Essel on the Journal

Making Russia Pay the Price for its Abominable Outrages

by Dave Essel

In my note Three Cheers for Georgia on August 13, I put forward some suggestions for civilised and proper actions that could be taken to bring home to Russia and its people the seriousness of such barbaric behaviour.

I am very pleased to see than no less an organ than the Wall Street Journal is advocating similar ideas in a opinion piece datelined August 15 entitled The Kremlin’s ‘Protection’ Racket by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey.

In this article, which LR reproduces above, the authors, inter alia, conclude:

It is important that Moscow pays a concrete and tangible price for its latest aggression, at least comparable to the price it paid for the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Visa denials to all individuals connected to the Russian government and vigorous oversight and enforcement activities against Moscow’s state-owned companies would be a good way to start. Given Russia’s historic insecurities, and the desire of Russian plutocrats to travel freely throughout the world, educate their children in the West, and own property overseas, such modest measures would be quite effective. Russia’s WTO membership should be blocked and its G-8 participation suspended.

The whole article is well worth reading. I still like my suggestions, which were:

* See to it Russia is thrown out of the G8 (by advocating it, writing to our representatives, and using any other such means to that end);

* See to it that Russia’s UN mandate to act as ‘peacekeeper’ in South Ossetia and Abkhazia is terminated. They won’t go, of course, but their banditry will then be evident to all.

It’s beginning to look like these will happen. And, still to be pushed for:

* Since Russia and its citizens (who ‘democratically elected’ their government or at least are doing nothing to prevent its continued existence) have put themselves beyond the pale as far as civilised behaviour in the 21st century is concerned, all Western and truly democratic governments should begin an immediate moratorium (or at the very least a massive reduction) on the issuing of non-essential visitor visas to Russian citizens wishing to visit the civilised world. This might help bring home to the Russian people that they do bear collective responsibility for the actions of their government.

* Georgia should be provided with a great deal of military assistance by the USA and European countries, in particular in the deployment of a serious anti-aircraft defence capability;

* Individuals can and should take such actions as buying shares in Georgian companies, visit the country as tourists (it’s a lovely place), buy Georgian products (great mineral water, interesting wines, etc)

* Boycott Russia and Russian products. (A bit difficult this, since the country doesn’t make anything much that anyone wants!). However, we can encourage a friend and do down our foe by insisting on Wodka Wyborowa instead of Stoli for our vodkas on the side and martinis and we can refrain from going to Russia as tourists.

* Get our pop stars to boycott the Eurovision song contest.

* Boycott the Sochi Olympics (if the Russians don’t have to give up on it first because they can’t get the place ready.)

I am sure that more ideas could be developed and implemented. LR is widely read as the latest stunning statistics show, so suggestions made here will probably be seen “где надо”, as the Russians say.

By the way, I somewhat disagree with the WSJ authors that “visas [should be denied] to all individuals connected to the Russian government” as I think the ban should go far wider. For the time being, the West should be saying that we do not want ANY Russians around us except those needing shelter from internal persecution.

It should also be emphasised that the authors of this article have come up with one truly wonderful addition to my hastily written list – “vigorous oversight and enforcement activities against Moscow’s state-owned companies”. Such an action is long overdue but better late than never! Gunvor (turnover 450 million barrels of Russian oil per year and revenue of $30 billion; founder, 55 year old Gennady Timchenko, an ex-KGB agent, said to be a close friend of Vladimir Putin from the 1990s), GazProm, and the others should get their tree shook too.

5 responses to “Essel on the Journal

  1. >It should also be emphasised that the authors of this article have come up with one truly wonderful addition to my hastily written list – “vigorous oversight and enforcement activities against Moscow’s state-owned companies”

    Is the “civilized world” ready to do without Russian oil and gas? :))

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: Why not? It managed quite well during the first Cold War, and the USSR was utterly destroyed. What’s more, Russia’s oil and gas resources are finite and will run out one day no matter what. If you find that funny, you are an utter moron.

  2. We have to be careful as they have Nukes and lost pride due to collapse of USSR. We must be very carefil. How bad can a country be tht has McDonalds, Marriott and Hilton. After all diidnt the Georgians attack first. What is going on is not good but risking a nuclear conflict is not worth any country. The Russians are not Soviet but like all the things we have so Georgia can be prosperous and happy under any politic. Georgia should remain indepenedent BUT IT AINT WORTH NUCLEAR WAR!!!!

  3. “…
    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

    To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

    — John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address

  4. @Eugene
    Re oil: Russia’s only source of money is its oil (and a few other minerals). It makes nothing else of any value to anyone and imports most of its consumer goods. Therefore Russia needs to sell its oil no less than we like to buy it. Even if, say, Russia decided it would no longer supply the West with oil&gas, it would then have to either go stony broke or sell it to e.g. China. (Not that this can be done in a hurry because of billions’s worth of pipelines that took a long time to build). And even if it does sell to China, that only frees up other supplies that the West can buy.
    Short-term, oil is not really part of the equation since it appears in buy/sell form on both sides of it that cancel each out.
    Long-term, the (not very frightening) oil blackmail is – oddly – a force for the good as it is obliging the West, home of most invention and enterprise, to find new sources of the stuff, new ways of economising the stuff, and new ways of replacing the stuff.
    And when that’s done, the feeble blackmailers will be stuffed.

    “US has few economic levers against Russia”

    @Dave Essel
    your analysis on Russia’s feeble energy blackmail is rather wrong. First of all, Russia’s source of money is not only oil but also gas, weapons. In fact, energy makes up about 60% of Russia’s exports. What about the remaining 40%?
    Second, while Russia will need to sell its oil, it also has around $600bn in reserves not taking into consideration its Stability Fund (or whatever it has been split into since the beginning of the year). You also do not take not of that demand is increasing in China but also India due to rapid economic growth. On the other hand supply is gradually declining and there are not that many long or short term plans for new projects in the field. Fourth, your assumption that Russia’s potential refusal to supply western countries with oil/gas would free other supplies is totally invalid. Are you implying that Russia is forcing the west to buy its oil? If the “west” wanted to couldn’t it cancel purchases from Russia on its own? Last time I checked, buying was something that happened voluntarily. OK and let us say the west stopped buying oil/gas from Russia, who would it buy from? The Arabs?
    Moreover you forget the other side of the equation namely Russian imports, which are growing rapidly. In 2008 German imports to Russia are expected to reach about $200bn. Do you really believe that countries selling to Russia have an interest in loosing a valuable customer. Do you expect the multinational countries in lucrative Russia where real income is increasing at %10 annually to sit back while Russia becomes marginalized? What about the tourist industry and the purchase of expensive property and businesses abroad? Do you really think restricting travel abroad is that effective? Countries normally easy up on the issuing of visas when it comes to nationals from such countries.
    Moreover, Russia being a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto power will be needed in a solution with North Korea and Iran both in passing a resolution but also as a mediator and a country that could cause tensions in the matter. Furthermore, you might want to read Robert Amsterdam (by no means a russophile) on the feasibility of expelling Russia from the G8.
    As numerous respectable newspapers have written (some of which are not conservative) the USA has little levers over Russia.

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