Connect with us

Europe

Misrepresentations of American & Soviet Roles in WW II and the Cold War

Eric Zuesse

Published

on

The Soviet Union contributed more than did any other nation to the defeats of Germany and Japan in World War II, but America and Britain together defeated Italy. Many prominent Western ‘historians’ white-out the Soviet roles in defeating Hitler and especially Hirohito, and they overstate the importance of America’s victories to the ultimate outcome, and ignore or underplay Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s strong rejection and repudiation of Winston Churchill’s imperialistic agenda, not only for a continuation of empires, but for a continued postwar exploitation of colonies, as being acceptable goals for the future. Those ‘historians’ are actually propagandists — no real historians, at all — because they fundamentally misrepresent; yet they dominate in the ‘historical’ profession, and they have produced in the U.S. and in its allies a widespread and profoundly warped ‘history’ of the war and of its aftermath, and of Twentieth-Century history, and of our own time. This ‘historical’ distortion has continued even after 1991 (it even accelerated) when the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia ended only on the Russian side, but not actually on the U.S. side. These ‘historical’ lies accelerated because ‘historians’ continue, even today, to hide this crucial fact, that the U.S. side of the Cold War secretly continued — and still does continue — to try to conquer Russia. Ever since the time of America’s vile, bloody and illegal actual coup against Ukraine in February 2014 onward, Russia has been responding increasingly. This is especially so because of yet another American-and-allied aggression against a nation that has cooperative arrangements with Russia, Syria, 2012-. The purveyors of fake ‘news’ and fake ‘history’ display the gall to cry foul and to lie and allege that Russia’s necessary defensive actions against America’s aggressions are, instead, themselves, aggressions, to which America and its vassal-nations have the right to respond, and should respond, by what then would actually be yet more aggressions (violations of international law) — instead of to quit its string of aggressions, and to apologize, not only for the aggressions, but also for the lies, that the U.S. regime and its propagandists have been perpetrating, against Russia, and against nations that cooperate with Russia. The reality has been that U.S. foreign policy is, and has been, driven by one overriding and obsessive goal for a hundred years: first, to conquer any nation that’s friendly with Russia, and thereby to isolate Russia internationally; and, then, finally, to grab Russia itself. This entire U.S. geostrategy is based upon lies.

The ‘Historical’ Lies, V. The Historical Truths

According to the standard accounts, the Cold War ended on both sides in 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved, and its communism ended, and its Warsaw Pact (the military alliance that the U.S.S.R. had created in response to America’s having created the NATO military alliance against the Soviet Union) all ended. But, secretly, the Cold War continued on the U.S. side, and with the same (and now blatantly) imperialist goal of ultimately conquering Russia and China, so as to establish the first-ever all-encompassing global empire. Whereas Franklin Delano Roosevelt had set up the U.N. so as to evolve into a global democracy of nations — a democratic federal republic encompassing all nations — his successor, Harry S. Truman quickly became deceived by Winston S. Churchill and Dwight David Eisenhower to believe that the Soviet Union was trying to take over the entire world, and so Truman promptly abandoned FDR’s vision and initiated instead the permanent-warfare U.S., the military-industrial-complex-ruled U.S., which relegated the U.N. to a secondary role, as a mere mediator for global diplomacy, not as the international lawmaker that FDR had hoped it would ultimately evolve into. FDR’s dream and intention, of establishing a system of international laws functioning as the all-encompassing global democratic federal democracy in which all nations are represented, became thwarted, almost as soon as he died, when the Deep-State U.S. military-industrial complex that’s run behind the scenes by the controlling owners of America’s top weapons-manufacturing firms took hold. 

After WW II, the U.S. Government secretly aspired — and still does aspire — to rule over the entire world, including especially over Russia and China. George Herbert Walker Bush told Robert Sheer in the 24 January 1980 Los Angeles Times and in Scheer’s 1982 book With Enough Shovels, page 29, that in a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the U.S., the “winner in a nuclear exchange” would be whichever side is stronger than the other at the war’s end; and, so, for Bush, nuclear weapons didn’t exist in order to avoid a nuclear conflict, but instead in order to “win” it. This also is the reason why, on the night of 24 February 1990, Bush secretly told West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to ignore the promises that Bush’s team were making to Gorbachev, that NATO would not be expanded “one inch to the east” (i.e., not extended right up to Russia’s border) if Gorbachev ends the Cold War. Bush, in confidence, told Kohl “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t.” And he also secretly told French President Francois Mitterrand to pursue no “kind of pan-European alliance” (i.e., alliance that includes Russia) because, actually, total conquest of Russia remains the U.S.-and-allied goal. This view — that the goal is control over Russia — became firmly established in U.S. Government policy by no later than 2006 when Bush’s son was the President and the phrase “Nuclear Primacy” (the ability to “win” a nuclear war against Russia) became used in order to refer to America’s geostrategic goal.

