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Coal Vs. Gas: This is why Americans need an Energy Policy that “WORKS’”

Coal Is Dead; Long Live Natural Gas

July 13, 2012

Major coal manufacturers in the United States, including Arch Coal Inc (ACI), Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (ANR), Peabody Energy Corporation (BTU), and James River Coal Company (JRCC), made the same mistake the predecessors of today’s oil giants, such as BP p.l.c. (BP) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), made in the 1980s. They built up too much capacity when commodity price was high, raising their own fixed cost structure and increasing their debt burdens along the way.

When reality turned out to be different from expectations, coal price collapsed with natural gas flooding the electricity generating market. Since natural gas is more efficient, cleaner, and now inexpensive, the coal industry as a whole faces major trouble. Power generation from natural gas has matched coal for the first time. This major trend appears unstoppable. And the worst may be yet to come. All coal miners will have to downsize, and more will go bust.

Within the United States, coal consumption has dropped sharply during recent years as natural gas gradually becomes cheap and abundant, replacing thermal coal in power plants. The following chart shows this trend vividly.

In the meantime, U.S. coal stocks have been rising as supply constantly outruns demand, which almost inevitably leads to lower prices. Given coal miners’ razor-thin profit margin in general, a small coal price movement often translates into huge stock price swings.

And finally, as coal production piles up, the export of coal has been rising sharply (in the following chart). The sharp rise in exports is a consequence of price collapse—it becomes so cheap that it’s a better deal for other continents to ship coal across the ocean, still cheaper than digging in their own backyards. Coal mining is a dirty business, polluting self while serving cheap coal to other countries perhaps wouldn’t serve the industry well politically.

Given such overwhelming trends, one has to be very suspicious of the sustainability of this industry for years to come. One possible policy change that might help coal mining is that the environmentalists and the EPA manage to stop hydraulic fracturing of natural gas, which will curb natural gas supply and make dirtier coal a viable option again—a bit ironic, isn’t it?

The one that might do better than the others is Walter Energy, Inc. (WLT), which has a focus on metallurgical coal for the steel industry, and is not so much dependent on thermal coal (for burning).

So what about natural gas? Would major natural gas businesses such as Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) become the new king? Not necessarily. With abundant reserve and a relatively cheap way of exploration, competition will be fierce. Big players like Exxon Mobile still have an edge in financial resources. At the end of the day, companies like Chesapeake are not necessarily winners even if natural gas becomes mainstream.

Overall, investors shall not count on a turnaround of the coal industry like what happened during the last roller coaster cycle of coal prices.

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The Obama Oil Embargo

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David Kreutzer, Ph.D.
April 18, 2012 at 6:46 am

From canceling oil leases in his second week in office to denying the XL Pipeline this year President Obama and his administration have offered up a non-stop assault on affordable energy.  Now that high gasoline prices have come home to roost, the president is flailing around for an energy policy.

His recent attempts at energy policy include:

  • Nobody can do anything about high gasoline prices.
  • Maybe I should release crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • There is a lot of drilling that I haven’t been able to stop.  Don’t I get credit for that?

The latest attempt is to blame everything on speculators.  And why not?  Previous polling shows that 80 percent of Americans believe petroleum price spikes are caused by speculation, which means no more than 20 percent believe it is caused by the fundamentals of supply and demand.

There are several flaws in “the speculators did it” theory.  The first is why do they only do it occasionally?  That is, why don’t speculators want to make unconscionable profits all the time?

Second, why do the index funds and all the other bad guys only speculate in oil?  Where are the profiteering speculators in natural gas, whose current price is about half of what it averaged over the last decade?

Third, there are sophisticated traders on both sides of the petroleum markets.  For every speculator who makes money on a trade, somebody else will lose money.  Blaming speculators on continued price increases requires an endless string of chumps to take the other side of the speculators’ deals.  If anybody should be the chumps, it should be the newbies from the insurance industry and hedge funds, but they are at the top of the most-wanted list.

