Saudi Arabia warms to Russia's embrace
January 3, 2020 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Trump's first state visit was to Saudi Arabia, where he participated in some weird games. And despite warnings and concerns, he has kept up a warm relationship with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. At at quick glimpse, these two things seem unrelated, but what if they aren't?

President Putin has made a rare but much-publicised visit to Saudi Arabia, his first in 12 years - accompanied by a sizable delegation of trade, security and defence officials. Bilateral deals worth more than $2bn (£1.6bn) and more than 20 agreements have been announced.
The Saudis have also invited Russia to participate in the ongoing international investigation into the 14 September drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
Defence discussions have included the possible purchase and future deployment of Russia's formidable S-400 air defence missile system, which would be something of a diplomatic blow to Washington.
The two countries have a lot in common: Preparing for the new oil order? Saudi Arabia and Russia is an academic paper, by Michael Bradshaw, Thijs Van de Graaf and Richard Connolly, which compares the situations in Russia and Saudi Arabia, two nations that depend on fossil fuel rents and each in their own way struggle with adapting to a different reality. It's long, but this article gives some insight into Saudi Arabia's struggles. (Prospect Magazine, by Madawi Al-Rasheed), and this book review gives some insight into Michael Bradshaw's research on global energy dilemmas.
OK, but how does Ukraine come into it all? I'm glad you asked: In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves (NYTimes)
posted by mumimor (16 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've been working on this for a while, and I still don't think it's perfect, but it seemed relevant to put it out today. Cheers!
posted by mumimor at 9:52 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Wont be long before only one public figure will give us the right way to regain US sovereignity, and her name is Greta Thunberg.
posted by ocschwar at 10:49 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


She already told us, but they made her apologize.
posted by Reyturner at 11:10 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Not quite what I meant, and not quite what she meant. Sweden missed all the fun in the 20th Century, so that hilarious gaffe happened.
posted by ocschwar at 11:49 AM on January 3


This has all the makings of an excellent thread, so I really don't want to derail it but what are you folks talking about re: Greta?
posted by St. Oops at 12:11 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing: if we want to not have petro-economics drive our nation's policies and destiny, we need to Get The Fuck Off Oil. Not get off foreign oil, get off oil. Get to the point where nobody feels the need to track the price of West Texas Intermediate in the futures market, and nobody needs to note down the price of gas at the station. If we get to that point, nobody can lever us into sending soldiers into the Middle East, and nobody can lever us into pulling them out. We decide, and the world accepts it.

How to accomplish that? Ask Greta. SRSLY.

That's what I was talking about. ReyTurner was talking about a day last month when Greta talked about putting politicians up against the wall. In Swedish, that means not letting them weasel out of answering hard questions. (Because the Swedes sat out the 20th Century.) I'm happy with the Swedish AND the English interpretations, personally. But I'm happier with jsut getting the fuck off oil.
posted by ocschwar at 12:39 PM on January 3 [16 favorites]


So, yeah, to get this back on track, I'm saying if the US loses control over Saudi Arabia, the first item of business should be to shed the need to control Saudi Arabia.
posted by ocschwar at 1:26 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Laugh, or cry? --

Donald Trump's international energy and climate adviser, Wells Griffith, said:
We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability."


Translation: "We strongly believe that no rich people should have to sacrifice any of their money in pursuit of a chance for all of us to continue to be alive."

Why can these idiots not see that sustainabilty is an essential precondition for continued prosperity?
posted by Corvid at 1:44 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


I like that term, “fossil fuel rent.” Renewable energy also means that after an upfront investment, you don’t need to keep paying other people huge sums for your energy. That’s gotta be threatening to anyone who currently has $$$ rolling in due to an underground space they “own,” no matter what country they’re in.
posted by mantecol at 2:00 PM on January 3


That last part is why I don't understand their wholesale refusal to invest in manufacturing oil. Make no mistake, we will never cut out our use of oil entirely, even if we do manage to stop burning it for heat. Far too many things we depend on are made from it or using it. What we can do is stop digging it up out of the ground.

I understand why Saudi Arabia doesn't do it, but a company could lock up the best feedstocks under long term contract for a relative pittance before the rest of the industry knew what hit them, doing good for themselves financially and all of us in terms of climate change. There exist enough of them that you'd think at least one of them would take a chance. In the US the tax code presents an obstacle to not digging stuff up, but that isn't true world wide.
posted by wierdo at 6:50 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Here's the thing: if we want to not have petro-economics drive our nation's policies and destiny, we need to Get The Fuck Off Oil. [...] If we get to that point, nobody can lever us into sending soldiers into the Middle East, and nobody can lever us into pulling them out.

The Middle East? Sure, but what about South America? The powered-vehicle (and generator) industries can certainly move away from internal-combustion engines, but wouldn't that move the wars to the regions containing Lithium deposits necessary to manufacture batteries?

In this way, the problem isn't oil, it's the violent foundations of commerce. If capitalists would allow these industries to operate on pure free market principles, there woudn't be any military involvement. But, y'know..
posted by rhizome at 12:23 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


"'Rent seeking' is one of the most important insights in the last fifty years of economics and, unfortunately, one of the most inappropriately labeled."
posted by GeckoDundee at 1:07 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]



The Middle East? Sure, but what about South America? The powered-vehicle (and generator) industries can certainly move away from internal-combustion engines, but wouldn't that move the wars to the regions containing Lithium deposits necessary to manufacture batteries?


You know, when a vehicle is on tracks and has an overhead wire power supply, its lithium requirements are nil.
posted by ocschwar at 3:58 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


You know, when a vehicle is on tracks and has an overhead wire power supply, its lithium requirements are nil.

So...coal? Just so we're all on the same page I think bouncing between options can be broken down to the source and storage of energy for a vehicle. Oil? Coal? Solar? Nuclear? Batteries? Reactors? It's gotta come from somewhere and there aren't enough potatoes and paperclips to handle it all.

That is, the lithium requirements aren't going to be nil when there are devices at the source that are used to store energy generated by some other means (as batteries are charged now), not to mention the "cable car" model implied there.

And these may just be endemic problems in transportation in general. Horse and buggy? I imagine that shortens the life of the horse!
posted by rhizome at 4:33 PM on January 4


So...coal?

When you connect a vehicle to the electric grid, you're checking "all of the above."
And in North America, there is enough wind, solar and hydro resource available for development to allow the vehicle to be carbon free.
posted by ocschwar at 5:22 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


LNP derived from Biogas should be a system we institute as a chemical energy reserve for localities.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 5:33 PM on January 4


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