Part of that scam by ’The West’ (the emergent American empire) has been the ongoing ‘historical’ lie that the Allied victory in WW II was mainly an American and British affair, and not mainly a Soviet one. Another part of it is that the Soviet Union had started the Cold War; and yet a third part is that the Cold War was about ideology (communism versus capitalism) instead of about the U.S. regime’s goal of ultimately conquering Russia and China so as to achieve the world’s first and only full global and unchallengeable empire

The excuse for all of this was always the allegation that global empire is Russia’s goal and that the U.S. therefore needs to win the nuclear war when it ultimately happens. But Russia, and its prior USSR, always did maintain, and still does maintain, as actual Government policy (not just mere verbiage, such as in America after 1980) the belief in “MAD” or Mutually Assured Destruction — the idea that any nuclear war between the two superpowers will destroy the entire planet and therefore produce no winners whatsoever — no winner but only nuclear winter — regardless of which side might temporarily emerge the stronger while nuclear winter and resulting global famine soon destroy all life on Earth after that nuclear exchange. Russia is not (like America is) aiming to take over the planet. The fact that the U.S. regime is trying to take over the planet has shocked even America’s top geostrategic scientists. The ‘historians’ hide all of this, so as to continue the myth that in the U.S.-Russia relationship, Russia is and has been the aggressor, and America the defender — instead of vice-versa, which is, and has been, the historical reality.

A rare, early, excellent, and honest, Western history of the immediate post-WW-II world, was the libertarian William Henry Chamberlin’s 1950 book America’s Second Crusade. Its earnest author — a disenchanted former socialist who once had trusted Stalin’s goodwill but was dismayed now to find Stalin to be America’s enemy as well as an unforgivable tyrant to the nation he led — opened by saying “My book is an attempt to examine without prejudice or favor the question why the peace was lost while the war was being won.” He was struggling to understand how and why and when the Cold War started, but unfortunately, some key documents, in order to become enabled to understand that, had not yet become public. A crucial passage in his book that reflected state-of-the-art historical writing in 1950 but certainly not today, asserted:

Stalin’s diplomatic masterpiece was his promotion, through his pact with Hitler, of a war from which he hoped to remain aloof. [FALSE: Stalin knew that the Soviet Union was Hitler’s main target to attack, and he was terrified of that]

This attractive dream of watching the capitalist world tear itself to pieces and then stepping in to collect the fragments was shattered by Hitler’s attack in June 1941. [FALSE: that war between U.S.S.R and Germany was already baked-in in 1939; and it was Stalin’s nightmare — not his “dream.”]

Chamberlin thought that Stalin had made with Hitler the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact because Stalin had wanted to join with Hitler in taking over the entire world — i.e., for aggression, instead of for defense; i.e., instead of so as to protect the U.S.S.R. from becoming invaded by Hitler (which defensive motivation actually is what obsessed Stalin). Chamberlin thus wrote approvingly of “Churchill’s scheme which would have limited the extent of Soviet conquest.” Chamberlin thought that the ideological conflict (to the extent that there actually was one in the Cold War) was between communism versus capitalism, not  between fascism versus non-fascism (which it was, and still is).

Here are the facts, which have been revealed by the making-public of archives as of 2008 and subsequently:

On 18 October 2008, Britain’s Telegraph  bannered “Stalin ‘planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact’” and buried the core revelation, that Stalin prior to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact recognized Hitler’s determination to conquer the Soviet Union and he had, on 15 August 1939, urged British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to accept the U.S.S.R. as an ally in their mutual war to defeat Hitler; but Chamberlain refused, and so Stalin reached out to Hitler for an agreement with him to a dividing-line between those two countries’ (Germany’s and U.S.S.R.’s) essential areas of control for each one’s national security. Poland especially was a worry to both of them, because Poland had had territorial conflicts with both Germany and the Soviet Union. Thus was signed on 23 August 1939 the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, which split Poland between both countries.

