German Resistance to Russia Detente

The German political hierarchy and major media remain hostile to any détente with Russia, but the ground may be shifting under the feet of Chancellor Merkel and her allies, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is staggered by security lapses that may have permitted a fatal terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, the question many inside and outside Germany are asking is how this may affect the chances of her CDU party and its junior affiliate in Bavaria (CSU) to dominate the 2017 parliamentary elections and form the next government.

Her personal standing has weathered a number of crises in the past year, and polls before the terror attack gave her about a 50 percent approval rating. Moreover, within the CDU itself, she received more than 89 percent backing at the party convention in Essen a couple of weeks ago to remain at the helm and fight for another term as Chancellor next October.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, at the Kremlin. (Photo from Russian government)

That being said, the party has not done as well as Merkel. It lost several regional elections this past fall and the leader of her Bavarian affiliate, Herr Seehofer, was nipping at her heels over her continued hardline economic sanctions against Russia relating to the Ukraine crisis and more particularly over her lenient admission of around one million Mideast immigrants.

One of the widely noted features of Angela Merkel’s ten-years-plus in office is that she has sidelined all possible competitors, not only within her party but even in the leading opposition party, the Socialists (SPD) with whom she has shared a coalition government.

Just what this means in practice I saw firsthand last Friday when I was in Berlin for an event organized and attended by SPD party officials and supporters. The event was a press briefing at the Bundestag announcing the European launch of Détente Now! (or “Neue Entspannungspolitik Jetzt!” in German) after its U.S. debut with an op-ed in The Nation. The launch on two continents was meant to draw attention to the overarching objective of establishing a new peaceful Atlanticism to replace the neocon-dominated Atlantic Alliance that has developed over the past two decades in a malignant way, bringing us into a New Cold War and, in the estimation of some of us, to the brink of a hot war.

Judged as a “press briefing,” the meeting was a failure. Out of the 20 or so participants, there were just three journalists. One came from Deutsche Welle – not to prepare a report or do interviews but to ask insulting questions, such as why Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signature was not on the appeal to reinstate the policy of rapprochement with Moscow that German Chancellor Willy Brandt had championed nearly a half century ago.

Explaining the History of Détente

The significance of the event lay elsewhere as several organizers of Détente Now! met with representatives of German church groups, pacifist movements, one former Greens politician, and American friends of the initiative (myself and one other). But the single most important politician in the room was SPD Bundestag member Ute Finckh-Kraemer, a longtime supporter of peaceful coexistence who keeps the memory of détente’s great thinker Egon Bahr shining bright.

Ute Finckh-Krämer is on the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee and is Deputy Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Arms Control and Disarmament. In that context, it was illuminating to hear her response to a somewhat hostile question: namely how can you consider implementing détente with Russia when Putin is doing so many nasty things like flying military aircraft around the Baltic Sea with their transponders turned off?

Finckh-Kraemer reminded the questioner of just how Entspannungspolitik originally came about, not at a time of easy relations with Moscow but amid dangerous tensions. Détente toward Moscow was first implemented by Willie Brandt in 1969 in response to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia the preceding August to oust a reformist regime. Instead of imposing sanctions on the Soviet Union, Brandt sent his assistant, Egon Bahr, to Moscow for extensive talks with the Kremlin with plans to draw closer to them and seek to influence their behavior from within.

Finckh-Kraemer argued that what is urgently needed today is precisely what Brandt undertook in 1969, a policy of de-escalating tensions without preconditions. With her comments, Finckh-Kraemer demonstrated that within the SPD there are very able defenders of détente who understand with great clarity why it’s needed.

The problem is that the party as a whole is enthralled to discipline of the coalition government with the CDU and to its own internal hierarchy, where the most senior voices of the party, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Sigmar Gabriel, lack charisma and seem to lack as well the courage to openly challenge the “group think” coming from Washington and passing down through Merkel to the whole German government.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The apologists for Steinmeier explained that he, like Merkel, helped frame the still-uncompleted Minsk-2 accords regarding the Ukraine crisis in 2015 out of fear that the then-imminent defeat of Ukrainian forces in the Debaltsevo Cauldron might cause the United States to step up its military support for Kiev, risking an all-out proxy war with Russia that could spread the conflagration into Central Europe.

Since then, it would appear that Steinmeier and Merkel have remained fearful of breaking with Washington over the anti-Russian sanctions or over Syria lest the Obama administration do something reckless in its final weeks in office.

That is a different approach from what is happening in France where Republican candidate Francois Fillon – emboldened by Donald Trump’s U.S. victory – made improved relations with Russia a key element in his successful primary campaign in November.

Can Germany Shift?

In Germany, the question is: will the timorous SPD and the pigheaded CDU continue to hold to these New Cold War policies during the fall 2017 federal elections? The answer seems to be yes, unless the issue is seriously addressed now and a constituency arises favoring a more constructive approach toward Russia.

