No Minister

Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

Protests (Good and Bad)

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Van Gogh’s sunflower, before and after the protest

As we all now know there are “good” protests and “bad” protests. The recent Van Gogh protest was so “good” that it was actually enabled by the museum, who did nothing to stop these vandals.

The litmus test is whether the protest is against something that the TPTB support (bad) or in favour of (“good”), and while the former got lots of MSM support from the 1960’s to about the 2000’s, it’s notable that with the demise of the old, square, conservative world and its replacement by the Counter-Culture, the MSM continues to align with the latter and no longer afflicts the comfortable or speaks truth to power – and all those other Nineteen Eighty Four’ish slogans that were chanted by the Left.

The latest is seen in the picture opposite and naturally receives the high praise of none other than one of those 1960’s/70’s Truth To Power protestors, John Minto, in a TDB article praising this group of people who blocked the Wellington motorway, screwing with the lives of decidedly non-powerful, ordinary people.

One of those people,”Terry”, spoke up on the post:

Okay so last week I took time off work as my elderly mother has a specialist appointment at Wellington Hospital. Due to these idiots we were late, causing a huge amount of stress…But fuck those white middle class wankers! I’ve taken my car to work all this week to spite them. And it’s turned out to be quicker and more convenient than the train at about the same price. I’m planning on using my car from now on.

Which drew this response from one “Ross Davies” that just oozes warmth and compassion…

Perhaps this is the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face? Obviously you were looking for an excuse to use your car without having to think about the effect on the environment. And presumably you didn’t support their cause of passenger rail or climate action? And sorry about your Mum. She must be even angrier than you about all this.

That’s the mentality that drives this; the all-encompassing fanaticism of diamond-plated self-righteousness that allows for no empathy or ordinary decency: a trait no better defined than by C.S. Lewis writing on tyranny:

The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

However, the response to this bastard was gold:

“Fuck You” doesn’t get better than that.

But there are also funny protests, as when some group called “Scientist Rebellion”, recently glued themselves to the floor in the Volkswagen factory in another climate change protest. The response of the workers was to simply leave work for the day, switching off all the lights and heating (energy conservation is big in Germany). This left the protestors whining about how they had no food, light, warmth – not even “a bowl to urinate and defecate in a decent manner while we are glued”. Oh no, the horror, the horror:

But back to the “Bad protests”, the ones that nowadays don’t get MSM coverage, as noted by the website, NotTheBee:

Has the media told you about the MASSIVE protests happening all over Europe right now? Come watch them here.

Click on that link and you’ll see plenty of the following:

The reason they’re not getting MSM coverage is that they are the opposite of The Narrative that the MSM and TPTB have agreed upon, which is that people are willing to sacrifice the loss of reliable, affordable energy to battle Climate Change and Putin.

While I’m onboard with the latter fight it’s amusing to note that The Narrative simply cannot admit the connection between them. That Europe’s energy problems are a result of it’s insane pursuit of unreliable, renewable energy sources and forcible move away from fossil fuels (and in Germany, nuclear power also) – with the resulting back-handed, hidden reliance on Russian energy sources to compensate which has led them to this pass.

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Nordstream and its PMCS (Update)

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(Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services)

I don’t usually shift a post just because it’s updated but this seems worth doing because there have been some new and very interesting information updates.

First up is this diagram from a booklet called, CAPP Guidelines for the Prevention and Safe Handling of Hydrates, Canadian Assn. of Petroleum Producers (1994):

Then there’s this map of the pipelines and the points where the explosions occurred.

Plus this news from Reuters on September 6, Gazprom: off-line Nord Stream compressor station now deemed hazardous. That’s part of the system needed to keep the pressure up. If pressure drops on one side of a methane hydrate plug it’s going to move, possibly quite fast – until it hits a bend. The author also points out that a “pig” that is regularly run through such pipelines (pushed along by the gas) to clean it up would not have gone in this case for months while the pipelines sat idle.

Also, this piece of history involving Russian gas pipelines: the Ufa train disaster in the USSR, which I had never heard of and which apparently most people have not because it happened on June 4, 1989 – the same day that the Chinese Army hit the protesters at Tiananmen Square, so that’s where the world’s media focused its attention. Video here.

==========================================

This post is a follow-up to Lucia’s post, Who Blew Up Nordstream?, and it’s based on a post at the Lawdog blog which argues that it simply may have been a combination of factors that attend all such undersea pipelines.

Since I’m very much a fan of the cockup-not-conspiracy mode of thinking in cases like this, I’m rather inclined to his explanations which he offers…. hesitantly:

crosses self
“Hail Mary, full of grace …”
Ok, the Nord pipeline incidents.
Sigh. I shouldn’t do this, but …

He goes on to describe his world of growing up in oilfields and continuing to have an interest in them as an author. He points out that explosive things tend to happen with all sorts of fossil fuels all the time, and that sabotage is not the thing that usually comes to mind:

“But, LawDog,” I hear you say, “It was multiple explosions!”

Yes, 17 hours apart. No military is going to arrange for two pipes in the same general area to be destroyed 17 hours apart. Not without some Spec Ops guy having a fit of apoplexy. One pipe goes up in a busy shipping lane, in a busy sea, and everyone takes notice. Then you wait 17 hours to do the second — with 17 hours for people to show up and catch you running dirty? Nah, not buying it.

Instead he points some nasty aspects of pipelines carrying gas and running under the sea:

“But what issues could happen in an undersea pipeline that could cause ruptures?”

Oh, my sweet summer child. Many, many, many. You might go far as to ask, “What issues won’t cause a rupture in an undersea pipeline?” — It’d be easier to list. However, in this case involving a natural gas pipeline under the pressure of 300 to 360 feet (8 atmospheres to 10 atm.) of water, I’d like you to turn your eyes towards a fun little quirk of nature called “methane hydrates”.

Under the right combination of pressure, temperature, and with the presence of water in natural gas/methane, solid hydrates will form in a pipeline and it’s a constant battle to stop them forming. That battle becomes tougher when the gas is not flowing,

Near as I can tell — and do correct me if I’m wrong — Russia charged Nord 2 with 300 million cubic metres of natural gas in July of 2021 … and it never moved. It just sat there. Under 300 to 360 feet of salt water. To quote an email from a petroleum engineer: “Holy Jesus, that [deleted] pipline is one hairy snowball from end-to-end!”

Nord 1 got shut down after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the gas hasn’t moved since. Just … hanging around. At the bottom of a sea. Yeah, it’s Russia. Those pipes are sodding well FULL of hydrates.

