|President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland
walk to a bilateral meeting after posing for photos
at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister in Warsaw,
Poland, June 3, 2014.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama just announced a massively great program to combat climate change. I’m sure it’s a wonderful program (I haven’t looked at it yet), but his very next action as President negated any benefit he hopes to gain from that program. What action is that?
Obama has traveled to Poland on a mission of:
- Increasing the US/EU/NATO military presence in Eastern Europe
- Maintaining fossil fuel dependence
- Increasing fracking practices in Eastern Europe
The public face of Obama’s trip is a $1 Billion fund, the European Reassurance Initiative, that’s meant to beef up the defense of Eastern Europe against Russian aggression. The initiative includes increased troop deployments, increased joint exercises between US Military and the Eastern European countries, increases in AWACS flights, and so on. But if you look further than the surface story, you see this is cover for deployment of Oil Company experts looking to increase production of both conventional and unconventional natural gas.
In other words, rather than use that $1 Billion fund to create an energy system that solves climate change – solar or wind power – he’s pushing for continued use of and reliance on fossil fuels. On the day after announcing a hugely positive program meant to combat climate change.
The mind reels.
But, given the coverage I’ve written of plans to frack both Ukraine and Romania (and other Eastern European countries), are we surprised?
The problem is that Ukraine and other countries in the region are caught between the U.S. and European Union’s and Russia’s geopolitical power struggle. A looming problem is that Europe, especially Eastern Europe, is heavily dependent on Russia’s natural gas supplies. Russia, being Russian, is going to exploit that dependency to the hilt.
The U.S. see’s European Energy Security, keeping Europe from falling into Russia’s clutches, as being in the U.S. National Interest. Meaning, that the U.S. is willing to go to war to protect that interest. Isn’t this plan to beef up U.S. Military presence in Eastern Europe a step towards war?
Or, are we already in an oil war against Russia?
That’s the choice Obama is making – to continue spending U.S. dollars maintaining a system of climate destroying health destroying dependence on fossil fuels. Literally, on the day after unveiling a massively great program to combat climate change. The mind reels.
The proof of these claims is in the White House press release (a.k.a. FACT SHEET) concerning “The United States and Central and Eastern Europe: Enduring Cooperation” (see below).
Energy Security and Diversification
The United States is working with countries in the region and the entire European Union to help strengthen energy security. Under the auspices of the U.S.-EU Energy Council, we have begun critical discussions on the infrastructure, legal, and financial requirements necessary to increase regional gas interconnections. The United States is working with Romania and Moldova to support the extension of an energy pipeline network into Moldova and is engaged with the EU Commission and the Baltic states to advance the construction of projects to connect the Baltic countries to the EU energy market. We welcome the recent Memorandum of Understanding between Slovak and Ukrainian pipeline operators enabling gas “reverse flow” from Slovakia to Ukraine.
U.S. technical experts are working with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and others to help Central European countries develop public-private investment initiatives to increase conventional gas production from existing fields and boost domestic energy supplies. U.S. specialists are also working with regional partners to provide advice on increasing energy efficiency, which can deliver cost savings to customers and reduce energy requirements. In addition, the United States is working with European governments to share best practices for sustainable unconventional gas development and is helping to develop safe nuclear fuel that can be used in existing reactors and allow a diversification of supply. Later this month, the United States, together with the European Union, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic, will convene a Central European forum with Ukraine and other neighbors to identify additional domestic and collective steps to diversify supplies and suppliers. Moreover, the United States is working to help Central and Eastern European countries develop contingency plans for this coming winter to ensure provision of essential service in the event of an energy disruption.
For Romania to supply Moldova with natural gas is perfect, because Moldova is 100% dependent on Russian natural gas. Further, it is a nice step towards reunification of Romania and Moldova. There is a sad history behind the separation of those countries, because the broader region known as Moldova got split between Romania and Russia at the beginning of World War II. In one of the first actions of WWII, Russia grabbed the land now known as Moldova, dividing Greater Moldova. Today the peoples of Romania and Moldova deeply want to reunite.
Beyond that what is the plan? Increasing conventional natural gas production – energy efficiency improvements – development of unconventional natural gas production – nuclear power plants – contingency plans in case Russia cuts off natural gas this winter.
I witnessed one kind of energy efficiency project while visiting Romania last year. The primary housing stock is concrete block apartment buildings constructed during the communist era. Building-by-building, the EU is helping Romania to fund building upgrades, adding insulation and better walls for the balcony’s. In the winter the apartments stay much warmer, while requiring less natural gas.
The overall thrust of the plan is natural gas production and consumption, whether it requires fracking or not.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and therefore acts to worsen climate change. Natural gas is essentially the same as Methane, and Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. When burnt, natural gas does become CO2, so by one line of reasoning it’s best to burn the natural gas to lessen the effect. On the other hand, the problem is that it’s being released from underground adding to the carbon load of the atmosphere and worsening climate change.
