It is, if nothing else, entertaining to watch the gyrations of Germany on the European and world stage of geopolitics, and one has to marvel a bit at Frau Merkel's gymnastics, walking the balance beam and performing her somersaults, uttering pleasant banalities to reassure London and Washington that all is well in the Reich and that Germany is firmly and solidly behind the west. But while Mama Merkel is busy issuing her bland assurances, as regular readers her know, her Interior Minister, Herr de Maziere, a firm Atlaniticist, issued his own warnings to the West. More recently, in the midst of the Ukrainian mess and American backing of blatantly neo-Fascist thugs in that country, Frau Merkel's government was busily negotiating (unsuccessfully) behind the scenes with Mr. Putin to head off a disaster, while Warsaw fretted and asked for American troops to be based in that country, to avoid the possibilities of a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 2.0. Then came the astonishing statements from Mama Merkel's Defense Minister, Ursala-von-der-What's-Her-Name, lamenting the fact that Germany's Luftwaffe had only a few operational fighters, the Marine only about three operational u-boats(having sold many to Israel, apparently), and that the Bundeswehr was, in the main, just so totally hopelessly weak that it couldn't possibly meet any NATO emergency if, say, there were a war in the Baltic States. Uh huh... Shades of General von Seeckt. Nice tiny Reichswehrs or Bundeswehrs have an unusually consistent pattern in German history to turn into big, mean Wehrmachts in short order, so I'm not buying Ms. What's-her-name's story. As I noted in a previous blog concerning this unusual "announcement," this was really about nothing else than Europe's foremost economic and military power giving the snub to NATO:wanna have a big war with Russia? Count Germany out. (It didn't work out too well the last time but that was only because the Austrians were in charge, and Kaiser Wilhelm II is unavailable for a repeat of the first, more successful, performance.)
But now there's another bit of news that indicates that Germany is playing its old diplomatic game of balancing East vs West, and playing it rather well, at that:
Now look at those three opening paragraphs again:
"The world was shocked when Russian special operations forces invaded Crimea with advanced technology, drastically improved operations, and with so much operational security that even agencies in the U.S. intelligence community didn’t see it coming. In Washington, government and congressional leaders are wondering how the Russian special operations forces got so good, so fast, without anyone noticing. Some are wondering how much help Russia had from the West.
"In 2011, for example, the German defense contractor Rheinmetall signed a $140 million contract to build a combat simulation training center in Mulino, in southwest Russia, that would train 30,000 Russian combat troops per year. While the facility wasn’t officially scheduled to be completed until later this year, U.S. officials believe that Germany has been training Russian forces for years.
"Rheinmetall defended the project even after the invasion of Crimea, up until the German government finally shut it down late last month. But many tracking the issue within the U.S. government were not happy with Germany’s handling of the Russian contract, and worry that some of the training may have gone to the kind of special operations forces now operating in and around Ukraine."
So, while the poor defenseless Bundeswehr cannot meet any emergency NATO obligation, one of its biggest defense contractors was busily helping train the Russian military - and its special forces - in the latest western military tactics! The hidden implication here is that technology transfers may also have been underway from Germany to Russia. The training was good enough, so we're informed, that Russia pulled off its Crimean stunt without anyone in American military intelligence circles being any the wiser, thanks to that training from Rheinmetall.
So what's going on here?
My allusion to General von Seeckt earlier was to a purpose. Von Seeckt headed the German military, the Reichswehr, after World War One, when under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany's military was restricted to a mere 100,000 men, not allowed to build any heavy artillery, aircraft, or capital ships exceeding 10,000 tons displacement. For a great power stuck in the center of Europe, with powerful France to the West and powerful Russia to the East and powerful Italy to the south, this was of course an intolerable situation. Von Seeckt's solution to this dilemma was to train the Reichswehr rigorously, to be the nucleus of a much larger expanded army when the time came, its members being promoted to form the officer corps and general staff of that army. In addition, von Seeckt insisted on a secret protocol in the Rapallo Treaty of 1922, negotiated with the other pariah state of Europe, the Soviet Union. In that secret protocol, German soldiers trained in the Soviet Union, using Russian aircraft, tanks, and artillery, the very weapons denied them under Versailles. Technology transfers between the two countries also occurred in conjunction with the training. Many of the German and Russian generals who faced each other during World War Two, personally knew each other as a result of their experience training together under the Rapallo protocols.
Something like this, I suggest in my high octane speculation of the day, is going on here: Germany is transferring tactical and operational training to the Russian military, and doubtless also the latest Western military technology, under the guise of a private contractor, most likely in an effort to adjust the balance of power against the dominant NATO/American preponderance. Reading all these tea leaves - Germany's notification to NATO that the German military cannot meet any NATO emergency, plus the actual training of Russian speznaz forces - mean something very significant: Germany is, de facto, if not yet de jure, repudiating its membership in NATO, or at the very minimum, telling Washington "please hold, while we transfer your call."
That, plus yesterday's blog about goings on in Italy, has to have the midnight oil burning in the conference rooms of Washington; lose one of the European Big Four, and that's a serious problem, but lose two, and the jig is up. And isn't it interesting, that this is coming from Rome and Berlin... sort of a Rom-Berlin Achse, 2.0...
See you on the flip side.
(My thanks to Mr. K.S. for this article!)