The U.S. crossed the Rubicon this week. And I’m not talking about the ridiculous impeachment of President Trump for doing his job.
I’m talking about passing the NDAA with provisions to sanction ‘from hell’ anyone associated with completion of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. The U.S. is now openly dismissive as a matter of law any ally or partner who engages in economic activity it disapproves of.
We do this all the time with countries we consider rivals or who have committed ‘human rights abuses’ or contravened international laws or societal norms.
But this is about a simple commercial transaction. Yes, it has geopolitical implications, but those are secondary. No one will be harmed by Nord Stream 2. The real harm is to the U.S.’s ability to bring political pressure on European countries to adopt its anti-Russian policies.
This pipeline is, ultimately, none of the U.S.’s business. It is an energy project openly entered into by six companies in accordance with EU regulations (which, thanks to U.S. pressure, changed during its construction) to provide energy security to Germany.
Germany needs the pipeline, so does most of Europe through reselling the gas. The U.S. takes this step now in imperial fashion because everything else has failed.
It presupposes that Russia and Europe are enemies. They are not. And if Ted Cruz (R-Oil Country) wants to define their relationship for them in that way, then he should introduce a declaration of war on Russia and force a NATO resolution to that effect.
He’s not doing that. He’s simply creating an international incident and ensuring the breakup of NATO that much more quickly.
Seriously, are these people that brain dead?
And that should tell you how important this issue is not only to Russia but to Germany and the EU.
Europe is willing to defy the U.S. on Nordstream to the point of forcing the U.S. to openly and nakedly destroy its reputation with European contractors and governments to stop one pipeline in a place where multiple gas pipelines will be needed for future growth.
This is the diplomatic equivalent of the nuclear option.
And the neocons in the Senate just pushed the button.
Europe understands what this is really about, the U.S. retaining its imperial position as the policy setter for all the world. If it can set energy policy for Europe then it can set everything else.
And it’s clear that the leadership in Europe is done with that status quo.
The Trump administration from the beginning has used NATO as an excuse to mask its real intentions towards Europe, which is continued domination of its policies.
Trump complains that the U.S. pays into NATO to protect Europe from Russia but then Europe buys its energy from Russia.
That’s unfair, Donald complains, like a little bitch, frankly, even though he right on the surface.
But if the recent NATO summit is any indication, Europe is no longer interested in NATO performing that function. French President Emmanuel Macron wants NATO re-purposed to fight global terror, a terrible idea.
NATO should just be ended.
But you’ll notice how Trump doesn’t talk about that anymore. He wants more billions pumped into NATO while the U.S. still sets its policies. This is not a boondoggle for the MIC as much as it’s a Sword of Damocles to hold over Europe’s head.
The U.S.’s involvement in should be ended immediately, the troops brought home and the billions of dollars spent here as opposed to occupying most of Europe to point missiles at a Russia wholly uninterested in imperial ambitions no less harboring any of them.
And Trump also knows this but thinks stopping Nordstream 2 is the price Europe has to pay him for this privilege. It’s insane.
The time has come for Europe to act independently from the U.S. As much as I despise the EU, to untangle it from the U.S. on energy policy is the means by which for it to then deal with its problems internally. It can’t do that while the U.S. is threatening it. Circling the wagons against the immediate threat, as it were.
And that means protecting its companies and citizens from the economic depredations of power-mad neoconservatives in the U.S. Senate like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham.
Allseas, the Swiss company laying the pipe for Nordstream 2, has halted construction for now, awaiting instructions from the U.S. Gazprom will likely step in to finish the job and Germany will green light any of the necessary permits to get the pipeline done.
Those people will be put out of work just in time for Christmas, turning thousands of people against the U.S. Commerce drives people together, politics drives them apart.
But, at the same time, the urgency to finish Nordstream 2 on time is wholly irrelevant now because Ukraine and Russia came to terms on a new five-year gas transit contract. This ensures Gazprom can meet its contractual deliveries to Europe that no one thought could be done on time.
But when the Nazi threat to Zelensky meeting with Merkel, Macron and Putin in Paris failed to materialize, a gas deal was on the horizon.
And, guess what? U.S. LNG will still not have the marginal lever over Europe’s energy policy because of that. Putin and Zelensky outmaneuvered Cruz, Graham and Trump on this.
Because that’s what this boils down to. By keeping Russian gas out of Europe, it was supposed to constrain not only Russia’s growth but also Europe’s. Because then the U.S. government can control who and how much energy can make it into European markets at critical junctures politically.
That was the Bolton Doctrine to National Security. And that doctrine brought nothing but misery to millions.
And if you look back over the past five years of U.S./EU relations you will see this gambit clearly for what it was, a way to continue European vassalage at the hands of the U.S. by forcing market share of U.S. providers into European markets.
Again, it gets back to Trump’s ideas about Energy Dominance and becoming the supplier of the marginal erg of energy to important economies around the world.
The smart play for the EU now that the gas transit deal is in place is to threaten counter-sanctions against the U.S. and bar all LNG shipments into Europe. Gas prices are at historic lows, gas supplies are overflowing thanks to fears of a deal not being in place.
So, a three to six month embargo of U.S. LNG into Europe to bleed off excess supply while Nordstream 2 is completed would be the right play politically.
But, in reality, they won’t need to, because the U.S. won’t be able to import much into Europe under current prices and market conditions. And once Nordstream 2 is complete, LNG sales to Europe should crater.
In the end, I guess it’s too bad for Ted Cruz that economics and basic human ingenuity are more powerful than legislatures. Because Nordstream 2 will be completed. Turkstream’s other trains into Europe will be built. Venezuela will continue rebuilding its energy sector with Russian and Chinese help.
There is no place for U.S. LNG in Europe outside of the Poles literally burning money virtue signaling their Russophobia.
Nordstream 2 was a response to the revolt in Ukraine, to replace any potential losses in market share to Europe. Now Russia will have what it had before passing through Ukraine along with Nordstream 2. By 2024 there will be at least two trains from Turkstream coming into Europe.
Iran will keep expanding exports, settling its oil and gas trade through Russian banks. And the U.S. will continue to fulminate and make itself even more irrelevant over time.
What men like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump refuse to understand is that when you go nuclear you can’t ever go back. If you threaten the nuclear option, there’s no fall back position.
And when those that you threaten with annihilation survive they are made all the stronger for passing through the eye of the needle.
Looking at Gazprom’s balance sheet right now, that’s my take.
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