The German Chancellor’s Balancing Act

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

The new German chancellor Olaf Scholz could not signal his agreement with U.S. policy toward Russia fast enough in Washington yesterday. And yet he knows how careful he must be.

The Americans, always profit-oriented, want to sell their highly polluting fracking gas to Germany as well. Yet even if it worked that way against expected protests from the massive Green Deal movement overseas, it would not meet the demand in Germany, as natural gas from Russia can. But it’s not about Nord Stream 2 alone.

My home country, as always, is in a moral dilemma when it comes to Russia. In both countries – a fact not very well known in America – the last Great War has not been forgotten. 25 million people were lost by the Soviets because of the Nazi invasion in World War II. Almost every Russian family was affected. No other country has had to pay a higher blood toll.

It is true: Stalin was hardly better than Hitler, but he was suddenly in league with the Americans two years after the alliance with the German dictator had ended. Those who believe that this no longer plays a role in the consciousness of Russians and Germans today are very much mistaken. World War II is the reason why Germany cannot supply weapons to Ukraine – although German war atrocities in Ukraine were particularly brutal there in 1941/42.

The Germans, even in subsequent generations like mine, have accepted the guilt. This is not self-evident in world history. Until today, the Americans have not officially apologized for the war crimes committed in Vietnam.

Of course, Putin is not a flawless democrat, but the Americans, in their neoliberalism, also have their difficulties in asserting democracy in their country. And they all – the U.S. as well as the European Union – should remember how badly the disintegrating Soviet Union was mishandled in 1991 and after. As in a boxing match in which the opponent is already down, the Americans struck again below the belt in form of the secret Wolfowitz-Memorandum, casting “Russia as the gravest potential threat to U.S. vital interests [before it had even done anything] … The Pentagon had decided the United States would never permit any nation … to rise again even to the status of regional superpower” (Source: Patrick J. Buchanan: A Republic, not an Empire, pages 7-9).

The memorandum proves the West’s aggressive strategy against Russia: pushing NATO forward to its borders in open breach of previous agreements – the same agreements, by the way, that enabled the Germans to reunify in 1990. I was there, I lived it and experienced it.

One can declare someone the main enemy before even knowing whether the opponent is an enemy at all. This is exactly what happened with Russia after the end of the Cold War. The truth of the history is long forgotten today. Just one hundred years ago, the current confrontations over Ukraine would have led to a full-scale military conflict. Who still cares about that? Of course, Putin also has skeletons in the closet – but from the point of view of the West, he alone is the villain. It is as simple as that.

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