The Nord Stream Whodunit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

A brief look at the state of modern discourse proves the English language is a living thing, continuing to evolve. Even as the obnoxious menagerie of four-letter words has stampeded out of the vulgarian’s once exclusive cultural cul-de-sac, many self-evident everyday expressions have disappeared behind the Iron Curtain of Wokedom, replaced by bewildering obfuscation. If anyone actually read Orwell’s Animal Farm, they might grow alarmed.

As the swirling maelstrom of cultural dissonance shatters the once solid ground beneath us, the sharp edges of rocks exposed by the tremors require new distinctions be made in once familiar terrain. One such, the acronym MSM, has gained currency in the past half dozen years. MSM began as an acronym for the MainStream Media but now more pointedly refers to the “responsible media”, specifically excluding Fox News et alia spreading disinformation among the rubes.

As Fox News is specifically excluded from the ranks of the “responsible media”, one must jump to the logical conclusion that Fox News is the “irresponsible media”. Interestingly enough, Fox News is by far the most watched news media in the United States. Obviously this says something about those entrusted with a platform to proclaim on such issues, as well as we the “irresponsible” viewers.

As evidence presented in the Dominion Voting Systems v Fox News lawsuit proceeding through the Delaware court system shows quite clearly, “irresponsible” is in fact not a slanderous description of the Fox News network. Defenders of Fox pointing out the numerous failings of the MSM miss the point. Mendacity is a weed grown thick in the garden of American discourse, both Adorable and Deplorable.

The media, both responsible and irresponsible, emblazon the 1st Amendment’s words on their masthead in a manner familiar to the fans of Gothic horror – a Catholic priest holding a crucifix high in a demon haunted lair. The 1st Amendment, brandished like that priest’s crucifix, is a cornerstone of American freedom, honored and exploited in equal measure quoted here in part;

“Congress shall make no law . . prohibiting . . . the freedom of the press”

Thomas Jefferson said that “our freedom depended on a free press”, while James Madison called it a “bulwark of our liberty”. A very large corpus of case law developed since our nation’s founding has put the press/media beyond any and all oversight except that rendered by the blunt force trauma of the marketplace.

While the Founding Father’s expressed their thoughts on a free press clearly and memorably, a Google search for more modern quotes on the free press reinforce one’s suspicions about the deleterious effect of overeducation in our culture and body politic.

In browsing through contemporary thinking on a free press and the 1st Amendment, one senses a confusion about its purpose beyond the self-interested motto of Silicon Valley (information wants to be free) uneasily co-existing with various formulations of the social justice warrior’s creed dominating modern newsrooms.

But despite modern confusion as to its purpose, the Founding Fathers were very clear about the “why” of a free press. Under no illusions as to the nature of mankind, the Founding Fathers recognized the need for government in the affairs of men, but they quite rightly feared that same government. By setting in place a free press to expose those actions our government desires to keep secret, the Founding Fathers hoped to protect our freedom from its most virulent enemy – our own government.

And so it is with some interest one considers the behavior of our “free press” in what is perhaps the biggest unreported story of the past year. On Sept 26 of 2022, seismographs in Sweden and Denmark recorded two seismic events in the Baltic Sea some 18 hours apart, measuring 2.3 & 2.1 respectively on the Richter Scale.

Seismologists associated with the monitoring networks determined them to be almost certainly explosions, estimated at 100 kilograms of dynamite each and triangulated to a location near the Danish island of Bornholm. Coincidentally, this put the explosions in the near vicinity of the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines.

In the hours following the explosions it quickly became clear that something had happened to damage these natural gas pipelines. Aerial and satellite reconnaissance showed a greatly agitated sea surface nearly ½ mile wide above the pipes’ location. Soon afterward, underwater site investigations quickly revealed the damage to be sabotage, not malfunction or nature.

Three out of the four individual pipelines had been blown apart by what could only be well placed explosives, not only well placed but specifically engineered. Each of these four pipelines is 48” in diameter with high strength steel walls 1 ½” thick. As a matter of perspective, the armor of the battleship Missouri at its top section is 1 5/8”, but the steel of the Missouri’s armor is of much lesser quality.  In addition, the pipeline steel is covered in nearly 4 ½” of concrete and in a water depth of 250 feet. Chunks of concrete and steel were thrown in wide circles around the explosion site, with tattered steel ribbons trailing out 20 feet from the ruined line.

