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Sending heavy weapons to Ukraine in German interests?

By Lucas Leiroz | April 22, 2022

Political polarization in Germany continues to increase. Currently, there is strong pressure for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to take a more incisive stance on the Ukrainian issue. The opposition insists on the need to send weapons to support Zelensky, endorsing the speech spread by NATO and the EU. It is evident that by refusing to take such positions, Scholz is trying to look for the interests of his country, but it remains to be seen whether he will be really strong enough to deal with the pressure coming both externally, from Brussels and London, and internally in Berlin.

Recently, Scholz met in London with his British counterpart Boris Johnson to discuss the Ukrainian conflict. During the conversation, Johnson clearly pressed Scholz to go along with the UK and the rest of the West in their stance of absolute opposition to Russia in the conflict. The Chancellor, however, avoided giving clear answers and maintained his ambiguous position on the possibility of supporting Kiev militarily, preventing from doing more incisive statements and preferring silence.

What happened next was even more remarkable and symbolic: the British prime minister traveled to Kiev to meet with Zelensky while Scholz returned to Germany in order to promote electoral campaign. The international mainstream media took advantage of the fact to intensify its pro-NATO propaganda, claiming that Scholz is concerned only with his internal political condition, ignoring the current international situation, while the Western world is supposedly “concerned” and takes the Ukrainian issue as a “humanitarian” priority.

In Germany, Scholz’s opponents are also increasingly agitated to criticize the chancellor, taking benefit of international pressure to intensify polarization and generate a crisis of legitimacy against him. Obviously, this was a predictable attitude on the part of opposition groups, but the main problem currently is that Scholz is losing support within his own coalition. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green Party are deeply dissatisfied with Germany’s unwillingness to send weapons to Kiev and use the case as a pretext to point to Scholz as a “big problem” to be solved through an electoral overthrow. And, in this sense, his situation is really worsening day after day.

In general, Scholz’s enemies demand that he takes a more active stance on the German role in the conflict. The chancellor is characterized by an extremely passive posture, avoiding making decisions until they become inevitable. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a member of the FDP and head of the Defense Committee in parliament, for example, recently commented that Scholz needs to “take the baton in his hand and set the rhythm.” In other words, opponents are asking Scholz to guarantee Germany a leading role on the European stage, as might be expected from the continent’s greatest economic power.

The central problem in this topic is that Scholz already seems to have realized that the most strategic thing for Germany is to remain as neutral as possible and away from any involvement in activities that harm the partnership with Russia, which is a very important commercial pillar for Germany. Scholz did not want to adhere to large-scale economic sanctions, especially regarding the SWIFT ban and the energy boycott. But he was forced to slowly accept such measures as other Western countries implemented them. This has been his typical behavior: postponing but, in the end, passively adhering to all Western measures when he finds himself “isolated”.

In this sense, the opposition is right on one point: Scholz has to change his attitudes and assume a leadership position, since this is what is expected from a country like Germany, which for years has consolidated itself as one of the “leaders” of the European bloc. The oppositionists’ problem is that they are pressuring Scholz to assume a leadership stance that is as damaging to German interests as his current indecision and passivity.

It is naive to think that sending heavy weapons to Ukraine benefits German interests in any way. On the contrary, it only extends the abyss between Moscow and Berlin even further, and with practically no benefit in return for the Germans: neither Ukraine will be sufficiently strengthened to win the conflict by receiving such heavy weaponry, nor will Germany reassume a supposed role of “leadership” in Europe.

It is not by chance that the greatest pressure on the Germans so far has been exerted precisely by Boris Johnson. The UK is not part of the EU and therefore does not care about the German role in the bloc, but, on the other hand, it is one of the most important members of NATO and tries to elevate its status in the military alliance as a way of boosting its international image in this post-Brexit context. In fulfilling British requests, Scholz would only be pursuing non-German and non-European interests.

It is obvious that there is also pressure within Europe and within Germany itself, but this pressure belongs to an outdated view of what the role of Germans and Europeans in the Western world should be. Scholz’s opponents apparently still expect a totally submissive stance on NATO from Berlin. This is also a very active thought in Brussels, with a strong tendency to see the entire European continent as a mere annex of the American military umbrella, ignoring that Europe has its own interests, which can often collide with those of the Western military alliance. That is why, in trying to prevent Germany from getting actively involved in the Ukrainian case, Scholz proves to be a really pragmatic politician who prioritizes the interests of his own country, but without the political force necessary to guarantee them.

In addition, there is a topic that needs to be mentioned, which is the German military passiveness of the last seventy years. Although it is active within NATO and has been trying to reform its defense forces in recent years, Berlin remains a virtual-demilitarized country, with an army of low offensive potential, outdated weaponry and a low-investment war industry.

In order to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, Germany would have to start a broad military industrial investment, which would cost it not only millions of euros, but a change in its international image, returning to being a nation of effective participation in international conflicts. Of course, improving its military status is a German right, but it must be taken into account in the name of what Berlin intends to do so. Would it really be strategic to break with seventy years of pacifism to defend the interests of the Maidan Junta in a conflict where Russian victory is highly predictable?

Scholz needs to be strong and active in defending German interests. His posture of passivity and silence demonstrates weakness and damages the image of both him and his country. But his stance must not be to subject Germany even more to foreign interests: on the contrary, he must assert what is in Berlin’s interests and pragmatically defend it, even if he has to clash with the NATO’s plans to do so. If Germany is interested in neutrality and maintaining good relations with Russia, Scholz must not only refrain from adhering to the new Western sanctions but also revoke those taken so far.

Lucas Leiroz is a researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a geopolitical consultant.

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Party On Syria

By Tim Hayward | April 9, 2017

I have supported the Green Party for as long as it has existed within the UK.  I think its speakers often make more sense than most other politicians.

However, the statement on Syria, by co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, seems to me misguided. While they express concern about the illegitimacy of US airstrikes on Syria, they at the same time condemn the president of Syria, advocating alternative measures against his government.

Would such measures not hurt Syrian people? When Caroline speaks of freezing ‘the continued flow of arms to the region’ she makes no mention of how supplies from the West – including from Libya via Turkey – are supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda, who, in turn, are killing, trafficking, raping and oppressing Syrian civilians who come under their de facto rule.

Caroline and Jon ought to be aware that there is as yet no authoritative account of the chemical attack last week and that critical observers caution all of us not to jump to conclusions about who is responsible. The event fits a longstanding pattern of trumped up pretexts for intervention that were subsequently discredited.

Which brings me to a point that goes beyond the rights and wrongs of this past week’s events.

For many years – for far more even than the six that the Syrian people have been subjected to constant violence – there has been a geopolitical strategy to remove Assad from power in order to have a Syrian region that is more compliant with the goals of the various external interested parties.

These interested parties, the Greens ought to be aware, are the very same that drive environmental destruction and social injustice across the planet. If you think Assad is the problem, I fear you may not have understood what the problem is.

My reason for posting these remarks is that none of the vision I share with the greens includes breaking up other people’s countries for the sake of the planet’s delinquent elite.

I hope some of the critical intelligence so much in evidence elsewhere in Green Party thinking might be brought to bear more keenly on the narrative you are accepting. My own discovery, for what it’s worth, is that once you start to ask questions about evidence and sources concerning Syria, you realize you may have been misled by seemingly reputable organisations like Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, by news organisations like BBC and Channel 4, and by UK Government.

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Sweden abolishes nuclear tax

World Nuclear News – June 10, 2016

The Swedish parliament has today agreed to abolish a tax on nuclear power as it recognizes nuclear’s role in helping it to eventually achieve a goal of 100% renewable generation.

The framework agreement announced by the Social Democrats, the Moderate Party, the Green Party, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats, will see the tax phased out over two years. It also allows for the construction of up to ten new nuclear reactors at existing sites, to replace plants as they retire. Setting 2040 as the date at which Sweden should have a 100% renewable electricity system, the document stresses that 2040 is a ‘goal’ and not a cut-off date for nuclear generation.

A variable production tax on nuclear power introduced in 1984 was replaced by a tax on installed capacity in 2000. Since its introduction this tax has gradually increased and today corresponds to about 7 öre (0.8 US cents) per kilowatt-hour. In February this year, utility Vattenfall said that the capacity tax had brought its nuclear operating costs to around 32 öre (3.8 US cents) per kWh. However, its revenue from nuclear power generation is only about 22 öre (2.6 US cents) per kWh.

Swedish utilities had sought redress against the tax through the courts, but the European Court of Justice ruled last October that Sweden could continue to tax nuclear power, deciding the tax is a national, rather than European Commission, matter.

Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall welcomed the agreement, which he said gave the utility the predictability it needed. “The abolishment of the nuclear capacity tax is an important precondition for us to be able to consider the investments needed to secure the long-term operation of our nuclear reactors from the 1980s,” he said. Vattenfall’s reactors at Forsmark and Ringhals have undergone a comprehensive modernisation programme to allow them to operate until the mid-2040s. However, to continue operating beyond 2020 they must meet stricter safety requirements through the installation of independent core cooling. Investing in those upgrades was economically impossible with the tax in place.

“Even with the abolishment of the capacity tax, profitability will be a challenge,” Hall concluded. “Low electricity prices put all energy producers under pressure and we will continue to focus on reducing production costs. Naturally, investment decisions must be taken on commercial grounds, taking all cost factors and expected long-term market developments that the agreement implies into account,” Hall said.

The director general of the World Nuclear Association, Agneta Rising, said: “Today’s announcement is a positive development. It is vital that there is now consistent policy to give operators the confidence to make the investments needed in their plant to allow for their long term continued operation. Other countries should follow Sweden’s example and ensure that their energy policies provide a level playing field that treats all forms of generation equally on their merits.”

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Struggling against the Surveillance State

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | May 27, 2015

A struggle of some consequence is now being waged in Congress to keep on life support the NSA’s massive spying on the American people. And in this struggle the so-called progressives (more accurately referred to as liberals) are engaged in a massive betrayal of all they profess to believe in. Instead too many of them are scurrying about attacking Rand Paul, the libertarian, anti-interventionist, Republican Senator who is leading the charge against the Bush/Obama spying program. Among other things Senator Paul has engaged in a filibuster to stop this nefarious program. So far he has been successful.

Let us try to make the crucial events in Congress as simple and crystal clear as possible. There are two pieces of legislation that were before the Senate last week.

The first is the Patriot Act itself, Section 215 of which, in the government’s secret interpretation, allowed the NSA to vacuum up data on virtually every piece of electronic communication by every American and indeed everyone on the planet. This secret interpretation and use of 215 came to light only when the heroic Edward Snowden blew his whistle. Such massive spying has already been declared illegal by a recent opinion of the Second Circuit Court, although the NSA ignores this ruling. The Patriot Act is due to expire on June 1, and Obama is desperate to keep its essentials alive. Since the government has not been able to produce any convincing data that such surveillance has protected the U.S., one might well ask why Obama is so frantic, almost hysterical, to keep it alive. Why indeed.

The second is a “reform” of the Patriot Act, called the “USA Freedom Act,” proposed by Obama and company. However, the USA Freedom Act is not different in its essentials from the original Patriot Act. One “difference” is that the telephone and internet companies will hold the data rather than the government itself, and then the government will vacuum it up from those companies. A distinction without a difference, to be sure. Here is what the ACLU has to say about the “USA Freedom Act”:

“This bill would make only incremental improvements, and at least one provision—the material-support provision—would represent a significant step backwards,” ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. “The disclosures of the last two years make clear that we need wholesale reform.”

Jaffer wants Congress to let Section 215 sunset completely, a common sentiment among privacy activists who are USA Freedom Act skeptics—they’d rather let it expire and wait for a better reform package than endorse something half-baked.

Now we get to the meat of the politics and the possible victory over the Stasi State that we have within reach. Last week both these bills came up for a vote in the Senate. Rand Paul filibustered, a filibuster denigrated by many “progressives” as just a “long speech.” Nevertheless, it was enough that cloture had to be invoked to get a vote on the bills. That means 60 votes were needed to keep the legislation alive. First came the vote for the USA Freedom Act. There were less than 60 votes to keep it alive. Down it went. Then came the vote to continue the good ol’ Patriot Act and its atrocious Section 215. Again there were less than the 60 votes needed to keep it alive. Down it went. So as things stand now, Section 215 will be history as of June 1!

That in itself is an enormous victory and should be widely heralded. But here is the interesting thing. All the Democrats voted in favor of Obama’s phony reform, the USA Freedom Act. (As noted above, they could not, however, muster the 60 votes needed to bring it forward and get it passed.) They included the favorites of the faux progressives, Ron Wyden, Patrick Leahey, Elizabeth Warren and of course that notorious advocate of butchery in Gaza, Bernie Sanders. What motivated these Dems to take such a stand? First, it was Obama’s bill, and more importantly it gave some cover to these Dems since most of their constituents are horrified by the Spy State. Next, when it came time to vote for the original Bush/Obama Patriot Act, the sides switched and the Republicans voted in favor of that measure. But they also failed to muster the 60 votes needed to go forward and so that version of mass surveillance failed. Only Rand Paul and a few other Republicans stood firm on the issue of no mass surveillance and confronted the Republican majority, a clear proclamation of principle over Party. For progressives this is (yet another) massive failure of those Dems whom they labored to install in the Senate.

Now this week the bullies that “lead” Congress are conferring frantically to find a way to keep alive the government spying on us. Every sort of blackmail, payoff, bribe and other inducement is certainly on the table to bring the necessary number of Senators along. It is not beyond imagination that the NSA is providing some embarrassing confidential information on recalcitrant Senators, which has been hoovered up in the last decade. These Congressional leaders have until the weekend to muster the 60 Senate votes needed for this ugly task, and they are within 3 votes of getting their way right now. Today Obama himself urged Congress to do whatever it takes to continue the bulk spying law.

Clearly this is a time when progressive organizations, who are forever urging us to write and contact our Congresspeople, should be rolling into action. And here is the biggest problem. I have long been on many of the progressive mailing lists. On this issue I have received nothing from them – nada, zilch. So I checked to see what they had on their web sites. Would there be at least a mention of this issue, a plea to contact one’s Senator? I checked Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Green Party, Code Pink and Peace Action. None of them had a call to action on this issue as far as I could see as of May 26, which is very late in the game . To be fair, UNAC (United National Antiwar Coalition) did have a statement on this as an issue, dating from a while back and including condemnation of Obama for his actions. But even here there was no call to action – no call for phone or letters to Congress and certainly no calls for a street demonstration, which is almost an autonomic reflex with UNAC.

In short the pwogs have shown an abysmal failure to take action in halting the Spy State. And there is not much time to act. If you, dear reader, contribute to one of these organizations, stay your check writing hand until they do something. Dollars they understand – if not principles.

Moreover, what I have received recently in personal emails from progressive contacts is yet more excoriations of Rand Paul. Here the progressives have an ally in what should be an all important fight and they turn on him! In fact the pwogs are among the targets of this surveillance. Why then make an enemy of a potential ally in the fight against the police state? That is indeed worth thinking about.

One final point, Rand Paul in the Senate, and fellow libertarians in the House like Thomas Massie and Justin Amash (the only Palestinian American in Congress) and a few others (including a few Democrats like Mark Pocan and Zoe Lofgren) stand almost alone now in serious opposition to the entire imperial elite establishment, Republican and Democrat both, in this fight. And Rand Paul is taking the greatest hits – even from that corpulent bag of corruption and mendacity, Chris Christie.

A victory on this issue is possible now. It happened before when Obama halted a plan to bomb Syria because of opposition in Congress, an opposition fueled by letters to Congress, resulting in a bipartisan opposition to an attack on Syria.

A victory here would arouse more interest in the kind of Right/Left alliances on concrete issues that this writer, Ralph Nader and others have been advocating for some years.

So progressives should abandon their theological or religious approach to politics, an infantile disorder that produces little because it does not allow issues to be attacked one at a time. If one conducts one’s politics like a Church, then one’s influence will never extend far beyond the tiny groups huddled in Church basements.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment