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The Big Contraction – An Interview With James Howard Kunstler

General Ideas

James Howard Kunstler is an American author, social critic, public speaker and blogger. His thinking gained prominence after the publication of his book The Geography of Nowhere (1994), a history of American suburbia and urban development “because [he] believe[s] a lot of people share [his] feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” This was followed by The Long Emergency (2005) and most recently Too Much Magic (2012), both non-fictional books. Starting with World Made by Hand in 2008, he has written a series of science fiction novels about such a culture in the future.


Mr. Kunstler has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, MIT, RPI, the University of Virginia and many other colleges, and he has appeared before many professional organizations such as the AIA, the APA and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

E Tavares: Thank you for being with us today. You have been writing about worsening societal issues, what you call “entropy in action”, for many years. Broadly speaking, why do you think the US is in so much trouble?

JH Kunstler: We’ve been sowing the seeds for our predicament since the end of World War II. You might even call this process “The Victory Disease.” In practical terms it represents sets of poor decisions with accelerating bad consequences. For instance, the collective decision to suburbanize the nation. This was not a conspiracy. It was consistent with my new theory of history, which is Things happen because they seem like a good idea at the time.

In 1952 we had plenty of oil and the ability to make a lot of cars, which were fun, fun, fun! And we turned our war production expertise into the mass production of single family houses built on cheap land outside the cities. But the result now is that we’re stuck in a living arrangement with no future, the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

Another bad choice was to offshore most of our industry. Seemed like a good idea at the time; now you have a citizenry broadly impoverished, immiserated, and politically inflamed.

Of course, one must also consider the possibility that industrial society was a historic interlude with a beginning, middle, and end, and that we are closer to the end of the story than the middle. It was, after all, a pure product of the fossil fuel bonanza, which is also coming to an end (with no plausible replacement in view.) I don’t view all this as the end of the world, or of civilization, per se, but we’re certainly in for a big re-set of the terms for remaining civilized.

I’ve tried to outline where this is all going in my four-book series of the “World Made By Hand” novels, set in the near future. If we’re lucky, we can fall back to sets of less complex social and economic arrangements, but it’s unclear whether we will land back in something like the mid-nineteenth century, or go full-bore medieval, or worse. One thing we can be sure of: the situation we face is one of comprehensive discontinuity — a lot of things just stop, beginning with financial arrangements and long-distance supply lines of resources and finished goods.

Then it depends whether we can respond by reorganizing life locally in this nation at a finer scale — if it even remains a unified nation. Anyway, implicit in this kind of discontinuity is the possibility for disorder. We don’t know how that will go, and how we come through it depends on the degree of disorder.

ET: Fair points, but one remarkable feature of Western civilization has been its resilience. In less than a decade the US has been able not only to reverse the historical decline in domestic crude oil production but also come up with natural gas as an expansive new source of energy. It now exports both of these commodities. Ditto for food production, where it can afford the luxury of using 40% of its corn production as car fuel. Doesn’t all this contradict what you had postulated in “The Long Emergency” back in 2005?

JHK: We flatter ourselves a bit to harp on our “resilience.” More realistically, history is an emergent process and societies are emergent phenomena which necessarily respond to the circumstances that reality presents. Sh*t happens and sh*t unhappens and then re-happens differently. The oil situation is grossly misunderstood by the public, including you, as implicit in the question you have just put to me.

We are not exporting any meaningful quantities of oil or natural gas. In fact we’re still importing nearly 8 million barrels of oil a day. The shale oil “miracle” has largely been a manifestation of low interest lending into an industry that can’t pay back its loans, even as it produces like mad at a loss. You can look at it as a simple equation: oil over $75 a barrel crushes economies and oil under $75 a barrel crushes oil companies. To date, American oil companies have not made a red cent off the shale oil “miracle.”

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it kept a lot of people busy for a while, but it was essentially a stunt that is not paying for itself and it has a short horizon. The public only sees lower gasoline prices at the pump; they have no idea how low prices are wrecking the oil industry. The result of all this will be an incrementally smaller global oil industry and fewer customers for its products — without anything to replace it.

