- "Zero Hedge"- With diplomacy having failed miserably to resolve the Russian annexation of Crimea, and soon East Ukraine (and with John Kerry in charge of it, was there ever any doubt), the US is moving to the heavy artillery. First, moments ago, the US DOE announced in a shocking announcement that it would proceed with the first draw down and sale of crude from the US strategic petroleum reserve, the first since June 2011, in what it said was a "test sale to check the operational capabilities of system infrastructure", but is really just a shot across the bow at Putin for whom high commodity prices are orders of magnitude more important than how the Russian stock market performs. And now, as Bloomberg just reported, the US has escalated even further, citing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who "has claimed that in the case of an escalation of unrest in Crimea, the U.S. Army is ready to back up Ukraine and its …
The Obama administration claims it is motivated by the G-8, interdependence, human rights and international law. Russian President Vladimir Putin is a more traditional historical actor. He is motivated by geopolitics. That is why he temporarily has the upper hand in the crisis over Ukraine and Crimea.
Geopolitics, according to the mid-20th century U.S. diplomat and academic Robert Strausz-Hupe, is "the struggle for space and power," played out in a geographical setting. Geopolitics is eternal, ever since Persia was the world's first superpower in antiquity. Indeed, the Old Testament, on one level, is a lesson in geopolitics. Strausz-Hupe, an Austrian immigrant, wanted to educate the political elite of his adopted country so that the forces of good could make better use of geopolitics than the forces of evil in World War II.
Adherence to geopolitics allowed the British geographer and liberal educator Sir Halford J. Mackinder in a 1904 article, "The G…
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (L) and Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah arrive at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers in Riyadh on March 4. (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)
Within months of embarking upon a new foreign policy doctrine, Saudi Arabia has run into serious problems. The Saudis are trying to assume the leadership of the Arab world and create a regional Arab bulwark against Iran, which is on the path toward international rehabilitation, but Riyadh is facing resistance from Qatar and other Gulf Arab states. The extent to which the Iranians can exploit these tensions is limited, but so long as the Saudis are having problems, there is ample opportunity for Iran to advance its interests.
A woman holds a Party of Regions flag as she attends a rally, Jan. 25. (Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union was followed by the privatization of state-owned assets, giving birth to a powerful class of business leaders known as oligarchs. Since the country's founding, they have played a crucial role in the political system -- there are close ties between Ukraine's oligarchs and the evolution of the country's political crisis. This was most recently illustrated in Donetsk on March 9, when Ukrainian presidential hopeful Vitali Klitschko met with Rinat Akhmetov, the country's richest man, to discuss the ongoing situation.
The oligarchs function as a bridge between the Western-leaning interim government and Russia's interests in the country, especially in the Ukrainian east. They will play a key role in negotiations over Ukraine's political future and will prove pivotal in shaping any Ukrainian administration…