Every now and then, legacy media publishes important articles that are both readable and very much worth your time. This is particularly true in the case of Oskar Lafontaine’s recent op-ed, which appeared under the title ‘In the Ukraine war, Germany acts as US satellite’. Published by the Berliner Zeitung on 30 August 2022, Mr. Lafontaine — once a leading Social-Democratic politician of the Old Labour variety and certainly one of Germany’s most outspoken critics of the ‘New Labour’ politics since Gerhard Schröder’s chancellorship (in office 1998-2005) — is among the few whose opinions are permitted by mainstream outlets.
Citing the recent Consultative Group Meeting, convened by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin at Ramstein Air Base, Mr. Lafontaine decried Germany’s lack of sovereignty, criticised the recklessness of NATO expansion and adventurism in Eastern Europe, and argued for Europe to ‘decouple from the United States’.
Equally surprising, Vienna-based left-liberal daily Der Standard — so far, a staunch stalwart of anti-Russian sentiment in neighbouring Austria — also published something quite antithetical to the established unconditional pro-Ukraine narrative in mid-July. On the occasion of the publication of the first volume of his memoirs, a reporter was dispatched to the remote corners of Northern Germany for an interview with none other than Egon Krenz, the last Secretary General of the East German Communist Party.
As quoted by Der Standard, according to Mr. Krenz, at the root of ‘this problem is the US and its claim to be the sole hegemon’. Not unlike Mr. Lafontaine, Mr. Krenz too proposed a reasonable way forward to resolve the current Russian-Ukrainian (NATO) conflict:
Just as European politicians went to see Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, they could also go to Washington and seek to convince President Joe Biden to negotiate with Russia on an equal footing on Putin’s December 2021 proposals for safeguarding Russian security interests. That would serve European interests.
Of course, doing so is anathema to European foreign policy elites and their fellow travellers in legacy media—on both sides of the Atlantic. And while it is obvious that no one in the USA would welcome such a move, it is equally obvious that Europe’s leading politicians do not like to pursue foreign policies that serve their own interests.
Thus, one hears and reads daily that European politicians are ready to pay every price, even if the sovereign peoples of Europe would object to, as the example of Germany’s Annalena Baerbock’s comments illustrate. Speaking at the 26th Forum 2000 Conference in Prague, Czechia, the German Foreign Minister said:
We support you [Ukraine] and will support you as long as it takes, no matter what the German electorate thinks.
It is very much obvious that European politicians do not wish to pursue policies that serve the peoples of Europe, to say nothing about any country’s national interest.
Recognition thereof leads inevitably to questions of the deep roots of post-WW2 European integration, which brought forth both the European Union as well as uncompromising support for Transatlanticism, most prominently the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
At this junction, it is well worth remembering that the European Union (EU) is less than thirty years old, as its foundational compact, the Treaty on European Union (also known as the Maastricht Treaty), went into effect on 1 November 1993. Amended repeatedly, most notably by the Treaty of Lisbon (2007), such dense background information is necessary to understand the structural forces underwriting European politics individually and in the aggregate, as well as to drive home the point that continued integration is the main project of all European politicians.
In this sense, all Europeans are sailors sitting in the same boat — yet, the metaphorical ‘SS Europa’ is drifting towards increasingly dangerous waters, steered by the very same politicians who proclaim an utter disrespect for the voting public.
Note that Ms. Baerbock is certainly not alone in her contempt for the electorate, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ interview with Time Magazine’s Lisa Abend and Naina Bajekal in April 2022 clearly shows.
Yet, as summer gives way to autumn, with legacy media warning of a ‘Winter of Rage’ (Der Standard), asking, ‘are we facing a winter of extremist protests?’ (German state broadcaster ARD), many Europeans are caught between a rock of rising prices for everything and a hard place of looming energy shortages, which may manifest themselves as blackouts in the depths of winter.
As European politicians and peoples alike ponder the benefits and disadvantages of continued reliance — dependence — on the United States in its multi-pronged quest to extending and eventually defeating Russia, it is well worth taking a look at the deep roots of Europe’s existential predicament.
The End of the European National States
As is well-known, Germany lost WWII, was occupied by the victors to ensure that German militarism was done with, and eventually partitioned in 1948/49. Two statelets, the Federal Republic (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) emerged, both as clients of their respective sponsors, the US and the USSR. By the late 1980s, the Soviet system disintegrated, and while the two Germanies were eventually permitted to ‘re-unite’ under the auspices of the US-sponsored client régime in Bonn (that soon moved to Berlin), there was much more to this event than meets the eye.
Let’s keep a brief scoring board: in early May 1945, what remained of Hitler’s Germany signed over its sovereignty to the victors, first to the ‘Western’ Allies in Reims (8 May) and a day later, at Moscow’s insistence, in bombed out Berlin. The Second World War in Europe (1939-45) was over.
