Nord Stream

| 5 MINUTE READ | The bubble that burst in the Baltic Sea


One thing in common between the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline and the global pandemic caused by the Corona virus is a shroud of deception around their origins.

When information is curated and weaponized and inconvenient truths are obscured and buried, to make sense of what is happening we need to see the underlying patterns. That would help us appreciate why comedians embody the zeitgeist of our times, as the last remaining truth tellers, who allow us to laugh over what would otherwise make us lament.

The opening moves

Twenty-five years ago, presumably in the light of America’s own response to the Cuban missile crisis, Senator Joe Biden said NATO’s expansion to include Russia’s Baltic neighbours could provoke an aggressive response from Russia. Since then America has led a gradual expansion of NATO to include Russia’s Baltic neighbours.

During the early part of this year, President Joe Biden warned that if Russia invaded Ukraine, America would bring an end to the Nord Stream 2 project. Since then Russia went to war with Ukraine and recent subterranean explosions, off the Danish Island of Bornholm, punctured both the Nord Steam 1 & 2 pipelines. 

A few days before those explosions, the German media reported American ships – with 4000 soldiers, helicopter pilots, marines and strategists – passing the Danish Island of Bornholm before their automatic ship identification systems were turned off so they could no longer be located.

Europe’s energy artery

The geopolitical significance of the Nord Stream project stemmed from Russia’s central role in Europe’s energy basket.  

Russia supplied around 200 billion cubic metres (BCM) of gas annually to meet close to 50% of European demand. 55 BCM of this gas flowed through the Nord Stream 1 subsea pipeline and about 45 BCM through the older terrestrial networks passing through Ukraine. Nord Stream 2, with an additional 55 BCM of capacity, had the potential to eat into Ukraine’s annual US$ 1.2 billion gas transit fee income and dilute its erstwhile leverage over Russian energy supplies into Europe. The commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, ready since late last year, was stalled by Germany in close consultations with the White House, as a first response to the crisis in Ukraine.

A raft of further sanctions on Russia, saw a spike in oil and gas prices that resulted in a skyrocketing of European energy costs. While Russian gas sales to Europe were throttled, this was more than compensated by a mix of new customers and rising prices. As Europe faces the prospect of a long cold winter with power cuts, energy rationing and the consequent possibility of mobile network outages, steelmakers like Arcelor Mittal and chemical makers like OCI have begun moving manufacturing operations to the USA. Continued uncertainties around basic utilities, could turn this trickle into a trend.   

The negotiation gambit

In the meantime, what Russia expected would be a swift victory, has become an extended quagmire that exposes its lack of battle readiness. As sanctions began to erode critical military supply chains, Russia halted deliveries through Nord Stream 1 under the pretext of maintenance outages caused by supply bottlenecks. This set the ground for a negotiation with Germany to ease sanctions in exchange for gas.

Russia needs to reinforce its depleted military equipment against a resurgent Ukrainian force inundated with western armaments.  High energy prices have led to widespread protests in Germany, with demands for an easing of sanctions and the opening of Nord Stream 2. An urgent case for both sides to strike a compromise was evident.

By taking away the ability for them to barter resources instead of blackmail, the Nord Stream explosions have placed a lid on any immediate scope for negotiations between Germany and Russia. Repairs on this US$ 11 billion piece of energy infrastructure, now buckled and inundated with corrosive sea water, are underway. But the uncertain timelines to bring them entirely back on-stream provide a window to cleave Europe away from Russian energy towards more expensive alternatives from further afield. American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described the potential shift in the geopolitics and economics of the region due to this development, as a ‘tremendous opportunity’. A Europe besieged by higher costs and lower competitiveness sounds more like a death knell.

The approaching endgame

The winners and losers of this development are clear.

The breach in the Nord Stream temporarily restores the erstwhile centrality of Ukraine’s strategic leverage at a crucial time, through control over the last surviving major artery that can carry Russian gas into Europe. It strengthens American influence in the region, from a primary provider of defence, to a potential supplier to plug Europe’s energy vacuum.

America’s geopolitical strategy to wean Europe away from Russian energy, has been explicitly stated by President Biden. This echoes statements made by former Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice almost a decade ago, demonstrating an enduring consistency in policy across party lines. The US-EU gas deal in March this year, saw an expansion of American gas cargoes into Europe. Since this would not be enough to meet the energy shortfalls induced by sanctions, having shut most of its nuclear power plants post Fukushima, Germany temporarily restarted 27 coal fired power plants in June. With the possibility of an extended Nord Stream outage, green energy and Greta Thunberg may get eclipsed by more quotidian European priorities.

As Putin is gradually encircled and cornered on an emptying chessboard with limited options to his west, will the possibilities of how this war ends get more apocalyptic? Or will Russia lurch more eastward, with its bounty of natural resources merging with the rising tide of the east?

