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Germany Could Stop the War, But Won't

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War forces Germany to burn bridges with Russia
War forces Germany to burn bridges with Russia
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With every day that the madness, the lunacy (Chris Hedges), the insane experiment (Noam Chomsky) in Ukraine continues, the closer we get to nuclear war and the destruction of 6000 years of human civilization.

That is a hard thought to take in, and nobody wants to. But anybody who ignores it is part of the problem. This unfortunately includes all our Western political leaders and, of course, the mass media, who drag the rest of the intellectually inert population along with them, like lemmings. The insane experiment is to see when enough is enough: When will the Russians, or NATO, launch the nukes?

Hedges concludes that there is "No Way Out But War." But there is, and it's not rocket science. As Chomsky says, you only need the brain of a ten-year-old, i.e., unencumbered by the indoctrination of the media and what is called "education."

"Just say No."

Americans understood when Nancy Reagan said it in 1982 as part of the war on drugs. Germans understood it in Wolfgang Borchert's famous poem "Es Gibt Nur Eins: Sag NEIN!" ("There Is only one thing to do: Say NO!")

But Nancy Reagan had the media behind her, not against her, and Borchert was writing in 1947, just after Germans had learned the hard way that war was not the way out of anything. The lesson stuck for a while. When the German Greens first appeared in the late 1970s, they were saying No to a lot of things, all of them bad, including war, and took up the slogan "Frieden schaffen ohne Waffen" ("Make peace without weapons").

Unfortunately, that is now ancient history. Today's Greens (Alliance 90/The Greens) are running the show in Germany, along with the SPD and FDP, having joined whole-heartedly in the call for "More weapons and more war - for peace!" This is what "Stand with Ukraine" means. (For the demise of Green pacifism and their concomitant rise to power see Diana Johnstone here and here.)

The German political class today is just as "self-deluded" as the Americans that Hedges describes. All are "trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism." German parliamentarians, all 736 of them, know full well, by their own assessment, that sending weapons to Ukraine and training Ukrainians to use them (or helping Americans to do so), makes Germany as well as the US participants in the war and therefore legitimate targets for Russian reprisals according to international law.

Who will decide the outcome of this "insane experiment"? Not the US, not Germany, and not the UN or any court of law. The Russians will decide. When they decide that US/NATO support for their Ukrainian proxy has gone too far, they will send their rockets to Idar-Oberstein and Ramstein et al., and that will be the end of the experiment. Not the beginning of the end. That's where we are now. It will be the end - the end of all of us, including the idiots who think the US can fight and "win" a nuclear war, of whom there are more than a few.

In Russian, "no" means "nyet." And "Nyet means nyet," as William Burns, the current CIA director, explained when he was ambassador to Russia in a 2008 confidential cable.

Ukraine and Georgia's NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia's influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.

Ray McGovern has some hope that Burns, whom he considers one of the few "adults in the room" filled with "sophomoric" advisers (like Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan), will be able to exert some rational influence on Biden, since it is clear that no one paid any attention either to Burns' memo or to Putin's speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference (video and transcript), where he laid all of this out very clearly and at length. The US and all the Western leaders have known at least for the past 14 years exactly what the Russian security concerns were, and what they could and should have done to avoid the situation we are in now. It has always been the same simple solution: Just say no. Ukraine must remain geopolitically neutral and can never be allowed into NATO.

Any NATO country can say the same thing, since any new membership must be unanimous. At the Munich Security Conference in 2022 (Feb. 18-20), which Russia did not attend (or was not invited to attend), the newly elected German Chancellor Scholz had a final opportunity to prevent the war that is now raging. Thirty-two years after Bush 1 promised not to enlarge NATO "one inch eastward" in exchange for allowing the reunification of Germany, and breaking that promise repeatedly by adding 14 more countries to NATO, every one of which Germany (or any other NATO member) could have vetoed, Scholz had a tà te-à -tà te with Zelensky, which I have mentioned before but which bears repeating because it remains a well-kept secret. It was not reported at all, in Germany or anywhere else, until 40 days after the fact, and even then not in Germany but in the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Scholz made one last push for a settlement between Moscow and Kyiv. He told Mr. Zelensky in Munich on Feb. 19 that Ukraine should renounce its NATO aspirations and declare neutrality as part of a wider European security deal between the West and Russia. The pact would be signed by Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden, who would jointly guarantee Ukraine's security.

