Russia Seeking UN Security Council Meeting Over Nord Stream “Act of International Terrorism.” What Else Might Russia Do?

Your humble blogger is supposed to be on vacation in Maine. The “in Maine” part is holding up, but I felt compelled to make a remark about the Nord Stream pipeline attacks and perhaps more important give readers the opportunity to weigh in on the latest developments.

Since the “whodunit?” part has been well covered in Links and comments, I thought I would do a very high level recap and then move to what the Russian response might be.

We admittedly do not have much in the way of information about the leaks, which are now up to four, two in Sweden’s economic zone, two in Denmark’s. An investigation is promised. But normally even-handed commentators are skeptical about how thorough and transparent they will be:

It’s already widely believed that the explosions were the doing of a state actor. On top of that, the area of the attack was heavily monitored by both Sweden and Denmark, and the Baltic generally is also well surveilled…by NATO members. And as many have pointed out, on top of Russia having at best limited opportunity, it lacks apparent motive.

Notably, today, even the staunchly pro-West Radio Free Europe published: NATO, EU Say Gas Pipeline Leaks Are ‘Sabotage’ But Stop Short Of Pointing Finger At Russia.

By contrast, the former diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar pointed out yesterday:

The German security services are of the opinion that only a state actor could have damaged the undersea pipeline, suggesting “divers or a mini-submarine” could have installed mines or explosives on the pipeline. When asked to comment, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was non-committal saying “these are initial reports (of sabotage) and we haven’t confirmed them yet. But if it is confirmed, that’s clearly in no one’s interest.”…

Principally, Russia loses whatever leverage it has over German policies at a juncture when a grave economic crisis looms ahead and there is growing demand to review Berlin’s decision against the commissioning of Nord Stream 2. Last week, large demonstrations took place in Germany calling for the commissioning of Nord Stream 2 to resolve energy shortage.

As for the German leadership, it too no longer has an option to bite the bullet and seek resumption of Russian gas supplies (except by begging Poland and Ukraine to cooperate in the reopening of the Yamal and Druzhba pipelines.) On the other hand, Chancellor Scholz’s trip to the Gulf region (Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar) last weekend seeking more oil supplies failed to produce the results he had hoped for….

From another perspective, the Nord Stream pipelines have been disabled at a defining moment in the Ukraine conflict when a lull is expected through the fall until December. Conceivably, this presents a small window of opportunity for dialogue with Moscow. There are rumours that Scholz’s Gulf tour also aimed at seeking help from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has excellent relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin….

Therefore, whoever struck Nord Stream struck had a perfect sense of timing. This dastardly act is state-sponsored and it only highlights that there are powerful forces in the West who want the conflict to prolong and will go the whole hog, no matter what it takes, to smother any incipient stirrings that aspire for ceasefire and dialogue.

Global Times, the English-language official organ for China, in a plausibly deniable manner, pointed a finger at the US:

The anonymous expert said that Russia has no reason to destroy the infrastructure and throw away its own bargaining chips in managing the energy crisis, and that basic logic suggests that whoever benefits most from the current situation is most likely to have carried out, or at least maneuvered, the sabotage.

If the US is behind it, Washington could bind Europe, particularly Germany, closer to confront Russia, and American energy giants could earn enormous amounts as Europe’s alternative source of gas purchases, the expert said.

Note also that the suspension of the ability of Germany to get Russian gas Nord Stream 1 or as Russia clearly preferred, Nord Stream 2, for at least months has come when Europe’s energy luck has turned against it. From Interfax:

Europe’s current temperatures are reaching all-time lows for the month of September, and could be the coldest for the past nine years at more than two degrees below last year’s figure. The forecast in Europe until the end of the month is light winds or calm weather.

Another cold spell has begun in Europe, and it should last at least a couple of days.

Electricity generated from wind power has dropped for the second consecutive day. Wind turbines generated 22.8% of the European Union’s energy balance on Monday, falling to 13.6% on Wednesday. Meantime, the figure is only 6.8% in Germany and 3.3% in the Netherlands, according to data from the WindEurope association. The average for September 2021 was 9.6%.

The weather picture is clearly a bigger deal than short-term wind power shortfalls but the latter is certainly unhelpful.

It is too early to tell how widespread Bhadrakumar’s and the Global Times expert’s point of view are in India, China, and the Global South generally.

But if this view were to become conventional wisdom, it would lead to great alarm and distrust towards the US. It would mean, as Michael Hudson argued early on, that the US was willing to inflict severe and lasting economic damage on an important ally and harm the health and welfare of its citizens. This would be an appalling betrayal as well as compelling evidence of the lengths to which the US was willing to go to try to keep its status as the global hegemon. Alexander Mercouris was not exaggerating to depict this scenario as “nihilistic” But he also pointed out that unlike past US Administrations, it was not inconceivable for Team Biden, which has been exceptionally belligerent and reckless.

And it’s not as if there’s would even be very good long-term payoff. The military industrial complex was already all in. The US can’t produce enough LNG surplus to its needs to make up for the European loss of Russian gas, which was already greatly reduced due to the reduced shipments through Nord Stream 1 and Ukraine suspending deliveries though another pipeline. OilPrice noted last week: Russia’s Gas Exports To Europe Drop By 82% In A Year. De-industrializing Germany (which includes reduced output of ammonia, a key input for most chemical fertilizers) will impoverish Europe. Broke customers do not make for good customers.

And that’s before we get to supply chain damage and the rising odds of a financial crisis, with far too many possible triggers. With the dollar continuing to levitate, emerging economy debt crises look baked in. It’s pretty hard to see how the contagion would not reach the US.

Mind you, some argue that it’s inconceivable that the US led or helped enable the attacks:

Nevertheless, in a phone talk with Erdogan today, Putin depicted the attacks as “international terrorism” and said Russia was going to make a stink at the UN Security Council. Frankly, I’m surprised Russia hadn’t played that card sooner but perhaps it needed to make a preliminary assessment of damage and talk to key allies privately first.

There’s no readout for the call yet on the English language Kremlin site, so for now, we turn to TASS:

The unprecedented sabotage against Nord Streams was in fact an act of international terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday in a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin press service reported after the leaders’ conversation.

“The Russian president gave a principled assessment of the unprecedented sabotage, which is in fact an act of international terrorism against the main gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2. It was noted that Russia is bringing this issue up for urgent discussion in the UN Security Council,” the statement reads.

Given that Russia has unsurprisingly taken the position that it was the victim, and not a perp, in the Nord Stream attacks, one wonders what it will do next. It can’t afford not to respond to this level of infrastructure destruction and undermining of a possible path to resolution of the war.

Putin will be making a substantial address at 15:00 Moscow time tomorrow upon the signing of the treaties with the four territories to admit them to the Russian Federation. No doubt he will Say Something about l’affaire Nord Streams.

Tucker Carlson pointed out that Russia could cut underseas fiber optic cables between the US and Europe, which would crash financial markets and a lot of commercial activity. That sort of apocalyptic act is out of character with the measured responses Russia has made so far to Western sanctions.

Russia already has a military plan of sorts for at least the near term set in connection with its partial mobilization. While Russia can engage in targeted missile strikes in addition to that, Russia now faces the new issue of what to do about attacks that more and more look not to be the doing of Ukraine (remember Ukraine has been begging like crazy for all sorts of US/NATO military support).

Russia has threatened to strike the real decision centers, which means the Western moving forces, in the event of an attack on Russia. It did not do so in response to the comparatively minor shellings of Belgorod and the PR-worthy but not terribly impactful attacks on Crimea. The hawks in Russia will no doubt depict the Nord Stream attacks as the result of Russia not responding forcefully to earlier hits on Russia territory.

IMHO even though the pipeline sabotage was a kinetic attack, the impact was diplomatic and economic. The most surgical response Russia has is turning up the sanctions pain dial. But Russia has chosen to hew to the position that economic sanctions must be approved by the UN.

Russia can walk through the door opened by the US via the G7 oil price cap threat by stopping sales to the G7 and any other cap adoptees, and moving up the end of sales from when the cap was supposed to start to some earlier date, in response to the pipeline destruction.

The US is still planing to implement that, and Congress is working to pass legislation requiring the US to impose secondary sanctions on countries that didn’t adopt the price limit. The Biden Administration is opposed to the plan but the Wall Street Journal makes it sound as if key Congresscritters have the bit in their teeth. It could and almost assuredly will act on its threat to withhold Russian oil from the US and EU. The EU keeps threatening to sanction it anyhow, so this move would also give Ursula von der Leyen what she wants. The Saudis would almost certainly not fully fill the gap, since they don’t want the West interfering with OPEC perogatives.

The wee problem is that markedly higher oil prices hurt Russia allies too. My understanding is Russia has been discounting oil on a percentage of market basis, as opposed to absolute price level. How would Russia ameliorate the damage to China, India, and the Global South if oil spiked to $180 a barrel or higher? Or would it just rely on pinning that tail on the G7 donkey?

Russia could also employ the countersanctions framework (“special retaliatory economic measures”) it devised in connection with Germany’s seizure of Gazprom Germania assets. But to fit this legalistic approach, Russia would need to present evidence supporting who it had targeted, if nothing else to play to its allies. And what might the measure be? Cutting off supplies of critical materials like aluminum, copper, tungsten and platinum?

Russia finally has the problem that even if it can fix its preferred pipeline, Nord Stream 2, sooner rather that later, it would be vulnerable to a new attack. How could it prevent that?

Again, we’ll know more via Putin’s speech, likely not a definitive response but a sense of direction.

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  1. MT_Wild

    I’m curious to hear from those in the know about what the odds are that these pipelines can be repaired.

    I get that positive pressure in the pipes might prevent saltwater, mud, etc., from intruding but to what extent and for how long? Can they just rebuild from the point of the explosions?

    Along those lines, is there anything that can be inferred from the location of the attack? I’ve seen statements saying that this might be an area of less surveillance than other portions of the Baltic, but is that true in a meaningful way? I assume the whole sea is wired for sound. Could the choice of location have been a way to damage the pipeline in the least irreparable way? Tender mercy indeed, but these are delicate times.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Check the maintenance by Nord Stream itself. They at least claim to be prepared for a total rapture of a pipeline. So, yes, apparently they can be repaired. May require lifting some sanctions, though.

      As for the location, as we don’t have the exact spots, and all maps seem to be low resolution anyway it’s hard to be sure, but to me it seems that the locations (at least the three first ones) are on places where the pipelines are coming to a slightly lower water (60-70 meters instead of 90) and on a sandy bottom instead of silt.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Regarding the repair, I am sure it can be done. You seal the damaged area. You then build a new pipe from a junction points above and below the damaged section. It’s doable. The question is time and cost.

      1. Michael Hudson

        Russia has announced that the gas pressure is falling in three of the four pipelines, and the infusion of salt water will irreversibly corrode the pipes. (Tagesspiegel, September 28.)

          1. Felix_47

            In the German TV, I think it was ZDF, some expert said that they have a couple of months until the salt water damage is irreversible…..His point was that because of the war and sanctions the cooperative work required just is not going to happen anywhere close to the necessary timeline so the pipeline is practically speaking steel scrap fish habitat.

          2. Ignacio

            I assume that both sides of the pipelines have anti-corrosion treatment. Though the inner side treatment wouldn’t be as extensive and durable as the outer side.

    3. Alan Roxdale

      Why would you repair it when someone will just blow it up again? No-one is going to build undersea pipelines again after this.

