Russia, Turkey, and Article V

 

20150707_collective-defence-img2Two particularly interesting comments came up at the tail end of my post about Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet. Let me reproduce them:

Pilgrim wrote:

I’ll just say it. Dump Article 5. Mutual defense obligations are either doomsday machines or paper tigers. If the treaty is wrongly considered a paper tiger, then it becomes a doomsday machine. The treaty is no stronger than the capabilities and resolve of the allies and both are open to question.

The Great War (Parts 1 and 2, with a sporting intermission to let Germany raise a new generation of young men and re-arm), was ignited by a cascade of treaties, none of which protected vital national interests, and none of which deterred the horror. In fact, the mutual defense obligations caused the horror.

And Carey J. replied:

If the terms of the Treaty of Versailles had been enforced, there would have been no WWII. France could have reamed Germany if they’d re-occupied the Rhineland when Hitler illegally ordered German troops there.

I agree entirely with Carey J. on the latter point. But the odd thing is that Pilgrim is also making a valid historical argument, particularly concerning the onset of the First World War. So this is one of those cases where we have more than one lesson of history to which to appeal — and those lessons are highly contradictory.

To put my own cards on the table, I think that yes, it’s the product of at least a decade of insane policy-making that we’ve now put ourselves in this position: NATO’s credibility is at risk because Erdoğan is insane. But this is the position we’re in.

So let’s go with this thought exercise. Suppose tomorrow’s headlines were to read:

NATO ANNOUNCES THE REVOCATION OF ARTICLE V

What do you think would happen on Sunday? Would our security and the world’s be diminished or enhanced?

There are 102 comments.

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  1. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Is there any reason to believe that Russia doesn’t already know that NATO is a paper tiger, especially since January 20, 2009?

    • #1
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    jetstream:Is there any reason to believe that Russia doesn’t already know that NATO is a paper tiger, especially since January 20, 2009?

    I think there are many reasons that ordinary people like me — without access to anything but open-source data — would have limited insight into the degree to which Russia (Putin, specifically) thinks that. My sense is that he’s systematically trying to figure it out, and has received a series of very mixed signals back — which he’s taken as encouragement. I don’t think NATO is, necessarily, a paper tiger: In military terms, I see it this way:

    • With nukes:  everybody loses.
    • Without nukes:  Russia loses.

    Russia couldn’t even stand toe-to-toe with a united EU.  The EU is the largest industrial center on the planet with more assets than any economy on the planet, and several times more people, wealth, technology and potential than Russia. Add to that the economic and military power of the US, not to mention Turkey (for what it’s worth these days), and the question answers itself: There’s no objective reason for NATO to be a paper tiger. But Russia seems to have the psychological upper hand, because the members of NATO don’t trust each other, none are especially keen to defend each other, and NATO’s natural leader has decided to take a break from international affairs. Putin may strongly suspect that we’re a paper tiger, but I’m not sure he can be sure of that, especially since it makes no sense — given the military facts. I suspect he’ll keep pressing at all the weakest links (and Turkey is certainly that, because who wants to defend an increasingly authoritarian Turkey with at least some kind of ties to ISIS?) to see how we respond. And we may well keep responding in a half-hearted way — which may even be the correct response. Keep him guessing, but try to avoid a direct conflict over countries that, frankly, we don’t like that much.

    But my question is: What value would we get from formally abandoning Clause V? It at least allows for the possibility of strategic ambiguity, and should we wish to invoke it, it isn’t a bad thing to have the mechanism in place. What’s the down side?

    • #2
  3. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    President Obama’s decision early on to renege on Bush’s commitment to deploy defensive missiles in Poland let Putin know we would not be serious about defending the East. While the stated threat was Iran (true) all sides understood the unstated threat was Russia.
    Having said that, I think it is way past time for Europe to begin paying for their own defence.
    We are $20 Trillion in debt, could use a little relief, I think.

    • #3
  4. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    The Baltic nations would be up the creek without a paddle, no doubt.

