This is a copy of the post made on December 3rd 2006. - we referred to remarks by Senator Lugar in our post on Saturday European Energy security exposed by events in Georgia - and winter is 2/3 months away - UK decades of delay ... A kind visitor remembered this post and suggested it was repeated 20 months later. Oil was then around US$60 a barrel and in the US Regular Unleaded gas was US$2.10 at the pump ... As we remarked then .. he highlighted that we live in a much changed .. and rapidly changing world of energy flows.
Lord Patel met Senator Richard Lugar , Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations committe at Purdue this summer, whilst his immediate interest was to boondoggle for his home state Indiana's share of ethanol subsidies he made some trenchant remarks about energy security in the modern world.
He is a tough, shrewd, worldly wise politician who is now bowing out from centre stage. Following his summertime remarks in Purdue, he made a chracteristically blunt (but unremarked ) speech at the Marshall Fund conference in Riga, in Latvia in advance of the NATO summit. In the light of Turkmenbashis's death it is worth considering. Full text at US Embassy
NATO he points out is bigger, it is busier than ever. That is not a guarantee however of security in a global world - when NATO was originally forged to deal with the defence of Europe from the Warsaw Pact countries. He dwelt at some length on the role of NATO in Afghanistan ...
"Although the hunt for al-Qaeda terrorists continues, the primary threat to the stability of Afghanistan is Taliban insurgents who are challenging ISAF in greater numbers, sowing dissent among Afghanis, cooperating with the bourgeoning narcotics trade, and complicating security efforts in ways that inhibit the rule of law and reconstruction."
He pointed out that whatever the political will, action was dependent upon expenditure ..
"To overcome these challenges and similar ones, we must reverse the downward spiral of defense budgets. Only a handful of members spend more than 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Good intentions can only carry a military force so far ..."
He pointed out what many in the US see as the foot dragging of NATO nations ..
"It is imperative that NATO fulfills its commitments to Afghanistan. The Alliance has found it difficult to generate the political will to meet NATO objectives.....Unfortunately, NATO capitals are making the military mission even more difficult by placing national caveats on the use of their forces. These restrictions, coupled with troop shortages, are making ISAF a less cohesive and capable force."
He moved on and marked the " Centrality of Energy" to the NATO mission, to prevent wars and not fight them. He then outlined a key problem which a less than united Europe should consider..
" In the coming decades, the most likely source of armed conflict in the European theater and the surrounding regions will be energy scarcity and manipulation. It would be irresponsible for NATO to decline involvement in energy security, when it is abundantly apparent that the jobs, health, and security of our modern economies and societies depend on the sufficiency and timely availability of diverse energy resources."
" .... our experiences provide little reason to be confident that market rationality will be the governing force behind energy policy and transactions."
He then highlighted that we live in a much changed .. and rapidly changing world of energy flows.
"As recently as four years ago, spare production capacity exceeded world oil consumption by about ten percent. As world demand for oil has rapidly increased in the last few years, spare capacity has declined to two percent or less. Thus, even minor disruptions of oil supply can drive up prices."
He continued, to describe what he was to call geo-strategic blackmail.
"We are used to thinking in terms of conventional warfare between nations, but energy could become the weapon of choice for those who possess it. It may seem to be a less lethal weapon than military force, but a natural gas shutdown to a European country in the middle of winter could cause death and economic loss on the scale of a military attack."
he then warmed to the core of his concerns, which affects NATO and their allies.
"We must move now to address our energy vulnerability. "
"Article Five of the NATO Charter identifies an attack on one member as an attack on all.....We should recognize that there is little ultimate difference between a member being forced to submit to foreign coercion because of an energy cutoff and a member facing a military blockade or other military demonstration on its borders."
Addressing the concerns about Rusia he called for dialogue ..
"I believe that Russia has a long-term interest in achieving a more prosperous stability that comes with greater investment in its energy sector and the development of a reputation as a trusted supplier. But its recent actions to temporarily reduce gas supplies to the West, confiscate some foreign energy investments, and create further barriers to new investment are undermining confidence in Moscow’s reliability. "
Remember ....this was before Gazprom successfully strong armed Shell over Sakhalin and Tblisi gave in on a new price for gas from next week.
He concluded ..
"I understand that adopting energy security as a mission is a major advancement from NATO’s origins. But it represents an historic opportunity to change the circumstances of geopolitics to the benefit of all members".Meanwhile the first regiment of Topol-M mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) went on active duty in the Ivanovo region in central Russia this month and received a visit from President Vladimir Putin on 14 December 2006. He called the deployment a "significant step forward in improving our defense capabilities".(see exclusive pic)
"Maintaining a strategic balance will mean that our strategic deterrent forces should be able to guarantee the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no matter what modern weapon systems he possesses," Putin said.
The state-of-the-art mobile Topol-M ballistic missile, with a liftoff weight of 47.2 tonnes, a range of more than 10,000 kilometers and capability of carrying a 1,200-kilogram warhead, which is immune to electromagnetic impulses is a valuable reminder of the uncreasingly tough competition between the great powers for unimpeded access to raw materials, including energy resources.
On 15 December 2006 Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander or Russia's Strategic Missile Forces,said "We will begin to equip the Topol-M mobile missile system with multiple re-entry vehicles in a few years."
Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych had a visitor to discuss gas supplies for winter this week. President Putin.