We’ve blogged quite a bit about the various Kremlin owned and operated politicians in Europe, and often speculated whether or not there is quantitative coefficient of how much natural gas a given country consumes related to their level of acquiescence to Russian authoritarianism. This rather off-the-cuff editorial from the Arizona Republic lays it down in stark, inelegant terms how the successful energy disaggregation of Europe shattered any possible unity to protect Georgia and prevent war.
Take the positions of Germany and Italy, both headed by pro-American conservative leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has led the opposition to Georgian membership in NATO. Italy’s foreign minister, in the context of the current conflict, said: “It doesn’t behoove us to pit ourselves against Russia. Russia is a strategic partner.” Germany gets 39 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Italy gets 31 percent. Vladimir Putin has succeeded with his plan to turn Russian oil and natural gas into an instrument of state power, as chronicled by Marshall Goldman in his new book Petrostate. Bush, McCain and Obama all said that Russia had damaged its international standing and relations with the rest of the world. But that’s just not true. Regardless of the outcome in Georgia, the rest of the world will continue doing business with Russia much as it has in the past. The same is probably true of the United States, as well.