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In this case I don't understand it. Schroeder did a good job.
With this pipeline Germany is independent from Poland and Ukraine and the political situation in this countries. Americans should understand that because their country tries to be indipendent from any influence too.
And why is it bad that Schroeder now works at the project he worked while his time as Cancelor too? It doesn't harm anyone!
And do you think that the media should talk only about Schroeder's new job for the next 4 years? The time goes on and the media concentrates on the new Cancelor and her work.

Tobo , you don't get it . It is bad because Poland is America's best friend in Eastern Europe and the second best friend in Europe ( right after Great Britain). Of course the Poles don't like that pipeline, because it does not cross Poland and so they will get no fee for pumping the gas through their polish homeland. Bad for the Poles, good for Germany , because we save a lot of money and don't have to negotiate with the Poles .
I admit I never was a supporter of Schroeder's domestic and economic policy and never voted for him, but building such a close realtionship with Putin served the economic interests of Germany.

In fact, SPIEGEL ONLINE is already writing conciliatory pieces praising Schroeder as a "gifted instinct politician" to placate their readership.

He didn't happen to stain the wardrobe of any interns, did he?

@ToBo -
And why is it bad that Schroeder now works at the project he worked while his time as Cancelor too?

It's a little thing called a "conflict of interest". Using your elected office to enrich yourself is what many parts of the world consider corruption; your office is meant to serve your country, not you. Even morally bankrupt politicians have at least enough of a sense of ethics to understand that you have to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, and know that this looks exactly like one hand washing the other - Gerhard uses the German government to help Gazprom, so Gazprom helps Gerhard.

Imagine Bush leaving office and getting a nice advisory position at Bechtel or Halliburton. When, exactly, would we hear the end of that?

Schroeder has sold out his native Germany for a stack of Euros. Auf wiedersehen, Wirtschaftswunder. Auf wiedersehen, Freiheit. Germany has been betrayed by domestic socialists into the hands of Putin and what used to be called the KGB.

@ PacRim Jim

??? It's just a gas deal. Putin gives gas. Germany pays money. Where in the sheme is the KGB?

The same people that think Bush is the worst ever, somehow don't have issues with the way Putin does things, in fact he's fantastic. Schroeder even falls into that category.

Isn't there a difference when the mightiest man of the world and some president of a corrupt ex-commuistic country lies and do immoral things?

First off, let me say that I believe the way Russia is going about this is indeed heavy-handed and is a blatant power play. But, from what I understand (contrary to what the Brussels Journal implies), Ukraine currently pays about one-fourth as much for its gas as other Eastern European countries -- so it's not entirely unreasonable to raise their prices (the figures are something like Ukraine pays $70/unit of gas, whereas Bulgaria, Romania, and others pay between $240 and $280 for the same amount of gas). In fact, Ukraine does not object to a price increase, they just don't want to raise it to parity with other countires all at once. Gazprom, on the other hand, appears intent to do just that -- and if Ukraine doesn't pay up, their gas gets shut off on Jan. 1.

As for the pipeline, I don't have a problem with one country securing a source of energy for it's citizens as cheaply as possible -- and if it reduces the "tolls" that must be paid along the way, so much the better. It's no different than if they delivered the gas to ships and had the ships sail to Germany to deliver the gas.

As for Shroeder's conduct, well, that's just shameful...and blatantly corrupt. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just in denial, IMHO. I can think of a couple of ex-Boing executives who probably wish they had worked in Germany and not in the US.

For those who may not get my "Boeing" reference:

In early January, 2005: "Darleen Druyun, former weapons buyer for the U.S. Air Force, checked into a special women’s prison about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in the heart of Florida’s Panhandle region this week, for a nine month stay, after pleading guilty to giving Boeing special treatment on an $23.5 billion government contract.

"Her crime? Violating conflict of interest laws. Druyun had been talking about possible job opportunities with Boeing at the same time she was negotiating a contract that would let Boeing pump up the price tag by $6 billion on a lease agreement for one hundred 767s tankers."

In early February, 2005: "Former Boeing Co. Chief Financial Officer Michael Sears was sentenced on Friday to four months in prison and a $250,000 fine for his role in illegally recruiting a top U.S. Air Force official, reported Reuters.

"Sears, 57, pleaded guilty on Nov. 15 to aiding and abetting a conflict-of-interest law violation by Darlene Druyun, who was the Air Force's No. 2 weapons buyer. She was sentenced Oct. 1 to nine months in prison after meeting Sears to negotiate a $250,000-a-year Boeing job while still overseeing Boeing deals worth billions with the Air Force."

One other reason for Schroeder to thank his lucky stars he's not an American, I guess. He probably figured he was above the law, anyway.

