“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

EU Increasingly Wary and Concerned with Putin's Russia.

So they should be. It is increasingly clear that the goal of including Russia as a normal European state is an illusion. Russian heavy handedness in Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, and against the Russian press are but a few examples. The assassination of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya and a wave of contract style murders have heightened suspicions about Putin's intentions in Russia.

Russian control of the energy sector and its impact on Europe is causing increasing concern. Moscow has recently questioned contracts signed in the 1990s by companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Total. This month it also shut foreign capital out of the development of the huge Shtokman gas field. This while a cash rich Russia is seeking partnership with European defense giant EADS.

The Financial Times published a concise account of a "strained summit dinner" in Lahti, Finland. Some of the guests were direct with Putin.
“We offer security in contracts and we expect the same from Russia, namely also legal security in contracts and access to the Russian market,” Angela Merkel, German chancellor, said before the dinner.

Tony Blair, Britain’s prime minister, called for a “two-way street” in investment, in spite of criticism that he has already signalled that Gazprom could be considered as a buyer for Centrica, the British gas company, without reciprocal market opening in Russia.

Mr Putin said that he had no intention of bowing to European demands that Russia should open Gazprom’s pipelines to other companies, as required under the energy charter treaty, which Russia has signed but has not ratified.

From other surces it is obvious the Europeans were trying to persuade Putin to bring down the tension with neighboring Georgia. They were not successful.

"The issue does not lie between Russia and Georgia, the issue is between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia," Putin said. "To our regret and fear, it is heading for a bloodbath. Georgia wants to resolve the disputes with military action."

He said that the recent deterioration of relations between Moscow and Tbilisi, sparked by Georgia's arrest of four Russian army officers on spying charges, had been fabricated for political purposes.

"The initiative to worsen relations originated not from Russia," he added.

His comments were "not really surprising," according to a European diplomat, who categorised them as "verbal rhetoric."

There will be further trouble in that area. It will affect energy as well as planned Nato expnsion. Putin likes to telegraph his punches. The EU has no choice but to deal with Putin and Russia for their energy needs. They are as vulnerable and dependent on imported energy as the is the US . Putin is determined to use energy as a wedge and a hammer in his dealing with Europe. The sooner Europe and the US see energy dependence as unacceptable, the better. A US and European commitment to developing alternative energy sources outside of Russia and the Middle East is urgent.


  1. My work, my words, evaporated.

    Good thing the thought remains

    If five 2 kiloton devices were detonated in LA, along the gulf, at the refineries, the economic effect would be as described by the Chinese.

    The Paki/NorK/Iranian Axis has detonated two such devices. One in Pakistan and one in Nork, The NorK test recieving the bulk off the publicity.

    The Enemy pocesses low yield, man portable, nuclear devices. similar to the "Davy Crockett" that the US designed in 1954 and deployeed until the late 80's.

    The US has open borders, evidenced by 515 metic tons of Columbian cola that enters the US, plus the Canadian bud. Both northern and souther frontiers are wide open to smuggling.

    The Paki/NorK/Iranian Axis gives both the Chinese and Russians total deniability.

    No need to attack a tanker, not if the processing plants are destroyed. Requiring years, at best to replace.

    The probability of the Enemy having the weapons is above Mr Cheney's threshold of 1%.

    Much higher than the probability that Saddam would acquire nuclears.
    The rest of the Axis really does.
    Publicly displayed, this time.

    That ain't horseshit.

  2. Rufus, you are correct. if you visit China, it is a rare person that wants to even talk politics. They want to talk bussiness. they want US business partners.

    There is a difference between being an adversary and an enemy. Neither China nor the US can afford to be enemies nor can they afford not to be adversaries. Very much the same as Microsoft and Apple Computer. Microsoft is dominant but Apple will do what it can to weaken Microsoft and take advantage of vulnerabilities. Healthy competition is both good and creative. A sound business model would not include Microsoft burning down Apple stores. To further the analogy, Apple and Microsoft create software that is compatible with each other’s systems.

    I am an enthusiastic advocate of the Americans and Chinese being healthy competitors. If at times it becomes temporarily adversarial, that is probably inevitable until some kind of equilibrium is re-established between the two powers. That would be normal for a rising power and an established power. The last thing any sane person would want is to speculate and contemplate the US and China being enemies.

    It would be very wise for senior military officers from both countries to visit each other's countries often. This would bring home the realization that not only is a military conflict between the US and China unthinkable, it is unwinnable and since I started this with an analogy, allow me to finish with one. A war between these two powers would be the equivalent of a jihadists suicide attack, both sides die and there will be no virgins on the other side.

