January 29, 2015

"Russia’s bizarre proposal to condemn West Germany’s 1989 ‘annexation’ of East Germany."

Is it bizarre?
[W]hile the events it concerns may be long in the past, the motivation is likely the present. The plan was originally put forward by Nikolay Ivanov, a Communist Party lawmaker, who has argued that the reunification of Germany was insufficiently democratic. "Unlike Crimea, a referendum was not conducted in the German Democratic Republic," Ivanov was quoted as saying, referring to the region of Ukraine that broke away to join Russia last year after a disputed referendum.

Russia and Germany have an important, if complicated, relationship. Chancellor Angela Merkel is perhaps the closest Western leader to Putin – she grew up in East Germany, and – like Putin, who served with the KGB in Dresden – can speak both German and Russian. However, Merkel has been a prominent voice supporting sanctions on Russia after actions in Ukraine, and the relationship has been strained. Merkel famously told President Obama that the Russian leader was living "in another world."

53 comments:

tds said...

Given direction and size of the wealth transfer after reunification, it is rather East Germany that annexed the West

Bob Ellison said...

Dishonesty is normal outside the Anglosphere.

This is an interesting ploy, trying to make East Germany look like Crimea for political purposes. It sounds like a joke, but only to those of us who think honesty is normal. In most of the world, people expect lies and perversions, all the time. This is difficult for most Americans to understand.

This guy Ivanov is making a political argument. It's normal for him; he knows it's a lie. But the cultures surrounding him expect that kind of argument. It's not that far off, anyway.

Vet66 said...

WWII changed the dynamic between Germany and Russia for the foreseeable future. Russia's chance to put the war behind it ended with the tyranny of East Berlin and the Berlin airlift caused by Russia and it's support of the Stasi. Now that the ruble has crashed with world oil prices, Putin, a smooth version of Khrushchev, is once again proving that the Russian Oligarchy is no match for capitalism. It will be interesting to watch that country slip into another depression over warm water ports and Crimea, their fatal weaknesses.

The Drill SGT said...

Today,

For better and worse, Merkel is "The Leader of the Free World"

ponder that...

The Drill SGT said...

It will be interesting to watch that country slip into another depression over warm water ports and Crimea, their fatal weaknesses.

Russia faces three existential problems. All related..

1. Its Demographic implosion
2. Mid term, its increasingly Muslim and islamic Population
3. The coming land grab by China

Larry J said...

How many tanks did West Germany send into East Germany when the wall came down? How many planes were shot down? How many shots of any kind were fired?

How much money has Germany spent trying to bring the East up to date after decades of communist rule?

tim in vermont said...

For better and worse, Merkel is "The Leader of the Free World"

Until you said it, I didn't think it. But that is obviously true.

Hagar said...

Off topic - or is it?

You all watch Loretta Lynch and the deputy press secretary step all over their tongues in trying to square their respective circles yesterday?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I agree with everything Drill SGT said, except that the Chinese land grab is not "coming" -- it is already well under way in Russia's east, where the illegal immigration problem dwarfs anything we Americans are experiencing.

Sino-Russian military games and exercises are not really evidence of growing cooperation between the two, but the Chinese working very diligently to understand Russian war-fighting doctrines and procedures.

Russia also has a terrible challenge in the west in that there quite simply is no naturally defensible frontier. They must rely, therefore, on strategic depth, which they lost in 1990. Worst of all is the Baltic Republics -- which occupy Russia's right flank -- are now NATO members.

On its own, Russia cannot be more than a regional power. It's population will soon be roughly that of Japan, without the vibrant economy and history of democracy.

Look for continued attempts to reconstitute something like the old Soviet Union, for Russia is collapsing, it is xenophobic (and has been for 1000 years), and it is increasingly desperate.

Amichel said...

Merkel can't be the leader of the free world, the EU has totally abrogated any claim to that mantle as they've let their military capabilities atrophy. If Russia decided to invade Estonia or Latvia tomorrow, would the German Bundeswehr be able to do a damn thing about it? The free world exists on the back of the American Taxpayer, and is protected solely by the US military.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Hagar said...

You all watch Loretta Lynch and the deputy press secretary step all over their tongues in trying to square their respective circles yesterday?

Wasn't she the one who just kept repeating you know why I'm here?

Michael K said...

"and WAS protected solely by the US military."

FIFY

Amichel said...

