A big 'I told you so' from Trump to Europe
President Donald Trump back in 2018 gave a speech to the U.N. General Assembly wherein, among other things, he was derided for forwarding his America First policies to the world. In general, he did well and took opposition in good stride. The keynotes of his speech were largely about individual nations forging ahead and bettering themselves and how the United States would pursue policies to assist nations doing right by both the United States and themselves.
One of the highlights for many in the world, however, was when the president said the following with regard to oil and natural gas: "Relying on a single supplier leaves nations vulnerable to distortion. Poland is building the Baltic pipeline so nations are not dependent on [Russia] anymore for energy needs. Germany will be dependent to [Russia] if it does not change course. We need [independence] from encroachment and we welcome cooperation with countries that wish to do the same." (For some reason, the transcriber misspelled "Russia" and "independence.")
The German delegation was focused on how the president noted their dependence on Russian energy. The delegation from Germany smugly leaned over and casually snickered at the man they probably believed was a buffoon, saying outlandish and ridiculous things.
Since then, "America's Back" has been a theme trumpeted about Joe Biden and his approach to foreign policy. Biden, in May of 2021, waived sanctions on the company and key individuals behind the construction of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. As reported by Reuters, secretary of state Antony Blinken said: "Today's actions demonstrate the administration's commitment to energy security in Europe, consistent with the President's pledge to rebuild relationships with our allies and partners in Europe."
Joe Biden purportedly had his misgivings about the pipeline, feeling that it was a bad deal for Europe, but allowed the Germans and Europe to determine their own course.
In February of 2022, the war in Ukraine took a turn when Russian forces on February 23 began their "special military operation," or invasion, as Paul Gottfried preferred to call it, by moving soldiers into the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics. On the 24th of February, a full-scale invasion of the country began. Soon after, the West and key allies took major steps toward placing sanctions on Russia with the aim of crippling its economy. Some people at the time were worried that these sanctions would backfire on the West, and according to some, they already are backfiring.
The sanctions against Russia, with regard to Europe, included embargoes against Russian oil. The peculiar thing about these packages, however, was that they always came with deadlines to the tune of by the end of the year, and according to former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, there are no alternative supplies being agreed upon.
Currently, Europeans are worried about Russia's recent actions of cutting gas lines. Europe's energy needs were being met by Russia for over a quarter for crude oil and a third for natural gas, and in 2021, Russia supplied 40% of Europe's gas. President Trump sounded the alarm on relying so heavily on Russia four years ago, and the concerns of heightened tensions or a confrontation with Russia had been mounting for some time. Frankly, many of the plans the various European nations are putting forward will not be meaningfully in place any time soon.
In response to the sanctions, Russia has started cutting Europe off from its oil. The indignation from European leaders is almost staggering to witness. From Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen: "This is totally not acceptable. ... This is a kind of blackmailing from Putin. We continue to support Ukraine, and we distance ourselves from the crimes that Putin and Russia commit."
Germany's economy minister Robert Habeck has recently had to admit that Germany is now indeed in a gas crisis: "Gas is from now on in short supply in Germany." He went on, "Even if you don't feel it yet, we are in a gas crisis." The possibility of rationing is now seriously on the table for Europe's largest economy.
Mario Draghi, prime minister of Italy, also has recently been mentioning that commodities such as wheat and gas can be politically exploited. He also assures us that the nation with which his nation and the rest of the West is in a confrontation is lying about the reasons for the shortages, ostensibly due to technical issues brought on by the sanctions.
Perhaps if the leaders of Europe had taken President Trump's words more seriously back in 2018, they could have had contingencies in place by now that would have supplemented their dependency on Russian energy. Instead, their energy needs are in the hands of a man they wish to bring down.
And yet somehow, Trump was Putin's puppet.
Breason Jacak is a pen name.