In times of great crises, political judgment regularly gets into a crisis. The familiar dissolves, thinking in familiar ways loses its footing, and the power of judgment suffers. Idealistic pacifists become idealistic bellicists. Sometimes the crisis of thinking develops an amazing dynamic. What remains unchanged is that the view of the world is often shaped by one’s own wishful thinking and not by political and economic realities. This can have devastating consequences.
Germany has long relied on stable economic relations with Russia and wanted to secure the transition to CO2-free energy supply largely with gas from Russia. Criticism of this from the United States followed a twofold national interest: On the one hand, it was a question of selling in Europe the fossil resources that America now has thanks to fracking. On the other hand, overly close economic relations between the EU and Russia should be torpedoed in good time. The Central and Eastern European countries feared an expansion of the cooperation between Germany and Russia, which they had always viewed with suspicion, over their heads, specifically with the help of a pipeline through the Baltic Sea. The line was built anyway, and Germany resisted influence, particularly from the United States.
Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, there has been a hangover. This project is now seen as an example of how carelessly Germany brought itself into a state of dependence on Russia in terms of energy policy. In addition to Germany, Italy and Hungary would also have made themselves susceptible to blackmail in this way.
The irony of the sanctions policy
Only a few notice the irony of the current situation. Europe would like to impose a coal, oil and then, if possible, also a natural gas embargo on Russia as sanctions. However, these sanctions can only take effect if there have been energy flows from Russia beforehand.
Whatever one judges of the earlier decisions, today there is a consensus that a country in Europe waging a war against a sovereign neighboring country cannot develop economic relations and that existing ties must be severed. I share this view.
But now the confusion is beginning in people’s minds: if we don’t want to maintain economic relations with autocracy Russia, it is argued, then we can’t establish new economic relations with another country that systematically violates human rights, such as Qatar.
Should we stop trading with China?
Let’s examine this argument in more detail. It shifts the criterion from aggressive war to internal human rights violations. However, if these become the criterion for the inadmissibility of economic relations, the only logical consequence is the radical deglobalization of the world economy. Because non-democratic states more or less systematically violate human rights.