“TEN YEARS AFTER THE FINANCIAL CRASH”
by Rudolf Hickel, Dec 2018
How mainstream economics dealt with the crisis
For the first time, the connections and consequences of speculative capitalism dominating the real economy were made visible.
The Ukraine-Russia Conflict
The Ukraine-Russia Conflict
by J Bischoff, O Konig & R Detje
Wednesday Feb 9th, 2022 6:12 AM
“The West must negotiate with Russia”
NATO should also agree to talk about a new European security architecture if Russia is also willing to agree to de-escalating and confidence-building measures in the relationship with Ukraine.”
The Ukraine-Russia Conflict
Is a new war looming?
by Joachim Bischoff/Friedrich Steinfeld:
[This article published on Feb 4, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Droht ein neuer Krieg?.]
Russia is demonstrating strength with a massive troop buildup on its border with Ukraine. The Western military alliance fears that Moscow is planning an invasion. Russian demands were rejected by the U.S. and NATO.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had recently shown himself open to further talks with the West to settle the conflict over Ukraine. At the same time, he accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring his country’s key security demands: “We are carefully analyzing the written responses of the United States and NATO.”
Russia had submitted draft treaties for future agreements with the U.S. and NATO; after their publication by the Foreign Ministry, the Russian negotiator said that both texts should be seen as a whole and not as a menu from which to choose. On several occasions, Moscow stressed that Russia should take military-technical measures and that NATO should expect a military response if it does not take concrete political measures.
“The West must negotiate with Russia”
According to an article by Harald Kujat, former Inspector General of the German Armed Forces and Air Force General (ret.), in Deutsche WirtschaftsNachrichten (DWN), this aggressive language, which was certainly initially intended to lend weight to Russia’s demands, could be interpreted in different ways: on the one hand, the offer of negotiations could be interpreted as a diversionary maneuver before an attack on Ukraine, which was planned anyway. “But: if such an attack had actually been the intention of the Russian leadership, it could have already created facts very quickly with a surprise attack. But that did not happen – so, on the other hand, one could assume that such an attack was never planned. Especially since the consequences would be far more serious than those of the war in Afghanistan. This trauma is still present in Russia and the Russian leadership is well aware of the immense costs and domestic consequences.”
Moreover, two dimensions must be kept apart in the conflict: Ukraine is “a pressing problem for Russia whose solution is overdue” because of the Donetsk and Lugansk “people’s republics.” In these areas, which have been almost completely abandoned by residents who remain loyal to Kiev, people associate high hopes with Moscow, which is associated primarily with jobs, social programs, and “United Russia.” Ukraine, like many other former Soviet republics, is a multiethnic state. Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, Germans, Greeks, Tatars, Ukrainians, and Russians, among others, live there, although the line between the last two groups is blurred and is more of a political-cultural self-definition. A referendum was held in the Donbass in May 2014, in which the majority voted for independence from Ukraine. This developed into a civil war.
In 2015, the Minsk Agreement was signed by Ukraine and representatives from Donetsk and Lugansk. Three states assumed the role of guarantors in this signing: France, Germany and Russia. That means all three took on the obligation to cooperate in the implementation of these agreements. Since spring 2015, there has been almost no movement in the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Not even a lasting ceasefire has been achieved.
But the Ukraine crisis, Kujat argues, is above all a “catalyst for a much broader goal: the reshaping of the European security architecture to take account of Russian conditions. On May 27, 1997, the NATO-Russia Founding Act entered into force. Notwithstanding the political coordination and military cooperation between NATO and Russia that it initiated, the Founding Act has, in Russia’s view, done nothing to safeguard Russian security interests. Rather, the security situation has been altered to Russia’s detriment by NATO enlargement and the increased U.S. presence in Eastern Europe, among other factors. The United States has terminated key arms control treaties, and NATO has installed a ballistic missile defense system that Russia views as a threat to its nuclear strategic balance with the United States. These geostrategic disadvantages, these risks to Russia’s security, should now be remedied and a stop put to further development to its detriment.”
So this is about talks on the Ukraine crisis and Russian demands for security guarantees. In January 2022, there was a NATO meeting with Russia and an OSCE meeting in Vienna that included Ukraine and the United States. Although these meetings were not expected to de-escalate or even ease the Ukraine crisis, they at least began a period of dialogue, which Russia initiated on December 17, 2021, with draft treaties with both the United States and NATO.
Strategic stability and possible compromises
In it, Russia calls for “strategic stability on its western border, which it sees threatened by U.S. and Western support for Ukraine and NATO’s eastward expansion.” Developments in internal conflicts in Belarus have heightened these fears. For Kujat, “an end to the tensions that have persisted for years, greater political predictability for Russia, and resilient strategic stability in Europe […] are also in the interests of the U.S. government. Europe is no longer the top strategic priority for the United States. And a stable relationship with Russia would allow the U.S. to focus its forces more on the Indo-Pacific and its rivalry with China. This is because the People’s Republic – unlike Russia – is a great power capable of threatening the global supremacy of the United States with its economic, technological and military potential. The course of the U.S.-Russian talks will have significant influence on NATO’s negotiating position for its early talks with Russia.”
