Putin should vote for Romney

Ear to the World, Sept 18th: why Romney could be good for Russia, US coal en route to Asia and new video shows Libyans trying to rescue American ambassador

By Nicholas Nehamas

Candidate Romney makes his pitch for American energy independence to coal miners in Ohio. (Reuters)

Mitt Romney may have turned off some voters by criticizing the dependency of Americans on the federal government but he still may have one influential fan overseas: Vladimir Putin. Russia, it seems, has a lot to gain from the Republican candidate’s energy policy. Read on for more on this and other American stories that are making headlines overseas.


  • In the short term, writes Alexei Bayer in the Moscow Times, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has a lot to gain from Mitt Romney’s energy policy. If Romney is elected, he’s pledged to follow the path of Sarah Palin and “drill, baby, drill” across North America and its territorial waters. That would, counter-intuitively, raise oil prices, says Bayer, an economist and writer who specializes in Russia. After all, drilling will be quite expensive despite the incentives the GOP has promised energy companies and the costs will most likely be passed along to consumers. As Bayer argues: “Romney’s energy plan is a godsend for the Putin administration since it virtually guarantees very high global oil prices in the foreseeable future.” The higher the price of oil, the better for Russia, whose economy depends on selling oil and gas. Eventually, of course, a self-sufficient North American energy market would severely undermine Russian profits. But under the Romney plan that’s not expected to happen until at least 2020. A more sensible route for America, says Bayer, would be to make better use of what we already have by reducing consumption, raising fuel efficiency standards and encouraging the development of sustainable energy sources like wind power.
  • The coal market in America has stalled. In fact, it might even be shrinking as President Obama pushes gas and other forms of fuel. But American coal companies are looking to increase their profits by shipping their product overseas, according to a report on China Dialogue, an environmental website. The states of Washington and Oregon are currently building coal export terminals in order to tap into the growing economies of Asia, which burn more coal than anyone else. In order to meet their demand, the coal industry plans to increase production by 100 tons a year. It’s true that coal burned in China won’t contribute much to pollution in America. But as the piece’s author, Charles West points out, “carbon dioxide has no respect for international borders, and when the coal shipped by the planned west-coast terminals is burned, that coal will number among the world’s top 25 emitters of carbon dioxide.”
  • Some Americans might be willing to throw Libya under the proverbial bus. We helped rid the African nation of an abominable dictator and its citizens thank us by callously murdering our ambassador and four of his staff? Of course, that’s not the whole story. Many Libyans were just as horrified by the violence as we were here at home. A new report from Tunis Afrique Press in Tunisia claims that a crowd of men who had forced their way into the U.S. consulate in Benghazi tried to rescue Ambassador Stevens and get him to a hospital after discovering him struggling to breathe in the building’s charred ruins. The piece relies on testimony from eyewitnesses and a new video circulating on the internet. “Make space, is there someone who is a medic around?” it quotes one bystander as saying. “[Is there] anyone who can get a car quickly?” But it was too little, too late.