Who to Fear: Greta or Vlad?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has certainly solidified Vladimir Putin’s infamy. We all want the war to end and for Putin to be rebuked for his indefensible actions, but as this war drags on and we see its horrible toll, there are a few questions we should ask. Despite the actions of the West to punish him, will Putin ultimately achieve his goals or will he be forced to accept some face saving measures that halt his advance? Are the West’s actions actually punishing him and forcing him to back away from his original goals? What are the goals for both Putin and the West in this instance, after all? Can we clearly define them and understand the strategy for achieving them? What are the implications of failure or success for each? Finally, how did we reach this watershed moment and what will it mean for the world going forward?

Strategy

Vladimir Putin viewed the breakup of the Soviet Union as a “tragedy”. Since his election in 1999, he has sought to restore Russia’s status as a world power. There should be little doubt his encroachment the last fifteen years into Georgia, Crimea (formerly part of Ukraine), Belarus and now the rest of Ukraine is his march towards a goal of reconstituting the lost glory days of Russia. His popularity within Russia is not unlike Hitler’s in Germany. Putin appealed to national pride to restore the country’s prestige lost after the cold war, the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1980’s and the failure of democratic reforms in the 1990’s, just as Hitler did following the loss of WWI and crushing reparations imposed on Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Senator Mitt Romney, during the 2012 presidential election debate, said the following: “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They — they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.”

He was mocked by his opponent, former President Barrack Obama: “When you were asked, ‘What’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America,’ you said ‘Russia.’ Not al Qaeda; you said Russia. And, the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Today, nobody speaks of al Qaeda, nor ISIS for that matter, but Russia continues to be a serious threat. Russia is also more clearly aligned with the bad actors Romney warned of: China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and a few former Soviet Union republics. Does it sound like a new “axis of evil”?

If more people believed Romney in 2012 and he had won that election, maybe we would be in a better place today? The Russian threat wasn’t clear to everyone ten years ago, but it is clear today as Russia brings Europe into its largest conflict perhaps since WWII. We had hoped in the 1990s democracy would flourish in Russia, but that ended with the election of Putin in 1999. Many pundits have minimized Russia, since then I am sure, because Russia’s economy is on par with the state of Florida (Russia produces oil, natural gas, and wheat, but not much else) and their military is no longer a rival to NATO’s might, but it is still a nuclear power, it has a ruthless leader with imperialistic intentions, it is willing seize opportunities presented, and it has aligned with our enemies.

Putin’s strategy is not to co-exist with the West in some sort of a new world order that has been envisioned in Davos and the World Economic Forum; Putin doesn’t respond to the concerns of his people or to the concerns of the rest of the world quite in the same way as Western leaders do. He is sovereign in Russia and he attempts whatever he believes he can get away with. He knows the West has the superior economic and military might, so he must bide his time and act only when he is confident of success. There should be no doubt his strategy is to defeat the West and to once again make Russia a dominant player in the world (as well as to add to his and his cronies aggrandizement). I believe it is no more complex than that.

So far, Putin has achieved a good deal given Russia’s limited power and resources; he has poked the bear several times and still maintained his hold on power for more than twenty years. By aligning with other evil dictators with similar goals, he may be able to achieve even more. What if this is only the beginning of a coordinated plan? What happens if China attacks Taiwan next or North Korea crosses into South Korea or Iran attacks Israel. Iran earlier this week lobbed a missile at the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Perhaps it is a message sent by Russia’s proxy?

U.S. hegemony in the world is evaporating due to our leaders unwillingness to use the influence and power we have. We could have and should have done more to deter Russia prior to this invasion. We were told months prior it was coming, but took no action to deter this threat. What if we had imposed sanctions beforehand instead of waiting until after an attack? What if the U.S. had assured Russia we would support Ukraine fully? The West waited until Putin acted to bring pressure to bear. Our actions may have been too late; all those sanctions have done little to stop Putin’s advances in Ukraine. Similarly, once Hitler invaded Poland, he no longer cared what sanctions you put on Germany; he was in it to the bitter end. Putin will not back down unless he is defeated. History rhymes again. We could have also done more to put ourselves in a better posture vis-a-vis Russia; we could have limited their economic power derived from being the largest exporter of oil, but we deferred to teenage Greta Thunberg and “the facts do not matter” Representative Ocasio-Cortez on climate change policy while continuing to import oil from countries like Russia.

The disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan surely sent a signal of weakness to our enemies as well. We were unwilling to commit any further in Afghanistan despite the low cost of maintaining that commitment in 2021. America had not lost a single soldier in the last 18 months of the Afghanistan war and we were maintaining the status quo with a small number of troops (around 2,500). In fact, the U.S. lost fewer lives during twenty years of war in Afghanistan than Russia has lost after three weeks in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin doesn’t care. If the U.S. was so eager to leave Afghanistan under relatively favorable circumstances, Putin must have believed there would be no stomach for to engage in Ukraine, at least not to engage in a significant way. Furthermore, what do our other allies think by this action? Will we stand by them or will we cut another deal with an evil regime threatening them instead?

We have now taken action to punish Putin, but from Putin’s perspective the gamble appears to have paid off. Biden gave up the game just prior to the invasion, inadvertently blurting out the quiet part out loud, saying NATO was not unified and that we might not do so much for “minor incursions”. Putin knew too that Europe was all in on going green and that the U.S. is heading that direction too. This may seem like a good strategy to climate activists like Greta and company, but in Putin’s eyes, it makes the West, especially Europe, more dependent on his oil and gives him considerable leverage.

We should have minimized Russia’s advantage. Instead, we are now blaming Putin for our energy problems. We had the advantage. We could have assisted our European allies by supplying them with more oil and natural gas prior to and during this crisis, but we our ceded this very significant advantage to our enemy. Putin is counting on Europe not being able to live without his oil for an extended period. Our energy policies have put Putin in a stronger position economically and ourselves in a weaker position economically, and he took advantage of it.

Remember, gas prices began rising before this invasion, even before the threat of Russian invasion.

Below is a podcast from a (non-political, ordinary) Russian couple two weeks after sanctions were imposed. It appears the economic impact is not severe at this point, certainly not severe enough for the Russian people to rise up and overthrow their awful leader. After all, China did not participate in the sanctions. Russia can still sell their oil to China and obtain many other goods from China as well. Europe is swallowing the bitter pill of sanctioning Russian oil as well, but how long will they hold out?

Many U.S. and world leaders believe our own strategy should be to bring Russia into the fold of nations, so their people will appreciate the new world order and get more stuff like the rest of us, but those leaders are not listening to what Putin is clearly telling us. Their attempts to nudge him into this wonderful new world order and convince him of all its benefits are not playing at the Kremlin. Putin plays the diplomacy game, for sure, but only to use it to advance his own strategy. The Biden Administration seems more like the mark in the poker game, the mark who doesn’t yet realize they have been played. Let’s face it; Putin, Xi, Maduro, and the rest are just evil dictators that cannot be swayed by engaging in philanthropy for the good of all. They don’t want to be sweet-talked into being nice guys; we can’t give them stuff or concessions to join our side. Our restraint and attempts to make nice signal weakness, weakness that they use to their advantage. The U.S. tried the same strategy after Nixon went to China; it didn’t work then and it won’t work now. History is rhyming again.

President Biden spoke out on the Ukraine crisis recently and told us liberty wins in the long run. These words sound nice, but have little meaning for folks in Ukraine, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Russia, China, etc. who have lost that liberty with no hope that it will be restored anytime soon. The rhetoric makes us feel good, but does nothing to deter evil leaders like Putin or restore liberty for those who have lost it.

Tactics

Putin may have miscalculated the difficulty of defeating the Ukrainians. While he may not be able to crush Ukraine fully on the battlefield, he intends to exact such a horrible cost on the Ukrainians to force them to the negotiating table to make it all stop. Putin’s regime is in trouble if he relents now, so he won’t. Just as he did against the breakaway Chechnya Republic (1999-2000), he will deliver as much pain as possible to ensure his success. The number of refugees fleeing from Ukraine today is mind-boggling. In just three weeks, the number has already reached three million. That’s seven percent of the entire population in a very short period, coupled with all the loss of life and the damage to the country’s infrastructure. I can’t imagine how awful it is for these people.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60555472

Putin offered his initial terms for withdrawal which include recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea and two Eastern Ukrainian provinces along with a promise to not align with NATO or the European Union. The last condition would make Ukraine amenable to future Russian influence and threats (we did it once, so we can do it again). Before calling off the onslaught, Putin wants NATO expansion nixed, making it possible to setup a puppet government in Kiev, something he could call a significant win. The biggest losers would be the Ukrainians themselves. Will they be forced to give up their sovereignty? Will the U.S. and NATO help them resist and strengthen their bargaining position or will we only want to be seen as peacemakers at the Ukrainian’s expense?

