging anti-western remarks and the hate-filled abuse, it was a truly wonderful moment.

Let me be the first to congreatulate you Richard W. Your hard work has undoubtedly paid off!

July 10, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

Dear Martyn, KSL and Richard,

Look, I am amused, though slightly annoyed as well. Perhaps my present irritability stems from the fact that I don’t like Mondays, and today, right now as I type, it is 9:20 Monday morning.

At any rate, I shall address Martyn first: I appreciate your points Martyn, though I did not suggest that Ken Livingstone opposed the Iraq invasion only because he believed that London would become an inevitable target – but that was certanly one of the reasons he initially gave, and it was one which he mentioned very often.

KLS – I think I have already answered your question about the “inevitability” argument – I was reporting on what the CBS reporter had said, which was that the terror attacks aon London are widely viewed as having been “inevitable”. I repeat, I did not initially argue this myself, but I did, for the record, state in my last comment addressed to you on this thread, that I also believe that these attacks were inevitable – though I also clarified this by making it clear that I not believe, of course, that Londoners deserve to be attacked – that they had it coming deservedly. Now please tell me what is actually wrong with me saying this? If you diagree with the widely held view that such attacks were inevitable, then please tell us why you think that way.

I do not blame Blair entirely for these attacks – but I do believe that he ought to take some of the responsibility. I stand by that.

Dear Richard – I was not telling a “whopper” as you put it. You need to view the IRA 1996 bus bomber – what I said about that incident, in its context – I have already explained this above, to KLS. It was only one incident in a list, mentioned in passing, as part od a list of IRA terror incidents. The purpose of the list was to demonstrate that the IRA were no worse or better than Al Quida. I stand by that argument. FIRMLY.

If I got some of the smaller details wrong when referring to that one incident, which I did in passing as part of a larger list, than I apologise. I have already said this, have already explained this. It really isn’t that important. Sloppy, yes! But as I said, this is only a blog entry, not a polished research piece. I knock these comments out in a hurry, often while trying to do several other things at the same time.

The comments by the CBS journalist are significant I believe – that’s why I based my entire commentary around it. Allow me to explain: first of all, we have a journalist telling us that the IRA were not as bad as Al Quida because they “followed rules. Example, they never bombed the underground.” Now, apart from the fact that the IRA had a history of targeting the undergound system, they did not follow any “rules” as such. I have explained this already. OK, you might say, “so what?” He made a minor error, no different perhaps, from my minor errors. But I would beg to disagree with you on this. The journalists erroneous comments were loaded ones (mine weren’t) – the discourse that he was clearly pushing, was that Muslim Arabs are somehow more fanatical, more unpredictable, more blood-thirsty, more dangerous, more worthy of our fear. The report, live from London, was followed immediately by an “analysis” of Britian’s immgration laws. “Did Britain’s liberal immigration laws contribute to the terror attacks?” was how the report was introduced. The argument put forward was that Britain is now full of angry Muslims who bled in with the crowd – that Britain has set itself up for a fall, that liberal immigration policies were somehow to blame, for making it much easier for terrorists to hide anonymously among significant proportions of the population.

Now this is very worrying I think. The report was aimed not at British audiences, but at American audiences. The message to Americans was clear – don’t listen to those soft liberal do-goods. We need tougher immigration laws, and the Patriot’s Act is a necessary evil. This was the clear message.

The fact that the US has often various kinds of support to the political wing of the IRA (and continue to do so) may, as I suggested in my initial comments, also have something to do with this idea that the IRA followed “rules” and were not as barbaric as Al Qiada.

And Richard, on a more sensitive topic, more than one person has described Peking Duck to me as a “hate” site. Not only Kevin – who is not a friend of mine, I don’t know him at all. He emailed me once or twice only. I am not going to provide you with a list of people as evidence – some of them you know – they contribute to your site still. Others have in the past, others have never contributed. I am not basing my claim on the words of only one person, as you say.

I qualified this “report” by also stating my own views of Peking Duck – so no need to be quite so offended. The criticisms were meant to be taken as constructive ones, and were made in the spirit of friendliness.

On that note, I shall conclude.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

P.S. Incidentally KLS, I’m glad the two of us can agree with the argument I put forward to Simon, regarding the effect dealing in Euros would have had on the value of the US dollar, should Iraq had started trading oil for Euros rather than dollars, as Saddam Hussein had made clear that he was intending to do. I really don’t know where Simon is coming from – he seems like a rather bizarre chap sometimes. He obviously knows nothing about economics. He is also unfairly very dismissive of Al Jazeera, which is an excellent source. I suspect he has never even read it before. I also rely heavily on Western mainstream sources, all of which, if you read between the lines, make it very clear that Iraq is a disaster. The British now want to pull out, diplomatically, and without losing too much face. Hence they are calling it a “redeployment” into Afghanistan to support the Nato forces there. The British government has, over the past week or so, been trying their best to encourage Australia to do the same. They know it’s a lost cause. And Italy wants to start pulling out too – their prime minister is now arguing that his country is too big of a potential terrorist target so long as Italy’s 3,000 or so troops remain in Iraq. Of course, there are numerous other reasons why Italy wants to pull out – and the terrorist threat I don’t think is the main reason.

The mainstream media will, of course, parrot the Pentagon, who will claim that the new Iraq is well enough recovered to be able to look after itself – and hence they will portray their invasion and occupation as a great success. US troops will remain in Iraq for possibly decades to come though – they have built a few bases in Iraq. But large numbers of US troops will be withdrawn for political purposes, as well as for economic reasons. Resistence to the occupation will nevertheless continue though – that much is for certain.

July 10, 2005 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

It’s a rite of passage; today, Richard W. is a man.

July 10, 2005 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

MAJ, I agree with your views of Al Jazeera, which the right in America has very unfairly labelled as a “terrorist organization,” a viewpoint often regurgiated by hater-in-chief Bill O’Reilly on Faux News.

A “whopper” is a considerable exaggeration. Of that you are guilty at times. And making so much of the CBS reporter’s “loaded” comments is a classic tempest in a teapot. He was reporting in real time in a breaking crisis. Give the guy a break.

July 10, 2005 @ 8:14 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

Perhaps you are right when you say that his erroneous comments about the IRA were made thoughtlessly, due to the fact that he was reporting live from the scene of a breaking crisis, but I suspect that I am right about his comments being deliberately loaded nevertheless. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt shall we. But what about the analytical story that followed? That was most certainly loaded – and without any doubt, in my opinion.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 8:23 pm | Comment

Ouch! Sad to say that my blog lacks such trolls and yet I’ve offered ample amounts of bait.

I think I’ll link to it.

July 10, 2005 @ 8:26 pm | Comment

As MAJ has pasted his above comment from the London Bombings thread, I’d better tell confused readers that the comments were in response to the below posts by Richard and KLS.
I’ve been following in silence, but will make a brief comment. Another pattern I see is when Mark is caught telling a whopper, it immediately becomes “unimportant,” a mere “detail” and we are bullies for making so much of his little mistakes. But I’m sorry, that won’t fly. At the heart of the original argument was MAJ’s contention that an IRA suicide bomber caused the deaths of “many people.” That is no detail; if he caused only one death, it’s a very far cry from “many.” Such sloppiness indicates either a willingness to exaggerate or to make sweeping statements based on little or no research. And I am afraid this sort of thing permeates MAJ’s comments, which is a shame because he has some very bright things to say which then get overshadowed by his sloppiness. Just a week ago, he said “many people” (same exact words!) view Perking Duck as a “hate site.” That’s a damned inflammatory thing to say, and when I called him to account and asked how he determined “many” feel this way, guess what? Same reaction, “you are focusing on a minor detail.” Wherever he can’t find cover it’s a minor detail. The truth is, one of his friends called this a hate site. I even know who it was. But, just as with our IRA victims, the one becomes “many.” And MAJ loses all credibility, or at least a hefty chunk.

The supreme irony here is that no one is faster to pick up on minute details and blow them up into major issues as our friend MAJ. Witness his obsession with an early CBS news report — KLS just brought this up in the comment above. To MAJ, this incredibly insignificant moment can be pointed to as having all sorts of underlying conspiratorial implications. But if you seize on something he says, you are trying to make him look bad, ganging up on him and being really, really mean. Poor, misunderstood MAJ.
Posted by richard at July 10, 2005 01:58 PM

he is a slippery character, that’s for sure — hard to pin down.
I think it’s because, as he suggests, he doesn’t always believe what he argues. he admits:

“… the entire reason I debate [is] to test my own views, to test the strength of my own arguments. So of course, I am going to push an argument to its extreme, to test it, to see how far I can get away with it.”

so unfortunately he doesn’t necessarily believe what he says he does. he writes stuff he hasn’t really thought about, and is relying on us to challenge him. why he can’t challenge himself it beyond me.

but it means we’re guinea pigs, sacrificed to the advancement of MAJ thought.
it also means that, cheekily, he can back away from something at light speed, claiming that, well, I was just testing this little idea I had, I never really believed it anyway, despite the fact that I’ve been banging on and on about it for the last 5 days…
Posted by KLS at July 10, 2005 03:18 PM

July 10, 2005 @ 8:27 pm | Comment

Dear Martyn,

I posted my response above on the London Bombings thread, but then I noticed that Richard had requested beforehand that all further discussions be moved to the new open thread. So I copied and pasted my response into this new open thread – in compliance with Richard’s request.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 8:33 pm | Comment

Maybe we should start refering to Richard W as ‘other Richard’?

It would be less confusing..

July 10, 2005 @ 8:33 pm | Comment

I’m amazed at the number of hits that I receive on my site from people doing a Google for such things as “horse fucking” and “sex with horses”.


July 10, 2005 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

Dear All:

I just finished reading an excellent article in today’s Guardian by gary Younge, titled “Blair’s blowback” What Gary says my views on the Iraq was and its connection with the London bombings EXACTLY – and so I would like to quote extensively from it. I will not, of course, copy and paste the entire article. Those who are interested enough can lo onto today’s Guradian and read it in full for themselves. But here is an excerpt, which sums up my views perfectly:

“We know what took place. A group of people, with no regard for law, order or our way of life, came to our city and trashed it. With scant regard for human life or political consequences, employing violence as their sole instrument of persuasion, they slaughtered innocent people indiscriminately. They left us feeling unified in our pain and resolute in our convictions, effectively creating a community where one previously did not exist. With the killers probably still at large there is no civil liberty so vital that some would not surrender it in pursuit of them and no punishment too harsh that some might not sanction if we found them.

