back in the wild, wild west

Pindostan to impose sanctions on companies involved in Nord Stream 2
Peter Schwarz, WSWS, Dec 13 2019

The Pindo House of Representatives adopted sanctions by a large majority on Wednesday against firms involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The firms and their managers are threatened with the withdrawal of their visas and the freezing of their wealth in Pindostan. Nord Stream 2 connects Russia directly with Germany across the Baltic Sea. From there, the gas is distributed by land to other European countries. The pipeline runs parallel to Nord Stream 1, which has been in operation since 2011, doubling its capacity from 55 bcm/yr to 110 bcm/yr. Germany currently uses almost 90 bcm/yr of gas. The Turkish Stream pipeline, which runs from southern Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey, is also impacted by the sanctions. However, the laying of that pipeline, against which the sanctions are directed, has already been completed. Nord Stream 2 is also largely complete. Over 1,000 of 1,230 km of pipeline have already been laid. Half of the €10b cost is being covered by Gazprom while the other half is divided among the five European companies, OMV, Wintershall Dea, Engie, Uniper, and Shell. The German government also supports the project. Both parties in the US Congress backed the sanctions, which were introduced by Thug Sen Ted Cruz and Demagog Sen Jeanne Shaheen. They were adopted by 377 votes to 48 within the framework of the $738b military budget, the largest in the country’s history. Final passage in the Senate and Trump’s signature are considered formalities. Trump is expected to sign it into law by the end of the year.

Nord Stream 2 has long come under criticism in Eastern Europe and Pindostan. Pindo pols have accused Germany of making itself dependent on Moscow, strengthening Putin and weakening Ukraine, which until now has been the main transit country for Russian gas, allowing it to cash in on high transit charges and use its control of pipelines to apply political pressure. Poland and the Baltic states also oppose Nord Stream 2 because they fear Germany and Russia reaching an accommodation at their expense. The German side rejects this, claiming that Nord Stream 2 is essential for its own and Europe’s energy independence. They also accuse Pindostan of trying to drive up gas prices so as to be able to supply Europe with expensive Pindo LNG. The importance attached to the project by Germany is shown by the fact that former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has served as a member of the Nord Stream supervisory board for 14 years, formally as a Gazprom representative. German political and business figures angrily denounced the sanctions and sharply criticised Pindostan. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared:

Europe’s energy policy will be decided in Europe, not in Pindostan. We are opposed in principle to external interventions and extraterritorial sanctions.

The head of the German-Russian Chamber of Foreign Trade, Matthias Schepp, urged the German government to take counter-measures, saying:

It is high time for Berlin and Brussels to take a clear political stand and answer with retaliatory measures.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Alexander Gauland spoke along similar lines. he said:

Germany needs cheap energy prices to succeed with its energy-intensive industries in global competition. Without gas imports from Russia, the risks for German energy security will increase. Behind the decision to lay sanctions are vast economic interests in Pindostan who would love to supply Germany with expensive Pindo LNG in place of Russian gas. They have to accept that we decide ourselves where we source our energy fuel, instead of threatening sanctions that will cause everyone to lose.

CDU deputy Johann Wadephul described the sanctions as a “blow to Pindo-German relations.” The leader of parliamentary business in the SPD parliamentary group, Karsten Schneider, declared:

Pindostan has now finally returned to the wild west, where only the law of the strongest applies. If sanctions are now imposed against allies, we are entering tough times. Europe will not be blackmailed into buying dirty Pindo LNG.

Left Party leader Dietmar Bartsch called on the German government to take a hardline stance towards Pindostan, saying:

The German government can’t bow to that. It cannot accept this blackmail under any circumstances.

The Greens, who oppose Nord Stream due to environmental and foreign policy considerations, joined in the chorus of nationalism. Green Party co-leader Annalena Baerbock stated:

This is an unprecedented interference in the internal affairs of the EU. The POTUS has once again demonstrated how he is replacing political action with blackmail.

The Pindo sanctions against an energy project of a close NATO vassal underscore just how conflict-riven the relations between hegemon & vassals in the world’s largest military alliance are. They also show that the mounting tensions in relations do not merely arise from the crude personality of Trump and his Pindostan First policies. Trump has in fact adopted a more lenient line on Nord Stream 2 than the hawks in the Demagog Party. The objective cause of the mounting conflicts is the deepening global crisis of capitalism. The struggle of powerful capitalist interests for markets, raw materials, oil and gas pipelines, trading routes and cheap labour is reviving the old conflicts between the imperialist powers which twice plunged humanity into world war during the 20th century. Merkel, Maas and other German politicians sharply criticised Macron for his declaration that NATO was “brain dead” and proclaimed their loyalty to it, but this is above all due to the fact that Germany still requires more time to emancipate itself militarily from Pindostan. A detailed study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs on the role of NATO for European defence came to this conclusion:

The credible deterrence and military defense of Europe is currently impossible without Pindostan’s political, conventional, and nuclear contributions. An independent capability of the Europeans in the defence sector is unachievable without Pindostan in the short term. It is in Germany’s interest to secure the political and military functioning of the alliance over the long term, but given the shifts in Pindo policy, the Euro vassals must consider a future form of NATO and Euro defence which involves Pindostan to a lesser degree.

In other words, the Germans and other Euro vassals must rearm themselves first, before they can break with Pindostan. The Pindo sanctions on Nord Stream 2 will accelerate the German government’s rearmament drive, which already aims at doubling military spending to €90b/yr over the coming ten years. As the reactions to the Pindo sanctions show, the ruling class can rely on the support in this of all parliamentary parties, from the AfD to the Left Party.

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