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We are witnessing the collapse of diplomacy
by Christian Hacke and Peter Nowak
We, who keep this society running, are footing the bill, while the super-rich and big corporations are lining their pockets, making profits from the crises.
"What we are witnessing now is the collapse of diplomacy"
Interview with Christian Hacke
[This interview posted on 9/6/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, "Was wir jetzt erleben, ist der Zusammenbruch der Diplomatie"]

Christian Hacke on a way out of the Ukraine war, the reactions of people in East and West, and the lack of historical memory in Berlin.

Mr. Hacke, a few days ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj annulled several decrees on the formation of a Trilateral Contact Group consisting of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE, which had been in place since 2014, and dissolved the delegation. What channels remain for a political solution?
Christian Hacke: Regardless of the importance of this contact group, we are currently seeing that diplomacy is probably not happening, not even secret diplomacy. At Mikhail Gorbachev's funeral a few days ago, the only representative of the West was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. This is a repulsive image: Orbán as a representative of the West, of the European Union. Because there it was about the appreciation of Gorbachev and not about that of the current Russian leadership.

The fact that Germany failed to send a high representative there, perhaps even the Federal President or a minister or the Federal Chancellor, I think is a fatal mistake.
In the days of Helmut Kohl or Helmut Schmidt, a kind of funeral diplomacy would have been sought in such a tense situation. They could at least have sent a Horst Teltschik. But what we are witnessing now is the collapse of diplomacy. One could say: There is no chance, but we have to use it.
But not to try - that came to mind when I saw the celebrations on television - that was the disappointing thing. It was also undignified.

Which body, then, would be suitable for a diplomatic offensive?
Christian Hacke: That could be with the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994: America, Russia, Britain and Ukraine. That would be a confrontational matter, but these negotiating partners from back then were responsible for the abolition of nuclear weapons and therefore took over the guarantees for Ukraine's security. They need to be reminded of that.
Of course, the UN would have to try, or even selected states with neutral ambitions. But the crucial thing is that everything is tried secretly, - secretly and again secretly.

Unfortunately, we are currently observing the opposite, a kind of addiction to presenting oneself in public in a self-important and self-righteous manner; this, of course, prevents any possibility of compromise. The only one who knows how to play the keyboard of diplomacy in his own interest is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Indeed, the political journal Foreign Affairs has reported that an initial agreement was already on the table in Istanbul at the end of March. Nevertheless, the parties to the conflict seem further away than ever from a political agreement. What is the reason for this?
Christian Hacke: The correlation of forces. At the moment, both sides - Ukraine and the West on the one hand, and Russia on the other - assess their own forces in such a way that they can still win. So Ukrainian President Selenskyj propagates victory and recapture of the occupied territories. But either this offensive has not started yet or it has already failed. The Ukrainian side lacks the means for the offensive.
Moreover, Putin's rhetoric is also misleading. He obfuscates, he lies, but unfortunately, the correlation of economic, military and psychological forces currently suits him more than Selenskyj. To this end, he will probably continue to brutalize or even increase the brutality.

In short, I regret to say that I do not see any willingness on either side to enter into negotiations at this time. Putin knows what he wants. And he can probably achieve it, because he has the dominance of escalation and the willingness to escalate.
Nevertheless, I stand by my opinion: Even if there is no chance for a diplomatic agreement - We still have to keep trying!
Willingness to escalate; militarily, but also in terms of energy policy.

A good two decades ago, Putin offered the West cooperation in German in the Bundestag, and he was still a guest in Berlin later. Where did the change come from?
Christian Hacke: The war began on February 24, but we must not forget the prehistory: NATO's expansion by 1,300 kilometers and that of the EU infuriated Putin. Putin developed an irrepressible rage against the arrogance of the West. So, whoever challenges Russia's security interest in such a way must reckon with everything and therefore dress warmly in time. Otherwise, he will be caught cold. This is what happened on February 24.

