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FTR #918 The Trumpenkampfverbande, Part 1: German Ostpolitik, Part 1

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

NB: This descrip­tion con­tains mate­r­i­al not includ­ed in the orig­i­nal pro­gram.

IlDuceIlDouche

Intro­duc­tion: Don­ald Trump’s pro­nounce­ments about Rus­si­a’s pol­i­cy vis a vis Ukraine and Crimea, his rel­a­tive­ly benign state­ments about Putin, Putin’s rel­a­tive­ly benign state­ments about Trump, Trump’s com­ments that are crit­i­cal of NATO and the rela­tion­ship between for­mer Trump cam­paign aide Paul Man­afort and Vic­tor Yanukovich (the pro-Russ­ian for­mer pres­i­dent of Ukraine) have led many to view Trump as a “Putin/Kremlin/Russian” “dupe/agent.”

In the next two broad­casts, we ana­lyze Trump’s views and asso­ci­a­tions in this regard in the con­text of tra­di­tion­al Ger­man “Ost­poli­tik,” as man­i­fest­ed by the post­war Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many and the Under­ground Reich in par­tic­u­lar.

It is our con­sid­ered opin­ion that Trump, far from being a “Putin/Kremlin/Russian” “dupe/pawn/agent” is an asso­ciate and oper­a­tive of the Under­ground Reich and his atti­tudes toward Rus­sia, Putin, Crimea and NATO reflect Ger­man “Ost­poli­tik.”

For cen­turies, Ger­man and Pruss­ian lead­ers and strate­gists have sought prac­ti­cal alliances and non-aggres­sion pacts with Rus­sia as a vehi­cle for secur­ing their East­ern fron­tier, enhanc­ing their com­mer­cial trade infra­struc­ture and fur­ther­ing their Euro­pean and glob­al hege­mon­ic goals.

In the Cold War and “New Cold War” eras, this Ost­poli­tik serves as a “good cop/bad cop” dynam­ic, giv­ing Ger­many lever­age with the U.S. and Russia/U.S.S.R. by cre­at­ing ” . . . the heat­ed atmos­phere of an auc­tion room where two eager oppo­nents out­bid each oth­er. . . .”

First, the pro­gram presents a thumb­nail syn­op­sis of this tra­di­tion­al Ger­man “Ost­poli­tik.”

  • 1762–Frederick the Great: Fred­er­ick­’s secret pact with Czar Peter III dis­rupt­ed the great Euro­pean coali­tion which had almost crushed Prus­sia in the Sev­en Years War. This pact saved Prus­sia from total defeat and led to the first par­ti­tion of Poland.
  • 1887–Chancellor von Bis­mar­ck: The “Iron Chan­cel­lor” made a secret pact (“re-insur­ance treaty”) with Rus­sia which secured Ger­many’s East­ern fron­tier. He made Ger­many the strongest mil­i­tary pow­er on the con­ti­nent, and Ger­man “Welt­poli­tik” set out to intim­i­date France and to under­mine the Anglo-Sax­on world.
  • 1922–General Hans von Seeckt: Gen­er­al von Seeckt cre­at­ed a new army after Ger­many’s defeat in World War I. His secret deals with Moscow cul­mi­nat­ed in the Rapal­lo Treaty, which rocked the West­ern world on East­er Sun­day, 1922.
  • 1926–Gustav Stre­se­man: Sre­se­mann, a “good Euro­pean,” signed a neu­tral­i­ty pact with the Sovi­ets which, in effect, was a return to Bis­mar­ck­’s pol­i­cy of secur­ing the East­ern fron­tier. While Stre­se­mann feigned friend­ship for the West, the Wehrma­cht Chief, Gen­er­al von Seeckt, con­tem­plat­ed “war against the West in alliance with the East.”
  • 1939–Von Ribben­trop & Stal­in: Hitler’s For­eign Min­is­ter, after months of secret nego­ti­a­tions with the Sovi­ets, signed on August 23, 1939, a so-called “Non-aggres­sion” Pact in Moscow. A week lat­er Hitler launched his war against Poland, the open­ing move of World War II.

Next, we high­light “An Open Let­ter to Stal­in” pub­lished in the Buerg­er Zeitung, a lead­ing Ger­man-lan­guage paper in the Unit­ed States. Note­wor­thy for our pur­pos­es here is the fact that the paper is the de-fac­to out­let for the Steuben Soci­ety, the top pan-Ger­man orga­ni­za­tion in the Unit­ed States. As will be seen below, the Steuben Soci­ety was part of the Nazi Fifth Col­umn in the U.S. before World War II and part of the Under­ground Reich infra­struc­ture in this coun­try after the war. In the lat­ter capac­i­ty, it advo­cat­ed for the release and reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Nazis, includ­ing war crim­i­nals.

Also of sig­nif­i­cance is the fact that the author, Bruno Fricke, was an asso­ciate of Otto Strass­er. Strass­er, along with his broth­er Gre­gor, was part of Ernst Rohm’s SA. Rohm was liq­ui­dat­ed in the Night of the Long Knives, along with Gre­gor Strass­er. Otto escaped to Czechoslavakia.

We should also under­score that the Buerg­er Zeitung was very anti-Com­mu­nist and strong­ly sup­port­ive of Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts. Don­ald Trump’s lawyer for years was Roy Cohn, McCarthy’s top aide.

Waffen SS-clad World War II reenactors, in original photo used by Trump

Waf­fen SS-clad World War II reen­ac­tors, in orig­i­nal pho­to used by Trump

Three years after that let­ter was pub­lished in the Buerg­er Zeitung, the Sovi­et Union respond­ed with its Sovi­et Note of 3/10/1952. One of the most impor­tant aspect of the analy­sis of this event is the Ger­man plan to achieve a unit­ed Europe under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion, which has, of course, been achieved. ” . . . In the pro-Ade­nauer press, includ­ing the The Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung, Christ und Welt, The Deutsche Zeitung of Stuttgart, edi­to­ri­als have been writ­ten assur­ing the Rus­sians that Dr. Adenauer’s pol­i­cy aims to cre­ate the secu­ri­ty nec­es­sary for both the Ger­mans and the Rus­sians, and that this can only be brought about after Ger­many had become a third pow­er fac­tor which could employ its influ­ence in such a way as to deter the Unit­ed States “from start­ing a pre­ven­tive war.” [The aggres­sive U.S./NATO stance toward Ukraine and Rus­sia are impress­ing many around the world in a fash­ion that would be famil­iar to those in the ear­ly 1950’s–D.E.] Thus, while, in the short run, the Bonn Gov­ern­ment aims to cre­ate a Unit­ed Europe, it hopes ulti­mate­ly to reach a sol­id under­stand­ing with the Sovi­ets at the expense of the Unit­ed States. . . .”

This “Europa Germanica”–the EU in the event–was, in turn, to become a Third Force. In exchange for mov­ing away from the push for a Third World War and pulling Europe out of NATO, this Third Force would gain con­ces­sions from the Sovi­ets. Also of note is the fact that a major fea­ture of this Unit­ed Europe would be an all-Euro­pean army, also under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion.

” . . . The Ger­man Chancellor’s plan is that the U.S.A. is now so deeply com­mit­ted to her Euro­pean defense pledge that she will read­i­ly sac­ri­fice dozens of bil­lions of dol­lars in the strength­en­ing and the rearm­ing of a Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Europe. After is this accom­plished, Dr. Adenauer’s grandiose con­cept envi­sions nego­ti­a­tions with Rus­sia with the prospect of get­ting sub­stan­tial ter­ri­to­r­i­al con­ces­sions from the Krem­lin in East­ern Europe for which Ger­many in return will break away, with the whole of West­ern Europe, from the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion. . . .” Trump’s pro­nounce­ments about NATO are to be seen in this con­text.

As we shall see lat­er, a major push is under­way to estab­lish a “Euro-corps”–precisely the sort of Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Euro­pean army that was envi­sioned in the ear­ly 1950s.

” . . . . The reac­tion of the Ger­man strate­gists to the Sovi­et Note of March 10, 1952, how­ev­er, expos­es their true designs. Ger­man geo-polit­i­cal jour­nals speak of it as “the high­est trump card in the hands of the Chan­cel­lor” which will enable him to mow down the resis­tance of France against Germany’s con­cept of a unit­ed Europe. The pro-Ade­nauer press inter­pret­ed the Russ­ian Note as a tremen­dous asset in speed­ing up the timetable for the cre­ation of a Euro­pean army under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion. . . .”

What we are see­ing with Trump’s pos­i­tive words about Rus­sia and neg­a­tive stance toward NATO is pre­cise­ly the ide­o­log­i­cal and geopo­lit­i­cal pos­ture advo­cat­ed by Ade­nauer, the pan-Ger­man­ists and the Under­ground Reich in the ear­ly 1950s.

Devel­op­ing analy­sis of the Steuben soci­ety, we note its role as part of the Nazi fifth col­umn in this coun­try pri­or to World War II:

“. . . Aris­to­crat in its class, the Steuben Soci­ety hat­ed the Bund because of its dif­fer­ence in tac­tics, shunned wild Nazi talk and avoid­ed in recent years the pub­lic heil­ing of Hitler, while the Bund con­tin­ued as before. . . . It goes back to his [Steuben Soci­ety Pres­i­dent Theodore H. Hoff­man] trip to Ger­many and his recep­tion by Hitler. Hoff­man told the sto­ry in a by-lined arti­cle in the Decem­ber 20, 1934 issue of the Deutsch­er Beobachter pub­lished in New York: ‘Who­ev­er thinks that Nation­al-Social­ism rules by oppres­sion, is mis­tak­en. . . . My per­son­al impres­sions of Hitler were that he is an ide­al­ist, an unusu­al orga­niz­er and a man of tremen­dous ener­gy. It is my con­vic­tion that he is hon­est and sin­cere in his endeav­ors not only to unite the Ger­man peo­ple, but also in his deter­mi­na­tion to break the chains of slav­ery. . . . He is the one man who filled the life of the Ger­man nation. . . . with new hope of the future. . . .’”

After the war, the Steuben Soci­ety served as part of the ODESSA/Underground Reich milieu.

” . . . Effec­tive schemes had been devel­oped by the Nazis and mil­i­tarists to obstruct law and jus­tice. After they had reached suc­cess, after thou­sands of Nazi crim­i­nals had fled to Spain and Egypt, after oth­er thou­sands had been freed from Allied pris­ons, there appeared accounts in some Right­ist news­pa­pers, con­grat­u­lat­ing a group of Nazi ring­lead­ers on accom­plish­ing an almost impos­si­ble task. The Deutsche Sol­dat­en Zeitung aune 1958) pub­lished a full-page account of a far­reach­ing secret orga­ni­za­tion which had been found­ed in 1948 in vio­la­tion of Allied rules.

The pur­pose of the orga­ni­za­tion was to free the war crim­i­nals in defi­ance of law and jus­tice. The author of this remark­able report, Major Gen­er­al Hans Korte, describes how a kind of Gen­er­al Staff, or “steer­ing com­mit­tee,” was set up in Munich to direct all the anti-war­guilt pro­pa­gan­da in occu­pied Ger­many and through­out the entire world. . . . The com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tic of all these groups was their dual activ­i­ty; first, they solicit­ed finan­cial aid for Nazi pris­on­ers, and sec­ond, they stirred pro­pa­gan­da against the “war­guilt lie,” cli­max­ing it with a demand for speedy release of all war crim­i­nals. Work­ing in coop­er­a­tion with the Chris­t­ian Aid cen­ter in Munich were such noto­ri­ous Nazi orga­ni­za­tions as the SS HIAG, the Soci­ety of Late Home­com­ers, the Stahlhelm, the Fed­er­a­tion of Ger­man Sol­diers, and the var­i­ous expellee groups. Among the orga­ni­za­tions abroad we find the Kam­er­aden Hil­fe in Spain, head­ed by the SS Colonel Otto Sko­rzeny, a sim­i­lar group work­ing in Latin Amer­i­ca under the lead­er­ship of the Luft­waffe ace Colonel Hans Ulrich Rudel,· and var­i­ous Ger­man “relief” and pro­pa­gan­da orga­ni­za­tions in the Unit­ed States under the polit­i­cal guid­ance of the Steuben Soci­ety. . . .”

One of Trump’s top nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­ers is Joseph E. Schmitz, the for­mer inspec­tor gen­er­al for the Pen­ta­gon. In addi­tion to cov­er­ing up for appar­ent male­fac­tors while serv­ing in that capac­i­ty for George W. Bush, Schmitz was deeply con­nect­ed to the milieu of the von Steuben fam­i­ly and “fas­ci­nat­ed with all things Ger­man.”

Schmitz may well have been the source for some of Trump’s atti­tudes and state­ments res­onat­ing with Ger­man and Under­ground Reich Ost­poli­tik.

“. . . . Some of the more unusu­al com­plaints regard­ing Schmitz deal with what senior offi­cials called an “obses­sion” with Von Steuben, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War hero who worked with George Wash­ing­ton to instill dis­ci­pline in the mil­i­tary. Von Steuben report­ed­ly fled Ger­many after learn­ing that he was going to be tried for homo­sex­u­al activities.Shortly after tak­ing office, Schmitz made Von Steuben’s lega­cy a focus. He spent three months per­son­al­ly redesign­ing the inspec­tor general’s seal to include the Von Steuben fam­i­ly mot­to, “Always under the pro­tec­tion of the Almighty.” . . .

. . . . In July 2004, he escort­ed Hen­ning Von Steuben, a Ger­man jour­nal­ist and head of the Von Steuben Fam­i­ly Assn., to a U.S. Marine Corps event. He also fet­ed Von Steuben at an $800 meal alleged­ly paid for by pub­lic funds, accord­ing to Grass­ley, and hired Von Steuben’s son to work as an unpaid intern in the inspec­tor general’s office, a for­mer Defense offi­cial said.

He also called off a $200,000 trip to attend a cer­e­mo­ny at a Von Steuben stat­ue ear­li­er this year in Ger­many after Grass­ley ques­tioned it.

Final­ly, Schmitz’s son, Phillip J. Schmitz, has a busi­ness rela­tion­ship with a group tied to Von Steuben. Schmitz, who runs a tech­nol­o­gy firm, pro­vides web-host­ing ser­vices for the World Secu­ri­ty Net­work, a non­prof­it news ser­vice focused on peace and con­flict issues. Von Steuben serves on the network’s advi­so­ry board.

Huber­tus Hoff­mann, a Ger­man busi­ness­man who found­ed the net­work, said Von Steuben played no role in assign­ing the con­tract to Phillip Schmitz, who is paid a “mod­est sum” for his work. Schmitz said he first made con­tact with Hoff­mann through his father but that he had nev­er met Von Steuben.

The rela­tion­ships trou­bled many at the Pen­ta­gon.

‘He was con­sumed with all things Ger­man and all things Von Steuben,’ said the for­mer Defense offi­cial, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied because of the ongo­ing inquiries. ‘He was obsessed.’ . . . .”

The pro­gram con­cludes with a brief look at con­tem­po­rary Ger­man pol­i­cy that man­i­fests the Ost­poli­tik pur­sued by Ade­nauer:

  • Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions and think tanks are not only lob­by­ing against con­tin­ued sanc­tions against Rus­sia due to lost prof­its and con­tracts with that coun­try, but are dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of draw­ing clos­er to the Eurasian Eco­nom­ic Union. Pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment in Ger­many, though sup­port­ive of the U.S., NATO and Ger­man right-wing poli­cies against Rus­sia over Ukraine, see Rus­sia as a bet­ter long-term part­ner for Ger­many than the U.S. This is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the “bid­ding war” Ade­nauer referred to in 1952, in item #3.
  • In anoth­er man­i­fes­ta­tion of the dual­is­tic, good-cop/bad-cop “bid­ding war” Ade­nauer referred to, Ger­many is pro­pelling the EU’s cre­ation of a Euro­pean army. That army will be dom­i­nat­ed by Ger­many. This, too, will be ana­lyzed at greater length in the next broad­cast.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • John P. Schmitz’s work on behalf of Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions.
  • John P. Schmitz’s close asso­ci­a­tion with Matthias Wiss­man, who worked for a law firm that worked for Swiss and Ger­man inter­ests being sued by Holo­caust vic­tims.
  • Joseph Schmitz’s work cov­er­ing up appar­ent male­fac­tors in the Pen­ta­gon.

1. The pro­gram begins with a thumb­nail syn­op­sis of tra­di­tion­al Ger­man “Ost­poli­tik” from the back cov­er of Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin:

Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin by T.H. Tetens; Hen­ry Schu­man [HC]; 1953; Back Cov­er Text.

  • 1762–Frederick the Great: Fred­er­ick­’s secret pact with Czar Peter III dis­rupt­ed the great Euro­pean coali­tion which had almost crushed Prus­sia in the Sev­en Years War. This pact saved Prus­sia from total defeat and led to the first par­ti­tion of Poland.
  • 1887–Chancellor von Bis­mar­ck: The “Iron Chan­cel­lor” made a secret pact (“re-insur­ance treaty”) with Rus­sia which secured Ger­many’s East­ern fron­tier. He made Ger­many the strongest mil­i­tary pow­er on the con­ti­nent, and Ger­man “Welt­poli­tik” set out to intim­i­date France and to under­mine the Anglo-Sax­on world.
  • 1922–General Hans von Seeckt: Gen­er­al von Seeckt cre­at­ed a new army after Ger­many’s defeat in World War I. His secret deals with Moscow cul­mi­nat­ed in the Rapal­lo Treaty, which rocked the West­ern world on East­er Sun­day, 1922.
  • 1926–Gustav Stre­se­man: Sre­se­mann, a “good Euro­pean,” signed a neu­tral­i­ty pact with the Sovi­ets which, in effect, was a return to Bis­mar­ck­’s pol­i­cy of secur­ing the East­ern fron­tier. While Stre­se­mann feigned friend­ship for the West, the Wehrma­cht Chief, Gen­er­al von Seeckt, con­tem­plat­ed “war against the West in alliance with the East.”
  • 1939–Von Ribben­trop & Stal­in: Hitler’s For­eign Min­is­ter, after months of secret nego­ti­a­tions with the Sovi­ets, signed on August 23, 1939, a so-called “Non-aggres­sion” Pact in Moscow. A week lat­er Hitler launched his war against Poland, the open­ing move of World War II.

2a. Next, we high­light “An Open Let­ter to Stal­in” pub­lished in the Buerg­er Zeitung, a lead­ing Ger­man-lan­guage paper in the Unit­ed States. Note­wor­thy for our pur­pos­es here is the fact that the paper is the de-fac­to out­let for the Steuben Soci­ety, the top pan-Ger­man orga­ni­za­tion in the Unit­ed States. As will be seen below, the Steuben Soci­ety was part of the Nazi Fifth Col­umn in the U.S. before World War II and part of the Under­ground Reich infra­struc­ture in this coun­try after the war. In the lat­ter capac­i­ty, it advo­cat­ed for the release and reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Nazis, includ­ing war crim­i­nals.

Also of sig­nif­i­cance is the fact that the author, Bruno Fricke, was an asso­ciate of Otto Strass­er. Strass­er, along with his broth­er Gre­gor, was part of Ernst Rohm’s SA. Rohm was liq­ui­dat­ed in the Night of the Long Knives, along with Gre­gor Strass­er. Otto escaped to Czechoslavakia.

We should also under­score that the Buerg­er Zeitung was very anti-Com­mu­nist and strong­ly sup­port­ive of Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts. Don­ald Trump’s lawyer for years was Roy Cohn, McCarthy’s top aide.

Three years after that let­ter was pub­lished in the Buerg­er Zeitung, the Sovi­et Union respond­ed with its Sovi­et Note of 3/10/1952. Of note in the pas­sage that fol­lows is the Ger­man plan to achieve a unit­ed Europe under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion, which has, of course, been achieved.

This “Europa Germanica”–the EU in the event–was, in turn, to become a Third Force. In exchange for mov­ing away from the push for a Third World War and pulling Europe out of NATO, this Third Force would gain con­ces­sions from the Sovi­ets. Also of note is the fact that a major fea­ture of this Unit­ed Europe would be an all-Euro­pean army, also under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion.

As we shall see lat­er, a major push is under­way to estab­lish a “Euro-corps”–precisely the sort of Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Euro­pean army that was envi­sioned in the ear­ly 1950s.

What we are see­ing with Trump’s pos­i­tive words about Rus­sia and neg­a­tive stance toward NATO is pre­cise­ly the ide­o­log­i­cal and geopo­lit­i­cal pos­ture advo­cat­ed by Ade­nauer, the pan-Ger­man­ists and the Under­ground Reich in the ear­ly 1950s.

Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin by T.H. Tetens; Hen­ry Schu­man [HC]; 1953; pp. 61–64.

. . . . Since 1947, many Ger­man-lan­guage papers in North and South Amer­i­ca have endeav­ored to pres­sure the Unit­ed States with the veiled threat that if Ger­many were not ful­ly restored to her for­mer posi­tion of pow­er, the Ger­man peo­ple would ally them­selves with Rus­sia. In 1949, the Ger­man-lan­guage paper Buerg­er Zeitung of Chica­go pub­lished on its front page under a six-col­umn head­line “An Open Let­ter to Stal­in.” It was a most brazen exam­ple of how ruth­less Ger­man “Realpoli­tik” can be. The author, Herr Bruno Fricke, is a for­mer Nazi and Black Front Leader, and a polit­i­cal col­lab­o­ra­tor of Dr. Otto Strass­er.

The Buerg­er Zeitung is an old and respect­ed Ger­man lan­guage week­ly that car­ries on its mast­head the notice that it is the “Offi­cial Organ of the Ger­man-Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens’ League of Illi­nois.” The paper boasts that it is the mouth­piece for the sen­ti­ments of 500,000 Ger­man-Amer­i­cans in Chica­go. It speaks for the Ger­man-Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens League and for the Ger­man Day Asso­ci­a­tion, which includes 91 Ger­man-Amer­i­can Soci­eties in Chica­go.