The ex-general, on the other hand, sees Europe’s pursuit of “strategic sovereignty” as incompatible with current developments. “After the European Union’s foreign affairs envoy, Josep Borrell, French President Emmanuel Macron has therefore also demanded that the European Union participate in the talks, which are after all about the future of Europe. A previously agreed position among the European NATO member states would encourage Russian efforts to split NATO – after all, not all European Union member states are also members of NATO. So the only way left is close coordination between the EU and NATO, supplemented by direct contacts of the current Council President Macron with the Russian president, if possible in line with the German government.”
Russia’s demands, he said, amounted to the United States largely withdrawing from Europe. “The draft treaty sent to the United States then clearly documents this as a Russian goal. However, even a cursory glance at the text shows that most of the demands cannot be met by the United States and, from a European perspective, must not be met.” For NATO, he said, the draft treaty is not unfulfillable either, but both the one presented to the United States and the one NATO received also contain aspects that certainly allow for possibilities of compromise.
Kujat certainly sees these in the planned talks: If the latter are to “take a positive development, Russia must above all accept that the United States will not allow itself to be separated from its European allies. Even if one recognizes that special relations exist between the two nuclear strategic superpowers and that both are interested in greater stability in Europe, the alliance will hardly allow itself to be divided.” According to her, Europe and North America are bound by a “community of destiny that has guaranteed peace and security for decades.” Accordingly, she said, the security of Europe and North America is indivisible, even if their strategic interests do not always coincide.
This is one reason, he said, why NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg indicated a willingness to address Russian concerns and seek political progress after the Jan. 7, 2022, meeting of NATO foreign ministers. “This is an important signal. After all, the failure of the peace order from Vancouver to Vladivostok envisioned by the Charter of Paris in November 1990, the geopolitical environment that is changing with great dynamism, and the security situation that is essentially shaped by new weapons technologies and the transformation of military strategies require a readjustment of the European security architecture with the aim of creating a future-proof basis for Europe’s self-assertion in the newly emerging world order of the rival great powers China, Russia and the United States.”
Kujat believes this goal is achievable “provided Russia and NATO are willing to recognize and respect the legitimate security interests of all parties. It would be a first step toward a reconciliation of interests resulting in de-escalation and détente. Further negotiations should be conducted in the various formats of the NATO-Russia Council after initial bilateral talks between Russia and the United States. NATO should also agree to talk about a new European security architecture if Russia is also willing to agree to de-escalating and confidence-building measures in the relationship with Ukraine.”
He added that reactivating the NATO Russia Council could play an important role in this regard. And reference to the 1997 NATO Russia Founding Act “remains a viable basis for relations between the giant empire and the transatlantic military alliance. However, if Russia were to demand a revision, there is no reason to resist. The updated version could incorporate Russian proposals and NATO positions to the extent that they contribute to a mutually acceptable balance of interests.”
Kujat sees Ukraine’s way out of the crisis through the strict realization of the Minsk Agreement by Ukraine and Russia, “greater autonomy for the regions with a predominantly Russian population and the status of consolidated neutrality for the country. The European Union and the OSCE could accompany Ukraine on this path.” However, he believes negotiations with Russia offer great prospects for success only if NATO member states simultaneously make greater efforts to strengthen their collective defense capabilities. In this context, Russian demands for the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe, as well as the right to deploy NATO forces within the NATO treaty area at any time without geographic restriction, would hardly be accepted.
Disarmament and mutual control
In his article, Kujat argues for “international stability and security in the sense of predictability of political action as well as military transparency and confidence building.” In his view, these require “a broad spectrum of disarmament and arms control treaties. In the context of these negotiations, it would also be possible to address Russian security concerns and agree on mutually acceptable solutions. These issues could initially be excluded and dealt with in separate arms control treaties. Despite Russia’s excessive demands, negotiations on this set of issues are not hopeless. Russia needs success just as much as the United States. And for Europe, there is much more at stake than a short-term agreement: It is about the long-term security of the continent.”
First and foremost, he cites the adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), the goal of which should be to limit conventional forces “as well as to contractually regulate ceilings on maneuvers, invitations of maneuver observers, and confidence-building military measures.” And after the INF Treaty expires in August 2019, negotiations on an INF II treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear weapons would be a top priority. “This would include, as an accompanying measure, limitations on conventional and nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons systems and on short-range nuclear weapons, as well as a ban on deploying them in certain regions. The United States terminated the ABM Treaty in 2001. Negotiations on a new ABM Treaty between Russia and the United States would be an important contribution to the nuclear strategic stability of the two superpowers. NATO and Russia should also talk about limiting and controlling ballistic missile defense systems in Europe.”
