What follows is speculation. I don’t think I’m spilling any secret beans.
The U.S. wanted to stop Nordstream gas pipelines 1 and 2, which run through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. Construction of Nordstream 1 began in May 2011. The alleged wiretapping was in the time frame 2011-2013. Understanding Merkel’s commitment to the projects was crucial to crafting sanctions to stop Nordstream 2. Sanctions have failed: (DW) Nord Stream 2: Construction resumes in Danish waters.
The route of Nordstream 2, identical to already-operating Nordstream 1, passes through Denmark’s territorial waters for roughly 120 km as it skirts the Danish island of Bornholm. Denmark could have stopped Nordstream 2 by prohibition of the route.
Caught between the U.S. and Germany, Denmark ultimately caved to Germany. Facilitation of wiretapping would be a private expression of sympathy.
Our concerns are real. Nordstream 2 completes the replacement of Ukraine’s pipeline infrastructure for consumers in northern Europe. Loss by Ukraine of transit fees for existing pipelines risks current Western alignment.
Over the past decade, Russia has supplied upwards of 30% of Europe’s gas. (Stastista) Share of extra-EU natural gas imports from Russia from 2010 to 1st half 2020. So besides destabilizing Ukraine, how does Nordstream 2 enhance Russia’s power over Europe?
- It cements Russia’s competitive advantage.
- Focusing on Germany, an historical enemy/ally, it increases the strike precision of the Russian gas weapon.
- Is NATO Brain Dead? Negotiating with the Russians; Mike Pompeo in the Fulda Gap gains reality with yet another German tie to Russia.
The Cold War Fulda Gap is replaced by the Suwalki Corridor, a choke point created by gifting Stalin the Kalingrad exclave after World War 2. Since Blue has lost to Red in every simulation, U.S. wargamers anticipate the loss of the corridor early in a conflict, cutting off the Baltic States. NATO forces are insufficient to deal with unfavorable geography, which is why the last administration pressed Merkel so hard on Germany’s poor state of readiness.
Massive German support would be required to regain the Suwalki Corridor. It is natural to wonder if a gas cutoff would motivate tomorrow’s Germany to temporize.
The founding of NATO in 1949 brought Western Europe under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Though the-no-first-use nuclear doctrine governs, the certainty of Russian nuclear retaliation against the U.S. demands an answer to this question: What is it about Europe that requires the promise we commit to the flames of nuclear devastation?
in 1949, the commitment came from the conviction that the reborn heart of Europe was so pure in spirit, it was worth dying for on the other side of the Atlantic. We have deep suspicion of claims that business is exempt from this standard, yet this is a vital point to Germany.
Until surpassed by China, Germany was the largest exporter of manufactured goods. The German economy crucially relies on exports. Germans worry that while the U.S. economy could restart from a catastrophe, their economy, so interdependent on international relations, might fail to rekindle. In the U.S., globalism is debatable. In Germany, it is factual.
Henry Kissinger offers the history Germans are conscious of:
- Good relations with Russia and economic prosperity go together.
- Bad relations coincide with bad economic times.
- Since Russia survives mostly as a natural resources state, while Germany is entirely a manufacturing state, there is natural complement.
The U.S. attitude towards Germany is divided between committed globalists, conditional globalists, and isolationists. None are above criticism; none reference these perspectives. The nut of it is:
- Russia is feared less than the Soviet Union. Economic conflict and internal stress are real. Military conflict is imaginary, except to Poland and the Baltic states. Ukraine is not a member of NATO.
- Russia’s use of the gas weapon remains imaginary.
- NATO is now divided into regions disconnected by conflicts between member states that span economic, political, territorial, and religious. Germany’s contribution is insufficient defense of the Suwalki Corridor,
If any productive approach is to be found, the custodians of U.S. foreign policy, globalists, conditional globalists, and isolationists, must examine the German perspective. With understanding may come a remedy for the illness at the heart of NATO.
Or maybe not. We don’t write history; we live it.