The trouble is there is nothing in the last paragraph that could not just as easily be said from Falluja as it could from London. The two should not be equated – with over 1,000 people killed or injured, half its housing wrecked and almost every school and mosque damaged or flattened, what Falluja went through at the hands of the US military, with British support, was more deadly. But they can and should be compared. We do not have a monopoly on pain, suffering, rage or resilience. Our blood is no redder, our backbones are no stiffer, nor our tear ducts more productive than the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those whose imagination could not stretch to empathise with the misery we have caused in the Gulf now have something closer to home to identify with. “Collateral damage” always has a human face: its relatives grieve; its communities have memory and demand action.

These basic humanistic precepts are the principle casualties of fundamentalism, whether it is wedded to Muhammad or the market. They were clearly absent from the minds of those who bombed London last week. They are no less absent from the minds of those who have pursued the war on terror for the past four years.

Tony Blair is not responsible for the more than 50 dead and 700 injured on Thursday. In all likelihood, “jihadists” are. But he is partly responsible for the 100,000 people who have been killed in Iraq. And even at this early stage there is a far clearer logic linking these two events than there ever was tying Saddam Hussein to either 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction.

It is no mystery why those who have backed the war in Iraq would refute this connection. With each and every setback, from the lack of UN endorsement right through to the continuing strength of the insurgency, they go ever deeper into denial. Their sophistry has now mutated into a form of political autism – their ability to engage with the world around them has been severely impaired by their adherence to a flawed and fatal project. To say that terrorists would have targeted us even if we hadn’t gone into Iraq is a bit like a smoker justifying their habit by saying, “I could get run over crossing the street tomorrow.” True, but the certain health risks of cigarettes are more akin to playing chicken on a four-lane highway. They have the effect of bringing that fatal, fateful day much closer than it might otherwise be.

Similarly, invading Iraq clearly made us a target. Did Downing Street really think it could declare a war on terror and that terror would not fight back? That, in itself, is not a reason to withdraw troops if having them there is the right thing to do. But since it isn’t and never was, it provides a compelling reason to change course before more people are killed here or there. So the prime minister got it partly right on Saturday when he said: “I think this type of terrorism has very deep roots. As well as dealing with the consequences of this – trying to protect ourselves as much as any civil society can – you have to try to pull it up by its roots.”

What he would not acknowledge is that his alliance with President George Bush has been sowing the seeds and fertilising the soil in the Gulf, for yet more to grow. The invasion and occupation of Iraq – illegal, immoral and inept – provided the Arab world with one more legitimate grievance. Bush laid down the gauntlet: you’re either with us or with the terrorists. A small minority of young Muslims looked at the values displayed in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and Camp Bread Basket – and made their choice. The war helped transform Iraq from a vicious, secular dictatorship with no links to international terrorism into a magnet and training ground for those determined to commit terrorist atrocities. Meanwhile, it diverted our attention and resources from the very people we should have been fighting – al-Qaida.

Leftwing axe-grinding? As early as February 2003 the joint intelligence committee reported that al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent “by far the greatest terrorist threat to western interests, and that that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq”. At the World Economic Forum last year, Gareth Evans, the former Australian foreign minister and head of the International Crisis Group thinktank, said: “The net result of the war on terror is more war and more terror. Look at Iraq: the least plausible reason for going to war – terrorism – has been its most harrowing consequence.”

None of that justifies what the bombers did. But it does help explain how we got where we are and what we need to do to move to a safer place. If Blair didn’t know the invasion would make us more vulnerable, he is negligent; if he did, then he should take responsibility for his part in this. That does not mean we deserved what was coming. It means we deserve a lot better.”

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 8:41 pm | Comment

Meanwhile back at the ranch….

July 10, 2005 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

Gordon, re your wierd Google-searchers, let’s hope they’re not TOO disappointed when they click onto Horse’s Mouth and read in-depth critiques of the Chinese economy and detailed investigations over the latest obscure Japanese government white papers!


July 10, 2005 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

Speaking of animals, I have an office chair in front of the computer at home, one that spins round, and I never sit properly on it, I always kneel.

My big and medium-size dogs have now worked out that if they sprint across the room and launch themselves at me, then I spin around several times. The little dog just watches and eggs the other two on.

Hours of fun. Such naughty doggies.

July 10, 2005 @ 9:45 pm | Comment

What kind of poochies do you have Martyn?

July 10, 2005 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

Hard to say, as I only know the Chinese names which mean nothing to me. I can only compare them to their nearest western equivilents.

Pheobe, the big white one, is like an Airdale terrior. We found her living on the streets in a terrible state, lat-skinny, alive with fleas and with a rusty piece of wire for a collar. She scrubbed up really well and she has the temperament of a Boxer, very passive and affectionate.

Wang Mo (‘yellow hair’ in Canto) is like a yellow husky and seems to have a large dose of amphetamines coursing through his bloodstream at all times.

Miko is a Tibetan Terrier, that I can translate and is the most bad tempered and naughty dog in the world.

Spinning me round on my chair seems to amuse them no end. However, the bad language floating round the flat would make one of those gangsta-rap gentlemen blush.

July 10, 2005 @ 10:07 pm | Comment

3! I have two, Boston Terrier and a French Bulldog.The Boston is near perfect in behaviour.The Frenchie is….well…..French.Stubborn and stylish at all times.They make life bearable here.

July 10, 2005 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Amen to that, I’d be lost without my doggies. We’d still take in another one if we came across another Pheobe on the streets as there’s probably just enough room in here.

July 10, 2005 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

About the only time I ever come across dogs here in China is whilst sitting at the dining tables of restaurants – particularly Korean restaurants.

The last time that I dined on the canine flesh here was on a recent work trip north to Jilin. Below is an extract from my travelogue, detailing my dog meat adventures, though I will be heading back up there for work again somewhere around the 20th of this month, and so I expect I will once again find myself in a dog meat restaurant, munching on a paw.

The dog meat trade is becoming increasingly industrialised here in China, and is even being promoted by the government in some provinces. Huge dog farms are now being developed and the importation of giant gentle breeds, like the St. Bernard, has already become common place. They are cross bred with local Chinese mongrels to produce a fast growing, docile “meat dog” that can be slaughtered at only four months. The advantage of the local dogs is that they have a lot of lean meat, while the advantage of Saint Bernards is that they’re big and grow fast and don’t get sick.

Anyhow, here is my extract, detailing my last dog meat experience. I can’t say I enjoyed it on this particular occasion though, because I had a whopping big hangover at the time.


Lunch was served at yet another Korean restaurant, this time with five of David’s old chums – all colleagues of his from his days before moving to Shenzhen, from the time when he worked at the main Jilin branch of the China Construction Bank.

I took my allotted place at an honorary position at the table, my head still pounding, my body still trembling, still feeling as though I was ready to collapse into a void, into a state of complete nothingness. The reek of baijiu seeped through the pores of my skin, making me feel quite nauseas, like I wanted to vomit up yet more bile.

And then, without any warning, that familiar reek of spirit suddenly intensified, hitting me with the strength of an iron hammer and flattening my head into a sheet of hot metal with a single pound. David had opened a bottle of his favourite baijiu, and was pouring everybody a glass.

“Sorry David,” my face dishevelled, “wo baijiu mayo.”

Everybody’s disappointment showed, but this time I was insistent, determined not to further poison myself with a substance that can only be described as having the taste and burning sensation of paint stripper – not that I’ve ever tried tasting methanol of course, but one can certainly imagine.

Although I’m a complete total atheist, it did seem to me as though I was being made to suffer, that there was indeed somebody looking down on me from above – some revengeful god perhaps, intent on punishing me with the cruel relentlessness of a true sadist – for as if the smell of baijiu wasn’t vile enough, I now had to endure it together with the awful stench of boiled dog meat. It wasn’t just one dish that featured dog meat either, but every dish. Yes. Literally every single dish that David and his friends ordered was a dog meat dish. Placed on the table before me were plates of boiled dog skin, of boiled dog paws, dog meat with rice in piping hot stone pots (gae gogi bi-bim-bap in Korean), dog meat sautéed with vegetables, which also included a few paw bones, and of course, there was the main dish – a huge bowl of dog meat soup (gou rou tang), placed at the centre of the table for all to share.

It’s not that I have a particular aversion to eating dog meat mind you, after all, I have dined on the canine flesh many times before. The first time I ever tried it was when I lived in South Korea, where it is called gae gogi tang, though it is also often referred to there as poshin’ tang, meaning “body preserving” soup.

Here in China, the long tradition of classifying food according to the Daoist principles of yin and yang (hot and cold) is still widely adhered to. Most foods are regarded as having either cooling or warming properties. Ying foods such as dog meat and mutton are considered to be very good for one’s health during the winter months because their “warming” energy is said to fend off the effects of the freezing winter weather. This, no doubt, accounts for the popularity of dog meat dishes among those who reside in the colder northern regions of China, like here in Jilin, as well as in neighbouring Korea.

But on this occasion however, I was in no mood to be eating dog meat, and despite the cooler northern temperatures. Sure, I can handle the beef-like taste of dog meat, though it has a far stronger, more gamey flavour than beef, and with a fatty texture similar to that of mutton. It’s just the smell though, which turns me off.

Like baijiu, dog meat, after consuming it, seeps its sweaty odour through every pore, it lingers for hours on your clothes, in your hair, repulsive in its affect on others and repugnant in its drive towards one’s own nose.

Already poisoned by baijiu, the addition of the canine smell did little for my hangover. “This restaurant,” remarked David, “can offer banquet of more than one hundred gou rou dish.”

“Every part of dog can be eaten except for lung,” added one of his friends, a man by the name of Mr Cheng. “Dog skin. Mmmm! Tastes very good – will you try?”

A thick haze of cigarette smoke soon began to disguise the smell of dog, easing my nausea a little, and allowing me to muster enough strength to try a little of the soup.

