Thursday, April 27, 2006

Failing Basic Diplomacy--Rice, Greece, Turkey and GAZPROM

Do policymakers in Washington really believe the hype that the United States is such the indispensable nation, the sole superpower, that the normal rules of bargaining and diplomacy don't apply?

Secretary of State Rice very publicly "warned" Greece and Turkey about allowing the Russian firm GAZPROM to have a stake in the proposed Greek-Turkish gas line, and sent strong signals that the U.S. preference is for natural gas from Azerbaijan to be piped through the line.

First and foremost, Greece and Turkey will make their decisions based on economic rationales and their own national interests. If the Azerbaijan project makes sense, great. If GAZPROM makes a better offer, and the Greek and Turkish sides are satisfied, why is this a paramount U.S. concern--especially if the U.S. government is not going to be putting up funds?

Greek and Turkish readers of TWR, please correct me if I am wrong, but I do not believe that GAZPROM or the Russian government is threatening force or exercising undue pressure for your governments and companies to take part in energy projects. Neither Ankara nor Athens, as far as I am aware, have requested help or protection of the U.S. government vis-a-vis Russia. Indeed, the New Anatolian had this to say:

Turkey wants to be considered a partner in energy projects. Turkish officials say that Turkey is a strategic partner with Russia and has an important role in transmission of its energy resources to the world markets, adding, there are many regional projects most of which involving Turkey, and Russia and others should not see Turkey just a transit country but a partner in energy projects.

What the Greeks and Turks want are more favorable terms from Russia. Of course they are going to bargain and having the Azeri option is important. But it is my sense is that a growing number of Turkish and Greek business and political figures are eager to market the Turkey-Greece line as a "southern" route for Russian gas to Europe, to complement the Baltic "northern route" to Germany, which would allow Russia to reduce its dependence on Ukraine and Poland as transit routes.

But I digress from the main point. This past week, Secretary Rice has publicly argued against a project that is in Russia's economic interests. Next week, she is going to try to convince Foreign Minister Lavrov that Russia should be prepared to abandon its lucrative economic interests in Iran. And this is how you build a consensus?

If Russia stiffs the United States on Iran, THEN that's when you push hard for the Azerbaijan project--NOT the other way around.

Isn't the retort that the Azerbaijan project is a poor policy consolation prize for getting stiffed by Russia on Iran -- and even more difficult to accomplish in the wake of a clear policy defeat?

Presumably the paramount goal is to not get stiffed on Iran. But are there any carrots for Russia which would (a) not sacrifice a preexisting US interested like oil pipeline preferences and (b) have a snowball's chance of obtaining real results vis-a-vis Iran? Probably not, I'm afraid. Try as we might, the best Iran strategy increasingly appears to be encouraging Tehran to take some outrageous step or rash action that will turn great-power policy decisively against them.
James: Ahmadi-Nejad's comment that Iran might give nuclear materials to its "allies" (code for Hezbollah) might just be the pretext.
why does us meddle in an arrangement that will benefit greece and turkey simply because russia also stands to profit.

us double standard on full display where aliyev can falsify and steal elections and be greeted as democrat because he is pro american but lukashenka is europe's last dictator.
The shades, shaitans, iblis, warmongers, war profiteers, and pathological liars in the Bush government proselytize the hilarious fiction that America's people, principles, constitution, security, and prosperity are the primary focus of the Bush governments' failing, abusive, secretive, deceptive, unaccountedfor, and wildly supremist machinations, - and further that 9/11 provides a blank check for select oligarchs, cabals, klans, and cronies in or beholden to the Bush government to unilaterally suspend, or overreach the Constitution, the law of the land, and the peoples best interests, and are sanctioned by the heavens to impose dictatorial and "heretofore unimagined powers and authorities" upon the government and the American people, - and finally the hypocritical and abberant fallacy that the slithering minions and fiends in the Bush government are somehow "blessed and highly favored" and sanctioned by the heavens to afford the Bush government kings rights to erect a fascist totalitarian dictatorship above, beyond, outside and operating in total disdain of the law of the land or the will of the people - supreme, Olympian, perfect, dominant, lethal, and accountable to no one, and nothing.

