EU Continues to Try to Hurt Russia by Shooting Itself in the Foot

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Normally, yours truly tries to write sober posts about serious matters, like nations seemingly hell-bent on harming their citizens and creating political instability. Sometimes when we see things along those lines, like Brexit. That could be rationalized as a disastrous combo plate of successful propagandization by those who believed they could execute a plutocratic land grab sweeping along lots of groups that had real grievances, but either ones with UK leadership that were shifted onto the EU or some actually with the EU but that Brexit wouldn’t solve. But it’s hard to make any sense of what EU leaders think they are accomplishing in their latest round of sanctions against Russia. Oh, and in case you lost count, this is the sixth package.

In the US, you can at least attribute our putative leaders regularly selling ordinary citizens out the fact that they are really serving super rich, whose interests virtually never align with ours. But that doesn’t make as much sense with respect to Europe’s Russia sanctions obsession. German industrialists have to be sweating bullets over the prospects of high energy costs and even shortages making them uncompetitive. Sure, some may be able to use an EU energy train wreck as an excuse to accelerate shifting production to Asia and other cheaper locations outside Europe. But the war-mongering explanation for the US, state capture by arms merchants, isn’t strongly operative there.

For the details: this sixth package gets the EU its much-sought-after embargo of Russian oil, although it’s only a partial embargo, thanks to prime minister Viktor Orban acting like a bad Hungarian populist rather than a good European. Orban threatened to veto a full-bore embargo since all of Hungary’s oil comes via the Druzhba pipeline. By contrast, most of the EU’s oil comes by tanker, which as we’ve pointed out and Alexander Mercouris has confirmed, allows for Russian oil to still come to Europe via out and out laundering through cut-outs and mixing with non-Russian source product, albeit at a higher cost. So landlocked countries on a Russian pipeline can’t cheat while the others can. So after weeks of wrangling, the EU relented and voted through the Hungarian scheme. The summary from the Wall Street Journal:

The embargo would include an exemption for oil delivered from Russia via pipelines, an amount that makes up one-third of EU oil purchases from Russia. EU officials said that by the end of this year, the embargo would cover 90% of previous Russian oil imports. It would be phased in over several months….

The moves include the removal of three Russian banks—including the largest, Sberbank—from the Swift financial-transactions network; a ban on three leading Russian broadcasters in the bloc; and targeted sanctions against Russian military officials and other leading figures.

If you think the EU will really, truly, will have cut its imports of Russian oil by 90% in a few months, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. And yet more sanctioning of individuals is a sign that the EU is hitting the bottom of the barrel.

The reason this latest action looks more than a bit confused is it follows a series of calls last week by EU leaders to Putin: Olaf Scholz by himself and then with Emmanuel Macron, Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer, and a presumably less edgy conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan. Recall that one of the big messaging pushes recently has been to blame Russia for upcoming food shortages and famines and specifically to charge Russia with blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. We’ve described repeatedly that the blockade charge is nonsense: Russia had had one humanitarian corridor open 13 hours every day, but Ukraine mines and port protocols were keeping ships at anchor. Russia cleared mines out of Mariupol and has opened a second port. Plus the focus on shipping omits that a lot of grain is still leaving Ukraine by rail.

And let us also not forget that the outlook for food this year was bad already between climate change and Covid. France, the number 4 wheat producer v. Ukraine as number 5, had a disastrous year. US output is down. Canada’s will be up but our readers contend the headlines exaggerate by how much. But Russia, the biggest wheat exporter, is set to have a bumper year.

So if all these countries really need food, and food scarcities are the number one producer of social upheaval and government overthrow, pray tell how does piling more sanctions onto Russia make sense as they are also asking for more grain and fertilizer? Are they so stuck in their colonialist way of thinking that they think it makes sense to try to harm a country economically while demanding it export to you?

The readouts from the Kremlin of the calls were remarkably similar, suggesting that these European big dogs all had pretty much the same talking points, and Putin had to keep repeating the same response. From the readout of the call from Macron and Scholz:

The parties reviewed in detail the global food security concerns. Vladimir Putin explained the real reasons for the unstable food supplies, saying that the disruptions were due to Western countries’ erroneous economic and financial policies, as well as their anti-Russia sanctions. He substantiated his statements with evidence and specific data. Russia, on the other hand, is ready to help find options for unhindered grain exports, including the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports. Increasing the supplies of Russian fertilisers and agricultural produce will also help reduce tensions in the global food market, but that will definitely require the lifting of the relevant sanctions.

Shorter Putin: “What about ‘You have to drop the sanctions’ don’t you understand?”

I hate to be belaboring points that are old news to regular readers, but it’s hard to see anything but disastrous outcomes this winter in Europe, when a lot of households will have to chose among heating their home, fueling their car, and eating enough. And even though the Global South on the whole doesn’t have anywhere near the same level of fuel needs, most countries have much greater food precarity, so they are at even more risk of Arab Spring level uprisings.

So how can the EU be so blind? Have they really convinced themselves that Russia is teetering on the verge of economic disaster despite evidence to the contrary, like the estimates of the GDP fall for 2022 being lowered slightly as export substitution is ahead of schedule, or the central bank again cutting interest rates? How about the fact that shops have plenty of food, food prices aren’t appreciating much, and ordinary Russians aren’t seeing signs of hardship (as in going without European goods and vacations do not make a crisis)? Yes, there may be some reductions in living standards in some sectors, but even to the extent that there are some costs, they are trivial compared to the 1990s…and here Russian overwhelmingly see their national survival at stake. Oh, and Putin just raised pensions by 10%. That arguably just represents an inflation catch-up but it’s a sign that the government has room to maintain social safety nets.

This isn’t the best analogy, since V does wind up dead after this scene, but the consternation of the goons that he is still standing is the closest cinematic parallel I can find to the Western insistence that Russia must be losing economically and militarily despite all evidence to the contrary.

Oh, and it’s the Norsefire party that runs the UK in this film, and they are neofascists.

The point of this clip is the “Why won’t you die?” line.

When I started this website, I regularly joked that I felt like I had walked into the fourth act of Götterdämmerung and was looking for a libretto. I never imagined that image would become more true over time.

Maybe readers can make sense of the EU’s commitment to its self destruction, but I sure can’t. And given how long it take for governments to be voted out, it looks very likely that Europe will inflict permanent damage on itself and its citizens before regime change takes place.

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  1. Irrational

    I sure cannot except our elite is bought and paid for or they see it as glorious opportunity to advance on climate commitments (if the US will let them). Sadly I live here but don’t see many appealing alternatives.

    1. Michael.j

      The notion of getting people motivated to embrace rapid fossil fuel reduction and consequent short term impoverishment are the only rational explanas I can see in this madness.

      The idea that one needs an external villain in a state of war makes some sense for the Germans who are ruled by the Greens.

      The problem with this idea is that the West still needs precious commodities like valadium and such, which are primarily found in Russia. It would indeed be colonial thinking that the Russian would share such metals, given of our treatment of them.

      I’m still betting the western oligarchs still believe they can bring the RF to its knees. This smells like another Crusade.

  2. marcel

    While it is often admitted that bankers are there to make a profit for themselves, and often don’t care about the bank or its customers, we still have troubles admitting the same for government.
    It is not the EU that is committed to self-destruction, but the EU leaders playing to maximize their power (and respect from people they perceive as their peers), with disregard for any of the consequences that they won’t suffer.

    And I fear the permanent damage is already done. Decades of neoliberalism has removed any resilience from the system, Covid made it tremble, and now the idiots are making it fall over.

  3. James

    I mean, what is the alternative?
    I don’t see any recommendations, just pure capitulation to the ideologic limits.
    It’s pretty easy to see the faults with the only plan they’ve managed to cobble together, but what else is the point of the liberal world order except to “boycott” non-liberal regimes?

    The faults in the EU’s energy dependance were laid out decades ago, and it’s always easier to burn down the outhouse, rather than install indoor plumbing.

    1. Skip Intro

      I think their pride and confidence in the awesome power of cancelling deplorables on social media has lead our ‘leaders’ to think that they can cancel countries, and believe that everyone loves them for it.

  4. Fo-fo-fo-foolin'

    My guess is that it is a sad combination of:

    1) being compromised, e.g. Scholz and the unfinished business of his actions/non-actions in the Cum-ex and Wirecard scandals, von Leyen and her McKinsey-deal: these scandals can easily be brought up again and throw them in jail if they don’t cooperate, big houses and assets everywhere. We could create a list of the kind of baggage these wonderful leaders have and then it would be a bit clearer.

    2) fundamentally incompetent, they really, really, really don’t understand how things work.

    3) they have zero skin in the game. All decision makers have big fat tax payer salaries and lucrative lobbyist money deals meaning that they can/think they can survive the inflation and unemployment with champagne flowing,

    4) they have no other career possibilities than being a politician wreaking havoc and turning everything into turd, like a Midas with a different touch. They must do whatever the deciding political organisations dictate in order to keep your career alive. I would not trust any one of these EU-geniuses even with a job as a toilet paper changer. Outside of intriguing, selling themselves and despising common people, they are utterly useless for any purpose.

    5) they really hate common people, they want us to die and starvation is a good way because you can always blame the market: if you can’t pay for it, it is your fault. The corona-epidemic has proven this beyond any reasonable doubt.

    6) they are idiots, doing the same thing (sanctions and war) over and over again and still expect different results.

    A plastic bag would do a better job in handling the Russia-EU-relations.

    1. Kristiina

      I like your take on it. Maybe add that it is possible they feel they are doing god’s work by speeding up the “green” revolution. No price too high for that, especially when others are paying. As to coping with what is in the pipeline – we are on our own. Very useful environment for starting to live one’s philosophy. As someone said on another board: No more meaningless bullshit, plant a garden, help a neighbour. My add: starve the cancer.

    2. Glossolalia

      2) fundamentally incompetent, they really, really, really don’t understand how things work.

      I’m not so sure about this one. They know that they keep getting re-elected so perhaps things are going as planned?