This section of the Baltic is not some isolated and little traveled corner of the world. If nothing else, the strategic nature of the Nord Stream pipelines necessitates frequent monitoring. Clearly substantial technical expertise and extensive support infrastructure would be necessary to plant precisely placed explosives at a depth of 250 feet in the tight time frames necessary to evade detection in such a heavily patrolled and monitored area.

Such expertise and infrastructure would require the sabotage to be the act of a nation state capable of operating significant naval assets in the Baltic Sea; even more so a navy with extensive experience in these northern waters. Visions of a terrorist Danny Ocean and an Oceans 11 scenario fail to the meet the test of reality.

This is truly a mind-boggling scenario and one would expect the press to fiercely investigate. This is Pulitzer Prize winning stuff. The Nord Stream pipelines were built to transport Russian natural gas to Germany. From this gas flow, Germany meets its own energy needs and then acts as a well-paid broker supplying the rest of Europe. This sabotage happens at a time when Russia is at war with the Ukraine, a Ukraine being somewhat fractiously supported by the nations heavily dependent on this gas supply.

Nord Stream 1 & 2 transport a large part of Germany’s energy supply and represent a significant portion of the cash keeping a financially strapped Russian economy afloat. They are a strategic asset worth $25B and majority owned by Gazprom, a Russian State owned enterprise.

With winter coming, the loss of this natural gas was expected be a substantial hardship for the Germans as well as the rest of Europe. Clearly, the destruction of Nord Stream pipelines is an act of war, little different from the U-Boat blockades of the 20th Century’s World Wars. And let it be noted that these U-boat blockades were a major reason propelling America into those European conflicts – “Remember the Lusitania” as well as the Lend Lease program.

Instead of the expected 24/7 news extravaganza, there is a brief flurry of interest by the press, both responsible and irresponsible – mainly pictures of the sea’s surface being violently agitated by the venting pipeline gas. At the time, it seems the press has much bigger game afoot. After all Donald Trump is bloviating while AOC and MTG are dueling clowns with the mid-term elections only six weeks away. The clown car of American politics trumps all else.

One imagines there is also a clear case of conflicted interests in press reporting. For some two decades, the MSM has invested its credibility in the absolute evil of fossil fuels and the need for their use to be stopped, the sooner the better. The only thing standing between the glories of a renewable and sustainable future is the evil fossil fuel interests. As for pipelines, they are taboo – the handiwork of the Devil himself.

To focus reader/viewer’s interest on the disruption and hardship caused by their interruption would be counterproductive to the long running MSM editorial focus. One might as well expect the gospels of the New Testament to be attentive to the hardships caused in Hell by those unfortunate demons evicted in the miracles of Jesus.

One must also realize here the simple ignorance of the whole subject within the MSM. The MSM long ago retreated from any internal knowledge of energy and pipelines, contenting themselves to simply regurgitate the platitudes of climate warriors.

It is human nature, when clueless or confused, to revert to the familiar. And so coverage afforded the Nord Stream sabotage by the MSM soon bastardizes itself into talking heads moaning of the “environmental catastrophe” created by the pipeline’s contents venting into the atmosphere. After all, it is an article of faith in the MSM that cow farts are a major cause of Climate Change and the natural gas vented from the ruptured pipelines is a cow fart of enormous proportions.

The irresponsible press, i.e. Fox News, gives it more play, but its heart is clearly not in it. As the Dominion Voter v Fox News lawsuit materials prove, Fox News is clearly in an ambivalent position. Conservative media has stoked the fires of distrust in its audience into an inferno over the years, thereby creating a monster. They now serve a willful demographic demanding unquestioned allegiance to its chimera else seeking other media more solicitous of its concerns. One must understand that Fox News is a business, an entertainment business, and like any other successful business – “the customer is always right”.

Despite the issue having been given a hard pass by the free press, a very serious question is demanding of an answer, or at least a serious investigation – who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines? This is a question the Founding Fathers might well have thought the free press should pursue with some diligence. Perhaps getting to the bottom of the Nord Stream sabotage is why we have the 1st Amendment.

It was the George Orwell of Animal Farm fame, a writer intimately acquainted with leadership’s propensity to lie, who expressed the duties of journalists in payment for the protections of the 1st Amendment –

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

World War I began because of a small band of revolutionaries. Gavrilo Princip got in a lucky shot at the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the armies of Europe marched. Destroying three 48” pipelines under 250 feet of water is not the act of a small band of revolutionaries, nor is it lucky. It is the deliberate and considered act of a major nation state possessing significant naval assets, much more like Pearl Harbor than the assassination of Austrian Grand Duke Ferdinand.

