Russia and Georgia: All About Oil
by Michael Klare
In commenting on the war in the Caucasus, most American analysts have tended to see it as a throwback to the past: as a continuation of a centuries-old blood feud between Russians and Georgians, or, at best, as part of the unfinished business of the Cold War. Many have spoken of Russia’s desire to erase the national “humiliation” it experienced with the collapse of the Soviet Union 16 years ago, or to restore its historic “sphere of influence” over the lands to its South. But the conflict is more about the future than the past. It stems from an intense geopolitical contest over the flow of Caspian Sea energy to markets in the West.
This struggle commenced during the Clinton administration when the former Soviet republics of the Caspian Sea basin became independent and began seeking Western customers for their oil and natural gas resources. Western oil companies eagerly sought production deals with the governments of the new republics, but faced a critical obstacle in exporting the resulting output. Because the Caspian itself is landlocked, any energy exiting the region has to travel by pipeline – and, at that time, Russia controlled all of the available pipeline capacity. To avoid exclusive reliance on Russian conduits, President Clinton sponsored the construction of an alternative pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in Georgia and then onward to Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast — the BTC pipeline, as it is known today.
Putin’s war enablers: Bush and Cheney
by Juan Cole (Salon)
The run-up to the current chaos in the Caucasus should look quite familiar: Russia acted unilaterally rather than going through the U.N. Security Council. It used massive force against a small, weak adversary. It called for regime change in a country that had defied Moscow. It championed a separatist movement as a way of asserting dominance in a region it coveted.
Indeed, despite George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s howls of outrage at Russian aggression in Georgia and the disputed province of South Ossetia, the Bush administration set a deep precedent for Moscow’s actions — with its own systematic assault on international law over the past seven years. Now, the administration’s condemnations of Russia ring hollow.
Also, more thoughts today from Juan Cole at Informed Comment:
US Deters Israel from Attacking Iran; Russian Cooperation seen Key to Dissuading Tehran’s Nuclear Program
by Juan Cole
Then, there is this:
Moscow flexed military muscle, and left West humiliated
by Anne Penketh (The Independent)
Russia is back. That is the indisputable result of the six-day war in the heart of Europe which may have changed the borders of a state for ever.
The conflict, conducted with brio by Vladimir Putin, who clearly remains the man in charge of the Kremlin, has ended on Russia’s terms, and there is nothing the West can do about it. Moscow has demonstrated that it is prepared to use military might to further its strategic goals, while the democracies of the West are not.
In the world of international power games, Mr Putin’s newly assertive Russia has chalked up a victory whose ripples will be felt for years to come. The US and Europe, dependent on Russian goodwill and gas, have been humbled. But the most chilling defeat is for Georgia, the former Soviet republic which dared to switch strategic allegiances and stand up to the Kremlin.
Russia’s goals in embarking on the war in Georgia were twofold.
Previous post at TheZoo on the Russian/Georgian conflict. This post includes the article by Robert Scheer “Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?“