As we move toward the Christmas break, which in our case means no “Wednesday Wakeup” Newsletter on Dec. 28 or Jan. 4, we want to give considerable thought to the very harsh conditions under which so many Ukrainians will be trying to celebrate. And to underline that in a singularly malevolent spasm of destruction, partly designed to create strategic weakness and partly just nihilistic, Russian forces under Vladimir Putin are deliberately destroying Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. In some sense the same thing is happening in the West, far more slowly, using the rule of law and against a background of far greater resilience and no foreign invasion. Thus for instance “Germany’s Largest State Declares Emergency Amid Energy Crisis”. So the lesson, beyond the need to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and brutalized, is that reliable affordable energy is absolutely vital to the flourishing of any society and those whose sense of privilege has caused them to lose sight of that primal reality should not be granted authority.
The delicacy of the discussion among climate alarmists who are finally getting what they wanted and don’t seem to like it very much is remarkable. For instance Reuters “Sustainable Switch” for Dec. 1, perkily branded “Sponsored by Shell” (but for which no link is available), says:
“Winter has arrived in Europe and people all over the continent are struggling to keep up with soaring inflation and high bills. Shutting early, switching off the lights and lowering temperatures are among the measures being taken by Europe’s retailers and shopping malls to try and cut energy use and contain a crisis stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Well, no. There wouldn’t be an energy crisis resulting from one foreign country invading another one if “Europe” was energy self-sufficient or even had reasonable alternative suppliers other than the country that did the invading.
It is entirely a self-inflicted geopolitical wound. And a serious one; as Reuters also concedes, “Over in Germany, citizens are looking to cut back on non-essentials amid a cost of living crisis fuelled by rising energy prices.”
Germany. The economic “powerhouse” of Europe, somehow still the world’s fourth-largest economy despite having deliberately sabotaged its own power industry.
When you think of basic needs, the phrase “food, clothing and shelter” naturally springs to mind. And it was clearly a huge leap forward in human well-being when we tamed fire and could cook food. But modern agriculture is energy-intensive in ways that even chasing a mammoth was not, including the production and application of fertilizer that many governments including that of Canada have somehow concluded is a mortal threat to our survival not a key element of it. And shelter is a bleak affair unless, in a cold climate, it can be heated.
Medieval castles may look like horrible, chilly damp stone blocks. But in fact they were hung with brightly coloured insulating tapestries and large fires brought warmth especially due to one of the Middle Ages’ many important inventions, the chimney. When people are cold, they work hard and think hard about how to get warmth.
Thinking is of course hard work. And thus it turns out that in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s largest state, both economically and demographically, the emergency measure is to lift the debt ceiling so they can borrow even more money to subsidize people’s energy bills. It is not, repeat not, to develop more sources of energy.
This Christmas, our readers and viewers will for the most part, we hope, live in places where ill-considered climate policy based on bad science has not yet become a grave threat to health and even survival. But we realize that even in North America, and certainly in much of Europe, skyrocketing energy prices and lack of supply that have arisen through deliberate policy choices, from dependence on Russian natural gas to bans on fracking to shutting down nuclear reactors to taxes on “carbon pollution”, are going to cause real misery and hardship especially if the winter, as seems to be happening, comes early and hits hard.
From another continent where poverty was already a daily miserable companion, Vijay Jayaraj notes the growing incidence of cold weather and then underlines the real human consequences of lacking energy and thus of bad energy policy:
“A small percentage of India’s 1.3 billion population has access to electrical heaters. However, a majority must burn a variety of fuels for fire to stay warm, making many people susceptible to surprise cold events.”
And he warns against “complacency” because:
“Even in a developed nation such as Germany, climate complacency has led to unpreparedness for winter energy needs and government officials are now asking citizens to heat just one room in their homes! It is the cold that kills.”
Yes, kills. Not as quickly as Russian missiles that hit your house but, as Putin and his henchthugs know all too well when they aim their missiles at power plants, very certainly.
So if you are one of the fortunate ones, please spare a thought and a donation for those in need, in your own community and country, in other Western nations, and in Ukraine. And then ask yourself how foolish it would be to make this problem worse in so many dimensions because of a phantom threat from plant food.
The energy structure in Ukraine is used to arms and troops around. It is a legitimate target. In fact, Russia has attacked it less than Nato has elsewhere. It never attacked any energy infrastructure until Ukraine attacked plants inside Russia, Ukraine also shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and continues to do so. (15 shells landed there last week), it also shells electricity plants in Donetsk and other parts of Eastern Ukraine. Having said that Russian destruction of energy is still less than Nato's destruction of 80% of Serbia's energy infrastructure
which even the US generals admitted was aimed at the civilians and had no real military objective. The same happened in Iraq and elsewhere.
