March 08, 2012

Why Putin is driving Washington nuts

Not that prime minister Vladimir Putin had gone away ,but in the powerful post of the President , which he had switched with his progeny Medvedev ( whom US led West and other assorted allies would have loved to continue) is back with greater vigour and bluntness .He has been re-elected again with a thumping majority with over 62% votes ( which US or UK leaders ,mostly proxies of financiers and corporate mafias in New York and the City ,London rarely reach ).But lying western media and even leaders cannot stomach the reality. So the cacophony from the West. Indian journalists ,mostly ill-informed ,including former Indian diplomats , specially those who have served in US , brainwashed and beholden for little favours , talk of being on the right side of history ,ie be with the US led West , mostly bankrupt nations along with paragons of democracy like Saudi Arabia and Qatar of GCC , who are striving by violent interference to bring democracy in Syria as they did in Libya .A country looted ,divided, its infrastructure destroyed now under Al Qaeda and other regressive Muslim groups , with old feudal King Al Senussi’s descendents .But the rag tag collected by the West and GCC are now fighting with each other in Libya. India should not have voted on the last Resolution on Syria with Washington along with the so called ‘international community’ for democracy noted above and should have abstained .But then India has been in the clutches of US pensioners .Fullbright Scholars and such assorted neo-liberals and their followers . At home these gentlemen ie ruling establishment have tried to defame and weaken constitutional institutions like Comptroller and Auditor General , The Supreme Court ,the Election Commission etc. Those with income of Rs 32 are above poverty line , proclaimed one US pensioner .There was no loss in crony like giving away of massive public wealth of Wireless spectrum ,said another . Police atrocities were ordered on sleeping Indians at Ram Lila ground and a Gandhian activist Anna Hazare crusading against rampant and brazen corruption was imprisoned. The two largest national parties ,the Congress and BJP , equally corrupt ,have been taught a lesson for being out of touch and decimated by the illiterate and poor people of Uttar Pradesh ,India’s largest state. So unless either the current decision makers are changed ( or they would be brought down sooner than later ) wrong decisions in foreign policy will also continue to be taken. Coming back to the international developments ,below is an excellent article on the return of a combative Vladimir Putin in full vigour by a seasoned , perceptive and incisive friend Pepe Escobar , one of my favorite journalists , from my days with Asia Times ; In 2007 , after watching the Cold War like actions and maneuverings ,Putin had for the first time growled at the US Led West at the Munich Security Conference .My take below Russian Bear Growls at US Hypocrisy and Hegemony- 14 Feb 2007 This has been mentioned in Pepe’s piece below. Good reading for a better perspective .

By Pepe Escobar Asia Times, 9 March, 2012

Forget the past (Saddam, Osama, Gaddafi) and the present (Assad, Ahmadinejad). A bet can be made over a bottle of Petrus 1989 (the problem is waiting the next six years to collect); for the foreseeable future, Washington's top bogeyman - and also for its rogue North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners and assorted media shills - will be none other than back-to-the-future Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And make no mistake; Vlad the Putinator will relish it. He's back exactly where he wants to be; as Russia's commander-in-chief, in charge of the military, foreign policy and all national security matters.

Anglo-American elites still squirm at the mention of his now
legendary Munich 2007 speech, when he blasted the then George W Bush administration for its obsessively unipolar imperial agenda "through a system which has nothing to do with democracy" and non-stop overstepping of its "national borders in almost all spheres"."

So Washington and its minions have been warned. Before last Sunday's election, Putin even advertised his road map The essentials; no war on Syria; no war on Iran; no "humanitarian bombing" or fomenting "color revolutions" - all bundled into a new concept, "illegal instruments of soft power". For Putin, a Washington-engineered New World Order is a no-go. What rules is "the time-honored principle of state sovereignty".