The price of friendship

Unlike the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan, which relied on which side had the highest tolerance for pain, this war appears like it is being fought on American terms. To be lost by which side runs dry of resources first. From across the wide buffer of the Atlantic, instead of facilitating the compromises necessary for peace, Biden alluded to the need for a regime change in Russia, has pressed on with sanctions and sustained the flow of aid and reinforcements to Ukraine. Who will get weighed down first by this hawkish American stance?

More than a battered Russia or an emboldened Ukraine, the weakest link in this matrix of conflict may lie in Europe. With a predilection to occupy the moral high ground at the cost of pragmatism in how it defends its sovereign interests, the gradual decline of Europe now has a sense of inevitability. Perhaps Xi and Putin were forewarned by an old Henry Kissinger observation in ways that Zelensky and Scholz were not, that ‘To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal’.

The Nord Stream wreckage in the Baltic seabed is a contemporary monument to this unfortunate truth.

-x-

With research inputs from my daughter Shloka, a Grade 12 student of global politics at the Cathedral and John Connon School

-x-

(This post was published in the Sunday Guardian)

https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/opinion/nord-stream-bubble-burst-baltic-sea

37 thoughts on “Nord Stream

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  1. Excellent analysis !!
    It never occurred to me that US would use this strife to push its own natural gas resources down the throat of Europe
    Europe’s loss could also turn out to be India’s/China’s gain,

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  2. In any crime scene, the question to ask is “Cui Bono” – who benefits. There are only two countries that have the capacity to do something like this and who could gain from a much weaker Europe. One is the United States and the other is the United Kingdom. IMO there is no doubt this is the work of the US, with the tacit support of the UK. Planting such a device is not hard. A fishing trawler with disguised Special Forces personnel, at dead of night, sends divers down 80m to plant a remote controlled device, and then flees to several hundred kilometres. The device is then detonated by radio. No fingerprints.

    The world is headed for a split between East and West. Russian gas will now flow eastwards to India and China.

    The country that has the most questions to ask of itself is India. Thanks to Galwan and the imminent installation of XJP as Leader for Life, a rapprochement between India and China looks remote. There is a big lobby in the United States that regards Indian politics as toxic (all the majoritarian stuff we have discussed – and disagreed on – over several beers). Our FM talks too much. We need to stop spending billions a year just keeping troops on the borders and focus on economic development. We are more interested in buying MLAs, looking which temples to rebuild and fighting identity wars.

    Credit to Shloka for meticulous research.

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    1. There are only two countries that have the capacity to do something like this and who could gain from a much weaker Europe. One is the United States and the other is the United Kingdom.

      Not quite.

      The capacity to detonate explosives under 200m of water is pretty trivial given the ubiquity of offshore drilling technology. Also there’s other countries who stand to gain from this. I don’t think it’s a coincidence it happened just when the Baltic Pipe was ready to go into operation. So that puts Norway, Denmark and Poland on the suspect list, though it’s almost unthinkable any of them would have acted without US approval (or instigation).

      I think the US troop movements near Bornholm were either a coincidence or a red herring. You don’t need a highly visible military expedition to do a job easily within the capacity of a single submersible-equipped vessel that could be camouflaged as a fishing or survey ship.

      I also think the US would want some deniability here if any of the facts leaked out, And it wouldn’t want the sabotage done by a country with potentially effective FOI legislation.

      If I had to put my money down I’d say it was done by elements of the Polish regime acting as US proxies.

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        1. Not really.

          If someone makes explicit accusations that a US naval taskforce or special forces group was involved and the US can produce proof it wasn’t that makes it easy to dismiss all suggestions of US involvement as batshit crazy conspiracy theories.

          Earlier this year Denmark publicly announced it was allowing US troops to base at Bornholm, so there’s likely to be easily verifiable ‘innocent’ explanations for US naval convoys in the area.

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          1. Same thing. Either

            1) The Poles did it on their own
            2) Or they did it on the orders of the US
            3) Or some US agency did it

            These are plausible theories. Not “batshit conspiracy theory”. Neither do you have concrete proof, not I.

            If you read carefully, I only go by “Cui Bono”. After that its only a question of which agency.

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  3. Exactly,

    Dunno how the Indian media is treating this but here in Australia there was initial reporting that Russia had probably blown its own pipes up. As it became clear that theory wouldn’t fly and who the most likely culprits are the whole thing simply dropped off the media radar, despite its huge implications for energy stress in the EU, Australian gas exports to Europe and the environmental impacts of all that methane bubbling out of the Baltic. As far as I know there’s yet to be the slightest suggestion in the local mainstream media that the US might have been behind the sabotage.

    ‘To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal’

    Yep. Looks like several EU countries that had relied on Russian gas will be importing a heck of a lot more at much higher prices from US suppliers this winter.

    And I think another bonus for Washington is that it sends a clear message to its European allies that nothing is off the table if any of them start thinking about independent diplomatic or economic negotiations with Russia (or China for that matter).

    I think some of the smarter US strategic planners can see the writing on the wall for the US empire and are prepared to do almost anything to keep it on (military) life support for as long as possible, including taking ridiculous risks with nuclear brinkmanship. And this on the watch of a supposed ‘moderate’ like Biden. Things are set to get very hairy indeed when the US political pendulum swings back towards the next Trump-style populist megalomaniac.

