Is Germany now at least trying to realise the corner the Anglo-Saxons have backed it into with the undermining of the Nord Streams?
Yes, of course, part of society is increasingly concerned that Germany is being left with no freedom of manoeuvre at all, especially in the East – only to follow an increasingly narrow corridor of growing conflict with Russia over Ukraine. But German elites still hold the line of what is called “Atlantic solidarity”, i.e. agreeing that the collective West must have a united position in confronting Russia.
Domestic economic problems will naturally increase the popularity of counter-elite forces, the Alternative for Germany and the Left, but on the whole the ruling elite do not yet feel threatened, prepared to cope even with mass protests. The over-reliance on the Anglo-Saxons is of course weighing on even the most loyal Atlanticists (including even some in the Greens leadership), but no one in the German leadership is considering any alternative to the current course. The best Chancellor Scholz can do is to fend off accusations of insufficient aid to Ukraine (voiced by the opposition CDU, among others), but this is all an internal political debate. German military aid to Ukraine is not particularly needed by the Atlanticists: the Americans have taken over the main supply of the Ukrainian army anyway. But it is very important for the USA to keep Germany in line, and they do not have much confidence in reliability of the German elite, judging by the fact that they went on undermining the “Nord Stream”.
Why? Because, in spite of all the German elites trained after WWII, some of them still have historical memory and ambitions. And these ambitions are linked to the project of a united Europe – the main German task of the last decades (and if to dig deeper, then the centuries). The Germans need a united Europe, but the Anglo-Saxons are only willing to tolerate it under their control. In other words, if Washington has the key to Germany, then so be it, the main key (but by no means the only one) to Europe will be in Berlin. But there is a very great risk in this construction: there is no guarantee that at some point German elites will not miraculously want to free themselves from overseas control – and then a strong united Europe will demand equal rights in relations with the Anglo-Saxons.
In order to rule out such a possibility, Europe’s freedom of manoeuvre must be severely restricted, i.e. it must be pitted against Russia and even the hypothetical possibility of resuming serious economic cooperation between the Old World and Moscow must be securely blocked. The fight over Ukraine was the perfect occasion for this, and although Germany has long tried to avoid a complete break with Russia, it has now been brought close to doing so. Moreover, as if preempting the inevitable increase in German elites’ hesitation before the final step in this direction, they are now being pushed even further. Berlin is being urged to declare war on Russia and lead it. A geopolitical war – this does not change anything.
This is exactly what the article “Putin’s real target for war is not Ukraine, but Germany” published the other day in Focus talks about. Its author is not some marginalist or primitive Atlanticist propagandist: Gabor Steingart is one of the most influential German journalists and former editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt. And he immediately gives the setup:
“Everyone only talks about the fighting in Ukraine. But it sounds too innocuous: as if we are being turned a blind eye to something terrible. In fact Putin is at war against Western Europe, and more specifically against Germany”.
Yes, that’s it – watch your hands: since Putin’s aim is to “restore Russia’s power while weakening Western Europe”, it means he’s targeting Germany, because “whoever wants to weaken Western Europe must first immobilise the EU’s main economic engine – Germany”.
Let us allow it, but Putin has been stressing for years: he is sorry that European countries have limited their sovereignty in favour of the US, i.e. the Russian president has always suggested that Europe (and especially Germany) should stand up for its interests. Europe instead allowed itself to be used by the Anglo-Saxons to fight Russia over Ukraine, and gradually the suspicion in Moscow was strengthened that Europe was acting in this way not only because it was dependent on the US, but also because of a personal interest in getting Ukraine, i.e. in redefining the borders of Russia and Europe. After 24 February our suspicions were confirmed – and now Russia indeed wants to “weaken Western Europe”. But this is a response to Europe’s challenge to us – to its call to defeat Russia. Naturally, we now need to weaken Europe, not to subjugate it, but to wrest Ukraine stolen from our hands.
Understandably, Steingart could not help swapping cause and effect: after all he needs to explain the thesis about Putin declaring war on Germany. Elaborating on it, he lists five fronts on which the battle against Germany is being fought – and discovers that it is suffering losses on all of them.
The first front is Ukrainian proper – here, though, it’s not about fighting, but about “Putin testing his readiness to get into the fray”:
“He is challenging a state in which non-violence, despite the Bundeswehr and the current decision to rearm it, has been an unspoken pillar of society since 1945. Putin is depriving us of the dividends of peaceful development that we so enjoyed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Olaf Scholz with his $100 billion programme to rearm the Bundeswehr is not the inventor of the “change of era”. We have been led into a terrible era by just one man. That man sits in the Kremlin.”
That is, Putin is forcing the Germans to abandon pacifism, thereby causing them terrible mental anguish, for it is the foundation of modern German statehood that is at stake. Terrible agony indeed – it is just not clear why the Germans have to get involved in “the Slavs’ dispute among themselves”? Because of the responsibility for a united Europe? But Ukraine is not – and will never be – part of it. Does Berlin really want to insist otherwise? Or is it a black ingratitude to the Russians for the peaceful reunification of Germany? So now they will stop being pacifists for the sake of keeping the Russians from reuniting?