For some perspective, the entire German Army, the strongest army in Europe (barring Russia) has less active troops than the US Marine Corps (180,000 in the Bundeswehr, 191,000 in the US Marines). Not to mention the European nations militaries are fragmented, and without the immense logistical capabilities necessary to wage war on foreign soil.

Bob Ellison said...

Germany still had forced conscription until 2011.

There must be a big difference between an all-volunteer military, which America enjoys, and a draft military, which most of the rest of Europe suffers from.

Tibore said...

Foolish technicality re: "... insufficiently democratic". The vote wasn't a ballot, the vote was the taking down of The Wall.

Wince said...

Merkel famously told President Obama that the Russian leader was living "in another world."

What's next, Putin proposes taxing Russian 529 accounts?

Wince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tibore said...

Let's also not blow this out of proportion. The linked article mentioned the fact that the lawmaker proposing it was "an ally of (Putin)" and went on to say that "... it seems unlikely he would have made such a bold statement without the Russian leader's approval". That may be true, but that doesn't mean it indicates anything we didn't already know about him. It just means it's nothing more than a dig mistakenly thought to be sly on the part of Putin's governmental apparatus.

Really, if it's true that it was approved rhetoric, all it says is that Putin tolerates idiocy and is willing to distort history. This amounts to little more than confirmation of the mindset that led to the Ukraine conflict.

Brando said...

How exactly did those two countries unite? I don't recall the details about whether there was any sort of referendum or how it was conducted.

Not that this isn't a bit rich coming from someone representing the party that led a rape-a-thon across Europe at the end of WWII and decided that its tanks trumped any indication of the will of the people.

Kyzer SoSay said...

Russia is saying this to make Europe nervous, and force America to consider options. Their energy monopoly in Europe is fading, they feel surrounded by enemies (or at least, enemy-friendly states), and they still think we're all scared of their tanks and planes.

But when those tanks are crewed by young drunks who can't read a map, and more than half of those planes are out of service due to being cannibalized for spare parts, what is left to fear, aside from their nuclear weapons?

Robert Cook said...

"Dishonesty is normal outside the Anglosphere."

Dishonesty is normal everywhere.

Bob Ellison said...

Robert Cook, no. Honesty is fundamental in Judeo-Christian culture, and even more so in Britain. Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not bear false witness.

These are not cultural norms everywhere; they are mostly Anglo things. Just saying everywhere sucks, as you do, does not explain reality.

Honesty is important to the success of cultures. Those who lack it will never get ahead. I'm looking at you, Russia, China, India, South America, Italy, and Africa.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

By Russian logic this is a teachable moment, not really a complaint. The ethnic Germans in German speaking East Germany were reunited with West Germany without interference from the Russians.

So why is today's reuniting of Russian speakers in Russian East Ukraine with Russia being proclaimed as a failure to obey international borders on an old map the old Russians drew themselves. At least they held a vote on it.

JPS said...

Brando,

"Not that this isn't a bit rich coming from someone representing the party that led a rape-a-thon across Europe at the end of WWII and decided that its tanks trumped any indication of the will of the people."

Not to mention, as George Will pointed out while reunification was in progress, that the USSR was the only nation that began WWII as an ally of Nazi Germany, but did not suffer a rupture of its regime as a direct result; and that their falling-out was not a Soviet initiative.

James Pawlak said...

Czar Putin (And his co-actors) are: As sane as Czar Ivan The Feared; And, as trustworthy as Stalin.

sykes.1 said...

Europe's greatest problem is that the EU is a German colony, and that Germany extracts wealth from the other members in exactly the same way that England and France did in their African and Asian colonies. After two general wars initiated by Germany, and subjugation to colonial status, one would think that Europeans would realize that Bismarck's monster had to be killed. Germany should be reduced back to what it was, a hundred or so bickering city states. Putin's suggestion is a good start.

mccullough said...

Germany should reclaim its Prussian borders

dbp said...

I don't recall all the details of the reunification of Germany. One point should be made though: East Germany was a communist dictatorship which was collapsing. Did they even have the ability to hold a referendum? By the time they got one going, everybody would have already left for West Germany.

Hagar said...

Have you noticed?
Putin has rested until his agression in eastern Ukraine became old news and is now resuming the military effort to annex a corridor linking Russia to Crimea and the Black Sea.

mccullough said...