    Congrats to Shloka on her political insight and critical thinking skills.
    Did you wean that girl on Chomsky or something?

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  4. Yes, it is always the money Ananda until that country is manipulated into a corner (I’m referring to the larger countries here). They either have nothing to lose and go bang…or…now collapse and economically cause worldwide problems in itself.
    Well done to you and Shloka my friend, the more that see the truth behind all of this the more pressure it applies to that deceit. Plus I feel a new generation coming through that will indeed go green energy and avoid these situations altogether 😀❤️🙏🏽

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  5. The North Stream sabotage analysis is interesting. May be true that USA did it on purpose to sideline their benefits in this saga. I do not think U.K. can be involved in this as they along with their counterparts are heavily suffering with shortage of energy supplies which has brought about economic crises to the worst extent. With the same token that one country is gaining is not an excuse for the U.K. and Europe for their inability to guard against their own requirements and supplies. Such advanced countries in the first place should have planned better for their energy…Least of all to have made deals with Communist countries. Never wanted to manufacture any nuclear plant to be self sufficient for energy and also wound up the coal plants which were a good source of supply. Looking at the past World War Two, one can reason to be thankful to USA for coming into play for saving most of the countries.
    Thanks to you Anand and your intelligent daughter Shloka for this thought provoking debate.
    Bhuma Rangarajan

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    1. Least of all to have made deals with Communist countries.

      Which Communist countries are those?
      Russia hasn’t even been notionally Communist since 1991 and both Kerala and West Bengal are more communist than contemporary China.

      Never wanted to manufacture any nuclear plant to be self sufficient for energy and also wound up the coal plants which were a good source of supply.

      Is it really ‘self-sufficient’ to solve today’s power problems with nuclear and fossil fuel while passing the massive externalised expenses in decommissioning, clean-up and environmental collapse onto our children?

      Looking at the past World War Two, one can reason to be thankful to USA for coming into play for saving most of the countries.

      I think any reasonable reading of WWII history would show the ‘Communist’ Soviet Union shouldered far more of the burden in defeating the Nazis than the US did.

      Also, according to Japanese sources and contrary to some US propaganda, it was the declaration of war by the USSR and the subsequent collapse of the Manchurian front that prompted their unconditional surrender, not the US atrocities committed against the populations of Japanese cities such as Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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      1. In response to Cabrogal’s comments on Bhuma Rangarajan’s post, my humble submission from Australia too ..

        China is an obvious communist country controlled totally by the CCP and Russia under Vladimir Putin has moved back to a highly centralised form of authoritarianism, basically taking it back to the same style which characterised it for the past 1000 years! Transparency and accountability is zero in both these countries and I agree with Bhuma that western countries were plain dumb, naive and lazy to have tied up huge economic bets with both those nations, only to suffer or be at their mercies! If China sneezes, Australia catches a cold and if Russia catches herpes the whole of Europe gets infected promptly!

        As for Kerala, the governing party is LDF (Left Democractic Front) and West Bengal is governed by the Trinamool Congress party. Whilst communist ideas have prevailed in both these states, liking it to “contemporary China” is like comparing apples to mandarins – one is quite hard and the other is quite soft! A large country like India is robustly democratic and it is quite natural that its hosts a variety of political ideologies including communism, a strong testament to its expression of peoples’ freedoms.

        Coal has accounted for 75% of Australia’s electricity generation followed by gas (16%) and the rest by wind, hydro and the rest of the renewables. Australia’s problem is not availability, but rather the decision to shut down coal. Whereas Europe only uses only 11% coal and are heavily dependent on Russia for its gas and oil. EU could have kept the coal going for a bit longer until they transitioned to more cleaner nuclear energy. Currently, 25% of EU energy comes from nuclear .. and France makes more than half of it! Where are the rest!? I agree that the premature closure of coal in favour gas and oil imports has proven disastrous for the EU. As for the environment and concern for future generations, I am afraid that horse has bolted long long ago when the world decided to produce and consume beyond its means! The problem is greed, per capita consumption and the rapid rise to billionnaire-dom! Each one of us is directly responsible for the future generations .. let’s not blame coal or gas for the environment .. blame how much we consume for all the wrong reasons and how much is thursted upon us for the world to go around! Collective irresponsible economics which is on a huge rollercoaster joyride to nowhere .. oh wait .. we are getting the next great version of Bluetooth and that will solve everything!

        As for WWII, but for USA’s role in the Pacific in defeating Japan’s arrogant imperialism, Australia would have been completely taken over by the Japs a long time ago! USA’s massive production and supply of every imaginable war machine and their boots on the ground is what won the war. Winston Churchill knew this much beforehand and was instrumental in pleading with the USA to help and save Britain and other countries. Russia just got lucky when winter set in and the Germans underestimated the weather. Ask any war historian and they will agree that Hitler made a massive miscalculation by not going for Moscow’s throat when it was staring him in the face. Russia’s late role in swamping all over Europe with their own atrocities was a late piece after much of the work had already been done in Europe and when Germany was much weakened by them. USA’s wartime factory production and innovation was off this planet. Russia caught up later in the nuclear arms race that ensued.
        US atrocities were nothing compared to the Japanese atrocities well before WWII when they ravaged through eastern China and let’s not forget their ruthless craziness in Kokoda, Burma etc to mention a few. Their ambition was to take over all energy sources in China and South East Asia for world dominance and an empire. But for the USA navy, airforce and military, the world would be a very different place right now. With hindsight, I say, thank you Japan for Pearl Harbour and knocking off some useless US ships and missing their main aircraft carriers, oil storage and energy grids and chickening out after a half-assed job! They woke up a sleeping giant and got it back with plenty of interest.

        No amount of propaganda is going to take away raw facts about the past or the present as facts are available from credible sources if sought. However, the thrust of narratives dusted with speculation in a speedy digital world can be .. interesting, appealing, amusing, agreeable, offensive etc .. but its mission of dwarfing one’s common sense is often complete!

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        1. If by ‘communist’ you’re using the common US definition of “anyone opposed to US imperialism’, then you have a point. But when I was at school ‘communism’ meant a system under which ‘the people’ (usually defined as ‘the workers’) controlled the means of production.

          Putin’s Russia is certainly authoritarian, but I don’t think even he would claim the workers controlled means of production. The economy now is run by oligarchs, most of whom are close to Putin. During the Soviet Union it was run by committees of political elites who claimed to act on behalf of workers but, of course, acted primarily in their own interests, exactly as Mikhail Bakunin predicted when Marx first proposed ‘communism’ under centralised authority and a command economy.

          Since at least the regime of Deng Xiaoping, China has been a State Capitalist system with few pretensions of worker control of anything (not that it was any better under Mao). So in China you still have an elitist economic system under which wealth is distributed primarily upwards (albeit with more mechanisms promoting redistribution than still exists in the West) but the corporations are controlled by the State, whereas in the West it’s the other way around.

          There is no reason in principle that communism can’t be both democratic (as has been demonstrated to some degree in Kerala and West Bengal) and non-hierarchical (as demonstrated in some Republican controlled areas during the Spanish Civil War, in Rojava from 2011 to 2014, the MAREZ areas of Chiapas since 1994 and many indigenous groups worldwide), so to treat ‘communism’ as an antonym for ‘egalitarianism’ or ‘democracy’ is to buy into propaganda stereotypes with no basis in reality.

          Australia’s problem is not availability, but rather the decision to shut down coal

          If by ‘problem’ you mean ‘rising energy costs’ your assertion is an entirely counterfactual one promoted by think-tanks such as the IPA who receive funding from fossil fuel companies.

          The reasons for the increase are multifactorial and include corrupt monopoly control over distribution infrastructure, increased running and maintenance costs for aging coal-fired plants, increased international gas prices (along with Australia’s policy of import-parity pricing) and profit-taking by energy companies using the war in the Ukraine as an excuse to increase margins.

          But probably the biggest single argument against your baseless assertion is the one Australian energy market in which prices have been going down since 2020 – i.e. the ACT, which switched to 100% renewable electricity generation two years ago. In contrast, NSW and QLD, which have the highest dependence on coal fired power generation, have seen the biggest increase in energy bills.

          The simple fact is that renewable power generation in Australia is already cheaper than fossil fuel generation and the difference is set to continue increasing.

          But if by ‘problem’ you mean decreasing returns for investors in fossil fuels, then again you have a point.

          more cleaner nuclear energy

          Perhaps you should talk to former residents of Fukushima or Pripyat or those living in Seascale about how ‘clean’ nuclear energy is. Or even those who’ve worked at Australia’s tiny research and medical isotopes reactor at Lucas Heights, which currently has storerooms full of both low and high level nuclear waste with very high maintenance costs and no viable path to disposing of them.

          The difference with nuclear power generation waste is that, barring an accident, they are usually contained onsite. The problems of disposal are yet to be solved and won’t be cheap (e.g. the cost of fully decommissioning and cleaning up Sellafield has been estimated at £3 billion per year for the next 100 years). What’s more the costs of decommissioning and rehabilitating uranium mine sites is another huge economic can to kick down the road, as recent revelations about the Ranger mine in the NT have demonstrated.

          Nuclear power generation has always been a national vanity project (or, in some cases, a means of producing military grade isotopes and depleted uranium munitions) that has depended on huge government subsidies to maintain financial viability. And despite constant promises of fixes such as fusion power, thorium reactors, pebble-bed reactors and now SMRs being ‘just around the corner’ there’s no reason to think it represents a solution to power problems for the foreseeable future, as the dearth of private investment in the industry for over 20 years demonstrates.

          As for WWII, but for USA’s role in the Pacific in defeating Japan’s arrogant imperialism, Australia would have been completely taken over by the Japs a long time ago!

