It’s The Oil Stupid!

President Biden, President Putin
President Biden, President Putin

Vladimir Putin, sometime KGB Lieutenant Colonel and now apparently Russia’s President for life, has launched a war with the objective of toppling the Ukrainian government and replacing it with one of his choosing. At first it looked like a done deal, with Russian forces attacking on 4 axis and rapidly gaining ground, but then something happened—actually one thing happened and one didn’t. What happened? Russian forces started to enter built up areas.

Built up areas are especially difficult to fight in, especially for armored forces. Visibility is very short-range. Engagements are often at knife-fighting distance. Tanks rely on long range visibility, speed and agility in movement. None of which are present in urban areas. Tanks (and armored personnel carriers) are especially vulnerable to dismounted forces with hand-held anti-tank rockets, guided missiles and yes, even the historic “Molotov Cocktail.” Over at Red State, my good friend, and fellow Infantryman, Bill Crews (Streiff) has some good analysis.

Read: Putin Shows signs of Panic, as He Calls of Ukraine Military to Mutiny.

Read: Putin Orders Russian Nuclear Forces on alert as His Ukrainian Adventure Stalls

Now on to what didn’t happen. The Ukrainians didn’t lay down and quit. They didn’t accept the “inevitable.” That attitude started at the pointy end of the spear, where by good friend and colleague Elizabeth Vaughn reported Ukrainian border guards’ defending Snake Island had some innovative response to a demand to surrender from a Russian Naval vessel.

A Ukrainian soldier, part of a group defending tiny Snake Island, located in the Black Sea, yelled “Go f*** yourself” to sailors on an approaching Russian warship, according to Politico. The ship opened fire, killing all of them.

That attitude percolates all the way to the top of the Ukrainian command structure. As Vaughn further notes:

As the Russian military approached the outskirts of Kyiv on Friday, President Joe Biden spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “A senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation” told The Daily Mail that Biden offered to help Zelensky, Putin’s number one target, escape the city.

The Ukrainian leader, whose courage and resolve have been impressive throughout this crisis, reportedly replied, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Read: Zelensky to Biden’s Evacuation Offer: ‘I Need Ammunition, Not a Ride’

As of this writing, President Putin has announced raising his nuclear forces to a heightened state of alert. Although there appears to be an effort to negotiate, most in the know are not sanguine about a resolution that does not involve complete capitulation by Ukraine. But that’s not the point for what should be the U.S. point of view. Even if through sheer force of will, gallantry and some late arriving lethal aid from Europe and the United States, Ukraine manages to force a Russian withdrawal–the Ukrainians, they are still left with a devastated country and needless deaths—All of which could have been prevented.

Here’s how. First of all as I mentioned in previous articles, geopolitics, international relations whatever you call it, requires a multidimensional effort to establish and maintain your country in a position to exert its will when necessary. As I also mentioned, President Donald Trump was a master at putting all the enablers in place to ensure these United States always had viable options and courses of action on the World Stage. Joe Biden? Not so much.

Read: D.I.M.E. Trump Gets it; Biden Does NOT

Read: D.I.M.E. Trump Gets it; Biden Does NOT (Redux)

No institution can focus all of its efforts and energies in more than a few directions. The larger the issue, problem, then the more energy is devoted to it, to the detriment of other issues. The key is to focus on the most important thing(s) and worry about other stuff when time permits. The key to success is in the old adage, “The first step in the problem-solving process is…Identify the Problem.”

A parallel aspect to this is figuring out what the essential focus of any issue or potential issue ought to be. The German Army, with such luminaries as Heinz Guderian and Irwin Rommel perfected a form of warfare that relied heavily on identifying the Schwérpunkt the main focus, focal point or center of gravity is, both their own forces and those of the enemy. Identify that enables commanders to focus their forces on the most important enemy vulnerability while hiding, safeguarding their own. Often, an enemy asset can also be his vulnerability.

If the international issue at hand is to keep Vladimir Putin from dominating Europe, then NATO and these United States must identify his Schwérpunkt, then make decisions that will turn it from his asset, into his vulnerability. Until a very few hours ago, the United States and allies had yet to quite figure this out and effectively address it.

It’s the OIL stupid! Of course everybody knows that. From Investopedia:

Oil and gas accounted for 60% of Russia’s exports and 39% of federal budget revenue in 2019.6 The energy sector is estimated to contribute up to 25% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).7

But, it’s more, much more than the significant part that energy exports play in powering the moribund Russian economy (said to be about the same level as that of Florida, but without the nice beaches and great governance). What oil (energy) is about, is its effect on the 4 instruments of national power: diplomacy, information, military and economic (D.I.M.E.). The economic effect on Russia is self-evident. If she sells a lot of oil, that’s revenue for her coffers—revenue that can help grow her economy and more importantly to Putin, fund his military. That makes his energy production a great asset to him.

But as I said, it’s not just about the revenue. Putin had somewhat deftly and with their willing cooperation, put the Germans and a number of other European countries under his energy thrall, their winter heat relying on oil and natural gas piped in from Russian oil fields. The net result? On the day he ordered his first forces to cross the Ukrainian border, oil (energy) was a key asset for Putin. It drove his economy and better yet, could be used as a cudgel (or so he (almost correctly)) thought, against Europe and even these United States, as gas prices spiked.

