From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr
The claim that Germany and other European countries have made themselves too dependent on a political adversary like Russia with their energy policy is highly simplified and therefore simply nonsensical. The Americans in particular should be careful with such accusations, for they have never cared about ideological sensitivities when it came to enforcing their intentions in all parts of the world by any means as soon as tangible American profit interests were at stake. American wars of aggression grew out of this substance.
Of course, the initial West German rapprochement with Russia after Germany’s barbaric war against the Soviet Union also had its own interests in mind. Six decades ago, the Adenauer government gave away pipelines to the Soviet Union in exchange for cheap oil and natural gas later. That is how it had all begun. The emerging economic power of the Federal Republic of Germany, the German economic miracle after World War II, would very likely not have existed without the energy agreements with the former Soviets. The demand was huge. For 60 years, the Soviet Union and later Russia proved to be reliable trading partners, despite all international crises and ideological antagonisms.
The economic partnership between Soviets and Germans survived the Berlin crises of the late 1950s/early 1960s, including the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Eastern Bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the dramatic events in Poland in 1981, and finally the fall of the Berlin Wall, including the demise of East Germany, and even the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union itself in 1991 – to name only the most important events.
During the entire period, there were no other energy sources equal in price and quantity to Russian natural gas that Germany and Europe could have turned to. True – the reproach that can be levelled at the Germans today is that they looked too long and too hesitantly for alternatives instead of relying on Russia alone. Instead of becoming more independent from only one source, the country took the path of convenience, counting on “change through trade” to heal up the terrible history between Germans and Russians. Peter Altmaier, CDU politician and last Minister of Economics in the Merkel government, recently stated: “Nobody was prepared at the time to pay billions in costs for more safeguards. Not us politicians, not the executives and not the taxpayers.”
This worked for a long time without any problems. Then came the war in Ukraine and the demand of alliance partners, especially the USA, to engage against Russia. Nonsensical sanctions, from which only Americans and Russians benefit, are now seriously reeling Germany economically: For it suffers more from the war with natural gas than others, having allowed itself to be dragged towards an economic hara-kiri. On the other hand, due to the increased prices caused by the sanctions, Putin can sell his gas and oil advantageously elsewhere, while the price for natural gas in the USA is currently nine times lower compared to Europe, making the country more attractive as an industrial location for companies from all over the world. In the U.S., where the simple man of the street counts for little, the deal makers, their lobbyists, and the politicians they pay know how to win a dirty poker game.
The war in Ukraine is a crime, without question – but the sanctions do not end it. For the time being, it looks like the sanctions war is hurting Germany more than Russia. Germany’s most important gas importer Uniper had to apply for state aid today because there is no longer enough natural gas flowing from Russia. How the situation will develop when scheduled maintenance on Nord Stream 1 begins on July 11 and is to be completed after ten days is still unclear. By the end of the year at the latest, millions of private households will be faced with final bills for energy consumed, which many will probably not be able to pay on their own. And of all things, the federal government in Berlin with Green participation is thinking about reactivating decommissioned, environmentally harmful coal-fired power plants.
Germany is bound to the alliance, but it cannot jeopardize its economic foundations with a nonsensical sanctions war with Russia. There is also a responsibility to its own people. This is why it should open Nord Stream 2 – that is my opinion. As a result, the Americans would not voluntarily withdraw militarily from Europe, because they are never going to give up their imperialistic world domination.