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Unfiled December 12, 2003
 
How do you spell Hypocrisy? O-S-C-E
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
Page 5 of 5
 
In the 1990s, the United States essentially backed, funded and created, through proxies such as Anatoly Chubais, the oligarchical system that emerged under Yeltsin. That system allowed American business to acquire assets and gain access to crucial Russian resources. This arrangement worked well under the pliant Yeltsin, but became more complicated under Putin. Until this summer, the West had hoped and believed Putin was, to use Clinton's words, "A man we can do business with."

Starting with the arrest this summer of major Yukos shareholder Platon Lebedev, the West saw its access and its potential assets slipping away. The results of Sunday's elections will likely only further this trend, putting Russian resources farther out of reach of U.S. multinational hands.

"The Bush people will freak about the energy issues if the Kremlin [with the backing of the new parliament] goes after the oil," said Cohen. "I don't think Bush cares about the rest."

Indeed, relations between Bush and Putin have soured markedly over the past year and a half, ever since their post-9/11 love-in at Crawford seemed to bind them together. The breakdown started with a series of humiliations of Putin by the Bush Administration shortly after the war in Afghanistan turned in its favor: tearing up the ABM Treaty, slapping on steel tariffs, expanding NATO and introducing Green Berets into Georgia on Russia's border.

This year, Putin struck back. He has been one of the strongest critics of the war in Iraq, complicating Bush's Mideast takeover plans. In Georgia, Putin quietly engineered a takeover of strategic energy assets, throwing America's access to Caspian Sea oil into doubt, which prompted the U.S. to engineer a coup against Georgia's leader, Edward Shevardnadze, last month. (This is still playing out as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stopped recently in Georgia to call for the withdrawal of Russian forces there, while Russia is slowly turning up the separatism heat on Georgia, threatening to split it apart.).Putin arrested Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the darling of the U.S. political and financial establishment (recently it was reported that Bush called Putin to express his concern over the arrest, while Putin countered that power in Iraq should be handed over to its people immediately). And now, Putin has engineered the election which finally threw the pro-American political parties out of power.

Indeed the acrimony has hit such a peak that while Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder both congratulated Putin on his election victory, Bush sent out word that he was "concerned" about the election process. The Kremlin snidely retorted that following Florida 2000, Bush had no moral right to judge other people's elections.

Now the OSCE's mission makes more sense. They found religion -- the religion of democratic elections -- because the West has not been getting its way with Russia. Now, with the election results throwing its proxy politicians out into the cold, America is trying to de-legitimize the election process that weakened its influence, even though the election process is no different from those that helped put its proxies into power in previous elections. The OSCE condemnation of the Russian elections is both a serious diplomatic strike and a threat that things can get a lot worse if Russia doesn't learn to play ball again.

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Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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