Brian Hove: Truth and consequences for Germany, Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin’s search for a legacy

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By BRIAN HOVE

Can an action be considered inadvertent if the consequences of such action were predictable, inevitable and avoidable? 

Kelly Tshibaka’s most recent post is very much appreciated as the topic of Ukrainian sovereignty is an important consideration. However, emphasizing Germany’s involvement as “inadvertent” may lack vital context. In fact, I believe it’s much too kind.

Germany’s role in destabilizing the rules-based security structure Europe (particularly Eastern Europe) has enjoyed these last 30+ years cannot be overstated. To be clear, I’m not referring to its proclivity for NATO free-ridership (another issue for another time). 

I’ll explain. 

But first, why should we care about Ukraine? Well, history provides a compelling hint.

In the late 1930s Adolf Hitler assured the world that all he wanted was a little more land for German-speaking people, specifically parts of what was then Czechoslovakia. 

To avoid war, an agreement was struck sacrificing Czechoslovakia’s sovereignty. But, for despots like Hitler, it’s never enough. So, Poland was next. At this point all hell broke loose with the start of WWII. This is the moment the world learned a hard lesson about the efficacy of appeasement. 

Vladimir Putin is 71 years old. You can bet he has given considerable thought to his legacy. He would like nothing less than to be recorded as an historic figure, a great Russian leader in the class of Peter or Catherine or his personal hero, Stalin. 

Putting Humpty Dumpty back together again would certainly cement the legacy he desperately seeks. Restoration of the once great USSR might even qualify him for a new moniker. Vladimir the Great? Perhaps a final resting place next to Lenin?  

If we appease Putin by turning our back on Ukraine thereby allowing him to succeed in this misadventure, we must know that other sovereign nations will be next. The short list includes Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland – all EU and NATO members. Better to support Ukraine now than to have American boys fighting in Europe – again. 

So, what does Germany have to do with putting Europe back in Russia’s gunsights?   

For several years, Russia exported large quantities of natural gas to Germany which busied itself deactivating complementary power sources. Thus, over time, the German people became more and more dependent on an energy policy predicated on a single-source supplier of ill-repute.

Many former USSR republics and Warsaw Pact countries – now members of the EU and NATO – warned Germany about the unreliable nature of its bellicose business partner to the east. Choosing to ignore sage advice, Germany continued full speed ahead into Putin’s trap.  

During Putin’s reign, Russia has notoriously used energy resources to advance its foreign policy objectives. As a large consumer of Russian natural gas delivered via the Nord Stream pipeline, it was only a matter of time before Germans would be put over a barrel. How they could not see it coming is inexplicable. 

For the rest of the world, it’s fairly easy to understand. All we have to do is follow the Deutsche marks – specifically, Gerhard Schröder’s Deutsche marks.   

In the fall of 2005, within days of resigning his post as German chancellor, Schröder was hired by Gazprom, the Russian oil and gas giant, to oversee the nascent Nord Stream pipeline project. Think about that for a moment. 

Nord Stream was a proposal Schröder went to great lengths to endorse and promote as chancellor. Yet, we are to believe his subsequent employment was purely coincidental. This would be akin to a U.S. president – acting on behalf of the country he leads – cutting a deal with a strategic Chinese firm closely tied to the CCP and then, immediately after leaving office, going to work for that firm. Not cool, to say the least.

As a result, Germany is compromised. Awkward acquiescence toward Russia’s “special military operation” has been on full display from the outset. Europe’s largest economy needed Russian gas to operate. German homes needed Russian gas for wintertime heating. Clearly, Putin was counting on leveraging Germany the day he invaded Ukraine thus making impotent Russia’s largest potential European adversary.    

So, one could argue that Germany’s role in Ukraine’s existential struggle can be characterized as not so much “inadvertent” as it is complicit. Clearly, Russia is responsible. But, certainly, Germany has blood on its hands. 

It’s a hard truth to swallow. But how else are we to reconcile the actions of Germany’s former head of state vis-à-vis Nord Stream? There was nothing inadvertent about the geopolitical hazard Germany willingly walked into thereby putting its European neighbors at substantial risk. The consequences are plain as day for all to see.  

But, don’t take my word for it. Check it out.

Brian Hove is a UAF business graduate and a 43 year resident of Alaska. Much of his working life was spent in the banking industry. He also staffed a state senator back in the day. In 1999 he began what has become a wonderful infatuation with a small-but-spirited Eastern European country on the SE corner of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. He’s fond of saying “Everybody needs a hobby.” His work can be found at 372collection.com. 

18 COMMENTS

  1. Western Europe has been committing willful suicide for 60 years. Let them.

    I think it’s easy to over conflate Hitler and Putin. And a mistake to do so too deeply. Hitler wanted to remove a race of people, and anyone he thought unworthy from the face of the Earth. Putin is power hungry and ruthless, not not obsessed to slaughter the unworthy.

    The difference may be subtle, but it is distinct.

  2. “This would be akin to a U.S. president – acting on behalf of the country he leads – cutting a deal with a strategic Chinese firm closely tied to the CCP and then, immediately after leaving office, going to work for that firm. Not cool, to say the least.”

    What if it was a Vice President and his son?

    • What if it was a presidents son in law who was cutting deals with Mideast countries days after reluctantly leaving office? After working directly with those same governments while working for the administration?

  3. Hey Brian if you love Ukraine so much go fight for them. I don’t care about Russia….i don’t care about Ukraine ….i don’t care about Palestine….i don’t care about Israel………I care about America…only. Zelensky made his bed, Putin made his…..none of our business, none of our concern. Let’s try putting America first, maybe we could help our own people for a change huh?

  4. Good to know Brian Hove is on the next flight to Ukraine to join the fight. Anybody who advocates for war should be the first to go. Lead the way. Anything else is cowardice.

  5. I have been to Germany over a dozen times in the last dozen years. I expect that if the author and I were to sit down for a bier we would find much to agree upon and would enjoy the conversation. That said, I view German politics and policy as more complex than suggested.

    The role of former Chancellor Schroeder as, putting it mildly, an apologist for Russia is well understood in Germany. Nevertheless, he is the former Chancellor, not the current one. Of far greater importance in German politics is the influence of the Green Party, which is now part of the ruling coalition in the Bundestag. Voices opposed to nuclear power and against coal have always been loud in Germany and the process accelerated with the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. Like in the US, the irrational global warming/climate change folks have enjoyed blind support from media and entertainment. Fukushima accelerated the closure of nuclear plants and the Greens rode their popularity into power in 2021. The author presents the movement to natural gas but it should be noted that deployment and distribution of renewables, mainly wind, is constrained by transmission capacity from North Germany to South Germany, where there is significant demand and less wind. I believe the German decision to close nuclear plans was an error.

    Russia has gas to sell and Germany wanted to buy it. That is not a geo-political calamity. German industry is very energy intensive.

    I suggest that German is no more “compromised” or “complicit” than the United States was in the 1970s and 1980s during the multiple energy crises created by beating up on the domestic oil industry in the United States. Is there any question that the United States modified our foreign and domestic policies during this time period to make OPEC happy? What about Venezuela? Mexico?

    It appears that Germany will obtain natural gas via LNG from Qatar. Qatar has lots of gas.

    In my comment to Ms. Tshibaka’s column on former Ambassador Richard Grennell, I concluded that drawing a line of causation from Germany to the Ukraine war is weak. It is a factor but of far greater importance is Russia’s perception of its’ own security needs.

    I also object to the author’s attempt to blame Germany for the current ills in Ukraine. Much to the discomfort of many Americans, Germany is not a satellite of the United States. While Germany has been in the middle of terrible conflict in the middle of Europe, Germany IS the middle of Europe. Germany will decide Germany’s path. They are bright and very hard-working; I hope they make better choices, particularly as to energy.

    It is a mistake to reflexively blame Germany. A more important discussion to be had is over the appropriate length and scope of American power. In my view, when the United States overreaches, bad things happen. We need to use our influence wisely and not squander it and our reputation on conflicts very far from our shores.

      • I like it here, although with the constant Leftist drumbeat it is getting harder. My point is that Germany is a very interesting place with lots of smart people and complex politics. I encourage folks to move past a point where Germany is reflexively blamed for European problems. Finally, I really wish the US would be more selective in deciding when, where and how we intervene around the world.

        • But what then would my son do for money?
          Crack fast cars and prostitutes is an expensive hobby and the sister in law doesnt do porn movies anymore. And there seems to be no repurcussians from bribery with foreign aid using tax dollars so why not intervene?

  6. Supporting Ukraine’s fight is a critical American interest. Putin wants to restore his Russian Empire.
    Even Alaska may fall in his vision. Stopping the Russians in Ukraine avoiding having to stop the Russians in Nome.

    • Randy, supporting Ukraine in its provocation of Putin is an Obama legacy. Things are not as cut and dried as your argument represents. Consider the U.S. Bio- Labs in Ukraine, the large Russian populations within certain Ukrainian provinces and a little comedian who plays the piano with his penis made President by Vickie Nuland and the CIA. This same comedian also taunts his neighbor with threats of joining NATO!

      Oh, and have you considered the CORRUPTION inherent within the Ukraine? I suppose not. A point not lost on your corrupt US political leaders who send their sons there to ” ca$h” in.

      Saving Ukraine from Putin makes fighting Ho in Southeast Asia for a decade look like a good idea.

    • Lol sounds just like the narrative during the cold war growing up in the fiftys…the Russians are coming the Russians are coming!

  7. Good piece Brian. Let’s describe Putin’s legacy: Despot. War criminal. Murderer. Supporter of terrorism against women and children, etc.

    You are correct about what happens when we appease dictators. Biden appeased Putin after Russia’s Solar Winds attack on the US. Shortly after Biden was in full support of Nordstream- despite killing US pipeline projects, (Keystone). Before Biden, we had Obama appeasing Putin after Russia invaded Crimea. What message did that send to Putin when the US balked at honoring our treaty obligation to Ukraine?

    Finally, you don’t give the communist Merkel credit for selling out the German people. She was the very worst. She opened Germany’s borders and appeased her former communist bosses in Russia.

  8. German Marxist lawyer/politician sells out. That’s what Marxists do.
    Guess who said this – “Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course. Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers.”

  9. Perhaps the author will describe the difference between Messrs. Putin and Zelinskyy, addressing for example the claim by Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko Ukraine is sliding into authoritarianism as its war with Russia drags on.
    .
    (foxnews.com/world/klitschko-jabs-zelenskyy-claims-ukraine-becoming-authoritarian)
    .
    Seems like a reasonable request given the author’s apparent willingness to rely on the Munich Agreement as justification to provoke WWIII with a nuclear superpower.

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