      1. Sausage Factory

        because the americans wouldnt be stupid enough to do it twice would they, thereby affirming that they were the guilty party in the first attack. The US is becoming less and less trustworthy and the world notices this and will simply refuse to do business with them in the future as a reckless unpredictable and unreliable partner, like evryone else in the world they will swing East. Saw something on telegram saying they were going to repair it starting Oct 3rd. Don’t know if that is true. The US is becoming a pariah and the 12% West is becoming isloated, exactly what Biden and the other idiots wanted to do to Russia. It would be amusing to repair it and see if the Germans wanted to suckle on the teat of NS2 now they know that US were willing to sell them down the river and destroy their economy to protect their own. Next steps will be interesting. As for a Russian reposte how about driving the US out of their illegal presence in the Syrian oil fields stealing the host countrys wealth.

        1. Valerie from Australia

          Mine too! I lived in Germany for eight years “on the economy.” Germans are angry. They knew that the U.S. was an unreliable “ally” but this is hitting below the belt. Obviously, the US government under the Biden Administration doesn’t care what suffering the German people endure as long as the U.S. keeps the upper hand. “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

          I must admit, while I have never been a fan, Putin has comported himself with dignity and has been very restrained. He is looking good, while the leaders in the West are looking positively malevolent.

          1. juno mas

            Well, then you haven’t been watching Putin closely. He is a smart and determined Russian. He speaks the truth and doesn’t boast. (These are cultural traits.) He has been leading Russia back from the abyss most of his life. He is determined to lead a multi-polar world.

    4. The Rev Kev

      But who would pay to have the work done? Russia won’t as they spent billions building NS2 in the first place only to have the Germans at the last moment refuse to turn the tap on. The EU is more likely to ship weapons to Russian than fund the repair of any of those pipelines. Even if say Germany puts its hand up, the US will sanction any company that touches those pipelines so that is a nonstarter. Unless something changes dramatically, those pipelines are now just permanent scrap on the seabed of the Baltic. The only value that they will have will be to a scrap metal merchant.

      1. Valerie from Australia

        Not sure I agree. Wait until the German people start to suffer from the cold in a month or two and the German economy starts to cave because Industry can’t get the natural gas it needs to keep going. The U.S. has overplayed its hand and the German people are going to want to “break up” despite the threats of an abusive partner. I reckon there will be German or Chinese or Indian companies with the know-how to repair this pipeline that will be willing to step up for the right price. I also think that the NATO allies are seeing what a “friend” the U.S. is to Europe. Many will take a neutral position if Germany wants to repair the pipeline and renew business with Russia. They know that the U.S. is faithless “friend” and will allow Germany and Russia to guard the pipeline. As I wrote, the U.S. has overplayed its hand and now no nation will trust us.

      2. Meddle

        AFAIK NS2 was funded by the German end. Also, Germany could get out of its long-term purchase contract, which runs till (?) 2040

        1. The Rev Kev

          May not be simple. Pepe Escobar was saying that ‘Germany is contractually obligated to purchase at least 40 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year until 2030.’ And as this was an instance of multiple sabotage attacks, I don’t think that trying to declare a ‘Force majeure’ will work here. I’m not even sure which law courts it will even end up in.

    5. BeliTsari

      Katrina’s damage to the collection systems, below Shell’s deep water TLPs was entirely different (but, it ENABLED the fracking Ponzi scheme!) EU’s industrial users AND citizens were just OBVIOUSLY being targeted. Cui bono from setting off HAVOC, we can’t imagine, this winter? Ukrainian oilgarchs or Russia’s competition, US & UK Fracking and tag-team kleptocrats sacrificing German EV, PHEV, fuel-cell car, truck & transit producers as we’d sacrificed Ukrainians? It’s a LOT more than three pipelines (we’d promised to destroy & 3-4 of us foretold repeatedly) it’s oilgarchy, itself. War, depression, coups and mass death ALWAYS pointed directly at them? Fundamentally, nothing will change?

  2. Cat Burglar

    The identity of the perp is not clear to me, but given the high level of monitoring of the Baltic Sea by NATO, the US knows who did it and when. The longer it remains silent, the more likely it is that a NATO member is involved.

  3. Lou Anton

    I’m in the “unlikely it was the US”camp. It just seems like an overt act of war, and while we are doing tons of things that are “near-overt” or “overt adjacent,” I can’t see us as being so stupid as to inflict such damage on Russian industry. It’d be akin to Allied bombing raids on the Ruhr.

      1. Paul Jurczak

        That’s the event, which first comes to mind, but there is no warranty on stolen goods. Soviets were embarrassed and quiet about details of this incident.

    1. vao

      Several years ago, there was a major explosion in a Venezuelan refinery.

      The Western MSM described it as a consequence of the dilapidated state of the Venezuelan infrastructure, for which they made the “Maduro régime” responsible. The technical investigations carried out by the Venezuelan government indicated that it was the result of sabotage — carried out by the opposition supported by the USA.

      Let us not forget Stuxnet either — a joint Israeli-USA operation against the atomic energy infrastructure of Iran.

      In other words, there are precedents in the past couple of decades where the USA, in collaboration with regional accomplices, organized attacks to destroy the energy infrastructure of geopolitical enemies. I strongly suspect something similar took place with Nordstream, probably a joint operation by the USA and Poland.

      1. Lou Anton

        I like to think / delude myself that while we can sabotage Iran, we can’t sabotage Iran with 2000 nukes.

        1. Rolf


          To me, this has to be at least orchestrated by the US/NATO, if not fully executed by the US. No other state actor stands to benefit as much. Germany clearly loses. Russia does not gain, and such a play would be extremely risky anyway given the difficulty in keeping an operation requiring surface and submarine explosives deployment secret in a shallow sea such as the western Baltic. And Putin clearly does not tiptoe around anyway, send signals, or play games: he has been pretty clear about his intentions in protecting what he sees as the interests of Russia and those who align with her. Only the neocon/neolib US, through short term gas prices and European instability, stands to profit here — but this is incredibly dangerous and myopic thinking, and thus has the fingerprints of the current administration all over it. Longer term, this sets the stage for a disaster. What an unbelievable, effing mess.

          1. digi_owl

            The German people may lose from this, but for the Scholz government it removes an annoyance. Now it is just up to Denmark and Sweden to drag out the investigation in order to delay potential repairs.

  4. Gregorio

    “Gee Norway, that’s a nice shiny pipeline you just opened to Poland. It would be a shame if there were an accident.”

    1. Acacia

      Agree. Stoller assumes that the U.S. national security and diplomatic establishment, and the Biden WH are all a unified entity, and that there are no rogue elements in the mix. Not persuasive. Further down in the tweet thread, he points the finger at Putin and claims this bombing is VVP’s “MO”.

      Sad to say, but it rather sounds like Stoller has Putin Derangement Syndrome.

      Over the years, the US has been a prime suspect in many acts of international sabotage. And what is sponsoring coup d’état (e.g., Ukraine in 2014) if not sabotage of democratic elections? This is the realm of parapolitics, but there’s precedent so it simply can’t be ruled out.

      1. Greg

        While Stoller is an excellent researcher on matters of competition, he is a diehard liberal. This is clear whenever he comments on something outside monopolies and markets. PDS (and TDS earlier) are perfectly in keeping with that.

      2. Adam

        I have recently grown interested in this field of intra-elite conflict. Do you, or does anyone, have any recommendations for places to get started learning a bit about this? I know there is a lot of talk about e.g. Trump fighting with the deep state, but I don’t put that much stock there because it seems part of “the” deep state would have to support him. “the” in quotes because like you say, it’s so easy to make the unitary actor assumption. I understand it would be hard to get juicy details but maybe there are well-known sources or current storylines I’m just not aware of?

        1. Acacia

          For one, perhaps Glennon’s National Security and Double Government.

          There’s a book that Yves has mentioned about the organization of the current ruling elite, though the title escapes me at the moment.

          1. Carla

            Good book. One of the hundreds I lent to somebody years ago and never got back. It seems this is my modest way of supporting the book publishing industry.

        2. Mike

          Corbett Report podcast. He has great coverage of WEF, bilderbergs, trilateral commission, Gates etc. anything a scientific matter he falls short majorly but he has great coverage of elites and unlike most podcasts provides sources for everything he says and time stamps that in the epidsode.

        3. Bsn

          A good, well documented source is Whitney Webb via Unlimited Hangout podtcasts, articles and a recent book on Epstien and all the dark strings played by his puppet masters.

          1. spud


            “The nation-state is reasserting itself as the primary vehicle of political life. Multinational institutions like the European Union and multilateral trade treaties are being challenged because they are seen by some as not being in the national interest.”

            “Nationalism is the core of the Enlightenment’s notion of liberal democracy. It asserts that the multinational dynasties that ruled autocratically denied basic human rights. Among these was the right to national self-determination and the right of citizens to decide what was in the national interest.”

            “The Enlightenment feared tyranny and saw the multinational empires dominating Europe as the essence of tyranny. Destroying them meant replacing them with nation-states. The American and French revolutions were both nationalist risings, as were the risings that swept Europe in 1848. Liberal revolutions were by definition nationalist because they were risings against multinational empires. ”

            “In a very real sense, Hitler and Mussolini believed in multinationalism, albeit with other nations submitting to their will. Fascism was an assault on the right of nations to pursue their self-interest”

            “Arguing that being part of the European Union is not in the British interest, that NATO has outlived its usefulness, that protectionist policies or anti-immigration policies are desirable is not fascist.”

            “What we are seeing is the rise of the nation-state against the will of multinational organizations and agreements. There are serious questions about membership in the EU, NATO and trade agreements, and equally about the right to control borders.”

    2. britzklieg

      Stoller filpped on the idiot switch after Biden won. He accused the “left” of complaining too loudly about the missing $600 checks and even landed on the Biden anti-monopoly team for a short while. He did a lot of subtle Biden cheerleading, has offered some criticism from time to time, but mostly he’s been dissembling. I rarely look in his direction anymore so perhaps he’s doing better than I thought but this episode makes me want to look his way even less.

      1. Cat Burglar

        Stoller is still a good analyst of the domestic economy in my book, and he does good work. His intentions are in the right place, and he has a lot of experience in DC politics. True, he is plugged in to inside-the-beltway politics, and his Biden support is part of that; carrying water for your guy makes you eligible for payback (see this) I think he is not young enough to remember Vietnam, but did have his consciousness raised by finding out the truth about the Iraq war. It is not clear how aware he is about Biden’s role in bringing about that war crime.

        He’s like a lot of liberals that way — they maintain denial about the profound criminality of much of the US political class. Breaking that denial is one of the educational tasks of a true left in the US, so I look at his attitude as a task still to be completed, rather than as a target.

        1. Carla

          “[Stoller’s] like a lot of liberals that way — they maintain denial about the profound criminality of much of the US political class. Breaking that denial is one of the educational tasks of a true left in the US”

          Thanks for this. I try in my own small way but all I seem to accomplish is to make everyone hate me. It’s really depressing…

          For example, the book cited in a comment above, “National Security and Double Government.” I tried to get people to read it (it’s very short, too) and they just recoiled from the very idea of it in horror. And from me.

          1. Aaron

            These aren’t the people to target, yet. They aren’t disillusioned enough, but every day disillusionment creeps into their consciousness.
            Look instead to any person, liberal, conservative, whatever, who is expressing doubts, anger, etc. About what the US is doing. That’s the receptive audience.
            Liberal is going to liberal, and there is nothing you can do about that.

          2. Bsn

            I’m in the same camp. Everyone espouses Zinn’s “People’s History of the U.S.” yet they can’t see the People’s History being written today. Maybe it’s in Russian?

      1. Kouros

        Wishing for admission inside the tent…? The good that he thinks he can do there is worth some alignment with imperial foreign policy. Bernie Sanders has been doing that time and again…

    3. Jason

      He should stick to what he knows, i.e., monopolies and anti-trust.

      But that’s what Twitter does to people.

    4. Michael Fiorillo

      Having heard Stoller compare the Chinese to the Nazis, and now this credulous statement on Twitter about how “ridiculous ” it is to consider the US as the perp who bombed the pipelines, I think it’s past time to retire him from NC when he comments on anything other than Antitrust issues. After all, I don’t think NC would provide a platform for some #McResistance imbecile on MSNBC who could be expected to say identical things…

    1. flora

      adding a perhaps more important quote:

      “No one starts a war–or rather, no one in his sense ought to do so–without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by the war and how he intends to conduct it.”

      -Carl von Clausewitz

      I have grave doubts about the neocons’ understanding of what’s called the “larger picture.”

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        I don’t share your grave doubts about whether they know what they want, and what they’re prepared to do to get it.

        Based on the systematic, long-term preparation required to get the game-board into the position it is, they have an excellent plan, and they’re executing it well.

        This plan has been in motion for decades, one step at a time.

        The only big question is whether or not Russia and China, and to a lesser degree the ROW has prepared as well.

        We’re about to find out.

        1. flora

          Ah, well, you’ve left out the “big picture”. (Or perhaps their idea of “big picture” is only a tiny fragment of the larger real big picture which they can’t see. Assumptions about “inevitable” world power and all that.) Otherwise, I agree with you.

          1. flora

            adding: what’s the old saying about life and inevitability?

            “There are only two things in life that are inevitable: death and taxes.”

            But it doesn’t make any claim as to what govt said taxes are owed. / ;)

          2. Tom Pfotzer

            Flora: please elucidate. What are you conceiving as the big picture here?

            And who is the “they” that can’t see the big pic?

            1. flora

              I suppose by “big” I mean long term, as in going for short term gains without noticing how it might derail long term stability, which stability would be in their long term interests. Think of it as the modern mania on Wall St for quarterly profits even if it means long term loss to competitors who have a longer time frame evaluation of things. Or in international politics, ignoring soft power because where’s the immediate payoff in soft power. Except soft power grants one much more latitude for mistakes from other countries than ignoring soft power. etc.

              I suppose it’s the difference in mindset between long term investing and looting for immediate gains. Or as Hudson phrased it, Killing the Host.

              As for “who are they”, see above. / ;)

              1. Tom Pfotzer

                They have a very clear long term goal: control of global resources, and allocation of the major of spoils to themselves.

                Just expand and extend the reach of the Western social order to encompass the globe. All the chips is belong to me, if you’ll pardon the grammar.

                And squashing a few countries along the way, like Germany for the current example, and several others in recent years, is “worth it”. I’m paraphrasing Madeleine Albright.

                You remember her, of course.

                They are perfectly happy to kill any host that stands in their way.

                That is the lesson of Germany’s destruction.

                This is why I used the expression “Divine Right of Kings”. It is clearly their mind-set.

                1. hunkerdown

                  Global resources includes the global army of labor, and their various mental, social, and physical vulnerabilities that make them exploitable. By their lights, those must be preserved at all costs. They came too close to losing them in the mockdowns.

                2. Jeremy Grimm

                  Do you mean to say: “All the chips is belong to me…” or did you intend to say “All your chip are belong to us…”?

        2. Michaelmas

          Tom Pfotzer: Based on the systematic, long-term preparation required to get the game-board into the position it is, they have an excellent plan, and they’re executing it well.

          Oh, horse manure. Did Iraq, and everything else in the ME that was supposed to unfold from that, turn out in any way like the neocons said it would? No. Has anything? No.

          So I beg to differ. What the neocons are is persistent, like rust. The smartest of them — and it’s a low bar — was Wolfowitz, and he’s gone.

          From 1990 to now is slightly over thirty years, and in that time the US empire has managed to go from possessing every strategic and material advantage to being on the edge of becoming a collapsed state. in 1998, the G7 was 70 percent of the global economy, today it’s 43 percent. Chinese citizens now live longer than US ones, and the US is 4 percent of the world’s population but had 17 percent of the Covid deaths. And so on, and so forth.

          I struggle to think of another empire in history that has in a mere three decades so managed to p*ss away its position with such persistent arrogance and incompetence. The US is the Moronic Empire, and the neocons have had a leading role in that.

          1. Tom Pfotzer

            Let’s ID where we agree: NeoCons are wack-jobs, malignant wankers trying mightily to foist onto a gullible, sleeping society their rage and use that innocent, un-aware tool (us) as their vehicle for avarice. That we agree upon.

            NeoCons are the point of the spear. They are _not_ the spear.

            Now, do you seriously think that the NeoCons – all by themselves – could mount that effort, which destroyed the mid-east, attempted subversion of China and the systematic dismemberment of Russia … all without a plan?

            Without a broader team?

            Not likely.

            This is UK’s elite, the NeoCons, and the U.S. elite working in tight concert to get that job done. It’s a few thousand key people forcing some billions to their will.

            It took decades to get all that work done, in the face of the other 7 billion people’s rage and opposition.

            Get that done without a plan, I invite you. Not likely.

            And what you call “p*ssing away” I call managing to hang on to a perfectly untenable position with sheer nerve, audacity, and the malevolence of modern-day Divine Right of Kings.

            Look what they were willing to destroy to hold on to their prerogatives. And they destroyed it, but good.

            It’s never a good idea to underestimate the adversary, and this talk of “incompetence” and “stupidity” is exhibit A of blithe self-delusion.

            Let’s review a few facts:

            a. They control the media. Lockstep. Same in EU. Controlled.
            b. They control the politicians. Locked-down.
            c. They control the money supply, and the flow of money and resources in order to keep the minions on-side. All the major profit streams. Lock-down.

            You don’t get that level of control – all, and I mean every single key point of control – without a plan.

            1. Kouros

              Do they really control the resources? It doesn’t look like that, and that IS the biggest problem that will upturn the apple cart…

              1. norm de plume

                Agreed. Although Tom is right about what else they control (though he did leave out academia and the courts), most of the globe’s goodies are, not surprisingly, inside the 87.5% of it that is not the West.

                The need for our elites to access those cheaply is (quite apart from being Imperial Capitalism 101) key to the over-riding goal of continued (and enhanced) hegemony. They used to call it The Great Game, and it is generally understood that the winner will be the one left standing when the rest have exhausted their resources. Hard resources that is, not the soft ones we specialise in. They have them, we don’t and, newly in unison, they become more powerful by the day.

                Hence this mad urgency, a death-throe of the dice. The tactics of our betters are often ‘smart’, even brilliant, but the victories are Pyrrhic, and we fatally lack soundness in strategy. The alignment of the 87.5% is proof enough of this.

                Compromise is death to hegemony, so rather than a managed and possibly peaceful decline, we rush toward almost certain doom with our foot on the accelerator.

                1. Kouros

                  Also, there are stratospheric psychopathic levels of amorality sprinkled with immorality in all the West’s approaches to control said resources…

              2. Tom Pfotzer

                They control western resources.

                Can you name a rogue oligarch in the West who is using the resources they (the oligarch) control in a manner that flouts the western policy of global contest for the resources they don’t yet control?

                This is a fight for global hegemony. Hierarchy A .vs. the Rest of the World.

                The West is currently operating in coherent lockstep to execute this war.

                Please rebut that statement with examples.

                Name a major (even minor!) media outlet, a Congressional representative, an oligarch, an economic sector (Defense, ag, energy, transportation, mfg’g, tech, etc.) that isn’t on-board.

                I can think of one or two, but at the moment, they’re scarce.

                1. Kouros

                  Yes, they control the western resources. And plan to control with an iron grip everything else.

                  But I wonder, how easy will be for the western elite to control their own populations if drafts are imposed and trains come back home not with raw materials but with body bags, or even worst, their own safety, in their own countries is badly jeopardized…

                  1. Tom Pfotzer


                    It’ll certainly be harder should that situation eventuate.

                    As always, the question of individual agency turns on the pivot of how well informed we are, how resolute, how much of a clear-eyed notion of who we are, and where we’re going, and how to get there we have in mind when the pinch comes.

                    Ever it thus.

            2. flora

              Their attempted subversion of China, if it was, has turned about to, what’s the phrase, bite them in the butt. (Although some individuals are getting rich off the schemes.) / ;)

              1. Tom Pfotzer

                Yup. The subversion plan got flummoxed by the Chinese. They evolved and adapted way faster than expected.

                Hence the (failed) trade war. That didn’t work either; too many western oligarch oxen would have gotten gored.

                So now out comes the crow-bars. Taiwan is crow-bar number one.

                Taiwan looks at Germany, says “hmmm. Do I ally with U.S. and get squashed, or do I fold the hand, ally with China, and get a different sort of squashed? Decisions, decisions…”

                1. JTMcPhee

                  What would Taiwan experience in the way of “squashing” if the powers there decided to go ahead and openly hold hands with mainland China? There’s already a massive business and trade linkage with ROC. I believe it’s a neoliberal place already, so there’s plenty of repression in place.

                  1. Tom Pfotzer


                    My understanding, and I hope you’ll correct me where I err, is that there’s a significant component of the society – the Kuomintang nationalist faction – that would be actively repressed if China and Taiwan unite.

                    There’d be a part of the current social order that would either be invited to emigrate with whatever they could carry, or their life would be much less pleasant than it currently is.

            3. ChrisFromGA

              The worst trick the neo-cons or their masters played was co-opting the entire left and right side of the political spectrum. There used to be a sizeable anti-war faction of both of the two parties. During the Iraq war 2, Bush the lesser got plenty of flak from the Dems. Howard Dean, Ron Paul were emerging as viable alternative candidates. Code pink was born during that time. Remember Cindy Sheehan?

              I agree that there had to be a plan executed over a long timeline, and immune to silly things like the rule of law and free elections. In the 80’s the Democrats were largely against Reagan’s war against the Sandanistas and the CIA sponsorship of the Contras. It nearly brought down his presidency.

              I think the 90’s were when your three bullet points really began to come into play. There was very little opposition to the first Gulf War, however in that case there was at least a surface-level story that Saddam Hussein was the aggressor. Clinton played nice with the neo-cons, bombing aspirin factories and the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. That was when I first knew the game was over.

              Who voted against arming Ukraine? In the House 69 had the courage to say no. The likes of AOC and Margorie Greene have been successfully villainized to the point where they are not credible outside a very narrow band of the political spectrum.

          2. norm de plume

            ‘The smartest of them — and it’s a low bar — was Wolfowitz, and he’s gone’

            Oh they are smart alright, top of the IQ pops I would say.

            But smart isn’t wise, let alone good. Zealotry in the service of ideology or sheer power lust clouds perspective, proportion… judgement.

            1. Tet Vet

              They are intelligent, not wise. Intelligent is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad.

          3. Anon

            Eg. Iraq etc precipitated a refugee crisis for Europe, and all but eliminated numerous energy competitors, and set the stage for Israeli appeasement and aggression.

            You present a strawman Michaelmas, as Tom Pfotzer didn’t claim the gestalt was distinctly American, nor patriotic, nor fiduciary.

            Only that it is effective.

            Are you still still being paid for your perspectives, “dude”?

            1. Michaelmas

              Anon: You present a strawman Michaelmas, as Tom Pfotzer didn’t claim the gestalt was distinctly American, nor patriotic, nor fiduciary.

              The “strawmanning ” is all yours.

              [1] Pfotzer’s original claim was precisely that it was the American neocons responsible. Go look. It was to that I responded. So when you claim, “Tom Pfotzer didn’t claim the gestalt was distinctly American, nor patriotic, nor fiduciary,” that’s a lie and you’re a liar.

              My point stands; I left the SF Bay Area in the US at the year’s start because of the collapse I could see around me.

              [2] Pfotzer then moved the goalposts to an expansive claim that the players he referred to weren’t just the neocons, but the whole Anglo-American (and presumably Zionist?) conspiracy — the G7, or the West, or the powers behind it — and they were on the verge of global triumph.

