A bit of context on Trump, NATO, and Germany

by on January 17, 2017 at 12:26 am in Current Affairs, Economics, History, Uncategorized | Permalink

I strongly favor NATO and I don’t think you can trust the Russians with just about anything, or for that matter make much of a deal with them.  I’m with Mitt Romney on all of this, as I’ve been saying for years.

That said, I feel some of the recent discussions on Trump’s pronouncements have been a bit kontextlos.  I would suggest this wee bit of background history:

1. Not too long ago, Germany did have a national leader, Gerhard Schröder, who in essence ended up as a paid agent of Vladimir Putin.  After leaving office, he has spent much of the rest of his career working for Gazprom.  Try on this bit for size:

Mr Schroeder was Germany’s Social Democrat leader from 1998 until 2005. He is a personal friend of Vladimir Putin and once described the Russian President as a “flawless democrat”. He joined the board of the Russian energy giant Gazprom after losing Germany’s 2005 election and has defended Russia’s response to the crisis in Ukraine on several occasions.

In other words, Germany had its own Trump long before the United States did.  You could call Schröder the Ur-Trump, albeit with a different socioeconomic pose.

2. It was Schröder who made the decision to take Germany off nuclear power and also to make the country energy-dependent on Russia:

As Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder was a strong advocate of the Nord Stream pipeline project, which aims to supply Russian gas directly to Germany, thereby bypassing transit countries. The agreement to build the pipeline was signed two weeks before the German parliamentary election. On 24 October 2005, just a few weeks before Schröder stepped down as Chancellor, the German government guaranteed to cover 1 billion euros of the Nord Stream project cost, should Gazprom default on a loan…Soon after stepping down as chancellor, Schröder accepted Gazprom’s nomination for the post of the head of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, raising questions about a potential conflict of interest.

Russia now provides 35% of Germany’s oil imports and 39% of the natural gas imports.

I say NATO as an instrument for opposing Russia (not its only purpose, however) mostly ended with the Russian gas deal, because Putin can turn off the spigot any time he wants.  Germany, the major European power, can no longer stand up to Russia in a pinch and it cannot do so because of the corruption of one of its major leaders.  (Merkel I believe would not have done the same, but it is hard for her to undo this unfortunate situation, though I applaud the toughness she has shown, which at times has been considerable.)  Furthermore, earlier U.S. presidents, most of all Bush, didn’t have the stones or the means to do anything about this.

If you’re looking for icing on the cake, try this:

3. Germans today are some of the most anti-American people in Europe, and that doesn’t help the Atlantic alliance either.  It’s not uncommon for German citizens to suggest they don’t see much difference between Putin and the United States (NYT), or even may be pro-Putin, and I mean that pre-Trump.  So when Trump equates Putin and Merkel, German citizens have been equating American presidents with Putin for a good while now.  That’s not an excuse or rationale for Trump’s behavior, but it is worth keeping in mind when thinking about how to reboot the alliance moving forward.

I don’t at all favor what Trump is saying, or how many Republicans don’t seem to be complaining, but NATO has been on the ropes for some time now.  On the Russia issue, Trumpismus is far more advanced in Germany than here in the United States.  The sorry truth is that some of what Trump is saying is true, though his current rhetoric probably will end up making it worse.

1 Ray Lopez January 17, 2017 at 12:35 am

Wow! Master Cowen hits hard. He’s right on. It only takes a bit of lobbying to steer a government your way; most people are too apathetic to care (with a few exceptions like the recent broo-ha-ha over the Republicans aborted –for now–plan to eliminate an ethics watchdog). That’s how the Sicilian Mafia operates too (people too tired and ignorant to fight the Mafia, and would rather pay). Stationary bandits.

2 The Other Jim January 17, 2017 at 9:38 am

Tyler voted for Hillary Clinton, whose foundation accepted $4.2 million from the Russian Government in exchange for approving the sale of a uranium mining company. Bill Clinton then traveled to Moscow and picked up $100K for a speech.

But to Tyler, Donald Trump is “a paid agent of Vladimir Putin.” (Naturally he has to throw “in essence” in there.)

It’s going to be a beautifully long 4 years for you morons, and I am not going to be able to stop laughing about it.

3 aMichael January 17, 2017 at 10:22 am

That’s chump change compared to the money the Trump businesses have coming from Russian investors.

And do you think we shouldn’t have voted for Hillary because she was in bed with Wall Street, too? It’s hard to imagine how Trump could make his cabinet any more in bed with Wall Street.

4 tim maguire January 17, 2017 at 10:34 am

Enough with the dual loyalty smear. Just because a businessman does business with a foreign country doesn’t mean he’s inclined to sell out his country. That’s an idea so stupid not even the person arguing for it believes it.

5 aMichael January 17, 2017 at 2:23 pm

I agree that doing business somewhere doesn’t mean you’re bought off by that country’s government. But getting political donations also doesn’t mean you’re bough off either. There might be a more plausible quid pro quo with political donations, but rigorous research on the matter fails to find much of any evidence that that’s what happens. Sure it happens anecdotally, but that doesn’t mean every time someone accepts a donation, they’re bought and paid for.

6 Travis January 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Shouldn’t the specific country make a difference? We aren’t talking about Switzerland here. Russia ranked 122 on the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, one spot higher than Sierra Leone.

7 Luke January 17, 2017 at 11:34 am

Right.
Who was it that approved Russia gaining control of our uranium mines, again?

Hillary received more questionable cash from Russia than Trump has by several multiples.

8 John January 17, 2017 at 8:59 pm

To be fair we have no idea how much cash Trump has received (or will receive) from the Russians.

9 wodun January 18, 2017 at 3:41 am

@John

Just use your imagination right?

10 tim maguire January 17, 2017 at 10:32 am

Good point about the “in essence.” It is the language of deception. “in essence,” like “virtually,” sounds like it means “is” when it actually means “is not.”

Trump may admire Putin as a leader, but it’s foolish to think that means he’s going to sell out his country to Russia. Schroeder’s admiration for Putin led him to make his country Russia’s vassal. One would have to have spent the last year under a rock to think that will be Trump’s model.

11 Brian Donohue January 17, 2017 at 10:32 am

Here’s Tyler going on a tangent during a recent lecture:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj5k6toS7i8

12 Lanigram January 17, 2017 at 10:44 am

LMAO!

13 GoneWithTheWind January 17, 2017 at 11:07 am

To understand Trump’s comments you must understand the art of the deal.

14 Chip January 17, 2017 at 1:04 am

Great post. I spent many summers in Germany as a child visiting family and I love the country and its culture. But the sneering anti-Americanism after being the recipient of perhaps the most benevolent conquest in human history is sickening.

And now, from policies on energy to the EU and immigration, it seems even German pragmatism is dying a slow but inexorable death.

I find Trump so unlikeable that I can’t listen to him for more than a minute, but I think his business instincts and experience make him jump the right way on important decisions. His cabinet picks have been impressive, and with China and now Europe he’s laying down strong markers for future discussions. China needs to be brushed back and Europe needs to get serious.

15 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 1:18 am

‘after being the recipient of perhaps the most benevolent conquest in human history’

I think you mean occupation, which would be true. The conquest part included firebombing German cities, and the intended use of the first nuclear bomb on Berlin.

16 derek January 17, 2017 at 1:24 am

Go for it prior. Keep talking.

17 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 6:34 am

When it comes to death and destruction in war, the United States is able to keep up with anyone. Some Americans still seemingly remember what happened to Atlanta, to give one century and half old example.

When it comes to the occupation of both Germany and Japan compared to other occupations, the U.S. has no peer.

There is truly a difference between the words conquest and occupation – the U.S. conquest of Germany was still better than the rape and pillage conquest of the Red Army, or the extermination campaign practiced by the Nazis against the Soviet Union. But then, who would seriously argue otherwise? Certainly not the Germans.

18 inertial January 17, 2017 at 10:37 am

“Copulation without conversation is not fraternization” – a motto of American troops in Germany. Right, no rape.

Just wait until there is a major falling out between Germany and USA. All of a sudden there’ll be a veritable tsunami of stories about the horrors of American occupation. That’s how propaganda works.

19 Bob January 17, 2017 at 11:57 am

Wrong comparison with Atlanta. Sherman’s army killed very few during his march through Georgia. He is still hated because he exposed as cowards the southern “gentlemen” who started the war and paid poor boys to fight for them. His army was living off the land. If the landowners had burned their crops for 100 miles in every direction his army would have starved. But they didn’t, hiding and hoping that Sherman would go in a different direction. Cowards, to the end.

And the civil war was 100% about slavery. Just thought I’d leave that here.

20 Alex January 17, 2017 at 1:47 am

“The conquest part included firebombing German cities, and the intended use of the first nuclear bomb on Berlin”

That was at a time when Germany was ruled by a guy who was quite aggressive, remember?

21 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 6:38 am

Of course – and if Hitler had nuclear weapons, he would have used them. Just like the U.S. did – remember?

Just to repeat – the American occupation of both Germany and Japan is one of America’s proudest accomplishments, essentially without historical peer. However, the American conquest of Germany was about par for the course, in much the same fashion how the Union conquered the Confederate States of America. And in both cases, the United States destroyed governments actively practicing slavery, with both governments bitterly determined to fight to the end.

22 Lawrence Larson January 17, 2017 at 11:30 am

When the enemy starts a war bent on world domination, the only rational course is to 1) destroy that enemy’s ability and will to wage war and 2) to overwhelm and humiliate the people who supported the war. People like you seem to think that war is like a wrestling match where points are awarded for deft maneuvers and scrupulous behavior. It is not and you have to be a special kind of fool to believe that it is.

23 Nichevo January 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

And so – to repeat – “the American conquest of Germany was about par for the course”

Would you have done better? If so, how?

24 NatashaRostova January 17, 2017 at 10:39 am

Fire from the sky allows this strange mental abstraction from the reality of what the US did to Germany. Burning 400k+ (numbers are obviously fuzzy) German civilians to death through moral bombing was and is acknowledged as something that had to happen. It is in some practical sense no different than occupying a German town, repurposing a death camp, and marching the women, children, and men, to the ovens.
Whether it was necessary or not is another question, but sometimes I get the impression people are too casually willing to explain away mass civilian killings when it happens from bombing campaigns.
Since it was total war, and at the time they weren’t aware that moral bombing wasn’t effective at winning the war, maybe it can be rationalized as necessary. I don’t know.

25 Decimal January 17, 2017 at 12:06 pm

“moral bombing”

26 Nichevo January 17, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Burning 400k+ (numbers are obviously fuzzy) German civilians to death

in 1941-45 was probably of greater military necessity, in a practical sense, than raping 4 million (numbers are obviously fuzzy) East German women and girls in 1945-46.

The US in WWII suffered, IIRC, 440,000 deaths in battle. If all those could have been avoided by burning 440K more German civilians to death…here’s a match.

27 Bernard Guerrero January 17, 2017 at 2:25 pm

I think she means “morale”.

28 TBlakely January 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm

I think you’re conflating the British bombing campaign with the US bombing campaign in Germany. I don’t think the US got into massive fire bombing raids until the Japanese bombing campaign. But hey, details don’t really matter when expressing moral outrage, correct?

29 Holdfast January 17, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Actually, the German civvies COULD have fled the cities and sheltered in the countryside (like many British kids were sent to the country, or even Canada, during the Blitz), BUT that would have virtually shut down German industry, which was vital to the war effort.

The Germans were more than happy to bomb civvies, starting with Geurnica – the Allies were just much better at it.

30 stephan January 17, 2017 at 4:04 pm

The Germans did the same, they bombed Rotterdam ( perhaps 30,000 killed) and London during the blitz. Their prevalence in the air deteriorated over time, so they became much less effective. In the East The Luftwaffe focused more on supporting the Wehrmacht rather than bombing cities, but there was some bombing (e.g Leningrad). Allied bombing was generally focused on military targets: factories, railroads ,communication centers, but those employed civilians and bombing was much less precise than today, bombs could easily fall a quarter of a mile off the target.
Dresden presented some strategic targets but the whole city seems to have been targeted. An objective of the allies was to disrupt civilian evacuation from the East and hinder movement of reinforcements from other fronts

Germans seem to have more or less adhered to the Geneva convention in their treatment of US and English POWs, but still the death rate is estimated at 4%. The Soviet Union had not ratified the Geneva convention and Russian Pows fared badly, over 3 million died of starvation and mistreatment, probably 500,000 in extermination camps. Out of 3M German taken prisoners by the Soviet Union about 1 M died in captivity. By comparison the death rate of German POWs held in British hands was 0.03%

Compared to the German and Russian excesses against civilian population, the US/ British armies behaved two orders of magnitude better. There are some war crimes certainly but they pale in comparison of German( Wehrmacht/SS) and Russian (Red Army/NKVD) crimes against civilians and prisoners. Here is the Katyn massacre.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre

31 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 9:37 am

“The conquest part included firebombing German cities”

Ah, but the benevolent German people ensured that no Jew, Gays or Gypsies would be killed. Unlike those mean Americans.

32 The Original D January 17, 2017 at 10:30 am

He’s not saying the US == Germany. He’s just pointing out that as conquests go it was not exceptionally polite. The occupation was a great achievement though.

33 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

It’s prior_test. Have you not been paying attention to any of his hundreds of posts. Of course he means that Germany (>) US. Or Germany (>) every other country.

34 albatross January 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

How did the behavior of the invading American troops compare to that of other invading troops? My impression is that while a lot of the war was as brutal as wars always are, US soldiers were probably less likely than most soldiers in WW2 (and through history) to commit atrocities, rape the women, loot, etc. But I don’t know that for sure–anyone have good data?

35 Freeflight January 17, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Some people here really should read up on the history of the US occupation of Japan in regards to rape.

Mass rapes had been so common that US leadership had to censor internal reports and even tried strongarming foreign press into not reporting about what was going on in Japan.

Of course that goes contrary to the “American exceptionalism” narrative of “The US can never do wrong”.

Coincidentally it’s the very same narrative that drives “Antiamerikanismus” not just in Germany, but all over the world.

36 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 6:26 pm

“Some people here really should read up on the history of the US occupation of Japan in regards to rape.”

By modern standards they would be bad, by the standards of the time vis a vis the Soviets, Germans, Japanese, they are remarkable by their absence.

“There is no documentary evidence that mass rape was committed by Allied troops during the Pacific War. There are, however, numerous credible testimony accounts which allege that a large number of rapes were committed by U.S. forces during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. …According to Toshiyuki Tanaka, 76 cases of rape or rape-murder were reported during the first five years of the American occupation of Okinawa. However, he asserts this is probably not the true figure, as most cases were unreported.”

So, 76 cases over 5 years. Granted, they probably were under reported. But however horrible they were, this isn’t even remotely comparable to what had happened during the war by other major combatants.

As to some of the hypothetical claims that 10’s of thousands of rapes occurred during the occupation of Okinawa, it’s a ridiculous claim with no evidence. If 10’s of thousands of rapes had happened, the island would be rampant with American-Japanese children, but it’s not.

37 CapitalistRoader January 17, 2017 at 11:52 am

It would have been glorious if the US had been able to drop a nuke on Wolfsschanze in the summer of ’44. Just think of how many lives would have been saved if Hitler and many of his top military men would have been vaporized in a 15 kiloton airburst.

It’s a shame it didn’t happen.

38 Brian Donohue January 17, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Can we rerun the tape where the US leaves Germany to Stalin?

39 msgkings January 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Like all aggressors, German cities had the firebombing coming. War is hell, they shouldn’t have started it. And how does ‘intended’ use of nukes count? If that’s the standard the Germans were far more bloodthirsty, as they surely intended to nuke London, New York, and Moscow if they got the chance.

Wrong again, prior. Color me shocked.

40 Turkey Vulture January 17, 2017 at 5:17 pm

I tend to be fine with our fire-bombing and nuking in WWII, but it is odd for me to see that sort of mass and indiscrimate retaliation justified while the idea of targeting a terrorist’s family members is apparently looked upon with horror by so many.

41 ladderff January 17, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Kings shows us what a goddamned humanitarian he is. God, you are disgusting.

42 msgkings January 18, 2017 at 11:55 am

LOL why do you turn into such a whiny bitch when I post? Your spittle is blocking your screen, you seem to think defeating Nazi Germany was somehow bad for humanity.

43 wodun January 18, 2017 at 3:44 am

The Ottomans came out pretty good by the looks of things in Israel.

44 Anonymous January 17, 2017 at 1:32 am

When the subject is foreign policy, I commonly yawn and say “who cares?” The middle East is full of incompetents and there’s no reason why we can’t get along with Russia. No historic beef, no ideological beef, and an economy that can’t afford to fight another cold war. The issue that I worry most about is China. China has more people than the entire White race. And the country’s economy is starting to reflect that, of the top 20 ports by tonnage handled, 10 are in China.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_ports_by_cargo_tonnage

Trump has a demeanor that is somewhat off-putting to people of a more intellectual disposition, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a thinker. He’s the only one who seems to grasp the potential challenge of China, realizing it’s a much bigger deal than Russia. All the other politicians are too busy fighting yesterday’s war.

45 Brian January 17, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Trump has certainly shown that he has done some very serious thinking about the challenge that China poses, but he is hardly the first to grasp the importance of getting it right. We just went through a president who “Pivoted to Asia”, essentially forced the Philippines to take their territorial claims to international court, and spent quite a bit of time building TPP to establish a basis of trade in Asia. His approach was academic and feared confrontation, much as Trump’s approach is bullying and high risk, neither of which should shock anyone.

46 wodun January 18, 2017 at 3:47 am

Trump’s approach is bullying

Or proportional response to attacks directed at him?

It is a strange time we live in when anyone can direct any type of attack they want against Trump but should he respond in kind, he is the one in the wrong.

47 lolz January 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm

He’s the President-elect.

Attacks come with the position of president.

So should restraint.

48 middyfeek January 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Did you find H. Clinton any easier to listen to? Her voice alone was enough to make people hate her. And that’s without getting into the inanity and insipidity ( is that even a word?) of what she was saying.

49 WP January 17, 2017 at 1:09 am

“1. Not too long ago, Germany did have a national leader, Gerhard Schröder, who in essence ended up as a paid agent of Vladimir Putin. After leaving office, he has spent much of the rest of his career working for Gazprom. Try on this bit for size:

Mr Schroeder was Germany’s Social Democrat leader from 1998 until 2005. He is a personal friend of Vladimir Putin and once described the Russian President as a “flawless democrat”. He joined the board of the Russian energy giant Gazprom after losing Germany’s 2005 election and has defended Russia’s response to the crisis in Ukraine on several occasions.

In other words, Germany had its own Trump long before the United States did. You could call Schröder the Ur-Trump, albeit with a different socioeconomic pose.”

Huge false equivalency. All Trump’s done is use diplomatic language to refer to Russia.

I wonder what the Ukrainians think of this whole issue. If they are worried, they do a good job hiding it.

I think all this Russia crap is just meant to distract the Trump administration and the American people from the thing that the Left actually fears, enforcing America’s immigration laws.

50 Jan January 17, 2017 at 5:50 am

“All Trump’s done is use diplomatic language to refer to Russia.”

If you think that is all that Trump has done with re to Russia and that his only motivation to make up and be friends, then I have bridge to sell you.

“I wonder what the Ukrainians think of this whole issue. If they are worried, they do a good job hiding it.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-11-22/ukraine-fears-donald-trump-will-abandon-it-for-russia

“I think all this Russia crap is just meant to distract the Trump administration and the American people from the thing that the Left actually fears, enforcing America’s immigration laws.”

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/president-obamas-mixed-legacy-immigration “On one hand, he is the most stringent enforcer of immigration laws in American history — far outstripping the deportation numbers of the George W. Bush and earlier administrations.”

Please, write more comments.

51 TMC January 17, 2017 at 8:44 am

Obama has more deportations using his normal strategy – redefining the term. Had the feds used the older definition, he had fewer. It’s always all bullshit with O. How long will it take you to learn that?

52 The Original D January 17, 2017 at 10:35 am

The Border Patrol & ICE budgets doubled under Obama, to $18 billion. All that extra money went into massaging statistics?

53 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 10:59 am

“Immigration activists have sharply criticized President Obama for a rising volume of deportations, labeling him the “deporter in chief” and staging large protests that have harmed his standing with some Latinos, a key group of voters for Democrats.

But the portrait of a steadily increasing number of deportations rests on statistics that conceal almost as much as they disclose. A closer examination shows that immigrants living illegally in most of the continental U.S. are less likely to be deported today than before Obama came to office, according to immigration data.

Expulsions of people who are settled and working in the United States have fallen steadily since his first year in office, and are down more than 40% since 2009.

On the other side of the ledger, the number of people deported at or near the border has gone up — primarily as a result of changing who gets counted in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s deportation statistics.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-deportations-20140402-story.html

I have no idea about the money, but the statistics were certainly changed.

54 SDN January 17, 2017 at 11:15 am

It went into unearned performance bonuses, inviting in illegals and Islamics and resettling them to change elections, etc.

55 TMC January 17, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Costing more to do less. Isn’t that the progressive mantra?

56 Jeff January 17, 2017 at 10:44 am

Let’s not forget the time Trump sold Putin’s Russia all that uranium … oh, wait …

57 wodun January 18, 2017 at 3:50 am

Can’t fault Ukraine for basing their views of a biased media. You can fault them for not learning through experience in regard to Hillary.

58 derek January 17, 2017 at 1:09 am

So the Emperor doesn’t have any clothes.

Another fascinating instance where someone agrees with Trump in large measure.

I read the interviews with the German paper Bild(?) on the weekend, and one with the UK paper. He said that as soon as he is president he wants to meet with the Prime Minister to negotiate a trade arrangement that is mutually beneficial, and would allow the UK to distance itself from the EU.

And in whose alternate reality saw Mattis as the good cop to Trump’s bad cop routine?

What is interesting is that these arrangements are very fragile. The EU could fall apart very quickly, it already is. It isn’t an alliance of positive mutual interest anymore. The Central banks have been able to buy some time which has been promptly squandered by stupid politicians. Nato is the US, the US alone. Trump is essentially saying that if all you countries figure that we are the threat to peace and security, then fine. I’ll speak for Canada, we don’t deserve US blood to be shed on our behalf so we can afford politicians who prance around with no shirt and blather on how superior we are to that buffoon.

In Canada there is a very small beginning of an inkling of the reality of this new President, and there will be pressure on the politicians to get off their collective tushes and start presenting our mutual interests in Washington. I doubt they will listen; they are intent on selling their souls to get on the Security Counsel in the UN, probably just in time for the US to pull funding and make the thing irrelevant. It would make a damn fine location for a condo development on the New York waterfront.

It is a new world. All of a sudden it matters, as if it didn’t before.

59 Jan January 17, 2017 at 6:03 am

You make some legit points, but I think it is a mistake to conflate support for the EU and the Nato.

Getting tough in order to spur Nato countries to pay their fair share makes a good deal of sense. Downplaying the relationships of our traditional allies and implying that we aren’t necessarily on their side if, for example, they quarrel with Russia, is a terrible idea, especially right after Russia tried to interfere in our elections.

As for the EU, I don’t understand how it helps him to say it is crumbling. I know Trump is generally anti-trade, which goes against conservative orthodoxy, but the EU is still a huge market of well over 400 million people. If we are going to trade, then it makes sense to support the unity of that bloc as a negotiating partner, if only for efficiency. The only things I can conclude that are motivating Trump on this EU rhetoric: 1) the EU and Russia are adversaries right now, so he wants to be the Russian side of that relationship, and 2) the EU let in a bunch of Muslims, so he is opposed to those governments that allowed that.

60 Sam The Sham January 17, 2017 at 6:29 am

Perhaps rather than looking for deep end-game plans and motivations for saying the EU is crumbling, it may be that Trump said the EU is crumbling because the EU is crumbling.

The first step to fixing a problem is to recognize there is a problem. Those who want a unified Europe (me among them) need to be upfront about how utterly in need of reform the EU is. The longer the problems fester, the more likely this unification attempt will fail, and the worse it fails, the longer before we attempt EU2.0: Electric Boogaloo.

61 Jan January 17, 2017 at 7:39 am

Do you seriously think his goal in saying the EU is falling apart may be to prompt useful reforms to it? He pretty clearly is trying to undermine rather than support the EU.

62 chuck martel January 17, 2017 at 8:47 am

By saying that the EU is failing, Trump is causing it to fail? If so, it was on shaky ground before Trump showed up.

63 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 8:47 am

Until he gives me some solid evidence he really cares one way or another about the EU, I’ll just take his comments at face value. I’m not a world-renowned chess expert capable of thinking in 4-D space 17 moves in advance, and I suspect Trump isn’t either. Sometimes, he runs his mouth and words just come out. Sometimes they’re true.

The EU is in trouble. Either fix it or wait another 100 years to have a chance at a unified Europe. Them’s your options, pick your poison. Even after the continued troubles of PIIGS and Brexit, too many people refuse to process what their eyes are telling them. Whatever the opposite of a Euroskeptic is, they need to come to grips that the EU is fatally flawed if they really care about this project.

64 derek January 17, 2017 at 10:26 am

In what world are they different things? Nato is a security arrangement, EU is a political arrangement. US policy since Clinton has been to expand the influence of both. Further east and into Turkey. One is meaningless without the muscle of the other. The Euro is another arm of the whole.

I suspect Trump sees a series of political and economic decisions by the EU as creating a situation where the US is going to be called upon to defend them from their stupidity. The blithering stupidity of the Libya military action was at the behest of the Europeans. It has created a situation that will tear the EU and Nato apart.

The whole EU project has been to build a United States of Europe, and have openly bragged about their economic power as a counterbalance to the US. All the while the Trump voter’s son is the one who would die to keep the whole thing from falling apart. It is untenable. And Trump is saying the obvious.

His offer to the UK is to remove the teeth from the EU.

I’ll make a prediction. Italy will stiff the German and French bankers and show up with a mutually agreeable arrangement in Washington. Fiat is Italian and involved with Chrysler. Trump will help them with the refugee crisis.

65 Jan January 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Nato is a military alliance. I don’t understand your question.

66 TexasDude January 17, 2017 at 11:10 am

Trump is not anti-trade. He, like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, are for fair trade where the balance is not out whack.

Republicans and conservatives are historically more protectionist and it reflected such with Reagan and now Trump.

Libertarians? Well, let’s just as long as they can get their doobies, they don’t care who wins or loses.

67 Andao January 17, 2017 at 6:41 pm

A united EU is good for political reasons to stand up to Russia or China. Countries like Hungary are prevented from defecting to the Russian sphere.

For trade reasons, a divided EU is probably much better. The US has much more negotiation power against individual states – divide and conquer.

68 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 1:16 am

‘Germany did have a national leader, Gerhard Schröder, who in essence ended up as a paid agent of Vladimir Putin’

This post truth world is so fun – after leaving office, Schröder ended working in the energy field. Of course, in the U.S,. we instead have people in the energy field get jobs in the government – Rice, Cheney, and now Tillerson perhaps. But of course, none of them would ever be consider paid agents of the House of Saud. Why, when a number of Saudi nationals committed a terrorist attack against the U.S., Cheney, Rice, and friends invaded Iraq, just to keep from hurting the House of Saud’s feelings, or something.

‘It was Schröder who made the decision to take Germany off nuclear power ‘

This is flat out false. It was a majority of German voters who repeatedly made clear that they did not want nuclear power plants running in Germany. A decision that Angela Merkel put into practice after a certain event in Japan. An event that just happened to get the Greens elected in a Bundesland that had been ruled by the CDU since the founding of that Bundesland.

‘because Putin can turn off the spigot any time he wants’

Sure he can. Why, I seem to remember an oil embargo or two from the 70s. Not involving the Russians, of course. That is the problem with relying on foreign suppliers for oil – a problem the U.S. has faced for several generations. This is the sort of thing the U.S. was doing back before WWII ended – ‘Ever since Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud was hoisted atop his gilded throne onto a U.S. warship in 1945 to meet Franklin D. Roosevelt, every American president has journeyed to the region to nurture one of Washington’s most crucial relationships.’ http://fortune.com/2016/04/22/why-americas-special-relationship-with-saudi-arabia-is-on-the-rocks/

‘Germany, the major European power, can no longer stand up to Russia in a pinch and it cannot do so because of the corruption of one of its major leaders.’

Well, America does just great standing up to KSA – oh look, has the price of oil begun to rise after Congress passed a law saying KSA can be sued in connection with 9/11? Just another coincidence, one can be certain.

‘Germans today are some of the most anti-American people in Europe’

They sure are – when Germans invaded other countries, the leadership involved was hung as war criminals. When the U.S. invades other countries, it is all just good clean fun, and everyone else is supposed to help out.

That World Affairs link was not bad, though it fumbled the translation of ‘Vernichtungskrieg gegen Russland’ – Vernichtung is better translated as extermination within the framework of Nazi ideology, and the war was generally portrayed as being against the Soviets and their evil ideology. But the end is so over the top – ‘Ukrainians, like Belarusians, do not exist in the German consciousness. During the war, they were Untermenschen (subhumans). At present, they are, for the majority of Germans, not even worth the disdain that the modifier unter conveys.’ – that one wonders whether the author hopes no one notices his clear belief that today’s Germans are even worse than their Nazi forefathers.

‘On the Russia issue, Trumpismus is far more advanced in Germany than here in the United States.’

Sure, which is why if we just lightly skip over Merkel and her policies, we can talk about a politician that has faded from German political life. Why, we can even forget the German term Ostpolitik while we are at it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostpolitik

69 derek January 17, 2017 at 1:22 am

>They sure are – when Germans invaded other countries, the leadership involved was hung as war criminals. When the U.S. invades other countries, it is all just good clean fun, and everyone else is supposed to help out.

You are making Trump’s point quite well. He was quite blunt; German interests are not the US interests. I think you agree as do most Germans.

Amazing how quickly consensus can be built.

70 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 6:53 am

‘German interests are not the US interests’

Well, they used to be – both the German and American leadership opposed nuclear proliferation, for example. And both the American and German governments were active proponents of greater European unification, as occurred after the fall of the Soviet Empire.

And apart from the clearly inimical Soviet Union, both governments traditionally felt that Russia was a broad threat to Western interests.

It is certainly true that these days, German interests in something like renewable energy are not apparently shared by the incoming administration. It is also true that Germany continues to believe that the EU is better than how Europe traditionally handled affairs between itself.

‘Amazing how quickly consensus can be built.’

Which consensus? I believe that any American president talking about the desirability of having NATO and the EU fall apart is clearly someone who has no problem in trying to further long stated Russian (and before that, Soviet) goals. Odd how quickly consensus falls apart – 6 months ago, supporting NATO and the EU that was the standard American political consensus, being in America’s own, generations long, self-interest. But then, some people have always found that ‘leader of the free world’ moniker a bit grandiose – Trump has a good chance to throw that expression on history’s rubbish heap.

71 Adam Berman January 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm

And thank goodness that consensus dissolved. It was nearly too late to avert global thermonuclear war

72 Holdfast January 17, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Apparently in Deutsch-talk, “renewable energy” means preemptively shutting down your [zero carbon emission] nuclear plants and becoming wholly dependent on Russian natural gas.

73 Nessuo January 17, 2017 at 2:54 am

“They sure are – when Germans invaded other countries, the leadership involved was hung as war criminals. When the U.S. invades other countries, it is all just good clean fun, and everyone else is supposed to help out.”

You need a refresher on Nazi war crimes, apparently. Hint: they weren’t hung for invading Belgium.

To equate Nazi war crimes with the decision to invade Iraq or Afghanistan is frankly, disgusting. It discredits the rest of your argument, such as it is.

74 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 7:01 am

Poland, then all the others, actually. Please read – ‘”The legal basis for the jurisdiction of the court was that defined by the Instrument of Surrender of Germany, political authority for Germany had been transferred to the Allied Control Council, which having sovereign power over Germany could choose to punish violations of international law and the laws of war. Because the court was limited to violations of the laws of war, it did not have jurisdiction over crimes that took place before the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939.”