Both sides should understand that a successful conclusion of the negotiations is in their interest and will help avoid a military confrontation. “However, the proposal to militarily arm Ukraine as a deterrent against an attack promises little success. To understand this, it is enough to look at the map and the military balance of power. Should Ukraine – relying on Western assistance – feel strong enough to retake Crimea, this would inevitably trigger a Russian attack.”
Way out economic sanctions?
By imposing the toughest economic sanctions on Russia in years, the United States has demanded political concessions from Russia. For the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump in particular, this has been a key tool for imposing economic sanctions on disfavored countries such as Russia, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran, strengthening existing measures or threatening states with embargoes. However, the effects of sanctions have been and continue to be controversial. Russian President Putin’s popularity, for example, increased after Western sanctions were imposed in March 2014 over the annexation of Crimea.
Kujat therefore also sees economic sanctions as “a double-edged sword. While the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is important for Germany’s energy supply, it has no geostrategic significance for either us or Russia.” Neither Berlin nor Moscow needs the pipeline at present because there is enough capacity. Nord Stream 2 is rather important in two years, when the contract between Russia and Ukraine expires. Russia has suitable alternatives and could also cut off supplies through Ukraine pipelines as a counter-reaction to sanctions and/or the pipeline’s non-operation. In addition, for sanctions to be effective, the United States would also have to stop importing crude oil from Russia, which ranks third as a supplier of crude oil to the United States.
Restrictions on imports of natural gas and crude oil to Europe could in principle hit Russia hard because this is a major source of revenue for the Kremlin. At the same time, Europe would be cutting its own flesh. Even in normal times, a reduced supply of Russian energy would be clearly noticeable. The Russian economic system is already well prepared for further Western pressure. Russia has registered exactly what sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Iran or China.
If the EU is unable to solve the security problem in Ukraine politically, it must do so economically. The EU has already lent Ukraine 4.4 billion euros over the last few years, but these support payments are not enough if Ukraine is to be tied to the EU in the long term.
 Harald Kujat, The West must negotiate with Russia from a position of strength, in: DWN – Deutsche Wirtschaftsnachrichten, Jan. 10, 2022. Kujat (born 1942) was chairman of the NATO Russia Council and the NATO Ukraine Commission from 2002 to 2005 after serving as inspector general, and as chairman of the NATO Military Committee he was the highest-ranking NATO general.
Media drumbeat for war
Ukraine Conflict – Disarm Instead of Turning the Escalation Screw
by Otto König/Richard Detje:
[This article published on Feb 2, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Mediales Trommeln für den Krieg.]
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov (Photo: dpa)
“War in Europe again? Not in our name!” was the headline of an appeal by more than 60 personalities from politics, business, culture and the media on December 5, 2014, which urgently warned against a war with Russia and called for a new policy of détente for Europe.
Eight years after the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea was “frozen,” war rhetoric is once again prevalent, reviving fears of a full-scale military confrontation. This has been helped by NATO increasing its military presence in the Central European and Baltic countries with new weapons systems and forces immediately on Russia’s border, and Georgia seeking membership in the Western military alliance, as does Ukraine. Russia is pushing ahead with the modernization of its weapons arsenal and in recent months has increased its military presence on its own territory on the border with Ukraine.
Eight years ago, public opinion tended toward détente; today, the media is drumming up support for war. The boundaries from values-based to weapons-based politics are blurred. The narrative of those who fabricate about an “imminent threat of war” is that NATO troops on the border with Russia are there only for defense or deterrence, while Russian troops are there to prepare for a war of aggression on Ukraine.
“A war is becoming more likely,” headlined the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Jan. 15-16, 2022). If one believes the mainstream media, Russia bears the responsibility for this. But even the German government does not get off scot-free: “German politics currently knows what it does not want when dealing with Russia: no stop to Nordstream 2, no weapons to Ukraine and no ejection from Swift. The fatal message: Moscow has nothing to fear from the West,” reads the SZ two days later. Yet it is clear that “these Germans” are “destroying what is left of the transatlantic alliance.
Lutz Herden rightly comments: “It is increasingly disturbing and agonizing to be exposed to the sound of a generation of politicians and journalists that at best consciously experienced the late phase of the Cold War, is highly satisfied with itself, and savors a sense of moral and cultural superiority over Russia that could hardly be more historically insensitive.”
Mainly transatlantically oriented journalists are currently targeting those parts of the SPD that take up elements of Willy Brandt’s policy of détente and advocate dialogue as well as economic and cultural exchange with the Russian Federation. The impression is that those parts of the traffic light coalition that have not yet turned to a dangerous confrontation with Russia are to be made compliant.
Under the title “The SPD has a Russia problem,” the head of Spiegel’s foreign affairs department, Mathieu von Rohr, complains that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is threatening war, but: “The German government cannot find a clear answer to this. This is mainly due to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s party.” Moscow can only feel emboldened in its actions, he said, as weak and divided as Germany seems right now. Shortly before, columnist Nikolaus Blome had ranted on Spiegel online, “The great war is possible in Europe, and it’s close,” again taking aim at the Social Democrats: “The new minister (Annalena Baerbock) is setting out on her most difficult path yet, and SPD celebrities are giving her a leg up wherever they can. That’s not just failure to help. It’s sabotage.”
Editorialists from taz to Bild accuse anyone who dares to advocate dialogue with Russia of being a Putin friend. Hubert Wetzel polemicizes that Scholz apparently “has to take into account the people in his party who consider the Americans to be the warmongers in the Ukraine crisis and Putin to be the misunderstood victim”.
In an interview with Deutsche-Wirtschafts-Nachrichten (Dec. 24/25, 2021), the former Inspector General of the German Armed Forces and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Harald Kujat, said, “A joint effort to reconcile interests is the only way out of a years-long impasse, at the end of which stands a conflict that no one wants. NATO, including the United States, should be more understanding of the Russian-Ukrainian story and respect Russia’s security interests.” Finally, Moscow’s fears of being encircled “by a U.S.-led expansion of the West” are not unjustified.
Yet despite diplomatic activism, nothing has yet been done to accommodate Russia and its legitimate security needs. There has been no adequate response to date to the draft treaties sent by the Russian side to the Biden administration and NATO earlier this year.
The West views Russia’s proposals regarding a guarantee not to expand NATO further east to the Russian border as unacceptable. NATO member states insist on the right of self-determination of Russia’s neighbors. It is true that the right to “free choice of alliance” is explicitly stated in numerous international agreements. However, this right is embedded in a framework designed to ensure that the free choice of alliance does not lead to an escalation of conflict.
For example, the 1994 CSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security states that “security” is “indivisible”: CSCE States must not “consolidate their security at the expense of the security of other States” but must always “pursue their own security interests” in “conformity with common efforts to consolidate security and stability in the CSCE area and beyond.” (GFP 18.1.2022)
Against this background, the editor-in-chief of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Eric Gujer, recently criticized the Western powers’ claim to internationally guaranteed rights. For Gujer, the West is “partly to blame” for the current escalation: the West is “ignoring a central lesson of European history, according to which the best precondition for stability is a balance of powers that is considered fair by the parties involved.” Since the early 1990s, however, “an imbalance has developed” on the European continent: “The Russian empire was … pushed far back to the east.” “From the Russian point of view, this is not an equilibrium, and certainly not fair,” Gujer states, arguing for “accepting the Russian say and a neutrality of Ukraine between the power blocs.”[5
But instead of rhetorically disarming, the U.S. government is inflaming the situation by demonstratively reducing its embassy presence in Kiev just as the Ukrainian government published a study on the Ukrainska Pravda website that “a large-scale attack on all or parts of Ukraine is unlikely in the coming weeks.” The security situation has “not fundamentally changed,” it said. The threat from Russia has been constant since 2014, the State Department said. Russian troops near the state border had been deployed as early as April 2021, it said.
But that’s not all: amid orchestrated hysteria about an imminent war, the U.S. and NATO are announcing that they will increase their troops in Eastern Europe and provide Kiev with even more weapons. This is matched by Ukraine’s persistent demand that the German traffic light government disregard its coalition agreement, which rules out supplying weapons to areas of tension and war. The “seriousness of the situation” demands an “immediate rethink and change of course on the issue of arms deliveries to Ukraine,” Ukrainian Ambassador Andrij Melnyk demanded in Handelsblatt. He said Germany’s refusal to supply weapons “massively calls into question” its international credibility and reliability. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, “German partners must stop undermining unity with such words and actions and encouraging Vladimir Putin to launch a new attack on Ukraine.”
In response, CDU defense politician Johann David Wadephul accused the traffic light coalition of “flying blind in terms of security policy” and warned of a loss of Germany’s reputation in NATO. “Rightly so,” he said, today’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck had initiated a debate months ago on the delivery of defensive weapons to Ukraine. A reason for the chairwoman of the defense committee of the Bundestag, Agnes-Mare Stack-Zimmermann (FDP), to question a key point of the coalition agreement of the traffic light, namely the rejection of arms deliveries to areas of tension and war. “In view of the current situation and the affectedness of our continent, we should reconsider this in the specific case,” the FDP politician said.
It is primarily about German warships, which are among the best in the world, “which we urgently need for the robust defense of the long coastline in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov,” Melny specified the demands for defensive weapons. But it is clear, and not just in terms of warships, that there is really no such thing as “defensive weapons” at all.
Carlo Masala, a professor at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, clarifies: “The distinction between defensive and offensive weapons dates back to earlier centuries, when it still made sense. Nowadays, almost any weapon can be used defensively or offensively, and it always depends on the way the operation is conducted. […] The danger is precisely that these weapons will be used for offensive operations after all […], which would then certainly mean a more massive Russian response […] So the war in eastern Ukraine would escalate once again.”
One thing is certain: Bringing even more weapons to the conflict region will not bring more security. It is not threats that lead out of this confrontation, but understanding. This applies to all parties to the conflict. Mutual respect would be a good start. Human issues such as war and peace, the ecological crisis, the worldwide corona crisis and global poverty can only be solved through global cooperation. A prerequisite for this is to break down enemy stereotypes instead of building them up.
 Among the signatories were Gerhard Schröder, Roman Herzog, Horst Teltschik, Antje Vollmer, Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, Mario Adorf, Wim Wenders, Christoph Hein, Uli Jörges, Lothar de Maizière and Eugen Ruge.
 Nevertheless, the military potentials are unequally distributed. Western Europe spends almost four times more on its military than Russia. NATO accounts for about 55% of global military spending, Russia for about 3.5%.
 Nikolaus Blome: Russian Saber Rattling. Conscription instead of compulsory vaccination, Spiegel.de 17.1.2022.
 Ukraine’s neutrality, which precludes joining any military alliances, is enshrined in the founding documents of the modern Ukrainian state, the Declaration of Independence of July 16, 1990, and the Constitution of June 28, 1996. Thus, Ukraine may not join any military bloc.
 Eric Gujer: The West needs a new Russia strategy: what it is doing wrong in its dealings with Moscow. nzz.ch, 14.1.2022.
 Ukraine: “Defensive Weapons,” IMI News 2022/031.
Will Orwell’s prediction in `1984′ become reality?
by Kai Ehlers
Monday Feb 7th, 2022 4:03 AM
Basic elements of a development such as Orwell describes are emerging from the fog of current war propaganda, at least as it is being pursued by the West, namely attempts to drive the population into acceptance of a constant exceptional situation in which war appears as the guarantor of peace.
Ukraine bone of contention: Will Orwell’s prediction in “1984” become reality?, 1/31/2022
by Kai Ehlers
George Orwell, 1903-1950, predicted a world in which war to destroy values would become the permanent state of affairs.
[This article published on 1/31/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Ukraine-Zankapfel: Wird Orwells Prognose in «1984» Realität? – infosperber.]
Neither Joe Biden nor Vladimir Putin can be interested in a big war, they know too well that then there are only losers. But why are “small” and “local” wars being discussed? Already George Orwell pointed out that it will take wars to destroy the created values of the modern economy again. A guest editorial.
The noise about Ukraine is getting shriller and shriller. And yet: The war, as it is currently being conjured up by many sides with ever new speculations, will not happen. Russia is neither threatening war nor is it interested in invading Ukraine. An annexed Ukraine would put a critical economic and political burden on Russia. Russia only wants to prevent Ukraine from becoming a full NATO country.
Joe Biden, too, only tones down and then immediately puts himself into perspective. Even Annalena Baerbock, who likes to be so militant, is building up a threatening position against Russia, but has no real will to attack behind her. It is clearly not a matter of open war with Russia, but rather of constricting it, if possible arming it to death – whereby the entire Western propaganda force at the same time clearly shows that not one of them is prepared to go into the fire for Ukraine and to follow up their war-mongering words with military deeds.
Let us simply state: Russia as the heartland of Eurasia, connected with China and all the more closely, the more the chorus of the USA, NATO and EU turns up the volume of their threat marathon, would not be conquerable in a war with conventional weapons, after it could not be conquered, occupied or subjugated by wars of conquest in the past. Remember the failed attempts of Napoleon in the 19th century, the attempt of the German Wehrmacht in the First World War, the attempt of Hitler in the Second World War and the unsuccessful soft conquest by the USA after the end of the Soviet Union. Today, moreover, the use of nuclear weapons would have deadly consequences even for the first to use them.
Nor is it simply a repeat of the “Cold War” between two blocs. What we are currently witnessing are rather the hysterical attempts of the “West” to maintain its previous global dominance below the threshold of open warfare, let alone nuclear war, in the face of the shift in the constellation of global forces that is unmistakably growing.
Much clamor – for nothing
What we are currently witnessing is, strictly speaking, a clamor that is all the louder the less the Western actors are in a position to actually implement what is threatened. Let’s take the bickering over Nord Stream 2 as an example: Given Germany’s dependence on gas imports from Russia, does Annalena Baerbock really want to expect the German population to pay the “price” for Russia no longer supplying gas? Politically, she probably wouldn’t survive that. Or let’s take the demand to exclude Russia from the international payment traffic SWIFT: How will the “West” survive the resulting loss of its financial dominance without escalating the financial crisis that is already rampant? What other “prices” does Mrs. Baerbock want to impose on the German population and the European population associated with it without causing uproar among the population, which is accustomed to prosperity, or at least to affordable basic services?
Not to mention, finally, that the use of weapons against Russia, whether conventional or nuclear, would lead to the devastation of Europe, specifically Germany. Even a U.S. president could not want such a use of weapons, because in a weapon race fought with hypersonic missiles, even the U.S. would not remain untouched. All actors know that. So what? Why all the noise?
The great war of conquest no longer exists.
It will be seen that the loudest shouters will sit down with a whimper to “dialogue” because the easy way out of today’s transformation crisis, the great war of conquest that could destroy the enemy, no longer exists without initiating one’s own destruction with it. What does exist is an increase in local fires and the thawing of frozen conflicts in the various border areas and overlapping zones of influence of the blocs. This is a way to keep each other in check. In this, the West has an advantage over Russia because Russia is surrounded by such conflict zones from the legacy of the Soviet Union. Ukraine is one of these conflicts, which is being played up by the West, but none of the powers involved is prepared to give a military guarantee of support in order to extinguish it.
To be clear: It is not about Ukraine, and certainly not about improving the living conditions of the Ukrainian population. Rather, it looks as if the local conflict, which has been smoldering since the Maidan upheaval, will be further fueled as a proxy war, at best frozen by new “Minsk” negotiations. What is at stake, however, is an attempt to force Russia, like the Soviet Union in its day, into an arms race in order to bring it down economically.
Orwell already wrote about three great powers …
All this brings up memories that one thought to have been overcome long ago: In his book “1984”, written in 1948 – after the end of the Second World War and the use of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – George Orwell described a future formed by three great power blocs – Eurasia, Oceania (including America) and East Asia. At their borders, where the zones of influence overlap, they constantly wage wars, which, however, do not substantially change the basic constellation between them. The wars are waged by special forces, while the populations within the major power blocs are kept quiet under the slogan “war is peace” by full technical control, including mental and health surveillance in a permanent state of emergency. Anyone who questions this kind of peace will be outsourced or annihilated altogether.
A few sentences from Orwell’s vision, more precisely from Chapter III “War is Peace”, may clarify this kind of peace, which can make us think today:
“In one combination or another” he writes, “these three superstates are constantly at war, and have been for twenty-five years. War, however, is no longer the desperate war of annihilation it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is warfare with limited objectives between opponents who are incapable of destroying each other, who have no material cause for war, and who are not divided by a genuine ideological difference. (…) The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. (…) For if all people lived equally in leisure and security, the great mass of people, normally stultified by their poverty, would educate themselves and thus learn to think for themselves; and once this happened, sooner or later they would realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. A return to the agrarian past, as some thinkers had dreamed at the beginning of the twentieth century, was not a viable solution. (…) Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in poverty by curbing commodity production. The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods had to be produced, but they could not be distributed. And in practice, the only way to accomplish this was through continuous warfare.
The essential act of war is the destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. (…) War not only, as will be seen, accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. (…) It does not matter whether the war actually takes place, and since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war goes well or badly. All that is required is that a state of war exists. (…) War today is waged by every ruling group against its own subjects, and the goal of war is not to achieve or prevent territorial conquests, but to keep the social structure intact. (…) a truly permanent peace would be the same as a permanent war. This is (…) the inner meaning of the party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.”
Of course, this image cannot be transferred one-to-one to today. There are still cultural differences between today Euramerica, Russia and China. With the worldwide advent of digital capitalism, they are only tending to shrink to folkloric characteristics. The resources needed for industrial development are not yet evenly distributed. Gas supplies are still being fought over. However, the development of new energy sources, including the further expansion of nuclear power plants, is on the horizon. The technical control of the population is not yet perfect and not globally unified. Still the classification into a regime of public health has not become a daily ritual before the “eye” of the “Big Brother”, as it is described by Orwell.
But basic elements of a development such as Orwell describes are emerging from the fog of current war propaganda, at least as it is being pursued by the West, namely attempts to drive the population into acceptance of a constant exceptional situation in which war appears as the guarantor of peace.
What do we have to counter this? That is the question. The answer is – dare we say it? – Basically, it is quite simple: to do exactly what the warmongering forces do not want: To think for ourselves, to look for ways of cooperation ourselves, to build bridges ourselves, on a small scale as well as on a large scale. Is there any other way? Probably not.
Kai Ehlers is an independent, freelance journalist.
Enlargement to the East: How NATO broke its word
by Norman Paech
The expansion eastward is still not complete, and the debate over the pros and cons will continue. One point of contention, however, should have been settled by the declassified documents. The West made a promise to Gorbachev to leave NATO in its former borders, but this promise was already broken at the end of the 1990s.
Enlargement to the East: How Nato broke its word
by Norman Paech
[This article published on Feb 3, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Osterweiterung: Wie die Nato wortbrüchig wurde]
From Wörner to Baker: numerous assurances were given to states of the ex-Soviet space. Later, no one liked to remember them
On the 70th anniversary three years ago, several heads of state and government were still missing, and the skeptical undertone in all the praise only confirmed that things were not running smoothly in the organization. Some at NATO headquarters in Brussels may therefore see the foreseeable and currently escalating conflict with Russia as an opportunity for a revival of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
For it is also a fact that the organization has never retreated from the front lines of its strategic projects. And one of these projects, which is still current, is the shifting of NATO’s borders to the east, as close as possible to the borders of the Russian Federation. So anyone who talks about NATO cannot be silent about eastward expansion.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and with it the Warsaw Pact had made it necessary for NATO, whose continued existence was never officially questioned, to rethink its European security structure.
As early as 1991, even before the formal independence of the 15 Soviet Union republics, the then Secretary General of NATO, Manfred Wörner, had assured Boris Yeltsin that the overwhelming majority of the states on the NATO Council (13 out of 16) had spoken out against an expansion of NATO and that the isolation of the USSR from the European Community should not be permitted.
A year earlier, in a speech in Brussels, he had already tried to calm concerns expressed in the Soviet Union by assuring1:
The very fact that we are prepared not to station NATO troops beyond the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany gives the Soviet Union binding security guarantees.
Developments, however, took a different course. As early as the beginning of September 1993, the U.S. State Department had developed a plan for the expansion of NATO. It envisaged starting as soon as possible with Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, with a view to including Ukraine, Belarus and also Russia in 2005.
Yeltsin was worried by these plans and he wrote a letter to Clinton as early as September 15, 1993, warning2:
Not only the opposition, but also moderate circles (in Russia) would undoubtedly perceive this as a new isolation of our country, diametrically opposed to its natural inclusion in a Euro-Atlantic space.
He also referred to the Treaty on German Reunification, which would “exclude the option of extending the NATO area to the East.” At the same time, the U.S. diplomat in Russia, James Collins, warned that the issue of NATO is neuralgic for the Russians3.
They assume they will end up on the wrong side of a newly divided Europe if any decision is made quickly. Regardless of how nuanced, if NATO adopts a policy of expanding into Central and Eastern Europe without leaving a door open for Russia, it would be interpreted everywhere in Moscow as being against Russia – and Russia alone.
But Clinton stuck to the plans and sought to make them palatable to his interlocutors from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia as a “partnership for peace” during his January 1994 trip to Prague and Moscow. He declared that the “Partnership for Peace” was a “path leading to NATO membership” and not “drawing another line dividing Europe a few hundred miles to the east. “4
That the second prediction was not correct is undisputed today and is shown by further developments. In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic became members of NATO. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia followed in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009, and finally Montenegro in 2017. However, Bosnia-Herzegovina and northern Macedonia are still on NATO’s Membership Action Plan.
This could close this chapter of NATO’s strategy. Although Ukraine is not yet on the list, its integration would mean that NATO would cross the red line formulated by President Putin.Nevertheless, there is still one accusation that is the subject of constant dispute. The accusation is that by expanding NATO to the east, the West has broken a promise made to Mikhail Gorbachev, then president of the USSR, not to move its borders to the east.
Just in time for the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO, Horst Teltschik had written in his book Russisches Roulette. Vom Kalten Krieg zum Kalten Frieden (C.H. Beck, 2019) relegated this promise to the realm of legend. There had indeed been talks between Hans-Dietrich Genscher and his U.S. colleague James Baker at the beginning of 1990 that could be interpreted in this direction.
But “there was not and could not be an official promise by the West…. There was only the agreement not to station NATO forces or NATO facilities on the former territory of the GDR as long as Russian troops were still present in the GDR (…) President Mikhail Gorbachev has since confirmed several times that there were no talks in 1990 about a possible eastward expansion. “5
Teltschik, a contemporary witness and Helmut Kohl’s closest foreign policy advisor at the time, is a difficult source to refute. And yet Klaus von Dohnanyi clearly contradicted him in his review of the book in Die Zeit in June of this year.6 In Moscow at the beginning of February 1990, Foreign Minister Baker had given Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze the clear assurance that there would be “no expansion of NATO beyond the then eastern borders of the GDR (…) whatsoever.” Baker had also informed Helmut Kohl of this before his talks with Gorbachev.
Dohnanyi relied predominantly on a publication by Harvard professor Mary Elise Sarotte, who states in her book “1989,” published in a second edition in 2014, that U.S. Secretary of State James Baker had agreed with President Gorbachev in early February 1990 during his negotiations on German reunification that NATO would not seek any expansion beyond the then eastern border of the GDR. She cites a written note from Baker about the talks:
End result: Unified Ger. anchored in a changed (polit.) Nato – whose jurid. would not move eastwards.
