Thursday, June 07, 2007

PUTIN'S PROPOSAL OF A JOINT US-RUSSIAN ANTI-MISSILE BASE IN AZERBAIJAN

G8 SUMMIT, ROSTOCK, GERMANY--While the Polizei are getting their heads-cracked outside by anti-globalization activists (good show, folks, keep kicking-ass and chewing bubblegum) and sundry Leftist Europeans from Italy, Germany, France, Holland, Luxembourg, and everywhere else in the EU, Putin was making this novel proposal: we can end the current missile crisis through the creation of shield bases stationed in Azerbaijan. It's not an especially bad-idea--if Washington is really intent on a harmonious-relationship with Russia, and a hands-off policy for the Baku and Caucasus oil and natural gas fields.

Russia has been angered by a US plan to deploy a missile shield in Poland the Czech Republic. Russia says it is the target of the shield while the United States insists the system is to guard against an attack by Iran or North Korea. The dispute has brought Russian-US relations to a post-Cold War low. (AFP, 06.07.2007)

The article also notes that "Major oil and gas deals make Britain the largest foreign investor in the country," which should be seen as the context of the Litvinenko affair and the Foreign Office's reaction to it. This is very similar to the situation the West was confronted with before and after the October Revolution in 1917, with competing oil multinationals vying for control of the region's resources.

One can assume that the UK's FO has her own agenda apart from that of America, but it's going to be submerged. What's changed since the early-20th century is that there is more general cooperation amongst Western energy interests, though again, overarching-aims are probably submerged from the eyes of the other summit members. Even with the interlocking-networks, nations and corporate institutions (and Trusts, or constellations of them) have their own interests, inertia, and internal histories. Still, Western corporations and consortiums are bullish about carving-up the Russian pie, and access to said markets, not just resources. Putin isn't averse to having the Kremlin as a middle-man, but it has to be under the auspices of Russian control. For this reason, he's having his own economic summit starting tomorrow.

Approximately 10,000 participants and guests -- including politicians, officials, and top managers of Russian and foreign companies -- are scheduled to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum from June 8 to June 10. On the sidelines of the forum, 100 foreign CEOs have been invited to a private closed-door meeting with Putin. Among those scheduled to meet Putin are the CEOs of soft drink makers Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, energy giants Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron [Ed.-Condi Rice's former (?) employers.], and the consumer electronics company Siemens.

Putin comes from the KGB/FSB, the prime-movers in the Black market economy before and after the fall of the Soviet Union, and comes from a background that emphasizes more statist control over the nation's energy-resources, as well as those of the region itself. It's well known that he's a Russian nationalist with aims of reconsolidating most of the old-borders that made up the classic Russian Empire, including breakaway republics like Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Ukraine, and-so-on. He almost sounds like Peter the Great, but some of his tactics are more reminiscent of Ivan the Terrible. That said, America is easily responsible for more death and repression in the postwar-era than Russia could ever have been, even with the Chechen war.

The criticisms of his regime's domestic-policies are accurate, and Putin is fairly intolerant of his critics--but does this mean the Bush administration really cares? Hardly, dissidents and victims of the Putin regime are merely fodder for a renewed propaganda war, and the Litvinenko affair plays-into this, looking more like a highly-organized psy-ops adventure than a clear-cut case of the assassination of yet another critic of Vladimir Putin and the Russian nationalists who advocate a "strong Kremlin." Russia has good reason to be concerned about Western intentions.

Bush has proposed basing the radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland, rousing Moscow's suspicions that a system built in its backyard had to be aimed at it. The United States insisted the shield was aimed at any potential nuclear threat from Iran, not Russia, but Moscow declared the explanation "insufficient" as recently as Wednesday night. With the dispute flaring in recent days into Cold War-style rhetoric and threats from Moscow, Putin's proposal to put the system in Azerbaijan came as a surprise. U.S. officials were clearly scrambling to react afterward, huddling hurriedly before trying to explain it to the press. (AP, 06.07.2007)

The last 700 years of human history have taught them that the West will covet Central Asia for some time. If the missile defense system were truly meant just for "rogue states" like "Iran and North Korea," why have it in Central Europe? Couldn't any nation simply recalibrate the missiles in the other direction? There is an answer to this: there have been anti-missile defense tests in the South Pacific islands like Guam, protectorates of the United States, but really just military bases. George W. Bush is only a competent of all of this, and the plans have been-in-existence for a very long time.

He can be expected to refuse the offers of Putin to construct a joint US-Russian base in Azerbaijan, as well as any requests or demands to stop construction of the missile defense shield infrastructure in Poland and the Czech Republic. Poland will assuredly bend-over-backwards for this deal, but the Czechs are exhibiting some reluctance. The ball's in their court. If they're smart--smarter than the Poles--they'll deny the US the ability to construct the radar bases there. It's not in their interests at all to allow it.

One should also consider that North Korea's test-firing of a new missile could have been prompted by the United States in the six-party talks. There was, after all, an agreement reached recently, with a few-setbacks. We don't know what all of the inducements and agreements were, but the missile-test would have been a minor-action for the North Korean regime. China certainly has a role in all of this as well, being very oil-hungry at this particular historical moment. Politics is almost always about resources and who controls them. There is a lot of submerged rivalry here, and one can be assured that someone, somewhere is exploiting it just as creatures like Basil Zaharoff and his "System" did around 100-years-ago. Little has changed since then. Putin knows this, and he's calling-them-out on it, not that he's any better (or worse).

AFP Today: http://iafrica.com/news/worldnews/946028.htm

AP Today: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/07/AR2007060701063.html

Radio Free Europe Today: http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/06/2a6b7881-7be7-4f8c-adde-dde37d74dd6d.html