Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Behaving Normally"

Germans, it is said, are “talking of behaving ‘normally’ now, like the others, and that means nationally." In particular, Germany is said to be seeking closer ties with Russia on energy, and this is supposed to be straining ties with France. Now, this is interesting, because a running theme of this blog in 2007-8 was that France was in fact seeking bilateral deals on energy not only with Russia but with Libya, Algeria, and other suppliers, as well as trading nuclear technology for petroleum. Indeed, Sarkozy's failed Union for the Mediterranean was in part, I thought, an attempt to bypass the EU and place France at the center of a new energy consortium.

To be sure, Germany is in the spotlight now for other reasons, especially its recalcitrance on the Greek bailout (which now seems finalized) and reluctance to show solidarity over the euro. But the Germans are surely right that they are not the only "nationalist" players in this game. With the U.S. military now forecasting world energy shortages as early as 2015 (according to an NPR report broadcast this morning), with petroleum output peaking next year and demand continuing to rise (if the recovery continues), maneuvering on the energy front will become increasingly salient as a component of foreign policy. And this, more than the failure of Copenhagen, may determine the future of the climate, as oil shortages drive countries to faire feu de tout bois, as it were, and de tout charbon, even the most unclean.

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