Obviously our top item this week is Ukraine. But we aren’t going to post a Ukrainian flag or display some simpering #virtuesignal, because we’re not newcomers to this battle. Russia’s aggression was enabled to a shocking degree by disastrous Western energy policies driven by a childish obsession with climate alarmism, and anyone genuinely concerned with protecting western democracy would have spent the last decade in the trenches trying to fight against it and stop the unilateral western dismantling of our energy production capabilities. If you look around your home you will not find much that is made in Russia, unless you are an elderly social science professor with a Lada that hasn’t worked in … OK, it never did. But here we are in a world in which oil-rich Canada can’t get a pipeline built so we import Russian petroleum products while European nations, especially Germany, have wrapped Russian natural gas pipelines around their own throats. On purpose. By shutting down not just coal plants but even nuclear ones, dancing to the tune of the wackiest, most unrealistic of green extremists. Now that reality is back, in the grim form of Kipling’s Gods of the Copybook Headings, let’s invite it to stay in the form of rational energy policy based on rational science.
The situation is frightening to watch. Not just the Russian assault on Ukraine, which may be over by the time you read this newsletter, but the way in which those in power in the West have gambled on unicorn power both of the energy and geopolitics kinds. They didn’t just push the wind and solar fads, they ignored the obvious accumulating evidence that renewables don’t work, and they whistled past the growing dependence on Russian energy because, or the almost equally obvious impact on their diplomatic and even military positions.
For all the noise about sanctions and cutting off Russia’s financial connections to the west, how exactly does Europe plan to punish Putin when their lives depend on him not turning off the gas? As John Ivison pointedly observed in the National Post the day the shooting started, “Putin has been able to deny that Russian troops without insignia are an invasion force because the international community doesn’t want concrete proof of the truth, in case it is obliged to do something about it. The reason: Russia supplies one third of the gas that heats homes across Europe.” And Melanie Phillips wrote on Substack, under the pointed title “The green dream goes lethal”, that “There are many reasons why the west must bear considerable responsibility for this crisis… these include the fantasy indulged in until this week by western nations that Putin posed no threat and was instead a person through whom westerners could enrich themselves…. Then there’s the European embrace of pacifism, which has led Britain and other European states to cut their defence spending and rely instead on America’s protective umbrella which they all took for granted…. But even more shocking that all this is that, through their unhinged obsession with ‘climate change,’ America, Britain and Europe have handed Putin his greatest weapon against them.”
Whether European leaders were fools, knaves or some seedy mix is hard to determine. But the astounding business of relying on “diplomacy” to stop aggression, and when that approach failed to send signals like decorating EU HQ in blue and yellow, was laid especially bare when the German Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Alfons Mais, wailed that his army was “steht mehr oder weniger blank da” (standing more or less blank) which has also been translated as “standing bare” which seems more appropriate. (His colleague, the “Inspector of the Navy” which is how they say head of it for reasons that don’t translate very well, Kay-Achim Schönbach, endorsed Putin and then resigned back in January, which translates as “Ich bin ein Dummkopf”.)
It hardly need be added that Canada, which is still scratching to replace World War II era pistols, has a handful of second-hand British subs that never worked, is flying several dozen fighter planes from the 1980s and has three regular force infantry regiments, could not join in a fight even if we wanted to. That we responded to war in Ukraine by sending troops to Lithuania was a classic case of mistaking symbols for deeds. And that our army’s government website says “The Canadian Army produces soldiers who are well-trained, well-equipped, well-led and ready for operations at home and abroad” on the theory that if it sounds good, it doesn’t matter if any of it is true.
Events are fast-moving, and as we were finishing the newsletter it seemed that a number of European nations were coming to their senses, including Germany sending lethal weapons to Ukraine and promising to double its defence budget. Those same Germans were also trying to figure out whether it was too late the reverse the inexplicable process of mothballing their nuclear reactors, and why they ever thought it was desirable even from the point of view of fighting climate change, let alone fighting aggression. And Sweden, which even sat out World War II, was considering joining NATO.
Whether this burst of sanity lasts remains to be seen; the modern world is not encouraging in that regard. But if it does, it will be very important to ask: If we cripple our energy industries without convincing hostile powers to stop using fossil fuels, what possible good will it do us, and what obvious harm? And then, just maybe, asking how sure are we that there’s a manmade climate crisis at all?