By Conor Gallagher
While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attempts the impossible of appeasing Washington while simultaneously salvaging his country’s economy, his foreign minister Annalena Baerbock is taking a much harder line – one that aligns perfectly with American interests.
As Michael Hudson has pointed out, one of the targets in the US war against Russia is actually Germany, and Baerbock is helping Washington accomplish its mission.
Due to the war with Russia and loss of cheap Russian energy, the German economy is in shambles and facing a future of deindustrialization. Yet, the German government refuses to stand up to the US and instead continues on with their disastrous Russia policies.
Despite all the damage the Russia conflict has done to her country’s economy, Baerbock (and other hawks in Germany) are eager to join with Washington against its next target: China.
For decades Germany pursued a foreign policy based on peaceful Wandel durch Handel (“transformation through trade”). It relied on cheap Russian gas imports and exports to its largest trading partner, China. That is all changing now and is being driven in large part by Baerbock and the Green Party.
On a trip to China, which is suddenly controversial in the West, Scholz tried to walk a fine line between Washington and Beijing. From the South China Morning Post:
Before leaving for Beijing, Scholz said he recognised that the EU had become too economically dependent on China but insisted that Germany should not decouple from China or heed “calls by some” to isolate the country.
In his meeting with Scholz on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to reaffirm that position, calling on Germany and the EU to not attach to “any third party” and to retain their strategic autonomy.
It’s pretty clear who the unnamed party is here. Washington wants to cut Europe off from China, and it’s being aided by Baerbock who has repeatedly criticized China, and before taking office in Dec. 2021, pledged a “return to a more active German foreign policy” which would be guided by “moral principles.”
Before Scholz’s visit Baerbock warned the chancellor that he had to make it clear to Beijing “that the question of fair conditions of competition, the question of human rights and the question of the recognition of international law is our basis for international cooperation.”
Comparing China to Russia, she added that Germany should “no longer be so fundamentally dependent on a country that does not share our values that we can be blackmailed in the end.”
Then, as Scholz was en route to Beijing, Germany’s foreign office released a photo op of a gathering of Baerbock and her G-7 counterparts. Baerbock sits at the head of the table next to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken with Under Secretary of State Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland behind them. According to former India diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar:
Quintessentially, Baerbock has highlighted her discontent with Scholz’s China visit by assembling around her the like-minded G7 counterparts. Even by norms of coalition politics, this is an excessive gesture. When a country’s top leader is on a visit abroad, a display of dissonance undercuts the diplomacy.
Equally, Baerbock’s G7 counterparts chose not to wait for Scholz’s return home. Apparently, they have a closed mind and the tidings of Scholz’s discussions in Beijing will not change that.
First thing on Monday, Scholz should ask for Baerbeck’s resignation. Better still, [the] latter should submit her resignation.
Neither has happened, which is not surprising. It has been clear for some time that Baerbock is a hardline Atlanticist who wants Germany to pursue a much more aggressive foreign policy. Some examples:
- Ahead of Germany’s 2021 federal election, Baerbock was the only chancellor candidate to call the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia a mistake.
- In a January meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Baerbock called out China on human rights, drawing a request from Beijing that she avoid “megaphone diplomacy.”
- She carried out a lone boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
- In August Baerbock said Germany would “not accept when international law is broken and a larger neighbor attacks its smaller neighbor in violation of international law – and that of course also applies to China,” in a reference to Taiwan.
- In early October at a press conference with Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Baerbock proposed a UN role in the Kashmir issue, much to India’s surprise. The comments came at a time when the West is upset with India over its ties to Russia.
- She wants stronger defense ties with Japan to counter China.
- She has been a driving force for tougher European sanctions on Iran and outspoken on women’s rights there.
- Along with the US, she opposed Germany allowing China to obtain a controlling stake in a Hamburg port terminal. Scholz pushed a compromise, and Germany approved a sale of 24.9% of the terminal to Cosco. Baerbock continues to criticize the deal.
- Under pressure after the Hamburg port deal, the German government just blocked the sale of a chip factory to a Swedish subsidiary of a Chinese company.
- She’s formulating Germany’s first “China strategy,” which will be released early next year and is expected to argue that Berlin should join the US in its economic (for now) war on China.
Just to put Baerbock’s politics in perspective, Germany is now dependent on the import of expensive liquefied natural gas, which is destroying its industry. Berlin is spending €200 billion to temporarily soften the blow, but seeing as there is no end in sight to energy shortage, it will likely lead to a financial crisis, social spending cuts, and a major decline in living standards.
Following its break with Russia, a decoupling from China would essentially be like killing yourself twice. More than a million jobs are directly connected to China trade. In addition, China is a supplier of important raw materials such as rare earths. Here is the path Germany is on:
🇩🇪 💰 📉 The trade balance of Germany.
And Analena Baerbock thinks only about Ukraine… pic.twitter.com/7KKGcNpetZ
— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZgeopolitics) November 3, 2022
Cui Hongjian, an Europe expert at the China Institute of International Studies, told the South China Morning Post: “On top of cutting off … imports of energy and resources [from Russia], cutting off the market [from China] would be economic suicide.”
And yet Baerbock seems as unconcerned about China as she does about Russia.
German FM: I will put Ukraine first “no matter what my German voters think” or how hard their life gets. pic.twitter.com/GwAqIZ2jL7
— Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil (@ivan_8848) August 31, 2022
While Scholz is a career corporatist politician who wants to preserve German businesses, Baerbock is a newcomer to politics and a perfect product from the transatlantic leader factory. Diana Johnstone, who was press secretary of the Green Group in the European Parliament from 1989 to 1996, writes:
Baerbock is 40 years old, just about a year younger than the Green Party itself. She is the mother of two small children, a former trampoline champion, who smiles even while speaking – a clean image of happy, innocent fitness. She learned fluent English in Florida in a high school exchange, studied international law at the London School of Economics, and advocates (surprise, surprise) a strong partnership with the Biden administration to save the climate and the world in general…
In between jumping up and down on the trampoline, her professional interest has always been international relations from an Anglo-American angle, including her masters degree in international law at the LSE in London.
Her initiation into transatlantic governance includes membership in the German Marshall Fund, the World Economic Forum’s Young Leaders Program and the Europe/Transatlantic Board of the Green Party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation.
On that basis, she has risen rapidly to the leadership of the Green Party, with very little political and no administrative experience.
Baerbock nearly became chancellor, but her campaign was derailed by inaccuracies in her resume, e.g., stating that she had been a member of the German Marshall Fund when she had never been more than a supporter.
Her recent book, Jetzt: Wie wir unser Land erneuern (Now: How We Renew Our Country), also lifted from other publications. She denied any copyright infringement and plagiarism allegations.
“No one writes a book alone,” she said.
For insight into what Baerbock envisions for Germany, an August speech at the New School in New York should be read in full. She describes February 24 (the date Russia began its special military operation) as a date that changed the world and uses it to justify her plans for a rearmed Germany to take on a much more aggressive foreign policy as an equal partner to the US:
This new reality marks a stark turning Point. But I also believe – and that’s what I want to talk about today – that it marks something else: It marks a truly transatlantic moment!
… In 1989, U.S. President George Bush famously offered Germany a “partnership in leadership”. Back then, it did not materialize. The idea went too far for the situation at the time. In the early nineties, my country was so busy making reunification a reality for all its citizens. Working on anchoring a reunited Germany in the EU.
But today, in a world of a new era, this has fundamentally changed. We are seeing clearly: Now is the moment when we have to engage in partnership in leadership.
…As much as Europeans and Americans may differ in their personal history, and in their individual backgrounds: We share common values, how we live and how we want to live in the future. What defines us is freedom and democracy.
And for laughs:
Children are asking their parents now at breakfast: Mom, what exactly is a nuclear weapon? Others are saying: I really like NATO.
But here she lays out her vision for Germany:
Germany has set up a special fund of 100 billion euro to strengthen our military. We have reversed a decades-old arms export paradigm, with Germany now being one of Ukraine’s strongest military and financial backers. And we have expanded our contributions to NATO: We are leading the NATO battle group in Lithuania and are assigning a brigade with up to 800 troops which can be deployed there if required. We are helping to secure the airspace over the Baltic States with our fighter jets – and to protect Slovakia with Patriot air defense.
But we know that we cannot stop here: Our aim is to further strengthen the European pillar of NATO, because we want to have a leadership in European and US partnership. Europe matters – also security-wise, that’s what we saw after February 24th. If that premise is to hold, we have to prove it and see it through in the long term. That means building a more strategic European Union – a Union able to approach the United States at eye level: in a partnership in leadership…
China’s comments with regard to Taiwan raise serious questions. It cannot be in our interest if China is creating excessive economic dependencies in its region.
We are currently looking at this, and we are drafting, for the first time in my ministry, our own China strategy, which will be published next year, and which is very much in line with strategic thinking here in the U.S. In my view, one objective of this strategy should be to further align transatlantic positions on the challenges China poses to our rules‑based international order.
We’ll see if Baerbock gets her wish. Polls show the German public is still reluctant; a majority don’t consider Russia a military threat, oppose a military leadership role in Europe, and prefer a restrained foreign policy. It also remains to be seen how Germany will lead the European pillar of NATO as a poor, deindustrialized state.
In an interview with Black Agenda Report back before the German election Diana Johnstone had this to say about Baerbock and the Greens:
Frankly, I hope they don’t [win] because they are the most dangerous when it comes to foreign relations. … People who are really on the left in Germany consider [Baerbock] and the German Green Party extremely dangerous. They’re most likely to stumble us into a major war between world powers.
They didn’t end up winning the election, but Baerbock and the Greens seem determined to intensify that war nonetheless.
In effect she makes rhetorical war on her country for the benefit of “others.” IS she convinced that she is correct? a willing dupe? a fool? an agent? But then why wonder, the US has Blinken who is as wrong-headed as Baerbock and appears to believe the nonsense he spouts.
At first I thought she’s simply a fool. And that assessment remains. However, her fantasy of Germany as an equal of the US shows she’s entirely delusional as well. With some of these types I think they imagine a global fourth reich with the Anglos and Germany leading the way (Hitler had similar ideas at one point).
Of course this reich will not be like the last. It will only enforce good things like vaccines and right-think.
the forth reich was established in 1993 in america, and was rapidly spreading to europe with the creation of the E.U., tony blair, gerhard shroeder and others. new zeland actually had one of the first nutcases elected, who promtely destroyed their economy.
today the trampoline jumper is a normal western free trade politician, finland has one, and new Zeland has one again.
they litter the landscape of all western nations. this is the free traders best bet since the fascist governments that rose up in pre WWII europe, imperial japan, and of course traces their roots to woodrew wilson.
so if we manage to some how rid ourselves of these specimens before they blow up the world, because they will. they are stark raving mad, delusional and drunk with power from massive profits for a few, that is the basis of free trade, and they are not gonna give it up.
because if you think we do not have to take these specimens to criminal courts and expose their support roots, you are as mistaken as bernie sanders and the so called squad.
if the specimens and their advisors and financial backers are not exposed and rooted out of society, and dealt with accordingly. then you will never be able to change the future.
because guaranteed, if you do not go after them when you can, they will go after you, and that is for sure, its set in stone!
I recon that jumping on the trampoline must be conducive to actual trauma on the brain…
It is unfortunate that Scholz needs the Greens to keep his coalition government afloat and Ms. Baerbock’s popularity with voters continues unabated. Scholz is most certainly aware of her lack of experience, but at the time he agreed to give her the foreign affairs portfolio it still looked like “blue sky” on the international horizon, at least compared with now. Little did he know how much damage Ms. Baerbock would do.
That’s a good point that. If you could sit down and work out right now what she and her fellow-travelers have cost Germany, what would it be so far? The hundreds of billions given to shore up their economy, the industries and corporations shutting down or moving overseas, the lost tax revenue, the massive unemployment looming, the cost of sending money & resources to the Ukraine, the cost of supporting Ukrainian refugees, the blackouts and energy shortages impacting the general economy. The amount must be staggering. I looked up the GDP for Germany and it is about US$4.223 trillion which is big. Would the costs so far – after only nine months – be getting comparable now?
I do not believe that the Green’s popularity continues unabated. I unfortunately cannot find a link, but I saw a reference to a tracking poll that had a notable percentage of Green voters apparently witching to AFd. This is the best reference I could find, but it only mentions AFd’s rise in polls:
The Greens are tied together by their distinct ideological leanings, tend to be educated, and have cushy jobs. i.e., the complete opposite of your typical AfD voter.
As to Baerbock, Nov. 15:
“According to the current RTL/ntv trend barometer, Annalena Baerbock is still at the top with a satisfaction value of 50 percent. 46 percent are less or not at all satisfied with the work of the Federal Foreign Minister.”
Yep – the Green’s are buoyed by the German 10 percenters or PMC.
The upper middle class in Germany seems to be foolishly unaware that their economic interests lie with the bottom 90 percent of the population, not as neoconservative stooges.
Germany losing its manufacturing the way the US did with NAFTA and the WTO expansion would hurt their living standards too.
Another nice summary:
Thanks. Sounds like the Germans have their Hillary with “a more active German foreign policy” adding the ominous overtones of not so distant history into the mix. Don’t suppose her CV includes any time spent in Langley, VA?
Of course it’s only fair that we send our moles to Europe since they have so many over here. That isolationism thing is starting to look good. What did George Washington say again?
initially I too thought she was a fool. Now I know it´s simply being corrupt and without a bone of honesty. Someone (Col. Smithers?) here on nc commented back in february under the Michael Hudson text, that he had met EU-diplomats who thought being in the US is like going to Hollywood. And that was an eye-opener. It´s truly THAT simple (yes, I believed Baerbock´s simplicity was guarded angst and insecurity.) But that didn´t explain the amassing of utter nonsense week after week after week. As already stated above, right now, the media helps keep her polling rates high. At least for the moment. By law axioms of German foreign policy are determined by the Chancellor however. So Scholz lets her play the game. But it´s his tactics. After all we shouldn´t forget Merkel laid the groundwork for all the US-German deals that now take effect. Both, Merkel and Scholz are so far similarly good in appearing as less active than they are. They let cabinet members appear stronger in the foreground. It´s safer with the media I guess. (May be that´s why it´s always the chancellors who go to China never their FSs. After all business is business.) But in effect it´s the ministerial secretaries, their staff and the chancellery who run the show. p.s. and of course she´d love to be the next Chancellor.
“So Scholz lets her play the game. But it´s his tactics.”
Not tactics. He simply doesn’t have a choice. Scholz blundered badly when he agreed to a provision in the coalition agreement with the Greens stipulating “value-oriented foreign policy,” thus giving Baerbock free reign to do what she has been doing. Now it’s too late. If he were to ask for her resignation, the coalition would break down.
Wow. What a mercantilist rant. Who cares what the population thinks!!! Industry above all!!!
The German population is in favor of supporting Ukraine– even at the cost of higher prices for natural gas. In fact, the German population is in favor of transitioning away from all fossil fuels altogether.
Everyone knows that Germany is now running a trade deficit. So what?
After decades of running a very large trade surplus with the rest of the world, it is pretty hard to square concern about a trade deficit with the alarmist language (financial crisis!!!! social spending cuts!!! and a major decline in living standards!!!).
When Germany was running a trade surplus, was the rest of the world in financial crisis?
Physics dictates that “transitioning away from fossil fuels” will take a lot of fossil fuels and a lot of time. Getting rid of your fossil fuels before you have made the equipment needed for that transition is to guarantee that you’ll never make that transition. Here’s a quick quick primer for the general public.