Gorbachev had replied at the time, “Most certainly any expansion of NATO beyond its present area would be unacceptable.” Today, Dohnanyi considers this historic course of U.S.-Soviet talks to be indisputable.
However, this in turn challenged Telchik’s opposition, who in the July 11, 2019 Time sticks to his “legend of the broken promise” and now elaborates on his own role. Baker had informed Kohl in a letter before his conversation with Gorbachev. This letter had been announced to him, Teltschik, personally by Baker and had been handed over when Kohl arrived at the Moscow airport on February 10.
The letter proved that the conversation between Baker with Gorbachev and Shevardnadze had been exclusively about the process of possible unification and the future status of a unified Germany:
Baker had asked Gorbachev whether he would prefer a united Germany outside NATO, independent and without U.S. troops, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not change one inch eastward from its present position. Gorbachev had replied that “any expansion of NATO territory would be unacceptable.”
One might take this as confirmation of Dohnanyi’s version. However, Teltschik still considers it an overinterpretation of the letter and Baker’s memo:
“Honesty” demands that I clearly contradict Ms. Sarotte and Mr. von Dohnanyi, both of whom I hold in high regard, in this case.
The only odd thing is that both opponents overlooked the documents that the National Security Archive published on December 12, 2017, under the title Nato Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard.7 They all testify that Baker’s famous “not one inch eastwards” at the February 9, 1990, meeting with Gorbachev was an assurance not to push the expansion of Nato’s scope beyond the limits then in place.
But not only that, all relevant heads of state and government, from Bush to Kohl, Mitterrand and Thatcher were of the same conviction. Already at the Malta summit in December 1989, Bush had assured Gorbachev that the United States would not take advantage of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to hurt Soviet interests.
He repeated this position at the Washington summit on May 31, 1990, that by unifying Germany, the United States was not even thinking of harming the Soviet Union in any way. German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher was more explicit in his famous speech in Tutzing on January 31, 1990, when he said that NATO should rule out “an expansion of its territory to the east, i.e., closer to the Soviet borders. “8
This “Tutzing formula” then formed the basis for Kohl’s subsequent talks with Gorbachev in Moscow on February 10, when he received agreement in principle to unify and remain in NATO as long as NATO did not expand eastward.
Baker also referred to this formula in his conversation with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on 9. February, and explained his “not an inch eastward” formula three times in his conversation the same day with Gorbachev: the U.S. had understood “that it was important not only for the Soviet Union but equally for the European states to have guarantees that if the U.S. moved positions into Germany under NATO, not an inch of NATO military jurisdiction would be extended eastward. “9
At a renewed meeting with Gorbachev in Moscow on May 18, 1990, he again assured10:
Before I say a few words on the German matter, I would like to emphasize once again that our policy is not to separate Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. This was our policy at one time. But today we are interested in building a stable Europe and doing it with you.
France’s François Mitterrand also stressed during his talks with Gorbachev in Moscow on May 25 that while he personally favored dismantling the military blocs, the West needed to create a secure environment for the Soviet Union as well as for Europe as a whole. After the Washington summit in late May, Margret Thatcher met Gorbachev in London on June 8, 1990. She, too, spoke of supporting Gorbachev and transforming NATO into a more political and less militarily threatening alliance11:
We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security was assured…. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) could be an umbrella for all this, as could the forum that brought the Soviet Union fully into the discussion about the future in Europe.
The CSCE also played a role in the telephone conversation of July 17, 1990, in which Bush put to Gorbachev, among others, the idea of an expanded and stronger CSCE with new institutions in which the USSR could participate and be a part of the new Europe. However, there were other currents within the U.S. government. For example, the Department of Defense believed that the door should be left open for the membership of Eastern European states in NATO. For the State Department, however, NATO enlargement was not on the agenda.
Two years later, however, the Defense Department had apparently prevailed with its view. Since then, the discussion about Nato’s eastward expansion, and especially the criticism of it, has not abated. In 1997, former Secretary of State Robert McNamara and more than 40 high-ranking politicians wrote an open letter to President Bill Clinton, calling possible eastward expansion a “mistake of historic proportions.”
And George F. Kennan, diplomat and leading Cold War strategist, warned in the New York Times that expanding NATO to Russia’s borders would be the most disastrous post-Cold War mistake in American policy.
He mainly warned that such a decision could fuel nationalist, anti-Western and militarist tendencies in Russia and would have a harmful impact on the development of democracy. In any case, NATO’s push has again drawn a line through Europe and deepened the confrontation between NATO’s West and Russia.
The expansion eastward is still not complete, and the debate over the pros and cons will continue. One point of contention, however, should have been settled by the declassified documents. They allow no other conclusion than that the West made a promise to Gorbachev to leave NATO in its former borders, but that this promise was already broken at the end of the 1990s. (Norman Paech)
Eastern enlargement: How NATO broke its word
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