Fritz Pettyjohn: Russia, Ukraine and the high price of anti-Trump fanaticism



Alaska has something in common with the world’s worst tyrannies in the world – the Saudi royal family, the mullahs of Iran and Putin’s Russia: We all benefit from higher oil prices. At current prices, Alaska’s budget problems are solved (if temporarily) while Russia, Iran and the Saudis have enough money to support their chronically weak economies. And they have money for mischief as well.

It looks like Russia will take its second bite out of Ukraine at the end of the Winter Olympics, on or about 2-22-22. Its first bite, Crimea, was taken at the end of Sochi Winter Olympics in February of 2014. No one will stop them now, just as no one stopped them eight years ago. Economic sanctions won’t deter them now, just as they didn’t stop them before.

Modern Russian adventurism is tied to the price of oil. With oil currently above $90 a barrel, the Russians are taking in $1 billion a day in hard currency, and sanctions won’t put a dent in that income. Oil is a fungible commodity. There will always be a market for Russian oil somewhere.

In 1979, when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, oil was at $115 a barrel. In 2014, when the Crimea was invaded, it was at $120 a barrel. In contrast, in 1986, when Gorbachev threw in his hand, and gave up on competing with the United States militarily, the price got down to $11 a barrel. Without hard currency from oil, Russia could no longer afford to play the superpower game, and the Cold War was over. As Reagan had predicted, and helped bring about, we won, they lost. Oil was a big part of it.

In the end, Russia will likely wind up with a piece of eastern Ukraine, where most of the ethnic Russians live. Russians are withering on the vine, demographically, and Putin wants as many Russians in Russia proper as he can get.  What’s left of Ukraine will not join NATO and will be, effectively, a satellite of Russia. Demography is not destiny, but geography is. Demographics can change. Geography never does. The Ukrainians are cursed because of their location next to Russia and terrain that provides no defense. 

It’s not fair, and it’s not right, but there is a lot of injustice in this world. The American people deplore all of it. But we won’t fight a war to stop it. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us a lesson. From now on, we will only fight wars when our national security is at stake. That’s definitely not the case in Ukraine.

Joe Biden will bear some of the responsibility for the invasion of Ukraine. Beginning in his first day in office, with the cancellation of the Keystone pipeline, he declared war on American energy production. To him and his fellow environmental extremists, it is the price of fighting climate change. It’s a high price, but he’s willing for you to pay it. He wants high energy prices, in order to depress consumption, reduce pollution, and incentivize the transition to alternative energy sources. When he took office oil was around $50 a barrel. It will be $100 a barrel before long. 

High oil prices enrich some of the worst human rights violators in the world — the Russian autocrat Putin, the Saudi royal family, and the Iranian mullahs. To curb their wealth, and their mischief making, we need to encourage North American oil and gas production. American shale production helped bring down the price of oil, and it can do so again. Federal lands, most especially Alaska’s ANWR, need to be opened up again for exploration and production. Until then the Saudis, the Russians and the Iranians have some fat years ahead of them.

We were well on our way under President Trump. The next President will be a like-minded Republican, barring satanic intervention. We’ll be back on the road to energy dominance on January 20, 2025. Until then Americans will pay at the gas pump, pay to heat our homes, and pay with inflation. 

The political coalition that brought down Trump in 2020 was fanatical in its determination. They were willing to break the law, destroy their own credibility, and violate every American political norm. They were willing to foist an incompetent old fool on the country as president. None of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was beating Trump.

We’re all paying the price of this fanaticism. Sadly, so will Ukraine.

Fritz Pettyjohn served in the Alaska Legislature during the Alaska economic recession of the mid 1980’s, which resulted from low oil prices.


  1. Mr. Pettyjohn praises Trump’s energy policy as being a winning hand for America. He presumes the next president will be a Republican. Let me be a bit more specific than Mr. Pettyjohn: Trump will win his third presidential election and will be #47. Americans need to realize that the democrat party is so wrought with anti-American policies that it will be difficult to see how this country can endure for the next three years. America has suffered cataclysmic decline in the one year of this Biden regime. Those who think the Trump era is over and we can just get back to ‘normal’ are delusional. The truckers in Canada are showing the way. The current democrat party and their radical unAmerican policies needs to be flung in the dumpster of history by the voters like the the organization called Soviet Union.

  2. Extremely well written and accurate synopsis of the current events on the global scene. The only unanswered question is , Will China try to take Taiwan at the same time Russia grabs a chunk of the Ukraine ( which initially declared its independence from Russia over 100 years ago). And will the US Navy’s 7th fleet be able to slow them down?

  3. Let there be light–and energy production under the next, legitimately elected, conservative President. Until then, we must try to hang on and educate the ignorant, Utopioid-addicted leftist masses.

  4. Wow. This article is full of inaccuracies and wild assumptions. Let’s start with the fact that Trump has never won the popular vote in an election. He lost by nearly 4 million votes in 2016 and by over 7 million votes in 2020. He won the electoral college votes in 2016, which is why he served a single term as President before Biden slaughtered him in 2020. His claims of voter fraud have been disproven over and over again.