Within the SPD, the two main contenders for party leadership as candidates for Chancellor are Sigmar Gabriel, who is presently serving as Deputy Chancellor for Economics, and Martin Schulz, the outgoing President of the European Parliament. Of the two, Schulz is arguably the more “charismatic” if that is taken to mean outwardly self-confident, even strident. But Schulz brings with him the baggage of his association with the increasingly unpopular European Union bureaucracy.

During his years in the European Union’s institutions, Schulz was a defender of what is called “democracy promotion,” the West’s funding and training of activists who then challenge – through media propaganda and street protests – governments that are regarded as insufficiently liberal. In that context, Schulz has been arrogant and censorious towards Russia, very much in line with the policy that developed in Berlin over the same period.

Gabriel is less involved in foreign policy and lacks his own message regarding future relations with Russia.

Meanwhile, from my correspondence with leading experts on Russia within the SPD’s main think tank, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, I must conclude that people with a distinctly neocon or “liberal interventionist” viewpoint continue to rule the roost there. One does not get very far in the think tank by calling for a change of direction on Russia without being labeled “Putin Versteher,” a pejorative that roughly translates to “Putin sympathizer” and is fatal to any political career.

The same holds true for the Foundation’s foreign relations magazine, Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft (IPG). Reading through the issues since the U.S. presidential election, you could easily assume that the journal is edited by frustrated members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Its featured articles and authors are all anti-Trump and anti-détente. With this think tank and magazine, it’s hard to see how the SPD can develop a new foreign policy that deviates from Merkel’s anti-Russian orthodoxy.

Of course, there is more to German politics than the CDU and SPD, which together in the last elections gathered less than 60 percent of the votes. But the other parties also do not give much reason for hope that Germany can change direction.

President-elect Donald Trump

Die Linke (the Left) has some very courageous thinkers and politicians on the issue of foreign policy, none more so that Bundestag Member Sahra Wagenknecht. But Die Linke is split internally and engaged in petty wrangling, so that its electoral performance remains well below its potential.

Meanwhile, the German Greens have been — from their very beginning, going back to the days of Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Joscha Fischer — a virulently anti-Russian force. There are signs that the party has some dissenting voices today on the Russia issue, but not enough to shift the course of German foreign policy.

That leaves the far-right Alternativ fuer Deutschland, which, like the Front National in France, is unequivocally in favor of normalizing relations with Russia. But the anti-immigration and other social issues espoused by the nationalist and xenophobic AfD puts them out of play for any coalition formations.

For all of the above reasons, it will take a small miracle for the Entspannungspolitik initiative to move forward and capture the imagination of the SPD and win at the polls in the autumn of 2017. That miracle could come either from France, where a veto on current E.U. foreign policy is virtually certain following the April elections and will position France as a direct competitor to Germany for leadership in the E.U. Or it may come from the U.S., depending on how the Trump administration handles relations with Germany and the E.U.

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 20, 2015. © Gilbert Doctorow, 2016

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29 comments for “German Resistance to Russia Detente

  1. Dr. Ip
    December 23, 2016 at 10:52 am

    “…Angela Merkel’s government is staggered by security lapses that may have permitted a fatal terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin…”

    Well, the alleged attacker has now been “neutralized” in Milan.

    But the famously untrustworthy Bellingcat site has also had information: “We have found a video posted by Anis Amri, the man named by German prosecutors as a suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack. The video was shared on September 26, 2016 in Berlin.”

    Without jumping off the conspiracy cliff, perhaps we should be skeptical as to whether or not this Berlin attack was a Daesh coordinated attack. Who fed Bellingcat the video info? Who recruited the petty criminal (similar profile to the petty criminals in other attacks)? And why a Polish truck?

    Let’s see how transparently this investigation is handled. Or will it disappear quickly in the holiday rush?

    • Tonno
      December 27, 2016 at 5:13 am

      I don’t see how Bellingcat comes into this, but

      “And why a Polish truck?”

      is very easily answered: Quite a lot of trucks (about 50% by the look of it) you can find in Germany are “Polish” (i.e. they are registered in Poland but used in Germany). They may also be “Estonian” or “Romanian”.

    • mark
      December 28, 2016 at 12:11 am

      Is it just me or are these unbelievably nice considerate thoughtful terrorists? They always leave their identity documents at the scene for the police to find. 9/11, Paris, Nice, Berlin, all other attacks. Then they get themselves killed immediately afterwards. No messy trials, no interrogations to turn up interesting information. No loose ends.

  2. December 23, 2016 at 11:08 am

    The German political hierarchy and major media remain hostile to any détente with Russia

    because they nearly all professional criminals controlled by USrael!