Maybe Pope Francis will crown Putin as the Holy Roman Emperor.

Hagar said...

That would be the Patriarch of Moscow crowning him Czar of all the Russias.

cubanbob said...

[W]hile the events it concerns may be long in the past, the motivation is likely the present. The plan was originally put forward by Nikolay Ivanov, a Communist Party lawmaker, who has argued that the reunification of Germany was insufficiently democratic. "Unlike Crimea, a referendum was not conducted in the German Democratic Republic," Ivanov was quoted as saying, referring to the region of Ukraine that broke away to join Russia last year after a disputed referendum."

Who said Soviet communists don't have a sense of humour? perhaps Mrs. Merkel just for fun ought to propose that the German's left in Kaliningrad vote on whether or not Kaliningrad should once again become Königsberg.

Hagar said...

The Soviets very thoroughly eradicated all memory of Kaliningrad's German past to the point that, according to Norman Davies, the city's tourism director did not know that it had ever been a very famous old German city named Königsberg, when he visited there.

traditionalguy said...

Russia was our best ally in WWII and took Berlin for us at a huge cost. But then halting Russian expansion was a costly matter that took a strong leadership to enforce containment starting with Truman and then Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon up until Jimmy Carter's preference for surrender at all cost to achieve peace almost tempted the USSR into an attacking Europe. But Reagan reversed Carter's insanity and pushed the Russians into a surrender of their own.

Russia can again be our best ally if we handle it right.

tim maguire said...

Of course West Germany did not "annex" East Germany. They were never properly 2 countries. It is simply the case that in 1989 the Russia occupation of most of the Eastern section of Germany came to an end.

A steeply declining Russia is casting about wildly for relevance. Which is why it's more dangerous than it's been since Stalin died. Not because it is strong, but because it is weak.

Revenant said...

Robert Cook, no. Honesty is fundamental in Judeo-Christian culture, and even more so in Britain. Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not bear false witness.

Russia has the same Judeo-Christian heritage that the United States does. Putin is a Christian.

Bob Ellison said...

Revenant, no, not at all. The same heritage?

Putin is a Christian? How? In his head, like a Mafia boss? Has Putin accepted Jesus as his savior? Does he follow Jesus's teachings? Don't be silly.

Russian culture is deeply dishonest. I'm talking about the way people treat each other, how they vote, what policies they support, how they regard taxes and little rules like how to drive on the streets. How individuals regard their relationship toward their government.

Russia is a mess, and it's the culture that drives that mess.

Sam L. said...

So, the Russkis claim East Germany by Right Of Conquest? As the Muslims to Andalusia? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Jon said...

The Drill SGT. said:

Russia faces three existential problems. All related..

1. Its Demographic implosion
2. Mid term, its increasingly Muslim and islamic Population
3. The coming land grab by China


Yes, this is the conventional wisdom about Russia, and it's complete nonsense.

1. Russia still has demographic problems, but the crisis of the 90's and early 00's is over. It's population has stabilized (it's actually grown slightly for the past two years), and it is one of only a handful of countries with a rising TFR (total fertility rate).

In 2000 the average Russian woman had 1.2 children, today it's 1.7. Meanwhile, during that same period, the USA's TFR has fallen, from 2.1 to 1.9.

2. Russia's population is only about 13% Muslim, there actually isn't much difference between Slavic and Muslim fertility rates in Russia, and those rates are probably converging.

In 2011 the 90% Slav regions had an average TFR of 1.5, vs. 1.95 in the traditionally Muslim areas. And the Muslim TFR is propped up by Chechnya, where TFR is falling. From 2008 to 2012, Chechen TFR fell from 3.44 to 3.08, while in Moscow Oblast (where the population is only 1% Muslim) TFR rose from 1.29 to 1.49.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2013/10/23/is-russia-turning-muslim/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_subjects_of_Russia_by_total_fertility_rate

3. Despite the popularity of this meme, it's a fantasy. As long as Russia has thousands of nukes, China isn't going to seize Siberia by force. And they aren't going to take it via immigration either. Ethnic Chinese are less than 5% of the population in the Russian Far East, and this article does a good job explaining why they are never going to be a majority:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2014/05/27/the-chinese-invasion-of-siberia-is-a-myth/

Just an old country lawyer said...

"Russia and Germany have an important, if complicated, relationship."

From the perspective of several centuries of history, I would rate this as one of the greatest understatements I have seen.

