THE SPINE OCTOBER 21, 2008
Iran, Russia and Venezuela have always yearned to play a tough, even aggressive foreign policy game. And they did when the price of crude went up, up, up. By the time oil went to $147 a barrel these countries and their dictators were pushing everyone near--and some far--around.Venezuela made virtual war on Columbia and taunted the U.S. by floating the idea of naval exercises with Russia in the Caribbean. Right here in the ambit of the Monroe Doctrine. Don't expect even the Democrats, even Barack Obama to surrender this two hundred year old American pledge...or American threat...or American promise.Iran's more than slightly mad president, Mohammad Ahmadinejad or Dr. A'jad, escalated his rhetoric against his threats against Jews, Israel and those independent souls in Iran. The clamped down on remaining freedoms, including economic freedoms. Yes, just try to engage Tehran when it is raking in more oil cash than ever.And now we come to Russia which beat up on Georgia and other former states of the Soviet Union. Plus Poland, Georgia, Ukraine, etc. etc.But now that petroleum is down to $74 (it went below $70 last week for a minute) these three tyrannies are facing true troubles. Each of these states are differently challenged according to their ideology and economic structure. Still, a common theme has shown itself: they are all in retreat. Russia's stock market makes ours seem like paradise.This is described in an article in Tuesday's Times by Simon Romero, Michael Slackman, and Clifford Levy.As I've been predicting forever and a day, Dubai is also in deep water. It has no oil. But its neighbors do. How much will be willing to help? How much will they be able to help? Abu Dhabi does have oil, a lot of oil. Still, will the emirate be able to finance its ambitions if tourists can't afford to come. If you want to see the Louvre you can go to Paris. If you want to see the Guggenheim and its sparse collections you can go to New York and then walk nine blocks down and visit the Met.