By Conor Gallagher
German media has been oddly silent since investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s article revealing that the US was behind the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines.
What little coverage there is disparages the piece. Der Spiegel attacks Hersh’s credibility, calling him “controversial” and the report “poorly written” before warning it aids Russian propaganda. Die Welt focuses on the attention Hersh’s article is receiving in Russia and notes that Hersh “relies on a single source for his report. He published the report on his substack and not in a major US media outlet.” The newspaper does, however, admit at the tail end that the ongoing German investigation to find the true culprit has turned up no evidence of Russian involvement.
One would think an “ally” sabotaging the German economy would be bigger news, but this highlights that the propaganda for NATO’s war against Russia is arguably worse in Germany than it is in the US. It is also another reminder of Germany’s subservience to the interests of the US empire, which is aided by the German Green Party.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz looks spineless and in over his head. At every step of escalation with Russia (and China) he draws a line in the sand, only to cave when the pressure builds.
The divisions in his government are now out in the open as his Green foreign minister Annalena Baerbock pushes for more forceful intervention in Ukraine (or open war) and Scholz continues to get dragged along. Baerbock has repeatedly backed the chancellor into a corner, yet he refused to dismiss her and is instead reduced to “carefully” tallying her “mistakes.”
The Greens, working in tandem with the Americans, have been integral to pressuring Scholz into more escalation with Russia. How did the pacifist party founded partially on its opposition to NATO and US nukes on German soil become so bloodthirsty and determined to kick off World War 3? Here’s a brief background on the Greens, including their fateful turn during the Yugoslav Wars.
The ecological, pacifist party began to emerge in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a unification effort of the left opposed to environmental degradation in West Germany and rallied millions against the US stationing its intermediate-range, nuclear-warhead missiles on West German soil. Cracks began to form quickly, however, due to opportunists, big tentism, frustration with lack of success, and struggles after the reunification of East and West Germany. The levees finally broke completely in the late 1990s during the Yugoslav Wars.
Diana Johnstone, who was press secretary of the Green Group in the European Parliament from 1989 to 1996, explains the Greens’ turn in her memoir “Circle in the Darkness: Memoir of a World Watcher.” Here is a brief breakdown she gives to Black Agenda Report:
The key moment was the 1999 bombing, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, when a German foreign minister from the Greens took both Germany and his party into that war. He directly transformed the Greens into a party championing war for the sake of human rights, much like Samantha Power. …
In order to keep control of Western Europe after the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States had to preserve NATO, which is the way the United States controls Europe. So, in order to preserve NATO, they found a new mission, which is humanitarian warfare. The Kosovo war was an example of that. It transformed NATO from a defensive force into an offensive force with a humanitarian mission. That was the purpose of the Kosovo war. And the German Green Party’s foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, was the prophet of all that.
Fischer was originally a leftist street fighter who rose to become leader of the Greens in the 1990s. In 1994, during the Yugoslav Wars, Fischer said that sending German forces into countries “where Hitler’s troops had stormed during the Second World War” would only worsen the conflict. The 1998 Green manifesto promised to oppose intervention in the Balkans and even to roll back NATO.
But just one year later, as the country’s foreign minister, Fischer helped convince Germans to do the opposite on both counts. What happened? With an opportunity for power at hand, Fischer and the Greens began to make wholesale compromises. Joachim Jachnow in a wonderful 2013 piece that is well worth reading in full at New Left Review:
These manifesto commitments were abandoned a few months later when the Greens, with a mere 6.7 per cent of the vote in the September 1998 election, signed up to a coalition agreement with [former chancellor Gerard] Schröder’s spd that gave nato pride of place. Fischer himself had been briefed on the Clinton Administration’s plans for Yugoslavia even before entering office, during a trip to Washington with Schröder and Lafontaine. As with every step in Fischer’s career, self-advancement was marketed as a painful realization of higher truths, whose acceptance did not mean betraying but rather, more perfectly fulfilling, one’s ideals for a better society. The German media almost unanimously promoted the Schröder–Fischer line for military intervention.
The same playbook is now being used with the current German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, but more on that in a bit. As for Fischer’s Faustian bargain, it was all downhill from there for the Greens. More from Jachnow:
Formerly defenders of the welfare state and proponents of economic redistribution, the Greens became enthusiastic supporters of Schröder’s neoliberal Agenda 2010, which led to a tremendous plundering of public assets, social insurance and pension funds, while repressing wages and granting tax cuts to business worth billions of euros—effectively, a redistribution of wealth from poor to rich.
The party also embraced surveillance, civil rights restrictions, police militarization, and tried to get Germany to back all the US’ Middle East adventures following 9/11. Everything came up roses for Fischer, though. Johnstone writes at Consortium News:
A turncoat is especially valuable in such circumstances. Many principled anti-war Greens left the party, but opportunists flooded in. Fischer could strike the appropriate chords: his reason for going to war was “never again Auschwitz!” – completely irrelevant to the problems of Kosovo but morally intimidating.
From his mentor, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Fischer learned the art of the revolving door, and in 2007 went into the consulting business with his own firm, counseling businesses on how to relate to political circumstances in various countries. Opportunism can be an art. He also collected lucrative speaking engagements and honorary doctoral degrees from universities around the world – he who never got his high school diploma. From his youthful squat, he has ascended to a luxury villa in the best part of Berlin, with the fifth of his series of attractive wives.
