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A new Cold War with Russia? How about an Energy War instead

19 Mar

With Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea, the news is rife with talk of a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. Tom Friedman offers another view—an energy war with Russia—in his New York Times column this morning (found here). A few quotes follow (and take a look at some of the comments to his column as well):

“There are a lot of people who seem intent on restarting the Cold War — in both Moscow and Washington. I am not one of them. But if we’re going to have a new Cold War, then I have one condition: I want a new moonshot.

The Space Race and the technologies it produced weren’t purely an offshoot of the U.S.-Soviet missile West_Texas_Pumpjackcompetition, but they were certainly energized by that competition. Well, if we’re going to go at it again, this time I want an Earth Race. I want America to lead in developing an energy policy that will weaken the oil-and-gas-autocracy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and, as a byproduct, produce the technologies that will mitigate climate change, make America a global technology and moral leader and ensure that the next generation can thrive here on Earth.

And as opposed to the stimulus/deficit debate, in the energy case, there really is now the raw material for a “Grand Bargain” between Democrats and Republicans — if President Obama wants to try to forge it. Such an energy grand strategy would be a first. It’s shocking how devoid of strategic intent U.S. energy policy has been. Both political parties have repeatedly let our economy be hostage to Middle Eastern and Latin American oil despots and to energy booms and busts…..

This is a grand bargain on energy that would advance our growth, national security and climate policy. If paired with similar efforts by our NATO allies, it would, in time, sharply reduce Putin’s ability to blackmail his neighbors, using energy. It would also protect Americans from price shocks, as both the sun and the wind are free, make our farmers, our coastal cities and our public health system much more resilient and tilt our energy policy toward exploiting our advantage — technology — rather than oil.

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