Is it an act of war if a foreign government launches a chemical weapons attack on your territory?
Is it an act of war if a foreign government attacks your electricity supply. If it’s not war, it’s certainly extreme aggression, and surely requires a robust response.
The West now faces precisely that extreme aggression, and it’s coming from Russia. That is, Vladimir Putin.
The Department of Homeland Security has spelled it out: The Russian government, Putin, "gained remote access to energy sectors." That means, from over there, they got into the grid here—that’s our electricity supply. The Russians could shut at least parts of it down. They did it in Ukraine. They could do it here.
A more blatant provocation occurred in Britain: The now infamous military-grade nerve agent attack. It shocked the country. As the Brits said: “It’s the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War."
Here's the response to this extreme aggression: The British expelled Russian diplomats, threatened to seize money from wealthy Putin cronies and said royal family members would not attend the World Cup. In America, new sanctions on Russian organizations and 19 individuals.
Nowhere near enough.
Now, we're not in the business of running foreign policy, but we have noted that America is now the world's dominant energy power. We can use that power against Russia. Putin runs a petro-state. He is wholly dependent on producing oil.
We could pressure the Saudi crown prince when he visits next week to end his oil deal with Russia. We can export natural gas to Europe and squeeze Russian influence there. We are not powerless when confronting Putin’s extreme aggression.
Putin will not back off unless he takes a serious hit. So hit him because appeasement won't work.