The German Green Party has a chance to join a ruling coalition in September’s election, after turning its back on its roots, to root for Washington.
By Diana Johnstone
Special to Consortium News
The core of the American empire is its domination of Europe, directly through NATO and indirectly through a web of treaties, institutions and elite organizations which develop policy consensus and select upcoming leaders in European countries. Pervasive American influence has caused drastically deteriorating relation between Western European countries and Russia.
Russia is a great nation with an important place in European history and culture. Washington’s policy is to expel Russia from Europe in order to secure its own domination of the rest of the continent.
This policy entails creating hostilities where none exist and disrupting what should be fruitful relations between Russia and the West.
It is quite obvious to all serious observers that trade between resource-rich Russia and highly industrialized Germany is a natural fit, beneficial to both – and not least to Germany. A symbol of that beneficial cooperation is the Nordstream 2 pipeline, now nearing completion, which would provide Germany and other European customers with much-needed natural gas at reasonable prices.
The U.S. is determined to block the completion and operation of Nordstream 2. The obvious motives are to block “Russian influence,” to sell Germany more expensive gas from U.S. fracking and eventually to weaken support for Putin in the hope of replacing him with an American puppet, like the drunken Boris Yeltsin who ruined Russia in the 1990s.
But for those Europeans who prefer to reject Nordstream on the basis of high-sounding moral posturing, an abundance of largely fictional pretexts are available: Crimea’s vote to rejoin Russia, falsely portrayed as a military takeover; the incredible saga of the non-poisoning of Alexei Navalny; and the latest: an obscure 2014 explosion in the Czech Republic which is suddenly attributed to the same two Russian spies who allegedly failed to poison the Skripals in Salisbury in 2018.
According to the liberal doctrine justifying the capitalist “free market,” economic self-interest leads people to make rational choices. It follows that many sensible observers have placed their hopes for effective opposition to Washington’s policy of isolating Russia on the self-interest of German politicians and especially of German business leaders.
German Elections in September: Pragmatism vs. Self-Righteousness
Next September, Germans will hold parliamentary elections which will decide who is to be the next Chancellor, succeeding Angela Merkel. On foreign policy, the choice may be between pragmatism and moral posturing, and it is not now clear which will prevail.
Aggressive self-righteousness has its candidate, Annalena Baerbock, chosen by the Green Party to be the next Chancellor. Baerbock’s virtue signaling starts with scolding Russia.
Baerbock is 40 years old, just about a year younger that the Green Party itself. She is the mother of two small children, a former trampoline champion, who smiles even while speaking – a clean image of happy, innocent fitness. She learned fluent English in Florida in a high school exchange, studied international law at the London School of Economics, and advocates (surprise, surprise) a strong partnership with the Biden administration to save the climate and the world in general.
Right after Baerbock was selected as Green candidate, a Kantar poll showed her leading a wide field of candidates with 28 percent, just ahead of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) at 27 percent. But more surprising was a poll of 1,500 business leaders run by the business weekly Wirtschafts Woche, which found that Annalena Baerbock was by far their favorite.
Annalena Baerbock: 26.5%
Christian Lindner, FDP: 16.2%
Armin Laschet, CDU: 14.3%
Olaf Scholz, SPD: 10.5%
It is natural that the liberal FDP (Free Democratic Party) should score well among business executives. Christian Lindner also advocates harsh sanctions against Russia, indicating that business leaders prefer the two most anti-Russian of the lot. Of course, they may be primarily motivated by domestic issues.
The CDU candidate, Armin Laschet, in contrast, is a reasonable moderate, calling for friendlier relations with Russia. But he is said to lack personal charisma.
Two other parties were mentioned in the Kantar poll. Die Linke, or Left Party scored 7 percent. Its best-known members, Sahra Wagenknecht and her husband Oskar Lafontaine, are outspoken in their criticism of NATO and aggressive U.S. foreign policy. But Linke party leaders who pin their rather frail hopes on being included as junior partner in some theoretical left coalition shy away from such disqualifying positions.
The “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) party favors normalizing relations with Russia, but since it is labeled on the far right, no other party would dare join it in a coalition.
German governments are put together by coalitions. The Greens have positioned themselves to go either left (their origins) or right. The historic decline of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the weakness of the Left Party make the prospects of a Green coalition with the CDU more likely. Such a coalition might include either the SPD or the FDP, depending on the vote.
In one Western country after another, opposition to hostile NATO policy finds opposition on either the left or the right margins of the political spectrum, divided by too many other issues ever to join together. So the conformist center dominates, and as the traditionally dominant CDU and SPD have lost support, the Greens are successfully bidding to occupy that center.
The Green Program: R2P and the Great Reset
Baerbock is a perfect product of transatlantic leader selection. In between jumping up and down on the trampoline, her professional interest has always been international relations from an Anglo-American angle, including her masters degree in international law at the LSE in London.
Her initiation into transatlantic governance includes membership in the German Marshall Fund, the World Economic Forum’s Young Leaders Program and the Europe/Transatlantic Board of the Green Party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation.
On that basis, she has risen rapidly to the leadership of the Green Party, with very little political and no administrative experience.
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The Greens are in perfect harmony with the Biden administration’s new ideological crusade to remake the world on the American model. Echoing Russiagate, and with no evidence, the Greens accuse Russia of malevolent interference in Europe, while advocating their own beneficent interference in Russian domestic policy on behalf of some theoretical “democratic opposition.”
“Russia has increasingly turned into an authoritarian state and is increasingly undermining democracy and stability in the EU and in the common neighborhood,” their electoral program asserts. At the same time, the Greens “want to support and intensify the exchange” with the democracy movement in Russia, which they claim “is growing stronger for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.”
The Greens favor rigid sanctions against Russia and a complete stop of Nord Stream 2: “The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is not only harmful in terms of climate and energy policy, but also geostrategically – especially for the situation in Ukraine – and must therefore be stopped.”
The Greens also demand that the Russian government implement its Minsk agreement commitments to end the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, ignoring the fact that it is the Kiev government refusal to carry out the agreements that is preventing a solution.
Baerbock is all for “humanitarian intervention.” The Greens thus propose changing United Nations rules to make it possible to bypass the Great Power veto (held by the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K. and France) in order to use military intervention to “stop genocide.” Her enthusiasm for R2P (the Responsibility to Protect, used so effectively in Libya to destroy the country) should resonate happily in a Biden administration where former U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power is on the lookout for victims to rescue.
Needless to say, the Greens have not forgotten the environment, and see “climate neutrality” as the “great opportunity for Germany as an industrial location.” The development of “climate protection technologies” should “provide impetus for new investments.” Their program calls for creation of a “digital euro,” secure mobile “digital identities” and “digital administrative services.”
Indeed, the Green economic program sounds very much like the Great Reset advocated by the World Economic Forum at Davos, with a new economy centered on climate change, artificial intelligence and digitalization of everything. International capitalism needs innovation to stimulate productive investment, and climate change provides the incentive. As a World Economic Forum young leader, Baerbock has surely learned this lesson.
Joschka Fischer Champion Turncoat
Forty years ago, the German Greens called for an end of the Cold War and condemned the “enemy images,” the negative stereotypes applied to Germany’s former enemies. Today, the Greens promote “enemy images” of the Russians and are primary contributors to the new Cold War.
Baerbock has not had to betray Green ideals – they had already been thoroughly betrayed before she even joined the party 22 years ago by Joschka Fischer.
Fischer was a fast-talking former radical who led the “realist” wing of the German Greens. His nomination as German foreign minister in 1998 was enthusiastically welcomed by top U.S. officials despite the fact that he was a high school dropout who had spent his youth as a leftist street fighter in Frankfurt, not far from U.S. bases.
In March 1999, foreign minister Fischer proved his worth by leading Germany and his “pacifist” Green Party into the NATO bombing war against Yugoslavia. A turncoat is especially valuable in such circumstances. Many principled anti-war Greens left the party, but opportunists flooded in. Fischer could strike the appropriate chords: his reason for going to war was “never again Auschwitz!” – completely irrelevant to the problems of Kosovo but morally intimidating.
From his mentor, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Fischer learned the art of the revolving door, and in 2007 went into the consulting business with his own firm, counseling businesses on how to relate to political circumstances in various countries. Opportunism can be an art. He also collected lucrative speaking engagements and honorary doctoral degrees from universities around the world – he who never got his high school diploma. From his youthful squat, he has ascended to a luxury villa in the best part of Berlin, with the fifth of his series of attractive wives.
As he got richer, Fischer took his distance from politics and the Greens, but the Baerbock candidacy seems to have revived his interest. On April 24, Der Spiegel published a joint interview with Fischer and leading FDP politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, entitled “We must hit Russia where it really hurts.” Fischer hinted that his meeting with Lambsdorff foreshadowed the possible integration of the FDP into a Green coalition.
Meanwhile, in France
Across the Rhine in France, the French Greens, Europe Ecologie les Verts (EELV), have also been profiting from disenchantment with the established parties, notably the vanishing Socialists and the weakened Republicans. Greens have won several mayors’ offices thanks to poorly attended elections during the pandemic. They have caused some stir by condemning Christmas trees (as victims of being chopped down); by de-sponsoring an aeroclub on the grounds that kids should no longer dream of flying (bad for the environment); and by contributing two and a half million euros of public funds to construction of a giant Mosque in Strasbourg sponsored by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to promote Islam in Europe (Strasbourg already has half a dozen small mosques serving its Turkish immigrant population).
The EELV candidate for French presidential elections in 2022, Yannick Jadot, is inspired by Baerbock’s current popularity to think big. In an April 15 column in Le Monde, Jadot wrote:
“The arrival of the Greens in power in Germany in the fall of 2021, if combined with that of the ecologists in France in 2022, will contribute to creating the conditions for the emergence of [a strong European] policy of foreign affairs and common defense…”
Jadot titled his ed op: “Authoritarian regimes understand nothing but the relationship of force.” “All they understand is force” is the stale cliché forever trotted out by powers that themselves prefer using force.
Jadot complains of “the growing aggressivity of the authoritarian regimes that rule China, Russia and even Turkey” and the fact that they “fragilize our democracies by spreading false news” or “buying up our key enterprises”. (This is a good joke, since the U.S. notoriously intervened against France’s nuclear energy producer Alstom to facilitate its purchase by General Electric. (See The American Trap, by Frédéric Pierucci.)
One thing the French and German Greens have in common is Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who has been in and out of both parties, pushing both of them into the arms of NATO and Washington. But a difference between them is that while the German Greens are in a position to go into a coalition on either the right or the left, the French Greens are still identified with the left, and the left has very slight chances of winning the next French presidential elections, even with a khaki-green front-runner.
Biden has announced that the 21st century is the century of competition between the United States and China. For the U.S., it must be about competition, never about cooperation. Europe is not in the running; it lost long ago. The role of Europe is to be the follower, so that the United States can be the leader. The European Greens aspire to lead the followers, wherever Washington leads them.
Diana Johnstone was press secretary of the Green Group in the European Parliament from 1989 to 1996. In her latest book, Circle in the Darkness: Memoirs of a World Watcher (Clarity Press, 2020), she recounts key episodes in the transformation of the German Green Party from a peace to a war party. Her other books include Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (Pluto/Monthly Review) and in co-authorship with her father, Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning (Clarity Press). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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