When the doves begin to sound like hawks

July 22, 2014

There has been an enormous amount of criticism of Chancellor Merkel across the Ukrainian social media since the World Cup Final and her interaction with President Putin.

Exceptionally wrong-head statements about “Frau Ribbentrop”  became the misguided theme for extremely irate and upset Ukrainians.  That they were and are extremely irate and upset is more than understandable.  In fact it would be worrisome that they were in any way accepting of Kremlin actions – both direct and indirect – aimed at their nation.

As post WWII Europe designed NATO to keep the Soviets out, the Americans in and the Germans down militarily, the political system in Germany (more or less imposed) was designed to prevent charismatic and wrong-headed leaders rising and leading the German nation astray once more.  Thus the system produces coalitions and consensus

Ukrainians identify her as “all powerful” in Germany, no differently to the previous presidents of Ukraine who raped, pillaged and corrupted the country with impunity.  After decades of seeing that what the president says – goes – unquestioned and unstopped, there is an expectation that Chancellor Merkel can do the same and all other German politicians will simply fall in line.  A wrongful perception.

There is a lack of understanding regarding the fact she sits atop a coalition that requires a good deal of internal diplomacy and compromise – particularly when faced with a crisis.

However, Chancellor Merkel is no dove when it comes to President Putin or The Kremlin.  She is not the problem.  Indeed over the past few years in particular, it is difficult to identify a more hawkish German Chancellor toward The Kremlin since German reunification.

Her coalition party partner is indeed very dovish toward The Kremlin.  Of that party, the most high profile of the doves is probably Frank Steinmeier, the current German Foreign Minister.  To be blunt, not somebody Chancellor Merkel would have picked as her FM if the mechanics of forming the German coalition government would have allowed – but it didn’t.

Thus Germany presents a hawkish Chancellor and a dovish Foreign Minister to The Kremlin (and the world).

It is therefore important to look very carefully at the statements of FM Steinmeier to ascertain just how far Chancellor Merkel is managing to nudge her coalition doves (and industry lobbyists) along without endangering her coalition government at home.

When the doves begin to sound like hawks, she is having some success in moving the reticent along.  Despite the above tweet still appearing rather dovish, for FM Steinmeier it is far from that and would suggest that the German doves have now moved far enough toward the German hawks for more sanctions aimed at The Kremlin.

In the meantime, Federica Mogherini, who officially is the Foreign Minister of Italy – but whom could easily be confused for either an ENI spokesperson or Kremlin apologist – or both, if you didn’t know otherwise – today apparently faces a meeting with UK and Dutch counterparts, who will no doubt to outline her errant Kremlin apologist/dovish ways that cost her the position of EEAS head, and may cost Italy any Dutch and UK support over EU issues that matter greatly to Italy should Italy try and block any new sanctions that now seem likely to come.

Though sanctions are really only effective when threatened or lifted, as sanctions outcomes during the time that they are actually implemented are almost entirely dependent upon the will to take pain by those sanctioned – and to be blunt, there is a good deal of political will in The Kremlin to endure any such pain – just as the illegal annexation of Crimea could not go without costs and a clear response, the continued flow or arms across the Russian border into Ukraine and the downing of MH17 can no longer go without costs and a clear response either.

It seems the European hawks have been lining up the European doves over the weekend and today – more sanctions look somewhat inevitable – even if they are highly unlikely to change Kremlin course in Ukraine.


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