Even a cursory review of FACTBASEDREALIT, or current or recent history, or the hard grizzly math in Iraq, globally, or here in the homeland, or any examination of the opinions, fears, trepidations, suspicions, and exceedingly intense LACK of TRUST by 85% of the worlds human beings - should provide a glaring (realistic) impression of the terrible truth - that the festering litany of abuse, deception, FAILURE, dereliction of duty, treason, and wanton profiteering of and by select oligarchs, cabals, klans, and cronies in, or beholden to the Bush government destroyed all trust in this government and America - and Bush government brutish hubris, uncouth, beasty supremacy, rapturist evangelical religious fanaticism, and radically fascist machinations have effectively ERASED any dim hope of credibility, legitimacy, supremacy, good will, faith, trust, or basic respect for anyone in the Bush government.

It is only the sheeple, complicit parrots the socalled MSM, fanaticus truebelieves, and the shades, shaitans, iblis, and fiends in, or beholden to the Bush government - that support, defend, respect, or any way believe or pretennd that any action by the Bush government is deserving the peoples respect, trust, goodwill, or good faith.

In truth, - the Bush government breaks the law "repeatedly and incistently, and has ruthlessly betrayed America, the American people, and perverted the core principles that formally defined the unique expermiment in democracy that was once America.

"Deliver us from evil".

In the end, - the shades, shaitans, iblis, warmongers, rapturists, and wanton profiteers in the Bush government do NOT deserve the trust, good faith, or good will of 85% of humantiy.

If realist cannot comprehend or at least ponder this sad grim reality, - then they are pretenders, or complicit in the rape and dismembering of America by the fascist warmongers, profiteers, and rapturist fanatics in the Bush government who have failed, decieved, abused, abandoned, betrayed America and the American peoples.

What will it take to open the eyes of a somnabulant America?

Suspension of the Bill of Rights,
Concentrations camps.
Mass extermination,
What will it take for America to open our collective eyes to the glaringly obvious, obscene, naked, and perfidious monsters commandering our governments?
If the US had a more creative approach, it could tell the Russians that diversification for Europe via Azerbaijan could create conditions for more Russian gas to south and east Asia, where Russia could increase market share but at the same time we could lessen the Russian dominance on the European market.
You asked for comments from the region. Not Greek or Turkish but a perspective from Macedonia:

FOCUS News Agency

Skopje. Macedonia and Albania have an interest in Gazprom expanding its gas pipeline from Bulgaria to Macedonia and Albania, Macedonian newspaper Dnevnik reads today.
Macedonia’s Economy Minister Fatmir Besimi and his Albanian colleague Genc Ruli signed a letter in which they express their wish to realize this initiative yesterday.
After the meeting Fatmir Besimi stated his country was ready for cooperation in sphere of energy between the two countries and that a regional dialogue on this issue must be initiated.
A Greek perspective, from Takis Lainas, at

You saw what happened. The moment we agreed on Russia’s involvement in the Greek soil in the case of the Stroytransgazgas pipe from Turkey through Greece to Italy, Condoleeza arrived to wag her finger to us. And not only that, but she is trying to throw out Gazprom from Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipe using Chevron as a wedge. The question is what are we doing about it?

It is a difficult decision, but, as a good friend, knowledgeable about the energy sector told me: “Between you and me, I prefer to depend on Chevron , BP or Shell, if for no other reason, because I know who they are and what they stand for. At least they know the rules of the game, I’ll hand them that. The “others” are novices and their moods change from one moment to the next. Therefore, let us wait to see some indication of consistency first, and then we will make up our minds.”

Till then, however, it seems we are moving in the dark.
If you can't stop the Germans and their North European Gas Pipeline, you roam the Balkans preaching about the inherent evil of russian natural gas.
Exactly. The problem with the Russian government is that it has a foreign policy. The problem with Russian influence is that it exists. Did you see Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorsky blathering about how the Baltic gas pipeline deal is another Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? Simply insane. Just like George, Dick, Rummy, and Condi.
Nick, I agree that this isn't a good example of bargaining by the Bush Administration.

Personally, I have yet to see a good example of bargaining by it: I'm not sure why you're surprised. This adminstration has two ways of thinking about other states: Good Guy and Bad Guy. Good Guys get, essentially, support for whatever they want, barring domestic political calculations. Bad Guys get knee-jerk-opposition to everything. Russia has recently, and for this I actually applaud the Administration, shifted into the Bad Guy camp. At heart.

Of course, a completely different take is that Condoleeza's speech is a warning shot, not serious opposition - sort of like the warning shots aplenty we've had from Russia that sanctions aren't even on the table with Iran.


Nixon Center '02
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