Multi-polar stand off in the Caucasus

Dick Cheney's week-long trip to the Caucasus was organized with two objectives in mind; to isolate Russia from its allies in Europe and speed up NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine. He has failed on both counts. No one in Europe wants a confrontation with Russia or another decades-long year nuclear standoff.

Cheney's Caucasus gambit was a last ditch effort for the oil and natural gas of the resource-rich Caspian Basin. The trip really had nothing to do with resolving differences between Tbilisi and Moscow. His real goal was to secure a larger share of the region's dwindling oil supplies before he leaves office.

However, Vladimir Putin has spent the last eight years building partnerships and creating an expansive energy network that provides vast amounts of oil and natural gas to European homes and industries. Europe depends on Russia now and wants to maintain friendly relations.

It is understandable that Cheney would be upset over Moscow's success in securing crucial hydrocarbons and pipeline corridors via the free market while the US has languished in Iraq and Afghanistan with nothing to show for its efforts except one million dead Iraqis, 4 million refugees, and a legacy of disgrace.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev drew a line in the sand, posing a direct challenge to the America's continued dominance in global security, reiterating the Putin Doctrine as it was originally stated in Munich: "The world must be multi-polar. Single polarity is unacceptable. Russia cannot accept a world order, in which any decisions will be made by a sole nation, even such a serious one as the United States.”

In short, a resurgent Russia--flush with the wealth derived from its vast oil and natural gas supplies--has become a stumbling block for US regional aspirations.

[Excerpt of an article by Mike Whitney]

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