Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cheney Criticizes Putin's Russia

The pressure being placed upon Russia to acquiesce to "Western" demands for sanctions or worse against Iran was highlighted today when the de facto leader of the U.S.--Dick Cheney--publicly criticized the government of President Vladimir Putin.

Vice President Dick Cheney sharply criticized Russia today for backsliding on human rights, and suggested that Moscow is interfering with democratic movements among its neighbors and using its oil and gas as "tools of intimidation or blackmail."

Cheney seems to want to reserve for the United States alone the option to use intimidation, blackmail, and oil skullduggery as tools of foreign policy.

(H)e said that "the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people" and that other "counterproductive" actions could "begin to affect relations with other countries."

"Russia has a choice to make," Mr. Cheney said.

The next line, alluded to above, would have been a real howler had the Vice President delivered it at last weekend's White House Correspondents Dinner:

"No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation," he said.

Everybody in the room would have understood the irony.

The average U.S. motorist, however, probably wouldn't have found it so funny.

Russian Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said he believes Cheney tried to discredit Russia in the run-up to a G8 summit scheduled for July in St. Petersburg.

"I believe his criticism of Russia for trying to dismantle democracy in our country is absolutely baseless, but I am sure that Cheney expressed the opinion of only part of the U.S. political elite, but not that of the top leader of that country," Zhirinovsky said.

Zhirinovsky's first point is well-taken. However, his years of huddling around the samovar for warmth while generously adding "little water" to his tea has prevented him from gaining the requisite knowledge that Bush has few opinions that differ from his boss.

Russia rattled nerves across Europe last winter when the state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom cut off supplies of natural gas to Ukraine. An agreement eventually ended the impasse, but it raised questions of Russia's dependability as a supplier of energy.

Gazprom supplies about one-quarter of the natural gas consumed in Europe and 80 percent of that goes through Ukraine.

The article fails to note that the reason that nerves were rattled across Europe was that the Ukrainians--having access to the pipeline as a matter of routine--simply took what they determined to be their rightful share of the gas en route to Europe. It was the Europeans, especially the Italians--who were made to suffer.

It remains to be seen whether the Russians respond positively to Cheney's bluster.

I rather doubt it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It remains to be seen whether the Russians respond positively to Cheney's bluster.

I rather doubt it.

And I hope not. I'm lost for words when I contemplate Cheney's hypocrisy. I saw that article (or something similar) in the Toronto Star this morning... Too bad they didn't use such valuable space to print Prof. Juan Cole's rant of a few days ago instead... That's why I think the MSM is so irrelevant these days -- except as a way to figure out how the powers that be are trying to manipulate us...

And incidentally, I also read that Exxon Mobile made something like an $8.6 billion profit for the first quarter -- and that the outgoing CEO was collecting a $400 million retirement package. I sat and thought for a minute about what he could have possibly done to "deserve" that...

And lastly, I came across these words in a book I'm reading:

"Nations, like individuals, fall prey to hubris.... of the habit that dominant countries have of overreaching their capacity to exert military control in the world, straining their fiscal resources and hastening the demise of the empire... -- a quote by Paul Kennedy in the Rise and Fall of Great Powers -- Ethel Person uses the quote in her book on authentic power and says that even after their decline should be ovious to them, powerful nations "deny the evidence and actually hasten the process by engaging in military adventures they can ill afford..."

So true.

5/04/2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Excellent quote from the Paul Kennedy book.

History is replete with examples of empires pushing their luck too far, and/or stretching their resources too thin. It looks like the U.S. is combining the two errors.

People have referred to the USA as "The New Rome" for a long time now. It looks like this will be a self-fulfilling prophesy. I doubt that the American empire will have the longevity of Rome's.

It appears to me that the part you quote about nations denying their obvious decline and thereby hastening doom will be more evident shortly. Especially if we embark upon another disasterous endeavor in the Middle-East.

The Exxon-Mobil CEO is said to have deserved his retirement package because "he brought his stockholders billions of dollars of profit."

I think that they are giving it to him instead because he knows where all of the corporate skeletons are buried, and they wish to purchase his silence.

5/04/2006 12:51 PM  

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