Over the course of the past few months I have alluded both in writing and in various televised interviews to the ‘ship of fools’ composition of the German coalition government under Chancellor Scholz. This falls in line with my repeated emphasis over the years on the undemocratic results of seemingly progressive political processes across the European Continent guided by proportional representation as opposed to the Anglo-Saxon rule of ‘first past the post.’ I say undemocratic, because as is now commonly the case, no single party in such elections favoring minority groupings enjoys a majority in parliament and governments are cobbled together behind closed doors whereby the public has no say in the outcome. Ministerial portfolios are allocated following political haggling among party bosses and most often competence or prior experience with the given dossier of responsibilities plays no role.
In the German case today, though the Chancellor himself often seems clueless about international affairs, he is brilliant when compared to two of the ministers from the Greens Party whom he installed in his cabinet in positions which weigh heavily today on the most critical issue facing Germany and Europe generally, the sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The ministers in question are responsible for Foreign Affairs (Annalena Baerbock) and The Economy and Environmental Affairs (Robert Habeck).
These two former co-leaders of the German Greens are now featured almost daily on European print and electronic media and so we can more easily reach conclusions about their personalities and suitability for office than is the case with other ministers in the coalition. That conclusion is shock over the incompetence, unprofessionalism and inconsistent logic they project from day to day.
Though most everyone associates the German Greens with environmentally friendly policies, that is not the priority of these two ministers. Instead their priority is punishing Putin in any and every conceivable way, with cavalier disregard for the economic consequences in Germany. Coal power stations can be restarted. The working lives of nuclear power stations formerly scheduled for decommissioning can be extended. These formerly key electoral issues of the Greens now go by the boards to maintain energy supplies to the public and to industry if and when the Russians respond to the sanctions by cutting completely gas deliveries via Nord Stream 1.
From the very start, we heard the trivial proposal from Ms. Baerbock on how Germany could give Putin the finger by cutting back on personal hygiene and reducing daily hot showers to washing the four strategic parts of their bodies. It was hard to believe that a federal minister in the very serious country of Germany could stand before the cameras and utter such rubbish. That was when a Russian push-back was strictly hypothetical. Now that the flow of gas through Nord Stream I has been reduced to 20% of capacity, the complete shutdown is entirely possible and the impact on the German economy will be severe pain, meaning a likely recession on the order of 6%. That implies the loss of hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs.
I can well imagine that the chosen priorities of the Greens’ ministers may be dismissed by some as being idiosyncrasies of the given individuals. However, that is not the case. From the time of its founding more than 30 years ago by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Joschka Fischer, the German Greens party took anti-Russian policy positions. In the new millennium, it was precisely the German Greens who came out time and again in the European Parliament with calls to sanction Russia for alleged abridgements of human rights such as over the falsified claims of the U.S.-U.K. investor William Browder in what Washington knows as the Magnitsky affair.
The Greens movement across Europe has various faces locally. Here in Belgium the Party, both in its Flemish and Walloon (Francophone) versions, is perceived as a single issue party, as the spokesmen and women for environmentally friendly policies. They have enjoyed variable success at the polls, but have nonetheless been an influential force in Brussels for realization of a variety of Luddite policies.
The Brussels city fathers in the 1960s and 1970s were excessively enamored of the automobile. The downtown was ripped up to make way for highways which were initially elevated. The long drawn-out construction and the resulting ‘Chinese walls’ killed off small shops along the way, to no one’s apparent concern in the ministerial offices. From the ‘90s on, the pendulum swung the other way, with the Greens leading the charge. Arterial roads connecting the city to its residential suburbs have been constricted to make bus and tram lanes which carry a fraction of the traffic of the autos they have displaced. Commuting time has gone up dramatically at all times of the day. Consequently, the economy of Brussels has suffered substantially. Slogans of car-free days have been symptomatic of a government policy that cares little about economic consequences and cares a great deal about populist ideology.
In a related domain, our Belgian Greens have had a great influence on management of park lands. Their slogan has been biodiversity. On this basis, they have promoted the cutting of what was for a couple hundred years through the 1980s Europe’s largest and most beautiful beech forest, the Forêt de Soignes. Their idea was to return this forest to its ‘native state’ before human intervention created a nearly single variety forest. And so we have nearly lost the cathedral of lofty beeches which was the glory of this city.
The forest of the past was home to chipmunks, squirrels, foxes and other small creatures. I recall very well how careful we cavaliers had to be on our weekend horse rides lest our mount shy at a chipmunk crossing our path. That challenge no longer exists. For one reason or another, the forest floor outside Brussels today is devoid of animal life. The mismanagement of our forest heritage by the Greens-influenced authorities today means that obligations of private cutters to clean up after themselves and to remove dead and fallen trees are not observed. Our forest floor is covered with dead branches and rotting tree trunks. It is only the good fortune of a wet climate that spares us devastating forest fires given the amount of kindling waiting to go up in smoke. So much for Green policies in practice.
My point in the foregoing is very simple: the Greens Party in Germany, in Belgium and I assume elsewhere in Europe is nothing more than a vehicle for incompetent, unprofessional sloganeers to seize power and to implement radical social policies of which the public has no inkling. If it were only economic hardship for the population that resulted from their policies, that would be bad enough. But by foolishly and ignorantly baiting the Russian bear and trying to inflict maximum damage on the Russian economy, which is a policy that has “Greens” written all over it, the party and its leadership are pointing Europe to what may yet become a pan-European conflagration that spins out of control.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022