              But the G7 represented 70 percent of the world’s economy in 1998 and in 2022 it’s 43 percent, as I pointed out. If that’s your definition of ‘winning,’ you have a delusional definition of it.

              [3] Yes, one can definitely claim as Pfotzer’s second comment did, “This is a fight for global hegemony. Hierarchy A .vs. the Rest of the World.” But it’s hardly a profound observation. Because, of course, that’s what hegemons do.

              To then claim, however, that “the West is currently operating in coherent lockstep to execute this war” is superficial. As during the lead-in to WWI, various elite factions in the different imperialist powers have different aims that happen for the moment to align.

              So, for instance, I’ve moved to London — at least for now — and one of the UK elites’ purposes in promoting the Ukraine conflict so vigorously is to degrade and fatally damage the EU, which happens to coincide with the US play to maintain its empire by over-extending Russia.

              But no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. As with WWI, as the social damage mounts, aims will diverge and lockstep will be broken.

              [4] As much to the point is the principle of ‘parsimony of enemies’ which the British empire — an island controlling much of the world — applied for the three-hundred years it arguably lasted. The US in its accelerated decline is making enemies everywhere, to the extent that, forex, even the formerly subservient Saudis are blowing off the current POTUS, a ‘leader’ who makes the likes of Breshnev and Andropov look sprightly and intellectually sharp. I could go and on: I’m old enough to have visited the former USSR and trends in the US look similar to me.

              Are you still still being paid for your perspectives, “dude”?

              No, thank God. My ‘perspectives’ were mostly to do with technology and I moved on because I didn’t like what I was doing, in part because an employer exposed me to potential jeopardy and burned me with my contacts.

              1. Tom Pfotzer


                Good comment. Re: NeoCons .vs. UK, US & NeoCons – I’m on record several times here @ NC pointing out that NeoCons are spear-point, not spear.

                I should have been clearer making that distinction in the first post. Having repeated myself so many times previously…

                So that addresses the “moving the goal-posts” issue.

                Then you said:

                that “the West is currently operating in coherent lockstep to execute this war” is superficial. As during the lead-in to WWI, various elite factions in the different imperialist powers have different aims that happen for the moment to align.

                I’ll repeat: the West is operating in coherent lockstep. Sanctions effort even pulled in Switzerland (neutrality gone), and got Norway and Denmark signed up for NATO. To your point about differing motivations – well, that’s what’s so remarkable about the coherent behavior. Everyone’s got different motivations, the question is “what’s the behavior?”. Behavior is lockstep.

                Please rebut that.

                And about the British and the parsimony of enemies. That’s a good point, but wouldn’t you agree that in the modern age, say post 1900, the British seemed to accumulate enemies pretty rapidly. Russia, Germany come to mind. Not little enemies, big ones.

                Why? Because all the rest of the players had developed enough resources to be players, and they all understood the stakes. More competition, these days.

                So Britain got bucked off the bronco at WW1, parsimony or not.

                And post-WW2, now you’ve got all those new Asian players, and the mid-east, and a newly independent India and Pakistan, and then Iran. And oil, with all the joy that brings.

                Through the 50s – 90s, the game got more complex, and the delta of capability between the players closed rapidly.

                And the U.S. stayed atop that bronco – even across WW2 – for about a hundred years. And, as you rightfully pointed out, made a wealth of enemies in the process.

                There we surely do agree.

                So now it’s time for the U.S. to climb off the bronco, and learn how to achieve that parsimony of enemies.

              2. Anon

                Pfotzer’s claim was that neocons contributed.

                It is you Michaelmas who then put words in his mouth and asserted they were the only ones responsible.

        3. spud

          “Free trade, democracy promotion, and the use of force to uphold global norms comprised the core of Bill Clinton’s foreign policy – and they remain the central ideas of today’s Democratic foreign policy establishment.”

          “Neoliberal politicians like Bill Clinton presented globalization as “the economic equivalent of a force of nature, like wind or water” that it would be stupid to try to reverse.”

          “Barack Obama in 2016 framed it in similar terms as “a fact of nature.” Politics was presented as the management of the necessity of globalization, with economic decisions limited to those acceptable to international investors, with some sections of the moderate and soft left broadly accepting these ideological premises.”

          the world is in complete turmoil as seen in the Ukraine, Kosovo and now even Mexico. as the world breaks free of bill clintons world wide reign of terror.

          old Joe is just adhering to Bill Clintons well established policies of making sure the world is safe for free trade.

          “Memories from 1996 – when Chinese missile tests in the strait prompted U.S. President Bill Clinton to order two fully armed carrier battle groups to pass through the Taiwan Strait – have shaped the strategic operational codes of the Chinese military and the Central Politburo.”

      2. Seer

        Per Thierry Meyssan (on, these folks are Straussians. Spoiler: “Empire of chaos” is apropos.

        And keep in mind Dick Cheney’s quip: “The American way of life isn’t negotiable.”

  5. SET

    Garland Nixon is a former Police “Head of Inspections” and taught college level courses in it. He’s been on The Duran and has had Scott Ritter on his channel. He has a hilarious way of putting this in perspective that is worth checking out.

    Moon of Alabama has a column or two on it. The USS Kearsarge, was in the area recently, turned off its ship locator, which is often done during “exercises”, but interestingly, it had multiple helicopters flying patterns, EXACTLY OVER THE AREA OF THE BLOWN PIPELINE! (B has handy maps) There’s a Polish Naval Base within 60 miles with an Underwater Engineering (Demolition) Team, based there.

    With exercise equipment names, like “Mine Hunting UUVs”, the opposite of the name is usually the truth. It’s more like “Mine Laying UUVs”! It’s similar to the names of congressional Legislative Acts, read the name as the opposite of what it sounds like it ought to be!

    The new Polish pipe announced the same day, carries just barely enough gas for Poland, so no succor for Germany there!

    Larry Johnson had a few choice words, but his internet is down due to the hurricane.

    Here’s B’s usual boatload of factual statements backed up with URLs to news reports or source material

    Whodunnit? – Facts Related to The Sabotage Attack On The Nord Stream Pipelines

    “While the Baltops 22 maneuver already took place in June and July of this year the U.S. Sixth Fleet left the Baltic Sea only a few days ago (in German, my translation):
    Big Fleet Group From U.S. Navy Passes [German island passage] Fehmanbelt
    On Wednesday morning the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, escorted by the Landing Ships USS Arlington and USS Gunston Hall, was en route towards west. Previously, the ships were part of US units that took part in NATO maneuvers and called at numerous ports in Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.
    The “USS Kearsarge”, flagship of the association and largest warship of the US Navy, which was in action in the Baltic Sea in the last 30 years, has 40 helicopters and fighter planes as well as more than 2000 soldiers on board, the escort ships about 1000. For the around 4,000 soldiers are heading back home on the east coast of the US after their six-month deployment.”
    “On September 2, interesting maneuvers performed by an American helicopter with the call sign FFAB123. Then it was assumed that this board was from the USS Kearsarge air wing, and today more details were looked.
    According to the website , this call sign was used by 6 boards that day, of which we managed to establish the side numbers of three. All of them are Sikorsky MH-60S.
    By superimposing the FFAB123 route on the scheme of yesterday’s accident, we get a rather interesting result — the helicopter either flew along the Nord Stream-2 highway, or even between the points where the accident occurred.”
    “The U.S. military is not the only force that was near the area of the pipeline damage. Just a 100 kilometer south is the Polish naval base Kolobrzeg (the former German Kolberg) which harbors mine laying ships and the 8th Kołobrzeg Naval Combat Engineer Battalion. Naval combat engineers are experts in blowing up anything that is under water, be it mines or pipelines.”
    “During the recent Ukraine crisis Poland has rejected to receive Russian gas. It closed the Yamal pipeline that transports natural gas from Russia to Germany. Poland continued to consume Russia gas. It received it from Germany which had received it through the Nord Stream I pipeline from Russia.
    Poland and Denmark have build a new sub sea pipeline which connects it to the pipeline that brings Norwegian gas to the Netherlands and Europe.”

    1. Gregorio

      It’s truly amazing how those sneaky Russians managed to blow up their own pipeline with the sixth fleet sitting right on top of it.

  6. Carolinian

    So looking through the above speculation the message seem to be that the attack made no sense therefore it must have been Biden and Blinken. Or perhaps it was the Poles after getting the ok from Biden and Blinken.

    One hates to be a broken record but Biden’s defining characteristic seems to be a complete lack of judgment with his biggest mistake being the “strategy” behind the Ukraine conflict itself. The Dems thought they could get away with Biden on an “all politics is local” basis but here’s suggesting TDS and abortion are not going to save them. When it comes to the current mess they own this.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, if you believe the US or Poland did it with US approval, it makes perfect sense if their aim is prevent a negotiated settlement no matter what the cost.

      1. NotThisAgain

        It is a bit interesting to note that:

        1) Germany is visibly outraged over the invasion of Ukraine, but appears less visibly outraged over fundamental damage to its own energy security
        2) The German DAX is only down about 5% since the bombing (!). The Euro is also not significantly changed in value, despite the implications to its most important economy. This means nothing except that I do not know how to properly interpret market data, incidentally.
        3) Whoever did this either assumes no retaliation or (my favorite theory so far) is hoping that Putin will escalate recklessly–possibly out of need to placate his domestic audience.

        I don’t think that Germany will feel backed into a corner to continue supporting sanctions, though–I am guessing that a German mob will likely weaken rather than strengthen the West’s hand vis-a-vis continuing this war.

        As an aside, the most obvious beneficiary is Poland, and it is absolutely inconceivable that Poland would ever do something like this without ensuring US approval

        1. The Rev Kev

          I wonder if anybody thought to check the stock market to see if gas deliveries and the like were being shorted? If you knew what was going to happen, you would reckon that some people would not be able to resist the temptation to cash in.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Yes. Remember airline stocks getting shorted pre-9/11? I confess that I did not dig deep enough into that one, as to whether it was true or not. But I do recall we had more of a free press back then, and it got a lot of attention.

            The question in 2022 would be, even if some enterprising blogger or “crowd sourced” gang of autists were to uncover solid evidence of fingerprints in the markets, would they just be shouted down as “Putin sympathizers” or worse?

            The metaverse does not care what the facts are.

        2. Skip Intro

          It may be that the ‘warning’ about these attacks that Germany got from the US was a threat , or reminder of a threat already made by Biden and Nuland, among others. That makes the baffling willingness of the German government to sacrifice its economy and probably their jobs by keeping NS2 closed seem reasonable. Now Germany has lost the option of backing down, and is even more dependent on the US and Poland. Do they have the ability to seize the Polish gas terminal? Their submission is assured I think, and they will not dare complain.
          As a provocation, is does nicely set up the false flag narrative for the nuke that Russia will use on its new territory. Revenge, it will be claimed, for an attack they themselves committed against themselves. This is another fine example of projection, like the belief that sanctioning oligarchs moves governments, they assume others also regularly shoot themselves in the foot spectacularly.

          1. digi_owl

            “Nice pipeline there, shame if something was to happen to it…”

            Maybe USA could “warn” about an invasion back in spring because they would keep provoking Russia into doing just that…

      2. Carolinian

        Guess I’m saying that aim doesn’t make sense given the blowback that has already happened–at least doesn’t to those of us in the cheap seats. Doubling your bets only makes sense if in the end you have some chance of winning.

        They say Trump spent all his time watching Fox News and it’s like Biden spends all his (awake) time watching MSNBC and believes it.

  7. Tom Pfotzer

    Consider: the reason the Empire* is so interested in obstructing the Russia-China (SCO) integration is that it presents the most credible opponent – in many decades – to the Empire’s ambitions.

    Why is it threatening? Because it’ll create an economic juggernaut big enough to field whatever people, resources, and technology necessary to contain and ultimately replace the Empire.

    What should Russia do?

