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.

Russia in a Pincer Grip – Germany should stay out of it

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz sees “Russian troop movements on Ukraine border with concern.” Oh, my goodness. The clever strategist – what does he want to do?

“It is very, very important that no one rummages through the history books to redraw borders,” Scholz said today at a press conference in Berlin, already doing his first pull-ups on the edge of the table.

He’s not even in office yet, and already he’s talking nonsense. It’s a pity that he can no longer seek advice from his great role model, Helmut Schmidt (“Schmidt the Lip,” quote: Jimmy Carter). Yet, very likely he had to say these words – for diplomatic reasons, but above all for alliance reasons, in short: Pro forma.

But the choice of words could have been a little more prudent. The history of the people is not important? Their ethnic origin, their traditions, their language, and everything that makes up their identity – all that can be swept under the carpet so easily? Scholz, as a German, should be aware that the memory of the Great Patriotic War is still very much alive in eastern Ukraine. And also, about what we Germans did there in the Second World War. Does Germany’s new chancellor know anything about this? Even if he does, he should keep his mouth shut. If that’s the way they want it, let the Americans get themselves into hot water once again.

We Germans have no say in the matter.

Has anyone ever considered the fact that Ukraine is not a unified state, because the eastern part with the Donbas is deeply Russian, while the western part was Austrian for a very long time, between the World Wars even polish? Is it ever asked what the people in eastern Ukraine want?

The Americans including NATO want to push their sphere of influence right under Putin’s nose, and that’s what it’s all about. I can understand very well that he doesn’t like that. In the end, Biden, too, will be cautious – because he cannot risk the next American military disaster.

After the end of the Cold War more than 30 years ago, there was absolutely no reason for the West to reject Russia’s outstretched hand. And yet it did. Even more, it broke its promises to Russia and extended NATO across the Oder-Neisse line. It is understandable that Russia feels threatened by this. But the West always puts the blame on the other side.