No ashtrays were provided, so everybody ashed straight onto the floor, where they also disposed of their butts, and, for some, the occasional glob of phlegm – usually hacked up rather boisterously, yet without anybody ever seeming to notice.

“Welcome to Jilin,” each of them shouted before raising their spirits with wild “ganbeis”.

“Ganbei!” I enthused, as I downed my tea.

* * *

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 10:41 pm | Comment

Mark, do you think that’s really appropriate? Didn’y you even once stop to think that some of us might not share your wierd-ass culinary tastes? What the hell are you trying to prove?

Take your shit the fu*k out of here and fu*k right off you sad piece of shit.

Don’t bother replying with your usual crap because I won’t waste my time reading one single word of it you sad fu*k.

July 10, 2005 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

Dear Martyn,

You are being very ethnocentric now, aren’t you? Both the Koreans and the Chinese and the Vietnamese, quite understandably, get very upset when arrogant foreigners criticise them for eating dog meat. You are being culturally insensitive. It might be “weird” to you, but it is not weird to millions of Chinese and Koreans and Vietnamese, ad infinitum. And it is not weird to me either.

And what is wrong with eating farmed dogs? How is it fundamentally any different from eating farmed pigs (also said to be highly intelligent) or farmed cows, or farmed lambs? Or farmed kangaroos, camels or crocodiles or emus – all of which many Australians dine on. The French eat horses and squirrels too. So what?

And why all the expletives Martyn? You are behaving not only hysterically rude, but you are also being highly offensive in your attitude towards Eastern food culture, and towards my right as an individual Westerner to enjoy and to write about my experiences in sharing with my Chinese hosts their food culture.

I make no apologies for this. And I know of many other foreigners who come here and who try dog meat. Ask all of the foreign teachers who taught at the Huaiyin Institute of Technology in Jiangsu Province for example – Professor Xu Xiaomei cooked us all up a dog meat dish when she invitewd us all to her home for dinner one night back in 2002. So what? Are you suggesting that she is “weird” or that we were equally as “weird” for all trying it?

I have only one piece of advice for you Martyn: GROW UP!

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

And one last thing Martyn, you ask me what it is that I’m “trying to prove” by introducing the topic of eating dog meat into the thread.

Well, this is an open thread, and since the discussion was about dogs, I dedcided that it might be interesting to introduce a new element into the discussion. I have every righty to do so – there is nothing offensive in eating dog meat, nor is there anything offensive about sharing one’s thoughts and experiences of eating dog meat.

Do I necessarily have to be trying to “prove” something, just because I write about it?

The person who is being offensive here is you: you not only insult me with your use of expletives, but in doing so, you also insult Asian cultures, dismissing certain aspects of their food culture as “weird” and somehow unacceptable.

It’s not as if dogs are an endangered species. They eat farmed dogs, and as I said, that is fundamentally no different from eating farmed pigs or farmed cows.

As I said, grow up.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

Ugh. I’m sorry. I know I should be more open-minded and less ethnocentric. But…I just can’t imagine eating dogs. Can’t go there. Freaks me out. i guess if I got to be better friends with other meat animals I’d end up becoming a vegetarian, or more accurately a fish-itarian. but even though I’m a cat person by and large…no. Can’t eat dogs. Just can’t. Too icky.

By the way, I just want to say, I had the Three T’s troll too – so does that make me…ermmm…a woman?

July 10, 2005 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

Dear Other Lisa,

If you don’t wish to ever try eating dog meat, fine! Not everybody wants to try it, nor does everybody like when they do. The same thing can be said about any food. I have friend who doesn’t like strawberries! I love them myself, but hey, everybody has different tastes.

But Martyn is suggesting that ther eis something offensive about eating dog meat, and that it is thus even unacceptable for somebody to even write about it on a public forum like this. His attitude is outrageous! He is just being enthnocentric, arrogant, and outright rude and abnoxious. Just take a look at his use of language.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

Mark, well, it’s hard when you have a close relationship to certain animals to imagine eating them, and for some it’s hard to talk about or read about. I’m sitting here with my sweet old cat on my lap, and the idea that people could eat cats…well, ugh. I just don’t want to think about it or hear about it – too upsetting!

So I kind of understand where you both are coming from. It’s interesting as an intellectual discussion, but I think as Martyn was just talking about his sweet dogs, who mean a lot to him, it was probably too much for him. And I understand that too.

July 10, 2005 @ 11:26 pm | Comment

I am interested in seeing how he responds to Martyn’s personal and vicious attack. Calling somebody a “sad piece of sh*t” and telling them to “fu*k off” is far more offensive than the adjective “ridiculous”, is it not?

I have never, not once, ever launched into a personal attack against somebody by employing an armourary of expletives. I would never bring myself down to that level.

It will be interesting to see how Richard responds to Martyn’s behaviour in this instance. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Martyn banned from this site. Certainly not. But he does need to think about his behaviour, and he does need to engage in some self-criticism.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

Dear Lisa,

Perhaps it was too much for him, as you say, but that’s no excuse for the kind of juvenile outburst, expletives and all, that he just launched himself into, is it? That kind of behaviour is socially unacceptable, anywhere in the world.

Eating dogs, by contrast, is not socially unacceptable here in Asia, and I’m quite within my rights to introduce the topic on what is afterall a public forum. Other blogs discuss this topic. It’s no big deal. I had no way of realising that eating dog meat was going to be an issue with some – why would I? Most people of any education and intelligence would see it as an issue, because they wouldn’t be bothered by it in the slightest. That’s why so many people who come to China don’t have a problem with trying it.

A lot of people have pigs as pets too Other Lisa, but they’re unlikely to make eating pork such an hysterical issue are they?

If Martyn doesn’t like the fact that I have introduced this topic of discussion to this thread, then he need not call me a “sad piece of sh*t” and ask me to “fu*k off” etc. As I said, that’s TOTALLY unacceptable behaviour. He can express his arrogant ethnocentrism in more polite and friendly ways, can he not? (should he not?)

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 11:39 pm | Comment

maybe MAJ’s diet is the reason he is barking!!!
jollity aside, MAJ our bunfight is best kept to the thread it was originally on and I will comment there later.

Martyn’s comments seemd rather extreme the first time I skimmed down this thread, until I realised that you’d posted your dog eating tales immediately after posts where Martyn expressed his fondness his for three (alive) dogs.
either designed to provoke or incredibly crass, doncha see?

July 10, 2005 @ 11:39 pm | Comment


Firstly, you need to get yourself a blog. These long comments make my eyes glaze over. Luckily I read enough to catch your “dissing” of me. For your edification, I’ve a Masters of Economics. Allow me to demonstrate.

If a country decides it wants to start trading oil in Euros, they are going to have a problem. Oil is and always has been denominated in US dollars. It is like walking into a shop in downtown LA and plumping some Yen on the table. Sure theoretically it’s the same thing, but it’s not accepted as the currency of exchange. But if someone was desperate enough, they could make a contract in Euros. What then happens? Well the seller of the oil takes these Euros and immediately sells them…for US dollars. This automatically negates the original selling of US dollars by the buyer of the oil for Euros. If you thought it through, you would realise there is no net effect. In this case the currency is simply a medium of exchange. They could be selling oil for gold and it wouldn’t matter to the price of gold…it is the value of the commodity that matters. Changes in the value of the medium of exchange do occur, but for other reasons.

I look forward to your apology. Maybe on your new blog?

July 10, 2005 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

Dear Other Lisa,

Sorry, the sentence above should read: “Most people of any education and intelligence WOULDN’T see it as an issue, because they wouldn’t be bothered by it in the slightest.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 11:41 pm | Comment

Dear Simon,

I will respond, after lunch! I promise.

Dear KLS,

Our initial conversation has moved to this thread at Richard’s request, as I explained further up on this thread.

I take your pint about Martyn, but read my comments to Other Lisa as my response.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 11:45 pm | Comment

maj : you were baiting, plain and simple. you are smart enough to know why inserting discussion of eating dogs into a discussion of family pets will be taken poorly. you flung a noose out and ensnared the one person you usually can’t bait, then ignored who it was from and launched into your prepared trap anyway.

that’s just poor form mate.

July 10, 2005 @ 11:49 pm | Comment

Dear Echo,

Are you into conspiracy theories are you? That’s how your surmising above reads. Why would I set out to “trap” somebody with a “noose” in order simply to provoke? You really are being silly now, and I, for the record, strongly reject the claim.

If you want to think otherwise, then O.K. – go right ahead. It’s no skin off my nose what you think.

As I said though, I had no idea that introducing comments about eating dogs in a discussion about pets would provoke any kind of controversy. Why would I? Eating dog meat is common enough in many parts of Asia, and there is nothing morally or philosophically wrong with eating farmed dogs. I wasn’t talking about eating pet dogs, was I?

Martyn normally sounds reasonably level-headed, so why would I imagine for even one moment that he would take such offence about such a non-issue?

Mark Anthony Jones

July 10, 2005 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

simon, I think the point about the oil was that the *producer* selling the commodity would want payment in euros, rather than dollars.
and would not then convert the euros received into dollars.
OPEC has, formally or informally, I don’t know, mulled over this in the past as a threat to the US.
I think it would be a threat — the workd would need fewer dollars, and the value of the dollar would fall.
some suggest that one key reason for the dollar’s preeminence in foreign reserves is that it is the medium for oil purchases.
but MAJ’s angle is clearly the conspiracy theory that because Saddam started taking euros rather than dollars for the oil a few of years ago, America was so scared it decided it had to invade Iraq….

July 11, 2005 @ 12:05 am | Comment

i think dr. anne needs to have a talk with mark…

July 11, 2005 @ 12:08 am | Comment

and sorry, what the hell does this mean? “wo baijiu mayo.”

July 11, 2005 @ 12:16 am | Comment

MAJ and KSL are absolutely wrong and Simon is correct regarding the effect of dollar demonimated oil trades on the value of the US dollar. The idea that the currency in which oil is priced effects the value of the dollar is economically absurd and demonstrates a deep lack of understanding of the currency markets. Its on the order of alien abductions and the Loch Ness monster. The fact that MAJ cites that “noted economist” Gore Vidal as his source speaks volumes.