Putin believes to this day that the West is decadent and cannot hold its own in the struggle for power. In this he could be just as mistaken as he has blatantly misjudged the course of the war so far.
But, and this is the crucial thing at present: He has, as mentioned before, the willingness to escalate; militarily, but also in terms of energy policy. He hasn't even unpacked the silverware there yet.

In military circles, there have been repeated warnings, from different sides, to accept that this war will continue beyond the winter, to go into the coming winter with this conflict. For whom does the time factor play a role?
Christian Hacke: That is very difficult to assess. But you can see already in view of the events in the Czech Republic ...
... according to police reports, around 70,000 people demonstrated against rising energy prices in Prague on Saturday.

Christian Hacke: That shows you that we are not so patient. We don't have this capacity for suffering that the Russians have. And at the same time, we live in a liberal system in which protests are possible, unlike in Russia.
In addition, people here are increasingly asking themselves: Why are we suffering? And even if our situation cannot be compared with the situation of the people in Ukraine, this question is being asked more and more loudly.
I would also like to know how much the Ukraine war has cost the West so far.

In Germany, three relief packages have been launched so far, with the last set of measures also meeting with a very divided response. How well prepared are we?
Christian Hacke: Looking at the Czech Republic and the protests over the weekend, it could be that we are facing waves, in the fall and in the winter. Before protests where people ask: Why these losses when there is still no perspective for peace in Ukraine?
Or: Our sanctions obviously have far less effect than the Russian ones on us? Or:
Every further day of war destroys the country and its people to such an extent that it can no longer be witnessed. We have to intervene diplomatically and we also have to tell Kiev honestly: Guys, we are not giving you another carte blanche, but you have to finally show a willingness to compromise, otherwise your country will be completely destroyed.
Ms. Baerbock cannot be corrected

This assessment sounds considerably different from that of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who sat on a podium in Prague just a few days before the protests and vehemently advocated maintaining the Russia sanctions. You know the side sentence about that.
Christian Hacke: Ms. Baerbock cannot be corrected; she is in absolute harmony with the Americans. Here they see the new foreign policy axis between power-political and anti-Russian aggressiveness of the U.S. and German idealism according to the motto: The world shall be healed by German nature. One negates 20 years of failed democracy exports from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya and dreams oneself back into a unipolar world of 1990, in Berlin and in Washington.
But here the democracy exporters have to deal with other forces: Ukraine is not Taiwan, and Russia - and even more so China - are world powers. Messing with them could be much more expensive than Baerbock and Blinken assume today.
Now we come to the key factor. The U.S. administration of Joe Biden is not advocating a peace solution in the Ukraine conflict, but wants to bring Russia to its knees. There are similar statements from Ms. Baerbock. Then one can further ask: Where is the historical memory?

Russia stood up to Napoleon. Russia stood up to Hitler's invasion. And then the West believes that Russia would not survive this policy of the West? Yes, that Russia could be defeated in Ukraine?

Now you have been following the security policy debates for many years, including as a lecturer at the Bundeswehr University in Hamburg. How do you see the current position of the traffic light coalition, which seems to differ little?
Christian Hacke: To the outside world, it stands united. That is the mantra of the coalition and the West: demonstrate unity. It would be fatal if the government showed that they were wavering on Ukraine.
Look, there is also peer pressure here; this behavior is not only politically relevant; it is also psychologically significant. There is a peer pressure within the governing coalition: we have to stand together! And they do, albeit with varying degrees of shadowing.

I do believe that Chancellor Scholz is the one who would be most willing to take a diplomatic approach. He is leading with caution, so he is driving on sight; that is not unwise. I would have liked to know how he really feels about the Americans.
Even if you take the Western alliance - whether it's the EU or NATO - the peer pressure is obvious. Everyone would be discriminated against as an outsider, as a leper, if they were to pull out now. Then it would be said: You have betrayed us! And that's why no one dares to do it.

