June 9, 2006

Where "realism" makes sense...

From The Telegraph. (Thanks to Orrin)

Washington scored a significant victory in its contest with Moscow for influence in Central Asia yesterday when Kazakhstan agreed to start pumping oil to the West through a British Petroleum pipeline that bypasses Russia and Iran. [Central Asia. Bet you don't learn a lot about that corner of the globe from the Nightly News.]

The deal, secured largely because of a personal visit to Kazakhstan last month by Dick Cheney, the United States vice-president, will infuriate the Kremlin. [Thank you, Mr Vice President. Yet again.]

But there will be secret relief in European capitals, where there is growing concern over Russia's apparent willingness to use its vast energy supplies as a political weapon. [You know, there's a lot of that "secret relief" stuff whenever America does the heavy lifting. Parasites.]

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh president, told an investors' conference in the capital, Almaty, that a formal agreement would be signed next week to begin delivery through an existing BP pipeline that connects Azerbaijan to the Turkish coast. This loops through Georgia, thus avoiding Russia to the north and Iran to the south. [Russia, Iran. Couldn't happen to two nicer countries.]

The deal will give the West greater access to the vast oil fields of the Caspian Sea - estimated to hold the world's third-largest reserves - and ease its growing dependence on energy from Russia and the Middle East. [Third-largest. Fancy that.]

America and Russia are locked in fierce competition for access to Central Asia's vast energy wealth... [Uh huh. And there's also a big part of the WOT going on there. It's a tricky and dangerous region, and of obvious importance to us. So, will right-wing isolationists and left-wing appeasers give the President any support or thanks? Ha ha ha.]

....Mr Cheney, a former oil man who for more than 20 years has highlighted the importance of the Caspian Sea, has grown increasingly skeptical of Russia's intentions towards the West. [We are very lucky to have such a deep old file working on our side. And very lucky to have two oil guys in the White House.]

He launched a scathing attack on the Kremlin last month and caused outrage by flying to Kazakhstan immediately afterwards, where he was fulsome in his praise for Mr Nazarbayev's even more democratically dubious regime. [Smart. This is a case where compromising our push for democracy makes sense. And we are still pushing democracy in the region, and among Kazakhstan's neighbors. Their turn will come.]

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, the other major oil-producing country on the Caspian to sign an energy deal with the West, was recently entertained at the White House - though he too has been accused of cheating in an election last year. [Journalists love to snark about any compromises made by the President. And then the next minute they complain that he's too rigid and never willing to change his mind or listen to advice.]

The new deal could help to bring down world oil prices, another factor likely to upset Russia, whose energy-dependent economy could wobble if crude falls below $50 a barrel. [And Iran too. But Bush will get no thanks if these distant dealings yield advantages for us.]

Kazakhstan has become a serious rival to Russia as a hydrocarbon exporter. But Mr Nazarbayev is in a tricky situation...[Tough, ain't it.]

Posted by John Weidner at June 9, 2006 5:15 PM
Weblog by John Weidner