T Nation

Why Are We Baiting Putin?


Why Are We Baiting Putin?
by Patrick J. Buchanan

"[N]o legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply management or attempt to monopolize transportation," thundered Vice President Cheney to the international pro-democracy conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.

"[N]o one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements."

Cheney's remarks were directed straight at the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin, who is to host the G-8 Conference in July.

Cheering Cheney on is John McCain, front-runner for the GOP nomination, who has urged President Bush to snub Putin by boycotting the G-8 summit. What the GOP is thus offering the nation right now is seven more years of in-your-face bellicosity in foreign policy.

What does McCain think we would accomplish ? other than a new parading of our moral superiority ? by so public an insult to Putin and Russia as a Bush boycott of the St. Petersburg summit? Do we not have enough trouble in this world, do we not have enough people hating us and Bush that we have to get into Putin's face and antagonize the largest nation on earth and a co-equal nuclear power? What is the purpose of this confrontation diplomacy? What does it accomplish?

Eisenhower and Nixon did not behave like this. Nor did Ford or Bush's father. Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire" once. But the Soviet Union we confronted in those years was hostile. Until lately, today's Russia was not. Yet the Bush boys are in their pulpits, admonishing the world's sinners every day.

What is their beef with Putin's policy?

In January, Putin decided to stop piping subsidized gas to Kiev and start charging the market price. Reason: Ukraine's president, elected with the assistance of U.S. foundations and quasi-government agencies, said he was reorienting Kiev's foreign policy away from Russia and toward NATO and the United States.

If you are headed for NATO, Putin was saying to President Viktor Yushchenko, you can forget the subsidized gas.

Now this is political hardball, but it is a game with which America is not altogether unfamiliar. When Castro reoriented his policy toward Moscow, Cuba's sugar allotment was terminated. U.S. diplomats went all over the world persuading nations not to buy from or sell to Cuba. Economic sanctions on Havana endure to today. We supported, over Reagan's veto, sanctions on South Africa. We have used sanctions as a stick and access to the U.S. market as a carrot since we became a nation. What, after all, was "Dollar Diplomacy" all about?

Cheney accuses Moscow of employing pipeline diplomacy ? i.e., using its oil and gas pipelines to benefit some nations and cut out others. But the United States does the same thing, as it seeks to have the oil and gas of Central Asia transmitted to the West in pipelines that do not transit Iran or Russia.

"[N]o one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor," declared Cheney in Vilnius. How the vice president could deliver that line with a straight face escapes me.

Does Cheney not recall our "Captive Nations Resolutions," calling for the liberation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which, though free between the two world wars, had long belonged to the Russian empire? Does he not recall conservative support for the breakup of the Soviet Union? Does he not recall conservative support for the secession of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, and more recently Kosovo, from a Serb-dominated Yugoslavia?

What concerns Cheney is Moscow's support for the secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. Georgia's president was also elected with the aid of pro-democracy NGOs, mostly funded by Uncle Sam. All these color-coded revolutions in East Europe and Central Asia bear the label, Made in the U.S.A.

When Cheney says, "No one can justify actions that ? interfere with democratic movements," he is hauling water for Freedom House, headed by ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, and similar agencies, which Putin wants shut down or kicked out of Russia for interfering in her internal affairs.

We Americans consider the Monroe Doctrine ? no foreign power is to come into our hemisphere ? to be holy writ. Why, then, can we not understand why Russia might react angrily to our interference in her politics or the politics of former Russian republics?

The effect of U.S. expansion of NATO deep into Eastern Europe, U.S. interference in the politics of the former Soviet republics, and U.S. siting of military bases in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia has been to unite Russia and China, and undo the diplomacy of several successive U.S. presidents.

How has this made us more secure?

If we don't want these people in our backyard, what are we doing in theirs? If we don't stop behaving like the British Empire, we will end up like the British Empire.



I was wondering the same thing myself. I have no freaking idea.


I hope my lefty friends are aware that russia has been a rather unreliable ally as of late.

There is strong suspicion that russian spetsnaz units moved WMD and other material prior to the invasion of Iraq. People aren't happy with said ties to saddam's government.

They are making noises about vetoing any action against iran (aka making deterrance more difficult). Finally, they are pretty cozy with tehran.

Then there is their human rights record.

In all, russia has to understand that we have our eyes on them.

That is my opinion.




When are you and your bum buddies going to join up so that we have enough manpower to invade Russia? I say we because Canada has a conservative government, I'm sure we'd go too!

Wouldn't that be great? Friends again, killing worldwide, invading, conquering, oh those were the good old days. Sniff. I miss them. Campfire meals, living in tents, swerving around IED's, oh, that's the life for me.

When is the invasion man, enough of the smalltalk, enough of the foreplay... we really wanna know!

I looked on Mapquest, if we invade Iran we'd still have to go through Azerbaijan to get to Russia. Do you think they'd mind? It's not a very big country.

Start packing, I can smell the gunpowder in the night air already.

Your Biggest Fan!


In all, russia has to understand that we have our eyes on them.

Unfortunately, "having our eyes on them" doesn't mean a damn thing. There's really just about nothing we can do about any of that, sad to say.


Oil prices have put Russia back on the map and Cheney is just posturing.


Pat Buchanan's knowledge and intelligence when it comes to foreign policy never cease to impress me.

His views on everything else are miles apart from mine, but when it comes to foreign policy, his insight is always extremely interesting, as much as it is poignant...


Cheney is acting like the big brother that has a little brother that grew up to be bigger than he is. His ego is telling him that he is still my little brother and I can bark at him like I still call the shots. In reality, he really doesn't want to fight him, because he knows that there is a real possibility now that he might get his ass handed to him.

In other words, he is just posturing and Russia, and even the rest of the world, knows it. Iraq has sucked up too much of our resources to make us able to do very much at this point.


I agree, in that respect, Buchanan can be very sharp. Too bad he is totally unstable in the most of his other viewpoints.


Intimidation and black mail. Tsss, tsss, what IS this world coming to...

Yeah yeah yeah yeah. It's very unfair when other countries flex their muscle.

Very unfair indeed.

Now now.

Here here.

There there.

Need a hanky?

I've got an idea.

Why don't we simply declare that just having oil and gasfield on your soil, immediatly make you a member of the axis of evil with access to wmd.

Hmmmm ? ? ?