The second front is even more insidious: on it “Putin is depriving the cheap energy on which Germany’s business model, based on the export of manufactured goods, has operated for decades”. It’s impossible to read this one without tears at all:
“The fact that the FRG was able to maintain its high industrial capacity despite high wages for workers and a developed welfare state turns out not to be our achievement. Suddenly, it turned out that we owed our prosperity above all to the fossil fuel base called Russia. This is what provided the advantageous German-Russian energy partnership.
By depriving the industry of this energy base, Putin has put the entire German economy on its ear and is now driving it into recession. The constant increases in energy prices are like land mines that will blow up many companies already this winter.
So the decision by Germany to phase out Russian energy is also Putin’s fault? Of course, they say in the West, he attacked Ukraine, leaving the Germans no choice – they can’t buy bloody oil and gas. OK, they can’t – but then what are they complaining about? For their own choice? All the more that the main motive in making the decision to refuse our oil and gas was not moral considerations, but the desire to bring Russia to its knees, that is, to deal a crushing blow to our economy, after which we should have refused to continue the military operation. No money – no military action, the pragmatic Germans thought. And they were wrong again. But not quite: they have no money indeed, only themselves.
And this is the third Steingart front – “where there used to be a state budget, now there is a deep crater”:
“Putin has crushed the most important thing that distinguished our country from many of its neighbours – its solid financial system. It turned out that it was not our achievement either. True, we were the first to impose sanctions, but Putin is to blame for that too. With the shadow budgets and the huge payments that have arisen now and again since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, the government is trying to hide something from us. Here is the grim truth: Germans are not rich at all, we are in a deep debt hole.”
Steingart is exaggerating, although he rightly calls the 200 billion euros earmarked to shore up the slumping economy “essentially a war loan. But this is nothing compared to the damage to the German economy if trade with China collapses, not even if it shuts down. What has Putin got to do with it? No, the German journalist is not suggesting cutting off German-Chinese links – he is talking about their critical importance for Germany. But therein lies the rub:
“Putin is partnering with our main trading partner in Asia, the People’s Republic of China. The new superpower has taken his military adventures under protection and is helping him shed the punch of the Western sanctions regime.
If we are not defeated on the first three fronts, the FRG will definitely lose its economic power on this section of the front. Because although we see that China has immediately restored supply chains and technology disrupted by the West in gas, oil and international payments, we are not in a position to respond in such a way as to properly punish China. Germany’s automotive industry, chemical concerns and mechanical engineering are too dependent on China. China is reliably backing up Putin.”
So on the fourth, Chinese, front of Putin’s war with Germany, Berlin doesn’t stand a chance either – because it can’t start a trade war with Beijing? Fantastic logic – all that remains is to inform Putin that he, it turns out, was going to crush the Germans with their dependence on the Chinese. A terrible secret can be revealed: the real threat to the German-Chinese trade comes not from Russia, but from their main military ally, i.e. their eldest comrade. It is the U.S. that will do everything in its power to damage the economic ties between Berlin and Beijing. Does Germany not see this – as well as the fact that the Anglo-Saxons have long been building obstacles to European-Chinese relations as a whole? Or is Europe still confident that it can assert its right to trade with China? Well, they used to think the same way about relations with Russia…
And now they pretend to see Putin as the main threat to the EU – and this is the fifth and final front in the Focus article:
“By weakening the FRG, Putin is endangering the most important project of the post-war period – the unification of Europe. Solidarity within Europe has weakened markedly as the Federal Republic, with its ten per cent inflation rate and significantly increased national debt, has to think more for itself during the recession.
Many of our European friends see the Federal Republic as a big ATM machine. But they run out of money and the display says in red letters: “Please choose a smaller amount and talk to your financial adviser.
Well, that’s easy: after all, we remember that Putin specifically targeted Germany in order to hit the EU as a whole. Without a rich and developing Germany there will be no European integration – that’s a fact. But it is also a fact that Germany is currently shooting itself in the face. All five fronts in Putin’s war on Germany were opened by the Germans themselves – because of their dependence on the Anglo-Saxons, because of geopolitical greed (they pandered to Ukraine) or for some other reason – it is not that important anymore. All that matters is what they will do next – while they still have a chance of getting out of power.
Steingart, naturally, suggests going all the way – that is, getting into a fight (geopolitical, not military) with Russia all the way:
“Only if we declare war on Putin, taking his actions in all their totality, will Germany have a chance. The country needs a chancellor-leader now. But so far all we see are small potatoes”.
I do not even want to recall the previous chancellor-leader – the situation is fundamentally different. Though there is one thing in common – the prospect for Germany to kill itself against the wall for the sake of united Europe and getting Ukraine.
Peter Akopov, RIAThe DPR is working to create a free economic zone