    • #4
  5. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Would love to see Estonia Kat’s/Scott Abel’s thoughts on this.

    • #5
  6. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    OkieSailor: Having said that, I think it is way past time for Europe to begin paying for their own defence.

    Well, this should encourage you, although it’s tragic that it had to come to this to really wake France up:

    Thousands of people have been flocking to sign up with the military. Those seeking to enlist in the French Army have quintupled to around 1,500 a day. Local and national police offices are flooded with applications. Even sales of the French flag, which the French rarely display, have skyrocketed since the attacks, which left 130 dead.

    “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Col. Eric de Lapresle, a spokesman for the French Army’s recruiting service. “People are coming in and contacting us in droves through social media, using words like liberty, defense and the fight against terror.” …

    The surge comes as President François Hollande moves quickly to ramp up military spending to fight what he cited as a growing terrorist threat on French soil and from abroad. The Paris attackers were mostly French citizens residing in France and Belgium, and coordinating with the Islamic State in Syria. Last Friday, militants tied to Al Qaeda carried out a deadly siege at a hotel in Bamako, Mali, taking French citizens and others hostage.

    Mr. Hollande deployed 10,000 soldiers on the streets of Paris and other cities the day after the attacks. Their force is likely to grow as the government reverses an earlier budget-cutting plan to reduce the size of the military in coming years.

    French military spending, which reached 42 billion euros, or more than $52 billion, last year for military operations, weapons, surveillance networks and other support, will grow by €600 million next year to finance the new positions and necessary equipment, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said last week.

    The French Army, currently the largest in Western Europe, will take on an additional 10,000 recruits this year and 15,000 more next year. The French national police force and gendarmerie will expand by about 5,000 members, along with 1,000 new customs inspection positions and 2,500 at the French Ministry of Justice.

    The ranks of the military reserves will also deepen. Renan Massiaux, a banker, said in an interview that he was “hurt and angry about the attacks.” At age 32, he was older than the cutoff of age 29 for becoming a soldier, but he hoped to be able to “protect France even as a reservist,” he said.

    • #6
  7. John Hendrix Thatcher
    John Hendrix
    @JohnHendrix

    Would our security and the world’s be diminished or enhanced?

    Diminished.

    Uncertainty complicates a geopolitical actor’s decision tree.  Historically, uncertainty as to what an American president might do inhibited the U.S.S.R and other players.  Eisenhower was noteworthy for the care he took to avoid revealing how he might or might not respond to a given scenario.  He served us well.

    In contrast, Obama has–in my view–consistently signaled both his intentions and his self-assigned limits.  For the first couple of years of his administration this didn’t appear to encourage America’s enemies to immediately take advantage of these opportunities primary because they couldn’t be certain about—they couldn’t believe, actually—his statements. Put another way, initially they could not be sure that Obama was actually creating a power vacuum they could exploit because:

    1) there is simply no post WWII precedent for an American president deliberately creating a geopolitical power vacuum; and

    2) the most likely explanation was that Obama was just lying to his base.

    Maximizing uncertainty inhibited America’s geopolitical enemies during the Eisenhower administration at little cost. Minimizing uncertainty and creating a power vacuum has created uninhibited geopolitical enemies America’s during Obama’s administration and for this there will be hell to pay.

    With regard to annulling Article 5: it will be destabilizing because it decreases uncertainty. Even with Article 5 in place Putin might guess that Obama would do nothing to defend, say, Lithuania but he cannot be 100% sure of that. Without Article 5 Putin can occupy Lithuania with more confidence that there will be no repercussions from anybody, not just Obama.

    UPDATE: I began writing this before the first comment.  After I posted I see those who are capable of posting faster have already covered all of the points I wanted to make.  This is a tough crowd to stay ahead of.

    • #7
  8. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Right now, the main factors preventing Russia from doing anything to Turkey involve wanting to stay on the good side of potential weapons customers Egypt and the Gulf states.

    (a) With oil down to the point where Russian production is low profit but Saudi production is still medium profit, these are vital revenue and influence sources.

