Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Russia's power power

This is the reality that some Republicans have started to realize -- resources are power. And keeping them bottled up (oil on the continental shelf, oil shale in Colorado, natural gas) only allows unsavory states to act as neo-imperialists -- Iran in the Middle East, Russia in the Caucasus, Venezuela in South America, Saudi Arabia as the theoimperialist of Islamic thought. Some wisdom from Victor Hanson:

We talk endlessly about “soft” and “hard” power as if humanitarian jawboning, energized by economic incentives or sanctions, is the antithesis to mindless military power. In truth, there is soft power, hard power, and power-power — the latter being the enormous advantages held by energy rich, oil-exporting states. Take away oil and Saudi Arabia would be the world’s rogue state, with its medieval practice of gender apartheid. Take away oil and Ahmadinejad is analogous to a run-of-the-mill central African thug. Take away oil, and Chavez is one of Ronald Reagan’s proverbial tinhorn dictators.

Russia understands that Europe needs its natural gas, that the U.S. not only must be aware of its own oil dependency, but, more importantly, the ripples of its military on the fragility of world oil supplies, especially the effects upon China, Europe, India, and Japan. When one factors in Russian oil and gas reserves, a pipeline through Georgia, the oil dependency of potential critics of Putin, and the cash garnered by oil exports, then we understand once again that power-power is beginning to trump both its hard and soft alternatives.

This is true, but Hanson's solution to the Georgia crisis and the next Ukraine-Russia staredown -- have the EU, US, Russia and the former Soviet states that are now happily free all sit down and discuss how to maintain everyone's sovereignty -- has no real leverage against the Russians. Fight power-power with power-power -- that means supporting gas pipeline projects from the Caucasus and central Asia that do not touch Russian territory, thereby enabling Europe to obtain natural gas without having to dance with the Russian bear.

And the same logic applies to the US -- drill, drill, drill in the Arctic, the oceans, the oil shales of the Dakotas and Rockies, and ANWR. Want to break dependence on foreign oil? Drill for the vast reserves we have in our own country or in Canada. This is how to escape dependence upon and decrease the power of anti-Semitic misogynists, apocalyptic nutters and neo-commies.

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