A Promise Is A Promise

Not.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised two months ago to deliver a substantial increase in defense spending. Where is that money now? Funny you should ask, since Mr. Scholz’s waffling on his signature pledge is a growing controversy in Berlin.

The “turning point” speech Mr. Scholz delivered on Feb. 27 included two promises: increase the annual military budget to at least 2% of GDP, in line with North Atlantic Treaty Organization targets, and create a one-time €100 billion ($105 billion) special fund for procurement. Crucially, the procurement fund would be exempt from the constitutional limit on government debt, although the regular military budget wouldn’t be…

Yet Mr. Scholz is struggling to say what he meant by his twin promises. His February speech neglected to specify whether he meant he’d spend 2% of GDP plus €100 billion, or whether he’d spend 2% of GDP including the €100 billion. The distinction matters.

German Of The Day: Beleidigte Leberwurst

Literally: Insulted liverwurst. It means to be offended, to sulk, to be in a huff.

Like German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He’s an insulted liverwurst and won’t visit Ukraine because Kyiv refused to invite his Parteifreund (fellow SPD party member) and Germany’s head of state, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

German opposition leader visits Kyiv, Scholz refuses to go – Germany’s conservative opposition leader has traveled to Kyiv for meetings with Ukrainian officials including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

German Of The Day: Hörig

That means to be obedient, servile, to be in bondage or a slave, etc.

You know, as in “Germany is in bondage to Putin?”

For weeks, Olaf Scholz (63, SPD) has been hesitant to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons. In an interview on Friday, he spoke about his reasons: Concern about World War III and a nuclear conflict.

This has met with sharp criticism not only in Germany, but also in Europe. And in the U.S., too, people are reacting with displeasure to the chancellor’s lurching course. “What must happen for Germany to finally stand up to Russia?” the Los Angeles Times now asks in a commentary.

SPD

Socialists Pretending to like Democracy? Sleazy Politicians in Denial? Shallow, Phony and Dishonest?

Yes to all three, I’d say. And the WC on the picture rocks too.

The SPD is the Reason Germany is always afraid – Berlin hesitates on everything because of its ruling party’s identity problems.

German Of The Day: Zwickmühle

To be in the Zwickmuhle is to be in a predicament, to be on the horns of a dilemma.

As in Germany’s neighbors (see Ukraine and Poland) despising the pro-Russian policy it has been following forever, bypassing and ignoring them in the process. The punch line: Now the Germans are surprised, even offended that everyone is so upset about it. But it’s not much of a “dilemma,” if you ask me. It’s quite straightforward, really: The Germans went it alone, yet again, placed all their money on Putin & Co., and lost.

The reason for the rejection (for German President Steinmeier being unwelcome in Ukraine) is clearly Steinmeier’s course in recent years, which Kiev considers too Russia-friendly. As foreign minister, he had, among other things, always pushed for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “The warnings, it’s true, from our Eastern European partners we should have taken more seriously. Especially as far as the period after 2014 was concerned and the expansion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. And that’s why holding on was certainly a mistake,” Steinmeier had admitted last week. But despite the admission of mistakes and errors: The extent to which Germany’s Russia policy in recent years has caused disquiet and upset in Kiev is only now becoming really clear.

Europe’s Sleeping Giant Awakes?

Uh, believe me. Germany is still sleeping. Sound asleep. And a giant is the last thing it is. Certainly not when it comes to its military.

Europe’s Sleeping Giant Awakens – Politics in Berlin has undergone a cataclysm that no one saw coming.

Scholz announced that Germany would end its dependence on Russian gas (no, they won’t), spend an additional 100 billion euros on its military (a lot but not nearly enough), and deliver hundreds of anti-tank weapons and Stinger missiles to Ukraine in order to help its overmatched military counter Russia’s all-out assault (nice symbolic gesture). Germany may also be forced to extend the life of its nuclear plants to fill the energy gap created by the halt to Russian gas supplies (ha, ha, ha).

“Freedom does not mean as much in Germany as it might in other places,” this person told me, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to candidly discuss German political mores. “If the trade-off is between economic decline and an erosion of freedoms, Germany could well choose the latter.”

Putin Shaking In His Boots Again

Or in his valenki, or whatever it is they are.

Olaf Scholz himself is coming to town. Or to grad, or whatever it is they call it.

German Leader Travels to Russia, Ukraine as Tensions Grow – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is flying to Ukraine and Russia this week in an effort to help defuse escalating tensions as Western intelligence officials warn that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is increasingly imminent.

If Houseplant Olaf Can’t Say It…

Then Houseplant Joe will – after being handed a carefully prepared script, of course. In really big letters. With arrows and stuff pointing to the really important parts.

Biden threatens: No gas pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine – In a flurry of diplomacy across two continents, President Joe Biden met with Germany’s new leader Monday and vowed the crucial Nord Stream 2 Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline will be blocked if Russia further invades Ukraine. Russia’s Vladimir Putin retorted that the U.S. and its allies are the only ones talking invasion.

German Of The Day: Enttäuschend

That means disappointing.

Olaf Scholz goes to Washington. Hope he’s not too disappointed with all the disappointment there.

The German government’s actions to date with respect to Ukraine have been disappointing at best. All of us in NATO are doing what we can to help Ukraine. And I think many of us believe that a country of Germany’s importance and capabilities could and should do a lot. Especially at a time that will be so important for the future of the European security order. I hope the German Government will decide to do the right thing.