    (b) China is ready to jump in and that’s worse than having the US and EU controlling those arms markets.

    • #8
  9. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    What is the relevance of Article 5 to Turkey?

    Does it cover a Russian attack on Anatolia (as opposed to the European part of Turkey)?

    Presumably, it would not cover Northern Cyprus.

    I’m sure Putin would love to kick the Turks out of Cyprus and leverage that with groups in Greece and the rest of Europe.

    As noted in my prior post, he can’t afford the consequences.

    • #9
  10. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    There is no need to remove Article V. Instead boot out of NATO the countries that are drifting away from core Western values and following an arguably anti-Western agenda. No points for guessing which nation that would be.

    • #10
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    I mentioned elsewhere that I wonder if Putin is employing a wifebeater strategy: precipitate a crisis with many participants, then resolve it just with Turkey, effectively making them partners. It’s all about the Bosporus.

    • #11
  12. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Marion Evans:There is no need to remove Article V. Instead boot out of NATO the countries that are drifting away from core Western values and following an arguably anti-Western agenda. No points for guessing which nation that would be.

    Which nations wouldn’t that be?

    • #12
  13. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Ball Diamond Ball: It’s all about the Bosporus.

    I submit the opposite.

    It has nothing to do with the Bosphorus.

    If Turkey does anything with the Bosphorus, Ankara gets nuked.

    Even if Russia and Turkey are going at it in Syria or Cyprus, the Bosphorus stays open to the Russians.

    • #13
  14. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Ball Diamond Ball:I mentioned elsewhere that I wonder if Putin is employing a wifebeater strategy: precipitate a crisis with many participants, then resolve it just with Turkey, effectively making them partners.It’s all about the Bosporus.

    It would make a lot more sense for Putin to ally with Turkey than it would be to teach it a lesson. He could take the tack “I am a man, and by shooting down one of my jets, you have proved you are a man, too. Why should the only two men in Europe fight each other? You want Cyprus?  It’s yours.  You want the Aegean Islands? They are yours. Support me in the Ukraine and the Baltic States. After all, your weaselly NATO allies are ready to sell you out. Sell them out before they sell you out.”

    You want a nightmare scenario?  That’s it. NATO gone and Turkey a Russian ally with a United States led by Obama.

    Seawriter

    • #14
  15. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Ball Diamond Ball:I mentioned elsewhere that I wonder if Putin is employing a wifebeater strategy: precipitate a crisis with many participants, then resolve it just with Turkey, effectively making them partners.It’s all about the Bosporus.

    I wonder too, but it seems a strange way to go about it; after all, relations were very good — including growingly strong financial ties and talk of Turkey joining the SCO; Russia had full access to the Bosphorus. The real points of difference here are genuinely strategic: RTE wants Assad gone, and can’t conceive of a stable, unthreatening Syria absent that goal; Putin wants Assad or at least his clan in power, granting his navy unfettered access to Tartus.

    So this really can’t be resolved even if these two psycho personalities could be coaxed into chilling out a bit: They have different war aims, and profoundly so. Whatever justified and natural revulsion we feel toward Turkey under the AKP (I do not feel it toward Turks, more than half of whom didn’t vote for him, and that number would have been much higher had he not intimidated and terrified them), it seems logical to support them in this, given that Turkey’s war aims are somewhat more similar to ours than the Kremlin’s.

    It also makes sense to be coming down like a ton of bricks on Turkey behind the scenes — for the corrupt deals they’ve entered into with ISIS, obviously, and to be putting heavy pressure on Turkey to return to normal democratic policies and less autocracy domestically. If we’ve done this, to my knowledge we have done it so secretly that it isn’t even rumored to have happened in a country where every conspiracy theory is constantly on the table.

    Now’s the time to bargain hard with the Turks: If they want NATO’s protection, they need to clean up their house. We should credibly — but privately — threaten to revoke our protection if RTE’s Putinist shenanigans continues in Turkey. That Europe has been even more cynical about questions of basic human rights in Turkey makes me wonder why Turks even wish to join the EU: The appeal was supposed to be that accession was an engine of democratization; but where Turkey’s concerned, I’d say it’s been almost the opposite.

