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Press Review November 1, 2001
 
The Great Game Redux
By Matt Taibbi Browse author
 
Page 4 of 4
 

Plotz and Cottrell weren't the only ones to publish articles like these. Editorials in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major papers all reiterated that Putin's offer to cooperation has to be taken with a grain of salt, that he might be driven by all sorts of unpleasant ulterior motives. Another favorite theme is the "Russia is too shitty a country to be a valuable ally" line of reasoning. What all of these pieces have in common is the odd feature of discounting and even expressing dissatisfaction with a a war ally whose behavior with regard to us, so far, has been unimpeachable. The obvious question is: why?

It seems to me that if this war were taking place in, say, Iceland or the Phillipines, there would be no negative press towards a Russian ally whatsoever. The aggravating factor here is clearly Russia's status in the Central Asian region as a dominating geopolitical influence. A conflict between the United States and Russia for ascendancy in the region—a revival of the centuries-old "Great Game" jousts between Russia and Britain in the area—is clearly already underway and about to heat up even further. Even as we're cooperating with Russia now, we're already looking ahead to the post-war fight for the rights to keep military bases in the area and, more importantly, to control a Caspian sea oil pipeline which may or may not be routed through post-Taliban Afghanistan. We are going to need a reason to build the pipeline in a direction away from Russia's territory and spheres of influence in Armenia and Azerbaidjan, and it seems as if our journalists are working out some possible reasons already.


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