But who did this? How might the free press find out? As the esteemed Roman jurist Cicero once asked – “Cui bono (Who benefits)”? The Watergate Hearings popularized another maxim expressing the same wisdom – “Follow the money!”

In so far as the MSM was interested in the who, Russia was the pat answer. An answer that need not be questioned.  It’s useful to have a bad guy that everybody knows is the bad guy for the benefit of those in the audience slow on the uptake. Back in the heyday of the White Patriarchy, it was the cowboys wearing black hats. Today on Netflix or Amazon Prime, the straight white guy has become the suspect to bet on.

But even as the talking heads on MSM blamed “the Russki’s”, it just didn’t pass the smell test. Most successful District Attorneys hesitate to prosecute, no matter the evidence, unless they can also present a credible motive. And that is a problem here. Why would the Russians blow up their own pipeline? Cui bono indeed! Who destroys a $25B asset when you can simply close a pipeline valve? Who butchers a prolific cash cow when money is desperately needed for the Ukrainian War?

There was a very large elephant in the room, and this elephant like most elephants in such circumstances, was studiously ignored. The MSM realized that blaming Russia too loudly and too long might lead to the audience beginning to think rather than virtue signal. After all the logic behind a Russian origin to the destruction was so blatantly unlikely, the more perceptive might start asking uncomfortable questions. For its part, Fox News, understanding the pro-military MAGA sympathies of its audience, had its own reasons for soft pedaling the issue.

The implications of the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage, the tactical and strategic rationales behind it, are a jagged splinter of realism threatening the dreamy bubble of American and European lotus eaters. Is the bubble in danger of popping? For decades now, those who lead us, instruct us and inform us have expected us to acquiesce in believing a Broadway play, The Lion King, to be a realistic look at life on the Serengeti Plain. The destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline is a glimpse of Mufasa tearing great bloodied chunks out of a mangled carcass at the waterhole’s edge.

Germany, the great beneficiary of Nord Stream 1 & 2, certainly feels the pain, but Germany is probably only the first in a long line of toppling dominoes. German energy policy prior to the Ukraine War resembled young Jack Trott in the fairy tale – Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack traded the family cow for some “magic beans”. In the case of Germany, they traded a secure domestic coal and nuclear energy supply for the “magic beans” of renewable energy.

Industry is highly energy intensive, and Germany is the industrial powerhouse of Europe, manufacturing and exporting on an enormous scale. The sainted Angela Merkel had been the belle of the “Green Ball” applauded and idolized on the world stage for closing Germany’s coal and nuclear power plants. But industrial powerhouses require more than “Green” promises. One doesn’t shut down Siemen’s manufacturing plants because the sun is not shining.

Russia was broke and needed foreign exchange, making them eager sellers. Germany needed cheap energy to fuel its industrial exports, making them eager buyers. Enormous supplies of cheap Russian gas supplied through the Nord Stream pipelines etal had made Germany’s economy hum even as Angela Merkel basked in the sunshine of Greta Thunberg’s smile. But now the big bad Giant is sniffing the air and thundering “Fee fi fo fum. I smell the ruin of a German economy.”

Consider if you will – the wholesale price of natural gas at Germany’s border in 2019 averaged around $4 per million BTU’s. The price during 2022 after the Russian invasion of the Ukraine has ranged from $20 to $69. Germany depends on the profits from its exports to support the social compact it has with its people, and with the European Union which it dominates.

After the Nord Stream destruction, there was a brief period of hand wringing – “Germany would freeze in the coming winter!” As we now look back over that winter, that alarm has been replaced by smug self-congratulation. The talking heads tell us – “Germany did just fine. No one froze.” True enough, Germany just did the logical thing – buying LNG on the world market to replace Russian pipeline gas.

But unsaid is that $4 gas has been replaced by $20 gas. Cheap energy fueling heavy industry has been a big part of why Germany is an export powerhouse. Over the past fifteen years, cheap nuclear and coal fired power were gradually replaced with cheap Russian natural gas. The German export machine rolled on.

