The Biden administration is shopping around with some less than savory potential partners in order to lessen the blow of energy sanctions against Russia. Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran – all well known and fairly maligned regimes from right, left, and center of American politics. All sitting on top of some of the largest energy reserves on the planet. 

For a bit of fairness, the Biden administration is doing nothing new. American governments have held their nose and worked with a whole host of despotic characters, especially with the aim of undermining the bigger devil in the room. Partnering with Stalin against Hitler. Working with Communist China to undermine a Communist Russia. But if we’re going to continue to be fair, will the outreach work? 

Iran and Venezuela especially present enormous challenges to anyone looking to develop their energy deposits (technical, geological, financial) and even Saudi Arabia – which loves to boast about its spare capacity – would take about a year to bring on a sustainable million barrel increase in production. All told, working with the devils we know in Riyadh, Caracas and Tehran would offset roughly about a quarter of the oil lost from sanctioning the bigger devil in Moscow. 

Add in the Biden administration’s other likely moves to help address rising US gasoline prices and, well… there doesn’t seem to be a lot of relief coming for oil consumers in the foreseeable future.

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First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
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