Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Against the Axis of Losers

What should the US and its allies do about a revanchist Russia?  Or Iran?  Or Venezuela?

Leaving aside the question of Ukraine, we learned recently that Russia was setting up agreements for naval port facilities in eight countries.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday the military was engaged in talks with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Algeria, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.
But really do we care?  Because Russia is allied with countries that you might call an Axis of Losers: Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, China.

Think about it.  The Axis of Losers includes a bunch of countries that are determined to run a top-down autocracy that wants the political sector to sit astride all other power centers in society.

And we know where that leads.  Absent abundant energy, it leads to poverty.  And with energy it leads to poverty too, only more slowly.

What the Axis of Losers can do, and can do pretty well, is act like spoilers.  They can sponsor terrorism.  They can invade their neighbors and sink them into poverty.

Up to now, the US has seen its role as the global hegemon, acting as global daddy, keeping the losers on the hop.

During the Cold War, that was probably a good idea, since the Soviet Union did seem to cast a shadow over Europe.  Anyway, when Jimmy Carter backed off the Cold War, citing an "inordinate fear of Communism" he got his head handed to him, and Reagan went on the win the war without firing a shot, except in Grenada.

But Obama's global retreat has seemed to offer a new option.  As regional leaders have lost trust in the US they have joined up with their neighbors to oppose the local troublemaker.  With the mess in the Middle East, we have heard rumors of an Israel/Saudi axis against Iran.  And then we also hear of cooperation between India and Japan and South Korea.

So let regional alliances flourish to oppose the local Loser.  Really, what could be better?

There's another option: declare war on energy prices.  After all, what could hit Russia, Venezuela, and Iran worse than a drop of, oh, 50% in oil prices?

The thing is that this is already happening, with the horizontal drilling revolution.  The US has just about doubled its oil production in the last few years.  With new refineries, pipelines, and crude oil exports we could start an oil price revolution.  Drill, baby, drill.

And now our neighbor Mexico has taken the huge step of allowing energy development by private actors, ending the monopoly of its corrupt and sclerotic national oil company Pemex.

Yes, but what about Al Qaeda?  I don't know, but I suspect that with oil revenue cut in half the Saudis won't have so much money to spread around encouraging Wahhabi mosques all over the planet.  We know that Al Qaeda can do terrorism, but can it build powerful states that can wage regional war?

The thing is that once you have built a powerful commercial state, you really lose interest in regional domination, because you are too busy making money.

What a pity the Axis of Losers seems determined not to learn this lesson.

No comments:

Post a Comment