THE KYRGYZSTAN AIR BASE. Economists and merchants think in terms of trading “goods.” But abstaining from doing harm can also be traded for goods. Hence, the offer that can’t be refused. Large areas of the world— whole countries, but also neighborhoods in the United States— are governed by gangs which sell “protection.” A trader can look not just for positive things that can be offered, but for things that can be taken away. A current example—an imperfect example because other issues, like “spheres of influence” are involved—is an air base in Kyrgyzstan that the United States has been using to supply troops in Afghanistan. This article in the Guardian tells how Russia has offered Kyrgyzstan a loan package of over $2 billion to eject the Americans from the base and gives the thinking that may underlie the offer: “Analysts say Moscow wants to use the base in Kyrgyzstan as a bargaining chip in a much wider strategic dialogue with the US – over the future of the US missile defence shield in Europe, for example, and Nato membership for Georgia and Ukraine.”

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