Putin’s Fools Rush In

When you’re in a hole, stop digging.” – Denis Healey

Earlier this week, Ursula von der Leyen descended from on high, tablets in hand, to deliver a somber message to the shivering masses of the Old Continent. Unfamiliar with von der Leyen? She is the President of something called the European Commission. Like you, I hadn’t heard of her before, but that sounds like an important position. I bet she probably won election to that office by a wide margin.

According to euronews, von der Leyen has grave concerns about the energy crisis currently befalling Europe:

“Speaking in Strasbourg on Wednesday, von der Leyen told the European Parliament that the bloc is ‘vulnerable’ as it imports 90% of its gas -- much of it from Russia.

‘Europe today is too reliant on gas and too dependent on gas imports,’ the Commission President told legislators.

‘The answer has to do with diversifying our suppliers ... and, crucially, with speeding up the transition to clean energy.’

Von der Leyen has urged the EU to push ahead on transitioning to clean energy from wind and sun, which can be domestically produced and will ultimately be a lot cheaper than imported fossil fuels.”

To believe von der Leyen, Europe’s energy conundrum is an immaculate crisis, conceived without any consummation by the European elite. They just woke up one day to find they were importing 90% of their natural gas needs. That Russia now controls their energy future is nothing more than a random and unfortunate event beyond anybody’s control. With no rooms left in the inn, Europe will just have to settle for Putin’s manger.

Better still is her proposed solution to this newfound shortage of baseload power. According to von der Leyen, what Europe needs now isn’t a rejuvenation of its fledgling nuclear power industry, nor systematic investment in domestically produced natural gas. Instead, Europe needs more intermittent power! There’s a hurricane coming, and Europe needs to board up its windows. No hammers, you say? Quick! Buy more saws!

It would be funny if it wasn’t all so horrifying.

The big beneficiary of the West’s stupidity is none other than the keeper-of-the-hammers himself, Vladimir Putin.  That’s him below, giddy with disbelief at how easy the game of geopolitics has become.

The prize Putin will soon collect is the inevitable go-ahead by Germany to begin operating the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an act that will decisively and irreversibly conclude a years-long struggle between the United States and Russia in Putin’s favor. Here’s some useful background from a recent BBC report:

The Russian energy company Gazprom says it has completed construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

Running under the Baltic Sea, it will double Moscow's gas exports to Germany and circumvent Ukraine, which relies on existing pipelines for income.

It still needs to be certified by Germany's regulator, a process that could take up to four months.

The US fears the pipeline will increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia.

The loss of transit fees would hit Ukraine's economy hard.

The Ukrainian presidency opposed Nord Stream 2, which Volodymyr Zelensky described as a ‘dangerous geopolitical weapon.’

That’s a nice continent you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.

In a rout reminiscent of the swift takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, American diplomacy will soon discover once again that reality on the ground supersedes empty rhetoric from afar. With our allies facing a brutally cold winter and no tangible alternatives on offer from over here, Europe will turn East – hat in hand – and beg Putin to cement his victory. They’ll be fortunate if he doesn’t drive home the point by slow-rolling his acceptance of their humiliating surrender.

Meanwhile, on the home front, we discover on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that we’re busy laying the foundation for the next diplomatic catastrophe. With the help of new board members installed by our friend Larry Fink, Exxon Mobil is busy teeing up a huge future win for China:

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s remade board of directors is debating whether to continue with several major oil and gas projects as the company reconsiders its investment strategy in a fast-changing energy landscape, according to people familiar with the matter.

Members of the board—which includes three directors successfully nominated by an activist investor in May and two other new members—have expressed concerns about certain projects, including a $30 billion liquefied natural gas development in Mozambique and another multibillion-dollar gas project in Vietnam, the people said.

The Vietnam project is near disputed waters in the South China Sea, while the Mozambique project is well-situated to meet the future energy needs of India. When Exxon inevitably unloads these reserves at fire sale prices to China’s state-owned energy giants, two more allies will learn once again that we are an unserious people undeserving of our heretofore privileged position as the dominant global superpower.

Energy is life. Those projects will get developed. The geopolitical power vacuum we are creating will get filled. We might not be serious, but our enemies are ruthlessly so. They raise a toast to our self-inflicted demise.

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