But now the cost of that natural gas in Germany is up at least 500%.  There will be consequences, serious consequences for the Germany and the European Union. The thing about energy is – it is seriously important! Ever since the beginning of the Industrial Age, it is arguably the most important factor in any economy, driving the actions of nations.

Remember the movie Lawrence of Arabia? It wasn’t about brave Saudi “freedom fighters”, it was about a secure oil supply for the Royal Navy. Britain took over the Middle East in WWI to own its oil. Continental Europe did the same in SE Asia and North Africa. British Petroleum, Total and Shell all began as creatures in their government’s service.

When President Roosevelt cut off Japan from American oil supplies on July 26, 1941, Pearl Harbor little more than four months later was a foregone conclusion as was the simultaneous Japanese invasion of SE Asia. Admiral Chester Nimitz began WWII saying that victory depended on “beans, bullets and black oil”. The experience of combat caused him to rearrange their priority to “black oil, bullets and beans”.

When Jimmy Carter took office in 1976, the average price of gasoline in the United States was $0.61/gallon. Four years later in 1980, the average price was $1.25 and Ronald Reagan was elected President. Daniel Yergin’s, “The Prize”, is worth reading, a great book chronicling the complex interwoven dependencies of energy, politics and power over the past century.

Our leadership, the prosperous elites of the Adorable world schooled in law and politics, are contemptuously ignorant of the structure upon which their prosperity rests, its nuts and bolts. Hubris makes them dismissive of it, an attitude well expressed by Mike Florio, former Commissioner on the California Public Utility Commission, in a recent off the cuff comment to the LA Times:

“It’s the California way – set the goal and then figure out how to get there. Policy is forcing technology.”

As our leaders see it, it is leadership’s job to direct industry to walk on water, allowing said leadership to then go on to other more important problems. Leadership can then enjoy the fruits of their labors having done their job – and done it well. Evidently the need to celebrate the folk tales of diverse populations has crowded out the story of King Canute from Ivy League curriculums.

And so in obedience to their better’s dictates, industry copes with the situation. It is now up to industry to walk the talk as there is water out there with no miracle worker on the horizon. While industry may lack the lese majeste bestowed on graduates of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, their intimate relationship with reality gives them a certain native cunning.

Understanding the consequences of jettisoning coal, oil and nuclear sources of energy, natural gas can be given a hasty green paint job. Thanks to America’s fracking revolution and Russia’s need for hard money, natural gas was cheap enough during the first two decades of the 21st Century to begin replacing coal and nuclear in Adorable neighborhoods with only moderate rate increases. Thus the illusion of a stroll on the lake’s surface allows everyone, except the somewhat discomfited ratepayers, a peaceful life.

With the onset of the Ukrainian War however, cheap Russian gas no longer flows through pipelines into Europe. Germany in particular is now forced to purchase liquified natural gas (LNG) on the open market with the result that prices for LNG have skyrocketed. Those countries previously already dependent on LNG – China, Japan and South Korea – now must compete with Germany. LNG prices were at the $6.50 per million BTU’s before the Ukrainian War. Since then, they have increased sharply as well as being highly volatile, having ranged from $20 to $100 over the past six months.

One must look at the current Chinese/Russian tete a tete within this context. China consumes natural resources with a truly voracious appetite and the Chinese appreciate the fact that natural gas is not only a fuel, but also an important petrochemical feed stock. In the underreported news, one also learns that two key American allies, Japan and South Korea, are deep in new talks with Russia, with Japan now signing up for long term Russian oil supply contracts. So much for the United States declaring Russia a “pariah nation”.

Fueled by the prolific but much reviled domestic gas industry, America is largely insulated from the worst consequences of the upheaval in world energy prices caused by the Ukrainian War. Currently America’s ability to export natural gas is relatively curtailed because of limited liquification capacity. Even so, the US emerged as the world’s largest LNG exporter in 2022. But with US natural gas prices hovering around $3 while world prices are many multiples of that, one can expect a boom in the construction of LNG liquefication facilities with seriously negative consequences for American rate payers.

Our insulation from the consequences of our fantasies has allowed us to continue in our reverie. The MSM continues to be consumed by the “woke agenda”, treating it with an obsequious and deferential importance rather than as an odiferous effluence from the decaying carcass of our decadent academic institutions.

And so for the past five months, the MSM has been defaulting to its editorial bias, running videos celebrating ace Ukrainian female snipers while reporting on the war’s damage done to the effort to combat Climate Change. One suspects that teams of CNN stringers have been scouring the Ukraine’s front lines in search of LGBTQ/BIPOC infantrymen to interview.