At which point you can get a methane hydrate so big that it blocks the entire pipe. Getting rid of such a thing is tricky and involves slow (very slow) depressurisation from both ends of the pipe. Or you can do it another way:

Funny enough, this actually happened in Siberia in 2000-ish. Pipeline got a nice-sized hydrate plug, and the muckity-mucks at Gazprom got annoyed at how long it was taking to deal with it. Lot’s of yelling, and the Ops guy sent Some Random Schmuck down to the site of the plug with a butane torch, and orders to warm up the pipe to speed up the melting at the plug/pipe interface. Simple, right? There’s no way a butane torch has enough oompf to overcome the thermal mass of a pipeline and burn a hole through the line.

It didn’t. The heat from the torch caused a small pocket of the hydrate to sublimate into gas, the overpressure involved ruptured the pipe and opened a jet of natural gas right into the flame of the torch. Random Schmuck did not, we think (not sure they found anything of him) survive this experience, nor did several miles of very expensive pipeline.

He theorises that the Russians wanted to keep the line ready to pump gas just in case Europe got desperate and/or the war in Ukraine ended or both:

So, Somebody In Charge started running checks — and came up with hydrate slurry in both pipelines. After the running in circles, hyperventilating, and shrieking of curse-words stopped, somebody started trying to remediate both lines. Of course they didn’t tell folks down stream — no Russian want to look weak, and besides, there’s been a nasty uptick in failed Russian oligarchs getting accidentally defenestrated — they just unilaterally tried to Fix Things.

As he says, he doesn’t discount the idea of sabotage – and that’s certainly the opinion of the Germans and the British – because “That area is too full of idiots”, but this is a very realistic possibility.

Of course when it comes to escalation of the war it may not matter. Gavrilo Princip and his mates were fucking idiots too, but there just happened to be bigger issues already at play.

Speaking of fucking idiots and alternative explanations….

Written by Tom Hunter

October 3, 2022 at 6:00 am

Who blew up Nord Stream?

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Was it the Russians or the Americans? Or maybe the Ukrainians? Which ever side you land on seems to be an almost ideological position, making it difficult to really explore the question. However, Mark Stein is not afraid of doing so, with his guest, James Melville:

People say, well this couldn’t be the Americans because Denmark and Germany are their NATO allies. Well, when they bugged out of Kabul, they didn’t let the British or anybody else know that they were abandoning Bagram Airbase. Those guys just woke up in the morning and found that all the Yanks had left! So, so, if they were doing something like this, it’s entirely possible that they wouldn’t let the Danes and the Germans in on it?

Mark Stein

Full 1 hour Mark Stein Show of which the above clip is just one small part.

Sky News Australia host, Chris Kenny is likewise not afraid of tacking the questions, with his guest, Global Directions think tank Managing Director Keith Suter:

Through the pipeline, Russia has a source to almost unlimited earnings from Europe by selling gas, if it chooses to; but also, it’s main point of leverage over Europe over energy, so why would it blow up it’s own key, strategic, link?

Chris Kenny

Recently, however, Jordan Peterson did suggest that Russia would be likely to turn off the gas at some point, so maybe there is an argument to be made that Russia did it. Though, turning off the gas versus damaging the pipe so that it would take time to repair before it could be used again seems to be an extreme way of reducing gas supply to Europe.

NZ Disinformation Project key researcher, Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa considers anyone not falling into line in the correct manner (as determined by who, in particular?) to be promoting Russian propaganda:

Everyone’s an expert or a propagandist; or maybe people are just trying to figure out what the hell is going on and maybe, just maybe, are trying to find a way out that doesn’t involve plunging the whole world into a war that destroys everything and everyone in it’s path.

Meanwhile, just streamed live discussion run by Tim Poole, who is the intersection between my generation Gen X, and my Gen-Z sons. They will watch Tim, when he interviews people they watch, while as he also interviews people I watch. In the video below, they start the discussion on NATO threatening retaliation from the 5 minute mark:

I’m assuming they are not talking about Nord Stream, but they might be, because Germany relies on it. But it’s a weird thing, because; I’m trying to figure out what they are trying to say. Ok, are they blaming Russia for it, directly: no; but several member states are. If they are, it’s very weird that they are like: Our adversary’s infrastructure was like blown up and we’ll retaliate if someone blows up our infrastructure; it’s like; it sounds like you blew it up, and now you’re worried they’re going to blow up yours.

Tim Poole

Written by Lucia Maria

September 30, 2022 at 1:35 pm

When did the Germans become this stupid?

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The Lamps Are Going Out All Over Europe’

Germans have never struck me as being stupid people. It may be cliched to picture them as sober, serious, stolid citizens who make machines and systems that work, but that’s because cliches often derive from basic truths.

But there is that whole German Political Party That Must Not Be Named thing, which often seemed to be both led and run by hysterics, so perhaps there’s some flaw in the German national character that just bursts out from time to time.

Begging also does not seem to be them either.

Oh dear:

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Canada recently begging Justin Trudeau for Liquified Natural Gas. “Canada is our partner of choice,” said Scholz, adding “we hope that Canadian LNG will play a major role” in his country’s attempt to wean itself off Russian energy.

Trudeau was characteristically dismissive, saying there has “never been a strong business case” for exporting Canadian LNG to Europe. Of course, he was also letting himself off the hook for his government’s entrenched anti-resource-sector policies: Canada currently has not one single LNG active export terminal, and Canada’s regulatory framework is responsible for the outright rejection of sixteen of the eighteen proposed terminal construction projects since Trudeau took power.

All of this is due to the German Energiewende (clean energy transition) running into a few problems, mainly because the only way to make the transition “work” was to import large amounts of Russian gas to make up the difference – and now that strategy is stuffed because of all the sanctions against Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine. That article looks at the sad efforts to move away from coal – until now:

Of course, the plan to fire up the coal-fired power plants has been presented as an ‘emergency’ measure, in response to the war in Ukraine. As recently as December, the German government was promising to accelerate the phase-out of coal power. Instead of eliminating coal by 2038, as Angela Merkel had planned, the new government aims to end the use of coal by 2030. 

There was also more begging:

On top of reopening coal plants, Habeck was forced to visit Qatar earlier this year, in order to secure new supplies of liquefied natural gas. Photos of Habeck bowing to the Qatari energy minister were met with widespread derision on social media. This was widely seen as a betrayal not only of Habeck’s green principles, but also of the ‘moral foreign policy’ that the Green Party had promised. 

