Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The moral high ground?

I find it baffling that Gerhard Schroeder hasn't gotten the urge to bury himself in shame, yet. The Belgravia Dispatch notes an excellent John Vinocur editorial in the New York Times (requires subs.; via Instapundit):
The manager in charge of the company Schröder will chair is Matthias Warnig, a former major in the East German secret police, or Stasi, who currently serves as chairman of Dresdner Bank ZAO, a Russia-based unit of the German bank. A Wall Street Journal article, published 10 months ago, quoting former colleagues of Putin and Warnig, said Warnig helped Putin recruit spies in the West when the Russian president served as a KGB man in East Germany in the 1980s. The same article reported a Kremlin spokesman's denial that the two men knew each other as Stasi and KGB agents.
More: The new pipeline company itself is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, a town known as a tax paradise sometimes associated with companies run by the "capitalist locusts" Schröder's Social Democrats love to denounce.
Reporting from Zug, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the leading Swiss newspaper, has investigated a Swiss lawyer who is the lone administrative board member of Schröder's pipeline corporation. It said he was previously an officer of a Swiss firm shown in Stasi documents to have furnished East Germany with strategically sensitive electronics from Western embargo lists during the 1980s.
Talk of an accumulating sense of discomfort! Just days before the German elections in September that propelled him from power, Schröder signed the pipeline deal that will carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, bypassing American allies like Ukraine and Poland. Announcement of his new Gazprom job followed weeks later.
See No Pasaran (via Davids Medienkritik) for a more complete excerpt, and related comments. Thankfully not only Schroeder has gotten egg on his face, but his dear friend Putin also looks stupid (via Instapundit):
Like a flashy celebrity caught smacking his ex-girlfriend in public, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has had to retreat from his decision Sunday to blackmail Ukraine by cutting off the country’s natural gas supplies. Following an outcry from West Europeans, Russia resumed piping 100 percent of the required gas through Ukraine on Tuesday.
The lesson? Length of time autocratic Russia could put the screws to a neighbor in the imperial and Soviet era: decades. Length of time autocratic Russia can put the screws to that neighbor in an era of globalization: three days.
Just as Russia last year discovered it couldn’t hand-pick a communist to serve as the Ukrainian president, it cannot now use gas prices to punish Ukraine for asserting its political independence. The broader lesson for Russia’s neighbors -- or any expansionist bully’s neighbors -- is that you must integrate in the region beyond you, economically and politically, so that you spend as little time as possible with the bully behind closed doors.
Here's hoping for a trend... And who had the foresight to see that Europe was going to have problems with dependence on Russia? Ronald Reagan, of course.
And the Russians have voices of reason too, which Putin has promptly put in their place:
As readers of the Brussels Journal know, Andrei Illarionov, one of the bravest men in Europe today (who now runs the serious risk of ending up with a face like Mr Yushchenko’s), has been replaced as Putin’s advisor by one of the most repulsive of Europeans: the German Socialist former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Since last month Herr Schröder is cashing in 1 million euro a month as political advisor of Gazprom. This is the booty Herr Schröder earned for agreeing, in his final weeks as Chancellor, to build a gas pipeline on the Baltic seabed. By 2010 the line will allow the Kremlin to pump gas directly from Siberia to Western Europe, bypassing nations such as Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics.
As the events of the past three days have shown, it is difficult today for Russia to deprive these nations of their energy supplies because the pipelines to Western Europe pass through their territories. The axing of gas supplies to Ukraine initiated a domino effect causing a drop in Russian gas deliveries to Western Europe, which imports a quarter of its gas needs from Russia.
As I've said before, we need to go nuclear (and growing a spine would help too)!

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