1. The idea that nations have to “hold” or “hoard” dollars to buy oil is ridiculous. The largest and most liquid market in the world is the market in currencies. At volume, currency transaction costs are virtually nil, zero, nada, nothing. Any country holding Euros, Yen, Peso’s or whatever, that wants to buy oil, can get all the dollars it needs on the market instantly and cost free.

2. World currency markets trade approximately US$1.5 Trillion per day. The daily volume in the oil market, by comparison, is only approximately US$1.5 billion, i.e., one tenth of one percent of the daily currency market — a drop in the bucket. In other words, if every country in the world went to the currency markets every day and bought all of the dollars they needed to purchase oil, it would amount to a mere .001 of average daily currency trading volume. Even this is wildly exaggerated, however, since the US is the world’s largest oil purchaser and it doesn’t need to purchase dollars. Nor do China and Japan, who hold large US dollar reserves for reasons that have nothing to do with oil purchases.

3. In fact, “holding” dollars to buy oil would have been a very unprofitable undertaking. As the dollar has declined against the Euro, countries would have been much better off “holding” appreciating Euros and then exchange them for declining dollars when the oil was actually purchased.

4. US policy has been precisely the opposite of that implied by MAJ/KLS, i.e., the US has encouraged a weaker not a stronger dollar. Indeed, since the Iraq war the dollar has fallen not risen against the Euro, precisely the opposite of what MSJ and KLS suggest. A falling dollar makes US exprorts cheaper, allows US producers to compete with foreign companies for the American consumer dollars, holds down the trade deficit, and devalues the US national debt. In contrast, Morgan Stanley estimates that the stronger Euro has actually cost Europe 20% in economic growth.

5. Furthermore, the assumption that world oil producers were going to follow Saddam Hussein — a world pariah, subject to UN sanctions, who had militarily threated three of OPEC’s largest members, in a policy that allegedly hurt the US is absurd. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in particular counted upon US protection against Iraq. Were they really going to follow Saddam’s lead and (allegedly) offend and harm their protector?

In short, the theory that the US invaded Iraq so that the dollar would remain the unit of pricing oil, therefore insuring a strong dollar ignores the facts that: (a) the pricing unit of oil has no effect on the value of the dollar; (b) US policy supports a weaker not a stronger dollar; (c) the dollar has actually fallen and the Euro risen since the war; (d) the falling dollar has been good for the US economy and the rising Euro has harmed Europe; (e) Saddamonics was hardly likely to attract followers; and (f) enough dollars the entire world’s daily oil consumption trade in the world currency markets every 86 seconds.

In tomorrow’s thread, MAJ can tell us how Big Foot conspired with the Trilateral Commission to fake the moon landing.

July 11, 2005 @ 12:16 am | Comment

conrad, not too fond about the ease with which the phrase “MAJ/KLS” trips off the keyboard… be aware I didn’t say that was why the US went to war, further, I am aware of the dollar’s happy slide. but a collapse would be something different.
are you sure actual (secondary) trading volumes are the point here?

July 11, 2005 @ 12:28 am | Comment


The fact the oil is price in dollars is irrelevant to the value of the US dollar.

The fact that the US can price its foreign debt in US dollars is relevant to the price of the dollar, but that is an entirely different issue.

July 11, 2005 @ 12:30 am | Comment

Dear Simon,

First of all, I will apologise for my remark that you “obviously know nothing about economics” – though I wish to qualify this by also saying that I disagree with your economic analysis, as do many other economists, numerous of whom having written on this very topic.

Although completely unreported by the US media and government, the answer to the Iraq enigma is simple yet shocking – it is in large part an oil currency war. This view Simon, is held by many, like Gore Vidal, Dr Peter Cooper and William Clark (whose views are directly derived from US government economists). “One of the core reasons for this upcoming war,” argues Clark, “is this administration’s goal of preventing further Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) momentum towards the euro as an oil transaction currency standard. However, in order to pre-empt OPEC, they need to gain geo-strategic control of Iraq along with its 2nd largest proven oil reserves. The second coalescing factor that is driving the Iraq war is the quiet acknowledgement by respected oil geologists and possibly this administration is the impending phenomenon known as Global “Peak Oil.” This is projected to occur around 2010, with Iraq and Saudi Arabia being the final two nations to reach peak oil production.”

Clark, quite sensibly in my opinion, advocates a “graduated reform of the global monetary system including a dollar/euro currency `trading band’ with reserve status parity, a dual OPEC oil transaction standard, and multilateral treaties via the UN regarding energy reform.” Such reforms he says, “could potentially reduce future oil currency and oil warfare.”

Now look Simon, the following is an extract from Clark’s essay, and it makes interesting reading:

“This is how an individual very well versed in the nuances of macroeconomics alluded to the unspoken truth about this upcoming war with Iraq: ‘The Federal Reserve’s greatest nightmare is that OPEC will switch its international transactions from a dollar standard to a euro standard. Iraq actually made this switch in Nov. 2000 (when the euro was worth around 82 cents), and has actually made off like a bandit considering the dollar’s steady depreciation against the euro. (Note: the dollar declined 17% against the euro in 2002.)’

The real reason the Bush administration wants a puppet government in Iraq – or more importantly, the reason why the corporate-military-industrial network conglomerate wants a puppet government in Iraq – is so that it will revert back to a dollar standard and stay that way.” (While also hoping to veto any wider OPEC momentum towards the euro, especially from Iran — the 2nd largest OPEC producer who is actively discussing a switch to euros for its oil exports).”
Although a collective switch by OPEC would be extremely unlikely barring a major panic on the U.S. dollar, it would appear that a gradual transition is quite plausible.

Furthermore, despite Saudi Arabia being our `client state,’ the Saudi regime appears increasingly weak/threatened from massive civil unrest. Some analysts believe civil unrest might unfold in Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Gulf states in the aftermath of an unpopular U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Undoubtedly, the Bush administration is acutely aware of these risks. Hence, the neo-conservative framework entails a large and permanent military presence in the Persian Gulf region in a post-Saddam era, just in case we need to surround and control Saudi’s large Ghawar oil fields in the event of a Saudi coup by an anti-western group. But first back to Iraq.

“Saddam sealed his fate when he decided to switch to the euro in late 2000 (and later converted his $10 billion reserve fund at the U.N. to euros) — at that point, another manufactured Gulf War become inevitable under Bush II. Only the most extreme circumstances could possibly stop that now and I strongly doubt anything can — short of Saddam getting replaced with a pliant regime.

“Big Picture Perspective: Everything else aside from the reserve currency and the Saudi/Iran oil issues (i.e. domestic political issues and international criticism) is peripheral and of marginal consequence to this administration. Further, the dollar-euro threat is powerful enough that they will rather risk much of the economic backlash in the short-term to stave off the long-term dollar crash of an OPEC transaction standard change from dollars to euros. All of this fits into the broader Great Game that encompasses Russia, India, China.”

This information about Iraq’s oil currency is not discussed by the U.S. media or the Bush administration as the truth could potentially curtail both investor and consumer confidence, reduce consumer borrowing/spending, create political pressure to form a new energy policy that slowly weans us off Middle-Eastern oil, and of course stop our march towards a war with Iraq. This quasi `state secret’ is addressed in a Radio Free Europe article that discussed Saddam’s switch for his oil sales from dollars to the euros, to be effective November 6, 2000:
“Baghdad’s switch from the dollar to the euro for oil trading is intended to rebuke Washington’s hard-line on sanctions and encourage Europeans to challenge it. But the political message will cost Iraq millions in lost revenue. RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel looks at what Baghdad will gain and lose, and the impact of the decision to go with the European currency.”

At the time of the switch many analysts were surprised that Saddam was willing to give up approximately $270 million in oil revenue for what appeared to be a political statement. However, contrary to one of the main points of this November 2000 article, the steady depreciation of the dollar versus the euro since late 2001 means that Iraq has profited handsomely from the switch in their reserve and transaction currencies. Indeed, The Observer surprisingly divulged these facts in a recent article entitled: `Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro,’ (February 16, 2003).

“A bizarre political statement by Saddam Hussein has earned Iraq a windfall of hundreds of millions of euros. In October 2000 Iraq insisted upon dumping the US Dollar — `the currency of the enemy’ — for the more multilateral euro.”

Although Iraq’s oil currency switch appears to be completely censored by the U.S. media conglomerates, this UK article illustrates that the euro has gained almost 25% against the dollar since late 2001, which also applies to the $10 billion in Iraq’s U.N. `oil for food’ reserve fund that was previously held in dollars has also gained that same percent value since the switch. It was reported in 2003 that Iraq’s UN reserve fund had swelled from $10 billion dollars to 26 billion euros. According to a former government analyst, the following scenario would occur if OPEC made an unlikely, but sudden (collective) switch to euros, as opposed to a gradual transition.

“Otherwise, the effect of an OPEC switch to the euro would be that oil-consuming nations would have to flush dollars out of their (central bank) reserve funds and replace these with euros. The dollar would crash anywhere from 20-40% in value and the consequences would be those one could expect from any currency collapse and massive inflation (think Argentina currency crisis, for example). You’d have foreign funds stream out of the U.S. stock markets and dollar denominated assets, there’d surely be a run on the banks much like the 1930s, the current account deficit would become unserviceable, the budget deficit would go into default, and so on. Your basic 3rd world economic crisis scenario.

“The United States economy is intimately tied to the dollar’s role as reserve currency. This doesn’t mean that the U.S. couldn’t function otherwise, but that the transition would have to be gradual to avoid such dislocations (and the ultimate result of this would probably be the U.S. and the E.U. switching roles in the global economy).”

An interesting yet again underreported story from last year relates to another OPEC `Axis of Evil’ country, Iran, who is vacillating on pricing their oil export in the euro currency.

“Iran’s proposal to receive payments for crude oil sales to Europe in euros instead of U.S. dollars is based primarily on economics, Iranian and industry sources said.

“But politics are still likely to be a factor in any decision, they said, as Iran uses the opportunity to hit back at the U.S. government, which recently labeled it part of an `axis of evil.’

“The proposal, which is now being reviewed by the Central Bank of Iran, is likely to be approved if presented to the country’s parliament, a parliamentary representative said.