It is unlikely Putin will occupy Ukraine; he doesn’t want a re-run of Russia’s Afghanistan failure. Putin wants concessions and he wants to expose the cracks in NATO, cracks he and others could exploit. For instance, will NATO defend Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania if Russia attacks them next? Putin wants to test our will. Where is the weakest link? The game would probably be different if the Baltic states are attacked because they are NATO members. Putin isn’t as sure of our response, and his conventional army could be destroyed if the NATO responds as they are committed to, but he continues to push as far as he can possibly go, just like a spoiled teenager.

In the U.S. we have the “hawks” who say to punish Russia with all our military power. Fox News host, Sean Hannity, for instance, suggested bombing the Russian convoy in Ukraine. While this would certainly help the Ukrainian’s cause, it would risk drawing the U.S. into a direct confrontation with Russia, another nuclear power, something we avoided the entirety of the cold war. We should carefully consider how Putin would respond to such an existential threat to his power. Any miscalculation on our part could be disastrous as it could draw more countries into the war or risk a nuclear exchange. A “No Fly” zone over Ukraine would also risk a direct confrontation between U.S./NATO and Russian forces. Such threats might have been tools to use prior to the war as a deterrent (perhaps they were even made by the prior administration), but at this point they seem dubious ploys. In any case, such action should require a declaration of war which I doubt Congress or the American people would support at this point.

What are the Biden Administration’s tactics instead? It seems the goal is to balance punishment of Russia while also limiting the impact of higher domestic energy costs.

You know, in our sanctions package, we specifically designed to allow energy payments to continue.

We are closely monitoring energy supplies for any disruption.  We have been coordinating with major oil producing and consuming countries toward our common interest to secure global energy supplies.

We are actively working with countries around the world to elevate [evaluate] a collective release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves of major energy-consuming countries.  And the United States will release additional barrels of oil as conditions warrant.

I know this is hard and that Americans are already hurting.  I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.  This is critical to me.

Putin is playing the long game, and has been for more than twenty years. President Biden is playing the short game in advance of the 2022 election. If gas prices rise too much this year, it could further damage Democrat prospects in November. That is a concern to balance.

However, the American people can tolerate a rise in gas prices if they knew it is accomplishing some larger strategic goal. Our country needs an actual strategy and ready tactical options to choose from rather than simply reacting to whatever our enemy decides next. Our response to this war and its outcome will determine if such action is more or less likely in the coming years. We need to be better prepared.

Another NATO tactic has been to arm the Ukrainians resistance. This seems a good strategy, and so the U.S. and NATO allies have provided a variety of weapons. Poland recently offered MIG fighter jets to Ukraine (the same type that Ukraine already has), but then Poland deferred to the Biden Administration for concurrence, which was not given. Why? The U.S. was originally on-board. This tactic would not constitute a direct military confrontation between us and the Russians. Putin has not warned against such action, but Biden himself vetoed this action, saying he is trying to avoid WWIII. This does not compute. We have already armed the Ukrainians. Why would a few more planes be anything different? In any case, this is likely seen as more weakness and Putin pushes further when he sees weakness.

The Biden Administration needs to answer for this decision. Are we to stand for the oppressed people in Ukraine and against evil dictators or not? Why are we hedging on this? Does our president give Putin more credit than perhaps he should?

“I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says of Vice President Joe Biden in his new book coming out later this month.  ( January 7, 2014)

https://news.yahoo.com/robert-gates-thinks-joe-biden-hasn-39-t-212615128.html

I suppose some things never change.

Climate Change

I think we can safely say this about U.S. climate change policy: the President and his allies perceive the U.S. oil and gas sector as direct threats to green energy. President Obama and now President Biden, despite his protestations, are at war with the oil and gas industry.

Link

The president’s logic seems to be: limit gas and oil production to stimulate green energy (excluding nuclear power). Then, our superior technology will shine forth and lead the world in clean energy, ushering in a brave new world no longer dependent on oil and gas. It is a nice thought, but the fact is there isn’t enough green energy yet to supplant oil and gas. We are a long way from it and this war only further highlights our dependency on it.

This clean and green energy policy has also been advanced by European allies and it hasn’t yet manifested in the way they supposed. This policy now puts us all in a more difficult position with regard to Russia and Ukraine. European countries have at least signaled they will produce more oil themselves as a result of this crisis. However, our President appears to fear the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s wrath so much that he is willing to abandon Ukraine to predations of Vladimir Putin. We can mitigate this strategy beginning right now or we can pay in spades later. Does President Biden give Greta too much credit as he appears to be doing with Putin?

