Russia’s Economy Is Collapsing. Thanks, Obama.

Once upon a time, I naively thought that America was cool with Russia and vice-versa. I thought we were done with the stupidity and waste of the Cold War and ready to get on with life without the threat of imminent nuclear war.

But nooooooo… Russia just couldn’t shake loose authoritarian pricks like Vladimir Putin, the shirtless wonder that’s been giving conservatives a boner for the last couple of years. After all, Putin doesn’t take any crap from that black guy in the White House so he’s just so dreamy! If the right wing’s masturbatory frenzy over Putin doesn’t prove, once and for all, that conservatives hate Obama more than they love America, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, Russia is now finding out the very VERY hard way that you can’t integrate with the world’s economy AND still be a conquering nation without being crushed economically. Between President Obama’s crippling (and intensifying) economic sanctions and the sharp decline in the price of oil, Russia is completely screwed:

Add it all up, and the ruble has fallen something like 22 percent against the dollar the past month, with 11 percent of that coming on Monday alone. As you can see below, the Russian ruble has fallen even further than the Ukrainian hryvnia or Brent oil has this year. The only asset, and I use that word lightly, that’s done worse than the ruble’s 50 percent fall is Bitcoin, which is a fake currency that techno-utopians insist is the future we don’t know we want.

Source: Bloomberg

Source: Bloomberg

And this is only going to get worse. Russia, you see, is stuck in an economic catch-22. Its economy needs lower interest rates to push up growth, but its companies need higher interest rates to push up the ruble and make all the dollars they borrowed not worth so much. So, to use a technical term, they’re screwed no matter what they do. If they had kept interest rates low, then the ruble would have continued to disintegrate, inflation would have spiked, and big corporations would have defaulted—but at least growth wouldn’t have fallen quite so much.

Whoops. So much for Putin’s Big Bad Scary Russia.

There’s a direct relation between dictatorships and mineral wealth. The more the government relies on pulling money from the ground, as opposed to manufacturing, the less it gives a crap about the lives of its citizens. We see this in pretty much every oil-rich nation – from Russia to Libya. Even America, to a much lesser degree, has this problem.

Many of these countries are our geo-political foes (Iran) or countries we are forced to hold our nose and shake hands with because we need their oil (Saudi Arabia). But we know, for a fact, that without their oil, they lose their power over us and, more importantly, over their people. Green energy will be far more effective in toppling inhumane regimes than all the bombs we can drop.

Want to get fundamentalist Muslims to stop attacking us? How about we wean ourselves off of their oil and never step foot there again? Sure, it will take time for them to stop hating us for the atrocities we’ve committed for the last decade but keep American troops out of there for 30, 40, 50 years? It gets hard to blame America for everything when we haven’t interfered with the region for a few decades.

I know it’s all a pipe dream but Russia’s collapsing economy should be seized upon by the Democrats as proof that renewable energy can serve as a tool in our foreign policy arsenal. Weaken our enemies, strengthen our position on the world stage and do it without firing a shot or risking a single soldier? Does it get any better than that?