Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Battle of the Black Sea

Yes, it is about oil.

Westerners have been left pretty much in the dark about what really lurks behind the recent Russia-Georgian war. In particular, we've heard almost nothing about Washington's diplomatic campaign to effective oust Russia from the oil riches of the region, even from the Middle East itself.

The goal has been to get Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO. Once under the protection of the Alliance the idea was then to have both countries close their ports to the Russian navy, eliminating the Russian's access to the Meditteranean and the Middle East. It looks like that has backfired.

The Ukraine may yet give the Russian navy the boot but, with access to Abkhaz ports, especially Poti, which are now firmly under Russian protection, it won't matter much.

Russia's moves in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are expected to be endorsed at the September 5 meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a mutual defence alliance along the lines of NATO comprising Russia, Belarus, Khazakstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. They may sound like small potatoes but they hold large reserves of oil and natural gas which the White House, Cheney in particular, has been attempting to secure and wrest out of Russian control.

Worse yet is the prospect of a new member to the CSTO - Iran. If Iran is admitted it would effectively acquire Soviet military protection. This would present a huge complication to the Americans and the Israelis. If the Russians deployed their latest, S-400 SAM batteries to Iran, it could make an American or Israeli air strike a very bloody affair. It could also bring Russia and America into a shooting war.

I've always felt that the biggest risk from NATO's seemingly pointless march to Russia's borders would be the prospect of strengthening the Russian-Chinese alliance through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. That appears to be just what is happening.

Russia is pushing back - hard. This may result in a speed up of Russian negotiations to establish a naval base in Syria. This would create a Russian military presence just north of Lebanon and little more than a heartbeat away from Israel.

There's great truth in the old adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. The West had a grand opportunity to engage and embrace Russia in the immediate wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Instead that genius in Washington responded with a relentless campaign to contain, isolate and threaten Russia. Like everything else that Bush and his diseased, bald sidekick have done, there was no apparent awareness of or preparations for the ramifications of their actions, even consequences that should have been obvious.

Look at it this way, Russia really didn't create most of these opportunities it's now exploiting. We did that for them. Unfortunately the Kremlin remains (and may well stay) two steps ahead of us. Thanks George, you clot!

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