Putin gets mugged in Finland
By Mike Whitney
Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 24, 2006, 00:51
Most people didn't
pay any attention to last week�s energy summit in Lahti, Finland, but they
should have. It was particularly instructive for anyone who is interested in
the latest developments in the global resource war.
The purpose of the
meeting was to work out the nettlesome issues of energy policy, but the hidden
agenda was to pressure Russian President Putin into signing away the control of
his country�s critical assets to the big-players in the world energy cartel.
The proposed �Energy Charter Treaty� is designed to tie up Russia�s resources
through legal obligations which serve the overall interests of the energy
giants. The treaty is no different than the EU Constitution which was voted
down last year when the �informed� European public realized that it was just
another boondoggle set up by big business to override national sovereignty,
environmental safety, and civil liberties. The Energy Charter Treaty and the EU
Constitution focus on the very same objectives, that is, establishing the legal
framework for placing the world and its dwindling resources in the hands of a
small cadre of obscenely-wealthy Western plutocrats.
Western elites have
been waging an intensive public relations campaign against Putin since he
nationalized Yukos Oil and put it under control of Gazprom. Gazprom is quickly
growing into the world�s largest oil corporation and will probably achieve that
goal within the decade.
Putin�s move to
nationalize the industry has been popular at home (his personal approval rating
is consistently over 70 percent) and has had a profound effect on stabilizing
the ruble and raising the standard of living. Most Russians still remember the
country�s bleak experiment with �free market" capitalism during the 1990s
when the ruble fell through the floor and Russia�s national assets were raffled
off by the chronically inebriated Yeltsin (under the supervision of Western
advisors). �The Oligarchs,� as they were known, contributed significantly to
Russia�s economic decline as well as its loss of prestige in the world. Putin
has restored national pride, fueled the new prosperity, and is quickly
rebuilding Russia into a world power. If energy prices continue to soar, as
they undoubtedly will, Russia will be a force to reckon with throughout the
politicians and corporatists are concerned about Russia�s meteoric rise and are
developing strategies to undermine its progress. The ultimate goal is to
integrate Russia�s prodigious natural resources into the global system, which
is another way of saying that a plan is being devised to assert direct control
over Russian oil and natural gas.
Since greed is
inexhaustible, it is not likely that this battle will end anytime soon.
already features prominently in the register of American enemies, which now
includes, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Morales, Castro, Kim Jung-Il, al Assad, Haniyeh,
and Muqtada al Sadr. Anyone who defends their national interests over the
prevailing system of global feudalism can expect to find themselves in
Washington�s crosshairs and to be duly demonized in the American media.
The Energy Charter Treaty
According to the
BBC, the proposed Energy Charter Treaty would create a �trade partnership�
which would make it easier for companies to invest in the Russian energy
sector, and use Russian pipelines to export the oil and gas they produce. The
pact would also be designed to ensure that Russia treated all European
countries equally, and lay the basis for a long-term trade partnership.�
Why should Putin
allow foreign companies to share in Russia�s wealth? Putin is not running a
�charity.� He is expected to use his nation�s resources to improve things for
the Russian people, which is exactly what he is doing. The insistence
that he do otherwise by entering into a �trade partnership� violates the
central tenet of capitalism: the right to private property. These are Russian
resources. They do not belong to the extended family of predatory corporatists.
The meeting in
Finland had nothing to do with any principled appreciation of capitalism or
�fair play� or anything else for that matter. It was just more of the same
extortion and coercion masquerading as �multilateral negotiations.� It�s
Putin has been
criticized for using oil and natural gas to send a message to rivals in Georgia
and Ukraine. Vice President Cheney has called this �blackmail.� In reality, it
is an effective and peaceful way to send a message to provocateurs that there
are limits to one�s patience. It is unwise to tweak the nose of the man who is
heating your house and powering your vehicle.