Humiliating, but what else could he do? Beggars can’t be choosers, and Germany is very much a beggar.

The Russians know it too. That’s why they’ve cut down LNG flows to Germany by 60 percent, blaming “mechanical problems” while ostentatiously burning $10 million worth of natural gas per day at the mouth of the Nord Stream pipeline rather than sending it to Germany. Russia is making the same amount of money from 1/5 of its former supply: an own-goal by the Euros.

Even in the face of this disaster the Germans are also still being fanatical about closing their nuke plants, although that has begin to at least wobble a bit in the wake of exploding energy costs. Luckily for the Germans the entire EU has declared that not only are nukes Clean and Green – but so too is Natural Gas:

The European Union voted on Wednesday to keep some specific uses of natural gas and nuclear energy in its taxonomy of sustainable sources of energy.

Ecoactivists and unhappy bureaucrats are already complaining the move is “green-washing” nuclear power and natural gas. Austria intends to bring the matter to the European Court.

Meh. They’re hankering for the 1980’s anti-nuke past while these current events are already clearly changing attitudes back to nuclear power:

The U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands have all announced plans to build new reactors, adding to Europe’s decades-old reactor fleet

Mind you, as goes Germany, so goes Europe.

The story is much the same throughout the continent — in Poland people have been lining up in their cars for multiple days in the hopes of buying rationed coal to get them through the next several months (the E.U. has also embargoed Russian coal imports). The manager of Finland’s power grid has begun telling the country to “prepare for shortages this winter.” The British were recently informed that their heat and energy costs would increase by 80 percent as of October 1, and their national grid managers, too, have begun to talk more about shortages than cost.

Meanwhile, China and India happily use all the fossil fuels Europe is not.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Germany’s a gas, man

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It was apparent several years ago to people like President Trump that Germany was getting far too hooked on Russian gas in its attempts to shut down it’s own coal-fired and nuclear generating plants. However, when Trump addressed this to Chancellor Merkel she dismissed the concerns and when he raised it again in a UN speech…

Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

…. the arrogant German representatives literally laughed at him (the video from which this is taken shows this even more clearly).

I guess the dumb bastards aren’t laughing any more, judging by the release of this analysis from Deutsche Bank.

Wood for heating? I’m cool with that for the farm, in fact I love my wood-burning fireplace. But for a mass of urban dwellers in a 21st century developed nation? How many houses would even have such a thing anymore?

And as this article points out, you can actually run cars on wood gas, and during WWII they did so in Germany and other nations.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 19, 2022 at 7:40 pm

Learning from other’s mistakes

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I’m not talking about Labour and certainly not the NZ Greens. They’re committed to a path of insanity when it comes to renewable energy, as they are most other things in our society.

No, I’m looking at National and ACT. I understand that polling shows that Jacinda still has quite a grip on the female vote in this country, and that polling and focus groups show the same cohort as being the determining factor on things like wearing face diapers to ward off the dreaded Chinese Lung Rot – and saving the planet! I also get that this is backed by a wall of almost monolithic MSM propaganda 24/7.

But we surely now have enough examples from “leaders” in renewable energy around the world who have started to run into big problems with both the unreliability of these new power sources and the increase in power costs associated with them, as well as the failure to reduce CO2 emissions, (which is what this was supposed to be all about in the first place) to be able to argue back on the basis of sheer, basic, in-your-face reality and not join the insanity.

Here’s the latest victim of that reality, South Africans left in the dark after grid collapse:

South Africans are struggling in the dark to cope with increased power cuts that have hit households and businesses across the country.

The rolling power cuts have been experienced for years but this week the country’s state-owned power utility Eskom extended them so that some residents and businesses have gone without power for more than 9 hours a day.

Eskom has officially said that the blackouts are not a temporary situation and they estimate that it will take “years” to stabilise the power grid. The unstated assumption is that they can manage this feat at all in the face of the path their government has followed on trying to reduce CO2 emissions by building wind farms and closing some of their old coal-fired plants and not spending money on repairs and maintenance of the others because they anticipated their eventual closure.

Does this sound familiar? It should given that we’ve seen the exact same thing happening in Australia, Europe (especially Germany), Texas, and California:

  • Power blackouts (both rolling and sudden)
  • Massive increases in electricity costs
  • Little to no impact on reducing CO2 emissions

The biggest joke here is that we may be about to commit the same suicidal actions just as the rest of the world begins to turn away from it, despite all their hot air on the subject of Global Warming, because those energy realities are starting to bite:

World leaders at the Group of 7 summit in Germany signaled they will turn back to fossil fuels despite their commitments to a green energy transition thanks to the ongoing energy crisis.

“The G7 leaders are pretending that nothing has happened to the green agenda,” Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In reality, if you look at individual member states… it’s quite obvious that the green agenda will be sunk.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party, announced last week that the government was instituting a surge in the use of coal-powered plants.

Given the steady increase in German reliance on natural gas from Russia over the last few years, their €500 billion Energiewende project increasingly looked like a farce anyway, but it’s taken the Ukranian war to make that obvious.

Habeck is not the only such Green who is waking up, with other Euro Greens beginning to not only get the message that their favoured Renewables are actually better called the Unreliables, but that new – and previously forbidden – thinking is required:

Finland’s Green Party (Vihreät De Gröna) has voted by a large majority at its party conference to adopt a pro-nuclear approach. The party manifesto now states that nuclear is “sustainable energy” and demands the reform of current energy legislation to streamline the approval process for small modular reactors (SMRs). Finland’s is the first Green Party to adopt such a position.

There will be others, judging from this article by a guy who has started up or run companies dedicated to “clean energy technologies”, energy efficient homes and so forth – a True Believer in other words:

I wasted 20 years of my life chasing utopian energy.

Utopian energy is an imagined form of energy that’s abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and also clean, renewable, and life-sustaining. But utopian energy is as much a fantasy as a utopian society.

For years, I chased utopian energy. I promoted solar, wind, and energy efficiency because I felt like I was protecting the environment. But I was wrong! Feeling like you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you are. I just couldn’t admit it. My sense of identity was tied to my false beliefs about energy—myths that blinded me to what really does—and doesn’t—help the planet.

He puts forward eight measures of assessment that must all be used when looking at energy sources – emissions being just one of them. The other seven are: security, reliability, affordability, versatility, scalability, and land use.

Suffice to say that he’s realised that renewables don’t do very well when measured on all these factors, as he shows in that article.