The same applies to domestic politics. Only a few, for example Saxony's Minister President Michael Kretschmer, dare to say that diplomatic initiatives are necessary and that things cannot continue in such a depressing way.
Even if this historical comparison is skewed: I sense a whiff of 1914 blowing through Europe. You know what I mean: There is a kind of automatic. No one gets down from their high horse. The escalation continues, unchecked; Putin wants to continue to prevail in his war of aggression and the West denies any political co-responsibility for the escalation before the war broke out.
More self-modesty on the Western side and understanding of Russia's security interests would have made a neutral and peaceful solution for Ukraine possible. The West also shares responsibility for this failure.

That's water under the bridge now, but this reminder also remains important and should prevent us from demonizing Putin alone and glossing over our own role. He is bad enough as it is, and: We are not as beautiful as we - in solidarity - believe.

If you demonize the other side, that is Putin, and emotionalize the conflict, then you have the excuse to do nothing with it. You can simply say: we can't talk to such a man. And that is the very worst thing. Because what is the order of the day?
You have to tango with the devil if you want to come to a conclusion. That's bitter. But if we don't, then everything will continue to go down the drain and Ukraine will continue to be destroyed. And the people will suffer. But many people there, especially in the east, they want an end to the war, no matter where they go in the future.

You mentioned how difficult it is to refuse the dominant discourse and take a different stance. You noticed that yourself when you recently found yourself on a Ukrainian blacklist, along with other people who were labeled "information terrorists" by someone in charge in Kiev. Do you feel sufficiently protected by the German government?
Christian Hacke: I haven't thought about it because nothing can happen to me. After all, it's not like the Ukrainians would do anything here with us, like the Iranians did with Salman Rushdie.
This listing is for me, I must say, below the belt, so not worth mentioning. I don't respond to that. I am an opinionated man. But I don't respond to propaganda. That is also, I beg your indulgence, below standard.

Social protests for "heating, bread and peace"
by Peter Nowak
[This article posted on 9/6/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Sozialproteste für "Heizung, Brot und Frieden".]

Monday's demo in front of the Green Party's federal headquarters and the discussion about a cross-front: it depends on the kind of criticism. A comment.

For weeks, people have been talking about the hot autumn, and one has the impression that it is being talked up above all. The ideological and repressive state apparatuses have been warning for weeks that supposedly right-wing and left-wing "extremists" could form a cross-front, which is especially good for the right-wing.

The right-wing Compact magazine was already jubilant that "a cross-front demonstration against energy prices" had taken place in Prague over the weekend. There, both right-wingers and parts of the traditional left demonstrated against high energy prices on Saturday. Many yearn for simple solutions and would prefer to turn back time before Feb. 24, 2022.

They want to improve relations with Russia again so that gas can flow again and fossil capitalism can continue to grow. For this, for example, thousands took to the streets in Magdeburg on Monday evening. They fade out the whole exploitation relations of the capitalism just like the warnings of the climate movement that a " Weiter so" will not be possible soon.

In Berlin, about 1,000 people met on Monday evening in front of the federal headquarters of the Green Party in Berlin for a protest rally under the slogan "Enough is enough - protest instead of freezing". In the call, the protest organized mainly by the organization Naturefriends, is described in simple terms the current class struggle from above:

It becomes more and more obvious: we pay the bill for war and crises. We, the ordinary people, the workers, craftsmen, white-collar workers, the unemployed, the small self-employed, small traders, refugees and the poor. We, who keep this society running, are footing the bill, while the super-rich and big corporations are lining their pockets, making profits from the crises.

From the call Heating, Bread and Peace

Clear demarcation to the right at the podium

Of course, the fear that the protest could be instrumentalized by the right was also expressed in the run-up to the Berlin rally. From the podium a clear demarcation to the right was drawn. Most clearly by Ferat Kocak, a victim of right-wing attacks in Neukölln because of his anti-fascist commitment.