    • James van Oosterom
      December 23, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      They’ve all been made offers they can’t refuse. Same as May, Rutte, even Obama…. So “criminals” may be too harsh a word to describe dead men walking. Although they will have been richly rewarded for their loyalty to the Matrix.

    • December 26, 2016 at 6:51 am

      Agree !

      I am a (still) German citizen with 28 years of US residency, disgusted about decades of German US boot licking.

      I wonder when will Germany finally grow up to be an independently thinking country and not a USrael vassal?

  3. Jean Ranc
    December 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Thank you, Gilbert! I signed the Detente as soon as I found it in your previous piece…and am now asking what more I, as one American psychologist-free lance writer (who’s currently out of print) living in NH, can do to support it. Your profound analysis brings us an understanding of the political situation in Germany and also in France. What about the chances for support in Italy? I read a long Corriere della Sera (Milan) interview with Putin, which was encouraging sign that Italians are listening and also watched what seemed to be rather open & mutually-responsive relations between Renzi & Putin…but now with the newly-appointed Italian Prime Minister…after Renzi’s resignation…what do you think? Here, I’ve been pounding out comments to relevant nytimes stories & columns…though mainly they are rejected/censored: plugging up even such tiny cracks in their Russia-bashing propaganda wall! And all fall, I was concentrating much energy on local New England newspapers which lazily just channel this toxic propaganda onto their pages via wires from The Times, The Washington Post, etc. But finally, I’m getting some receptivity from the publisher of 8 Massachusetts & New Hampshire papers including our Valley News…so will continue my “diplomatic efforts” here in New England after the holidays. Meanwhile, thanks again for your work & may you take a short break to enjoy the season!

  4. Kalen
    December 23, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I really hate that suppose “expert” peddles fallacies that there are two major parties in Germany.

    Similar to the US where we have one happy oligarchic party, in Germany we have one happy American neocon party of CDU/CSU/SPD who run country in a mafia type of warfare and welfare all financed on the backs of stupid EU population thinking that they live in EU not within borders of Grater Germany run by Global German business elites and ECB/Eurogroup, controlling Europe more than Hitler ever dreamed of. Greeks now know what I am talking about. They now they are a German colony that’s all.

    Germans have been bribed, pacified emasculated or suppressed with massive emigration OUT of Germany over last decades of those Germans who refused to supports institutional German fascism that is being practiced more in halls of government than even during NPD (allegedly Neo-Nazis but in practice nationalists who want German sovereignty back from German globalist) party meetings.

    Germany is a fascist state right now sans an open anti-racial policies, while heavily practicing them behind the scenes, peddling classism and gentrification in the German cities putting people mostly poor color people into what effectively can be called ghettos. The German regime are apt followers of Jim Crow teachings while peddling phony tolerance of pro-government politics and viscous brutal eradication of anybody else who is a threat or useless to the regime.

    The ploy about “humanitarian assistance to Syrian war refugees, was just that, a ploy to cover up an emergency recall of hundreds of thousands of NATO intelligence assets [“rebels” of EU citizenry, VIT very important terrorists of allied citizenry who know too much to be sacrificed, NGOs staff and straight Intelligence agents of NATO, black market operatives, money launderers and gun dealers etc.,] and their families from territories taken over by Syrian army after Russian intervention and as a side benefit creating divisions among German public and disabling unified front against Merkel authoritarian rule and her deranged threatening national interests policies of financing/supporting terrorists and provoking nuclear conflict with Russia by blindly supporting illegitimate Neo-Nazi regime in Kiev, guilty of war crimes in Donbass and baselessly sanctioning Russia for Ukrainian crimes.

    Despite fact that Germans are furious there will be no regime change in Berlin because of that, anytime soon unless it blows up in Merkel’s face like Berlin massacre perpetrated by a NATO asset but then she will be replaced by another puppet.

    If Trump is for real, only he could clamp down on Merkel insanity.

    • Tonno
      December 27, 2016 at 5:15 am

      > Germany is a fascist state right now

      WTF am I even reading

    • Rod Kapernick
      December 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Very interesting reading your remark regarding Germany and Europe now being controlled in a way Hitler could never have dreamed of. Over the past few years I have met two German immigrants to Australia. Asked why. They stated the escalating control they continually faced in Germany and Europe when trying to run there businesses. One a farmer found Aus better. One had already encountered the same sort of what he called Corruption in Australia as a property developer and said to me he was seriously thinking of moving his business operations to Russia. His words were roughly “I have checked it out. At the top levels of Government in Russia at least you are supported and they act as facilitators. They are not corrupt in that way. The only problem is at the lower levels. So what? a $50 bribe here and there and a free lunch is no big deal compared to being expected to donate $1000s in sick corrupt nations like Germany, Britain, Australia and especially the USA to get around barriers placed in your way continually. China is the other option. No real corruption at the top. Only minor costs to grease the wheel at lower levels. So much for less corruption in the West. It is simply cleverly disguised.”