Mr. Zelensky said Mr. Putin couldn't be trusted to uphold such an agreement and that most Ukrainians wanted to join NATO. His answer left German officials worried that the chances of peace were fading.

The only politician that I know of, German or otherwise, who has even mentioned this is Petr Bystron of the "far-right" AfD, who received this response to his query on April 20 (see here, Question No. 3) from the chancellor's office:

With regard to Chancellor Scholz's conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky on February 19, 2022, reference is made to the confidentiality of talks between the Chancellor and representatives of foreign governments.

In other words, "It's a secret." There has been no further discussion of the matter, as far as I know, either in parliament or in the press.

What do you do when you find an elephant in the room or a naked emperor? The child in me, like the one in the fable, wants to scream it from the rooftops, but no one is listening.

Scholz could and should have made a demand rather than a suggestion. One No, especially one from the strongest US partner in NATO, would have settled the issue.

How difficult could this have been? Zelensky himself had cleared the way, even before his meeting with Scholz, as reported by the NYT on Feb. 18:

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who suggested this week that he might abandon his country's effort to join NATO, will also attend [the Munich Security Conference].

Zelensky might well have been glad to be confronted with a strong position from Scholz, in order to counter the pressure from the (neo-Nazi) extremists in his own country as well as from the Americans, who as we now know are quite happy with a proxy war that (they hope) will "weaken" Russia - as well as Germany, as economist Michael Hudson cogently argues. By scuttling Nordstream 2 and forcing Germany to buy more expensive and environmentally harmful US fracking gas, and by using sanctions to prevent an economic alliance between Germany and Russia, the Americans hope to stave off what in the long run is inevitable: a new global multi-polar economic order that will not be dominated by the US dollar.

Instead of saying No to Zelensky, Scholz said Yes to the US, choosing to commit "economic suicide" rather than risk the displeasure of Big Brother. In his speech to the Munich Conference on the same day that he talked with Zelensky (Feb. 19), Scholz emphatically declared his "unconditional" allegiance to NATO and his deep gratitude to "Kamala Harris, to our many friends in the US Congress and the US Administration" for supporting "the goal of a Europe whole and free and at peace," and "above all to President Zelensky for his commitment to now make progress... in implementing Minsk 2."

The word "now" is especially ludicrous after 8 years of civil war in the Donbas resulting in 14,000 deaths and after Zelensky, under pressure from the Ukrainian "right" (neo-Nazis) and perhaps from the US, reneged on his 2019 electoral promise to finally implement Minsk 2 and grant limited autonomy and official recognition of the Russian language in the Donbas. Scholz makes no mention of this history, which is essential to understand the current conflict.

He makes another fatal omission in referring to the 1999 OSCE "Charter for European Security" (reaffirmed by the Astana Declaration in 2010):

The fundamental principles enshrined by the OSCE are non-negotiable for us. Russia has agreed to them, and they include the right to freely choose one's alliances.

The Russians have often complained about their Western "partners" deliberately misinterpreting the relevant paragraph of that document, which reads:

Each participating State has an equal right to security. We reaffirm the inherent right of each and every participating State to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, as they evolve. Each State also has the right to neutrality. Each participating State will respect the rights of all others in these regards. They will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other States. Within the OSCE no State, group of States or organization can have any pre-eminent responsibility for maintaining peace and stability in the OSCE area or can consider any part of the OSCE area as its sphere of influence.

The part highlighted in red is what Scholz refers to; the part in boldface is what he omits.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, as recently as Feb. 1, 2022, said in a letter to the "Heads of Foreign / External Affairs Ministers / Secretaries of the US, Canada and several European countries":

At the OSCE Summit in Astana in December 2010, the leaders of our nations approved a declaration that reaffirmed this comprehensive package of interconnected obligations.

However, the Western countries continue to pick up out of it only those elements that suit them, and namely - the right of States to be free to choose alliances for ensuring exclusively their own security. The words 'as they evolve' are shamefacedly omitted, because this provision was also an integral part of the understanding of 'indivisible security', and specifically in the sense that military alliances must abandon their initial deterrence function and integrate into the all-European architecture based on collective approaches, rather than as narrow groups. The principle of indivisible security is selectively interpreted as a justification for the ongoing course toward irresponsible expansion of NATO.

Scholz is not alone in his deliberate misrepresentation of such documents, which are the closest thing to "international law" that we have. Any and all such "fine points" are drowned out in the tsunami of Russophobic propaganda coming from both sides of the Atlantic.

