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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

07 May 2006

Cheney at Vilnius

Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a sharp rebuke to Russia while in Vilnius, Lithuania; “No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation,” the vice president said. The Russians found the speech “incomprehensible.”

Put aside that America, once again, mocks the European desire for solidarity and pan-European unity; that America is standing up to Russia’s energy “blackmail” more forcefully than Europe is a painful reminder that the mutterings about a coherent European policy on energy remain a joke.

A few months ago, I speculated that America might be called to fill the vacuum and insecurity in Eastern Europe that Western Europe seemed unable or unwilling to attend to (“Energy cold war,” 13 Feb 06). Cheney’s speech can be understood neatly in that light. Ironic that during the 1980s, as the Soviet Union was building an infrastructure to supply natural gas to Europe, America resisted the encroachment because the Soviet Union would gain undue leverage over Europe. America proved wrong then, the Soviet Union played no energy politics. But today that reality haunts America and Europe: Europe for the sense of insecurity it entails, America for the fear that Europe is too dependent on Russia to play tough. Worse still is the fear that a transatlantic divergence over Russia may emerge; with gas flowing from Russia to Europe, is there still a common Western front towards Russia?

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