German Stunner: “West is on the Wrong Path”

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Posted on 10th August 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Guest Post by Dmitry Orlov

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.

7 Comments
  1. Billy says:

    Germany should do what is in the best interest of Germany and of peace.

    If Russia and Putin decide to play rough, who suffers? The US? Hardly. Germany is right on Russia’s doorstep, not us… so, she should do what is in the best interest of Germany and tell that “bomb tossing asshole” Obongo to fuck off (thanks to BostonBob for that one).

    Being the lap dog of the US is hardly befitting a country such as Germany. No matter what soothing noises the diplomats and politicians make, we still spy on Germany, still occupy her land. Hardly the actions of an ally. So, Germany should make her own way with her own best interests in mind…

    10th August 2014 at 12:26 pm

  2. Administrator says:

    Follow The Money All The Way To The Next War

    August 9, 2014 Posted by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

    A lot of people will be paying attention today to the open letter published in his own paper by Gabor Steingart, the publisher of Germany’s leading financial newspaper Handelsblatt. And it’s admittedly not an everyday occurrence when a man like Steingart writes a letter like that. But the content is not that big a deal. He doesn’t call out any lies.

    Mind you, the Handelsblatt is not some small paper, it’s Germany’s major financial publication, and Germany is Europe’s largest economic power. For the proper perspective, think of the publisher of the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times writing a major article, in 3 languages, that denounces the politics of their respective governments and the coalitions they are part of.

    Thing is, if either of the latter would write such a thing, our first thought would be, and rightly so, that there are political reasons behind it. Steingart’s letter seems to fit that pattern. He doesn’t go so far as to say what the western media are claiming about Ukraine and Russia is wrong, he merely says that ‘our’ politics vis à vis the situation, and Putin in particular, are. Because they harm German interests.

    I don’t think that goes nearly far enough. I don’t think we should say that what our politicians and press have claimed over the past 23 days since MH17 crashed is fine, or acceptable, or even pardonable, and that we should simply only try and find a different approach towards Russia going forward, because that would be more constructive. It wouldn’t help us understand, let alone solve, what happened, and more importantly, what’s wrong with us that makes us blindly follow the lies (a.k.a. lack of evidence).

    In my view, it’s time for every single one of us to take a few large strides back and look at what evidence there is, and what there is not. When we’re done looking at that, and we know right from wrong, we can assign blame, and perhaps punishment. With a clear conscience. Right now, we have done no such thing, and we risk not ever doing it.

    We’re instead engaged in a shouting contest for assigning blame, and we shout so loud precisely because we have no evidence. The louder our screams, the less the evidence seems to matter. In the course of this, we risk doing things that we will not easily, or not at all, be able to take back. We risk doing serious and lasting damage without a shred of evidence. Because our politicians and media tell us that’s the thing to do. It obviously is not.

    Since the crash that killed 298 people, I have, right here at The Automatic Earth, been through what evidence I think we should demand, at least the minimum amount of it, before we pass judgment.

    Politicians and media tell us the MH17 was brought down with a BUK rocket, but not one square inch of such a rocket was found on the crash site. Which means the involvement of such a rocket is merely a theory, nothing more. Nothing.

    We don’t know what information is on the black boxes, though they were handed over to a British lab two weeks or so ago. We don’t know what’s on the Air Traffic Control logs, because those were taken away by the Ukraine Secret Service the day of the crash, and no-one ever heard from them again.

    We don’t know why there were Ukraine jets near the MH17 plane when it got hit, but ti’s getting hard to deny that they were there. We don’t know why Ukraine deployed BUK installations in the area not long before July 17.

    Malaysia was obviously one of the main parties involved in the crash: it lost many people, and it pretty much lost its major airline, which was delisted and taken over by its government at a huge price. Malaysia’s no. 1 newspaper, The New Straits Times, maybe not quite as big as the Handelsblatt, but still, published this 3 days ago:

    US Analysts Conclude MH17 Downed By Aircraft

    Intelligence analysts in the United States had already concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it. This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a fighter that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth.