          Nonsense.

          There was a small fanatical faction in the IJN who proposed an invasion of Australia but it was dismissed as ridiculous by Tojo and the IJA and the IJN General Staff knew full well it couldn’t hope to logistically support such an operation and implacably opposed it. No plans to ‘take over’ Australia were ever made by the Japanese. Your use of a common Australian racist epithet against the Japanese strongly hints you’ve bought into the whole ‘Yellow Peril’ racist myth that has plagued Australia for centuries and continues to shame it to this day.

          Winston Churchill knew this much beforehand and was instrumental in pleading with the USA to help and save Britain and other countries.

          There may have been a slender chance of Britain falling up until mid-1940, but Germany indefinitely postponed the ‘Operation Seelowe’ invasion of the UK in September 1940 and scrapped it in July 1941, five months before the US entered the war.

          Russia just got lucky when winter set in and the Germans underestimated the weather. Ask any war historian and they will agree that Hitler made a massive miscalculation by not going for Moscow’s throat when it was staring him in the face.

          Yes, most military historians agree the ‘Case Blue’ 1942 offensive towards the Caucuses oilfields was a strategic mistake driven by Germany’s increasing oil shortfall as well as its need for morale boosting territorial gains and it would have been better advised to renew its attack on administrative centres in the north, especially Moscow. The neutralisation of the German and Italian fleets by the Royal Navy meant the Axis dream of seizing oilfields in the middle east was already unattainable by August 1942; months before US forces rocked up for Operation Torch.

          But most will also agree that given the decentralisation of Russian administration and industry and the huge transfer of manufacturing plants to the Urals, taking Moscow and/or Leningrad wouldn’t have knocked the USSR out of the war. By mid-1942 the USSR was already outproducing Germany in military equipment and had much greater manpower reserves to draw upon. They also had large reserves of troops, artillery and armour facing Japan to draw upon in an emergency.

          The Operation Uranus encirclement of the German Sixth Army in Stalingrad was a strategic and morale blow the Wehrmacht would never recover from and the Operation Citadel offensive near Kursk eight months later permanently took the initiative into the hands of the Red Army. By the time Allied armies waded ashore in Normandy the only remaining questions were how much of Europe the USSR would occupy and how long it would take. There was no possibility whatsoever of a German victory, with or without the contribution of the Western Allies.

          It seems your understanding of military history comes primarily from Hollywood.

          The problem is greed, per capita consumption and the rapid rise to billionnaire-dom!

          Agreed.

          But the intrinsic need capitalism has for infinite growth despite finite resources and markets and its ‘solution’ via relentless promotion of consumerism is a Very Big Problem with no non-catastrophic solution in sight.

          However if civilisation can give itself a bit of extra breathing space by getting rid of fossil fueled power generation as soon as possible it will increase the chance of eventually finding our way out of this mess without killing off most of the human race and reducing the survivors to hard scrabble existence on a trashed planet.

          Of course it will also mean a huge challenge to the nuclear armed US empire, which is currently highly dependent on control of fossil fuel markets and trade routes, so there’s a serious risk

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          1. Response to Cabrogal:

            Not going to postulate the virtues of communism which is YOUR pet topic .. but suffice to say most of the world does not think much of a system in which a President like Putin can push a referendum to change the consitution of Russia and retain his power until 2036 with not that much of a fuss! Does not say much for “democratic communism” like you put it. It is a ridiculous sham using brute power, no matter how you try to spin it.

            Australian energy: You sound like a page from greenpeace.org.au, with a conspiracy theory or two thrown in for good measure! By the way, have you factored in climate change for your happy go lucky renewables as well? Which way is the wind blowing and how much sunshine is Australia getting these days?! Yes indeed, we can go 100% with renewables by 2030 or 2040,or 2050 and so on .. take your pick!

            There is no denying that, but for the Americans keeping the Japanese busy in the Pacific War from 1941-1945, Japan would have at some stage invaded Australia in some shape or form after having plundered much of SE Asia first to collect all the resources they needed. Doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that no matter how you spin it again. But for the USA’s active presence in the Pacific no country would have been safe from Japanese invasion at some point. The fact that some people in the Japanese navy and military thought that it was not a good idea was early in 1941 and you are missing the broad picture here. The USA stopped them from carrying out their crazy ambitious and pushed them to deperate kamikaze runs in the end. Do you really think that amount of “craziness” would not have invaded Australia but for the USA sticking around and guarding the Pacific from 1941-45?

            Nuclear energy: Your views about nuclear energy are totally outdated like a frog in the well of outback Australia.
            Please let me direct you to some vital education from these resourceful pages, updated Sept 2022.
            https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx
            https://world-nuclear.org/nuclear-essentials/what-is-nuclear-waste-and-what-do-we-do-with-it.aspx
            Please move on from your pitiful examples within Australia of community concerns about health and environmental risks, In such a large resourceful country as Australia these are rather weak excuses for lack of foresight, planning and political will.

