The Cold War hots up

A decade or so ago the people of Perth had the luxury of geopolitical isolation due to geographic isolation.  

The world sits at our fingertips now.  We could never isolate ourselves morally from what goes on in the world, but we used to be able to shelter ourselves from conflicts that did not impact us.  No longer.  Moreover, we have access to information, often outside of controlled means.  This can be both useful and dangerous.

On the way home from work today I was listening to the radio, both ABC and 6PR, who had political anlaysts talking about the Russian Georgian fighting.  The narrative seemed to be common, that for some unquestionable reason Georgia had initiated cross border violence, Russia had responded with punitive force, and that the USA’s diplomatic position was not consistent with their own response to regional conflicts.  The ability of the USA to take on another front line confrontation was also called into question.

One of the commenators I heard was a Professor of Political Science at Curtin University.  The other was a Dean of a Centre for USA Strategic studies at the University of New South Wales.

As I continued to listen to the commentary, I sensed that an entire dimension of the discussion was missing.  At an academic level it is easy to sit some distance away and criticise the USA for every action they take, but I am starting to get fed up with the lack of moral relativity applied to the respective conflicts that America involves itself in.  I don’t have a problem with the USA looking after its own interests, and at the same time leading the charge of values on behalf of the Western Free world, what’s left of it.

There was a definate lack of strategic insight into what I heard today.  It was shallow commentary because it simply reduced the conflict to an ego stroking power play between two old foes, the USA and Russia.  The ongoing implications of this rapid military conquest by Russia would be minimal in the eyes of the Australian analysts.

Not so, according to Georgian allies and near neighbours Israel.  A major defence procurement trader with Georgia, Israel is also worried that the harsh words directed toward Russia by the USA will lessen the willingness of Russia to contain the irrational nuclear warfare that Iran is openly developing for the purpose of destroying the Jewish State.  But most importantly, the commercial impact of what is happening may well be linked to critical supply lines for trade.  Here is what appeared in Israel National News:

“Channel 2’s expert on the Muslim world, Ehud Ya’ari, told viewers of the central evening newscast that Russia and neighboring countries were vying for control of a strategic oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. This relatively new pipeline passes through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey and is the only pipeline between Asia and Europe that does not pass through Russia or Iran. Israel is expecting to receive oil and gas through the pipeline.

By using the ethnic Russian population in South Ossetia to destabilize Georgia, Russia was making a play for the pipeline, he said. “

The above explanation makes this article all the more serious given the Jerusalem Post now reports Ahmadinejad is enroute to Turkey talking about oil pipelines.

No doubt that the world has been warring over energy supplies for decades, and continues to do so.  Some general awareness of these key strategic drivers would be a welcome addition to the strategic analysis that our local media and academic elite deliver to us about what is suddenly happening, and why.

 

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