Saturday, March 18, 2023

Streeck's funny

Meanwhile, in September 2022, the next test, again a tough one, was the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines by, according to Seymour Hersh, an American-Norwegian hit squad. Here the task for the German government was to pretend they had no idea who had done it, to keep silent on the matter, and to get the press either to do the same or tell the public that ‘Putin’ was the culprit. This test was brilliantly passed. When a Bundestag member from the Linkspartei – alone out of 709 MPs – asked the government a few weeks after the event what it knew, she was told that for reasons of Staatswohl – the well-being of the state – no such questions would be answered: not now, not in future. (The day after Hersh had made his findings public, the Frankfurter Allgemeine reported on it under the heading, ‘Kreml: USA haben Pipelines beschädigt’ (Kremlin: US damaged Pipelines).

Yet another loyalty test, this one more protracted and cumulative, conducted in parallel with the battle of the budget, concerned the delivery of arms and ammunition to the Ukrainian army. Ukraine had since 2014 been the one industrialized country with by far the highest yearly increase in defence spending, paid for not by its oligarchs but by the United States, in pursuit of so-called ‘interoperability’ between the Ukrainian army and NATO (officially declared to have been achieved in 2020). While this may have been a cause for concern among Russian generals – who were surely aware of the dereliction of their conventional forces subsequent to Putin’s decision to keep up with the modernization of the American nuclear forces – from the first day of the Russian attack NATO states were asked to send arms to Ukraine, increasingly powerful ones and in growing numbers. As it became obvious that Ukraine would be unable to hold its own without a steady inflow of material support from a revived West, the US insisted that European countries carry a growing share of the burden, particularly those guilty of having neglected their military, above all Germany.

It soon transpired, however, that national armies were less than enthusiastic about having to surrender some of their most precious and prestigious equipment to Ukraine, claiming that this would diminish their capacity to defend their own countries. Underlying their reluctance may have been a fear that what they gave to the Ukrainians might fall into the hands of the enemy, be damaged beyond repair on the battlefield or sold on the international black market, with no hope of reimbursement even for equipment formally just on loan. Another worry concerned prospects for rearmament once the war was over and Ukraine had to be rebuilt – better than ever – by ‘Europe’, as untiringly promised by Brussels. There were also worries, typically expressed in public by retired high-ranking military officers, about European countries being drawn into a war the conduct and aims of which their governments, as demanded by the United States and public opinion, had left to the Ukrainians to determine. Not least, there seems to be a concern that if the war came to an abrupt end, Ukraine would have the biggest and best-equipped ground forces in Europe.

Again it was Germany, by far the largest West European country, that more than all others had to prove, under the watchful eyes of the United States and the international media, its readiness to ‘stand with Ukraine’. At first, the then German defence minister had offered 5,000 helmets and bullet-proof vests for the Ukrainian military, which was widely ridiculed by the country’s allies and, increasingly, its public. In subsequent months ever more powerful weaponry was demanded and supplied, including air defence missiles like the Iris-T system that has not even reached the German troops, and the mighty Tank Howitzer (Panzerhaubitze) 2000. Each time the Scholz government drew a red line, it was forced to cross it under pressure from its allies as well as the two smaller coalition partners, the Greens and the Liberals – the former controlling the foreign ministry, the latter the Bundestag defence committee, chaired by an FDP deputy from Düsseldorf, home of Rheinmetall, one the biggest arms producers in Europe and beyond.

In the winter of 2022 the debate on arming Ukraine began to focus on tanks. Here in particular, Germany had to be pushed step-by-step toward ever more powerful models, from armoured personnel carriers to that famous battle tank, Leopard 2, a global export success built by a consortium led by, well, Rheinmetall. (Around 3,600 such Leopards of the most advanced 2A5-plus product line have been sold all over the world, to such enthusiastic supporters of Western values as Saudi Arabia, to assist them in their tireless effort to bring peace to Yemen.) Partly because German tanks figure prominently in Russian historical memory, but also because there were no signs that Germany would have a say on what its tanks would be used for (it is no more than 500 kilometers from the Ukrainian border to Moscow), Scholz at first, as usual, offered one reason after another why, unfortunately, no Leopards 2 could be supplied. In response, some of Germany’s allies, in particular Poland, the Netherlands and Portugal, let it be known that they were willing to donate their Leopards, even if Germany wasn’t. Poland even announced that they would send Leopards to Ukraine, if need be, without a German license – a legal requirement under German arms export policy.

