Chiefly British Odd, strange, or dangerous; rum.
For those of you laboring under the misapprehension that Eurasia watchers have a niche market with little or no competition from the population of wonks-at-large, I say follow the money. Or, in this case, follow the Rummy. It turns out that Donald Rumsfeld has set himself up a foundation with his personal friend S. Frederick Starr (relation to Kenneth?….), head of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute. So far they’ve only financed a fellowship here and there, sending students off to Pipelineistan to study, and so far the money has come from Rummy and some so-far undisclosed “friends” (eventually, when the tax man cometh, those contributors and any sundry un-indicted co-conspirators will have to be named, but that’s okay. For now we can guess. It’s not hard.)
Ostensibly the raison d’etre for the foundation lies in the fact that other post-Soviet countries have expats abroad (presumably because there was fleeing involved) and as far as diasporas go, Central Asia is under-represented, thus denying the Caspians access to the do-gooding of interested bystanders. In short, the Armenians have lots of pull in congress, but nary a mention is ever made in support of the Kyrgyz or Uzbeks, to say nothing of the Tajiks, whom may as well be from Pluto, as far as your average American is concerned, regardless of politics. In supplying this explanation, Mr. Starr added that Rummy was the only senior Bush administration official to pay attention to Central Asia, but in saying so he was either lying or blind. One probable member of the sundry un-indicted coo-coo-conspirators is our friend Dick Cheney, V.P. extraordinaire, who has visited the area no less than four times in a public, on-the-books way, and more than that when he was being secure and undisclosed. Not that I would know anything about it, mind you, I’m just saying. A junket is a junket and by any other name, would still have thorns. The foundation claims that it’s completely non-partisan and apolitical. Of course it is, but is it a-greedical? Methinks I smell round four or five of that popular neo-con game called Let’s Rape Dusty Countries!
I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before, you know. It was Rummy, though, who started that whole axis-of-evil thing, which set into motion a lot more diplomatic hubbub than anyone really expected, I’d say. When he emphasized the evilness of Iran’s end of the axis, he handed the Kremlin a huge stick to walk softly with for a while. Any time Iran wants to, they can do something annoying or confounding, then the Russians can just side with Iran and make the nuclear proliferation problem worse, which is just so irksome to the Americans. It’s leverage that just won’t stop giving. As the inestimable Russophile Robert Amsterdam said “Ayatollahs of Tehran probably have glorious portraits of Rumsfeld hanging on their walls, grateful to hum for granting them such disproportionate influence in the region.” On Rummy’s wrench-in-the-works role in the region, Mark Leonard and Nico Popescue of the European Council on Foreign Relations write: “Russia has emerged as the most divisive issue in the EU since Donald Rumsfeld split the European club into “new” and “old” member states.”
I don’t doubt that Rummy’s division gave the Kremlin an idea or two… hence the feverish clutching of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and all the rest of its erstwhile sphere of influence to its ursine chest. At the same time as it’s doing the bear-hug thing, Russia is busy nipping at the heels of individual EU member states, cutting them from the herd by signing long-term energy supply contracts with them, and as an added bonus, trashing any attempts at banding together to diminish dependence on Russian energy. The EU’s “triple-twenty” plan (decrease greenhouse gas emissions and overall energy use by 20%, and increase renewable energy use by 20% by 2020) doesn’t look like it will help much in ameliorating their dependence on Russian energy anytime soon, either. Certainly not by 2020, if you ask me, which no one has. None of the plan is legally binding, and the energy grid amongst all those countries is less than robust, and probably incapable of handling the inputs from renewable energy sources, anyway. But that’s just my opinion, and who am I?
While the Europeans scrabble away at all of that, Russia has just announced that it will be lowering gas prices to Europe starting next year. It’s like brandishing a hot fudge sundae before a weak-willed dieter. The collective salivation that has caused seems to have blinded Europe to the fact that Russia has adhered to none of the six-point ceasefire agreement it made with Georgia back in August under the watchful eye of Sarky. Nevertheless, EU heads of governments have agreed to resume trade talks with Russia. How stern is that? They should take a few lessons from Rummy. Along with Tricky Dicky he owns the patent on stern, and look where it got us. Or better yet, don’t. Sometimes its better not to know.