  5. Nathaniel Heidenheimer
    December 23, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    What about JFK’s reversal of NATO and Adenauer’s Nuclear missiles promised for 1963? Why is this the most censored thing in history anywhere? Think about it first…

    • Joe Average
      December 23, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you for your comment. Without some research for sources for citations I wouldn’t have discovered the following statement of Angela Merkel: “Due to concerns over Vladimir Putin’s actions, Merkel reversed her position, stating to the German press, “As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, we need to have these capabilities, as NATO says.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction)

      Nuclear weapons (B61) are stored at the military base in Büchel. In official language it’s called nuclear sharing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_sharing, Nukleare Teilhabe). In case of a military mission (“defense”) those weapons are to be used by the German Air Force (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Air_Force; section: Nuclear Sharing).

      According to news sources a large majority of the German Bundestag were in favor for the removal of those weapons. Now it’s 2016 and those weapons are still located in Germany.

      Reading the name of Adenauer brings some historical fact to my mind, which I got to know less than a year ago. Konrad Adenauer – through marriage – had been related to the first High Commissioner of Germany – John Jay McCloy. McCloy’s wife Ellen Zinsser had been a cousin to Adenauer’s wife Auguste Zinsser (After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation; page 357)

      P.S.: Excuse me for using mainly links to wikipedia. Basically wikipedia can’t be characterized as a reliable/unbiased source. Nevertheless some articles contain some truth.

      • James van Oosterom
        December 23, 2016 at 11:10 pm

        C’mon now. If all you can say is that “some articles contain some truth,” why even bother?

  6. Bill Bodden
    December 23, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Angela Merkel, she who is apparently a very skilled and strong chancellor but who, nevertheless, accepted the US National Security Agency spying on her personal cell phone suggesting she knows her place in the global hegemon’s hierarchy.

  7. Realist
    December 24, 2016 at 4:34 am

    How much of Merkel’s Russophobia stems from the fact that she was born and raised in the DDR? All the former Warsaw Pact countries seem to have a huge hate-on for the Russians, especially Poland and the Baltics, to the point of mindless hysteria. The DDR was part of that geographic continuum. Undoubtedly a large part is due to real trauma associated with satellite nation status during Cold War I, but I suspect a lot is also endlessly cultivated by the United States. The German leaders from the West, starting with Kohl and ending with Schroeder, didn’t seem to have such a mental block about dealing with Russia after reunification and the break up of the USSR.

    Too bad the German people can’t see what a liability Merkel has been. She is totally incapable of Realpolitik which was initiated by her more enlightened German predecessors. She loses trade and jobs, incurs the enmity of Russia and contributes nothing positive for the Ukrainian people who are starving and dying because of American interference in their affairs. And, I haven’t even touched on the social upheaval being caused by the refugee problem precipitated entirely by Merkel’s tagging along on America’s disastrous policy in Syria.

    By doing America’s mindless and destructive bidding she gains nothing but trouble for her own country, yet accomplishes nothing constructive either for America or the Middle East. I hope that Trump gets someone more intelligence and less obsequious as a German partner in the next elections. European leaders should follow America’s direction only if it benefits their own people, not just to strengthen America’s already overwhelming hegemony. Someone like Orban of Hungary, who is roundly condemned by the knee-jerk vassals in Brussels because he doesn’t want to seed enclaves of future Muslim ghettos throughout his country by taking in a mandated quota of refugees, will surely have a better rapport with Trump. Neither will look at the issue as racism but simple survival of the native culture. All the terrorism being perpetrated in Northwestern Europe has not been by Lutherans or atheists. Moreover, if taking in these displaced people is such a marvelous idea, why are there not many many more in the United States? For some reason we seem to take in Somalis… and guess what? They seem to be the shooters and stabbers in the United States.

  8. Gilbert Doctorow
    December 24, 2016 at 9:42 am

    “She is totally incapable of Realpolitik ”
    I did not want to divert attention from my main points, and admittedly I suggested in this article that Merkel was a transmission point for Washington’s “group think” to enter the German cabinet. The reality is more complex. Germany, France, the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium: they all have developed their own “neoconservatism” and “liberal interventionism” independently and in parallel with the USA from common intellectual sources, mostly on the Left and Far Left. They share what I call a Leninist determinism, believing one can divine the course of history (Fukuyama) and then force the pace of history by regime change and the like. This secular religion, and it is a religion because it is based on unproven and unprovable postulates, goes under the name “values driven foreign policy” and it has settled in Brussels and taken over completely the European Institutions, not just Angela Merkel’s Berlin.
    However, Trump has smashed that mold, and the French (under Franois Fillon or Marine LePen) will do the same in April 2017 at their national elections. The same may happen in The Netherlands and in Austria. For these reasons the tensions within the EU during 2017 will be enormous and growing. That is what may propel Angela out the door, as nations and peoples begin to re-consider an “interests based” foreign policy, which is a better name than “Realpolitik.”

