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08 June 2013


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Mr. Sale,
thanks for the kind words.

You mentioned covert US financial aid to the FDP. There is a matter that has raised a stir of sorts in Germany and that was the matter of undisclosed donations to the CDU. When they became known, a scandal resulted, hearings were held, Kohl admitted the money existed, but stalwartly refused to tell where he got the money from on grounds that he had given a word of honour.

I have always had a hunch on who gave it to him, and I feel confirmed now.

William R. Cumming

Thatks to Richard and CP fopr their expert commentary. Baker IMO was the most qualified man in the last two decades of the 20th Century to be President. Ifs don't count.

And yes the Pershing II was a big 1980's issue.

Foreign contributions are illegal to USA Presidential elections yet almost totally unregulated. The USA however has since WWII contributed large amounts to foreign political parties at various times and various ways.

My personal favorite was a trip by Robert Rubin to Moscow in the early 90's in a C-130 carrying $30B to Yeltsin. This amount was theoretically to replace damaged $100 bills floating around in the former Soviet Union. It was delievered apparently and no damaged bills were ever returned.

Well we all know money is the Mother's Milk of politics.

And largely corrupt STATE election systems still elect federal officaldom.Do they also buy military rank?


Mr.Sale - is the money you are talking about(whcih was channeled to Germany from US) - the same money which the current Minister of Finance, Mr Schauble, famously carried in cash in his briefcase? or is Schauble's money a part of a different bribe? I do hope that your article will find echo in Germany just now, before the elections in September.


I have to chuckle at those who can't keep European presidents and prime ministers straight: "In 1989, Francois Mitterand, the French PM, said of reunification..." Try President of the Republic.

David Habakkuk

It was absolutely obvious at the start of 1989, to anyone who bothered to try to make sense of the changes in Soviet policy over the past three years, that Mitterand and Thatcher were living in a dream world.

The traditional French and British assumption had indeed been that the Soviets could be relied upon to do the dirty work of stopping German reunification for them – so they could weep crocodile tears over the oppression of the East Europeans, secure in the confidence that there was no risk of the Soviets withdrawing from Germany. For many people in London – as also in Paris – the Cold War order in Europe was essentially a structure of ‘dual containment’. In Europe, the Soviet Union was viewed as a status quo power – by contrast to the Third World.

However, confidence in the stability of the status quo depended upon the assumption that, when push came to shove, the Soviets were prepared to use military force to sustain their stooge regimes in Eastern Europe. Moreover, it was necessary that they be prepared to sustain the Polish regime by force – trying to hold down the East Germans while letting the Poles go made no strategic sense whatsoever.

At the start of 1989 Soviet officials were telling any journalist who bothered to ask them – as I and a colleague did while making programmes on the so-called ‘new thinking’ for the BBC – that if Eastern European countries chose to leave the Warsaw Pact, no attempt would be made to stop them by force. It was crystal clear from the whole body of interviews we recorded in Moscow at that time that the Brezhnev Doctrine was dead.

The inevitable outcome, as was clear to me then, was German reunification. Certainly the process might have been more gradual than it was – but that might not necessarily have been a bad thing, if only because precipitate unification, at an unrealistic exchange rate, was devastating to the East German economy. But nobody at the time presented me with a coherent explanation of how a separate East German state was to be sustained in the long-term. They just believed what they wanted to believe.


