The Washington Post is hardly one of America's more conservative publications. So it was highly interesting to read the newspaper's take on Gerhard Schroeder's new Russian pipeline job in the editorial section yesterday. Here are excerpts of the piece, entitled "Gerhard Schroeder's Sellout":
"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. (...)
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."
Read the entire thing. This is truly amazing. Remember how Schroeder was always looking out for the "little-guy" in Germany? Remember how he was always the champion of "social justice." Remember how he always demanded other Germans show solidarity with the poor and unemployed. And then he can't even wait one month after losing the Chancellery to take a cushy, lucrative job representing the wealthy stockholders of a Russian gas pipeline company that he helped to promote while in office? The fact that the company is run by a former East German secret police officer who was close to Putin in his KGB years is truly disgusting.
And the German media is still showing more interest in Tookie Williams and the so-called CIA scandal than this. Schroeder's actions represent a true scandal of massive proportions. But his left-wing friends are afraid to dig too deep and hurt their own party. Could you imagine how the German (and American) media elite would react if Bush did something like this? We would be hearing about it for years. It would be Watergate times 10 or more!
UPDATE: For the second day in a row a scathing editorial on Gerhard Schroeder and the Russians appeared on the Washington Post's editorial page. This time it was an article by Anne Applebaum entitled: "What Are the Russians Buying?" Here is an excerpt of that:
"Even here in Washington -- a city populated by lobbyists who once held political office and government officials who once worked as lobbyists -- it's hard to top the story of Gerhard Schroeder. Last week the former German chancellor announced that he'd accepted a job offer from Gazprom, the state-controlled Russian energy mega-company. As one of his last acts in office, Schroeder signed an agreement to build a diplomatically and environmentally controversial Baltic Sea gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Now he's working for the company that will build it. It's as if Jimmy Carter had negotiated the return of the Panama Canal to Panama -- and then signed a lucrative contract to manage the shipping lanes.
But there's more here than just the former German chancellor's quest for personal enrichment -- or funds to pay alimony to his three ex-wives. The story also reflects the growing international power of Russian money."
Read the entire article here.