The only dissent is coming either from the "far right," the AfD (Alternative for Germany) and the French National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, or, says Hedges, a "handful of anti-militarists" such as Chomsky and (Libertarian) Ron Paul - whereby even Chomsky notes that the only "Western statesman of stature" who is pushing for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine is Donald Trump, who is also, for Chomsky, "the worst criminal in history."

As for the "pitiful minority" of "self-identified progressives" in the Democratic party, as Hedges describes them, every one of them, in both the House and the Senate, voted for the $40 billion war aid package to Ukraine. The 57 Republicans in the House and 11 senators who voted against it are, for Hedges,"proto fascists" who "come out of the kooky conspiratorial world of Trump."

I do not share this blanket condemnation of the so-called "far right." I haven't examined the records of all those 57 Republican representatives and 11 senators, but Rand Paul (son of Ron) is one of them and he has taken at least some positions I would agree with. Tucker Carlson of Fox News is the only American mainstream talking head that I listen to, and as already mentioned, Petr Bystron of the AfD is the only German parliamentarian I know of to have even asked about Scholz's meeting with Zelensky. Hans-Georg Maaßen, the former head of the Bundesverfassungsschutz, the German equivalent of the FBI, has been threatened with expulsion from his own party, the conservative CDU, for being "too close" to the AfD, and yet he is one of the few to oppose weapons deliveries to Ukraine and the fanatical adoration of Zelensky:

Ukraine is not a state that belongs to the West, and to say that freedom, peace and human rights are defended in Ukraine and that we must therefore stand on Ukraine's side is dishonest in my view. Ukraine is a highly corrupt state. Only half a year ago, Mr. Zelensky was sharply criticized in the German media because of the corruption there, because of violations of rights, because of the violation of minority rights in Ukraine. Now he is being portrayed as a savior, as if he were the outpost of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is nonsense. It's about something else, as is often the case with wars. It's simply about power interests, and that has to be said: I also expect our politicians to show a little more honesty and not to act as if we were fighting a humanitarian war, with the good, the white knights on one side, namely Ukraine with Mr. Zelensky on top of the horse, and behind him the United States and us, and on the other side the demon, the devil Putin. This is like something out of a children's fairy tale that can inspire small children, but it is not the reality. The reality is more complex. It's about power, it is about interests, unfortunately at the expense of the Ukrainian population, the poor people who are dying and suffering there. [Interview with Dr. Hans-Georg Maaßen und Gerhard Schindler, tv.Berlin, May 18, 2022, my translation.]

In the German parliament, the only parties that opposed the recent colossal 100-billion-euro increase in the defense budget were the "far-right" AfD and the "far-left" Linke, with 10.9 and 5% of the seats, resp. Even within the Linke, stalwart anti-militarists like Sevim Dagdelen, Andrej Hunko, and Sahra Wagenknecht are becoming increasingly isolated. Wagenknecht's husband Oskar Lafontaine recently left the party he co-founded because it no longer considers "the interests of workers and retirees and a foreign policy oriented toward international law and peace" as central.

In sum, in Germany as in the United States, opposition to militarism and the US proxy war in Ukraine has been effectively excluded from public debate, with all the major parties having succumbed to the dictates of Washington. As Michael Hudson says:

The US/NATO war in Ukraine is the first battle in what looks like a 20-year attempt to isolate the Dollar Area West from Eurasia and the Global South. U.S. politicians promise to keep the Ukraine war going indefinitely, hoping that this may become Russia's "new Afghanistan." But this tactic now looks like it may threaten to be America's own Afghanistan. It is a proxy war, whose effect is to lock in Europe's dependency on the United States as a client oligarchy with the euro as a satellite currency to the dollar.

This is an optimistic view. I don't think it is realistic to expect the Russians to continue the war indefinitely. They are more likely to bring the "insane experiment" to an end that no one on the planet will be happy with, or even survive, unless we end it first.

Olaf Scholz could have done it. He could still do it. He could be "Olaf, glad and big." But he didn't, and he won't. He only has ears for Washington, and the ears in Washington are stone deaf. It's up to us, the "handful of anti-militarists" in our respective countries (e.g. here and here), to do what we can.

(Article changed on Jun 06, 2022 at 2:45 AM EDT)

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Michael Morrissey Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Former teacher, born in the US now a German citizen. Author of "Correspondence with Vincent Salandria," "Looking for the Enemy," "The Transparent Conspiracy," et al. I blog at morrissey.substack.com.

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