Revisiting US Global Power after 1945
Whatever name you’d like to give to the rulers in Bonn and (East) Berlin, neither of the two Germanies was sovereign: both Western and Eastern ‘Germany’ were occupied by the victors of WWII, with the United States being quite adamant about their crowning achievement: it is certainly obvious that America was the one clear victor of this conflict. With the US’s main competitors in ruins, true global hegemony as WWII’s most coveted prize was not only an ambitious goal, but it was realised as attainable by planners in Washington at the time.
Long kept unacknowledged in polite society, these former secrets of state have apparently become common knowledge. Published under the quite apt title Tomorrow, the World, Columbia University-trained Stephen Wertheim’s first book was published by Harvard’s Belknap Press in 2020.
Wertheim’s book is a quite good read, and, if I’d daresay, it’s a marvellous achievement for one particular reason: the careful, if very much deliberate, planning behind US global supremacy after 1945, which Wertheim meticulously reconstructs over 250+ pages, was very much anathema to anything resembling mainstream scholarship across the Humanities and Social Sciences so far.
Yet, in the autumn of 2020, it suddenly became acceptable in polite society to call out the careful planning conducted by US officials, which (kind of) ‘reveals’ — to Western audiences, if only they’d read anymore — what once far-leftish ‘dissidents’ such as Noam Chomsky had been saying for decades.
If proof of this claim is required, both Chomsky’s 1991 lecture ‘Year 501’ and the book-length publication of the same title, which appeared two years later, may serve as prima facie evidence.
In the published version, specifically Chapter 3, Section 2, entitled, ‘Logical Illogicality’, from which the below passages are cited, Chomsky’s writings serve as powerful support of the increasing boldness of Washington’s Power Elite. In the afore-mentioned publication, Chomsky writes:
In an important study of July 1945, transmitted by Secretary of War Stimson to the Secretary of State, military planners tried to put a satisfactory gloss on the US intention to take control of the world and surround Russia with military force, while denying the adversary any rights beyond its borders. ‘To argue that it is necessary to preserve a unilateral military control by the U.S. or Britain over Panama or Gibraltar and yet deny a similar control to Russia at the Dardanelles may seem open to the criticism of being illogical’, they worried, particularly since the Dardanelles provided Russia with its only warm water access and was, in fact, to be kept firmly under unilateral US-British control. But the criticism is only superficially plausible, the planners concluded: the US design is ‘a logical illogicality’. By no ‘stretch of the imagination’ could the US and Britain be thought to have ‘expansionist or aggressive ambition’. But Russia
‘has not as yet proven that she is entirely without expansionist ambitions … She is inextricably, almost mystically, related to the ideology of Communism which superficially at least can be associated with a rising tide all over the world wherein the common man aspires to higher and wider horizons. Russia must be sorely tempted to combine her strength with her ideology to expand her influence over the earth. Her actions in the past few years give us no assured bases for supposing she has not flirted with the thought.’
In short, the burden is upon the Russians to prove that they have no intention of associating with the rascal multitude who ‘aspire to higher and wider horizons’, with the ‘poor who have always wanted to plunder the rich’ (Dulles). Until they do so convincingly, it is only logical for responsible men who do not consort with criminal elements bent on plunder, and flirt with no such subversive thoughts as higher aspirations, to establish their unilateral control over the world. Russia must demonstrate that it is not a potential threat to ‘the very survival of the capitalist order’ (Gaddis).
Hence, we may assess that what Wertheim’s Tomorrow, the World accomplished, while not very much original in terms of his findings, is certainly indicative of the changing sentiments among US elites about the origins of American global hegemony. That said, I would like to add that this statement shall in no way belittle Wertheim’s year-long efforts; and while the criticism of originality still stands, mention must further be made of the fact that neither Chomsky nor his writings appear in Wertheim’s study.
If at Night of Europe I think…
… I clearly see that whatever power Berlin wields these days — or is, perhaps more correctly, perceived to wield these days — is clearly derivative of the US government and its objectives.
This assessment is underwritten by statements made by Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, former German Finance Minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel (and once convicted for accepting illegal campaign contributions) and currently serving as the President of the Bundestag. Speaking at the European Banking Congress in Frankfurt am Main on 18 November 2011, he had the following to say about Germany’s post-war sovereignty and the true nature of European integration after 1945.
Note that Mr. Schäuble’s keynote lecture on ‘Financial Markets and Politics: Lessons Learned From the Crises’ is still mentioned on the European Central Bank’s website (scroll down to 2011); it is worth pointing out, though, that once one clicks on the hyperlink — which leads to the German Finance Ministry’s website — one ends up with an ‘404 error’. Apparently, Mr. Schäuble’s lecture has been removed in the meantime. Yet, courtesy of the Wayback Machine, we can still access the full lecture.
