In Egypt the Earth Shifts

I was watching Egyptian news coverage of the protests on NBC last night, and I was amazed by the spin the Peacock Network took.  It was being reported as something positive–as if the mass release of prisoners by angry mobs (a few days ago) was a good thing.

They didn’t bring that up while I was watching the 2011 Egyptian protests, but correspondent Richard Engel did a stand-up in a crowd that felt more like Mardi Gras than revolution.  Here’s more of NBC’s coverage on the web, In Washington, President Barack Obama said he spoke with Mubarak after the speech, and the Egyptian leader “recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place.”

“What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now,” Obama said. (Click here to see the complete story from NBC.)

A “peaceful” transition to what?  It looks like the President has decided to throw a 30-year ally under the bus of political correctness.  The Israelis are calling this a “betrayal.” Here’s some of what Reuters had yesterday, “One comment by Aviad Pohoryles in the daily Maariv was entitled “A Bullet in the Back from Uncle Sam.” It accused Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pursuing a naive, smug, and insular diplomacy heedless of the risks.” (Click here for the compete Reuters story.)

One writer, who has a handle on what is going on in Egypt and what it may mean to the world, is James Howard Kunstler.   Mr. Kunstler specializes in forecasting the future as he has done in some of his novels.  His latest post (The Earth Shifts) is a must read for anyone who thinks this “peaceful” transition is going to turn out to be sunshine and rainbows.  –Greg Hunter–  Before you read the rest of the post, please check out this video from last week on the Egyptian protests by (clicking here.)


By James Howard Kunstler

Guest writer

Those Panglossians around the USA awaiting something like an election in Egypt are going to be disappointed. What’s going on in the streets of Cairo right now is an Egyptian election – minus the American-style trappings of corporate grift, scripted “debates,” and polling places that make our elections so satisfying.Many here in the dreamland of Happy Motoring and Cheez Wiz are asking themselves why President Obama is waffling about the obvious tides of “change” now lapping over the ancient Kingdom on the Nile. How can he not believe in it? Why isn’t  Mr. O out there in front with a bloody bandage around his head, cheerleading for the street fighters? If you lay aside the subtleties, the answer is simple: nothing beyond the status quo of recent years is good news for America.

For one thing, only people paid to flap their gums on Larry Kudlow’s nightly CNBC show, and children under nine years old, believe that anything like “democracy and freedom” will arise out of a street revolt in this region of the world. Sure, the opening acts of an historic event like this bring on mass intoxication that the Shining City or the Kingdom of Heaven or some other ideal disposition of things is at hand. There may even be an intermezzo of civil factional interplay, as we saw in Iran thirty years ago, with figures like Shapour Bakhtiar, Mehdi Bazargan, and  Abolhassan Banisadr revolving through the turnstile of politics. It doesn’t take long for the turnstile to turn into a meat grinder, and it doesn’t take much vision to see all the things that can go wrong when that happens in that part of the world.

Before I go any further, I don’t want to be misunderstood by eager misunderstanders.  In my view, President Mubarak has about as much chance of sticking around his presidential palace another fortnight as a bluebottle fly has of conducting the next Easter mass at the Vatican. Mubarak’s resistance to that message prompts one to wonder: what is it with these old despots that they can’t manage some sort of orderly timely transition – even if they handpick the successor dude.? There must be a few capable younger replacement despots in a country that large (around 80 million). Why does it always have to come to this?For the answer to that abiding mystery I can only commend you to the works of Gabriel García Márquez.  Who else really knows what winds of confusion blow through the minds of old men in realms of power? But, on the “plus side,” as they say in American positive thinking circles, the old bastard did manage to keep the peace for three decades at his end of things in the world’s premier political hot-spot. This is truly one of the unsung miracles of the age we’re living in. Of course, with Mubarak pulled down, all bets on this would be off.

At the moment, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a seemingly rational, capable fellow of unquestioned gravitas is angling to replace Mubarak. By declaring his intentions, ElBaradei has already crossed some kind of line in the sand that, under less fateful circumstances, would get his ass tossed in a crocodile pit faster than you could recite an incantation from the Scroll of Thoth. But these are extraordinary moments.

