The defense, climate and energy markets are inexorably linked. It is time to recognize it. – Break the defense Break the defense
During the Trump administration, officials often repeated the slogan that “economic security is national security.” While that phrase faded under the Biden administration, it’s a concept few would disagree with – unless it’s argued that it needs to be broadened. In the following editorial, the authors discuss the specific ways in which energy security is linked not only to defense issues, but also to climate change.
While the era of thinking the Defense Department didn’t have to worry about the environment is thankfully over, too many people in Washington still think climate change, energy markets and national security are at best tangentially linked, and at worst opposites which cannot coexist peacefully.
It’s a view sadly shared by either side – climate activists often view defense spending as waste and pollution, while defense experts hit back by saying climate activists downplay national security. . But with the Biden administration making climate change a priority at all levels, the idea that either side can be successful without the other must be immediately quelled.
It only takes a quick overview of the state of the world to understand why: the militarization of natural gas by Moscow and the exploitation by Iran of Beirut, which is lacking in gasoline, are two examples today. of how energy and security go hand in hand. And there are also less obvious cases to report.
Start by looking at the gasoline price situation. The epicenter of President Joe Biden’s approach took place in Vienna, where OPEC for weeks postponed the Biden administration’s calls to dramatically increase production in light of rising gasoline prices. This spike in prices is crushing economies struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Biden has made the request to OPEC on behalf of oil-consuming countries like India, Japan, Korea and Great Britain.
Global crude importing partners from the United States are almost in panic. World oil prices reached their highest levels since 2014; Britain suffered paralyzing gas lines; India cut fuel taxes to reduce costs and stimulate consumer sentiment; and Japan has its highest gas prices in seven years, curb domestic spending just as Tokyo emerges from its last state of emergency. In other words, the countries whose cooperation we need most to meet the carbon reduction targets set in Glasgow last month are facing energy shortages that threaten the implementation of future climate agreements; these same three nations represent key strategic national security partners that the United States needs to operate around the world. Helping them with energy pricing serves both of these purposes.
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Rising gas prices are undoubtedly alarming from an economic point of view – if left unchecked, the surge in prices will raise strong concerns about the onset of a global recession. The administration took note and successfully sent senior officials to coax Saudi officials to stick to a planned production increase, despite a possible slowdown in demand fueled by the Omicron variant. The Biden administration also coordinated the SPR release last month to allay those concerns somewhat, signaling a watershed moment in energy policy by announcing to the world that the U.S. government is not afraid to act as a market agent. global commodities – a fulcrum with a more lasting message and effect than immediate price reactions.
High oil prices also pose a threat to national security. They impose higher costs on the military budgets of the United States and its partners, while simultaneously encouraging countries like Russia and Iran to pursue foreign policies hostile to American and European interests.
Just a few weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly linked the rapid German regulatory approval of the Kremlin-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline to a much needed increase in Russian gas exports to EU gas storages. . Putin’s strong energy tactics took place against a backdrop of increased deployments of military personnel and equipment from Moscow near the Ukrainian border, his reckless launch of an anti-satellite weapon creating debris endangering a spacecraft space in low earth orbit, and a militarization of migrants by Russia’s client state, Belarus. These measures, along with Moscow’s politically motivated energy blackmail against Moldova and vocal threats from Belarusian President Lukashenko to cut off the EU’s gas supply, have led experts and diplomats to call Putin’s ploys definition. even the militarization of energy and, combined with these others and the contingencies of migrants, hybrid warfare.
Meanwhile, Iran takes a page from Russia’s playbook and tries to harness energy as a weapon of political influence in Lebanon. Lebanon is a Hezbollah-dominated tax case whose power grid was shut down because it lacked the oil it needed to run it – a development that exacerbates Lebanon’s devastating financial and political dilemmas. Iran sent convoys of oil to restart the system and at the same time buy influence.
In response, the Biden administration launched several high-stakes natural gas and electricity deals in the region. Thanks to American mediation, Egypt will likely supply gas to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria. Jordan, in turn, could interconnect its power grid with Lebanon through Syria. Meanwhile, the United States is mediating a long-running border dispute between Israel and Lebanon, which, if successful, could open Lebanon’s offshore gas fields to exploration and investment.
The impact of these efforts cannot be overstated. Lebanon could start to emerge from one of the world’s worst energy crises and stabilize its economy, while the Israelis could strike a historic border deal and ease Iranian influence. Both sides rely on the United States – and one diplomat in particular, Amos Hochstein – to be successful. Bringing oil and gas to Lebanon may seem contrary to the administration’s laudable climate aspirations, but these measures are necessary in the short term for real strategic gains.
And make no mistake: these climate aspirations are unlikely to be realized unless the Biden administration does not stabilize both energy markets and the security situation around the world. Foreign oil-consuming countries must act at the same pace for real progress to occur in mitigating climate change. If the United States does not simultaneously address the immediate energy crises, which continue to project national security and economic instability across the world, public support for the necessary energy transition measures will decline in exactly the countries where we need to make progress on this. climate goals.
In the interest of immediate global security and future climate stability, a balanced approach – taking into account economic and geopolitical realities – to energy transition will continue to be necessary.
Daniel Silverberg is Managing Director of Capstone LLC and Senior Associate Researcher at the Center for New American Security. He was National Security Advisor to the House Majority Leader from 2014 to 2021. Benjamin L. Schmitt is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and Rethinking Diplomacy Fellow at Duke University Center for International and Global Studies.