Putin waited a long time to take this action because he feared our response. Now, we are sending him signals of weakness that he had dared not hope for previously. Maybe we should re-think this policy?

https://thehill.com/policy/technology/596990-elon-musk-us-needs-to-increase-oil-gas-production-immediately

Tesla CEO Elon Musk urged the United States to increase its oil and gas production following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the negative impact on his company.

“Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil & gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures,” Musk tweeted on Friday.

“Obviously, this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports,” he added.

Despite claims otherwise, U.S. oil production has fallen in the last year as the Biden Team makes it more arduous for oil companies to drill. We could bring the Keystone XL back on line tomorrow. Even if it doesn’t produce any oil in the next year, it will influence the price of oil futures. We could encourage more oil production by limiting the administrative red tape and eliminating the uncertainty over oil and gas policy. These things won’t bring oil to market immediately, but they will stabilize the market and tell our oil producing enemies like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela to think twice. Basically, it will increase our power and limit theirs. Why are we fighting our own oil and gas industry which further empowers Putin?

Is the Biden Administration even telling the truth about its supposed support for clean energy? They want to appease Greta Thunberg and the green energy advocates while pretending they are still supporting fossil fuels as well (which they are not). They tell us they just don’t understand why the oil companies are not drilling for more oil. It must be that they want to make a profit and stick it to the rest of us. Oil companies significantly lowered prices the last few years, but now, at this time when it would be most inconvenient to the Democrats, the evil oil companies have decided to stick it to us all. The oil companies have become a proxy for Trump, now that it is harder to blame him.

https://www.theblaze.com/video/debunk-biden-energy-claim

Let me just just say a few things about the climate change debate for now:

  1. While telling the rest of us to restrain, Energy Czar John Kerry traveled around the world on private jets, both for business and pleasure. This is the sacrifice necessary for him to save the world from climate change. “If you offset your carbon, it’s the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle,” Kerry said. https://nypost.com/2021/08/05/john-kerrys-private-family-jet-took-16-trips-this-year-alone/
  2. An exchange on electric cars between Fox News reporter Peter Doocy and Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki was quite revealing: Psaki-Shocked-When-Doocy-Calls-Her-Out-on-Electric-Cars Do they even believe the policy they are pushing on the rest of us? Are they doing just as they did with the COVID restrictions (it is good for thee but not for me)? Yet the President appears willing to risk Ukraine to save his climate change policy?
  3. “Facts don’t matter” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal was actually put to a vote in the U.S. Senate in January 2019. Guess how many votes it received then? If you said any number other than zero, you way over-estimated this bill’s value.

More Insanity

Just like with the COVID debate, how far astray does the conversation need to go? Who are we blaming and who should we really be targeting?

The unvax’d were unnecessarily and unfairly targeted the last two years. Now, we see other minorities targeted in order to further political goals. This nonsense too should stop. History is rhyming loudly now.

MSNBC host Tiffany Cross in a recent interview interjects commentary on Poland’s white supremacy (forward to the 3:00 minute mark). I don’t know what that claim is based on or how it has any relevancy at this moment. I think perhaps the three women on this panel want to score points for VP Harris following her trip to Poland and are willing to throw the Polish people under the bus for that lofty goal. Poland is our ally in this war and has absorbed millions of refugees. Why malign the entire country in this way? The MSNBC crew provides no evidence for this, but the racism charge never requires any evidence in order to be believed. Why are we looking to invent white supremacy in Poland in the middle of a very significant war in Europe? We will never win with our focus divided in such way.

https://www.msnbc.com/cross-connection/watch/wh-vp-harris-trip-to-poland-and-romania-demonstrated-unity-in-the-face-of-russia-s-aggression-135227461945

Debate:

Shortly after the war began in late February, I reached out to my liberal friends and family for their thoughts. It is interesting to hear alternative perspectives on who is to blame and so forth. I got a bite this time.

