Trump, Schroeder, and Germany

Back in December 2005 I mentioned this story:

Officials including Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov presided over the ceremonial welding of the first section of pipe at Babayevo in Russia’s Vologda region, where the Baltic link will diverge from an existing trunk pipeline and head for the coast.

Gazprom has teamed up with Germany’s E.on and Wintershall, part of BASF, to build the pipeline and is looking for a potential fourth partner, although it will retain a controlling stake of 51% in the project.

The onshore section of the pipeline will run 917 kilometres to the port of Vyborg, close to Russia’s second city of St Petersburg. The 1200 kilometre subsea link will terminate at Greifswald in Germany.

This was the Nord Stream pipeline, which –  unlike several other proposed piplelines carrying Russian gas – actually got built and was commissioned in 2011. This pipeline was highly controversial, not least because of environmental objections but because it was seen by some former Soviet states – mainly Ukraine, but the Baltic states also raised concerns – as a means of isolating them politically from western Europe: if Ukraine could be bypassed for gas supplies, who cares what happens to it?

No sooner was the Nord Stream pipeline approved when the chap signing for the Germans, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, left office and became a director in the Nord Stream consortium. As I said at the time:

This stinks to high heaven. Unsurprisingly, the European press has raised barely a murmur over this. Can you imagine the noise that would be made if the US signed an historic deal to export Alaskan crude to China, and George W. Bush took the reigns of the pipeline consortium weeks after leaving office?

It is absolutely appalling that so little noise was made about Schroeder taking this job weeks after approving the project, but in the 13 years since I’ve realised these sort of ethics are par for the course in Germany, and nobody dares criticise. Remember: what’s good for Germany is good for the EU.

In late 2017, Gerhard Schroeder was elected chairman of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft. Shroeder also remains on the board of Nord Stream, which has been pushing heavily for a second pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany. In among all the squawking about Putin’s interference in the US election, supposedly killing people with Novichok in Salisbury, annexing Crimea, invading eastern Ukraine, and his forces shooting down civilian airliners nobody seems to be asking quite what a former German chancellor is doing working for him. Instead, we’re all supposed to be concerned that Trump is Putin’s puppet despite no evidence for this and an awful lot to the contrary.

Gerhard Schroeder was obviously employed by the Russians to wield political influence in Europe – particularly Germany – and they seem to be getting their money’s worth. I could barely imagine the outrage if Tony Blair was working for Putin’s government, engaged in back-door efforts to minimise the damage of sanctions and other responses to Russian aggression, but this is Germany so they get a free pass. Until now:

It was Trump’s mentioning the role of a former German chancellor – Schroeder – that pleased me the most. Everyone knows Germany is freeloading off the US for its defence needs, but few realise quite how embedded Germany is with Russia, the enemy they’re asking America’s help in defending against. If this were France people might not mind so much because France doesn’t self-righteously lecture everyone else and posit itself as the world’s arbiter on sound business practices, environmental legislation, and ethical governance. But Germany does all that, and then some, while engaging in the most brazen, self-serving hypocrisy. Fortunately, Trump’s remarks have been picked up in the US:

If you think Trump’s past business connections to Russian figures are troubling, you probably ought to be livid about how former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s has decided to become the chief lobbyist for Vladimir Putin in Europe.

The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins wrote earlier this year that Schroeder is exactly the kind of wealthy, well-connected, influential figure acting on behalf of Russia that U.S. sanctions are supposed to target:

Germany’s allies and its European Union partners, including the quietly frantic Poles and Balts, can’t quite refer to Mr. Schroeder as a Putin agent nestled in the heart of Germany’s political and business elite. His name doesn’t appear on any U.S. government list. Section 241 of last summer’s sanctions law required the U.S. Treasury to identify the ‘most significant senior foreign political figures and oligarchs’ behind the Putin regime. These descriptors would seem to apply to Mr. Schroeder but it remains diplomatically impermissible to say so.

Germany is broken, and beyond repair while Merkel remains in charge and the majority population are steeped in anti-Americanism (which long predated Trump). The best thing Trump could do is disband NATO and create a new defence alliance which countries could apply to join if they wished, and be screened for reliability. Germany – as an independent nation – would then have to stump up for its own defence or take its chances with Russia. This has gone on for too long.

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17 thoughts on “Trump, Schroeder, and Germany

  1. This is the one thing I truly love and respect about Trump – he has an almost godlike ability to sniff out bullshit and call it out, thus exposing cynical elite establishments as nothing more than ordure. He uses the bully pulpit to demonstrate just how utterly naked most of the world’s emperors are. It’s awesomely entertaining and cathartic.

  2. Patrick

    +1

    And on top, the wailing and lamenting and total lack of understanding of what is happening of the liberal (in the American sense) elite is a joy to behold.

    At times they almost make me ashamed to be a ‘uman bean’.

  3. The revolving door takes place everywhere and it’s no longer a big deal other than say this one was to the evil Russians.

    Yes do us all a favour and dump NATO, forever, Trump has a fat chance of getting defense budgets up, sovereign nations like Germany vote on this and there is zero appetite for more defense spending there.

    On a wider and relevant note Trump did get his facts wrong this time around when he completely overstated the percentage of Germany energy supplied by the Russians about ten fold.

    Mind you I am not surprised that he is trying to punt US hydrocarbons, their exports are rising quite dramatically, three supertankers already and are exporting more than ,most OPEC nations and are on target to becoming a next eporter shortly in the nera time. I doubt though whether US LNG could be competitive in Europe, not at current pricing levels anyway.

  4. So, after all, Nicholas Ridley was right. He said in 1990 that monetary union/euro was a “German racket” to take over the whole of the EU. To Mrs T’s shame, Ridley was slung out of the cabinet for telling it like it is.

    You know, personally Trump is not my cup of tea but, as someone who cuts through the liberal bullshit which has been in construction since, at least, WW2, he’s a breath of fresh air: let’s hope that “breath” turns into a hurricane.

  5. “On a wider and relevant note Trump did get his facts wrong this time around when he completely overstated the percentage of Germany energy supplied by the Russians about ten fold.”

    I’m thinking he maybe wasn’t too exact, but he wasn’t that far off.

    He said “They will be getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.”

    A quick Bing search yields this: “The most important energy supplier is Russia: It provides 38 percent of Germany’s natural gas imports, 35 percent of all oil imports and 25 percent of coal imports, covering a quarter of the country’s entire energy needs.” (From https://www.dw.com/en/just-how-important-is-russian-gas-for-europe/a-17574004 )

    (Note that the 38% figure is pre-pipeline. The pipeline will double the gas delivered from Russia.)

  6. Bobby I think It’s actually less than that will come back after just about to take off and dont forget nuclear.

  7. Percentages sound about right, even anti Trump sites and news outlets don’t seem to be disputing this.

  8. This is the one thing I truly love and respect about Trump – he has an almost godlike ability to sniff out bullshit and call it out, thus exposing cynical elite establishments as nothing more than ordure. He uses the bully pulpit to demonstrate just how utterly naked most of the world’s emperors are. It’s awesomely entertaining and cathartic

    Yes…

  9. I have an ex-colleague who now works in NATO – wearing green if you know what I mean. I was discussing with him (pre-Brexit) about the upcoming European Army. My question was if a country had to have high readiness troops for both NATO and the EU, or could these troops serve both masters at the same time? His reply was that the EU Army would take away the high readiness troops that NATO requires as they do not have the resources for both. He also said that NATO is nothing without the USA as they are totally reliant upon them for logistical support such as transport/fuel/intelligence etc.

    He said that the EU Army will destroy NATO, as Trump would just walk away due to NATO becoming even more financially reliant on the US. His view (in a later post-Brexit conversation) was that Trump would walk away from NATO and set up his own group based on US, Canada (well, maybe post cuck-Trudeau Canada) and UK. Possibly a few other fringe countries also.

    Maybe we are seeing this pan out. On another note he also said that they did not believe at all that Putin would invade the Baltic States or Eastern Europe generally. He’s just biding his time, waiting for the Euro to collapse and then he’ll approach the former eastern block counties with offers of trade deals, but without the pressure to take in migrants. Also, recent Russian defence spending was in anticipation of a HRC win as they were going to need it.

  10. Germany is no longer a front line state, so they might think they can get away with freeloading. They might be right. Another lick of paint ion that broomhandle, Fritz!

    People show gratitude, countries nearly never. Anti-Americanism seems baked into European DNA. Since the Soviet army raped more than a third of German women, there is probably a lot more real DNA that is Russian.

  11. I‪’m not a fan of trump. But when he does things like this. I can’t help but approve. He is useful sometimes

  12. @Bobby

    Using your numbers that’s 25% total and 9% for natural gas.

    He also said in the same statement that

    “Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.” well up from 9% eh

    and this

    “They got rid of their coal plants” they didn’t

    and this

    “They got rid of their nuclear.” they didn’t.

    That’s called spinning a yarn on all three counts in my books.

    https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/daten/energie/primaerenergieverbrauch#textpart-3

  13. This is the one thing I truly love and respect about Trump – he has an almost godlike ability to sniff out bullshit and call it out, thus exposing cynical elite establishments as nothing more than ordure.

    Yes, this is the best thing about him by far.

  14. The Germans are in the process of phasing out nuclear. At the start of the decade it provided about of their energy; they closed 8 out of 17 plants in the immediate wake of Fukushima and plan to have them all shut by the end of 2022.

  15. Yes they plan to phase out nuclear by then Tom, some think the date may slip in order for them to meet their greenhouse emissions targets.

    The point is though, Trump did tell some porkies and to think that Germany would import US LNG on top of it. I savour his humiliation of the euro soft cocks just as much as the rest of us do but we need to privately at least acknowledge his bullshit when said. To me he is getting rid of NATO in his own way and keeping his back covered against the bad guys, he always said that NATO was obsolete, which according to its founder secretary, Lord Ismay, was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.

  16. “he has an almost godlike ability to sniff out bullshit and call it out,”

    Watching the UK media frenzy today because he pointed out that our prime minister could only negotiate her way out of a wet paper bag if the bag agreed, it seems there are few things our media like less than a public pronouncement that can’t be ignored or denied (due to it being patently obviously true), but with which they want to disagree.

    Trouble is, like him or loathe him, its fairly obvious that Trump does know how to negotiate…based on what usually happens, if we subcontracted Brexit to him, in about 3 weeks time the EU would be paying us to leave.

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