Here are Mr. Schäuble’s remarks from the 21st Frankfurt European Banking Congress, delivered on 18 November 2011 (translation and emphases mine):
Those critics who believe that there must be competition between all policy areas are, in fact, assuming the regulatory monopoly of the national state. That was the old order that still underlies international law, with the concept of sovereignty, which has long since been reduced to absurdity in Europe, at long last since the two World Wars of the first half of the last century. And we in Germany have not been fully sovereign at any time since 8 May 1945…
That is why the attempt of European unification is to create a new form of governance, where there is not one level that is responsible for everything and which then, in case of doubt, confers onto others certain policy areas through international treaties. I am firmly convinced that this is a much more forward-looking approach for the 21st century than a relapse into the regulatory monopoly of the classical national state of past centuries…
I would like to make it quite clear to you that I am quite convinced that in a period of less than 24 months we will be able to change the European regulatory framework in this way. We just need to amend Protocol 14 — whoever wants to read it, in general, in the Lisbon Treaty — in such a way that we create on it the broad outlines of a fiscal union for the eurozone …
These statements, in particular their attempted purging from the public record, are very telling. If there were ever any real doubt about the ‘true’ character of European Union, we may now clearly see what the sweet talk about integration by leading European politicians is actually all about: the creation of ‘a new form of governance’ that stands in stark contrast to ‘the regulatory monopoly of the classical national state’.
What is Protocol 14 of the Lisbon Treaty, by the way?
To get to the bottom of the tangled web of deceit and — dare we call it: treason? — we must therefore take a close look at this seemingly obscure ‘Protocol 14’ of the Lisbon Treaty. Given its outsized importance highlighted, perhaps in an hour of weakness, by Wolfgang Schäuble, it is equally telling that this kind of crucial document is barely a page long. Published in the Official Journal of the European Union, ‘Protocol 14’ holds (emphasis mine):
THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES,
DESIRING to promote conditions for stronger economic growth in the European Union and, to that end, to develop ever-closer coordination of economic policies within the euro area,
CONSCIOUS of the need to lay down special provisions for enhanced dialogue between the Member States whose currency is the euro, pending the euro becoming the currency of all Member States of the Union,
HAVE AGREED UPON the following provisions, which shall be annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union:
The Ministers of the Member States whose currency is the euro shall meet informally. Such meetings shall take place, when necessary, to discuss questions related to the specific responsibilities they share with regard to the single currency. The Commission shall take part in the meetings. The European Central Bank shall be invited to take part in such meetings, which shall be prepared by the representatives of the Ministers with responsibility for finance of the Member States whose currency is the euro and of the Commission.
The Ministers of the Member States whose currency is the euro shall elect a president for two and a half years, by a majority of those Member States.
Given the stakes, I have taken the liberty to highlight the crucial part, Article. 1. Note, specifically, the categorically anti-democratic and non-transparent nature of these meetings:
the ministers … shall meet informally. Such meetings shall take place, when [not ‘if’] necessary [who determines this?], to discuss questions ****related to the specific responsibilities they share [this is so elastic, you could drive a tank through this protocol without technically breaking it]
Note further that:
the Commission shall take part…The European Central Bank shall be invited to take part in such meetings, which shall be prepared by the representatives of the Ministers with responsibility for finance…
Neither the EU Commission nor the European Central Bank (ECB) have any responsibility — in the ‘technical’ sense of parliamentary oversight — vis-à-vis any representative institution. This also begs the question who oversees common ‘European’ institutions: the EU Council (the assembly of the heads of governments of all EU member-states) or the parliaments of the various member-states?
The EU Commission is the manifestation of the will of the governments of the member states, and these governments are, technically, responsible to the legislative branch (parliament) in their respective member-states.
We note, therefore, that the hierarchy established by the Lisbon Treaty’s ‘Protocol Number 14’ appears to be as follows:
EU Commission, European Central Bank + Representatives of the EU’s Finance Ministers (which is decidedly not the institutionalised ‘Economy and Finance Ministers Meetings’ whose acronym would be ECOFIN) > member-states’ governments > member-states parliaments > member-states’ electorates.
This arrangement reeks of potential conflicts of interest and limited, if any, oversight. They furthermore indicate that these decisions lack transparency and, as Mr. Schäuble’s candid statement — or was it a gaffe? — indicates, are fundamentally undemocratic.
Yet, as is so often the case, there is much more that troubles me than first meets the eye.
All formal meetings by at the level of heads-of-governments and cabinet-level officials — as well as many informal gatherings and other preparatory work — are carried out by a variety of staffers, appointees, and (external) advisors of the Eurozone’s finance ministers. While this typically refers to any number of appointees of the competent cabinet-level ministers, it is worth pointing out that these preparations are carried out by individuals even further removed from anything even remotely resembling transparency and accountability vs. the sovereign people, to say nothing about the role of the tens of thousands of lobbyists that surround the top echelons of the EU on a daily basis.
Even though Mr. Schäuble and other European politicians like him — and every other leader of any EU member-state — swore an oath of office to uphold their respective national-constitutional laws, things are not what they seem. The great tragedy of the European peoples, it would appear, is that their leaders are actively working (conspiring) to subvert the constitutional order of the various EU member-states.
In other words: what Mr. Schäuble admitted to in 2011 is a textbook example of ‘treason’, which is, according to Merriam-Webster’s definition:
The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family.
