Is Washington’s concern over the ‘Russian menace’ in the EU energy market justified?

JRL/2013/ 41/28

Practically the moment hydrocarbons were discovered in the Caspian Sea we were solemnly informed by the anti-Russia lobby that Russia must be cut out of the loop. Moscow was fomenting wars in order to control pipeline routes, its dearest desire was to dominate these routes, and, presumably, being Russians, would then force the world to its knees like some mad scientist in a movie. These hysterias cropped up again in the 2008 war – Moscow was going to seize the pipeline through Georgia. US business interests were never mentioned at all – it was all geopolitics and security – the so-called New Great Game. And it was a zero-sum game in which Russia could not be allowed to score a point. (Or cut into the profits of a US company.)

But here we are today and all is calm. Customers have various routes and suppliers; producers have various customers and routes. This is one of the meanings of “energy security”.

The American campaign to – what is the word? – contain? hamper? impede? circumscribe? cripple? Russia is not working very well. The “coloured revolutions” are gone leaving nothing in their place; Russia is building pipelines and customers are participating in the building; Russia’s economy is growing and forcing people to take it seriously.

It hasn’t conquered Georgia and seized the pipeline; neither has it conquered Azerbaijan to get at its oil; it isn’t demanding rack-rents from its customers using its “gas weapon”. Indeed it is proceeding rather normally and quietly.

Even though the wolf doesn’t come, the boys keep shouting. Better they, and we, should pay attention to real threats.