But then a Pulitzer Prize winning gadfly has had the temerity to point out the large piles of smelly brown stuff everyone had been avoiding. Seymour Hersh published a long and detailed account of how the Nord Stream pipelines were destroyed. Mr. Hersh has a lengthy but checkered history of writing exposes of government misdeeds, US Government misdeeds in particular. One might think of him as a journalist in the genre of Geraldo Riviera, though more cynical and less photogenic.

While there is more than a whiff of the conspiracy theorist to Seymour Hersh, no one in journalism today better demonstrates a body of work in keeping with George Orwell’s prescription of how it should be done. Mr. Hersh has a long string of notable scoops in his career, winning the Pulitzer Prize back in the day before it became a burlesque of “woke” pieties. If there is a theme to Mr. Hersh’s work, it is a belief shared by the Founding Fathers that our government, if given a chance, will regularly lie to us. Certainly the past few years have lent credence to this belief, i.e. the many iterations of Covid befuddlement, FBI & CIA shenanigans, Hunter Biden, Russian disinformation, etc.

Fifty years ago, it was Seymour Hersh breaking the story of the My Lai massacre, followed over the years by more scoops, i.e. Cambodian excursions, the CIA’s domestic wiretapping of the Vietnam era anti-war movement, Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program, the existence of the Abu Ghraib prison and its abuses, Pakistani involvement in the killing of Osama bin Laden, etc. It must be noted that he has numerous misfires as well, most notably doubting Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the Sept. 11 Twin Towers and alleging that Richard Nixon beat his wife. Even so, he does have an enviable batting average.

Seymour Hersh’s account claims that the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged by a joint operation of the US and Norwegian Navy under cover of the 22nd annual NATO naval war game in the Baltic, BALTOPS-22. These maneuvers were conducted near the explosion site some three months before at which time the explosives were planted. On Sept. 22, the in-place explosives were remotely detonated. The combination of Norwegian experience in North Sea offshore platforms and American naval competency certainly meets the requirements of the sabotage.

Published on Feb. 8, the reactions of US, Norwegian and United Nations spokesmen made the expected statements, claiming Hersh’s report to be “false”, “completely false”, “utterly false and complete fiction”. While I am in no position to have an informed opinion, the mendacity displayed by these spokesmen over the past few years lends little credibility to their pronouncements. Even as official organs shamelessly imitate the inimitable Leslie Nielson in the movie classic, The Smoking Gun, our “free press” is notable for their complete lack of interest in pursuing the story.

I believe this all lends a certain believability to Mr. Hersh’s account. In my opinion, it checked a lot of boxes, being credibly detailed with a very detailed timeline of the clandestine project. The artless official denials coupled with the studied indifference of the domesticated media also makes one prone to belief. Sherlock Holmes once solved a mystery by puzzling over why “the dog did not bark”. Our “free press” is not barking, making one wonder – Why?.

Seymour Hersh’s expose also provides the District Attorney’s need – a motive. One must measure the logic of Hersh’s claims against the geopolitical background of the incident. The Nord Stream pipelines were built despite the very strong opposition of the United States doing everything short of armed coercion to stop their construction.

Numerous American public officials over two decades have been quoted promising action and threatening reprisals. Perhaps most recent and notable was President Biden saying in an interview just prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “If Russia invades . . . . there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2”. When asked how that could happen as Germany is in control of the pipeline, President Biden responded – “I promise you: We will be able to do it.”

Well, here we are and if Seymour Hersh is to believed, indeed we were “able to do it”. The Nord Stream pipeline is toast with the United States looking like the only straight white guy in a Netflix movie populated by a cast of sympathetic LGBTQ+ and BIPOC actors.

Why is the US so opposed to Nord Stream, such that they would commit such a risky act? Certainly responsible leaders would recognize the dangers in such a move. Why would we purposefully cause harm to the interests of an important ally, an ally we expected to support us without question? Why would we pressure Germany to end its domestic coal and nuclear energy even as we destroyed their substitute? A valid question with answers only known to future historians. But of course, bloggers are expected to speculate and I must be true to expectations of my craft.

A bedrock of American foreign policy is supporting (and dominating) the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO. Brought into being in 1949, NATO had two major purposes. The first was resistance to Soviet expansionism, while the second was less obvious – preventing a resurgent European nationalism that might cause another European war.

