Lucas can't figure out where he comes down on this, so like so many other NCW pushers, he comes down on both sides: on one page, Russia is alternately a doomed and fatally corrupt basketcase, on another it's a "…nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia…with a global weight not seen since the 1950s." Except for the fact that women are allowed to drive in Russia and the Putin government doesn't fund Wahhabite terror worldwide and none of the hijackers on 9/11 were Russian… Except for those minor differences, the Saudi comparison is a useful and suggestive one. Countries with natural resources tend to use them strategically and to their benefit. Like the Saudis and OPEC. Other countries try to break that control. Like the U.S. This is how the world works and how it has always worked.
Or perhaps the silly Saudi analogy is just another embarrassing example of Lucas' Osama envy. Maybe he's just bitterly convinced that he can't get the Skraelings' attention for any length of time unless he puts a burqa on his bogeyman. (We can play the alliteration game too, see fellas?)
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When Lucas finally gets down to the bubblin' crude—oil, that is—his split personality disappears. What emerges is a self-assured fire-breathing hydrocarbon superhero, the Paul Revere of pipeline politics, screeching a warning to a jaded, wary crowd. And Europe has good reason to be wary of Russophobia. It depends on Russia for a third of its gas imports, a number set to rise. So the major European powers are not interested in a New Cold War. This drives Lucas to despair: "The contest [between Russia and the West]," he writes, "resembles a battle-hardened chess grandmaster playing against a bunch of inattentive and squabbling amateurs." Well, you can always count on an Anglo Russia-baiter to drag out the chess set. And since none of us know or care about that tedious game, we tend to allow totally absurd analogies like this one to slide by us, eager as we are to get past the chess part.
If you can snap yourself out of a chess-induced daze, you can see how ridiculous this claim is: Western oil execs bargaining for foreign supplies are "a bunch of inattentive…amateurs"? They've been called a lot of things, but not that.
They're just doing what the market tells them to do: going for the biggest supply at the lowest price. But Lucas can't handle that. Suddenly and psychotically abandoning his faith in the sacred Free Market, Lucas urges Europe to undertake a lot of expensive state-sponsored energy projects, like building pipelines from the Middle East and Central Asia to southeastern Europe, all in order to bypass Russia.
Not only is it anti-free-market, it's bad geopolitics. The Middle East and Central Asia as bastions of democracy? Sure, dude. They'd never dream of embargoing our oil supplies for political leverage.
No, only a Russian company like Gazprom would be so vile. Or worse yet, a Russian-German partnership like Nord Stream, the German-Russian project that will deliver gas directly to Germany via a Baltic Seabed pipeline. The project bothers Lucas so much that he reaches back into his costume box: He approvingly quotes his friend Radek Sikorski (whose wife is the notorious neocon propagandist Anne Applebaum) who compares Nord Stream to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Ah, dear old Sikorski, that champion of freedom! Lucas assumes none of his readers will know that when he was Poland's deputy foreign minister in the late 90s, Sikorski set up a scheme to trap visiting expat Poles into staying in Poland via the "passport trap," one of the creepiest neo-Soviet programs ever devised in post-Communist Eastern Europe.
In Lucas' mind, Russia is the only real evil to be feared. So Lucas simply can't understand why any country would do business with Russia and Gazprom, finally attributing Germany's engagement in Nord Stream up to "fear, resentment and guilt." This is truly profound national psychoanalysis. Yes, it must be the guilt! It couldn't be anything else, such as the prospect of having gas delivered right to one's door without having to worry about some stupid war in the Balts. Ah, those poor, guilt-ridden Germans, guiltily warming their feet by the gas fire!