    • Realist
      December 24, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      OMG, the sickness is more systemic and widespread than I thought, but you also offer more hope for the future than I had seen on the horizon, ensconced in my retirement cottage in Florida. One thing I always admired about the foreign students at the large state universities where I toiled (as a biochemistry professor–so I practice political science without a license) during my academic career is that, aside from Vietnam, they were much more open and opinionated on international affairs than Americans, and certainly never lackeys of American policy. Who knew that so many of them were apparently absorbing neocon international and neoliberal economic philosophies for transport back home? One thing they repeatedly noted about America was how “provincial” it was compared to cosmopolitan Europe and beyond. So, I doubt they’d admit copycatting us even if they did.

      Thanks for the response. I greatly enjoy your writing.

    • Oleg
      December 25, 2016 at 5:16 am

      Thank you for this observation and for introducing the term “Leninist determinism”, which is of course exactly what it is. As a Russian who had to go through all this state-imposed Leninism studies at school and at the University, I find it both funny and troublesome that as soon as Communism and Leninism were defeated in Russia, they immediately re-appeared in the EU and, most surprisingly, in the US too. Europe has been always susceptible to the leftist ideology; after all, Communism was born there, not in Russia, but the rise of Leninism in the US is really unexpected and worrisome. Is this some sort of a human nature trait? In the end, the desire to remodel the world according to some grand idea, messianism of sorts, has always been a part of human psyche, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition, And pretty much always with disastrous outcomes.

      By the way, this is to a large extent the reason why Russia is so much at odds with the current Western policies. We know out of our personal experience that this does not work and is a delusion. So it is surprising to see the West (at least, before Trump) enthusiastically subscribing to these flawed policies.

    • Robert HARNEIS
      December 27, 2016 at 3:38 am

      “… Francois Fillon – emboldened by Donald Trump’s U.S. victory – made improved relations with Russia a key element in his successful primary campaign in November.”

      François Fillon has been campaigning for over three years in France for the 2017 presidential elections. His call for better relations with Russian pre-dates Trump. It is a survival in the current Gaullist party – the Republicans – of a school of thought that believed that de Gaulle’s independent foreign policy should never have been abandoned by Sarkozy’s rejoining NATO’s military committee in 2008. This school of thought has been amplified by Le Pen’s powerful sovereignist National Front and amplified again by alternative media, via the internet. It is strongly represented on the left by the independent socialist Jean-Pierre Chevènement. Hollande is today known for his groveling to the US in competition with Cameron and now May in Britain but in 2008, in opposition he criticised Sarkozy for his rapprochement with the US/NATO saying it was precisely the wrong time to abandon the independence and room for manoeuvre it gave. He was strongly supported in this by Dominque de Villepin, Chirac’s former Prime Minister and the organiser at the UN of the Germano-Russian-French opposition to the 2nd Iraq war. Seducing semi-independent France into a UK like satellite status was a considerable GWBush foreign policy achievement, greatly increasing the possibility of keeping Russia and Europe divided.
      Why did Hollande change his view in office? Because he had enough on his plate with France’s weak finances. Europe/France/Germany have a considerable positive trade balance with the US and can only lose commercially in quarreling with the US at least in the short term. In addition, France, like the UK, has a very advantageous position at the UN and in the post war institutions like the IMF. This privileged position is looking more and more inappropriate every year. Reform will have to come. Without US support when this happens France’s position will be weak. France is also vulnerable to US pressure in West Africa. It is noticeable that Fillon is stressing the need to get France’s finances under control as well as an independent foreign policy. De Gaulle first sorted out the French economy and then struck out on his own in international relations… and even he suddenly found himself facing an unexpected student uprising in Paris to cope with in 1968. The overall geopolitical issues are simple but the influences at work are complicated. It is interesting to note that, despite following a totally US dominated foreign policy vis a vis Russia in Ukraine and Syria, Hollande appointed Chevènement, who fiercely advocates totally different policies, as his special representative to Putin’s Russia in 2012.