If placed next to each other, both Mr. Schäuble’s statements as well as the possibilities offered by the EU’s legal-structural framework fly in the face of the constitutional order in any one member-state as well as calls into question the legitimacy of the European Union itself. Not only is there no mention of popular sovereignty, but the entirety of the one-page Protocol 14 shows the EU leadership’s contempt for the peoples of Europe. This does not bode well for a well-ordered commonwealth with equal rights for all.
The Kiss of Death of the Rule of Law
Under the rule of law, such openly admitted acts would trigger the initiation of a criminal investigation, quite likely followed by charges of high treason. If, at this point, you’re wondering as to why this hasn’t happened yet — and won’t happen in the future — the answer is painfully obvious: the German judiciary is not independent, the EU’s Court of Justice ruled not long ago in a joint ruling that concerned the role and capabilities of German state prosecutors (that would be district attorneys in the US context). At the heart of the matter was the question whether a German state prosecutor could issue an EU-wide European Arrest Warrant. And while simple answers are impossible, the EU’s Court of Justice (sic), in adjudicating Joined Cases C-508/18 and C-82/19 PPU, determined that German state prosecutors cannot do so. The reason for this ruling was that German state prosecutors must follow the Federal Justice Ministry’s orders, hence the Court held that the state prosecutorial services are not independent of undue political influence. Hence, in their ruling of Joined Cases C-508/18 and C-82/19 PPU, the EU’s Court of Justice held that:
- German public prosecution offices are only entitled to execute a national arrest warrant issued by a judge or court;
- German public prosecution offices do not enjoy an autonomous and independent status, but are subject to an administrative hierarchy headed by the Minister for Justice.
Furthermore, as the EU Court of Justice explained,
under German law, German public prosecution offices are commonly designated as the competent authority to issue European Arrest Warrants, especially those for the purpose of prosecution. Furthermore, there is a relationship between the public prosecutor’s offices and the executive in Germany. In particular, public prosecutors are subject to the ‘external power” of the ministers of justice of the relevant federal state (Land) to issue instructions (externes Weisungsrecht). Germany argued, however, that this power is exercised only as an exception and that no instructions had been issued in the present case.
The case in question concerned the question of whether the German Judiciary could issue European Arrest Warrants (EAW). These procedures, which entered into force in 2004, replaced and streamlined the previously-existing intra-state extradition procedures. In other words — and by way of analogy — the EAW functions like the federalisation of law enforcement across US state lines; as such, there are several guarantees built into this EU-wide system that are designed specifically to prevent political abuse, as explained cursorily here and in much more detail in the accompanying Handbook (which also contains the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on pp. 65-88, with the following quote on p. 66; my emphasis):
Nothing in this Framework Decision may be interpreted as prohibiting refusal to surrender a person for whom a European arrest warrant has been issued when there are reasons to believe, on the basis of objective elements, that the said arrest warrant has been issued for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on the grounds of his or her sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, language, political opinions or sexual orientation, or that that person’s position may be prejudiced for any of these reasons.
According to the EU Court of Justice, German state prosecutors cannot issue such warrants because of the existing constitutional and legal framework of the Federal Republic of Germany, which does not provide sufficient independence from political interference. Let’s not mince words here: what the EU’s Court of Justice found is that ‘there are reasons to believe, on the basis of objective elements’, that political inference on part of the German Federal Justice Ministry cannot be ruled out if a German state prosecutor issues an EAW. To do so, the EU’s Court of Justice determined — much like in the US — that evidence must be presented to a judge as the ‘competent judicial authority’ to issue a European Arrest Warrant.
This ruling holds — and let us note here that it has been upheld in spite of an appeal — that German state prosecutorial services are clearly subordinate, and thus subject to, ‘instructions’ from, the supraordinate officials.
In other words: the German Minister of Justice ‘could … exercise an “external” power to issue instructions’ to state prosecutors, relayed via state and other officials higher up in the judicial hierarchy. This is a very elaborate, if not entirely direct, way of saying that German politicians have the ability to interfere with — some might say ‘pervert’ or ‘obstruct’ — the course of justice.
All that’s required is, in fact, that the cabinet-level appointee ‘informs’ the president of the state parliament that such ‘instructions have been issued’. There are no further particulars as to whether, say, a one-liner suffices or whether this ‘information’ would also entail details and further particulars. Thus, on the evidence before it, the EU Court holds that,
as regards the institutional status of the public prosecutor’s office in Germany, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Lübeck appears to be subordinate to the authority and to the instructions of the executive…therefore [it is] uncertain whether the principles identified in the abovementioned case-law can be met by such a public prosecutor’s office and whether the independence of the latter, in the case before the referring court, can be established solely on the ground that no direction or instruction was given by the executive in relation to the European arrest warrant.
If, at this point a translation from **EU legalese is required, here’s what the EU Court of Justice determined: absence of evidence (that no instruction was given by political appointees) is not evidence of absence (of political influence).
Biosecurity and Energy
Thus, the past echoes once more in the present, as well as in Europe’s possible futures. It is well worth remembering that the Lisbon Treaty originated in the so-called ‘Laeken Declaration’ of 2001, which eventually gave rise to the ultimately failed ‘Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe’ developed between 2002-2003. While there are certain differences between these two treaties, the Treaty of Lisbon does constitute ‘the basis for the current framework of the European Union’, as a recent survey by Koen Lenaerts, Piet Van Nuffel, and Tim Corthaut documents.
As such, it appears inevitable today that the current crises — both the Covid Pandemic and the Europe’s energy woes — will soon lead to renewed calls for meaningful changes to existing structures.
If deeds hold more explanatory value than words, the powers that be are already hard at work to (ab)use both issues to advance certain agendas, and they do so without regard to the remaining vestiges of national sovereignty and participatory democracy of the European peoples. These machinations are clearly visible in the perceived hurry ‘to never let a crisis go to waste’, a clarion call to government activism (overreach). Ascribed to none other than Winston Churchill, this notion was brought up by President Obama’s first Chief of Statt, Rahm Emanuel, in the context of the Great Financial Crisis of 2007/08. This call was also tellingly, and perhaps even ironically so on Fox News, renewed by Mr. Emanuel in spring 2021 with respect to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In Europe, both dynamics are clearly discernible. While Ursula von der Leyen, the EU Commission’s President, declared the ‘emergency phase’ of the Coronavirus Pandemic over in late April, she also informed the public that this meant ‘a more sustainable management of COVID-19’. What that meant in practice was—the one-year extension of the EU Digital Covid Certificate (‘Green Passport’) by the European Parliament a handful of days later.
Ostentatiously introduced as a contribution to limit the spread of Sars-Cov-2, the waning protection afforded by the conditionally licensed (EUA) injectable products renders the entire scheme patently useless as an epidemiologically relevant measure. Yet, much like a medieval revenant, the EU Commission extended its powers into highly contentious areas, specifically concerning their biopolitical implications as the EU Digital Covid Certificate’s documented use across multiple jurisdictions to deny people access to facilities and significantly affect international travel clearly testifies.
As to the EU’s current energy crisis, it suffices to mention that energy policy had, so far, remained the one and only aspect of national sovereignty that had remained outside the purview of Brussels. Until this crucial moment, member-states had remained extra wary to confer any authority unto the EU institutions, be they the Commission or the permanent bureaucracy.
Yet, if the current media frenzy is any guide, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict appears poised to render member-states’ resistance to EU Commission-led centralisation of energy issues a thing of the past. Hence, the quick succession of legacy media pieces offering analysis and a lot of quotes, such as this one, which appeared on Bloomberg recently and serves as an excellent example of the ‘it’s all Russia’s fault’ spin:
‘The electricity market is no more a functioning market because there’s one actor — Putin — who’s systematically trying to destroy it and to manipulate it so we really have to react to that and that’s why we’re addressing now the composition of the electricity market’, [EU Commission President von der Leyen] told a press conference in Denmark on Tuesday.
In doing so, Ms. von der Leyen is merely following up on the suggestions of former EU Commission Günther Oettinger — who incidentally also hails from Mr. Schäuble’s home-state of Baden-Württemberg — who, back in early summer of this year, called for Europeans to ‘prepare for a war economy’. In a long piece that appeared on 8 July 2022 in left-liberal Austrian daily Der Standard, Mr. Oettinger declared the following (my emphases):
In Germany and increasingly also in Austria, nervousness is growing about what will happen to gas supplies from Russia. From Monday [11 July], an important connection from the gas fields in Western Siberia will be cut off: the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline has to be serviced, and this maintenance work is scheduled to last ten days. While Russian gas monopolist Gazprom had announced this some time ago, experts doubt that gas will flow again as usual on 21 July. Some are already talking about a war economy, for which Europe must prepare as quickly as possible.
Günther Oettinger is one of those who uses the word war economy to refer to far-reaching interventions by European states into their economy and society. The former EU Energy Commissioner, who in his active time more than once acted as fire extinguisher in the repeatedly flared-up dispute between Russia and Ukraine, paints a black picture for the next winter.
Gas storage facilities will certainly not be filled by autumn, and we will experience emergency management’, Oettinger predicts. ‘Putin is playing with us, and he wants to divide us. He will send more gas, less gas, or none at all, just as he pleases.’ While the dispute between Moscow and Kiev was about different price expectations for Russian gas, the situation has changed completely since Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine.
‘Wheat, seeds and energy, along with tanks, artillery, missiles and biochemical weapons, are the main instruments with which Russia’s president wants to make the West compliant’, Oettinger said at a German-Austrian expert meeting organised by Verbund [one of Austria’s major public-private energy companies] in Berlin. He added that it was all the more urgent to save gas wherever possible in order to alleviate the foreseeable hardship in winter. Flats heated at 18 degrees Centigrade and two sweaters is better than having to shut down large parts of the industry because there is not enough gas.
