Early in the morning on Dec. 7, 1941, hundreds of Imperial Japanese aircraft darkened the sky over the naval base at Pearl Harbor, in Honolulu. Sailors aboard American ships bolted awake to blaring alarms and sounds of destruction. Japan would kill or wound thousands and destroy enormous amounts of matériel on that “day of infamy.” That catastrophe guaranteed the entry of hitherto trepidatious Americans into World War II.
Every American knows this story. What most don’t know is how President Franklin Roosevelt and his administration provoked the attack.
Amid Japan’s war with China, the Roosevelt Administration contemplated freezing Japanese financial assets within the United States and cutting off trade, severing the island nation from its lifeblood: oil. In a July 19 memo, Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner warned that an “embargo on exports will have an immediate severe psychological reaction in Japan against the United States,” and likely embroil us in a “Pacific War.” One week later, Roosevelt pulled the trigger and froze Japanese assets. Former President Herbert Hoover would painstakingly document how the U.S. ignored subsequent diplomatic overtures by Japan in the days and months that followed, leading up to Pearl Harbor.
The question arises: Have President Joe Biden and his allies put Americans in a similar peril with Russia as Roosevelt did with Japan?
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, explosions under the Baltic Sea ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which carry natural gas from Russia to Germany. “It’s hard to imagine that it’s accidental,” Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters. Indeed, many world leaders are openly speculating that this was a deliberate act of sabotage. The question is, whose?
In a carefully worded New York Times article about the CIA’s having warned Germany weeks ago of potential Nord Stream sabotage, the reader is encouraged to infer that Russia is to blame. And in a Washington Post article, no inference is necessary; the headline hands it to us: “European leaders blame Russian ‘sabotage’ after Nord Stream explosions.” In the United States, we don’t have state media; we have a corporate media that works with and for the state.
But blaming Moscow is absurd. Before the Russo-Ukrainian War, Russia supplied about 40 percent of the European Union’s (EU) natural gas. Nord Stream 1 was easily the largest Russian pipeline to Europe. The second pipeline would have doubled the capacity of the Nord Stream project to 110 billion cubic meters of gas a year.
Nord Stream 1 was Russia’s major diplomatic tool. Its closure in response to Western sanctions sent energy prices soaring. When asked whether the gas would eventually resume flowing, President Vladimir Putin said the EU should lift the sanctions preventing Nord Stream 2 from opening. “In Russia’s strategic calculus,” explained Sergey Vakulenko in the Carnegie Endowment’s Politika online magazine, “Europe’s dependence on Russian gas means European governments must either face a severe economic and political crisis at home this winter, or call a truce in their confrontation with Moscow, accommodating some of the Kremlin’s political demands on Ukraine, and lifting sanctions.”
For this reason, Nord Stream 2 has always been seen by Washington as a threat: it would provide Moscow with even more leverage in European affairs. In 2020, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs summarized how aggressive the U.S. has been about thwarting the pipeline, despite the concerns of Europeans:
Recent developments have been largely driven by Washington, which has successively stepped up pressure to abandon the project. The American Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act has succeeded in stopping pipelaying since the end of 2019, and Congress has taken steps to make it impossible to resume the work. The US Administration has also altered the guidance of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, threatening to penalise any entity or individual involved in construction since 15 July 2020. If construction is to resume, Berlin will have to act more proactively to counter the impact of Washington’s sanctions.
So why, with winter approaching, would Russia sabotage the only means by which it could negotiate an end to the war? That theory is about as leaky as the sabotaged pipelines. It’s not impossible that Putin deliberately blew off his own feet to play the victim, but the Russian president is, in reality, much more risk-averse than the hysterical Western caricature of a Muscovite madman suggests. As Forbes noted, Russia could have simply “restricted natural gas flows like it did earlier this month when it blamed an oil leak as the excuse, without blowing up the pipelines.”