    Integrate. Economically develop. Build alliances. As fast and as well as they know how. Same to China, and the rest of SCO.

    They must do what the Empire fears most, and will vigorously oppose. They must do it way better than the opponent’s greatest fears, and do it with panache. With rejoicing.

    The Empire-instigated wars are intended to diffuse and drain off attention and effort. To distract, divide, and demoralize.

    Stay on target. Do what yields the greatest strategic advantage.

    The same principle applies to Germany. The war to squash them is now in the open; it’s obvious, and the Germans now know it. They will look upon that ghastly pipeline bombing as the slap in the face that finally broke their psychological bonds.

    Now they have to face some very uncomfortable facts, and there are no easy choices. There are good choices, but not easy ones.

    An awful lot of introspection, and not a little transcendent emotional development has to happen in a very short time, and there will be no top-down help. The top is thoroughly corrupted, and they have to face that fact, too.

    * Note that I used the term “Empire” and not the “West”.

    Note further that everything I said applies to we little people here in the “West”.

    1. Anon

      Maybe they will rebuild the Berlin Wall too… 🙄 they are thoroughly outmaneuvered Tom, so their psychological bonds will be reinforced once they confront the physical temperature. Nothing has technically changed, just there’s now only 1 choice for a warm winter.

      Assuming their military posture is as weak as I perceive, compliance is the wise move, though they would do well to arrange more patriotic leadership. Roll some heads (a metaphor), so the next guy understands he’s between a rock and a very hard place.

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        they are thoroughly outmaneuvered Tom

        Indeed they are, as are many others.

        The road to redemption begins with recognition.

  8. duffolonious

    I don’t see the US keeping industry from Germany migrating to the US competitive (healthcare, trade schools, infrastructure, and all the other stuff that kills the US export economy).

    While I don’t think any Asian economy did this act, they (Japan, China, Korea) will benefit the most in the long run.

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        That’s a very insightful remark. Japan is the east’s Germany – many, many parallels. Taiwan similar, but not nearly as alike.

        Same set of problems – or, if you’re optimistic – same set of choices and potentially cathartic responses.

        1. Revenant

          China is the East’s Germany. The natural hegemon and the reason the land borders keep people awake and, like late 19th C Germany, a newly industrialised powerhouse without natural resources of significance (China better off than Germany in metals though). Japan is more like Edwardian Britain, wealthy and financially secure and apparently dominant in many fields but declining. And poor Russia is empty lebensraum to its neighbours east or west. Here’s hoping China sticks to trade and not pillage.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Maybe some chemical-making industry will migrate from Germany to America. But any thingmaking industry that migrates from Germany will migrate to China. Just as all of Russia’s gas will migrate to China in the long run.

      So China certainly benefits from this pipeline sabotage. Not that China would ever be involved in such a thing, at least in any ever-traceable way.

    2. Carolinian

      As it happens just watching a tour video of the giant BMW plant down the road. My bro gave–believe it is on youtube. They turn out a car every minute and 70 percent are exported overseas. The engines do come from Europe, both from Munich and a plant in Austria and one in England.

      Ours is non union plant with good wages for upstate SC but doubtless not for Germany or other countries. I believe BMW have also talked about (or maybe accomplished) a plant in Mexico with even lower wages. So the car business, at least, is very much international already. Volkswagen is up in Chattanooga, Nissan in Tennessee, Toyota in Kentucky, Kia and Mercedes in Alabama, Hyundai in Mississippi. Of course when Trump was around he was talking about putting tariffs on European cars and perhaps Biden is pushing an anti Europe agenda as well. This will hurt those red states I just mentioned or maybe they’ll simply get more factories.

    3. rowlf

      Maybe one or two decades ago the Detroit news media had stories of Toyota deciding it was better to build factories in Canada as the workforce was better educated than the US and healthcare costs were less.

      Maybe ten years ago there was a good discussion on a european aviation website where the euros were wiping the floor when USians claimed US aviation manufacturing had cheaper costs. Beliefs had a hard time standing up to facts provided.

  9. Ignacio

    Very much like the US plays with “this is not what the administration wants but congresscritters are interested”, there might be rogue military and or civil servants ready to do unofficially what one administration might like but wouldn’t afford to risk (destruction of foreign infrastructures) they directly or supporting other rogue actors available elsewhere. There are ways of delegating responsibilities (via suggestion for instance) that would be too embarrassing for the most senior officials that can be questioned in public.

    Yet, any small boat might go and do things inadvertently as long as they do not have to have a working AIS signalling device and/or a radar sending signals to other ships and sea traffic authorities. Not a large ship is required to take a few divers with explosives to do the job so this could have been done in ways that don’t leave hints for research unless you can trace satellite connections that might have been used to locate the sites or just to navigate the zone. Even this might not be yield results if satellite connections are closed some time before and sonars are used to locate the tubes in the bottom.

    I bet we will never know who did it.

      1. Ignacio

        Free-lance divers in the Mediterranean collect, or used to recollect, red coral with semi-autonomous or autonomous diving equipment at depths between 70-120m. Though this is some extreme diving no real sophistication is needed to access the pipelines at the reported depth in the area. No large ships required, not special permits from high rank officials necessary, not official US or Russian allowances really required. People are talking about constraints that are not realistic. Could be Russians, Americans, or someone from Tuvalu if needed. We live in an increasingly chaotic world.

        Research can tell about how was it done but not who if done with caution.

        1. rob

          the “who” could be confirmed from the present going forward in time…. by watching “who” covers up any serious effort to find out “who” did it.

          Like the blowing up of the world trade towers on 9/11…
          regardless of the technical cut-outs who actually “did it”, the “proof” that building 7 was blown up was done by the four year investigation at the university of Alaska at fairbanks, by the engineering dept head,and his team; who used the universities testing facilities to show only a demolition could explain the observable facts and events, and that the NIST explanation was impossible, and did not reconcile observations with their “conspiracy theory” as to “what happened”.
          In the negative space left by agencies refusal to actually investigate, really does “prove” who really “did it”.

  10. Darthbobber

    When Matt Stoller comments on things within his area of expertise (mainly antitrust) I pay attention though I don’t always agree. When he opines on things like this, I pay about as much attention as I do to the views of the folks running the corner deli, who are equally well-informed.

    Matters are complicated by the fact that both our own national security apparatus and NATO itself are increasingly snakepits in which divergent factions pursue their own agendas.

    No, I wouldn’t rule out the US, though my own money were I a gambler would be on the feckless Poles.

    It really doesn’t demand wonder tech, anybody able to make world war 2 era depth charges could manage it, especially since the presence of the ships of any NATO member would be foolishly presumed innocent (unlike the presence of anything Russian, which usually merits above the fold coverage by the BBC and the scrambling of Swedish jets.)

    The amount of explosive used inclines me toward some actor who was unsure of the precision of their targeting and just used enough explosive for the near neighborhood to be good enough.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      Or to wreck it enough that a fast-fix was not possible.

      The bombing was done to remove a capability. If you’re going to bother to remove it, remove it good.

  11. Tom Hickey

    Anyone that doesn’t know who did this is brain dead. Hint for the clueless — motive, means, opportunity.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      We all know who did it. What’s new is the desperation these guys these guys exhibited. These are not rational people. You don’t risk nuclear war by jumping in a Polish marine. I am astounded at the sheer hubris of these very dangerous people.

      Jill needs to give grandpa his cocktail before the frat boys blow up the world.

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    How fast could Russia cut off the flow of Russian gas to or through pipelines that still exist to take it to Europe? If it could be cut off within a day or two, the RussiaGov could wait till a deep cold snap over Europe and cut it off then. And cut it off every time a herniated polar vortex drifts south over Europe.
    Or maybe cut if off when the first herniated polar vortex droops into place over Europe and then just leave it off.

    But I don’t know how fast gasflow in a pipeline can be stopped and restarted.

  13. Portia

    Thank you for taking the time, Yves. I wish I didn’t have to think Putin is saner and not willing to burn it all down as our dear leadership is, but there it is.

  14. Jaishankar K

    Indian here. There’s no doubt in my mind on who gains from this sabotage. There’s no doubt in my mind on who is reckless enough to do it.

    Most informed people here do not trust the US govt, thanks to the latter’s support for Pakistan.

  15. Mietzsche

    Oh but Russia could well have blown up its own pipelines. After all, what is 10 billion in damages relative to 600+ billion lost already? What does Russia lose by giving up leverage over Germany, which is merely an occupied country with zero actual power? Russia had telegraphed very clearly that it intends to attack in three months, but why would it notify the whole world of its plans and why would it want to continue its offensive into Ukraine? When Putin announced the partial mobilisation, I thought – they must have sufficient forces ready right now (Slovenia for example announced its planned declaration of independence publicly and loudly, but then seceded 1 day ahead of the supposed schedule), but what would be the point? Occupying Ukraine would be costly and leaving it be would mean war against NATO rocket launchers for ever. The only way to defeat Ukraine is to stop the western support by causing a deep recession in the west. People are already irritated by Zelensky’s neverending begathon and will be even more so when they are still waiting for their expensive wood pellets in early december. And USA is just such an obvious perpetrator here. Senile Biden and insane Nuland said some shit once. They must have blown up the pipelines to prevent an armistice! Betrayal! The Russians/Shanghai pact want the NATO to split, right? Also, as noted, destruction of the pipeline gives Russia a carte blanche to destroy anything anywhere, and it might also weaken its populous eastern allies, as I am sure that Russia doesn’t want to become a chinese/indian protectorate. It’s just a win and a win and a win and a win

    1. Acacia

      Needless to say, Germany has been an important trading partner for Russia, and calls within the Germany to restart the Nord stream pipelines were growing louder. Crippling the pipelines works to silence them for the foreseeable future. That hardly seems in Russia’s long-term interest.

      Also, as others have pointed out, the area of the attack is controlled by NATO and NATO military were present at the time of the attack. It would be not only illogical from the perspective of international trade, but extremely foolish to try and blow up your own infrastructure with NATO right there. What if the supposed Russian interlopers were recorded and/or caught with the explosives? It would be an unmitigated PR disaster.

    2. NN Cassandra

      By giving up leverage Russia loses… that leverage? You may think Germany was never going to use NS again, but that is just one possibility, there is also good chance that after some turmoil they would change minds. Whoever did this very obviously thought such probability is quite high and it’s worth extreme measures to prevent it from happening.

      For Russia, even if Putin decided to dump EU/Germany forever, the path of least resistance would be to simply write off the already non-functioning pipes, not to spend tons of explosives on elaborate and pointless stunt while risking being caught right on NATO doorsteps.

      1. Mietzsche

        Not sure Germany has much influence in NATO. It couldn´t enforce Minsk or prevent any other war so far. Russia already delivered a shock against the mismanaged western economy, maybe they thought we needed another nudge to finally tumble over the edge. I don´t think the Russians did it, but there are benefits from this catastrophe even for them.

  16. dingusansich

    It’s looking as if help for domestic partner abuse needs an international division. German and EU leadership might as well say, “It’s true the U.S.—or suck-ups it eggs on or pays off—incites wars, stages false flags, attacks nuclear power plants. It denies it of course and tries to make me think it’s all in my lie-poisoned mind, but I see what’s really going on. And sure, now the U.S. even blows up my critical infrastructure and wrecks my economy. But I know the U.S. still loves me and will always take care of me.” There must be some post-industrial-strength cognitive dissonance going on over there. What’s more, when a neighbor tries to intervene and get them to face facts they get very angry and scream, “How dare you speak that way about my partner!” It’s like a bad TV melodrama, with nukes.

  17. Matthew G. Saroff

    Does anyone think that Russia might cut off the remaining flows through the Ukrainian pipelines as a result?

