Monday, March 30, 2009

From Russia With Love: A Primer For Palin on the Baltics (Update: Video Of President Medvedev Flying in Fighter Bomber)

This is a follow up to a previous thread where I briefly talked about Dick Morris' comments on Palin going to Eastern Europe.

Morris raised a topic on Eastern Europe and that Palin should visit. I disagree at this time.

Governor Palin should look very carefully at what takes place at the G20 meeting and I believe we will see at the G20 meeting, how weak a president we have in Barack Obama.

Pay attention to Russia and their leaders. Pay attention to how Russia is trying to drive a wedge between the Baltics and the E.U. and they are trying to do it through economic ties.

I have watched Latvia grow and change over time and I see some problems with what is happening now. Latvia and the rest of the Baltics have tried to maintain their independence while trying to grow economically. In 2004, once Lativa joined the E.U., the country has a history of fighting with the E.U. over their constitution.

The reason? Gay marriage.

RIGA (Reuters) - Latvian lawmakers blocked same-sex marriages by changing the Baltic state's constitution on Thursday, infuriating gay rights activists who said they may take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Ex-Soviet Latvia, which joined the European Union last year, sees itself as a progressive democracy enjoying one of Europe's fastest growing economies. But many people retain conservative views about the family and gay rights.


Latvia's parliament passed the amendment easily, with 65 votes for, six against and nine abstentions, a result that drew applause from some lawmakers.

"This is not against gays. It is supporting traditional families," said lawmaker Oskars Kastens of the First Party, a ruling-coalition party that proposed the amendment.

"Looking at trends in Europe we are against liberalization of the idea of family. It is the same in both Lithuania and Poland."

Latvian gay rights activists immediately denounced the decision, saying it was discriminatory and ran counter to a European trend toward recognizing same sex marriages.

The same has happened with the other countries in the Baltics

Alaska and Latvia have a common theme in that both constitutions have amendments in them defining marriage between a man and a woman.

However, that sentiment is found within the Russian orthodox church and as such, gay marriage will not see any legalization in Russia. The patriarch of the Russian orthodox church will help it not see legalization.

Given this and the fact that the economies in Latvia and the Baltics are tanking, sentiment towards the E.U. is one of growing distrust among the Russian population that live in Latvia and frustration with the Latvian citizens.

This is Palin's primer.

When you look back on Russian history and how the Baltics and Japan are involved in Russian history, Governor Palin does not have to look very far to see the Russian history, because it is here in Alaska.

Russians in Alaska 1732-1867, by Lydia Black, offers up a picture of how Russia was then. And how Russia built trade with the Baltics, Japan and Alaska.

Two different regions in the world; one holding an importance with Alaska for the moment and that being Japan. The other, the Baltics having no importance for the moment but is a region that holds a trade culture that should be developed.

During the gubernatorial primaries, Governor Palin had ex Governor Hickel on her campaign and Hickel is a big fan of Russia.

I'm not.

Hickel has been a big proponent of the LNG out of Valdez and the group AGPA has been a champion behind the development. I have written extensively on the topic of the LNG facility and I have written on the impact Russia's development of the Sakhalin fields would have on natural gas shipments to Japan and how the LNG facility in Valdez would not be able to compete with Russia.

Palin took the proper course when she focused on the proposed pipeline through Canada instead of the LNG facility. And for that, she paid a price by receiving criticism from Hickel and the AGPA crowd.

There is a lesson here for Governor Palin.

Russians look years out and Americans look days out when it comes to economic development. And that is why you see Russia laying claim over the resources in the Arctic waters and willing to spend capital to protect it.

You could say, Russians have developed a mental attitude that makes them pretty damn good chess players. Because the have more than a couple of 100 years of history lessons, while the United States has only a couple of hundred years of history.

And because of that, Russia holds the resources and the natural gas that fuels a lot of the European Union's economy.

So given this, how can Governor Palin play a role in all of this? First to geography.

Air Distance Calculator

Anchorage to Riga Latvia 3351.53 air miles

Anchorage to Tokyo Japan 3496.30 air miles

Riga, Latvia has developed private companies that deal with imports and the warehouses that go along with it. Riga's location is set where it can be distribution point.

It is close enough in air miles to develop trade. Alaska has developed its trade with Japan and a large part of it, has come from the LNG facility in the Kenai.

But as I said, competition with Russia on Japan over natural gas shipments will be great. And with the declining gas development in Cook Inlet and environmental lawsuits based on beluga whales, the facility is in jeopardy.

So Alaska needs to play like Russia and look years out, instead of days, and develop strategies on developing trade with the Baltics.

Governor Palin would be wise to send an invite to the leaders of the Baltics and discuss the many trade options that Alaska can offer to their countries.

Because Alaska could be the gateway for trade to the region and the traders are all along the west coast of the United States.

Update: Here is a helmet president, let's go for a ride.

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