    • Umb
      December 27, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      A VERY interesting (though maybe a bit pessimistic) analysis on the potential abandonment by Germany of its anti-Russia Neo-Con policy. Thanks you! We should take into consideration how things changed strategically after the election of Trump and the following big change in France with Francois Fillon in line for the presidency — and all the main political parties ready to go back to a collaboration with Russia. And we should take into account, as well, why those, still for many undigested, changes were possible and necessary. Merkel, in my opinion, is much weaker than the superficial pragmatic data would show. Germany is still an occupied country, of course. The soft power of the 40+ year old Bush-Clinton establishment, paradoxically, is much stronger in Germany than in the US itself. Many years of cult of the personality around this insignificant and deeply corrupt woman, cannot hide the fact that Merkel is a completely artificial creature of this, now defeated, establishment. Contrary to the frequent nonsense that dominate the media, Angela Merkel is not the most powerful leader in Europe — or in Germany.
      Was Merkel’s career jump-started with a foreign intelligence operation aimed at destroying the personal and political standing of the CDU leader and chancellor Helmut Kohl and his group that saw the future of Germany not in an antiRussia policy, but on a collaboration with Moscow? After the neutralization of Kohl, Merkel’s career looks like a manual example of a foreign intelligence operation. It included 1) the well organized destruction, through public or private dirty tricks, of any potential competitor from the left or the right; and 2) an obsessive media campaign outside, but especially inside Germany, that presents Merkel as the only chance of survival for Germany and Russia – and Putin personally — as the enemy image.
      Even the idea, hammered by the media and the “analysts,” that Germany is Merkel and Merkel is Germany , has set up the country for a wave of resentment all over Europe. In fact Merkel and her Bush-Clinton gang-inspired policy has weakened Germany, politically, economically, strategically … and financially (see Deutsche Bank Anshu Jain’s saga), to a dangerous point. Merkel appears very strong inside the CDU, inside the German Government, where her powerful sponsors have been able to blackmail and mollify any credible adversary. But Merkel is a puppet, a well groomed and supported puppet.
      Once her foreign puppeteers have lost their power (especially the huge control over both the soft and hard capability of interfering in other countries), Merkel will be the classic Puppet without Strings, like Hollande in France, or Renzi in Italy. The apparently impressive system of power of the “iron lady” could become very easily an empty shell, a big bubble with nothing inside. And this could happen much faster than one would imagine. (-umb)

      • Joe Average
        December 27, 2016 at 10:18 pm

        Helmut Kohl managed to neutralize himself. His party got into deep trouble after it was revealed that undisclosed party donations had been hidden in foreign bank accounts – even the actual finance minister Schäuble was involved.
        Like so many other politicians Kohl was a backstabber, too. In 1982 his party organized a vote of no confidence to get Helmut Schmidt (then German chancellor) toppled. In 1991 he pushed forward in recognizing Croatia. By doing so he stoked the flames of the Balkan Wars even further.

        If there had been some outside help to get opponents of Merkel removed or blocked, they got at least a few carreers of some really horribly politicians to a standstill.

        With regard to Germany’s financial institutions: All of them got themselves into deep trouble. They didn’t need any outside help to generate losses whilst gambling. It was the decision of their managements to participate in fraudulent activities (for example the manipulation of the Libor rate, manipulation of bullion markets, …). It’s rather troublesome that defrauders got a slap on the wrist, that there is still no real supervision of the activities of financial institutions and that no one bothered to implement harsher regulations.

  9. R.F.
    December 24, 2016 at 11:56 am

    As a Westerner who has moved to the east in Germany I can say that I have never met an East German who hated the Russians (discounting the small number who seriously suffered from them, eventually. The exception I see is our foolish president Gauck). The people did not like them, probably, but definitely they respected them. It is certainly a completely different experience from the Poles and Baltic people.
    I do really not understand her antirussian posture. She has a very poor standing inside her own party as a protestan divorced woman from the east in a party composed of catholic southwestern familymen. I suppose, that she “knows her place”, and besides being Chancellor in Germany is a position that is very much boxed in, due to the federal structure, party structure and American tutelage. I remember that after her flight to Moscow to negotiate the ceasefire in Ukraine, she was treated like a Saint here. The refugee crisis looked like the perfect design to destroy her position.
    Do not count on a new face after the election, because bringing down a CDU Chancellor in a grand coalition is technically nearly impossible. I rather see Frau Merkel do another 180 degree turn around. I hope for it.

  10. Evangelista
    December 24, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    My perception of the recent and current Merkel-Germany situation is of a situation in which “The reality is more complex”, as Doctorow states in his comment, above, though not in his article. There seem to be ‘forces’ at work in all of the Western countries, working for, or toward, a common hegemonic goal. The ‘forces’ appear to be directed through “think tanks”, memberships in which require adherences to the primary pursuits of the ‘forces’, for which the members are, essentially, the directors of the hegemonic agenda in their particular, and, at any particular time, satellited political areas. Polliticians in the divisions of the Western Hegemonic Realm, called “Democracies”, accurately enough, since democracy, by its nature, facilitates divide-and-conquer and so manipulation by a controlling oligarchic elite, are, essentially, spokespersons for the agendas of the ‘forces’, fed their perspectives by, and through, their local “think tank” members. Thus,we have had the “neo-con” agendas perpetrated across several political divisions, in the U.S. and Europe, and the Middle East, ‘consolidating’ diversified areas to form a multiplex single oligarchic unit. A unit with multiple owners who all own in confraternity, as, in effect, a commerce-correlated aristocracy, predominantly interacting as commercial, or corporate, families.