Accompanying all the government officials helping Eastern Europe learn how to frack itself, will be Western Oil Company experts and most of the work will almost certainly be done by those companies. We’re already seeing this play out in Romania, Poland and Ukraine. Chevron and other Western oil companies are already working in Eastern Europe doing exploratory fracking and geological tests. A worker at Chevron’s facilities in Romania recently died on the job after exposure to toxic substances at the drilling site.
There’s a couple other key phrases in these press releases. For example, pushing the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. If TTIP is so great, then why is it being negotiated in secret. What I understand (haven’t done the research to find out for sure), but TTIP is even worse for the people, even better for the forces of globalization and corporatisation of everything, than the Trans Pacific Partnership. Both are set to destroy all semblance of individual countries to protect themselves from globalization. When VP Biden visited Romania and Cypress a couple weeks ago to push for more fracking and natural gas development, he also pushed Romania to cooperate on the TTIP.
|President Barack Obama attends an official Solidarity Dinner
hosted by President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland
at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, June 3, 2014.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The last thing to mention is the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It’s my first time hearing of this institution, but I see things in these press releases making me think of crony capitalism. In any case, the EBRD is a bank established on the heels of the fall of the Soviet Union, whose mandate is to fund economic development of Eastern European countries.
All the White House press releases for this trip are posted below. Do you, the reader, see what I’m saying? That with this action the U.S. is taking another step in the Oil War that’s underway, deploying troops in Eastern Europe for the purpose of furthering dependency on fossil fuels and spreading fracking so we can remain addicted to fossil fuels.
FACT SHEET: The United States and Central and Eastern Europe: Enduring Cooperation
FACT SHEET: European Reassurance Initiative and Other U.S. Efforts in Support of NATO Allies and Partners
Increase exercises, training, and rotational presence across Europe but especially on the territory of our newer allies. Many of the U.S. air and ground forces participating in these activities would rotate from the United States.
As we have done in Poland, deploy detachments of U.S. planners to augment the capability of our allies to design and host a broad range of training and exercise opportunities.
Increase the responsiveness of U.S. forces to reinforce NATO by exploring initiatives such as the prepositioning of equipment and improvements to other reception facilities and infrastructure in Europe.
Increase participation by the U.S. Navy in NATO naval force deployments, including more persistent deployments to the Black and Baltic seas.
Build the partner capacity of close friends such as Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine so they can better work alongside the United States and NATO, as well as provide for their own defense.
Land Force Deployments: In April, approximately 600 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade deployed for training rotations in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to enhance ongoing military-to-military relationships and demonstrate assurance of America’s commitment to its NATO allies. These exercises are part of a series of expanded American land force training activities with European partners that are scheduled to take place over the next few months and beyond.
In early April, the United States deployed the USS Donald Cook to the Black Sea, where the ship conducted operations to improve interoperability, increase readiness, and develop professional relationships with allies. The Donald Cook conducted presence operations and a port visit in Constanta, Romania, as well as an exercise with the Romanian Navy before departing the Black Sea on April 24.
From April 24 through May 12, the USS Taylor, the U.S. contribution to the Standing NATO Maritime Group, was deployed to the Black Sea, where she conducted bilateral operations with Romania and Georgia, including port visits to both countries.
The USS Vella Gulf entered the Black Sea May 23 to conduct operations to promote peace and stability in the region. Highlights to date include an exercise with the Turkish Navy, a port visit in Batumi, Georgia, and combined maritime training with allied naval forces.
Poland Aviation Detachment (AVDET) Training: Quarterly rotations of military aircraft and airmen through the Aviation Detachment began in late 2012, and in March 2014 the United States augmented the rotations with additional F-16s and support airmen. These F-16s and airmen provide a persistent presence in Poland and enhance training and operability with the Polish Air Force. Three C-130J aircraft deployed to Powidz Air Base, Poland, on March 31 as part of a regularly scheduled two-week AVDET rotation.
Air-to-Air Refueling Missions: Since mid-March, the United States has been flying refueling missions in support of NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) flights over Poland and Romania.
Open Skies Treaty Flight: On March 14 the United States conducted — at Ukraine’s request — an Open Skies observation mission over Ukraine.
The USS Truxtun entered the Black Sea through the Turkish Straits on March 7 to conduct port calls in Constanta, Romania, and conduct an exercise with Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces. The Truxtun’s stay in the Black Sea was extended so that she could visit the Port of Varna, Bulgaria, to hold an onboard maritime planning conference with Bulgarian and Romanian officers and conduct a second exercise.
NATO Air Policing: On March 6, the United States deployed an additional six F-15Cs to augment the four F-15Cs already in Lithuania filling a NATO peacetime requirement to have quick reaction interceptor aircraft “ramp-ready” for a four-month period to ensure the integrity of the airspace above Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The U.S. rotation began in January and ended in early May. Poland, with augmentation from the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark, took over the air policing task in the Baltic region, and Canada deployed aircraft to augment NATO air policing in Southeast Europe.
