Judging the performance of leading European and German politicians at the recent summit of EU Heads of State, followed by the NATO Defense Ministers summit February 14th in Brussels, the overwhelming impression is that the EU is losing its „inner compass“. Statements from leading politicians in Europe reflect an almost „hysterical reaction formation“, while those voices that were raised by rationally thinking military representatives such as US JCS General Mark Milley, who had stated „that Ukraine with support from the West can win some battles militarily, but it can‘t win a war against the biggest nuclear power of the world“, are blocked out from the public debate or „stigmatized.”
This is for example the case with the authors and signers of an “Open Letter to Chancellor Scholz” (“Manifest für Frieden”, February 12) that has received over 450.000 signatures within a few days from all layers of German society, including former Brigadier General Erich Vad, known for his sharp analysis about the war in Ukraine, former chairwoman of the Protestant Church (EKD) Dr. Margot Käßmann, as well as protestant theologian Dr.Antje Vollmer (Greenie) and the well-known CSU lawyer Dr. Peter Gauweiler. The authors of the Manifesto, chief editor of the Women Magazine “Emma” Alice Schwarzer and Sarah Wagenknecht, German politician and member of the Parliament for The Left, have been viciously stigmatized by leading German newspapers as „lying and phony peacenik’s, doing the business for Putin”. The truth of the matter is that in light of the brutal „carnage“ along the Eastern Front of Ukraine, the signers of the Open Letter demand from German Chancellor Scholz to „negotiate“ and not „sacrifice“ further hundreds of thousands of innocent people; the Chancellor should set an example and stop the war „escalation“. Instead of sending more weapons into the war the Chancellor is asked to urge for a „ceasefire” that should be followed by peace negotiations. Each day that passes by would mean 1000 more dead people per day.
However the problem is that the EU and German political elite is in a „state of mental confusion.” A typical example are the recent revelations made by the well-known US investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh, who – following his sensational essay „ How America took out Nord Stream pipelines“ (on the website “substack” February 8th) gave another even more detailed interview to the German Daily „Berliner Zeitung“ (February 14th ), where he presented additional details about how the entire operation was carefully planned under direction of President Biden by an „Interagency Task Force“ since December 2021. In the interview he made strong accusations that Biden wanted to have Germany “freeze” during winter 2022/23, an operation which according to Hersh was „nefarious.” His research was put together on the basis of information from an anonymous „source“ that had been participating in the ultra-secret, covert US / Norwegian operation which led to the blow up of 3 of 4 Nord Stream Pipelines in September 2022. The entire report has been (with exception of the Berliner Zeitung and some websites) systematically downplayed or even ridiculed in the public debate. Hersh’s report was qualified by official US government sources as „ total fiction“, but it should nonetheless be a motive for the German Government to investigate the allegations.
The „denial of truth“ or fear of debating these allegations publically, which can be particularly observed in Germany, was also illustrated during a strategic event, February 7th, organized by the Berlin based „North Atlantic Society“ under the title „The strategic situation at the beginning of the year 2023“. At the event the Special Representative of the Political Director Dr. Jasper Wieck of the German Ministry of Defense, Dr. Karl-Heinz Kamp gave a short speech, which in tone and content was extremely „aggressive“. According to Kamp the present „Zeitenwende“ not only demands tighter „transatlantic cohesion – in terms of higher military spending” far beyond 2% and more sophisticated weapon deliveries to Ukraine, but it also involves a strategy of „mind change“(!) in the German population. He strongly objected the slogan which had been written on the wall of a house in Berlin, which said: “This is not our war!” , to which Kamp responded that this „is not true“. He further developed the narrative that Germany should prepare for „war economy“ and that we enter a period where people have to make more “sacrifices.”
Seymour Hersh’s stunning report: US and Norway behind Nord Stream explosion?
On February 8th the well-known investigative journalist from the NYT and Pulitzer Prize Winner 85 year old Seymour Hersh published an essay in the „Substak“ platform which on the basis of a supposedly well informed source report, described in detail how US President Joe Biden and leading members of his inner circle Jake Sullivan, CIA Director William Burns, Antony Blinken and Victoria Nuland in complicity with circles from Norway would have ordered in September 2022 the destruction parts of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea. This de facto “terrorist act” was at the time followed by special investigations from Sweden, Norway and the US (from which Russia had been excluded). What then followed was a complete break of German / Russian energy relations. Hersh repeated in his interview to “Berliner Zeitung” (14.02) that President Biden, who had received Chancellor Scholz several days before the outbreak of war had clearly threatened, that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the US would bring Nord Stream to an end (The interviewer tells the exact wording at the press conference with Scholz: Biden literally said, “If Russia invades, there will be no more Nord Stream 2, we will put an end to the project.” And when a reporter asked how exactly he planned to do that, given that the project is primarily under German control, Biden said only, “I promise we’ll be able to do it.” ) Hersh asked whether Biden at that time informed the German Chancellor about the US plans?
