walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Battle for Ukraine
U.S. Fracking To Europe's Rescue

Could U.S. fracking be stiffening Europe’s spine in a stand against Russia? The FT reports that EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht argued this week that the EU could be better placed than many think to withstand an “economic  showdown” with Russia over Crimea. One eye-catching detail: De Gucht suggested that U.S. gas exports could make up for supplies lost from Russia. While U.S. exports to the EU cannot replace Russian gas overnight, the signs from Brussels indicate that EU officials are using the prospect of hydrocarbon imports from North America as leverage in their struggle with Putin:

The Belgian commissioner rejected the assertion that Europe, which imports 30 per cent of its gas from Russia, could only build up greater resilience slowly. “Sometimes, history can move very fast,” he said. “If they were trying to strangle us, we would of course call on the US for access to their gas, independently from a free trade agreement. That would be a hugely political factor.” […]

He argued that America’s increasing gas exports would pile greater pressure on Gazprom and added that a deal over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme could also open up the world’s second biggest gas reserves for export to Europe.

This kind of energy security is one more reason to develop fracking. But the EU commissioner’s comments are also a timely illustration of an important element of American power. Vitality, innovation, and wealth creation characterize American society and suffuse the U.S. economy. Those qualities often rescue us from the worst consequences of our foreign policy blunders. The true source of American power has never been in the think tanks of Washington, the echoing corridors of the State Department, or even in the labyrinthine coils of the Pentagon. America’s power among the nations rests on the dynamism and creativity of the American people. The chambers of commerce often succeed where the Council on Foreign Relations fails. That pattern is still holding today.

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  • S.C. Schwarz

    Pity Europe if they are counting on us. Only one LNG terminal has been approved so far and many others have been languishing in permit limbo for years. The greens want this to be the next Keystone XL (see, for example http://ecowatch.com/2013/05/06/chesapeake-lng-export-terminal-opposition-concerned-ecology/) and the democratic party doesn’t like to cross big donors.

    • Andrew Allison

      Please be careful to capitalize Democratic Party — there’s nothing democratic about it.

  • Andrew Allison

    “De Gucht suggested that U.S. gas exports could make up for lost Russia oil.” is sheer nonsense. First, it’s not Russian oil that’s the problem, it’s gas. Furthermore, while it would take years to create the infrastructure to deliver US gas (LNG terminals on both sides of the Atlantic and connections to the European distribution system), Russia could turn of the gas tomorrow. The reduction of European reliance upon Russian gas is a long-term, and costly, project which involves not just US gas but the reversal of Germany’s utterly stupid anti-nuclear power policies.

  • Pete

    ‘ The Belgian commissioner rejected the assertion that Europe, which imports 30 per cent of its gas from Russia, could only build up greater resilience slowly….’

    • Pete

      To which I should have added, the man is a fool.

      • ShadrachSmith

        A decade is fast for such things.

      • Andrew Allison

        Not as foolish as those who give credence to such idiotic comments?

  • ShadrachSmith

    Not till we get a Republican president we won’t export fossil fuels. And all good Democrats will fight it tooth and nail. Global Warming is their new crusade to take the heat off Obamacare, and new LNG terminals just don’t exist in their plans.

  • MarkE

    The president should announce a crash plan to deliver LNG to Europe in under 3 years and an immediate American lead initiative to develop fracking technology and infrastructure appropriate to establish European energy independence in 10 years.
    That would certainly be a huge threat to Putin and the Oligarchs. Also if the Greens blocked it, they would be exposed as the communists dupes that they most likely are.

    • Andrew Allison

      I beg to differ. The EU, and Germany in particular, should announce a crash plan to achieve energy independence. We should be prepared to give them all the help they are prepared to pay for.

      • MarkE

        If they had an ounce of self respect, they’d insist on picking up the tab. If they behave as usual we should kick Russian #### all the same. It’s cheaper than war.

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