Wednesday, September 28, 2022

"Flirtin’ With Disaster, And By Disaster, I Mean Nuclear War"

"Flirtin’ With Disaster, And By Disaster, I Mean Nuclear War"
by John Wilder

"The big story in the news is the hurricane about to hit Florida. If it were about to hit Detroit or Baltimore, it might add a few billion in value to those cities, but alas, it looks like it might create damage beyond anything ever seen by man – it might muss Tom Brady’s hair. It also reminded me that I’m hungry, since I accidentally typed “burricane” twice before I got it right – my mind must be on burritos. Or maybe it’s prophecy – that a hurricane-sized burrito will hit Tampa? That’s (the hurricane, not the burrito) the story in the news, however, I think the much bigger story is buried. Or it was buried.

Russia makes most of its money by shipping natural gas, oil, fertilizer, and wheat out to the world. It imports tracksuits, cell phones, and gold chains. As I’ve covered before, what Russia imports is silly, but what it exports is crucial. The cheapest way, by far, to export oil is in the hair of a Russian or Italian. But they don’t do so well at moving natural gas, so people build big holes called pipelines.

Really, that’s all a pipeline is. It’s a hole. As tempting as it is, I’m not going to make a Kamala Harris joke. And you can bury it like they do most places, you can put it on stilts like they did in Alaska, or you can even have it under the sea.

As the Europeans have come under more political pressure to stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere, they’ve moved away from coal. They’d like to move to entirely renewable energy sources, but last I heard those only exist in sufficient supply to power a technological civilization in the dreams that Greta Thunberg had in the womb as her mother engaged in one too many vodkas while riding rollercoasters on sleeping pills.

No, in 2022 Europe is powered by fossil fuels. Sure, there are some renewables, and the French built a lot of nuclear power plants. But the desire for power has increased exponentially to keep up with civilizational growth. Concentrated energy is also a multiplier, it allows a person or a company or a nation to do far more. With natural gas, a German factory can build all the Volkswagens® and bratwurst and lederhosen that the world needs. Without it? The production is (if they’re lucky) one percent of the powered production.

Russia was the biggest single supplier of natural gas to Europe, providing 45% of the needs. Nord Stream© was one such pipeline, and it took the route of going on the seabed from Russia to Germany. Why? One reason was that it avoided having to pay Poland, Ukraine, and other Eastern European countries that never visit this blog for “transit rights” through those countries. For example, if Russia wanted to send gas through Ukraine (natural gas, not sarin) then Russia would have to pay Ukraine for the right to do so.

As such, the Poles and the Ukrainians hated Nord Stream®. But, it was successful. And the Germans loved it. Besides Austrians in the 1930s, what can all Germans agree on? That they like the Nord Stream© and Nord Stream II ™ projects. It lowers the price of energy for them, and makes it less likely that they’ll be held hostage by the Poles (hint, the Poles are still a bit miffed at the Germans and the Russians). The Ukrainians hated it most of all, since it looked like those projects alone would end up costing them over $4 billion dollars a year in transit fees, and it also lowers their political power to hold Russia hostage at the expense of European countries.

That brings us close to today. The United States has always opposed any of the Nord Stream projects. Why? First, if Europe is divided, the United States has one less group to be concerned with on the world stage. Almost as bad as a united Europe is Germany and Russia on good terms. Combine Germany’s economic powerhouse with Russia’s raw materials? That’s a threat that gives the State Department bad dreams.
This probably explains 90% of what went on in Ukraine, and the other 10% involves Hunter. Could Biden have de-escalated the conflict? With one phone call, yes. But it’s going now, and there reaches a point where even I’m concerned – and that’s the crippling (it can be fixed, but how bad is the damage?) of Nord Stream™ I and Nord Stream® II.

Why would the United States do that? Well, the biggest reason (that I can think of) is that it makes it so that Germany can’t back out of the sanctions when winter gets cold and prices start to be amazingly high and there just happens to be this nice, big straw filled with natural gas that they could suck on all day to be warm.

How do we know that people knew this was going to happen? Well, there are reports the CIA told Germany an attack was imminent. And there’s this little matter of the British pound collapsing right before the incident. And, there’s the little matter that an explosive was found next to the original Nord Stream© not too long after Russia took Crimea back in 2014. The detonation wire was cut, so whoever was getting ready to blow up the pipe had changed their mind (cough) Obama (cough). The fact that this happened even before we know the results of the Russian referendum?

Do I think that Germans will freeze to death? Probably not many. They may clear-cut forests, they may shut down industry for February and March, and they might make it against the law to heat your house in any way other than having a chubby girl in corduroy pants rub her thighs together as a space heater. On an economic scale, Frequent Commenter Ricky noted, it might devastate Germany’s economy even more than 9/11 did ours.

But now they can’t pick up the phone and call Putin and say, “We miss heat. Er, you. Please turn it back on. Here are rubles.” That option is gone, and that’s why I’m certain that it wasn’t the Russians who did this: why destroy your best bargaining chip? And, no, it’s not shoddy Russian construction – the companies that made the pipe and built the line are the best in the world, not Yuri’s Pipeline By Mail Company.

So the United States did it. Biden even told us that he was going to do it. I’m not sure he remembers he did it, but he did. It’s even on video, and he looks rather lucid (for Biden) during the speech.

The thing that scares me is this: if I were Russia, I’d take this as a rules expansion pack: undersea pipelines are now fair game. And the ones that feed Europe from Norway are mighty vulnerable. This, more than anything, just ups the level of tension and ensures that what started as a property dispute keeps escalating. And escalating. And escalating. And one thing I learned from Tom Clancy movies?
Hmm. Good advice. I’ll even add this bit: Frequent Commenter Ricky also noted that I get to be the first person to make fun of the next stage in escalation toward a nuclear war. So, I’ve got that going for me."

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