The West's German Problem - Not Unlike Her Friends' Problem
when your natural A-player thinks they're only good for the bench
I guess this is German week, but so be it, they're in the news.
For those who follow me on twitter, you are familiar with the #WeNeedNewElites hashtag. I started using it as a reference point on the American issue with the serial elite failures that are putting our nation at strategic risk, but it applies throughout the West. The problem is dangerous to our collective security with our allies, especially Germany.
More than anything else, Germany just frustrates me. Maybe I'm the problem as I expect more from her than she seems to want to give. I feel like a track coach who has a promising athlete that is so racked with self-doubt, conflicting priorities, and lives in an abusive relationship with their parents that they cannot take proper advantage of their natural talent.
On a personal basis, I have the greatest respect and affection for Germans and Germany. Every time I am there I fall in love with the land and its people. Partially due to our over 75-yr history of large numbers of Americans stationed on her territory and that Germans are the largest ethic group that forms American's DNA, it is easy for an American to enjoy Germany and feel at home there, I did - especially after living with them for years ... though it is not America.
Once you get too comfortable, up close their "German-ness" will poke you in the side to remind you you're not in Iowa. Part of that national character is their - from an certain American point of view - excessive deference to social and educational status and position. Yes, you see that in the USA, but in Germany it is a multiple of that American standard.
As such, their elite failure is not just more impactful on a day to day basis, it is harder if not impossible to deconstruct in a timely manner when it manifests itself.
Let's look at three examples, one each from the political, business, and natsec arena.
Why bother looking at Germany like this? Because Germany does matter to America. Germany is the key to Western European security, economic power, and political stability. When Germany does better - though we may disagree as adults with agency do on the occasional detail - we all do better. When Germany becomes counterproductive, well...no need to go there.
Let's dive in.
Political: no one really knows how deeply compromised German political bodies have been compromised by the Russians, but as we saw with Nord Stream 2 – the money and promise of cheap energy attracted both the greedy, corrupt, and the well-meaning useful idiots.
Years and billions of Euros created conflicting incentives for the German political elite when it came time to confront Russian aggression in Ukraine. The cover story is the modern German archaic and obsolete “anti-militarism” – but the real driver is simply the influence of money (see connection between former SDP Chancellor and now Russian Nord Stream 2 shill Schroeder and the present German SDP Chancellor) and flavored with the political cost of working Germans having to beggar themselves to stay warm.
The German President Steinmeier, also SDP, has a long history of a close relationship with Russia and Putin he’s trying to cover for – but the President of Ukraine is having none of it and may put a spike in his visit. Though Germany is slow rolling things and Steinmeier is not to be fully trusted – I’d let him visit if for no other reason than to rub his nose in the slaughter German weakness pre-war helped set the condition for - and maybe help move him in a more constructive direction.
Steinmeier's statement represents a tough new stance from Berlin after criticism that his close ties to the Kremlin had slowed Germany's support for Ukraine.
The president also acknowledged that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had somewhat surprised him.
"I have been a witness of the changes in Russian politics, but, to be honest, I had still hoped for some small remnant of rationality from Vladimir Putin," he said, adding that he had "not anticipated that the Russian president would risk the total political, economic and moral ruin of his country in an [act of] imperial madness. The invasion shocks me."
I will defer to the Ukrainian President here. He's under more stress than any other political leader right now. Who else if faced with a war whose enemy's stated goal is the elimination of your nation and to erase the unique character of your people?
The Germans have an exceptional intelligence service. The only way one of their leaders could be shocked by what the Russians did is by either personal or institutional ideological blinders ... i.e. elite failure.
We are well in to the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. It is time, well past time - as we have called for here at CDRSalamander for over a decade and a half - for Germany to take her place as a responsible and powerful member of the West’s national security apparatus. WWII is almost out of living memory and the Cold War ended three decades ago. Germany is a strong democratic nation with smart, rich, and well cultured people. She needs to be a full player. They need the right politicians ready to meet the modern challenges.
Business: part of being a responsible full player on the world stage is to rein in the worst mercantilist instincts of the grasping industrial class. Like in the USA and elsewhere in the past, the rich and powerful have used their money and power to stop governments from properly looking after their national security requirements against the world’s most dangerous autocratic empire – the People’s Republic of China. There are some things that are hard to explain why they need to be ended – like our universities allowing finite numbers of spaces at our best research institutions and graduate programs going to Chinese nationals, intellectually feeding this soul-crushing empire’s growth.
No, there more practical steps that are easier to explain – like stop selling engines that power their navy;
Several types of Chinese navy warships are powered by engines that were either developed or built by German manufacturers, an investigation by public broadcaster ARD and the Welt am Sonntag newspaper revealed Saturday.
The two companies involved are MTU in Friedrichshafen and the French branch of the Volkswagen subsidiary MAN, according to the report.
Both companies told the media they have always complied with export control regulations and have put into the public record that they have been involved with China's military.
The details on MTU's engine deliveries in China were found on the publicly available website of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Additionally, MTU reportedly supplied engines that were used in China's Song-class submarines.
However, the company's headquarters told ARD and Welt am Sonntag that they had "definitively stopped" supplying engines for the submarines.
The company claims it had not "entered into any contracts with the Chinese Defense Ministry or armed forces."
Yet, with the establishment of a joint venture in China in 2010, the head of the company known as Tognum at the time had noted deliveries of "marine engines for the Chinese navy and coast guard."
Likewise, in 2002 SEMT Pielstick, the French subsidiary of MAN, published news of its delivery of PA6 engines manufactured for a new frigate generation under license in China on the company website. That item can still be located on the site's archive pages.
Stop paying for the Russian war machine through energy purchases and stop helping build the PRC's navy ... those seem to be easy steps in 2022. Let's work on that.
National Security: spot-welded to the political is the natsec/military sub-optimal position of Germany. The lack of investment up to the NATO minimum is one problem, but a deeper problem is a warped habit of excuses, non-sequiturs, and basic virtue signaling to the keepers of the Davos-WEF invitation list that characterizes the “elite opinion” that usually seeps in to open source.
We’ll spend some more time here as this is more of our wheelhouse. As an example of his kind, I offer to you Erich Vad, BG (OF6) DEU Army (Ret.).
German battle tanks would be of no use to Ukraine, says Erich Vad, a former brigadier general. Because the complex weapon systems require years of training, they are currently of no use to the Ukrainians militarily.
The former military-political adviser to former Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Brigadier General Erich Vad, has spoken out against the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine. Such deliveries are potentially a "path to the third world war," said Vad of the German Press Agency.
Apart from that, you can only operate and use complex weapon systems such as the Leopard battle tank or the Marder infantry fighting vehicle after years of training, said Vad. They are of no use to the Ukrainians militarily at the moment and in the foreseeable future.
The best judge of this issue would be the Ukrainians. They will take all the usable Leopard 1's you have in storage. It does not take years to train either. That is a peacetime mindset. In war, thing that take years in peace are done in weeks. Put them on railcars to Lviv. By the time they are there, the Ukrainians will have crews ready to learn to be "good enough" and then will send them to the east where they will have to be good enough as the Russian summer offensive will not wait for your perfect timeline, Erich. Of course, he knows this, but why say otherwise?
"We're doing a lot of war rhetoric right now - out of good alignment ethics," Vad said. “But as we all know, the road to hell is always paved with good intentions. We must think of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine from the end. If we don't want World War III, sooner or later we'll have to get out of this logic of military escalation and start negotiations."
That is a France 1940 mindset. The Russians get a vote here. If, as it appears, their idea of negotiation is the Ukrainians full surrender to their demands, then there really isn't all that much to negotiate.
As such, then you can decide to fight the Russians with Ukrainians in the Donbass, or you can fight Russians with Poles, Estonians, Brits, and Americans as ... exactly what would the Germans do at that point - willing to fight for NATO to the last Pole and defend Berlin to the last American?
Russia is on the back foot in Ukraine right now. Her demographics and economics cannot sustain a long war. She is ripe to be punished for her war of aggression. Giving her a mulligan only sets the conditions for the next, more dangerous war. Of course, he knows this, but why say otherwise?
I mean Erich ... when Tass likes what you have to say, it might be time to reconsider your life choices.
It is no mistake that the former Soviet Baltic Republics – now members of NATO – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania along with the former Warsaw Pact members now in NATO show the most resolve towards Russia. The Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks take the lead in this group, followed by Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary – in, ahem, that order.
Everyone would welcome a Germany that would step forward to take her proper place as a bulwark against authoritarianism from the east. Some fought with Germany in WWII, some fought against Germany in WWII - heck some did both - but all understand that those errors of generations now dead should not prevent the living from doing the right thing now.
In the end, the only way to fix the German problem with their elite is the same solution all our nations have – at the ballot box and in the court of public opinion.
As we covered yesterday, there are Germans who understand what is needed, but they can only do so much. Both German mainstream political parties are compromised here. The SDP, as we outlined above, is almost worm ridden with Russian influence. The CDU/CSU is saddled with the hangover from 16-yrs of Merkelism’s well-meaning-but-wrong policies.
Democracy is slower than history sometimes … but let’s hope the good-Germans in hard jobs are working in the right direction. What is good for German security is good for European security, and as a byproduct – is good for North American security … because we have to worry about what is rising west of Wake a lot more than they do.
What a decade this will be.
What a decade.