More troubling is ElBaradei’s flirtation with the Muslim Brotherhood, a venerable mostly underground opposition with a not altogether trustworthy agenda where the USA, and the OECD West generally, are concerned. Whatever the MB represents – and I don’t think even the Arab Desk nerds at the State Department are even quite sure – there’s a fair chance that it includes mischief like promoting a Sharia state, inciting trouble through Hamas, supporting uprisings in other key Muslim nations, and egging on new, unwelcome disorders in a region that the stability of the world hinges on these days.

The key to all that is oil, of course, and mainly the oil of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah there is at least 86 years old and in poor health.  Crown Prince Sultan, his successor, isn’t much younger. If ever a country was ripe for a political flipping it is this shaky kingdom. Everyone from the White House to Foggy Bottom to Langley, Virginia, is probably messing his/her pants this week wondering how much longer the lid can be kept on that joint.

To return to an earlier theme, what should amaze us now in the unraveling of this region is how remarkable and long the recent era of stability lasted. Meaning, most of all, how reliable those tanker shipments of oil have been moving through the Straits of Hormuz and the Suez Canal to their destinations in the lands of the Crusaders (and their younger kin in the New World). To put it pretty starkly, the so-called developed world can’t keep its act together more than a week without that steady mainline of Arabian oil, even though it doesn’t represent most of the oil traded in the world. The margins are too thin. There’s no wiggle room, really, especially for us, in our kingdom of freeways. We lose ten percent of our oil supply and that’s all she wrote for business as usual around here. I’ll put it even more starkly: we can’t afford to let this shit get out of hand for a New York minute.

But it’s not really up to us, no matter how many times Hillary Clinton says “uh,” through her tightly pursed lips. And Barack Obama is kicking back like everybody else watching things beyond our control spin out on cable TV. Remember something else: these uproars in the Middle East are only the first stirrings of political reaction to a scarcity of key world resources, especially grain crops, which have never been in such short supply in modern times. And the part of this problem that isn’t due to sheer population overshoot is almost certainly a result of climate change – which many idiots in the US congress refuse to acknowledge out of sheer obdurate stupidity.

A word or two about last week’s State of the Union speech. The platitudes were nearly too painful to bear: techno-magic and a zillion engineering PhDs will keeps us at the zenith of historic wonderfulness. Has anyone been to Youngstown, Ohio, recently? We’re so full of shit about ourselves, our true condition, and our prospects, that you can see it through our eyeballs. I did, however, mutter a prayer of thanks that Mr. Obama did not act out the mortifying ritual (first established by R. Reagan) of introducing the various role models, heroes, and exemplars installed up in the gallery. We have enough award shows in this country, and it’s the horror-inducing season for it – just as the world is flying apart at the seams.


James Howard Kunstler’s new novel of the post-oil future, World Made By Hand, is available at all booksellers.  If you want to go to Mr. Kunstler’s web site (click here.)

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  1. John Bernard

    Normally I enjoy Kuntsler’s views. He is wrong about one thing, grain shortage have nothing to do with man made climate change and more to do with political use of food for fuel. There is no man made climate change there is only natural climate change which is cyclic and is not subject to political cures. The US has poured trillions of dollars into Africa, Asia, and the Middle East for decades. The result is what we are seeing. The money is mostly in Swiss Bank Accounts, or the hands of weapons dealers.

    Jim seems a bit hysterical in this piece, though he is correct about the extremis we will soon find ourselves.

    • Greg

      Fair enough John.

    • FamilyForce6

      thank you again for sharing an option that is outside the mainstream. Agree that grain shortage can be partly attributed to ethanol boondoggle and massive corporate subsidies. It’s interesting to see how the Fed’s money printing policy has had an affect on food prices, not only here but world-wide. Commodities will continue to explode in price- get your silver and gold while you can.

    • Paula

      Well said, Greg.

      We deserve to have a shock to assemblage point. Perhaps our gov’t will finally cease giving tax cuts to big corporations, follow the money to the swiss bank accounts it pretends it doesn’t know about & represent the real persons of this country, not the made up corporate personhood. Yes I know it’s a big dream but one I believe can happen with enough pressure from citizens.

