Monday, April 21, 2014

Obama's War on U.S. Energy



 By Alan Caruba

A nation without adequate energy production is a nation in decline and that has been the President’s agenda since the day he took office in 2009. He even announced his war on coal during the 2008 campaign even though, at the time, it was providing fifty percent of the electricity being utilized.

It’s useful to know that the U.S. has huge coal reserves, enough to provide energy for hundreds of years and reduce our debt through its export to nations such as Japan. It increased coal-fired power generation by ten percent in 2013 while Germany’s coal use reached the highest level since 1990. Both China and India are increasing the use of coal. So why is coal unwelcome in the U.S.? Because Obama says so.

On April 15, the White House held a “Solar Summit” to continue promoting subsidies for solar panels and the Obama Energy Department has announced another $15 million in “solar market pathways” to fund local government’s use of solar energy. Its “Capital Solar Challenge” is directing federal agencies, military bases, and other federally subsidized buildings to use solar power.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, “solar energy provides two-tenths of one percent of the total energy consumed in the United States. While the amount of solar electricity capacity in the U.S. has increased in recent years…it still only accounts for 0.1% of net electricity generated…the least among the renewable sources of hydroelectric, biomass, wind and solar.”

So, in addition to the millions lost in earlier loans to solar companies like Solyndra that failed not long after pocketing our tax dollars, Obama is using the power of the federal government to waste more money on this unpredictable—the Sun only shines in the daytime and clouds can get in the way—source of energy whose “solar farms” take up many acres just to provide a faction of what a coal-fired or natural gas powered plant does.

This isn’t some loony environmental theory at work although the Greens oppose all manner of energy provision and use whether it is coal, oil or natural gas. They always find an excuse to mine or extract it. This is a direct attack on the provision of energy, fueled by any source, that America needs to function and meeting the needs of its population, manufacturing, and all other uses.

The most recent example of this is the further extension of the delay on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. That too is part of Obama’s war on energy for the nation, but it may also have something to do with the fact that the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad owns all of the rail lines in the U.S. connecting to western Canada. They haul 80% or more of the crude oil from Canada to the Midwest and Texas, earning a tidy sum in the process. It is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, a major contributor to Democrat causes and candidates. The Keystone XL pipeline could divert more than $2 billion a year and if its delay is not crony capitalism, nothing is.

 
This is what the Sierra Club is telling its members and supporters as of Monday, April 21: “Keystone XL means cancer. It means wolf blood spilled. And it’s nothing short of a climate disaster.” It is a lie from start to finish.

Keystone has become a political issue and the announcement by the Obama State Department that is giving agencies “additional time” to approve its construction due to ongoing litigation before the Nebraska Supreme Court that could affect its route brought forth protests from red-state Democrats in Congress who even threatened to find ways to go around the President to get the project approved. Eleven Democratic senators have written to the President to urge him to make a final decision by the end of May. Some of them will be up for reelection in the November midterm elections.

Even Congress, though, seems incapable of over-ruling or overcoming Obama’s war on the provision of energy sources. In early April, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new data showing that federal onshore oil and natural gas leases and drilling permits are at the lowest levels in more than a decade. Leases to companies exploring the potential of oil and natural gas reserves were down in 2013 from 1.8 million acres the year before to 1.2 million, the smallest area since records began to be maintained in 1988!

We have a President who gives daily evidence of his contempt both for those who voted for him and those who did not. His anti-energy agenda impacts on the creation of jobs, causes manufacturing to delay expansion or to go off-shore, reduces the revenue the government needs to reduce its debts and deficits, and drives up the cost of energy for everyone.

And he is doing this in one of the most energy-rich nations on the planet.

Editor’s Note:
For the latest, updated information on energy visit http://www.energydepot.us/

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Try to Ignore Earth Day



 
By Alan Caruba

Try to ignore Earth Day, April 22. It won’t be easy. The print and broadcast media will engage in an orgy of environmental tall tales and the usual end-of-the-world predictions. It will scare the heck out of youngsters and bore the heck out of anyone old enough to know that we have had to endure the lies that hide the agendas that have driven the Greens since 1970 when the event was first proclaimed.