Finally, for speculation to drive up prices, the speculators must either cause oil production to slow down (which they haven’t) or to pull oil off the market.  If the flow of petroleum and its products remains unchanged, the price at the pump will not change.  If petroleum is pulled off the market, which can happen even though there are limits to what can be stored, it will eventually come back on the market.  And the question becomes, “When the oil comes back on the market, is the price higher or lower than when it was pulled off the market?”  The price will only be higher if the amount supplied at that time is lower or the demand is higher.  In either of those cases, speculators have helped moderate price fluctuations and will be rewarded with profits.  If the price is lower, then the speculators did a bad thing and will be punished by losing money.

The real problem is that combating high gasoline prices requires a greater supply, and this administration’s policies have pushed the other way.  It seems the administration does not really want lower gasoline prices.  Steven Chu, Obama’s non-car-owning Secretary of Energy, famously said we need to get our gasoline prices up to the $8-$10/gallon level they are in Europe.

imageUnfortunately for the president, the voters want more gasoline and lower prices.  So, in the time-honored Washington tradition, he creates a boogeyman and blames his energy failures on speculators.

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The EPA Triples Down On ‘None of the Above’ Energy Policy

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James Taylor, Contributor

Anti-energy crusaders are in a celebratory mood this week as the EPA effectively banned the construction of coal-fired power plants, and thus completed the federal government’s trifecta beat-down on affordable energy.

First, new obstacles to energy production resulted in oil production on federal lands dropping 11% in Fiscal Year 2011 vs. 2010. Second, President Obama announced earlier this year that his administration was blocking construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would deliver large quantities of valuable oil from neighboring Canada. Third, the EPA announced this week its severe global warming restrictions on power plants.

For all the talk of an “all of the above” federal energy policy, this administration is imposing “none of the above,” unless we choose to celebrate our imminent burning of dung for fuel, like they do in the utopian economic powerhouse of Bangladesh.

Coal is our nation’s leading source of electricity for a reason; it is less expensive than all other sources except large-scale hydropower, which environmental activists had already taken off the table. By definition you cannot ban the least expensive power sources without creating a jump in electricity prices. If you have been a fan of our rapidly rising gasoline prices, you are going to love what is about to happen to our electricity prices, too.

There is at least one theoretical scenario whereby banning the construction of coal-fired power plants will only cause a modest rise in electricity prices. That scenario would occur if natural gas filled most of the void for future power plant construction and government refrained from punishing natural gas production. However, the same environmental extremists who successfully pushed for the end of new coal-fired power plants are just as adamant about shutting down natural gas production.

The EPA is already targeting natural gas production from lucrative shale formations, and is likely to soon impose unprecedented restrictions that will raise costs and throttle natural gas production. Tripling down on “none of the above” appears poised to become quadrupling down on “none of the above.”

Oh, and I forgot to mention this administration’s pulling the plug on the Yucca Mountain repository for spent nuclear fuel. Make that quintupling down on “none of the above.”

Those who claim humans are causing a global warming crisis argue that expensive energy is necessary to stop the growth in our global warming emissions. The facts, however, tell a different story.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen since the beginning of the century, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration does not anticipate any appreciable rise in emissions for at least the next several decades. True, global emissions have risen by approximately one-third this century, but the United States has had no part in that global increase.

The reason why global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise is nations such as China and India continue to ramp up their industrialization. China, for example, emits more carbon dioxide than the entire Western Hemisphere and is increasing its carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 10 percent per year. Even if the United States theoretically eliminated all of its emissions today, such action would be rendered moot in less than a decade merely by the corresponding increase from China.

What we are left with, even if we assume for the sake of argument that humans are causing a global warming crisis, is tremendous self-induced economic pain for absolutely no real-world environmental impact.

All of the Above is now None of the Above. Welcome to the return of “That 70s Energy Policy.”

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Let consumers, not bureaucrats decide our country’s energy future

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By Phil Kerpen & Steve Lonegan
Published March 08, 2012
FoxNews.com

While President Obama is trying futilely to convince the American people he supports an “all of the above” energy policy, he has remained stubbornly committed to vast subsidies for unproven, expensive technologies like wind.

Obama has repeatedly described his intention to increase wind subsidies “doubling down,” an appropriate use of gambling terminology.

The U.S. Senate will likely be put on record soon on amendment votes to extend wasteful, expensive subsidies for windmills and to create vast new subsidies for natural gas vehicles. These votes will tell us which senators, like the president, want to double down on a losing hand and which think it might be time to try a free market energy policy.

