My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Keeping an Eye On The Big Board 

Russia is making some fairly hostile moves of late.

Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom said it began pumping gas to Europe at 10 a.m. Tuesday after cutting off supplies Jan. 7 amid a pricing dispute with Ukraine.

But European Union officials said no gas was flowing, ...

Economic warfare, especially at a time when the world's economies are on the brink of Depression, is an old and honored tactic of expansionist powers. For Russia to "interrupt" the supply of natural gas to Eastern Europe at this time is surely no accident: it is nothing less than throwing down a marker in the sand, and challenging Europe to take any actions against Russian interests. At the same time, Russia desperately needs the price of oil to go back up, so if they can manufacture a little crisis to accomplish both ends, hey--why not?

I wish it could be said that this is a new development and that we're just seeing Russia flex its muscles before a new administration takes power in America. Unfortunately, the evidence goes contrary to that. Consider the recent incursion into Georgia, which was met by worldwide handwringing and typical U.N. impotence. Consider the 2004 attempted assassination of Viktor Yuschenko in the Ukraine, an act which has the fingerprints of Moscow all over it. For that matter, consider this:

Just about everything that could have gone wrong in Georgia has gone wrong. First the main pipeline supplying the country with Russian gas was mysteriously blown up by saboteurs and has yet to be repaired because of the cold weather. And then the fierce cold ruptured power lines leading from one of the country's most important hydroelectric power stations.

Mr Saakashvili was quick to blame foul play by the Russians, accusing them of trying to punish his country for adopting a pro-Western line in recent years.

Russia's ambitions are, sadly, not new. They have a vested interest in controlling the gasoline flow to the world, and they have older, more pride-based interest in returning to preimminence on the world stage. And, though he has appointed a couple special envoys, President-Elect Obama has yet to elevate the Russian issue to the level it deserves by appointing a Special Envoy to keep an eye on things.

Let's hope his inexperience does not lead him into the kind of stupidity that led President Bush to "gaze into his [Putin's]Soul" and declare him a good guy. If he can come out and call this one like it is (you know, that whole "candor and transparency" thing), I would be very impressed.

Surprised as all Hell, but impressed.

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