World Watch Today

Oil Concerns & Prophecy

Steven LeBlanc

News stories over the past month confidently assert that America’s energy concerns may be over. We are told that America’s recent surge in oil production could mean that the U.S. could produce more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2020:

But wait a moment– what is often not reported is the world’s biggest oil fields are in decline. This will put pressure on world oil markets in the future.

Three of the world’s biggest oil fields Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, Cantarell in Mexico and Burgan in Kuwait are older oil fields experiencing sizeable declines in their ability to produce oil.

No country is more important to the world oil market than Saudi Arabia. The kingdom produced roughly 9.8 million barrels of crude a day last month. The world consumes about 88 million barrels of oil per day. Saudi Arabia is the world’s only producer with significant excess capacity; it has played a pivotal role in alleviating temporary supply disruptions.

In recent years about one out of every 20 barrels of oil produced worldwide has come from the massive Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia. The Ghawar oil field is truly massive. Stretching for more than 150 miles beneath the desert, it is the largest known deposit in the world. It produces two times as much oil as any other field.

That field’s ability to produce oil has peaked out. Finding new monster oil fields filled with easy-to-extract oil is extremely difficult. Many of the largest recent discoveries are under miles of water and seabed. The effort required to tap these fields will involve huge inflows of capital and years of drilling.

As a nation, we use 19.2 million barrels of oil every day. We produce just 7.9 million barrels per day (mbd). Oil forecasts tell us that Saudi Arabia — and much of the Middle East — oil exports will drop rapidly over the next 7 years as their population growth swells.

So let us understand the bigger picture: the surge of domestic oil production in America is only partially offsetting current decline rates of the largest oil fields in the world. Oil prices may decline in America, but that decline will not be permanent.

We keep our eyes on the world of oil. Oil may be used as a weapon along with other weapons that “pushes” or provokes a European Beast power to move its headquarters into the Middle East. Here we are told that “the king of the South” will push against “the King of the North”—this pushing (provocation) will cause the Beast power to invade the Middle East where “many countries will be overthrown.” –(See Daniel 11:40-44).

The world is so heavily dependent on oil and petroleum products—oil is bound to play a role –as nation lifts its hand against nation– as prophesied in Matthew 24:7. Keep your eye on oil and how it is used by nations to exert political influence.

China lands J-15 jet on Liaoning aircraft carrier

China has successfully landed a jet fighter on its new aircraft carrier for the first time, officials say. A Chinese-made J-15 fighter landed on the 300m (990ft) former Soviet carrier during recent exercises, China’s defense ministry said on Sunday.

The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, entered into service in September. China says the vessel has had extensive sea trials and will increase its capacity to defend state interests. Analysts say the aircraft carrier will allow Beijing to help project its military might in territorial disputes.

China’s state TV showed a hook on the rear of the J-15 catching hold of a cable on the deck of the vessel to slow the plane to a halt during the drill.

The images of the carrier Liaoning recovering a J-15 jet fighter using the traditional arrestor hook and cables to bring the aircraft to a rapid halt, mark a significant moment: China’s public arrival as an operator of carrier-borne air power. Nonetheless the Chinese Navy still has much to do before it can be seen as having a truly operational carrier capability.

The J-15 can carry anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles as well as precision-guided bombs, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported, citing unnamed naval sources.

The aircraft carrier’s development comes at a time when Japan and other countries in the region have expressed concern at China’s growing naval strength. China and Japan are embroiled in a row over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Several South-east Asian nations are also at odds with China over overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. The country’s Communist leaders are spending billions modernizing their armed forces so they can project military power far beyond China’s borders.

"Public behavior is merely private character writ large"-Stephen Covey

Looking back upon lessons to be learned concerning Hurricane Sandy the following conclusion jumps to foreground. The collective character of the people, just as an individual’s character, is known by one’s actions.  Nothing shows the character of a nation or individual like adversity; for what credit is it to us when we do what’s right when everything is going our way?

So what can we learn about the character of our nation that has been showcased during our recent large-scale disasters? In the aftermath of two hurricanes, Katrina and Sandy, opportunistic looters ravaged the cities, breaking into shops and homes. Sometimes this occurred right in front of law enforcement, and shamefully, some members of law enforcement were even involved in the looting.

While those taking advantage of others do not represent the majority of people riding out the storm, these actions serve as the canary in the mine for us: a warning sign that as a  culture we are headed in the wrong direction. We can look over the Pacific Ocean for a recent contrast to our response in the recent tragedy in Japan. The world marveled at the stoicism and community response, the scarcity of looting or price-gouging, and lack of complaining as the Japanese pulled together, rolled up their sleeves, and quietly got to work. They stood calmly in orderly lines for hours for basic necessities such as drinking water, and if the water ran out before the line did, quickly and quietly dispersed without complaint.