“`There is a very good chance MPs will agree to this idea . . . now that the euro is stronger, it is more logical,’ the parliamentary representative said.”

Moreover, and perhaps most telling, during 2002 the majority of reserve funds in Iran’s central bank were shifted to euros. It appears imminent they intend to switch oil payments to euros.

“More than half of [Iran] the country’s assets in the Forex Reserve Fund have been converted to euro, a member of the Parliament Development Commission, Mohammad Abasspour announced. He noted that higher parity rate of euro against the US dollar will give the Asian countries, particularly oil exporters, a chance to usher in a new chapter in ties with European Union’s member countries.

“He said that the United States dominates other countries through its currency, noting that given the superiority of the dollar against other hard currencies, the US monopolizes global trade. The lawmaker expressed hope that the competition between euro and dollar would eliminate the monopoly in global trade.”

After toppling Saddam, this administration may decide that Iran’s disloyalty to the dollar qualifies them as the next target in the `war on terror.’ Iran’s interest in switching to the euro as their currency for oil exports is well documented. Perhaps U.S. operations against Iran will be mostly covert, but this MSNBC article alludes to ultimate objectives of the neo-conservatives.

There are many other articles that address this issue along similar lines, like the following for example:

Brethour, Patrick, “OPEC mulls move to euro for pricing crude oil” The Globe And Mail, January 12, 2004

Cooper, Peter J, “Forget about the price of oil, what about the euro?,” AME October 14, 2000

Engdahl, F. William, “A New American Century? Iraq and the hidden euro-dollar wars,” Current Concerns, No 4, June 2003

Isbell, Paul, “The Shifting Geopolitics of the Euro,” Elcano Royal Institute, September 23, 2002

Islam, Faisal, “When will we buy oil in euros? When it comes to the global oil trade, the dollar reigns supreme. But it has a challenger, writes Faisal Islam,’ The Observer, February 23, 2003

Makhijani, Arjun, “Saddam’s Last Laugh: The Dollar Could be Headed for Hard Times if OPEC Switches to the Euro,”, May 9, 2001

Sommers, Jeffrey, “Dollar Crisis and American Empire,”, June 20, 2003

Simon, you may continue to disagree with such an analysis, but I am convinced by them. At any rate, even if we all accept your view, that the US went into Iraq with noble purposes, it is still, in my opinion, immoral, because it philosophically rests on “the ends justify the means” argument – and I have already stated why I think that is unacceptably immoral.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 12:31 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

The above entry of mine, addressed to Simon, should be read as a response to you as well.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 12:36 am | Comment

Interestingly, CNN did report, back in October, 2000, that “Iraq had also threatened to stop oil exports, the bulk of which flow through the U.N. humanitarian programme, if its request for payment in euros was denied.”

The US had lost (or was losing) its influence over one of the biggest and most imporant oil reserves in the world. Hence Saddam had to go.

And there was a very real fear, also discussed in Clark’s article, that Saudia Arabia (the biggest oil producing nation if I’m not mistaken) was so unstable, that there was a fear among US policy makers that it could collapse.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 12:51 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

You claim that whether “oil is priced in dollars is irrelevant to the value of the US dollar.” But there are many economists who would disagree with you. As Clark says in the articel of his that I quoted above: “According to a former government analyst, the following scenario would occur if OPEC made an unlikely, but sudden (collective) switch to euros, as opposed to a gradual transition: … the effect of an OPEC switch to the euro would be that oil-consuming nations would have to flush dollars out of their (central bank) reserve funds and replace these with euros. The dollar would crash anywhere from 20-40% in value and the consequences would be those one could expect from any currency collapse and massive inflation (think Argentina currency crisis, for example). You’d have foreign funds stream out of the U.S. stock markets and dollar denominated assets, there’d surely be a run on the banks much like the 1930s, the current account deficit would become unserviceable, the budget deficit would go into default, and so on. Your basic 3rd world economic crisis scenario.”

Steve Hickel, who think is an economist, also feels that there is a relationsahip. He says, “we will see the dollar having to bid for Euro’s instead of oil directly. That will reverse the current Euro-Dollar relationship. It will create a high demand for Euro’s causing a higher Euro valuation; the dollar will significantly devalue against the Euro by possibly 30% or more. Also, since the Euro is market-aligned with gold, which represents 15% of its current value, the price of gold will also rise in dollars and Euro’s, but much more so in dollars – probably above $600+ per ounce or more. As gold changes in value, so too will the Euro. Gold will become a proportionately higher (or lower, since gold is marked to market value against the Euro quarterly) percentage of backing for the Euro as gold rises (or lowers).
It is possible that other oil countries could follow Iraq’s lead by allowing payment in Dollars or Euro’s for oil. This dual payment system would, of course, be too attractive for European countries to pass up and would therefore open the door to significant dollar holdings being converted to Euro’s. Eventually, this would lead to the Euro as becoming the preferred choice in oil payment currency because the currency value is earmarked to gold’s market value and would represent a less inflationary and stronger long-term value to the oil interests.

All the pieces would seem to be in place for this seemingly minor payment acceptance decision, yet the impact on the Euro, gold, oil, and dollar prices would rock the world. It would cause a rush to the exits away from the dollar to the Euro.”

With all due respect Conrad, I think you may be wrong on this one.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 1:17 am | Comment


There is no economic analysis in your post whatsoever. I see nothing but unsupported assertions. William Clark and Peter Cooper are unknowns. Gore Vidal is a novelist.

There is no connection whatsoever between the currency in which oil sales are demominated and the price of the US dollar. The idea .

Let’s look at some of the stupider statements:

“The effect of an OPEC switch to the euro would be that oil-consuming nations would have to flush dollars out of their (central bank) reserve funds and replace these with euros.

Really? Why could they not purchase Euros in the currency markets? BTW, what is an “oil-consuming nation“? Are there nations that don’t consume any oil?

“the United States dominates other countries through its currency, noting that given the superiority of the dollar against other hard currencies, the US monopolizes global trade.”

The US monopolizes global trade????? Really? The world’s largest exporter is Germany. China and Japan are shut out of world trade?

Although Iraq’s oil currency switch appears to be completely censored by the U.S. media conglomerates.

Unless you count contemporaneous reports in Time, Newsweek. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal the Washington Post, etc., etc., etc. . . .

“The dollar would crash anywhere from 20-40% in value. You’d have foreign funds stream out of the U.S. stock markets and dollar denominated assets, there’d surely be a run on the banks much like the 1930s, the current account deficit would become unserviceable, the budget deficit would go into default, and so on.

Please explain to me why this is so, since there is no need to hold dollars now to purchase oil, given that all the $ needed can be purchased. Also, since Euros are readily available in sufficient quantities on the world markets why would countries needlessly dump dollar reserves, percipitating an economic crises in the world’s largest economy, thereby seriously hurting themselves?

Also, please explain to me how the a 40% devaluation of the dollar would cause the “US budget deficit” to go into default? First, this makes no sense as deficits cannot default. Presumable the author is trying (ineptly) to refer to the US national debt. Second, the US debt would thereby be worth 40 less in real terms, making repayment less burdensome, not more. Third, since the real value of US assets would, in fact, be unchanged, foreign investment would presumably flood into underpriced assets pushing the dollar up.

The entire argument is absurd and has no relationship to real economics whatsoever.

July 11, 2005 @ 1:44 am | Comment

Dear KLS,

Your point that the “producer selling the commodity would want payment in euros, rather than dollars…
and would not then convert the euros received into dollars” is the crucial point – this is what is at the heart of Clark’s analysis, and it is what is at the heart of all similar arguments – regardless of whether this argument is being espoused by Marxist or mainstream economists.

“OPEC has,” as you say “formally or informally, I don’t know, mulled over this in the past as a threat to the US.
I think it would be a threat — the world would need fewer dollars, and the value of the dollar would fall.
Some suggest that one key reason for the dollar’s preeminence in foreign reserves is that it is the medium for oil purchases.”

I think both Conrad and Simon are missing this point. It is mostly mainstream economists who are saying this, but Conrad wants to make out that only the likes of Gore Vidal are making such claims. He is wrong to think like this.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 1:45 am | Comment


I can’t do this. You’ve failed to address the points that both I and Conrad raised. You might choose to believe this voodoo economics, but it won’t wash. Conrad’s analysis seemed clear and lucid to me. But if you’re going to use Al Jazeera as one of your sources, you and I are never going to see eye to eye.

Let me try one more quixotic time, because I hate seeing ignorance masquerading as knowledge. Let’s say OPEC suddenly decided to denominate all its oil transactions in Euros, or even Mexican Pesos. How does such a change alter the supply and demand characteristics of that currency, which is the only way the price of a currency can change. Well the supply of currency is solely in the hands of the central bank, so that rules that out. So the question becomes how does this influence the demand for Euros? There’s an interesting thing in markets – for every buyer there is a seller. So this change in the medium of exchange means nothing changes in terms of demand for the Euro. the oil consumers will need to buy Euros to purchase the oil. Those Euros pass to the producers, who then need to sell them (unless they are planning massive investment in Europe, but that’s a second order affect). There is NO change in the demand of that currency. You could do the trade for oil in terms of bananas. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how many bananas you need for that barrel of oil.

MAJ, you’ve fallen into the trap of confusing the medium of exchange with the intrinsic value of the commodity itself. If you care to take a second year economics course, your professor will help you further.

July 11, 2005 @ 1:53 am | Comment

On a different note, my God Hong Kong is hot today.

July 11, 2005 @ 1:59 am | Comment

Dear Simon and Conrad,

The value of the dollar vs the euro is directly related to the demand for dollars vs the demand for euros. Example: if America sells more products overseas, then the US dollar will be in higher demand, this is because in America you accept mostly only dollars. The opposite is also true, if you sell nothing overseas, then the demand for the dollar becomes low.

The point that KLS and I are making, which is the point that Clark and others also make, is that if most of the OPEC nations were to begin accepting Euros only, the dollars value against the Euro will decline.

