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).
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.