No one incident can tally the total character of a culture or nation, but it can show us where our strengths, and more importantly our weaknesses, lie.  When looting takes root in a city it leaves a stain of shame upon its citizens.  Proverbs 14:34 reveals that character does matter to a nation: Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.

General Petraeus' Adultery Hurts Israel

Steven LeBlanc

General David H. Petraeus was forced to resign from his job as director of the CIA earlier this month. The adultery scandal that hurt his wife and children also hurt the United States and Israel.

The General’s departure from the international theater damages Israel’s fight against Iran—here’s why:

From Israel’s perspective, the General understood the Iranian threat. Israeli intelligence has asserted that Petraeus was clear in his thinking and fully appreciated that it was not possible to cut a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program because the larger headache is the Iran’s rabid anti-American stance. He understood that Iran’s final ambition is to drive the United States from the Middle East—a disengaged American Middle East foreign policy hurts Israel.

Another observation concerns the Iranian Qods Force, whose mastermind, Qassem Suleimani, is considered by Petraeus to be a personal enemy; he also is one of the greatest threats to Israel.

Petraeus has written that Suleimani is a “truly evil figure.”

Michael Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor’s new book The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, From George W. Bush to Barack Obama, reveals that Suleimani answers directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khameini. Recently Suleimani helped to buttress Bashar al-Assad’s beleaguered dictatorship in Syria and he played a part in the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Petraeus understood what the word “enemy” means.

During the course of almost a decade, Petraeus became an expert of all of Iran’s activities directed against the United States and its allies. The General confronted Iranians who warred against the United States using proxies such as militia groups.

His experience in the region is invaluable: He was commander of American forces in Iraq from February 2007 to September 2008 and in Afghanistan from July 2010 to July 2011. As head of Central Command from October 2008 to June 2010, the general came to see how Iran infected nations in the region which included the countries of Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, the Persian Gulf states as well as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel did not always agree with Petraeus, but Israel came to appreciate that he understood the Iranian threat to America and did not ignore it—under his leadership Iranians operating in Iraq were killed. Many American military and civilian leaders chose to ignore the Iranian threat in Iraq until general Patraeus was installed as leader. By the end of 2008, all Iranian-backed militia leaders were dead or forced to flee back to Iran.

From the Israeli perspective, Petraeus understood Iran’s thinking and tactics, and experienced fighting them in the Middle East theater of war. His departure from the world of terrorism is a great loss to Israel.

It is a personal, family and national tragedy that general Petraeus did not heed the words of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 6:18: “Flee Sexual Immorality”.

We often do not appreciate that following God’s law protects us from painful consequences. When His Commandments are ignored we hurt family, friends and country.

What Will Egypt Do About Israel & Gaza?

Steven LeBlanc

Egypt is debating on what to do about the Gaza crisis. Egypt supports the terrorist leadership Hamas, that rules the Gaza strip—but the question is how much support does Egypt give to Hamas? Egypt has a relationship with Israel that needs to be respected—too much support thrown Hamas’ way can do damage. The great concern for Israel is that weapons are being smuggled across the Egyptian border by Jihadists, and getting into the hands of Hamas in Gaza—these weapons, including short ranged missiles, are being used against Israel.

Hamas is the Palestinian version of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood now presides over the whole nation of Egypt and must take into account security concerns regarding the border with Israel. So Egypt is wrestling with supporting Hamas without ruining its relationship with Israel.

Egypt has a treaty with Israel, and cannot afford to see fighting in Gaza spill over into Egypt. Or worst of all, Egypt cannot afford a war right now with Israel. The Morsi government in Egypt is in the process of solidifying its power, and Egypt has severe financial problems—they do not want to be drawn into a war with anyone.

At the same time, the Morsi government in Egypt cannot afford to abandon Hamas. The Brotherhood’s Islamist reputation is weakened if it is seen as not helping Hamas and the citizens of Gaza. Salafists and the Jihadists in Egypt would use the opportunity to show that the Brotherhood ruling in Egypt is weak—and what Egypt needs is a strong strict Sharia oriented government (a government ruled by Jihadists) that fully supports Hamas against Israel. Remember, the Morsi government has its enemies in Egypt; those enemies are Jihadist Muslims who want to rule the nation.

Ever since Morsi became president, an overarching concern has been how he will handle the Egyptian-Israeli relationship. The question that remains is will the Brotherhood-led administration seek to have a workable relationship with Israel? Maintaining a relationship with Israel is Egypt’s best and most pragmatic solution.

There will come a time when Egypt will turn on Israel, and in the not too distant future a European power (the beast) will move into the Middle East and take control of the Egyptian nation: Daniel 11:41-43: He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt…

What will Egypt do about Gaza? Israel and the world is watching.

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