At present, the US effectively controls the world oil-market as the dollar has become the “fiat” international trading currency. Today US currency accounts for approximately two-thirds of all official exchange reserves. More than four-fifths of all foreign exchange transactions and half of all the world exports are denominated in dollars and US currency accounts for about two-thirds of all official exchange reserves. The fact that billions of dollars worth of oil is priced in dollars ensures the world domination of the dollar. It allows the US to act as the world’s central bank, printing currency acceptable everywhere. The dollar has become an oil-backed, not gold-backed, currency.

If more and more oil importing countries were to acquire the Euro as their “reserve,” its value would increase, and a larger amount of trade would be transacted and denominated in Euros. In such circumstances, the value of the dollar would most likely go down, some economists speculate between 20-40 percent. These economists, Simon, have also studied second year economics at university, I assume!

Simon, on January 1, 1999, when 11 European countries formed a monetary union around the Euro currency, why do you think it was only Britain and Norway who remained absent? It is precisley because both Britian and Norway are themselves major oil producers. As the US economy began to slow down during mid-2000, Western stock markets began to yield lower dividends. Investors from Gulf Cooperation Council nations lost over $800 million in the stock plunge. As investors sold US assets and reinvested in Europe, which seemed to be better shielded from a recession, the Euro began to gain ground against the dollar .
After September 11, 2001, Islamic financiers began to repatriate their dollar investments – amounting to billions of dollars – to Arab banks, as they were worried about the possible seizure of their assets under the USA PATRIOT Act. Also, they feared their accounts might be frozen on the suspicion that such accounts fund Islamic terrorists.

Iranian sources for example, stated that their banking colleagues felt particularly hassled as Washington heated up its war of words and threats of military intervention. This encouraged Tehran to abandon the dollar payment for oil sales and switch to the Euro. Iran also moved the majority of its reserve fund to the Euro.

OPEC member countries and the Euro-zone have strong trade links, with more than 45 percent of total merchandise imports of OPEC member countries coming from the countries of the Euro-zone, while OPEC members are the main suppliers of oil and crude oil products to Europe. The EU has a bigger share of global trade than the US (as Conrtad pointed out) and, while the US has a huge current account deficit, the EU has a more balanced external accounts position. The EU will continue to enlarge as it attracts new members. It will thus have a population of around 450 million; it will have an oil consuming-purchasing population 33 percent larger than the US, and over half of OPEC crude oil is now sold to the EU. In order to reduce currency risks, Europeans will pressure OPEC to trade oil in Euros. Countries such as Algeria, Iran, Iraq, and Russia – which export oil and natural gas to European countries and in turn import goods and services from them-will have an interest in reducing their currency risk and hence, pricing oil and gas in Euros. Thus momentum is building toward at least the dual use of Euro and dollar pricing.

Simon, Conrad – also remember that the US also wants to create a new oil cartel in the Middle East and Africa to replace OPEC – and for very good reason. To this end, they have been pressuring Nigeria to withdraw from OPEC and its strict production quotas by dangling the prospects of generous US aid. Instead the US seeks to promote a “US-Nigeria Alignment,” which would place Nigeria as the primary oil exporter to the US Another move by the US is to promote oil production in other African countries – Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and Angola, from where the US imports a significant amount of oil-so that the oil control of OPEC is loosened, if not broken. The US has also been pressuring non-OPEC producers to flood the oil market and retain denomination in dollars in an effort to weaken OPEC’s market control and challenge the leadership of any country switching oil denomination from the dollar to the Euro.

You can pretend otherwsie, but I remain convinced by the Euro verses dollar connection to the war in Iraq.

And the views expressed above are the views of economists, not of novelists like Gore Vidal, though like me, he too is convinced by their arguments.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 2:19 am | Comment


Forget that the medium of exchange is irrelevant to the price of either underlying currency, let’s imagine an economic bizzaro world where there was such a relationship. Your theory still fails to work as you suggest.

Say the price of the dollar falls 40% against the Euro. Here’s what happens:

1. US exports become 40% cheaper against European competitors, boosting US exports and reducing the US trade and current account deficits.

2. Products imported to the US become more expensive. This reduces US imports, further reducing the US trade and current account deficits.

3. European exports become more expensive, decreasing European exports and increasing their trade and current account deficits.

4. Imports to Europe become cheaper, further increasing European trade and current account deficits.

5. European unemployment rises, inreasing welfare and social services costs and budget deficits.

5. US assets have effectively gone on sale by 40% causing capital inflows into the US.

6. European assets have been marked up 40%, reducing capital inflows into the US.

7. European politicians go ape-shit demanding policies to boost their suffering economies.

Every single one of those effects would put upward pressure on the dollar and downward pressure on the Euro.

Your scenrio assumes widespread dumping of dollars, even though (1) there is no need to do so since currency markets can supply all the dollars needed and (2) such a dump would hurt the dumpers as much or more than the US. You ignore the fact that real value of the underlying currencies and economies would remain unchanged and you further ignore all of the market forces that such an irrational move would unleash, all of which would work push the currencies back to real equilibrium.

July 11, 2005 @ 2:30 am | Comment

MAJ, I hope your tin foil hat is nice and tight today. Norway and the UK stayed out of the Euro because of oil? I’ll bet that’s a surprise to the people of those countries. Norway voted against it and the UK was never likely to enter the Euro for a myriad of political and eco….

Oh hang on. I just made a resolution not to get into this anymore. It’s just plain stupid.

July 11, 2005 @ 2:36 am | Comment

and yet I’ve offered ample amounts of bait.

Taj Majal said “any fish’ll bite if ya got good bait”, but I’m not so sure. I think they swim around nibbling at random stuff. I’ve put up posts back to back on “Give Hitler a break” and “Stop African Aid”, and I can’t catch anything except that little Chinese guy who always says the same thing “Get out of China, you Christian!!”

July 11, 2005 @ 2:38 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

I fully appreciate what you are saying here – and yes, the seven effects that you list I can generally agree with, except that such a scenario is simplified – other monetary policies would also come into play of course.

What you ignore though, it that different sections of the economy are effected by the value of its currency in different ways. A low dollar for example, is great for domestic exporters, but not for importers. You have to then ask yourself the question, which economic interests are most influential in shaping government policies? Politics thus particular class interests thus come into play, and must also be considered – not just pure economic theory alone.

The idea of a mass switch to Euros taking place by many of the OPEC nations is plausible I think. First Iraq, then Iran. Who might be next? Iraq made huge profits from its switch too, which may encourage others, and Iran’s decision was ironically driven by fear – fears brought on by Washington (as explained in my entry above).

Remember Conrad, that I am subscribing to views held widely among economists. Gore Vidal does too, so what? You cannot contribute the views that I have outlined above to him. They come from economists. Not all economists agree, I know, but my purpose here is to expose their ideas to us all for scrutiny and discussion – for consideration. For the record, I do find them to be very convincing though. You and Simon don’t. O.K. Fine. We may have to agree to disagree again. But to dismiss the arguments that I have presented here as being the product of “voodoo economics” and “novelists” is a bit rich, don’t you think?

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 2:49 am | Comment

Sear Simon,

The fact that embracing the Euro is unpopular in both Norway and Britain largely, but not entirely, reflects the fact that the mainstream corporate media in those countries encouraged such sentiments. There was no systematic campaign there to win over the support of voters, like there was in France for example, where large numbers of people were also very emotionally attached to their national currency, the Franc.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 2:54 am | Comment

trust me, discussing things with MAJ is not even worth the time. next thing ya know, he’ll pose as some economics expert to back himself up with a bunch of BS like the dr. ann myers thing. such mechanisms help cover up for a disconnection with reality.

July 11, 2005 @ 3:02 am | Comment

Like the systematic campaign that worked so well recently in France’s successful “Yes” vote on the EU constitiution?

July 11, 2005 @ 3:04 am | Comment

Dear Sam,

If it’s attention you want, if you want to catch comments with your bait, then perhaps you ought to try discussing the eating of dog meat, as I did earlier on this thread. You might even reel in a few expletives anchored to your fish like leeches. Dog meat makes great bait you know!

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 3:04 am | Comment

Dear Simon,

Well, yes actually, only in that instance, the campaign wasn’t enough to convince voters.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 3:07 am | Comment

So I click elsewhere to get away from this, and yet come across something incredibly apt at Glittering Eye. Go and read, especially about orality and literacy.

July 11, 2005 @ 3:13 am | Comment

Dear Conrad and Simon,

Incidentally, Alex Wallenwein, editor of the Euro verses Dollar Monitor, also argues that “The euro presents a fatal challenge to the debt-laden and deficit-ridden dollar.”

“As anaemic and depressed as the EU economies appear to be at this time,” he writes, “the euro presents a huge problem for the dollar – not because the euro is “such a great currency,” but because the world has become very distrustful of the dollar.
Never before, since the dollar became the world’s reserve currency in 1945, has the dollar’s supremacy been seriously challenged by another currency.

That’s because there was no other currency that could mount any challenge. Now, there is. The world has grown extremely wary of:

1. 40 trillion dollars federal/state/local government, business, and private indebtedness.
2. A negative $2.75 trillion total US household net cash position.
3. An all-time record household debt-service ratio (ratio of debt service cost to disposable income).

See his article in Safehaven: Preservation of Capital site. Some economists are even talking about a “currency war” between the Euro and the US dollar.

Which currency plays the role of international currency reserve? That, as I have been arguing all along, is what is at issue here, and many see the invasion of Iraq as being related to this currency war, in that if OPEC nations were to switch to Euros, the position of the US dollar as the world’s curency reserve would be threatened.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 3:34 am | Comment

Nah, Mark, from the quality of comments I’ve had lately, I’m not sure I want to encourage more. I think I’ve got rid of my troll, though.

July 11, 2005 @ 3:41 am | Comment

Today’s, er, debate has stirred a dusty memory of an article I read last year in The Economist speculating on the dollar’s future as a reserve currency. I found it online, freely available at, from December 2nd, 2004. It is bearish on the dollar, but not for reasons having anything to do with oil (which is not even mentioned in the article). Instead, they worry about a few other factors:

Where the dollar has failed is as a store of value. Since 1960 the dollar has fallen by around two-thirds against the euro (using Germany’s currency as a proxy before 1999) and the yen (see chart 1). The euro area, unlike America, is a net creditor. Never before has the guardian of the world’s main reserve currency been its biggest net debtor. And a debtor may be tempted to use devaluation to reduce its external deficit—hardly a desirable property for a reserve currency.

