[Mb-civic] The Sheik In the Kremlin - Jim Hoagland - Washington Post
swiggard at comcast.net
Sun Sep 18 02:47:36 PDT 2005
The Sheik In the Kremlin
By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, September 18, 2005; Page B07
NEW YORK -- Want to make a former KGB colonel's day? Simple. Climb into
your SUV and cruise your city. Turn up your home or store air
conditioner on a warmish day. Or choose another way to waste energy. You
will bring a smile to Vladimir Putin's face and a bulge to Russia's
Not directly, of course. But by continuing to live unmeasured lives when
it comes to energy consumption, too many Americans could unconsciously
help Putin achieve his strategic objective of making Russia a second
That is, the Russian president would translate his country's bountiful
natural gas and oil reserves into political influence and power abroad.
In return for "energy security," the United States and Europe would
presumably leave Putin alone as he tightened political control at home
and waged a brutal counterinsurgency in Russia's Chechnya province.
The framework for such a strategy -- with the realpolitik details
discreetly omitted -- was sketched by Putin in Moscow earlier this month
as he prepared to travel to Germany, the United Nations and then to
Washington for his meeting with President Bush on Friday. Trading energy
supplies for wealth and influence was on his mind and on his agenda.
Russia is not unique in wanting to gain influence through its oil and
gas exports. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to which
Russia does not belong, exists for that purpose. But Russia's size,
history, continuing ambitions and concerns in the Eastern and Central
European areas it once controlled as the Soviet Union, and its vast
nuclear arsenal, make it a special case that needs special attention.
So does the timing of its arrival as a global energy superpower. Surging
demand from China and India, the costliest natural disaster in U.S.
history, a global war on terrorism centered on the Middle East and
Central Asia and other events have rocked energy markets and created
unprecedented fluidity in alignments between producers and consumers.
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