The fact that BASF is leaving for China means all the knowledge its German engineers developed there will be lost to Germany and gained by China. Young Chinese will have a bright future in the Chemical Industry, young Germans, not so much. As other companies move, more institutional knowledge will be lost forever. That loss of German culture is enough for me to consider Baerbock to be no different from a traitor to Germany. The fact that the public does not realize this does not mean the public is right, just that they are misinformed by WDR, ZDF, et al as to what is happening.
Indeed, I find it interesting that Baerbock wants to sanction China. The EU anti-Russian sanctions prevent energy-intensive companies who want to survive from moving to Russia, where there is plenty of energy. EU anti-China sanctions would prevent them from moving to China, where their customers are. That would leave the US, as a potential place where energy is 4x cheaper than Europe. This might benefit the Democrats, depriving the Republicans of the blue collar “Deplorables” vote. It might also help the US, if it does end up going to war with China.
That’s what Garland Nixon believes is happening.
He seems to have a similar view with Michael Hudson about this situation.
It strikes me that Baerbock would be a perfect fit for Bayer/Monsanto’s Board…
If she were an outright fraud who knew she was spouting dangerous nonsense she’d be a lot less frightening.
I believe she is sincerely delusional in a way that has become all too common amongst the highly credentialed in the West.
I recommend the latest Wolfgang Streeck piece as a complementary reading:
Thanks for tbat one – great piece by Streeck.
Oh my, that was one excellent article, thanks for posting. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Streeck, he is the author of How Will Capitalism End:
Wow! Brilliant, fascinating and disturbing article by Streeck. Thanks for the link.
Baerbock visited Canada to meet with her Canadian counterpart, foreign minister Melanie Joly, who famously said in February that ‘our goal is the suffocation of the Russian regime.’ Trudeau recently announced another $500 million in military aid to Ukraine at the G20. Canada has already sent billions. As with Baerbock and Germany the agitprop and demonization of China and visitations by Canadian MPs to Taiwan is also in full swing. America’s vassals in both Germany and Canada are busy making messes it seems.
Matthew 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Their appearance and their claims are no proof of their true character
. It may seem difficult to recognize this, yet there is a sure way of doing so, by their life. The emphasis of the sentence is on “by their fruits.” Ye shall know. Y e shall come to know them to the full ( ἐπιγνώσεσθε ).
My Comment: Twas ever thus.
I love Diana Johnstone.
Like Blinken and Donald Trump, Baerbock appears to have been spoiled as an isolated child into developing a borderline narcissistic personality and is constitutionally incapable of the experience of actual empathy. These people seem to confuse “leadership” with their monomaniacal and bullying willfulness. They persist because any normal person would move on and get a life.
I also suspect that she must have hit her head a few times bouncing up and down on those trampolines…
It was not so long ago that the Soviet Union was a big deal. Although Russia was by far the largest country, the other 14 regions had their own identity.
Nevertheless, during those decades, Russians, as well as others, moved around the “Union” for whatever reason, marriage, work, etc. Thus, when the Soviet Union collapsed, many Russians, roughly 25 million, found themselves living it what now appeared to be foreign countries.
For example, roughly 30 to 50 percent of the population of the Baltic States are still Russian. And, of course, there are Russians in Ukraine. Imagine if the US came apart and became 50 countries, and suddenly, Texas decided those born in Texas were first class citizens but those who located to Texas were now second class citizens. The real Texans would make a bad situation much worse.
The German Foreign Minister, Frau Baerbock, must know that before world war one Poland did not exist. The Polish people existed but Germany, largely due to Bismarck, prevented a Polish nation. Poland was born after the war but it was only 64 per cent Polish. After world war two, Poland was 100 per cent Polish because the Germans and Ukrainians who lived there were either dead or pushed out.
Frau Baerbock would make better use of her time to figure out how Russians and Ukrainians can live together in relative peace because Putin, being the patriot he is, will protect his Russian brothers and sisters. The only alternative to tolerance and peace is continuous war with extremely ugly unintended consequences.