Ex-CIA Chief Woolsey: Hobble Russia by Forcing Down Oil Price

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 07:40 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Want to help get Russia out of Crimea? Drive a car that runs on wood alcohol.

Saying Russia "cannot function as a society" if the price of its oil exports plunges, former CIA chief James Woolsey said Tuesday that a full U.S. embrace of alternative energy,  including methanol-powered vehicles, would drive down global oil prices enough to check Russia's latest regional aggressions.

Woolsey told Newsmax TV that Russia's "Achilles heel" is a dependence on oil so great that it "cannot function as a society without a very substantially high price for oil — something up over $100 a barrel."

"If we can find a way — and we can — to get the price of oil down so Russia doesn't have the advantage of being able to run their society on overpriced oil paid for by you and me, then we will be in a very much better situation than we are now," Woolsey, co-founder of the U.S. Energy Security Council, told "America's Forum" hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman.

Russia is currently negotiating to sell natural gas to China as part of improving Russia-China ties and, say international observers, to help bankroll its new campaign of  regional dominance and global leverage against the U.S. and Europe.

Selling gas in bulk to China would give Russia more ability to strategically withhold it from Europe, said Woolsey.

Story continues below video.

The two countries failed to announce a deal on Tuesday. But Woolsey said warmer relations between Russia and China — which feels it needs Russian gas more than it needs access to U.S. markets — are likely to continue.

"We may well see a relatively lengthy period of Chinese-Russian cooperation and [an] easygoing relationship," he said. "But it won't last forever."

Russia and China still have deep disagreements they're papering over for now, he said.

"The Chinese never recognized the tsar's rule of much of Siberia, and they still don't," said Woolsey, who thinks a day could come when the Chinese try to reassert themselves in Sibera over Russian objections.

"Dictators often get along with one another reasonably well — until they don't," said Woolsey.

In the meantime, a decisive U.S. push for greater energy independence will hit President Vladimir Putin where he is most vulnerable — an idea Woolsey advanced in a May 14 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Cars can be retrofitted, from $90 to $300 per vehicle, to run on emerging fuels such as methanol, which cost considerably less than traditional gasoline. If enough consumers and industries adopt these alternatives, dramatically reducing America's appetite for oil, the price per barrell will fall, he said.

"You will be doing something, I think, that will make Mr. Putin very unhappy," Woolsey said.

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