The Versalles Treaty at the end of WW I had handed to Poland what had been German territory that through most of prior history had been Polish territory. Hitler was elected into power in 1933 vowing to abandon that Treaty and to restore, to German rule, that part of Poland.

As regards Poland’s conflicts with Russia: Poland had invaded Moscow during 1605-18, before Russia responded by both military and diplomatic means to virtually conquer Poland into becoming a colony of Russia, which it remained almost uninterruptedly until 1939, when the Hitler-Stalin agreement — the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact — restored part of Poland to the Soviet Union, but handed the other part of Poland to Germany. 

Stalin, having been spurned by Chamberlain (who held his own imperialistic intentions — he was as imperialistic as were the fascists: Hitler, Hirohito, and Mussolini), had actually no other option in 1939 than to reach a peace-agreement with Hitler, so as to avoid having the Soviet Union become swallowed up by the capitalist countries — first by Germany, and then by whatever countries would finally win the coming World War (presumably, likewise Germany). 

This is why the historian Chamberlin’s claim that Stalin’s “dream” of imperialist expansion “was shattered by Hitler’s attack in June 1941” is false: Stalin’s necessity for the U.S.S.R. to be granted enough time, to prepare for Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa invasion against it (which ended up starting on 22 June 1941), caused the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact to become signed on 23 August 1939, which signing sparked both of its signatories to promptly invade Poland and start the active phase of WW II on 1 September 1939, both countries invading Poland. FDR didn’t hold that agreement against Stalin, but instead against Chamberlain, who really hated Russia and virtually forced Stalin into that Pact. Chamberlain’s goal wasn’t to get the Soviet Union onto Britain’s side but instead for a war between the Soviet Union and Germany to weaken both of them enough for a UK-U.S. alliance to take over both of them, and, ultimately, the world. FDR got Chamberlain’s successor Churchill to agree to a “United Nations” in which there would be an international democracy of nations and all military weapons and enforcement of General Assembly laws would be possessed and enforced only by “the Big Four” of U.S., UK, U.S.S.R., and China, but Churchill balked at including China because he wanted to retain control of his eastern vassal-nations. FDR agreed instead to each of the Big Four enforcing U.N. laws only  within its own neighborhood, so as to prohibit friction between the Big Four — and China would enforce in East Asia and Western Pacific, which meant Britain’s freeing India, Burma, Malaya, and some other of its vassal-nations. U.S. was to enforce U.N. laws throughout the Western Hemisphere. U.S.S.R. was to do the same in eastern Europe and central Asia. UK was to do it in Western Europe. Initially, Roosevelt’s plan had been only for a U.N. consisting of this Big Four as “trustees” over other nations that are within their neighborhood, but he soon recognized the need for, as the Dumbarton Oaks founding document for the U.N. put it, on 7 October 1944, “Membership of the Organization should be open to all peace-loving states.” Also: “There should be an international court of justice which should constitute the principal judicial organ of the Organization.” And: “Each member of the Organization should have one vote in the General Assembly.” No international bill of rights was included, because the U.N. wasn’t to get involved in any nation’s internal affairs. But, then, FDR died and along came President Truman, and the U.N.’s Constitution became established on 26 June 1945, as the “Charter of the United Nations”, and it dispensed altogether with that crucial distinction; and, furthermore, the Big Four became the Five permanent Members of the Security Council, France (yet another imperialist regime) being added to the Big Four. Already, FDR’s vision was starting to become replaced by that of agents of owners of America’s ‘defense’ contractors. They needed the distinction to be abandoned so that the U.N. would become distracted away from its peace-keeping function and toward “human rights” issues that could ‘justify’ international invasions (and thus growing demand for their products). And thus we have today a toothless U.N., far from what FDR had intended. This is very profitable for the military-industrial complex and enables the U.S. regime to aspire to being, as Barack Obama claimed it already to be, “the one indispensable nation”, and every other nation therefore to be ‘dispensable’ (and consequently usable for “target-practice”).