The Steuben Soci­ety, the lead­ing pan-Ger­man orga­ni­za­tion in the US for years, uses the Buerg­er Zeitung for its announce­ments. Thus, in a respect­ed Ger­man-Amer­i­can pub­li­ca­tion, which has its place on the extreme right polit­i­cal­ly, and has whole-heart­ed­ly giv­en sup­port to Sen­a­tor McCarthy’s anti-Com­mu­nist cam­paign, the “Open Let­ter to Stal­in” was splashed over the whole front page. And what did the let­ter say? It pro­posed noth­ing less than that Ger­many and Rus­sia should form an alliance and smash the coali­tion of West­ern Pow­ers. Address­ing Stal­in, the author writes:

“Your intel­li­gence ser­vice will tell you who I am. . . . Essen­tial and impor­tant and inter­est­ing for you is only that I am speak­ing here as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a great part of my Volksgenossen and that it would be good for you to know what mil­lions of bat­tle-trained men think today. This sec­tor of the Ger­man peo­ple, name­ly the nation­al sec­tor which not only com­pris­es for­mer Nazis but every­one who feels for the Father­land, is quan­ti­ta­tive­ly quite note­wor­thy and qual­i­ta­tive­ly of deci­sive impor­tance. Its com­po­nents are the front­line-sol­diers of both of world wars and the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of our youth. Thus, its impor­tance from the pure­ly mil­i­tary point of view becomes clear, and this is one of the rea­sons why the opin­ions of these cir­cles must be wor­thy of your con­sid­er­a­tion.

“In view of the immi­nent third world war, as well as in view of prin­ci­ple con­sid­er­a­tions, you are nat­u­ral­ly very much inter­est­ed in us Ger­mans. We may be down mate­ri­al­ly, moral­ly and eth­i­cal­ly, nev­er­the­less, and despite the dis­mem­ber­ment of our Father­land, we remain with eighty million–the strongest peo­ple on the Euro­pean con­ti­nent. What­ev­er one will tell you, we con­sid­er our­selves absolute­ly as a uni­ty and nobody will dri­ve these ideas from our heads–not for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Stress­ing the impor­tance of Germany’s indus­tri­al capac­i­ty and the intel­lec­tu­al poten­tial­i­ties of the Ger­mans, the writer explains that, after Truman’s announce­ment about a Russ­ian atom­ic explo­sion, “Europe’s deci­sive role in a pend­ing show­down” has become greater than ever before. Hav­ing obvi­ous­ly in mind a Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Europe, the writer con­tin­ues:

“You, Gen­er­alis­si­mo Stal­in, are prob­a­bly much more con­scious of the fact than the civil­ian gov­ern­ments in Wash­ing­ton, Lon­don and Paris, that the West­ern Union as well as the Atlantic Pact are noth­ing but an orga­ni­za­tion of mil­i­tary zeros around an Anglo-Sax­on one.”

Con­tin­u­ing, the writer comes to the key point of his let­ter by sug­gest­ing that if Stal­in would restore Ger­man sov­er­eign­ty, he could “win back the Ger­man peo­ples” fist:

“We Ger­mans do not want to have any­thing to do with the West, with the Yan­kees, with their cap­i­tal­is­tic exploita­tion and their polit­i­cal arro­gance. We Prus­sians have always been close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the Rus­sians; we Ger­mans return glad­ly to the tra­di­tions of Bis­mar­ck, Frei­her von Stein and Maria There­sa, and we as a polit­i­cal­ly trained peo­ple have nev­er for­got­ten Lenin’s intel­li­gent words about the desire of coop­er­a­tion between Ger­many and Rus­sia. We are actu­al­ly pre­des­tined for an alliance with Moscow, all the more so since mutu­al coop­er­a­tion with the inte­grat­ed bloc of the Sovi­et states has attract­ed mil­lions of Ger­mans, edu­cat­ed under strict dis­ci­pline. Who could resist us if both our Reichs were unit­ed? What Napoleon did not suc­ceed in doing, Tru­man will not suc­ceed in either: the sub­ju­ga­tion of the earth! Social­ist Ger­many and Com­mu­nist Rus­sia togeth­er are invin­ci­ble and thus our alliance secures the peace of the world.”

This and sub­se­quent arti­cles which prop­a­gat­ed a Ger­man-Rus­so alliance pub­lished in an out­spo­ken anti-Com­mu­nist paper in the U.S. neat­ly illus­trates the essence of Ger­man “Realpoli­tik.”

The authors, Bruno Fricke and Dr. Otto Strass­er, are known as dar­ing polit­i­cal plot­ters. In addi­tion to their reg­u­lar writ­ings for the Chica­go Buerg­er Zeitung, their arti­cles have been pub­lished fre­quent­ly in the Ger­man-lan­guage press in North and South Amer­i­ca.

Some peo­ple say that the views of Dr. Strass­er, Herr Fricke and oth­ers of the same stripes rep­re­sent only the think­ing of a minor­i­ty. The fact is, how­ev­er, that there were no artic­u­late voic­es of protest among the 500,000 Ger­man-Amer­i­cans in Chica­go against this “Open Let­ter to Stal­in.” The Buerg­er Zeitung is read in the edi­to­r­i­al rooms of dozens of oth­er Ger­man-lan­guage papers in the USA, but there is no evi­dence that any oth­er Ger­man-lan­guage news­pa­per, or any of the numer­ous Ger­man-Amer­i­can soci­eties in Chica­go, for whom the Buerg­er Zeitung serves as an offi­cial mouth­piece, protest­ed against this dan­ger­ous and open plot­ting. A sen­sa­tion­al front-page fea­ture like this “Open Let­ter to Stal­in” could not have been over­looked by any­body, not even State Sen­a­tor Charles Weber, the polit­i­cal big­wig among the Ger­man-Amer­i­cans in Illi­nois, who uti­lizes the Buerg­er Zeitung as his polit­i­cal instru­ment.

The fact that the Buerg­er Zeitung could car­ry on a black­mail cam­paign in favor of Ger­many for years and even pro­mote a Rus­so-Ger­man alliance against the West, with­out encoun­ter­ing any crit­i­cism from patri­ot­ic stal­warts, is proof of the extra­or­di­nary strong posi­tion of lead­ing Ger­man-Amer­i­can cir­cles in Amer­i­can polit­i­cal life. It is easy to imag­ine what would have hap­pened if this “Open Let­ter to Stal­in” would have appeared in The Dai­ly Work­er, or in a Hun­gar­i­an, Pol­ish or a French lan­guage paper in the USA. The “Open Let­ter to Stal­in” would have been exposed under scream­ing head­lines. Con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tion would have been going on for months under klieg lights, and our FBI would have gone into imme­di­ate action. But noth­ing like this hap­pens when Ger­man-Amer­i­can groups are engaged in pro­mot­ing this kind of “Realpoli­tik.” . . . .

3. Three years after that let­ter was pub­lished in the Buerg­er Zeitung, the Sovi­et Union respond­ed with its Sovi­et Note of 3/10/1952. Of note in the pas­sage that fol­lows is the Ger­man plan to achieve a unit­ed Europe under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion, which has, of course, been achieved.

This “Europa Germanica”–the EU in the event–was, in turn, to become a Third Force. In exchange for mov­ing away from the push for a Third World War and pulling Europe out of NATO, this Third Force would gain con­ces­sions from the Sovi­ets. Also of note is the fact that a major fea­ture of this Unit­ed Europe would be an all-Euro­pean army, also under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion.

As we shall see lat­er, a major push is under­way to estab­lish a “Euro-corps”–precisely the sort of Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Euro­pean army that was envi­sioned in the ear­ly 1950s.

What we are see­ing with Trump’s pos­i­tive words about Rus­sia and neg­a­tive stance toward NATO is pre­cise­ly the ide­o­log­i­cal and geopo­lit­i­cal pos­ture advo­cat­ed by Ade­nauer, the pan-Ger­man­ists and the Under­ground Reich in the ear­ly 1950s.

Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin by T.H. Tetens; Hen­ry Schu­man [HC]; 1953; pp. 5–8.

. . . . The world caught a glimpse of how the Bonn diplo­ma­cy works on the occa­sion of the Sovi­et Note of March 1952, addressed to the Three West­ern Pow­ers and sug­gest­ing a new solu­tion for the Ger­man prob­lem. The Russians–who, for almost sev­en years, pre­tend­ed to defend the prin­ci­ples of the Pots­dam agreement–made a 180 degree turn­about by offer­ing Ger­man uni­fi­ca­tion on the basis of free elec­tions, a new Ger­man Wehrma­cht, ful­ly rearmed, the decon­trol­ling of Germany’s indus­tri­al war poten­tial, and the return of for­mer Nazis and Wehrma­cht offi­cers to pub­lic life. It is no exag­ger­a­tion to say that the Sovi­et Note had an elec­tri­fy­ing effect on the Ger­man peo­ple regard­less of class or polit­i­cal per­sua­sion. The Sovi­et Note was the Ger­man dream come true. It opened up new per­spec­tives for Germany’s ambi­tions to estab­lish a Fourth Reich, free from the con­trols of the Allies.

At first, Dr. Ade­nauer bushed the Sovi­et Note aside as incon­se­quen­tial, but when he encoun­tered grow­ing oppo­si­tion even among his most faith­ful par­ty fol­low­ers, Dr. Ade­nauer was forced to lift slight­ly the veil that hides the strat­e­gy of Ger­man diplo­ma­cy. Unques­tion­ably, the Chan­cel­lor did not think the time was ripe for can­dor, but the oppo­si­tion had forced his hand. It was his task to “explain” the basic prin­ci­ples of the Bonn Government’s for­eign pol­i­cy with­out mak­ing embar­rass­ing dis­clo­sures.

It should be point­ed out that the “expla­na­tion” of Bonn’s for­eign pol­i­cy came not only from the lips of Ade­nauer, but from inspired sto­ries and leaks which appeared in the pro-Ade­nauer press.

In lead­ing Ger­man news­pa­pers, it was stat­ed that Dr. Adenauer’s pol­i­cy “runs on two tracks.” There is first the Euro­pean concept–a short-term pol­i­cy which aims at the cre­ation of a unit­ed Europe, or to use the expres­sion of one Ger­man edi­to­r­i­al “to ful­fill the goal for which Ger­mans were dream­ing for decades.”

In con­fi­den­tial talks with some mem­bers of the Fed­er­al Par­lia­ment, Dr. Ade­nauer declared that nego­ti­a­tions with the Rus­sians would have to wait until Ger­many had regained a strong and dom­i­nant posi­tion in Euro­pean affairs. He assured his lis­ten­ers that Russia’s con­cil­ia­to­ry atti­tude was most help­ful to Germany’s aspi­ra­tions and that oth­er Russ­ian offers were to be expect­ed in which even greater con­ces­sions would be made to Ger­many, espe­cial­ly on the ter­ri­to­r­i­al ques­tion of the Oder-Neisse Line. The Chan­cel­lor hint­ed in his talks that the Sovi­et Note had cre­at­ed the heat­ed atmos­phere of an auc­tion room where two eager oppo­nents out­bid each oth­er. There­fore he assured his lis­ten­ers that the rejec­tion of the First Sovi­et Note would not pre­vent an agree­ment with the Rus­sians at a more favor­able moment. The essence of Dr. Ade­nauer’s views was out­lined on April 3, 1952, in one of Ger­many’s lead­ing news­pa­pers, the Frank­fur­ther All­ge­meine Zeitung, which is often employed as the mouth­piece of the Bonn for­eign Office. In a front page edi­to­r­i­al this news­pa­per stat­ed:

“The Chan­cel­lor fol­lows a tremen­dous­ly bold plan: First rear­ma­ment, fol­lowed lat­er on by talks with the Rus­sians in order to per­suade them to remove their armies behind the Bug Riv­er. For this goal the Chan­cel­lor has been work­ing tena­cious­ly for some time. And because he sticks to his timetable, he is present­ly opposed to the Russ­ian Note.”

Dr. Adenauer’s “tremen­dous bold plan” was pre­pared by the Ribben­trop diplo­mats as a time-bomb which one day will blast asun­der every­thing U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy has built up since 1945. The Ger­man Chancellor’s plan is that the U.S.A. is now so deeply com­mit­ted to her Euro­pean defense pledge that she will read­i­ly sac­ri­fice dozens of bil­lions of dol­lars in the strength­en­ing and the rearm­ing of a Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Europe. After is this accom­plished, Dr. Adenauer’s grandiose con­cept envi­sions nego­ti­a­tions with Rus­sia with the prospect of get­ting sub­stan­tial ter­ri­to­r­i­al con­ces­sions from the Krem­lin in East­ern Europe for which  Ger­many in return will break away, with the whole of West­ern Europe, from the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion.

In the pro-Ade­nauer press, includ­ing the The Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung, Christ und Welt, The Deutsche Zeitung of Stuttgart, edi­to­ri­als have been writ­ten assur­ing the Rus­sians that Dr. Adenauer’s pol­i­cy aims to cre­ate the secu­ri­ty nec­es­sary for both the Ger­mans and the Rus­sians, and that this can only be brought about after Ger­many had become a third pow­er fac­tor which could employ its influ­ence in such a way as to deter the Unit­ed States “from start­ing a pre­ven­tive war.” Thus, while, in the short run, the Bonn Gov­ern­ment aims to cre­ate a Unit­ed Europe, it hopes ulti­mate­ly to reach a sol­id under­stand­ing with the Sovi­ets at the expense of the Unit­ed States.

It is true, of course, that in the per­son of Dr. Ade­nauer, the West has been led to believe that the Bonn Gov­ern­ment is deeply devot­ed to the fur­ther­ance of the com­mon wel­fare of the West. But these esti­mates of Dr. Ade­nauer and his diplo­ma­cy are based on super­fi­cial evi­dence and ignore the fact that Dr. Ade­nauer was in the past a fanat­i­cal believ­er in the pan-Ger­man gospel that the Father­land should rule Europe and the world. It is, there­fore, no acci­dent that the Ribben­trop diplo­mats and the Haushofer geo-politi­cians should be his chief advi­sors. They are pre­pared to cre­ate the Third Pow­er Bloc under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion through the finan­cial help of the Unit­ed States, and then turn around and make their final bar­gain with Moscow.

Trained in the school of Realpoli­tik, Dr. Ade­nauer is not one who acts like a bull in a chi­na shop. Even before he became Chan­cel­lor, he admon­ished his Ger­man com­pa­tri­ots: “We must move very cau­tious­ly. We ought not to give the impres­sion either in Ger­many or in the Unit­ed States that we shall col­lab­o­rate in any way with the Rus­sians.”

The reac­tion of the Ger­man strate­gists to the Sovi­et Note of March 10, 1952, how­ev­er, expos­es their true designs. Ger­man geo-polit­i­cal jour­nals speak of it as “the high­est trump card in the hands of the Chan­cel­lor” which will enable him to mow down the resis­tance of France against Germany’s con­cept of a unit­ed Europe. The pro-Ade­nauer press inter­pret­ed the Russ­ian Note as a tremen­dous asset in speed­ing up the timetable for the cre­ation of a Euro­pean army under Ger­man dom­i­na­tion. . . .

4. In FTR#476, we viewed the pol­i­tics of Joseph Schmitz, for­mer Inspec­tor Gen­er­al of the Pen­ta­gon and now head of the par­ent com­pa­ny of the Black­wa­ter secu­ri­ty firm. Son of domes­tic fas­cist John G. Schmitz, Joseph was described after his res­ig­na­tion in dis­grace from the Pen­ta­gon, as we have seen. Is it pos­si­ble that he was an admir­er of the Steuben Soci­ety, a branch of the Third Reich Fifth Col­umn in the Unit­ed States? Carl­son describes the Steuben Society–is this what Joseph E. Schmitz thinks today?

Under Cover–My Four Years in the Nazi Under­world in Amer­i­ca by John Roy Carl­son; E.P. Dut­ton & Co. [HC]; Copy­right 1943 by E.P.Dutton & Co.; pp. 118–119.

 . . . Aris­to­crat in its class, the Steuben Soci­ety hat­ed the Bund because of its dif­fer­ence in tac­tics, shunned wild Nazi talk and avoid­ed in recent years the pub­lic heil­ing of Hitler, while the Bund con­tin­ued as before. . . . It goes back to his [Steuben Soci­ety Pres­i­dent Theodore H. Hoff­man] trip to Ger­many and his recep­tion by Hitler. Hoff­man told the sto­ry in a by-lined arti­cle in the Decem­ber 20, 1934 issue of the Deutsch­er Beobachter pub­lished in New York: ‘Who­ev­er thinks that Nation­al-Social­ism rules by oppres­sion, is mis­tak­en. . . . My per­son­al impres­sions of Hitler were that he is an ide­al­ist, an unusu­al orga­niz­er and a man of tremen­dous ener­gy. It is my con­vic­tion that he is hon­est and sin­cere in his endeav­ors not only to unite the Ger­man peo­ple, but also in his deter­mi­na­tion to break the chains of slav­ery. . . . He is the one man who filled the life of the Ger­man nation. . . . with new hope of the future. . . .’

5. After the war, the Steuben Soci­ety worked on behalf of Nazi war crim­i­nals, that done in tan­dem with Ger­man orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als. In effect, it served as a branch of the ODESSA.

The New Ger­many and the Old Nazis by T.H. Tetens; Copy­right 1961 by T.H. Tetens; Ran­dom House [HC]; pp. 201–204.

Effec­tive schemes had been devel­oped by the Nazis and mil­i­tarists to obstruct law and jus­tice. After they had reached suc­cess, after thou­sands of Nazi crim­i­nals had fled to Spain and Egypt, after oth­er thou­sands had been freed from Allied pris­ons, there appeared accounts in some Right­ist news­pa­pers, con­grat­u­lat­ing a group of Nazi ring­lead­ers on accom­plish­ing an almost impos­si­ble task. The Deutsche Sol­dat­en Zeitung aune 1958) pub­lished a full-page account of a far­reach­ing secret orga­ni­za­tion which had been found­ed in 1948 in vio­la­tion of Allied rules.

The pur­pose of the orga­ni­za­tion was to free the war crim­i­nals in defi­ance of law and jus­tice. The author of this remark­able report, Major Gen­er­al Hans Korte, describes how a kind of Gen­er­al Staff, or “steer­ing com­mit­tee,” was set up in Munich to direct all the anti-war­guilt pro­pa­gan­da in occu­pied Ger­many and through­out the entire world. A group of Nazi jurists who had served in Nurem­berg as coun­sels for major war crim­i­nals formed the nucle­us of the direct­ing body. Promi­nent among them were Dr. Rudolf Aschenauer of Munich and Ernst Achen­bach (of the Nau­mann cir­cle) of Essen, the lat­ter hav­ing excel­lent finan­cial con­nec­tions on Rhine and Ruhr.

In order to con­ceal cer­tain activ­i­ties from the occu­py­ing pow­ers, a num­ber of fronts or sub­agen­cies were cre­at­ed to serve as spe­cial task forces. To fur­nish the press with pro­pa­gan­da on the war-guilt ques­tion, an “inde­pen­dent” month­ly newslet­ter, Die Andere Seite (The Oth­er Side), was issued, in which mate­r­i­al about the “so-called war crim­i­nals” was clev­er­ly intro­duced among oth­er news items. This dis­tort­ed and slant­ed news was reprint­ed not only in the provin­cial press but in such lead­ing papers as the Frank­furter All­ge­meine) the Stuttgarter Nachricht­en) and Die Welt. In addi­tion, a cir­cu­lar let­ter was mailed peri­od­i­cal­ly to orga­ni­za­tions and influ­en­tial per­son­al­i­ties in Ger­many and abroad in order to gain their sup­port for the release of all war crim­i­nals. . . .

. . . The orga­ni­za­tion had a mys­te­ri­ous bank account (“Kon­to Gus­tav”), to which more than six­ty unnamed indus­tri­al and finan­cial tycoons reg­u­lar­ly con­tributed large sums. Accord­ing to the report in the Deutsche Sol­dat­en Zeitung this group was close­ly affil­i­at­ed with a pro­pa­gan­da cen­ter in Switzer­land, the Cen­tro Europa, which car­ried on a world-wide cam­paign to bring quick free­dom to Hitler’s pro­fes­sion­al mass mur­der­ers. Two oth­er orga­ni­za­tions were work­ing toward the same goal, but they extend­ed their activ­i­ties into the exclu­sive cir­cles of high soci­ety and among aris­to­crats in Ger­many and abroad. One was the Stille Hil­fe (Silent Help), head­ed by Princess Helene von Isen­burg, and the oth­er was called Helfende Haende (Help­ing Hands), and was direct­ed by Princess Stephany zu Schaum­berg-Lippe.

The com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tic of all these groups was their dual activ­i­ty; first, they solicit­ed finan­cial aid for Nazi pris­on­ers, and sec­ond, they stirred pro­pa­gan­da against the “war­guilt lie,” cli­max­ing it with a demand for speedy release of all war crim­i­nals. Work­ing in coop­er­a­tion with the Chris­t­ian Aid cen­ter in Munich were such noto­ri­ous Nazi orga­ni­za­tions as the SS HIAG, the Soci­ety of Late Home­com­ers, the Stahlhelm, the Fed­er­a­tion of Ger­man Sol­diers, and the var­i­ous expellee groups. Among the orga­ni­za­tions abroad we find the Kam­er­aden Hil­fe in Spain, head­ed by the SS Colonel Otto Sko­rzeny, a sim­i­lar group work­ing in Latin Amer­i­ca under the lead­er­ship of the Luft­waffe ace Colonel Hans Ulrich Rudel,· and var­i­ous Ger­man “relief” and pro­pa­gan­da orga­ni­za­tions in the Unit­ed States under the polit­i­cal guid­ance of the Steuben Soci­ety. . . .

6a. We learned some­thing more about Don­ald Trump’s intend­ed for­eign pol­i­cy goals: he appears to be con­sid­er­ing a US pull out of NATO. We rumi­nate about one of his for­eign pol­i­cy advi­sors, Joseph E. Schmitz,  for­mer inspec­tor gen­er­al of the Depart­ment of Defense.

