Energy. Plain and simple. When Putin left the Russian Presidency to become Prime Minister, he moved much of the Presidential power to his new position. Putin is a former KBG agent that seemed to be inclined to carry on the concepts established by his immediate predecessors. Yet Russia has demonstrated their willingness to project power by controlling energy. Putin's history is as interesting as it is disconcerting. It is almost campy the way he pretended to be an interested father visiting Reagan with his "son" in this old photograph:
Things have not changed much. In spite of all the talk of change, Russia retains their desire to project power worldwide. During the past twenty years, the country has concentrated on a reformulated strategy built around energy. It seems our Congressman (once again) are asleep at the wheel. Hello? Does anyone think Putin is visiting Venezuela because of the beaches?
Putin demonstrated Russia's energy policy in two ways that should get people's attention. First...when he shut down the pipelines bringing oil to Europe, he demonstrated the real power that his country weilds. His invasion of Georgia was done under false pretenses and indicates his desire to open that energy route. When the West wanted to reopen an old pipeline through Serbia, Putin exerted influence on the Serbians to kill the deal.
Now we have Putin in our own backyard meeting with Chavez. I am concerned. Very concerned. There are two key reasons I am worried about Venezuela. First...we get a lot of our oil from there. The light sweet crude we get from Venezuela is perfect for our consumption. Chavez does not have the ability to refine (currently), so we refine the oil here. Putin could create a strategic alliance that would strengthen Chavez' position on oil. He could also be negotiating nuclear power deals. Russia has already indicated support for a nuclear Iran. Does ANYONE want a nuclear Venezuela. Think it's not possible. Come back and read this article in five years...It might be prophetic. Or it might be fear-mongering. Or it might just be paying attention when our leadership seems preoccupied with other concerns.
I will give Obama credit. I think his recent decision to open exploration for oil off Virginia was a response to the Russian threat. I believe it may be energy "sabre rattling." Russia has indicated interest in drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, so the Venezuelan connection may be toward that goal as well. Why do we limit our own energy exploration in areas that are wide open to any country that wants to come explore? Why not go down to Haiti and sideways drill some of Hugo's oil reserves? Why not explore off Florida and the Carolinas? The oil platforms that already exist seep less than the natural seepage from the Earth. They are safe and have withstood numerous hurricanes. The major oil disasters have involved SHIPS...the method for bringing oil from elsewhere.
Drilling for oil here is essential to American independence and national security. In the meantime...what exactly is Putin up to?
A NOTE ABOUT OIL...in response to the comments I have received, which seem geared towards the issue of drilling for oil, I would like to make a few points about oil. First of all, during the three decades that we have been "looking for alternatives" to oil (hah) we have doubled our dependence on foreign oil. This dependence affects us in many ways. First and foremost is security. If our oil lines are cut off, we cannot move our commerce, which is our strength. Our fragile economy could be severely crippled by an oil strike. We have seen OPEC toy with oil prices, giving an outside entity entirely too much control over our economy. It is a dangerous game and become more dangerous as we increase our reliance.
There are other economic consequences as well. A nations productivity is based largely on trade in an international economy. We ship a great deal of our wealth overseas because of oil, when we are sitting on some of the largest reserves. Why? It affects the planet MORE when we SHIP oil from far away rather than drilling and refining on site. I see it as GREENER to drill close to home. Any green person knows that the further stuff is shipped, the greater impact it has on the environment. We are going to use the oil anyway. Shipping also increases the risk of spills. We could bring those petrol dollars home and increase our economic strength while reducing the security risks associated with reliance on foreign governments, many of which are unfriendly towards the United States.
Finally, the Chinese and Russians are drilling or are looking to drill off our coasts anyway. If they are in International waters, there is nothing we can really do about it. Why do we prohibit our own commerce only to let our economic competitors exploit our own resources? That makes no sense at all. We need to utilize our own resources and the tax and control the results. Why not set aside a percentage of revenues as part of the agreement, in order to actually begin research on viable alternatives to oil. Oil companies understand their are limitations to a non-renewable resource. It would benefit them in the long-term to develop those energy strategies and control the new technology in a post-oil world. In the meantime, it is counter-productive to ignore the realities of oil. It is here to stay in the short-term and likely in the mid-term. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is insanity.
When asked the question recently what he thought was the greatest tragedy of the 2oth century, Vlad's answer was---"The fall of Soviet Communism"!!! This man is evil. How about the slaughter of 30 million of his own countrymen by Stalin? How about the Holocaust?
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin born 7 October 1952 in Leningrad, USSR; now Saint Petersburg, Russia) was the second President of Russia and is the current Prime Minister of Russia as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He becameacting President on 31 December 1999, when president Boris Yeltsin resigned in a surprising move, and then Putin won the 2000 presidential election. In 2004, he was re-elected for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008.
Due to constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive Presidential term. After the victory of his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in the 2008 presidential elections, he was then nominated by the latter to be Russia's Prime Minister; Putin took the post on 8 May 2008.
Throughout his presidential terms and into his second term as Prime Minister, Putin has enjoyed high approval ratings amongst the Russian public. He is credited with bringing political stability and re-establishing the rule of law. During his eight years in office, on the back ofYeltsin-era structural reforms, steadily rising oil price and cheap credit from western banks, Russia's economy bounced back from crisis, seeing GDP increase sixfold (72% in PPP), poverty cut more than half and average monthly salaries increase from $80 to $640, or by 150% in real rates. Analysts have described Putin's economic reforms as impressive. During his presidency, Putin passed...