Moving toward a ‘pipeline policy’

Lots of wounds must be healed before the leaders of the world’s eight most powerful countries are obliged to spend a weekend together in the middle of next month. For a start, Russian President Vladimir Putin should drop his energy-related threats. Of course, energy is one thing while nuclear warheads are quite another. And one should not overlook the fact that Russia spends just 4 percent of what the USA does on maintaining its military predominance. The recent verbal clash between Putin and US Vice President Dick Cheney was only to be expected. And hard talking is probably the best preparation for the summit starting on June 15 in St Petersburg. President George W. Bush’s «threat» not to visit the majestic Russian city expresses US aversion to Russian anti-Americanism. And Putin, for his part, did not miss the opportunity to describe the USA as «a hungry wolf that eats and listens to no one» and whose passion for human rights «disappears as soon as its interests demand it.» Of course, all this antagonism is unlikely to die down after the summit. The energy row is creating a «pipeline policy.» Indeed, every serious geopolitical analysis is now based on two facts: that energy costs are rising and that whoever monitors a country’s energy distribution network also influences the economic performance and the shaping of alliances. Europeans will have the chance to discuss energy matters at their scheduled summit next month. But this will be done without an agenda as they are not only unprepared but unable to coordinate their national initiatives in this sector.