            Once again, your argument about Germany not invading Britain is contained to 1941 only and you are missing the broad picture. The USA started to massively arm Europe right from 1940 and formally declared war in Dec 1941. Without America, Britain would have faced a rearmed German force and that was only a matter of time. Previously, at Dunkirk, the Germans missed an excellent opportunity to destroy the British army and invade the Britain. Best guess says that their supply lines were exhausted and stretched at that point. Invasion was inevitable but for the USA along with Churchill’s leadership and rhetoric that the Germans took heed of! Instead the Germans went after the supply routes from USA to Britain in the Atlantic to cut the source. Enough said.

            Your whole Russian fightback scenario is based on postulation. Fact is, the Germans missed the boat to seize the seat of power and take Stalin out. Without Stalin it would have been a lost cause .. remember Baghdad and Saddam Hussein!?

            Fossil fuels: How can civilisation take a breather from fossil fuels (as you put it ) without readily replaceable alternatives and coexisting with the intrinsic nature of humans to keep churning away!? Even developed countries are 60% or more dependent on fossil fuels .. the apocalypse scenarios are by now tired themselves and the scaremongering is counter productive. May be the problem lies in the fact that in some countries fossil fuels are entirely state run and controlled – like in Russia and China?!

            I rest my case and yield for you to have the last word as you helplessly will!

            Tip: Life is shades of grey and not black and white. Embracing the grey is how the world is able to move on and make progress! I would think twice before shredding up other peoples’ legit comments in the first instance.

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            1. Not going to postulate the virtues of communism which is YOUR pet topic .. but suffice to say most of the world does not think much of a system in which a President like Putin can push a referendum to change the consitution of Russia and retain his power until 2036 with not that much of a fuss! Does not say much for “democratic communism” like you put it. It is a ridiculous sham using brute power, no matter how you try to spin it.

              ‘Communism’ doesn’t mean ‘anyone outside US economic hegemony’. It’s an economic system, not even a political system (unlike ‘Marxism’, which is both).

              There is no reality outside of retro Cold War propaganda in which modern Russia is even remotely communist.

              Australian energy: You sound like a page from greenpeace.org.au, with a conspiracy theory or two thrown in for good measure!

              I think the facts speak louder than your parroting of IPA and Murdoch press talking points.

              Fact: The ACT produces 100% renewable electricity and power bills are going down.
              Fact: NSW and QLD have the biggest coal generation component in their grid and power bills are going up faster in those states than anywhere else in Aus.

              There is no denying that, but for the Americans keeping the Japanese busy in the Pacific War from 1941-1945, Japan would have at some stage invaded Australia in some shape or form after having plundered much of SE Asia first to collect all the resources they needed.

              The main Japanese game was always mainland North Asia. It also had territorial designs on the Soviet Union (they fought a series of border wars in the 30s). The strategic material trade boycott against Japan had stalled the IJA in (what’s now) China, so they were strategically compelled to seize rubber and oil sources in SE Asia. They only went to war against the US because US West Pacific colonies (esp the Philippines) threatened the flank of their operations against Dutch and British colonies further south.

              They had no reason whatsoever to try to invade, occupy and garrison Australia and were decades away from gaining the capacity to. Your ‘some stage’ alternate history is pure ‘Yellow Peril’ paranoia.

              Do you really think that amount of “craziness” would not have invaded Australia but for the USA sticking around and guarding the Pacific from 1941-45?

              Are you suggesting something intrinsically crazy about the Japanese?
              How come when Westerners adopt suicidal last stand tactics it’s ‘heroic’ but when other races do it it’s ‘crazy’?
              Might be worth mentioning Biden has been promising “Armageddon” if Putin uses tactical nukes in the Ukraine. That sounds pretty damned crazy to me.

              Nuclear energy: Your views about nuclear energy are totally outdated like a frog in the well of outback Australia.
              Please let me direct you to some vital education from these resourceful pages, updated Sept 2022.

              Oh, promotional material from the nuclear industry. Just what we need to enlighten and reassure us.

              Just like the assurances we’d have clean fusion power by 1965, 1975, 1985 … Just like the assurances thorium reactors would solve all the waste problems by 2000. Just like the assurances the Fukushima reactors couldn’t possibly melt down that continued even after one of them already had.

              And of course they’re spruiking the 55% of Ukrainian generating capacity produced by nuclear even as their government (and the UN) is warning of catastrophe for all Europe if fighting triggers another Ukrainian nuclear disaster.

              Nice to see you use such reliable, responsible references.

              There are loads of problems with nuclear power generation, but one of the biggest is the way the decommissioning Ponzi scheme plays so well to market capitalism.

              You get approval for a plant, promising to take care of decommissioning and clean up along with cost estimates from experts on the payroll that assume no accidents over the life of the plant and a load of pie-in-the-sky future tech that will make cleaning up a piece of cake. Perhaps you even set aside funds to cover that estimate. You run the plant for a few decades, extracting profits for shareholders. By decommissioning time the costs have blown out by at least an order of magnitude. You can now declare bankruptcy and leave it to someone else (probably taxpayers) to pick up the tab, as with Sellafield, but there’s a better option. You can apply for approval for several new nuclear plants on the basis that the profits from the new ones will fund the decommissioning of the old one. You’ve now kicked the can down the road by multiplying the size of the problem.

