Football diplomacy

          Who ever thought that news from Azerbaijan would be of interest? Well grab your thinking caps, kids, and start thinking about not just Baku, but Dushanbe, Tashkent, Astana and Bishkek, because that’s where the action is about to be, if you ask me, which, once again, no one has. Sigh. Anyway, Baku got as friendly a visit as it is possible to get from our grumpy friend Dick Cheney the other day. One can only guess that it left the Azeris feeling a bit like toothpaste, about to be shot out of the tube. Dick is squeezing the tube in his typical gorilla grip while Russia’s Putin – oops! I meant Medvedev – is trying to roll the tube up methodically from the bottom by signing yet another deal with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to pipe gas to Russia; a pipeline which would make the Nabucco pipeline, favored not only by Baku, but by Dick and the rest of the Western Imperialists, obsolete. Given all this high-level attention Continue reading

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Hubris

 

 

          The volume of chest-thumping moxie pouring out of the Kremlin these days, swift and ebullient as a mountain stream, could choke a horse. President Medvedev, proud and provoked, labeled Georgia’s actions in South Ossetia a genocide – even though the death toll appears to be about 200 Ossetians – and declared independence for his Caucasian brethren.  As if he could.  His moral rectitude has metastasized to hubris. Until someone, anyone else agrees that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are sovereign nations, the Russians are occupiers.  Konstatin Zatulin, who is the Duma official in charge of former republics explained the Russian position thus: “The time when we needed Western applause is over.”  Prime Minister Putin said -perhaps presciently, perhaps prophetically- that Kosovo’s independence from Serbia was a precedent. Go figure.

          But when it comes to partitioning states, Moscow should be careful what it asks for, for it just might get it, and get it good and hard. Chechnya, after all, is right next door to Georgia, wants out of Continue reading