For committing this crime, the Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced a number of persons responsible for starting World War II. One consequence of this is that nations who are starting an armed conflict must now argue that they are either exercising the right of self-defense, the right of collective defense, or – it seems – the enforcement of the criminal law of jus cogens. It has made formal declaration of war uncommon after 1945.

Reading the Tribunal’s final judgment in court, British alternate judge Norman Birkett said:

The charges in the Indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world.

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.’

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_aggression#The_Nuremberg_Principles

But don’t worry, an American Supreme Court Justice does not agree with how that worked out – ‘Associate Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas charged that the Allies were guilty of “substituting power for principle” at Nuremberg. “I thought at the time and still think that the Nuremberg trials were unprincipled.”, he wrote. “Law was created ex post facto to suit the passion and clamor of the time.”‘

In other words, at least from that perspective, the U.S. likely has a still good get out of jail card whenever it decides to invade some other country.

75 carlospln January 17, 2017 at 1:21 am

Christ, what a tinpot Slavic belligerent you are:

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/03/george-f-kennans-prediction-on-nato-expansion-was-right.html

Even Reagan went to Iceland!

76 Todd Kreider January 17, 2017 at 1:35 am

TC: “It was Schröder who made the decision to take Germany off nuclear power and also to make the country energy-dependent on Russia:”

No, that isn’t what happened. First, there was a nuclear phase out plan by 2021 under Schroder’s government in 2000 but under Merkel the phase out was pushed back to 2036 – so far into the future to make it meaningless. Then when the Fukushima accident hit, Merkel’s government declared a phase out by 2022.

But that has no real connection with “making the country energy-dependent on Russia.” In 2015, Germany’s energy profile was 33% oil, 23% natural gas, 24% coal, 12% renewable and 8% nuclear. Back in 2000, nuclear was higher at over 15% but phasing that out didn’t make Germany any more or less energy dependent on Russia as over 50% of its energy is in the form of gas and oil.

TC: “I say NATO as an instrument for opposing Russia (not its only purpose, however) mostly ended with the Russian gas deal, because Putin can turn off the spigot any time he wants.”

Again, no. This sounds “strategic” to say “Putin can turn off the spigot any time he wants” but think this through: So what?
Germany can quickly get gas from other sources and adjust. It would be slightly annoying, but that is all.

77 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 9:45 am

“So what? Germany can quickly get gas from other sources and adjust. It would be slightly annoying, but that is all.”

No, that’s not true. Where would the gas come from? If the Russians shut down the pipeline, there would be insufficient gas supplies to ensure continued consumption through the first winter. Granted, Europe could start rationing. However, if it came down to just Germany bearing the brunt of it, the economic effects would be severe.

78 Todd Kreider January 17, 2017 at 10:18 am

The 39% of natural gas Germany gets from Russia is just a snapshot of the current gas market and not based on military strategy. 61% of Germany’s natural gas is imported from the UK, Netherlands and Norway, *currently* mostly from the latter two. If Russia decides to cut off the natural gas supply, the percentage from the other three would quickly increase to compensate and part could also be shipped in from other countries. It would probably cost a bit more for a while but that would be trivial.

79 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 10:44 am

The Russian pipelines ship far more gas than just the amount that Germany uses. If Russia shut down the pipelines multiple nations would require replacements. There wouldn’t be enough ‘other’ gas for the Germans to get.

Russia supplies 39% of European natural gas imports and 33% of it’s oil imports. While I don’t think that loss would cripple Europe, it’s effects would be far more than trivial. It’s certainly an effective bargaining tool.

80 Todd Kreider January 17, 2017 at 11:07 am

The transition to other sources and also substitutes where applicable would be rapid. And yes, there is plenty of “other” as for Germany. As I said, prices would likely be higher for a while but Germans wouldn’t notice much change apart from prices.

81 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

Hmmm, I guess it depends upon the actual numbers. Let’s take a look:

“In 2015, Gazprom Export supplied 158.56 billion cubic meters of gas to European countries. Western European countries accounted for approximately 82% of the company’s exports from Russia, while Central European states took 18%.”
http://www.gazpromexport.ru/en/statistics/

In 2015 Natural Gas Consumption of the EU was 402 billion cubic meters.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/265406/natural-gas-consumption-in-the-eu-in-cubic-meters/

If you assume that “Western European countries” is effectively the EU. Then:

158.56*82% = 130 bcm

Therefore Russia NG imports represent 130/402 = 32% of the EU’s entire consumption.

No, this would represent more than a minor event. A loss of 32% for an extended period including a winter would result in substantially higher prices and shortages.

82 Todd Kreider January 17, 2017 at 2:18 pm

No, there would be plenty of other natural gas sources as multiple nations can also get replacements if even needed.

It seems like you are assuming two things that most political scientists do when fretting over a hypothetical shut down as Tyler did: First, that the snapshot reflects some hard constraint when it doesn’t at all. Second, that prices wouldn’t adjust causing further adjustments in both other supply and domestic consumption.
It isn’t a bargaining tool at all and never has been.

83 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

“No, there would be plenty of other natural gas sources as multiple nations can also get replacements if even needed.”

What other sources? You can’t build new pipelines or LNG facilities on that kind of scale quickly.

84 Patrick Gillett January 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

Germany’s dependency on Russian gas long predates Nordstream. It used to be well over 40%, but energy efficiencies and the phasing out of gas fired generation due to increased renewables has pushed overall German gas demand down and Norway has taken relative share from Russia.

There are a number of German LNG import projects in limbo due to insufficient demand/low price. These could be built in about a year if necessary.

Western Europe has a long history of relatively stable gas supply from Russia – sure this has come with geopolitical risks and perhaps some opaque trade offs but these have been offset by the lower price charged by Russia than by Norway and other sources. There is mutual dependency which lessens the risk – Russia can’t just turn its pipelines to face china.

Tyler’s argument rests on a dubious premise this time.

85 alex from germany January 17, 2017 at 12:09 pm

+1

Western Europe has been importing gas/oil during Cold War. Nordstream did little here.

What’s true though is the latent anti-americanism (sureley its numbers increased with muslim Population, leftists and in General people that feel left behind – causing some to hate the US while loving Trump at the Same Time), to my dismay. But to say that only Germans are prone to that is a bit unfair. I can only invite anybody confused about why Europeans are ‘so unthankful’ to google ‘anti irak war protests’ and to remember that these protests were the biggest in the history of Europe (with up to half a million protesters in each of the partaking cities).

Just because these protest evaporated with the invasion, doesn’t mean these people were somehow convinced of the invasions righteousness suddenly.

Anti-American Trump supporters in Germany just didn’t make that connection yet, that their main issue (too many muslims) is due to the thing they were protesting against ~15 years ago.

86 Evan January 17, 2017 at 1:38 am

Gerhard Schröder was hardly the first Chancellor to cozy up to Russia. In fact dovish Russia policies have a long history on the SPD side of German politics. Willy Brandt’s “Ostpolitik” policies in Eastern Europe further tamped down tensions during the detente stage of the Cold War. I understand it is widely viewed as successful by Germans in Germany.

Germans have to live next to Russia. It makes sense for them to seek a deeper accommodation with them than most Americans are willing to stomach.

Brexit has rekindled the old debate over building a pan-European army. I think it would be a good thing if Donald Trump’s verbal recklessness pushed that debate forward.

Generally speaking you are overly fearful of apparent entropy in the international system. The US foreign policy establishment is a giant status-quo machine. Its reason for being is to preserve the pattern of international relationships that existed in 1991. When the underlying distribution of power changes at an accelerating pace, a policy of “defense of the status quo” sets the stage for violent shocks. Perhaps Donald Trump should be applauded for calling NATO obsolete and wanting to work with Russia. He is revealing that this giant status quo machine actually has no clothes and perhaps paving the way for competent policymakers to set American foreign policy on a more even keel.

87 Bob January 17, 2017 at 1:52 am

If Trump does what he says in relation to making Europe pay for its own defense, it will result in the rearmament of Germany, with nukes. Maybe not brownshirts for the Germans, but certainly brown trouser time for Russia.

88 derek January 17, 2017 at 2:21 am

That is always the sticking point. The US/Nato arrangement has always had a rationale to provide security to Europe (similar to the Pacific security arrangements) but behind it all is the desire to keep these nations within the US sphere of influence.

Plus a disarmed Germany and Japan makes everyone in the respective areas feel much better.

The question is whether the post WW2 security arrangements and the cold war alliances still have any relevance.

89 Axa January 17, 2017 at 5:36 am

@derek, you’re damned right. Options are following: a) NATO, it means a large and expensive US occupying army in western Europe, b) let the Germans defend themselves, the problem is that they’re too good at it, and c) European army, the issue is th UK cried when the idea was proposed. They didn’t like the idea of paying to defend Poland.

Option a it’s the present situation, b is what would happen if Trump reduces NATO expenses, and c, the sustainable long term solution, it has to be build though delicate negotiations and political will. Is there an option d?

90 Sam The Sham January 17, 2017 at 6:47 am

The Germans are good at war? Trololo, the 1940s are a couple of generations ago. It will take a while for them to rebuild a military tradition. Hell, it’ll take a while for Germans to rebuild a positive association with their nation.

The biggest problem with NATO is not Germany or the Livonian Order not pulling their weight. It’s Erdogan and how Turkey is descending into insanity. Turkey and the Bosphorus Strait cannot be negotiated into predictable neat packages.

91 Axa January 17, 2017 at 7:48 am

Are you aware German Armed Forces are larger than UK ones and just below France? It’s one of the top funded armed forces around the world. They are underestimated because the idea of “Germany spends only ~1% of GDP for self-defense instead of 2% recommended by NATO”. 1% of GDP of a large developed economy is still a lot. It can take 10-20 year to develop a larger army, but the military know-how is there.

92 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 8:53 am

Was not aware actually, thanks. I still don’t think a German military is particularly dangerous. I think relying on Turkey in any significant fashion is.

93 Bob January 17, 2017 at 10:00 am

France is terrified of Germany, and the French stake in the EU stems from that fear. Also, Germany’s grantees are all that stands behind French banks and insolvency.

94 derek January 17, 2017 at 10:44 am

If France is so afraid of Germany, why has it made itself so vulnerable?

Back to Trump. Look at the world he comes from. I know people who have worked in that world, the world of large scale development. When Trump went into a room with a bunch of people; construction firms, consultants, investors, bankers, they were there because they were as good as he was. Everyone had their interests, and they would not do anything unless there was a blunt instrument available to protect them.

A story. This is a Canadian developer a few years ago. They did mall building all over the place, and they would commonly look for smallish undercapitalized companies to take on the construction. The jobs were larger than the contractors could handle, and they would be in too deep very early and hence at the mercy of the developers. Unless they had some blunt instrument, they didn’t get paid.