    Germany has been a primary player, or tool of the forces, in the hegemonization. Russia, with the fall of the Soviet Union, was “scheduled” to be incorporated from its old Soviet pseudo-communal, essentially single-corporation ownership into the hegemonic structure, through having the assets of the nation agglomerated into ownership by hegemonic force member corporations, but rebelled before the process could be accomplished. Putin became the ‘face’ of the rebellion, and so has acquired an outsized demonic stature in the “hybrid-war” theatre, in which, under his generalship the hegemony has fond itself thwarted, time and again, and place upon place.

    The first nose-flatteningly significant stymie the hegemons sufferred seems to have been the Ukraine resistance and Crimean dodge-from-danger to Russian protection. In that situation Merkel appeared to be messenger, carrying the Western contract that was to bind Ukraine. Putin explained the contract, and its trickery, and so triggered the Ukrainian retreat, and subsequent Western regime-change incitation, when the dupicitous contract trick was thwarted. It appears to have been from that point that relations between Merkel and Putin began to be pulled apart. I phrase ‘began to be pulled, because the appearances were that Merkel was under pressures to undo what was, had been, and should have continued being, a useful working relationship between Germany and Europe and the new emerged Russia. The rifting did not appear to arise from Merkel, but from “think tank” to Media deployments, and then more willing and readily manipulable political figures. At the ‘G-8’ summit in Australia, where Putin was “shirt-fronted” and a number of political puppets made themselves look petty and silly for antagonistic to Putin posturings, Merkel appeared to be pressed to take an anti-Putin stance, and appeared to do so perforce, with apparent reluctance, understandably, since so doing would make future negotiating more strained and difficult. After Putin’s departure from that summit, the ‘G-8’ became the ‘G-7′ and negotiating between Merkel and Putin ceased, while anti-Putin rhetoric in Media increased to howl and gale level… Until Ukraine, having under-estimated its breakaways’ capabilities, began losing its battle with them and needed a ‘peace’ to regroup. Then Merkel, Hollande and Putin negotiated at Minsk and the Kiev Regime signed, built up forces and resumed assault, got bottled into a hole and ran to Minsk again, and made a ‘peace’ again, which again looked, looks, to be a tactic, not a peace.

    Over all, Merkel’s anti-Russian position, through, and from, all this appears to be something forced, at least somewhat forced.

    Her open-arms to immigrants stance, on the other hand, appears not forced, at least not forced the same way, but impelled by ‘Third Reich Guilt’, a powerful force in post WWII Germany. For the position that Reich left Germany in, Official Germany will, and will have to be, the lastmost, or near lastmost, follower in the anti-immigrant reacting that is going to characterize the 21st century Europe that emerges from under the Hegemonic Forces’ domination, which will collapse as the fiscal construction the hegemony built its empire on, and with, to purchase and pay collapses.

    Thus, the European and world, situation, with Merkel’s and Germany’s, appears to me more complex and complicated than it is generally assessed.

    • Joe Average
      December 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      I agree with your assessment that the situation in Europe and in the world is more complex than outlined in reports. There seem to be a multitude of levels and interests.

      Merkel’s anti-Russian position is somewhat forced. For the elections of the Ukrainian president Germany had it’s own horse in the race Vitali Klitschko. He had been backed by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung).

      With the election of Trump as the next US president German journalists are now dreaming of an independent EU under the leadership of a strong Germany. They’re reasoning that if the US draws back from its “NATO obligations” Europe should develop its own independent foreign policy. An independent foreign policy could be preferable, but those ideas are as out of touch with reality as it’s with the present policy.

  11. Tonno
    December 27, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Good article, good commentary.

    Here is a typo though: “That leaves the far-right Alternativ fuer Deutschland, which, like the Front National in France”. That is of course the “Alternative für Deutschland” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_for_Germany). Sounds like a bunch of “deplorables”. More of this.

    More on the word “Putin-Versteher” in German at http://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=26839

    While one has to precede any non-negative statement about Putin (or Trump, for that matter) with “I am not a Putin sympathizer… but …”, it is absolutely expected that Ineffectual Obama be revered for all his deeds, in particular his courageous efforts to bring Universal Healthcare to the dying proletariat. European press and its general “though-alignment” is pretty retarded.