Will National and ACT realise the same thing – and more crucially will they be intellectually and politically tough enough to make those arguments?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 4, 2022 at 10:22 am

Powerless Europe

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No, not powerless in the face of Putin over the Ukraine, although there is a link between the topic of this post and that.

Powerless in terms of energy, although there is both bad and good news.

The Bad News.

Electricity for delivery next year surged as much as 6.4 per cent to an all-time high in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market. France, which usually exports power, will need to suck up supplies from neighboring countries to keep the lights on as severe nuclear outages curb generation in the coldest months of the year.

The crunch is so severe that it’s forcing factories to curb output or shut down altogether. Aluminium Dunkerque Industries France has curbed production in the past two weeks due to high power prices, while Trafigura’s Nyrstar will pause production at its zinc smelter in France in the first week of January. Romanian fertilizer producer Azomures temporarily halted output.

That was in December when 10% of France’s nuclear was taken offline for various minor reasons, with 30% expected later in the winter. As a result French power was already trading at 1,000 euros a megawatt-hour for the month of February.

All of this has been a long time coming, driven mainly by Germany’s mania to appease the Global Warming Gods:

Germany continues its “disastrous” Energiewende transition to a low-carbon or net-zero future by shutting down reliable, resilient, and affordable natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants. In early 2021 German federal government auditors found the “country would need to spend over $600 billion between 2020 to 2025 to maintain grid reliability.” This is on top of the $580 billion already spent by the Germans on Energiewende while closing the Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gundremmingen zero-carbon nuclear reactors on December 31, 2021.

That last was an especially stupid decision in light of the desire for a zero-carbon future – but it clashed with German politicians living in a 1970’s/80’s anti-nuclear past:

It was only 10 years ago that nuclear power made up almost a quarter of the electricity generated in the country. Following the impact of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown – German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the decision that same year to phase out the country’s nuclear power stations by 2022.

It’s not surprising that France and Germany also ban fracking, as do several smaller western European countries, including Ireland. Britain has also joined the insanity:

Despite the ongoing energy crisis in Europe, the British Oil & Gas Authority (the same government department that banned fracking in 2019) has ordered resource company Cuadrilla to “permanently seal the two shale gas wells drilled at the Lancashire shale exploration site, with the result that the 37.6 trillion cubic metres of gas located in the northern Bowland Shale gas formation will continue to sit unused.”

British politics site Guido Fawkes points out that this self-sabotage is utterly insane since “just 10 percent of this volume could meet U.K. gas needs for 50 years [and] U.K. imports of Natural Gas are expected to skyrocket to over 80 percent by 2050.”

Moreover the emissions from all that imported gas will be greater than for domestically produced gas. To make things even worse the current British Conservative government has decided to follow in the German footsteps on renewable energy, with a goal of Net Zero-Carbon by 2050, with no detail on how CO2 emissions might be absorbed, leaving it all to a 100% production decrease by going all electric with renewable energy. In Britain (not the sunniest of places) that means wind farms – lots and lots of windfarms. How impractical is this?

Renewables just can’t carry this load, as is seen around the world, with this example from Alberta:

At the same time, Alberta’s entire fleet of 13 grid-connected solar facilities, rated at 736 megawatts, was contributing 58 megawatts to the grid. The 26 wind farms, with a combined rated capacity of 2,269 megawatts, was feeding the grid 18 megawatts.

The biggest joke of all of this is that the wind and solar (The Unreliables) result in nations like Germany having to burn more coal and import more gas to run the old parallel energy system, making them dirtier than nuclear-powered France.

But it gets even worse. Modern, industrialised countries that refuse to produce sufficient energy will not survive as independent countries and in the case of Europe it’s produced a geopolitical nightmare:

Gazprom [a Russian state-run energy company] supplied almost a third of all gas consumed in Europe in 2020 and will likely become an even more important source in the short term as the continent shrinks domestic production. Some of the biggest economies are among the most exposed, with Germany importing 90% of its needs.

Which is why Germany has been so keen on working with Russia to build the Nord Stream II gas pipeline (764 miles under the Baltic Sea and costing $11 billion). More Russian energy to the rescue! That pipeline will double the volume of gas pumped by Russian-controlled gas giant Gazprom directly to Germany. And Germany’s largest supplier of coal? Russia, of course.

No wonder Putin felt he could invade Ukraine, that seeming energy stranglehold on the dominant Western European power must have seemed like a trump card.

The Good News

The Ukrainian invasion has done to the Germans what Trump could not do: convince them of their strategic folly.

In a landmark speech on Sunday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz spelled out a more radical path to ensure Germany will be able to meet rising energy supply and diversify away from Russian gas, which accounts for half of Germany’s energy needs: “We must change course to overcome our dependence on imports from individual energy suppliers,”

This will include building two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, one in Brunsbuettel and one in Wilhelmshaven, and raising its natural gas reserves… Germany has 24 bcm of underground caverns of gas storage, which are currently around 30% full, according to industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe data.

That’s great news, especially since the USA’s fracking revolution has unlocked vast reserves of gas in the last fifteen years. So much that it crushed LNG prices, resulting in a massive shift from coal to gas for electricity generation, enabling it to beat its Kyoto Treaty targets (a treaty it never signed anyway) and most of the rest of the developed world for CO2 emission reduction. It also caused the USA to convert numerous LNG coastal terminals from import to export capability – just in time to send huge LNG carriers across the Atlantic to Europe.

The Germans have also halted the Nord Stream II project.

But it’s not just gas, as the country’s economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens, said,

“There are no taboos on deliberations“.

Germany is also weighing whether to extend the life-span of its remaining nuclear power plants as a way to secure the country’s energy supply, the country’s economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens, said.

Habeck also said letting coal-fired power plants to run longer than planned was an option, throwing into doubt Germany’s ambitious exit from coal, which is planned for 2030.

A GREEN said that! Jesus! Talk about a Road To Damascus conversion. Amazing how war can do that. And it’s not just the Germans:

Italy will increase the domestic production of gas and may reopen coal-fired power stations under plans to ensure energy security, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday.

The news gets even better:

Soaring energy prices and a geopolitical crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are looming over the European Union’s attempts to agree a raft of tougher climate change laws, raising concerns that some could be delayed or scaled back.

That passive voice is just to make Global Warmist readers not feel too downhearted, but when you look at the impact even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine you can place a sure bet on “delayed or scaled back” – and not just “some” either:

A UN-backed green investment fund is on the brink of failure three months after its launch during the Glasgow climate summit because institutions including big banks never delivered expected seed funding.

Chuckle. Even the dark clouds of Vlad The Impaler have silver linings.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 3, 2022 at 6:00 am

A different economic starter motor

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Although Germany has lost her way occasionally over the last century she’s been in pretty good economic shape for some decades now. Possibly a little too good if you listen to some other members of the EU, particularly the likes of Greece, Italy and Spain, who grumble about the huge German trade surpluses and their tight control over the value of the Euro via the EU Central Bank.

Those nations relied for decades upon devaluation of their money as a key economic tool and since it has gone they’ve struggled to impose upon themselves the sort of economic discipline the Germans are famous for.

But you can hardly blame the Germans for their paranoia about the  value of money. Twice in the last hundred years they have suffered terrible bouts of inflation that wrecked their economy.

Let’s make paper machie out of it!

The most well-known of these is the hyperinflation that hit Germany just after World War I had ended. So much money was printed by the government that children played with it various ways.

To be worn only once

But there actually was a second period of inflation that is not as well known, mainly because it was not quite as bad, the goverment kept a lid on the pressures it created, and it was soon put in the background by World War II.

All of this is documented in an article first published in 1978, The German Non-Miracle, which looked at what Germany did to re-start it’s economy after WWII ended. It should be a valuable lesson as to how the world today gets out of our locked down economies.

Germany faced a similar problem to what we have now: it had suffered a supply shock, courtesy of having almost all its industries and business smashed in the war.

The advantage we have is to have not suffered physical destruction.

But the problem of re-starting the economy is similar.

Governments the world over are doing what they usually do – applying Keynesian solutions by printing vast quantities of new money and regulating the hell out of everything.

But Keynesian economics is really designed to deal with demand shock recessions like the Great Depression, where money seems to just vanish out of the economy and demand shrinks. In that situation having the government push money into the economy via a central bank, and to a lesser extent by increased spending, is a workable solution, within boundaries (all economic theories have boundaries).

The Keynesian approach has proved itself for things like the 1987 Stock Market crash, the Asian crisis of the late 90’s and, to a lesser extent, the GFC of 2008-09. But even with that last one there were signs that it had reached its limits. Economic growth barely recovered at all, despite all the trillions thrown around by governments. That likely had a lot to do with the fact that most Western economies were already heavily indebted both publically and privately. People were simply leary of taking on more debt to “recover”, even when it was being given to them cheap, or for free (no interest).

It should also be noted that – very much against Keynes own advice – when economic growth resumed, most governments did not get around to paying down all that debt from the credit they’d created. Keynes’s basic lesson was that you don’t try and balance the budget during a recession: you let it go into deficit but when the economy improves you run surpluses and pay it down. New Zealand was one of the few nations that did that after the GFC, and Michael Cullen and Bill Birch did the same in an earlier period, although I think Cullen went overboard, running huge surpluses even after the debt was largely paid down. All that did was increase private debt.

But Keynesian economcs has also failed, most notably with the smaller recessions of the 1960’s and 1970’s, when no amount of stimulation seemed to work. In fact we got “stagflation”, inflation while an economy was moribund or even in recession; something that Keynesian theory said could not happen.

This lesson had actually been learned by the Germans via their inflationary periods; sometimes just throwing money at the economy doesn’t work:

Under the Third Reich, the German government had financed a colossal industrial build-up to accommodate the designs of the Nazi war machine. The tremendous industrial expansion was paid for with rampant monetary expansion. All the screws of the Nazi State had to be tightened to their breaking point to suppress the resultant inflation; the guns of the Gestapo turned on black marketeers and others who sought to evade the officially posted prices of goods and services. The result of the effective price controls under Fascism was the explosion of liquidity after Fascism.

And that explosion of liquidity meant inflation after 1945 – lots of it. Worse, to combat this the Allied governments in charge of West Germany went for controls:

Government policy fluctuated among the vengeance of the French, the reformist zeal of the British (Labourites), and the bewilderment of the Americans. About the only consensus to be found anywhere was to rely on economic controls.

In an effort to forestall the inevitable realignment of money and prices, the Allied commanders of France, Britain, and the United States slapped on an extensive control network that fixed wages and prices at preinflation (1936) levels.

The victors attempted to administer the economy through a patchwork assortment of price regulations, allocation details, and rationing.

Setting prices back a decade might have sounded smart but the actual price of resources had moved on:

The economically obvious occurred: goods disappeared from legal markets and were sold illegally at prices far above the official prices. Severe misallocation of resources took place

The stupendous gap between the legal and illegal prices grew to such proportions that a general collapse of the currency ensued. People resorted to barter, and German cities typically saw a mass exodus on weekends as city-dwellers flocked to the countryside to trade with the farmers in kind.

In the fall of 1946 the mechanism had reached bankruptcy, the officially rationed food allotment being under 1,500 calories per person per day.

Clearly things could not go on like this, so a debate began inside Germany itself, rather than with the Allied controllers. The debate settled down into two predominant schools of thought: the Social Democrats and the “Freiburg School.”

The major SPD [Social Democrats] economic ideologue was Dr. Kreyssig, who in June 1948 told the 18th Bizonal Economic Council that, since the society had been under control for such a long period, any decontrol or currency reform would be ineffectual. To Dr. Kreyssig’s mind, not only would recovery not follow, but collapse was inevitable if prices were set free; the only course for the German economy was one of strong central direction. Another SPD spokesman was Herr Schoettle, who joined the argument against free markets by claiming that the task of reconstruction was too big for individual enterprise alone—massive State involvement was imperative if Germany was to recover.

And all of this would also be primed with lots of credit:

Not surprisingly, the Social Democrats favored an aggressive fiscal and monetary expansion policy and the “full employment” policies that had gained political popularity elsewhere. The SPD was joined in this expansionary position by the labor unions, the British authorities, most German manufacturing interests, and, in a slightly more moderate tone, by the Americans.

The Freiburg school – named after the University of Freiburg where a liberal resistance movement to the Nazis had started during the war, safely couched in talk of economic freedom – took a different approach: the Soziate Marktwirtschaft.

The idea of a “socially conscious free market,” as the translation goes, was that totalitarianism is the evil to be most guarded against and that the only way to prevent tyranny is to promote freedom. The theory spread freedom across political and economic lines and espoused a policy of noncontrol—by either the State or individuals—of individual choice. 

In other words it was philosophy first and the economics flowed from that.

