An excellent perspective on Obama, from Russia.

I have the Moscow Times in my RSS feeds because it is one rare example of an excellent english newspaper from a decidedly non-western perspective.

Is Obama or McCain Better for Russia?

If Barack Obama is elected U.S. president on Tuesday, he will join President Dmitry Medvedev in becoming the first post-baby boom leader of his country. Both men were born in the 1960s — well after the tumultuous post- World War II decade, when the United States and Soviet Union were preoccupied with nuclear arms races and a deep divide in Europe.

Their early careers show how different they are from their immediate predecessors, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Although Bush did not go to Vietnam, his young life — through his time in the Texas National Guard — was shaped by that proxy struggle between the superpowers. And Putin, who served in the KGB in a small town in Germany, was on the front lines of the Cold War.

Obama, by contrast, spent the 1980s working in the neighborhoods of Chicago — a different kind of battleground, formed in the race riots of the ’60s and ’70s. By the time Obama began his work, the violent struggle had abated but the problems had not, and his work was vital to developing new ideas that stressed not so much race as community solutions. This is one of the reasons that Obama can lay claim to being the United States’ first post-racial leader.

Medvedev, for his part, spent the 1980s learning the lawyer’s craft in Leningrad. By the time that city became St. Petersburg again, his career had been formed by studying and teaching law rather than climbing through the Communist Party hierarchy. Although Russian law is different from the Anglo-Saxon tradition, it still formed an intellectual system different from the Party’s nomenklatura ladder. For that reason, Medvedev can lay claim to being Russia’s first post-Communist leader.

Therefore, Obama and Medvedev have the potential to start a truly modern phase in the U.S.-Russian relationship, finally leaving the Cold War behind. This will not be easy, as the summer’s tragic conflict in Georgia showed. In the aftermath of the fighting, voices could be heard in Washington, claiming that Russia is an untrustworthy, violent adversary and needs to be contained.

In Moscow, the voices were equally loud, proclaiming that the United States was trying to cling to its status of global gendarme, including in Russia’s backyard. The bombers and naval ships that the Kremlin sent to Venezuela were supposed to convey that Russia would respond in the United States’ backyard if the United States persisted in supporting Georgia and Ukraine.

Obama and Medvedev would do well early in their relationship to make some policy decisions that would sharply break with Cold War patterns. For example, although Obama would not have assumed command of the U.S. military when Russia’s naval flotilla completes its exercises off Venezuela in mid-November, he could suggest that the Pentagon invite the Russian commanders to stop off at Central Command in Florida before their return to Russia. The purpose of the stop would be to discuss urgent issues that are engaging both navies, such as the piracy that is running rampant off Somalia.

And Medvedev, although he would have to push back against Kremlin hard-liners, could recommend that Moscow and Washington have some urgent issues to work on together with Tbilisi. Smuggling through South Ossetia has been a persistent problem, and it has at times involved that most dangerous of contraband — fissile material that could be used to make nuclear bombs. Both Georgia and Russia have cooperated with the United States to build defenses against nuclear smuggling, and all three could cooperate to confront this terrible problem.

These two examples show clearly what must be done to get beyond the Cold War. They convey that Russia and the United States can cooperate rather than compete, even in their own backyards. Since Obama and Medvedev are so clearly of a new generation, they are the leaders who may finally succeed in breaking the old patterns.

Interview of the Year?

This could be the most important interview you read/hear in your lifetime.

From Denmark… translated, with the Director of Crisis Management at the International Energy Agency.

The situation on the oil market is worrisome in the sense of there being more demand than supply.

It only gets better from there.

Why Ethanol is Not the Answer:

“Heatwaves and biofuel demand in Europe and US to fuel bread, pasta and beer price rises”

Finfacts (Irish Business news portal)

The combination of heatwaves in Europe and the US, low global grain stocks and an increase in production of biofuels has seen wheat prices rise to 10-year highs and may lead to big increases in the cost of bread and pasta.

You make your own judgement… but if you think Ethanol is a great alternative to “big oil”, think about this article.

Very powerful forces are proposing using our food sources to fuel our cars?

We have not even *started* seriously using those new sources, and already, prices for food are rising.

Does that not ring alarm bells in your head?

Ethanol is not the answer… it really should not even be part of the answer…

______ Extends Emergency Laws

Can you fill in the blank?

______ “has extended controversial emergency laws giving the security forces broad powers to arrest and detain people without charge. Parliament agreed another two years of the legislation on Sunday. “

“But opposition groups said the law failed to combat terrorism and was used to violate the rights of [citizens].”

“Many opposition MPs came to the parliament session wearing white and black sashes saying “No to the emergency law”.”

“The government is drafting anti-terror laws to replace the emergency law, which had been due to lapse at the beginning of January.”

“[The Prime Minister] said the government would not use the legislation other than to protect “the citizen and the security of the nation and to combat terrorism”.

I’ll give you a hint… it’s a country.

Where is it? Europe? North America? Africa?

Give up?

It’s Egypt

Isn’t it wonderful how freedom and human rights are sweeping the Globe?

Excellent Iran resource

The BBC has posted an excellent resource on their website. It’s a map of Iran which details it’s population, ethnicity, major cities, and infrastructure including roads, nuclear sites, and oil and gas fields.

Go check it out. (Broadband connection required… or it may be slow).

And remember… “Persian” is not the same as “Arab”. Also… the word “Caucasian” is derived directly from how people have historically described people from this region of the world (and still do in Eastern Europe and Russia mainly)… the “Caucus” Mountains…. including Southern Russia (Chechnya), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Iran among others.