After the 18 October 2008 article in Britain’s Telegraph, another article that is a breakthrough for historians is Randy Dotinga’s superb review (and the best summary), appearing in the 5 March 2015 Christian Science Monitor, of Susan Butler’s 2015 masterpiece, Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. (Butler’s book is based on her own prior publication, by Yale, of My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin.) Dotinga’s review is titled “‘Roosevelt and Stalin’ details the surprisingly warm relationship of an unlikely duo: How FDR and Stalin forged a bond that helped to shape history.” Basically, what Butler has documented (in those two books) and Dotinga accurately summarizes, is that FDR and Stalin were in agreement and FDR and Churchill were not, and that FDR was consistently a supporter of the position that no nation has a right to interfere in the internal affairs of any other nation, except when those internal affairs present a realistic threat against the national security of one’s own nation. FDR was consistently an opponent of empires, which exist not for national security but for the further enrichment of one’s own nation’s aristocracy, the owners of its international corporations — especially of its weapons-makers. (An imperial nation’s weapons-manufacturers rely upon sales to that government and to its vassals or ‘allies’, and therefore fund politicians who endorse its imperialism. Consequently: the U.N. now gets involved in the internal affairs of nations — their ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ — as constituting ‘justifications’ to authorize invasions, or “R2P,” responsibility to protect. That’s exactly opposite to FDR’s plan for the U.N., which concerned no intranational affairs, but only intranational affairs.) The negative reviews of Butler’s Roosevelt and Stalin at Amazon object to Stalin’s domestic policies but ignore what FDR was concerned with, regarding Stalin, which was international policies. It would have been foolish for FDR to have gotten into disputes with his most important ally over internal Soviet matters (but American imperialists wish that he had done so). Similarly, FDR did not think that he possessed a right to interfere in Hitler’s domestic policies (including even the extermination programs), but recognized that he had an obligation to protect the United States from Hitler’s intended conquest of the entire world. For example, FDR’s chosen mastermind for, and Truman’s designated prosecutor at, the Nuremberg Tribunals, Robert Jackson, focused mainly against the German regime’s imperialist policies, its international aggressions that really were not motivated by Germany’s national security but instead by international conquest — aggression. The Holocaust was also an important, but secondary, concern, at those tribunals. In international affairs, FDR recognized that the primary focus must be on international policies, not on intranational policies — that it must be on policies between nations, not policies within nations. He stuck to that; America’s imperialists didn’t like that. (For them, Churchill was the hero.)

As Dotinga’s review also pointedly notes:

But FDR has a huge blind spot. Up until the very end, “Roosevelt and Stalin” virtually never mentions a man who forever annoyed the Russians by declaring in 1941 that “if we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible.”

This man’s name is Harry Truman. When Roosevelt dies in 1945, just weeks after the Yalta conference, the vice president knows virtually nothing about the wartime talks and has never even spent a second inside the White House’s Map Room brain center.

Truman would learn about the nuclear bomb, which spawned an intense debate in the Roosevelt Administration about whether to mention it to the Soviets, America’s supposed allies. In fact, they’d already figured out something was up.

Despite this fault line over trust with FDR, the Soviets would later mourn a safer world they believed Roosevelt would have created if he’d lived. To them, he was a dear friend who passed away too soon.

FDR knew and respected that Stalin led the main component of the anti-Nazi team. FDR had no illusions about what immense and unnecessary suffering Stalin’s domestic policies produced, but this wasn’t FDR’s business. U.S. national security was. And FDR knew that if Hitler were to win, then America would ultimately be ruled from Berlin, and Hitler’s domestic policies, which were even worse than Stalin’s, would become also America’s domestic policies. That’s what FDR was protecting America against, and his chief international ally was Stalin — not actually Churchill (such as the fake ‘history’ — from pro-imperialists — claims).

The Democratic Party’s biggest donors chose Harry S. Truman to become FDR’s successor because they figured that he’d be able to be controlled by them, and this belief turned out to have been correct. Truman wasn’t corrupt but he was able to be fooled (self-righteously to believe what his billionaire-approved advisors told him), and this is how the Cold War began. Truman thought he had no choice — that Stalin’s regime would take over the world if America did not. He was fooled. And that’s why the OSS and its successor, the U.S. CIA and other agencies, protected and even imported or hired many ‘former’ committed Nazis, as soon as FDR died. America is now basically ruled posthumously by Hitler’s ideological heirs. Whereas some of America’s leaders, such as Barack Obama, probably do it intelligently, understanding where the supremacist and imperialist agenda comes from (the “military-industrial complex” or the nation’s most politically active billionaires), others of them, such as perhaps Donald Trump, might, like Truman was, be true-believers who have been simply fooled by them. Certainly Trump has loads of prejudices, which make him vulnerable to being manipulated without his even being aware of that. He believes what he wants to believe, and such a person is especially vulnerable to being manipulated. Obama, on the other hand, might be more of a realist than a fool. In either case, it’s the billionaires who now control the U.S. Government (and see this, with more on that).

Furthermore, there were two powerful reasons why Stalin would have been getting himself into ideological trouble amongst his own communists if he had aspired to expanding Soviet control beyond the local neighborhood of adjoining (“buffer”) nations all of which were collectively surrounded by the broader capitalist world: (1) Marx himself strongly condemned imperialism; and, (2) Stalin’s main ideological competitor within the Soviet Union was Leon Trotsky, who advocated for a rapid worldwide spread of communism, versus Stalin’s position against that, which was called “communism in one nation,” and which advocated to postpone pushing for such a spread until after communism has first become an economic success within the U.S.S.R. so that workers throughout the world would rise up to overthrow their oppressors. America’s Deep State knew all about the idiocy of casting Stalin as being an imperialist, but simply lied, in order to increase America’s own empire. They were, and are, brazen. 

And this Deep State is coextensive with the EU’s, at least ever since the founding of the secret private Bilderberg network in 1954. America’s aristocracy, and the ‘ex’-Nazi Prince Bernhard and his friends, pushed for and set up the EU, in order, ultimately, to conquer Russia, not actually just to conquer the Soviet Union. On 19 September 2019, the European Parliament officially, by a vote of 535 in favor and only 66 against, blamed Stalin (along with Hitler) for World War II, and stated that today’s Russia is an extension of the U.S.S.R.’s “totalitarianism,” and they basically declared Russia to be Europe’s enemy. On October 1st, Russia officially described that action by them as “nothing but a product of the cynical, immoral and even sleazy political put-up job.”

A masterpiece of historical writing, and of historical documentaries based on it, showing in a broader perspective the history of U.S. international relations during the 20th Century, is Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s Untold History of the United States, especially Chapter One here, and Chapter Two here. Massive though it is, it’s only truths, no lies. That’s extraordinarily rare. A masterpiece of behind-the-scenes history regarding U.S. international relations, containing stunning first-person details of the period 1943-1990 (that’s up to but not including the end of the Cold War on Russia’s side), is L. Fletcher Prouty’s JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy. Another related historical masterpiece is David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. All of this is history that was being hidden and lied-about at the time when it was being mentioned, at all, in the ‘news’ — and which still remains being lied-about in the ‘news’ and ‘history’ that dominates today, within the U.S. and its empire. The only professional historian amongst those writers was Peter Kuznick. All of the others were journalists, except for Prouty, who was a participant. One can’t reasonably trust the historical profession (nor most of the journalistic profession) in the U.S. and its empire. That’s a fact — a proven-true empirical observation — no mere speculation.

Author’s note: first posted at strategic-culture.org

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

Continue Reading
Comments

Europe

EU chief prosecutor Laura Kovesi needs media freedom to do her job

Iveta Cherneva

Published

on

Last month, Laura Codruta Kovesi, the former chief prosecutor of Romania’s National Anti-corruption Directorate, was officially confirmed as the first ever EU chief prosecutor to head the newly created European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Her team will start work in the end of 2020. 

Kovesi will shake things up. She has a lot of hurdles to overcome. Among the main ones is the silencing and stifling of journalists across Europe, including in Bulgaria. The lack of media freedom will make it exceptionally difficult for Kovesi to do her job and uncover crimes involving EU funding.

As soon as the news hit that Kovesi was to become EU’s top prosecutor, anti-corruption activists across Europe applauded loudly. One could hear the applause also in Bulgaria where we face issues with EU funds misappropriation and theft but also complaints regarding the freedom of the press – a place where Kovesi’s work is much needed.

Defined institutionally, Kovesi’s mandate is “to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment crimes against the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption or serious cross-border VAT fraud”. The EU’s top prosecutor is tasked with the tough job of going after crimes involving EU money. 