@Nike: I meant Putin
"(...)somehow don't have issues with the way Putin does things(...)" by Sleepy

Isn't there a difference when the mightiest man of the world and some president of a corrupt ex-commuistic country lies and do immoral things?

If you live by double standards, yes.

"Isn't there a difference when the mightiest man of the world and some president of a corrupt ex-commuistic country lies and do immoral things?"

Nuance is always a good work around for hypocrisy. Let me if I understand the mentality correctly, it's only reasonable to judge based on how much power one has or perceived to have. Putin has far more power in his country which happens to be by far the largest in the world than Bush does in the US.


That sounds interesting. Here is my answer to your argumentation:

Bush has much more power because the population is as twice as big as in Russia. Besides it only seems as if Putin has more executive power because the USA follows Bush's orders more exact than Putin's in Russia, the officers in Russia are much more corrupt than in the USA.
(How do you like it?)

My understanding was that part of Russia's failed bid to influence the Ukrainian elections was a 5 year agreement extending subsidies signed in 2004 between Gazprom and Ukraine's equivalent. This agreement is being abrogated, apparently without compensation. Germany should be aware of that and not rely on Russian promises. Like the Ukraine, they may be surprised at how quickly such promises can cease to be valid.

Way to get off on the right foot in 2006, SPON! As I write this, their lead article is about the Ukraine gas story. Nowhere in the long article do they mention the name of Schroeder even once. Of course, if the parties involved were Bush and Halliburton instead of Schroeder and Gazprom, they'd never drag Bush's name into it either, right, ToBo? No-o-o-o-o, not a chance! SPON's editors must love writing in a country like Germany. Double standard? Get real! Ain't nobody but a couple of little blogs gonna notice a thing! And if they do, so what? The ToBo's of the world will always be there to nod their heads sagely and wonder what all the fuss is about.

The "long article" is only about what will happen today with the gas for the Ukraine. And the situation with the danger for the exports to Germany shows us that it was a great idea to build a Ostsee-Pipeline because if the very instabile political situation in the Ukraine (look at the story with the vice-president) can get very dangerous. And why should Russia continue to give a massive discount of 75% to an unfriendly country? (Since the contract was made a revolution happend.)

"And the German media has absolutely no interest in investigating the ex-Chancellor's obvious (and massive) conflict-of-interest in taking the Gazprom post just weeks after leaving office. Why would they? They know that, ideologically, Gerd-baby is one of theirs...a member of the German leftist-elite. So they refuse to ruin his reputation any more than necessary. In fact, SPIEGEL ONLINE is already writing conciliatory pieces praising Schroeder as a "gifted instinct politician" to placate their readership."

Truly disgusting. Gerhard Schroeder is about as slimy as politicians, and people, come.

"The 'long article' is only about what will happen today with the gas for the Ukraine..."

Sure thing, ToBo, buddy, just keep on rationalizing. Notice how our friend ToBo keeps studiously avoiding the main issue, which is the double standard? In this case, the specific double standard we are talking about is the German MSM's grotesquely different treatment of corporate conflicts of interest depending on whether they're dealing with one of their own, or one of their carefully manufactured demons, such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al. ToBo pretends not to notice the double standard issue at all. Instead, he regales us with strategic analyses of Germany's gas supply, the "purely economic" reasons for suddenly jacking up the price a weak neighboring state must pay for its critical energy supply by a factor of more than four, and assurances that Schroeder is doing a good job. DOUBLE STANDARD, ToBo, DOUBLE STANDARD!!

This has become a standard MO for the German media elites and their hangers on. Another good example is Stern's "star reporter" Guessgen's latest anti-American rant. Note that, when called on the double standard, he tried an identical dodge. Instead of even seriously attempting to address the actual issue, he treated us to all the usual hackneyed leftist talking points, delivering an irrelevant sermon on the death penalty, complete with the usual crocodile tears, the standard dumbed down, moralistic lecture on torture, and an assortment of old chestnuts about the Iraq war. Being a particularly stupid reporter for Germany's most abject excuse for a "news" magazine, he actually topped it all off by giving us an unctuous rendition of the old "objective criticism" routine, complete with sad-faced and oily assurances that he is really America's "friend." You know what they say about friends like these...

This sort of thing is hardly limited to Germany. A Canadian "political analyst" was on TV here recently playing the same game. In this case, the Canadian America haters had blamed all the gun violence in Canada on the evil United States. The original articles were filled with all the bile, scorn, and contrived, self-righteous posing we're all so familiar with in the German media. On US TV the "political analyst" was suddenly transmogrified into another one of our "best friends," merely concerned with "helping" the poor, benighted Americans by demonstrating to them that their Constitution was out of date, reaching out to us with "objective criticism" to help us become "enlightened," like the Canadians.