    We should be on the side of Turkey’s democrats and reformers, not its Islamist thugs. It’s not so hard to do. I hope some messages like this are being delivered privately, but I don’t have great faith.

    • #15
  16. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Whatever justified and natural revulsion we feel toward Turkey under the AKP (I do not feel it toward Turks, more than half of whom didn’t vote for him…

    Add to those who voted for him, those who voted for other Islamists or for communists.

    • #16
  17. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: But my question is: What value would we get from formally abandoning Clause V? It at least allows for the possibility of strategic ambiguity, and should we wish to invoke it, it isn’t a bad thing to have the mechanism in place. What is the downside

    First, you miss the most obvious issue facing the security of Europe – energy.  Russian gas controls Europe subliminally and Russian influence with Iran and Iraq controls much of the Middle Eastern oil and gives them a counter-balance to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Europe must fix this and put aside all the green energy and renewable fantasy (France to its credit has remaing stalwart with respect to nuclear power.).

    The value we get from abandoning Clause V is a recognition that,

    1. It does not effectively exist, since nations decide to opt in or opt out depending upon the “envie” of the moment,
    2. It is completely dependent upon the US,
    3. The US cannot easily enforce it on its own,
    4. Even if the US could enforce it, the EU is split from within, and
    5. It might wake the Europeans up – but this later point is unlikely.

    NATO failed both before and after the Cold War when Europeans realized the was no identifiable threat and then floundered in Bosnia.  At that point, the die was cast to spend the minimum on defense partly out of hope (Germany) and partly out of desperation to fund social welfare deficits.  The EU experiment was built upon economic incentives which the EU convinced themselves would bait the maverick states to play nice.  And, the EU was never able to formerly create an effective state with a central diplomatic and military center – a central government – which actually highlighted the diversity and difference between the states. The EU then hope upon hope placed its faith in multiculturalism which was to be enforced and implemented by each member. The borders, social glue and societies within many EU members began to fray with an influx of people who do not identify with being German or French and certainly not Belgian since no one is actually Belgian to begin with (they are Flemish or Walloon).

    The EU then proceeded to ignore infractions of its own rules by member states in order to make itself more attractive and garner support for greater powers flowing to Brussels – a sort of devils bargain. The habit of members cheating in EU directives, commitments and policies became institutionalized and set the stage for NATO’s fall.

    Finally, NATO failed when the member states did not meet their military spending commitments and essentially disarmed themselves with no recourse. The US under Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama contributed to this in part. We should have never participated in Bosnia, and we should make it clear our participation in Syria in limited to:

    1. Denying ISIS a base from which to operate to protect our interests.

    2. Protecting only the “vital” and existential risks to the US.

    THERE IS NO REASON TO CANCEL ARTICLE V. JUST MAKE IT CONTINGENT UPON EACH STATE RECIEVING A CERTIFICATION THAT EACH ONE FULLY MEETS ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE TREATY (including the defense spending concord targets). AT THAT POINT NATO BECOMES AN AGREEMENT OF ABOUT 5 STATES, WITH THE POSSIBILITY OTHERS MIGHT REQUALIFY PROVIDED THEY ACHIEVE THE SPENDIGN TARGETS WITHIN 3 YEARS.

    That should get your answer as to who is serious and who isn’t right there.

    DOWNSIDE of seeing ARTICLE V self-cancelled or cancelled, your children Ms. Berlinski will not have to die defending Erdogan or whomever is pretending to rule Greece, France, or Belgium. It is easy to be bellicose and philosophical when your DNA, time, talent and treasure are not on the tip of the spear.

    Will the world turn Hobbesian? Perhaps. But, at what point is American involvement welcome? When it is in the vital interest of nations to protect themselves after they failed to prepare themselves. After the threat passes, the “victims” quickly revert back to their old ways of skimping on defense, denying their own nationality, and creating a false sense of security with multi-culturalism and trade based foreign policy. Realpolitik still rules.

