Energy, Security and the Coming Arms Race

News item:

Russia announced plans on Sunday to revive its once-mighty navy by building several aircraft carriers and upgrading its fleet of nuclear submarines in the coming years.Russia’s power at sea is a shadow of the formidable Soviet navy which challenged U.S. military dominance in the Cold War. But, with a strong economy now from booming oil exports, it is seeking to raise its profile on the world stage by modernizing the armed forces.Russia will build five or six aircraft carrier battle groups in the near future, RIA news agency quoted Navy Commander Vladimir Vysotsky as telling Navy Day festivities in St Petersburg, the second city.

This should come as no suprise. Russia has been making her intentions known since early last year when defense minister Sergei Ivanov announced an ambitous plan to build new ICBMs, nuclear submarines and the carriers. He also set a goal of making the Russian army more combat ready than the Soviet army ever was.

The Russian bear hasn’t enjoyed losing its place of prominence in the world, and it is eager to reaquire the hardware necessary to project power whenever and wherever it chooses. Oil and gas revenues are the means which will enable it to rather quickly become a force which much be reckoned with. Just how quickly can Russia do this? If China is any example, very quickly indeed.

China has accelerated her own military buildup several times since the 1990s, and according to a Penatagon report to Congress earlier this year:

• China’s military spending continues to increase by double-digit figures and that official Chinese claims of spending $45 billion are short of actual spending, which could be as much as $139 billion

• China has deployed between 990 and 1,070 CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to garrisons opposite Taiwan and is adding more than 100 missiles per year, including more advanced systems.

• Chinese computer hackers have launched sophisticated strikes on computer networks around the world in the past year, including U.S. government networks, that might be the work of the Chinese government.

• China’s strategy of defense includes conducting pre-emptive attacks “if the use of force protects or advances core interests, including territorial claims, for example, Taiwan and unresolved border or maritime claims.”

• China’s anti-satellite weapon test in January 2007 shows that the military’s space warfare capability is more than theoretical. Additional space weapons include jammers, laser blinders and microwave weapons to disable satellites and ground stations.

• China is engaged in “wide-ranging espionage” targeting officials, businessmen and scientists prompting more than 400 U.S. investigations..

• China’s military buildup is shifting the cross-Strait military balance in its favor, through a long-term expansion designed to fight “local wars” with high-tech weapons using speed, precision targeting, mobility, and the role of information technology as a force multiplier.

The report counters the findings of U.S. intelligence analysts who have sought to play down China’s buildup by saying it is limited to preparing to fight a war against Taiwan.

The report stated that while the near-term focus is on a Taiwan conflict. “long-term trends suggest China is building a force scoped for operations beyond Taiwan.”

The military expansions taking place in Russia and China should be sobering news for our Congress, but most of the elected representatives of the people don’t seem to be paying attention. While the threats we will be facing from those two nations are still emerging ones, the time to start dealing with them is now.

There are many things we will have to do to prepare ourselves for the reality of Russia and China as world powers which will be sure to challenge us. For one thing, we will have to expand our focus beyond dealing with terrorism. But the first thing America should do about these future threats is to guarantee that we will be able to meet our own energy needs so we have the capability to deal with them.

Our domestic energy industry has to be rebuilt. Coal, natural gas, ANWR oil, Bakken oil, offshore oil, Permian Basin oil, shale oil, nuclear, and renewables all have to be utilized to do this. We must not only supply 100% of our own energy needs, we must also become a major exporter of energy. We should, with our hemispheric trading partners Canada and Mexico, form our own oil cartel to compete with OPEC. Call it APEC, Ameripec or whatever you want to, we should take steps which ensure that no foreign nation or group of nations ever puts us over a barrel (of oil) again.

National security in the 21st Century requires energy security. If you are attacked, you can’t fight back if you find yourself with all of your oil embargoed. Our aircraft carriers may run on nuclear energy, but the aircraft they support require jet fuel, whether it is refined from petroleum or synthesized from other sources. Our military ground vehicles require petrodiesel or biodeisel. We simply cannot defend the nation without a stable and secure energy supply, and the only way to guarantee its stability and security is to produce it ourselves.

What is coming doesn’t have to be another cold war. That will depend largely on what China and Russia will do to test us and how far they will go when they do it. Be assured that test us they will. They will challenge us economically in the world’s markets and with the hardware which projects power on the face of the planet and in space around it. Will we have enough energy for the challenge?

  • JP