Here is my opening gambit:

It is so unfortunate what happened in Ukraine, but it seemed avoidable.  It also seems we lost the war and our flexibility even before it started:

https://thefederalist.com/2022/02/25/the-west-could-have-prevented-the-russo-ukrainian-war-but-chose-not-to/

The Biden administration not only encouraged European energy dependence on Russia (by waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline last May) but substantially contributed to it by reversing the Trump administration’s achievement of U.S. energy independence. As my colleague Tristan Justice explains, President Biden’s energy policies have taken away the ability of the U.S. and its allies to sanction Russian oil exports, a key source of the Kremlin’s wealth:

“From Russia, the United States still imports nearly 600,000 barrels of oil every day. In contrast, the Keystone XL Pipeline Biden shut down was supposed to transport 830,000 barrels at peak capacity. Biden didn’t sanction the Russian energy sector, because he couldn’t have. Trump could have, and probably would have.”

In the early 1990s, Ukraine signed an agreement to give up their nuclear weapons, in exchange for protection and a promise for their security.  The U.S., U.K., and Russia all signed this agreement.  I suppose we have forgotten about it. 

My Friend’s Response:

I should point out that not a single liter of gas has been shipped to Europe via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. If Europe is dependent on Russian gas, it is because the Europeans decided a long time ago that buying cheap Russian gas was economically expedient even if it propped up a war mongering dictator.

We made a similar devil’s bargain back in the 80s. After the Arab Oil Embargo of the 70’s, President Jimmy Carter decided we needed to start weening ourselves off fossil fuels and tried to implement policies to start that process. He even put solar panels on the White House. But then Ronald Reagan was elected. He promptly scuttled Carter’s efforts and made a public show of taking those solar panels off the White House. Since then, U.S. energy policy (if that term even applies) has been the Republican mantra of “Drill, baby, drill!”. If we had followed Jimmy Carter’s lead, we might well be energy independent and living in a post fossil fuel world by now. So if you want to place the blame for our current oil dependency, blame Ronald Reagan.

Of course we did almost drill our way to temporary energy independence once. In 2015, thanks to the fracking boom, the U.S. because a net exporter of oil. But then President Trump’s favorite dance partners, the Saudis (another dictatorship propped up by oil revenue), decided to kill the fracking industry by dumping so much oil on the market that it drove the price down to the point where fracking was no longer financially viable. That’s one of the problems with the “Drill, baby, drill!” solution to energy; oil and gas markets are international, and as long as countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia control a big part of the supply, they can manipulate that market to serve their interest. So I guess you can blame the Saudis for our lack of energy independence.

The price we pay at the pump doesn’t reflect the real cost of fossil fuels. It doesn’t reflect the cost of dictators like Putin and the Saudis who are propped up by gas and oil revenue . It doesn’t reflect the environmental cost of mountain tops removed in West Virginia to get at coal seams, or the cost of acid rain, or the cost of oil spills (The Exxon Valdes and the Deep Horizon are just the tip of the ice burg). It certainly doesn’t reflect the long term cost of global warming, which despite what you may have heard, is very well established science and will have disastrous consequences if we fail to deal with it. You can’t drill your way out of these problems. You can’t pipeline your way out of these problems. More fossil fuel in not a solution because fossil fuel is the problem. The only lasting solution is to break our dependence on fossil fuel. If we had listened to Jimmy Carter we would be 40 years ahead of the game. So I guess you can blame our collective short sightedness for our lack of energy independence.

“In the early 1990s, Ukraine signed an agreement to give up their nuclear weapons, in exchange for protection and a promise for their security.  The U.S., U.K., and Russia all signed this agreement.”

If the Ukrainians had nuclear weapons, would they use them against Russia? They don’t want to see Russian tanks rolling though the streets of Kiev, but I suspect they would consider that preferable to Kiev melting in a mushroom cloud which is how that scenario would end (Russia has a lot of nukes). If Ukraine had kept it’s nukes, it wouldn’t have made a difference that I can see.

My counter:

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed Summer 2021.  The Trump administration tried to sanction it before leaving office.  His motives were questioned (of course) as a way of propping up American oil producing interests.  The Biden administration lifted Nord Stream 2 sanctions while at the same time shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S.. There is also the Nord Stream I pipeline which has been operational for a long while. 

The point is that while Russia has significant military capability, they have a third rate economy.   Russia’s major industry is oil and natural gas.  Without fossil fuels, the country would fail completely.  The U.S. currently imports 600,000 barrels a day from Russia.  Europe is also very dependent upon Russian oil and natural gas.  Why did Germany and others shut down nuclear power plants to become more dependent on Russia?  Is that a good trade?  France, at least, still relies heavily on nuclear.