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It is the third planet from the Sun and fifth-largest of the eight other planets that orbit it. It is the only planet in our galaxy that has life on it and it has an abundance of mineral resources as well as water and the fecundity to grow crops and maintain livestock to sustain the human race.

The climate on Earth is entirely dependent on the natural cycles of the Sun. Despite four decades of being told that the Earth was going to heat up due to greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide and methane, we are currently in a cooling cycle and no child born since 1997 has ever experienced a single day of the dreaded “global warming.”

Humans play a very small role affecting the Earth’s climate although, for example, deforestration is one way it has affects it. Other than cutting down trees, another way is to put the government in charge of vast acres of forest. It has a long record of failing to manage them well to the point where diseases and pests render the trees so weak that wildfires wipe out what would otherwise have thrived.

Otherwise, the Earth is and always has a been a very volatile place, subject to a variety of extraordinary natural events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards, floods, droughts, tornadoes, and earthquakes. The only thing humans can do is clean up and rebuild.

What has mostly changed for humans has been the discovery of energy sources that have transformed and enhanced their lives. Coal, initially, followed by oil and natural gas. All are carbon based, but then, so are humans and other life forms.

The Greens call them “fossil fuels” and some refer to “dirty coal” or seek to demonize “Big Oil.” Between 2007 and 2012, three U.S. oil companies paid a total of $289.7 billion in corporate income taxes. Until the Obama administration took power, coal provided fifty percent of all the electricity Americans used. Completely bogus “science” cited by the Environmental Protection Agency has been used to shut down coal-fired plants and close down coal mines. And, in concert with costly, unpredictable and unreliable “renewable” energy, wind and solar, have driven up the cost of electricity for everyone.

According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, released in March, over the next two decades the EPA’s climate rules aimed at reducing “global warming” (which is not occurring) will cost the economy $2.23 trillion. An estimated 600,000 jobs will be lost. The jobs that would be created by the Keystone XL pipeline have been waiting five years for the White House to approve the project.

As mentioned, it has been the many inventions that utilize the energy sources the Greens want to “leave in the ground” that have totally transformed the lives of Americans and others throughout the world. What Earth Day is really about is not the improvement of life, but limits that will reduce the world’s population. The one thing all environmentalists agree upon is that there are too many humans. This is a form of fascism that goes back to the creation of the communist/socialist economic systems, none of which have provided the level of prosperity that capitalism has. Even Communist China has adopted the capitalist model.

The other agenda Greens agree upon is that the government should own and control every square inch of the nation’s (and world’s) landmass. That is why climate change is part of the United Nations’ intention to become the single world government. It is home to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that has clung to the global warming hoax since they invented it in the late 1980s.

Recently, the IPCC released another report claiming “climate change” will melt polar ice, cause the oceans to rise dramatically, generate extreme weather conditions, et cetera. There have always been extreme weather conditions somewhere and the rest of the IPCC claims are just great big lies that have been around for decades.

Along the way, environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Friends of the Earth, among countless others of comparable or lesser size have received millions in membership dues, donations, the sale of products, and from the assets that many own. Many, like Greenpeace, enjoy a non-profit status. For example, in 2011, Greenpeace took in $27,465,948 and had assets of $4,653,179. Multiply that against all the others and it adds up to billions.

Green organizations represent a very big business that is constantly at war with legitimate businesses in the energy, manufacturing, and agricultural sectors, seeking to impose laws and regulations that cost them and consumers billions every year.

If you’re a parent take some time to explain to younger children that the Earth is very old and not going to suffer the claims Greens repeat and repeat. As for everyone else, just try to ignore the Earth Day deluge. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Methane Hoax Cranks Up



By Alan Caruba

Having spent decades trying to convince everyone that carbon dioxide (CO2) was a “greenhouse gas” that was going to cause the Earth to heat up, the same environmental charlatans are now embarking on a campaign to do the same with methane. In the U.S. the first move was announced by the White House in late March.

