Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Ballet at the G-8 Summit

`Swan Lake?' `Sleeping Beauty' perhaps? Or`The March of the Wooden Soldiers'?

Actually, there was a little of each in the latest G-8 Summit, and as usual, it's instructive to look at what was released for public consumption(at least those of you who weren't tuned to the Paris Hilton 24-7 news network) and allow me to apply a bit of knowledge and reasoning to get a fix on what's really going on...

After his ridiculously bellicose statements on US missile defense, Russia's Vladimir Putin folded quickly, as I predicted he would. Putin was, as I've said, merely testing the West to see what would happen and doing a rendition of an old classic from the Soviet songbook.

Y'see, Vlad needs the West, needs its markets, needs it as a strategic counterbalance. Otherwise, in a country with rapidly declining birthrates, an economy that still has distribution problems even with all that oil money, and a disaffected population at home, the choice is between being part of the Islamic Caliphate or a Chinese oil colony.

Putin `surprised' the dinosaur media by offering Washington joint use with Russia of the Qabala radar base in northern Azerbaijan on the Iranian border as part of the proposed missile defense shield. The reality of course, is that whether the US accepts it or not Putin is, as usual, playing a double game. That's why put the offer out there in the first place and why he's anxious for the US to accept gives Russia a foot in both camps, it's good PR for gullible westerners and curtails US influence and protection of those segments of the old Soviet empire Putin has fantasies of having Russia swallow up again.

On the other side of the coin, Russia just collected an additional $387 million dollars towards completion of the Iranian nuclear facilities at Busher and another $400 million for armaments,part of which are earmarked for the Syrians as part of the alliance the Assad regime has with the mullahs.

And then, the Mullahs got hit with this out of left field...

“Iran and Russia enjoy numerous grounds for cooperation,” is how Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad-Ali Hosseini reacted to the news of Putin's offer. “We are currently studying the issue. Iran will follow up the case in its talks with Russia.”

The Mullahs are undoubtedly wondering who's side Putin is really on. Azerbaijan and Iran had certain economic and military understandings,but this offer probably wouldn't have been made without Azerbaijan's acquiescence, which means they may have switched sides as well. A substantial part of Iran's population is native Azeris, and that also is undoubtedly providing some food for thought to Iran's rulers as well.

While Bush will probably not take the Russians up on their offer (Poland and Czecholslovakia have already agreed to host the facilities and there's no reason to give Putin access to out technology)the fact that the offer was even made, and made so publicly may be a signal that relations between Iran and Russia aren't all they're made out to be.

Another subplot of all this was another part of the missile shield, the part in Israel. And that's something that has a more immediate importance to Russia and it's clients, Syria and Iran and Russia's ambitions to penetrate into the Middle East again. Putin's offer obviously had something to do with ending or curtailing the joint missile programs and the planned coordination of the Israeli and American missile defense systems as a quid pro quo.

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