Leave aside the fact that it’s hard to imagine how to invest $1 billion in aid to the tiny rogue nation of Georgia. Dick Cheney, scowl and bluster on display, is cruising through the FSU [former Soviet Union] looking for oil, promising to push NATO up against Russia’s southern and southwestern border, and otherwise making aggressive mischief.
As USA Today reported, Russia is already accusing Cheney of trying to bully his way into security oil and gas riches:
Russia was watching the trip with suspicion, and a top Russian security official accused Cheney of an ulterior motive: seeking to secure energy supplies in the South Caucasus in exchange for U.S. support.
No wonder. During his visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, yesterday, Cheney’s first meeting was with representatives of BP Azerbaijan and Chevron, the two big oil companies representing Western interests in Caspian Sea and Central Asia oil and gas. Said Dick:
“The United States strongly believes that, together with the nations of Europe, including Turkey, we must work with Azerbaijan and other countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia on additional routes for energy exports that ensure the free flow of resources. Energy security is essential to us all, and the matter is becoming increasingly urgent.”
So much for all that democracy stuff. Cheney thundered against Russia’s brilliant coup de main in Georgia, and he said that he was conveying President Bush’s determination. “President Bush has sent me here with a clear and simple message to the people of Azerbaijan and the entire region: The United States has deep and abiding interests in your well-being and security.” Umm, and your oil.
After lumbering through Azerbaijan, Cheney hoofed it into Georgia, where he met President Saakashvili, whom the Russians call a nonperson. The walking-corpse Saakashvili was no doubt gratified to hear Cheney’s promise of $1 billion in US aid, but he shouldn’t count the money just yet. (Much of it isn’t even appropriated by Congress yet, and I don’t think Congress is going to do any appropriating before the election.) Of course, if Saakashvili needs someone to lobby Congress on his behalf, there’s always Randy Scheunemann, John McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, the rabid neocon and Iraq War promoter who until earlier this year was a lobbyist for Saakashvili.
Nowhere was it reported that Cheney told Saakashvili that his provocative, rogue attack on the pro-Russian breakaway republic of South Ossetia — the action that sparked the crisis — was a reckless, bad idea. Instead, Cheney seemed intent on encouraging Saakashvili in his adventurism. Instead, reports the Wall Street Journal: