Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 6.27.22
Just Outside Washington



I read the Washington Post most mornings at breakfast and watch NPR after dinner. I supplement this with various media sources both right and left, of which there are too many, and I can only take so much of Tucker Carlson's nonsense. The Post, you know that leftist rag, has many stories and opinion pieces that I disagree with and many times the tone of what is supposed to be news I find annoying. I was gratified to see the detail of this morning's Post reporting on January 6th and to percent day's lead, page one, top left above the fold, was about what ex-President Trump knew and when. Also, front page, lower right below the fold, the article was headlined: "Oil refineries profit now, but future is uncertain". Aside from the fact that the future is always uncertain, the article had some much-needed facts about the refinery business, which is now making record profits. This was partnered with the article on page A-14, headlined: "China boosts imports of Russian oil". Another interesting and informative article indicating that shipments of Russian oil to China, year over year, was up 55 percent in May.

This preamble brings me to my main point, many times it is the Letters to the Editor, which are the most insightful and creative. This morning, Steven Bowers of Herndon, Virginia had a letter in regard to the Post's June 15 news article intitled: "Russia's fuel export revenue soared in 100 days since invasion, report says" (the link is live). Mr. Bosers' letter says:

The current policy of sending weapons to Ukraine while continuing to fund the Russian forces through the purchase of oil and gas allows the Ukrainians to continue the war, but not end it. The problem with the Western sanctions is not that they are not tough enough, but that they are not long enough. The Russians' biggest fear is a long-term lowering of the price of Russian oil. The biggest threat to the price of Russian oil is Western energy production. Oil companies, which lost billions of dollars during the coronavirus pandemic, are reluctant to increase production to make up for lost Russian oil, because they believe that as soon as the fighting stops, we will press the reset button and go back to business as usual. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not worried for the same reason. The way to make Mr. Putin fear the sanctions is to guarantee that the sanctions will be long-term. The free world must agree to impose large tariffs on Russian oil and gas and include these in a treaty. This treaty must specify a long period of time (at least 10 years). This type of agreement would give energy producers (oil, gas and clean energy producers) an incentive to increase production. The threat of this type of long-term agreement would hopefully spur Russia to end the war. If not, then the agreement itself would be devastating to the Russian economy.

If this approach was paired with a carbon tax as advocated in this week's Economist and by James A. Baker III, George P. Shultz, and Ted Halstead in the May/June 2020 Foreign Affairs and elsewhere, we and our allies could be well on the way to solving at least two pressing problems.