STRATEGIC ENERGY POLICY, THEN AND NOW

STRATEGIC ENERGY POLICY, THEN AND NOW

Last week, The New York Post carried a story on a weird and telling press conference by John Kirby, the Press Secretary for the Pentagon.  It went like this:

The chief Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday that climate change and China are “equally important” threats to the United States, adding that it “doesn’t do anybody good” to make a “relative” assessment of national security issues. 

John Kirby was pressed during a briefing on comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland this week, during which she stated that the US military is a “larger polluter than 140 countries combined.” 

Kirby told reporters that he had not seen the comments, but said that the Pentagon knows they “are the largest emitter here in the federal government.”…

Kirby added that that the Department of Defense believes climate change is a national security threat due to the potential damage to US facilities and “instability and security that it will cause in other places around the world — which will no doubt require US military assistance going forward.” 

Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson then asked whether China or climate change was a bigger threat to the US, as defense officials continue to worry about potential missile tests and attacks by Beijing.

“I think we get paid to examine all the threats to our national security, and I don’t know that it does anybody good to put some sort of relative analysis assessment on that,” said Kirby, who emphasized that climate is a “real and existential national security threat.

“And we consider China as the number one pacing challenge for the department,” he added. “Both are equally important.”

Our instinct reaction upon reading something like this – and, to be sure, this is hardly the first time we’ve seen these sentiments expressed – is to think “these people are crazy.”  They are that, no doubt.  But worse, they are impossibly dull strategic thinkers.  If one says something like this – indeed, even if one believes something like this but never says it aloud – then he is, quite clearly, in the wrong profession and is devoid of the strategic imagination necessary to fight and defeat the nation’s legitimate “security threats.”

Longtime readers will note that we have – for more than 20 years now – referred in print to a handful of National Security Directives authored by the Reagan administration (at the behest of our old friend, Roger Robinson, then-Deputy National Security Advisor for Economic Affairs).  These directives were intended to put an end to Soviet adventurism by reducing Soviet economic leverage.  In brief, the Reagan folks targeted the energy sector to cripple the Soviet economy.  The oil-heavy Soviet economy couldn’t withstand increased supply and concomitantly reduced prices.  And so, all the president’s men encouraged increases in domestic production and – and this is the key – also incentivized purposeful Saudi over-production, all of which did indeed create a massive increase in supply, which, in time, crushed the Soviets so thoroughly that they fit nicely in the dustbin of history.

That was bold.  That was risky.  That was creative and smart.  Most of all, that was effective.

Today, of course, that kind of thinking would get a guy fired on the spot.  “What are you thinking?  Increase fossil fuel production?  But that would play right into the hands of our enemy, the…uhhh…planet….”

Today, instead, we get a Secretary of Energy, who cackles hysterically (and uncomfortably) when asked why she and her boss took a country that was, for the last two years, a NET ENERGY EXPORTER and even a NET PETROLEUM EXPORTER, and have tried their damnedest to turn that “greatest energy story ever told” on its head.

Today, we are certain that we, Robinson, a handful of other diehards on the Right, and the Chinese and the Russians are the only ones who remember the lessons of the late-Cold War.

Today, we get the heads of all the global powers gathered in Glasgow, all promising to make themselves “carbon neutral” just in time to go to war with Russia and/or China.  And when we say “all the global powers” we, of course, mean “all the global powers, save two, Russia and China.”

Today, the morons, imbeciles, and useful idiots who have spent the last two weeks lounging about Scotland demanding that the people of the planet join their battle against the…uhhh…planet by banning fossil fuels, are also demanding that the Russians increase their production of fossil fuels to send to energy-starved Europe.  They whine and they bitch and they moan about how Russia isn’t green enough to join their party in Glasgow, even as they whine and bitch and moan about Russia not doing its duty of supplying THEM with adequate supplies of fossil fuels.

Today, as the Americans are in Scotland attempting to slit their throats over the great climate change crisis, the other risk to American national security is doing something else:

China is likely to end up in opposition to efforts at COP26 climate talks to phase out coal worldwide and urge countries to beef up their emissions plans as soon as next year.

Energy security concerns will keep China from supporting the proposal on coal, according to a person familiar with China’s position who asked not to be named. While China plans to peak emissions by 2030, the country is now in the grips of an energy crisis and is ramping up coal output to record levels.

Beijing is also pushing back against a proposal at COP26 to urge governments to revise their official climate plans by the end of next year, a move aimed at curbing temperature increases as soon as possible. China’s view is that working out a new plan for emissions so soon after its latest submission just ahead of the talks in Glasgow will be too time-consuming for the world’s biggest emitter. The press office of China’s negotiating team didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sadly, it didn’t take Nostradamus to see this coming.  As we said, some countries learned the lessons of the late-Cold War’s energy battle, while some didn’t.  Some countries are consumed by the idea that they must preserve their status in the world, and some are not.  Some countries have death wishes, and some do not.

When the history of this era in American politics and policy is written, it will note that the country went from being wise and cunning to ideologically nutty in less than four decades, a rather remarkable collapse.

We can only hope that that history isn’t officially written in Mandarin.

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