“It is cruel to discover one’s mediocrity only when it’s too late. It does not improve the temper.”
W. Somerset Maugham, from “Of Human Bondage”
Stephen Blank is upset; in a bit of a pet, as the English of years ago would say. Gosh-darn it, those thickheaded Yurrup folk know nothing of loyalty – you always buy from friends, even if their product costs more, and its logistics for delivery are shaky. You know: those friends who threaten to sanction you until you can’t see straight if you don’t do as they want you to. Because in the end, it’s about freedom, damn it all.
I’m speaking of his recent effort for The Atlantic Council; “European Involvement with Nord Stream 2 Is a Deal with the Devil”. Well, it’s no surprise that The Atlantic Council is opposed to Russia’s Nord Stream II pipeline; it’s an American-dominated think tank headquartered in Washington, DC, formed in 1961 with the mission of preserving the cooperation between Europe and the United States that was forged in World War II. A big part of ‘cooperation’ in modern American parlance is ‘trade policies which are in our favour’, and the current president has squashed quite a bit of goodwill to death in his pursuit of US advantage. The Atlantic Council has included such congenial friends of Russia as Susan Rice, and hosted such pro-Russian guests as Mikheil Saakashvili, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Richard Lugar. The United States wants to sell Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe, but it would not be the happiest to do so in concert with Russian pipeline gas – it would like to replace Russian gas supplies. And there, I’m afraid, Mr. Blank and his friends are the victims of geography and America’s own capitalist success. I’m not going to dwell on it, because readers of this blog are well aware of it, but the United States cannot sell LNG to Europe at a competitive price with pipeline gas, and delivery would have to be via seaborne tankers, which are at the mercy of weather conditions and marine traffic congestion. Delays would be remarkable only if there were none, while the necessary increase in trans-Atlantic marine traffic would increase the risk involved.
Instead, I’d like to focus on the petulance.
Mr. Blank draws on every trope, every stereotypical insult and childish squall he can muster, and if it is a measure of his frustration, he must be wound tighter than a Timex. I have to say, I’m kind of enjoying it. Let’s look, shall we?
Since seizing Ukrainian territory, Mr. Blank tells us, Russia has waged systematic warfare in an attempt to destroy Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state energy company. Do tell. I don’t suppose there’s any sense in repeating that Crimea was always Russian, was given to Ukraine as a gift by a decree of the Russian president, and then was taken back – to the obvious delight of the great majority who live there – when it became evident Ukraine would not be satisfied with merely being independent, but wanted to be an enemy. A little like the Sally of “Mustang Sally” fame; remember that old song? “Bought you a brand-new mustang/ nineteen sixty-five/when I come around, you signify, woman/You won’t let me ride.” Okay, perhaps that’s not the best example, since the ‘ride’ in that instance has a tongue-in-cheek double meaning. But I think the context is pretty clear. Ukraine made an ostentatious big deal about its non-Russianness, and seized upon every opportunity to express its contempt and hatred, just as it continues to do now. Why should Russia allow it to keep the gift which was bestowed when they were fraternal brothers? Continue reading “Stephen Blank has a Tantrum”