Scholz “stepping on the brakes”

The Guardian: Coalition partners accuse Olaf Scholz of failing to live up to promises as major Russian offensive looms

Germany’s chancellor is under growing pressure to authorise the delivery of heavy weaponry to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s looming eastern offensive, with Olaf Scholz’s coalition partners accusing him of failing to live up to his promises.

“I can only speculate why the chancellor is stepping on the brakes like this. I can see no logical reason for it. But with his actions, the chancellor is not only damaging the situation in Ukraine, but he is also massively damaging Germany’s reputation in Europe and the world.” Anton Hofreiter – leader figure of the Green Party.

Scholz indecision

(Bloomberg) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz faces intense pressure from members of his ruling coalition to step up deliveries of heavy weapons such as tanks and fighter jets to help Ukraine fight Russian troops. After initiating an historic reversal in Germany’s previously frugal defense policy in the early stages of the war, Scholz has since appeared hesitant to go beyond initial supplies.

1990. Bush. Gorbatschow.

Robert Zoellick, former Deputy Secretary of State under President George H. Bush, addresses Putin’s claim that the West broke a promise it made in the 1990s not to expand NATO.

This is about the topic Agreements, and the American logic. Listen carefully beginning at around 2:30, especially at 3:56, where Zoellick reveals crystal clear the American logic: “Nothing’s really final until you put the words on paper.”

This video was posted on YouTube on February 1, 2022. It is not clear when it was recorded. Russia had amassed conventional forces surrounding Ukraine. The invasion began on February 24.

Risk too high

February 2022. Politicians and business leaders call for alternatives to Putin’s pipelines.

The country gets a whopping 55 percent of its gas imports from Russia. With the crisis triggered by Vladimir Putin’s belligerence toward Ukraine prompting renewed questions about the reliability of that supply, politicians and business leaders have begun calling for the country to urgently find ways to diversify its energy mix.

“Well. Welcome to the brave new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay €2.000 for 1.000 cubic meters of natural gas!” Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and prime minister who is now deputy chair of the country’s Security Council, tweeted in reaction to Scholz’s move. Just to make sure the message got tweeted in German, too.

Weak link?

Germany wants to come up with a national security strategy (NSS) by the end of 2022.  The new government started out with great ambitions in security and defense policy. However, for many allies, Germany seems to be once again a weak link and an unreliable partner in European defense. Instead of focusing on security, it should focus on a strategy for action in the event of conflict. This requires to broaden the concept of security and include more policy fields, especially technology, innovation, and internal security.

Germany’s new government started out with great ambitions in security and defense policy. The first statements and foreign trips of the new government officials to France, Poland, the US, and Ukraine, were reassuring.

However, after this rather ambitious start, hesitations, inconsistent action and messaging vis-à-vis allies, worries about how the German public would perceive government decisions, and irritatingly over-cautious moves towards Russia, have overshadowed initial impressions. For many allies, Germany seems to be once again a weak link and an unreliable partner in European defense.

Germany puts hold on North Stream 2

For weeks the German government was reluctant to commit to including stopping North Stream 2 as a key element in sanctiones against Russia should it invade Ukraine.

BERLIN, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Germany on Tuesday halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, designed to double the flow of Russian gas direct to Germany, after Russia formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

Europe’s most divisive energy project, worth $11 billion, was finished in September, but has stood idle pending certification by Germany and the European Union.

The pipeline had been set to ease the pressure on European consumers facing record energy prices amid a wider post-pandemic cost of living crisis, and on governments that have already forked out billions to try to cushion the impact on consumers.

“Nature of the Problem”

H.R. McMaster, February 2017 until April 2018 National Security Advisor under President Donald Trump, describes how critical it was at the beginning of his tenure to get clarity on scope. Listen to minutes 3:00 to 4:15 about “the nature of the problem”, and about “framing out the problem”:

McMaster earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He turned his dissertation on the strategy of the U.S. in the Vietnam War into his book entitled Dereliction of Duty.

Joe Rogan is one of the most widely listened-to long-form interviewers on the Internet. His podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has as of February 2022 nearly twelve million subscribers. More viewers, and more loyal viewers, than most networks tv shows. Because he has serious guests, asks the right questions, and listens.

Germany’s future? Look at its cars

A well-done description of the current – September 2021 – situation in Germany. By the economist. Using the German automobile industry as a window into the wider challenges to the German economy and to German society.

It’s bottom-line question is whether the German people are capable of responding to the challenges of today and the near future.

Careful, cautious, averse to major change

Oliver Nachtwey – Professor of Sociology at the University of Basel in Switzerland – and a sharp-eyed observer of German politics wrote this guest essay in the New York Times the day after the September 26, 2021 federal elections in Germany:

“It could have been a fresh start. In the face of a number of pressing challenges, rising inequality, run-down infrastructure and spiraling climate change among them, the election was a chance for the country to chart a better, more equal course for the 21st century. Instead, Germany is stuck. Ms. Merkel may be leaving. Yet the Germany she cultivated — careful, cautious, averse to major change — will carry on as before.

The campaign gave us early clues. Typically, candidates for the highest political office seek to distance themselves as much as possible from incumbents, to demonstrate the superiority of their vision for the country. But in Germany, the main candidates vied to imitate Ms. Merkel’s centrist political style. It delivered four successive electoral victories, after all.”