  3. Exactly, rufus, I guarentee that Mexican infrastructure will burn, come the hostilities.

    The Mexican Army cannot defend it, the Mexican Army cannot do much more than supply border security for the Cartels.

    Why, because the China goes from being #2 to #1 in the food chain.
    Disrupt the US for a year, in 2010, she'd never be the same, again.

    China nor Russia would be to blame, no US retaliation against either.

    Crash rebuilding...
    Katrina, it's been more than a year, billions have been spent.
    There is the most current example.

    If we reference back to WWII, the Russians and Chinese lost millions of people, they took their losses, now they'll dance again.

    Those planes and tanks have done a poor job securing Baghdad and Ramadi

    Planes and tanks are yesterdays weapons, the US Civilian lifestyle is the enemy's target, the soft under belly of America.

    More than a 1% chance.
    That's all it takes for US to preempt. But we do not. Will not.

    We'll wait for later.

  4. You are always the first, rufus, to extoll the virtues of SDI.

    The Enemies of US are not building more ICBMs they are building ship killing missiles and mines.
    We focus on the NorK's limited airborne delivery ability, while discounting the real threats.

    Whether the Chinese could oor could not take on the Carrier Battle Groups successfully is of little import.
    That the Chinese think they can, that is the real deal.

  5. Many of you have seen this already but it is good news via Geo.Will's pen.

    The Jack No. 2 well, in deep water 170 miles southwest of New Orleans, recently discovered a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil -- a 50 percent increase in proven U.S. reserves. This news triggered a gusher of journalistic gloom: More oil means more woe -- a reprieve for that enemy of humanity, the internal combustion engine, and more global warming, more air pollution, more highway fatalities, more suburban sprawl.

    The recent 20 percent decline of the cost of a barrel of oil, from a nominal record of $78.40 (which, adjusting for inflation, was well below the 1980 peak of $92 in 2006 dollars), has produced an 81-cent decline in the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in 70 days. For consumers, that is akin to a tax cut of more than $81 billion.

  6. "The West will sell us the rope we hang them with."

    to paraphrase Nikita

  7. The US would never confront a Chinese or Russian ship, tank, or plane.

    Maybe we nuke Iran, Pakistan and NorK, in retribution.

    No loss to either China or Russia.

    Only the Omni-Power of Hubris gets stabbed in the belly.

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  9. That unimportant hell hole of Africa, Somalia has over 70,000 expats in Canada to recruit from.

    How much damage could professionals do to Canadian oil infrastructure at the start of hostilities?

    Trade as peacemaker has a historicly mixed record. The failures are evident in WWII.
    Ideology trumps economics, for true believers.

  10. That "tax cut" is as "real" as Federal spending cuts that only cut the rate of increase.

    Look at what we've "saved" over straight line projections.

    Give it a break. You all belittle straight line projections when they report the "negative" but support the same reasoning when they report a "positive" effect.

  11. Exactly, no nuclear exchange, but US gettin' our ass kicked.

    The enemy is on offense, we are not. We are having trouble holding what we've already taken, offensively.

    No, now we are back on defense.
    Defense does not win games, often.

    Won't in the Mohammedan Wars, that's for sure.

  12. .....Swan Island Project has been altered. An agreement has been reached with The Royal Navy for use of large tracts of land ,including buildings at RNAS Boaz Island in Bermuda.
    Our contract is a fifty year lease and includes use of all base facilities. We will doing work under contract as Hurricane Study Group, LLC assessing risk for Lloyds of London.
    The Island has much nicer facilities for nightly R&R ...more to follow.

  13. desert rat,

    re: No, now we are back on defense.
    Defense does not win games, often.

    The President agrees with you, if words have meaning. His radio address this morning was a litany of reactive US policies. Not an offensive word was uttered by Mr. Bush. No, he concentrated on how the US military is daily changing its direct to deal with the latest provocation. That apparently includes the release of documented terrorists, although the President's remarks did not go that far.

  14. re: President's radio address

    The President let it be known that Americans are not for "cut and run." No, sir, Americans demand VICTORY!

    Odd. How is victory attained over a phantom? After all, the enemy is not named by this administration.

    If Islam is, as the President never tires of saying, the "Religion of Peace," then, Iraq is a singularly non-Islamic country. If our adversaries in Iraq are not, by the President's definition, Muslim, why is his policy directed as if they were? This is a very confusing war.