Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Green Mr. Putin?

Kurt Vonnegut wrote gleefully of granfalloons, a wonderful construct we've all observed in our lives. His prime example was Hoosiers -- not just people from Indiana, but people from Indiana who, as Hoosiers, felt themselves part of something bigger ... a false community they believed to be real. Sure, there are people from Indiana, but there is no cosmic fellowship involved; it's just geographic coincidence.

Vladimir Putin is doing a big of granfallooning of his own, saying in Iran yesterday that no Caspian Sea nation should allow its lands to be used for attacks against other Caspian sea nations. He was obviously wagging a finger at Azerbaijan, warning its leadership not to allow the US to use bases there to attack Iran.

His Kaspian Konstruct also works well for him not just on global policy issues, but also on economic ones, since it allows him to attack any effort by other Caspian nations to better themselves without Moscow breathing heavily down their necks, sour vodka smell and all.
Putin, whose trip to Tehran is the first by a Kremlin leader since World War II, warned that energy pipeline projects crossing the Caspian could only be implemented if all five nations that border the Caspian support them.

Putin did not name any specific country, but his statement underlined Moscow's strong opposition to U.S.-backed efforts to build pipelines to deliver hydrocarbons to the West bypassing Russia.
It's an interesting theory that doesn't play too well on a world stage. Imagine Egypt telling Spain it can't undertake some project because there wasn't unanimity among Mediterranean nations. What could be his justification? Oh -- it's One Earth drivel!
"Projects that may inflict serious environmental damage to the region cannot be implemented without prior discussion by all five Caspian nations," he said.
That's got to be the Laugher of the Week, given Russia's long history of environmental destruction on the Caspian Sea, the desires of other Caspian nations be damned.

Back in 2003, the UN set up yet another useless task force, this one to help improve the environment of the Caspian, and in announcing the effort, it laid out what Caspian nations (with the exception of Iran, all former Soviet states) had done to their common sea:
The Caspian Sea is under severe stress from industrial pollution, toxic and radioactive wastes, agricultural run-off, sewage, and leaks from oil extraction and refining.

Other threats include uncontrolled fishing of caviar-producing sturgeon, the overexploitation of other marine resources, and the destruction of the region’s biological diversity, which includes some 400 species unique to the Caspian. On top of this, water levels are currently rising, threatening coastal communities and ecosystems.
Now suddenly the leader of the world's greatest polluter wants veto authority over any project -- even one designed by Americans with environmental protections incorporated that the Soviets would never have dreamed of -- that steps foot in the polluted Caspian environment. Once the laughter dies down, the Caspian states should tell him they don't care one bit if their oil resources get sold on the world market without Moscow's meddling.

In these statements, Putin shows himself to be a member of something that is decidedly not a granfalloon: that large pack of self-aggrandizing world leaders who put rhetoric far ahead of reason or truth.

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