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Saturday, March 8, 2014

James B. Stewart , "Why Russia Can't Afford Another Cold War": Sorry, Obama Already Lost

Do your remember your playground days? Do you you remember how, when the playground bully picked upon a weaker child, the weaker child inevitably responded, "Do that again and I'll . . ." Well, the Obama administration has devised its own variant upon that feeble playground warning, which is being repeatedly sounded by Obama, Kerry and Rice in response to multiple crises across the globe to no effect whatsoever. No matter where in the world there is trouble, we are told by Obama and friends:

"All options remain on the table!"

In fact, there are no options are on the table. No options exist and no strategies or shelf plans have been devised to deal with malefactors in this would-be post-Cold War world. And even if options and a strategy had been readied, the Procrastinator-in-Chief would seek to avoid any provocation during his second term in office, as he dismantles the American army to fund Obamacare.

In a new item entitled "Why Russia Can't Afford Another Cold War" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/business/why-russia-cant-afford-another-cold-war.html?_r=0) by James B. Stewart, in his "Common Sense" column, which is today prominently positioned on the home page of The New York Times, we are basically told that a renewal of the Cold War by Russian president Vladimir Putin doesn't make sense. Stewart explains:

"Russia is far more exposed to market fluctuations than many countries, since it owns a majority stake in a number of the country’s largest companies.

. . . .

Many Russian companies and banks are fully integrated into the global financial system.

. . . .

The old Soviet Union, in stark contrast, was all but impervious to foreign economic or business pressure, thanks in part to an ideological commitment to self-sufficiency."

But what Stewart does not consider is that Putin's Ukraine operation was the equivalent of a "blitzkrieg," undertaken overnight and again catching Obama with what Sarah Palin labels his "mom jeans" down. This battle is already over and lost.

The Russian stock market? Like other stock markets across the globe, it will now recover, until ex-KGB officer Putin's next adventure. Unbeknownst to Obama and friends, no one ever said that the Cold War must be replayed according to the same rules as the 1960's.

Stewart continues:

"By contrast, today 'Russia is too weak and vulnerable economically to go to war,' Mr. [Anders] Aslund said. 'The Kremlin’s fundamental mistake has been to ignore its economic weakness and dependence on Europe. Almost half of Russia’s exports go to Europe, and three-quarters of its total exports consist of oil and gas. The energy boom is over, and Europe can turn the tables on Russia after its prior gas supply cuts in 2006 and 2009. Europe can replace this gas with liquefied natural gas, gas from Norway and shale gas. If the European Union sanctioned Russia’s gas supply to Europe, Russia would lose $100 billion or one-fifth of its export revenues, and the Russian economy would be in rampant crisis.'"

Europe is not dependent upon Russian gas? Oh really? As reported in a November 2013 Center for Strategic & International Studies article entitled "The Russia-EU Gas Relationship: A partnership of necessity" by Edward C. Chow and Anne Hudson (https://csis.org/publication/russia-eu-gas-relationship-partnership-necessity):

"Russia, meanwhile, accounts for 34% of EU natural gas imports, making it the lead supplier of natural gas to the EU. While European demand growth will likely remain weak, import dependence is slated to increase due to the decline in European gas production, meaning that the EU will have to rely ever more heavily on exporters such as Russia. Additionally, the infrastructure needed both to integrate the European energy market and to develop European LNG import capacity is costly and has a long implementation timeline. In this context, the stated aim to achieve such integration by 2014 appears unlikely to be achieved. Even more to the point, the current long-term contracts between Russia and the EU are not set to expire until 2020, meaning supply is locked in for nearly another decade."

Given rampant unemployment and world economic weakness, don't expect European capitals to be sanctioning Russia anytime soon and disturbing their existing energy order.

Stewart goes on to say:

"During the Cold War, there were few, if any, Russian billionaires. Today, there are 111, according to Forbes magazine’s latest rankings, and Russia ranks third in the number of billionaires, behind the United States and China. The economist noted that the billionaire Russian elite — who are pretty much synonymous with Mr. Putin’s friends and allies — are the ones who would be severely affected by visa bans, which were imposed by President Obama on Thursday. Other penalties might include asset freezes."

Visa bans? These Russian oligarchs all have second passports. Asset freezes? A joke! We are currently witnessing how the Obama administration is busy dismantling existing economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for . . . coming to the table (with Putin's help) to negotiate a "framework" agreement, i.e. nothing.

And then all of this is capped off with Stewart's argument that Putin's interest is regional and not global:

"And while the Cold War was a global contest between Marxism and capitalism, there is today 'no real ideological component to the conflict except that Putin has become the personification of rejecting the West as a model,' Mr. [Strobe] Talbott said. 'He wants to promote a Eurasian community dominated by Moscow, but that’s not an ideology. Russia’s economy may be an example of crony capitalism, but it is capitalism. There’s not even a shadow of Marxism-Leninism now.'"

Only regional? How does Stewart explain Putin's heightening involvement in events in the Middle East, specifically in Iran and Syria, and his willingness to supply the murderous Assad regime with a steady flow of advanced weaponry?

Whereas President Obama might take much satisfaction from this "Common Sense" opinion piece, it makes little sense at all.

1 comment:

  1. The Cold War is indeed over but not to fret, there's a new enemy to be fought.
    "Federal agencies embrace new technology and strategies to find the enemy within."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/federal-agencies-embrace-new-technology-and-strategies-to-find-the-enemy-within/2014/03/07/22ce335e-9d87-11e3-9ba6-800d1192d08b_story.html?hpid=z3

    WaPo equating mass murderer Nidal Malik Hasan with Edward Snowden & Bradley Manning: War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength.

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