The crux of the matter is the falling Energy Return on Investment (EROI). In the 1950s you got 100 barrels of Texas crude for every equivalent barrel of energy you sunk into the project. That’s 100 to 1. Shale oil gives you about 5 to 1. Tar sands are a little worse. The worldwide average EROI these days is 17 to 1 (including Arabian oil, deep water, etc.). We can’t run all the systems of our “advanced” society at those ratios, and that is why we have been running up the debt so dramatically — borrowing from the future to cover the cost of living as we do.

And that is exactly why we are heading into financial clusterf*ck as it becomes increasingly evident that the debt will never be paid back. This will wreck the banking system, and that will force everything else to change, including the dynamic of how we produce and distribute food. So, no, none of what I am saying here contradicts my 2005 book, “The Long Emergency”, though it has played out with some strange twists in the story.

ET: Another theme you talked about in that book is that in order to cope with looming energy and food crises Americans would have to eventually live in smaller-scale, localized and semi-agrarian communities. All part of a process you call the Big Contraction.

However, a McKinsey Global Institute research paper from 2012 predicts quite the opposite for most of the world in the coming years, as depicted in the graph above. Indeed, growing urbanization has been one of the major trends so far in the 21st century. What do they see here that you don’t?

JHK: McKinsey’s prescience may be on a level with what the CIA failed to see in the 1990 collapse of the Soviet Union. Everybody and his mother is predicting that our cities will only get bigger and bigger. I will impudently state that they are all mistaken. Our cities have attained a scale which cannot be sustained, given the capital and resource scarcities we face immediately ahead. This is what they don’t see: the fragility of the fossil fuel supply system (and everything that depends on it) and its relation to money and capital formation.

McKinsey and its compadres are dumb extrapolationists — they look at what’s been going on and they say we’ll only get more of it in a bigger package. These people are the “intellectual-yet-idiots” that Nassim Nicholas Taleb identifies so shrewdly.

For one thing, the successful places in the years ahead will be those places with a meaningful relationship to food production. I believe the action in US will shift to the now-derelict small towns and small cities, especially places around the extensive inland waterway system and the Great Lakes. The giant metroplexes, so-called, will contract, probably in a messy way that includes great losses of notional real estate value and battles between various ethnic groups as to who gets to inhabit the districts with remaining value (e.g. close to the waterfront).

This contraction has already occurred in many cities of the heartland — Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, etc. In contrast, booming New York, Boston, San Francisco and Dallas are purely products of the financialization of economy, and disorder in the banking system will hit them very hard. The suburbs around these places are next to go. Their destiny is either slums, salvage, or ruins.

ET: One aspect that we find fascinatingly provocative in your work is your description of modern urban landscapes, and how instead of being welcoming social spaces they now cause anxiety, even repulsion. What have modern architects missed in relation to their predecessors? Is that in any way related to the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which profoundly impacted much of the Western world?

JHK: The architects are a dysfunctional sub-culture in themselves. Suffice it to say they are hand-maidens of the corporate racketeers and victims of a particularly virulent form of techno-narcissism that infects our culture of wishful thinking and solipsism.

But the condition of the landscape is a product of much more than architects. The suburban project comes to us courtesy of banking, the automobile and trucking interests, national chain retail, municipal planning officials (who know nothing of urban design), traffic engineers, and many other ultra-specialists who populate this matrix of racketeering. They have produced an everyday environment that is positively punishing to human neurology. It makes people sad, lonely, confused, angry, anxious, and despondent. They didn’t do it on purpose. It was just the blowback from their methods, customs, and practices. The zoning ordinances crafted and refined over a hundred years now mandate a suburban sprawl outcome in most American places.

Look, life is tragic. As I began to say in this interview, societies can make some pretty poor choices. Our choice to live in a drive-in utopia was a terrible blunder and now we’re stuck with the consequences. Notice that the outcome on the European landscape is still rather different. They will have plenty of problems in The Long Emergency, but at least they did not destroy their old city centres, and when the time for contraction comes, as it will, they have something of great value to contract back into.

ET: You talk about a “population overshoot” relating to demographic explosions in Africa and the Middle East that you claim cannot be sustained by the existing resources of those regions. Why do you say that?