U.S. Force Presence: There are approximately 67,000 service members in Europe. Approximately 57,000 active duty service members are assigned to U.S. European Command, and approximately 10,000 support other organizations, such as U.S. Africa Command.
NATO Response Force (NRF) Commitment: The United States has pledged several thousand service members to the NRF, including a brigade combat team from the Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division, a hospital ship, air-to-air refueling tankers, and escort ships.
Army Rotational Forces: The United States sends a battalion-sized unit from the United States to Europe twice a year for up to two months per rotation. One of these battalions recently participated in NRF exercise ROCHAMBEAU in France and is currently participating in U.S. European Command-hosted multinational exercise COMBINED RESOLVE II. Additionally, elements of the unit participated in NATO Exercise STEADFAST JAZZ this past November.
Missile Defense / European Phased Adaptive Approach: The U.S. contribution to European missile defense, whose aim is to protect against emerging threats from outside of the Euro-Atlantic area, includes a missile defense radar in Turkey, plans for four Aegis destroyers to be forward deployed in Rota, Spain (the first, the USS Donald Cook, arrived in February), and two planned Aegis Ashore sites — one in Romania (2015) and one in Poland (2018).
Black Sea Rotational Forces (BSRF): This force, based out of Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) Air Base, Romania, includes 250 Marines and sailors tasked with maintaining positive relations with partner nations, enhancing regional stability, and increasing interoperability while providing the capability for rapid crisis response in the Black Sea, Balkan, and Caucasus regions. In May, BSRF personnel participated in exercise PLATINUM LYNX, an infantry field training with the Romanian military to enhance familiarity and interoperability between U.S. and Romanian forces. Additional U.S. forces in Romania not associated with the BSRF include:
500 U.S. troops permanently stationed at MK Air Base conducting transit center operations; and
175 U.S. Marines temporarily based out of MK Air Base as part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF). The SPMAGTF is postured to respond to a broad range of military operations in Africa and Europe, including fixed-site security, non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, theater security cooperation, and other missions as directed.
Exercises in the Baltic Sea and Poland: The United States sent U.S. Marines from the Black Sea Rotational Force to the Baltics this April to participate in exercise SUMMER SHIELD. U.S. forces participated in exercises NAMEJS and FLAMING SWORD in Latvia and Lithuania, respectively, in May and are participating in multilateral exercises BALTOPS and SABER STRIKE in the Baltic region in June. The United States will also deploy 18 F-16CJs and one KC-135 tanker to Łask Air Base, Poland, concurrent with the SABER STRIKE and BALTOPS exercise. BALTOPS is an annual, multinational maritime exercise focusing on interoperability, maritime security, and cooperation among Baltic Sea regional partners. SABER STRIKE is an annual, multinational ground and air exercise focused on enhancing interoperability among U.S. Army units and the land forces of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Revised Planning: NATO is updating its defense plans and is developing a readiness action plan that includes a review of joint exercises, threat assessments, intelligence-sharing arrangements, early-warning procedures, and crisis response planning.
Support to Ukraine: On March 5, NATO allies decided on a number of measures to intensify NATO’s partnership with Ukraine and strengthen cooperation to support democratic reforms. Measures included an increased engagement with the Ukrainian civilian and military leadership; strengthened efforts to build the capacity of the Ukrainian military, including with more joint training and exercises; and increased efforts to include Ukraine in multinational projects to develop capabilities.
Suspension of NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Activities: At an NRC meeting in April, NATO Foreign Ministers condemned Russian military intervention in Ukraine and suspended staff-level civilian and military meetings with Russia. Ambassadorial-level meetings of the NRC will continue.
New Air and Sea deployments:
AWACS: On March 10, the North Atlantic Council approved establishing AWACS orbits over Poland and Romania to enhance NATO’s situational awareness of activities in the region and to reassure NATO allies. These aircraft will only fly over NATO territory and will come from the NATO fleet and allied contributions.
Standing Naval Forces: In late April, NATO activated Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group One and sent it to patrol the Baltic Sea. The group, which consists of six ships from Belgium, Estonia, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, and Poland, is conducting port visits and participated in an annual mine clearance operation (NATO naval exercise OPEN SPIRIT 2014). On May 12, NATO tasked its augmented Standing NATO Maritime Group One to perform maritime assurance measures alongside counter-terrorism patrols in the eastern Mediterranean. The group includes five ships from Canada, Germany, Norway, Turkey, and the United States.
New Exercises: NATO launched a large-scale exercise, STEADFAST JAVELIN 1, in Estonia on May 16, which tested allied forces on their ability to work together as well as maintaining NATO’s readiness and combat effectiveness. The exercise reflects NATO’s strong commitment to collective defense in the Baltic region. Around 6,000 troops from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in the exercise which finished on May 23. Many participants were already in Estonia taking part in the annual Estonian-led KEVADTORM14 exercise that began on May 5 and that was merged into the NATO-led event.
Vice President Biden to Travel to Ukraine
FACT SHEET: The United States and Poland: Strong and United
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