Streetwise Professor

July 23, 2013

Deutschland Uber Alles? Snowden, Germany, and Putin

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 3:25 pm

One fascinating thing about the Snowden drama: of late he has blown the whistle much more on Germany, than the US, the self-proclaimed target of his outrage.

Case in point.  This lllooooonnnnngggg piece in-where else?-Der Spiegel detailing alleged extensive cooperation between German intelligence and the NSA, and Merkel’s alleged dishonesty about this cooperation.  An article in which Poitras shares a byline, by the way.

Snowden and the NSA have become causes celebres in Germany: the allegations play on the oh-so-many German complexes regarding their history and Americans, and their history with Americans.  And lo and behold, these allegations come in the midst of Germany’s election campaign.  And Der Spiegel has banged the drum of these allegations longest and loudest.

In the US, the Snowden revelations have not had any real political ramifications.  Yes, there has been outrage on the left and right, but in the middle, the main response has been-“Edward who? NSA what?”

That is definitely not the case in Germany.

Is this focus on Germany a change in course, an opportunistic response to the different public responses to Snowden in the US and Germany?  Or was Germany a primary target all along?

Some dots.  Snowden went to Russia and is in control of Russian intelligence.  (Don’t believe that? Have I got some deals for you!) Putin would prefer many outcomes to a Merkel victory: though she has not been ardently anti-Russian, she is a much harder and more skeptical customer than her possible successors.  An SDP-Green coalition would suit Putin very well, thank you.  Especially when it comes to gas, an area in which Putin and Gazprom are having huge difficulties including a major antitrust investigation of Gazprom, and the potential of fundamental changes in Gazprom’s business model, and the aggressive approach of German utilities to Gazprom’s pricing practices.  A leftist government in Germany would almost certainly tamp down these problems considerably as compared to a continuation of Merkel rule.

Putin said he didn’t want Snowden revealing anything that would harm his “American partners.”  He didn’t say anything about Germany, did he?  Interesting, that.

A case can be made that Putin has put Deutschland Uber Alles in his manipulation of the Snowden affair.  Again, perhaps this was an opportunity that fell into his lap, but perhaps it was the game all along.  Meaning that the biggest casualty of Snowden’s revelations may not be the US and the NSA, but Germany, and particularly the more Russian-skeptic portion of its politics.

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  1. Russia would love to have another Schroeder to play with.

    Comment by Phil Rothman — July 24, 2013 @ 4:01 am

  2. Ironically, Schroeder might have inadvertently screwed Gazprom over and done Germany a favour. The Russian thinking, then and now, is that whoever supplies the product has all the power*, whereas anyone with even half a brain would assign at least some power to the one with the cash. I’m sure the Russians thought that they’d build a pipeline to Germany (Nord Stream) and then lock Germany in to paying whatever inflated prices Gazprom came up with thereafter. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but now US shale is on the horizon, Germany is in a very good position to say “Nice pipeline you have there, Gazprom. Sure it must have cost you a bit. Now, here’s what we’re willing to pay for gas coming through it, if you don’t like it then kindly close that ball-valve over there and we’ll buy our gas from elsewhere, thank you.” Having paid for this pipeline, Gazprom is now obliged to use it – regardless of what price they’re getting for the gas.

    *An anecdote. Mate of mine who I worked with in Sakhalin knew the guy who set up the first McDonalds in Russia, the one which had the enormous queues outside in the early days. He was trying to get the staff to smile, as they do in the US. One of the employees said “Why? We’re the ones who have all the burgers!

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 24, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

  3. @Tim. I love irony. I enjoy when schemes boomerang on the schemers. And it’s not just gas: the Germans will replace (are replacing) gas with coal which is cheap because shale gas has cratered demand for coal in the US. Even more irony.

    And the Russians are doubling down on stupid with South Stream.

    Hell, even the Ukrainians are figuring out ways to reduce their dependency.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 25, 2013 @ 9:58 am

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