Wikipedia defines corruption as "a dishonest or criminal offense committed by a person or an organization, in order to gain an improper advantage for personal gain". A second definition is "the process by which a word, phrase, process or artifact is changed from its original use or meaning to one that is degraded".
The belief in absolute separation within a unitary reality is the fundamental dysfunction of our species. In economics, this is expressed as a search for exclusive gain. In politics, this manifests itself in corruption. The combination kills the planet for short-term profit. Rachael Maddow's book, "Blowout", describes the functioning of the oil and gas industries as the penultimate expression of this corrupt economic model.
The Soviet Union fell in 1991, and the Russian economy reorganized into a collective of corrupt oligarchs due to allegiance to Vladimir Putin. The main assets of Russia are huge oil and gas deposits. Profits from these industries have enriched a select few, and access to oil and gas has been used as leverage over the rest of the world, particularly in Europe. However, their energy infrastructure is aging and inefficient, and established fields are running out.
The richest undeveloped reserves are found in the Arctic Ocean, still a difficult region, but now more accessible due to climate change. Western oil companies have developed deep water operations and hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling, allowing the development of previously inaccessible reserves, a technology Russia desperately needs. Openings have been made with western companies, notably ExxonMobil.
ExxonMobil is an international company without loyalty other than maximum financial return for its investors. Dealing with corrupt governments simplifies things. Reimbursing a single autocrat ensures that there are no legal, social or environmental barriers to making the business as profitable as possible. Thus, the kleptocracy that Russia has become is an asset, not a liability.
Oil companies are like sharks, must keep moving by developing new reserves to stay alive, and ExxonMobil is the biggest shark, with a voracious appetite. An ExxonMobil / Russia agreement helps both parties. Russia needs technology and funding, and ExxonMobil wants a piece of the Russian windfall. But Russia has other problems.
For decades, Soviet gas and oil have been shipped to Europe via Ukraine. But after the breakup, Ukraine became an independent nation, aligned more closely with Europe, and began to develop gas and oil reserves in their eastern provinces with aid from western oil companies. This competition threatened Russia's energy monopoly as well as its influence on Europe. In 2005, Russia cut gas supplies, fomenting the division in Ukraine. In 2010, a pro-Russian autocratic leader came to power and gas resources were controlled by a corrupt oligarch. But Ukrainian civil unrest has increased and a pro-Western leader was elected in 2014.
Putin responded by invading the oil-rich provinces of eastern Ukraine, preventing oil development there. However, Europe and the United States were so concerned about this aggressive move that they imposed heavy sanctions on Russia, specific to the inner circle of Putin, and banned all investments in oil technology and gas, putting Poutine and ExxonMobil in a critical impasse. Putin’s response has been to double and work to destabilize Western democracies.
Russia interfered in the political process leading to the Brexit vote in early 2016, which has since distracted and disorganized all of Europe. It was a prelude to their meddling in the U.S. presidential election later that year. History will finally reveal details of Russian influence over Trump, who had already built an empire over corrupt practices.
Once elected, Trump has appointed the former CEO of ExxonMobil as Secretary of State, helping to pave the way for the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Trump has sided with Putin's side against US intelligence about the interference in the 2016 Russian elections. Last week, it was revealed to Congress that Russia is already interfering in the elections. 2020. Trump was furious, not against the Russians, but that Congress had been informed. He fired the head of national security and replaced him with Richard Grenell, who has no intelligence experience, and used to consult the Ukrainian gas oligarch currently under anti-corruption sanctions by the State Department. Most of the 11 people Trump recently pardoned have been convicted of corruption.
Russia, with Trump's enthusiastic respect, has injected corruption deep into the American political system, an active destruction of our integrity as a nation.
Crispin B. Hollinshead lives in Ukiah. This article and the previous ones can be found at cbhollinshead.blogspot.com
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