 “Don­ald Trump’s New For­eign Pol­i­cy Advis­ers Are as Rot­ten as His Steaks”  by Shane Har­ris; The Dai­ly Beast; 3/21/2016.

. . . . These are the minds advis­ing Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump on for­eign pol­i­cy and nation­al security.Trump, who has been pressed for months to name his coun­cil of advis­ers, revealed five in a meet­ing with the Wash­ing­ton Post edi­to­r­i­al board on Tues­day: Kei­th Kel­logg, Carter Page, George Papadopou­los, Walid Phares, and Joseph E. Schmitz. . . .

. . . . Trump revealed lit­tle about what spe­cif­ic advice they’d giv­en so far, or how any of them may have shaped Trump’s sur­pris­ing new posi­tion that the U.S. should rethink whether it needs to remain in the sev­en-decades-old NATO alliance with Europe.

Sound­ing more like a CFO than a com­man­der-in-chief, Trump said of the alliance, “We cer­tain­ly can’t afford to do this any­more,” adding, “NATO is cost­ing us a for­tune and yes, we’re pro­tect­ing Europe with NATO, but we’re spend­ing a lot of mon­ey.”

U.S. offi­cials, includ­ing for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates, have said that Euro­pean allies have to shoul­der a big­ger bur­den of NATO’s cost. But call­ing for the pos­si­ble U.S. with­draw­al from the treaty is a rad­i­cal depar­ture for a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date—even a can­di­date who has been endorsed by Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

It also wasn’t clear how Trump’s arguably anti-inter­ven­tion­ist posi­tion on the alliance squared with his choice of advis­ers.

Anoth­er Trump advis­er, Schmitz, has served in gov­ern­ment, as the Defense Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al. Schmitz was brought in dur­ing the first term of Pres­i­dent George W. Bush with a man­date to reform the watch­dog office, but he even­tu­al­ly found him­self the sub­ject of scruti­ny.

“Schmitz slowed or blocked inves­ti­ga­tions of senior Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials, spent tax­pay­er mon­ey on pet projects and accept­ed gifts that may have vio­lat­ed ethics guide­lines,” accord­ing to an inves­ti­ga­tion by the Los Ange­les Times in 2005. Cur­rent and for­mer col­leagues described him as “an intel­li­gent but eas­i­ly dis­tract­ed leader who seemed to obsess over details,” includ­ing the hir­ing of a speech­writer and designs for a bath­room.

Schmitz also raised eye­brows for what the paper’s sources described as his “unusu­al” fas­ci­na­tion with Baron Friedrich Von Steuben, a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War hero who’s regard­ed as the military’s first inspec­tor gen­er­al. Schmitz report­ed­ly replaced the Defense Depart­ment IG’s seal in its office across the coun­try with a new one bear­ing the Von Steuben fam­i­ly mot­to, Sub Tutela Altissi­mi Sem­per, “under the pro­tec­tion of the Almighty always.”. . . .

6b. It’s also worth not­ing that Joseph’s broth­er, John P. Schmitz, is a lawyer who spe­cial­izes in US/German reg­u­la­to­ry issues who’s clients include Bay­er AG, Ber­tels­mann, Bosch GmbH, Deutsche Welle.

Major Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions might well ben­e­fit if the Schmitz’s once again return to influ­en­tial posi­tions in a US admin­is­tra­tion.  Espe­cial­ly of Joseph ends up over­see­ing more inves­ti­ga­tions, since, as this 2005 LA Times arti­cle notes, Joseph didn’t just exhib­it an obses­sion Baron Von Steuben while serv­ing as the Defense Department’s Inspec­tor Gen­er­al. He also had an obses­sion with pre­vent­ing polit­i­cal­ly sen­si­tive inves­ti­ga­tions:

“The Scru­ti­niz­er Finds Him­self Under Scruti­ny” by T. Chris­t­ian Miller; The Los Ange­les Times; 9/25/2005.

. . . . Schmitz slowed or blocked inves­ti­ga­tions of senior Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials, spent tax­pay­er mon­ey on pet projects and accept­ed gifts that may have vio­lat­ed ethics guide­lines, accord­ing to inter­views with cur­rent and for­mer senior offi­cials in the inspec­tor general’s office, con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tors and a review of inter­nal e‑mail and oth­er doc­u­ments.Schmitz also drew scruti­ny for his unusu­al fas­ci­na­tion with Baron Friedrich Von Steuben, a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War hero who is con­sid­ered the military’s first true inspec­tor gen­er­al. Schmitz even replaced the offi­cial inspec­tor general’s seal in offices nation­wide with a new one bear­ing the Von Steuben fam­i­ly mot­to, accord­ing to the doc­u­ments and inter­views. . . .

. . . . His father was the ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Orange Coun­ty con­gress­man John G. Schmitz, who once ran for pres­i­dent but whose polit­i­cal career end­ed after he admit­ted hav­ing an affair with a Ger­man immi­grant sus­pect­ed of child abuse. Schmitz’s sis­ter is Mary Kay Letourneau, the Wash­ing­ton state teacher who served more than sev­en years in prison after a 1997 con­vic­tion for rape after hav­ing sex with a sixth-grade pupil with whom she had two chil­dren. After Letourneau’s release from prison, she and the for­mer pupil, now an adult, mar­ried each oth­er.

Schmitz, who resigned on Sept. 10 to take a job with the par­ent com­pa­ny of defense con­trac­tor Black­wa­ter USA, is now the tar­get of a con­gres­sion­al inquiry and a review by the President’s Coun­cil on Integri­ty and Effi­cien­cy, the over­sight body respon­si­ble for inves­ti­gat­ing inspec­tors gen­er­al, accord­ing to the doc­u­ments and inter­views. . . .

 . . . . Schmitz’s allies said he was being per­se­cut­ed. One senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial defend­ed Schmitz by say­ing that he was con­cerned about pro­tect­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of senior offi­cials in Wash­ing­ton, where polit­i­cal ene­mies can cause trou­ble with an anony­mous hot­line tip. . . .

. . . . He paid close atten­tion, how­ev­er, to the inves­ti­ga­tions of senior Bush admin­is­tra­tion appointees. At one point, inves­ti­ga­tors even stopped telling Schmitz who was under inves­ti­ga­tion, sub­sti­tut­ing let­ter codes for the names of indi­vid­u­als dur­ing week­ly brief­in­gs for fear that Schmitz would leak the infor­ma­tion to Pen­ta­gon supe­ri­ors, accord­ing to a senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial. “He became very involved in polit­i­cal inves­ti­ga­tions that he had no busi­ness get­ting involved in,” said anoth­er senior offi­cial in the inspec­tor general’s office. . . .

. . . . Instead, the offi­cial said that Schmitz cre­at­ed a new pol­i­cy that made it more dif­fi­cult to get infor­ma­tion by sub­poe­na by requir­ing addi­tion­al bureau­crat­ic steps. Dur­ing his tenure, Schmitz also made it hard­er to ini­ti­ate an inves­ti­ga­tion of a polit­i­cal appointee, requir­ing high-rank­ing approval before inves­ti­ga­tors could pro­ceed. . . .

. . . . Some of the more unusu­al com­plaints regard­ing Schmitz deal with what senior offi­cials called an “obses­sion” with Von Steuben, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War hero who worked with George Wash­ing­ton to instill dis­ci­pline in the mil­i­tary. Von Steuben report­ed­ly fled Ger­many after learn­ing that he was going to be tried for homo­sex­u­al activ­i­ties.Short­ly after tak­ing office, Schmitz made Von Steuben’s lega­cy a focus. He spent three months per­son­al­ly redesign­ing the inspec­tor general’s seal to include the Von Steuben fam­i­ly mot­to, “Always under the pro­tec­tion of the Almighty.”

He dic­tat­ed the num­ber of stars, lau­rel leaves and col­ors of the seal. He also asked for a new eagle, say­ing that the one fea­tured on the old seal “looked like a chick­en,” cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials said.

In July 2004, he escort­ed Hen­ning Von Steuben, a Ger­man jour­nal­ist and head of the Von Steuben Fam­i­ly Assn., to a U.S. Marine Corps event. He also fet­ed Von Steuben at an $800 meal alleged­ly paid for by pub­lic funds, accord­ing to Grass­ley, and hired Von Steuben’s son to work as an unpaid intern in the inspec­tor general’s office, a for­mer Defense offi­cial said.

He also called off a $200,000 trip to attend a cer­e­mo­ny at a Von Steuben stat­ue ear­li­er this year in Ger­many after Grass­ley ques­tioned it.

Final­ly, Schmitz’s son, Phillip J. Schmitz, has a busi­ness rela­tion­ship with a group tied to Von Steuben. Schmitz, who runs a tech­nol­o­gy firm, pro­vides web-host­ing ser­vices for the World Secu­ri­ty Net­work, a non­prof­it news ser­vice focused on peace and con­flict issues. Von Steuben serves on the network’s advi­so­ry board.

Huber­tus Hoff­mann, a Ger­man busi­ness­man who found­ed the net­work, said Von Steuben played no role in assign­ing the con­tract to Phillip Schmitz, who is paid a “mod­est sum” for his work. Schmitz said he first made con­tact with Hoff­mann through his father but that he had nev­er met Von Steuben.

The rela­tion­ships trou­bled many at the Pen­ta­gon.

“He was con­sumed with all things Ger­man and all things Von Steuben,” said the for­mer Defense offi­cial, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied because of the ongo­ing inquiries. “He was obsessed.” . . . .

6c. Trump, him­self, is no stranger to the milieu of the Steuben Soci­ety:

“Don­ald Trump;”  wikipedia.

. . . . Trump has said that he is proud of his Ger­man her­itage; he served as grand mar­shal of the 1999 Ger­man-Amer­i­can Steuben Parade in New York City.[12][nb 1]. . . . .

7. It’s also worth not­ing that Joseph’s broth­er, John P. Schmitz, is a lawyer who spe­cial­izes in US/German reg­u­la­to­ry issues who’s clients include Bay­er AG, Ber­tels­mann, Bosch GmbH, Deutsche Welle. As we dis­cussed in FTR #476, Schmitz has worked with Matthias Wiss­man. Wiss­man was the first Ger­man part­ner at Wilmer, Cut­ler & Pick­er­ing, a law firm that took cas­es on behalf of Swiss and Ger­man firms being sued by Holo­caust deniers. This sub­ject will be tak­en up at greater length in the next pro­gram.

“John P. Schmitz; Schmitz Glob­al Part­ners LLP.

John Schmitz rep­re­sents US and Euro­pean com­pa­nies in com­plex inter­na­tion­al trans­ac­tions and reg­u­la­to­ry mat­ters, with a focus on antitrust, media and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, ener­gy and envi­ron­men­tal issues. He has spe­cial empha­sis on US and Ger­man polit­i­cal reg­u­la­to­ry con­cerns, and has expe­ri­ence with numer­ous high-pro­file busi­ness and reg­u­la­to­ry mat­ters involv­ing both Amer­i­can and Ger­man pub­lic pol­i­cy and legal activ­i­ties. John’s clients have includ­ed the US Cham­ber of Com­merce, Gen­er­al Elec­tric, Bay­er AG, Ber­tels­mann, Bosch GmbH, Deutsche Welle, Gillette, Pfiz­er, Microsoft, Ver­i­zon, Eli Lil­ly Co., Ford Motor Co., and Arke­ma., among oth­ers.

In Sep­tem­ber 2009, togeth­er with for­mer Ambas­sador C. Boy­den Gray, John estab­lished Gray & Schmitz LLP in Sep­tem­ber 2009 (renamed Schmitz Glob­al Part­ners LLP in 2011). In 1993, John joined May­er Brown as a part­ner to open its first Ger­man office in Berlin. From 1993 to 2009, John helped lead and devel­op a promi­nent and thriv­ing Ger­man prac­tice at May­er Brown. Before join­ing May­er Brown in 1993, John held a wide range of sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic pol­i­cy posi­tions. Between 1985 and 1993, he served as Deputy Coun­sel to George H. W. Bush in both the White House and the Office of the Vice Pres­i­dent. . . .

. . . . John has also held a num­ber of high-pro­file fel­low­ships. In Ger­many, under a Robert Bosch Foun­da­tion Fel­low­ship, he served at the Office of Bun­destag Mem­ber Matthias Wiss­mann (Bonn), and the Office of Gen­er­al Coun­sel, Robert Bosch, GmbH (Stuttgart). . . .

8. Next, the pro­gram briefly presents mate­r­i­al that will be exam­ined more thor­ough­ly in the next pro­gram in this series. Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions and think tanks are not only lob­by­ing against con­tin­ued sanc­tions against Rus­sia due to lost prof­its and con­tracts with that coun­try, but are dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of draw­ing clos­er to the Eurasian Eco­nom­ic Union.

Pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment in Ger­many, though sup­port­ive of the U.S., NATO and Ger­man right-wing poli­cies against Rus­sia over Ukraine, see Rus­sia as a bet­ter long-term part­ner for Ger­many than the U.S.

This is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the “bid­ding war” Ade­nauer referred to in 1952, in item #3.

“Dis­pute over Sanc­tions on Rus­sia (II);” german-foreign-policy.com; 5/03/2016.

Ger­man busi­ness cir­cles and proxy for­eign pol­i­cy orga­ni­za­tions are cam­paign­ing to have the sanc­tions against Rus­sia lift­ed. More than two-thirds of the peo­ple in Ger­many are in favor of lift­ing sanc­tions, reports Koer­ber Foun­da­tion (Ham­burg) based on a cur­rent opin­ion poll. More than four-fifths want close coop­er­a­tion with Rus­sia, and 95 per­cent con­sid­er a rap­proche­ment in the next few years to either be “impor­tant” or “very impor­tant.” The Koer­ber Foun­da­tion, an influ­en­tial orga­ni­za­tion in the field of for­eign pol­i­cy, has, for years, been engaged in devel­op­ing coop­er­a­tion between Ger­many and Rus­sia. The hope of an ear­ly lift­ing of sanc­tions was also the sub­ject of the 4th East Forum Berlin, an eco­nom­ic forum with top-rank par­tic­i­pants, held in mid-April, at which a state sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of For­eign Affairs spoke in favor of new con­tacts between the EU and the Moscow-ini­ti­at­ed Eurasian Eco­nom­ic Union (EAEU). The objec­tive is the cre­ation of a com­mon “eco­nom­ic space from Lis­bon to Vladi­vos­tok.” The ini­tia­tives tak­en in Ger­many are being met with approval in sev­er­al EU coun­tries, includ­ing Italy and Aus­tria.

Grow­ing Dis­con­tent

Demands to aban­don the sanc­tions pol­i­cy against Moscow have been grow­ing loud­er in var­i­ous EU mem­ber coun­tries, such as Italy, for which Rus­sia is one of its most impor­tant busi­ness part­ners. Already in mid-March, the for­eign min­is­ters of Italy and Hun­gary had opposed an auto­mat­ic pro­lon­ga­tion of the sanc­tions with­out a debate. Fol­low­ing talks in Moscow in ear­ly April, the Pres­i­dent of Aus­tria, Heinz Fis­ch­er, announced he was also work­ing toward halt­ing the puni­tive measures.[1] Last week, France’s Nation­al Assem­bly passed a plea to end the sanctions.[2] Anger is also appar­ent in Greece. More­over, resis­tance is grow­ing with­in Ger­man busi­ness cir­cles, who, if the sanc­tions are soon lift­ed, hope for a new start of their busi­ness with East­ern Europe. Exports to Rus­sia have plum­met­ed from an annu­al vol­ume of 39 bil­lion Euros to less that 22 bil­lion, since 2012 alone. If sanc­tions are lift­ed, Ger­man com­pa­nies are count­ing on being able to redeem at least part of these loss­es.

From Lis­bon to Vladi­vos­tok

Sim­i­lar views were recent­ly expressed at the “East Forum Berlin,” con­vened by the Ger­man Com­mit­tee on East­ern Euro­pean Eco­nom­ic Rela­tions (OA) togeth­er with the Metro Group and Italy’s Uni­Cred­it, for the fourth time in the Ger­man cap­i­tal. More than 400 par­tic­i­pants — includ­ing the recent­ly fired Ukrain­ian Min­is­ter of Finances, Natal­ie Jaresko, and Rus­si­a’s First Deputy Min­is­ter of Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment, Alex­ey Likhachev — dis­cussed the devel­op­ment of an “eco­nom­ic space extend­ing from Lis­bon to Vladi­vos­tok.” In a sur­vey of 180 par­tic­i­pants of this top-rank forum, more than 80 per­cent clear­ly favored nego­ti­a­tions between the EU and the Moscow-led Eurasian Eco­nom­ic Union (EAEU) on the estab­lish­ment of a com­mon “eco­nom­ic space.”[3] They found sym­pa­thet­ic lis­ten­ers. In his “East Forum,” open­ing speech, State Sec­re­tary in Ger­many’s Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Stephan Stein­lein, con­firmed that the Ger­man gov­ern­ment sup­ports “con­tacts between the EU and the Eurasian Eco­nom­ic Union.” “Tech­ni­cal stan­dards, trade rules, cross-bor­der infra­struc­ture and sim­pli­fied exchange pro­ce­dures” should be discussed.[4] Sanc­tions against Rus­sia was anoth­er impor­tant issue dis­cussed at the East Forum. Thir­ty five per­cent of those sur­veyed pre­dict­ed an end to the sanc­tions in the course of this year, while 27 per­cent pre­dict­ed 2017. Only slight­ly more than a third thought the sanc­tions would last longer than 2017.

A New Start Required

Last week, Ham­burg’s Koer­ber Foun­da­tion, one of Ger­many’s for­eign pol­i­cy orga­ni­za­tions, which has pro­mot­ed clos­er coop­er­a­tion between Ger­many and Rus­sia for years, took a stand. “Dia­logue and under­stand­ing” between the two coun­tries have, “for decades, been an impor­tant ele­ment of our work,” declared the foun­da­tion. Cur­rent­ly, “with its focus on ‘Rus­sia in Europe,’ the Koer­ber Foun­da­tion devotes itself to the reju­ve­na­tion of an open, crit­i­cal, and con­struc­tive dia­logue between Rus­sia and its Euro­pean neighbors.”[5] With­in this frame­work, the orga­ni­za­tion con­vokes a “Ger­man-Russ­ian Inter­na­tion­al Dia­logue” twice annu­al­ly, in which experts and politi­cians of the two coun­tries can dis­cuss “ques­tions of Euro­pean secu­ri­ty and EU-Rus­sia rela­tions in a con­fi­den­tial atmos­phere” in Moscow or Berlin.”[6] The Koer­ber Foun­da­tion reached the con­clu­sion after its most recent meet­ing, which took place Decem­ber 5, 2015 in Moscow, that “the EU-Russ­ian rela­tions require a new start.” In this sense, “future dia­logue should focus on inter­ests and explore against this back­drop the pos­si­bil­i­ties for coop­er­a­tion.” “Eco­nom­ic issues” are “an area of com­mon inter­ests that pro­vide spe­cif­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties for coop­er­a­tion.”

Desired Rap­proche­ment

To under­line its quest, the Koer­ber Foun­da­tion has just recent­ly pub­lished the results of a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sur­vey con­duct­ed on its behalf in both Ger­many and Rus­sia by TNS Infrat­est in late Feb­ru­ary and ear­ly March. The sur­vey shows that two years after esca­la­tion of the Ukrain­ian con­flict, a sig­nif­i­cant estrange­ment between the pop­u­la­tions of the two coun­tries can be noticed. 48% of the Ger­mans per­ceive Rus­sia as a “threat,” only 50% believe — emphat­i­cal­ly — that Rus­sia belongs to “Europe.” More than half of the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion con­sid­ers the EU’s pol­i­cy toward Rus­sia as “appro­pri­ate.” How­ev­er, when asked which coun­try Ger­many should work more close­ly with, 81% of those 1000 Ger­mans, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sur­vey, opt­ed for Rus­sia — in sec­ond place behind France (89%) and far ahead of the USA (59%). In Rus­sia, 62% of the respon­dents chose Ger­many as their favorite coop­er­a­tion part­ner (ahead of Chi­na and France with 61% each). 69% of the Ger­mans favor lift­ing the sanc­tions on Rus­sia. And last­ly, 95% believe that it is “impor­tant” or “very impor­tant” that Ger­many and Rus­sia devel­op clos­er rela­tions over the next few years.[7]

The Ben­e­fit of Coop­er­a­tion

A first step toward rap­proche­ment was actu­al­ly accom­plished on April 20, with the NATO-Rus­sia Coun­cil’s first meet­ing in two years — pro­mot­ed par­tic­u­lar­ly by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. After the meet­ing, NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Jens Stoltenberg spoke of “pro­found and per­sis­tent dis­agree­ments.” But he also con­firmed that the dia­log would be continued.[8] Berlin there­fore suc­ceed­ed in reviv­ing the dia­log between Moscow and the west­ern war alliance. At the same time, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor has announced a de fac­to per­ma­nent deploy­ment of Ger­man sol­diers — as part of a NATO bat­tal­ion — in Lithua­nia. This would be a breach of the NATO-Rus­sia Found­ing Act and would fur­ther esca­late the con­flict between the West and Russia.[9] Russ­ian protests against this deploy­ment would, more than like­ly, be eas­i­er to pla­cate with­in a NATO-Rus­sia Coun­cil than in the absence of an estab­lished frame­work for dia­log — a tac­ti­cal advan­tage for a high­ly prof­itable eco­nom­ic coop­er­a­tion.

For more infor­ma­tion on the sub­ject of sanc­tions against Russ­ian see: Dis­pute over Sanc­tions on Rus­sia (I).