      1. Jams O'Donnell

        You could accurately say that they ‘really, really, really’ understand propaganda and how to use it, but, apart from accepting bribes, that’s all they understand or can plan for.

    3. Coop

      All those reasons and one other: they are being coerced by the US. As in ” wouldn’t it be a shame if you couldn’t export all those BMWs, Mercedes, fancy French cheeses, wines, etc. Just enact these sanctions and all your exports are safe.”

    4. ewmayer

      “…being a politician wreaking havoc and turning everything into turd, like a Midas with a different touch.”

      I like to call what you describe the “Merdas touch.” :)

    5. Felix_47

      Dear Fo fo fo…. I live in rural Bavaria. You have some good ideas. I do not think number 5 applies. I think number 1 applies and number 4 as well. And a little of number 2 and 3. So a good summary. The Cum-Ex scandal illustrates the way the leadership here works. My family follows the news but not in any depth. They are fluent in German and English is not that strong so they favor reading German material. And if you read Spiegel or the FAZ you basically get translated New York Times. The news channels on TV, state supported no less, are all cheerleading for more war. The two parties that oppose the war, the AfD and the Linke (and only partially) are footnotes and meaningless and censored and suppressed. Unless one reads English the news sources here are really one dimensional. I suspect much of Naked Capitalism would be censored. Germany has been reduced to a vassal state of the US and a convenient dumping ground for US generated refugees from the most recent war of choice. As a consequence the educational system is in decline as the school population is now pretty much over 50% third world and not German speaking. Pidgin English is the lingua franca. My kid suffered with it and now is in England. He sees his future in the Anglo world. Most all bio Germans with any ambition want to emigrate. The most highly rated occupational paths for German students, as I recently read, are Police and military. Kids are looking for security and time off. Government jobs as you have outlined in number 4 of your comment offer exactly that. The Greens were elected because of their feel good “green” aura. I would suggest the drop in the Euro recently reflects the confidence the world has in this crowd. Of course much of what we have here is just a mirror of what exists in the US just on a much smaller stage. Germany is the size of Wisconsin. Living standards will fall and it will be interesting to see what occurs as Germany now spends 100 billion dollars on expanding its military to become the largest in Europe and that is just the downpayment…..mostly to US military producers….to pacify the US. Who would have thought? But the Blinken Biden administration seems to have impressive persuasive skills. Falling living standards and economic collapse and a massive military expansion….what could possibly go wrong?

    6. norm de plume

      I agree that blackmail is number one, nothing else can explain the sinister unanimity. But I would go further than scandals that are already semi-public.

      I recall the time the US was trying to intimidate other nations into supporting a UN resolution to invade Iraq. It was revealed that they were conducting a massive intel operation to spy on the confidential negotiations of other nations and UN office-holders. A couple of brave British ladies, Katherine Gun and Clare Short, lost their jobs trying to publicise this. Later we had confirmation from Wikileaks that industrial scale spying on the representatives of other nations was being conducted via their use of American made smartphones and tablets, etc. We learned that cameras and microphones could be activated remotely, that ostensibly secure communications could easily be intercepted and recorded. Now of course the devices are even smarter and may include your television or fridge.

      The point is that despite denials we know in our bones that everything everyone does is hoovered up and archived and available for future deployment. This would be especially true of anyone in a key position, a real or potential obstacle to the untrammelled exercise of power. Tech wizards may be able to evade some of this but most people aren’t tech wizards.

      You would think many if not most of the people the US needed to target in Europe to ensure it got its way would have at least one career-shattering skeleton in the closet. I wonder for example if any of them were acquainted with Jeffrey Epstein. There must be ‘known unknowns’ aplenty.

      I have no evidence to support my contention that there are probably buildings with whole floors full of people engaged in this type of surveillance, but I would bet one of my pinkies that there are. How many people was it that have top secret clearance in the US? I seem to recall a story a few years ago that pegged it at well over a million.

      And of course, if the target is as pure as snow, something can always be invented – remember Hans Blix? That was a fairly cack-handed effort and the methods for this sort of skulduggery would, like the tech, have improved out of sight since then. Russiagate has demonstrated that intel agencies are not above creating false data trails out of whole cloth to prop up the lies that underpin the official line. My own government last year passed legislation which allows federal police to ‘“add, copy, delete or alter” files on a computer’ and ‘take control of a person’s online account “through the modification of data”, under the cover of anti-terror.

      Of course the other factors are present but not sufficient IMO to produce Europe’s ‘fearful symmetry’, which it seems to me only explicable via threats of some kind. The carrot would come first of course, but if that fails, out comes the stick.

  5. Jessica

    My fearful guess is that the Euro elites recognize this as an opportunity to permanently reduce the standard of living of their pesky populations. Pleasing their American overlords may also be part of the motivation.
    In a sense, it is a dry run for how they intend to handle climate change and resource depletion: by putting the entire burden on their population.

    1. digi_owl

      Would not surprise me. We have seen them time and time again force through directives that dismantle functional national services in the name of competition.

      The only question is, how bad to they have to make it for the people to accept dismantling the welfare services.

      1. Jams O'Donnell

        “When you got nuthin’, you got nuthin’ to lose” – get your pitchfork ready.

        1. YPG

          It kind of makes me wonder whether US citizens- whose lifestyle of cheap consumption (i.e. ‘keep ’em plied with treats and gadgets’)- are ultimately the source of all this wrangling. US politicians will do anything to keep the treats flowing to us because they know if we are not pacified in this way, there will be revolution- or, more likely, multiple revolutions. Thus, citizens of European nations get twisted, wrung out, and ultimately thrown out just to preserve the ‘American way of life’. What do we care what happens over there?

          Europeans, whether they be Ukrainian or German, must suffer so that we Americans may persist in our herd-like indolence. Euro pols probably know this underlying truth ane I bet our US pols will throw anyone under the bus, stab anyone in back, and kneecap any of our supposed ‘allies’ in order to preserve their own social position, which cannot otherwise be maintained.

    2. nippersdad

      With the failure to reduce Russia to a vassal state, it would appear that this is the plan B. Davos Man has been talking about a Great Reset in which “you will own nothing and be happy about it.” When the people are the last resource, you just plunder the hell out of it, and perfectly good manufactured crises should never be allowed to go to waste.

      Projection by Klaus Schwab: “We are the victims!”:

      This does look like the end-game for neoliberal economics; turning the west into a feudal state in which you shoehorn the hoi polloi into ghettos and turn the rest of it into estates for your henchmen. Gates’ buying up of the hinterlands suddenly makes a lot more sense.

  6. .Tom

    It’s all the more strange since the US and UK appear to have decided over a week ago to downplay the UA story, I guess because they can see where the military part is going and hence no longer see the war as a strong re-election strategy. It’s as though the anglo NATO sponsors turned their back on Europe and EU leaders either haven’t noticed or have completely deluded themselves with their own BS. But, as Yves points out, neither these make sense. Perhaps it has something to do with the habits that the EU’s consensus processes engenders: leaders relying on there always being at least one other leader going first in saying the thing they know needs to be said but don’t want to say themselves.

  7. Troglodyte

    Several takeaways from my perspective:

    1) The EU’s wranglings suggests a future where the EU (or some subset of it if it doesn’t survive as is) looks to home-grown media and technology outfits that help facilitate messaging control; the domination of pro-Ukrainian social media posts in the West versus pro-Russian ones has been disastrous for the EU. Relatedly, I don’t know if financial markets have realized yet that American tech outfits are in for a world of collapsed addressable markets.

    2) The EU may be using the timeline playbook to enact policies of nothingness similar to the Greek Crisis – policies that sound good as sound bites but are drawn out over timelines so that the original problem “hopefully goes away by then.”

    3) The Russian pension 10% raise to me further suggests we are at the start of a commodity super cycle. Considering how dependent the Russians are on commodities sales, the timing of this “special military operation” couldn’t have been better.

    1. Tokyognome

      Troglodyte, your scenario 2) sounds spot-on.
      Governments in western Europe (it’s a bit different in the east) may have correctly sensed that as for now the best line of defense against US pressure is to display outrage over Russia’s action and go through the motions but for the rest of it play a long game. It is inconceivable that any European nation’s industrialists are willing to permanently sacrifice Russian markets, not to speak of cheap energy from Russia. Likewise voters who appear willing today to get carried away by the mass hysteria whipped up by the media may take a different view once reality sets in. I am not sure about other countries but I know firsthand that Germans can get very upset when they find their wallets under attack.

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    I’m having a hard time understanding this phenomenon at ground level, never mind such dizzying heights as high level political lizards.

    The vacant look when you ask how many innocent people were killed in Iraq over pure lies about weapons of mass non existence and where is your rage over that vs. the (admittedly assumed for the time being) far smaller number of innocent Ukrainians that have been killed by Russians? Or, how can you square being cynical about US lying to you every time it installs a dictator in a foreign country and calls it promoting democracy and yet in a thrice be so vacuously unquestioning when the same country keeps hammering about how evil Russia is and how Putin is the Anti-Christ himself? I mean, doesn’t it make you just a little suspicious?

    Or, yet another duh; do you think we would have hesitated a minute in obliterating every man woman and child in Cuba, if our fearless leaders deemed it necessary, over installation of missiles capable of delivering nuclear war heads into the control centers of the United States? Would you have objected then?

    I swear, these are often people who would argue till blue in the face that US politicians are nothing but a band of criminals out to starve their constituents, yet for some reason, when it comes to Russia, and particularly Putin, they are willing to assume that the same band of liars and thieves instantly morph innocent as the pure driven snow.

    1. Louis Fyne

      To quote Doyle via Star Trek, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

      I salute Alex Jones (on this topic) and other persistent voices on the fringe. You all probably are right.

      There is a global agenda (W.E.F.) that isn’t just an innocuous meet up. They permeate the EU more than any lobbying group, they hire like-minded persons. And they are bad at thermodynamics and deaf/dumb to the deprivation of their citizens.

      fuse Ukraine and environmental initiatives, and you have a “let them eat lithium batteries” moment.

      get your popcorn, we’re going to see a TikTok Arab Spring some day in the EU that goes well beyond the Yellow Vests.

    2. clarky90

      “A semi-nomadic Turkic people established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia, southern Ukraine, Crimea, and Kazakhstan in the late 6th-century AD……..

      …..Around 900 AD, Byzantium began to encourage the Alans to attack Khazaria and to weaken its hold on Crimea and the Caucasus and sought to obtain an entente with the rising Rus’ power to the north, which it aspired to convert to Christianity. Between 965 and 969, the Kievan Rus’ ruler, Sviatoslav I of Kiev, as well as his allies, conquered the capital, Atil, and ended Khazaria’s independence.”…..

      “…..The native religion of the Khazars is thought to have been Tengrism, like that of the North Caucasian Huns and other Turkic peoples…”

      The blind passion/recklessness of the West’s response to, what began, as a skirmish in Eastern Ukraine, is (imo) indicative of an ancient emnity (1100 years old!) between the Khazars and the Rus. ……

      After their defeat in late 900s AD, the Khazar dispersed around the globe…….

      Clearly, there is an intense and viceral longing to return to, protect, and even re-establish, their ancestral empire.

      and, throwing caution to the wind.

      1. norm de plume

        There is a school of scholarly thought that says Khazaria’s elite converted to Judaism sometime between 700-900 AD with a much disputed corollary that some measure of Ashkenazi ancestry is Khazar. Evidence is scant though I recall reading that a menorah from the period was found in Mariupol a few years ago. This conversion was apparently a practical response to being squeezed between warring Christians and Muslims surrounding them. As you say, the invasion by the Kievan Rus in 969 put an end to their independence.

        It is striking that Zelensky, his PM and Defence Minister are all Jewish, as are their main interlocutors at the State Dept, Blinken and Nuland. So too is Zelensky’s billionaire backer Kolomoisky, the man who put Hunter Biden at Burisma. Equally ironic is the fact that the top dogs in old Khazaria were probably called ‘Kagans’!

        The cherry on top is the fact that they are currently fighting Russia, the name for which derives from the Kievan Rus.

        History doesn’t repeat itself but it sure does rhyme sometimes..

    3. Art_DogCT

      To see the merit of the Russian position, clearly stated starting from 2007, is in no way whatsoever necessarily condoning anything that that has happened under Putin’s leadership. This is a fundamental fallacy of your argument, and frankly invalidates it entire.

      The Russian Federation and the US/NATO are in no way equivalent powers on any front, starting from the basic point that the former intends to bring about a multi-polar global order governed under principles of international law, and the latter intends to cling to its hegemony even if it costs the life of every living thing on earth. So, yeah, Putin and his elite may very well be as murderous and extractive as our owners and masters, but the RF shows no evidence of seeking to extend itself without clear necessity. This was laid out in public, plain language in the draft treaties the RF offered in December 2021. After stating their concerns in world fora for 25 years and being ignored by the empire, they finally said, “These are red lines; you are warned.” I find no significant fault in the RF’s positions. What comes out of US/NATO is Thatcherite TINA, and the wholesome frat spirit of ‘family-blogging and finding out’.

      As to your reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis, you seem to have forgotten that the USSR placed missiles in Cuba not out of the blue with no reason. They were stationed there, with the permission and support of the Cuban government, in response to the US provocation of stationing strategic nuclear missiles in Turkey, capable of destroying major Soviet cities with little warning. It was necessary to remind the infinitely arrogant Americans that what is good for goose is perfect for gander. The astonishment of it all is that Kennedy and Khrushchev had the remarkable sanity to between them agree to step away from the brink. Kennedy’s decision wasn’t popular among all factions. Today it would be seen as the worst appeasement, with ‘Manchurian Candidate’ whispers and suggestions the Soviets may have kompromat on him and thus pulling his strings. And yes, we’re I an adult at the time with my current adult understanding, I would have objected to any US retaliation, because chickens come home to roost, as is right and proper, and you reap what you sow.

      I refer you to the many essays of Caitlin Johnstone in which she lays out the case that by any and every measure, the US is the single most viscous, most murderous, most rapacious power on the face of the planet in this era. In comparison, every other nation and government are models of peace and harmony and good will to all humanity. Your mileage may vary, and this is a serving suggestion only, of course. But do please study more history before slinging what are very, very close to ad hominum attacks.

      1. norm de plume

        Very well said. Russia (and indeed China) may well turn into ‘axe-wielding homicidal maniacs’ given the space to do as the US has had since the End of History – but so far there is no evidence of this, and no reason to doubt that they genuinely do want a multipolar world.

        The US is like whoever it was (Moshe Dayan?) who said ‘I don’t mind the lion lying down with the lamb, so long as I’m the lion’

  9. Werther

    I commented on Dutch national television news yesterday, mostly on subjects you write about in this entry, Yves.
    It didn’t show on the site, but nevertheless I’ll give it another try.
    To be more reflective than I was yesterday, when I did have a sarcastic tone in my comment, I’ve thought about why the Dutch government, the mainstream media and, from my personal experience around family, friends and neighbours, a vast majority of our population would take action that may backfire on ourselves.
    First, the Dutch have a strong tradition in international law. It’s largely abstract, for the county failed it’s own high standards many times in it’s history. However, the sense of what’s good and bad based on our interpretation is very strong. And by all means…they are bad!
    Second, the widespread belief in democracy, especially the Dutch form, with a narrative that this democracy is of high moral standard. And those autocratic Russians are somewhere in the dark in comparison…
    Third, probably the MH17 drama…almost immediately after that news came in it was concluded that it was Russia’s responsibility. The Dutch PM did two or three phonecalls with the Russian President and since then, I believe, there has never been any high level direct contact whatsoever.
    As long as the blame for any hardship can be put on Russia, this will go on in the Netherlands. And secondly, as long as there’s no real, tangible influence on the living standard in the middle class…

    1. The Rev Kev

      I am afraid that I have seen multiple instances of bad legal judgements coming out of the Hague the past few years. Maybe it is the influence of Mark Rutte. The worse was a coupla years ago when they ruled that Russia had to pay – not that they did – Yukos shareholders some $50 billion. But this was a consequence of when Mikhail Khodorkovsky owned Yukos and tried to sell Russia’s oil fields to the US until the Russians stopped him. And the MH17 investigations were nothing short of a bad joke. I suppose that this all helped put the Netherlands on Russia’s naughty list. And as a consequence, I see that Russia has stopped gas to the Netherlands for non-payment of the same-

  10. chris#5

    What if the Nazis never went away? Would that explain what is happening now?
    With respect to the current world order, the West is now a unified, totalitarian state – no genuine political opposition is allowed, foreign affairs information is completely subject to state control, and practically all (educated, informed) citizens have accepted the propaganda without question – in some cases it is a criminal offence to oppose it. According to a recent article in WSWS, “Nazi propaganda in Germany’s taz newspaper” by Peter Schwarz (, the German Green Party has a strong militaristic and pro-Nazi element. Political leaders in power rarely have the ability to distance their policies from the media consensus (or, if you prefer, mainstream media cannot oppose the political consensus). Others have pointed out how compromised many leaders are. In the West the consensus calls for war, and a normalisation of neo-Nazi groups (in Ukraine) and at least some of their ideas. The Nazis regarded Slavs as Untermenschen, and their goal of removal of Russians east of the Urals seems pretty close to the current stated (Poland, Ukraine, senior elements within the USA) goal of the complete fracturing of the Russian state. If we take this a step further – what if the forced consensus is actually aimed ultimately at the resurrection of European nazism? Obviously, not explicitly, yet. Then what would a good Nazi think of the current European states? Would not their destruction, to allow the rebirth of a strong, vigorous, expansionist State be a primary goal? As Yves said, Götterdämmerung.

    1. digi_owl

      They didn’t, at least not the lower rung people.

      The big names were either rounded up right there, or chased down by Mossad over the decades.

      But there were quite a few card carrying nazis that showed up in the west German administration, and supposedly CIA kept the ember glowing beyond the iron curtain.

      1. ambrit

        Then there is the spectre of the Israeli “shadow state” becoming NAZIs in all but name. It is said that you eventually become the one you hate the most. The hatred and fear overwhelm you and you adapt to it. Often, the best way to adapt to a threat is to become better at what the threat does, in effect, becoming a “better” version of that threat.
        Let us not blame the poor Israelis too much. They are displaying the Terran human’s propensity for authoritarianism. What is sad and frightening is that America is learning the same, fast.

        1. Joe Renter

          Ambrit, I think you are spot on with this observation. When you are called an anti Semitic because your disagree with Zionism you realize the narrative has become less than rational.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      and remember Operation Paperclip…and all those Ratlines…through Odessa? or was that just the name of the Op?
      so our cia/deep state worked alongside nazi lunatics for decades, in order to stamp out the idea of communism…did any of that lunacy rub off?
      did those pet nazis have any influence over their masters/keepers?(anyone have a cat?,lol)
      all of this at least feels plausible…based on extensive reading of history, from many perspectives…as well as careful, habitual and long term observation of USA humans in the wild(US South)…including various cohorts thereof(poor, mostly…but also middle and upper classes)

      1. Alex Cox

        If you do an internet search for Reinhard Gehlen and NATO there’s all kinds of info about Hitler’s spy chief being incorporated into the US intelligence apparat and becoming the founding father of NATO. Here’s one instance at

        As for the notion that the German Greens are also Nazi progeny… well, that bears some serious thinking about.

        1. marku52

          the Greens were big in pushing Germany into intervening in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

          History repeats, the Greens have been warmongers for a while

      2. BillS

        Odessa was an acronym for Organization der ehemaligen SS angehörigen, if I remember correctly. It was a post war support organization for the most convinced nazis.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        This seems like a good place to re-offer a post from Jeff Wells’s blog Rigorous Intuition which I have offered in the past. It is about the basic Nazi-sponsorship orientation of parts of the Fine Old Establishment at the center of Federal Power.