Similarly, The Allies in WW2 did the same to Germany. Stop spouting propaganda and face facts.
Europe's energy problem has nothing to do with them being dependant on Russia. In point of fact, it was Europe that used energy "as a weapon" by sanctioning their supplier of energy. That the supplier then began reducing their supply is completely understandable. The point was that they believed they could destroy the Russian economy by doing so. Instead, they have destroyed their own economies. Then, when it looked like Germany would relent and ask Russia to resume full gas shipments, the Americans destroyed Nordstream (sure, label me a conspiracy theorist).
The West is prolonging this conflict, and committing suicide, by pouring weapons and material, and probably men, into a conflict that we are on the wrong side of. As a Historian, I would have thought you'd be more aware of the background that led to this. Until a peace is established, donating to the "cause" just increases the destruction and horror that real people are being forced to endure. Russia has refused to acquiesce to Ukraine joining NATO, having strategic weapons stationed right on their border that make them vulnerable to a nuclear first strike, or having Russian speakers shelled within their cities in the Donbas. You better believe they're going to finish this.
The good people will be grateful for the proverbial lump of coal in their stockings this Christmas.
Leeper: Not sure why you think the West is on the wrong side of the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in the 1990s in exchange for promises from the international community of nations, including Russia, that its territorial integrity would be defended. (I believe it is called the Budapest Agreement.) Russia broke their agreement when they annexed Crimea in 2014, and then again when they invaded the eastern regions in February 2022. As a sovereign country, Ukraine has the absolute right to join NATO (or any other defensive alliance it wishes), even if it hurts Russia's feelings. Conquering Ukraine will not diminish NATO's presence at Russian borders; on the contrary, it will bring four more NATO countries into direct contact with Russian-occupied territory. And finally, with the weaponry we now have, it isn't necessary for NATO to expand to Ukraine to provide NATO with a "nuclear first strike" capability. Nuclear missiles can be fired from boats just about anywhere on the high seas. If we have learned anything from WWII, it is that meekly allowing foreign invasions by bad actors does not pan out very well even for the pacifists on the sidelines. It is necessary for civilized nations to defend the principle of national autonomy always and everywhere.
Thylacine: As I have mentioned in previous posts, once the actual fighting starts we're already deep into "Mommy, he's poking me", "nu-uh, he started it!" arguments. Both sides have done bad things, both feel they have a historical right to whatever they seem to be fighting about. And then the adult has to step in to STOP the fighting, start the talking and start the healing.
What seems to be the case tough is that 'the west' is choosing one of those sides and prolonging the fighting. It's as if our leaders don't want us to look too much at the actual problems that they created.
I'm also sure you know about the billions of dollars/euros that have been donated to 'Ukraine' but ended up in the pockets of a few rich people so they can covertly fund, amongst other things, climate extremism (to stay on topic for this site).
Next, Ukraine is connected to an inland sea, but the only way to get there is through the Mediterranean sea, which only has 2 entrances, both of which are too shallow to let a nuclear submarine pass unnoticed. As a result, anything you want to launch from a ship is either coming from the read sea or the persian gulf, both of which are far enough away to give time to respond OR from some obviously visible threat coming in through the Mediterranean, also giving ample time to prepare a counter. Having a base of (nuclear) operations in the Ukraine is a much higher risk for Russia.
Almost there... Putin has been saying that he does not want nuclear conflict, nuclear strikes, etc, but that he is willing to retaliate if the enemies use them first. Biden and company have repeatedly said that tactical nuclear strikes are on the table.
Finally, consider the fact that we're effectively in world war 3. The west is fighting on the same side as the Germans... That has never been the right choice, either morally or tactically (in the long run).
Thylacine: One - Why the moniker?
Two: Some good points there. Not sure however, why you think Ukraine gave up "their" nuclear arsenal. It was the Soviet's, i.e. Russia. Has the U.S. given up Guantanamo? The Cuban missile crisis was caused by the Americans stationing nuclear missiles in Turkey. Russia, like the U.S., will always look for room between themselves and existential threats. Human nature, and I don't disagree.
Finally: Equating this with WWII is a mistake. This isn't like that, and I'm almost old enough to remember. We didn't fight that war to introduce the kind of suppression that the West is seeing right now. That was the game of our enemies. You can tell how much things have changed by looking at re-runs of the original Star Trek. "Freedom?....You speak the holy word". Today that's borderline politically incorrect. Instead, we have true F_______ talking up "Liberal Democracy" as if that's what's important. One side has decided that they know the Way. And they're willing to use force, just as they did in the past, to enforce the Vision. How ironic that the position of the major players has changed.