[1] Rus­s­land-Sank­tio­nen: Fis­ch­er “loy­al” zu EU-Lin­ie. diepresse.com 06.04.2016.
[2] L’Assem­blée nationale demande la lev­ée des sanc­tions con­tre la Russie. www.latribune.fr 28.04.2016.
[3] 4. east forum Berlin mit Reko­rd­beteili­gung. www.ost-ausschuss.de 19.04.2016.
[4] Keynote von Staatssekretär Stephan Stein­lein bei der Eröff­nung des 4. east forum Berlin am 18.04.2016.
[5] Annäherung oder Abschot­tung? Ergeb­nisse ein­er repräsen­ta­tiv­en Umfrage von TNS Infrat­est. Ham­burg 2016.
[6] Rus­s­land und die EU: Zusam­me­nar­beit in Zeit­en der Krise. Kör­ber-Stiftung Inter­na­tionale Poli­tik, März 2016.
[7] Annäherung oder Abschot­tung? Ergeb­nisse ein­er repräsen­ta­tiv­en Umfrage von TNS Infrat­est. Ham­burg 2016.
[8] “Tief­greifende und andauernde Dif­feren­zen”. Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung 21.04.2016.
[9] See Dis­pute over Sanc­tions on Rus­sia (I).

9. In anoth­er man­i­fes­ta­tion of the dual­is­tic, good-cop/bad-cop “bid­ding war” Ade­nauer referred to, Ger­many is pro­pelling the EU’s cre­ation of a Euro­pean army. That army will be dom­i­nat­ed by Ger­many. This, too, will be ana­lyzed at greater length in the next broad­cast.

The Euro­pean War Union;” german-foreign-policy.com; 6/28/2016.

Togeth­er with his French coun­ter­part, the Ger­man for­eign min­is­ter has announced the EU’s trans­for­ma­tion to become a “polit­i­cal union” and its res­olute mil­i­ta­riza­tion for glob­al mil­i­tary oper­a­tions. In a joint posi­tion paper, Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier (SPD) and Jean-Marc Ayrault (PS) are call­ing for the EU’s com­pre­hen­sive mil­i­tary buildup, based on a divi­sion of labor, to enable future glob­al mil­i­tary oper­a­tions. Fol­low­ing the Brex­it, the EU should, step-by-step, become an “inde­pen­dent” and “glob­al” actor. All forces must be mobi­lized and all “of the EU’s polit­i­cal instru­ments” must be con­sol­i­dat­ed into an “inte­grat­ed” EU for­eign and mil­i­tary pol­i­cy. Stein­meier and Ayrault are there­fore push­ing for a “Euro­pean Secu­ri­ty Com­pact,” which calls for main­tain­ing “employ­able high-readi­ness forces” and estab­lish­ing “stand­ing mar­itime forces.” The Euro­pean Coun­cil should meet once a year as “Euro­pean Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.” Before this paper was made pub­lic, Ger­many’s for­eign min­is­ter and chan­cel­lor had made com­ments also pro­mot­ing a Ger­man glob­al pol­i­cy and mas­sive rear­ma­ment, pos­si­bly also with EU-sup­port.

The EU’s Glob­al Mis­sion

In a joint posi­tion paper prop­a­gat­ed by the Ger­man for­eign min­istry yes­ter­day, Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier (SPD) along with his French coun­ter­part, Jean-Marc Ayrault (PS) announced steps toward a polit­i­cal union. They not­ed that Britain’s with­draw­al from the EU has cre­at­ed “a new sit­u­a­tion” with con­se­quences “for the entire EU.”[1] Berlin and Paris “firm­ly believe” that the EU pro­vides “a his­tor­i­cal­ly unique and indis­pens­able frame­work” not only for “the pur­suit of free­dom, pros­per­i­ty, and secu­ri­ty in Europe,” but also “for con­tribut­ing to peace and sta­bil­i­ty in the world.” There­fore, fur­ther steps will be made “towards a polit­i­cal union in Europe” and “oth­er Euro­pean states” are invit­ed “to join us in this endeav­or.” The EU should become “more coher­ent and more assertive on the world stage.” It is not only an actor “in its direct neigh­bor­hood” but also on “a glob­al scale.” In their paper, Stein­meier and Ayrault wrote, “on a more con­test­ed and com­pet­i­tive inter­na­tion­al scene, France and Ger­many will pro­mote the EU as an inde­pen­dent [!] and glob­al [!] actor.”

Euro­pean Secu­ri­ty Com­pact

To imple­ment the EU poli­cies of glob­al pow­er, Stein­meier and his French coun­ter­part drew up ele­ments for a “Euro­pean Secu­ri­ty Com­pact.” “Exter­nal crises” have become “more numer­ous” and have moved geo­graph­i­cal­ly “clos­er to Europe both east and south of its bor­ders.” There is no men­tion that the EU and its major pow­ers have sig­nif­i­cant­ly con­tributed to the foment­ing war and civ­il war — euphem­ized by Stein­meier and Ayrault as “crises”: In Ukraine, by seek­ing, through the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment, to ful­ly inte­grate the coun­try into its sphere of hegemony;[2] in Libya, through its aggres­sion, oust­ing the Gaddafi government;[3] or in Syr­ia, through its polit­i­cal and low-inten­si­ty mil­i­tary sup­port of an increas­ing­ly jihadist-con­trolled insurgency.[4] Nev­er­the­less, the Ger­man for­eign min­is­ter and his French coun­ter­part announce that they not only sup­port “the emerg­ing gov­ern­ment of nation­al accord in Libya,” but that they are also “con­vinced that Africa needs a con­tin­u­ous com­mit­ment, being a con­ti­nent of great chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties.”

Max­i­mum of Inse­cu­ri­ty

Accord­ing to Stein­meier and Ayrault, the “Euro­pean Secu­ri­ty Com­pact” will be com­pre­hen­sive and include “all aspects of secu­ri­ty and defense dealt with at the Euro­pean lev­el.” The for­eign min­is­ters write that the EU must “ensure the secu­ri­ty of our cit­i­zens.” How­ev­er, the con­crete demands indi­cate that the “Euro­pean Secu­ri­ty Com­pact” will, of course, not bring greater secu­ri­ty, but rather the con­trary, a max­i­mum of inse­cu­ri­ty — an increase in EU-pro­voked wars and the inevitable effects, they will have on the cen­ters of Euro­pean prosperity.[5]

Every­thing for Poli­cies of Glob­al Pow­er

As a first step, the paper writ­ten by France and Ger­many’s for­eign min­is­ters pro­pos­es that “a com­mon analy­sis of our strate­gic envi­ron­ment” be made. These reviews will be reg­u­lar­ly pre­pared “by an inde­pen­dent sit­u­a­tion assess­ment capa­bil­i­ty, based on the EU intel­li­gence and sit­u­a­tion cen­tre” and sub­mit­ted and dis­cussed at the “For­eign Affairs Coun­cil and at the Euro­pean Coun­cil.” On the basis of this com­mon “under­stand­ing,” the EU should “estab­lish agreed strate­gic pri­or­i­ties for its for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy.” It is polit­i­cal expe­ri­ence that reach­ing an “under­stand­ing” in the process of for­eign and mil­i­tary pol­i­cy stan­dard­iza­tion, the stand­point of the strongest mem­ber-state — Ger­many — will be tak­en par­tic­u­lar­ly into con­sid­er­a­tion. The results should then be “more effec­tive­ly” than ever, imple­ment­ed “as real pol­i­cy,” accord­ing to the paper. The objec­tive is an “inte­grat­ed EU for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy bring­ing togeth­er all [!] EU pol­i­cy instru­ments.”

Arms, Arms, Arms

Stein­meier and Ayrault write in detail that to “plan and con­duct civ­il and mil­i­tary oper­a­tions more effec­tive­ly,” the EU should insti­tute a “per­ma­nent civ­il-mil­i­tary chain of com­mand.” In addi­tion, it must “be able to rely on employ­able high-readi­ness forces.” In order to “live up to the grow­ing secu­ri­ty chal­lenges,” Euro­peans need “to step up their defense efforts.” For this, the Euro­pean mem­ber states should “reaf­firm and abide by the com­mit­ments made col­lec­tive­ly on defense bud­gets and the por­tion of spend­ing ded­i­cat­ed to the pro­cure­ment of equip­ment and to research and tech­nol­o­gy (R and T).” A few days ago, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel had already tak­en the first step in this direc­tion, when she declared that Ger­many’s defense bud­get should now begin to con­verge with that of the Unit­ed States, in terms of their respec­tive GDP per­cent­ages — Ger­many spends 1.2 per­cent of its GDP on mil­i­tary, while the US spends 3.4 percent.[6] Next, Stein­meier and Ayrault explain that a “Euro­pean semes­ter” should sup­port the coor­di­na­tion of the indi­vid­ual mem­ber coun­tries’ future mil­i­tary plan­ning. “Syn­er­gism” is the objec­tive. Through­out the EU, an arms buildup must be as coor­di­nat­ed and effi­cient as pos­si­ble. The EU should pro­vide com­mon financ­ing for its oper­a­tions. “Mem­ber states” could estab­lish per­ma­nent struc­tured coop­er­a­tion in the field of defense “or push ahead to launch oper­a­tions.” Par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant is “estab­lish­ing stand­ing mar­itime forces” or acquir­ing “EU-owned capa­bil­i­ties in oth­er key areas.”

More Domes­tic Repres­sion

The Social Demo­c­rat Stein­meier and the Social­ist Ayrault write that to ensure “inter­nal secu­ri­ty,” the “oper­a­tional capac­i­ty” must be enhanced at the EU lev­el. This includes mak­ing the best use of “reten­tion of flight pas­sen­ger data (PNR)” — the “data exchange with­in the EU” must be “improved” — but also “mak­ing the best use of Europol and its coun­tert­er­ror­ism cen­tre.” “In the medi­um term,” there should oth­er­wise be the “cre­ation of a Euro­pean plat­form for intel­li­gence coop­er­a­tion.” Last week­end, SPD Chair, Sig­mar Gabriel and the Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Mar­tin Schulz (SPD) called for the exten­sion of domes­tic repres­sion as well as the cre­ation of a “Euro­pean FBI.”[7]

Seize the Oppor­tu­ni­ty

Just a few days ago, For­eign Min­is­ter Stein­meier declared in the US jour­nal “For­eign Affairs” that Ger­many has become “a major pow­er” and will “try its best” on the world stage “to hold as much ground as possible.”[8] With Britain, which had always adamant­ly opposed an inte­grat­ed EU mil­i­tary pol­i­cy, leav­ing the EU, Berlin sees an oppor­tu­ni­ty for reviv­ing its efforts at restruc­tur­ing the EU’s mil­i­tary and mobi­liz­ing as many mem­ber coun­tries as pos­si­ble for the EU’s future wars.

[1] This and the fol­low­ing quotes are tak­en from “A strong Europe in a World of Uncer­tain­ties” — Joint con­tri­bu­tion by the French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Marc Ayrault and Fed­er­al For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier. www.auswaertiges-amt.de.
[2] See Expan­sive Ambi­tions and Die Ver­ant­wor­tung Berlins.
[3] See Vom West­en befre­it (II).
[4] See Forced to Flee (I).
[5] Zu den Rück­wirkun­gen der von europäis­chen Staat­en geführten Kriege s. etwa Der Krieg kehrt heimDer Krieg kehrt heim (II) and Der Krieg kehrt heim (III).
[6] See Auf Welt­macht­niveau.
[7] See Flex­i­ble Union with a Euro­pean FBI.
[8] See Auf Welt­macht­niveau.

 

10. More about the estab­lish­ment of the “Third Pow­er Bloc” Ade­nauer referred to in line item #3:

“Flex­i­ble Union with a Euro­pean FBI”; german-foreign-policy.com; 6/27/2016.

Berlin is apply­ing intense pres­sure in the after­math of the Brex­it, to reor­ga­nize the EU. Under the slo­gan, “flex­i­ble Union,” ini­tial steps are being tak­en to estab­lish a “core Europe.” This would mean an EU, led by a small, tight-knit core of coun­tries, with the rest of the EU mem­ber coun­tries being sub­or­di­nat­ed to sec­ond-class sta­tus. At the same time, the Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and Ger­many’s Min­is­ter of the Econ­o­my (both SPD) are call­ing for the com­mu­ni­ta­riza­tion of the EU’s for­eign pol­i­cy, rein­force­ment of its exter­nal bor­ders, the enhance­ment of domes­tic repres­sion and the cre­ation of a “Euro­pean FBI.” The Ger­man chan­cel­lor has invit­ed France’s pres­i­dent and Italy’s prime min­is­ter to Berlin on Mon­day to stip­u­late in advance, mea­sures to be tak­en at the EU-sum­mit on Tues­day. Ger­man media com­men­ta­tors are speak­ing in terms of the EU’s “new direc­torate” under Berlin’s lead­er­ship. At the same time, Berlin is inten­si­fy­ing pres­sure on Lon­don. The chair of the Bun­destag’s EU Com­mis­sion pre­dicts a new Scot­tish ref­er­en­dum on seces­sion and calls for Scot­land’s rapid inte­gra­tion into the EU. Ger­man politi­cians in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment are exert­ing pres­sure for rapid­ly imple­ment­ing the Brex­it and reor­ga­niz­ing the EU. Chan­cel­lor Merkel has reit­er­at­ed her veiled threat that “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and peace” in Europe are “any­thing but self-evi­dent,” should Euro­pean coun­tries choose to no longer be inte­grat­ed in the EU.

Core Europe

Already ear­li­er this year, Berlin had ini­ti­at­ed prepa­ra­tions for trans­form­ing the EU into a “flex­i­ble Union” and cre­at­ing a “core Europe.” On Feb­ru­ary 9, the for­eign min­is­ters of the six found­ing EU coun­tries [1] held an exclu­sive meet­ing in Rome to dis­cuss the EU’s var­i­ous cur­rent crises. This unusu­al meet­ing for­mat was also con­sid­ered to be a coun­ter­point to the Viseg­rád-Group [2], which had been par­tic­u­lar­ly crit­i­cal of Berlin’s refugee pol­i­cy. The dis­cus­sion in Rome was focused not only on the refugee pol­i­cy, but also includ­ed a pos­si­ble Brexit.[3] In their Joint Com­mu­niqué, the six for­eign min­is­ters under­lined the “dif­fer­ent paths of inte­gra­tion,” pro­vid­ed for by the Lis­bon Treaty — a hint at the option of a “flex­i­ble Union.”[4] The for­eign min­is­ters of the six found­ing coun­tries again met on Mai 20, at the Val Duchesse Cas­tle south of Brus­sels, this time explic­it­ly to dis­cuss the EU’s devel­op­ment in case of a Brex­it. They met again last Sat­ur­day to dis­cuss a paper joint­ly pre­sent­ed by the Ger­man and French for­eign min­is­ters, lit­er­al­ly demand­ing a “flex­i­ble Union.”[5] The com­mon dec­la­ra­tion, agreed upon by the six min­is­ters on Sat­ur­day, does not men­tion that polar­iz­ing term, while para­phras­ing their aspired core Europe. There is a need to “rec­og­nize” that among the mem­ber coun­tries there are “dif­fer­ent lev­els of ambi­tion towards Euro­pean integration.”[6]

The Strong Man behind Junck­er

Using this for­mat of the found­ing coun­tries, Berlin is push­ing for a “flex­i­ble Union” that is par­tic­u­lar­ly reject­ed by those mem­ber coun­tries, to be rel­e­gat­ed to sec­ond-class sta­tus. At the same time, Berlin is exert­ing pres­sure at oth­er lev­els. Already on May 23, an ini­tial offi­cial meet­ing with­in the frame­work of the EU Com­mis­sion, was held, to make arrange­ments for a pos­si­ble Brexit.[7] The invi­ta­tion had been extend­ed by the Ger­man jurist, Mar­tin Sel­mayr, Chef de Cab­i­net of Jean-Claude Junck­er, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. From 2001 to 2004, Sel­mayr man­aged the Ber­tels­man AG office in Brus­sels. He sub­se­quent­ly became spokesper­son and then Chef de Cab­i­net for EU Com­mis­sion­er Viviane Red­ing (Lux­em­bourg). Observers, refer­ring to his influ­ence, not­ed that some con­sid­ered Red­ing to be the “dum­my of the ven­tril­o­quist, Selmayr.”[8] Accord­ing to Ger­man media, Sel­mayr, the strong man behind Juncker,[9] had extend­ed the invi­ta­tion for the May 23 strat­e­gy meet­ing, not only to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Slo­va­kia and Mal­ta — the two coun­tries to assume EU pres­i­den­cy in July and Jan­u­ary, respec­tive­ly, but also to Uwe Corsepius, Merkel’s Euro­pean pol­i­cy advi­sor. Corsepius is con­sid­ered one of Berlin’s most impor­tant Euro­pean pol­i­cy strategists.[10]

The New Direc­torate

Beyond such long-term agree­ments, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has invit­ed France’s Pres­i­dent, François Hol­lande, Italy’s Prime Min­is­ter, Mat­teo Ren­zi and EU Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk to Berlin, Mon­day to dis­cuss the EU’s future, after Great Britain’s with­draw­al. The objec­tive is to agree upon impor­tant stip­u­la­tions pri­or to the EU’s Tues­day sum­mit — which is sim­i­lar to the 2010 — 2011 meet­ings she had held with the French pres­i­dent at the time, Nico­las Sarkozy (“Merkozy”), to set the guide­lines for the EU’s han­dling of the Euro cri­sis. Observes point to the fact that Merkel’s invit­ing Ren­zi along with Hol­lande has osten­ta­tious­ly demot­ed France’s sta­tus. Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, Ger­man media are speak­ing in terms of the EU’s “new direc­torate.” Of course, there is no doubt that “Ger­many remains the most impor­tant EU nation, both polit­i­cal­ly as well as economically.”[11] In prac­tice, the “direc­torate” serves the func­tion — as in the pre­vi­ous cas­es of Merkel’s Sarkozy meet­ings — pri­mar­i­ly of trans­mis­sion of Ger­man spec­i­fi­ca­tions to the EU’s oth­er mem­ber coun­tries.

The Cen­tral Role

Berlin’s pre­dom­i­nance with­in the EU is being, more or less, offi­cial­ly con­firmed by the Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Jean-Claude Junck­er. Also in the future, Ger­many will “con­tin­ue to play a cen­tral role, if not an even more sig­nif­i­cant role, in the Euro­pean Union,” Junck­er declared.[12]

Supra­na­tion­al Repres­sion

Par­al­lel to prepa­ra­tions for the trans­for­ma­tion of the Euro­pean Union, lead­ing Ger­man Social Democ­rats are call­ing for sup­ple­men­tary steps for the polit­i­cal-eco­nom­ic stream­lin­ing the EU or its core.[13] For exam­ple, in their posi­tion paper enti­tled “Re-Found Europe,” Ger­many’s Min­is­ter of the Econ­o­my, Sig­mar Gabriel, and the Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Mar­tin Schulz, are call­ing for an expan­sion of the EU’s sin­gle mar­ket, under the top­ic an “eco­nom­ic Schen­gen.” In the process, across the board “cen­tral” job mar­ket reforms must be imple­ment­ed. The mass­es in the French pop­u­la­tion are cur­rent­ly up in arms fight­ing the impo­si­tion of these job mar­ket reforms.[14] In addi­tion, Gabriel and Schulz are call­ing on the EU to “more than ever” “act as a uni­fied gov­ern­ing force,” which would sig­ni­fy that the “com­mu­ni­ta­riza­tion” of the EU’s for­eign pol­i­cy. The imple­men­ta­tion of this com­mu­ni­ta­riza­tion, would mean Ger­many’s glob­al inter­ests being pur­sued via insti­tu­tions in Brus­sels due, to a large extent, to Berlin’s pre­dom­i­nance with­in the EU. Final­ly, the Ger­man social democ­rats are call­ing for the sys­tem­at­ic cre­ation and expan­sion of supra-nation­al struc­tures of repres­sion. For exam­ple, insti­tu­tions ward­ing off refugees from the EU must be sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly rein­forced (“effec­tive­ly secur­ing Euro­pean exter­nal bor­ders”) and coop­er­a­tion between domes­tic repres­sive author­i­ties inten­si­fied. The cre­ation, for exam­ple, of a “Euro­pean FBI” should be an objec­tive.

Project Deter­rence

To deter oth­er EU coun­tries from hold­ing ref­er­en­dums, Berlin is mas­sive­ly inten­si­fy­ing pres­sure on Lon­don. To avoid need­less dis­sention, the British gov­ern­ment seeks to con­sci­en­tious­ly pre­pare and car­ry out the nego­ti­a­tions. Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Mar­tin Schulz, declared in the form of an ulti­ma­tum, that he “expects” the British gov­ern­ment to present its with­draw­al appli­ca­tion at the EU sum­mit on Tues­day. Chair of the EPP par­lia­men­tary cau­cus, Man­fred Weber (CSU) called on Britain to with­draw “with­in the planned two-year delay, and even bet­ter, with­in a year.”[15] Brus­sels has already cre­at­ed a “Brex­it Task Force” and an “Arti­cle 50 Task Force” — the lat­ter named after the respec­tive arti­cle of the Lis­bon Treaty reg­u­lat­ing a mem­ber state’s with­draw­al from the EU. Above all, lead­ing Ger­man politi­cians are fan­ning Scot­tish seces­sion­ist plans. “The EU will con­tin­ue to con­sist of 28 mem­ber coun­tries,” declared Gun­ther Krich­baum (CDU), Chair of the EU Affairs Com­mit­tee in the Ger­man Bun­destag, “because I expect a renewed inde­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in Scot­land, which will be suc­cess­ful this time.” Krich­baum says, “we should prompt­ly reply to this pro-EU coun­try’s mem­ber­ship application.”[16] The Ger­man media is also ener­get­i­cal­ly fir­ing on Scot­tish sep­a­ratism. Since 1945, the Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many has pos­si­bly nev­er engaged in such unabashed encour­age­ment of the dis­in­te­gra­tion of a West Euro­pean coun­try.

War in Europe

In Berlin, this is all being flanked by state­ments that can­not be oth­er­wise inter­pret­ed as oblique war threats. “Although it is dif­fi­cult for us to imag­ine,” one should “nev­er for­get” that “the idea of a unit­ed Europe, had been an idea of peace,” claims the Ger­man Chancellor.[17] The alle­ga­tion cor­re­sponds less to his­tor­i­cal reality,[18] than to the EU’s self-pro­mo­tion. Yet, Merkel declares that in Europe, “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and peace” are both cur­rent­ly and in the future “any­thing oth­er than self-evi­dent.” The chan­cel­lor has expressed this point of view in var­i­ous EU cri­sis sit­u­a­tions. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[19]) Accord­ing to this view, the poten­tial of Euro­pean coun­tries set­tling their dis­putes mil­i­tar­i­ly remains essen­tial­ly unal­tered and can be unleashed, should they no longer choose inte­gra­tion in a Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed EU.

