Friday, August 08, 2014

German Stunner: “West is on the Wrong Path”

Gabor Steingart, the the publisher of Germany’s leading financial newspaper Handelsblatt, just let loose with an editorial directly challenging Washington's idiotic anti-Russian policies.

The appearance of this document is very timely: just yesterday Russia unleashed the first round of counter-sanctions, banning the import of foodstuffs from the US and the EU. These counter-sanctions are cleverly designed to cause pain in proportion to the level of anti-Russian activity of the country in question; thus, the three Baltic countries, which are virulently anti-Russian in spite of having large Russian populations and surviving largely through trade with Russia, face staggering losses, followed by equally anti-Russian Poland, followed by the rest of the EU, including poor Greece, which is friendly to Russia and should be considered collateral damage. The greatest beneficiaries of these sanctions are all those countries that opposed (11) or abstained (58) when the UN voted to condemn Russia's annexation of Crimea: they get to leapfrog over EU and US economically by exporting foodstuffs to Russia. Russia's consumers and Russia's agricultural sector are also among the winners: Russians will eat healthier food, with no GMO contamination, while profits that used to flow to the US and the EU will now be invested in domestic agriculture, making Russia more self-sufficient in food and aiding in the development of rural districts. Another clever element to these sanctions is that farmers tend to be politically vocal and influential. I see tractors clogging the streets of Europe's capitals and dumptruck-loads of manure decorating the steps of government buildings before too long.

As to his diagnosis of Obama's true motivation, I think he has it wrong. It's not all about pleasing the Tea Party. They, and American voters in general, are irrelevant, it makes no difference who gets elected, and Obama's policies are not Obama's. There is a deeper reason why the oligarchs who own and operate the country formerly known as America are currently attempting to enlarge every problem they see, be it stoking civil war in Ukraine or provoking ISIS into attacking Americans: they are desperate to avoid a scenario where the US collapses on its own, with no external enemy to blame. Not only would it be just too humiliating, but also the population, suddenly brought out of its stupor, might turn on those actually responsible rather than helplessly blame some foreign scapegoat. Putin has to fit the bill, reality be damned.

Steingart's editorial is full of appeals to reason, ethics, morality, and historical wisdom. But he is the publisher of a financial newspaper, and I suspect that he did some arithmetic prior to writing his piece, and that his motivation for writing it might be rather basic: he realized that Obama just took away his sausage. I hope that other Germans, and other Europeans, make this realization as well, and start behaving accordingly.

Below are the highlights, with a few comments of my own.
  
“Did it all start with the Russian invasion of Crimea or did the West first promote the destabilization of the Ukraine? [Actually, the Ukrainians have been busy destroying Ukraine for over two decades now, thank you very much. And even before then they were at it by crafting the ugly thing called Ukrainian nationalism. -D.O.] Does Russia want to expand into the West or NATO into the East? [Well, that's obvious; just look up “NATO expansion.” On the other side, Russia refused to give up its only warm water port in a historically Russian province peopled by Russians. -D.O.]

“If at this point you are still waiting for an answer as to whose fault it is, you might as well just stop reading. You will not miss anything. We are not trying to unearth this hidden truth. We don't know how it started. We don't know how it will end. And we are sitting right here, in the middle of it.” [Fair enough. -D.O.]

...

“Our purpose is to wipe off some of the foam that has formed on the debating mouths, to steal words from the mouths of both the rabble-rousers and the roused, and put new words there instead. One word that has become disused of late is this: realism.

The politics of escalation show that Europe sorely [lacks] a realistic goal. It's a different thing in the US. Threats and posturing are simply part of the election preparations. When Hillary Clinton compares Putin with Hitler, she does so only to appeal to the Republican vote, i.e. people who do not own a passport. For many of them, Hitler is the only foreigner they know, which is why Adolf Putin is a very welcome fictitious campaign effigy. In this respect, Clinton and Obama have a realistic goal: to appeal to the people, to win elections, to win another Democratic presidency.

“Angela Merkel can hardly claim these mitigating circumstances for herself. Geography forces every German Chancellor to be a bit more serious. As neighbors of Russia, as part of the European community bound in destiny, as recipient of energy and supplier of this and that, we Germans have a clearly more vital interest in stability and communication. We cannot afford to look at Russia through the eyes of the American Tea Party.

“Every mistake starts with a mistake in thinking. And we are making this mistake if we believe that only the other party profits from our economic relationship and thus will suffer when this relationship stops. If economic ties were maintained for mutual profit, then severing them will lead to mutual loss. Punishment and self-punishment are the same thing in this case.

Even the idea that economic pressure and political isolation would bring Russia to its knees was not really thought all the way through. Even if we could succeed: what good would Russia be on its knees? How can you want to live together in the European house with a humiliated people whose elected leadership is treated like a pariah and whose citizens you might have to support in the coming winter.

“Of course, the current situation requires a strong stance, but more than anything a strong stance against ourselves. Germans have neither wanted nor caused these realities, but they are now our realities.

...

...nobody is forcing us to kowtow to [Washington's] orders. Following this lead – even if calculatingly and somewhat reluctantly as in the case of Merkel – does not protect the German people, but may well endanger it. This fact remains a fact even if it was not the American but the Russians who were responsible for the original damage in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine.” [And let's not forget the illegal government overthrow in Kiev and the hasty recognition and support of the unconstitutional new government by the West. -D.O.]

...

“It is not too late for the duo Merkel/Steinmeier to use the concepts and ideas of this time. It does not make sense to just follow the strategically idea-less Obama. Everyone can see how he and Putin are driving [as if] in a dream directly towards a sign which reads: Dead End.

“‘The test for politics is not how something starts but how it ends,’ [said] Henry Kissinger [..]. After the occupation of the Crimean by Russia he stated: ‘We should want reconciliation, not dominance. Demonizing Putin is not a policy. It is an alibi for the lack thereof.’ He advises condensing conflicts, i.e. to make them smaller, shrink them, and then distill them into a solution.

“At the moment (and for a long time before that) America is doing the opposite. All conflicts are escalated. The attack of a terror group named Al Qaida is turned into a global campaign against Islam. Iraq is bombed using dubious justifications. Then the US Air Force [flew] on to Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

...

“The American tendency to verbal and then also military escalation, the isolation, demonization, and attacking of enemies has not proven effective. The last successful major military action the US conducted was the Normandy landing. Everything else – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan – was a clear failure. [To be fair, the invasion of Grenada under Reagan was a success. -D.O] Moving NATO units towards the Polish border and thinking about arming Ukraine is a continuation of a lack of diplomacy by the military means.

This policy of running your head against the wall – and doing so exactly where the wall is the thickest – just gives you a head ache and not much else. And this considering that the wall has a huge door in the relationship of Europe to Russia. And the key to this door is labeled ‘reconciliation of interests.’”

...

“It is well-known that Russia is an energy superpower and at the same time a developing industrial nation. The policy of reconciliation [of] mutual interests should [apply] here. Development aid in return for territorial guarantees; Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even had the right words to describe this: ‘modernization partnership.’ He just has to dust it off and use it as an aspirational word. Russia should be integrated, not isolated. Small steps in that direction are better than the great nonsense of exclusionary politics.”

...

“Germany has waged war against its eastern neighbor twice in the past 100 years.”

...

“Of course, we who came later can continue to proclaim our outrage against the ruthless Putin and appeal to international law against him, but the way things are this outrage should come with a slight blush of embarrassment. Or to use the words of Willy Brandt: ‘Claims to absolutes threaten man.’
In the end, even the men who had succumbed to war fever in 1914 had to realize this. After the end of the war, the penitent issued a second call, this time to understanding between nations: ‘The civilized world became a war camp and battle field. It is time that a great tide of love replaces the devastating wave of hatred.’

“We should try to avoid the detour via the battle fields in the 21st century. History does not have to repeat itself. Maybe we can find a shortcut.”

Here is the full text, in German, English and Russian.

20 comments:

Robert Beckett said...

Thanks for this. I had thought that a breath of reason might come from Germany - they have too much to lose! Obama stole his sausage indeed!(Though really the poor guy is just a figure-head. The real powers keep to the shadows.)
Things could get very much worse, very quickly, than the loss of trade and Germans know this.

k-dog said...

Traditionally 'The Great Game' was played because England wanted to protect the crown jewel of the British Empire, India. Obama plays it because he apparently does not know what a American president is really supposed to do. India is not a colony of America but apparently someone on Wall Street must have told Obama it was.

Expect no hope or change from this man. This many years in and expecting hope and change from this ball-less wonder would create a new definition of insanity.

The American economic machine seems unable to function without a military tragedy being sponsored by Washington somewhere in the world. Our president lacks the imagination to see any new way. It is time for change in America, and not just a change in leadership. I wish I had hope that it could happen, I don't.

America lies in bed and feigns sleep, trying to remembering old dreams of the night before. She fears what getting out of bed and facing the day will bring. She knows she is not ready for it.

Glenn said...

Germany, after dealing with the Nazi problem for decades, will find it difficult to support the Kiev Nazis, being contrary to the national recognition of its troubled past.

Americans, however, learn nothing from history so, like a slow learner blind man, will encounter surprise after surprise without recognizing a pattern.

clive mossmoon said...

Germany has always been a key player in Ukraine. Gas rights=SDR allocation.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-01-010814.html

Dmitry your perspective on Russia is invaluable.

anon anon said...

"When Hillary Clinton compares Putin with Hitler, she does so only to appeal to the Republican vote"

No. The Jewish vote. Hillary couldn't care less about Republicans; even Republican leaders couldn't care less about Republicans.

OldSkeptic said...

"The last successful major military action the US conducted was the Normandy landing".

With 3 of the 5 beaches landed by UK and Canadian soldiers. Using a plan created by a British General...oh and all forces being led by a British general too (Ike didn't take over until Sept after Normandy was won, then proceeded to completely stuff up).

Oh and almost entirely landed and supported by British ships.....all following a naval plan by a British admiral, with all the ships under his command.

So the Americans didn't even win that on their own.

Dr. Doom said...

Hold it a minute there OldSkeptic. If it hadn't been for the USA, there wouldn't have been an unoccupied Great Britain from which to launch all that great British military might and planning on D-Day. I'm sure it was a collaborative effort, along the lines of the previous joint military work in North Africa.

They also say the Russians actually fought and won most of the WWII over ther Germans. That may be true, as the Germans were basically finished off strategically after the loss at Stalingrad. A point to remember is the USA again played an important role as military supplier to the Russians/Soviets.

patriciaormsby said...

Iwojima was February-March 1945, and in fact all of the Pacific campaign was done after the Allies quelled Germany. Australia was an immense help to that--and never underestimate Russia. It is said they had dealt Japan a decisive blow prior Hiroshima and Nagasaki (earlier today people all over Japan observed a moment of silence for the latter: 11:00 sharp, Hiroshima was 8:15 a.m.).

I'd say America had a stunning success in the Pacific, and it led to our current hubris, just as Japan's defeat of Russia early in the 20th century empowered the military of a modernizing liberal society, with eerily similar results to what is occurring now in the US.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Thanks for the first full-blooded LOL of the day: Reagan's great military victory!

There's an old Cymraeg word: 'crechwenu' which means to guffaw, or if you like, to crack out laughing. This was an authentic crechwenu. Thanks!

In Memoriam EDOUARD H. GANDON said...

I had long before seen it all, since the coup that installed the Ukranian puppet regime. Nevertheless, I was shocked that Germany was participating in this coup. It seemed too stupid, too much against her vital interests. But then I reminded myself that Germany and much of Europe was still under occupation by USA troops under the cover of NATO.
Anyhow, if you want to see the reality of todays imperialism you must see the big picture and read (critically) the PNAC (project for a new american century) which is the script for all that happened concerning USA external policies.

The real masters, the ones that command behing the scenes are also undertaking a radical «malthusian» approach. They eliminate people that are not needed and spend too many resources. They encourage endless wars also because it helps them in many ways: to secure their power, their wealth, the access to cheap raw materials...

galacticsurfer said...

Obama Should Release Ukraine Evidence
http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/25277-obama-should-release-ukraine-evidence
appeal from ex cia types

UnbekanntImInternet said...

Dmitri, the very substancial part about Willy Brandt you left out tells you where he is coming from. Not from the loss of sausage, but of something more important. Peace.

michigan native said...

Reagan tested the waters of public opinion after the bad taste left in America's mouth after the Vietnam debacle by trouncing on the legally elected New Jewel government in Grenada and their tiny third world army. The whole thing was a shameful disgrace but got the flag waving idiots all drummed up about the US "being number one again" and military interventionism. The pretext was a "rescue mission". Like the "liberation mission" and even more lame, the "humanitarian" mission in Libya, it was/is total bullshit.

That prompted US citizens in Nicaragua and other socialist Central and South American countries to hold up big signs "Don't come and 'rescue' me. I am not in any danger." The media of the world covered it, much to the rat bastard Reagan regime's chagrin, so the western media could not ignore it. I remember it well.

Also, the war in the Pacific was not a stunning success for the US, especially when the oil war started between Japan and the US. Japanese planes, submarines, and ships were better. We won because at that time, we had more industry and so could crank out more junk, like torpedoes that didn't detonate on impact but instead went 'thud', alerting Jap destroyers to drop depth charges on the submarine that launched it. Our planes were slow lumber wagons compared to theirs initially, entire squadrons were blasted out of the sky by the Japanese zero never even coming close to their targets.

Over time it was a war of attrition. They lost their best pilots, their air force, and most importantly, their oil. They were on the brink of starvation and surrender when the US decided to try out their new toy on them, but that is another story.

Regarding these sanctions. Take Germany. We have apparently stole a large quantity of their gold, it has been revealed that we spy on them. These terrorists from the western Ukraine are largely neo Nazi mercenaries. When will the people and the government of Germany stand up and say "enough"? Putin has them by the balls. All that is needed is 1)the truth to come out about the Malaysian airliner, that it was a false flag event perpetrated by the monsters that the US installed and is funding 2)a clockwise turn of the natural gas supply spigot, especially if we have another winter from hell like the last one.

The Canadians just sent the thugs several million dollars worth of sleeping bags, bullet proof vests, etc. They should have sent them wool sweaters and winter jackets, and space heaters because they will need them with their gas shut off. If their electricity is generated using natural gas, they could use some Canadian timber for wood burning stoves and candles to see in the dark. And how friendly will the Canadian government be to the neocons back here when they get even more desperate and go in and steal their tar sands or force them to take worthless petrodollars for their exports? You know that day is coming, the US wasn't going to go down with dignity, instead it looks like warfare abroad (until the energy isn't there to wage it) and martial law at home (until the will and energy needed to impose it runs out). I see a great deal of misery laying ahead.

Stonesoup said...

This has been the best comment page I have read in a while. You are all so knowledgeable. there are so many things I could say but I think I would sound pretty dumb. One thing I would like to mention is the one thing that helped bring down the wall in Berlin. At the time the people had had enough of pollution. Mothers in East Berlin had been told to stop breast feeding their babies because their milk had become so toxic that it was to dangerous for infants to ingest. This is when the mothers in the east started to demonstrate against the toxic wast that was poisoning their air and water. The students at the university joined in with the mothers and it started a movement that swiftly moved into a huge demonstration and then Reagan came along seeing what was happening in E. Berlin and realized he could take advantage of this so that was when he made his famous "Tare Down This Wall" speech. It was the mothers that were so angry about pollution that were the real hero's of the day, but this story is hardly ever told. They get absolutely no credit for having the nerve to stand up to the stasi. All the credit goes to the arm chair warier "Grandpa Caligula" (RR)

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Dmitry, just in case you haven't seen this item from the Saker: another illustration of the shambolic nature of the Choctipot-junta in Kiev, and the consequent disasters happening to their military in the attack on the Donbass Peoples' Republics:

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-much-waited-ukraine-sitrep.html

michigan native said...

Now that is an interesting perspective that I have never heard before.

What I was told by many US "military brats" that were living in West Germany after the wall collapsed for whatever reason, the West Germans could not get ahold of the eggs, milk, cheese, and produce from the east fast enough because it was still being produced the old fashioned, pre modern industrialization way of quick profit,soil destructive way of doing things ripe with chemicals and fertilizers that are about to result in mass starvation some time in the near future for all of us. The "taste" or "flavor" this co-worker told me about was one that the pre "cold war" Germans from the so called west missed for several decades. If true, that was never reported in our ever so accurate and unbiased "fair and accurate" corporate media.

Of course, the media fails to mention that. Before I read the update here on August 6th about the Malaysian jet, even before I read before posting on this latest blog, I was posting quite regularly on RT news and other outlets about the delay when they would have known right away if some antiquated BUK AA missile had brought down the plane, and suggesting that it followed a callous pattern of disregard for human life/innocent civilians that the neo Nazis in the west have consistently shown, even to the point where I am seeing signs that the present US regime is starting to come under attack by nationalists themselves, who are resisting being drafted and saying they never wanted war with the people in the east/Russia.

I would provide a link to the latest by Gerald Celente for some comic relief, but his last youtube update degenerated to a shouting match between Celente and Greg Hunter over the Palestine/Israeli conflict, which is a total waste of time, as this will always result in cycles of revenge, hatred, and killing until the end of time. Sad, but as some say, "it is what it is".

So now the Russian bear has stood up and is posed to strike back at the dogs and insects that insist on pestering it. Knowing the dogs are close to starvation (collapse)and the insects/parasites are about to get a generous application of pesticides (their own people turning against the oligarchs and US dictators) in their obvious desperation are in a rush to pass judgment and demonize Russia, when in fact it was decades of arrogance and fiscal recklessness by the west and the US in particular that lead to its demise.

Time to blame fictitious enemies (illegal immigrants, minorities, liberals, Russia, etc) for the inevitable collapse and resort to warfare. Nazi Germany seems about to repeat itself on brain dead minions from the so called "west"

Time for war and martial law. Let us hope we will not be sheep this time and stop the insanity

rapier said...

On Grenada. Granada was not in fact a successful military campaign.

To set the stage, a school on the coast with some American students was not under threat. In the middle of the island a crew of a few hundred Cubans was building an airfield. As all Cuban men are required to serve in the military, I think, they had some military experience and light weapons but they were not directly a military unit but more on the order of a militia.

The US had a naval task force offshore and eventually used amphibious landing craft to transport the students off the island. This could have been done anytime without an attack on the airfield.

Instead the US strafed the airfield and workers and then did a paratroop drop. An incredibly stupid move as 19 were killed dropping out of the sky. Subsequently the Cubans took to the bush and fought a retreat for 3 days against fairly successfully as the US infantry continuously requested air support to advance. Eventually the Cuban surrendered.

So 300 Cuban militiamen fought a task force officially numbered at 8500 to a draw for 3 days. None of which had a thing to do with removing the students from a school which was not under occupation, attack or threat of attack.

EdinaDem said...

I think it is more than the oligarchs needing to divert attention from their own misdeeds; it is that significant profits are to be made in an unstable world and this is what they must nurture... you see them doing this all around the globe. The US cash cow (via provision of easy credit) has been milked, for the most part. Now they are headed Eastward.

Vincent Durbin said...

" The last successful major military action the US conducted was the Normandy landing. Everything else – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan – was a clear failure (...) Moving NATO units towards the Polish border and thinking about arming Ukraine is a continuation of a lack of diplomacy by the military means."

...Is the point to actually resolve a "problem" (real or contrived) or just to justify to internal plebes an otherwise unpalatable level of military spending by promoting the mortal enemy of the week? (Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Noriega, Ho Chi Min, or their pets, or their extended families...)?
I cannot help but notice that the US has abandoned any attempt at professional diplomacy. Is it because, properly conducted, diplomacy can achieve the same goals for far less money than military intervention?
Then if we consider the point of the game is to really handle the situation via *successful* military intervention, we cannot help but notice that the means employed would have been different...
It looks like diplomacy is used almost solely as a justification and a prelude to military intervention, and once we get at military stage, it looks like the point is more to create a chronic fixation abcess that justifies indefinite and open-ended military spending rather than a clear path to resolution via a punctual and clearly defined military/political plan.

In that light, diplomacy is a "least favorite" option insofar it may accomplish the same goals for a fraction of the costs, and even that actual military success takes the back burner in favor of throwing money at it for its own sake, regardless of the outcome... Who benefits by sticking to an antiquated cold war posturing? Who benefits by transforming military theaters into chronic, festering, wounds requiring expensive and open-ended "treatment"? (war on drugs, anyone?). The US has an organic need for military spending for its own sake. Is the military-industrial tail wagging that dog? In Ukraine's case, US escalation seems almost too tempting to resist, since the whole operation can be conducted almost solely at EU's expense...(and Ukrainian casualties).

Old Soldier said...

Actually, it wasn't Cuban "militiamen" on Grenada, it was a Cuban Army combat engineer battalion, complete with their BTR armored personnel carriers, who were busy working on extending the airfield. I know because a good friend and fellow officer was shot several times in the chest by the turret mounted machine gun on one of the BTRs shortly after the US airborne landing on the island. They were able to effectively resist the US forces for some time, due to the fact that they Cubans had deployed with their full weapon sets, as well as basic loads of ammunition, which is a far cry from your average commercial engineering concern. Simple fact is that war is damn messy. Who is to say which side actually "won" any recent war, when looked at in the long run? Japan still has an emperor, and is the third largest economy in the world, only recently surpassed by China. Not bad for a nation that surrendered absolutely with most of its economy in a shattered and burnt mess in 1945. Since few wars these days end in total genocide (although some come closer than others, such as the conflict in Rwanda), any objective determination of real victor versus loser can change given the time frame post conflict. Look at the UK in WWII, clearly a "victor" at the end of the war. Viewed now, in light of the dismemberment of the British Empire in the post-war years, as well as the extended period of national poverty after the war (the UK was on rationing for a long time after 1945, which many Americans either forget or never knew), its frankly hard to say that the UK actually "won" in WWII. Survived, yes. But won? To the victor go the spoils, the old saw goes, but the UK wound up losing their empire and much of their national wealth, whereas shattered loser Germany is now the economic strongman of the EU. Its all a matter of time frame of reference, in so many respects.