By Dr. Harold A. Black
Warning: On this topic, I am woefully ignorant.
Vladimir Putin has invaded Ukraine. What should be the US response? But first, I wonder if Putin would be doing this if Trump were still president? America is in disarray with a weak, incoherent president. In the year since the election, the economy suffers from inflation, supply chain issues, a self-inflicted energy crisis, humiliation in Afghanistan, distrust of our institutions and misinformation resulting in confusion over COVID. Why shouldn’t Putin (and China, Iran and North Korea) feel emboldened?
Again, what should be the US response? At its core this is a European problem. Britain is sending weapons to Ukraine. France is saying that it should negotiate with Putin without the US – likely because it is still fuming over the submarine deal with Australia. Germany has stopped certification of the gas pipeline from Russia. This after Germany would not allow Estonia to supply Ukraine with German-made weapons. It didn’t even allow Britain to fly to Ukraine over German airspace. This is a warning shot to America regarding energy. Germany has made itself dependent upon Russian energy. The Germans are shutting down their nuclear plants and phasing out the use of fossil fuels. As a result, despite subsidizing energy costs with over 20 billion euros a year, Germans pay the most for energy than any country in Europe. Russia is the primary source for German imports of oil and natural gas. Although Germany is coal-rich, it is cheaper for it to import its coal from China. Thus, Germany is also shutting down all its coal-fired plants. “Renewable” energy constitutes around 50% of energy in Germany. These actions, overwhelmingly endorsed by the German government and its people, belie the old notion that Germans are efficient smart people.
What should be done? Here is my admittedly naïve view. First, we should terminate all economic trade with Russia, impound all financial accounts and terminate Russian access to our markets including financial markets.
Second, we should support NATO but make clear that no US ground troops will be deployed.
Third, we should supply German and European energy needs via shipments and pipelines. Of course, this means that we will have to reverse the idiotic policies that are putting us on the same energy-dependent path that Germany is on. We must open up oil and gas leases, pipeline construction and the use of clean coal and nuclear power.
Fourth and most importantly, we should embargo all Russian exports of gas and oil. That way, the Russians would not be able to finance their aggression.
However, I do not expect our weak administration to do any of these things. I doubt if it has the spine to confront Putin. I doubt it has the spine to flex its muscles in Europe and I know it does not have the spine to confront the Greenie Weenies on the Left by lifting the restrictions on the production of American energy.