Sackass's Excellent Adventure

Looking back now to early August, it's clear that the Georgian debacle really did touch off a major realignment of power.

It was obvious early on that the European countries did not want to anger Russia. They need Russian oil and gas.

The disastrous military adventure OK'd by the U.S. gave Putin the excuse he needed to declare the return of Russia as a regional power and nip American energy plans in the bud, with huge consequences. Now more than ever, the EU countries will be loathe to anger Russia. America's recent signing of the missile defence agreement with Poland has further angered Putin, and it is European countries that could suffer the consequences.

European members of NATO recently moderated the aggressive American push for membership for the Ukraine and Georgia by saying it would come "eventually." But that now looks to be a very long way off. Would the European members of NATO really want to engage in a war with Russia over another incursion into tiny Georgia? They would be obliged to do so if Georgia was a member.

Now that a few months have passed, the Europeans can gingerly offer some goodies to the post-Soviet countries, under the watchful eye of the Russian bear of course. One wrong move and... Thwack!

The European Commission is to propose pulling the EU`s six post-Soviet neighbours closer to the West by recognising their "European aspirations" and creating a new "European Economic Area." But a draft communique indicates that EU-Russia relations have preferential status, EUObserver reported.

"The conflict in Georgia in August 2008 and its broader repercussions have resulted in increased awareness of the vulnerability of Eastern partners," the draft commission communication on the Eastern Partnership (EP) - seen by EUobserver - says. "There is a sense of urgency among member states as to the need to enhance relations with our Eastern neighbours to support them in drawing closer to the EU."

The new EU policy - first floated by Poland and Sweden last year - proposes signing "Association Agreements" with Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the next few years and to "acknowledge the European identity and aspirations of these countries."

The draft communique underlines that the new pacts, which recall the association treaties signed with Poland or Lithuania prior to the 2004 round of enlargement, do not amount to a promise of future accession. "The conclusion of Association Agreements will be without prejudice to the partners` European aspirations."

But the EP is to contain measures designed to send "a clear and lasting political message of EU solidarity" and to "produce benefits perceived and recognised by citizens of the partner countries."

In other words, the people living in these post-Soviet countries can 'feel' like they're Europeans, but they're not, although they can all trade and share certain things...eventually.

The moves include establishing "a single deep and comprehensive free trade area, providing the basis for the development of a common internal market, such as the European Economic Area [EEA]," which the EU currently has with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The future EEA will require the six states to "take over the entire acquis communautaire [the EU`s legal code], including the acceptance of European Court of Justice rulings."

The Eastern Partnership will aim to create visa free travel in the long-term, but to waive the cost of obtaining EU visas more quickly and to set up Common Application Centres in the six countries to help people enter the EU`s passport-free Schengen zone.

In exchange for throwing these 'European aspiring' post-Soviet people a bone, Europe gets something from Russia, and Sarkozy gets The Credit.

On the energy front, memorandums of understanding are to help guarantee EU energy security, leading to "joint management, and even ownership of pipelines by companies of supplier, transit and consumer countries."

The draft communique indicates that Armenia should close its Medzamor nuclear plant and notes EU "concern" over energy infrastructure in conflict zones, such as a Russia-Balkans gas pipeline running through the disputed Moldovan region of Transdniestria.

At the institutional level, the commission is to publish the final version of its EP communication on 3 December, in time for the French EU presidency`s last summit on 11 December to cement the text in its conclusions.

After that, it's more or less on the slow boat.

The draft communique proposes holding an "Eastern Partnership Summit" in June 2009 to launch the project. Follow-up meetings of EU and Eastern Partnership foreign ministers are to take place each Spring. "Senior officials" from the "27 + 5(6)" countries are to meet twice-yearly to prepare for the ministerials.

The European Partnership is to raise the EU`s per capita spending in the region from the current €6 per head to €12 per head by 2013 and €20 per head by 2020, compared to the current €30 per head in the Balkans. The shift will cost €2.1 billion, atop the lost income of €75 million per year as a result of waiving EU visa costs.

All of this being contingent on keeping neighbor Russia happy.

A brief sentence in the political preamble of the commission`s draft communique indicates that EU-Russia relations will take priority over EU relations with the Eastern Partnership countries, however.

"The Eastern Partnership ...should be seen as complementary to the relations between the EU and Russia that include a dialogue on our common neighbourhood," the draft text states.

The EU already gives Russia privileged treatment compared to other post-Communist neighbours such as Ukraine in trade and visa negotiations, offering to let Russian passenger jets fly in the EU under Russian rules or to change EU visa laws to help Russians travel into the union.

So. Russia made out all right from Saakashvili's stupidity. Was it a trap that the Israelis and the US fell into? Or was it just us that fell into the trap? A Russian analyst predicts our decline and breakup.

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: "A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles."

He also cited the "vulnerable political setup", "lack of unified national laws", and "divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions."

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

He even suggested that "we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all."

Please, if you're going to take over Alaska, take Sarah Palin with it.

And what about Israel? We can't ever forget about Israel. Well, Israel is busy making plans for our demise. When you have only one friend, and that friend is dying, you need to make new friends.
Israel's defence establishment in a recommendation paper to be presented to the Cabinet has asked it to make contingency plans to attack Iran, reach a peace agreement with Syria and prevent polls in the Palestinian areas even if Tel Aviv has to confront with the US.

...The paper strongly recommends close cooperation with US to prevent a deal between Washington and Tehran that would undermine Israel's interests.
Even if you feel like, you know....Eeeeeeww.
The paper calls for"an agreement with Syria", despite the "heavy price Israel would have to pay".

...The paper proposes various steps to strengthen Jewish state's ties with moderate Sunni Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia. "Israel must examine ways to expand its dialogue with Saudi Arabia on various shared interests."
Let's close the loop. Syria and Russia have a mutual admiration society, so when Israel sucks up to Syria, Israel is sucking up to Russia. Which Israel needs to do. This 8.23 article by Sami Moubayed gives an impressive review of the diplomatic pressures involved. It's well worth reading the whole thing. Written before the financial crisis imploded, he posits that the US would need to bring the Syrians and the Israelis to the same table; but it appears that in this bizarro time between the financial crisis and January 20th, the Bush administration has indeed become completely irrelevant. The Israelis will talk to Syria without us, and in fact, it looks like they're planning to ditch us completely. This proves that power has truly shifted. We must be toast.

One has to wonder...Russia has come out way ahead in geopolitical power, we're on the skids, the Israelis are acting totally weird, and Saakass is still alive...

Is any of this an accident?


MarcLord said...

Israel has been involved in two disastrous summer defeats in three years. They desperately want to be an oil player. Specifically, they want a cut of the BTC pipeline now that the promised line out of Iraq is a long shot, and they line, running through Tbilisi, to not get cut. It was cut by bombs in the war, so they put the oil on trains. Russians cut the rails.

Appeasing Russia is Israel's best energy security play, and Russia doesn't give a damn about Palestinians.

As for the US, Israel has been a miltiary liability for the past decade, at least. It will be leaned on very, very hard to let up on Palestine, and we'll see if there's enough remaining leverage.

A. Peasant said...

I don't trust the Israelis for anything. This whole financial mess they've been whistling past the graveyard.

MarcLord said...

You don't want to know what I think of Israelis.

Just made a little link to this post.

A. Peasant said...

I'm sure I know exactly what you mean. :)

Many thanks for linkage.

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