      Every nation should enjoy the right to protest and engage in free, fair and open elections with the expectation that the govt will act in good faith for the citizenry and not corporations and corrupt allies. I’m certain change is going to happen in many countries within the next few decades. The USA should not and cannot be insulated from this process as it has had it’s tentacles in many of these countries policies. Millions of Egyptians wish Mubarak to step down. Our role should be that of assisting the transition & moving toward a means to allow our country to free itself from the grasp of the Middle East (this INCLUDES Israel). If Israel does not make a deal with Palestine now they’re going to miss a golden opportunity.

      I’m sorry to say that I found Kuntsler’s piece off the mark & rather immature.

  2. Norm Ezzie

    I appreciate your favorable comments about our friend James- Hopefully more people will find the time,read what he wrote and comprehend what we’re really dealing with- a sinister Adminstration,a corporate-owned Congress which operates in plain view on a daily basis! How can they accomplish that? Just stand in any check out line in America! One good look will all it take- scary ain’t it? Imagine what our children and grandchildren will have to deal with! But what the hell,the Super Bowl is this week-end,right? Rome is crumbling beneath our feet,the money masters loot our Treasury,the wars get hotter and what do most red-blooded Americans scream for…..the remote! Only in America baby~ Only in America!

    • Paula

      I’m with you on this one! Just wait until the energy crisis requires rolling black outs & Americans can’t attend/watch their favorite football/basketball/hockey/ridiculously poorly written drama series, etc. All of which was probably developed solely for purposes of monetary gain for the haves coupled with the more important benefit of providing distraction from the world around fans who attend/watch. Yes, it’s bleak but not hopeless.

      Corruption is rampant in many governments. It’s up to the citizenry to make the change. I have 150 Facebook friends most of whom are poor working-class americans who tow the republican party line not realizing they’re voting against their own interests. Many have no ability to conceive the truth that is behind the veil of our politics and government. Most of whom will be watching that daggone superbowl this weekend with beers / cocktails in their hands ignoring the fact that our economy is in the crapper. All of whom are tired of my FB posts about the corruption in our political system. Lazy? No. Tired of working too hard for too little most likely. Ignorant? Hell yes! Incompetent? Very possibly. Decent men and women who want to live and walk a noble path? Most are indeed. It’s a shame how befuddled, busy & dissuaded from engaging in politics our citizens actually have become. Education is not what it use to be.

  3. Art Barnes

    What at quote – “We’re so full of shit about ourselves, our true condition, and our prospects, that you can see it through our eyeballs” True enought except for this American and a handfull of others. Frankly, I don’t know what it will take for the American people to wake up and stop “being full of shit about ourselves” and face the reality of this new age as discussed by Mr. Kunstler.

    Events are move rapidly now, our people are asleep, our govenment helpless and inept. Greg, you recently said …”fate will not wait”.. or something like that, very astute. Look, we can’t fix anything if we continue to be “full of it” instead of being rational and out of denial – not much hope of that I am afraid with main street media hyping the weather and the superbowl. In the meantine the securites market rallies. Go figure!

  4. James M

    I love Mr Kunstler but I am a little short on belief of global warming or what is now conveniently called climate change now that it is cooling and there is 7 feet of snow in my back yard. I am no scientist but when this all first started with the global warming story we were told that we would never see snow again in five years and anytime the weather or climate changes either way it is now called climate change??? It is nice to have a situation that no matter your predictions that whatever the outcome may be you can claim it to be a result of your inaccurate predictions. That is not very scientific as far as scientific models I was taught. I do however totally agree that if oil gets interrupted, it is game over for us here in a New York minute. That is hitting the one inch ring from 100 yards accurate. With out or fix of daily oil we are done. Imagine gasoline at $5-10/gallon and you will get it quick, it all comes to a grinding halt. I also would like to note that if the people being freed from the prisons were in fact imprisoned for political dissent then I have no problem with them being freed from probably bogus charges. I don’t want Egyptians telling me who should be in jail in America. I can not and will not try to say what will happen in Egypt or the Middle East for that matter. Whether it adversly effects me, and I am sure it is going to, I do believe that it is their land and their oil and they should do as they want with it and I do not want to be party to the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people so I can fill my truck for $45 instead of $150. There is plenty of oil in Alaska and we could build 100 nuclear powerplants and run the show off of electricity. Nuclear power is probably the only way out at this point, wind mills and solar panels sure aren’t going to cut it and at this point hydrogen is a pipe dream. We are going to find out soon enough, as Mr Kunstler has written many times. There is nothing Obama can do short of invading Egypt and we all know how well that worked out in the governments last two forays in that region, it would have been cheaper to buy the oil for double but not to profitable for Halliburton.

