Monday, March 10, 2014

Russia v. USA: Natural gas not bombs.

The most important battle we face in the world today is the fight against global warming. But we must also make the world safe for children and growing things. Vladimir Putin is one of the chief threats in both battles.

Putin is an old-style dictator who learned how to make people believe just about anything while he worked for the NKVD. He has adopted the old Soviet style of government, based on threats, bullying, and force.

In the old days, which people call the Cold War, the US responded to Soviet threats with threats of their own, bullying, and force. There was not much to distinguish between the two cold war antagonists. The Soviets crushed demonstrations in Hungary with tanks in 1956. The US sent troops to Vietnam to suppress the revolution, starting in 1957. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The US provided weapons to the Afghan resistance.

The Cold War is generally considered to have ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1979. But the Cold War was no more than an extension of the armed conflicts between European powers and their proxies that occupied the 19th and 20th centuries. Russia has the same territorial ambitions that drove its foreign policy since the Crimean War. Once again, Russia has seized the Crimea.

The US has signaled that it does not intend to fight against Russia with military force. Instead, it is fighting with natural resources. The US has increased its production of natural gas through fracking and other technical advances. Russia's only influence in the world now comes from its natural resources. By providing an alternative to Russian gas and oil, the US is using commodities as a weapon.

This presents a strategic problem for those of us who believe that less energy production, not more, is the answer to global warming. At the same time, we would like to see less bloodshed in the world. There is a fine line to be drawn here. Deflecting Russian aggression serves two purposes, though. First, it protects Russia's neighbors from the kinds of oppression they experienced under Stalin and during the Cold War. Second, it assures that less Russian gas will be sold on the open market. The total of US and Russian gas sales will remain constant.

Defeat of Putin is essential to serve as an example to other warmongers everywhere. Less Russian production of natural gas will eventually lead to fewer greenhouse gases and less global warming.ß

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