Revenant said...

Putin is a Christian? How? In his head, like a Mafia boss? Has Putin accepted Jesus as his savior? Does he follow Jesus's teachings? Don't be silly.

Ah, so when you said "Christian" you just meant "people Bob Ellison defines as Christian". That explains why you bizarrely classified South America as "not Christian".

Also, if you are going to talk about "Judeo-Christian" heritage but then say it only counts if you accept Jesus as your savior, you should drop the "Judeo" part.

damikesc said...

Ah, so when you said "Christian" you just meant "people Bob Ellison defines as Christian". That explains why you bizarrely classified South America as "not Christian".

Those seem like valid questions.

One can be a non-Christian in a "Christian" country.

Do atheists not exist in "christian" countries?

Bob Ellison said...

Relevant, how do you define "Christian"?

Gabriel said...

@Bob Elllison, Revenant:

No true Scotsman would act the way Putin does and still be Christian.

I can't speak for Revenant, but I don't define Christians; they self-define.

But if pressed the Nicene Creed is good enough demarcation for me.

If we expect Christian behavior as the definition, then we have what, half-a-dozen? Ever? Jesus, there's one. St. Francis, there's two. I'd have a hard time coming up with the next four.

RecChief said...

Bob Ellison said...
Germany still had forced conscription until 2011.

There must be a big difference between an all-volunteer military, which America enjoys, and a draft military, which most of the rest of Europe suffers from.


I've trained along side with German troops. There is, Mr. Ellison, there most definitely is.

RecChief said...

Russia was our best ally in WWII and took Berlin for us at a huge cost.

I count three particulars in that sentence that are categorically untrue, and that's not open to interpretation.

RecChief said...

Russia has the same Judeo-Christian heritage that the United States does


What the hell are you talking about? It's such a ridiculous statement, I must ask, do you spout such drivel simply to see your words on a screen? You need to read up on the few hundred years after the resurrection. What a dumbass.

Zach said...

The Germans didn't have a referendum per se, but the first democratic elections the East Germans ever had elected a government that ran on the platform of reunification. The Wall went down in November, they had an election in March, they signed an economic treaty in May and a political treaty in August. In what sense is that not a democratic result?

In 1990, the East German government was in total collapse. The economy was shut down, there was no political legitimacy, and there were thousands of refugees fleeing even to other Communist countries like Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Something had to happen, and the Russians decided not to send in tanks, so they did something else.

Even when it was divided, Germany had two governments that both claimed to represent all Germans. There was never any sense that there were two nations with naturally separate interests, who would go their separate ways.

donald said...

I have a Russian girlfriend. She is very nice, loves kids, animals and is really bright. She's a work out freak, wats healthy and she's almost got me wearing socks.

She will also beat anybody down to the last nickel, raise hell of an out of date coupon isn't honored well, you know that whole Cold War thing? Didn't even happen.

T

Gabriel said...

@RecChief:You need to read up on the few hundred years after the resurrection.

That's an extraordinarily puzzling statement. The Orthodox churches' history is identical with the rest of Christianity for that first few hundred years. It wasn't until 1054 that Catholicism and Orthodoxy irrevocably parted ways.

Vladimir Svyatoslavich converted to Christianity, along with the rest of Kievan Rus, before then, in 988.

If you're the sort of Protestant who thinks Catholics aren't Christians than maybe I can see why you think Orthodoxy isn't either, but I assume you're not quite that ignorant.

mikee said...

The illegitimate East German government and all Communist party members should have been publicly tried, convicted of their blatant crimes against humanity, and punished as their deeds deserved.

There need not have been a vote to reunite one part of Germany with the other part of Germany - all that was necessary was the cessation of communist dictatorship in the East.

RecChief said...

Gabriel said...
@RecChief:You need to read up on the few hundred years after the resurrection.

That's an extraordinarily puzzling statement. The Orthodox churches' history is identical with the rest of Christianity for that first few hundred years. It wasn't until 1054 that Catholicism and Orthodoxy irrevocably parted ways.


My apologies for not being extremely fucking literal at all times. "the first few hundred years after the resurrection" was simply a turn of phrase denoting the early church rather than recent history. Yes, the Great Schism didn't occur until 1054, but there were always differences between the Byzantine church and Rome. And I'm not talking about art and architecture. But I'll remember that I have to break it down Barney-style for you.