IEEE and U.S. Hegemony
Why can’t the European Union just adopt a strategy of energy independence and wean itself from Russia and the “stans”?
Of course, there is no way for Europe to be “independent” with respect to natural gas. There aren’t sufficient reserves in Europe to meet the current demand. A reduced supply of natural gas will necessarily result in higher prices for energy. Higher prices for energy translate to reduced economic development and everybody being poorer. Why should the Europeans impoverish themselves?
Of course, the writer of the editorial, William Sweet, is not really opposed to Europeans purchasing gas from non Europeans; he praises a pipeline being developed to ship it from Nigeria. Rather, he seems upset with people buying gas from Russian suppliers. Why?
Russia has repeatedly shown its willingness in recent years to cut off gas supplies for political reasons, basically to bring countries it considers its satellites to heel, notably Ukraine. Of course it wouldn’t dare cut supplies to a country like Germany, which gets about half its gas from Russia. But where German and Russian interests and values collide, Russia could manipulate markets to get its way and use the threat of its market power to ward off diplomatic or military action.
In other words, if Europeans are trading with Russians, they might refuse to back some third party who is contemplating some intervention targeting Russia. Hmm, I wonder who this unnamed party might be?
A recent survey by London’s Financial Times found that European mistrust of Russia has increased sharply in the past six months: the proportion of respondents who consider Russia the greatest threat to world stability rose from just a few percent in July to nearly 20 percent in September, putting it well ahead of Iran and almost as high as China. It may come as a shock to many American readers, however, that the United States still ranks in European minds as the greatest threat to world stability, scoring over 25 percent in September.
And here we see the problem. If Europeans are trading with Russians, they might not side with the U.S. in a dispute with Russia.
This article highlights why I have mixed feelings about my IEEE membership. The work it does in developing and maintaining standards is wonderful. But their consistent support for the American military-industrial complex gives me pause. Like IBM supplying Hollerith tabulators to the Nazis with no concern for what they were being used for – there is no U.S. military or security program, no matter how abusive of civil liberties or vulnerable to tyrannical misuse that IEEE won’t support. Normally the IEEE leadership concerns itself solely with the technical problems that are needed to enhance U.S. government power. In this case, the Spectrum editorial board is going further and demanding that European politicians adopt policies solely for the benefit of the U.S. government (and to the detriment of people living in Europe).
Yes, the Russian government has imperial ambitions. Yes, Putin’s government is a fascistic one. However, if Russians are trading with Europeans, if the Russian economy integrates with the European one, the likelihood of of a Russian millitary attack of Europe is much lower. Increased economic integration between Europeans and the people living in former Russian satellites will also reduce the likelihood of conflicts between Russia and the satellites as well (especially since it would lead to greater Russian/former satellite integration as well).
Bastiat’s dictum applies:
If goods don’t cross borders then armies will.
The U.S. government’s global hegemony is ending. If IEEE wishes to retain its technical leadership in a multipolar world, it should stop viewing itself as a unofficial arm of the U.S. government and stick to its valuable work in developing standards.