The carbon dioxide hoax fell apart in the wake of a cooling cycle affecting the Earth that began around 1997 and continues to this day. Warming and cooling cycles are natural events and both are tied to the activity or lack of it of the Sun.  Humans have nothing to do with the climate other to enjoy or endure it.

Why methane? It has a lot to do with the development of hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking”, and the way it unlocks natural gas, aka methane, all of which portends an America that is energy independent, along with its huge reserves of coal and oil. If, of course, the government permits this to occur.

As we know, the Obama administration does not want that. It would mean more jobs, greater prosperity, and the ability to pay down the national debt, not to mention drive down the cost of electricity, gasoline, and everything else that depends on energy.

Despite the cooling cycle that is likely to last for many more years, Steve Hamburg, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, was quoted by the Washington Post saying that “ounce for ounce, methane is 84 times as potent as a greenhouse gas over 20 years” compared to carbon dioxide. “More than a third of the warming that we’ll see as a result of today’s emissions over the next couple of decades comes from, essentially, methane. We need to remain focused on carbon dioxide emissions, but doing so is not enough.”

Excuse me, but the Environmental Defense Fund and countless other Green advocacy groups have been focused on carbon dioxide for decades and the Earth is cooling, not warming. What part of this does Hamburg not understand?

James M. Taylor, the managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly published by The Heartland Institute, reported in January that “Natural gas fracking is not causing a spike in the U.S. methane emissions”, citing Environmental Protection Agency data. “Methane emissions specific to natural gas are in a long-term decline, down ten percent since 1990 and down seven percent since 2007 when the fracking boom began.”

The Washington Post, however, asserted that emission levels “are set to rise by 2030 as shale oil and shale gas production expands in the United States.” Do you remember all those predictions about the increase of carbon dioxide emissions and how, in ten, twenty, fifty or a hundred years, the Earth would heat up?

This is not about methane, it is about finding a way to shut down fracking and the extraction of natural gas and oil in the same way the Obama administration’s “war on coal” has caused the loss of over 150 coal-fired plants that until it began, were providing electricity. Reducing sources of electricity drives up its cost to everyone. As more natural gas came on line by 2013 it had become the second greatest source of U.S. electricity, but overall the amount of electricity produced was less than in 2007 before the war on coal began.

A natural component of the Earth, it has a number of sources, but one that has also caught the eye of government regulators involves cow flatulence and belching.

The White House has proposed cutting methane emissions from the dairy industry by 25% by 2020. The Environmental Protection Agency has been tracking cow farts since 2012 and now the dairy industry has to worry along with the oil and gas industry. In addition to the EPA, the Bureau of Land Management will be announcing “new standards this fall to reduce venting and flaring from oil and gas production on public lands.”

It’s often best just to let the Greens speak for themselves, revealing their never-ending efforts to attack the energy industry that keeps our lights on, heats and cools our homes, and fuels our cars and trucks. “President Obama’s plan to reduce climate-disrupting methane pollution is an important step in reining in an out of control industry exempt from too many public health protections,” said Deborah Nardone, the director of the Sierra Club’s Keeping Dirty Fuels in the Ground campaign.

“However,” said Ms. Nardone, “even with the most rigorous methane controls in place, we will still fall short of what is needed to fight climate disruption if we do not reduce our reliance on these dirty fossil fuels.”

What the heck is a climate disruption? A blizzard, a hurricane, a flood, tornadoes? None of these phenomena have anything to do with using fossil fuels. This is the kind of utter drivel we have all been hearing for decades.

It has nothing to do with the climate and everything to do with denying access and use of the greatest reserves of coal, oil and natural gas that exist in the greatest nation on Earth, the United States of America.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Scaring the World about its Climate



By Alan Caruba

Ever since the creation in 1988 of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it has engaged in the greatest hoax of modern times, releasing reports that predict climate-related catastrophes as if the climate has not been a completely natural and dynamic producer of events that affect our lives.

The IPCC was set up by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program. It has enlisted thousands of scientists to contribute to its scare campaign, but as Joseph Bast, the president of The Heartland Institute, noted in a recent Forbes article regarding the vast difference in the assertions of the IPCC scientists and those of its puckishly named Nonintergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), “What is a non-scientist to make of these dueling reports? Indeed, what is a scientist to make of this?”

“Very few scientists are familiar with biology, geology, physics, oceanography, engineering, medicine, economics, and scores of other more specialized disciplines that were the basis of the claims…” The IPCC has depended on the ignorance of those scientists outside their particular disciplines and recruited them to be involved in the UN hoax. The rest of us look to them to provide guidance regarding issues involving the climate and, as a result, have been deliberately deceived.
 
The NIPCC, anticipating the latest IPCC addition to its climate scare campaign, has just issued a new addition to its “Climate Change Reconsidered” reports. The first volume was 850 pages long and the latest is more than 1,000 pages. It represents the findings of scores of scientists from around the world and thousands of peer-reviewed studies. At this point they represent some twenty nations.

I have been an advisor to The Heartland Institute for many years and have been exposing the climate change lies since the late 1980s. A science writer, I have benefited from the work of men like atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer, a founder of the NPCC who has overseen five reports debunking the IPCC since 2003.

The Heartland Institute has sponsored nine international conferences that have brought together many scientists and others in an effort to debunk the UN’s climate scare campaign.

I have always depended on the common sense of people to understand that humans have nothing to do with the climate except to endure and enjoy it. We don’t create it or influence it.

The global warming campaign is based on the Big Lie that carbon dioxide (CO2) traps the Sun’s heat and warms the Earth, but the fairly miniscule amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (0.038%) does not do that in a fashion that poses any threat. Indeed, it is the Sun that determines the Earth’s climate, depending where you happen to be on the Earth. Next to oxygen, CO2 is vital to all life on Earth as it is the “food” on which all vegetation depends. More CO2 is good. Less is not so good.

The IPCC has depended in part on the print and broadcast media to spread its Big Lie. It also depends on world leaders, few of whom have any background or serious knowledge of atmospheric science, to impose policies based on the Big Lie. These policies target the use of “fossil fuels”, oil, coal and natural gas, urging a reduction of their use. The world, however, utterly depends on them and, in addition to existing reserves, new reserves are found every year.

One reason the IPCC has been in a growing state of panic is a new, completely natural cooling cycle based on a reduction of solar radiation. As James M. Taylor, the managing editor of Heartland’s “Environment & Climate News”, pointed out recently, “Winter temperatures in the contiguous United States declined by more than a full degree Celsius (more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit) during the past twenty years.” He was citing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. “The data contradicts assertions that human induced global warming is causing a rise in winter temperatures.”

In addition to the recent extremely cold winter, there have been others in 2000-2001 and 2009-2010. There will be more.

The IPCC report is full of claims about global warming, now called “climate change” since the world is obviously not warming. In March, Taylor rebutted an IPCC claim that crop production is falling, noting that global corn, rice, and wheat production have more than tripled since 1970. In recent years, the U.S. has set records for alfalfa, cotton, beans, sugar beets, canola, corn, flaxseed, hops, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugarcane, sunflowers, peanuts, and wheat, to name just a few.

The Earth would benefit from more, not less, CO2 emissions, but the Obama administration has been engaged in imposing hundreds of new regulations aimed at reductions. It targets the development and expansion of our energy sector. The President has repeated the lies in his State of the Union speeches and we have a Secretary of State, John Kerry, who insists that climate change is the greatest threat to mankind and not the increase of nuclear weapons.

Every one of the Earth’s seven billion population are being subjected to the UN’s campaign of lies and every one of us needs to do whatever we can to bring about an end to the United Nations and reject the IPCC’s claims.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Obamacare is an American Catastophe



By Alan Caruba

If you type in “Obamacare” on Wikipedia you will discover 25,500,000 links. That’s a lot of news coverage and related commentary about the Affordable Care Act. Most of it is negative. The more people have learned about it, the less they like it and, if we had a Congress that could or would do anything about it, it would have been repealed by now.

A March 28 Associated Press poll revealed that only 26% of Americans support Obamacare, a point less than December 2013 and January 2014.

The Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted more than 60 times to repeal or dismantle Obamacare. The Senate, namely Harry Reid its Majority Leader, has killed all efforts to address what is clearly a national catastrophe. When passed in 2009, not one Republican member of Congress voted for it. When it was passed, then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, famously said they had to pass the 2,700 page act in order to find out what was in it.

In 2010, voters gave power in the House to Republicans, but the Senate remained under Democrat control. The fact that Barack Obama, when campaigning to become President in 2008 and thereafter lied repeatedly to Americans about it has tarnished his reputation and his approval ratings. Since then he has altered the law unilaterally despite the fact that he utterly lacks any constitutional right to do so.

In February the Heritage Foundation’s legal experts put together a list of seven illegal actions by the President that included delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate, giving Congress and their staffs special taxpayer-funded subsidies, preventing layoff notices from going out just days before the 2012 election, as well as non-Obamacare actions that included gutting the work requirement from welfare reform, stonewalling an application for storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, and making “recess” appointments when the Senate was still legally in session.

The first element of the Obamacare catastrophe is an utterly lawless President who Congress has done little to restrain and nothing to impeach.

Another element of the Obamacare catastrophe has been the failure of the mainstream media to address the impact the law has had on America. On March 26, the Media Research Center reported that “They’re just burying the story. They aren’t in denial. They know the truth. They’re just choosing to ignore it. They are pretending there are no broken promises about keeping your insurance plan, or keeping your doctor, or lowering your premium by $2,500 a year.”

An analysis by the Center of the three network evening news broadcasts in 2014 “found only 12 stories on three networks in almost three months.” For example, “NBC Nightly News” broadcast only one story on Obamacare and that was on January 1 when Lester Holt called it “a new era in health care in this country.” ABC “World News” provided only six minutes and 58 seconds on Obamacare and “CBS Evening News” managed to provide only 19 minutes and 17 seconds over the course of three months.

“None of the networks,” said the Center’s analysis, “dared to report the ongoing opposition of the American people to Obamacare in 2014, even when they were the ones doing the polling.”

Sen. John Thune, (R-SD) posted an article from the Washington Free Beacon on his website, “Fourth Anniversary of Obamacare Brings Billions in Costs to Economy” that cited a report by the American Action Forum that concluded that “From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local government and affected entities.”
 
Sen. Thune said, that “Four years after Obamacare became the law of the land, millions of Americans have little but canceled policies, fewer choices, and skyrocketing costs to show for it. From seniors to young adults, to middle-class families, and small businesses, Obamacare has been to be an equal opportunity offender…people living under this law are acutely aware of the harm Obamacare is causing in their lives.”

I have held back from writing about Obamacare because so many others are doing so, but it is impossible to hold back from declaring it the worst law ever passed by Congress and to urge readers to go to the polls in the November midterm elections and remove from office those Democrats who voted for it and are seeking reelection.

There is little need for me to do an Obamacare analysis, but I can recommend one that appeared in The Weekly Standard on February 17. Those who have been following the history of lies and broken promises will find it a detailed study. Is author, Christopher Conover, summed it up saying that “Obamacare has failed miserably on nearly every major promise made about it. The processes used to enact and implement the law have been tarnished by actions of questionable legality and a pervasive lack of transparency.”

The ultimate impact of Obamacare on the economy must wait for a calculation, but the demand for its repeal must increase to a point where a future Congress must respond to the voter’s demand. Without that, we are headed for an economic collapse.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Green Scam of "Endangered Species"



 
 By Alan Caruba

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal took note of what has occurred since the 1990s when some three dozen gray wolves were captured in Canada and transferred to the wilderness of Idaho. According to federal biologists, this was necessary to restore the ecological balance in a region teeming with elk and other creatures on the gray wolf food chain.

The article noted that more than 650 wolves roam the state today according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game which has been hearing a lot of complaints that the wolves “are wreaking havoc on Idaho’s prized elk and livestock, and prompted the governor’s office to embark on an effort to wipe out three-quarters or more of the population.”

So the federal biologists bring in the wolves and a few years later the governor’s office says kill them. Why? Because the elk population has fallen about 15% since the wolves arrived, along with 2,589 sheep, 610 cows, and 72 dogs.

Take a moment on contemplate how arrogant and unconscionably stupid it is to take gray wolves from Canada and put them in Idaho in the name of “ecological balance.” The only balance achieved was a significant imbalance in the elk population and witless destruction of sheep and cows which represent a livelihood to ranchers and dinner to the rest of us.

Throughout America we are all paying for the environmental notion of “endangered species” and the quest to “save” some from extinction. The problem with that conceit is that 95% of all the species on Earth have gone extinct over hundreds of millions of years. One paper on this noted that “Mass extinction of biological species has occurred several times in the history of our planet.”

The Endangered Species Act became law on December 28, 1973, just over forty years ago. It’s not about saving species. It’s about providing a vehicle to environmental groups to shut off access to vast areas of the nation in order to prevent drilling for oil and natural gas or mining them for coal and other minerals.

In a December 2013 Wall Street Journal article, Damien Schiff and Julie MacDonald reported that “A law intended to conserve species and habitat has brought about the recovery of only a fraction—less than 2%--of the approximately 2,100 species listed as endangered or threatened since 1973.”

“Meanwhile, the law has endangered the economic health of many communities—which creating a cottage industry of litigation that does more to enrich environmental activist groups than benefit the environment.”

“One reason the Endangered Species Act has spun out of control is that the federal agencies that decide whether to list a species—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—no longer based decisions on what the law calls for: data. Instead they invent squishy standards like ‘best professional judgment.’”

The result of that can be seen in California’s San Joaquin Valley where much of the nation’s almonds, broccoli, onions, watermelons, lettuce and tomatoes have been grown. About 13% of all agricultural production in the nation takes place in the region where some 250 different crops are grown. That is, until the Natural Resources Defense Council won a lawsuit against California’s water-delivery system that they claimed was endangering Delta smelt, on the Endangered Species list since 1994. The result was a manmade drought for the valley’s farmers and ranchers. If you wonder why the cost of everything in the vegetable section of your supermarket costs more, you can thank the NRDC.

Lying about animal species is so much a part of the environmental movement that polar bears have become a fund-raising symbol over the years despite the fact that polar bear populations, said to be threatened by melting Arctic ice, have been thriving since the 1970s. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears worldwide, living in Canada, Greenland, the northern Russian coast, islands of the Norwegian coast and the northwest Alaska coast. Hunting them was banned in the U.S. and worldwide with the exception of Alaskan Natives for tribal needs.

Currently almost half the land west of the Mississippi river belongs to the federal government and environmentalists want to expand on that to prevent the nation’s booming oil and gas development. That development could make the U.S. energy independent, create many jobs, and its revenues could significantly reduce the tremendous national debt.  At the heart of the environmental movement is an intent to destroy capitalism and reduce the U.S. among other nations to an era before fossil fuels improved life for everyone.

One way to do that is to increase the endangered list by a record 757 new species by 2018. Two species with the greatest impact on private development are range birds, the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken. Among the environmental groups who specialize in using the Endangered Species Act are the Wildlife Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity who have been party to more than one thousands lawsuits between 1900 and the present. The Center has made no secret of wanting to end fossil-fuel production in the U.S.

The Endangered Species Act should be repealed because it has a pathetic record regarding its goal over the past forty years and because it threatens the economic development of the nation. Unless or until this occurs, environmentalists will continue their assault on America.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Path to War



 By Alan Caruba

Having lived through the long Cold War with the former Soviet Union, including the Cuban Missile crisis, my thoughts over those years were that their leaders would not risk war because the outcome would be disastrous for Russia. When it collapsed in 1991, its Eastern Europe satellite states broke free to establish their independence.

Now Vladimir Putin wants them back. The West can be forgiven for abandoning Crimea to the Russians because it was a part of their nation for hundreds of years and they have good reason to want to retain its only warm water ports there. That does not, however, give them a claim on the rest of the Ukraine. It is massing troops along its borders.

Historically, the path to war is often strewn with a failure to respond to aggression or with an over-response.

In the last century, the U.S. resisted involvement in European wars until it was under attack in some fashion. We entered World War Two that had been occurring since 1938 when Germany attacked Poland when we were attacked by the Japanese Empire in 1841 and we resisted getting into World War One for most of it until the very end. Begun in 1914, the U.S. did not enter until 1917 in response to submarine attacks and diplomatic efforts to encourage Mexico to reclaim its former territories. It was concluded in 1918, mostly because Germany had exhausted its resources by then. Barely twenty years later Hitler began World War Two.

Obama keeps talking about the 19th century and international laws, but Russia and other enemies only understand the use of power to secure their expansionist ambitions. Vladimir Putin, now enjoying a renewed popularity at home may conclude he can seize the Ukraine with minimum effort and resistance.

He has reason to believe this given the feeble response of the U.S. and Europe to date. Some relatively minor sanctions have been announced and others are being considered. At this writing those sanctions involve seven Russians and four Ukrainians. There has been no U.S. military aid to Ukraine and only some minor transfers to military assets to Poland.

For Putin, the judgment rests on Obama’s weakness and whether he and Congress would respond more forcefully. He has little reason to believe this given Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq and the U.S. withdrawal occurring in Afghanistan. Add Obama’s continued reduction of the U.S. military budget and its level of power and you have the kind of calculations that can lead to more aggressive action by Russia.

World War One saw the end of several empires such as the Austrian-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. It launched modern warfare with the introduction of new, more lethal weapons and innovations such as aerial warfare. It began on June 28, 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Serbia. By August, Germany declared war on Russia, France, and Belgium and on August 19th the U.S. announced its neutrality.

Neither the U.S., nor Europe wants to engage Russia militarily, but neither has either to date demonstrated any intention to protect the Ukraine or other nations that border Russia. That failure has enormous implications and must be reversed with action that includes the transfer of NATO troops and other actions demonstrating the will to resist.

Obama keeps referring to the “international community” but in the real world all nations act to protect themselves despite organizations such as the United Nations, NATO and treaties that promise mutual aid and protection.

Putin knows this even if Obama and his advisors do not. Obama’s actions at home have weakened the U.S. by virtue of our enormous, historic debt and, as noted, his constant reductions to our military strength.

Strong financial sanctions against Russia may give Putin cause to reconsider, but we cannot wait much longer for their implementation. This is complicated by Europe’s and our own financial investments in what was seen as a new Russia.

Europe’s dependence on energy provided by Russia adds to its reluctance. Craig Rucker, the executive director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) notes that “The radical eco-left has gained such powerful sway across Europe that they have cut their nations off from their most reliable domestic sources of energy.”

“The feel-good cover story is laden with pictures of windmills and solar panels, but the hard facts remain that these expensive and inefficient sources of energy are not up to the task of powering a continent. That leaves much of Europe dependent on Gasprom, Russia’s natural gas export company and pipelines through the Ukraine.”

Overall, however, Russia is regarded to have a weak economy and a reliance on Western capital markets. That might be sufficient to forestall any action regarding the Ukraine.

With Putin in charge, we are looking at a former Russia, the Soviet model.

So the world watches as the U.S., its European allies, and Russia close in on a repeat of the last century’s history with the added threat of nuclear arms capable of destroying entire nations.

© Alan Caruba, 2014