Serving as an excellent primer on the outlook for challenges to American energy security - rooted in foreign dependence - Fred Stakelbeck has written an excellent article aptly titled Energy Squeeze.
The international energy market of the twenty-first century is witnessing an unprecedented period of turmoil and instability, an indication of an indisputable global power shift that holds serious, long-term implications for U.S. national security interests throughout the world.
Acting in silent unison, energy-rich governments in the Middle East, Eurasia and South America, in particular, populist dictator Hugo Chavez of Venezuela; Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad; China’s stoic President Hu Jintao, and Russia’s enigmatic President Vladimir Putin, have demonstrated a growing penchant for energy-related controversy and confrontation. No longer satisfied with Western-defined progress, these countries have become emboldened players on the world stage, using commodities such as crude oil, natural gas and mineral deposits as weapons against perceived U.S. hegemony.
The ultimate goal of this new energy alliance is to eventually humble the U.S. as the world’s undisputed political, economic and military power forcing it’s withdraw from the world stage by using energy as a sledgehammer for international change. Acting independently, these countries can attain, at best, only marginal influence and power. Acting together, however, they become formidable adversaries.
The power of energy as a weapon for capitulation was demonstrated in late 2005 when Russian oil conglomerate Gazprom used the “energy weapon” against former Soviet republic Ukraine. By temporarily cutting off natural gas supplies to the western-leaning government of Viktor Yushchenko and ignoring standing contractual obligations, Moscow gave an early glimpse of how its new energy-based foreign policy could be used to persuade and punish.As a direct result of the Russia-Ukraine dispute, alleged energy distribution “difficulties” were reported by Moscow which resulted in natural gas supplies to Europe being substantially cut, raising the ire of European leaders such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. In hindsight, Chancellor Merkel’s reaction is understandable. Europe’s reliance on Russian crude exports has risen from 9 percent of total crude imports in 1995 to 29 percent in 2006. Energy industry experts predict the EU will import 90 percent of its oil and 80 percent of its natural gas within 20 years as onshore and offshore fields become mature. Although the Russia-EU crisis was eventually resolved, it provided a “dry run” exercise for Moscow and proved once again what most of Europe’s leaders knew all along – that energy is the EU’s “Achilles heel.”
Regarding the energy "Achilles heel," Fred goes on to explain why the EU is not its sole proprietor, and the actors driving toward an economic confrontation.
Read the rest here.