It was just the beginning of the 1970s when Germany, aware that its internal market was already saturated, began to look with desire towards the East. An immense territory without economical development.
It had the inconvenience of belonging to the USSR, a political conglomerate dominated by Russia. With the dictatorship and expansive militarism as essential fibers. It was shaky ground for a democracy to explore, but Germany was undaunted.
They called this orientation towards the East Ostpolitik, the Eastern Politics. And, as usual among those who venture into muddy waters, they sold the strategy by dressing it as altruism: those engaging in trade with each other do not shoot at one another, this will bring the USSR closer to democracy… the usual dressing up in politics.
The Ostpolitik grew, bore fruit and is still alive after 50 years. Now with Putin, as before with the USSR, there is not much difference between them in terms of lack of democracy and aggressiveness. And this is what explains, among other things, Europe’s dependence on Russian energy. Here is an excellent article about it: ‘We were all wrong’: how Germany got hooked on Russian energy by Patrick Wintour for The Guardian.
This collaboration between Germany and Russia was created with four basic elements that made it feasible:
- Germany provided financing from all over Europe to Russia and the countries under its orbit in exchange for their buying German products. A win-win for both. It was done with some dissimulation, so that the rest of the European countries, which did not get anything for themselves, were not aware.
- Russia, with this scheme, would have been in a situation of inferiority with respect to Germany, of financial dependence. So it was compensated by making Europe energy dependent on Russia. Thus, dependencies and flows of goods were both compensated. This is one of the reasons why in the 70s Germany promoted everything about «green politics», Europe should not generate energy. We could say that the 2030 Agenda starts there, with the 70s famous meme Atomkraft, nein danke (Nuclear power, no thanks).
- Together with the economic collaboration, also a political rapprochement was carried out. Russia began to be more sympathetic to European democracies… and Germany would begin to promote a progressive anti-American ideology. That’s where the ideology of leftist globalism that floods the networks today starts. Who did not support Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the late seventies?
- The military imbalance remained to be resolved. Germany could not trust Russia, with it’s powerful nuclear weapons. So media and social anti-Americanism had to coexist with an unquestionable collaboration in defense with the US. To continue counting on the protection of the US. Didn’t the arms dealer take refuge in the fort when the Indians attacked… with the weapons he sold them?
There is no doubt that collaboration has worked. Germany grew richer than its neighbors did, so they controlled the EU. Making the majority of countries step by step submit to their domination, like they try to do with Poland nowadays. Or else leave, like the United Kingdom did. That European predominance based on Ostpolitik wealth is well described by Alain Minc in The Great Illusion.
And maybe the hypothetical war between Germany and Russia that has been avoided thanks to trade, but in practice it is sure that has meant that Russia had resources to generate conflicts. Wars started by Russia, as in the Ukraine or earlier in Chechnya. Wars in other countries with Russian participation, such as in Syria. Or simply violence stimulated in third countries, as with their support for Sandinismo in the 1970s in Nicaragua or for Maduro today in Venezuela. Those engaging in trade with each other do not shoot at one another, Germany said. But might well shoot others, I would add.
Note: Since many argue about the importance of Ostpolitik in German reunification, I will highlight this, extracted from ‘We were all wrong’: how Germany got hooked on Russian energy: «German politicians usually argue that Ostpolitik was the basis for reunification and the end of the cold war. But many historians and writers believe that this rosy picture of Ostpolitik is misleading. It was military buildup by Reagan and the flooding of the market with cheap oil that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev could no longer fund the overseas wars and the Soviet Republics.»
P.S.1 (August 24, 2022) A reference was sent to me (thanks, Andrés) to an interview with Emmanuel Todd in November 2014: Germany’s fast hold on the european continent.
Emmanuel Todd is a French historian and political scientist who, in some way, we could consider continuing the line of the great Jean-François Revel.
It’s really interesting and includes some tremendously descriptive maps of the situation in 2014. I’ll copy one, as an example. (fortunately the map is not completelly right, Germany hasn’t got all the control, you just have to look at the pressure that Germany constantly exerts on Poland nowadays)
P.S.2 (August 26, 2022) About current collaboration of Germany with Putin.
One could ask: in the 1970s, Ostpolitik provided Germany with a huge market for its products, and without inflation, but what does supporting the aggressive Russian dictatorship bring them today?
I think current collaboration with Putin brings Germany two things:
- It pushes the Eastern countries towards an EU already controlled by Germany. In other words, it forces these countries to accept a soft German domination to avoid the violent domination of Russia.
- Russia is used internationally to erode the US, the world leader. In Latin America and the Middle East. And Germany aspires to be the leader if the current one loses its position…
To put it with an example from the image that heads this article. Ukrainians and Russians would not have to be at odds. As cowboys and Indians didn’t have to be neighter, but there were some who were interested in this clash. In that sense, Germany is interested in a Putin leading Russia and fueling the conflict.
P.S.3 (August 26, 2022) Just yesterday, Sánchez, another puppet in the hands of Germany, was on a tour of Latin America. Supporting the anti-democratic leftist leaders who threaten to devastate the entire continent after the fall of Nicaragua and Venezuela.
It is clear that the war in Ukraine, although a setback for Germany since Ukraine is managing to defend itself mainly thanks to the support of the US, UK and Poland, has not made Germany give up its strategy. They are still determined to sow conflicts and offer themselves as the supposed only way out.
P.S.4 (August 29, 2022) Some data that help understand the situation. Germany leads the financing obtained by Putin through gas (which Trump explicitly denounced in NATO in 2019). But he drags his feet when it comes to supporting Ukraine in its defense.
The conclusion is crystal clear: Germany plays both sides, but it is only effective when it supports Putin.