              Either way, nuclear power is by far the most expensive generation technology per GWe around. It’s just that the overwhelming bulk of the cost is externalised.

              From one of your nuclear power puff pieces:
              “The electricity generated from nuclear reactors results in small amount of waste and has been managed responsibly since the dawn of civil nuclear power.”

              Yeah, because those spent rod waste ponds in Fukushima were just so responsible. Especially when they started boiling off the water covering them and approaching combustion point while the plant was still too hot to send in ground teams to replenish it. Over a year later the ponds were still threatening another Fukushima nuclear disaster even worse than the first. Meanwhile the huge volume of contaminated water at the site is still being ‘managed responsibly’ by dumping it in the ocean.

              And just in case you feel like blaming the tsunami, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has estimated that a fire at the spent fuel facility at the Peach Bottom plant would force the indefinite evacuation of 3.46 million people.

              Yep. “Managed responsibly” all right. Sure do love your corporate propaganda, don’t you Arvind?

              Without America, Britain would have faced a rearmed German force and that was only a matter of time. Previously, at Dunkirk, the Germans missed an excellent opportunity to destroy the British army and invade the Britain.

              Nonsense.

              Even without US help the Kriegsmarine never had the capacity to mount a cross Channel invasion against the Royal Navy. Their plan was to degrade the RAF to the point where German naval bombers could begin a war of attrition against the RN until Seelowe became feasible, but as was the case so often in WWII, Goering’s boundless confidence in the Luftwaffe proved overblown.

              The main path to victory in the Battle of Britain was through the radar stations and the Bletchley Park code breakers, neither of which owed anything to Uncle Sam. Once the Luftwaffe had been denied the possibility of air superiority over the Channel and North Sea the war on the Eastern Front ensured Hitler would never again be able to consider an invasion of Britain.

              Admittedly, the ‘bases for old destroyers’ deal the UK cut with the US helped turn the tide in the U-boat war (though not as much as cracking the Enigma ciphers did) but all that meant was faster replenishment of British armour and artillery after Dunkirk and less hardship for British civilians. A full scale invasion of Britain was never on the cards. German troops wouldn’t have reached the beachheads and the German navy would have ended in the bottom of the Channel.

              Your whole Russian fightback scenario is based on postulation

              … says the guy who predicted a Japanese invasion of Australia that never even reached the drawing board and a counterfactual Operation Barbarossa in which the Germans were properly prepared for the Russian winter.

              If we’re going to go for alternate history scenarios, how about one in which Mussolini didn’t bite off more than he could chew in the Balkans, the Germans didn’t have to invade Yugoslavia and Greece to protect their southern flank, Operation Barbarossa was launched almost two months earlier in accordance with its original schedule and the USSR collapsed before winter set in.

              Now you’ve got all the Axis powers linked by land supply and deployment routes, Soviet resources and manpower in German hands, German troops pouring south through the Caucuses to open another front against British oil colonies in the middle east, Franco and Inonu seeing the writing on the wall and declaring for the Axis, Gibraltar and the Suez canal falling, turning the Mediterranean into an Axis pond, Britain having to send reinforcements and supplies to/from Asia around the Cape, massively increasing their vulnerability and Hitler as undisputed master of Europe.

              So you see, it wasn’t the US that saved Europe from the Nazis. It was Italy.

              Without Stalin it would have been a lost cause .. remember Baghdad and Saddam Hussein!?

              Now whose postulating again?

              There were plenty of people in the USSR ready to take the reins if Stalin died. And the idea he would have sat around in Moscow and waited for the Germans to take him out is kinda far-fetched, don’t you think?

              Unlike Saddam (or Hitler in ’45), Stalin had vast territories to run to. There was already a fully developed alternative capital at Kuybyshev and Lenin’s body had been evacuated to Tyumen. I really can’t see Joe sitting in the Kremlin waiting to help the Gestapo with their inquiries if Moscow was about to fall.

              Fossil fuels: How can civilisation take a breather from fossil fuels (as you put it ) without readily replaceable alternatives

              It doesn’t have to. There already are readily deployable alternatives that would have been fully deployed in Australia by now if the government had invested its massive fossil fuel subsidies over the past 20 years into renewables instead. Anyone who thinks otherwise has been smoking too much murdoch.

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            2. Another simple fact – not postulation – is that from July 1941 to April 1945 the Red Army tied up between 75% and 80% of German divisions, except for a two month hiatus during the Second Ardennes Offensive (“Battle of the Bulge”) when the proportion briefly dropped to 65%.

              But Uncle Sam still likes to take all the credit for defeating the Nazis. And his sycophants are happy to parrot him.

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              1. Excellent study, and logic indeed!