This war has shown that Biden and his enablers are far more comfortable playing with fire than Putin is. Indeed, there is much more evidence to suggest Europeans can thank the Biden administration—or one of its allies—for the dramatic decrease in the quality of life they’re about to enjoy as the snow begins to fall.
During a 2014 interview, Condoleezza Rice highlighted Russia’s role as a major supplier of European energy and suggested that the severing of that connection was a key geopolitical goal of U.S. foreign policy. “For years we’ve tried to get the Europeans to be interested in different pipeline routes; it’s time to do that,” she said. Moreover, it is worth noting that as George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, Rice demolished a peace plan drafted by European officials to avoid a major war between Russia and Ukraine. She told Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, a former top foreign policy aide to late French President Jacques Chirac, that European diplomacy would not stand in the way of U.S.-led NATO expansion.
More recently, in early February of this year, Biden vowed that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States would prevent Nord Stream 2 from going online. “There will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it,” he said. A reporter replied: “How will you do that, exactly? Since the project and control of the project is within Germany’s control?” Biden didn’t flinch. “I promise you we’ll be able to do it.” And Victoria Nuland, Biden’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and one of the architects of the Russo-Ukrainian War, said the month before that “one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.” She reiterated that point in March.
In June, with the war underway, U.S. Navy 6th Fleet said it conducted a “research and warfare” exercise with “mock explosives” off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark. This was near the area where, three months later, explosions would rock Nord Stream. Notably, this year’s operations focused on experimentation with unmanned underwater vehicles. Some of these drones can carry payloads to detonate undersea mines.
Then there was the unsubtle proclamation of former Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Radek Sikorski immediately after the sabotage of Nord Stream 1 and 2. “Thank you, USA,” Sikorski tweeted with a picture of a swirling mass of methane bubbling up from the pipeline near Bornholm. Just to drive the point home, he dug up and retweeted ABC News in February quoting Biden promising to thwart Nord Stream 2.
Sikorski is currently an elected member of the European Parliament. He is also the husband of Anne Applebaum, a Polish-American staff writer for The Atlantic. Applebaum sits on the board of directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, a nongovernmental organization that works closely with the U.S. government to promote the American government’s foreign policy agenda, and which funds democratic opposition parties abroad.
Interestingly, the destruction of Nord Stream 1 and 2 occurred the day before Poland and Norway opened a new natural gas pipeline, Baltic Pipe, through Denmark. That may lead some to speculate that the Poles—or another vassal of Washington—may have played a part in sabotaging the Russian energy project, either with U.S. approval, or knowing that the U.S. would likely be suspected, given the Biden administration’s statements.
Whatever the case, whether the pipeline sabotage originated in the White House, Brussels, London, Warsaw, or Kiev, the leaders of the West appear to have consigned millions of their own people to misery in a Pyrrhic victory as an icy winter nears. Irish economist Philip Pilkington commented that with the destruction of these pipelines, Europe is likely to see permanently high energy prices, meaning “European manufacturing will no longer be economically viable.” Pilkington added that ensuing economic chaos might well lead to a repeat of the Depression of the 1920s—which in turn led to world war.
In World War II, Roosevelt adopted a plan to incite Japan to commit an act of aggression that would goad reluctant Americans into the war, as the author Robert Stinnett argued in his book, Day of Deceit, using documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Stinnet shows that Admiral James Richardson believed U.S. ships in Hawaii were in danger and vehemently disagreed with FDR’s willingness to sacrifice a vessel to provoke what he called a Japanese “mistake.” Richardson quoted Roosevelt as saying: “Sooner or later the Japanese will commit an overt act against the United States and the nation will be willing to enter the war.”
If the truth of the pipeline sabotage as an act of deliberate provocation should ever be revealed, it will likely have to be pried from secret documents well after the fact. As Stinnett found, sometimes the truth about what governments are willing to do to their own people is so horrific that it lies buried for decades—even (or perhaps especially) in liberal democracies.