Writing on Military.com, commentator Ben Stein warns of the falling Iron Curtain in Russia:
Here is a terrifying thought: Europe is now dependent on Russian energy exports for about 40 percent of its daily needs. Europe gets more energy products from Russia than from OPEC, by far. This kind of dependence on Russia would have been unthinkable in Stalin's day or Brezhnev's day. Sensible people would have considered that Red Russia was an unreliable supplier and would use its energy exports to control and subjugate Europe. But now, with capitalist, money-mad Russia regnant, we assume that we can trust Russia with keeping the lights on in Paris and Berlin and Rome and Prague, because Russia is a law-abiding society based on human decency.
But Russia has already put the screws on Ukraine and Poland about energy issues and made their people shiver with fear. What is far more ominous, the Russian state is almost surely the cause of the demise of Sasha Litvinenko, the dissident ex-KGB agent who was murdered in London last month by radioactive agent poisoning -- by a chemical element available only to governments with major nuclear programs. If Russia was the cause, this officially makes Russia an outlaw, rogue state. (It should not have taken this much; Russia's behavior in Chechnya has been brutal on a scale hardly imaginable in modern European society.)
Now, I sincerely hope Russia did not kill Litvinenko. I greatly love and admire the Russian people. They beat Hitler. They survived Stalin, and they are a talented, brilliant people. I would like to believe they are living in a new day under new leaders with respect for human rights.
But if Putin did kill Litvinenko, and it sure looks like he did, here's what we have: Russia, a rogue, murderous state, basically in charge of Europe. Western Europe is now subservient to Russia on a scale unimaginable in the days of the cold war. Even Tony Blair, toughest of the tough, bravest of the brave, cannot bring himself to confront Russia seriously about the murder of a political refugee with official refugee status on British soil by Russian secret police. The UK needs Russian gas too much to openly fight with Russia about this grave insult to British dignity and law. If Tony Blair can't stand up to Putin, no one in Europe can. Russia now calls the shots from Warsaw to Madrid.
Everyone is worrying like mad about the Moslems taking over Europe. It may well be that Russia has beaten them to the punch. Europe is now in chains of oil and gas, marked "Made in Putin's Russia." NATO is meaningless. The pride of France and Germany and Italy is in vain. Energy trumps all else, and Putin sure looks like he has won a very, very big prize.
Someone, please tell me I am wrong. I don't even dare to want to be right about this.