        The ” Nazi PaperClipper Deep State” went to such lengths to save thousands of various kinds of ethno-fascist personnel from World War Two-aftermath Europe because these ethno-fascists were the Deep State’s kind of people. Geopolitical considerations played a secondary role, perhaps.
        But ideological and esthetic affinity was a main motive.

  11. Alan Roxdale

    Maybe readers can make sense of the EU’s commitment to its self destruction, but I sure can’t.

    It’s straightforward. There are certain people who will do just about anything for a million dollars, or equivalent.
    With the right outright bribes, promises of connections, future lucrative career prospects, etc, you can convince the right sort of person to do pretty much anything. It helps very much if your position is unelected (especially of the “special advisor” type).

    The whole political system is essentially for sale. The buyer is immaterial. What will be interesting in the coming years is who the richest buyer will become. The only way out of this for citizens is to build a new type of politics.

    1. Kouros

      I would like to contest the idea that the buyer is immaterial. I think it is very important to know who’s paying the piper and what the ultimate goals are. Essential to know.

      1. GramSci

        The buyer is always the person with the most money. What’s tragic is that the “democratic” electorates of the West either haven’t figured this out or that they think they’ll somehow wind up owners in this game.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I am guessing that what Alan Roxdale means by ” The buyer is immaterial” . . . is that the sellers of the political system will sell it or parts of it to the highest bidder. The sellers of the political system don’t care who the buyer with the most money happens to be.

        It would be essential for us-the-sold to know who our buyer is. But it is immaterial to the sellers who the buyer is.

    2. Joe Renter

      After the creative destruction has done it’s part. Unfortunately many innocents will suffer. Nothing new in that regard.

  12. Patrick Donnelly

    Schumpeter gave his name to the principle, but it was disclosed around the time of WWI.

    The old economy full of zombie industries and corporations, is destroyed, freeing up resources for the new economy.

    The whole point of 0% interest rates, zirp, was to enable the richj to ransack the middle classes and poor. The last stage of the credit bubble is to cannibalize the weakest of the Rich families.

    Doing this openly tends to leave open the survivors to some threats.

    Therefore : tadaa!

    Russia is to blame!

    Why do you think Putin is being rewarded for his forebearance since before 2014? Remeber that aside overheard between him and O’Bomba?

    Hopefully, all the pain and dismember ment will be quick, but given the lack of skill shown over the last decade, I hae me doots!

  13. Ignacio

    The only way to make sense of this is that the leadership, UE leadership, is acting as the political arm of the NATO and NATO priorities settled by the paranoid leader are top priority: demonize Russia, try by all means to tear Russia apart and blame Russia for all wrongdoings in the world. Then it makes sense the self-inflicted pain: blame it to Russia as everything else. The “leadership” must show unanimity and in this way nobody in the EU or US can be blamed individually. Everybody must play Russophobia. No dissonant voices allowed. Everything framed as “all against Russia”.

    It is indeed miserable, but it is what we got. Will the average peasant buy the narrative?

    1. Polar Socialist

      I’m with Ignacio in this: EU is not just about it’s leaders, it’s also about member state’s elites and not-that-big bureaucracy. Way too many people to bribe. So it must be years and years of indoctrination by an inter-European cabal, a.k.a. NATO.

      As Colonel Richard Black recently said, when NATO failed to die in early 90’s, it turned from a defensive bureaucracy into an aggressive predator in search of a purpose. So for a several decades the European leaders have self-identified as Russia haters instead of the previous generation that respected and feared Russia (Soviet Union).

      1. Kouros

        The US has tried hard to keep NATO alive. And after the 2003 Iraq War fiasco (coalition of the willing), the US has put a lot of effort and resources to bring forth a new generation of “leaders” everywhere…

  14. Stephen T Johnson

    I think it’s a weird composite of many factors, a few that spring to mind:
    1) An incredibly impressive propaganda machine “We have always been at war with Eastasia”
    2) Powerful security institutions necessarily able to crush resistance (see the Gilets Jaunes in France, amongst others), which fits with crumbling levels of public support for the system we have here in the collective west
    3) A very disconnected elite who will not feel the pain, and don’t care about those who will
    4) A big fat dose of cognitive dissonance and subsequent ideological rigidification amongst those same elite (Sanctions not working? Inconceivable!)
    5) Huge underestimation of the opposition (China too, but especially Russia, whose economy is sooooo tiny you need a microscope to see it)
    6) Putin derangement syndrome, and the ongoing nonsensical belief that VVP is a one man state rather than the manager of a coalition

    The net result is pretty surreal to those of us outside the bubble.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Especially in the case of Americans with a full 1/3 of Americans being able to identify the very generous area Ukraine is in, the expectation the West isn’t a villain is seductive.

    2. John Wright

      Plus, a general lack of concern by the USA populace about the revelations of Assange, Manning and Snowden.

      This is further compounded by a general lack of concern about the mistreatment of whistleblowers by the USA/UK governments.

      This may have further emboldened the USA propagandists, who realized that even accurate disclosure of “bad stuff” can be countered effectively.

      1. Joe Renter

        The populace over all are not thinkers. Just a fact. They are easily controlled by propaganda. Does not necessarily go by class lines. I have meet so many people with college degrees than are not that intelligent. I humbly submit I have no degrees but perhaps a little wisdom, hence I see the tactics employed by the overseers.
        And big thanks to Yves/commenters for opening my mind further.

        1. digi_owl

          College is all about becoming an accredited “expert” in the minutiae of a very narrow topic.

          Spending all that time cramming ones head with such details leave little room for everyday events. In particular in USA where colleges are municipalities in their own right, and thus insulated from the larger goings on.

          There is also the ongoing suspicion that certain agencies are using certain topics of “conversation” to seed internal conflict and fracturing in burgeoning social movements.

    3. digi_owl

      Then again, Gilets Jauntes and similar fail time and time again to put forward a coherent and unified alternative to the status quo.

      Thus it ends up being a case of impotent rage.

  15. Robert Hahl

    My guess is that NATO is now an occupying force in Europe, much like all those Latin American armies staffed by officers trained at what used to be called the School of the Americas. European politicians know it, and acquiesce to it as a condition of taking office.

    1. David

      NATO has no “forces” of its own, except for a small squadron of AWACS aircraft located in Germany. If by NATO you mean “US” there is now a very small number of troops stationed in Europe (a couple of Brigades plus bits and pieces). The vast majority of European NATO nations do all their own training, although there’s some exchange, especially at Staff College level, with other countries, including the US.

      1. Robert Hahl

        Couldn’t you say much the same about most of the militaries in Latin America?

    2. digi_owl

      I have at times wondered where their loyalties will be whenever i hear about officers sent to USA to train.

      military intelligence in particular seem more or less funded by NSA and like.

  16. Carolinian

    Here in SC don’t have much to add to what actual Europeans have to say but re

    So how can the EU be so blind?

    isn’t the EU a fundamentally undemocratic institution from the getgo? Or so I read. In Links there’s a quote from Tulsi re “the great reset” which would immediately be attacked as CT by the usual suspects. But there does seem to be an internationalist mentality among the global elites with a deliberate urge to suppress nationalism. The horrific history of the 20th century is the excuse but making national units into secondary players is also a convenient way of suppressing democracy itself to the benefit of the super rich (see the TPP). So while individual businesses may suffer the rule of private property over public government will gain. If it all goes south they still have those yachts that haven’t been seized to escape with. Or so they think.

  17. The Rev Kev

    The whole thing about imploding Russia’s economy, toppling Putin and going in to grab the spoils was a colossal gamble but which has now become an epic fail. But the mentality of all those EU elites defies belief as they are leading their countries into a much more poorer, colder future. Do they believe that there will be no personal consequences? Maybe it is like watching hard-core gamblers at work. You may have seen the type. They go into a casino and start gambling their money away and lose. But they are determined to win. So they liquidate their bank accounts, stocks, shares, etc. and go back to the tables and proceed to lose the lot. So there is only one choice. They have to double down. So this time they cash out their kids college education funds, their cars, boats, planes and hit the tables once more. Do they quite? Let’s not be silly. Not only must they win but they must have multiple wins to justify their loses. After all that money is gone, their next act is to take out a loan on all their houses but they lose that as well. In the final stage they borrow money to drive around their friends and/or relatives to borrow money which is also then lost. So I think that there is something similar with those EU elites here. They cannot afford to lose. They have bet the house on winning. Their identities are at stake. And after one loss after another, I think that they will start to mentally crumble.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      RK: I think you’re closing in on it. This is the big one, and all the chips are on the table. What else justifies the wildly disproportionate responses, the all-in max propaganda, the kitchen-sink sanctions, WWIII brinksmanship….this is the big one.

      And it just reeks, from every angle, of desperation. I think they sense their very own precarity.

      If ever you get around to it, I’d love to see a post from you re: “what happens after the fin system buckles enough for people to fall out of their chair?”.

      I think it’s the fin system – the interlocking massive debt, the synchronized printing, the air gradually fizzling out of the current rent-seeking mechanisms… that is the core concern. It may actually collapse, and the Fin folks are in the best position to know.

      If Russia-China-Iran-Global South and most of the econ vitality left in the world says “bon Voyage!” to the West, some very wealthy people are going to have to re-learn what it means to work for a living, and that’s gonna be a painful fall to Earth.

    2. Skip Intro

      I believe the economic sanctions will successfully cause enough hardship that ‘regime change’ will be inevitable. I don’t think the regimes that change will be the ones they are hoping for though.

    3. Xiaolei Mu

      Excellent post. The good old sunk-cost-fallacy combined with the fact that these elites haven’t experienced a true loss until now within the confines of the European political career system.

  18. Wobblie

    Late stage capitalism at its best. The internal contradictions have spread to all parts of society. Every act creates negative destructive results. The quick moving opportunist might sneak into the ruling elite, for the rest of us, a very bleak future.