It might sound as a disappointment to many, but Kovesi will not have the institutional competence to address everything that is wrong with a country or a sector. Corruption and fraud are covered by the EU prosecutor’s mandate only as long as they are related to EU funds.

So if Kovesi won’t be a see-it-all, do-it-all messiah, where does this leave media freedom then and why am I talking about it in the context of her job?

Well, bringing to justice crimes related to EU funds is almost impossible without the leads on the ground – work often done by a functioning free media and hard-hitting  investigative journalism that uncovers fishy deals and contracts. It is journalists that sometimes lead the way. Often media investigations chart a course for criminal investigations. The media is a key ally in uncovering crimes involving EU funds. This is particularly true of a service such as the EU’s prosecutor office that will operate from EU headquarters and will rely on leads and allies on the ground.

We can’t expect that an EU service will get all the intricate, hidden local information on its own or through cooperation with the state authorities in question. This is where media and journalists come in. 

Bulgaria – as sad I am to say this – gives a clear illustration of why Kovesi’s job could prove to be especially tough. The country ranks 111th in the world in terms of media freedom, according to Reporters without Borders. 

To illustrate the situation, one should look no further than the current scandal involving the nomination of Bulgaria’s own chief prosecutor and the simultaneous firing of a seasoned journalist who has been critical of the only candidate for Bulgaria’s top prosecutor post.

As reported by Reuters, the national radio journalist Silvia Velikova was fired for allegedly being critical of the work of the deputy chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev, who has already been selected to become Bulgaria’s next chief prosecutor. Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev vetoed the appointment last week, so now the country is facing judicial uncertainty and protests such as the ones from today. 

Among the reasons why the chief prosecutor’s appointment has been controversial – to say the least – is the sacking of the Bulgarian Radio journalist Silvia Velikova. Her ousting caused protests by Bulgarian journalists which I have been attending, while the capital Sofia saw thousands of protesters marching in the streets against Geshev’s nomination in September, October and now, after the presidential veto.

Where the story gets interesting or horrific – or both – is that as many as four unnamed individuals made phone calls in September to the Director of the National Radio, allegedly asking for the journalist critical of the prosecutor candidate to be fired, or at least to be silenced until Geshev’s selection as chief prosecutor. The journalist Velikova was subsequently fired. She was reinstated to her post after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov spoke in her defence. And the Director of the National Radio was himself fired for stepping over by a media oversight organ.  

In Bulgaria, a persistent complaint is that journalists who ask the inconvenient questions can be removed in a heartbeat, after so much as a phone call. The suspicion remains that shady dealings – not merit – continue to play a significant role in the firings and hirings of Bulgarian journalists.

One should look no further than the stories of investigative journalists Miroluba Benatova and Genka Shikerova. They are both known as hard-hitting investigative journalists that ask the tough questions and uncover corruption and mismanagement. They are both out of job after being pressured to quit a mainstream media. 

Genka Shikerova faced severe intimidation over the years, as her car was set on fire not once but twice, in 2013 and 2014, in relation to her work on Bulgaria’s significant anti-government protests during these years.

Miroluba Benatova, on the other hand, caused massive waves with her recent revelation that she has become a taxi driver – only to surprise foreign tourists about how politically astute and knowledgeable Bulgarian taxi drivers are. “The service in Bulgaria has improved greatly”, told her a German tourist assuming he was being driven by just a regular taxi driver.

So, how is this related to Kovesi?

It is unlikely that by driving a taxi Benatova will be coming across many leads about EU funds theft, to assist Kovesi. Such a waste of talent, and also funds.

The media across Europe has a key role to play in supporting the work of the new EU prosecutor. As long as journalists in countries like Bulgaria lack the freedom to do their jobs, crimes involving EU funding will go uncovered. If Laura Kovesi wants to succeed in her new job, she will have to take context into account and recognize that in many EU states, including Bulgaria, journalists are often not allowed to do their jobs and ask the hard questions. And that’s a shame because Kovesi will not be able to do it alone. 

Continue Reading

Europe

Why German car giant Volkswagen should drop Turkey

Iveta Cherneva

Published

on

War and aggression are not only questions of ethics and humanitarian disaster. They are bad news for business.