JHK: Much of this region is desert wasteland. The populations of the “nations” in it (many boundaries drawn arbitrarily by the victors of World War One) have exploded numerically. The region can’t feed nor water itself. Nor employ its exploded population. It is purely a product of fossil fuel pseudo-prosperity. It went this way for less than a century and then it will be over.

For the moment these populations (especially the young men) are exploding in political violence. Categorically, “normal” life will not continue as it has. We’re already seeing the gross disintegration of whole societies. It will accelerate.

ET: The graph above shows youth employment (15-24 year olds) per quarter as a percentage of the same youth group for selected groups and countries. A contraction is quite evident here, especially post the 2008 financial crisis. Prospects certainly do not seem as rosy for them compared to prior generations. Do you agree?

JHK: Some things are very plainly self-evident. The relationships between energy flows, energy costs, capital formation, and productive enterprise are unravelling, and with that the economic roles for people to play, i.e. jobs.

The result is no further economic “growth” or expansion of productive activities. The “action” has shifted to financial racketeering which, being wholly dishonest and non-productive, will only go on so long. The dynamic here is already leading to political turmoil, which will get worse. It may end up as historically earthshaking as the Fall of the Roman Empire.

I’ve predicted that Japan will be the first advanced nation to “go medieval.” They had a lovely culture of high artistry in the pre-modern Edo period. They’ll be lucky to get back to something like that. (I think they miss it, and that Modernity has been a great Punishment upon them.)

ET: One region of the developed world that certainly seems primed for a Big Contraction is Europe. While it remains a food powerhouse, its domestic fossil fuel reserves are dwindling fast. Populations in many countries are rapidly getting old and there aren’t enough babies to pay for burgeoning welfare costs. And to add even more anxiety, those massive migration flows from Africa and the Middle East will likely end up there, causing further social strains, possibly even conflict. What do you make of all this?

JHK: It’s pretty clear that Europe is in for very hard times. They’ve kept the whole thing going on the EU / ECB debt game, and for a while they attempted to compensate for their demographic problems with immigration, but that, too, has gotten badly out-of-hand. I would go so far to say that Western Europe will try to expel its nonconforming Muslim population in the years ahead. It will be like Spain’s expulsion of the Moors all over again, only more widespread and bloodier.

That said, Modernity as we’ve known it is over in Europe. No more fossil fuels and no more New World to export surplus populations to. It’s an ugly set-up. They’ve been to that Dark Age movie before.

ET: Based on our own experience we very much sympathize with one way, perhaps the only way, you propose for the West to cope with all these serious challenges. And that is the revival of our small communities, centered on Nature and agriculture, as depicted in the picture above. How do you see this process unfolding? It seems that many people are still not thinking in that direction. 

JHK: As I said, societies are emergent phenomena. We have resisted the call to deliberately make changes because it was easier to keep the rackets running so the changes will be made for us, so to speak. Reality has mandates of its own. When it’s no longer easier to behave recklessly, we’ll behave differently.

Look, in 1917 it’s unlikely anyone would have predicted the near death of America’s small towns and inner cities. These days, few see the reversal of that at hand. Industrial agriculture is just one of the rackets out there that will not be able to continue. For one thing, that method of agriculture requires massive debt financing, and on that basis alone it will fail, not to mention the whole issue of fossil fuel based fertilizers and herbicides and the decline of soil quality.

When industrial agriculture wobbles, the system will have to revert to smaller farms that work differently and serve more local regional customers. I believe that will prompt the revival of our small town economies. The cities’ unhappy fate will be to cope with the extinguished office-based rackets of our time: Too Big To Fail banking, insurance, real estate, medicine, social services, etc.

ET: Lastly, why should we trust a guy with a moustache who makes his own clothes and bakes his own cookies?

JHK: Well, that was just a gag, after all. I cook pretty well, but i don’t make my own clothes. I shaved off the moustache last fall.

Nobody has to “trust me.” I’m just putting it “out there” for your consideration. Then we’ll stand by to see how it really shakes out.

ET: Thank you very much for your insights. We very much recommend your books to anyone wanting to deepen their understanding of what we just discussed. All the best

JHK: Thank you.