Two stories. One contractor did some work and the money wasn’t coming, and with a very smart lawyer was able to lien the property in a way that hurt the developer badly. After a bunch of screaming, money showed up. Without that blunt instrument, he wouldn’t have been paid. Another a paving company wasn’t paid. It is the last thing that gets done on a project, and he had his graders and other earth moving equipment at the ready and said you won’t have a parking lot unless I see money by noon tomorrow. They got it to him, he could hurt them

This is where Trump comes from, he knows in his bones how it works. His world is a bunch of smart and well armed people in a room coming to a mutual agreement and making things happen. And they do, this is why buildings get built. He sees the EU and Nato as a day care arrangement with a bunch of unruly kids, with the US as the one bearing all the costs and few of the benefits. I’m sure he has walked into projects like that and turned them around. And it wasn’t by being nice.

Agree or not, that is his world, and he understands the geopolitical world in the same way.

95 FUBAR007 January 17, 2017 at 11:28 am

@derek: Agree or not, that is his world, and he understands the geopolitical world in the same way.

You’re giving Trump way, way, way too much credit. You actually believe there’s a keen, street-wise strategic thinker behind all the verbal diarrhea. Trump has no concept of second-order effects, much less third-order and fourth-order. He doesn’t plan. He doesn’t think ahead. He just pulls it all out of his ass on the spot. He doesn’t understand the geopolitical world at all.

There’s no there there.

Deluding yourself otherwise is just more alt-right, the-dick-is-wiser-than-the-head masturbatory fantasy.

96 Holdfast January 17, 2017 at 4:43 pm

@Axax – The German Armed Forces are a pale shadow of what they were in 1989. Their armored/mechanized strength (tanks, APCs, self-propelled arty, etc.) is about 10 to 15 percent of what it was at the height of the Cold War. Some of that reduction makes sense – and some was mandated by the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, but even what they have is inconsistent, with critical weapons and personnel shortages (i.e. not only have they reduced the number of units by 85% to 90%, but even those remaining units are not fully equipped and manned). The Cold War German military was based on the draft, and the Germans are having real trouble recruiting and paying an all-volunteer force.

One of the reasons – the main reason really – that the US military is so expensive is personnel costs. An all-volunteer, long-service military is really, really, really expensive.

And yes, the UK has also drastically downsized their armed forces – the units which constituted the British Army of the Rhine (i.e. the UK component of the NATO land forces) are pretty much gone – I would be shocked if the UK could field 2 maneuver divisions today. But on the other hand, the UK doesn’t have a land border to defend – and Germany does.

97 So Much For Subtlety January 17, 2017 at 3:03 am

The world has learnt to live with French nuclear weapons. It probably lives with Swiss nuclear weapons.

I doubt that German nuclear weapons would make such a difference. Besides what would really scare the Russians would be Polish nuclear weapons. Nothing scares a rapist like an armed rape victim. And the Poles must be weeks away from a bomb if they want one.

98 albatross January 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

Is there a good authoritative source on how hard it would be for various countries to go nuclear? Obviously it’s possible for any first world country to do so, given enough time (North Korea and Pakistan managed it, and we’re really talking about cutting-edge technology from 70 years ago.), but I don’t have much intuition for how long it would take to go from the intention to actually having nukes. I assume there are more countries with nukes than are widely acknowledged, but since the main point of nukes is deterrence, it seems like most countries with nukes would at least want their likely enemies to know it. (For example, if Taiwan had nukes, they’d want China to know, even if they weren’t open about it with the world.).

99 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 11:30 am

“For example, if Taiwan had nukes, they’d want China to know, even if they weren’t open about it with the world.).”

Yes, but Taiwan might not want the rest of the world to know it, and China certainly wouldn’t reveal it either. It wouldn’t surprise me if Taiwan has some carefully hidden nukes and has quietly let China know it.

Taiwan is a first world country, a leader in electronics, has an active nuclear power system, and an annual defense budget of over $10 billion. They easily have the capabilities to have quietly developed a small nuclear force.

As long as it’s well hidden and the threat to use it in the event of an invasion is credible, then it would be an effective deterrent.

100 chuck martel January 17, 2017 at 11:57 am

You’re assuming that the leaders of these two, or any other countries, actually have the interests of their own populations in mind. In reality, they’re dedicated to keeping their governments in power with themselves at the levers.

101 albatross January 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

It sure seems like forcible reunification with China at the hands of the Chinese navy and army would put sn end to the existing Taiwanese government, and so would be just the kind of incentive you would expect senior Taiwanese officials to respond to by your model.

102 carlospln January 17, 2017 at 11:38 pm

‘Building’ it is a straightforward engineering task.

The difficulties lie in a) purifying the U to 90% U235 [usually requiring cascades of thousands of centrifuges], & b) miniaturising the warhead, in order to fit on a rocket.

Both these challenges can be surmounted, but require sophisticated organisation skills in order to get hundreds of engineers to work together for a common objective.

Iraq, to take one example, was never able to do this.

btw, developing countries need help from developed ones. Israel got it from FR [guilt over the Vichy French & Jews], PAK got it from URENCO [Khan stole secrets], NorKor got it from PAK.

More here, in one of John McPhee’s better books: https://www.amazon.com/Curve-Binding-Energy-Alarming-Theodore/dp/0374515980

103 carlospln January 17, 2017 at 11:41 pm

“And the Poles must be weeks away from a bomb if they want one”

You make it sound like a Christmas Club Layaway.

btw, since you’re the one calling the square dance, what about that KSA bomb? 😉

104 Bob January 17, 2017 at 1:57 am

Russia’s job is to fight Germany for Britain and the US, and if the US withdraws from Europe, Germany will have to acquire large conventional forces plus a nuclear deterrent, and back Ukraine. Bad news for Russia.

We’re getting ever closer to Enoch Powell’s 1971 prediction of Britain and Russia verses Germany. Again.

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/3rd-july-1971/31/enoch-powell-on-the-balance-of-power

105 Thanatos Savehn January 17, 2017 at 2:19 am

Bill Clinton, Ambassador Bob Strauss, Russia, Lukoil, $$$. TC, there’s this thing called the I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T; learn how to use it. It’s cool, really. The only downside is that sometimes the truth causes cognitive dissonance.

106 Daniel January 17, 2017 at 3:55 am

I don’t think you can trust the Russians with just about anything, or for that matter make much of a deal with them.

The military-industrial complex absolutely needs an enemy to justify its existence.

Predictably, Tyler is doing his job at it.

107 Peter Akuleyev January 17, 2017 at 8:38 am

No, Tyler is trying to very carefully position himself overtime as a Trump supporter. But he wants to be careful in case Trump really does get impeached in the next two years so he throws in remarks about Russia or BLM so he can run back to the Cathedral if necessary. Economists wither and die if they are cut off from access to power.

108 genauer January 17, 2017 at 4:01 am

As several others have already said,

a lot of Cowen’s claims are false or at least strongly misleading.

the nuclear decisions in Germany, by whom and when, how important the Russian energy is, etc.

Cold war thinking like the 1960ties. Just total confrontation of Russia or being called a “paid agent of Vladimir Putin”. Huuugh

It seems to be influenced a lot by the hate rhetoric of Ukraine 3 years ago, which is cited in abundance (that Motyl at Word Affairs, etc.)

To provide some kontext on that:

Of course the criminal Ukrainian Oligarchs don’t like that the Nord Stream pipeline, going around them, reduces their blackmail options against the EU and especially Germany.

Enough German people know a lot more about that Ukraine story having 2 sides, and not just the Ukraine nationalist one.

The US spent 5 billions (Victoria Nuland: Yats(eniuk) is the man) on toppling the democratically elected president Yanukovich, unconstitutional, by an armed mob.

To replace him with that Yatseniuk, who promised to tear up the long term lease for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, tried to take their commander as prisoner, and attempted to supress the Russian language spoken by about 50% in the Ukraine.

“Trumpismus is far more advanced in Germany than here in the United States” is just plain false.

Germany is not bullying anybody, stands by all agreements and allies, does not slander anybody, does not close any borders.

The very opposite of Trumpismus.

109 Nein, nein, nein, das ist falsch, du bist dumm January 17, 2017 at 4:54 am

Du sagst — “I don’t think you can trust the Russians with just about anything”. Isn’t that an outrageously racist comment? Consistency is vital in public debate. Would you tolerate if equivalent statement were made about Muslims, Blacks, Nigerians, Jews, Americans, French, Danish, English? You should read up on ‘trust’, there is large literature which hopefully might upgrade your morals to 21st century. Trump seems to know how to treat people.

Es ist wahr, Schroder was a craven charlatan. Long and widely recognised as disgusting quite embarrassing episode in recent German history. Most people were outraged. So you suggest Trump must therefore do something similar? Ipso facto? Wow, some of you Americans do watch far too many C-grade movies!

We thought it was Merkel who took Germany off nuclear power. That is how the issue was presented in 2011 after the accident in Japan. Many people at the time said this was a cowardly or plain stupid decision made only to get greens onside, and that it would only accelerate dangerous energy dependence on Russia. More recently Merkel has toughened stance on Russia, but it will be her successor who reverses the nuclear decision. Economic history of technology suggests desirability of nuclear energy is no-brainer, unfortunate casualty of the liberal-elite pandering to utopianism or populism or something.

As far as we are aware the only concrete proposal Trump has made in relation to NATO is that its members should pay their fair share of the costs and not expect US to carry the burden entirely. Sounds sensible to most people. You obviously haven’t read that Trump said in Times interview yesterday that NATO is “very important to me” … but but but … here comes the deal. Clever man!

So Trump “will end up making it worse”. Is that evidence-based or just a wee bit fatalistic, pessimistic, not to mention partisan? Bitte, don’t allow tears over Obama cloud the clarity of the MR vision. But what is this vision, is it l-i-b-e-r-t-a-r-i-a-n? Often that means the liberty to be dummkopf (evidence above) and not exercise the right to vote.

Finally, you don’t mention it so may not be aware that the current German foreign minister is ‘pro-Russian’ in the sense that he believes NATO and US (under Obama) have been unfairly, unnecessarily, and dangerously hostile towards Russian in context of Ukraine and Crimea? For example (top google hit on this topic) as reported in the British Telegraph June 2016 — “The German foreign minister has broken ranks with Nato allies, accusing the alliance of warmongering against Russia”. Trump knows this even if Cowen does not. I think that unlike Obama, Trump will follow in the steps of Reagan. Act friendly, make a deal. Cut a new path between the parties. It’s classic political manoeuvring of the intelligent kind. As Thatcher said about her best policies — “TINA” (there is no alternative).

110 Merkel January 17, 2017 at 5:13 am

Merkel actively decreased the share of nuclear in the German power supply, independent of any Schroeder policy, and long after he was gone. These are her three big mistakes: nuclear, migrants, Greece.

111 Todd Kreider January 17, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Merkel actually strengthen nuclear energy for a while by extending the Schroder phase out from 2021 to 2036 before following popular opinion to end nuclear in 2022.

112 Mathis January 17, 2017 at 5:20 am

Tyler, I believe your analogy is flawed. On a personal level, Schröder’s behavior was an embarrassment. But as others have pointed out:
– phasing out nuclear energy is the result of a very long debate (and hasn’t really affected Russia)
– Russia has been a major supplier of energy for a *very* long time

http://euanmearns.com/the-fantasy-of-european-gas-independence/ -> see figures 1, 2 and 5 at that link in particular

“Russia has provided between 25 and 30% of European gas for over 30 years and has been a stalwart swing producer through the cold war and collapse of the Soviet Union. European prosperity has been built in part upon imports of cheap Russian gas.”

113 Axa January 17, 2017 at 5:46 am

Cheap Russian gas? Why use the adjective cheap? Russians selling gas to Germany is framed as a favor.

114 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 7:13 am

Which Germany pays cash for, unlike in the old Comecon days regarding East Germany, when the gas was real, but the payments were a joke. Pretty much the same pipelines still being used today, though

115 Mathis January 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

Didn’t mean to cite that second sentence. The point is that Russians have been providing gas for decades, and that the causal connections implied by Tyler are not that straightforward.

116 Axa January 17, 2017 at 11:28 am

This is Putin’s news agency in English telling about Norway selling even cheaper gas:

“EU imports from Gazprom also dropped by 10%, as Russia’s gas prices are tied to oil prices and therefore remained high, BP’s economist said. Norway’s gas pricing is not pegged to oil and are therefore lower. Imports from Norway rose 12%, and 2012 became the first year when Norway sold more gas to the EU than Russia…”

I don’t have access to nice Bloomberg data but this EIA plot shows a trend of the last 10 years consistent with Putin’s message about Norway. UK gas spot prices (NBP) have been most of time lower than long term contracts of Russian Gas at Germany border. http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/weekly/archivenew_ngwu/2016/07_14/ Eastern EU-27 countries would like to pay cheaper Norway gas but in the short term they’re stuck with infrastructure that allows to get gas from Russia and let it pass to Western Europe. http://blogs.platts.com/2015/04/23/gazprom-gas-oil-link-spot-prices-storage/

I was born in country where gangsters offer your parents a loan at very low interest rate to face any life difficulty. They are benevolent not like scumbag bankers. Only caveat is that you get 50-80% counterfeit currency and you have to pay back with 100% real currency. At very low interest, but real currency. Never trust anyone than talks about benevolence when doing business. The EU-27 needs Russian gas but stop calling it cheap.

117 anon January 17, 2017 at 5:34 am

If we are believing what “Trump says,” what about everybody getting health insurance?

I agree with Tyler that Trump is dangerous, but I am afraid that anyone picking and choosing from what “Trump says” is engaged in protective thinking.

Note the earnest commentators trying to decode what the policy differences between Trump and his appointments really mean. No one knows, but everyone can make something up.

118 anon January 17, 2017 at 5:50 am
119 anon January 17, 2017 at 6:24 am

To clarify, Trump was a dangerous candidate because he never settled on a plan, votes for him were not a mandate for that plan.

Instead, in a bizarre moment, Americans chose “anything” over the alternatives of established politicians of any stripe.

This uncertainty is still dangerous and definitely not settled days before inauguration, as pundits still have very sketchy discussions of what it all means.

120 Sam The Sham January 17, 2017 at 6:56 am

Yes, I’m trying so hard to spin Trump saying the EU is crumbling, we pay disproporionately into NATO, and it may be more productive to work with Russia than isolating them as…

the EU is crumbling, we pay disproporionately into NATO, and it may be more productive to work with Russia than isolating them. Will wonders never cease, I’m a spin doctor with a specialty in cognitive dissonnance, yessirreebob.

121 anon January 17, 2017 at 7:42 am

Heh. Crumbling.

EU and Russian GDP?

122 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

The Russian Federation annexed Crimea, Britain voted to leave the EU? Russian unity doesn’t appear to be disintegrating even with adding territory and getting slapped with sanctions and falling petro prices. EU ran out of carrots, and is relying on sticks to keep members in, and is failing even at that.

Another way of looking at things rather than GDP. GDP is important, but it’s not everything.

123 anon January 17, 2017 at 9:10 am

Wow. Your first comment was not connected to mine. You didn’t discuss how people read Trump’s contradictory statements, not the differences between his statements and those of his appointments at Congressional hearing. You did not talk specifically about their differences on NATO. You just wanted to talk about Russia. So I answered you, and suddenly you didn’t want to talk about the EU “crumbling” either. Democratic changes in the EU is not the EU “crumbling.”

The Eurozone GDP was 11.60 triillion US dollars in 2015, Russia’s was 1.2 trillion, neatly 1/10th.

So, are you a capitalist, a free marketeer? Are you cheating the free markets and growth in Europe, or are you seduced by a man on a horse, with his shirt off?

124 anon January 17, 2017 at 9:11 am

s/cheating/cheering/

125 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 9:35 am

Anon, are you ok? I JUST addressed the EU ‘crumbling’. A change in President is a Democratic Change. California or Texas seceding cannot be likewise handwaved away (this would be the equivalent of Brexit, since you are having trouble making connexions).

My first post was that a lot of people are taking his statements at face value, that should address “Note the earnest commentators trying to decode what the policy differences between Trump and his appointments really mean. No one knows, but everyone can make something up.” I’m not making a damn thing up, I’m acknowledging semi-stream-of-consciousness babble from our new president, and seeing nothing deeper in it than stream-of-consciousness babble. Some of it is right and long overdue to be publicly acknowledged, even.

Wait, I mean, that Pooty-poot’s SOOOOO dreamy, I wanna ride HIS horse if yannowhatimeanandithinkthatyou do! … I don’t know how to communicate with someone so divorced from reality.

126 anon January 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

The EU was assembled without bloodshed, right?

Brexit is running without bloodshed, right?

And yet your “reality” is to balance all the authentic evils in Russia with the EU “crumbling.”

A good Trumpian.

127 anon January 17, 2017 at 9:53 am

Meanwhile, Trump’s NATO comments differ from his own nominees.

http://www.wfmz.com/news/politics/trumps-nato-comments-differ-from-his-own-nominees/272673864

Who to believe? Sam with his crumbling Europe?

128 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 9:56 am

Does either a hard or soft brexit strengthen the EU? Do Greek and Italian bank runs strengthen the EU? Does a possibly insolvent Duetchebank signify a strong EU? What resembling a point are you trying to make?

Errr, sorry. Greenly pizza froghorn mustachio STRONG running juice mountain, Putin monkey bounce house, ugg ugg. Hopefully we’re still on the same level.

129 anon January 17, 2017 at 10:02 am

In a geopolitical sense Brexit makes zero difference.

A breakdown of NATO is separate and different.

130 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 10:18 am

I agree that Brexit really doesn’t matter to the important things, but it does matter to the EU. Which is crumbling, and I’ve provided my evidence. Let’s not move the goalposts, anon. Remember, authoritarians distract, sane people debate.

The decay of NATO has jack-all to do with Trump or Trump appointments, and a lot more to do with some combination in no particular order of: Turkey going nuts, and looking at who will actually foot the bill in blood and treasure for protecting eastern Europe from Russian aggression. And maybe more things. It probably should have been updated a bit more when, I dunno, the Soviet Union collapsed.

131 Jeju January 17, 2017 at 6:02 am

Sorry to say, but really bad post.

I have not commented for years, but this…

If Putin turns off the spigot off, then what?

Way too many substitutes around.

Western Germany was always supplied with gas from the USSR even during the worst of the cold war. It was never cut off.
I would see trade as a force which makes country consider the cooperative option more. Any papers on this???

132 derek January 17, 2017 at 11:07 am

What then? Whoever depends on it’s flow stops.

I suspect Trump understands this far more than this crowd seems to. Natural gas is not transportable without infrastructure that takes years to construct. Part of the geopolitical back and forth with Turkey is that they have the real estate for a pipeline.

In other words, it isn’t the gas. Gas is cheap and in abundance. It is the pipelines. Russia has a big one.

The bludgeon goes both ways, by the way. Russian needs German cash from the sale of the gas as much as Germany needs the gas. A mutually beneficial arrangement.

Jonah Goldberg talked about Trump’s hesitation to go all in, and attributed it to some psychological trait. I saw it as a habit learned the hard way, you never enter a deal that you can’t walk away from. It seems that there are far too many arrangements between nations where a change causes a cascading catastrophe.

133 MOFO January 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

“Natural gas is not transportable without infrastructure that takes years to construct.”

Eh?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNG_carrier

134 Lord Action January 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm
135 tobias3 January 17, 2017 at 6:04 am

Yes, we have a bit of false equivalence going on. The same thing as happend with the Clinton emails vs Trump scandals is happening with the Snowden NSA revelations (they tapped Merkels mobile phone!) vs Russias Ukraine invasion.

The best action would be to pardon Snowden and to stop spying on allies, but since that won’t happen idk how to fix this. Trump doesn’t help.

Northstream only made us directly dependant on Russian gas and made us independent of transit countries (such as Ukraine). This is bad for those transit countries as Russia can stop delivering gas to them, but good for Germany. It is a two-way steet anyway because Russia cannot survive long without the gas money from Europe. Europe has probably more gas reserves than Russia has money reserves.

136 prior_test2 January 17, 2017 at 7:10 am

Shhh – you don’t want to reveal that Schöder’s real sell out was of the Poles.

137 Jazi Zilber January 17, 2017 at 6:35 am

Trump’s “Europe doesn’t pay for the security USA provides” is simply true.

EU Japan etc should pay for some of the USA military power. While of course this will mean also some kind of power over usa military decisions

Of course, Trump’s Pro putin agenda is horrible and risky.

Saying “EU cannot expect free security” doesn’t equal demoting NATO. It simply means asking for fair monetary participation in security costs

138 anon January 17, 2017 at 6:51 am

Recognizing that Europe is a buffer zone, which we would defend anyway to keep danger far away? Similarly, Japan?

139 derek January 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

A buffer zone from what?

And I think you don’t recognize what the US has at stake here. Russia had it’s tanks idling on the german border for decades. What stopped them is the promise that if they went across the border the US would initiate a nuclear strike which would end in annihilation for everyone.

That situation changed a few decades ago. But the promise remains and now includes Turkey, the Baltic states and Poland.

Essentially Trump is saying that we could collapse as every empire ever has on the steppes of the Ukraine to defend you. What do we get in return?

Indeed what does the US get in return? There may be something, but for the cost it better be damn good.

140 Bob January 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

But that’s exactly the deal, isn’t it? Europe gets to spend little in military in exchange of having nothing to say about what the US does in the Middle East. It was an acceptable bargain on both sides.

If the EU is asked to pay for military, they’ll consider a pan-european one instead of just paying the US, and then you have quite the large GDP armed and suddenly less aligned with US interests. The US risks losing the main bases it uses to project force into the Middle East, and has to consider whether the current level of military spending makes sense when so much of the world is someone else’s. From the US’ perspective, all of this sounds like a big long term loss, in exchange for maybe a small game today.

Or look at this economically: As the US, you are dealing with an economically developed EU, a Russia that might as well be a bigger Saudi Arabia, and the growing Chinese giant. Who do you want to have good relations with in 20 years? I’d pick the economies that will be the biggest in 20 years, and that’s precisely the people the people Trump likes to antagonize.

And if you wanted a weak EU, would you just let them squabble among themselves, or create a bogeyman for them to rally around? The EU is like a bunch of Greek polis: The one thing that will make them work together is an external threat, and Trump is doing his very best to remind them of the cold war. If I respected Trump more, I’d consider all of this to be a Machiavellian move to make France, Germany, Italy and Spain, countries that already trade with each other more than with the US, to rely on each other more.

141 Turkey Vulture January 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm

“If the EU is asked to pay for military, they’ll consider a pan-european one instead of just paying the US, and then you have quite the large GDP armed and suddenly less aligned with US interests. The US risks losing the main bases it uses to project force into the Middle East, and has to consider whether the current level of military spending makes sense when so much of the world is someone else’s. From the US’ perspective, all of this sounds like a big long term loss, in exchange for maybe a small game today.”

We meddle less in the Middle East and spend less of our GDP on the military? Sounds like a huge long term gain.

142 dearieme January 17, 2017 at 7:06 am

“I don’t think you can … make much of a deal with them.”

Yet obviously many presidents did – JFK, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush the Elder. Maybe when Slick Willie ratted on Bush the Elder’s promises the Russians might have concluded that you can’t trust the Americans.

143 A Definite Beta Guy January 17, 2017 at 9:15 am

That was my thought. The Russians/Soviets have a long history of agreeing to diplomatic deals, even if they also have a history of cheating on said deals.

144 dearieme January 17, 2017 at 10:25 am

I forgot Ford – the Helsinki Accords. Compare that list of Presidents with those who didn’t make agreements with the USSR/Russia – Slick Willie, W, and O – then I think that comparison alone makes a case for Trump’s stand. Why would he want to align himself with the three duds in a row?

145 Turkey Vulture January 17, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Yeah I’m not sure exactly what Tyler is basing that opinion on. Most likely, it can be attributed to having grown up in a world where the Ruskies were the enemy, and never quite shaking that view.

146 rayward January 17, 2017 at 7:18 am

“Germans today”, Cowen suggests, are not what they appear to be. I will suggest that “Germans today” are no different from Germans yesterday and are exactly what they appear to be: the same Germans who slaughtered millions of Jews and nearly destroyed civilization, the same (East) Germans who collaborated with the Soviets to oppress much of Europe.

147 Peter Akuleyev January 17, 2017 at 8:43 am

Germans are no better or worse than any of the other Europeans who committed mass genocides to clear land for settlers and steal resources. French, Spanish, Belgians, English, Russians all did the same. The only difference is that Hitler killed white people, and did it about 40 years after naked imperialsm had gone out of fashion.

148 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 9:16 am

This is why I’m not afraid of a German army. It’s not some genetic trait that makes them able to attempt world domination. It’s manpower and steel and cunning, and when they have a surplus of any of those it will be well telegraphed to the world. And if they want to be world peacekeepers, great! And if they want to re-annex Poland and France, we’ll just tell Texas to kick their ass AGAIN.

149 dearieme January 17, 2017 at 10:11 am

Oh relax. The Germans were the world’s best soldiers but hopelessly undermined by mutton-headed strategy.

150 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 10:24 am

You’re forgetting about the Brazilians 🙂

151 Perovskite January 17, 2017 at 7:47 am

I wonder if there is an equivalent in politics to Thomas Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness? Real politik? If so, it’s the way to go. Attributing motives and psychology to all these actors instead of just focusing on their actions does not seem useful.

152 Stubbs January 17, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Yes, but it costs less than a movie ticket and most of the soaps are gone from tv.

153 TMC January 17, 2017 at 8:57 am

“Furthermore, earlier U.S. presidents, most of all Bush, didn’t have the stones or the means to do anything about this.”

Odd sentence. Bush placed the missile defense system into Poland, and pissed off Putin to no small degree, while Obama came in with the reset button and famously had his open mike moment that he could be more flexible with them after the election. Who had no stones?

154 anon January 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

So reset again TMC? Is that what you are saying?

155 TMC January 17, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Yeah, we can get a cool button, check the spelling twice – naw never mind that.

156 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 9:52 am

That sentence was ridiculous. It bears no relationship to the truth.

157 John January 17, 2017 at 9:15 am

Reading this you get the impression that things are really going Putin’s way, NATO is largely a non-deterrence and the East (Russia) is rising as the west is a sinking sun. There’s certainly some cause for such a view given Putin’s behavior in Ukraine and utterances about the old USSR sphere of influence being Putin’s idea of the status quo. Still, I was just reading an article this weekend where the argument being made was that Russia and CHina are being forced together by the US (and west to some extent) because Russia and China feel that they are being hemmed. The US and NATO have just stationed troops in Poland. There is an air defense/missile defense system not in Romania and of course the THAAD system going into ROK.

Still one thing not mentioned in the post that I also find of concern is what’s happening in Turkey — I could certainly see a future where Turkey and Russia sign a peace treaty and Turkey basically tells NATO to eff off. The leadership in Turkey seem much more like that in Russia than in any of the NATO countries.

158 Sam the Sham January 17, 2017 at 9:22 am

Re: Russia, China, and the US: https://www.bullionvault.com/gold-news/trump-russia-011220171 Essentially echoing the idea that the US has been forcing Russia and China to align with each other.

Turkey is really the key to all this. I honestly see Russia Making Constantinople Great Again with US assistance as plausible as Turkey disbanding NATO by siding with Russia. And both seem plausible to me.

159 Bill Kilgore January 17, 2017 at 9:24 am

Hey guys, remember the author of this post is a pretty good chess player.

No need to clear your own pieces off the board for him.

160 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 9:35 am

“Furthermore, earlier U.S. presidents, most of all Bush, didn’t have the stones or the means to do anything about this….”

Tyler, your writing has become much worse, in the last year. This is just a stupid sentence. If Bush had had the stones but not the means any aggressive actions by him would have been foolhardy! To criticize him for acting wisely is just appalling for someone of your intelligence.

161 JD January 17, 2017 at 10:14 am

TC’s comments seems strangely contextless themselves.

German gas deals with Russia are nothing new. They were first struck in the 80s, during the dying days of the cold war. If it was possible to strike responsible deals with Russia while Red Army divisions were occupying East Germany, then it is certainly possible to deal with Russia today. Putin more dangerous than Brezhnev, seriously ?

In regard to German energy dependence on Russia, the Nordstream pipeline is practically irrelevant. It results in essentially the same amount of gas as always being supplied by a different delivery route. To the extent it affects the German position at all, it marginally increases security of supply.

The geopolitical significance of Nordstream lies elsewhere, outside Germany. The effect of the pipeline is to segregate German supply from the supply of Eastern Europe. At a first pass, this decreases the leverage of transit countries like Ukraine. But even here, the game is more complicated: As there is now spare capacity in the system, there is also potential for reversing the flow of some of old east-west pipelines. If Russia were to cut off the east, it does become at least (partially) possible to resupply the east from the west.

Schröder is widely discredited. Sanctions were imposed even though they hurt German industry, badly. If you were to look for real signs of Russophilia, you might want to take a peek at the jerseys of prominent soccer club Schalke 04.

162 AlanW January 17, 2017 at 10:20 am

I’ve often thought the U.S. government should support – either directly or by smoothing the path for regulatory approvals – the development of large scale LNG export terminals. Not that we could entirely replace Russian gas supplies for Western Europe with North American gas, but introducing significant new capacity into the world market would ensure prices remain affordable and block Russia’s position as the supplier of last resort. It would send an unmistakable message while still being less confrontational than moving missiles into Poland. For the incoming administration, it would have the added bonus of increasing domestic gas prices, making coal more competitive.

163 Art Deco January 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

Germans today are some of the most anti-American people in Europe, and that doesn’t help the Atlantic alliance either.

The total fertility rate in Germany is 1.38 per 100,000 and that in Austria is 1.44 per 100,000. They’ve been below replacement levels for 40 years, with no improvement. They’re dead krauts walking, and no threat to anyone.

164 Just Another Right Wing Economist January 17, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I hope you never had kids…

165 msgkings January 17, 2017 at 1:59 pm

He didn’t.

166 TMC January 17, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Mrs. Deco?

167 msgkings January 18, 2017 at 11:57 am

I wish!

168 Ignoramus January 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

Germany’s reliance on Russian gas is trivial compared to the safe harbor that is England to major and lesser Kremlin friendly (this is crucial point) oligarchs. Go to Wikipedia and look up “List of Russian people by net worth” and then check out their place of residence or assets owned – among 22 individuals only one is under sanctions. This, by the way, is also they key to toppling Putin’s regime quickly and bloodlessly.

169 siberiancat January 17, 2017 at 10:29 am

1) “I don’t think you can trust the Russians with just about anything” – that’s rich. Unsubstantiated russophobia is not very original, nor it is becoming to an intellectual
2) German energy dependence on Russia is called trade. Trade is good isn’t it? Trade is what makes countries interdependent, and friendly to each other. One of the problems between the US and Russia is the low level of trade. No skin in the game.
3) Russia is a part of Europe, and an essential part of a Greater West. Keeping the obsolete NATO (communism is gone isn’t it?) against Russia does not increase European security. Quite the opposite.

Disclosure: I’m a Russian American. This does not make me biased. It makes me informed.

170 TMC January 17, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Isn’t Tyler married to a Russian? Maybe we should have a different take on this.

171 The Anti-Gnostic January 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

I say NATO as an instrument for opposing Russia (not its only purpose, however) mostly ended with the Russian gas deal

NATO was formed to oppose the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO’s mission became perpetuating NATO.

172 Turkey Vulture January 17, 2017 at 11:20 am

The EU has several times the population and economic power of Russia. There is no reason the US needs to keep an alliance meant to stop the Soviet Empire together for old-time’s sake. Europe can quite easily fend for itself.

And even if you didn’t want to end NATO, but were a US President who wanted European members of NATO to pull more of the weight, how would you achieve that? Just asking nicely? You have to be willing to threaten some consequence if NATO members aren’t spending enough on defense to hold up their end of the alliance.