    • Greg

      I am too but I like to put as many views on the site as possible to give perspective. Thank you for your comment.

      • James M

        I appreciate all perspectives, and having read a few of Kunstlers books I am in 99% agreement with him usually. It is of the most importance to have as many different perspectives as possible in order to come to a correct conclusion if that is even possible to do at this point. Propaganda is run so crazy right now, who to believe or trust? It seems no one is acountable or trustworthy anymore at all these days. If you watch TV you can predict the future by totally disagreeing with whatever they tell you is good for you lol. It has become pathetic. A proper forum requires debate not agreement. We all benefit from our own perspectives and by eachothers. That is what America is designed to be, an open forum with welcome dissenters to create new perspectives.

        • Diane Carol Mark

          For a very different professional perspective on energy, I recommend reading Michael C. Ruppert’s Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World

          🙂 Diane

          • Paula

            I saw him on History or Discovery Channel’s piece entitled “Prophets of Doom.” Pretty persuasive & thought provoking. Thanks for the link to his book.

  5. Marcel

    Greg ,One shocking surprise after another.
    What will tomorrow bring ?
    Mubarak does not seem to be heeding the command of demi-god Obama.

    Today February 2nd could we be seeing the beginning of Isaiah 19:2 coming to pass before our eyes ?

    1 The burden against Egypt.
    Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt;
    The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst.
    2 “ I will set Egyptians against Egyptians;
    Everyone will fight against his brother, And everyone against his neighbor,City against city, kingdom against kingdom.
    3 The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst;
    I will destroy their counsel,

    • Bildo

      Marcel, That actually sounds like a newscast fresh from Egypt.

  6. James


    I appreciate your posting of Kunstler’s blog. I have listened to both of his futuristic novels “A World Made by Hand” & “The Witch of Hebron” and I find that he may be on track.

    My take of the global situation is this:

    In regards to fossil fuels, oil basically, there is a finite supply. I believe that at some point we may approach a point to where modern civilizations demand more energy sources than are available. There is a possibility that we may have reached the Zero Point already.

    If Kunstler should be correct, shouldn’t we all consider our own talents that would allow us to survive in a non-electric, non-automobile world?

    How many of us know basic carpentry, gardening, hunting, fishing?

    What if our world went back to the 18th century (not overnight mind you) but in a very short future time span. How would we deal with that?

    Peace to all

    • Greg

      Thank you James.

  7. Hang Time

    Greg, I hope there are plenty of copies of Obama’s speech concerning the right of the people to demonstrate and march and let their leaders know their wishes here when TSHTF. Also remember the new slogan in the mid east is “Islam is the answer”. I look for the whole region to go up in smoke. Tonight on TV there was an Muslim Brotherhood leader that said “It is promised that the whole world will turn to Islam”, I think we have some time on that one, but who knows, maybe in 500 years.

    • Greg

      Thank you Hang Time.

  8. luke


    One thing is for sure. This is not good. Egypt produces a lot of GDP but there are a lot of people in this state so there is low GDP per capita combined with high levels of corruption. I understand where the Egyptians are coming from wanting to get rid of their government. Unfortunetly for them this is not going to raise their GDP per capita. It will actually put them backwards 30 years at best. They are destroying their economy in this revolution and with their low rate of growth it will take forever to repair. Meanwhile we have a president in power of the USA who is downright trying to destroy this superpower. This is going to lead to disaster. News flash to Egyptians. If you thought 1500 dollars a year was bad wait till you live like nigerians at 400 dollars per year with your new anti-western government. No tourism (check), Huge cuts in manufacturing (check), leaves agriculture and limited natural resource production. Guess what? Thats exactly what nigeria has.