With the end of the USSR and dissolution of the Warsaw Pact thirty years ago, NATO became a military alliance in search of a mission. Its secondary purpose of preventing military adventures by nations on the European continent was all that remained. The idea of universal membership seemed attractive to the spirit of triumphalism then prevailing.  And so expansion was pursued diligently with little thought given to the wisdom of such expansion.

But the successful expansion of the membership diluted NATO’s sense of common purpose even as the lack of external threat continued to drain vitality from the alliance. America continued dominating the organization which pleased our national ego even as it irritated Europe, particularly Germany. But at the same time, the financial burdens required to maintain that dominance irritated America’s electorate. The fact that America’s European NATO allies contributed little but lip service to the alliance exacerbated America’s irritation.

A voluntary association of diverse membership and commonality with a single dominant member and committed to diffuse and obtuse goals is trouble waiting to happen. Under the umbrella of the American military, the nations of Europe enjoyed peace and prosperity, giving little thought to anything except the commerce facilitated by that security, enjoying a free ride on the US military.

In fact, NATO membership began to be seen more as an entree into lucrative trading relationships, the key to a prosperous future, rather than a military alliance. While this attitude of “kumbaya” is useful for PR, the adults in the room know that it will not last. Left to themselves, nations resemble children. Mothers through the ages have relied on “a bogeyman” to keep the kids in line and the aforementioned adults in the room understood how that idea applied to nations.

For the past several years Russia has filled the “bogeyman” role for NATO. But returning to the first decade in this century, one remembers a very different view of Russia by US policymakers. The Presidential debates of 2012 featured the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, calling Russia “our number one geopolitical foe”. His opponent, President Obama belittled him, memorably made a snarky comeback much repeated on Jimmy Kimmel and SNL skits, “the 1980’s are now calling and asking for their foreign policy back”.

It should be remembered that only six months earlier President Obama had been caught out on a “hot mike” imploring Vladimir Putin to tone it down on the Ukraine until after the 2012 election. Then President Obama “would have more flexibility”. One wonders what manner of “flexibility” might be needed?

Flexibility indeed. Two years later, the “flexibility” question is answered. Russian troops invaded the Ukraine, annexing the Crimea and a significant chunk of Eastern Ukraine. At the time, the US was “flexible”, adopting an attitude of studied indifference. When Russia saw it to be in their interests in 2015, they entered the Syrian civil war with substantial military force. Informed opinion believed the Russian intervention to have been at the invitation of the US.

But in 2022, when Russia moves to bite off another chunk of the Ukraine, the American attitude is totally different. Russia is now the evil regime and must be opposed in the Ukraine. Herding cats, America pushes the individual members of NATO to fall in line with American wishes on the Ukraine. NATO must stand united – just behind the front lines, providing arms, money and support. What changed in Washington DC?

One is tempted to say –“There was a Magnitude 10 earthquake – 2016 and Donald Trump’s election”. Trump’s election was so unreal it could not be believed by anyone other than simpletons. There had to be skullduggery behind Trump’s election. Official Washington and the MSM become heavily invested in the idea of “Russian meddling”.

Desperate to brand the Trump Presidency illegitimate, spurious “intelligence” of Russian interference is bandied about Washington and the MSM, used by those disappointed and those desperate to conceal their own criminal behavior in the election. There are accusations by people in responsible positions that Trump is a Russian puppet, bought and paid for by V. Putin.

This malign Russian miasma, created by rumor and driven by political calculation, acquires a life of its own. President Trump is brought up for impeachment – twice. The baseless accusations are endlessly repeated driving sequential “investigations”. As a consequence of Adorable America’s revulsion to Donald Trump coupled with Deplorable America’s never having lost its suspicion of a communist Russia, Russia becomes the “enemy” in the American imagination.

Fast forward two years post-Trump. Russia invades the Ukraine, a Ukraine without membership in NATO. The Ukraine is simply another former Republic in the United Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) not so different from Georgia, another country where Russia adjusted a former Republic’s  border to little outcry from the US or NATO.  And as noted, a previous invasion of the Ukraine to adjust the border had passed with little remark.

But this time Washington jumps to the barricades, pressing its NATO allies into concerted action in support. There is a varied response. Nations bordering the Ukraine such as Poland need no encouragement. Nations like Turkey, traditionally friendly to Russia before the cancer that was the USSR, are notably cool.