  19. David

    To understand what’s going on here, it’s useful to see politics as the result of various forces acting on bodies. In this case the forces are mostly internal, but partly external as well.
    First, the EU has always been less than the sum of its parts. This was true thirty years ago when the first stumbling steps towards a Common Foreign and Security Policy were being taken, and it’s probably even truer now, with an increase in size and complexity, and even more accentuation of strategic differences. In such a situation, deciding anything – even if it’s stupid- becomes an end in itself, because unity, common purpose, resolve etc.
    Second, the institutional ego of the EU demands that it be deeply involved, and the political classes of member states are completely converted to the ideas that (a) the EU is the best forum for everything and (b) the EU must be maintained and enhanced at all costs. This is, after all, a crisis happening almost next-door, and it is unthinkable that the greatest grouping of economic power in the world, and the greatest expression of transnational norms in history, can simply sit by and let others deal with it. This was true thirty years ago over Bosnia, and it’s true today. Not to get involved would be to leave the field open to NATO, which is unthinkable, and to the Turks, which is more unthinkable still. Again, it doesn’t matter what you do, provided you do something.
    Third, the EU (partly because of British obstruction) doesn’t have much of a military capability. But it does have long experience of sanctions and economic measures generally, and a lot of experience with them. If there’s one thing it knows how to do, that’s to apply sanctions.

    So internally, the argument is: collective action is good, this is a case for collective action, let’s take the only collective action we can, even if it doesn’t work or is counter-productive.

    But there are also outside pressures. The media, parliamentary and intellectual classes of Europe are as Brusselised as the political class. They take EU action for granted, and demand to know where it is if they don’t see it. More generally, governments, and even more international organisations, are always being asked “what are you doing?” in respect of any crisis in the world, especially one close to home. “Nothing” is simply not an acceptable reply. The need to “do something” even if it’s stupid is what landed the EU in Bosnia for so long.

    Likewise, the EU has always had problems translating its economic clout into political influence. This is not the time to stand down, but rather continue to try to impress the US and China with how active and powerful the EU is.

    There’s more, but those are the main pressures. They produce a kind of sleepwalker effect, where the governments of the EU are being led by panic and uncertainty down a path which they must know is futile. How can they hope to escape?

    Well, firstly, it’s always helpful to hide behind institutions. For small EU powers, they probably had little alternative anyway. In many countries, anger can be redirected away from national governments to “Brussels.”
    Secondly, sanctions are not like military actions, and they don’t have to respond to their rhythm. After a while, the sanctions will be seen as a punishment for Russia’s past behaviour.
    Thirdly, all sorts of quiet deals will be made which will progressively make the sanctions more formal than real, thus reducing the effect.
    Fourthly, insofar as there are any adverse effects, every effort will be made to blame them on the Russians.
    Fifthly, I think that a lot of EU states, especially the smaller ones, clearly swallowed completely the Russia-is-losing line at the start, and are still assuming that a greater or lesser Russian humiliation is coming. Thus, sanctions will have been “worth it.”
    And lastly, well, the fairies might bring something, who knows?

    1. Thuto

      Sounds to me like optics trump effectiveness whenever the EU has to respond to something. The problem with building this sort of reflex into the “muscle memory” of such a lumbering juggernaut, one that, at least during this crisis, has opted to go with the hammer in its toolbox, one that is swung towards itself, rather than a scalpel (targeted sanctions), is that the risk of a collapse under its own institutional weight is heightened, first gradually then suddenly. The longer these hare brained schemes posing as sanctions continue, the greater the risk.

    2. GramSci

      “So internally, the argument is: collective action is good, this is a case for collective action, let’s take the only collective action we can, even if it doesn’t work or is counter-productive.”

      Yes, this. I see this everywhere among our PMC friends in Spain and France. So much of it goes back to their learning in school that the US saved Europe from Hitler. It didn’t. Russia did. When Hitler failed, the US decided it had to take over itself.

      And now Europe follows the new Hitler. Good Europeans. Banal.

    3. liam

      Whilst I agree with what you say here David, and many things can be explained by process alone, I can’ t help wondering if there’s not something a little more visceral going on. Russia in many ways is holding up a mirror to the EU. The constant attribution of all things Russia to Putin’s whims suggests that they see him, not as a Stalinesque figure, but as a Tsar. I suspect that to many Europeans, and to European elites in particular, the battle they wish to fight with Russia, is not strictly speaking with Russia at all, but with the past. It is often said that there are no ideological conflicts in this, but In effect, for this “greatest expression of transnational norms in history,” there is. It’s the return of a king vs we’re so much better than all of that.

      I think they’re mistaken, and badly so, but I also think they suffer from overbearing arrogance. And as you have eloquently stated, “because unity, common purpose, resolve etc”

      1. David

        Oh, I agree. I just left that bit out, since the discussion was just about sanctions and my comment was already long enough.
        I think this is an existential, ideological conflict for the EU, because Russia incarnates (or appears to) all those aspects of language, patriotism, religion, culture etc. which the EU has tried so hard to suppress, because it believes they cause wars. If (when) the Russians win, it will be a stake in the heart of the Europeanist ideology, at least in its post-Maastricht guise. Sanctions were normally against the weak, after all, to guide and hector them back to the one true path. And a number of people (as in this article to which NC linked a few weeks ago) have precisely suggested that there’s a strong visceral element of hatred of the “enemy from the East”, always seen as brutal and uncivilised.

        1. lance ringquist

          remember when nafta billy clinton and his supporters said under free trade no one will want to upset the apple cart?

          will free trade upsets the apple cart. the history of this has happened at least twice in the past.

          there are winners and losers under free trade. the winners are a tiny elite, almost all others lose.

          the ink was not even dried yet on nafta, and the boatload of pure economic nonsense that followed, one area of the world after another, sunk into economic chaos, poverty, friction, rebellion, etc..

        2. Felix_47

          Great point David……the language issue you bring up is a good illustration. Here in Germany we are seeing the younger generations moving to English. Over half of the kids in school here are not native German speakers and English or Arabic or Darya or Pashto and now Ukrainian are their primary languages. English is the big one that everyone can mutter in. But English is the language of the EU as well. So even German is going to be secondary to English for much of German society. And Russia might end up not falling into line.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      From my vantage point in a Normandy campsite, I’ve been trying to figure out how the EU has got itself in such a tangle, and your explanation is the only rational one I’ve heard or read. The notion that they are the puppets of the US simply doesn’t bear any resemblance to the reality of how the EU has come together and functioned over the past few decades. All this has the fingerprints of senior politicians (not bureaucrats, who are probably horrified by what is going on) trying to demonstrate the initiative. I think its quite likely that most of the individual leaders are assuming that as the summer goes on there will be sufficient wiggle room for them go get their oil and gas and wheat from ‘somewhere’, without ever formally renouncing the sanctions. It may be that they are deluded in this – sometimes policies take on a life of their own and shift free from anyones direct control. But I suspect that at a national level there have already been instructions handed down about which eye goes blind when a dubious consignment of fuel arrives at a port.

      I’ve been assuming for some time that the adults in the room (i.e. industry leaders) would have a quiet word with our elected leaders and pragmatism would win out. But Brexit is a reminder that sometimes this doesn’t happen – deep ideology can sometimes trump pragmatism, even with CEO’s.

      1. IsabelPS

        “The notion that they are the puppets of the US simply doesn’t bear any resemblance to the reality of how the EU has come together and functioned over the past few decades. ”
        Bingo! For me, it’s the most surprising take this site is taking.

    5. cats paw

      this reads as the most realistically organic analysis of europe’s actions i’ve come across.

      thanks david.

  20. forigner

    The EU leadership not nearly as stupid as they seems. First, as Joseph Borell said ( I cannot find the video) that they had to be part of those who was going to rule the world in the coming new world system. So from the Elite point of view it worth it. The US gave them the choice of either with us or with them, China&Russia. No third way-er. So, they have to bleed a little. Second, embargos give them the perfect opportunity to chip away the remaining freedom of member states with smaller economies. Third, it helps them dismantle what remains of the social safety nets. If you rock the boat just enough you can scare the population into submission. Of course, the average European will bleed, but that is the plan – we are all at “war” with “something”.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      On the last item…dismantling the welfare net…
      Make eu more like usa
      But then what…and to what end?
      Better than 200 years living under the ideals of freedom(eu and usa usages)
      Not ginna be easy
      And not gonna be easy to bring usapeasants to a lower order of existance,either
      Propaganda, mund45ck and a confusion of tongues only gies so far…
      And with still familial memory of new deal, nhs,etc…only makes it harder.
      If thats the plan, i think they underestimate the rabble….even after all weve seen lately

    2. lance ringquist

      miltons shock doctrine, agreed. nafta billy clinton implemented it well in eastern europe.

      now its the rest of europes turn. will their manufacturing go to china? maybe some, but i am betting india, close to the suez canal. if i was Egypt i would watch out.

  21. Screwball

    I loved “V for Vendetta” so thanks for that clip. The movie used to be on cable all the time, but has seemed to disappear the last few years – wonder why. ;-)

    As I type this, crude oil is up over %3 hitting a high of $119 overnight (and the Dow down 400). This hasn’t hit prices at the pump – yet – but will very soon, if not in hours.

    If trader Nancy front run that trade she probably has her husbands bail money back already.

  22. Thuto

    The disjunction between the stated (and hoped for) effects of these sanctions packages vs the revealed, actual effects is growing ever wider, to say nothing of becoming impossible to ignore. The untold harm being inflicted on Europe through this cocktail of one part madness and one part incompetence is only possible because the bureaucrats at the helm of the EU are insulated from it, their expense claims still get paid on time every time and they’re living on the people’s tab while openly attacking their standard of living and the competitiveness of European companies through their senseless policies. Because these people’s allegiance is only towards what they consider their true constituency, I.e. each other, and their God Complex is off the charts, there can be no hope of a reasonable retreat, at least not until the spin masters come up with a way to dress it up as a victory, so until then, ordinary Europeans will have to live through wall to wall demonization of Putin as the source of their ills.