The Freiburg approach was not laissez-faire: government was to be active in promoting competition and protecting free markets from monopoly, public or private. It also allowed for a small degree of wealth redistribution through graduated income taxation and social welfare programs, but it was insistent on keeping tax rates low enough to prevent economic disincentives to productive effort.

So not the cut-throat ruthlessness with which opposition to Keynesians and Central Big Government is always cast. Somewhat to their own surprise the Freiburg school won and although they had a lot of intellectual grunt it seems just as likely that the SDR side lost because the German people were psychologically scarred by the idea of printing money and creating credit. They didn’t need an economics degree and they knew it less intellectually than in their gut.

The Freiburgers did not just fight an academic battle. They had a specific plan which you can read in detail at the link but which summarised as:

  • Create a new currency, with a central monetary authority and held to what would nowadays be called a monetarist perspective.
  • Tight money policies would be pursued to create ‘buyers’ rather than ‘sellers’ markets.
  • Decontrol the economy by eliminating what they called “the strangling devices of economic repression … ‘directing,’ ‘licensing,’ ‘prohibiting,’ and what not.” One exception that should be noted was that rent controls were retained all through the 1950’s.
  • The German people would be allowed to produce. Looking at the destruction around them was a powerful incentive, but they had to be freed from controls to take advantage of that as well as giving incentives to saving, investment, and overtime
  • There would be expenditures on social welfare through transfer payments, and they would be comparable with those of other European nations.
  • However, the State would abstain from further economic intrusions via “full employment” policies, subsidies, and income redistribution.
  •  The government would push steadily and firmly for free(..ish) trade with the rest of Europe since exports would have to be a big part of the recovery. This would take years but it led to the European Commission on Coal and Steel and then to the EEC.

I did have to laugh at this comment about the price controls by the most prominent political member of the Freiburg school, Ludwig Erhard, when they were dumped in June 1948:

“It was strictly laid down by the British and American control authorities that permission had to be obtained before any definite price changes could be made. The Allies never seemed to have thought it possible that someone could have the idea, not to alter price controls, but simply to remove them.”

The effects were dramatic and almost instantaneous, as two non-German observers, Jacques Rueff and Andre Piettre, reported:

“Only an eye-witness can give an account of the sudden effect which currency reform had on the size of stocks and the wealth of goods on display. Shops filled up with goods from one day to the next; the factories began to work. On the eve of currency reform the Germans were aimlessly wandering about their towns in search of a few additional items of food. A day later they thought of nothing but producing them. One day apathy was mirrored on their faces while on the next a whole nation looked hopefully into the future.”

Industrial output increased 50 percent within the year, and national income, which had fallen 20% below that of 1936, was restored to that level in just over a year and continued to climb fast. Unemployment did climb and peaked at 10.4% by 1950, but steadily dropped for the rest of the decade.

Morever, this approach beat the publicised plans of the proponents of central planning. Their “Long Term Plan of 1948 predicted that by 1952-53 the industrial  production would reach 110 percent of the 1936 level and agriculture 100%. Another study done in 1950 by four German research institutes – which supposedly already took account of things like the Marshall Plan, the Korean War and the success of the Freiburg plan to that date – said that five years would be needed by government planners to hit their goals – and needed another $1.5 billion in US aid beyond the Marshall Plan.

Under the Freiburg plan all those targets were met and exceeded: Industrial production in 1952-53 averaged about 150 instead of 110. Net agricultural output was 111 percent of pre-war instead of 100. The overall balance of payments was highly favorable and even the dollar sector was approaching balance.

It should be no surprise that Ludwig Erhard would become Economics Minister in the Adenauer administration from 1949-57 and then Chancellor from 1963-66. Such are the fruits of success for politicians who don’t go down the path of centralised command and control route of their peoples but are willing to stand and argue for individual freedom in all spheres of life.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 20, 2020 at 11:42 pm

Traces of the Wall

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Sometimes I forget that I’m an author at this blog, so put things into comments that rightly deserve a post of their own.

Thus this post that basically just links to a site dedicated to information about The Berlin Wall, which has a wealth of detail that you should check out.

For me the best section is the one that lists all the traces of the Berlin Wall in their original location.

The photo above is of a section of the Inner security wall on Bornholmer Straße.

On the left – a former watch tower on Erna-Berger-Strasse.

The link says even it’s been moved a few metres and is a “model BT-11“, which is a pretty sad commentary by itself.

Me: “So you’re a retired German architect. What did you design?”

Architect: “I designed different watch tower models for the Berlin Wall. Fascinating work, let me tell you about it……”







The photo below looks like a pretty well-preserved section: Remains of the inner wall at Rudower Höhe

 

And of course there is the famous East Side Gallery, shown below:

“The East Side Gallery artists were able to prevent their works from demolition, further decay and destruction. The city of Berlin added the East Side Gallery to its monument register in November 1991.

It was the most visible outcome of the opening of the Wall, but now, with almost the entire Berlin Wall gone, it is one of the few remaining relics of the border fortifications at its original location, serving as a reminder that the city was divided for 28 years.”

Finally I did have to laugh – black humour of course – at the following description of one site, the Border through the Spree River:

“…the border was secured by especially wide border strips with additional barriers, patrol boats, and nail-encrusted “underwater mats” of steel.

Right. Because the river itself was not enough of a deterrent to escape the insanity of Communism. Wankers.

There’s also this Wikipedia list of segments of Berlin Wall that have been sent all over the world.

Notably I see no mention of New Zealand.
🤔
Wonder if that means something?

Written by Tom Hunter

November 11, 2019 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Germany

Tagged with , ,

Nov. 9, 1989 – “Das Volk Siegt”

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“The People Win”

That was a headline in the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, on Nov 9, 1989, as it pronounced the breaching of the Berlin Wall, also shown in the clip below, which is about two minutes of TV coverage of that incredible evening.

It caught everybody by surprise, despite months of building events across the Communist nations of Eastern Europe. But given that the breaching of the Wall was a surprise to the people who controlled it – basically a stupid mistake by them, an accident – perhaps we should not judge the surprise of ourselves and other people too harshly.

Earlier that year had seen the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests in Communist China. Those protesters had picked up on the new policies of Glasnost (“openness”) and Peristroika (“restructuring”) being pushed by Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR since 1985/86 as he tried to salvage that failing system. But they’d also been encouraged by his visit and the relaxation of Chinese state media coverage that showed the student protests in China, as well as seeming support from Central Committee members like the reform-minded Hu Yaobang. And all of this amidst China’s economic reforms that had sparked the economy – but also Chinese dreams of other freedoms.