There is one important caveat on the Thatcher-Mitterrand behavior. It is reflected in Helmut Kohl's excellent memoir of his time as Chancellor. The price that Britain and France exacted from Germany for "permission" to reunify was that Germany would sign the Maastricht Treaty, effectively surrendering full sovereignty. The British and French were actually alarmed at the power of a unified Germany economically, and they knew that, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, the lure of a revival of the historical German "Ostpolitik" would be tremendous. Would a powerful unified Germany "look East" for economic cooperation with the newly liberated nations of Central Europe, as well as Ukraine and Russia? To bind Germany to continental Europe, Maastricht essentially obligated Germany to be the creditor-of-last-resort to all of Europe, including the weaker Mediterranean states now barely surviving on German bail-out money at the price of killer austerity. In his memoir, Kohl was perfectly clear that he saw Maastricht as a blackmail. He accepted the deal for the greater good of reunification. He was courageous and right to do this, but the longterm consequences of the single currency are still playing out, to the great detriment of Germany and all of Europe. It is noteworthy that, under Maastricht, there has been a German-French entente and uneasy alliance to govern the continent. Britain stayed out and is now contemplating leaving the European Union altogether because the EMU has proven to be such a disaster that has spread to all the EU member states.


You are correct that Germany was "blackmailed" into Maastricht, and the euro has MANY problems. However, the euro has been very good to Germany but not to the "south".


Will, the mantra that Euro 'has been good to Germany" is false, but if it is repeated again and again - people believe it (see recent book by H.W. Sinn - Die Target Falle, Hanser Verl. 4 Aufl. Okt. 2012, pages 51 - 54) - the facts are that Germany' growth was the second smallest among the Euro countries, Germany grew 24% in 16 years since 1995 (when Euro was decided upon and announced as coming in 2001) - whereas the average of Eurozone was 30%, only Italy grew slower, at 15%. So much to Germany profiting the most from Euro; another point is the treaty of Maastricht- which had the 'no-bail-out-clause' and this was broken by the "Club-Med" block of countries. Until 2007 Germany grew by 21% according to the Eurostat data (quoted by Sinn, p.53), Cyprus, Greece and Spain grew by 55%.
As far as Maastricht treaty is concerned - it is clear that it was broken, because Kohl said to the german parlament that 'according to the treaty there is no responsibility of the community for debts of single countries (Verbindlichkeiten der Mitgliedstaaten) and no additional financial transfers' (his speech to Bundestag in 1998 - referenced on page 46 in Sinn' book).
But more to the 'facts on the ground' - it is evident that the german state has less and less money to maintain their excellent infrastructure - one sees old women rummaging in waste bins at the main railroad station in Frankfurt, one sees the lack of affordable retired homes, one sees the streets in disrepair, the slums growing on peripheries of large cities. It is a sobering picture of the german "miracle" economy.


Even as supporter of the CDU I can only say that some of the
assumptions in respect to Helmut Schmidt are dubious:

The "Nato Doppelbeschluss" (Pershing/Cruise Missiles) was the
brainchild of Schmidt, who had in contrast to Carter a clear goal and strategy. To assume that he would gamble it away is not convincing. From a public POV, Schmidt was clearly beyond the point of no return in 1981, so either the SPD would have supported him or he would have left the office.

To assume that Schmidt was impressed or intimidated by Reagan is IMHO crazy. Schmidt was highly intelligent and highly experienced, Reagan was neither. For Schmidt Reagan was an improvement because Reagan had,in contrast to Carter, spine.

In 1981 it was even for most CDU supporter obvious that Helmut KOhl would be the inferior Kanzler, Schmidt could play very tough, as shown in 1977, and had a nice combination of experience and intelligence, this combination Kohl lacked. In addition, Schmidt got things done.

Hence, the switch from SPD/FDP to CDU/FDP was not as clear cut as described: The more reliable party (CDU) came to power, but the price was a (much) weaker Kanzler. The joke in these years was that Schmidt simply had the wrong Parteibuch (Party membership). :-)

In the following years (1982-1988) Helmut Kohl as Bundeskanzler did try to solve too many problems by doing nothing ("Probleme aussitzen"). He was more or less saved by the desintegration of the SU.

The more important aspect was that Genscher (FDP) hold the same office under Schmidt and Kohl. So when the shit hit the fan in 1989, the German Foreign Office was in very good shape and Kohl did show the necessary minimal activity. :-)

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