Friday, August 08, 2008

georgia and why this all ends badly

Shit is hitting the fan in georgia. I'm a bit freaked out about it. Georgia is the first place I've been in my life that has had a war AFTER I've been there. I know and like people there. Bombs are falling within a few dozen miles of their homes right now.

What is going on is, to put it bluntly, europe basically said they're willing to be beholden to russia for gas via pipeline and a return to russia's superpower status. This is obviously their call, but it's also absolutely no good for georgians or any abstract concepts such as self governance. It also 100% ensures the reabsorption of the NIS into Russia or some approximation thereof.

In most regards this represents a total failure of US foreign policy in the region, if not globally. Staking a claim on iraq, brokering deals with the kurds to do so, losing much of the reliance on turkey in the process, absurdist detente with iran, failure to develop a pipeline from the caspian, temporary and useless air bases in the southern steppistans focused on some absurd idea that a quasi-lawless state must be made lawful to prevent terrorism (or, more aptly, to attempt to save face, as afghani pipelines are even less likely than georgian ones, especially given the collapse of independence in the caspian), it's just so much blundering.

I understand that the intelligence community has long viewed energy as the single biggest security element for America's long term prospects, so obviously there are close ties given the complexities of petro-geo-politics, but at some point this relationship got too close. Capture of foreign policy decisions were so complete that long term strategic interests cased to be based on a broad based worldview. I fear (but hope it is not so) that a sense of "victory over communism" slanted the purpose of the intelligence community into a 1 sided perspective that makes for bad foreign policy. Sadly the replacement of "communism" with "islamofascism" (which is a retarded and totally inaccurate term for the real issue) does not provide a distinct enough pole from which to make complicated geopolitic strategic gaming decisions. We are, for all intents and purposes, content with an arrow that point always and only north, and we cannot figure out we can't get there.

What I fear has happened is that we have (and not collectively) snookered ourselves. Georgia was a too little too late backburner. Trust there will be a step higher than with bay of pigs cubans and what political resistance survives russian reassertion long term offers nothing more than instability for all and great cost to georgia most of all.

In light of all of this, it is hard to not respect Putin for his vision and what he has accomplished, despite it's poor implications for our survival as a species.

If there is any hope, it lies in industry and commerce opting to act in its own self interest on energy it can locally control. How did this happen? What is the government supposed to be doing? Not, I would posit, what it's been doing.


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