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"Good morning, George Bush" - A wake up call to America
August 28, 2002

International News Analysis Today Special Report
By Toby Westerman
Copyright 2002 International News Analysis Today

Russia is again becoming a state-controlled economy, as Moscow and communist China sign military and technology agreements in the billions of dollars, according to the Internet version of Pravda, the well-known Russian news daily.

The recent Pravda article entitled "Russian state banks rushed to China for yuans" [mainland Chinese currency], states that Moscow regards as one of its "key tasks" to "retrieve its monopolistic position in almost all spheres" - state control of economic activity.

The Russian language version of the article is even more vivid in its description of Moscow's desire to place the economic life of the nation under centralized control.

In the Russian language version, Moscow is described as "busy today attending to the return of its monopolistic position," and "earnestly engaged in the alteration of the entire system."

Ironically, at the same time Pravda - which still sports the emblems of the USSR on the left side of its masthead - reports the news of Moscow's determination to return to a centralized economy, the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has been telling the world since early June that Russia is a "free market economy."

The article - in the Russian language version - also chides Bush by name.

As indicated by the title, the article describes Russian-Chinese cooperation in banking operations in the payment of multi-billion dollar trade agreements, including an agreement currently under negotiation worth 2-3 billion dollars, and involving "mostly military and technical co-operation," according to Pravda.

The article also heralds what could be the most fundamental change in the global economy since Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. Columbus' discovery shifted the center of trade away from the Central Asian caravan routes - the old "Silk Road" -- to the Atlantic trading nations.

The actions of Moscow and Beijing are seeking to shift back the focus of trade to the vast region between Moscow and the Pacific Ocean - reviving the area of the old "Silk Road."

Since the collapse of the USSR, the United States has been seeking to establish a sphere of interest in Central Asia because of its great mineral wealth and strategic importance.

U.S. oil companies were attracted by the region's huge oil and gas deposits, among other natural deposits, while the U.S. military and NATO sought to bring the post-Soviet states of Central Asia into an alliance with the West. Western business and military representatives periodically visited Central Asian capitals.

Following the events of September 11, the U.S. anti-terror coalition was able to open a major base in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzia, with Moscow's grudging approval.

Moscow and Beijing, however, have reacted to attempted Western expansion into Central Asia by forging ever-closer links with each other, and Russia has developed increasingly tight bonds with the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

Russia has also made clear that the NATO base in Kyrgyzia is to close when anti-terror operations in Afghanistan end.

While describing an otherwise prosaic financial arrangement of substituting rubles and yuan for dollars or euros, Pravda makes it clear that the agreement between China and Russia is a manifestation of "Eurasian solidarity."

Western money is out, while the currencies of Moscow or Beijing hold sway over "Eurasia," -- Russia, China, as well as the former Soviet states of Central Asia.

Both Moscow and Beijing have recently been highly active in Central Asia not only with the details of financial coordination for billion-dollar trade deals, but also in the diplomatic arena.

In early June 2002, Moscow announced the formation of the Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO), a trade -- and military -- association comprising Russia, China, and the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

The dollar-free Eurasian trade zone, as well as the diplomatic initiatives from Moscow and Beijing, severely diminish U.S. hopes of expanding its interests in the area.

The Pravda article - in the Russian language version only - takes a jab at the apparently now forlorn hopes of increased U.S. influence in the "Eurasian" region.

After declaring that Russia and China would not use Western currency, Pravda declared the move an example of "Eurasian solidarity," and followed in the Russian version with tinged-with-sarcasm statement "Good morning, George Bush!"

Russia is not embracing the West out of fear of Chinese expansion, as some in the Bush administration and other "conservative" pundits have claimed.

Without the West recognizing it, Moscow and Beijing are forming what could prove to be the richest, mightiest political entity ever - and not based on human freedom or what is commonly known as the "free market."

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