    At some point, if we signal a serious pull back, the Europeans will get serious again. Or chaos will ensue. That is not a threat to American vital or existential interests unless you are suspending reality and watching, “The Man in the High Castle” and believe it could have happened.

    • #17
  18. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Any nation or group of nations wherewithal to defend themselves militarily is directly proportional and primarily dependent on their financial wherewithal to do so.

    Europe et al is a marginal growth basket case mired in centrally controlled, guilt motivated welfare state.

    The U.S. debt:GDP >1 and social justice distracted growth crushing welfare state position it similar to Europe.

    The ability of the alliance to mount a global effort in its defense is only possible because many of its foes are similarly feckless and debt ridden.

    What separates the alliance from its foes is our focus on posterity where China, Iran, the middle east in general, and Russia (questionably outside of its aristocracy) have no such limitations.

    Any effort to fund a global defense or engagement on the part of NATO will be funded by wealth confiscation and central bank monetization and will end very poorly.

    • #18
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Didn’t Turkey already ignore V when they refused to let us stage there in going into Iraq?

    I say we should have booted them from NATO then. As the nation slides into a Islamic dictatorship, all the more reason to cast them aside.

    • #19
  20. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    BB67 – another good point. Debt is a major driver.

    The US must refocus our foreign and defense policy on two things – preventing and responding to threats to “vital interests” and not treaties. And preventing and stopping “existential threats.” Every bus accident or bomb in Syria is not much of threat to vital or existential US threats. And the argument that if we don’t stop them there, they will come here presumes that their world moves with serrendipity when we know they are haphazard and amateurish.

    Our strategy should be to hunt and peck, get the Russians to kill themselves, turn up our bombing campaign to eradicate all oil refining, extracting, and transport, send food, and starve ISIS, help Jordan and others create safe zones, step back from the Turks and get them to come to us, help whomever will bleed Iran and Russia of their time, talent and treasure, and generally make sure we are secure in minerals, resources, energy and fiscal management. The world is at peace (no major world wars, no major world alliances). Let’s just conserve power, build strength and create mischief for those who want to dabble in trouble-making against our enemies and adversaries. REALPOLITIK – it ain’t pretty but it works.

    Besides, whose side are we on in most of these civil wars and gangland shootouts?

    • #20
  21. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Bryan,

    “Didn’t Turkey already ignore V when they refused to let us stage there in going into Iraq?”

    The Iraq invasion was not an Articile V action. Article V states an attack on one member is a triggering event for all members to defend that one member. It is triggered by an attack and each state presenting its case to the NATO Security Council. It has only been triggered one time – after 9/11 – and that was for show. When the US requested it be triggered, we declared we were attacked and called upon other member nations to defend. Point: this was a mistake. Why? We did not need the help of others. They did not have the right tools to help. They eventually cooperated, though somewhat reluctantly, to provide intelligence information on passenger lists, etc. But when we triggered Article V, we invoked NATO as a necessary defense element for the US, which it is not.

    NATO is an antique from a bygone era. It provides no semblance or framework for serious decision-making and is mostly ad hoc. Thus neither France nor Turkey invoked Article V after their recent experiences.

    • #21
  22. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Just a thought about the analogy with World War I.  I have always been struck by the parallels between Kaiser Wilhelm and Barack Obama.  Obviously there are differences.  Wilhelm was militaristic and nationalistic.  Obama leans toward pacifism and is whatever the opposite of nationalism might be.

    But the similarities are what create the danger.  Wilhelm, like Obama, was both narcissistic and a little bit slow.  Like Obama, Wilhelm believed that had to be the smartest guy in the room, which meant that everyone else in the room had to be a yes-man or had to be fired.  Thus, Wilhelm fired the guy who put together the doomsday machine and who knew how to operate it – Bismark.  Then, in another striking parallel with Obama, Wilhelm degraded Germany’s alliances; especially with Russia, which drove Russia into the French camp (and left Germany with the certainty of a two front war).  As I watch Obama driving France into the Russian camp, and degrading our other traditional alliances, I find it hard not to think about Wilhelm, and what his folly ultimately did to Germany.