173 Turkey Vulture January 17, 2017 at 11:45 am

“Germans today are some of the most anti-American people in Europe, and that doesn’t help the Atlantic alliance either. It’s not uncommon for German citizens to suggest they don’t see much difference between Putin and the United States (NYT), or even may be pro-Putin, and I mean that pre-Trump.”

So some of the people who ostensibly have the most to lose from a dangerous, expansionist Russia actually don’t think there’s much of a difference between the distant US and the evil proto-fascist-commies who may cut their gas off? Shouldn’t this (along with low ratios of military spending to GDP across Europe) make you adjust your priors about the danger that Russia actually poses?

174 albatross January 17, 2017 at 12:32 pm

In which direction should those facts adjust our probability that Russia is a threat?

175 Turkey Vulture January 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Towards “not at all”? Unless there is some domino theory for the spread of Russian nationalism, and we are deeply concerned that the Germans will fall.

176 Luke January 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

NATO is dead.
There were the objectives of the organization.
1) Keep Russia out. This failed, largely because the Europeans cared less than we did.
2) Keep Germany down. Utter failure. At this point, it’s hardly an understatement to declare that the EU and Germany are one and the same. (Which comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone even passingly familiar with how Prussia unified Germany in the 19th century.)
3) Keep America in. Most Americans actively dislike being policeman to the world. Without a superpower bent on world domination to oppose, we’d really rather not.

I support treaties with the Baltic States, Poland, etc.
But NATO itself is a relic that has no real reason to continue existing.
Worse, with most of the member states being signatories to the Protocol Additional and supporters of the ICC (among other things), NATO actively hampers our ability to wage war.

177 albatross January 17, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Tyler talks in this post as though Trump is known to be beholden to Russia. My understanding from what I have read in the news doesn’t support this–my understanding is that there is strong evidence that Russia compromised computers of both big parties, and engaged in some propaganda operations (partly using leaks of compromised data) that had the effect, and probably the goal, of helping Trump win.

Is there evidence that Trump is actually beholden to Russia, and I’ve missed it? If so, can someone provide a link?

Altrnatively, was Tyler just accepting the claim arguendo to make his bigger point about Schroeder?

If there is evidence that Trump is a Russian agent or is somehow subject to coercion by them, then that needs to come out in public. And if not, then we need to stop spreading a false impression for the sake of conversation or clicks.

178 msgkings January 17, 2017 at 3:28 pm

“And if not, then we need to stop spreading a false impression for the sake of conversation or clicks.”

This is the world we’re in now though. Did you see how Clinton lost?

179 albatross January 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Just because it’s happening doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, or that it would be good for it to be more widespread.

180 msgkings January 17, 2017 at 4:03 pm

I just don’t recall you saying much when the fake news was goring the other guy’s ox.

181 albatross January 17, 2017 at 7:24 pm

For what it’s worth, Trump isn’t my ox, either–I voted for Johnson, and would have voted for Clinton if I’d been in a battleground state.

Do you advocate spreading lies and misleading bullshit in conversations, to achieve your political goals? I don’t. I think it’s a terrible idea, one we’ve been doing too much of for decades, and one which we’re doing even more of right now. I didn’t support lies and bullshit about Clinton (about 99% of the Benghazi crap) and I don’t support it against Trump.

One of the biggest problems with it is that it jams the real news. Is there evidence that Trump is actually beholden to Russia? If so, it seems like that’s about the most important thing we could possibly discuss. But also, after another few months of clickbait about how Russia has taken over the US, it will be hard to get anyone to pay attention to even really high-quality evidence of too-close connections between Trump and Putin.

Another problem is that widely-accepted bullshit determines what’s politically acceptable. We could find ourselves pushed into a conflict with Russia because Trump can’t afford to look soft on Russia given the rumors about Russian influence. (If you think that can’t happen, go read up on why Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam. His political opponents were very eager to smear him as soft on communism, so even knowing the war was a mistake, he saw no alternatives. I strongly suspect the same dynamic explains the pro-Iraq-war votes of many prominent Democrats, including Clinton.)

182 msgkings January 18, 2017 at 11:58 am

I’m with you albatross, I just thought you were another Trump partisan. Because I don’t recall your opposition to the same stuff being done against Clinton. But that’s not your fault of course.

183 TMC January 17, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Clinton lost all by herself. OK, there might have been a little from someone creating the transparency promised 8 years ago.

184 Albert January 17, 2017 at 5:56 pm

And since the Herr Bundeskanzler main legacy is Angela Merkel that means that Angela is a Russian Stooge©

185 Freeflight January 17, 2017 at 6:22 pm

As a German I don’t even know where to begin pointing out the flaws, and flat out wrong things, in the above piece.
1. Yes Schröder got along with Russia, to many Germans that’s actually something positive. After all we share a long history with Russia, we share the same continent with them and least but not all: Nearly half of Germany used to grow up learning Russian in school (Anybody here still remember the GDR? We Germans most certainly do).

2. That’s quite a distortion of what actually happened. It’s not like Schröder just decided “We don’t need no more nuclear, give us that Russian gas!”, he pretty much just went along with the Zeitgeist back then as the majority of Germans had been, and still are, very sceptical about nuclear energy. Living close to a place like Chernobyl tends to do that to populations. Let’s also keep in mind that even nuclear reactors require fuel and that Russia also sells that very same fuel.

In 2010 Merkel “undid” a little bit of that “Atomausstieg” by extending the runtimes of several nuclear reactors, then in 2011 she did a full 180° (after Fukushima) she also tried to go with the popular opinion and decided that Germany should be “nuclear free” by 2022. What followed was the current German boom of renewables.

3. Not too long ago Germans used to be the most pro-American people in Europe. Bild, Germanys biggest and most influencial tabloid, has in its charta a section that declares “unconditional support for the transatlantic alliance (and Israel)” which is binding for all people working there. This isn’t unique to Bild, US NGO’s like the Atlantik-Brücke, American Council on Germany, The Aspen Institute, AICGS, The American Academy in Berlin, Deutsche Atlantische Gesellschaft (the list goes on and on) have vast influence over German MSM, for the longest time being “Antiamerikan” was a vastly unpopular opinion in Germany.

You want to know when and why this changed? This didn’t change because Putin’s Russia influenced Germans, this happened because the US screwed it up. Yes it is as simple as that: You guys screwed up big time and over a decade later you are still in denial about it. We remember 2003, we remember the biggest global peace protests in humanities history and we remember how we had been considered part of the “Axis of evil” because we didn’t want to go along with your little “crusade” into Iraq. Way too many US Americans still understimate how big of an impact 2003 had on your countries global reputation and because you still don’t realize it, and instead annoy everybody around the world with your “American exceptionalism”, I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon (Snoweden certainly didn’t help either with that).

Last but not least: Over here the world ain’t as simple as “Russia = evil, US = good”, we don’t have the luxury to view the world in such simple and childish terms. We share a continent with Russia, Russia is sitting on one of the worlds largest deposits of natural resources and we most certainly won’t get any piece of that by acting hostile towards them and constantly villifying them (which is also pretty hard to do considering the GDR history of many Germans). Germany and Russia being at odds profits nobody but US global amibitions while hurting European and Russian economies. I’m really sorry for not going along with self-destruction just so US Americans can feel better about their world-view but we Germans are actually in quite a unique situation in that regard.

Due to our history Germany could act as the perfect mediator between the US and Russia. Just try to imagine what would be possible in a world where the US, Europe and Russia are working together towards common goals, instead of constantly trying to screw each other over. Sadly Merkel and the current German establishment do not agree, instead of realizing this situation for what it is (a unique chance) she mindlessly goes along with everything that’s dictated to her out of Washington. That makes her look weak to many Germans, especially of the nationalist variety, and it most certainly ain’t helping with the “Antiamerikanismus” when many Germans feel like living in a country that’s more or less just a satelitte state of the US, complete with an US nuclear arsenal and a German population acting as “human shields” and “collateral”, while the US keeps on poking the bear.

186 JWatts January 17, 2017 at 6:43 pm

I don’t disagree with some of your sentiments and they are logical. But on the other hand:

“many Germans feel like living in a country that’s more or less just a satelitte state of the US, complete with an US nuclear arsenal and a German population acting as “human shields” and “collateral”, while the US keeps on poking the bear.”

This bit is just ridiculous tripe. And if Germans were really concerned over this they should be overjoyed at Trump winning, because he’s far less confrontational with Russia than Hillary Clinton has been. No, the Germans aren’t hopeless waifs at the mercy of US foreign policy and you’ve got no one but yourselves to blame for how weak the current German military is.

“We remember 2003, we remember the biggest global peace protests in humanities history and we remember how we had been considered part of the “Axis of evil” because we didn’t want to go along with your little “crusade” into Iraq.”

LOL, whom ever told you that Germany was part of the Axis of Evil in 2003 was lying to you. You might want to ask more questions and try to discern fact from fiction.

187 Indus January 17, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Three reasons why Schroeder turned to Putin:
i) The Iraq war which he thought illegal
ii) He had never known his father who died during the invasion of Russia in WW2. Putin found where he was buried and took him there
iii) he genuinely believed that German gas supplies should not be held hostage to disputes between Russia and transit countries. Let’s not forget that Putin then was not what he is now

188 Tangurena January 18, 2017 at 2:05 am

The reactors that Germany has are ones that require enriched uranium for fuel. They produce plutonium as waste. This makes them “proliferation risks” meaning that the technology needed to make the fuel is the same technology needed to make bombs (this is the fear about Iran). Also the waste products are useful for making bombs (see North Korea as well as every other nuclear weapon state).

A vast improvement would be using the CANDU reactor design. This uses natural (unenriched) uranium and the plutonium burns up as it is produced in the reactor. It uses heavy water as the moderator so that if there is a coolant leak, the reactor shuts down. Neither a Chernobyl nor a Fukushima are possible with a CANDU design.

I suspect that the biggest problem with the CANDU design is “not invented here” – since the CAN in the name stands for Canada. There are more than 40 CANDUs built already and the design is pretty well debugged. This is in contrast to other reactor designs – almost all other reactors are one-off designs. One of the major cost exploders of nuclear power is the total lack of learning curve since every reactor is different from every other reactor.

189 Tom G January 18, 2017 at 2:15 am

When did the post-WW II Occupation of Germany by the US end?

Oh that’s right, it’s still going on. The US should get out of Germany.

Too bad for the CEE ex-commie new buffer states? Or see if Poland wouldn’t like a nice new massive airbase South of Kracow.

190 Boris_Badenoff January 18, 2017 at 5:01 am

It is sheer nonsense to believe the gas deal gives Putin any realistic weapon other than the ability to cause a short-term crisis. There are other sources for the energy Germany requires, neither oil nor NG is in short supply. Putin, OTOH, has no other ready source of hard currency to replace those DMs. Putin needs them more than they need him.

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