Report: U.S. Can Use Energy Clout to Pressure Russia, Ease Tensions With China

Experts say America can use status as global energy power to advance national security goals

The United States has been slow to recognize how its emergence as a leading energy producer can be used as leverage to build cooperation with China and apply pressure to Russia, according to a new report.

The U.S. government could take advantage of the modern energy market to reduce tensions with China by boosting cooperation in energy trade and also deal a blow to Russia by providing increased competition in the energy sector, a panel of experts from the Center for a New American Security write in a report released this month.

“The United States is not yet well positioned to take advantage of the new energy market circumstances to advance many of its national interests,” the experts write in The New Great Game. “Unlike China and Russia, which reacted fairly quickly and are pursuing policies to counteract their energy vulnerabilities and expand resilience, U.S. leaders have been slower to grasp opportunities for advancing U.S. global leadership, balancing a tense relationship with China, and working to contain Russian foreign aggression.”

Outdated U.S. policies are preventing the United States from using its position as a major energy power to advance national security and foreign policy interests and need to be altered, the authors write.

Russia and China forged an energy relationship two years ago that was fueled in part by “cool relations” between China and the United States, the report notes.

“Both powers see themselves in a competitive or even conflictual relationship with the United States, however low-level, and this shared perception drives each to seek support from the other,” the report states. “In the triangular relationship with the United States, supporting Russia helps China because it shifts U.S. strategic attention to the more flagrant behavior of Russia, and it tempts U.S. policymakers to offer side payments to induce China to help restrain Russian behavior.”

However, the experts note, “Slowing Chinese energy demand, and proliferating Chinese natural gas options, have removed some of the urgency behind the Russia-China energy détente.”

The United States could use the deceleration of Russia-China relations to cooperate with China on the energy front and compete with Russia.

“‘Energy independence’ rhetoric from the 1970s and a protectionist and misleading view that the United States can be secure if it looks inward (or only to the relatively small renewable energy market) is still pervasive,” the report states. “Policy leaders have so far largely failed to recognize opportunities to leverage energy market circumstances to address some of the most pressing national objectives with regard to advancing U.S. global leadership, balancing a tense relationship with China, and working to contain Russian foreign aggression.”

“U.S. leaders need to update their perspectives and policies to reflect the country’s new position as a major energy power. Such a new approach must include a regard for energy as a means to develop and pursue shared interests on foreign policy goals, as opposed to a win-or-lose proposition, with a wide range of countries,” the report continues.

The report argues, among other things, that the next administration should “publicly outline a framework or doctrine for how the country will promote energy security at home and abroad.” The framework would focus on prioritizing shared interests with international counterparts in order to create means of influencing key strategic relationships. The message would signal to the international community that the United States has assumed a “market role as a powerful energy producer.”

It recommends that the Pentagon take into account energy-related economic conditions when forming defense planning scenarios. It also urges the U.S. military to retain presence in the Western Pacific and “expand access and rotational presence agreements for U.S. forces along strategic energy trade routes.”

Full article: Report: U.S. Can Use Energy Clout to Pressure Russia, Ease Tensions With China (Washington Free Beacon)

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