  12. Michael Kenny
    December 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    The history of Europe tells us that when the great powers are agreed, we have peace. When they fall out, we have war. Each country has its particular demon. The Germans fear encirclement (i.e. a Franco-Russian alliance). The French fear an overmighty Germany. The British fear the domination of continental Europe by any one power and the Russians fear being driven back into Asia. None will envisage being dominated by any of the others. Add to that the numerous smaller nations which have fought for their independence and fear re-annexation by the former colonial ruler (for example, but far from exclusively, Ukraine) and you’ve got all the ingredients of a third general European war. The idea of the European Union was to subsume all those contradictory factors in a common framework of political co-operation and those who seek to break up the EU are playing with fire, just as Europe’s leaders did in 1914. We are always told that Putin objects to NATO being extended up to Russia’s borders and this is used to justify his actions in Ukraine. However, the Germans fear just as much a revived Soviet Union, even if not communist, extending right up to their borders. Putin’s perceived intention to re-recreate the Soviet Union and his courting of France, and in particular, of Marine Le Pen, is bound to make the Germans nervous. His moves towards former communist countries and towards the Balkans add to German fear of encirclement. If Putin has the right to grab Ukrainian territory because NATO is making him nervous, then the Germans also have the right to make war because Putin is making them nervous. And so the vicoius circle commences. Thus, “detente” with Putin cannot be a capitulation in regard to Ukraine, and I doubt if thats what Francois Fillon means by “improving relations”, but Putin shows no sign of being willing to make any concession whatsoever. If Trump leaves Europe in the lurch or even continues Obama’s weak-kneed policy of mere sanctions, then European countries will have to look to their own defence and the small ones will look primarily to Germany for their defence (the Americn myth that everybody hates the Germans is the very opposite of the truth!). Distastful as that is to many Europeans, Trump’s election has transformed Merkel, herself very largely the cause of the EU’s current difficulties, into Europe’s best chance of defeating Putin and bringing Russia back to its rightful place in the European family.

    • Joe Average
      December 27, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      The idea for a unified Europe may have been the result of best intentions of the planners. (Alternative reports say that the EU had been a creation of the CIA.) Nevertheless the realization of that project miserably failed. Germany’s extreme trade surplus crushes struggling countries who are forced to to stay below 3% deficit spending. Overpaid EU bureaucrats (*) are deciding against the will of EU citizens. No one (!) had ever asked German citizens if they were in favor of Ukraine joining the EU. I’m pretty sure neither the French, the Brits, the Spanish, nor the citizens of any other EU member had a say in that decision.

      Before the coup news (TV, radio stations and print) frequently reported something about some “association agreement”. To many “consumers” of the media the term was abstract anyway. No journalist ever told us about the passage that this “association agreement” also included a passage about military cooperation of the EU and Ukraine.

      It’s European main stream media that had been writing about the “Russian landgrab”. And it’s mainly politicians and some historians – I’m still wondering as to how they got their degrees – who are fantasizing something about Putin recreating the former Soviet Union. (If they’re so eager to fight against Russians they should send their applications to the authorities in Kiev. They’ll probably be able to send them into the trenches right at the front line.) I’m still optimistic that most European citizens see through this charade.The only saddening aspect is that their choices in the upcoming elections are very limited. If the information that I had read is correct, then François Fillon is neoliberal to the core. (He may crack down hard on those who’re protesting against future labor reforms.)

      The best that could happen to the EU would be that the whole structure were reorganized in a way that everyone would benefit from a united (and fair) Europe. Ordinary citizens don’t want and don’t need war. It’s always to hide the screw ups of bankers or to enrich them. (Look at Greece for example. Greek citizens hardly get to see any bailout money. The money is transferred to Greek banks which in turn pay off their debts to their lenders – outside of Greece.)

      * Overpaid EU bureaucrats also make lots of other nonsensical decisions (curvature of bananas and cucumber, maximum power consumption of vacuum cleaners, …).

  13. Idiotland
    December 27, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    These clueless idiots will lose and like Hillary they’ll never see it coming.

  14. Julian
    December 29, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Merkel and her gang of sycophants are already gearing up for the election next year, trying to remove “fake news” from the board, solidifying their monopoly in the mainstream media and are desperately trying to keep any further escalations with Muslim migrants from happening. Which is an impossible undertaking, since over a million have been let in without checking any IDs and the number of black sheep is continuously rising. Terrorism has hit the heart of Germany, but Merkel is frightningly apathetic about it. Either she doesn’t care or she feels that any move will somehow force her to acutally justify her insane decision of opening the borders to Muslim migrants without any form of control.

    Luckily Trumps victory has put her on thin ice, since she could always enforce the anti-Russian policies with Obama backing her up. Now his last days have come and Trump will no longer support her. French support is also waning, considering that Marie Le Pen from the far-right Front National will most likely be the next president of France. And Italy is on the verge of bankrupcy, new elections and possibly leaving the Euro.

    All of these problems can be traced back to Merkel and her string of poor decisions. She enforced austerity on behalf of German and French banks as well as the ECB (European Central Bank). She flooded Europe with Muslim migrants and expected everyone to pitch in by taking in potential terrorists. She has ruled over the EU with her partner in crime Jean Claude Juncker and has alienated millions of Europeans from the idea of the EU.

    Her last days have come, she’s simply too ignorant to know it.

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