Sadly, it is hardly a given that Republicans will oppose massive taxpayer-funded giveaways to favored energy players. The clearest evidence of that comes from New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie has led the way on a disastrous proposed offshore wind scheme.

New Jersey’s offshore wind boondoggle was authorized by the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, signed into law by Gov. Christie in 2010. A cost analysis of the act conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University concluded that the wind project would cost the state as much as $4.1 billion, drive up electricity rates up as much as 4.2% and cost up to 4,440 jobs. More recently a consulting firm hired by state officials to analyze the bid from Fishermen’s Atlantic, LLC to construct the project found that it would result in the loss of almost 30,000 jobs, and drive up electricity rates by $286 million.

With hefty federal subsidies for wind in place, such boondoggles will continue to spring up around the country. Fortunately, the principal federal subsidy for wind, the so-called Production Tax Credit (PTC) is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Unfortunately, the Senate will soon vote on extending this giveaway, despite the fact that wind is second only to solar in subsidies and is highly suspect both economically and environmentally.

While Obama tells us it’s time to end the outrageous subsidies for fossil fuels, the facts are the vast majority of subsidies go to wind and solar. — In 2010, subsidies per megawatt-hour were $0.63 for natural gas, $0.64 for coal, $52 for wind, and $968 for solar.

Instead of looking at those numbers and concluding it’s time to pull the plug on wind subsidies and even more scandalous solar subsidies, some Washington politicians look at them and conclude we need to massively increase subsidies for natural gas.

The Senate is poised to vote on doing just that, on an amendment that would add the provisions of the so-called Nat Gas Act to the surface transportation bill. This amendment, sponsored by New Jersey’s Senator Robert Menendez, would provide hefty subsidies – up to $64,000 per truck – to subsidize the conversion of vehicles to natural gas.

The bill, sadly, has bipartisan support, including from Republicans like Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who apparently believes that the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is which industries they prefer to choose to lavish with special giveaways.

The consequences of huge subsidies to shift natural gas into the transportation sector are easy to foresee. If we artificially boost demand at taxpayer expense, prices will go up. That means higher natural gas bills for home heating bills, and it means higher prices for all the industries that use natural gas as a feedstock.

Just as ethanol subsidies rippled through corn prices to higher food prices, natural gas subsidies would have economy-wide effects through higher prices for chemicals, plastics, and fertilizers.

Moreover, with natural gas prices collapsing thanks to the fracking revolution, these subsidies are wholly unnecessary.

As long as the EPA and overzealous state regulators can be kept at bay, natural gas vehicles will come to market without subsidies. In fact, this week Chrysler and General Motors announced duel-fuel pick-up trucks that run on both compressed natural gas and gasoline.

Why not let consumers decide if they want these vehicles, instead of putting a government thumb on the scale at a cost of billions of dollars?

In the aftermath of Solyndra, politicians should recognize that its time to pull the plug on energy subsidies, scale back on onerous regulations, and let consumers, not bureaucrats, decide our country’s energy future. The U.S. Senate should therefore reject both on the PTC and Nat Gas amendments.

Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and the author of “Democracy Denied” (BenBella Books, 2011). Steve Lonegan is executive director of Americans for Prosperity – New Jersey.

Read more: Fox News

The End Of Growth In The United States

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With one month to go in the data series, US Total Non-Farm Payrolls have averaged 131.08 million in 2011. The problem is that the US is a Very Large System, and needs growth to support its array of future obligations, primarily Social Security and the debt it incurs to run its military budget, and other entitlements. If you had told someone ten years ago that Total Non-Farm Payrolls would be at similar levels in 2011, that likely would have sounded impossible, or extreme. But the fact is, US Total Non-Farm Payrolls averaged 131.83 million ten years ago, in 2001. The implications for this lack of growth are quite dire. | see: United States Total Non-Farm Payrolls in Millions (seasonally adjusted) 2001-2011.

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With less economic growth, and no growth in global oil production leading to permanently higher oil prices, the United States is trying to operate its Empire at previous levels. Now you know why the country along with the rest of West has gone more deeply into debt. The population keeps growing, obligations keep expanding, inputs costs keep rising. But growth keeps slowing. | see: Global Average Annual Crude Oil Production mbpd 2001 – 2011.