    In a damning report dated Aug 3, headlined “Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts”, Associated Press reporter Robert Parry said “some US intelligence sources had concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame”.

    In a statement released by the Ukrainian embassy on Tuesday, Kiev denied that its fighters were airborne during the time MH17 was shot down. This follows a statement released by the Russian Defence Ministry that its air traffic control had detected Ukrainian Air Force activity in the area on the same day .[..]

    Yesterday, the New Straits Times quoted experts who had said that photographs of the blast fragmentation patterns on the fuselage of the airliner showed two distinct shapes – the shredding pattern associated with a warhead packed with “flechettes”, and the more uniform, round-type penetration holes consistent with that of cannon rounds. [..]

    Parry also cited a July 29 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interview with Michael Bociurkiw, one of the first Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) investigators to arrive at the scene of the disaster, near Donetsk. Bociurkiw is a Ukrainian-Canadian monitor with OSCE who, along with another colleague, were the first international monitors to reach the wreckage after flight MH17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine. In the CBC interview, the reporter in the video preceded it with: “The wreckage was still smouldering when a small team from the OSCE got there. No other officials arrived for days”.

    That rhymes with the video of a rebel leader saying nobody came to pick up the bodies, and after 3 days they themselves started doing it – with respect -, because it seemed the right thing to do, and because leaving dead bodies in 3 days of 35ºC heat is a really bad idea. Nobody ever came in the first days.

    “There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machinegun fire; very, very strong machinegun fire,” Bociurkiw said in the interview. Parry had said that Bociurkiw’s testimony is “as close to virgin, untouched evidence and testimony as we’ll ever get. Unlike a black-box interpretation-analysis long afterward by the Russian, British or Ukrainian governments, each of which has a horse in this race, this testimony from Bociurkiw is raw, independent and comes from one of the two earliest witnesses to the physical evidence. [..]

    Retired Lufthansa pilot Peter Haisenko had also weighed in on the new shootdown theory with Parry and pointed to the entry and exit holes centred around the cockpit. “You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30mm caliber projectile. [..]

    “It had to have been a hail of bullets from both sides that brought the plane down. This is Haisenko’s main discovery. You can’t have projectiles going in both directions — into the left-hand-side fuselage panel from both its left and right sides — unless they are coming at the panel from different directions. “Nobody before Haisenko had noticed that the projectiles had ripped through that panel from both its left side and its right side. This is what rules out any ground-fired missile,” Parry had said.

    Ironclad evidence? Certainly not. But no less credible than what we’ve heard thus far, and what nigh all western opinion is based on, much of which, especially in the first days, came from the US repeating what Kiev government social media said, information that has since all been torn to bits, or 99% of it: no source has less reliable than Kiev.

    Come to think of it, if ever you needed proof that the Ukraine government consists of a set of handpuppets, you can now be satisfied. PM Yatsenyuk announced on Friday that the country considers shutting off the Russian pipelines under its territory, so no gas can be delivered to Europe.

    Ukraine would not dare say any such thing of its own accord. The Ukraine ‘leaders’ are handpuppets to US and EU interests. In turn, EU leaders are US handpuppets, or they would have never accepted a list of sanctions that hurt them, but not America. It spells ‘follow the money’ all the way to the next war. They all sing the same tune, and as long as they can get the majority of their people to go along, they can take it further. And risk doing serious and lasting damage. Without a shred of evidence.

    Do read Steingart’s The Escalation of Politics : The West Has Lost Direction , and do read Dmitry Orlov’s reaction to it, but don’t forget, it’s important you make up your own mind about all this.

    To that end, may I suggest y’all write to your Congressmen and MPs or whatever they’re called where you are, and your newspapers and TV outlets, and ask them to provide you the proof that either the east Ukrainians or the Russians, or all of the above, those parties that everyone today lays the blame on, are responsible for the crash of flight MH17. And that they crashed it on purpose, which is not a minor detail.

