Today’s autocrats are hell-bent on taking over the world and forcibly imposing their rules on the rest of us. Vladimir Putin’s disastrous war on Ukraine is part of that grand strategy. He carefully planned his invasion and launched it at a time when he thought he had Europeans exactly where he wanted them. Western Europe had become so dependent on Russia for critical energy supplies that he assumed no one would lift a finger if he conquered Ukraine.

The autocrats know that to be victorious in their holy war, they will have to take down America, the leader of the free world. And for them, there is no better way to achieve that objective than to knock America off its economic perch. A growing number of countries are teaming up with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea to do just that.

One of this new bloc’s primary and immediate goals is to ditch the dollar as a trading currency. During a panel discussion at the New Global Financing Pact Summit held in Paris in June, 2023, the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, spoke from the audience to Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula), who was sitting on the stage. He told Lula that at a separate conference later that year, the two of them, together with allied countries, would make the design of an alternate trading currency a top agenda item. It was a stunning display of indecorum because U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was on the stage with Lula.

Quite clearly, the leaders of this alliance hate America with a passion, and they are not at all bashful about openly expressing it.

America’s gigantic economy, which provides the best defense against these rising threats from our sworn enemies, requires enormous amounts of energy to power it. According to data published by Reuters, in 2023 the U.S. consumed about 20.5 million barrels of oil per day. S&P Global Platts data show that U.S. natural gas consumption averaged 86.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day in 2023. Those are eye-popping numbers.

Thankfully, America is largely energy-independent. Currently, we produce about 13.3 million barrels of oil and around 105 Bcf of natural gas each day. With oil, we import our remaining needs mostly from our friendly neighbor, Canada. We are by far the leading producer of natural gas in the world, and we export our extra volumes to our allies in Europe and Asia.

I shudder to think what our national situation would be today if we had to rely on adversarial countries like Russia and Iran for our energy supplies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine quickly unsettled global energy markets. That was one of Putin’s goals. He warned that any attempts by the West to get in his way in Ukraine could send oil prices up as high as $300 per barrel. Though that was a scare tactic, the outlook was still quite bleak. In June 2022, shortly after the war in Ukraine began, Goldman Sachs analysts predicted that the price of oil would reach $140 per barrel by the fall of that year.

The picture was much gloomier for natural gas. In the U.S., the price quickly shot up from about $2 to around $10 per million btu (MMBtu) within a few months. Relative to what Europeans were paying, that was actually quite a bargain. In Europe, after the loss of much of their pipeline supply from Russia, the price went from about $8 to just below $100 per MMBtu.

Those astronomically high energy prices threatened to send already elevated inflation through the roof. They prompted President Biden to make his much-criticized trip to Riyadh to plead with the Saudis to boost oil production and help bring down prices. Not only did the Saudis refuse, they actually cut output. That forced President Biden to release oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

The U.S. SPR can hold a little over 700 million barrels of oil. That inventory is meant for emergency use only, such as during wartime or when there are major disruptions in the energy production system. America was not directly engaged in a war, but sharply rising energy prices posed a major threat to the national economy. President Biden ordered the release of 180 million barrels from the SPR into the market over a six-month period. That move, together with increased output by America’s oil producers, ultimately helped lower prices to the current range of $70-$85 per barrel.

Even more impressive was the contribution of domestic natural gas producers. They quickly ramped up output from about 90 to over 100 Bcf per day, and lately, daily production is averaging around 105 Bcf. This increased supply has allowed the U.S. to export large quantities of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, greatly helping to alleviate their energy crisis. Prices in Europe have dropped from their stratospheric heights to levels around $8 per MMBtu in recent weeks. American consumers now pay spot prices below $2 per MMBtu for natural gas.

It should be quite obvious to everyone that America’s economy, and those of our closest allies, could have been devastated by energy shortages without the quick intervention of our domestic producers. At the height of the energy crisis, Europe was forced to implement conservation measures. Political leaders there mandated a 15 percent reduction in natural gas consumption, which led to curtailment of some industrial activities. We were fortunate to get through that period without much sacrifice in America.

These are perilous times for America and its allies. Our adversaries, many of whom are major energy producers, would dearly love to use that critical resource as a weapon against us if they could. Fortunately for us, we have a formidable home team that has helped insulate us from harm. We should be enormously grateful to our domestic energy producers, instead of the vilification they endure from us quite frequently these days.