    BTW, my money is on the lunatics in Poland’s Law and Justice Party being behind it, but my gut is notoriously unreliable.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Regarding the degree to which propaganda works, the same #McResistance types who insist that Trump’s trolling joke asking the Russians to hack Hillary’s servers “proved” he is a Russian asset, will contort themselves saying how Biden’s statement about “not allowing” Nordstream 2 has nothing to do with its bombing.

        The delusions are seemingly impenetrable.

    1. Sibiryak

      “Does anyone think that Russia might cut off the remaining flows through the Ukrainian pipelines as a result?”

      Yes — I was just watching the Russian pro-government program “Time Will Tell” (Время Покажет) and one political analyst predicted exactly that.

  18. Partyless Poster

    Another indication that the U.S. did it is that mainstream news for the past 2 days just totally glossed over the story.
    This after making a big deal out of the power plant shelling for days and generally blaming Russia for everything they can think of.
    It’s pretty obvious they don’t want to talk about it and with an event of this importance that’s pretty damning.

  19. Gulag

    “Very dangerous people,” indeed.

    I like the above category of analysis–since I am assuming that more conventional approaches to understanding such foreign policy decision- making– like realism, rational actor models, organizational behavior models (one of my favorites), the psychology of leaders, or cultural/national identity models etc. may all be inadequate for grasping what is actually going on here.

    Are these very dangerous people, probably operating under deep secrecy part of nasty power networks whose boundaries are purposely nebulous, with no clearly defined authority structure, routines or division of labor and, as such, no definable leadership–something along the lines of those kinds of girls and guys who took out JFK?

  20. aletheia33

    my 2 cents: how about the role of A”I” in all this?

    if a certain number of leaders/manipulators have covid-19 brain damage, and /or the paranoid eleventy-dimensional chess mindset, and/or garden variety freakout over watching the empire and with it all they have captured for their own selves coming apart, i have no trouble imagining them sitting around in their secret strategy-planning rooms watching presentations by the silicon valley lords of their cool, smart, oh-so-complicated, inhuman A”I” simulations (not of this-or-that but) of these-or-those outcomes.

    sort of reminiscent of the role of decision-makers’ reliance on the quants in bringing on the massive damage of 2008.

    how far out is this idea?
    too much like science fiction?

  21. julianmacfarlane

    Sabotage of NS1 and NS2 pose problems. And, without a doubt, they were orchestrated by the US, perhaps using the Poles. While this poses short term problems for the Russia, it is reactive on the part of the US, rather than rational. “Nihilistic” is a good word, as in killing your allies in a war. Longer term, next year, you are likely to see the EU moving towards devolution, and perhaps even the nation states within it. Can the US profit from disintegration? Not as a country, all a some of its neoliberal elites might. Then again, the US is also divided and moving towards, devolution as well. Russia, by contrast, is growing. The referenda prove it has won and will soon incorporate the active parts of what used to be the USSR’s powerhouse– Ukraine. julianmacfarlane

  22. Dave in Austin

    I’d like to stop talking about the “Who done it” and get on to the “What next?”.

    September is the last warm month in the Baltic ( Keeping positive pressure by placing a patch or a cover over the ruptured sections of the pipeline and limiting the damage is possible but will require efforts by both the Russians and Germans who will need to act together immediately (seawater in a 1 1/2″ thick pipe is not an instant “end of the pipeline”). The pipeline company has neither money nor the credit to do it; this will take government action. The Russians will clearly participate so the ball is in the German court. The Danes, Swedes and Finns will go along.

    So my question is will Germany help to limit the damage and repair the pipes? And if they don’t, the insurance/European bond-holders claims will hinge on what caused the permanent end of the pipelines- was it “war damage” or was it the German “temporary” closure, a cash squeeze on the operator and the German unwillingness allow the damage to be fixed, a form of German force majeure?

    And more to the point, how will the German public react if the US uses sanctions to limit the ability to fix the pipes and end the posibility of any post-sanction gas deal? Freezing in the dark because those nasty Russians invaded the Ukraine is one thing; Freezing in the dark because of a mysterous bombing and a US financial and machinery embargo is something else. And if it turns out that there were EU and German negotiations underway with the Russians to get some gas turned back on…

    The public relations fallout is very unpredictable and dependant on how the US and Germany act.

  23. JustTheFacts

    If the US blew up the Nordstreams, I think it would have been very stupid of them. Here I use stupid in its technical meaning of harmful to others and harmful to oneself. Clearly it’s harmed Germany. If it comes out that the US did it, Germans will remember, and as history has shown, getting on the bad side of Germany is generally speaking a bad idea.

    It is my understanding that during World War 1, German propaganda convinced the German populace that Germany was about to win, even though it was losing. This created a fertile ground for the theory that Germany had been stabbed in the back by its elites. That theory, and mass suffering of the population, brought a nobody to power who then proceeded to start World War 2, and eliminate large ‘untrustworthy’ parts of Europe’s population. If the US did destroy the Nordstreams, it did stab Germany in the back. If the Germans suffer unemployment, hunger and cold, I could well see another demagogue rekindling this dangerous kind of hatred.

    European history demonstrates how well Europeans hold grudges, and maintain a burning hatred of each other, for very long periods of time. It is because Europe has had so many wars that the EU was created: to prevent Europeans from returning to their traditional way of life, namely butchering each other. These wars were how they refined the weapons and techniques that helped them conquer the world and create vast Empires. If the Poles were involved, it clearly demonstrates how hatreds fester in Europe, but also that the EU and NATO have failed in their purpose. I’d expect both institutions to suffer as a consequence.

    If it turns out that the US betrayed Germany, and if Germans go hungry and cold, I’d expect long term consequences. The worst would be another world war, and ethnic cleansing. A milder form would be a brain drain, benefiting not only the US, but also Russia and China. High tech know how that no longer benefits Germans who no longer have factories due to lack of power, might find itself in Chinese or Russian hands, further eroding the West’s economic advance on those countries. It will also reduce the West’s efficiency, as both sides of the pond will hold ideas and technologies back from each other due to lack of trust. Other countries that can work together may find it easier to outcompete the West. In the very long term, I expect this will seal the fate of America, as a small irrelevance, while human civilization recenters on the Eurasian continent, something the American elites fear.

    This episode reminds me of the Reichstag fire: the destruction of something that could have prevented war, by parties who want a war, and who are twisting the narrative to get that war. A massive change in the flow of history. And despite the propaganda on our airwaves, I expect most people will eventually find the notion that Russia did it quite preposterous. If they are cold and hungry, they might think about it sooner that they would have otherwise.

    If I were the Russian government, I’d look into creating special visas to welcome high caliber German and European workers, and special programs to help them set up business in Russia, in a couple of years, once the economic devastation due to not having enough energy has taken its toll. Germans used to live along the Volga. Perhaps they can be enticed to come back. Creating the possibility of a brighter future will also convince Germans that the US is to blame. After all, this was how the Marshall plan gained the sympathy of Germans after World War 2, making Germany the US’ strongest ally.

    Anyway, these are not facts, just my current thoughts about how this will impact what is yet to come.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      I would say it’s a bit of a reach to think that a high skilled German would choose Russia/China over the US. From what I know, many Germans (and other Europeans) grew up watching US television shows.

      I am also pessimistic that the truth will ever come out in the near future. This will probably join who really killed Kennedy, where is Jimmy Hoffa and who killed him, etc as one of those unsolved whodunnit.

      1. Marlin

        The main issue is language. Most highly skilled Germans (like me) are reasonably capable of speaking English. Very few know Russian or Chinese. However, I don’t think there will be mass exodus from Germany. I guess it will be focused on some high energy intensity industries. Once they are gone, heating your home will remain expensive, but highly skilled people earn enough to pay that. The brunt will be born by lowly skilled people, who have a harder time migrating anywhere.

      2. JustTheFacts

        I would have found it unlikely that the UAE would attract so many European workers, since it is such a different society. Yet it has. Motivated people in poorer societies go where there is work.

        Germany is a resource poor export economy, which means you get raw materials and energy from somewhere else, and transform them into something people want. You get paid for the ‘value add’. If you don’t have raw materials or energy, you can’t make stuff, there is no value add and your ‘high skills’ are worthless. Also without energy, you have no fertilizer and no food.

        For most of Europe’s history it was a civilizational backwater. 25% of world GDP was produced in China. This could very well happen again.

        In the 1960s, there were quite a few double agents in the UK, and that was purely for ideological reasons. I think revenge for your society’s decline and your family’s/friends suffering is a much stronger motivator.

        Western Germans watched US TV shows. Eastern Germans watched Warsaw pact shows.

        @Marlin: If you can learn German, you can learn Russian. People in the GDR (East Germany) did, and Ossies aren’t any more talented than Wessies.

        1. hk

          Fwiw, Russia has a long history of importing German talent, even making ond of them the empress regnant. As I understand it, many Germans have recent connection to Russia, being descendants of German communities in Russia who relocated to Germany either in the 20s or 90s. Nothing new here, I think.

    2. hunkerdown

      The EU was created to enforce capitalist relations. The mythical “facts” you gave are origin myths, not controlling objectives. Obviously EU doesn’t give a rat’s patootie about ending war, or they’d stop.

      Never eat at a place called Mom’s…

    3. kareninca

      ” I expect most people will eventually find the notion that Russia did it quite preposterous.”

      I have a family friend who is a retired Navy guy in his 80s. He is very anti-Russia; he thinks Put in is a monster and sorrows for the Ukrainians (as I sorrow for them, too). I explained to him why it really had to have been the U.S. that bombed the pipeline; that it was in order to keep Germany from going back to Russia. He was mad at me for saying so, but he said that he thought that was right and that it was the U.S.. It really caused him some cognitive dissonance and distress but he is a person who tries to be utterly truthful.

    1. Skip Intro

      Nuland is also on record threatening NS2, and there is apparently a wealth of neocon think tank effluvium recognizing the peril NS2 represents to the strategy of keeping Europe and Russia divided, and recommending robust action that might also enrich their sponsors at Raytheon and General Dynamics.
      It was very clever of Biden, to make sure no one would believe anything he said, so he could admit things like that without consequence.

    2. Acacia

      It was posted here already at least once (by me, at least), and has of course been mentioned in several linked articles.

  24. Sibiryak

    a lull is expected [in the Ukraine conflict] through the fall until December — M. K. Bhadrakumar

    FWIW, quite a few Russian commentators are predicting Russian counter-offensives to come soon after the formal annexation of the breakaway provinces. Putin may well give Ukraine some kind of ultimatum in his upcoming speech.

    1. fairleft

      Yeah, no way Russia waits till December. ‘December’ is based on a Western misunderstanding that new call ups will be fighting in Ukraine and need extensive training. But most of the newbies will go elsewhere in Russia, replacing Russia’s ‘best ready to fight’ troops, who’ll be sent to Ukraine.

      The 300,000 additional Russian troops should begin to have a decisive battlefield impact – not sure exactly how they’ll be allocated – by late October or early November, as soon as ground hardens after the October muddy season.

    2. Louis Fyne

      yes. Russian gloves come off when the referenda are formalized and when UA attacks (de facto from the West’s POV) de jure Russian Federation territory.

      one error in Bhadrakumar’s otherwise excellent commentary.

      Don’t fault Bhadrakumar as he likely is reguritating this opinion from a western pundit.

  25. Egidijus

    But of course there was no interest in blowing underwater pipeline in Nicaragua by the USA in 1983. Why should the USA do it now? It’s Russia shelling their nuclear electric plants and blowing their pipeline, right.

  26. VietnamVet

    Besides the start of WWIII and a stab in the back of Germany, the terror attack on NS 1 & 2 is also the result of the collapse of the Western Empire. Western nation states are now totally impotent to serve and protect their citizens and industry as shown by the failure to mitigate coronavirus pandemic or guarding Europe’s vital energy supply pipelines from Russia.

    Oligarch NGOs could have seized the opportunity do whatever they want to increase their wealth. With funding; UK, Ukraine, and Polish Special Operators could have been hired with the skills and equipment to do the job in order to increase the price of liquid natural gas and to hasten the fall of Vladimir Putin to gain control of Russia’s resources. Damn the consequences!

  27. skippy

    Having read the post and all the comments I have – too say – the whole thing from a Historical perspective has the odor of a ‘Black Hand’ like event prior to WWI. One guy with a world view and positioned in the right place, with the right networks, managed to get a few people to act, on a day, so his world view might become a reality. BTW one guy could be one group, even within another group thingy. Heck others might have known and just said let it ride and see what pops out the other side for an opportunity to grab advantage.

    It just seems in these times of chaos humanity is opened up to such events because various agendas backers see/deem a weakness – too exploit – and there is a cornucopia of such mobs all looking to exploit geopolitical bottlenecks for a wide verity of reasons e.g profit, power, leverage, or such mundane things like revenge.

    So at the end of the day it matters not if Colonel Mustard did it in the Library thingy … what matters more is the geopolitical environment is conducive too it … because that suggest more is on offer and what that portends.

    All this whilst AGW is raising its specter and how no DSGE model or its doppelgangers can portend the future past a few months, but some bank on it.

    Blessed be the pouch ….

    1. fairleft

      The very large amount of explosives required for the four explosive charges, the expertise for this undersea sabotage, and the operation taking place ‘apparently undetected’ in a carefully monitored undersea area, point to a big, established group, a major government or at least a large faction within a major government, at minimum well connected to key Danish and Swedish military insiders.

        1. skippy

          Lmmao … Ignacio I could free dive that depth back in the day and put a standard soap dish C4 charge on it … sorry mate but it all getting so ludicrous ….

          1. Ignacio

            What is the ludicrous? Believing in large SPECTRA or US’s many security agencies plotting conspiracies, some chaos in war time, or just infinite speculation with our priors? Third option is my favourite. Read the article about ‘vulnerabilities’. It is not that difficult to do such sabotages.

            1. Acacia

              From Escobar’s latest analysis:

              Swedish seismologists estimated that the power of the explosions may have reached the equivalent of up to 700 kg of TNT. […] The pipes are built with steel reinforced concrete, able to withstand impact from aircraft carrier anchors, and are basically indestructible without serious explosive charges


              The notion that Russian intel would destroy Gazprom pipelines is beyond ludicrous. All they had to do was to turn off the valves.

              It’s worth reading his article in full.

                1. Polar Socialist

                  Measuring the strength of the shock wave propagating trough the crust (or water) and then doing some physics math.

                  1. skippy

                    dude a bit of copper and plasma, could make at home with some stuff from the shops down the road.

                    BTW under the water only amplifies force by magnitudes of air ….

                    1. skippy

                      Its just basics which does not require million dollar bombs or anything like that. Although today’s penchant is to use some expensive high tech because its so cool and R&D money must flow.

                      The only bad part about the high tech is it leaves fingerprints should anything go wrong before or after a mission. Yet the focus on the device is not the key here IMO, its the geopolitical environment which compelled someone to do it and as most here on NC would know … these sort of events have a bad habit of compounding at a faster rate – see history of Ukraine and Russia at the moment. A little bomb here or there to hit something which has huge ramifications near and far economic concerns.

                      Truth be told I await for the AGW changes to intersect with these geopolitical events because that is when the fun really begins.

              1. Ignacio

                With pressurized NG inside it might occur that part of it also exploded contributing to the wave detected. Like in Houston the 22th of July this year.

          2. The Rev Kev

            Aren’t Baltic waters kinda cold? In any case, it looks like they used tons of explosives here to get the job done which points to a highly sophisticated operation. It’s not like you could just depth charge those pipelines and hope for the best. :)

            1. skippy

              NO NO NO on the super 007 stuff Kev … I could have done it back in the day without all the bells and whistles …. crap could have even bobbed around for a few day delivering the package … oh dog snort …

            2. Ignacio

              For what I have read there were 3 explosions. To my knowledge even improvised explosive devices, if only pressurized to resist about 9 bar which is nothing too sophisticated, might be enough to do the job. Unless you show me evidence or at least analysis indicating that tons of explosives were required. That I would appreciate.

            3. Polar Socialist

              Around 2-4 degrees Celsius around the year at that depth. Visibility from 4 to 6 meters on a good day, when you don’t kick stuff up from the bottom.

              It’s my understanding, and I’m willing to be corrected, but at these depths the active working time at the site is 10-15 minutes even with proper equipment.

              That’s not much for locating a pipeline (beyond your visual range), making sure it is the pipeline, securely attaching an explosive and then making sure it’s activated (at this point visibility can be less than your arms length due to the disturbed silt – marine archeologists usually have a suction hose so they can see their own hands when poking at the bottom).

      1. Ignacio

        Also, no need for a large cooperative operation involving so many actors. That risks leaks and disagreements.

        1. Seer

          I’ve been around long enough to hear many of these same arguments. Readily debunked: Manhattan Project.

          There were training activities happening. I’d guess that nearly ALL thought that that’s all they were. Only ONE person with a finger on the trigger would know otherwise. Anyone wishing to speak out, well… The families of all participants are known.

  28. Marlin

    Matt Stoller talks propaganda:

    First: Merkel isn’t chanellor any more. She filled at least two ‘woke’ categories, being the first woman chancellor and coming from eastern Germany, a region regarded as poor and disadvantaged by many in the US establishment (e.g. G.W. Bush). Scholz is male and from the western part of Germany and has no other features, that would make him politically a preferred person in Washington.

    Second: His idea, that the US was ever deferential to Germany is based on certain economic views, that many in Washington simply do not share, regardless of the correctness or falsety – and even if they are somewhat correct, something like an increase in inequality in the US isn’t something, that Washington would see very negative.
    In addition the people dealing with economics are different people than the people dealing with military matters. The security people don’t take Germany very serious, remember the Afghanistan withdrawal without informing other NATO-partners? Remember Biden talking about there being just 3 great powers in the world, the USA, Russia and China, despite the EU-countries cumulatively spending multiple times on military what Russia spends?

    In the next tweet Stoller mentions the fact, that the CIA correctly predicted the invasion. Well, that was easy for them. Putin promised to intervene, if the Ukraine intensifies the war on the separatists. The USA made the Ukraine to intensify the conflict. The fact, that an intensification happened is proven by the OECD artillery shell counting, which shows an intensification of the shelling. Theoretically, this could have been a short period, but if you believe, the CIA doesn’t know, what the Ukrainian military plans, I have a bridge to sell you.

  29. SocalJimObjects

    I think Russia should do all it can to “support” Candidate Trump, not directly obviously, but through intermediaries. If not Candidate Trump then anyone that will finally cause the US to self implode, because that’s the only way to stop all these insanities. I realize that’s a bitter pill to swallow for anyone living in the US, but IMHO the country’s leaders are too far gone to do the right thing at this moment.

    1. Seer

      History tells us that ALL EMPIRES collapse. Russia [as well as China] knows that the US is currently in the process. No need for interruption. Biden is doing a marvelous job leaning on the house of cards. No need for Trump (other than he’s at least entertaining) or anyone else in particular- the System is predestined to implode.

      Note that collapse happens because of Growth Ponzis. The ever-increasing need for more resources eventually runs into the wall (folks who won’t hand over their resources, folks who will fight back). None of this is complicated; we only try to make it so in order to avoid facing the reality that our world’s entire economics is based on the false premise that there can be perpetual growth- eventually the music stops and there’s not enough chairs.

  30. Stephen

    Thanks. Naked Capitalism is clearly the go to source for informed analysis!

    Hopefully the Russians will stay being the adults in the room. Totally unclear who rules in Washington. Eerily similar to the situation in Berlin at the start of WW1 when the Austrians even asked who did rule. It cannot possibly be Biden, given he does not know who is alive and who is not; and it cannot be Harris, given she thinks North Korea is a close US ally. Maybe it is whomever gets to Biden first without the other factions knowing. Scary times. If the Russians were as mad and dysfunctional at the top of their government then we would already be in WW3 I suspect.

    The disingenuous comments by the White House Press Spokesperson to questions about Biden’s latest nonsensical comments undermine any credibility this administration may have with respect to truth. So denials of involvement in the pipeline sabotage carry zero weight.

    Your comments on weather are also apposite. Here in the southwest London / Surrey borders it was 4 degrees Celsius overnight. The heating has already been on sporadically. Last winter, that was not needed until very late October. I cannot remember a time when heating was needed in September. Lots of speculation that this will be a hard, cold winter. The rise in winter diseases already is probably not unrelated to the change in weather too.

    Scary times ahead both geopolitically and quite probably with disease too.

    1. Marlin

      As to the question who actually rules, I recently got an interesting reply on social media:
      Think of a swarm of birds or fish. They don’t have a single ruler and still they move around. Sometimes some animal jockeys into front position, then a different one. The US gov’t perhaps isn’t ruled in the sense, that a specific person makes all the decisions, but various players influence things in different directions and they have some wins and some defeats. Perhaps they even think of themselves as beleaguered or minority in the gov’t because they do sometimes get defeated.

      I think this is a good thought, and although Michael Hudson’s statements on the economic “war” between the US and Germany seem more close to the truth to me than Stoller’s, I still think Hudson is talking too much about intentions, that probably some have, but that aren’t the only or perhaps even main reason for things to happen. I don’t think e.g. Polonophiles in Washington care that much about the economy. They just hate Russians and therefore want the war, even if it hurts Poland’s economy.

  31. Revenant

    I think the word “plan” is a mistake here. No plan survives contact with the enemy, let alone over 80 years. What the Western elite has is a set of shared strategic objectives – stay on top! And a willingness to throw anybody or thing except themselves under the steamroller to achieve this. The rest is just strategy and tactics, which change over time.

    Right now, the BRICS appear different. But they would probably become the same if they WERE on top. Vide the ending of Animal Farm, as the pigs become as men….

    The old phrase is that when elephants fight the grass gets trampled. Perhaps though, they are not eating while they fighting? If only the little man had a way to play divide et impera. Divide and slip free?

    1. Polar Socialist

      Right now, the BRICS appear different. But they would probably become the same if they WERE on top.

      Probably. There is though a slight chance for them continuing to be different because at least three (India, China, Russia) of them already know that even big states have their ups and downs as time passes. Even Brazil has been a kingdom, and empire, a republic and a dictatorship during it’s +500 years of history.

      They can have a perspective, so to say.

    2. hemeantwell

      I believe we can be confident that NATO had a plan to draw the Russians into a preemptive attack on Ukraine. It is also likely that they were very confident that sanctions would tank the Russian economy. That was The Plan that garnered the support of elites in the now vulnerable economies of Europe. If there is any truth to Stoller’s contending that the US is deferential to Germany, that would be its basis.

      Since that time they’ve been winging it. ‘Nihilism’ might gain a footing as consensus dissipates over what to do in this highest of high stakes play. .Adherents of the Wolfowitz doctrine, which seems like a restatement of the strategic consensus from the mid-20th c, could well be falling back to that logic, within which European allies become an object of a decision, they don’t make the news, they just get the news.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Beijing doesn’t have troops in Brazillia. The mechanisms for payment aren’t the same. Russia is effectively an autarky with a nuclear deterrent. France and the UK were decolonized colonial powers dependent on resource extraction and then attaching themselves to the US. India doesn’t have to wait on Beijing to make a deal with Brazil. Countries like the Isle of Mann still have to do everything in dollars at some level even when interacting with a Euro country. The mechanisms of control are still dominated by the US.

