Vladimir Lenin used the term “useful idiots” to refer to journalists, labor leaders, and politicians in the West who extolled the virtues of Lenin’s new Communist regime in Russia as a “worker’s paradise.” They were in the vanguard of the world-wide Communist movement who tried to import Lenin’s brand of Communism into their own countries.
The reason Lenin referred to them as “useful idiots” is because they were oblivious to what actually was going on in Russia during Lenin’s (and later, Stalin’s) transformation of that nation into a Communist regime: mass starvation, authoritarianism, political executions, and use of the Siberian gulag.
In short, the “useful idiots” for Lenin and Stalin were those in the West whose fervent belief in the ideology of Communism blinded them to the reality of what actually was happening in Russia in the 1920s and 1930s.
A century later, democracy and freedom are being challenged by another Vladimir, Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine and genocidal campaign of executions, rape, bombings of civilians, and deportation of children poses a substantial threat to Western Europe and ultimately, the United States.
Western European nations stopped purchasing natural gas from Russia — which had a pipeline directly into Western Europe — shortly after the invasion began in order not to finance Putin’s war machine. These countries were able to do so thanks to a combination of sacrifice (lowering their thermostats and reducing industrial energy use), switching to dirtier forms of energy (coal and oil) for their power plants, and the ramping-up of the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States, with the promise that even more LNG will be forthcoming from the U.S. in the future.
However, President Biden, bowing to pressure from environmental groups, last week issued a directive that imposes new environmental rules on future LNG terminals that essentially has brought to a halt the construction of new LNG export facilities in the U.S. The move has alarmed our Western European allies, who have been able to withstand their embargo on Russian natural gas because of the promise of additional LNG from America.
There is no question that climate change, fueled by the burning of fossil fuels, represents a huge risk to the future of our planet. However, the threat posed by Putin and other dictatorial regimes, such as China and Iran, pose an immediate threat to our way of life today. An article in yesterday’s New York Times highlighted the fear of Western European leaders that they will be next in line if Putin succeeds in Ukraine.
In addition, the irony of Biden’s new environmental rules for future LNG plants in the U.S. is that Europe will continue to use oil and coal, which are far worse for the environment than natural gas. In addition, if the U.S. is unable to supply natural gas to Western Europe, those countries simply will turn elsewhere.
In short, the action by Biden at the behest of environmentalists accomplishes nothing (and even is a negative) in our battle against climate change in both the short and long terms. However, what it does accomplish is this: It encourages sociopathic dictators like Putin, who want to see the Western nations divided, to continue their campaign against democracies across the globe. The “inconvenient truth” for environmentalists is that the fight against Putin and his ilk requires that America must be united with our allies, no less than we were in World War II, when the free world similarly fought against the Axis of Evil at that time. The environmentalists whose rigid ideology regarding climate change blinds them to the reality of the immediate, existential threat posed by today’s Axis of Evil are the “useful idiots” of the dictators of the 21st century.