I had such a response to my previous posting of an article by Anne Williamson, that I had to share this one, because it contains three statements that have echoed some of my own intuitions about the emerging long term geopolitical situation vis-a-vis Russia and Germany, and it also contains a final bombshell. Here’s the article:
Now let’s take note of the first interesting analysis from Ms. Williamson, which occurs in this set of statements right at the very beginning of her article:
“In 2009, Poland and Sweden, ever attentive to the US’s geostrategic goals of isolating Russia and gaining control of China thereafter, initiated the Eastern Partnership program, which its sponsors said was intended to tighten ties with former Soviet Republics, such as Moldova, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine. A trade pact is a part of the Partnership’s Association Agreement (AA) deal.”(emphasis added)
Note the implication of her remarks, for what she is clearly implying is something we touched on earlier this past week, and that is the long-term American strategy for dealing with China. You’ll recall that I blogged about the article by Mr. Mearsheimer that appeared in the CFR journal Foreign Policy. You’ll recall that Mearsheimer maintained that the American strategy is counter-intuitive, and that no one – neither Berlin, Brussels, Washington, nor Moscow – stood to gain from the current posture regarding the Ukraine or Russian sanctions. As I also indicated, however, the Russians in general, and Mr. Putin and his advisors in particular, are keenly aware of any attempt by the West to dominate Russia (even those that might be coming in the form of an olive branch in the CFR’s journal!). You’ll recall that Mr. Mearheimer’s ultimate long term concern was that Russia could play a pivotal role in the West’s attempt to hedge in the rising power of China, and hence it was essential to mend the badly battered relationships between Russia and the West.
But Ms.Williamson is suggesting something different, though similar: the Ukrainian fiasco is less about isolating Russia, but rather, making that nation subservient to the West’s long term geopolitical agenda, which is precisely to hedge in China’s growing power and influence. In other words, it is not a difference of agendas that distinguish hers and Mearsheimer’s articles, but rather only the method by which to do so: force Russia to compliance, versus having it as a voluntary partner.
The second “bombshell” contained in the article concerns the EU in general, and Germany in particular:
“Fast forward to 21 February 2014, the day of the Yanukovich government’s violent ouster. Earlier that day, Germany, France and Poland had brokered a compromise agreement between the elected Ukrainian government and the protestors’ spokesmen. Having already agreed and executed much of the protestors’ agenda, the pre-2004 Ukrainian constitution was to be restored and Yanukovich, in turn, would stay in the diminished office of the presidency until new elections could be organized.
“Within 12 hours of the agreement’s signing, dozens of corpses of demonstrators and police killed by sniper fire were reported in the Maidan. On Saturday, in an un-constitutional procedure the Ukrainian parliament impeached Yanukovich, who then fled to Russia in fear of his life.
The Russian Foreign Ministry Russian Foreign Ministry observed that the Friday agreement was used “with the tacit consent of its external sponsors” as a “cover to promote the script of a forced change of power in Ukraine.” In other words, the Russians smelled a high-stakes trick.
Trick it may or may not have been, but Ms. Williamson is also reading the same economic and therefore geopolitical realities in Europe that we have expressed previously on this site, Germany’s position within the tapestry of the EU and the NATO alliance may not be as secure and pat a matter as western planners wish:
“If so, then what explains Germany’s support of the US lead? Since Russia supplies a third of the gas for Germany’s economy, risking Russia’s alienation seems unwise.
“The cat western media doesn’t let out of the bag is the fact that Germany has a full tank of gas, and there’s plenty more from where that came from.
“Gazprom’s Baltic Sea ‘Nord Stream’ project is complete and is now transporting Russian gas to Germany through a pipeline that transverses the bottom of the Baltic Sea, and the pipe’s capacity is double the amount of gas Germany purchased from Russia in 2012. Since 2005, the chairman of the supervisory board of the management company of Nord Stream is Gerhard Shröder, the former German chancellor.
“Gazprom in conjunction with Italy, France and Germany is building a second pipe, South Stream. The former SPD mayor of Hamburg, Henning Voscherau, plays the same supervisory role at South Stream Transport AG as Shröder does at Nord Stream.
“Interestingly, the Financial Times reported that the City’s skittishness in the wake of John Kerry’s idiotic ultimatum to Putin to renounce in advance the results of the referendum in Crimea put ‘half a dozen live deals to fund some of Russia’s biggest companies” in limbo.” But the FT article highlighted one deal that was not put in limbo: “South Stream announced that it had signed a contract worth about EUR2 billion with Saipem of Italy to build the offshore stretch of the route under the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria. Construction is scheduled to start in June.”
“Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has been quoted as saying that the two projects in combination with the already-existing Belorussian “Beltansgaz” pipe would turn Ukraine’s network of gas pipelines and biggest strategic asset into “scrap.”
“In other words, Germany’s verbal support for the west’s initiatives costs Germany exactly nothing. Any actions beyond the symbolic would cost Germany. Therefore, there will be no EU sanctions of consequence. Even were Germany on side for a US-decreed suicide mission, twenty-eight nations’ governments are not going to agree to economic policies that will take the cost out of their own hides. In other words, no State Department neo-con princess is going to ‘’F**k the EU.”
“With the Nord and South stream projects in hand, Germany, which has prospered mightily from the euro, but whose taxpayers are weary of bankrolling the sinking Mediterranean countries’ loans made by the prosperous north’s banks, has positioned itself remarkably well; in an EU financial pile-up, exiting the EU wouldn’t amount to much more than a fender bender.”
In other words, Germany’s energy dependence on Russia is hardly effected at all by the Ukrainian matter, since both countries have been busily ensuring the supply by by-passing the Ukraine entirely. And Williamson is seeing the same long-term handwriting on the wall that we have suggested here: Germany’s economic interests have little to do with Washington’s geopolitical agenda and are indeed somewhat contrary to it. One wonders if Germany would even still be a member of NATO if it were not for the presence of American military bases there.
But there is a final bombshell in the article:
“Now that west has adopted Bolshevik political tools, the Russians ought to keep turning the tables and counter with what the west advocates only with words, i.e. freedom and economic competition.”
And in proof of this, she offers a final parting shot:
“After all, who would have thought in 2001 that the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, would liberate the greatest number of people on the planet?
‘Say what!?’ you ask.
“If any reader knows of another leader of a major power, who instituted a flat tax of 13% or less, and thereby liberated his people from the necessity of burdensome record keeping and government tracking, while eliminating from households’ budgets the grievous costs of accountants, tax lawyers, offshore scams, and sparing everyday life the social costs inherent in a society riven by the divisiveness that comes of progressive taxation, then, dear reader, please do email me that name.”
Apparently the Russians – or Mr. Putin at least – were closely watching those 1980s American political debates when certain people were advocating the abolition of the progressive income tax and the establishment of a flat tax.
See you on the flip side…