🔮 Sunday Commentary: What is it Good For?

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for?

Edwin Star - War (what is it good for?)

The war in Europe has forced many European nations to rethink their understanding of security. NATO is finding its mojo again. The Russian commentariat elite have lost their composure, as Julia Davis’ exceptional analyses of Muscovy talk shows demonstrates.

We want the truth

I think the likelihood of a hot war with NATO or the unilateral escalation by the Russian’s beyond dropping strategic conventional weapons on shopping malls and theatres, is extremely low. The rationale is simple: the payoff for Russian elites for greater and greater conflagration is not big enough.

Russia has depleted its military in Ukraine, resorting to using expensive strategic weapons for limited tactical targets. And they’ve pulled older and older men and materiel out of mothballs. War is contingent on dozens of small uncertainties (in some sense, the dynamics of war are a chaotic system), tables can turn easily, escalation can cascade. Moscow has been unmasked as a flawed, declining large power, not a great power with anything to offer anyone.

So that led me to conclude, with caveats, that widening this war (least of all with NATO) has the right return for Moscow.

Rather, we’ve witnessed the power of good neighbours. The flood of assistance from Ukraine’s neighbours in geography and in spirit has few contemporary parallels.

And now Europe, via NATO, is relearning Robert Frost’s observation that “good fences make good neighbours.” To build these good fences, NATO member states and their chums are now standing up for their own energy, defence and innovation security. It is casting a more realistic view of where threats to peace, security, social and economic progress lie.

And with this comes four benefits.

Energy security and a green transition

The imperative to break from oil and gas to meet our growing energy demand is clear. The best technologies capable of doing that speed us down the path of decarbonisation. Unleashing renewable energy sources to generate electricity doesn’t simply tackle the power sector. As I discuss with Raffi Garibedian and Jennifer Holmgren, clean electricity enables a range of useful intermediates (like hydrogen or renewable fuels) which can help tackle hard-to-reach activities like steel making, jet fuel or moving large trucks and ships around.

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