    1. Leroy R

      “…the bureaucrats at the helm of the EU are insulated from it…”

      To carry this a step further, in any discussion involving a nuclear exchange, we must consider that the “important” parts of the ruling class elite decision makers will be in well-equipped bunkers to ride out the storm. A substantially reduced world population will be to their benefit.

      1. David

        I doubt if political leaders in Portugal, Cyprus or Luxembourg feel particularly well protected at the moment. And it’s not bureaucrats in Brussels who are behind this, it’s the elected leaders of 27 states, who are going to have to answer to their publics before too long, and who see sanctions as on one hand a proof that they are “doing something,” and on the other as a magic bullet that will get them out of the situation they find themselves in.

        1. lance ringquist

          the elite that run the E.U. could care less about the elected leaders, or even elections. who really runs the E.U.? the W.E.F. the W.T.O., the I.M.F, the WORLD BANK, NATO,etc..

          there is almost no sovereignty left in the E.U., perhaps serbia that was bombed into the stone age by nafta billy clinton, seems to have woken up. there is hope for the bosnian serbs to escape the fascism, but kosovo and the region in croatia that was serbian, those most likely are gone, as well as Montenegro.

          switzerland is a sovereign bank.

          the U.K. is sovereign now. regardless what you think of brexit, its their own mess now, and when you are sovereign, you have the power to clean it up yourself.

          i would rather live in a sovereign nation, than be a vassal under fascism.

          the so-called elected leaders of the E.U. are only doing what they are told to do by the fascists that run it from behind the curtain.

          they are good at collecting the VAT tax to subsidize free trade, enforcing traffic laws and litterbugging, but thats about it.

          so russia is the real sovereign, protecting itself, and its driving the free traders nuts.

        2. IsabelPS

          Yes. Blaming things on “Brussels” is a lazy, useless game.

          Perception is a weird thing and I wouldn’t stick my neck too far: but my gut feeling is that the 27 (well, I won’t vouch for all of them) elected leaders found themselves pushed by their public opinions (which felt truly outraged by the invasion of Ukraine and, as you say, they are scrambling “to do something” and the EU is the obvious place for it.

        3. Polar Socialist

          And yet there’s supposed to also be a legion of bureaucrats and advisors in each member state to prevent the elected leaders from committing to total stupidity. Not to speak of other stakeholders that have access to the halls of power.

          What I’m not seeing, to my amazement, is any discussion, any doubts, any betting of several horses to save behinds. Nobody is commenting in public how EU dropped all it’s values and principles in the blink of an eye.

  23. Susan the other

    Ukraine has been brewing ever since Zbig Brzensky. So the 80s. He supposedly emphasized that it was imperative to separate Ukraine from Russia. Because Ukraine was an anchor into Europe and keeping Russia out of Europe was the goal because the Eurasian Economic Union was easy to see coming. But most importantly, and therefore never discussed, has been the fact that the UE has no oil and must import it to maintain its thriving economy. So now, instead of separating Ukraine from Russia, Ukraine has been demolished. Or maybe “separate” was always a euphemism for “destroy.” To pretend that Ukraine can continue to be a “country” is absurd. There is already talk of letting eastern Ukraine go back to Russia and giving western Ukraine to Poland. That’s interesting. Maybe a province of Poland? And we all know Poland hates Russia more than any other country does, except maybe Britain. But Scholz and Macron are serious industrialists and they know full well they need and must have Russian oil – whether directly or indirectly. (I mean, both of them on the phone with Putin at the same time?) Indirectly will work best because they won’t have to trade in Rubles – so voila! It shall be indirectly imported. I’m thinking this is where Israel steps up. Problem solved. The Americans get to gloat and posture and the EU gets its oil. And a Berlin Wall has been established between the Eurasian and European economies. For now. Maybe.

    1. hk

      And, apparently, it’s a bit personal from Brzezinski. His family namesake is Brzezany, formerly Polish Galicia, now Berezhany in Ukraine, where they were feudal lord’s.

  24. Mickey Hickey

    Europeans and Americans have been exposed to anti Russian propaganda continuosly since 1945. I met my father-in-law around 1960 in Germany, he had been a POW in Russia from 1944 to 1955. He spoke fluent Russian and told me that Russians were a civilised and well educated people who treated him as if he was Russian. He was well aware that lebensraum meant Poles and Russians would be destroyed but not totally because Poland and Russia would be Germany’s potato and cabbage patch. While Versailles led to WW2 the fact that the German population increase was butting up against food production capability was also a factor. In 1960 Germans had a high opinion of Americans, when I tried to explain to them that W Germany was now seen by the USA as a buffer state between the USSR and the “West” and would benefit from the Marshall Plan while the UK was shaken down to repay its debts to the USA, They were reluctant to accept that it was anything but altruism at work. This is where the Scholzs’ and Von Papens’ come from. Quite incapable of recognising that cheap Russian natural gas, coal, minerals and wood were the foundation of the German economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder). Even worse as China makes inroads into Germany’s overseas export markets the German Gov’t bureaucracy does not recognise that the USA pushing Russia onto China’s lap means Germany is becoming Bolivia on the Rhine. We are now at the stage where Scholz and Von Papen are administering the Coup de Grace from which Germany will take over a century to recover. I must say that Orban of Hungary, Heger of Slovakia and Draghi of Italy seem to understand how important Russia is to the EU. Macron of Rothschild fame seems to be under the US thumb but the Gilets Jaune are quite capable of taking care of him, hopefully. I am Irish and see the world through emerald glasses.

    1. RobertC

      MH — I quite enjoyed your essay. Read it several times and it was better each time. Thanks.

    2. Ramon

      Quite incapable of recognising that cheap Russian natural gas, coal, minerals and wood were the foundation of the German economic miracle

      Margarethe Vestager, EU’s Commissioner for Competition, says this in her interview to Handelbslatt, 25.05.2022:

      A large part of European industry is based on the very cheap energy from Russia, very cheap labour from China, and very subsidised semiconductors from Taiwan.

      (Ein großer Teil der europäischen Industrie basiere auf „sehr billiger Energie aus Russland, auf sehr billiger Arbeitskraft aus China und auf hochsubventionierten Halbleitern aus Taiwan“)

  25. RabidGandhi

    With trepidation, this non-European would gander that the question is backwards: it should not be ‘why are EU leaders wilfully sanctioning their way to their own destruction’ but rather ‘could you imagine an EU leader actually fighting against these self-destructive sanctions?’

    I mean, the great thing about being part of the EU élite is you get the fancy dinners in Brussels, the nice holidays in Saint-Tropez, the cute villa with the hybrid Q5 in the driveway…. It’s not the path to blessed billionairehood , but it is a lovely comfortable life, much better than squatting in a tenement in Quartieri Spagnoli. And the best way to put all of those lovely goodies at risk would be to ostracise myself by sticking my head out for some Unruly Slav in the name of what is best for my own country and, y’know, the entire planet.

    Seriously, can you imagine a Pedro Sánchez or a Martin Scholz going against everything they were trained and selected for and throwing all those perks away? It’s just not in their programming; if it had been they would never have been allowed anywhere near the reins of power.

    1. GramSci

      I cut Sánchez a little slack. He’s weak ruler of a weak state, and he’s got a pack of Franquistas nipping at his heels. I don’t give Scholz and Germany any slack in this cluster(familty-blog).

    2. Kouros

      Victor Orban is that single flower that will not be capable to bring the spring forth…

  26. brian wilder

    given how long it take for governments to be voted out, it looks very likely that Europe will inflict permanent damage on itself and its citizens before regime change takes place.

    I wonder about what mechanisms for regime change exist in those EU member states where in one form or another politics is dominated by grand coalitions with no credible opposition willing to take up the cause of opposed viewpoints.

    And in the EU itself, with its famous democratic deficits, or NATO for that matter, is there any mechanism for wholesale cast changes let alone mission change?

  27. RobertC

    As I’ve asserted before, the intent of Putin (and “closer than an alliance” Xi) is disruption of the Atlantic Alliance.

    The disruptions aren’t just Russian energy imports and the harm isn’t potential anymore.

    The future is moving from the West. And it’s looking like this jan krikke May 1, 2022 at 7:53 am

  28. Safety First

    I do not see any contradictions here.

    At present, virtually the entire EU is behaving as a vassal of the US, with little to no agency of its own when it comes to foreign policy matters. It does not matter what EU’s own economic interests are; it does not matter what happens to “the people” within the EU. At present, the US demands sanctions against Russia, even as this partially blows up EU’s own economy – and, to a greater or lesser extent, the EU will act accordingly, although they still try to drag their feet here and there.

    It used to be exactly the same way viz. the EU’s “eastern” and “western” flanks. Germany and France would bid Lithuania or what have you to dismantle its own productive capacity and become a captive market slash pool of cheap labour, and Lithuanian political elites would do so. Or the US tells Poland to drop Russian gas and buy US LNG at double or triple the price, this before the war in Ukraine, mind, and Polish governments happily oblige. [One even remembers an incident from about a decade ago of a Polish foreign minister being secretly taped lamenting this sacrifice of national interests to whatever the US wants.] At the end of the day, the politicians would be rewarded with sinecures in Brussels, and the local (mini) oligarchs would be squeezed or else find a way to adapt to their “colonial” status.

    Now you are just seeing the same exact phenomenon encompass Germany and France (and others), and you started seeing it before the Ukraine conflict, e.g. when the incoming German government shut down Nordstream 2 (well – technically they just postponed its certification indefinitely). This is why the Macron-Le Pen election was so interesting. Le Pen’s foreign programme was, basically, a “cri de coeur” of the French economic elites who want to preserve some measure of economic and thus political agency. Hence the US press (e.g. Politico) absolutely losing its mind at the prospect of Le Pen possibly winning, because we want collaborationist politicians running our little vassals. Clearly, EU economic elites are either too weak to counter this, or, on the whole, have in large part decided that they are better off fitting into their “colonial” role than actively opposing US political and financial interests. Which, by the way, only get stronger as the EU’s economy gets weaker.

