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Europe, The Reservation

Two of the main pillars of Germany’s economic success in the 21st century — cheap imports of raw materials and energy (especially from Russia), and high demand in the rest of the world — have been pulled from under the country’s feet. Looking back on recent events, however, one can’t help but wonder: was this just the result of a series of unfortunate events and, some would say, Germany’s pandering to Russia and myopic obsessions for exports, which left the country extremely vulnerable to external shock? Is Germany just a collateral victim of the United States’ proxy war against Russia? Or could Germany have been a target of economic warfare itself?
This latter question is impossible to ignore following the recent attack on the part-German-owned Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia to Germany. Even though Western governments and commentators have been quick to point the finger at Russia, Jeffrey Sachs, the US economist and Columbia professor, recently voiced an opinion shared by many: that the act of sabotage on the pipeline is more likely to have been “a US action” — one directed first and foremost at Germany. A similar claim was also made by Douglas Macgregor, a retired US Army colonel and former advisor to US Defense Secretary in the Trump administration. And then there’s the now-infamous tweet (subsequently deleted) by Radek Sikorski — Poland’s former foreign minister and current chairman of the European Parliament’s EU-US delegation — who published an image of the Nord Stream leak along with the words “Thank you, USA”. It’s no secret that the US has always been opposed to Nord Stream and it’s easy to see why: more gas would have meant stronger Russian-German relations, which would have likely led to an expansion of trade, increased cultural exchanges, and ultimately to a new security architecture that would have made Nato’s security umbrella increasingly redundant and weakened US hegemony over the European continent.
A vocal critic of the US’s meddling in German energy affairs was the former head of the German Energy Agency, Stephan Kohler. In a 2017 interview, he pointed out that the US aim was creating better market opportunities for its LNG. On another occasion, Kohler said that this was part of a wider strategy to “drive a political wedge between Europe and Russia”. It appears, then, this cannot be written off as a conspiracy theory. In fact, one of America’s best-known geostrategists, George Friedman wrote in his 2010 bestselling book The Next Decade: “Russia does not threaten America’s global position, but the mere possibility that it might collaborate with Europe and particularly Germany opens up the most significant threat in the decade, a long-term threat that needs to be nipped in the bud”. This led him to conclude that “maintaining a powerful wedge between Germany and Russia is of overwhelming interest to the United States”. So, this has been semi-official US policy for quite some time. And while one may disagree with the theories surrounding the pipeline attack, and the origins of the Ukraine conflict more in general, it’s hard to disagree with the consequences: it has jeopardised (for the foreseeable future) Russian supplies, destroyed Germany’s export-led growth model, and “driven a powerful wedge” between Germany and Russia. Now, all this may very well be a case of unintended benefit for America. However, the mounting evidence forces us to ask an uncomfortable question: could the US strategy in Ukraine be aimed not only at weakening Russia, but Germany as well? It’s a terrifying prospect, but one that German elites can’t afford to discount.
[Thomas Fazi (2022)]

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