Nowadays, the Green co-leaders, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, are, respectively, foreign minister and economics minister.
It’s difficult to make sense of their current policies aside from their desire for war – with Russia, with China, maybe Iran, and whoever else the ringmasters in DC want. They opposed the Nord Stream pipelines, although German coal has now made a comeback, signaling a failure in the party’s attempts to reconcile capitalist expansion to environmental sustainability. They also oppose coal and nuclear energy. They support a quick shift to EVs and heat pumps, but the electricity math doesn’t come close to adding up. Ralph Schoellhammer writes at Unherd:
Germany is faced with the prospect of reducing electricity supply by almost 40% while demand is estimated to increase by 20%. So how does the government plan to solve this problem? According to recent reports, by doubling gas firing capacity (from currently 15% to 30%), which of course begs the question of where that gas will be coming from. Supposedly LNG will be the answer, but it is questionable whether Qatar, the US, and other LNG exporters will be capable of satisfying this increasing demand, given the ambitious timetable put forward by the German government.
Despite their illogical energy policies, John Helmer at Dances With Bears makes an important point about how the Greens’ pro-war positions keep improving their vote count in aerospace and defense areas of Germany:
Kiel is home to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Maschinenbau, builder of the Leopard tank. In the Kiel parliamentary vote of 2021, the Greens gained almost 14% to score 28% of the total, while the SDP lost ground but held on to the seat with 29.5%. Just over two thousand votes separated them. The anti-war Left and Alliance for Germany (AfD) candidates lost ground in Kiel, ending up with 5% and just over 7,000 votes each. In Dusseldorf, headquarters for the Rheinmetall group, the Greens gained 13% in 2021 from the SDP and CDU, losing narrowly to the CDU. Similar vote switches to the Greens were recorded in Essen and Duisburg, where Thyssen-Krupp directs its military industrial complex.
On the other hand, the Greens now fully back pseudo-environmentalism efforts that benefit corporate interests. Johnstone describes how the WEF-influenced Greens see this playing out:
The Greens have not forgotten the environment, and see “climate neutrality” as the “great opportunity for Germany as an industrial location.” The development of “climate protection technologies” should “provide impetus for new investments.” Their program calls for creation of a “digital euro,” secure mobile “digital identities” and “digital administrative services.”
Indeed, the Green economic program sounds very much like the Great Reset advocated by the World Economic Forum at Davos, with a new economy centered on climate change, artificial intelligence and digitalization of everything.
What to make of such a hodgepodge of policies? Maybe Habeck and Baerbock just want power and riches like Fiscer and will say just about anything, as Baerbock did when she proudly announced the quiet part out loud about NATO being at war with Russia.
Much like Boris Johnson she also is extremely casual when throwing around words like “war”. Much like Johnson she has no concept of what war with Russia would actually mean for Germany. So she throws the sentence out there casually and expects nothing will occur.
— Alexander Mckay (@WRAMckay) January 25, 2023
They are so far removed from the real world that they just have no concept of it at all. True for Boris, Baerbock, Trudeau, Ardern and many others. They are more divorced from reality than a late period western Roman Emperor and far more dangerous.
— Alexander Mckay (@WRAMckay) January 25, 2023
Whatever motivates Habeck, Baerbock, and the rest of the Greens, the outcome is still the same: the formerly pacifist party no longer even feigns passive resistance to the worst impulses of the American empire. Instead, they align completely under the guise of a faux human rights, feminist foreign policy.
And Baerbock and the rest of the Greens are patted on the head for it by the New York Times, Washington Post, and all the respected members of transatlantic high society. This attitude from Josef Joffe, former publisher-editor of Die Zeit, seems to be the prevailing wisdom among that crowd:
Like the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland, the Greens once believed in many impossible things before breakfast. So did most Germans. The country would get plentiful cheap gas from Russia, safely switch off its last three nuclear power plants by the end of 2022, and replace oil and coal with sun and wind.
Germany could also let its army rot, shrinking it from 500,000 to 180,000. The former Reich would act as a ‘power of peace’, beholden to its culture of (military) self-denial. Trade and investment would tame Russia and other aggressors. Made in Germany would prevail.
In other words, the Greens are good, responsible adults now who impoverish their people and pursue wars that could end life on earth as we know it. It’s unclear why Joffe believes plentiful, cheap gas from Russia is the stuff of fairytales. Many other countries are doing just that. In light of the American sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, he likely means that the US, as the occupying power of Germany, would never allow it. Regardless, Joffe argues that the Greens have grown up and their bellicosity now makes them the most “rational” party in Germany, which is truly frightening. But again, this narrative is being widely pushed by the German media, and the Greens are actually rising in the polls.
Let the good times roll.
Germany’s FM Annalena Baerbock has been awarded one of carnival season’s highest honors: the Order of Combating Deadly Seriousness. In the spirit of the event, she poked fun at Chancellor Olaf Scholz — and not everyone was amused. pic.twitter.com/1xpq477kI1
— DW News (@dwnews) February 7, 2023