Man vs. Tank near Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989

When all that got crushed beneath Chinese tanks in June the Western reaction was a mix of horror, disappointment, and shrugged shoulders at dashed expectations. This was how Communist regimes had always dealt with their enemies and this was why they survived.

Why would Eastern Europe and the USSR be any different? I can’t think of a single person I knew or read in the 1980’s who did not simply assume that these Communist nations would be with us for the rest of our lives.

As it happened there had been one man who had not thought that and luckily he was the most important one: US President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). Years earlier, almost alone amidst the PhD’s of geopolitical, military and economic experts who talked of “realism”, if not the dead policy of detente, Reagan laid out his straight-forward philosophy of dealing with the USSR and its Eastern European minions during a 1981 discussion with his National Security Advisor, Richard Allen:

US President Ronald Reagan

“I’d like to tell you of my theory of the Cold War. Some people think that I am simplistic, but there is a fundamental difference between being simplistic and having simple answers to complex questions. So here’s my strategy on the Cold War:

we win, they lose.

Given the tensions of the day Reagan never said that in public. But it was an absolutely necessary idea in order to shake up an establishment that had, like the rest of us, grown used to the idea that Communist nations were forever.

Reagan could not have done it on his own. Despite their criticisms of him he had bi-partisan Democrat Party backing for massive military spending increases, plus sanctions and other pressures applied to the USSR and its allies. He had the quieter, practical support of many weighty Western European leaders. He had an even more hard line, anti-communist leader in Europe as his most important NATO ally, Margaret Thatcher.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Karol Józef Wojtyła – aka Pope John Paul II 

He also had Pope John Paul, who had arrived with almost perfect timing into the office of Pope in 1978 from Poland, one of the key nations in the USSR’s Eastern Bloc. He provided a huge moral counterweight to the usual propaganda efforts that tried to reduce the Cold War foes down to equal moral standing and the accompanying “who cares who wins?” attitude.

USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev

And ultimately Reagan got Mikhail Gorbachev as the leader of the USSR.

There’s a push-pull aspect to this; without a Reagan a Gorbachev might never have become General Secretary, with his arguments to the Politburo that they had to change in order to survive against an increasingly powerful USA.

An unstated argument was that after decades of doddering old fools the Politburo also needed someone who could take on Reagan with a charm offensive.

The last certainly worked for a while. The Western MSM went gaga over this new Soviet leader: young, energetic, articulate, smart – and his glamorous wife Raisa, who was pulled into the media glare as a direct contrast to the Soviet past where leader’s wives were hidden Babushkas. All this was contrasted endlessly by the MSM with Reagan’s age and “stupidity”. The scoffing comparisons were long and loud.

Reagan did not take this lying down however, and on June 12, 1987, in a famous speech given in front of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, he pushed for something that would be a true mark of Soviet reform:

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Many of Reagan’s advisors fought tooth and nail against including that phrase, fearing it would just increase tensions – and for no good reason since it was such obvious nonsense. But Reagan himself insisted it be there. Once spoken, outside critics were harsher still, with more scoffing: typical political theatre they sniffed.

The irony is that without a Gorbachev, Reagan’s strategy would have failed. Had there still been men who thought like Stalin and Lenin, willing to use any and all force to suppress and destroy their internal enemies, the USSR would likely still be with us today. Communist China did have such ruthless, brutal men and likely still does.

For all the talk of his reforms, the key point about Gorbachev, when it mattered in 1989, was that he was simply not willing to shoot down hundreds or thousands of East Europeans to allow the Soviet systems to survive, nor would he allow or enable Communist leaders like East Germany’s Erich Honecker to do so, despite a huge presence of the Red Army in the Soviet satellite nations. It’s a mirror-image of Reagan’s simple strategy: for all the talk of Geo-political structural and material reasons, the ultimate factor was a simple unwillingness to continue a history of mass murder.

Ukranian peasants dying from Stalin’s enforced starvation, Kharkiv, 1933: the Holodomor

…..

The strange thing about the emotional letdown of the Tiananmen Square massacre, was that it was almost exactly then that change was seen in Eastern Europe. Important things had been happening since late 1988, but the first real signs that people were rising up against their Communist governments were not seen until mid-1989. Intimidated not one bit, they sensed that their rulers were exhausted by age, internal failures and the relentless pressure of a USA-led West, involving more than just the military aspects of NATO. Many of the leaders were very old and had been there for decades – which made Gorbachev look even better. And of course he’d made it clear that if they had problems with the people, they’d have to solve it without suppression. They might even have to talk to the Deplorables.

The pressure had been on in Poland since late 1988 when a revived Solidarity movement had first pushed for elections and then won them. As an example of the hardened arteries of the Communist governments, they foolishly had a law that allowed people to cross out names on the single party lists: people crossed out the names of 33 of 35 major Communist officials on the ballot, including the Prime Minister, so that even though Solidarity was allowed only 35% of the parliament (Sejm), it could form a new government. The election results came out on June 4 – the same day as Tiananmen.

Hungarian troops pull down the fence at the Austrian border

But it was actually Hungary that turned out to be the pivot for the collapse of East Euro Communism. In late 1988, its Communist government – clapped-out like all the others – actually began to convert from being a Communist Party to a Social Democratic one, and yielded some powers to an opposition eager for elections. Just as in Poland the government thought they could bully their way through an election: they failed – especially after a Communist Party leader told a crowd outside the parliament building:

“We continue to regard the undisturbed and balanced development of our relationship with our great neighbor, the Soviet Union, as being in our national interest.”

The crowd booed the crap out of him. It was over.

More important was what the new Hungarian government did next.  In April 1989 they switched off the electricity on their border fence with Austria. In May they began pulling down sections of it.

It was at this point that Western TV began to notice what was going on. I remember watching this in disbelief. Naturally Hungarians began to pour across to buy stuff, but that wasn’t the point. Hungarian reformer Imre Pozsgay said later:

“We were pretty sure that if hundreds of thousands of East Germans went to the West, the East German regime would fall, and in that case Czechoslovakia was also out.”

It was a strategy that looked outside Hungary; that understood defeating Communism permanently in Hungary meant destroying it across Eastern Europe, and that this was the way to do it.  It worked brilliantly. They did not tell the governments of East Germany or the USSR: the first they knew of it was when Austrian and then West German TV broadcast the news.

An East German Hungarian holiday – to Austria

Suddenly, thousands of East Germans decided they needed a summer holiday – and Hungary was the place to go.