No wonder. When Putin looks at Libya, he sees the graphic, regressive consequences of NATO's "liberation" through "humanitarian bombing"; a fragmented country controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militias; backward Cyrenaica splitting from more developed Tripolitania; and a relative of the last king brought in to rule the new "emirate" - to the delight of those model democrats of the House of Saud.

More key essentials; no US bases encircling Russia; no US missile defense without strict admission, in writing, that the system will never target Russia; and increasingly close cooperation among the BRICS group of emerging powers.

Most of this was already implied in Putin's previous road map - his paper A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making. That was Putin's ippon - he loves judo - against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Monetary Fund and hardcore neo-liberalism. He sees a Eurasian Union as a "modern economic and currency union" stretching all across Central Asia.

For Putin, Syria is an important detail (not least because of Russia's naval base in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, which NATO would love to abolish). But the meat of the matter is Eurasia integration. Atlanticists will freak out en masse as he puts all his efforts into coordinating "a powerful supranational union that can become one of the poles of today's world while being an efficient connecting link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region".

The opposite roadmap will be Obama and Hillary's Pacific doctrine. Now how exciting is that?

Putin plays Pipelineistan
It was Putin who almost single-handedly spearheaded the resurgence of Russia as a mega energy superpower (oil and gas accounts for two-thirds of Russia's exports, half of the federal budget and 20% of gross domestic product). So expect Pipelineistan to remain key.

And it will be mostly centered on gas; although Russia holds no less than 30% of global gas supplies, its liquid natural gas (LNG) production is less than 5% of the global market share. It's not even among the top ten producers.

Putin knows that Russia will need buckets of foreign investment in the Arctic - from the West and especially Asia - to keep its oil production above 10 million barrels a day. And it needs to strike a complex, comprehensive, trillion-dollar deal with China centered on Eastern Siberia gas fields; the oil angle has been already taken care of via the East Siberian Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline. Putin knows that for China - in terms of securing energy - this deal is a vital counterpunch against Washington's shady "pivoting" towards Asia.

Putin will also do everything to consolidate the South Stream pipeline - which may end up costing a staggering $22 billion (the shareholder agreement is already signed between Russia, Germany, France and Italy. South Stream is Russian gas delivered under the Black Sea to the southern part of the EU, through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia). If South Stream is a go, rival pipeline Nabucco is checkmated; a major Russian victory against Washington pressure and Brussels bureaucrats.

Everything is still up for grabs at the crucial intersection of hardcore geopolitics and Pipelineistan. Once again Putin will be facing yet another Washington road map - the not exactly successful New Silk Road (See US's post-2014 Afghan agenda falters, Asia Times Online, Nov 4, 2011.)

Ant then there's the joker in the pack - the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Putin will want Pakistan to become a full member as much as China is interested in incorporating Iran. The repercussions would be ground-breaking - as in Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran coordinating not only their economic integration but their mutual security inside a strengthened SCO, whose motto is "non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-interference in the affairs of other countries".

Putin sees that with Russia, Central Asia and Iran controlling no less than 50% of world's gas reserves, and with Iran and Pakistan as virtual SCO members, the name of the game becomes Asia integration - if not Eurasia's. The SCO develops as an economic/security powerhouse, while, in parallel, Pipelineistan accelerates the full integration of the SCO as a counterpunch to NATO. The regional players themselves will decide what makes more sense - this or a New Silk Road invented in Washington.

Make no mistake. Behind the relentless demonization of Putin and the myriad attempts to delegitimize Russia's presidential elections, lie some very angry and powerful sections of Washington and Anglo-American elites.

They know Putin will be an ultra tough negotiator on all fronts. They know Moscow will apply increasingly closer coordination with China; on thwarting permanent NATO bases in Afghanistan; on facilitating Pakistan's strategic autonomy; on opposing missile defense; on ensuring Iran is not attacked.

He will be the devil of choice because there could not be a more formidable opponent in the world stage to Washington's plans - be they coded as Greater Middle East, New Silk Road, Full Spectrum Dominance or America's Pacific Century. Ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready to rumble.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at


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