    So yes, cutting off one’s nose because one’s liegelord’s own interests (real or perceived) demand it is what vassals do. And if you think the EU is suffering from self-inflicted wounds now, wait until the US escalates against China and lowers the boom on that part of EU trade and logistics. “The strong do as they will, and the weak suffer.” The EU chose to be weak, and now probably lacks any political willpower to do any different.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Germany froze Nordstream 2 on February 22, the day AFTER Putin recognized the breakaway republics and discussed the security threat at length. The formal mechanism was halting the certification.

      The US imposed its first sanctions on Feb 21 and Feb 22.

      1. Dave in Austin

        I beg to differ. NordStream II had been finished for months before February, 2022. The Germans were under pressure from the US so they slow-walked the certification process. The failure to authorize the physical testing was the first delay; the failure to make the physical connection and test it at the German end was the second. Both happened late in 2021. I was following it in the energy press at the time

        Germany was under a great deal of pressure from the US first, to not build NordStream II at all and second, to not-allow the use of non-US-approved welding equiptment (we had an embargo on US welding equiptment) and barges to build it.. With much US resistance, the pipeline was completed on schedule. The US pressed Germany and Germany got almost as much pressure from the folks holding the 12 billion in bonds that were to be funded from the profits (1/3 of them were held by Austrian banks). Russia, deeply annoyed at the delay, dropped out of the “day market” for gas and the prices in Germany were rising causing discontent.

        The final “Freezing” of NordStream was Germany’s way out, saying “this is temporary” so they didn’t have to pay the the default on the agreement.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Slow walking is not the same as killing it. The Germans no doubt noticed even as of then that Biden was doing badly in the polls and the Dems were at risk of losing the Senate in the 2022 midterms and even the House.

          In the Game of Thrones (the books, not the show), Littlefinger said to Sansa, when postponing a political confrontation for a year, something to the effect of, “A lot can change in a year,” and gave situation-specific examples.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          The US has been attempting to strong arm Germany over gas pipelines since the 1980’s. It was a very big deal for the Reagan administration, yet even in the midst of the Cold War the Germans still faced down the US. I can’t think of any particular reason to think that the US would have had more success prior to February with Nord Stream II.

    2. David

      This is often said, but actual behaviour within the EU is observably not like that. The fact is that US attitudes to Russia and Ukraine are shared at the highest levels in many European countries: Europeans, unfortunately, did not need Americans to put them in a hostile frame of mind. It’s not even a conspiracy, it’s an alignment of interests in this case. Indeed, the animosity in Europe is probably stronger than in the US, because, as I said in response to another comment above, Russia is seen as a kind of anti-Europe, still in thrall to outdated ideas of patriotism, religion etc, and resisting the onward march of rational, post-modern political ideas.

      In fact, the EU has been trying to get its act together on foreign policy issues since 1991 (it’s had its own foreign service for a decade now) but only with moderate success: less because of the US and much more because of size, conflicting interests and different cultures.

  29. Telee

    Michael Hudson’s view of the situation is that this is a war against Europe. It knocks the hell out of Europe and insures US maintains hegemony.

  30. Old Sovietologist

    Whilst more of the mainstream US media are arguing in favor of a negotiated settlement with Russia. The European media by contrast continues to have nothing to do with it. Despite the fact that the economic fall out will hit the Europe more than the US. It makes no sense whatsoever.

  31. John k

    Imo at some point this summer Russia will meet its Ukraine objectives. As they begin the plebiscites they might change the terms for what they sell to the west. They already demand roubles, but provide a mechanism to exchange $/euros for roubles. Perhaps they would shift to ‘from now on, u acquire most roubles by selling us stuff we want to buy’, I.e. end sanctions on sales to Russia and shift to barter since they see no value in accumulating foreign credits.
    Russia has learned that reducing their exports increases the price. Plus, for several years they sold us more stuff than we sell them, earning credits, some of which the us confiscated. So moving to barter might allow Russia to cut exports to the west in half and still generate a fx surplus.
    This would be part of their shift from trade with west to trade not to east but to ‘friendlies’ in the east and global south. And may signal the end of trading credits for real goods, though that signal seemed already sent when the us seized Russian credits.
    Somebody here suggested we are beginning a commodities super cycle, implying higher prices for consumers. Maybe so, particularly of things with limited sources. China has been accumulating commodities, perhaps they would prefer stockpiling more of the rare metals and other commodities Russia sells, meaning shift sales of some goods from the west to Russia.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      Re. Commodity supercycle
      Saw that eRluer but my fing r s just caint do a fone,lol
      On the old coolerator in the bar that serves as a likker cabnit, it reads, “think like a state”
      Autarky/emersonian self reliance is a worthy goal
      But its much simpler if you actually are a stTe
      ,at least if you wNt to go there.
      Im not a nationalist by any means, but the last 50 or more years of antisovereignty(wto,imf, and even eu) always puzzled me.
      The way ru/china appeR to be approaching such broad aggreements seems like an easier sell than “fulfill my desire or be punished”

  32. Glen

    No matter what the motivation of the EU’s leaders, the people of the EU will learn what the people of the middle east (and Africa) have learned – don’t trust America!

    This is a tragedy because if you look at polls in America – Americans don’t trust their elites either.

    And that maybe is the common thread – what in the flaming [family blog] are the “free world’s” elites doing?

    I was forced to take a course called “Engineering Economics” which seemed in hindsight to be a token attempt by the University of California to bop the techno nerds on the head and make them somewhat aware that there was a world out there and our efforts would influence that world. We had a guest lecturer from Stanford one day and the discussion was how large can the world’s population get before the “carrying capacity” of the world is exceeded. I forget his name, but supposedly he was one of the world’s experts on this subject. He predicted we could get to about 7 billion people world wide about when cheap energy (oil/coal/fossil fuels) would start to decline, and things would get dicey. I was the lone idiot (in a very large lecture hall) to raise my hand and ask what he thought would happen then. He predicted famine and wars over resources, and I heard my first uttering of that maybe famous Chinese curse – “you will live in interesting times”. Pretty accurate prediction everything considered.

    So I think the big disconnect here is that we can all see what is coming, and we can all see that the elites that run the world – they have no clue, but they are really sure whatever they do, it will not impact them. But I’m also sure if they could all get on Elon’s Starship and get to earth number 2, they would be gone in a NY minute, and that gives me hope because they realize just how tenuous their grasp on power is, and maybe we can get some non-sociopaths in charge for a change.

      1. Glen

        I don’t think so. He was older, an engineer, and his specialty was energy – fossil fuel/solar/nuclear – these were the Carter years after all.

  33. overoverb

    We’ll see when the actual technical details get released, but this might be more of a PR maneuver than anything truly substantive. They need to look like they are doing something to counter Russia. They’re certainly going to realistically need more than 6 months to transition off Russian energy. Perhaps they think war negotiations will come late this year (after Nov. US elections).

  34. Dave in Austin

    Pipeline wars update:

    Oil. The E 44 oil pipeline runs from the Adriatic coast of Croatia to non-EU and non-NATO Serbia avoiding Bosnia. I assume the tankers come from Russia. I wonder if Croatia taps the pipeline at the port directly for cheap oil or do they let the Hungarians do the dirty work of buying and refining and then get a bit of cheap gasoline in return? The last time I was in the neighborhood (2019) tanker trucks full of gas were heading from Hungary to Serbia and the gas prices were a bit lower than in western Europe

    According to ,Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have been give the OK by the EU to use Russian oil “for a while”. But Bulgaria, which processes heavy (and cheap) oil from Russia, has not- yet. Pipelines are not the only way for Russian oil, diesel and gasoline to get into Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary; the Danube is by treaty an open river and barges run up-and-down to the Black Sea.

    Natural Gas: A year ago in a great hurry (six months from announcement to completion) the Serbian and Hungarian gas network were literally welded together, so a pipeline carrying gas from “the old Soviet world” to Turkey now passes through Bulgaria to Serbia and feeds Hungary directly without passing through unpredictable places like the Ukraine and Poland. Good pipelines make good neighbors.

    The Balkan countries have their own agendas. Germany may be rich enough to shoot itself in the foot; no country in the Balkans can afford to do so. Add-in the traditional Bulgarian links to Russia which freed them from the Turks, the Serbian dependence on Russia since the NATO bombing and the Hungarian success at fending-off EU sanctions by invoking Russian friendship and oil, and you get a fairly solid block of folks running 1,200 miles from the Austria-Hungary border to the Turkish border with Armenia who are not completely on-board with the new NATO war against Russia.

    1. lance ringquist

      the danube is a interesting one i have studied for years. its treaty is international law, which means nothing to the free traders. its why russia must take the whole black sea coast. because at the mouth of the danube on the black sea coast, ukraine on one side, romania on the other side.

      remove ukraine and romania will stew, but cannot stop the russians.

    2. OIFVet

      Bulgaria has received an exemption through 2024 from the EU prohibition on Russian oil importation through tankers. So my guess is that BG will be one of the places where Russian oil will magically transform into some oil from some other origin.

  35. ChrisRUEcon


    … well you move up to the knees, obviously!

    … which is exactly what I said in jest to a friend online.

    Thanks for the yeoman’s work on this! Lots of good stuff posted in the last week, but I haven’t had too much time to pass by and comment till now. Concur with it all here, especially your lovely V-inspired ending:

    ” … but the consternation of the goons that he is still standing is the closest cinematic parallel I can find to the Western insistence that Russia must be losing economically and militarily despite all evidence to the contrary.”

    Indeed, Yves … indeed.