Erico Matias Tavares via Sinclair & Co.

19 Comments on "The Big Contraction – An Interview With James Howard Kunstler"

  1. Robert Vere on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 1:13 pm 

    Good insight, but I have one minor correction. The CIA did not fail to see the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. It was quite obvious to many of us lower level collectors and analysts but the DCI chose to tell the president what he wanted to hear. George Tenent was not a professional intelligence officer but spent most of his career working for Congress. Bad choice.

  2. onlooker on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 1:40 pm 

    JHK is referring to oft repeated that “we will continue doing what we have been doing until we can’t, then we won’t”

  3. Hawkcreek on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 1:53 pm 

    It also seems strange that he sees the inefficiency of oil production and distribution, but seems to think that old style inefficient architecture is great. Gingerbread on a building doesn’t make most people any happier. Mcmansions aren’t the answer either, but most net zero homes do not have the architectural look that JK seems to think necessary.

  4. rockman on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 2:04 pm 

    “In the 1950s you got 100 barrels of Texas crude for every equivalent barrel of energy you sunk into the project.” And once more the silly (and more important undocumented) misrepresentation of the reality. Individual oil wells in Texas did not produce 5X to 6X as much oil in the good ole days as they’ve done recently. (Preferring to his 100:1 vs 17:1) And drilling a foot of hole takes less energy today then it did 50 years ago…the equipment has significantly improved.

    What has changed significantly is how large new oil fields being discovered today by a single well vs how big fields discovered by a SINGLE WELL in the 40’s for instance. For an example: according to the EIA the 6 largest field production TODAY comes from fields discovered 45 YEARS AGO or longer. In fact #5, Belridge South in CA was discovered in 1911.

    The Rockman is redeveloping a reservoir discovered in 1946 that produced 28 million bbls of oil. A field discovered by ONE WELL. But that well did not produce 28 million bbls of oil. It did not produce 1 million no. Or 500k bo. Or 200k bo. It took a lot of wells to produce those 28 million bbls: the average was 140k bo per well. The EROEI of that 28 million bbl field WAS NOT 100:1. Or anywhere f*cking close to it. LOL. BTW that 140k/well is actually pretty good. In some of the largest onshore oil fields in Texas the average wells recovered less the 100k.

    The EROEI of the discovery well vs the reserves found would have been huge for that 1946 discovery. But not the EROEI of the energy to drill ALL THE WELLS needed to produce those 28 million bo. Today in the onshore Texas new field discoveries average far less then they did half a century ago. Deep Water reservoir discoveries are huge (300k+) compared to onshore field discovered today (and no: the Eagle Ford Shale is NOT a field but a trend of hundreds of individual “discoveries”). But the number of DW fields (around 170) is small compared to the thousands of old onshore fields that have cumulatively produced tens of BILLIONS of bbls.

    And as always the Rockman to touch on the reality: EROEI has never been the determining factor in drilling decisions. Not now, not in the future and certainly not 50 years ago when the bulk of US onshore discoveries were made.

    And yes: oil/NG fields are much easier to find today then half a century ago. Many fewer dry holes. But THE problem is there are much fewer oil fields left to find. So yes: there was no f*cking “low hanging fruit” in the good ole days. It was damn hard to do as indicated by all the dry holes drilled looking for those fields.

  5. Cloggie on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 5:35 pm 

    I would go so far to say that Western Europe will try to expel its nonconforming Muslim population in the years ahead. It will be like Spain’s expulsion of the Moors all over again, only more widespread and bloodier.

    Mr Kunstler likely has a story or two to tell from his own family tree about how Europeans can react to people who try to implement alien social models, such as there are communism or the sharia.

    That said, Modernity as we’ve known it is over in Europe. No more fossil fuels and no more New World to export surplus populations to. It’s an ugly set-up. They’ve been to that Dark Age movie before.

    Nobody in Europe is buying this vision and it is not that they are not occupied with thinking about a sustainable future. In fact Europe was the first to worry about the future of industrial civilization and for more than 40 years have “embraced” the idea of the necessity to completely reinvent society. Kunstler is completely wrong here.