But German support is key. Germany has been developing closer ties with Russia, entering into sensible commercial agreements due to their mutual interests and propinquity. Germany allows Russia to become its key source of energy. Germany is also increasingly cool to the United States, resenting American dominance even as it enjoys the benefit of NATO, remaining a passive “free rider” regarding its defense.

Active German participation in Ukrainian support will go a long way to reassure many other NATO states concerned that resisting Russia will harm their interests, most notably continued access to energy and German loans. But while Germany is content to provide lip service, substantive military support is hesitant. How does America prod Germany into action, push them off the fence?

As usual, history provides interesting analogies. In 1519, a Spanish adventurer by the name of Hernan Cortez gathered a force of 300 men and 11 ships on the island of Cuba. In due time Cortez sailed to the mainland with the idea of leading his men into the interior, seeking to secure Mexico for the Spanish crown as well as make his own fortune.

Things happened as they explored the coast of Yucatan. Unfortunately the resort complexes of Cancun were still in the future and the expedition found the coast of Yucatan to be a land of unbroken and discouraging jungle. At the same time, Cortez, a combative man, fell at odds with the Spanish administration in Cuba. They revoked his commission, demanding his return. But during this time, Cortez had also learned of the fabulously wealthy Aztec civilization inland.

Cortez along with his fractious personality harbored a burning ambition for wealth, power and fame. He decided to ignore the hazards of the jungle as well as the orders of his superiors and march inland. His men, while sharing his ambition, viewed the risk reward ratio somewhat differently. They began to waver in their dedication to fame and fortune, perhaps thinking discretion to be the better part of valor. Mutiny became a distinct possibility.

And so, Cortez landed his expedition near present day Veracruz to rest his men, find water and fresh food. In the night, he ordered his ships to be burned.  The band of conquistadores awoke to a nighttime sky alight with the flames of burning ships. Their only way was forward – toward the Aztec capitol of Tenochtitlan. Their ability to back out of the deal was gone. For better or worse, they must follow Cortez.

For its own reasons in 2022, the United States wants to stop the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Given the geography and politics of the war, NATO must be the necessary instrument to effect this resistance.

Why is the United States so committed to resistance? While resistance to evil figures large in the media and arguments of the talking heads, resistance to evil does not figure large in the calculus of nuclear powers. Whatever is said of the evils of Russian oligarchy, they pale in comparison to the regime the oligarchs replaced. And we were very circumspect in our dealings with the USSR.

It is not as if border wars, the brutal incursions of despotic regimes into weaker neighbors is limited to Russia/Ukraine. The world is awash with similar situations in Yemen, epidemic within Africa as well as in Asia. Why must more than lip service be given in the Ukraine?

But in the Ukraine, Washington declares that opposition must not only be pro forma, but for real.

Whatever the reason and I expect that reason to be simply a long term symptom of Trump Fever, America requires NATO united in opposition, not only in spirit, but in tangible ways. But NATO’s membership wavers. Most everyone is ok with lip service, but Russian oil and gas is so darn cheap and reliable. And even though Europe has taken a knee before the hectoring Greta Thunberg while singing loud hosannas to the Earth Mother, Europe need oil and gas – lots of it.

Through the summer of 2022, America and Germany do an elaborate pas de deax in cahoots with Russia, everyone attempting to have their cake and eat it too. Nord Stream 2 start up is delayed while Nord Stream 1 has operation and maintenance issues. Some of the pipeline compressors need parts that are “delayed”. You know – Covid supply chain issues.

Germany is without Nord Stream gas for now, pacifying the Americans, but it is because of “permitting and mechanical issues”. Russia bides its time, secure in the knowledge that Germany needs Russian gas. Russia has always been the land of a patient people. The United States knows this to be only a temporary accommodation by Germany while they assess the risk/reward ratio. The cheap gas can be flowing tomorrow if Germany decides the Ukraine isn’t their ball game.

Perhaps someone in the Biden White House took a history elective in their Gender Studies program and remembered Hernan Cortez. One must admit that the Nord Stream sabotage has a lot in common with Hernan Cortez’s reluctant conquistadores. One must also admit that it solved Cortez’s problems just as it solves a lot of problems for the United States.