Those bearish on the dollar are asking why investors will want to hold the assets of a country that has, by its own actions, jeopardised its reserve-currency position. And, they point out, without the intervention of central banks, which have been huge net buyers of dollars, the dollar would already be lower. If those same central banks were to begin to sell some of their $2.3 trillion dollar assets, then there would be a risk of a collapse in the dollar. However you look at it, America is likely to find it increasingly hard to finance its huge current-account deficit.

Now, the dollar has strengthened since this was written, but the premise is interesting. We are reminded that many currencies have been the global reserve at one point or another in history. Times change. But it is internal American policy that seems to be the dollar’s sword of Damocles, not the oil trade.

July 11, 2005 @ 3:56 am | Comment

Dear Chinese readers,

I’d be curious to know what Chinese readers think about the dog meat “issue” – as I said in my earlier comments above, much earlier on in this thread, I have no problem with eating dog meat, but it seems as though some people find this offensive, unmentionable even!

I find that most Chinese (the same in Korea) take one of the following attitudes towards the consumption of dog meat. Either they are embarrassed by such food culture, and thus try to deny that eating dog meat is common or popular, or they take the same line that I take, which is that eating dog meat is fundamentally no different from eating any other farmed animal, and that it is an important part of some Asian food cultures. To criticise Asians for eating dog meat is thus ethnocentric and arrogant. That’s my position.

Not every Chinese person eats dog meat, I know, but is is common nevertheless. There is a dog meat restaurant two blocks from my apartment here in Shenzhen for example, and I noticed that in Jilin there are many – they’re everywhere you look almost! They’re common in Tianjin as well.

Many familes include dog meat dishes as part of their family meals – I know, as I have been invited to peoples homes, where they have cooked dog meat. Everywhere I go in China, I see dog meat for sale in markets, and in supermarkets too.

I’m just wondering how Chinese readers feel, when Westerners come along and criticise them for eating dog meat, or when they treat the eating of dog meat as being too unaccepotable even to be discussed on public forums such as this one.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 3:59 am | Comment

The US dollar has a lot of problems. The only thing going for it is the alternatives (Euro, Yen) are worse. The Euro will not supplant the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Hell, there’s a reasonable chance the Euro won’t exist in the next 10 years.

July 11, 2005 @ 4:00 am | Comment

Dear Will,

Yes, I agree with you entirely. And that is exactly what economists like Alex Wallenmein have been saying. But the oil trade is vitally important in helping to sustain the dollar as a reserve currency, and so any moves on the part of OPEC nations to switch to Euros is thus potentially quite threatening. Hence the need to swiftly remove Saddam Hussein from power, and hence the hostility towards Iran, and hence the attempts to loosen OPECs power and influence.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 4:05 am | Comment

hey guys, just come back from a long trip, f**king tired and can’t do anything

anyone can help this guy for his trip to the US?

July 11, 2005 @ 4:11 am | Comment

Dear Simon,

According to the economist, Alex Wallenwein, there are many in the US who are hoping for just that – the collapse or severe weakening of the Euro. They’re out to win the “currency war”, and some political commentators, as I have said, believe that the removal of Saddam Hussein was a part of that war – one of the battlefronts of the war, if you like.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 4:11 am | Comment

Simon: Agree on the future of the Euro – with the “constitution” eating a big one and the stability and growth pact unraveling like a Silk Market sweater, it looks a little rickety over there. I reckon if you’re some banana republic making your hard currency decisions, the dollar looks like the worst choice except for everything else. But times do change.

July 11, 2005 @ 4:17 am | Comment


You are mixing apples and oranges and grapefruits and cherrys.

Whether (1) the Euro could replace the US Dollar as the world’s reserve currency is a different question from (2) whether a change in the pricing currency of oil would effect the value of the dollar.

We are discussing the second question.

The answer to question 2 is “no”. Your claim that the contrary view is espoused by “mainstream economists” is utter nonsense. You have cited a few obscure names none of whom I have ever heard of (except for one, whose a novelist).

The fact is that to call this theory “voodoo economics” would be an insult to Haitan witch doctors.

Your so-called economic expert Clark calls for the establishment of “a “a dollar/euro currency `trading band’


Ask your lefty buddy George Soros about how well that would work. The EU tried such a system, called the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Soros shorted the Pound and shattered the
erm in one day, making more than US$2 billion on the trade. When told that Britain was prepared to spend up $30 billion to defend the Pound, Soros laughed and replied, “and what are they going to do in the 30 minutes after that?” $30 billion being about 30 minutes trading in the currency exchanges at that time.

July 11, 2005 @ 4:22 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

I have always been discussing the 1st question – this, I said all along, is the issue: it was you and Simon you brought the 2nd question into the picture at centre stage. The argument that I have been presenting centres around the status of the US currency as an international reserve currency, and how this status might be affected by a large scale switch by OPEC nations to recognising and accepting only Euros. The pricing currency of oil could effect the status of the US currency as the international reserve currency, which in effect could lead to its collapse. I reject yuor claim that this is “voodoo economics.”

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 4:33 am | Comment

I apologise to all Haitians reading this thread.

July 11, 2005 @ 4:40 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

The other argument put forward by political analysists, and which I support, is that the need to dominate oil from Iraq is deeply intertwined with the defense of the dollar. That’s because its current strength is supported by OPEC’s requirement (secured by a secret agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia) that all OPEC oil sales be denominated in dollars. This requirement is currently threatened by the desire of some OPEC countries to allow OPEC oil sales to be paid in euros.

In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, the report, Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century, concluded: “The United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a de-stabilizing influence to … the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets. Therefore the US should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq including military, energy, economic and political/ diplomatic assessments.”

The Task Force meetings were attended by members of the new Bush Administration’s Department of Energy, and the report was read by members of Vice-President Cheney’s own Energy Task Force. When Cheney issued his own national energy plan, it too declared that “The [Persian] Gulf will be a primary focus of US international energy policy.” It agreed with the Baker report that the US is increasingly dependent on imported oil and that it may be necessary to overcome foreign resistance in order to gain access to new supplies.

Later the point was made more bluntly by Anthony H. Cordesman, senior analyst at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies: “Regardless of whether we say so publicly, we will go to war, because Saddam sits at the center of a region with more than 60 percent of all the world’s oil reserves.”

The shift to the euro also has big implications for the foreign exchange markets and the US and European economies. Currency specialists say the yawning US current account deficit, now at 5%, is bound to drive the dollar down further, and the euro still higher, over the next two to four years. Although the greenback may stage a short-term recovery once the looming war with Iraq is over, predictions are that it will then continue its downward trend, and that central banks will play their part in the descent. “Even if central banks increase their euro holdings by just a few percent, it will have a major impact in the markets,” says Klawitter. “We’re talking many billions of dollars.”‘

If not deterred, OPEC could follow suit. Libya has been urging for some time that oil be priced in euros rather than dollars. Javad Yarjani, an Iranian senior OPEC official, told a European Union seminar in April 2002 that, despite the problems raised by such a conversion, “I believe that OPEC will not discount entirely the possibility of adopting euro pricing and payments in the future.”

Now look Conrad, you and Simon may like to deny that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has very much to do with oil, and in protecting the status of the dollar as the international reserve currency, but many people do. I am one of them.

You mentioned George Soros Conrad. Well, he too argues that the decline in the value of the US dollar has been partly the result of a switch by Middle Eastern oil producers to Euros. Her eis what he said, reported on the pages of

“We might not like his politics, but we respect his moneymaking prowess.

And few understand currencies like George Soros.

Our ears perked up when Soros explained why the dollar is collapsing.

He said the weakness of the U.S. dollar is no accident – it’s the result of Russian and Middle East oil exporters converting their oil transactions from dollars to euros.”

Soros Explains Dollar Collapse
Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005
Soros: Oil Exporters Behind Dollar Fall

We might not like his politics, but we respect his moneymaking prowess.

And few understand currencies like George Soros.

Our ears perked up when Soros explained why the dollar is collapsing.

He said the weakness of the U.S. dollar is no accident – it’s the result of Russian and Middle East oil exporters converting their oil transactions from dollars to euros.

The report then when on to say: “The oil-exporting countries’ central banks have been switching out of dollars mainly into euros, and Russia also plays an important role in this. That is, I think, at the bottom of the current weakness of the dollar,” Soros was quoted by Reuters.

Speaking to delegates at the Jeddah Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia, the famous investor and political activist said that while he did not expect the dollar to continue to fall, its fate could be tied to the price of oil.”

Now look Conrad, look Simon, here is a well respected economist saying EXACTLY what Clark and others have been saying. Are you also going to dismiss Soros’s economics as “voodoo economics”??????

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 4:52 am | Comment

MAJ, did you actually read what Soros said? And why has the US dollar rallied 15% since the “No” in France, even with oil hitting new highs.

This is just like the Chewbacka defense…It. Makes. No. Sense.

July 11, 2005 @ 4:58 am | Comment

Dear Simon,

Do you think that Soros may have passed 2nd year economics at university?

Your arrogance in dismissing the views of Clark etc., as ignorant nonsense, whilst making out that no serious economist would ever hold such views, and that your views are somehow more worthy of weight is unconvincing. And the jibe about calling Clark et al. a Haitian voodoo (or was it me that you were referring to?) being an insult to Haitians is a little childish don’t you think?

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 4:59 am | Comment

Dear Simon,

Yes, I did read what Soros actually said, and I just quoted him stating his views for you, in my posting above. If you think his position doesn’t make sense, and that you know better, then perhaps you ought to challenge Soros directly?

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 5:02 am | Comment

Dear Simon,

If the US dollar just rallied 15% with the news of the NO vote in Europe regarding the constitution, then that may indicate that people’s confidence in the future of the Euro may have fallen consequently, and that means that the US dollar may for now, for many, have regained its position as the better alternative. This may or may not be shortlived.