The way this story played out may have been of formative importance for the future course of events. Cornered by its European allies, Germany no longer objected to sending Leopards to Ukraine, provided the United States also agreed to supply their main battle tank, the M1 Abrams (another worldwide export hit, with a total production up to now of 9,000 pieces). As a ‘first step’, Germany promised to provide 14 of its 320 Leopards, forming a tank regiment to be handed over to Ukraine within three months. From there, it would proceed to build two tank battalions, with 44 Leopard 2 tanks each, out of its own Leopards and those expected from its European partners – training, spare parts and ammunition included – to be turned over battle-ready to the Ukrainian army. (According to expert estimates, Ukraine would require about 100 Leopards of the latest model for a significant improvement of its military capacity.) 

At this point, however, around the time of the Munich Security Conference, two unpleasant surprises ensued. First, it turned out that Germany’s European allies, now that German resistance had been overcome, discovered all sorts of reasons why they had to hold on to their Leopards, export licenses or none, leaving the provision of battle tanks essentially to the Germans. (All in all, NATO armed forces command an estimated total of about 2,100 Leopards, of both the 1 and 2 models.) Second, American investigative reporting, particularly in the Wall Street Journal, revealed that the Abrams tanks would show up on the scene only in a few years’ time if at all, something that the German negotiators seemed to have overlooked, or had been asked to overlook by their American counterparts, and had certainly not been shared with the German public.

In the end, then, the Scholz government was left holding the bag – as practically the sole supplier of battle tanks to Kiev. What made this even more uncomfortable was that precisely on the day the Germans agreed to the Leopards deal, the Ukrainian government declared that, now that this had been achieved, the next items on its wish list would be fighter planes, submarines and battleships, without which there was no hope for Ukraine to win the war. (Ukraine’s former ambassador to Germany, one Andrej Melnyk, having moved back to Kiev where he now serves as deputy foreign minister, tweeted on January 24, in English: ‘Hallelujah! Jesus Christ! And now, dear allies, let’s establish a powerful fighter jet coalition for Ukraine with F-16 & F-35, Eurofighter & Tornado, Rafale & Gripen jets & everything you can deliver to save Ukraine!’) Topping this, at the Munich security conference the Ukrainian delegation asked the US and the UK for cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs, outlawed under international law but, as the Ukrainians pointed out, held in large numbers by their Western allies. (The FAZ, always eager not to confuse its readers, in its report called cluster bombs umstritten – ‘controversial’ – rather than illegal.)

For the German governing coalition, but also the Biden administration, a crucial question with respect to the assignment of a leading role to Germany is whether the country’s postwar pacifism is still strong enough to interfere with it. The answer is that it may not be. Not unlike in the United States, the abolition of the draft seems to have made it easier to consider war an appropriate means in the service of the good: unlike in Ukraine, German sons, boyfriends, husbands are not at risk of having to go to the battlefield. Among large parts of the younger generation, moral idealism covers up the crude materialism of killing and dying. Within and around the Green party, something like a new taste for heroism has emerged, among what was until a short time ago considered a post-heroic generation. No parents, indeed no grandparents are around anymore who can offer firsthand accounts of life and death in the trenches. Dreams have arisen of a sanitized warfare, executed strictly according to the Hague Convention, at least on our side – no longer a matter of war and peace but one of crime and punishment, with the ultimate aim, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives, of Putin having to stand trial in a court of law.

There may also be specifically German factors at work. Within the Green generation, nationalism as a source of social integration has effectively been replaced, more than anywhere else in Europe, by a pervasive Manicheanism that divides the world into two camps, good and evil. There is an urgent need to understand this shift in the German Zeitgeist, which seems to have evolved gradually and largely unnoticed. It implies that, unlike in a world of nations, there can be no peace based on a balance of power and interests, only a relentless struggle against the forces of evil, which are essentially the same internationally and domestically. Clearly this bears some resemblance to an American conception of politics, shared by neocons and Democratic idealists alike, and embodied by someone like Hillary Clinton. The syndrome seems to be particularly strong on the left side of the German political spectrum, which would in the past have been the natural base of an anti-war and pro-peace, or at least pro-ceasefire, movement. Now, however, not even Die Linke would endorse the peace demonstration organized on 25 February by Sahra Wagenknecht and Alice Schwarzer, Germany’s feminist icon, at the risk of breaking the party apart and ceasing to be a political force.

Moreover, postwar Germans have long tended to listen with sympathy to non-Germans attributing to them collective moral deficiencies and demanding humility in one form or another. It is hard to think how else to account for the extraordinary popularity enjoyed by the above-mentioned Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Melnyk, an unashamed fan of the terrorist, Nazi collaborator and war criminal Stepan Bandera and of his co-leader of the Ukrainian nationalists in the interwar years and under German occupation, also named Andrej Melnyk. Via Twitter, Melnyk has relentlessly lambasted German political figures, from the federal president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, downwards, for not standing sufficiently with Ukraine, in language that in all other countries would have led to his accreditation being revoked. There was hardly a week when Melnyk was not invited onto one of the weekly television talk shows to accuse German political leaders of genocidal conspiracy with Russia against the Ukrainian people. Named deputy foreign minister in the fall of 2022, Melnyk continued to figure prominently in the German debate on the country’s obligations toward Ukraine. For example, referring to an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung in which Jürgen Habermas advocated a cease-fire in Ukraine to enable peace negotiations, Melnyk tweeted: ‘That Jürgen Habermas is also so brazenly in Putin’s service leaves me speechless. A disgrace for German philosophy. Immanuel Kant and Georg Friedrich Hegel would turn in their graves out of shame.’ (To gauge the tone of much of the discussion, see a tweet from a young aspiring comedian, one Sebastian Bielendorfer: ‘Sahra Wagenknecht is simply the empty shell of a completely mentally and humanly depraved cell cluster. She shouldn’t be invited on talk shows, she should be treated.’ A day later: ‘Twitter has deleted the tweet. Regrettable. The truth remains.’)

There's a lot more. And the ending is great.

repeats. Melnyk

Poland’s foreign ministry has intervened after Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany denied that Ukrainian national leader Stepan Bandera was responsible for the mass murder of ethnic Poles and Jews, and also sought to justify his collaboration with Nazi Germany.

And the other one 

Kyiv City Council voted to name street in Kyiv after Andriy Melnyk - leader of OUN and Nazi collaborator. Melnyk and members of his organization actively assisted Nazis in Holocaust - mass murder of 1, 5 million of Ukrainian Jews.

more twitter comedy

Today, we Latvians, remember our soldiers in WW2 who fought in nazi uniforms. Although they were part of the Waffen SS, they were not nazis and rather fought for their families and land. 

The hottest brand in Ukraine 

Previously on “Ukes, Kooks & Spooks,” we peeked at the far-right underbelly of M-TAC, Ukraine’s “largest and most powerful brand of clothing and equipment in the tactical and military industry,” that became central to Volodymyr Zelensky’s “de facto uniform” after Russia invaded Ukraine. But “Zelensky branded by fascists?” just scratched the surface.

Alexander Karasyov is the founder of M-TAC and the owner of its parent company, Militarist. Looking at his social media, it is apparent that Karasyov is a neo-Nazi. The day before Ukraine celebrated thirty years of independence in August 2021, he shared a point of view shot of himself making a Nazi salute at a Ukrainian flag on Facebook. But Karasyov has been most unhinged on the Russian social media platform VK.

“I will also celebrate the day of the Holocaust. Happy holidays to all!” he declared on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2017, reacting to an image of Jewish children in a concentration camp. A few months earlier, he shared former Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess’ last words at the Nuremberg trials. 

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