Posts Tagged ‘iceland’

Bear in the backyard

Monday, October 13th, 2008

More news on the Resurgent Bear: lost amidst the financial/campaigning chaos of last week was the item that Russia is laying the groundwork to help Cuba build its own space center. This is a deft move by Putin; in a stroke he simultaneously continues to put more pressure on the Americans while giving Russia a potential alternative to Central Asia’s Baikonur, which is too far north to be ideal for space launch purposes. We can start to see in all this glimpses of the world of the MIRRORED HEAVENS, in which considerations of launch real-estate drive geopolitics.

But only glimpses.  From a space hardware perspective, Russia would be advised not to place too many eggs into the Cuban basket; Baikonur may be less-than-perfect, but it’s still a damn sight easier to defend credibly than something within ten minutes of Miami.  Though proximity offers opportunities too, as witnessed by Moscow’s mulling over the explosive possibility of putting nuclear bombers into Cuba too.  And the larger pattern is clear, as Russia continues to make inroads on the U.S.’s privileged position in the western hemisphere.  I talked about Iceland yesterday; the Cuban move is linked to the already-in-progress Venezuelan one.

And all of it links right back to Europe, of course.  At the end of the day, Russia isn’t interested in playing puppetmaster in the U.S. backyard because it’s trying to invade New York or any of the other RED DAWN bullshit that the mainstream media seems to buy into.  These are just more cards to play as the U.S. continues to build missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe while supporting no-hopers like Saakashvili in the Caucasus and urging NATO membership for every nation in #$# Eurasia.  Ultimately this is a game of realpolitik, and it’s about time we stopped with the endless moralizing/attempt to define the entire planet as our sphere of influence (something only nations with unlimited treasuries can indulge in) and started conducting our international relations like professionals do.  Because right now the pros are running rings around us.

Iceland, Russia, and the coming Arctic Ocean smackdown

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Iceland has gone bust. But all is not lost. Swimming toward them is. . .a bear! It’s Russia! Vladimir Putin no less, looking as sexy as ever in those bathing trunks of his. Russia is loaning Iceland about the equivalent of a third of Iceland’s GDP, and God only knows what the terms are going to be. I’m sure it’s not going to come cheap, though; although it seems unlikely Russia will get a base out of it (not yet anyway), they’re clearly going to have a lot more maneuvering room in the North Atlantic now.  In fact, it seems that this could become the greatest Russian foreign policy coup since . . .since . . .shit, since Cuba?  Anyone want to help me put this in perspective?

I should also point out that this has occurred despite the fact that the Russian stock market has shut down several times in the last month.  What people often miss, though, is that that stuff doesn’t matter as much over there:  their stock market handles a fraction of their economy, whereas it turned out OUR stock market handled many times our economy’s weight in bullshit assets.  Score one for more primitive markets.  Russia is now able to use its immense foreign currency reserves to stir up additional trouble for a weakening West, and Iceland is the first such move.

It won’t be the last, though.  And Iceland is particularly interesting:  in the Cold War, it was the key to the sea-lanes between the U.S. and Europe; had the shooting started, it would have been essential for the Red Navy to neutralize Iceland in order to cut the supply-lines to NATO forces in Western Europe seeking to resist a Warsaw Pact invasion.  Now Iceland’s geopolitical angle may be a little different.  As global warming keeps on opening up the Arctic Ocean, Russia is getting ever more interested in claiming ever vaster areas of energy-rich seabed.  She planted a flag on the North Pole last year, much to Canada’s chagrin.  (Harper’s comprehensive 07 article on this issue is well worth reading.)  And now there’s even been talk that Canada should invite Iceland to join it, just like it did to Newfoundland back in the 1940s:  after all, Reykjavik is no further from Ottowa than Vancouver.  Someone may yet save Bjork from the bear.