Due to the recent release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (greatest game ever in my expert opinion) this will be a shorter post. According to the Monday Wall Street Journal it appears that Russia is using free trade as a weapon in their quest for global power and influence. They are doing this despite the fact that it flies in the face of everything the State Department believes about geopolitics. Oh well, not like it’s the only thing the internationalists at State are getting wrong.
This case in particular involves meat exports to Russia. Russia has banned meat imports from Europe on the pretext that the EU cannot protect against unsafe meat from Romania and Bulgaria. Russia is allowing meat imports from certain countries (Germany and Denmark so far) who Russia says will break EU policy and protect Russia from the scourge that is Romanian pork. However, since the countries that Russia is allowing to export meat are “friends of Russia”, and agriculture is a major sore spot in Europe, many suspect Russia is simply playing divide and conquer amongst the Euro states. Those EU members who do not want their precious agricultural sector hurt will have to tow the Russian line or see their agricultural exports go to another member who will.
Russia has also used energy exports as a weapon in international affairs. Most notably they did so by shutting off exports to punish Europe and the Ukraine for the defeat of the pro-Russian faction in the Ukrainian national elections. They have used the price of natural gas to punish former Soviet republics who want to leave Russia’s sphere-of-influence. The Poles are being punished for their anti-Moscow positions by having a new pipeline built along a more expensive route through the Baltic instead of overland through Poland.
I'm not even going to delve into Russia’s theft of foreign investments in Russian energy projects, the Kremlin’s assassination campaign against critics, and Moscow’s open support for anti-Western regimes. The Russians are advancing their interests in the world, punching well above their weight, and playing us as fools (and bravo to the Russians on all accounts). They are, as one State Department official said, “acting like it’s the 19th Century”. Of course such behavior is practiced by all countries towards non-normal (or rogue) nations, but part of the concept of the new-age globalized world is that such behavior is extinct amongst normal countries. We’re all supposed to trade freely, get rich together, and live happily ever after. As the above shows not all normal countries agree. Russia by her 21st Century behavior and Europe by their 21st Century acquiescence are showing that “19th Century” geopolitics are still around. One day we’ll also realize this, hopefully before the Beijing-Moscow Axis has won the current round of the Great Game.