Perhaps Medienkritik should declare a new award, in the style of Andrew Sullivan, for the most egregious example of venomous anti-American hate peddling rationalized as "objective criticism." It could be called the "Guessgen award."

Happy New Year from Russia. I believe the deadline was this morning. Its going to be a bitter winter. Perhaps an Air Lift to save the Orange Revolution?

@ToBo - With this pipeline Germany is independent from Poland and Ukraine and the political situation in this countries. Americans should understand that because their country tries to be indipendent from any influence too.

Independence is a political value, not an economical one. German independence from Poland and Ukraine is just as absurd an idea as Texan independence from Kansas and Georgia. Better build a proper federal system.

Thanks to the gas pipelines, Germany and other European countries have an economic dependence from Russia, so the common interest of our political independence requires that Russia is not given opportunity to exploit internal European friction.

If you believe corruption would make Russia harmless but at the same time see instability as a threat in Ukraine, then one of your synapses must have been plugged into the wrong contact.

A corrupt and totalitarian Russia is going to be less stable, and as a target for hostile takeover by Islam has the potential to develop into a threat in comparison to which the current tumult in Eastern Europe is peanuts.

One odd thing about Germany's pretended moral superiority based on banning the death penalty: The death penalty was forbidden to protect National Socialist murderers.

Some moral compass there! The only people who benefit is mass murderers, and the families who benefit from their robbery.

I have difficulty with the death penalty as practiced in California. I have a relative who has made a career out of appealing death sentences to the state supreme court, at cost to the tax payer. Not only does the convicted killer's lawyers get paid by the state for their work, but the prosecutor must also be funded to respond to the continuous baseless appeals. This goes on, at 300 dollars an hour or more, from the time that the murderer is convicted to the time that the execution is carried out. For the late and unlamented Stanley "Tookie" Williams, convicted multiple murderer, this was 22 years.

Welfare program for over educated elites with no moral compass. No wonder California has budget problems.

@Tobo: "And why should Russia continue to give a massive discount of 75% to an unfriendly country?"

You assume the country is unfriendly--and yet the Russians continue to maintain their Black Sea fleet at Sebastopol. I think they would like to keep it there.

It would instead be more accurate to say Ukraine is now its own country: that is why the Russians are bothered. Anyway, Yuschenko says they are willing to pay true market rates: ``Ukraine is ready to move to a market price from 2006. We do not need loans, we are ready to pay ... But it should not be a virtual price but a real price following the European model.'' (Reuters today http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-russia-ukraine.html)

As for the Germans and their desire for a reliable supply of natural gas that bypasses the "politically instability" of Ukraine, the greatest source of instability in that country is Russia. Gerhard only made it easier for them to keep their hands in Ukraine by making the country a non-issue for the average German in his gas-heated home. Now he's getting his reward and no one cares.

All I could think of when reading this article is the obvious parallel between former president clinton selling out America missle technologies to the Chinese for campaign contributions!
And all the liberal MSM in America could find to talk about ~ while clinton was also pandering to dictators and thugs worldwide for campaign contributions, looking the other way after each (5) terrorist attacks, causing massive party losses in each election cycle, losing all branches of government ~ was how "mean" conservatives were to him.

It is not that Schroeder is an opportunistic pig, because we all know that "Some pigs are just a little more equal," . . . it is just that he was such a pompous PC loud mouth and now those true believers, those good liberals who bought into his cynical political posturing, find out he is Bernie Ebbers, Ken Lay, and bubber clinton all rolled into one.

Thank you complex and sophisticated Europe for showing those simple minded heartless, capitalist Americans, once again, how to do it right!


PS: When they said years ago that the new EU was going to surpass the U.S.A. . . . is this what they meant?

@ tliq:

"Some of the media were neutral (if any) but very, very often they backed the conservatives (Bild, Welt, FAZ as always, but also Spiegel, Focus and ... Stern!!! Admit it.)"

Really? Can you give us actual examples or is that just your opinion?

"The funny thing is Schröder is more popular with the right than with the left by now."

Where is your evidence on that? Could you give us a poll or something or is this just another fact you are imagining?

As far as "Socialists" go, I would hardly call the PDS (or whatever they call themselves now) "Socialist". It is a Communist party.


"Independence is a political value, not an economical one. German independence from Poland and Ukraine is just as absurd an idea as Texan independence from Kansas and Georgia. Better build a proper federal system."

You really think Poland , Ukraine and Germany are like Texas, Kansas and Georgia ?

Are Texas and Georgia divided by culture , language and history ?

And no, we will not build a proper federal system with the Poles and the Ukrainians, because we don't want to live in a federal system with these people. We have absolutly nothing in common with them and we have no common interest regarding Russia.

@Tobo.. you said

@Nike: I meant Putin
"(...)somehow don't have issues with the way Putin does things(...)" by Sleepy

If I know Niko, he meant that as an ironic sarcastic remark, but I think it just went right over (or perhaps through) your head.