    You say that America has suffered a “cataclysmic decline” in the first year of Biden’s presidency. By what measure? We recorded the strongest growth in the economy in 40 years in 2021. Unemployment fell to 4%. The stock market reached new highs. It’s true that Americans have a sense of fatigue and unease, but that is because we have are exhausted by the Pandemic and want to resume our lives. The pandemic started before Biden, and most of the national lockdowns and school closures occurred when Trump was President, not Biden. Thanks to the rollout of vaccines under Biden (a program for which trump deserves credit for jumpstarting), and the development of effective treatments for Covid ( no – not Ivermectin) we are hopefully approaching a turning point in the pandemic.

    The exit from Afghanistan was chaotic. But again, the die was cast before Biden was elected. We invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and our troops were there for 20 years before Biden was inaugurated. Prior administrations and Congresses, both Republican and Democrat, pumped trillions of dollars into Afghanistan over that 20 year period, yet the Afghan government was never able to gain the trust and support of a large part of the Afghan population. Trump decided to pull out, and had ordered the pullout to occur by the spring of 2021, He refused to tie the U.S. pullout to a peace agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Biden was following Trump’s lead when he pulled U.S. forces out of the country, This is one area where Biden and Trump actually agreed: after 20 years of fighting and pouring trillions into Afghanistan, it was a lost cause,

    Trump will not win in 2024 if he runs, he is deeply unpopular and Republicans would be foolish to nominate him. They’d be smart to dump Trump and run a candidate that doesn’t have all of his baggage.

    Finally, the attempt to link Russian aggression to oil prices is a stretch. Putin has long sought to bring Ukraine back under Russian domination. He is playing a long game, which doesn’t turn on spikes in oil and gas prices, Moreover, even if they did, the development of new fields takes years, and projects that were started under Trump have not reached the point where production would have any effect on oil and gas prices,

    • I don’t talk about “cataclysmic decline”. You’re confused.
      I also never said Trump was a political winner. He managed to barely beat Hillary, one of the worst candidates in American history. And he lost to the man who was the worst- Brain Dead Biden.
      I don’t believe Trump will be the Republican nominee. Polling this far out is meaningless, and always has been.
      Putin’s long game is one thing. The exact timing of modern Russian adventurism, or lack thereof, is another. That relates to the price of oil.

    • Hey Mr/Mrs No name hiding behind your keyboard. Your opinion carries no weight with most, right or wrong, when you have not the courage to put your name behind your opinion.

      • Well said Matthew! No one should take anything anyone who hides behind a nonsensical screen name has to say. Go back to Reddit where you can anonymously troll to your heart’s content

  5. Putin has mis-calculated and now realizes his cash flow will be cut-off if Russia invades Ukraine, as West Germany will not open Nordstream 2 until Russia withdraws. Russia can be made financially insovent within weeks without Western currency inflow. The longer Putin waits the more Ukraine and the West solidify.

  6. Hope voting out the mean Orange Man was worth it. You elected a clueless, corrupt senile fool run by AOC style communists.

    Do you feel better about yourselves at the pump? With 40 year high in inflation? With looming wars with both China and Russia? With an impending stock market collapse?

    You hated mean Orange Man so badly you set in motion the potential collapse of the country. What you wanted?

    It’s said one can vote their way into socialism, but can only shoot their way out. We’ll know soon enough if that’s true.

    • My goodness, Avenger! Take off your mask and see the light. Your rant shows nothing of substance and little awareness of what is actually happening in the world. Policies bases upon false assumptions are doomed to failure, or, if we have no policies at all, like during the Trump administration, we are doomed to flailing in the wilderness. Finally we are now seeing efforts to control the effects of four years of our runaway ship of state rampaging out of control.

      • You are another author choosing to hide behind a false facade. Why? So you have no accountability? How long will you continue blaming current leadership on the previous admin? You do know half the nation liked what Prez Trump did, just many didn’t like his mouth? (Myself included) Right? But yet you choose to insult half of America because we do not see it as you stated, claiming we lack “awareness”. False “assumptions”? You mean like his reduced taxes he assumed would lift the economy? Like his policy controlling illegal immigration, which now is a complete failure?

        • Trump’s sole accomplishment as President was to pass a tax bill that rewarded the richest Americans, gave a pat on the head to middle class Americans, and shafted the poor. And for those who haven’t been paying attention, the pat on the head for the middle class goes away in a few more years but not the cornucopia for the rich. Of course, the poor will continue to get the shaft. Quite the accomplishment for such an outstanding failure of a President, although his main financial supporters got what they were hoping for, the best government money can buy.
          The majority of Americans did not like Trump the first nor the second time around. This is a matter of fact. Accountability has nothing to do with it just as having a nom de plume doesn’t mean I live in a cave.

          • HE, we had some of the lowest unemployment figures this nation has ever seen with just 1 year of Trump. This is especially true for Black Americans for which a record was set. But, dementia Joe had to end that. Freedom and prosperity? Can’t have it. Just think where Alaska could be if our pipeline was running say 90% capacity, a robust mining industry, tourism, and fishing. We would be flush with cash. Alas, its all going overseas.

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