    If you don’t receive- detailed – proof from anyone, that should tell you a lot. Don’t accept some ‘trust us’ line, that won’t do. Go for actual evidence. I for one would like to see some, any, evidence. I’d like to know what happened. And nobody wants to tell me.

    I’d like to know so I can stop thinking about it, and writing about it, but most of all so I no longer have to listen to all the lies my ‘own people’ tell me 24/7.

    Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m some kind of second class citizen, just because I don’t like war party talk, and I want to see with my own eyes, and judge with my own brain.

    I should never have to feel like that just for asking questions. And if I do have to, that means there’s something wrong with ‘my people’.

    Or, sure, with me.

    10th August 2014 at 1:55 pm

  3. ottomatik says:

    Merk is out. Her replacement will drive Germany east, to the Eurasian Trade Zone, the Saud’s and the Jews too. If Germany goes there will be a giant flushing sound and a mad scamble for a seat at the rim, all the rest will by lashed with (toilet) paper to the gigantic pile of debt shit, start eyeing a rim shot.

    10th August 2014 at 2:30 pm

  4. Administrator says:

    De-Dollarization Accelerates – China/Russia Complete Currency Swap Agreement

    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/09/2014 23:21 -0400

    The last 3 months have seen Russia’s “de-dollarization” plans accelerate. First Gazprom clients shift to Euros and Renminbi, then the UK signs currency swap agreements with China, then NATO ally Turkey cuts ties and mulls de-dollarization, Switzerland jumps in the currency swap agreements, and BRICS create their own non-US-based funding vehicle, and then finally this week, Russia’s oligarchs have shifted cash holdings to Hong Kong. But this week, as RT reports, Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “”The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China,” the Russian regulator said.

    As RT reports,

    In early July, the Central Bank’s chairwoman Elvira Nabiullina said Moscow and Beijing were close to reaching an agreement on conducting swap operations in national currencies to boost trade. The deal was later discussed during her trip to China.

    President Vladimir Putin, during his visit to Shanghai in May, said cooperation between Russian and Chinese banks was growing, and the two sides were set to continue developing the financial infrastructure.

    “Work is underway to increase the amount of mutual payments in national currencies, and we intend to consider new financial instruments,” Putin said after talks with President Xi Jinping.

    It appears the deal is done…

    The Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments.

    “The draft document between the Central Bank of Russia and the People’s Bank of China on national currency swaps has been agreed by the parties,” and is at the stage of formal approval procedures, ITAR-TASS quotes the Russian regulator’s office on Thursday.

    The Russian Central Bank is not giving precise details on the size of the currency swaps, nor when it will be launched. It says this will depend on demand.

    According to the bank, the agreement will serve as an additional instrument for ensuring international financial stability. Also, it will offer the possibility to obtain liquidity in critical situations.

    “The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China,” the Russian regulator said.

    Currently, over 75 percent of payments in Russia-China trade settlements are made in US dollars, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.

    * * *

    And as we have explained repeatedly in the past, the further the west antagonizes Russia, and the more economic sanctions it lobs at it, the more Russia will be forced away from a USD-denominated trading system and into one which faces China and India.

    10th August 2014 at 4:24 pm

  5. Stucky says:

    Russia + China + Germany vs. USA!USA!USA!

    Nice job, ONeegro. So proud of you.

    10th August 2014 at 4:48 pm

  6. Obama says:

    This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

    10th August 2014 at 5:04 pm

  7. Dan K. says:

    Poland asks US to buy apples banned by Russia :-)

    “We are interested in a quick decision because the situation is extraordinary,” said Poland’s ambassador to Washington, Ryszard Schnepf, as quoted by Polish press agency PAP.

    He added that he had met with Michael Scuse, a senior official in the US Department of Agriculture, and discussed the opening of the US market to Polish apple producers.

    “He told us to begin the procedure,” he said, adding that the next meeting with US agricultural officials is planned for August 18.

    http://rt.com/business/179332-poland-us-import-apples/

    10th August 2014 at 6:38 pm

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