    • Greg

      Good info man!

  9. Glenn

    I was watching Egyptian news coverage of the protests on NBC last night, and I was amazed by the spin the Peacock Network took.

    Which is why I turn away from the talking heads of the mainstream media and gather what I think is a more credible sources of information from watching Al Jazeera online, at least reporting from their own backyard anyway. This is unfolding to what I believe is war with Iran.

    At least reporting from their own backyard.

  10. Stephen Clifton

    I’m with most people who follow your website. “Climate Change” is a farce. It’s simply another way for the government to tax us and create a commodity (carbon credits) so that traders can profit from a manipulated market. In the 70s they said we were headed for another ice age and 20 years later it was global warming. To give you an idea of how small we really are compared to the earth consider this. If every person (man, woman and child) were placed in Australia, everybody would have just under.25 acres of land. The rest of the world would be completely vacant of humans.

    Now on to Egypt. Who are we to say anything to the people of Egypt in either supporting their existing government or replacing it with another? It’s not our place to tell other countries what type of government to have or who to run it. We would likely have a better standing in the world if we respected other countries and simply stuck with business transactions instead of constantly meddling. If we didn’t piss the entire world off then maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about who was in power.

    I normally look forward to your guest writers and normally respect Mr. Kunstler’s opinion but this article comes across as sarcastic and arrogant. Similar to how Brad Krantz is on 101.1 every morning.


    • Greg

      Thank you for the feedback.

  11. Bob

    This one Egypt women said she should of called this dictator out 20 years ago. Because she failed to do what’s right, now her 19 year old son must do it. We should stay out off other countries it’s that simple for me. I spent

  12. MikeD

    Sorry, but this blog post was all over the place & lacked a cohesive conclusion to tie all of these ramblings together. Fine line between writing an article for discussion and just venting.

    And it makes it harder to have a good discussion about it.

    But alas, I cannot leave this place…it’s bookmarked permanently. 🙂

    • Greg

      Thank you Mike D. Sorry you didn’t like it but I appreciate your support!

  13. Kevin

    Excerpt: “‘What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now,’ Obama said.”

    Comment: There were enough “musts” in those “beliefs” to make a dictator/ third world officer blush–billions or not in aid. Just saying.

    Excerpt: “And the part of this problem that isn’t due to sheer population overshoot is almost certainly a result of climate change – which many idiots in the US congress refuse to acknowledge out of sheer obdurate stupidity.”

    Comment: Put on your carbon thinking cap and pay your carbon taxes idiots…stupids. Never mind the coldest winter in decades. Oopsy, I forgot, it’s Climate Change–no longer Global Warming. Right? Or is it Climate Disruption? Global…er…cooling slash warming…um…with a dash of disruption and a sprinkle of…confusion? Yeah?

    …and we’re so full of sh*t about ourselves???

    Excerpt: “Remember something else: these uproars in the Middle East are only the first stirrings of political reaction to a scarcity of key world resources, especially grain crops, which have never been in such short supply in modern times.”

    Comment: Exporting inflated dollars ain’t no help either.

    Excerpt: “If you lay aside the subtleties, the answer is simple: nothing beyond the status quo of recent years is good news for America.”

    Comment: Yeah, but times…they are a-changing’.



    • Greg

      Thanks Kevin.

  14. Lew

    What we are witnessing is profoundly dangerous to the US and the world at large. A point missed with these so called Arab “Revolutions” is that they are occurring in relatively weak nations. This is in no means a “real” push for Democracy, what we are likely to see in the end will look more like the Iranian political system then any sort of “democratic” rule (and much worse then what they have now). Yes, it would be nice to see people living in a free and open society, but, there is always someone waiting to “tell” you what to think and do.

    How does the US government substantiate telling the Egyptian government that then need to listen to their people? Our government has not “listened” to us openly for the past 2 years.

    I believe that this will turn out to be much more then a crisis for us in the long run, and a historic marker of the incompetence of the current American leadership. I don’t believe Obama to be the Antichrist, and I certainly don’t believe that he is any kind of a savior either.

    • Greg

      You are correct. This is a big change for the Middle East and the planet. It is very, very dangerous, and it will only get worse from here on out.

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