For more on this theme: The First Exit.

[1] Bun­desre­pub­lik Deutsch­land, Frankre­ich, Ital­ien, Bel­gien, Nieder­lande, Lux­em­burg.
[2] Der Viseg­rád-Gruppe gehören Polen, Tschechien, die Slowakei und Ungarn an.
[3] EU-Grün­der­staat­en: “Europäis­che Dreifachkrise” und “Her­aus­fordernde Zeit­en”. de.euronews.com 10.02.2016.
[4] Joint Com­mu­niqué. Chart­ing the way ahead. An EU Found­ing Mem­bers’ ini­tia­tive on strength­en­ing Cohe­sion in the Euro­pean Union. www.esteri.it 09.02.2016.
[5] Berlin und Paris schla­gen “flex­i­ble EU” vor. www.handelsblatt.com 24.06.2016.
[6] Gemein­same Erk­lärung der Außen­min­is­ter Bel­giens, Deutsch­lands, Frankre­ichs, Ital­iens, Lux­em­burgs und der Nieder­lande am 25. Juni 2016.
[7] EU rüstet sich für Brex­it-Ern­st­fall. www.spiegel.de 27.05.2016.
[8] Hen­drick Kaf­sack, Wern­er Mus­sler: Die EU spricht deutsch. www.faz.net 26.06.2014. See Par­tic­u­lar­ly Close to Ger­many.
[9] Hen­drick Kaf­sack: Der starke Mann hin­ter Junck­er. www.faz.net 10.09.2014.
[10] See Under the Ger­man Whip (I).
[11] Niko­las Busse: Das neue Direk­to­ri­um. Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung 25.06.2016.
[12] Junck­er sieht starke Rolle für Deutsch­land. www.handelsblatt.com 25.06.2016.
[13] Sig­mar Gabriel, Mar­tin Schulz: Europa neu grün­den. www.spd.de.
[14] See The Price of Dereg­u­la­tion.
[15] EU-Par­la­mentspräsi­dent Schulz fordert Aus­trittsantrag der Briten bis Dien­stag. www.sueddeutsche.de 25.06.2016.
[16] Jacques Schus­ter, Daniel Friedrich Sturm: Und zurück bleiben die ver­wirrten Staat­en von Europa. www.welt.de 26.06.2016.
[17] Press­es­tate­ment von Bun­deskan­z­lerin Merkel zum Aus­gang des Ref­er­en­dums über den Verbleib Großbri­tan­niens in der Europäis­chen Union am 24. Juni 2016 in Berlin.
[18] Die “Eini­gung” des europäis­chen Kon­ti­nents unter deutsch­er Dom­i­nanz gehörte bere­its zu den deutschen Kriegszie­len im Ersten Weltkrieg; damals sprach beispiel­sweise Reich­skan­zler Theobald von Beth­mann Holl­weg von der Grün­dung eines “mit­teleu­ropäis­chen Wirtschaftsver­bands”. Auch im NS-Staat wur­den entsprechende “Einigungs”-Strategien vertreten. Mehr dazu: Europas Einiger.
[19] See A Ques­tion of Peace or War in EuropeMan­age­ment with a Crow­bar and Vom Krieg in Europa.

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #918 The Trumpenkampfverbande, Part 1: German Ostpolitik, Part 1”

  1. Quite inter­est­ing­ly, Huber­tus Hoff­mann wrote a book about Pen­ta­gon strate­gist, Fritz Krae­mer, which received strong endorse­ments from the likes of Nixon, Haig, Kissinger, Wol­fowitz, Rums­feld among oth­er right wing lumi­nar­ies. It’s enti­tled, Fritz Kramer: The True Keep­er of the Holy Flame. Nor­man Mail­er’s com­ment is inter­est­ing though: “A fan­tas­tic book. Huber­tus Hoff­mann knows how to describe the genius of a man who has influ­enced the think­ing of the Pen­ta­gon for sev­er­al decades more than any­one before him. Only his­to­ry will tell what the con­se­quences of his omi­nous pres­ence have been.

    Posted by Brad | August 19, 2016, 11:23 am
  2. Com­ing on the heels of the Trump cam­paign’s lat­est pub­lic embrace of the “Alt Right”, news that one of Trump’s advi­sors has been accused of enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly fir­ing Jews and Holo­caust denial­ism while he was the DoD’s Inspec­tor Gen­er­al almost qual­i­fies as ‘dog bites man’ news at this point. Still, it’s news. Very omi­nous ‘dog bites man’ news:

    McClatchy

    Trump advis­er accused of mak­ing anti-Semit­ic remarks

    By Marisa Tay­lor and William Dou­glas

    McClatchy Wash­ing­ton Bureau
    August 18, 2016 2:18 PM

    WASHINGTON

    Alle­ga­tions of anti-Semi­tism have sur­faced against one of Don­ald Trump’s for­eign pol­i­cy advis­ers, rais­ing fur­ther ques­tions about the guid­ance the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee is receiv­ing.

    Joseph Schmitz, named as one of five advis­ers by the Trump cam­paign in March, is accused of brag­ging when he was Defense Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al a decade ago that he pushed out Jew­ish employ­ees.

    The rev­e­la­tions feed two themes that his oppo­nent Hillary Clin­ton has used to erode Trump’s cred­i­bil­i­ty: That he is a for­eign pol­i­cy neo­phyte, and that his cam­paign, at times, has offend­ed Jews and oth­er minori­ties.

    Schmitz, who is a lawyer in pri­vate prac­tice in Wash­ing­ton, says the alle­ga­tions against him are lies. All three peo­ple who have cit­ed the remarks, includ­ing one who tes­ti­fied under oath about them, have pend­ing employ­ment griev­ances with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

    Daniel Mey­er, a senior offi­cial with­in the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, described Schmitz’s remarks in his com­plaint file.

    “His sum­ma­ry of his tenure’s achieve­ment report­ed as ‘…I fired the Jews,’ ” wrote Mey­er, a for­mer offi­cial in the Pen­ta­gon inspec­tor general’s office whose griev­ance was obtained by McClatchy.

    Mey­er, who declined to com­ment about the mat­ter, cit­ed in his com­plaint anoth­er for­mer top Pen­ta­gon offi­cial, John Crane, as the source and wit­ness to the remarks. Crane worked with Schmitz, who served as inspec­tor gen­er­al between April 2002 and Sep­tem­ber 2005.

    In his com­plaint, Mey­er said Crane also said Schmitz played down the extent of the Holo­caust.

    “In his final days, he alleged­ly lec­tured Mr. Crane on the details of con­cen­tra­tion camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 mil­lion Jews,” wrote Mey­er, whose com­plaint is before the Mer­it Sys­tems Pro­tec­tion Board (MSPB).

    Schmitz said that Crane was the source of oth­er false accu­sa­tions against him.

    “The alle­ga­tions are com­plete­ly false and defam­a­to­ry,” Schmitz said in an inter­view Tues­day.

    “I do not recall ever even hear­ing of any ‘alle­ga­tions of anti-Semi­tism against [me],’ which would be pre­pos­ter­ous­ly false and defam­a­to­ry because, among oth­er reason(s), I am quite proud of the Jew­ish her­itage of my wife of 38 years,” he wrote in an email.

    Lat­er in a phone inter­view, he said his wife was not a prac­tic­ing Jew but “eth­ni­cal­ly Jew­ish” because her mater­nal grand­moth­er was a Jew.

    Mey­er, who pre­vi­ous­ly over­saw the Defense Department’s deci­sions on whistle­blow­ing cas­es, said he could not com­ment because his case is still pend­ing. Mey­er is now the Oba­ma administration’s top offi­cial over­see­ing how intel­li­gence agen­cies han­dle whistle­blow­er com­plaints.

    Crane would not com­ment direct­ly about his con­ver­sa­tion with Schmitz but said, “if, when, I am required to tes­ti­fy under oath in a MSPB hear­ing, I would then com­ment on the state­ment attrib­uted to me by Mr. Mey­er.”

    “State­ments made under oath at the request of a judge in a for­mal pro­ceed­ing would also remove my vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to any poten­tial civ­il lit­i­ga­tion by any par­ty involved in the fil­ings by Mr. Mey­er,” he added.

    Crane’s lawyer, Andrew Bakaj, also refut­ed Schmitz’s charges about Crane. He said Crane “has had no asso­ci­a­tion or involve­ment with any of the numer­ous news accounts chal­leng­ing the actions or deci­sions made by Mr. Schmitz when he was Inspec­tor Gen­er­al.”

    The anti-Semit­ic alle­ga­tions have also become part of anoth­er case.

    David Tenen­baum, an Army engi­neer at the Tank Auto­mo­tive Com­mand (TACOM) in War­ren, Michi­gan, is now cit­ing the alle­ga­tions in a let­ter this week to Act­ing Pen­ta­gon Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Glenn Fine as new evi­dence that cur­rent and for­mer Pen­ta­gon offi­cials helped per­pe­trate an anti-Semit­ic cul­ture with­in the mil­i­tary that left him vul­ner­a­ble.

    “The anti-Semit­ic envi­ron­ment began under a pri­or Inspec­tor Gen­er­al, Mr. Joseph Schmitz,” the let­ter from Tenenbaum’s lawyer May­er Mor­gan­roth of Birm­ing­ham, Mich., states.

    Trump’s cam­paign did not return mul­ti­ple calls and emails over a week about Schmitz.

    ...

    The alle­ga­tions against Schmitz are in Meyer’s employ­ment griev­ance that was filed in June with the MSPB, which decides such cas­es filed by fed­er­al employ­ees. In the com­plaint, Mey­er alleges for­mer and cur­rent Defense Depart­ment Inspec­tor Gen­er­al offi­cials dis­crim­i­nat­ed against him as a gay man and retal­i­at­ed against him for inves­ti­gat­ing and report­ing mis­con­duct by high-lev­el Pen­ta­gon offi­cials.

    Crane, a for­mer assis­tant Defense Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al, resigned in 2013 when he learned he was going to be fired after an admin­is­tra­tive inquiry. He filed a whistle­blow­er dis­clo­sure say­ing retal­i­a­tion had forced his res­ig­na­tion. The dis­clo­sure is still before the Office of Spe­cial Coun­sel, which inves­ti­gates such com­plaints.

    The let­ter from Tenenbaum’s lawyer May­er Mor­gan­roth also alleges Schmitz made remarks about fir­ing Jews and play­ing down the extent of the Holo­caust, cit­ing a “sworn state­ment” from an unnamed source with knowl­edge of the Tenen­baum case.

    A fed­er­al offi­cial with knowl­edge of the mat­ter told McClatchy that Crane tes­ti­fied, under oath, about anti-Semit­ic remarks Schmitz made to him. Crane was inter­viewed in at least two inves­ti­ga­tions involv­ing Pen­ta­gon inspec­tor gen­er­al offi­cials.

    Schmitz was accused of shield­ing Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials from inves­ti­ga­tions, includ­ing an inquiry into a Boe­ing con­tract. He was cleared of the alle­ga­tions.

    Schmitz left the gov­ern­ment to become gen­er­al coun­sel of the par­ent com­pa­ny of the defense con­trac­tor then known as Black­wa­ter.

    A fel­low Repub­li­can, Sen. Chuck Grass­ley of Iowa, was one of Schmitz’s biggest crit­ics.

    Grass­ley, for exam­ple, com­plained to the Pen­ta­gon about Schmitz’s plans to send Pen­ta­gon offi­cials to an event in Ger­many hon­or­ing Baron Friedrich Von Steuben, a Pruss­ian-born Army offi­cer who served under George Wash­ing­ton dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War.

    Schmitz, who speaks Ger­man, was described as fas­ci­nat­ed with Von Steuben, who was known as the nation’s first U.S. inspec­tor gen­er­al.

    Schmitz’s father, the late Repub­li­can Con­gress­man John Schmitz who rep­re­sent­ed Cal­i­for­nia, was a fer­vent anti-Com­mu­nist and drew crit­i­cism in 1981 for remarks about Jews, includ­ing his press release that called the audi­ence at abor­tion hear­ings “a sea of hard, Jew­ish and (arguably) female faces.”

    Bart Buech­n­er, Joseph Schmitz’s for­mer mil­i­tary assis­tant at the inspec­tor general’s office, said he had fre­quent con­tact with Schmitz and nev­er wit­nessed any anti-Semi­tism.

    “He would not say any­thing neg­a­tive or pejo­ra­tive about any eth­nic group,” Buech­n­er said.

    For­mer Inte­ri­or Depart­ment Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Earl Devaney, who served dur­ing the Clin­ton, Bush and Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tions, said he was sur­prised to hear Trump picked Schmitz as his advis­er.

    “I was shocked,” Devaney said. “In fact, a bunch of us for­mer inspec­tors gen­er­al called each oth­er when we saw the news, and we couldn’t stop laugh­ing because it was so ridicu­lous that some­one so odd and out of the main­stream would be select­ed, par­tic­u­lar­ly for that posi­tion.”

    Tenen­baum, who is alleg­ing offi­cials in the Pen­ta­gon inspec­tor general’s office con­tributed to anti-Semi­tism against him, was tar­get­ed as an Israeli spy by the Army, which launched a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion of him.

    Brid­get Ser­chak, a Pen­ta­gon inspec­tor general’s office spokes­woman, declined to com­ment on the case. Her office con­clud­ed in 2008 that Tenen­baum had been sin­gled out for “unusu­al and unwel­come scruti­ny because of his faith” as an Ortho­dox Jew.

    His treat­ment from 1992 to 1997, the inspec­tor general’s report con­clud­ed, amount­ed to dis­crim­i­na­tion.

    Tenen­baum got his secu­ri­ty clear­ance back and it was even increased to top secret. He was nev­er charged with any wrong­do­ing. In his let­ter this week to Pen­ta­gon author­i­ties, he asked the inspec­tor gen­er­al to review his case because he said the office nev­er inter­vened on his behalf.

    “... In light of the infor­ma­tion recent­ly obtained, (we) believe your office has and con­tin­ues to engage in dis­crim­i­na­to­ry behav­ior,” his lawyer wrote.

    Though Schmitz left the gov­ern­ment in 2005, he has insert­ed him­self in pub­lic affairs often through writ­ing edi­to­ri­als and giv­ing speech­es.

    Schmitz spoke to law stu­dents in March 2015 at South­ern Methodist Uni­ver­si­ty in Dal­las in a forum about com­mu­nism and its impact on soci­ety.

    Ren­wei Chung, a stu­dent who took notes of Schmitz’s speech, said it appeared to him that Schmitz was call­ing Oba­ma a com­mu­nist. He described how Schmitz held up the book: “The Com­mu­nist: Frank Mar­shall Davis – The Untold Sto­ry of Barack Oba­ma’s Men­tor” and said to the forum, “The Chi­nese wor­ship Mao. They have pic­tures of Mao every­where. Do you know who the sec­ond most pop­u­lar per­son in Chi­na is? Oba­ma. … Why is that?”

    Jef­frey Kahn, a pro­fes­sor who also spoke at the forum, said the encounter with Schmitz left him “chilled.”

    Kahn wrote in an opin­ion piece pub­lished in July in the Dal­las Morn­ing News that “I had wit­nessed a ghost from McCarthy’s staff,” a ref­er­ence to for­mer Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who was obsessed with expos­ing com­mu­nists in the 1950s.

    “What for­eign pol­i­cy advice will Schmitz whis­per into Trump’s ear?” Kahn wrote. “I shud­der to think what he might do in such a posi­tion of pow­er.”

    ““In his final days, he alleged­ly lec­tured Mr. Crane on the details of con­cen­tra­tion camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 mil­lion Jews,” wrote Mey­er, whose com­plaint is before the Mer­it Sys­tems Pro­tec­tion Board (MSPB).”

    Holo­caust denial­ism. Yeah, that sounds about right for the Trump cam­paign. Like father, like son. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for every­one.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 19, 2016, 2:17 pm
  3. In ref­er­ence to a Goebbels quote cit­ed in a News & Sup­ple­men­tal sto­ry on Ger­many and North Korea from 4/25/13 and Frances Park­er Yock­ey’s aim for a Euro­pean Imperi­um, the fol­low­ing sto­ry is quite inter­est­ing.

    It appears the EU Chief Junck­er is call­ing for erad­i­ca­tion of bor­ders with­in the EU. Pret­ty slop­py report­ing across the board on Junck­er’s posi­tion, but that’s typ­i­cal of today’s press.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3752939/Borders-worst-invention-EU-chief-Jean-Claude-Juncker-widens-rift-European-leaders-calls-borders-opened.html

    Posted by Sampson | August 23, 2016, 9:13 am
  4. One of the more inter­est­ing ten­sions in US pol­i­tics that emerges when­ev­er there’s been some sort of ten­sion between the US and Rus­sia in recent years is the fact that the a large chunk of the GOP base and con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dits real­ly do seem to have a crush on Vladimir Putin and his brand of author­i­tar­i­an lead­er­ship but there’s also nev­er a short­age of Amer­i­can enthu­si­asm for Rus­sia-bash­ing. And yes, while the Rus­sia-bash­ing almost always wins out at least for a peri­od of time, that does­n’t mean the love is lost.

    That ten­sion between lov­ing Putin and lov­ing to hate Putin got a lot weird­er when Don­ald Trump become the GOP’s nom­i­nee for a num­ber of obvi­ous rea­sons. But here’s an arti­cle that points out one of the less-dis­cussed, and real­ly quite iron­ic, intra-GOP ten­sions that have recent arisen: Thanks to Don­ald Trump and the per­cep­tions of his close ties to Rus­sia, a num­ber of Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can who have spent years work­ing for the GOP aren’t so sure they want to sup­port the par­ty any­more. That’s right, after the GOP spent decades devel­op­ing East­ern Euro­pean “eth­nic out­reach” orga­ni­za­tions that were orig­i­nal­ly staffed with East­ern Euro­pean Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors (who just hap­pened to have very use­ful pro­pa­gan­da skills for tar­get­ing East­ern Euro­pean com­mu­ni­ties in in key swing-states), those very same demo­graph­ics are now get­ting turned off from the par­ty over its nom­i­na­tion of Don­ald Trump, the can­di­date who has done more to main­stream neo-Nazi memes than any oth­er major US can­di­date in mod­ern mem­o­ry. It’s kind of iron­ic:

    The New York Times

    Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans, Long Fond of the G.O.P., Greet Don­ald Trump With Despair

    By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

    AUG. 22, 2016

    PARMA, Ohio — As a proud Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can, Taras Szma­gala has worked for decades to elect Repub­li­cans, the par­ty he asso­ciates with free­dom. He ran an eth­nic out­reach pro­gram for Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 cam­paign and advised Pres­i­dent George Bush as the Sovi­et Union crum­bled, when Ukraine became an inde­pen­dent nation.

    Mr. Szma­gala, 83, will mark Wednesday’s 25th anniver­sary of state­hood at a parade and fes­ti­val on Sat­ur­day in this Cleve­land sub­urb, where the blue and yel­low flag of Ukraine flies along the main thor­ough­fare in “Ukrain­ian Vil­lage.”

    But there is a pall over the fes­tiv­i­ties. His name is Don­ald J. Trump.

    Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans have felt at home in the Repub­li­can Par­ty since Franklin D. Roo­sevelt and Stal­in divid­ed con­trol of Europe at Yal­ta. But across the Unit­ed States — and espe­cial­ly in swing state Ohio, where Mr. Trump became the party’s nom­i­nee — they are watch­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race with a mix of con­fu­sion and fear.

    “The party’s dead as far as I’m con­cerned,” Mr. Szma­gala declared.

    As if Mr. Trump’s admir­ing state­ments about Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia and his ques­tion­able expla­na­tion of events in Ukraine were not tough enough to stom­ach, then came news that Paul Man­afort, until last week Mr. Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er, was tan­gled up in a cor­rup­tion inquiry and des­ig­nat­ed to receive mil­lions in secret cash pay­ments from the par­ty of a pro-Russ­ian leader he had helped to elect.

    All sum­mer, Ukraini­ans — many of them already wary of Hillary Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee — have been obsess­ing over Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. The Ukrain­ian Week­ly, a New Jer­sey-based news­pa­per that has been care­ful­ly track­ing the threat of a Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine, is awash in polit­i­cal com­men­tary, includ­ing a rebuke of Mr. Trump by the country’s ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States.

    “A vote for Trump is a vote against Ukraine!” wrote one long­time Repub­li­can from Mor­ris­town, N.J., in a let­ter to the edi­tor.

    Near­ly one mil­lion Amer­i­cans are of Ukrain­ian descent, clus­tered around cities like New York, Philadel­phia, Chica­go, Detroit and Cleve­land, where the Ukrain­ian Muse­um-Archives, a rich repos­i­to­ry of folk art, peri­od­i­cals and immi­gra­tion doc­u­ments, chron­i­cles the his­to­ry of a peo­ple who have felt oppressed by Rus­sia for 350 years. Cur­rent­ly on dis­play: “Pol­i­tics and Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans,” an exhib­it includ­ing a pho­to­graph of a young Mr. Szma­gala with Nixon.

    There are, of course, loy­al Democ­rats here; the museum’s res­i­dent schol­ar, Andrew Fedyn­sky, once chief of staff to a Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gress­woman, is one. But many Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans are deeply skep­ti­cal of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and Mrs. Clin­ton, whom they regard as not aggres­sive enough in pro­tect­ing Ukraine against an incur­sion from Rus­sia.

    So the absence of a friend­ly Repub­li­can is gen­er­at­ing a par­tic­u­lar despair.

    “It’s very con­fus­ing,” said Eugene Luciw, a Philadel­phia lawyer who is active in Ukrain­ian affairs there. “It’s been dif­fi­cult to wrap your hands around Mr. Trump.”

