Monday, July 17

Bush orders Schwab to kick-start Doha Round; Get Putin crowd mad that Putin enjoyed himself hugely this weekend

Pundita is tuckered from a weekend keeping up with the news from St. Petersburg and the Middle East. Four posts up yesterday; this will be the only one for today.
ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab will fly on Monday to the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva to seek progress in talks on the Doha round of free trade talks, her spokesman said.

"President (George W. Bush) made it clear he wanted a robust Doha round and Ambassador Schwab is going to meet with some of her counterparts to work on a breakthrough," spokesman Sean Spicer said in an e-mail sent to Reuters.

"We hope other nations will match the bold offer that the U.S. has on the table."
Pundita thinks the Bush team can continue to hope unless they grapple with the fundamental issues driving the Hong Kong 100 revolt.

In other news related to the G8 summit, AP put out a report on the energy statement that emerged from the meeting which was prominently featured on AOL business news yesterday and today. The slant is typical of mainstream reporting on Russia. The writer barely waits one paragraph before using the G8 statement to bash Putin's government. Here's a representative passage:
Concerns over Russia's reliability as an energy supplier were highlighted after an ugly New Year price fight with Ukraine saw supplies to Europe disrupted when Moscow temporarily switched off the gas to its ex-Soviet neighbor.

That led to criticism that Russia had destabilized European energy supplies by using its vast energy clout to punish Ukraine's western-leaning government, and highlighted Europe's dependance [sic] on Russia for a quarter of its oil and gas.
The report does not mention that the WTO ordered Russia to end their big energy subsidy for Ukraine as a precondition for the US dropping objections to Russia's joining the WTO.

Russia's attempt to suspend the subsidy predictably ticked off Ukraine's government, which created a backlash against Russia in Ukraine and Western Europe, which is just what the Get Putin factions wanted.

The kicker is that the US wasn't even interested in the economic benefits of ending the subsidy. They saw the subsidy as a means by which Russia maintained influence in Ukraine and they wanted to block that avenue.

If you ask what that has to do with trade -- Washington has politicized the WTO to such an extent that the poorer countries finally rebelled, which by many twists and turns is how we find Bush calling for a last-ditch effort to save the Doha Round.

If you have a hard time believing that grown men and women in our government could act in such fashion -- I believe situations like that caused Stephen Cohen to charge that Washington has launched a cold war against Russia.

Those grownups in Washington are puppets for US and Euro lobbies that want a big piece of Russia's energy sector, and/or their strings are pulled by China lobbies, which want to keep Russia off balance. Or they live in fear that the Soviet Union will rise again. If they keep trying to destroy Russia their fear will come to pass.

What really ticks me off is having to defend Putin, who is a sarcastic cuss. His remark about not wanting Iraqi-style democracy in Russia was below the belt but as usual he thought he made a bon mot. There is not much worse than a Russian technocrat who fancies himself a wit.

Oh wait I can think of something worse. Front organizations for Russian gangsters that advertise themselves as democracy advocates.

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