The German car giant Volkwagen whose business model is built on consumer appeal had to stop and pause when Turkey attacked the Kurds in Syria. A USD 1.4bln Volkswagen investment in a new plant in Turkey is being put on hold by the management, and rightly so.

Unlike business areas more or less immune from consumer pressure – like some financial sectors, for example – car buying is a people thing. It is done by regular people who follow the news and don’t want to stimulate and associate themselves with crimes against humanity and war crimes through their purchases. Investing in a militarily aggressive country simply is bad for an international brand.

As soon as the news hit that Turkey would be starting their military invasion against the Kurds, questions about plans for genocide appeared in the public discourse space. Investing over a billion in such a political climate does not make sense.

By investing into a new plant next to Turkish city Izmir, Volkswagen is not risking security so much. Izmir itself is far removed from Turkey’s southern border — although terrorist attacks in the current environment are generally not out of the question.

The risk question rather lies elsewhere. Business likes stability and predictability. Aggressive economic sanctions which are likely to be imposed on Turkey by the EU and the US would affect many economic and business aspects which the company has to factor in. Two weeks ago the US House of Representatives already voted to impose sanctions on Turkey, which now leaves the Senate to vote on an identical resolution.

Economic sanctions affect negatively the purchasing power of the population. And Volkswagen’s new business would rely greatly on the Turkish client in a market of over 80mln people.

Sanctions also have a psychological “buckle-up” effect on customers in economies “under siege”, whereby clients are less likely to want to splurge on a new car in strenuous times.

Volkswagen is a German but also a European company. Its decision will signal clearly if it lives by the EU values of support for human rights, or it decides to look the other way and put business first.

But is not only about reputational damage, which Volkswagen seems to be concerned with. There are real business counter-arguments which coincide with anti-war concerns.

Dogus Otomotiv, the Turkish distributor of VW vehicles, fell as much as 6.5% in Istanbul trading after the news for the Turkish offensive.

Apart from their effects on the Turkish consumer, economic sanctions will also likely keep Turkey away from international capital markets.

There is also the question of an EU company investing outside the EU, which has raised eyebrows. It is up to the European Commission now to decide whether the Volkswagen deal in Turkey can go forward after a complaint was filed. Turkey offered the German conglomerate a generous 400mln euro subsidy which is a problem when it comes to the EU rules and regulations on competition.

The Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber filed a complaint with the EU competition Commissioner about the deal, on the basis of non-compliance with EU competition rules. Turkey’s plans to subsidize Volkswagen clearly run counter EU rules and the EU Commission can stop the 1bln deal, if it so decides.

In a context where Turkey takes care of 4mln refugees — subject to an agreement with the EU — and often threatens the EU that it would “open the gates”, it is not clear if the Commission would muster the guts to say no, however. In that sense, the German company’s own decision to pull from the deal would be welcome because the Commission itself wouldn’t have to pronounce on the issue and risk angering Turkey.

While some commentators do not believe that Volkswagen would scrap altogether the investment and is only delaying the decision, it is worth remembering that the Syria conflict is a complex, multi-player conflict which has gone on for more than 8 years. Turkey’s entry in Syria is unlikely to end in a month. Erdogan has communicated his intention to stay in Syria until the Kurds back down.

In October it was reported that the Turkish forces are already using chemical weapons on the Kurdish population which potentially makes Turkish President Erdogan a war criminal. For a corporate giant like Volkswagen, giving an economic boost for such a state would mean indirectly supporting war crimes.

As Kurdish forces struck a deal for protection with the Syrian Assad forces, this seems to be anything but a slow-down. Turkey has just thrown a whole lot of wood into the fire.

Volkswagen will find itself “monitoring” the situation for a long time. There is a case for making the sustainable business decision to drop the risky deal altogether, soon.

Continue Reading

Europe

The future of Brexit: Where will Boris Johnson’s “fatal strategy” lead Britain to?

Published

on

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will attempt to negotiate a new deal with the EU on Brexit in the course of early parliamentary elections in the UK scheduled for December 12. If the Conservatives take upper hand, then, according to Johnson, Great Britain will leave the EU no later than January 31.

How will the upcoming elections affect Brexit? How Boris Johnson’s agreement with the European Commission could be assessed? The answers to these questions were provided by the participants in an expert discussion at the Valdai Club.