With inflation currently hovering around 9-10% (as evidenced by EU Bureaucrats receiving a pay raise of 8.5%, because their salaries are tied to the consumer price index), it is hard to avoid thinking of Churchill’s maxim: sure, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has many causes, but given the above considerations of Mr. Schäuble in light of energy policy having been the EU’s ‘final frontier’, it becomes hard to avoid considering the grave implications of what appears to be in store.
If of Europe at Night I think …
To get a grasp of how the EU functions at present, it is important to understand that ‘damaged’ politicians are frequently ‘promoted’ by the member-states and sent to Brussels. This is certainly the case of Ursula von der Leyen whose track record in Germany — during her tenure as Defence Minister, the Bundeswehr’s capabilities went from bad to worse while she handed out consulting contracts worth 150m euros annually, which was heavily criticised by the Federal Accounting Office (Bundesrechnungshof) — would not seem fortuitous in terms of future career advances.
Yet, grift and loyalty to one’s party do pay, as these exemplary shenanigans clearly show: Günther Oettinger’s many corrupt affairs during his tenure as Prime Minister (Governor) of Baden-Württemberg (in office 2005-2009), which notably include the large-scale infrastructure project ‘Stuttgart 21’ as well as the proposal to sell state property to hand over up to 70m € to the former ruling House of Baden, did not prevent him from joining EU Commission. Neither did Ms. von der Leyen’s many questionable activities.
If, at this point, you’re wondering about Wolfgang Schäuble’s past, too, well — what would you expect? Despite the above-related examples of abuse and grift by leading German and EU politicians, Mr. Schäuble is perhaps the poster child of Germany’s post-WW2 political culture.
Born Freiburg im Breisgau in 1942, Wolfgang Schäuble grew up in a conservative household. His father was a local politician who would eventually become a state representative for the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) in Baden-Württemberg. Upon graduation from the Hausach Gymnasium in 1961 (today it bears the name of Robert Gerwig), Schäuble enrolled at the University of Freiburg and studied law and economics. In 1970 he took the assessor’s degree (2. Staatsexamen) before he was awarded a Juris Doctor in the following year; in 1972, he also joined the Finance Department of his home-state, Baden-Württemberg.
Politically, Schäuble’s career is inextricably linked with his father’s party, the CDU. Already in 1965, he joined its youth organisation and from 1969-72 he served as the district chair of the Young CDU in southern Baden. Whatever the constellation—family tradition, ambition, or patronage—in 1972 the then 32-year-old became a member of the Bundestag, and since then Schäuble has been an unavoidable fixture in German politics. In office for close to 50 years now, he’s the longest-serving member of parliament, and by virtue of his seniority alone, he’s considered a, if not the, most influential power-broker in the CDU.
On the federal level, Schäuble has been involved in virtually all CDU-led government activities since 1984, apart from the period, between 1998-2005 when the SPD-led coalition under Gerhard Schröder was in office.
In 1984, Chancellor Helmut Kohl appointed Schäuble to a cabinet-level position with the express task to facilitate interactions with the GDR. Five years later, in spring 1989, Schäuble was appointed Interior Minister, which made him the government official responsible for the negotiations with his East German counterparts. As such, Schäuble remains the key to understanding the peculiar situation of post-Cold War Germany.
Typically the merger of both Germanies is referred to as ‘reunification’ (Wiedervereinigung), yet what transpired in 1989/90 was arguably much closer to former West Germany all but ‘swallowing’ its Eastern counterpart. While Erich Krenz and the GDR’s inner circle certainly had their own ideas — which, as must be noted, also differed from the wishes of the GDR’s citizens — the eventual outcome reflected neither. To the contrary, in no small part due to Schäuble’s efforts, what came out of the heady autumn days after the Fall of the Berlin Wall was ‘the accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic’.
In many ways, Germans are deceiving themselves, but it must be noted that they are also virtually constantly deceived by government officials and legacy media about this crucial fact. The legal shenanigans by Schäuble played an outsized, if not fundamental, part in these matters, and most of it harks back to West Germany’s de facto constitution, the Grundgesetz of 1949. Conceived in the late 1940s as a provisional document in a time of (forced) division, it was understood that, in the event of reunification, a constitutional assembly would be convened to write a new, all-German constitution (as per Art. 146).
In summer 1990, though, the GDR’s People’s Chamber opted for the path proposed by Schäuble and favoured by Chancellor Kohl: admission of the East German territories to the jurisdiction of the Grundgesetz according to Art. 23. Even though constitutional scholars had a field day discussing these matters, this decision, later formalised by the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, rendered all such questions moot.
In other words: this crucial event in German and European history came about by executive determination, as is admitted by (even) Wikipedia, albeit only in its German-language version on the same entry: the decisive events are described in quite some detail as ‘the hour of the executive’ (die Stunde der Exekutive) whereas the English-language entry lacks any of these details.
‘History is not the past. It is the present’ — James Baldwin
Of course, some may claim that these historical facts have no bearing on today’s situation. In many ways, Wolfgang Schäuble’s life and achievements render him, as I’ve argued above, the poster child of post-WW2 German politics: the grey eminence, skilfully manipulating those he ostensibly serves (both Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel), yet it is hard to avoid the cold, hard truth: politicians like Mr. Schäuble or Ms. Baerbock are not servants of the German people.
Like most of their European peers, they went all-in on Transatlanticism, the peoples of their countries be damned. Today, like in bygone days, the populace is told that ‘there is no alternative to sanctions’, as Austria’s Karoline Edtstadtler, Minister for Constitutional Affairs, recently told the press.
As regards Ms. Baerbock’s comments at the Forum 2000 Conference in Prague, we can already see the legacy media spin to detract the German people from what she said. As intimated by state broadcaster ARD a couple of days ago, Carla Reveland argued that the outcry, which included #Hochverrat (high treason) and calls for Baerbock’s dismissal might be, in fact, a ‘pro-Russian disinformation’ campaign. It was also alleged that cut versions of the German Foreign Minister’s comments ‘first appeared on social media channels connected to the Kremlin’.
Of course, as Ms. Reveland concludes, once the entire context is considered, it is revealed that Ms. Baerbock ‘didn’t mean it that way and that she addressed possible anti-sanctions protests in winter, adding that social measures would be put in place to help the citizenry’.
In that context, though, it is perhaps worth remembering that Ms. Reveland’s employer (ARD) already branded these possible protests as manifestations of right-wing extremism — an all-too common trope — asking ‘are we facing a winter of extremist protests?’ back in late July.
These considerations all point to one key question: what has changed since earlier this summer?
A Banquet of Consequences
As the days get shorter and temperatures sink, anti-government sentiment is on the rise across the Old World. For once it would look as if the peoples of Europe are finally able to coherently point to the origins of their woes.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers across the Netherlands and Belgium are protesting government policies that are ostensibly designed to combat climate change. These protests are currently spilling over into Germany, and it stands to reason that they will soon spread to France as well.
Just a weeks ago, Czech Minister of Justice, Pavel Blažek told Parliament that, ‘if the government cannot fix the energy crisis, it won’t be around much longer’. Warning of mass protests, Mr. Blažek might soon find his prediction overtaken by events, though. If last Saturday’s mass protests in Wenceslas Square in downtown Prague are any indicator of future developments, the people have put the government on notice.
From mainstream outlets such as Bloomberg to more ‘alternative’ ones like The Epoch Times, the stage is set for the economic crash of 2022/23. As the embattled Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson said during a press conference last weekend, Europe’s energy woes have the potential to wreak havoc in the financial markets.
With more and more companies facing extremely adverse economic conditions, reports are coming in from all over Europe: there are numerous reports of companies such as chemical manufacturer Lenzing in Austria having to curtail production and furlough workers ‘because of high gas prices’. Cancelling Christmas decorations, Swiss supermarket companies Migros and Coop announced that they are also planning to offer fewer choices to ensure the secure supply of essential foodstuffs.
While it is good to know that there are preparations if push comes to shove, it is hard to avoid the impression of things getting worse before too long. If the recent statements of Migros CEO Fabrice Zumbrunnen are any guide, ‘an extra supply of candles, batteries, or a diesel generator’ hardly qualifies as a good omen.
A Spectre is Haunting Europe: Anti-Globalism and Anti-Americanism is Rising
It is not too hard to imagine governments falling like dominoes this autumn or winter, as the consequences of the EU’s participation in US-led sanctions against Russia backfire spectacularly in Europe.
The question remains: what was the ‘real’ target of these US-peddled foreign policy tools? By all accounts, Russia seems to doing alright, both militarily in Ukraine as well as economically.
Europe, on the other hand, is circling down the maelstrom of economic disaster stemming from its adversarial policies vis-à-vis Russia.
In the meantime, anti-Globalism and anti-Americanism are beginning to coalesce with the European people’s criticism of the EU Commission’s handling of the energy crisis. Slowly, extra-parliamentary opposition to the increased conferral of power to Brussels is merging with calls for the restoration of popular sovereignty and calls to end Europe’s utter dependence and subservience to US foreign policy diktats.
It appears that the — so far successful — US policy to destabilise Russia to induce the economic suicide of Europe is reaching its next phase: the pushback from the peoples of Europe who, deprived of many of the promised benefits of legacy policies such as increased EU integration and unquestioning Transatlaticism, might be America’s undoing.
Don’t just take my word for it: ‘alt-right’ forces across Europe have long called for more independence from the United States. Now, they are increasingly joined by broad swaths of the left-of-centre who cannot stand the push towards escalation offered by Ms. Baerbock’s Greens.
