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.

German Of The Day: Unverbesserlich

That means incorrigible, unreformable, incurable, dyed-in-the-wool.

Take Gazprom Gerd, for instance. Please. The Germans have pretended to be upset by his post-chancellorship antics but have secretely admired him all along, handling him with kid gloves (anyone who stands up to evil US-Amerika is a hero here). Now, with this little Ukraine thing going on, the bill finally has to be paid and everyone’s upset and wondering how they got here. Will there be consequeces for him? Of course not. Gazprom Gerd is Gazprom Gerd, after all.

The former chancellor who became Putin’s man in Germany – On the evening of Dec. 9, 2005, 17 days after Gerhard Schröder left office as chancellor of Germany, he got a call on his cellphone. It was his friend President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Putin was pressing Schröder to accept an offer to lead the shareholder committee of Nord Stream, a Russian-controlled company in charge of building the first undersea gas pipeline directly connecting Russia and Germany.

“Are you afraid to work for us?” Putin had joked. Schröder might well have been, given the appearance of possible impropriety; the pipeline he was now being asked to head had been agreed to in the final weeks of his chancellorship, with his strong support.

He took the job anyway.

Seventeen years later, the former chancellor, who recounted the events himself in a pair of rare interviews, remains as defiant as ever.

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.

The Steinmeier Formula

Otherwise known as the SPD Formula. It’s quite simple: Take a loaded handgun, point it at your foot, and then fire.

Angela Merkel HERSELF adopted the formula HERSELF. But her “conservative” CDU/CSU was more SPD than the SPD ITSELF so it’s quite understandable why she would have. Sort of.

Ukraine snubs German president over past ‘close ties to Russia’ – Volodymyr Zelenskiy rejects request by Frank-Walter Steinmeier for meeting in Kyiv, Bild reports.

“My sticking to [the Baltic Sea pipeline project] Nord Stream 2, that was definitely a mistake,” he said in Berlin on 4 April. “We held on to bridges that Russia no longer believed in, and of which our partners warned us.”

He added: “We failed to build a common European house. I did not believe Vladimir Putin would embrace his country’s complete economic, political and moral ruin for the sake of his imperial madness.”

Just Like I Got Everything Else Wrong

Ever. But who cares? I’m just the President of Germany.

I got Putin wrong, says chastened German President – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, long an advocate of Western rapprochement with Russia, expressed regret for his earlier stance, saying his years of support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline had been a clear mistake.

Steinmeier, a Social Democrat who served as Foreign Minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel before being elevated to the presidency, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant he and others had to reckon honestly with what they had got wrong.

German Of The Day: Sozi

That’s short for Social Democrat. And that’s short for Socialist. And that’s short for the big spending of other people’s money. Or “redistribuiton,” if you prefer.

Olaf Scholz is a Sozi.

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz elected as German chancellor – German lawmakers elected Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as new chancellor on Wednesday, ending 16 years of conservative rule under Angela Merkel and paving the way for a pro-European coalition government which has vowed to boost green investment.

The FDP Decides

It seems pretty clear to me who the next German Finance Minister will be.

Their boss, Christian Linder, will get the job. If he doesn’t, it won’t come to this odd coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP.

Lindner and the FDP stand for low taxes, debt limitation and a hard line towards Germany’s European partners. The climate crisis is to be addressed by private investment and carbon pricing. The Greens, by contrast, have put climate first – and for that reason advocate large-scale investment, lifting Germany’s “debt brake”, and a pro-European policy that continues the steps taken in 2020 towards common, debt-financed investment policy. It is precisely in these policy areas – where the differences between the Greens (and the SPD) and the FDP are greatest – that the finance ministry is critical.