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The Asian Century

In a speech in Lithuania' capital city Vilnius, Dick Cheney gave the Russian government a shot in the face over the bow over its use of oil and gas resources for political purposes. Earlier this year, Russia brought the Ukrainian government to heel by shutting off the gas taps for a short time. I'll leave the idea that economics and politics are ever actually separate for smarter people than I and simply quote the Veep:
No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation
Cheney also criticized the Russian government for maintaining troops in former Soviet republics saying, apparently with a straight face, "No one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor." (Okay, I guess Iraq technically isn't a "neighbour" in the strict sense.)

If this strong language between erstwhile allies surprises you, then you, like me, have not been paying attention to the recent chilling in the relationship between Russia and the US. This has been highlighted, but by no means began, with the current standoff over what to do about Iran.

As is often the case, much of the immediate issue has to do with oil. After Ukraine's gas was cut off in January, European business leaders began suggesting that Russia was not a reliable source. In addition, British regulators are currently holding meetings to try to figure out a way to prevent Gazprom (the Russian gas megalith) from buying out the largest British gas distributor, Centrica. (The reader will be forgiven if he or she draws some parallel between this and the recent political fight over the failed attempted Chinese takeover of Unocal in the US.)

In response to "unprincipled competition" blocking Gazprom's expansion in Europe, Vladimir Putin has suggested that Russia may begin to redirect oil and gas to the growing Asian markets. While Gazprom officials insist that Putin's statement refers only to developing new markets in Asia and does not mean that they would actually reduce exports to Europe, which they actually see as increasing, western observers note that this indicates a new strength in the Russian position, one that could be used for political as well as economic advantage.

Before our very eyes we see the onset of the Asian century, and the waning of the American.

Hence the strong language from Cheney.

Time to bone up on Mandarin and Cantonese.

He he, I love it when Dick Cheney talks about not politicizing il. THAT'S rich.

I'm sure that when Cheney said that he was laughing on the inside.

I wonder what exactly Cheney would find humourous? I mean, what exactly would make him laugh?

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