It is with some amusement that the New York Times broke a story a month after the Seymour Hersh expose. After six months of studied indifference to the Nord Stream sabotage, A “New York Times investigative team” relying upon “unnamed sources” has the “real story”. Surprise, surprise!! It was Danny Ocean and his Oceans 11 crew after all! Only this Danny Ocean was an unnamed person with a Ukrainian background. Wow, who would have thought? It’s certainly possible. But. . . .

Having read the New York Times reporting on Trump, Covid, Russian Interference, Fauci & Wuhan, etc., I am more than skeptical. And there is the trademark condescension of the Times – “you simpletons out in flyover country will believe anything. We’re from New York City and have talked to the experts. Here is the real story.” The story’s timing is more than suspicious. Add to all that the Times often moonlights as the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party, taking orders from the Biden White House etal.

It’s a bit weird to see that the Democratic Party now the aggressive war mongering party, but the long-term effects of Trump Fever have and are remaking the political landscape. And it’s not as if anyone in either party is paying anything other than lip service to the needs of their voters.

But other thoughts certainly intrude. The many hints of influence for sale surfacing from time to time – Hunter Biden’s laptop and art sales, the ex-German Chancellor’s membership in Gazprom’s Board of Directors, the Trumpian entourage’s transparent extortions, the Clinton Foundation, the Epstein affair, etc.. The free press shows little interest in such pursuits.

One is reminded of a certain African king over 2,100 years ago. One needs to remember that venal leaders feathering their nests in rich and powerful countries is not something new. There was a king named Jugurtha who had been dealing with the Roman Republic’s Senate just before the rise of the Caesars. As he left the city, looking back and ruminating on his experience with its Senate, Jugurtha is said to have commented:

“urbem venalem et mature perituram, si emptorem invenerit (a city for sale and doomed to quick destruction if it should find a buyer”

His words were prophetic, as shortly thereafter Rome became engulfed in a century of civil wars ending their Republic and extinguished their freedom.

So we have a free press. What are they going to do? The earlier quote from George Orwell – “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed” – is the job description. The quote from Jugurtha describes the state of affairs. I guess we will see whether the 1st Amendment remains alive or simply another convenient shelter for the corrupt and incompetent. It’s been said many times in many ways but remains an apt admonition to the press and their freedom – “Use it or lose it”.



2 Responses to “The Nord Stream Whodunit”

  1. John Harpole says:

    The Russians did it to themselves. Chase the money. It was a self-imposed force majeure event. By blowing up the pipeline, they did not have to honor the replacement gas cost for walking on their supply contracts with European utilities. The replacement gas cost for the Russians would have been north of $80 per MMBtu. $80 per MMBtu times a couple of BCF per day adds up pretty quick. The Russians can’t admit they did it and Biden doesn’t want to dissuade anyone from thinking he is the tough guy.

  2. Jeffrey N Esbenshade says:

    Norway is building the “Baltic Pipe” to Poland a natural gas pipeline under the
    Baltic Sea. Maybe US/Norway story could be true reduce the competition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Email Updates

  • Categories

  • What I’m Reading

    What I’m Reading

    The Twelfth Department
    By William Ryan

    What happens when we forget, or never bothered to learn, what we believe in and why we believe? What happens when the emotional whirls of Facebook and Twitter are the depths of our understanding? Evil, great evil, is regularly found lurking in the unexamined depths of good intentions. Mathew Arnold put our present political climate in memorable words years ago:

    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night

    Novels, good stories, provide a lens to see life, including our beliefs, without camouflage. As an example, JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the finest Bible commentaries ever written. Progressive political ideals may lack in recent electoral success, but have undisputed possession of today’s moral high ground. And while death and taxes may be the only sure bets, the eventual victory of those holding the high ground have very good odds in any battle.
    And so fiction provides a look at eventual victories. There is no question that the outlines of today’s progressive agenda can be clearly seen in other times and places. William Ryan takes us to a time and place fondly imagined, idealized at the time, by the forefather’s of todays progressive leadership. In The Twelfth Department, we see a police captain in 1930’s Moscow. Captain Alexei Korolev is just a man trying to be a good father, a good citizen, a good police officer. In many ways Alexei is a fortunate man, with a good reputation and many more material advantages than the average citizen. But a high profile murder brings him into ambiguous circumstances. The tone of the book is respectful of life in Moscow, with no axes to grind. It is just a portrait of a man trying to do his job, bringing a gruesome killer to justice, among ordinary human beings seeking only to live normal lives in a progressive paradise.

  • Recent Comments