    Nobody has to “trust me.” I’m just putting it “out there” for your consideration. Then we’ll stand by to see how it really shakes out.

    He doesn’t take himself too seriously it seems.

  6. makati1 on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 6:44 pm 

    We can only hope that this is the view of coming years. I don’t see it happening that way, but then, I am not trying to sell my books. The suburban lifestyle destroyed America from the beginning, as he said. It is not going to adjust. It cannot unless something like 50 million houses are abandoned. IF that happens, life will be more like The Road Warrior than the Waltons. Time does not point to a slow decline being possible. Denial runs deep in America. (Pun intended)^_^

  7. joe on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 10:09 pm 

    Europe will be 1st to go down. Paris is suffering mass riots almost everyday (current riot du jour is the Chinese), multicultural failure and white liberal denial will lead to cataclysm while political hubris will lead to emergent police states who will try to maintain ‘freedom’. Next will be China whoes system is built on neo-confusion technocratic aideological financialism ie there is no attachment to the system, as soon as the cracks appear the edifice will crash. No geopolicial zone will escape the coming decline of industrialised society. As we attempt to save the planet from carbon and provide economic growth, somthing has to give. Right now the historic transfer of wealth from the government (ie taxpayers) to the wealthiest elites on its own is dangerous, combined to the transfer of industrial and financial power from west to east and the consequential cultual defeat of western style christianity (and its attached liberal business world) and the war on islamic terrorism and the wider geopolitical proxy wars are not leading to a great inflection point, rather a series of events that will degrade western dominant views and replace them with eastern or islamic ones, this process will be fairly gradual and the friction will be low and tolerable by design. Few will notice that almost 3000 years of grecco/roman value development will be supplanted by slavish eastern values, people will be too busy trying to feed themselves. The muslim mayors of Rotterdam and London point to the future, Constantine is long dead in his grave, and oil will be at the heart of the next 100 years just as it was in the last 100.

  8. makati1 on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 10:28 pm 

    joe, I almost agreed until you hit the oily part at the end. Oil will exist a million years from now but the ability of humans to use it will end long before 100 years. Maybe in as few as 2 or 3. Why? The quantity of oil does not determine its recovery and use, the financial system does. Not to mention EROEI. Ignore the financial system at your risk. THAT is where the SHTF, not dry wells.

  9. joe on Sun, 2nd Apr 2017 10:32 pm 

    I meant it in the sense that oil will be the cause of future wars and conflicts and of course the deals that come with ‘peace’, not in the sense its will be very positive for us.

  10. Northwest Resident on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 1:24 am 

    If the energy-intensive and gas-guzzling lifestyle of Americans was shut down tomorrow, America would be energy self-sufficient for many years into the future. America produces enough oil/gas to power the large-scale farms, essential transportation, food processing and storage. America would have enough of its own energy to provide a modest degree of public transportation, to keep most of the electrical grid up, the water running, and to continue developments in science and engineering. And there would still be enough oil to continue to power its military. But what would everybody else do? Shut down of private transportation in America would result in nearly universal unemployment — it would bring on radical changes. The only meaningful “jobs” left would be, grow your own food, practice a trade, become a part of the local community and economy maybe? Who knows? After the initial shock phase, it might not end up being so bad.

  11. makati1 on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 3:10 am 

    joe, sorry, I missed that. True.

  12. makati1 on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 3:16 am 

    NWR, but, but, the U$ economy will TOTALLY collapse if those changes are made and take down ALL of the ability to actually pump, refine, transport and use that oil. Or, didn’t you consider that fact? The TOTAL system will not allow any changes that will actually affect the system. Any radical changes will blow up the whole shooting match and life will be very different than just lack of oil or a need for self sufficiency. Give it some thought and you will see what I mean. TOTAL SYSTEMS, not just oil.

  13. Cloggie on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 4:19 am 

    Europe will be 1st to go down. Paris is suffering mass riots almost everyday (current riot du jour is the Chinese), multicultural failure and white liberal denial will lead to cataclysm while political hubris will lead to emergent police states who will try to maintain ‘freedom’.