      Iran is arguably an autarky. Institutions do still matter. The problem with the US is its so big relative to the vassals. Lavrov noted the hostility the US has towards the RF is that the RF was large enough to demand do junior partner status, not vassalage. The US is so big Canada when the British Empire was still a going concern had to drive on the right.

      Beijing barring a third world war is not going to have troops in Brazil, but Beijing is large enough to keep Brazil honest if Brazil ever became a Southern colossus. The US would be nearby too. Turkey is a country ready to embrace it’s proper place. It’s a major country with heavy industry, major trade routes, and a very educated young population. The US and China won’t simply be able to dominate Turkey. Turkey has other options that the remnants of the Ottoman Empire didn’t have in the wake of a British and French empires carving up defeated states and German colonies.

  32. Sibiryak

    Global Rivalries From the Cold War to Iraq — Kees van der Pijl (2006)

    Recommended reading: Chapter 7, “The Rapallo Syndrome and the Demise of the Soviet Union “–fascinating details about the long history of sabotage of German/Russian relations by the US/Capitalist Heartland.

    Here’s a short excerpt defining the term “Rapallo Syndrome”:

    The Soviet state would […] have to try and play on the rivalries between the imperialist states. A first opportunity offered itself after imperial Germany’s defeat in the First World War when Walter Rathenau, a visionary liberal associated with the high-tech industry of the period, proposed to form a Western consortium to develop Russian resources as a means of paying the war indemnities imposed by the Versailles treaty.

    By gaining access to Russia’s oil, ores and grain, Germany might compensate for the loss of European and overseas raw material bases, while finding a market for its heavy industries. The heartland powers and France were not forthcoming in their support for this enterprise, and nationalist politicians instead drafted a straightforward commercial treaty with Soviet Russia (Rathenau considered this a step too far, as did the Social Democrats). The treaty was concluded on the margins of the 1922 Genoa reparations conference, in the small town of Rapallo.

    The collusion between the two states, both ostracised by the West, was not confined to Russian manganese shipments for German steel production. It also allowed the German army to conduct manoeuvres on Soviet territory in breach of the Versailles treaty. The United States then intervened with a rehabilitation programme, the Dawes Plan of 1924, which tied Germany in with the West again.

    ‘Rapallo’ would, however, henceforth remain a code word in Western diplomacy denoting the undesirability of rapprochement between Germany and the Soviet Union.

    Till today, the ‘Rapallo syndrome’ plays a role in how the geopolitical evolution of Europe towards the east is perceived from the perspective of the English-speaking world.

  33. Foy

    Angela Merkel gave a speech at the ceremony for ‘1100 years of Goslar’ and said the following:

    “Then she added that long-term work would have to be done on a pan-European security architecture – “also including Russia” – even if this would require a lot of staying power Goslar the reunification.”

    “During her appearance at the “Helmut Kohl Foundation”, Merkel had said: If Kohl’s politics were applied to today, then one would “always also think about the currently unthinkable, almost unimaginable – namely like something like relationships with and with Russia can be developed again”.”

    I wonder if she knows who blew up the pipelines. I’d be surprised she would say this if she thought Russia had done it. Very interesting to see someone of her standing talking about developing relationships with Russia again. She hasn’t said much since February. The thin end of the wedge maybe.

    1. hemeantwell

      My first reaction is to see this as hugely significant. Have any other German notables of the center said anything that explicit about renewal of ties?

      I came across a transcript of a Bundestag speech by Die Linke member Sara Wagenknecht from a couple of weeks ago. AfD (now under investigation) liked her insistence on ending the sanctions to avoid catastrophe, the SPD and the Greens, not so much:

      [SW] “…And it’s already beginning. The fact that gas consumption in industry has fallen by almost a fifth is not due to sudden efficiency gains, but to the fact that production is already falling dramatically. Incidentally, the preferred destination for production relocations has recently become the USA again, because the gas price in Germany is now eight times higher than overseas.

      (Dr. Alice Weidel (AfD): Yes, eight times as high!)

      Make America great again? An expensive strategy for a German government!

      (Applause from the LINKE and the AfD – Dr. Alice Weidel (AfD): You are right! – Katharina Dröge (BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GREEN): Putin is happy about your speech, Ms. Wagenknecht!)

      The general manager of the DIHK assumes that Germany will be 20 to 30 percent poorer in a few years if the current strategy is continued.

      Yes, whether we like it or not, if we want to remain an industrialized country, we need Russian raw materials and, unfortunately, Russian energy for the foreseeable future.

      (Applause from MP Martin Reichardt (AfD))

      Therefore: No more fatal economic sanctions! Let’s negotiate with Russia to resume gas supplies!

      (Dr. Johannes Fechner (SPD): Radio Moscow!)

    2. Irrational

      I had the strange vision of a negotiation led jointly by Merkel and Schröder, her predecessor. Strange because he was very dismissive of her chance to form her first government. But, hey, I will take any chance of continuing to have a European economy at this point.

  34. Tom Stone

    Sabotaging these pipelines is entirely consistent with the reackless behavior of the Biden Administration at Home and abroad.
    As far as “America” benefitting, the oil companies certainly do,and so do some thousands of individuals, the people of the USA and the World are a different matter, we do not matter.

  35. HH

    Most Americans believe that the U.S. destroyed the pipelines. They also know what lies they should support. Americans respect gangsters, and that is why they approve of violence and dishonesty in the actions of their government.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is like going to a sushi bar and complaining that you can’t get pizza. The headline made explicit that the point of the post was to identify possible Russian responses so as to assess what Russia actually does versus what it could have done, and we encouraged readers to add possibilities we missed.

      As for the “whodunit,” the very use of “whodunit” implies this is an unsolved mystery and we are summarizing the state of current thinking based on current information. Contrary to your implied argument, there is plenty of information, like the degree of NATO, Danish and Swedish surveillance of the area, the statement of Swedish seismologists that the blasts were at least 100 KG in force, and other details. And with the West running the investigation, as we pointed out, it is quite a stretch to believe that any additional information unearthed will be presented in full.

  36. dean 1000

    The Germans should now chant ‘Mr. Scholz! Import Russian LNG from Sabettayakha. It is 1609 KM (1000 miles) closer than US LNG.

  37. Jeremy Grimm

    I am most curious and unsure about how Germany and the other EU countries might respond to the attacks on the pipelines. I do not believe that Russia must respond to the attacks directly with belligerence or more than the official protests it is making already. I suspect that Russia’s belligerence will attend to furthering their aims in the war in Ukraine and further demonstrating the inferiority and poverty of u.s./NATO weaponry, training, and military strategy and tactics. I believe that will undercut future weapons sales by the u.s. MIC, and any remaining belief in u.s. military superiority. The pipeline attacks make plain, without Russia doing anything, just what kind of friend and ally the u.s. is. If there were any remaining doubts about that, they should be thoroughly dispelled.

    This post suggests many possible actions Russia could take to make things more uncomfortable for the u.s. and Europe. So far, Russia has not needed to do anything beyond protecting its own economic interests — drawing closer with China, India, Turkey and Iran, demanding payment in rubles, selling its natural gas and oil at higher prices. The u.s. sanctions policies are already working nicely to immiserate the populations of Europe and the u.s. I see Russia sitting comfortably in the catbird seat.

    For the future, I am curious how Russia and China might work together. I believe there is a long history of conflict and mistrust between Russia and China. I continue to wonder whether at some point Russia might get the Trans-Siberian Railroad running through North Korea into Seoul. After proving itself more than merely fickle, I wonder how long the other countries of Asia will continue to place much trust in the u.s. I have the impression much of Latin America is shifting as far from the shadow of u.s. dominance as possible.

    1. fairleft

      Well said. But on your east Asia speculation, here’s mine:

      China will end up very impressed by the Russian performance on the battlefield. And military self-confidence is one of the very few areas where China feels it needs help. This makes the relationship very secure for next ten years. South Korea at next election, reacting to economic hard times, will shift toward balance, good terms w China/Russia and the US. Japan is a weird psychological case. To put it crudely, the powers that be seem to _like_ their ‘best boy’ status under the US hegemon. They’ll stay loyal to the US emperor unless there’s a voter revolt, which seems unlikely because the media is so heavily controlled.

    2. fairleft

      Well said! But here’s my somewhat contrasting east Asia speculation:

      China needs Russia for its military expertise, it’s one of the very few areas in which China doesn’t have self-confidence. This, in addition to Russia redirecting its gas supplies toward the East, makes the relationship very secure for at least another ten years, probably much longer.

      South Korea voters, reacting in part to economic hard times, will force a change to a balanced foreign policy, friendly relations to US and China/Russia.

      Japan is a weird case. Put in crude neocolonial terms, the Japanese elite _like_ their ‘honorary white, best boy’ status under Emperor Uncle Sam. If not for this pathology, Japan could so easily have ‘India’ status, the economically rational choice, and be on good terms with both ‘hegemons’. But they’ll muddle along – struggling with over-priced energy, on bad terms with Russia, and provoking China – unless there’s an unlikely common sense voter revolt.

  38. benech

    C’est une VENGEANCE contre la prospérité de l’Allemagne actuelle, mais également une revanche contre l’ex Allemagne nazi .

    Le bût visé est certainement pour détruire l’industrie Allemande en particulier .

    La Russie n’aurait jamais fait ça pour rien au monde !

    Les Etats unis, n’auraient jamais fait cela SEUL, car ils se servent toujours des autres pour faire commettre des actes de terroristes et des coups d’états .

    Et le pays qui a été utilisé, c’est la Pologne qui avait un besoin de vengeance non assouvie que le renseignement US a fortement utilisé pour ne pas être directement impliquer, voir d’autres états, ont peut être participé comme Israel et l’Ukraine .

    La Pologne a estimé, le 1er septembre, le coût financier des pertes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale à 1 300 milliards d’euros .

    “Les Allemands nous ont fait d’énormes dommages”

    Les Allemands ont envahi la Pologne et nous ont fait d’énormes dommages. L’occupation était incroyablement criminelle, incroyablement cruelle et a causé des effets qui, dans de nombreux cas, se poursuivent jusqu’à ce jour”, a encore dit le président du PiS .

    Le président du parti au pouvoir déclarant qu’il allait “demander à l’Allemagne de négocier ces réparations”.

    Berlin a rejeté cette demande, estimant que cette question était “close”.

    Ce chiffre a été communiqué lors d’une conférence consacrée à la présentation d’un rapport sur les pertes de la Pologne lors de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale .

    La position du gouvernement fédéral n’a pas changé, la question des réparations est close”, a déclaré un porte-parole du ministère des Affaires étrangères. .

    Disant que la Pologne a renoncé à de nouvelles réparations en 1953, et a confirmé cette renonciation à plusieurs reprises .

    Les conservateurs polonais contestent la version allemande, selon laquelle la Pologne a renoncé à des réparations de guerre en 1953 .

    Ces sabotages de gazoducs, qui ont été perpétrés par des états qui n’ont jamais pardonné l’Allemagne .

    C’est donc le résultats l’envie d’une vengeance, que les US et les ukrainos ont exploité contre la Russie .

    Avec le nouveau gazoduc de gaz naturel de la Norvège vers la Pologne, à travers la mer Baltique, la Pologne, Israel et les US, pensent s’être bien vengé de l’Allemagne, mais le pire arrive pour ces pays, car ils vont priver injustement des centains de millions de personnes innocentes, d’énergie cet hiver .

    La Pologne, croit être rentrée, aujourd’hui dans une souveraineté énergétique et de sécurité au sens large du terme, mais ça c’est moins sûr surtout lorsque les coupables seront découverts et il ne serait tarder .

    C’est pourquoi la Pologne à très peur, elle achète des armes à un rythme frénétique

    Et vient de confirmer l’achat d’une cinquantaine d’avions de chasse et de milliers de chars à la Corée du Sud, en sus des milliards d’achats déjà promis aux Etats-Unis .

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