  36. Schopenhauer

    Some short remarks from a german perspective:
    # At least since the creation of the Monetary Union the EU is a “project of European Capital” (as the renowned finance journalist Lucas Zeise put it in his book “Euroland wird abgebrannt” from 2012), in particular of the german export and monopol capital; it should help to fulfill two aims: Externally the EU should be the instrument to conquer the east-and southeast european countries and coopt their “elites”, internally it should be the decisive instrument to dismantle the rest of the hated European welfare state and to bring the neoliberal counterrevolution that begun in the Seventies to a Happy End. And now it seems that the Capital and their servants in Berlin, Paris and Brussels think they can finish off what is left from public welfare institutions; the damage to the national economies which is done by the so-called sanctions is a feature and not a bug.
    # The german political and economic “elites” and their mouthpieces in the propaganda media are all in on the destruction of the post-war-system based on the nation state and a market economy hedged by welfare state institutions; for “them” there is no way back: With the draconian handling of the corona crisis and the multilevel warfare against Russia they burned down all the bridges behind them. It is them versus the plebs.
    # The german party system is a cartel with four different factions which are always able to cooperate with each other to the disadvantage of the plebs. The opposition is a non-entity: “The Left” has committed suicide with the sidelining of Sahra Wagenknecht and the demission of Oskar Lafontaine and Fabio DeMasi (a very gifted economic politician) – the rest of “The Left” is a postmodern sectarian psychogroup discussing gender language and the revolution which is just around the corner; and the conservative opposition party AfD is demonized as a Putinesque Nazi Party albeit the heads of the parliamentary group, Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland, are a Hayekian neoliberal (Weidel) respectively a somewhat Burkean social conservative (Gauland).
    To quote George Orwell: “If there is hope, it lies in the proles.”

    1. Felix_47

      I think Wagenknecht and Lafontaine subscribe to Orwell’s view. Unfortunately, the proles do not read and survive on Hartz 4 until they cannot. Those that follow the AfD really should be part of the Linke or the old Lafontaine SPD. The demonization is the same US democratic strategy vis a vis Trump.

  37. Procopius

    U.S. policy stopped making sense in 2016. It was already shaky after 9/11, but since the DNC claimed Russia hacked their computer critical thinking has hardly been seen. I’m most concerned about the apparent willingness to go to nuclear war, and Biden has done some things in domestic policy that are inspiring, but foreign policy has gone completely mad. Of course, it’s been obvious since Iran/Contra that the State Department has always preferred dealing with bloody-handed tyrants (at least since the Barbary Coast War) and Nazis, but Blinken and his minions have been farcical.

  38. JustTheFacts

    I used to believe that we lived in democracies. The paper from Princeton which showed that average people had no impact on the creation of laws proved to me that the US, at least, was an oligarchy.

    But surely Europe was different? Yet as time has passed, European news has become more and more monolithic. Where once each country had different consensuses, now they all say the exact same things (being trilingual used to be a superpower for finding out what really was happening. Not so much anymore.) As Chomsky says, it very improbable that everybody just comes to the exact same opinion about any complex topic if they think independently.

    This uniformity seems to be coming from US supported “think-tanks”. Indeed the BBC has simply been using maps from the Institute for the Study of War, neglecting to mention that its founder, Kimberly Kagan, wife of Fredrick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, whose brother is Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, whose wife is Victoria Nuland of the US Department of State (who backed the Maidan coup). Quoting as sources of truth people who I believe are neocons, and some of whom are actively involved on one side of the war, does not seem objective to me. If you control what the population thinks, by providing a purposefully biased narrative, you control how they vote. So much for democracy. If you control what is “reasonable” and what “isn’t”, people self-censor and avoid mentioning where they disagree with the mainstream narrative. Again, so much for democratic debate.

    But that is not all. I find Brexit instructive. You may recall that Leave only just beat Remain in polls a couple of days around the vote, failing both beforehand and afterwards. Was that real? Then, Theresa May wanted to reach a reasonable accommodation with the EU. However, it was recently reported by the Grayzone (here), that Richard Dearlove, ex-head of MI-6, worked to break that option and replace her by Boris Johnson, completely disregarding the fact Theresa May was the democratically elected Prime Minister. Clearly the will of the people matters little to the head of its intelligence service. And why should it, when we know that the 5-eyes essentially spy on each others’ citizens and share their intelligence so as to learn what their own citizens do and think? When we also know that it is those with the “right views” who usually end up promoted, it seems clear that the right views are not those of the people but rather those of certain special interests, despite the UK’s government’s claim to be a democracy.

    Clearly those special interests are not those of the German industrialists, since they have so much to lose from these anti-Russia sanctions: no energy, no chemicals, means no industrial machine. Instead, it seems very clear that those special interests happen to be aligned with the views of US state department, and perhaps also the US intelligence agencies. Not, I will note, with those of the US Federal reserve or even the banks since Janet Yellen advised against a European oil embargo.

    So while Michael Hudson believes the European politicians are simply all bought and paid for (see this ), I think it might be more simply that a system has been set up to ensure that those whose views contradict the US’ are always diverted away from power.

    I unfortunately conclude that the EU, and most of its states, have essentially been colonized by a particular neoliberal clique which also runs at least some departments of the US government. Steve Keen spoke about how this clique also worked to destroy the Russian economy here.

    It seems to me that just as Stalin overestimated Hitler’s rationality (surely he won’t invade in winter?), again the Russian elites have again overestimated Europe’s independence from the US and its rationality (surely they won’t destroy their own economies? surely their politicians know that their citizens will revolt if they harm their standards of living? Both answers seem to either be no, or they don’t care.).

    1. Polar Socialist

      I believe the “ultimatums” Russia delivered at the end of last year were designed to qualify for them (and to those in public who cared) the Europe’s independence from the US. They already knew Ukraine was not sovereign in any way or form, and when the responses made it apparent Europe had none either, Lavrov stepped aside and Shoigu stepped in.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Russians say that if you are not prepared to deal with one Sergey (Lavrov), then you will have to deal with the other Sergei (Shoigu).

  39. Kemerd

    The simplest explanation is political class are bought by global oligarchy which includes German oligarchs, German oligarchs probably reckon they can recuperate the costs of sinking German industry by gains in their investments in the US. These people don’t have nationality

    1. Susan the other

      I’m uneasy that the direction of EU industry does not look good for US industry. Instead of bringing back our own industry (semi-conductor manufacturing looks like it is headed for Germany) it looks to me like we are far more interested in buying controlling shares in German industry. Possibly cars as well. The only reason that could be a good investment is if German industry, controlled by us, will continue to be supported by sufficient Russian oil and gas. It is a power play by us – but out of desperation – if we cannot control Germany’s political decisions, we will simply buy them out, benefit from the profits and keep the EU tightly aligned with us. But the catch is that we have to cooperate with Russia to make it work. That is, work for us and the EU. Which also makes me wonder if we have already resigned ourselves to losing control of Taiwan. That would be a good thing – keeping the peace with China. And this also makes me wonder how we will allocate the limited amount of gas and oil we will have. I get the feeling it’s rats jumping ship.

      1. Susan the other

        Sorry. I’m a day late with this comment on the clip of Larry C. Johnson. Talking about all the Nutzies and Snotzies in Ukraine that the CIA “trained” – and how there is no truth whatsoever in the MSM on the war; that Bucha is a complete propaganda hoax, etc. Nice to hear him say it. But this also leaves me uneasy, thinking, Can we actually be that incompetent? Well after watching the quisling Stephen Colbert last night with his zombie guest, the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkin himself, clapclapclap, here to tell us what’s going on! – and Blinkin is scared shitless, or speechless – same thing with Blinkin – so he elaborates on the terrible atrocity the Russians committed in Bucha but he can barely speak his mouth is so dry… what kind of idiots do we have for government? The Secretary of State? The guy is sick. Once again, for me, raising the question, Can we really be this pathetic? I really now think it is impossible for us to be this incompetent. Like the whole plan was to use the Nutzies and the Snotzies for the stooges they are, for cannon fodder, to settle the organized crime mess in Ukraine and establish a political demarcation for international relations and to resolve the use of Russian oil. Blinkin is otherwise simply too disgusting to sit behind a government desk.

  40. Geoffrey

    Jack Rasmus addressed the EU issue last week (‘Reflections on the War in Ukraine’, May 24, 2022)…..a summary of some of his points:-
    “-First, Europe really doesn’t have any independent foreign policy,…
    “-Second, (he suggests) it will eventually be revealed the US has likely made some very generous economic promises to the EU if they go along with driving Russia out of the EU economy. ….
    “-Third, there’s a massive capitalist economic windfall to the US sanctions, in which Europe will participate…..
    “-I’d add that inflation from the war is also very profitable for capitalists in general and will be no less so for European capitalists…..
    “-The tendency is to view wars as conflicts between nations. True. But to understand them deeper, it’s necessary to dissect ‘the nation’ and explore which segments within a class benefit the most, the least, or don’t benefit and pay the cost of war…..Nations don’t go to war; capitalists and their political elites go to war…..
    “-Capitalism is a cannibal. It’s a Moloch that has to eat its own children. Europe has decided it’s better to take a seat at the table with the American glutton than to become just another meal…..”

    Also, I might point to the structural crises that Western capitalism is now in, some of which capitalists are aware of, like over dependency on China, the utility of the reserve dollar being past its time for capitalists’ purposes, climate change, so ‘something needs to be done’! (and before its too late to stop China’s momentum). And some things they are totally unaware of, like Michael Hudsons point that neoliberalism can only hollow out economies/societies that must ultimately fail.
    More ‘extreme’ commentators suggest that elite capitalists are very clever, if immoral, people and they know exactly where they are at, and taking the world thru’ ‘the wringer’ of extreme dislocation, like depression, famine, major war, so that they can stay on top in a new dispensation is worth it. I remind myself of how broken the US looked during the (banker-made) Great Depression, who would have thought then that American-made globalisation was just ahead! I like a metaphor from the TV series, ‘Breaking Bad’, where the anti-hero meets his adversaries and offers to make up, and they celebrate with a drink from a bottle he has brought and from which he too drinks fulsomely. All pass out. Next morning the anti-hero pulls himself away, the others are all dead, he has survived. Western capitalists have been in worse scrapes before, no matter what pain they inflict on the planet, it’s worth another shot to stay on top. At least, thats the lesson they may draw from history.

  41. Mikel

    The overestimation of the EU never ceases to amaze me.
    Shouldn’t be much surprise about much of this.

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