Here is what Albrecht Müller, former policy adviser to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt (in office 1969-74) and co-founder of the Nachdenkseiten had to say about the current mess: calling for the restoration of German popular sovereignty, Mr. Müller, an Old Labour politician if there ever was one, wrote the following (emphases mine):
The USA is becoming increasingly brazen. On Friday [22 April] it was reported: ‘More than 20 countries have confirmed their participation in the Ukraine conference at Ramstein Air Base, according to US information. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had invited them to the meeting in Ramstein on Tuesday.’ No question mark, no hint of breaking the pretence of our country’s sovereignty. In all likelihood, the USA did not even ask…
The handling of such events, the handling of the limitation of, and damage to our sovereignty [sic], has not become better, but worse in the last 30 years. In 1991, Rudolf Scharping, the SPD’s top candidate for the state parliament, demanded during the election campaign that Rhineland-Palatinate should not become an aircraft carrier for the USA in Europe. Scharping then buckled as elected prime minister after a visit to the USA. But at least he had made the problem a topic of public debate. That is obviously over. Today, neither in the media nor in politics does anyone care whether gatherings and events take place on German territory that affect and could affect our security situation.
Woe to the vanquished, since 8 May 1945, and counting, yet the days of America’s domination of Europe and its peoples might be ending before too long.
Much like the last warm days of late Summer, the coming weeks and months will either be a teachable moment about the power of media spin, propaganda, and geopolitics — or a harbinger of drastic and dramatic change.
The potential for a dramatic shift in European politics and strategic outlook is certainly on the table.
Hence, the question is not: how will things change, but when.
 For a translation of the entire interview with Egon Krenz, please see my Substack posting from 18 July 2022; https://fackel.substack.com/p/history-matters-egon-krenz-the-gdrs (1 Sept. 2022).
 26th Forum 2000 Conference, Day 1, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78-_Ou5sH3k, at time stamp 1:22 (1 Sept. 2022).
 Essential for any understanding of the US’s grand strategy remains James Dobbins et al., Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground (RAND Corporation, 2019); https://doi.org/10.7249/RR3063.
 Stephen Wertheim, Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2020).
 Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues (Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1993); see also his eponymous lecture at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VsQyLwxxxk (1 Sept. 2022).
 Another one of the masterpieces of old that are typically all but omitted includes C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956). It is mentioned at least once by Wertheim, Tomorrow, the World, 7, referenced in fn. 22.
 Wolfgang Schäuble, ‘Finanzmärkte und Politik: Lehren aus den Krisen’, Keynote Lecture 21st Frankfurt European Banking Congress, via https://web.archive.org/web/20140912033413/https://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de/Content/DE/Reden/2011/2011-11-18-european-banking-congress.html (1 Sept. 2022).
 Of course, Mr. Schäuble’s statements were a boon to Germany’s self-identifying ‘imperial citizens’ (Reichsbürger), a loose affiliation of individuals claiming that post-1945 Germany is illegitimate because the German Empire never ended. For a complete take-down of the Reichtbürger’s (very) selective reading of Mr. Schäuble’s speech, see http://www.geschichte-und-politik.info/politik/aktuell/reichsbuerger/schaeuble.html (5 Sept. 2022).
 Thomas Wahl, ‘German Public Prosecution Office is not a “Judicial Authority” in the EAW Context’, EUCRIM: The European Criminal Law Associations’ Forum, 1 (2019), 31-3; https://eucrim.eu/news/cjeu-german-public-prosecution-office-is-not-a-judicial-authority-in-the-eaw-context/ (1 Sept. 2022).
 Koen Lenaerts, Piet Van Nuffel and Tim Corthaut, EU Constitutional Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), for a direct comparison, see 40-9; https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198851592.003.0002.
 Here, too, the reader is referred to my bespoke Substack article from 7 May 2022 for further particulars; https://fackel.substack.com/p/eu-institutionalises-covid-passports (2 Sept. 2022).
 For more extensive quotations and additional information, please see my Substack piece from 11 July 2022; https://fackel.substack.com/p/the-dogs-of-war-are-barking-ever (2 Sept. 2022).
 The sheer amount of media pieces on these sordid affairs forbids me from posting all of it; for a helpful summary, see the compilation (with links) offered Old Labour-affiliated portal Nachdenkseiten:https://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/ursula-von-der-leyen–neues-zweifel-in-der-berateraffaere-8684380.html; Hans-Martin Tillack, ‘Guter Rat is teuer—Ursula von der Leyen und die neuen Zweifel in der Berateraffäre’, Stern, 27 April 2019, https://www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/ursula-von-der-leyen–neues-zweifel-in-der-berateraffaere-8684380.html; and these two pieces (out of many) by independent journalist Thomas Röper, ‘Die Macht-Strukturen der Eliten am Beispiel Ursula von der Leyen’, Anti-Spiegel, 4 June 2021, https://www.anti-spiegel.ru/2021/die-macht-strukturen-der-eliten-am-beispiel-ursula-von-der-leyen/; and the following piece on a key player in von der Leyen’s machinations as German Defence Minister, Katrin Suder, who went on to join Volkswagen Group’s Board of Directors in spring of 2021, on which see ‘Schlüsselfigur in von der Leyens Berateraffäre bekommt die verdiente Belohnung’, 22 April 2021, https://www.anti-spiegel.ru/2021/schluesselfigur-in-von-der-leyens-berateraffaere-bekommt-die-verdiente-belohnung/?doing_wp_cron=1662105112.0891389846801757812500 (2 Sept. 2022).