The Clint Eastwood movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” ended in a three way shoot out, a game of cutthroat to the death. Trump, Muhammad bin Salman, and Putin are playing their own version right now, over oil. They are the three big dogs in the world oil industry, each fiercely protective of their country’s interest. Each determined to be the winner, and the others the losers.
It’s a complicated game. Deception is the key. Make both of your opponents believe you are their friend, while trying to take advantage of both of them. There is no room for friendship in this game, only stark national self interest.
Putin is playing the weakest hand, and an unstated reality is that the Saudis and the Americans have worked together strategically for 70 years. They would prefer to maintain that relationship.
So they have to figure out a way to screw the Russians. The easy way is for Trump to put a tariff on all oil, except from Alberta. That leaves the Saudis and the Russians to fight it out between them.
Putin loses that war, and our number two geopolitical foe has his head handed to him. Marginal oil producers around the world are driven out of business, and our shale industry, healthy and intact, proceeds to provide the USA with energy dominance.
All the President needs to do is impose the tariff.