The East German government was furious but the tide was now too great. TV showed extraordinary scenes of people rushing across the Austro-Hungarian border, many holing up in various Western embassies. These scenes sent a message like nothing else to date.

Protests grew larger in East Germany as everybody – government and people alike – became aware of the situation developing across all of Eastern Europe, with ever more fantastic TV images that held us enthralled. Could this really be happening? Honecker quit after almost twenty years as leader and handed over the reins of power to a chosen successor – another dull bureaucratic product of Communism who had no better idea how to cope in this new world. A gigantic protest of between 1/2 and 1 million people in East Berlin on November 4 forced the government’s hand. On November 9 the East German Politburo decided to lift all travel bans – but quietly.

Yet the rot of Communist bureaucratic thinking had seeped in so deeply that they could not even do this competently. At the end of a routine daily press briefing at 7 pm, a Politburo spokesman, Günter Schabowski, made a low-key announcement of a change to written law, which would open only a small loophole to allow “disgruntled” people to leave. But Schabowski did not read it before the press conference:

“private trips abroad can be applied for…. and permits will be granted promptly. . . Permanent emigration is henceforth allowed across all border crossing points between East Germany and West Germany and West Berlin…. As I understand it, it goes into effect immediately, without delay”

WHAT?

Hundreds of thousands of people in both East and West Berlin saw that press conference, and it was rapidly re-broadcast from the West Berlin TV stations. Word spread even faster.

All border crossings had to mean the Wall as well. Thousands of Germans – from both sides of the Berlin divide – descended on the Wall that night. As West Berlin reporters covered it live they reported bewildered guards who had no idea what to do and who had no instructions.
….
East German Guards holding back the tide.

At several border crossing points, East Berliners began shouting at the armed guards, demanding they open the gates and shove aside barbed wire obstacles, telling them that they could check with the bosses: the order had come from a Politburo member.

After brief and non-violent struggles the guards relented and the crowds poured across, to be met by TV reporters and West Berliners, relatives in many cases.

Again, these were TV scenes that were simply beyond belief to those of us who had grown up with the endless, brutal reality of these Communist societies.

As more hours passed, people with picks and hammers began to turn up, climbing on top of the wall and starting to destroy it throughout the day of November 10 and the days beyond. The guards looked on hopelessly: no instructions again. Shooting escapees was one thing – but this? As a final example of the stupidity of the East German Communist government, their Foreign Minister later wrote:

“We did not suspect that the opening of the Wall was the beginning of the end of the Republic.”

They hung on for a while longer but were powerless as their own citizens ignored them and members of the military, police and even Stasi simply quit and went home to look for other work. Negotiations on reunification of the two Germany’s began.

In Bulgaria the Communist rulers went quietly the day after the Wall came down. Prime Minister Todor Zhikov, a living Stalinist who had been in the office since 1954, quit. The Bulgarian Communist Party shut itself down soon after.

Czechoslovakia followed a week after the Wall opened and Vaclav Havel, who at the beginning of the year had been in jail for his human rights activism, was elected as the new president in December.

In Romania, the Ceausescu’s lasted another month, before an organised TV appearance to boost morale had to be shut down in seconds as the crowd began booing and whistling. The stunned look on Ceausescu’s dull, aged face said it all. He and his wife were shot on Christmas Day.

US President George H W Bush

President George Bush acquitted himself better than I expected, especially considering that it caught him and the US government – especially the CIA and other intelligence services – as completely by surprise as it had the rest of us.

Both he and Reagan played it all very low-key, very subdued. There was no need to rub Gorbachev’s nose in it. They knew they had won and they had to avoid inflaming the situation while hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops were still stationed in all those Eastern European countries. Slow and steady de-escalation and removal of them was needed and Bush handled that very well.

They were the last Presidents following on from Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and even Carter, who had pushed back against Communism, with a host of millions who supported the struggle. Reagan and Bush also knew better than most that while cracking the Berlin Wall open in 1989 had been bloodless, the Cold War had not. While World War III never went hot along the main battle lines in Europe, the battles on the fringes in places like Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Greece, Angola, Afghanistan and dozens of other nations were expensive, wearying and filled with the deaths of military and civilian alike.

Yet despite the risk and strain, America had not quit and walked away – or at least the majority of Americans didn’t. The Western Europeans and others did their part: but without the USA’s leadership over decades it would have been a losing effort.

The palpable joy of November 9 overwhelmed even the jailers and their propagandists, and stunned into silence their usually vocal Marxist sympathizers in the West. The deep unpopularity of the Communist regimes revealed by the peoples of Eastern Europe in 1989 was an embarrassment to moderate Left-Wingers and valueless social scientists in the West who had treated, even feted, these nations as stable and legitimate forms of governance with solid economies and healthy societies. They had regularly preached the moral equivalency of the U.S. and the USSR. And of course at times they had simply dropped the pretense and fingered the U.S. as the “fascist state” and global oppressor; the jailer, the warmonger, the threat to world peace.

November 9, 1989 revealed the Big Lie. The steady revelations of economic, political, military, moral, economic and ecological failure were shocking. For the hard line Western Marxists who had sympathized with and excused these regimes, it was a faith-shaking crisis. The pictures and TV coverage of ordinary people could not be spun or denied. They didn’t even have the heart to claim it was all a CIA plot. For the most part all these groups shut up – for once.

The failure was total – but the Far Left would slowly recover even from such an identity crisis. Before twenty years had passed one could hear again the old attacks on the West, on democracy and free enterprise, and the USA as a “Capital-Fascist” state – but now driven by theories of Post-Modernism and Post-Colonialism that preserved some elements of Marxist analysis. Not too much though: the revealed scars of Marxist stupidity still showed too fresh. People would laugh!

New Years Eve, December 31, 1989 – Berlin Wall

A mate of mine went to the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the Berlin Wall on December 31st, 1989. He said he had to be there and I know many other Kiwis who felt the same. He still describes it as the greatest party he’s ever been to.

It would take another two years for the USSR to suffer the same fate as Eastern Europe. The difference was that now we knew it was coming. It’s a sad fact that Gorbachev is held in contempt today by his fellow Russians for letting an empire collapse and a superpower be humiliated. History will be kinder to him.

Nov. 9, 1989, was a great victory for liberty and freedom, one of the greatest such days in history. But it would not have been possible without America and American perseverance. America carried the burden of leadership. America’s active defense kept hope alive for decades – the hope that empowered Eastern Europe’s oppressed to finally rise up against their oppressors and overthrow them.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 10, 2019 at 8:06 pm