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Scott Sulllivan:
Leon Panetta and the Teamsters



The Russians and Chinese are furious about Obama's efforts to push Bashar al-Assad from power in  Syria.   Assad  is one of Russia's closest allies in the Middle East by providing Russia a modern naval base on the Mediterrean for Russian ships, over strong  and continuing protests from Iran, who has not been extended the same righs to Iran by .  Moreover, Assad has initiatied sweeping Arab collective agreements, again over sharp Iranian protests, because Assad excluded Iran but engaged Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Hezbollah against Iranian coercion of the Arab states as the US begins withdrawing its military forces from Iraq.

It goes without saying that Iran is angry about the role of Russia and China have played in advancing these regional anti-Iran agreements.  Iran could soon blame Russia for mobilizing these anti-Iran measures and send the IRGC out to attack Russian property in the Middle East.  President Obama  has to be careful about doing anything that would alienate Russia and China. Unfortunately, Obama's nomination of Leon Panetta as US Defense Secretary might further alienate Russia and China from Obama.

Russia and China lack confidence in Panetta because he is unfamiliar with Russian and Chinese interests in the ongoing Middle East regional conflicts, knows little about Middle East history, and speaks none of its languages.  Moreover, Panetta has  little genuine knowledge in  military affairs.  Also, Panett's critics fault him for having close financial and political ties with the scandal-ridden Teamsters Central States pension fund at a time when most of the Teamster pension  funds had more or less had fallen under Mafia control. Teamsers Central States pension fund reportedly financed Panetta's victorious 1976 race that put him in the House of Representives.

Finally, the Teamsters helped broker massive support for Panetta from the large and wealthy Italian-American interest groups that controlled Panetta's congressional district (the 16th CD) of organized labor, wineries, and agribusiness.  Let's see if Panetta's confirmation hearings deal with the Teamsters problem.

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Scott Sullivan is a former Washington government employee and was the Senior Advisor for International Economics at the Crisis Management Center of the National Security Council, 1984 - 1986. Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.


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Petroleumworld News 05/09/2011

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