    • #22
  23. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    ctlaw:Right now, the main factors preventing Russia from doing anything to Turkey involve wanting to stay on the good side of potential weapons customers Egypt and the Gulf states.

    (a) With oil down to the point where Russian production is low profit but Saudi production is still medium profit, these are vital revenue and influence sources.

    (b) China is ready to jump in and that’s worse than having the US and EU controlling those arms markets.

    I think you left out the most important factor – that Turkey would be a massively tough opponent.  For example, if Turkey wanted to overrun the Russian forces in Syria, they could do it in a week, no?  Why tangle with a country when you have nothing much to gain???

    • #23
  24. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    James Madison:BB67 – another good point.Debt is a major driver.

    The US must refocus our foreign and defense policy on two things – preventing and responding to threats to “vital interests” and not treaties.And preventing and stopping “existential threats.”Every bus accident or bomb in Syria is not much of threat to vital or existential US threats.And the argument that if we don’t stop them there, they will come here presumes that their world moves with serrendipity when we know they are haphazard and amateurish.

    Our strategy should be to hunt and peck, get the Russians to kill themselves, turn up our bombing campaign to eradicate all oil refining, extracting, and transport, send food, and starve ISIS, help Jordan and others create safe zones, step back from the Turks and get them to come to us, help whomever will bleed Iran and Russia of their time, talent and treasure, and generally make sure we are secure in minerals, resources, energy and fiscal management.The world is at peace (no major world wars, no major world alliances).Let’s just conserve power, build strength and create mischief for those who want to dabble in trouble-making against our enemies and adversaries.REALPOLITIK – it ain’t pretty but it works.

    Besides, whose side are we on in most of these civil wars and gangland shootouts?

    LIKE!!!!

    • #24
  25. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    So, can someone explain to me what purpose NATO serves now that Russia is no longer communist?

    I agree that it would be nice to protect the Baltic states and Poland and probably a number of the former Eastern Block countries that are serious about liberalizing from Russian domination, but

    1. why do we need an ironclad treaty trigger that we have no discretionary control over?
    2. why can’t we put a lot of pressure on Russia just by economic measures?
    3. why can’t we first produce more oil and gas here for export to undercut Russia leverage in Europe?

    Why do we consider Western Europe that much better than Russia these days?

    And, finally, following J. Madison opinions earlier (who like me has sons in the military) do any of you think there is sufficient reason to hazard one’s children in war for any of the aims NATO is supposed to advance?

    • #25
  26. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Screenshot 2015-11-27 10.34.19Another thought.  Christina Lin at the Times of Israel has a thought provoking article concerning Turkey’s interest in turning a goodly portion of Northwestern Syria into its 92 Province.  Were this to happen it would seem to work to ISIS’s disadvantage as that territory is prime ISIS real estate currently.  Any reason we shouldn’t encourage this development?  My Real Politique suggestion is that we make a trade with Turkey: We help them carve out that territory with air support, and they give us control of Northern Cyprus.  It would mean we would have to go toe-to-toe with Assad and the Russians, but if we gave these two tacit support to control Latakia and Damascus, we might work out some modus vivendi.

    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/nato-turkey-annexation-of-north-syria-like-north-cyprus/

    • #26
  27. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Manfred Arcane:

    1. why do we need an ironclad treat trigger that we have no discretionary control over?

    Good question. Looking forward to hearing from others.

    1. why can’t we put a lot of pressure on Russia just by economic measures?

    Our ability to exert economic pressure is akin to our ability to wage war. If we are limited by debt and oppressive regulatory and welfare states to wage 4th generation war we are similarly hobbled to wage 5th generation warfare.

    1. why can’t we first produce more oil and gas here for export to undercut Russia leverage in Europe?

    We produce 50-60% of our oil consumption and still the 2nd largest importer in the world.  We export a good deal of refined products, but there isn’t a plausible path to 100% energy independence within a generation with current technology.

    Opening Alaska and ending the environmental war on Canada may get us to the point where we are importing solely from our hemisphere.

    Why do we consider Western Europe that much better than Russia these days?

    Another great question. Perhaps we still believe Europe can be salvaged from their own poor choices as soon as we stop making our own poor choices?

    And, finally, following J. Madison opinions earlier (who like me has sons in the military) do any of you think there is sufficient reason to hazard one’s children in war for any of the aims NATO is supposed to advance?

    • #27
  28. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    BrentB67: We produce 50-60% of our oil consumption and still the 2nd largest importer in the world.  We export a good deal of refined products, but there isn’t a plausible path to 100% energy independence within a generation with current technology.

    I understand you know the oil business, but other ‘experts’ have the opposite opinion.  I understand our domestic production depends on market prices, and the fracking boom is being squelched by current Saudi oil supply tactics now.  However, there is no reason we couldn’t put import duties on ME oil to enforce a floor on domestic prices, and open up all our offshore areas to production.  If we cancelled the law prohibiting exports of oil outside the US, we could begin to replace Russian supplies more readily, couldn’t we?  Lithuania recently started up a LNG terminal to enable it energy independence from Russia.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-27/lithuania-grabs-lng-in-effort-to-curb-russian-dominance

    Why can’t we make it a higher priority to support European energy independence from Russia as national policy, perhaps promoting the Lithuanian ‘solution’?  We have LNG projects that are suitable for this purpose that seem in doubt without a concerted federal push:

    http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/07/14/most-u-s-lng-projects-wont-cross-the-finish-line-new-study-says/#27079101=0

    • #28
  29. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Manfred Arcane:

    BrentB67:

    I understand you know the oil business, but other ‘experts’ have the opposite opinion. I understand our domestic production depends on market prices, and the fracking boom is being squelched by current Saudi oil supply tactics now. However, there is no reason we couldn’t put import duties on ME oil to enforce a floor on domestic prices, and open up all our offshore areas to production.

    At current prices the federal gov’t can’t give away offshore leases.

    If we cancelled the law prohibiting exports of oil outside the US, we could begin to replace Russian supplies more readily, couldn’t we?

    Then we would import more to satisfy our demand? We still import just over half of our oil consumption.

    Lithuania recently started up a LNG terminal to enable it energy independence from Russia.

    LNG will be helpful.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-27/lithuania-grabs-lng-in-effort-to-curb-russian-dominance

    Why can’t we make it a higher priority to support European energy independence from Russia as national policy, perhaps promoting the Lithuanian ‘solution’? We have LNG projects that are suitable for this purpose that seem in doubt without a concerted federal push:

    http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/07/14/most-u-s-lng-projects-wont-cross-the-finish-line-new-study-says/#27079101=0

    Your suggestions are valid, but if I understand them properly will require much more federal intervention and pseudo nationalization of the upstream energy market.

    • #29
  30. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Manfred Arcane:

    ctlaw:Right now, the main factors preventing Russia from doing anything to Turkey involve wanting to stay on the good side of potential weapons customers Egypt and the Gulf states.

    (a) With oil down to the point where Russian production is low profit but Saudi production is still medium profit, these are vital revenue and influence sources.

    (b) China is ready to jump in and that’s worse than having the US and EU controlling those arms markets.

    I think you left out the most important factor – that Turkey would be a massively tough opponent. For example, if Turkey wanted to overrun the Russian forces in Syria, they could do it in a week, no?

    Not without losing much more valuable things. Think about all the ordnance Russia has been firing at relatively low value rebel targets. Now imagine that was fired at high value Turkish targets like air and naval bases. Multiply that by about 10 if Russia shifted assets toward Turkey.

    Why tangle with a country when you have nothing much to gain???

    Agreed.

    • #30
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