    Mr. Manafort’s abrupt depar­ture does not change that; many Ukraini­ans want to know why he was hired in the first place. Still, said Andriy Futey, the exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Ukrain­ian Con­gress Com­mit­tee of Amer­i­ca — who is in Kiev, Ukraine’s cap­i­tal, for the anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion and to meet with gov­ern­ment lead­ers — there was “a sigh of relief” there when Mr. Man­afort quit.

    Here in Par­ma, Cleveland’s cen­ter of Ukrain­ian cul­tur­al and reli­gious life, the angst — cou­pled with what many call a “bit­ter­sweet” cel­e­bra­tion of a nation whose inde­pen­dence feels threat­ened — is clear.

    At St. Vladimir Ukrain­ian Ortho­dox Cathe­dral, where a gran­ite mon­u­ment to “vic­tims of the man-made famine,” which the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment rec­og­nizes as a geno­cide, stands in a gar­den, a small group of parish­ioners gath­ered last week as a black-robed pas­tor served the Moleben, a prayer for the health and well-being of the sick.

    Gene Boyko, 75, whose grand­fa­ther was ban­ished to Siberia by Stal­in, was among them; he and his par­ents escaped dur­ing World War II and arrived in New York when he was 10.

    “When we got here, even as a 10-year-old, I want­ed to kiss the ground,” he said. He has long vot­ed Repub­li­can, but is wait­ing for the debates to make up his mind about Mr. Trump.

    At State Meats, a local butch­er shop and smoke­house, George Salo, the own­er, was prepar­ing to make sev­er­al thou­sand pounds of kiel­basa — “the world’s best!” he boast­ed — for the com­ing parade. Mr. Salo, 31, took over the shop when he was 17, after his father died, and learned busi­ness by read­ing books — includ­ing some by Mr. Trump, whom he admires as an entre­pre­neur.

    But as for the elec­tion, “I’m telling every­body I’m vot­ing for Gary John­son,” he said, refer­ring to the Lib­er­tar­i­an nom­i­nee.

    At the take­out restau­rant next door, Oksana Zavhorod­nyuk, 44, was serv­ing schnitzel and jum­bo piro­gi from behind a counter. She wrin­kled her nose when asked about the pres­i­den­tial race.

    “I don’t like Trump,” she vol­un­teered, in Eng­lish that is still halt­ing, though she has been here for 25 years. “He likes Rus­sia; he likes Putin. He’s not in his mind, you know? It’s like, not pres­i­dent for Amer­i­ca.”

    The Trump cam­paign says it is not con­cerned. “Mr. Trump has tremen­dous sup­port in Ohio, and he will con­tin­ue to share his mes­sage of change,” his spokes­woman, Hope Hicks, wrote in an email.

    Ukraini­ans arrived in Amer­i­ca in four dis­tinct waves, begin­ning in the late 1800s, and many even­tu­al­ly set­tled in sub­urbs like Par­ma. In Ohio, they are part of a broad bloc of vot­ers who trace their ances­try to East­ern and Cen­tral Euro­pean nations includ­ing Poland, Esto­nia, Lithua­nia, Latvia, the Czech Repub­lic and Slove­nia, the home­land of Mr. Trump’s wife, Mela­nia.

    In this swing state, politi­cians of both par­ties aggres­sive­ly court what they call the “eth­nic vote.” Last week, Sen­a­tor Rob Port­man, an endan­gered Ohio Repub­li­can (and co-chair­man of the Sen­ate Ukraine Cau­cus), met pri­vate­ly with eth­nic lead­ers here. One big issue: At the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in July in Cleve­land, the Trump cam­paign stripped the par­ty plat­form of lan­guage call­ing for the Unit­ed States to pro­vide lethal weapons to Ukraine.

    Democ­rats, seiz­ing on a poten­tial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty for Mr. Trump, are increas­ing their own eth­nic out­reach this year, an effort that has been caught up in Russ­ian polit­i­cal intrigue.

    The per­son­al emails of the woman run­ning the out­reach effort, Alexan­dra Chalu­pa, were among those hacked at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, a breach Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cials attribute to Russ­ian spies. Ms. Chalu­pa, who is of Ukrain­ian descent, had been research­ing Mr. Man­afort while con­sult­ing for the com­mit­tee when the hack occurred. She has been trav­el­ing the coun­try, talk­ing to Democ­rats about what she has found.

    “I’d talk about the Rus­sia con­nec­tion and what we were see­ing,” she said in an inter­view. “Peo­ple were ter­ri­fied.”

    Still, Mrs. Clin­ton may have an uphill bat­tle. The Podes­ta Group, a Wash­ing­ton firm co-found­ed by John D. Podes­ta, her cam­paign chair­man, has sur­faced in the the same cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion that has entan­gled Mr. Man­afort.

    ...

    For Mr. Szma­gala, a retired Cleve­land tran­sit offi­cial who has devot­ed his life to Ukrain­ian affairs and Repub­li­can pol­i­tics, the cam­paign is espe­cial­ly painful. He has fond mem­o­ries of a flight aboard Air Force Two with George Bush, then the vice pres­i­dent. And after Ukraine declared its inde­pen­dence, Mr. Bush, then the pres­i­dent, sent him there as part of the offi­cial del­e­ga­tion for a somber cer­e­mo­ny at Babi Yar, a site of mass killings by the Nazis.

    Mr. Szma­gala has been a del­e­gate to Repub­li­can con­ven­tions in the past; this year, though nation­al Repub­li­cans gath­ered in his back­yard, he stayed away. He has nev­er vot­ed for a Demo­c­rat for pres­i­dent, and is mind­ful of Ohio’s sta­tus as a swing state. He is not eager to vote for Mrs. Clin­ton.

    “But if it’s close,” he said, “I’ll do it. It’ll hurt, but I’ll do it.”

    “But if it’s close...I’ll do it. It’ll hurt, but I’ll do it.”

    Ouch. That the kind of sen­ti­ment from some­one the GOP has spent a long time court­ing that has got to hurt. But don’t for­get that it’s not just Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can GOP vot­ers who might be hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about their par­ty’s nom­i­nee. There are all sorts of oth­er East­ern Euro­pean com­mu­ni­ties, espe­cial­ly in states like Penn­syl­va­nia, Ohio and Michi­gan, that prob­a­bly aren’t super enthu­si­as­tic about a can­di­date who ques­tioned whether or not the US should defend the Baltic NATO mem­bers if they were invad­ed.

    It’s a reminder that the fail­ures of the Trump cam­paign’s “eth­nic out­reach” tac­tics might not be exclu­sive­ly lim­it­ed to vir­tu­al­ly every non-white vot­ing demo­graph­ic. Sur­pris­ing­ly and sur­pris­ing­ly iron­i­cal­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 7, 2016, 2:49 pm
  5. Here’s a pair of arti­cles about Fran­cois Fil­lon, the recent win­ner of France’s cen­ter-right par­ty pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry, that rais­es a num­ber of fas­ci­nat­ing ques­tions about the nature of glob­al rebal­anc­ing and shift­ing of alliances, in par­tic­u­lar shifts relat­ed to Rus­sia, that’s like­ly to take under a Trump admin­is­tra­tion:

    First, here’s an arti­cle from July about Fil­lon’s atti­tudes to mil­i­tary spend­ing. To sum­ma­rize, Fil­lon is for increased mil­i­tary spend­ing, increased invest­ments in Frances nuclear forces, cit­ing Rus­si­a’s invest­ments as a rea­son to do so, and he advo­cates France push­ing Ger­many to cre­ate a Euro­pean Army. At the same time, Fil­lon sug­gests that NATO’s enlarge­ment to include Rus­si­a’s neigh­bors was a major mis­take and that France should be work­ing more close­ly with Rus­sia on areas like ter­ror­ism and Syr­ia. So back in July, Fil­lon was issu­ing some rather con­fus­ing sig­nals about his vision for France’s future rela­tion­ship with Russia...but he def­i­nite­ly wants more mil­i­tary spend­ing:

    Defense News

    Defense Spend­ing Emerges as French Elec­tion Top­ic

    By: Pierre Tran, July 13, 2016

    PARIS – François Fil­lon, a for­mer prime min­is­ter, said July 13 he would com­mit France to spend­ing two per­cent of its gross domes­tic prod­uct on defense and also retain the air­borne and sub­ma­rine-launched nuclear weapons if he won the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion next year.

    Fil­lon, one of the can­di­dates in the pri­maries of the con­ser­v­a­tive par­ty Les Répub­li­cains, said the two per­cent fig­ure “is impor­tant.”

    “That is a tar­get I would pur­sue,” he told the Euro­pean-Amer­i­can Press Club. “And equal­ly, I would main­tain the two com­po­nents for nuclear deter­rence.”

    French defense spend­ing has slipped to around 1.5 per­cent, below the two per­cent tar­get set by NATO, as the nation­al econ­o­my strug­gles to grow.

    Fil­lon said he would pur­sue work on the next gen­er­a­tion of nuclear mis­sile sub­marines to replace the present four-strong fleet “in the medi­um term.”

    Inter­na­tion­al ten­sion would not allow France “to low­er its guard on the nuclear deter­rent front,” he said, adding that Rus­sia is re-arm­ing, build­ing nuclear subs, and installing anti-bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense capa­bil­i­ties around Moscow.

    It was a major mis­take for NATO to extend its reach so close to Rus­sia, and it was impor­tant for Paris and Moscow to pur­sue a dia­log as Rus­sia remains a Euro­pean coun­try, he said.

    Fil­lon, prime min­is­ter from May 2007 to May 2012, is one of the can­di­dates for the pri­maries to be held in Novem­ber, which will decide which can­di­date to stand in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in May.

    There is a con­sen­sus among Les Repub­li­cains can­di­dates for the pri­maries and the Social­ist par­ty on main­tain­ing the two nuclear forces, which offer cred­i­bil­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty of response, said Jean-Pierre Maulny, deputy direc­tor of the think tank Insti­tut de Rela­tions Inter­na­tionales et Stratégiques.

    There was more debate of can­cel­ing one of the nuclear weapons in the pre­vi­ous pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. The argu­ments this time around are more about whether France should be “for or against” an atom­ic response, Maulny said.

    France should per­suade Ger­many to set up a Euro­pean army, accord­ing to Fil­lon. Berlin could not rely whol­ly on NATO, as the alliance was unable to meet the threat from the Islam­ic State, he argued.

    ...

    Fil­lon said he told French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande that rather than launch French airstrikes against Syr­ia, the leader should sit down with his Russ­ian coun­ter­part Vladimir Putin and Ger­man leader Angela Merkel and agree on a “medi­um-term strat­e­gy” on how to deal with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad.

    Hol­lande ordered French airstrikes in retal­i­a­tion for the Nov. 13, 2015, ter­ror attacks in Paris, for which the Islam­ic State claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty. The Syr­ia cri­sis has since deep­ened.

    There may be some 60 coun­tries in the anti-Syr­ia coali­tion but as long as Rus­sia and Iran were exclud­ed, there was lit­tle chance of suc­cess, Fil­lon argued. The lat­ter is con­sid­ered essen­tial as Teheran is the region­al pow­er.

    Putin is “very dif­fi­cult” to deal with but once he reach­es an agree­ment, he keeps it, accord­ing to Fil­lon. “I have nev­er seen him break his word.”

    Fil­lon was prime min­is­ter under then-pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy, when Putin was his Russ­ian coun­ter­part.

    “France should per­suade Ger­many to set up a Euro­pean army, accord­ing to Fil­lon. Berlin could not rely whol­ly on NATO, as the alliance was unable to meet the threat from the Islam­ic State, he argued.”

    Yeah, some­how it does­n’t seem like sell­ing Ger­many on a Euro­pean Army is going to be a tough sell.

    But when you con­sid­er that the per­ceived mil­i­tary threat from Rus­sia has been one of the key sell­ing points for some­thing like a Euro­pean Army, com­bined with Don­ald Trump’s past com­ments about NATO that don’t exact­ly inspired con­fi­dence, there’s still a ques­tion of what exter­nal threat Fil­lon will be using to jus­ti­fy that new army since Fil­lon is advo­cat­ing a sig­nif­i­cant Euro­pean shift towards Rus­sia, along with a grow­ing num­ber of Euro­pean lead­ers and vot­ers:

    The New York Times

    French Elec­tion Hints at a Euro­pean Shift Toward Rus­sia

    By MAX FISHER
    NOV. 30, 2016

    The vic­to­ry of François Fil­lon in France’s cen­ter-right pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry is the lat­est sign that a tec­ton­ic shift is com­ing to the Euro­pean order: toward accom­mo­dat­ing, rather than coun­ter­ing, a resur­gent Rus­sia.

    Since the end of World War II, Euro­pean lead­ers have main­tained their ever-grow­ing alliance as a bul­wark against Russ­ian pow­er. Through decades of ups and downs in Russ­ian-Euro­pean rela­tions, in peri­ods of estrange­ment or rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, their bal­ance of pow­er has kept the con­ti­nent sta­ble.

    But a grow­ing move­ment with­in Europe that includes Mr. Fil­lon, along with oth­ers of a more pop­ulist bent, is push­ing a new pol­i­cy: instead of stand­ing up to Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia, stand with him.

    Mr. Fil­lon has called for lift­ing sanc­tions on Rus­sia and for part­ner­ing with Moscow in an effort to cur­tail immi­gra­tion and ter­ror­ism. He is friend­ly with Mr. Putin. If poll­sters are right and Mr. Fil­lon wins the French pres­i­den­cy in the spring, he could join sev­er­al ris­ing Euro­pean politi­cians and new­ly elect­ed lead­ers who are like-mind­ed.

    Their move­ment, schol­ars stress, is dri­ven by forces far more for­mi­da­ble than any elect­ed leader: the pop­ulist upsurge that is remak­ing the Con­ti­nent and, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, the imper­son­al but over­whelm­ing pres­sures of inter­na­tion­al pow­er bal­anc­ing.

    These changes, along with the impend­ing British with­draw­al from the Euro­pean Union and the elec­tion of Don­ald J. Trump as pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, fore­tell a “dra­mat­ic shift” in the half-cen­tu­ry of West­ern uni­ty against Rus­sia, said James Goldgeier, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist and the dean of Amer­i­can University’s School of Inter­na­tion­al Ser­vice in Wash­ing­ton.

    “All the trend lines right now point away from a tough approach to Russ­ian aggres­sion and point toward more accom­mo­da­tion of the Russ­ian notion that they have a priv­i­leged sphere of influ­ence,” he said.

    It is unclear how far into Europe that sphere of Russ­ian influ­ence might extend, or the con­se­quences for nations that would come under it after escap­ing Sovi­et dom­i­na­tion only a gen­er­a­tion ago. But those are ques­tions of degree; Mr. Fillon’s pri­ma­ry vic­to­ry sug­gests that the shift has already begun.

    A Pro-Putin Pop­ulism

    Though Mr. Fil­lon would reverse his country’s hard line on Rus­sia, he would not be the first French leader to reach out to Moscow — Charles de Gaulle, the pres­i­dent from 1959 to 1969, also did this — and could not, on his own, upend Euro­pean uni­ty.

    More impor­tant, he would not be alone. Mr. Trump has promised coop­er­a­tion with Rus­sia and threat­ened to dimin­ish the Unit­ed States’ role in NATO. Sev­er­al East Euro­pean coun­tries have elect­ed lead­ers who advo­cate rec­on­cil­ing with Moscow.

    In West­ern Europe, pol­i­tics seems poised to move in Mr. Fillon’s direc­tion. Main­stream par­ties, forced to acknowl­edge that they can­not con­tain the far right, are instead work­ing to co-opt it.

    Mr. Fil­lon illus­trates this trend well. Unlike the French far right, he wish­es to main­tain his country’s mem­ber­ship in the Euro­pean Union. But, indulging Europe’s pop­ulist wave, he has promised to cur­tail immi­gra­tion sharply, pro­mote con­ser­v­a­tive social val­ues, impose “strict admin­is­tra­tive con­trol” over Islam and bring secu­ri­ty against ter­ror­ism.

    Ben­jamin Had­dad, a French ana­lyst at the Hud­son Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank based in Wash­ing­ton, said that such poli­cies point, in ways that might not be obvi­ous to Amer­i­cans, toward anoth­er agen­da item of the Euro­pean far right: part­ner­ing with Mr. Putin.

    “All over Europe, Putin­ism has emerged as an ide­o­log­i­cal alter­na­tive to glob­al­ism, the E.U., etc.,” Mr. Had­dad said, with Mr. Putin seen as “a bul­wark for con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues — a strong­man against gay mar­riage, immi­gra­tion, Islam.”

    Mr. Had­dad added, “It’s large­ly a domes­tic phe­nom­e­non, rather than the reflec­tion of a strate­gic debate over the rela­tion­ship with Moscow.”

    Mr. Fillon’s warmth toward Mr. Putin is appar­ent­ly heart­felt, and it pre­dat­ed this elec­tion. What changed is French vot­ers, who increas­ing­ly desire hard-line poli­cies and signs of strength that they per­ceive Mr. Putin as rep­re­sent­ing.

    Nico­las Sarkozy, Mr. Had­dad point­ed out, won the French pres­i­den­cy in 2007 by run­ning as a prag­mat­ic pro-Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive, but this year he ran as a pro-Russ­ian pop­ulist. While Mr. Sarkozy lost the cen­ter-right pri­ma­ry this month, Mr. Fil­lon car­ried that same mes­sage to suc­cess.

    The East­ern and South­ern Fronts

    In some ways, Mr. Fil­lon is par­tic­u­lar to France, where nation­al­ist politi­cians since de Gaulle have long assert­ed French inde­pen­dence from the Unit­ed States and Britain by reach­ing out to Rus­sia. But sim­i­lar trends are play­ing out in sev­er­al Euro­pean coun­tries, along their own par­tic­u­lar nation­al lines.

    In Ger­many, for instance, cen­ter-left lead­ers are push­ing to aban­don their country’s role in lead­ing Euro­pean efforts to counter Rus­sia. Instead, they advo­cate revert­ing to the Cold War-era pol­i­cy of Ost­poli­tik, in which West Ger­many sought a neu­tral bal­anc­ing role between East and West.

    Often, West Euro­pean politi­cians do not see them­selves as explic­it­ly call­ing for align­ing with Moscow, but rather for aban­don­ing the cost­ly mis­sion to counter Russia’s aggres­sion against far­away east­ern states at a moment when they have more imme­di­ate con­cerns.

    West Euro­pean lead­ers see them­selves as fight­ing an increas­ing­ly unten­able two-front war: a south­ern front against immi­gra­tion and ter­ror­ism and an east­ern front against Rus­sia.

    The east­ern front is large­ly a project of pol­i­cy estab­lish­ments that see it as essen­tial to main­tain­ing Europe’s post­war order. Vot­ers are more skep­ti­cal; a 2015 Pew poll found that slight majori­ties in France, Ger­many and Italy said their coun­tries should not uphold their treaty oblig­a­tion to defend an east­ern NATO ally should it be attacked by Rus­sia.

    Vot­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly those on the right, have long seen south­ern issues — ter­ror­ism and immi­gra­tion — as more impor­tant. Their threats to install far-right gov­ern­ments that would dis­man­tle the Euro­pean project entire­ly are increas­ing­ly cred­i­ble.

    Euro­pean polit­i­cal estab­lish­ments, unable to resist such sen­ti­ments for­ev­er, may feel they have to give up on the east to focus on the south.

    The Careen­ing Bal­ance of Pow­er

    The inter­na­tion­al con­text is stark­er.

    Rus­sia is grow­ing in pow­er and aggres­sion just as the West­ern order’s two strongest pow­ers — the Unit­ed States and Britain — are threat­en­ing to step away.

    In the cold-eyed view of inter­na­tion­al rela­tions schol­ars, who tend to mea­sure his­to­ry in epochs rather than elec­tion cycles, what Mr. Fil­lon says or believes is almost irrel­e­vant. Europe’s bal­ance of pow­er is rapid­ly shift­ing east, pulling nations like France with it.

    ...

    Bal­ance-of-pow­er the­o­ry states that, when a coun­try like Rus­sia ris­es, the oth­er states in that region have three choic­es. They can counter by esca­lat­ing against the ris­ing pow­er. They can flip sides to join the ris­ing pow­er. Or they can accom­mo­date the ris­ing pow­er, allow­ing it a greater stake in the region.

    In the past few years, Europe had con­fi­dent­ly cho­sen the first option, meet­ing Russia’s aggres­sion with sanc­tions and east­ward mil­i­tary deploy­ments meant to show Rus­sia that the sta­tus quo order would remain.

    But that approach looks increas­ing­ly unten­able with Mr. Trump’s elec­tion and with Brex­it. Even if Mr. Trump does not fol­low through on his threats to aban­don Amer­i­can com­mit­ments to defend NATO allies, those allies have lit­tle choice but to pre­pare for the pos­si­bil­i­ty.

    To the degree that is already chang­ing, Euro­pean states seem to be eye­ing the third option: to accom­mo­date Russia’s rise, indulging enough of Moscow’s demands to restore sta­bil­i­ty.

    With­in Europe, the old order has been led by Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel of Ger­many, who sees her­self as defend­ing the Euro­pean project but is increas­ing­ly chal­lenged by waver­ing allies and skep­ti­cal pop­u­la­tions, includ­ing many Ger­mans.

    “Merkel can’t do it by her­self. Ger­many doesn’t have that abil­i­ty,” Mr. Goldgeier said. If she wish­es to remain in office, she may have to give on some­thing, and Europe’s hard-line on Rus­sia could be it.

    As soon as one coun­try breaks from the unit­ed front against Rus­sia, Mr. Goldgeier said, “each Euro­pean coun­try will look to cut its own deal with the Rus­sians.”

    That could mean grant­i­ng Rus­sia con­ces­sions in Syr­ia, lift­ing the Euro­pean Union sanc­tions that were meant to force an end to the con­tin­u­ing war in east­ern Ukraine, or tol­er­at­ing greater Russ­ian influ­ence in East­ern Europe.

    It is impos­si­ble to pre­dict where these trend lines lead, not because they are in doubt but because they fore­tell such extreme changes in the Euro­pean order that their con­se­quences vary too wide­ly to pin down.

    Mr. Goldgeier, though, said his imme­di­ate con­cern was for the for­mer Sovi­et republics that are not mem­bers of the Euro­pean Union or NATO and would most like­ly be first to come under expand­ing Russ­ian influ­ence.

    “For the peo­ple of Ukraine, Moldo­va and Geor­gia, these trend lines are quite trag­ic,” he said.

    “In the cold-eyed view of inter­na­tion­al rela­tions schol­ars, who tend to mea­sure his­to­ry in epochs rather than elec­tion cycles, what Mr. Fil­lon says or believes is almost irrel­e­vant. Europe’s bal­ance of pow­er is rapid­ly shift­ing east, pulling nations like France with it.”

    The end of an epoch. So that’s hap­pen­ing. Prob­a­bly. And it’s the kind of devel­op­ment that could make a sig­nif­i­cant weak­en­ing of NATO much more like­ly. After all, NATO was basi­cal­ly cre­at­ed to counter the Sovi­et mil­i­tary threat and Rus­si­a’s ongo­ing mil­i­tary pow­er is still one of the main jus­ti­fi­ca­tions we hear for the alliance to this day. So if a Trump admin­is­tra­tion destroys Europe’s faith in the US’s com­mit­ment to NATO and at the same time the EU builds itself a shiny new army and there’s a sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­lar shift towards Rus­sia, what are the odds of NATO sur­viv­ing? Espe­cial­ly when you read some­thing like:

    ...
    The east­ern front is large­ly a project of pol­i­cy estab­lish­ments that see it as essen­tial to main­tain­ing Europe’s post­war order. Vot­ers are more skep­ti­cal; a 2015 Pew poll found that slight majori­ties in France, Ger­many and Italy said their coun­tries should not uphold their treaty oblig­a­tion to defend an east­ern NATO ally should it be attacked by Rus­sia.
    ...

    As we can see, Don­ald Trump casu­al dis­missal of NATO’s com­mit­ments has plen­ty of sup­port. In core Euro­pean coun­tries. So we have this bizarre sce­nario where the idea of NATO appears to be weak­en­ing on all sides while, at the same time, both prospects of an EU army grows and the like­li­hood of an Euro­pean shift towards Rus­sia simul­ta­ne­ous­ly grow too.

    Strange times. Ends of epochs are like that.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 1, 2016, 9:39 pm
  6. It looks like the Euro­pean Union is about to face a very strange test: will Don­ald Trump’s pub­lic trash talk­ing of the NATO and the EU, includ­ing a ref­er­ence to the EU as a “vehi­cle for Ger­many”, and his pre­dic­tions that the EU might break up soon end up actu­al­ly weak­en the EU and make anoth­er “-exit” more like­ly? Or could he act as a neg­a­tive uni­fi­er and the cat­a­lyst for even deep­er inte­gra­tion and the start of an EU army? Or will there be no real impact at all on the EU dur­ing this frag­ile time for the union? We’re going to find out:

    The Finan­cial Times

    Don­ald Trump takes swipe at EU as ‘vehi­cle for Ger­many’

    Pres­i­dent-elect stokes Euro­pean fears for the future of transat­lantic alliance

    by: Hen­ry Mance in Lon­don, Shawn Don­nan in Wash­ing­ton and James Shot­ter in Frank­furt
    01/15/2017

    Don­ald Trump has tak­en his strongest swipe yet at the EU, labelling it “a vehi­cle for Ger­many” and pre­dict­ing that oth­er coun­tries will fol­low Britain in leav­ing the bloc.

    The pres­i­dent-elect also warned that his trust for Angela Merkel “may not last long at all”, rank­ing the Ger­man chan­cel­lor along­side Vladimir Putin as a poten­tial­ly prob­lem­at­ic ally.

    The com­ments, made days before his inau­gu­ra­tion in an inter­view with the British Con­ser­v­a­tive MP Michael Gove and the Ger­man news­pa­per Bild, are like­ly to exac­er­bate fears in Euro­pean cap­i­tals for the future of the transat­lantic alliance.

    Mr Trump’s stance con­trasts sharply with that of Barack Oba­ma, who said on a farewell tour of Europe in Novem­ber that he “could not ask for a stead­ier or a more reli­able part­ner” than Ms Merkel.

    Antho­ny Gard­ner, Washington’s ambas­sador to the EU, said last week that it would be “the height of fol­ly” for the US to become a “Brex­it cheer­leader”. He also revealed that Mr Trump’s team had called EU lead­ers to ask “what coun­try is to leave next”.

    But Mr Trump appears ready to do exact­ly that, pre­dict­ing that oth­er coun­tries would leave the EU large­ly as a result of its immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy.

    “I believe oth­ers will leave. I do think keep­ing it togeth­er is not going to be as easy as a lot of peo­ple think. And I think this, if refugees keep pour­ing into dif­fer­ent parts of Europe...it’s going to be very hard to keep it togeth­er because peo­ple are angry about it.”

    Mr Trump told Mr Gove: “You look at the Euro­pean Union and it’s Ger­many. Basi­cal­ly a vehi­cle for Ger­many. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in get­ting out.”

    The pres­i­dent-elect said he was “a big fan of the UK” and would “work very hard” to secure a bilat­er­al trade agree­ment in what would be anoth­er rebuke to the EU, with which the US has been engag­ing in trade nego­ti­a­tions for the past four years.

    “We’re going to work very hard to get it done quick­ly and done prop­er­ly. Good for both sides,” Mr Trump said.

    Under EU rules the UK can­not nego­ti­ate a trade agree­ment with anoth­er coun­try until it leaves the union. US offi­cials have also said in the past that the terms of any trade deal with the UK would depend on the details of its exit from the EU and whether or not Britain remains part of the sin­gle mar­ket.

    Hav­ing made crit­i­cism of glob­al­i­sa­tion a cen­tral plank of his elec­tion cam­paign, Mr Trump also warned Germany’s car­mak­ers to expect to be hit with a bor­der tax if they sought to pro­duce cars in Mex­i­co for export to the US mar­ket.

    “I would say to BMW, if they built a fac­to­ry in Mex­i­co and want to sell cars in the US with­out pay­ing a 35 per cent tax, then they can for­get it. If they want to build cars for [export to] the rest of the world, I wish them all the best. They can build cars for the US. But they will pay a 35 per cent tax for every car they export to the US. What I am say­ing is that they should build their fac­to­ry in the US.”

    The inter­view means that Mr Trump has now met two of There­sa May’s domes­tic polit­i­cal rivals — Mr Gove and Nigel Farage of the UK Inde­pen­dence par­ty — before meet­ing the prime min­is­ter her­self.

    Mrs May is plan­ning to vis­it Mr Trump in the com­ing weeks. In a sign of its desire to ingra­ti­ate itself with the incom­ing US admin­is­tra­tion, the UK declined to attend a con­fer­ence in Paris on Sun­day in sup­port of a two-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict.

    Mr Trump was open­ly sup­port­ive of Brex­it on the cam­paign trail, and crit­i­cised Ms Merkel’s han­dling of the refugee cri­sis. Ms Merkel, in turn, extend­ed only guard­ed con­grat­u­la­tions after the Republican’s elec­toral vic­to­ry, offer­ing “close co-oper­a­tion” based on cer­tain shared val­ues.

    Many Euro­pean politi­cians held out hope that Mr Trump’s atti­tude would change, as he moved out of cam­paign mode and received intel­li­gence brief­in­gs on the threat of Rus­sia.

    In his inter­view pub­lished on Sun­day, Mr Trump gave mixed mes­sages on Nato, say­ing the alliance was “very impor­tant to me” but adding that it “was obso­lete” and that only “five countries...are pay­ing what they’re sup­posed to”.

    He sug­gest­ed that he would sup­port lift­ing sanc­tions on Rus­sia if Mr Putin agreed to reduce stock­piles of nuclear weapons. With ref­er­ence to Mr Putin and Ms Merkel, he said: “I start off trust­ing both — but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.”

    Charles Grant, direc­tor of the Cen­tre for Euro­pean Reform think-tank, said: “These com­ments rein­force the view that transat­lantic rela­tions are head­ing for their rock­i­est peri­od since world war two.

    ...

    “Mr Trump told Mr Gove: “You look at the Euro­pean Union and it’s Ger­many. Basi­cal­ly a vehi­cle for Ger­many. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in get­ting out.””

    Those are some sur­pris­ing­ly frank com­ments. And con­sid­er­ing how Ger­many’s exports have per­formed through­out the entire euro­zone cri­sis, it’s hard to dis­agree with that sen­ti­ment (Ger­man exports for 2016 are set for anoth­er record high). So if Trump keeps ham­mer­ing away on that par­tic­u­lar point about Ger­man dom­i­na­tion — a point that’s very hard to argue with giv­en the empir­i­cal evi­dence of what’s tran­spired in the EU since the begin­ning of the euro­zone cri­sis — that could be an indi­ca­tion that he’s seri­ous about mak­ing his admin­is­tra­tion an EU “-exit” cham­pi­on which could cer­tain­ly add the EU tur­bu­lence for the next four years.

    But also keep in mind that pub­licly call­ing the EU a vehi­cle for Ger­many could have the oppo­site effect in one par­tic­u­lar EU mem­ber that’s expe­ri­enc­ing no short­age of “-exit” angst of its own: Ger­many. That argu­ment may not be some­thing the Ger­man gov­ern­ment wants oth­ers to be mak­ing in gen­er­al, but when there’s a surg­ing far-right pop­ulist polit­i­cal move­ment like the AfD threat­en­ing the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment and gains based on the argu­ment that the EU and euro­zone are a drain on Ger­many, maybe in that case hav­ing Trump pub­licly declare the EU a vehi­cle for Ger­many isn’t so bad for Ger­many’s gov­ern­ment.

    And then there’s the fact that hav­ing Trump trash-talk NATO and the EU is a dream come true for those push­ing to form an EU army, a project that’s sol­ds as a means of simul­ta­ne­ous­ly bol­ster­ing Europe’s secu­ri­ty while deep­en­ing inte­grat­ing and ward­ing of the forces of “-exit”.

    So, all in all, with with three crit­i­cal elec­tions with sig­nif­i­cant far-right “pop­ulist” move­ments slat­ed to make major gains com­ing up in the EU in 2017 (France in April-May, Den­mark in June, and Ger­many in Octo­ber), it’s going to be inter­est­ing to watch the nature of Trump’s pub­lic com­ments regard­ing Europe and how they could change over the course of the year. For instance, do Trump’s com­ments about Ger­many as a vehi­cle for the EU surge right before France’s elec­tions ear­li­er in the year or Ger­many’s elec­tions in the fall? That will be some­thing to watch.

    It’s also worth not­ing that Trump’s trash talk against NATO took place days after François Fil­lon — France’s pro-aus­ter­i­ty cen­ter-right pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in the upcom­ing elec­tions who is the cur­rent favorite to win and a big cham­pi­on of an EU Army, deep­er Euro­pean inte­gra­tion, and clos­er ties to Rus­sia as part of a gen­er­al Euro­pean rebal­anc­ing towards the east — declared that paci­fism is no longer an option for Ger­many, cit­ing the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as one of the main rea­sons:

    The Tele­graph

    ‘Paci­fism’ no longer an option for Ger­many after Berlin attack, says French pres­i­den­tial favourite François Fil­lon

    By Hen­ry Samuel, Paris
    10 Jan­u­ary 2017 • 5:43pm

    Paci­fism is no longer an option for Ger­many after the Berlin Christ­mas mar­ket attack, accord­ing to French con­ser­v­a­tive pres­i­den­tial can­di­date François Fil­lon, who will meet with Angela Merkel to out­line his plans for Europe in the com­ing days

    Mr Fil­lon, whom some have dubbed a Gal­lic Thatcherite, is the cur­rent favourite to become France’s next pres­i­dent in elec­tions in April and May after his sur­prise vic­to­ry in pri­maries for his Right-wing par­ty, The Repub­li­cans.

    In his first major media appear­ance since becom­ing the cen­tre-Right nom­i­nee, the Gaullist pledged to focus on defence, secu­ri­ty and a more inte­grat­ed euro zone.

    The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump and the tragedy in Berlin have been a game-chang­er,” he told jour­nal­ists in a New Year’s address at his new cam­paign head­quar­ters at the Porte de Ver­sailles, west­ern Paris.

    “For the Unit­ed States, our con­ti­nent will like­ly not be a pri­or­i­ty any­more and for Ger­many, a cer­tain idea of paci­fism is gone.

    “France must seize this oppor­tu­ni­ty to re-mobilise the Euro­pean Union around strate­gic pri­or­i­ties: our col­lec­tive secu­ri­ty, defence, inno­va­tion and the re-tight­en­ing of the euro zone,” he said.

    Mr Fil­lon, who offered no details about what con­sti­tut­ed a tighter euro­zone, said he would “spell out my ori­en­ta­tions for Europe” to Ms Merkel, who aides said he would meet on Jan­u­ary 23 in Berlin.

    Mr Fil­lon and the Ger­man chan­cel­lor see eye to eye on the econ­o­my, with the for­mer French prime min­is­ter intent on cut­ting half a mil­lion state sec­tor jobs with­in five years and bury­ing the 35-hour work­ing week.

    But the pair dif­fer on issues from Turkey to migra­tion and Europe. Unlike Ms Merkel, he has called for a strate­gic part­ner­ship with Rus­sia to fight Isil in Syr­ia, and to keep com­mu­ni­ca­tion open with Syr­i­an pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad.

    This has drawn praise from Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Mr Assad, who told French media this week: “His rhetoric on ter­ror­ism, mak­ing com­bat­ing ter­ror­ists a pri­or­i­ty and not inter­fer­ing in oth­er coun­tries’ busi­ness, was wel­come.”

    Mr Fil­lon’s aides were quick to respond by say­ing that he “has noth­ing to do with Bashar al-Assad, who is a dic­ta­tor, and has blood on his hands”.

    But Bruno Rétail­leau, his cam­paign coor­di­na­tor, added: “When you want peace, some­times you have to bring to the table peo­ple with dirty hands.”

    Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists after his speech, Mr Fil­lon insist­ed that “Ms Merkel is much more prag­mat­ic on Putin that one might think but she is very pru­dent”.

    The con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­date has come under heavy fire from the Left and far-Right Front Nation­al over his plans to slim down France’s bloat­ed state sec­tor and enact social secu­ri­ty reforms detrac­tors claim amount to the par­tial pri­vati­sa­tion of the nation­al health ser­vice.

    A poll this month sug­gest­ed that 81 per cent of the French want him to mod­i­fy his pri­ma­ry pledges for the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    But on Tues­day, Mr Fil­lon said this was out of the ques­tion.

    “Democ­ra­cy isn’t one pro­gramme for the pri­maries, anoth­er for the pres­i­den­tial vote and why not anoth­er for the leg­isla­tive elec­tions.

    ...

    The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump and the tragedy in Berlin have been a game-chang­er,” he told jour­nal­ists in a New Year’s address at his new cam­paign head­quar­ters at the Porte de Ver­sailles, west­ern Paris.

    The cur­rent front-run­ner for Pres­i­dent of France wants Ger­many to aban­don its paci­fism. Yes, the world is a rapid­ly chang­ing place. And Trump, sim­ply be being reli­ably unre­li­able, is help­ing to cat­alyze that change. What par­tic­u­lar change he cat­alyzes remains to be seen.

    But note the endur­ing and deep unpop­u­lar­i­ty of of Fil­lon’s pro-aus­ter­i­ty agen­da: 81 per­cent of French vot­ers want him to drop that aus­ter­i­ty, which he refus­es to do:

    ...

    The con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­date has come under heavy fire from the Left and far-Right Front Nation­al over his plans to slim down France’s bloat­ed state sec­tor and enact social secu­ri­ty reforms detrac­tors claim amount to the par­tial pri­vati­sa­tion of the nation­al health ser­vice.

    A poll this month sug­gest­ed that 81 per cent of the French want him to mod­i­fy his pri­ma­ry pledges for the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    But on Tues­day, Mr Fil­lon said this was out of the ques­tion.

    “Democ­ra­cy isn’t one pro­gramme for the pri­maries, anoth­er for the pres­i­den­tial vote and why not anoth­er for the leg­isla­tive elec­tions.

    ...

    And with Marine Le Pen’s suc­cess at that polls dri­ven, in part, by the Nation­al Fron­t’s anti-aus­ter­i­ty posi­tions, that rais­es one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing weird divides for some­one like Don­ald Trump to strad­dle as is rhetor­i­cal­ly mess­es with the EU: will Trump take a pro or anti-aus­ter­i­ty stance? Because some of the far-right move­ments, like the AfD in Ger­many, charge that the euro­zone is too gen­er­ous to weak­er mem­bers and want to kick coun­tries like France out of the euro­zone because they haven’t embraced aus­ter­i­ty enough.

    So, for some­one like Trump who pre­sum­ably would like to appeal to both the Nation­al Front and the AfD and use his inter­na­tion­al noto­ri­ety to influ­ence both elec­tions if pos­si­ble, he can appeal to the anti-aus­ter­i­ty far-right par­ties like the Nation­al Front or the pro-aus­ter­i­ty far-right par­ties like the AfD on the aus­ter­i­ty debate, but he can’t appeal to both. At least not at the same time. But Trump is also per­fect­ly capa­ble of chang­ing his views seam­less­ly and flip-flop­ping so he can take both sides over­all. And that’s part of why it’s going to be so inter­est­ing to see which side of the Euro­pean aus­ter­i­ty debate he ends up on over the course of 2017. Will it be anti-aus­ter­i­ty rhetoric for the first half of 2017 and the French elec­tions and then pro-extreme-aus­ter­i­ty rhetoric for the lat­ter half? The oppo­site? That’s some­thing to watch. He’ll prob­a­bly just focus on bash­ing the refugees which should appeal to both the pro and anti-aus­ter­i­ty far-right (human­i­ty isn’t in a good place right now).

    It’s also worth not­ing that the biggest influ­ence Trump could end up hav­ing on Europe would be through exam­ple: if the Trump and the GOP-con­trolled con­gress real­ly do imple­ment a big infra­struc­ture stim­u­lus plan, the kind the GOP would­n’t have allowed in a mil­lion years under a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­cy, and if that results in a sig­nif­i­cant uptick in US eco­nom­ic growth, that alone could end up tip­ping the scales in Europe’s aus­ter­i­ty debates. Of course, since that big infra­struc­ture plan is prob­a­bly a giant Trumpian scam, we prob­a­bly won’t see that exam­ple play out. Maybe that EU army that Trump is mak­ing inevitable will end up pro­vid­ing that stim­u­lus. Oh good­ie.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 16, 2017, 7:57 pm
  7. The EU is report­ed­ly tak­ing the first step in a joint French/Ger­man-backed plan to cre­ate an EU mil­i­tary train­ing head­quar­ters. And while EU lead­ers explic­it­ly say this is not a step towards replac­ing NATO with an EU Army, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that this is the Age of Trump, so it’s def­i­nite­ly a step towards replac­ing NATO with an EU Army. Oth­er­wise there would­n’t also be talk of turn­ing France’s nukes into the EU’s new nuclear deter­rent:

    The New York Times

    Fear­ing U.S. With­draw­al, Europe Con­sid­ers Its Own Nuclear Deter­rent

    By MAX FISHER
    MARCH 6, 2017

    BERLIN — An idea, once unthink­able, is gain­ing atten­tion in Euro­pean pol­i­cy cir­cles: a Euro­pean Union nuclear weapons pro­gram.

    Under such a plan, France’s arse­nal would be repur­posed to pro­tect the rest of Europe and would be put under a com­mon Euro­pean com­mand, fund­ing plan, defense doc­trine, or some com­bi­na­tion of the three. It would be enact­ed only if the Con­ti­nent could no longer count on Amer­i­can pro­tec­tion.

    Though no new coun­tries would join the nuclear club under this scheme, it would amount to an unprece­dent­ed esca­la­tion in Europe’s col­lec­tive mil­i­tary pow­er and a dras­tic break with Amer­i­can lead­er­ship.

    Ana­lysts say that the talk, even if it nev­er trans­lates into action, demon­strates the grow­ing sense in Europe that dras­tic steps may be nec­es­sary to pro­tect the post­war order in the era of a Trump pres­i­den­cy, a resur­gent Rus­sia and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an align­ment between the two.

    Even pro­po­nents, who remain a minor­i­ty, acknowl­edge enor­mous hur­dles. But dis­cus­sion of a so-called “Eurode­ter­rent” has entered the main­stream — par­tic­u­lar­ly in Ger­many, a coun­try that would be cen­tral to any plan but where anti­nu­clear sen­ti­ment is wide­spread.

    Jana Puglierin of the Ger­man Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions said that a hand­ful of senior Euro­pean offi­cials had “for sure trig­gered a pub­lic debate about this, tak­ing place in news­pa­pers and jour­nals, radio inter­views and TV doc­u­men­taries.”

    She added: “That in itself is remark­able. I am indeed very aston­ished that we dis­cuss this at all.”

    A Nuclear ‘Plan B’

    Jaroslaw Kaczyn­s­ki, Poland’s for­mer prime min­is­ter and now the head of its rul­ing par­ty, pro­vid­ed the high­est-lev­el call for a Euro­pean Union nuclear pro­gram in a Feb­ru­ary inter­view with a Ger­man news­pa­per.

    But the most impor­tant sup­port has come from Roderich Kiesewet­ter, a law­mak­er and for­eign pol­i­cy spokesman with Germany’s rul­ing par­ty, who gave the nuclear option increased cred­i­bil­i­ty by rais­ing it short­ly after Pres­i­dent Trump’s elec­tion.