Sadly, it took until now before the European Union could be shamed into taking action to separate Putin from his ability to sell oil on the world market. Even more sadly, none of this had to take place. Ukrainians needed not die. How so? All the Biden administration needed to do, is identify the Schwérpunkt in relations with Putin, Europe and indeed a significant part of our ability to wield power on the world stage.

On day one of his Presidency, Joe Biden, advised by a bunch of radical environmentalists, voluntarily and deliberately ceded our position as a net exporter of energy. He removed sanctions on Russian pipeline development in Europe while at the same time, through executive orders and regulation, hamstrung our own energy industry. Biden was unable to identify the center of gravity and the militant tree huggers didn’t care. Between the two they turned oil (energy) into an asset for Putin, a vulnerability for Europe and these United States, and all by signing a few pieces of paper. Had they not done this, or better yet, were Donald John Trump still President, rest assured, none of this would have happened.

It’s the OIL Stupid!

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11 thoughts on “It’s The Oil Stupid!”

    • How about being a little more helpful? How about some analysis? I made a case for how oil is the center of gravity for both sides. Putin needs it for the revenue and for leverage….and does the U.S.–or at least to keep from BEING leveraged. As to Putin’s ultimate goals/objectives, that’s another discussion.



      • Thought this to be a good article. Of course if a person is a Biden supporter I can somewhat understand why they would object to it, and yes, I expect some blowback from some hothead that I’m off base.

        I’m 71 at present and grew up in the oil country of Texas. I’ve been around that industry and economics of that industry virtually all my life. I have closely watched that industry ever since the Fed capped the production wells on my uncle Hank’s property. Never could understand it, but big money politics is the best reason I could ever come up with.

        Oil equates with money and money equates to power. It’s really that simple. When Biden shut down the Keystone Pipeline, which was good for the US and Canada, and suspended exploration and drilling on Federal lands and off shore drilling, he placed American and Canadian heads in the proverbial noose. Where we had been completely independent of foriegn energy we also, as an exporter of oil to the world, kept the bunker price of crude oil low. As a natural outcome, this kept energy prices low and, once we had solved some of our job/employment problems by bringing jobs back to the US to support many families with meaningful income jobs and, until the scamdemic to kill those jobs took place, our economy was improving.

        Not only did it keep our energy costs down, because we could control the market price as an exporter, other nations benefitted from cheaper energy for their economies.

        But Biden soon changed all that. Our economy is not presently recovering like it should, energy costs are twice what they should be, the job force of meaningful jobs is abysmal and Putin is doing what he can do simply because there isn’t anyone that can stop him or, at the very least, put up any type of resistance.

        If you delve into history, it’s pretty easy to see this type of action has been embarked on many times from many different nations, Great Britain and the French to eliminate some as well as the USA, Australia and Germany. And lets not forget China at the beginning of the 20th century with the Boxer Rebellion, actually on the hands of the British Empire. You’ve heard the British boast, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”

        With the French, in French Indo-China (Vietnam) it was rubber. For the Japaneese at the start of WWII it was teak-wood and oil. For the British in India it was Tea and spices. In Egypt they were after cotton. With South Africa it was gold, diamonds and hunting of wild game animals which was all over the contenant of Africa. With Europe and parts of the middle east, the market was a triad and became known as the trade triangle. The Duch bought black slaves from the Muslims who bought them fro other black tribes of people to be exported to the Americas (both continents) who produced things like molasses, tobacco and cotton which then was transported back to England and Europe and that triangle of trade went on for a hundred years. Slavery, introduced to the Americas by England and Europe and then the US is saddled with the cause of slavery that has existed for well over 6,000 years. Power.

        So, you see, there isn’t a nation on Earth that has not abused another nation to gain money and power. Oil in the Ukarain is simply the vehicle at present.

        When you really look at it closely, it’s pretty easy to see that while money isn’t the root of evil, it is the lust for that money, because it brings power to those with it and subjugation to those who don’t have it.

        Basically it comes to this. If you have enough money you can literally murder someone and get away with it while being the envy of your friends, all because of money and power. That’s real power, and it only comes through the accumulation of wealth. Again, money isn’t bad. It’s the unquenchable thurst for money because of the power it conveys that’s bad.

        We have the adage that states, “He who owns the gold”, in this case the black gold called oil, “makes the rules.” Currently Putin owns the gold, basically if for no other reason than because Joe Biden gave it to him.

        Now, I’ll leave it to you and others to determine what We The People of the USA and our Canadian friends to the North should do about it.

        Hint. I don’t think hanging our coats on the Biden/Tredeau coat rack is going to accomplish the desired goal. But I am willing to listen to a reasonable alternative as long as it does not include the mass murder of others. That may happen but I am praying that a more reaonable solution can be found even though I don’t see one clearly at present.

        Oh. Forgot to mention. If people can’t comment to this civilly they probably should not comment at all because I won’t respond. However if we can have a civil short discussion I will probably respond.

        • It is all about the oil. That’s the backbone of Russia’s economy and strength. Where I depart is how we got to where a tyrant took advantage of a weak illegitimate president. We didn’t clean up our mess, and that allowed the situation that led to Putin invading Ukraine. I think Biden started this, not just Putin.

          Awesome post! I’m at a loss to how we deal with this, too. You saved me a lot of typing, though.

    • I believe he does understand it, and the strategic cause and effect relationship of Biden’s First Day Executive Orders. Yes, he understands it quite well!

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