The Keystone XL pipeline would have brought in another 830,000 barrels a day from Canada, a much more reliable neighbor.  Whether you like it or not, we are dependent on oil still.  Depending on Russia is a bad idea.  Maybe that is why the Trump Administration sanctioned Nord Stream 2.   The oil from Keystone XL would have more than supplanted the oil that we still receive from Russia today.  By the way, despite what Biden terms as “crippling sanctions” on Russia, we still have not shut off the 600,000 barrels a day from Russia (as of February 28).  Biden does not want to see the price of gas rise further in this country. He is willing to let Ukraine suffer, so that you don’t have to pay more to fill up your tank.   Cutting off Keystone XL and renewing the attack on fossil fuels (it is clearly an attack) has made us and our allies more dependent on Russian oil and has provided Putin an opportunity to invade Ukraine.  Putin did not invade while oil prices were low.  He waited until they have risen, and they have risen in the last year in large part to measures taken by the Biden Administration.

Energy independence I think we will all agree is a key.  Build more alternative sources of fuel, but do not cut off existing sources (i.e. oil, coal, natural gas) and do not make us more dependent on bad actors like Russia and Saudi Arabia.   We may produce less oil/gas because of government policies but our enemies/competitors will not.  There is no net effect in carbon emissions, only a change in where it is coming from.  Reducing carbon emissions, even per the IPCC, will have limited impact on climate.  It is a Quixotic mission, one that supported Russia’s interests in this case. 

You also made this statement which I fully agree with:

The price we pay at the pump doesn’t reflect the real cost of fossil fuels. It doesn’t reflect the cost of dictators like Putin and the Saudis who are propped up by gas and oil revenue

So, let’s not prop them up by reducing our impact in the energy market.  The policies of the last year have done much to prop them up. 

The Carter administration’s addition of solar panels on the White House and the Reagan Admin’s removal were both for show.  They had no meaningful impact.  Somehow you believe that solar and other alternatives sources have been stifled since the Reagan Admin more than 40 years ago.   Alternative energy, BIG GREEN, has been subsidized by government for years.  Even Greg Abbot in Texas is all in on this.  However, solar and wind simply do not provide the additional capacity that we need.  They can be a supplement to fossil fuels but are not yet advanced enough to fully replace them.  The near disaster in Texas last Winter shows how fragile the alternative  infrastructure is.  The shift to alternatives in Texas, even though still a smaller percentage than fossil fuels, led to this near disaster.   Solar and wind are just not as reliable as fossil fuels.  When they become as reliable, I will be all in with you.

You believe we missed opportunities, but you blame the government for missing the opportunity; they did not support it enough.  Good ideas win without government support.  You work for the government; you should know how inefficient and often incompetent it is.  Government has supported wind and solar–a lot and for a long time.  You think we are always one more plan away from solving the problem.  We need John Kerry to be our Energy Czar and it will all be better.  Not really true.  Try reading anything from J. Patrick Michaels or The Hockey Stick Illusion or Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. 

John Kerry last week lectured Putin and told him he needs to focus on Climate Change.  Really?  He will focus on Climate Change after he completes all his territorial ambitions.  The Russians and our other adversaries do not think in the same way we do.  Putin goal is not to make the lives of his people more comfortable by providing them more stuff.  

Yes, we CAN “pipeline and drill” our way out of this problem.  It gives us economic security we need to be able to apply meaningful pressure when Russia does something like this and strikes hard at countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia that do not have a diversified economy.   Again, Putin waited until now because the risks are as low as they have ever been due to changing circumstances.

The fracking boom is not over.  The U.S. is still the number one producer of oil.   Biden may have an impact eventually and drop us down the list.

Finally, neither of us know how this would be different if Ukraine still had nuclear weapons.  Many countries seek them still as a deterrent.  It seems to be working for North Korea.  Putin would have had to factor in their nuclear weapons before an invasion.  It would certainly change his calculations.  The end result may have been the same, but who knows for sure?   Putin is not a crazy man, nor is he stupid.  He clearly bided his time until now before invading Ukraine.  It was the right time with the fewest risks to his country.  This is how the man thinks.  A Ukraine with nukes could deter a rational and careful person like Putin.  

In any case, the West promised Ukraine security in exchange for turning over their nukes.  The West let Ukraine down thirty years later.  Just as we did in Hong Kong.   We had promises from Russia and China, but they were not fulfilled. Hong Kong and Ukrainian citizens were the losers.  What will happen when China invades Taiwan?  I think this inevitable.

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