Besides, Cheney is
the last one who should be talking about �energy blackmail.� Can anyone forget
the extortion racket that Enron conducted against the American people; bilking
them of tens of billions of dollars while the Federal Energy Commission (FEC)
breezily looked the other way? Or the skyrocketing gas prices (which created
unprecedented profits for the oil giants) which have mysteriously plummeted at
the pump just weeks before the mid-term elections?
Putin is no tyrant
and the media�s spurious attacks on him are ludicrous at best.
Is it mere
coincidence that America�s stooge in Georgia, Mikail Saakashvili, arrested four
Russian officials, inciting a furious response from Moscow, just weeks after
American elites decided to take a �tougher approach� with Putin? Or is it
beyond the realm of imagination to think that the Bush administration would
engineer a crisis just to provoke Russia?
And what about the
murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya?
The Western press
seems to have found Putin guilty already, without any evidence whatsoever.
Thumbing through the 1,400 articles written about the incident, one would
believe that they found Putin�s bloody fingerprints all over the corpse, but,
of course, that is not true.
absurd piece in the New York Times, Oct. 22 edition, by Thom Shanker: �Ms.
Politkovskaya, shot to death this month in what appeared to be a professional
killing, had made a name for herself with tough reporting on the war in
Chechnya, and was a fierce critic of the administration of President Vladimir
If Putin was
involved in Politkovskaya�s death then he is guilty of a heinous crime for
which there is no defense. But was he? The journalist�s death may seem
familiar to readers who followed the assassination of former Prime Minister
Rafik Hariri. The American-backed investigation produced no solid evidence of
Syrian involvement, but the damage from the slanted coverage in the media
forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. This, in turn, paved the way
for an attack by Israel just months later.
It is unfortunate
that the media haven�t taken a similar interest in the 130 journalists who�ve
been killed in Iraq as they have in Politkovskaya�s death. In the most recent
case, that of Terry Lloyd, the coroner ruled that he was �unlawfully killed�
when he came under fire by American troops. Andrew Walker, the assistant
deputy coroner of Oxfordshire said, �Having carefully taken into account all
the evidence I am satisfied so that I am sure that had this killing taken place
under English Law it would have constituted unlawful homicide.�
How did that escape
the attention of the EU? Or is their indignation as selective as that of the
American media, which chooses its heroes and villains according to a script
that is written in Washington?
As for the EU and the
western media�s sudden interest in Putin�s �rollback of democracy in Russia,�
we�ve heard no similar complaints about the flurry of repressive legislation
passed by George Bush in the USA; including the USAPATRIOT Act and the Military
Commissions Act of 2006 which repeals the 800-yea-old right to habeas corpus.
Nor has the EU shown any particular interest in the proliferation of American
gulags, like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, which are now spread across the globe
like grains of sand tossed in the wind. The bogus claims of �anti-democratic
behavior� are naturally limited to the adversaries of the Bush team.
Putin is a fierce
nationalist. He�s doing his best to raise Russia�s standard of living while
making the necessary compromises with the global energy giants.
According to the
Russian News Agency Novosti, Putin said, �Draft laws are being considered by
the Duma aimed at securing foreign and other investments into Russia�s economy,
guaranteeing owners' rights, and minimizing the number of spheres where foreign
investment cannot be used.�
Putin added, �will mainly be restricted by security issues, and will also
include the largest and most unique deposits to be found in the world and
Russia. These can be counted on one hand. All the rest will be accessible.�
Putin is opening
Russia�s markets and looking for ways to satisfy the major oil corporations
while growing the Russian economy at the same time. He believes that �mutual
dependence strengthens the energy security of the European continent and
creates good prerequisites for further rapprochement in other fields.�
He�s right, but
he�s also tragically na�ve. Has he taken a look at Iraq lately?
civilizations are being pummeled into rubble to satisfy the world�s lust for
oil. Why would Russia be spared?
We should expect
more violence in Chechnya and Georgia, as well as a steady stream of abuse in
the Western press.
Putin is moving up
on Washington�s target-list. He is the new Hitler; we just didn�t realize it
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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