Can You Heat Europe With Von Der Leyen’s Hot Air?
The European Union’s power price-setting system is no longer functioning properly and requires changes after Russian President Vladimir Putin turned energy into a weapon, according to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“The electricity market is no more a functioning market because there’s one actor -- Putin -- who’s systematically trying to destroy it and to manipulate it so we really have to react to that and that’s why we’re addressing now the composition of the electricity market,” she told a press conference in Denmark on Tuesday.
Golly. I'm old enough to remember all this:
“Now we have to meet the moment. We will hold the Kremlin accountable. The package of massive and targeted sanctions European leaders approved tonight clearly demonstrates that. It will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and the political elite." -- Ursula von der Leyen, February 25
"It is important to sustain utmost pressure on Putin and the Russian government at this critical point. The four packages of sanctions have hit hard and limited the Kremlin's political and economic options. We are seeing tangible results. But clearly, in view of events, we need to increase our pressure further. Today, we are proposing to take our sanctions a step further. We will make them broader and sharper, so that they cut even deeper in the Russian economy." -- Ursula von der Leyen, April 5
"Honorable members, with all these steps, we are depriving the Russian economy from its ability to diversify and to modernize." -- Ursula von der Leyen, announcing a sixth round of Russian sanctions, May 4
"Our sanctions and the self-sanctioning by companies themselves are draining Russia's economy and thus draining the Kremlin's war machine." -- Ursula von der Leyen, May 24
"We're waging an all-out economic and financial war on Russia. We will cause the collapse of the Russian economy." -- Bruno Le Maire, French finance minister, March 1.
"We will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia. We will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernise. ... We want to cut off Russia's industry from the technologies desperately needed today to build the future." -- Ursula von der Leyen, February 24
"It is about the leadership of Russia and being merciless in finances and the economy." -- Mark Rutte, Netherlands prime minister, February 24.
"We don't need sanctions that bark, we need sanctions that bite, and if the sanctions bite, they need to bite in a very thorough way." -- Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, February 24
Merciless! Biting very thoroughly! All-out economic and financial war! Cutting even deeper into the Russian economy! And so forth.
Which is fine, if that's how you want to play it. But you have no legs to stand on when Putin employs the very same weapon against you.
The leaders of the European Union -- and the leadership class -- have taken the continent's economies to the brink of collapse, which could happen this winter. It does not require one to think Vladimir Putin is a good man, or that his invasion of Ukraine was just, to recognize that a continent so heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas didn't have a lot of options. Washington pushed the Europeans to take a hard line against Putin, and they were eager to do so. Now look: Russia is making a killing these days on its fossil fuels sales:
Do you remember German diplomats at the UN snickering when President Trump warned them that they were going to regret being so dependent on Russian oil and gas? Remember how some in the media mocked him too?
I would add that Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has been condemned for a long time by EU leaders for his stark opposition to energy sanctions on Russia, warning that it would "kill Hungary" -- meaning the economy. EU leaders have mocked him as a Putin stooge. Now, though, with the approach of winter and the astronomical gas prices threatening to crash the European economy, Orban looks like a prophet.
Never, ever underestimate the susceptibility of the US-EU ruling class to ideological delusion. Washington walked our nation into a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now Washington and Brussels, and other Western European capitals, are marching the West into a depression. But when Tucker Carlson pointed out sensibly enough that Europe cannot survive without Russian fossil fuels, one of the ideological architects of the Iraq catastrophe called him a Putin simp:
I'm old enough to remember blah blah blah:
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"But, look, I think what we've learned over the last ten years is that America has to lead. Other countries won't act. They will follow us, but they won't do it on their own. And in this case, I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq." -- Bill Kristol, Nightline, March 5, 2003.
To be clear: Putin was wicked to invade Ukraine, and I wish Russia would lose that war. But Russia is not losing that war; the West is. It is unspeakably arrogant for Ursula von der Leyen to say Putin is not being cricket to use economics as a weapon of war, when she and the group of nations she leads have spent the last six months doing exactly the same thing to Russia, only without much effect. Russia, obviously, has the better hand -- and it's playing it.
Again: we are ruled by fools who prefer sunny ideological dreams to cold reality ... of the sort that's going to hit European homes and businesses very hard by January.