But during the lead up to the Iraq invasion, the Euro was surging ahead, and any percpetion that Saddam’s decision to switch to Euros may prove threatening to the dollar, has to be viewed from this historical context.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 11, 2005 @ 5:07 am | Comment

My Ducklings,

I know that I vowed earlier not to place any more comments on this site, due to the time contraints that work commitments bring, but I’m afraid I cannot resist on this occasion, for my two favourite commentators, Mr Conrad and Mr Jones, are at it again – though this time they are also joined by a third bull, who identifies himself as Simon.

It seems to me as though these three bulls, locked in horns as they are, are each defending their turf (by which I mean their public spheres of influence) against rival discourses, and all discourses are of course, ideological by nature.

In this case, we have Mr Conrad and Simon (who both seem to share very similar political and hence ideological positions), battling over turf with Mr Jones, who represents the opposite end of the political spectrum. Three bulls fighting – how dreadfully exciting!

Now while I wish to adjudicate as impartially as possible, I cannot hide the fact that I identify more with the political and ideological positioning of Mr Jones. Some among you may then dismiss my observations as biased, which is fine. We all bring to the table our respective biases, and so for the record, I am sharing with you mine.

Let me begin then, by briefly summarising the two opposing positions, beginning with that of Mr Jones, since he was the one who initiated the topic.

Mr Jones says that he finds the view that the invasion of Iraq was launched partly in response to Saddam Hussein’s decision to switch to euros to be a convincing one. The reasoning behind this view hinges on the economic argument that a change in the pricing currency of oil would threaten the status of the US dollar as the international reserve currency. It is not the only threat to the dollar’s status as such, but at the time, during the lead up to the invasion, argues Mr Jones, moves by Saddam Hussein to switch to euros was seen as a potential threat big enough to warrant an invasion, though other geo-political factors also provided important motives for US actions.

Mr Jones also draws on the Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century document as evidence to support his belief that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was motivated by concerns over oil – not just the value of the currency. Mr Jones quotes from the report to demonstrate what he believes lie behind US motives: “Iraq remains a de-stabilizing influence to … the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East,” the report says. “Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets. Therefore the US should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq including military, energy, economic and political/ diplomatic assessments.”

Similar quotes from other reports are also used by Mr Jones as evidence to support his views on this matter, including a report issued by a special energy task force as well as from Dick Cheney’s own energy plan – Dick Cheney being one of the main architects of the war.

Mr Conrad and Simon, by contrast, prefer to believe that the US invasion and occupation was carried out for more noble purposes, though they avoid discussing this in any detail, and instead focus on challenging the economic argument that a change in oil pricing currencies would lead to a decline in the value of the US dollar. In doing so, they dismiss and trivialise Mr Jones by pointing out that the views that he endorses have all been presented by people not qualified enough to be taken seriously: novelists and nobodies that specialise in what Conrad rather colourfully describes as “voodoo economics.”

Mr Jones however, I believe, has challenged this criticism quite well though. He points out that one of the world’s most famous and most highly respected economists, and one who specialises in currency matters, George Soros, also believes that a pricing switch to euros by oil-produciung nations will lead to a decline in the value of the dollar. He quotes Soros, who explicitly says “The oil-exporting countries’ central banks have been switching out of dollars mainly into euros, and Russia also plays an important role in this. That is, I think, at the bottom of the current weakness of the dollar…”

As the reporter of Soros’ views explained, “few understand currencies like George Soros” which is why everybody’s “ears perked up when Soros explained why the dollar [was] collapsing.”

Both Mr Conrad and Simon want us all to dismiss Mr Jones’ view (or more accurately, the view that Mr Jones endorses) largely on the basis that they believe themselves to be more qualified to make economic judgements than Mr Jones – something which they seek to demonstrate by claiming that no serious economists would ever agree with the Jones camp.

But Mr Jones has shown that there are indeed numerous economists who do, including one of the world’s most famous economists and currency speculators.

Now Mr Conrad has not only dismissed the views of those economists who argree with Mr Jones on the basis that he has never heard of them, but now he has also even dismissed a world famous economist who agrees with Mr Jones, and on the basis that he is a “lefty”.

Is it fair do you think, for Mr Conrad and Simon to dismiss a line of argument largely (or even partly) on the basis that the economists in question are names they have not heard of, or because the economists they have heard of are politically and ideologically to the left?

It’s hardly a rational way to debate, is it? Anybody can just as easily turn this around, and ask why anybody should take Conrad seriously, because after all, he is not a famous internaltionally renowned economist, nor is he even an unknown economist. More people in this world know of Mr Clark than they do of Conrad and Simon. And Mr Soros is known and highly respected as an economist and currency specualator by many millions throughout the world. Does this not make Mr Soros’ views valid, worthy of being taken seriously? Why should his views be taken any less seriously than Conrad’s or Simon’s, both of whom most people on this planet have never even heard of?

Dr Anne Myers

July 11, 2005 @ 7:09 am | Comment


July 11, 2005 @ 7:36 am | Comment

Oh how nice, Dr. Anus has gone from “psychologist” to “economist”.

Maybe she is MAJ’s feminine alter ego.

July 11, 2005 @ 7:40 am | Comment

On a side note, Richard have you thought of contacting John over at Sinosplice for job inquiries?

Don’t forget about Jeremy over at Danwei either.

July 11, 2005 @ 7:41 am | Comment

Holy Mother of Jesus!
This has been one interesting thread. Some excellent choice comments and flames. Sorry I didn’t join in earlier, but today, I had to drop off 389 exams that I have just completed marking and recording on a grade sheet, written in Chinese, and then I had to go meet my FAO to get my train tickets to Shanghai where I will catch my flight back to the US of A (god I love it!forgive me you naysayers, but I’ve been in the boonies again for yet another year), then I had to go get my hard earned kuai converted into dollars, ate some ice cream, and then I get some ragged ass PM from some offended nutball on Dave’s (goddamn there are a lot of Foreign Idiots in the People’s Republic of China!!!!!!!) and finally I went to the gym to lift weights. On the bus trip home, I talked to two old ladies in Chinese, which surprised the shit out of me they could understand me, and surprised the shit out of me that I could understand them, and then the little neighborhood boy who lives on the ground floor apartment seemed to be having a pissy day, so I invited him up to my apartment and gave him so ice cream.

Eat some ice cream; it will make you feel better about yourself, the world, and other people–even if you don’t like their country or politics.

Okay, that’s all. Thank you!

July 11, 2005 @ 8:16 am | Comment


Where’d you get your ticket back to the US? How much?

July 11, 2005 @ 8:20 am | Comment

My FAO purchased the ticket from Chun Qiu Travel in Shanghai. Their website is WWW.
The total cost of my round trip ticket is 8396 RMB. I am flying on Northwest from Shanghai to Tokyo to Detroit to Atlanta.
I’m not paying one fen for the ticket. I am also thankful that I am not flying on China Eastern, like I did the year before.
I am going to eat some more ice cream. By the way, Mengniu, the same company that makes the milk here, has some absolutely great ice cream, wickedly delicious!

July 11, 2005 @ 8:34 am | Comment

I love ice cream. It tastes great and being that I’m lactose intollerant, it gives me nukular gas to repay the stench of body odor with.

July 11, 2005 @ 9:05 am | Comment

Thanks for all the congratulatory messages, I just wish I had time to read all the trolling comments properly over a cup of tea and a hearty chuckle.

July 11, 2005 @ 10:17 am | Comment

Bingfeng, just looking briefly at your friend’s itinerary, I’d say as long as he’s ending up in San Francisco, he should go to the Muir Woods to see the redwoods (trees that exist nowhere else in the world), and if he has time, perhaps Big Sur down the coast. Of course Mendicino in general is beautiful too. So much to see!

Utah and New Mexico have some incredible scenery, which it sounds like he will be seeing.

July 11, 2005 @ 11:43 am | Comment

MAJ why are you just copying and pasting other people’s work?

for example, your really long comment above, starting “Dear Simon and Conrad,
The value of the dollar vs the euro is directly related to…”

this is word-for-word copied from elsewhere.

I took a random line and googled it. the line was:
“the US effectively controls the world oil-market as the”

via google I discovered two websites where a long essay has been posted about euros and dollars and oil.
you copied and pasted over 700 words direct from that!

-see Iraq/Iraq_dollar_vs_euro.html

the only thing you changed was to insert intros such as “Simon, Conrad – also remember that…” at the beginning of one or two of the paragraphs.

or take your next long comment, starting:
“Dear Conrad,
The other argument put forward by political analysists”

you directly copied and pasted 500 words that appear on this website:

wouldn’t it have been good manners to acknowledge that these words are not your own? and, rather than filling up a thread, to have provided links to these websites instead?

July 11, 2005 @ 11:54 am | Comment

Oops. Caught with your pants down around your ankles, Marky Mark?

July 11, 2005 @ 12:43 pm | Comment

Lisa, that entire scenic route that leads to Muir Woods is some of the most gorgeous scenery in America. And some of those towns in Marin County, like Mill Valley are so gorgeous….

KLS, you are a sleuth. I am getting more and more concerned about MAJ’s comments on more than one level, and you’ve just given me another reason to be pissed about him. This is really a bombshell, and it means we have to wonder how much we read is the real MAJ or simply cut & pastes from his favorite socialist hangouts.

This thread is one of the most disturbing ever. I refer specifically to the dog meat comments. I refuse to allow really valuable commenters to be chased away by MAJ, who can’t see that sometimes a little sensitivity is called for. I now get more emails complaining about MAJ than I do about any other single topic. I don’t want to ban him, I don’t want to censor his coimments, but at the moment I am inclined to ask him to stop commenting here, simply because these monologues continue to turn my blog into something other than what I want it ot be. And what I want it to be is my choice.

I like Mark and I want to meet him when I get to China. I just dislike the games (eg, pasting other people’s words and passing them off as his own) and I dislike the animosity his comments are creating.

July 11, 2005 @ 1:17 pm | Comment

by the way, people were mentioning trolls earlier. have you seen the recent comments in Jing’s site?
some excellent wierdo stuff there — God knows where some of these guys are coming from.

July 11, 2005 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

KLS, they are hitting a bunch of China related blogs – I had one of them too. Same language and weird rhetoric.

July 11, 2005 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

Let’s migrate northwards to the new thread.

July 11, 2005 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

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