                It was the Japs who made the biggest blunder during WW II. Had they attacked Russia instead of the USA, the Axis Powers had a good chance to win. Or had the Japs stayed out of the War, Hitler would probably had retained his continental conquests. But autocratic regimes howsoever advanced are directed inexorably by greed, and they make wrong decisions .

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                1. Had they attacked Russia instead of the USA, the Axis Powers had a good chance to win.

                  It’s a bit hard to say.

                  By late ’41 the Japanese war economy was suffering badly from lack of oil and rubber. The USSR had a heck of a lot of room for strategic withdrawal across Mongolia and Siberia before the Japanese could have seized any useful resources. What’s more, the terrain is particularly suited to tank battles in which the Japanese were at a decided disadvantage; as Georgi Zhukov demonstrated to them in the 1939 Battle of Khalkhin Gol.

                  Japan had already snaffled up much of Imperial Russia’s far eastern iron and coal resources in the 1904-05 war and grabbed more of the same along with cropland from Manchuria in 1931-35 so there was little more for them to gain in taking territory off the Soviets and the cost would have been high.

                  Doubtless pressure from the IJA would have prevented some of the veteran Soviet units and commanders on the Manchurian front from being redeployed against the Germans at Moscow in 1941 and again near Stalingrad in 1942, but it’s not clear that would have proved decisive.

                  Japanese commanders knew they couldn’t defeat the US but hoped they’d inflict enough early damage to persuade the US to negotiate a peace settlement and return to its earlier isolationism while Japan occupied British and Dutch possessions in SE Asia and gained enough resources to finish its war in China.

                  There was still a lot of pro-fascist sentiment in the US in 1941 and the Japanese hoped it would come to the fore if they humiliated the Roosevelt government with some major defeats.

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  6. Very well written article. Kudos to daughter and father for a wonderful and thought provoking analysis.
    Definitely US has its own game plan for every country individually. Since india is holding its head high US started selling upgraded F 16 ‘s to Pakistan only to keep india on check. The reason they gave for upgraded F 16 is very frivolous stating that Pakistan has to fight its internal enemy.

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  7. Very well written, and researched article. Thank you to you Anand, and to your daughter Shloka. You have added to an interesting debate and generated a healthy discussion in the comments. I fear the UK is so intent on destroying itself that it has little time, and very little influence, to get involved in such intrigue!

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  8. Very interesting & informative analysis of not only current war situation but geopolitics as well . There are bound to be different views amongst those who keep themselves abreast of current affairs. I found very informative views of those who commented on original analysis of Anand & Shaloka .It is amazing that your daughter has put in efforts in analytics of a very complex situation . At this age majority of teenagers are hooked up to social media & I find very few updated on world scenario.My salute & blessings to brilliant Shaloka . Kudos to your brilliantly analysed & well written very scary world scenario. India is bound to feel very strong repercussions.

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  9. I don’t think the moral high ground can be assigned to Russia. Dictatorships such as Putin’s with support for Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Syria, and China should make Russia a pariah, well deserved. Pragmatism has its place, but pragmatism can not be used as an excuse to give in to autocratic states.

    As usual your writing is excellent. In this case, your argument seems to support giving in to dictatorships to keep the peace. I would rather die than allow dictatorships to rule the world. Pragmatism holds no weight for me when confronting authoritarians.

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  10. Wow – what a great article. I echo the sentiments of many of your commenters – great work and congrats to Shloka as well! It was really cool to see the newspaper where it was published too!

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  11. Fascinating analysis. When in Spain recently, I came across a very simple graffito: ‘Paz Y Ciencia’ (Peace and Science (or Knowledge)). That’s precisely what the whole world needs now.

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  12. Thoroughly insightful, clearly reasoned, well-researched, and wonderfully written. This certainly helped me put some of the pieces together, of this sad and tragic matrix of conflict and war. Thank you!

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  13. Wonderfully researched and presented, Anand. I find politics distasteful, and look upon it as a game of getting more than you give, and striking down those who pose a potential threat in the form of opposition or an alternate level of logic and reasoning. It seems like bullies trying to take advantage of the missteps and idiocies of the other, and inflicting blows that may be personal gains but will eventually sink everyone involved in some way or the other. Truly sad and tragic. Congratulations on the newspaper publication. And Shloka is a rising star to look out for. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

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  14. Good read, clarifying the intentions behind war. Congratulations to you and your daughter Shloka for in depth study & analysis. My grandson too is in 12th std

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  15. What a Excellent analysis !! Great insights. Starting to wonder why India prefers to stay cordial with the USA instead of being Friend. They know how cunning the friend can become.

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  16. Dear Anand,

    What a fantastic in-depth analysis of the whole terrible situation
    .Amazed at Sholakas contribution.

    Needless to say you continue to amaze me ( just like your mom) with all your amazing blogs.
    Thank you

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  17. When you live in such a politically polarized country as I do right now it’s difficult to discern the facts of issues like this. Thanks for giving me some insight from a European perspective.

    Like

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