The main line in the German press is that the Kremlin was probably behind the sabotage. According to Hersh it was the US that began to plan the sabotage of Nord Stream pipeline as a covert operation, supposedly concretely in June 2022, where during a Midsummer NATO exercise known as „Baltops 22“ US Navy divers put explosives on the Nord Stream Pipeline that were remotely triggered three months later. „Two of the pipelines which were known collectively as Nord Stream 1, had been providing Germany and much of Western Europa with cheap Russia natural gas for more than a decade. A second pair of pipeline, called Nord Stream 2, had been built, but was not yet operational. Now, with Russian troops massing on Ukrainian border and the bloodiest war looming in Europe since 1945, President Joseph Biden saw the pipelines as a vehicle for Vladimir Putin to weaponize natural gas for his political and territorial ambitions,” Hersh wrote in the article.
According to Hersh supposedly „the Norwegian navy was quick to find the right spot in the shallow water a few miles off Denmark’s Bornholm Island….The Norwegians had proposed as date the June Baltics Operations Baltops 22 to plant the mines, C4 explosives that were supposed to be remotely detonated at a later point. The C4 attached to the pipeline would be triggered by a sonar buoy dropped by a plane on short notice, but the procedure involved the most advanced signal processing technology.(…) On September 26 2022 , a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later the high powered C4 explosives were triggered. .. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipeline could be seen spreading on the water’s surface and the world learned that something irreversible had taken place.” In the media Russia was repeatedly suspected as a likely culprit.
At the end of his essay Hersh points to a statement that was given by US Foreign State Secretary Blinken at a press conference in late September 2022, who described the moment after the explosion of the pipeline as a potentially good one: „It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russia energy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come.“ At a late January 2023 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing “Victoria Nuland, a notorious adversary of the Nord Stream pipelines, expressed -according to Hersh- satisfaction at the demise of the newest of the pipelines. She told Senator Ted Cruz: “Like you, I am, and I think the Administration is, very gratified to know that North Stream 2 is now as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea.”
How to bring about peace in the escalating war
In this light a lot more attention should be given to a recent Rand Corporation Study, whose authors – Samuel Charap anrd Miranda Priebe- assess how the Ukraine conflict may evolve. Their biggest concern is that Moscow may resort to nuclear weapons and specifically Non-Strategic-Nuclear-Weapons (NSNW), to prevent a catastrophic defeat. In this case it „would lead to a direct US conflict with Russia, which ultimately could result in a strategic nuclear exchange“. They also refer to the caution made by US JCS General Milley, who had urged that diplomatic negotiations should be envisioned. “It is clear why Milley listed avoiding a Russia- NATO war as the top U.S. priority: The US would immediately be involved in a hot war with a country that has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Keeping a Russia-NATO war below the nuclear threshold would be extremely difficult, particularly given the state of Russia‘s weakened conventional military, “ the authors wrote.
Furthermore they stated that at the end of the war the „Ukraine in full control over all of its internationally recognized territory would restore the territorial integrity norm, but that remains a highly unlikely outcome.“ In weighing the pro and con, the authors concluded „There is thus reason to question whether a longer war will lead to further Ukrainian gains. Losses are possible too. The costs for the United States and the European Union of keeping the Ukrainian state economically solvent, will multiply over time as conflict inhibits investments and production; Ukrainian refugees remain unable to return and as result, tax revenue and economic activity drop dramatically lower than before the war. Russia’s campaign of destruction of Ukrainian critical infrastructure will create major long term challenges for sustaining the war effort and for economic support it will need from the United States and its allies.”
The study warned about global economic disruptions stemming from the war, which will continue accompanied by sharp increase in energy prices that has in turn contributed to inflations and slowing economic growth globally and as the study underlined, these trends are „expected to hit Europe hardest.“ (…) „The longer the war, the more risk for nuclear escalation. Therefore , the paramount U.S. interest in minimizing escalation risks should increase the U.S. interest in avoiding a long war.- In short the consequences of a long war- ranging from persistent elevated escalation risks to economic damage- far outweigh the possible benefits.(!)“
How to settle the conflict according to the American Thinktank?
The Rand Corp Study looks at a range of options including „armistice“ as well as a „political peace settlement.“ „ Absolute victory is improbable. And although the Ukraine has surprised observers with its ability to defend its own homeland, it is fanciful to imagine that it could destroy Russia‘s ability to wage war.“ Also regime change in Moscow is seen as unlikely „since a change in leadership would not result in an end to the war“. So they concluded that „since neither side appears to have intention nor capabilities to achieve absolute victory, the war will most likely end with some sort of negotiated outcome. “
„An armistice in Ukraine would freeze the front lines and bring a long term end to active combat. Russia would stop attempts to occupy additional Ukrainian territory and cease missile strikes on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure. Ukrainian forces would stop their counteroffensive strikes on Russian held areas of Ukraine and on Russia itself. A political settlement or „peace treaty“ would involve both a durable cease fire and a resolution of at least some of the disputes that has sparked the war or emerged during it.“ The authors referred particularly to the Russia -Ukraine bilateral negotiations in the early weeks of the war, which culminated in the “Istanbul Communique” released at the end of March 2022, and more recent statements from political leaders that give hints about some issues a political settlement could cover: “For Russia codifying Ukraine’s non-alignment would likely be central. Ukraine would want reinforced Western commitments to its security since it does not trust Russia to comply with any agreement. A settlement could cover a host of other issues, such as a reconstruction fund, bilateral trade, cultural matters and freedom of movement, and conditions for relief of Western sanctions on Russia.“
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