He's a sarcastic SOB, but he's our sob..

Well, not as long as the strategic reserves are going to last... your position is like a hourglass, it's only a matter of time until you have to turn it around.

The names of American states I chose to illustrate my point are arbitrarily. Poland already is a NATO and EU member, and with Ukraine we have certainly less cultural, liguistical and historical divisions than with Turkey.

While the new price for Russian natural gas would certainly be a dramatic increase for Ukraine, focusing exclusively on the increase omits necessary perspective. The increase (from approximately $50 to $230/1,000 cubic meters) would bring the price Ukraine pays into line with market prices (somehow missing in the post). I would imagine that without any other context, we would agree that the market price would be a fair price for Ukraine to pay. And charging the market price doesn't sound quite like extortion.

Regarding context, in October 2005 the world's largest steel producer (London-based but Indian-controlled Mittal Steel Co.) purchased 93% of Ukraine's largest steel company (Kryvorizhstal) for €4.5+ billion. Said Ukrainian firm, which produces upwards of 20% of Ukraine's steel, is clearly a major energy consumer in Ukraine. All politics aside, should Gazprom subsidize energy prices for the world's largest steel company, which would then use lower input prices to good advantage in competition against Russian steel companies ? One can imagine that Russian steel bosses would be lobbying hard to change that practice, as well they should. (This begs the question of whether Gazprom subsidizes gas for Russian steel producers.)

Of course I'm not naive enough to think that Gazprom, a state entity, isn't being used for political purposes particularly given Russia's historical track record with Ukraine or given the deeply subsidized prices Gazprom still charges other former Soviet republics. But given market realities (which I think we would all urge Russia and Ukraine to adopt) and additional context, the situation becomes much less clear - and much harder to charicature.


PS - I second the notion that a comparison between Poland, Ukraine and Germany on the one hand and Kansas, Texas and Georgia on the other is outrageously farfetched.


>>"But then you entirely miss this piece from December 12: http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,389965,00.html
Nice spin job once again, boys."

Grasping at straws, are we, Gombo? Let's take a look at what Medienkritik actually wrote about the media coverage of this story:

"His (Schroeder's) decision to join the company was met with a bit of token outrage in the German media before the subject was promptly dropped. No Watergate knives were brandished and the ex-Chancellor has been largely left to continue about his merry business."

I'm game, Gombo. Go ahead! It should be amusing to watch you try to explain to us how the one link you gave us constitutes more than "token outrage," and that Medienkritik's failure to carefully catalog every instance thereof in the German media constitutes "spin." Let's see, last time I looked at Medienkritik's masthead it read, "Politically incorrect observations on reporting in the German media." For starters, you might take notice of the fact that the article you cite appears only in the de-fanged, neutered pap SPON feeds to its English language readers. Is that the "German media" you're referring to, Gombo? Pretty lame. Even I could have found a few articles that were actually published in German to "prove your point."

Sorry, Gombo, but a few articles do not a Watergate make. The silence of the German media on Schroeder's conflict of interest continues to be deafening, and the only spin artist here is you.

Yeah right, no spin here. Whatever. Then explain to me why my first post has seemingly been deleted. I understand groupthink is popular here, but I didn't imagine they were so terrified of looking wrong.

Note from David: If you are personally insulting Ray or me, your comment is deleted. It's easy as 1,2,3. Check our comment policy (link in right column) for more info.
You are on a "hold for approval" status now. If you don't like that, stop commenting.

@Rofe: Your point is taken, but I think the preponderance of the evidence outweighs it. Consider also: Gazprom is more or less a monopoly in Russia, from what I understand. This would not be true if it weren't for the fact that Yukos, which would be a significant competitor, was seized under orders from Putin and its former CEO is now starving to death in a Siberian gulag. Now I think we know why that happened.


A better example would have been say Georgia and New Jersey.

In that case, I would side with T.J. but given we have had them for so long we are kind of stuck with them.

Pretty much the same with Germany and Poland.

T.J. implies the french are OK. I guess maybe all the members of the chocolate summit plus the vassel state of Austria are OK too.

Is this the two speed EU everyone keeps talking about?

@joe - Two speeds, three speeds, as many speeds as you want... but I think we shouldn't prescribe an odd proportional representation of national governments in the EU to ensure that Germany and France always stay together. If NATO prevents us from falling back behind the lines of the Battle of Tours, the EU can abandon its bureaucratic barricade fights and instead focus on developing a proper republican system and a constitution that deserves the name.

The outsourcing of the EU's existentialism to NATO might also be a source for the developement of genuine trust, since statements that the EU is interested in the continued existence of NATO might then be taken more serious on the American side.

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