But other speakers also made it clear that right-wingers could not be allies in the fight against social cuts. Despite this clear demarcation, there were some participants in the protests who carried slogans that were at least open to the right.

There were some placards invoking Germany's sovereignty and calling the two Green politicians Baerbock and Habeck "traitors to the people." That is clearly right-wing vocabulary. There is a difference between calling politicians "character masks in capitalism" who believe they have power when they are in government and using völkisch vocabulary. Was it right to demonstrate in front of the Green Party headquarters?

After the conclusion of the rally, there were still discussions, including whether it was right for anti-fascists to push allegedly or actually right-wingers out of the rally or whether it would have been better to ignore them. Some also question whether the Green Party headquarters was a good target for such a protest.

In mid-August, there was a protest rally in front of the FDP headquarters, where FDP leader Lindner was the focus of criticism. At that time, some protesters already said that starting with the FDP, but all other government parties should also expect their headquarters to be visited by protesters.

So it is only logical that now it was the turn of the Greens, who after all are fighting with the FDP over the middle classes. In fact, the Greens are the more dangerous and aggressive faction, because behind them are parts of modern, innovative capital, as the social revolutionary theorist Detlev Hartmann has well elaborated in various texts. It is striking that Robert Habeck has directly confirmed Hartmann by professing the principle of creative destruction in the sense of Schumpeter.

This is also called disruption and is a method of how capitalists deal with crises. The environmental journalist Berhard Pötter writes:

Habeck is still quoting economist Joseph Schumpeter, who speaks of "creative destruction," which, in the case of fundamental change, strips away the old and creates something new in its place.
Bernhard Pötter, taz

Hartmann would thus certainly be a theorist who could formulate a social-revolutionary critique of the Greens. He could also explain that such a disruption has always been a violent process, which is also connected with wars. It fits to the party of the disruption, that it became also the spearhead of the particularly war-ready faction on the side of the Ukraine.

In the same way, numerous former left-wing Greens who left the Greens decades ago because they wanted nothing to do with a "Green FDP," as ecosocialist Jutta Ditfurth put it more than 25 years ago, would be eligible for such criticism.

At that time, she received massive criticism for such statements from large parts of the Green base, because she was accused of exaggerating. Today, no Green would see the comparison with the FDP as an insult, but rather as praise.

Criticize the Greens as "innovation warriors" and not as "gender killers"

That just makes it clear that Green party headquarters is a reasonable target for protests. But that also makes it necessary to realize that people who hate the Greens because they supposedly want to introduce gender language and make sure that there are no longer only women and men are then also attracted.

And "eco-dictators" the Greens are then also supposed to be. This shows how necessary it is to distinguish between left-wing criticism of the Greens and reactionary resentment.

This was also shown on Monday at the rally. There Baerbock was also some lines from her Prague speech around the ears, where she actually only says what is with politicians of all parties long practice.

They couldn't care less what voters think about central issues. Otherwise, a Bundeswehr would probably never have been established in the FRG; there were always enough voices against it in the early 1950s. But the ruling CDU government didn't mind.

It had a planned referendum on remilitarization summarily banned because it was allegedly controlled by Moscow. One encounters this resentment more and more often today.

Even the Baerbock quote was attributed to the machinations of Russian disinformation. The fact that the foreign minister said that she does not care about the voters when it comes to strengthening German imperialism is often ignored. She is thus "in the good tradition" of politicians of all parties.

Here, too, it depends on the nature of the criticism. Baerbock can be attacked here just like the politicians of all other parties, who, when it comes to militarism and war, never ask the population, which then ultimately has to bear the sacrifices.

Therefore, of course, anti-militarism, which is precisely not a pro-Russia policy, but rejects all wars, but does not take sides, belongs to the core element of the social protests . However, it remains to be seen whether the protests will be sustained or whether the much talked about hot autumn is just hot air.
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