    In an inter­view in the Ger­man Bun­destag, Mr. Kiesewet­ter, a for­mer colonel who served in Afghanistan, cal­i­brat­ed his lan­guage care­ful­ly, pro­vid­ing just enough detail to demon­strate the option’s seri­ous­ness with­out offer­ing too much and risk­ing an out­cry from Ger­man vot­ers or encour­ag­ing the Amer­i­can with­draw­al he is hop­ing to avoid.

    “My idea is to build on the exist­ing weapons in Great Britain and France,” he said, but acknowl­edged that Britain’s deci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union could pre­clude its par­tic­i­pa­tion.

    The Unit­ed States bases dozens of nuclear war­heads in Ger­many, Italy, Bel­gium and the Nether­lands as both a quick-reac­tion force and a sym­bol of its guar­an­tee to pro­tect the Con­ti­nent. Mr. Kiesewet­ter said his plan would pro­vide a replace­ment or par­al­lel pro­gram.

    This would require, he said, four ingre­di­ents: a French pledge to com­mit its weapons to a com­mon Euro­pean defense, Ger­man financ­ing to demon­strate the program’s col­lec­tive nature, a joint com­mand and a plan to place French war­heads in oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries.

    The num­ber of war­heads in Europe would not increase under this plan, and could even decrease if the Unit­ed States with­draws.

    “It’s not a ques­tion of num­bers,” Mr. Kiesewet­ter said. “The reas­sur­ance and deter­rence comes from the exis­tence of the weapons and their deploy­a­bil­i­ty.”

    He envi­sioned a pro­gram designed to deter nuclear as well as con­ven­tion­al threats — a clear nod to Russia’s mil­i­tary supe­ri­or­i­ty.

    This would require a doc­trine, he said, allow­ing Europe to intro­duce nuclear weapons to a non-nuclear con­flict. He com­pared it to the Israeli pro­gram, which is believed to allow for a nuclear strike against an over­whelm­ing con­ven­tion­al attack.

    “These are polit­i­cal weapons. Their use must be unpre­dictable,” he said. Small­er nuclear pow­ers often main­tain vague doc­trines to deter more pow­er­ful adver­saries.

    The goal, he said, would be to main­tain Europe’s defense, seen as cru­cial for its inter­nal uni­ty, as well as its inter­na­tion­al diplo­mat­ic stand­ing.

    Ger­man law­mak­ers across the polit­i­cal spec­trum wor­ry that Mr. Trump could strike a grand bar­gain with Rus­sia that excludes Europe, a poten­tial first step toward Wash­ing­ton and Moscow dic­tat­ing Europe’s future. Mr. Kiesewet­ter believes a Euro­pean nuclear pro­gram would allow Europe to pre­serve its auton­o­my.

    ‘A Polit­i­cal Mine­field’

    Most­ly, Mr. Kiesewet­ter said he hoped to spur Mr. Trump to end doubts over Amer­i­can secu­ri­ty com­mit­ments to Europe, ren­der­ing unnec­es­sary the nuclear “Plan B.”

    For now, Mr. Kiesewetter’s inten­tion is mere­ly to “trig­ger a debate” over address­ing “this silent, gigan­tic prob­lem.”

    It has worked. A small but grow­ing con­tin­gent of Ger­man ana­lysts and com­men­ta­tors have endorsed ver­sions of a Euro­pean nuclear pro­gram.

    Mr. Kiesewet­ter said he had heard inter­est from offi­cials in the Pol­ish and Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ments, at NATO head­quar­ters in Brus­sels and with­in rel­e­vant Ger­man min­istries, though he would not say which.

    But any Euro­pean nuclear pro­gram would face enor­mous hur­dles.

    “The pub­lic is total­ly opposed,” Ms. Puglierin said, refer­ring to Ger­man anti­nu­clear sen­ti­ment, which has at times cul­mi­nat­ed in nation­wide protests against the weapons.

    In prac­ti­cal terms, the plan would change the flag on Europe’s nuclear deter­rent from that of the Unit­ed States to that of France. But this would risk mak­ing an Amer­i­can exit from Europe more per­ma­nent.

    Oliv­er Thrän­ert, a Ger­man ana­lyst with the Switzer­land-based Cen­ter for Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies, warned in a white paper that any plan “would not only be expen­sive, but also a polit­i­cal mine­field full of unde­sir­able poten­tial polit­i­cal con­se­quences.”

    The biggest chal­lenge may be who con­trols the French arse­nal and where it is based.

    The Unit­ed States cur­rent­ly shares war­heads with allies like Ger­many, whose mil­i­taries are equipped to deliv­er the weapons, grant­i­ng the pro­gram cred­i­bil­i­ty as a Pan-Euro­pean defense.

    But France has shown no will­ing­ness to share its weapons, much less put them under a joint Euro­pean com­mand. If Paris main­tains final say over their use, this might cause an adver­sary to doubt whether France would real­ly ini­ti­ate a nuclear con­flict to pro­tect, say, Esto­nia.

    France and ‘a Spe­cial Respon­si­bil­i­ty’

    These sorts of prob­lems are why Bruno Ter­trais of the Foun­da­tion for Strate­gic Research in Paris said, “In oth­er times I would have told you don’t both­er, there’s no sto­ry here.”

    Sim­i­lar pro­pos­als have been float­ed before, includ­ing by the French gov­ern­ment, and always reject­ed as polit­i­cal­ly risky and strate­gi­cal­ly unnec­es­sary. But, he said, that cal­cu­lus appears to have a poten­tial to change with Mr. Trump.

    “There’s already a bit more inter­est in Berlin and in Paris,” Mr. Ter­trais said, though he empha­sized that this talk would become action only if there were “a seri­ous loss of trust in the U.S. umbrel­la.”

    But a joint Euro­pean com­mand or fund­ing scheme would most like­ly be impos­si­ble, he warned. The French gov­ern­ment would insist on main­tain­ing “the final deci­sion to use nuclear weapons.”

    That is also Unit­ed States pol­i­cy in Europe, which is why Mr. Ter­trais believes a more work­able plan would be for France to repro­duce Amer­i­can-style prac­tices of bas­ing its war­heads abroad, while keep­ing them under French con­trol.

    While most French war­heads are lodged on sub­marines, a few dozen are fit­ted to air-launched cruise mis­siles that could be housed in, for exam­ple, Ger­man air­fields. These are small­er, short­er-range tac­ti­cal weapons — exact­ly the Amer­i­can capa­bil­i­ty that Europe most fears los­ing.

    French pol­i­cy already allows for, though does not require, using nuclear weapons in defense of an ally.

    With Britain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union, “the French might feel they have a spe­cial respon­si­bil­i­ty” as Europe’s sole nuclear pow­er.

    Vipin Narang, a Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy pro­fes­sor who stud­ies region­al nuclear pow­ers, was ini­tial­ly skep­ti­cal but came to see such a plan as both tech­ni­cal­ly and polit­i­cal­ly fea­si­ble.

    For France, he said, “it extends their fron­tier,” mak­ing it like­li­er that a nuclear con­flict would be fought far from French soil. For Ger­many and oth­er Euro­pean states, it would “increase the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the for­ward deploy­ment against Russ­ian aggres­sion.”

    An Insur­ance Pol­i­cy

    Some observers believe that offi­cial shows of sup­port are intend­ed only to pres­sure Mr. Trump into main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo, which Mr. Kiesewet­ter empha­sized is his pre­ferred out­come.

    But Mr. Narang said that, regard­less of inten­tions, there is a blur­ry line between mere sig­nal­ing and actu­al­ly pur­su­ing a fall­back nuclear option.

    Nuclear schol­ars call this “insur­ance hedg­ing,” in which a pro­tectee comes to doubt its pro­tec­tor and responds by tak­ing steps toward, but not actu­al­ly com­plet­ing, its own nuclear pro­gram. This is meant to goad the pro­tec­tor into stay­ing, and to pre­pare in case it doesn’t.

    Japan, for instance, has qui­et­ly devel­oped latent capa­bil­i­ties that are some­times fig­u­ra­tive­ly described as a “screwdriver’s turn” away from a bomb.

    ...

    ‘I Nev­er Thought We Would See This Again’

    Mr. Kiesewet­ter hopes the Unit­ed States will come around. He puts par­tic­u­lar faith in Jim Mat­tis, the defense sec­re­tary, whom he met in Afghanistan and Brus­sels while both were mil­i­tary offi­cers.

    But Mr. Mat­tis has echoed Mr. Trump’s warn­ings that the Unit­ed States could lessen its sup­port for Europe, say­ing in a recent speech in Brus­sels, “I owe it to you to give you clar­i­ty on the polit­i­cal real­i­ty in the Unit­ed States.”

    If Euro­peans grew more seri­ous about a nuclear pro­gram, Mr. Ter­trais said, “you would not nec­es­sar­i­ly see it.” Nego­ti­a­tions would most like­ly remain secret for fear of giv­ing Mr. Trump an excuse to with­draw — or of trig­ger­ing a reac­tion from Rus­sia.

    Mr. Narang said he was reel­ing from the seri­ous­ness of the dis­cus­sion, the first since a failed and now-for­got­ten effort in the 1950s for French-Ger­man-Ital­ian nuclear coop­er­a­tion.

    “I nev­er thought we would see this again. I nev­er thought there would actu­al­ly be this con­cern,” he said. But, he added, “You can see where the debate is sur­fac­ing from. There is a log­ic to it.”

    “Under such a plan, France’s arse­nal would be repur­posed to pro­tect the rest of Europe and would be put under a com­mon Euro­pean com­mand, fund­ing plan, defense doc­trine, or some com­bi­na­tion of the three. It would be enact­ed only if the Con­ti­nent could no longer count on Amer­i­can pro­tec­tion.”

    Is France will­ing to extend its nuclear umbrel­la to the rest of the EU if Trump ends up scar­ing the Euro­peans into “going it alone”? That’s going to be a pret­ty big “going it alone” ques­tion for the EU in gen­er­al but espe­cial­ly for France and Ger­many which have been the two biggest pro­po­nents of cre­at­ing an EU Army in the first place. And it sounds like there could be quite a bit of resis­tance in France to either giv­ing up con­trol of its nukes or agree­ing to some oth­er arrange­ment that makes France the nuclear-umbrel­la for the rest of the EU. But if not France, who? Well, Ger­many, of course:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    In the era of Don­ald Trump, Ger­mans debate a mil­i­tary buildup

    By Antho­ny Faio­la
    March 5, 2017 at 7:18 PM

    SESTOKAI, Lithua­nia — A ver­mil­ion-col­ored loco­mo­tive slowed to a halt, its freight cars obscured in the blind­ing snow. A Ger­man cap­tain ordered his troops to unload the train’s car­go. “Jawohl!” — “Yes, sir!” — a sol­dier said, before direct­ing out the first of 20 tanks bear­ing the Iron Cross of the Bun­deswehr, Germany’s army.

    Evoca­tive of old war films, the scene is nev­er­the­less a sign of new times. Sev­en and a half decades after the Nazis invad­ed this Baltic nation, the Ger­mans are back in Lithua­nia — this time as one of the allies.

    As the Trump admin­is­tra­tion ratch­ets up the pres­sure on allied nations to shoul­der more of their own defense, no coun­try is more in the crosshairs than Ger­many. If it meets the goals Wash­ing­ton is push­ing for, Ger­many — the region’s eco­nom­ic pow­er­house — would be on the fast track to again become West­ern Europe’s biggest mil­i­tary pow­er.

    Any renais­sance of Ger­man might has long been resist­ed first and fore­most by the Ger­mans — a nation that large­ly reject­ed mil­i­tarism in the after­math of the Nazi hor­ror. Yet a rethink­ing of Ger­man pow­er is quick­ly emerg­ing as one of the most sig­nif­i­cant twists of Pres­i­dent Trump’s transat­lantic pol­i­cy.

    Since the Novem­ber elec­tion in the Unit­ed States, the Ger­mans — caught between Trump’s Amer­i­ca and Vladimir Putin’s Rus­sia — are feel­ing less and less secure. Cou­pled with Trump’s push to have allies step up, the Ger­mans are debat­ing a mil­i­tary buildup in a man­ner rarely wit­nessed since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Per­haps nowhere is the prospect of a new future play­ing out more than here in Lithua­nia — where near­ly 500 Ger­man troops, includ­ing a Bavar­i­an com­bat bat­tal­ion, arrived in recent weeks for an open-end­ed deploy­ment near the Russ­ian fron­tier. The NATO deploy­ment marks what ana­lysts describe as Germany’s most ambi­tious mil­i­tary oper­a­tion near the Russ­ian bor­der since the end of the Cold War. It arrived with a for­mi­da­ble show of Ger­man force — includ­ing 20 Marder armored infantry fight­ing vehi­cles, six Leop­ard bat­tle tanks and 12 Fuchs and Box­er armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers.

    “Maybe, with respect to the Unit­ed States, you need to be care­ful what you wish for,” said Lt. Col. Torsten Stephan, mil­i­tary spokesman for the Ger­man troops in Lithua­nia. “Mr. Trump says that NATO may be obso­lete, and that we need to be more inde­pen­dent. Well, maybe we will.”

    The Ger­man-led deploy­ment — also involv­ing a small­er num­ber of troops from Bel­gium, the Nether­lands and Nor­way — is designed to send a mus­cu­lar mes­sage from Europe to Putin: Back off.

    Yet on a con­ti­nent fac­ing the prospect of a new Cold War, the deploy­ment is also offer­ing a win­dow into the risks of renewed Ger­man strength — as well as the Russ­ian strat­e­gy for repelling it by dwelling on Germany’s dark past. In the 21st-cen­tu­ry world of hybrid war­fare, the first prover­bial salvos have been fired.

    Recent­ly, coor­di­nat­ed emails were sent to Lithuan­ian police, media and top politi­cians, false­ly claim­ing that the new Ger­man troops had gang-raped a local 15-year-old girl. The Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment quick­ly dis­proved the alle­ga­tions — but not before a few local out­lets and social-media users had spread the false accounts. Offi­cials are inves­ti­gat­ing whether the Rus­sians were behind it.

    “But if you ask me per­son­al­ly, I think that yes, that’s the biggest prob­a­bil­i­ty,” said Lithuan­ian Defense Min­is­ter Raimundas Karob­lis.

    Pro-Russ­ian web­sites, mean­while, are prey­ing on old stereo­types, hark­ing back to Adolf Hitler and por­tray­ing the NATO deploy­ment in Lithua­nia as a “sec­ond inva­sion” by Ger­many.

    As Ger­many grows bold­er, out­dat­ed imagery is roar­ing back to life through Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da. Last week, the Russ­ian Defense Min­istry announced the build­ing of a repro­duc­tion of the old Ger­man Reich­stag at a mil­i­tary theme park near Moscow, offer­ing young Rus­sians a chance to reen­act the 1945 storm­ing of the struc­ture dur­ing the fall of Berlin.

    Yet in Lithua­nia, a for­mer Sovi­et repub­lic now liv­ing in the shad­ow of Russia’s maw, the Nazi lega­cy is seen as ancient his­to­ry. To many here, mod­ern Ger­many is a bas­tion of demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples and one of the globe’s strongest advo­cates of human rights, free deter­mi­na­tion and mea­sured diplo­ma­cy. And fac­ing a Russ­ian threat in times of uncer­tain NATO alle­giances, the Lithua­ni­ans are clam­or­ing for a more pow­er­ful Ger­many by its side.

    “I think U.S. lead­er­ship should be main­tained, but also, we need lead­er­ship in Europe,” Karob­lis said. Not­ing that Britain is in the process of break­ing away from the Euro­pean Union, he called Ger­many the most like­ly new guar­an­tor of region­al sta­bil­i­ty.

    “Why not Ger­many? Why not?” he said.

    More dan­ger­ous mis­sions

    For many Ger­mans, how­ev­er, there are many rea­sons — includ­ing over­spend­ing and fears of spark­ing a new arms race. Accord­ing to a poll com­mis­sioned by Stern mag­a­zine and pub­lished this year, 55 per­cent of Ger­mans are against increas­ing defense spend­ing in the com­ing years, while 42 per­cent are in favor.

    The Ger­man mil­i­tary has staged sev­er­al mil­i­tary exer­cis­es in Poland and oth­er parts of East­ern Europe, and its pilots form part of the air police deter­ring Russ­ian planes buzzing the E.U.’s east­ern bor­ders. It has also begun to take on more dan­ger­ous mis­sions — deploy­ing troops to the Balka­ns, Afghanistan and, last year, to Mali. The mil­i­tary also has tak­en on a logis­ti­cal sup­port role in the allied fight against the Islam­ic State.

    But the Ger­mans are slat­ed to do much more. In 2014, Ger­man offi­cials agreed with oth­er NATO nations to spend at least 2 per­cent of its gross domes­tic prod­uct on defense with­in 10 years — up from about 1.2 per­cent in 2016. Until recent­ly, how­ev­er, many Ger­man offi­cials pri­vate­ly acknowl­edged that such a goal — which would see Ger­many leapfrog Britain and France in mil­i­tary spend­ing — was polit­i­cal­ly unten­able.

    Since Trump’s vic­to­ry, how­ev­er, Ger­man politi­cians, pun­dits and the media have ago­nized over the issue, with more and loud­er voic­es call­ing for a stronger mil­i­tary. Last month, the Defense Min­istry announced plans to increase Germany’s stand­ing mil­i­tary to near­ly 200,000 troops by 2024, up from a his­tor­i­cal low of 166,500 in June. After 26 years of cuts, defense spend­ing is going up by 8 per­cent this year.

    Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has called for cool heads, but also for increased mil­i­tary spend­ing. Her defense min­is­ter, Ursu­la von der Leyen, has been more force­ful, say­ing recent­ly that Ger­many can­not “duck away” from its mil­i­tary respon­si­bil­i­ty. Although con­sid­ered a dis­tant pos­si­bil­i­ty, some out­lier voic­es are men­tion­ing the once-incon­ceiv­able: the advent of a Ger­man nuclear bomb.

    “If Trump sticks to his line, Amer­i­ca will leave Europe’s defense to the Euro­peans to an extent that it hasn’t known since 1945,” Berthold Kohler, pub­lish­er of Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung, wrote in a recent opin­ion piece. That could mean “high­er defense spend­ing, the revival of the draft, the draw­ing of red lines and the utter­ly unthink­able for Ger­man brains — the ques­tion of one’s own nuclear defense capa­bil­i­ty.”

    ...

    ““If Trump sticks to his line, Amer­i­ca will leave Europe’s defense to the Euro­peans to an extent that it hasn’t known since 1945,” Berthold Kohler, pub­lish­er of Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung, wrote in a recent opin­ion piece. That could mean “high­er defense spend­ing, the revival of the draft, the draw­ing of red lines and the utter­ly unthink­able for Ger­man brains — the ques­tion of one’s own nuclear defense capa­bil­i­ty.””

    As we can see, as the EU’s only remain­ing nuclear pow­er after the UK leaves, France might be seen as the default provider of a nuclear ‘Plan B’ for Europe, but that does­n’t mean Ger­many isn’t think­ing about tak­ing this oppor­tu­ni­ty to go down the nuclear route. And that could give Berlin the per­fect excuse to do it if France does­n’t agree to become the new EU nuclear deter­rent, espe­cial­ly if Ger­many gets to devel­op that bomb under the declared intent of pro­tect­ing the rest of Europe.

    Yep, Berlin could be on the verge of get­ting a nuclear moral high ground free­bie to build the bomb. It’s anoth­er gift for the future from the Age of Trump.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 6, 2017, 4:45 pm
  8. some inter­est­ing fam­i­ly back­ground on Mar­tin Sel­mayr here

    His pater­nal grand­fa­ther, Josef, served as a Lieu­tenant Colonel on Hitler’s Gen­er­al Staff in the Balka­ns and and was lat­er served four years for war crimes. He became one of the founders of the West Ger­man mil­i­tary secret ser­vice.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/02/revealed-jean-claude-junckers-monster-plotting-punish-britain/

    Posted by chris | May 3, 2017, 12:32 am
  9. anoth­er link on Sel­mayr — includ­ing this snip­pet

    Sel­mayr flirt­ed with the pri­vate sec­tor at Ber­tels­mann, which was then becom­ing Germany’s biggest media con­glom­er­ate.

    http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/7014/full

    Posted by Chris | January 13, 2018, 8:29 am
  10. Mar­tin Sel­mayr has always dreamed of being known beyond the Brus­sels bub­ble. His wish has now been grant­ed, albeit in not quite the way he might have hoped. It has arrived in the form of a bril­liant­ly exe­cut­ed coup that has hand­ed this 47-year-old Ger­man bureau­crat near-total con­trol of the EU machine.

    The coup began at 9.39 a.m. on 21 Feb­ru­ary, when 1,000 jour­nal­ists were sent an email sum­mon­ing them to a 10.30 a.m. audi­ence with Jean-Claude Junck­er. The short notice sug­gest­ed urgency — and for such a meet­ing to be hap­pen­ing at all was unusu­al in itself. Since becom­ing Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Junck­er has held hard­ly any press con­fer­ences.

    His news was the sur­prise pro­mo­tion of Sel­mayr, his Chief of Staff, to the posi­tion of Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al, in charge of the Commission’s 33,000 staff. The reac­tion from the jour­nal­ists present was aston­ish­ment. No one had been aware of a vacan­cy. There was no sign that the 61-year-old Alexan­der Ital­ian­er had been think­ing of retir­ing. But as Junck­er announced oth­er appoint­ments, it quick­ly became clear what had hap­pened. Sel­mayr had tak­en con­trol, and any­one who resist­ed him had been uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly fired. Junck­er had hand­ed the keys of the Euro­pean house to his favourite Euro­crat.

    Sel­mayr had served Junck­er well — or was it the oth­er way around? Rather than being a reg­u­lar chief of staff, Sel­mayr act­ed like a de fac­to deputy pres­i­dent. Junck­er, who looks increas­ing­ly tired and worn out, had been the per­fect glove pup­pet for Sel­mayr. Junck­er was hap­py to let his Chief of Staff do the work, and hap­py to thank him by giv­ing him a job of even greater pow­er.

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/03/a‑very-eu-coup-martin-selmayrs-astonishing-power-grab/

    Posted by Mark | March 8, 2018, 11:58 am

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