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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Please Tell Me Germans Are Not This Foolish

This news story popped up on my radar this morning while perusing the editorial pages. It comes from the Washington Post.

IT'S THE SORT of behavior we have -- sadly -- come to expect from some in Congress. But when Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, announced last week that he was going to work for Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth, he catapulted himself into a different league. It's one thing for a legislator to resign his job, leave his committee chairmanship and go to work for a company over whose industry he once had jurisdiction. It's quite another thing when the chancellor of Germany -- one of the world's largest economies -- leaves his job and goes to work for a company controlled by the Russian government that is helping to build a Baltic Sea gas pipeline that he championed while in office. To make the decision even more unpalatable, it turns out that the chief executive of the pipeline consortium is none other than a former East German secret police officer who was friendly with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, back when Mr. Putin was a KGB agent in East Germany. If nothing else, Mr. Schroeder deserves opprobrium for his bad taste.

Time out. So, it is all right when we do it, but not for a European? Or am I missing something? If we accept it here, then why not accept it when Europe does similar things. And that makes me question if the WaPo editorial staff have a problem with this occuring in Europe, then why do they not have a serious problem with it over here?

But the announcement should also raise questions in German voters' minds about the real reasons Mr. Schroeder was so keen to see this pipeline project launched. The pipeline has cost Germany diplomatically by infuriating its Central European and Baltic neighbors. They point out that the Russian government chose to use the sea route rather than run a new pipeline alongside one that already exists on land, despite the far greater expense. The only possible reason for doing so was political: The Baltic Sea pipeline could allow Russia, a country that has made political use of its energy resources, to cut off gas to Central Europe and the Baltic states while still delivering gas to Germany. Many have wondered why Germany chose to go along with this project. Could it have been because the former chancellor realized that he was, in effect, creating his own future place of employment?

Quite possibly, but I see more political maneuvering involved on the part of nationalism in his actions. Securing his position was one thing. Securing a "permanent" client not only provided Germany with a resource they need, but will inflate the profits of the company that Schroeder will be working for.

On a broader level, Mr. Schroeder's decision to swap his job with the German government for a job funded by the Russian government should raise questions for German voters about their country's relationship with Russia. During his seven years as chancellor, Mr. Schroeder went out of his way to ignore the gradual suppression of political rights in Russia and to play down the significance of Russia's horrific war in Chechnya. Throughout his term in office, Mr. Schroeder thwarted attempts to put unified Western pressure on Russia to change its behavior. We can only hope that Germany's new chancellor, Angela Merkel, uses this extraordinary announcement as a reason to launch a new German policy toward Russia, one based on something other than Mr. Schroeder's private interests.

And hopefully she does. It would serve Schroeder right to have his knees cut off. I do not mean to sound like a devil's advocate here, but it just seems to me that those criticizing this move were either blind, stupid, or both when this deal first went down. Schroeder's numbers were already dropping. With an election looming on the horizon--one predicted to be hotly contested--it makes sense he would prepare his own "golden parachute" for the future.

But in the same paragraph, they also give a solution to the problem in Angela Merkel, Schroder's successor. She can just as easily terminate the contracts as she can maintain them. She is, in all respects, in the cat bird seat. Schroder is not. But, Schroder had a response to his critics in Europe today.

Ex-German leader Gerhard Schroeder has rejected criticism linked to his new job as head of a company he launched with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The company, set up last year, is jointly owned by Russia's state-owned gas giant, Gazprom.
Mr Schroeder said he would be taking legal action after opposition politicians accused him of sleaze.
The new chancellor, Angela Merkel, has called for debate on a code of conduct for politicians entering business.

In remarks made to the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Mr Schroeder says the allegations against him are "nonsense" and announces that he is taking legal action - although he does not give any details about this.

Mr Schroeder and President Putin signed the deal to build the gas pipeline underneath the Baltic Sea 10 days before the general election in September - earlier than originally planned.

Politicians and the media have suggested there was a conflict of interest, with Mr Schroeder allegedly feathering his nest while acting in a public capacity.

"Schroeder ruins his reputation" was one front-page headline on Tuesday.

But Mr Schroeder said he was only offered the job on Friday last week, the same day that his appointment was announced.

Legal action? For what? Calling things as they see it? That would be like one of our senators lying, being caught and called to account for it, and that senator threatening to sue his opponents over catching him in the lie. Talk about ridiculous.

If anyone is confused, do not be. I dislike the actions that Schroeder has engaged in. But it is classic politics going back generations. For the Germans, or anyone for that matter, to cry "foul" is preposterous. You knew this was politics as usual. And where is the WaPo's outrage regarding the UN?

UN delegates are notorious for this sort of back-room, conflict-of-interest double-dealing. Maybe the WaPo might want to look into the Oil-For-Food scandal that has thoroughly been covered by Claudia Rosett of Wall Street Journal fame; her coverage includes the conflict-of-interest involved with Kofi Annan.

Cotecna was the major wheeler and dealer in the Oil-For-Food program. Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, was working with Cotecna in regard to contracts. The program was allowing Saddam Hussein to sell Iraqi oil on the world markets to pay for food for his people. None of the money went to his people, but it did disappear quicker than condoms in a whorehouse on a Friday night. And believe me, the dots have connected Kojo to a great deal of money, and I am positive Kofi-daddy will be connected to it, as well.

The difference between the UN and Germany is that Schroeder is not going to end up starving his nation to death. The UN did. The repercussions of the deal struck have yet to fully play out, though the geopolitical consequences could seriously hurt Germany in the long run. But for people, like those working for the WaPo to be "shocked to discover gambling" regarding this issue (Thanks Hugh for the brilliant analogy) is just plain stupid, and irresponsible on the part of the journalists/editors at the WaPo for not truly being informed.

The Bunny ;)


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