An insider's take on the Biden energy strategy
Through many years of contacts and acquaintances, Walter Russell Mead has become a quintessential insider to the political establishment. As such, he's privy to the thinking of many people in Washington, including those in the Biden administration.
In a Wall Street Journal piece, Mead lays out the Joe Biden strategy on climate issues. And when I say "Biden," of course I don't mean Joe Biden the man. Unless otherwise specified, I use Biden as an alias for those who installed Biden the man in office and who direct his policies. The only decision Joe is probably allowed to make on his own is what flavor ice cream he's having each day...but for politically correct reasons, it had better not be vanilla.
With that out of the way, we can begin. The Chinese sage Sun Tzu taught that one key to success in war is to know your opposition. Taking that advice, strap on your seat belts and take a drive with me into Crazy Town to hear the Biden strategy on energy.
The nub of their thinking is that pushing the transition from fossil energy to renewables will strengthen the administration's hand both domestically and abroad. On the domestic side, Mead writes, "The Bidenites think the climate offers an opportunity to pry Democratic greens and harder-left progressives apart." This is necessary to give Biden a stronger hand in dealing with China. How so?
The "thinking" goes that the progressive left wants to diminish the military and redirect defense spending to leftish domestic social programs. This does not bode well for confronting China. The greens, on the other hand, are "more centrists in their foreign-policy approach and, if satisfied that the administration is actively pursuing a hard-hitting climate agenda, will with varying degrees of enthusiasm support such Biden goals such as a tougher policy towards China." So the thinking is that a green agenda will solidify the Democratic base and thereby give Biden the ability to deal more forcefully in foreign affairs.
But Mead points out that there are two flaws in the Biden strategy. First, it's grounded on the assumption that pursuing a climate agenda vigorously enough to satisfy enough greens can be done at a "modest and manageable cost." Unfortunately for this plan, it's facing worldwide energy shortages and skyrocketing fuel prices.
And then there's an even more fundamental contradiction in the strategy. Again Mead: "By artificially depressing fossil-fuel production and investment in the democratic world faster than renewables and other fuels can fill the gap, the Biden policy promotes a multi-year, multi-trillion-dollar windfall for countries like Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia." These are among the authoritarian regimes the president has made it his mission to oppose. Needless to say, China smiles when America deliberately shoots itself in the foot by curtailing its fossil energy production and exploration. And Biden's green agenda can only tighten Moscow's grip over Europe's energy needs.
Mead further laments that Biden's green strategy undoes what Mead calls the "greatest American achievement of the past decade." That was eliminating the Middle East as the world's swing energy producer and thus shifting economic leverage from the U.S. to authoritarian monopolies.
There are several things we can expect from Joe Biden in the near term. Already he has humiliated himself and the U.S. by unsuccessfully begging Saudi Arabia not to jack up oil prices too high. Then there will be the farce at the upcoming United Nations–sponsored "Conference of Parties" (COP26), set to begin, appropriately enough, on October 31 (Halloween) in Glasgow. Biden, the man, announced he'll "be there with bells on." To appease the greens at home and to earn a pat on the head from the bureaucrats in Europe, Biden can be expected to over-commit to reducing America's carbon emissions. He'll do this even though Chinese president Xi Jinping, leader of the world's greatest emitter of greenhouse gases, won't even bother attending COP26. Furthermore, news reports say China, Australia, India, and Russia are refusing to make any real promises to cut carbon emissions. Can that be a surprise?
I warned you we were going to Crazy Town. It is staggering to think such a cockamamie strategy was concocted by the supposed adults in the room who took over when President Trump left office. As long as Biden and his crew are in power, America will suffer on the energy front.
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