    “Europe going down first” is what most Anglos hope… and have been working towards over the past 100 years. What is different now is that:

    a) Russia no longer can be counted upon to be an Anglo ally, in contrast to 1914 and 1939.
    b) continental Europe is now united in a political union, with the British populace volunteering to leave, sidelining themselves (Heseltine: Brexit is an unmitigated geopolitical disaster).
    c) And then there is the rising power China, no friend of Anglosphere.
    d) The US is now showing strong signs of political destabilization and ethnic divisiveness that will increase with every passing year until the breaking point has been reached. And provide the opportunity for Paris-Berlin-Moscow of the future to intervene and not only reverse 1945, 1917 (Wall Street subsidized kosher Bolshevik revolution), 1912 (kosher capture of the FED, America’s purse), but even to a limited extent 1776, as many post-imperial Americans from the Heartland will agree to abandon kosher defined exceptionalism and join the European world in some sort of confederation/commonwealth/culture circle/whatever.

    These rioting Africans in Paris are indeed bad for tourism, but won’t bring anything down any time soon. In fact they could trigger a beneficial violent clash, bringing down the 1968 generation of US vassals and will not bring down France, but cause a European Renaissance instead, via Moscow, replacing the West, dead in the water.

  14. Davy on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 5:06 am 

    NWR, my thinking also. The US is going to crash with casualties but the resources are there for a depression era life style for optimistically a decade. Some large cities will depopulate. Some areas in the parched SW also will depopulate. That is the first step down. The next step afterwards is likely much worse as entropic decay overwhelms the support of the high population levels. Anything is possible so total collapse is possible with civil war or a NUK war with Russia. The big wild card is the speed of abrupt climate change.

    Joe, I see Europe and China going down at the same time the US goes down. We are global and interconnected now. There is no decoupling the effects of lost trade and finance. Problems become contagions and they stop at no borders.

  15. Jan on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 5:21 am 

    Peak oil has happened already in 40 or so countries, such as Norway, U.K. China etc. Exactly how many more need to go over the top before we have a global peak is unclear. Regional conflicts such as Nigeria, Libya, Sudan etc make predictions impossible. Anyway at some point, within 5 or 10 years we will start to see global decline in production.
    European countries are in a far better place than many to adapt.

    Passenger rail, bus and Trams transportation is far more available in U.K. France, Germany than the U.S.
    Building new rail lines is very expensive and takes a long time. Upgrading existing tracks and signalling to take more and longer trains is much quicker to do.

  16. Davy on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 5:32 am 

    Jan, there more to it than your transportation equation. You have a higher population to support and a lower resource base to do it with. You have a much worse demographic situation with your old and young ratio. You have millions from the south wanting in. You Europeans want to feel better by citing transportation nonsense. Europe is screwed and especially your little overpopulated Island nation.

  17. Cloggie on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 5:53 am 

    Meanwhile in Gibraltar, Britain prepares to play Falklands again:

    It is likely that the EU is going to make the status of Gibraltar subject of the Brexit package and that the EU wants at least shared sovereignty over the rock, including access to naval facilities. Perhaps the British should admit whether they would like to have the French or Germans have a naval base in Dover.


    Thought so. Time to pack your bags from Spain and abandon this 1704 anachronism. The British Empire is now really over, come to think of it, you already lost your capital London to Islam, with the other big cities soon to follow.

    Furthermore, the British should realize that the EU has absolutely no hurry in reaching a Brexit deal. Let these British simmer for a couple of years. There is a lot in Britain that the EU actually likes (to have): Scotland, Norther-Ireland, most of British companies (we already have Lloyds of Brussels) and indeed, Gibraltar.

  18. pennzoilbill on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 8:04 am 

    No biggie, probably for the best. The heard will be thinned and the race will be a lot smarter. No big deal at all, unless you dumb, but I’m just being an asshole, let’s not forget about Fukushima, that might be our biggest headache or at least the cause of the rising group of X-Men in our most.

  19. Yadayada on Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 2:20 pm 

    Cloggie, don’t you agree that Spain should hand back Ceuta and Melilla to little impoverished morocco before it mentions Gibraltar ? After all, the Spanish empire is long gone and will likely lose catalunya and euskadi.

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