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Care to forecast the US will return to economic growth, given energy prices and aggregate levels of debt in the OECD nations? Good luck with that. The US could certainly increase taxes, and reduce government spending. But that won’t restore economic growth. How about increasing annual government deficits more rapidly, to double our debt even faster? Good luck with that too. As I have written before, the energy limit and total debt now trump the tiresome argument between Austrians and Keynesians, rendering the conversation moot.

There was a time when many “experts” forecast that oil prices would come back down, and that global oil production would increase. Six years later, you don’t hear much from these people anymore. Their books, asserting there never was or would be an oil crisis, can now be had for .99 cents through used bookstores on the Amazon network. I expect them to be joined by economic revival advocates, no later than mid-decade. Growth in real terms, in the OECD nations, has now basically come to an end.

–Gregor

Read more posts on Gregor.us »

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Wanted: A Commonsense U.S. Energy Policy

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By Rep. Peter Roskam

Americans have weathered one economic storm after another over the last few years. Yet, time and again, Washington policies have only made our families’ woes worse. From a failed trillion dollar stimulus to a healthcare overhaul that costs jobs and makes healthcare more expensive, Washington policies keep making it harder when Americans need the help most.

The latest: gas. Just as our economy is showing signs of recovery, gas prices are skyrocketing. In Chicagoland, a gallon of gas already costs over $4.50. That means pain for family budgets and employers trying to control costs and hire new workers. But smart federal policies can help. If we choose wisely, we can help lower energy costs for families with an all-of-the-above energy approach.

Taking advantage of America’s natural resources is a commonsense way to lower gas prices, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs here. Unfortunately, many refuse to listen to commonsense.

By actively blocking and delaying American energy production, the White House’s energy policy has caused gas prices to spike, jobs to be lost, and made the U.S. more reliant on unstable foreign energy.

So far, 10% of the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been moved to foreign production. Each rig supports hundreds, even thousands, of jobs – jobs that may never return again. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil production in the Gulf has declined by almost 300,000 barrels per day since April 2010, and domestic oil production will fall by a full 13% this year. That’s strong proof that these policies decrease the production of domestic energy, destroying jobs and increasing the cost of gas.

What’s worse, Illinois already suffers from the third highest gas taxes in the entire nation. Sixty-nine cents of the cost of every gallon of gas in the Land of Lincoln is taxes.

House Republicans, however, are taking action to ease the pain of high gas prices.

Last week, a bill that resumes offshore lease sales off the coast of Virginia and in the Gulf of Mexico that have been delayed or cancelled by the Obama Administration passed the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support. It directly addresses policies that have caused that drop in production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the next week, House Republicans will pass two more bills that would further boost American energy production. The first, requiring the Secretary of the Interior to act on Gulf drilling permit applications within 30 days, would end the uncertainty causing rigs to leave and energy companies to close. The second, compelling the White House to establish a five year offshore lease plan, would hopefully result in the additional production of three millions barrels a day within 16 years.

These are steps that would increase energy production, decrease gas prices, and create more jobs.

These initiatives and more are being advocated for by the House Energy Action Team (H.E.A.T.) – a group of Members of Congress working to lower gas prices, make America energy independent, and create jobs.

Surely these bills won’t cure every problem – but they are an important first step in reducing costs and making us more energy independent. The only way we can achieve that is through an all-of-the-above energy approach, including utilizing resources here.

Washington has an opportunity to do the sensible thing with energy policy. We need Democrats to join us and the American people. Let’s make energy policy the exception to the rule of Washington’s missteps the last few years.

Original Article

Obama’s Anti-Energy Policies Are Bankrupting America

Published on May 5, 2011 by HeritageFoundation

Randall Stilley has witnessed firsthand the Obama administration‘s job-killing agenda. As the president and chief executive of Seahawk Drilling, he had to lay off 632 employees before filing for bankruptcy — a direct result of President Obama’s anti-energy policies.

“As an American,” he told us, “you never want to look at your own government and say they’re hurting you personally, they’re hurting your business and they’re doing it in a way that’s irresponsible. I’m not very proud of our government right now and the way they handled this.”

Randall Stilley has witnessed firsthand the Obama administration’s job-killing agenda. As the president and chief executive of Seahawk Drilling, he had to lay off 632 employees before filing for bankruptcy — a direct result of President Barack Obama’s anti-energy policies.

Stilley’s company owned and operated 20 shallow-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. The lack of energy production — a consequence of Obama’s drilling moratorium and subsequent “permitorium” — led to Seahawk’s demise. Now he’s speaking out, sharing Seahawk’s story in a new video from Heritage and the Institute for Energy Research. (Click to watch.)

It’s an unfortunate example of how policies in Washington are harming American jobs and also squelching energy production at a time when consumers are paying $4-per-gallon for gasoline.

Fortunately, not everyone in the nation’s capital is content with higher prices and fewer jobs. Today the U.S. House considers the first of several bills that directly addresses energy and jobs. Lawmakers will vote today on legislation that requires the Obama administration to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and in the waters offshore Virginia.

It’s a welcome change from the anti-drilling policies first imposed by the Obama administration one year ago. On May 6, 2010, the first moratorium on Gulf drilling took effect, followed by a longer ban that lasted until October. But even after it was lifted, few deepwater permits have been issued.

The long-term implications are disastrous for America. That prompted House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) to pursue a remedy through legislation. Today’s vote would ensure that companies continue energy development by requiring lease sales. Two other bills would speed up the permitting process and craft a long-term plan for offshore lease sales.

“What we’re proposing is to lower gas prices, create American jobs, which ironically will help drive up government revenues, and ultimately, in the wake of all the turmoil we’ve seen in the world, create an environment in which we are energy independent or on a path to energy independence,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) explained yesterday.

Even without the president’s signature, the legislation has already had a positive impact. After it passed in committee, the Obama administration promised to hold one lease sale in 2011. (Ever since 1958, there has been at least one lease sale every year.)

But while one lease sale is better than none, Hastings isn’t satisfied. He wants the Obama administration to hold four lease sales before June 2012  – including one off the coast of Virginia.

Aside from creating new jobs and discovering new sources of energy, the lease sales contribute a substantial sum of revenue for the federal treasury. In 2008, the offshore industry paid $9.4 billion for bids on new leases. Last year, that figure dropped to $979 million in lease bids.

The drop in revenue is a reflection of the Obama administration’s anti-energy policies. And lease sales are only part of the equation. According to the government’s own Energy Information Administration, production in the Gulf of Mexico will drop by 190,000 barrels per day. That means less money from royalty payments on offshore rigs as well.

Faced with mounting criticism, the Obama administration has defended its policies as a safety precaution following last year’s oil spill. But one year later, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is issuing drilling permits at such a slow pace that it’s hard to swallow the explanation.

At the same time, the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are seeking new ways to penalize energy businesses. As Curtis Dubay and Nick Loris write on The Foundry, a proposal from Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) would significantly increase taxes paid by U.S. oil and gas companies competing abroad — exactly the wrong approach with gas prices on the rise.

Meanwhile, job creators like Leslie Bertucci and Randall Stilley continue to bear the brunt of the Obama administration’s misguided policies. Bertucci, who told us last month about her company’s struggle to survive, has dipped into personal savings to avoid layoffs.

Stilley didn’t have that option at Seahawk. And he’s not optimistic about what the future holds under this administration.

“As an American,” he told us, “you never want to look at your own government and say they’re hurting you personally, they’re hurting your business and they’re doing it in a way that’s irresponsible. I’m not very proud of our government right now and the way they handled this.”

Original Article

More Egyptian Sabotage as Extremists Take Advantage of Obama’s Weak ‘Leadership’

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by Jeff Dunetz
Posted on April 27 2011 2:01 pm

For the second time since the Egyptian upheaval began, the pipeline bringing natural gas from Egypt to Israel (and Jordan) has been shut down because of sabotage. The explosion took place early Wednesday morning, rocked the area and caused 65-foot flames, according to reports. According to Reuters, a security source has revealed that an unidentified armed gang attacked the pipeline.

This is not a simple act of sabotage; it is an attempt by radical forces within Egypt to make Israel the scapegoat behind the terrible economic situation.  It is this radical segment of the populace that seems to be winning the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people.  A Pew Study released this week, Egyptians Embrace Revolt Leaders, Religious Parties and Military, revealed that ” By a margin of 54 percent to 36 percent, Egyptians say their country should annul the treaty with Israel.”


The United States did not fare much better; 39% of Egyptians said that the United States response to the political protest movement had a negative impact on the situation, 22% said it had a positive effect, and 35% said the effect was neither positive nor negative. Additionally, 15% of Egyptians said they would like Egypt to have closer ties with the United States, 43% said Egypt distance itself from the United States and 40 percent said ties between the two countries should remain the same.

While this is the second time the gas pipeline has been blown up, there was an unsuccessful attempt a month ago.  The reason the pipeline is such a major target is that Egypt supplies Israel with about 40 percent of its natural gas, which the country relies on to produce its supply of electricity.

Israeli officials on Wednesday called for the country to find ways to reduce its dependency on other countries for gas, and urged the government to quickly develop newly found gas fields off the coast of Israel. Israel Electric Company said it had enough gas in the pipeline for the next few days and then would switch to alternative fuels such as coal and diesel to produce electricity.

Exploratory drilling off Israel’s northern coast this past December confirmed the existence of a major natural gas field — one of the world’s largest offshore gas finds of the past decade — leading the country’s infrastructure minister to call it “the most important energy news since the founding of the state.”

The US Geological Survey released a report saying the Levant Basin Province, which runs up the Mediterranean Sea the length of Israel (see above), through Lebanon and the bottom tip of Syria, contains an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of Oil and 122 TCF of natural gas (that’s the best guess estimate; some project the actual reserves may be double).

Since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian natural gas sales to Israel have become a major issue. In fact, Egyptian authorities have extended Mubarak’s detention to question him regarding the gas deal with Israel, in which Egypt lost more than $714 million (according to the Egyptians). Candidates to replace Mubarak have said they plan to renegotiate the contract with Israel.

The fact that the pipeline has become a flash-point and the attitude of the Egyptian people, it is clear that Israel will have to redouble its efforts to tap those wells as soon as possible.

Gas and peace with Egypt are not the only Middle East crisis points exposed by the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. For years, Mubarak was the intermediary in reunification talks between President Abbas’ Fatah and Hamas.  Mubarak had always insisted that in order for the deal to be made, Hamas must find a way to recognize Israel or the possibility of peace with Israel (ironically the Fatah party charter also refuses to recognize Israel).

Today with Mubarak gone, Hamas and Fatah have announced a reconciliation deal. While no details have been announced, based on previous statements it is almost certain that Hamas will not have to change its violent anti-Israel stance as part of the deal.  It is also certain that if the unification deal sticks, and Hamas retains its stance about the destruction of Israel, the E.U. and possibly even the United States will recognize the new terrorist government.  This will add momentum to the Palestinian’s goal of a unilateral declaration of statehood in September.

An article by Ryan Lizza in this week’s New Yorker gives the answer. The article called, “The Consequentialist (How the Arab Spring remade Obama’s foreign policy)” ends on an unusual note:

Nonetheless, Obama may be moving toward something resembling a doctrine. One of his advisers described the President’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.” That’s not a slogan designed for signs at the 2012 Democratic Convention, but it does accurately describe the balance that Obama now seems to be finding. It’s a different definition of leadership than America is known for, and it comes from two unspoken beliefs: that the relative power of the U.S. is declining, as rivals like China rise, and that the U.S. is reviled in many parts of the world. Pursuing our interests and spreading our ideals thus requires stealth and modesty as well as military strength. “It’s so at odds with the John Wayne expectation for what America is in the world,” the adviser said. “But it’s necessary for shepherding us through this phase.”

Leading from behind does not work.  First of all true leadership starts with a call to “follow me!” not “go ahead and I will follow.” Secondly it ignores the fact that pure military might is respected in the Arab world, and the inconstancy of Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy is seen as nothing but weakness by the radical Islamist elements in the region.

Putting it all together, it seems as if the overthrow of Mubarak brings the Middle East much closer to a major war than ever before.  Not that it could have been prevented; Hosni Mubarak had been unpopular for a long time.  The real question is could our president have better managed the situation to ensure that the Egyptian government was turned over to more moderate elements? And there the answer is absolutely yes.

Original Article

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