CDN you raised this issue. Not me. So. Lets remember that NATO bombed the snot out of the Yugoslavian power structure in 1999. Including the actual plants themselves. Russia could've done that and much worse last March. But didnt. Aside from that, where is the global diplomacy? Where is the push for a ceasefire? Where is the international conference for a peaceful solution? Certainly not from the climate alarmist nations! Their solution is more guns. More weapons. More money. And more war. Their true face is pretty ugly.
Nobody has responded to my points about (1) the Budapest Agreement or (2) all of the NATO countries that will suddenly be on Russia's doorstep once they conquer Ukraine. Those strike me as rather critical, even decisive points.
1. Your childish analogy fails by virtue of the fact that nobody can claim Ukraine "started this" thing. They did not invade Russia, and trying to join the defensive NATO alliance did not pose any threat to Russia. No NATO country has ever posed a threat to Russia; the purpose of the alliance is to reduce the chance of war with Russia, and it has so far succeeded in that. Fearing NATO is plainly a pretext.
2. It might be true that "both have done bad things," but how bad, and where? Ukraine discriminates against ethnic Russians on its own soil; Russia bombs the crap out of Ukrainians in Ukraine: both are "bad things," but that's a false equivalence.
3. Can you name the "adult" who is going to smack Russia upside the head to get them to stop breathing in Ukraine? There is no adult figure in world politics, and anyone who might presume to separate the two combatants would be seen as tilting against one side or the other.
4. You say this is "effectively WW3;" Leeper says that this isn't even WW2. I don't think it is a world war, even by proxy; but what difference does it make? I believe in the independence of nations on principle; invaders are necessarily in the wrong. (That does not include forces that are invited into the country to deal with oppressors, as NATO was invited by Karzai into Afghanistan.)
1. My name is transparent to the moderator, who knows me quite well. You don't need to argue with ME; try dealing with my arguments.
2. When the Soviet Union dissolved, the nukes that were left behind in Ukraine did not belong to Russia. That proposition is absurd and not supported by any property laws I'm aware of. Rather, those nukes were abandoned back to the state of nature upon the death of their prior owner, and became the property of their next possessor by right of initial acquisition. Possession is 9/10ths of the law, and the other tenth doesn't apply to the case. Do you also think the Ukrainian people own a share in all of the nukes in every other successor state of the Soviet Union? Do you think those property claims in each other's nukes would diminish or increase the chances of conflict?
3. At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, Cuba was still regarded by most as an illegitimate state, having been recently captured in a military coup with foreign actors. Thus the USA had much better grounds to reject the installation nukes on Cuba by the Soviet Union than Russia has to reject NATO in Ukraine. It's at most a matter of judgment, and yours is bad.
4. All uses of force are not equal. Ukraine's has been defensive - even the drone attacks within Russian territory. Russia poses an existential threat to Ukraine, not vice versa; Ukraine must be allowed to defend itself as needed to expel Russian forces completely. It isn't playing offense until Russian forces are gone and Ukraine continues to attack on Russian territory.
Gatto: I don't think Putin has much taste for "jaw-jaw." He prefers "war-war." Good luck bringing him to some yak-fest peace conference.
George Sibley, I almost hate to be trite but I have to say the two wrongs don't make a right. Nor do three or four. Them's the facts.
That's interesting James D. Leeper. Who'd have thought that Russia could thus be considered the aggrieved party here? But I do think that perhaps at least part of Germany's problem was, in fact, dependency of Russion gas. Had that not been the case then gas being shut off might not have left it with such an "energy problem". But I do agree that Russia is going to "finish this". What remains to be seen is what exactly that means.
CDN, this is fantastic. You really got the emotions stirred up here. You need to do that more often. It's a lot of fun to watch. I would like to participate more but it takes more time that I have today. Anyway, great stuff, as always. I guess I'd better make a donation....
A recent YouTube video just came to mind as I was reading this article. In the video, a well known YouTuber travels to a nuclear power plant to test the acoustic qualities as he plays guitar at various places within the power plant, including what would have been the core. You may be asking how this was possible without getting a fatal dose of radiation? Well for starters, the plant in question was never started up as it was nearly completed, popular opinion caused the authority to stop construction and instead use it as a museum of sorts. If I remember correctly, it's situated in Germany... Look up Paul Davids on YouTube...