Stewart Lawson, member of the Board of Directors of the Russian-British Chamber of Commerce, head of UK Business Center in Moscow, Ernst & Young, has said that the current situation in the UK can be described as a scene in a bar where an Englishman, a Scot and an Irishman drink to forget the concept of Brexit “. Lawson made it clear that leaving the European Union without conditions would be a disaster. Nevertheless, the expert said that the UK had managed to avoid a situation in which there would be no deal at all, and also, with the arrival of a new agreement which Boris Johnson has reached with the EU, the situation has improved. “This deal is the best option for now,” – the expert remarked. However, he said, Brexit seems to be a story with no end and what is happening around it now is not even its first chapter yet.

Brexit continues to produce uncertainty, which, Lawson said is a big problem. In his opinion, the persisting uncertainty in connection with the UK leaving the EU affects business. On the one hand, the expert said, although Brexit will set Great Britain free from the US control, on the other hand, it will greatly affect the business climate, which continues to suffer amid the political uncertainty. The expert mentioned Nassim Taleb’s concept of the “black swan” according to which any forecasting may not take into account random, unknown factors. “We live in a world in which there are factors unknown to us. So it is necessary to have sufficiently flexible organizations capable of responding to situations that are in the process of development, ” – Lawson emphasized.

According to Alexander Kramarenko, Director of Development at the Russian International Affairs Council, Boris Johnson’s new agreement on Brexit is a major achievement for the British Prime Minister. Kramarenko attributes the success of Boris Johnson to his choice of a “fatal strategy” which allowed him to keep the stakes high until he won. With the help of this strategy, he managed to “cut open” the agreement on Brexit which had been signed by Theresa May. In addition, the “fatal strategy” has prompted the EU to concede on several issues.

The failure of Theresa May’s strategy is attributed to the fact that the former prime minister was a staunch supporter of a policy which required satisfying both parties, the UK and the EU. It was necessary to look for ways out of the EU instead of trying to stay there. “You cannot leave the EU and at the same time remain in the EU. And her agreement boiled down to just that, ” – Kramarenko said.

According to Theresa May’s agreement, by leaving the EU formally, Great Britain would lose the right to vote. Boris Johnson said that such an agreement perpetuates the “vassal” dependence of Great Britain on the European Union. “For a country with such a history as Great Britain, a position of this kind is not suitable. Either the UK is a member and takes part in all decisions, or it comes out and agrees on  something special. As argued by Boris Johnson, this special agreement is a free trade agreement of varying range of coverage, intensity and depth, but it would be an agreement of sovereign Britain, ” – Kramarenko emphasized.

First and foremost, Johnson’s agreement solves the problem of maintaining the status quo on the land border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The fact is that under the agreement, Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, is to withdraw from the EU, while Ireland remains part of the European Union. Thus, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the establishment of a clear-cut border between Northern Ireland and Ireland would jeopardize the Irish peace process. The EU, the UK and the Irish Government pledged to maintain this border under a deal that ended the civil war in Northern Ireland. The EU insisted that Britain remain in the Customs Union until this situation is settled. This would de facto keep Britain within the EU.

Under a new agreement proposed by Boris Johnson on which he secured the approval of the European Union, the UK will have to leave the EU’s Customs Union, and the customs border between Britain and the EU will pass via the Irish Sea. However, this threatens the unity of the country and could be an important step towards unification of Ireland, the expert believes.

Boris Johnson’s strategy has led to serious concessions from the European Union, Kramarenko said. Exiting the Customs Union will also allow the UK to clinch trade agreements with third countries. Moreover, the provision on “equal conditions of competition” will no longer be valid in the future, since it was moved from the text of the agreement to the Political Declaration, which is not binding.

What creates a major obstacle to Brexit is the current state of the British constitutional system of government, the expert said. “The opposition has deprived the government of the majority, thereby stripping it of the opportunity to rule the country or adopt new laws,” – Kramarenko said. Johnson’s achievement is precisely due to the fact that despite the opposition, he was able to cope with the opponents and postpone the date of Britain’s exit from the EU. “Now there is a significant degree of confidence that Brexit will take place and, perhaps, it will come as a gift for the New Year,” – Kramarenko said.

From our partner International Affairs

Continue Reading

Latest

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Modern Diplomacy