Thursday, March 27, 2008

Russia and Oil/Gas Control

I ate lunch today with a couple of people from Europe. They commented on the way Russia now holds Europeans at risk for fuel, and worried that the KGB was taking over Russia.

In the evening I found myself in a conversation with three young men from ByeloRus. So I asked them if the KGB was taking over Russia. They laughed. Then they laughed again as they explained that the KGB had taken over Russia already, when Putin became President. Then they laughed again.

In one dimension, this would seem to underscore how important either some appropriate sort of energy independence is, or sufficient multi-sourcing is. The challenge is for nations to keep their eye on collective effort to avoid damage from global warming rather than succumbing to the temptation to fragment by focusing on international power politics.

In another dimension, this would suggest that it was and remains important how we as the reigning world power treat the Russians. If we gobble up the satellite states in their former empire, as we did, do we create a backlash as they attempt to regain their sense of dignity? (Of course one can easily argue that those satellites wanted to be gobbled up, and that they never wanted to be part of the Soviet Union or the Soviet sphere ... but there are clearly also tradeoffs ...) Should we have learned more from Germany's reaction to defeat and devastation in World War I, and then their nationalistic backlash as they reasserted themselves? Did we do enough of a "Marshall Plan" with the failed Soviet Union, and did we do it wisely, so that the remains of that nation could re-emerge strongly and positively into the world sphere? Could our nation and advisors have made a difference in making it less likely that the vast Soviet resources would simply be given away, creating the plutocracy that led to Putin's rise and intersession as a corrective action? Are there things we can do now to lead to Russia's cooperation with the rest of the world, so that we can focus on dealing with the global warming issue rather than international conflict?

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