HAROLD PINTER HAD IT RIGHT
Lessons in Western self-sabotage from the Ukraine War
The British playwright and Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter was an early critic of the Bush administration’s decision, endorsed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to declare a worldwide war on Islamist terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11. In the fall of 2002, Pinter was invited to make his case against the war before the House of Commons. He began his talk with a bit of embellished British history about an earlier wave of terror in Ireland:
“There’s an old story about Oliver Cromwell. After he had taken the town of Drogheda the citizens were brought to the main square. Cromwell announced to his Lieutenants: ‘Right! Kill all the women and rape all the men.’ One of his aides said: ‘Excuse me General. Isn’t it the other way around?’ A voice from the crowd called out: ‘Mr. Cromwell knows what he’s doing!’”
The voice in the crowd in Pinter’s telling was Blair’s, but today it could be German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has kept his silence about when and what he knew about President Biden’s decision to mangle Germany’s economy by destroying the Nord Stream pipelines last September.
There were two sets of pipelines, both partially financed by Russian oligarchs who were beholden to President Vladimir Putin. Nord Stream 1 went into operation in 2011, and within ten years Russia was providing Germany more than half of its overall energy needs, with most of the inexpensive gas targeted for industrial use. Nord Stream 2 was completed by the summer of 2021, but never brought into use. By February 2022, at the start of the war, Scholz halted the pipeline’s certification process. Nord Stream 2 was loaded with gas meant for delivery to Germany, but its huge payload was blocked on arrival by Scholz, obviously at the request of the Biden administration.
Last September 26, the two pipelines were destroyed by underwater bombs. It was not known at the time who was responsible for the sabotage, amid the usual Western accusations against Russia and Russian denials. In February, I published a detailed account of the White House’s role in the attack, including an assertion that a
major goal of Biden’s was to prevent Scholz from reversing his decision to stop the flow of Russian gas to Germany. My account was denied by the White House and as of today no government has accepted responsibility.
Germany muddled through last year’s preternaturally warm winter, as the government provided generous energy subsidies for homes and businesses. But since then, the lack of Russian gas has been the major factor in rising energy costs that have led to a slowdown in the German economy, the fourth largest in the world. The economic crunch resulted in a rise of political opposition to the political coalition Scholz leads. Another divisive issue is the steady rise in immigration applications from the Middle East and Africa and the more than one million Ukrainians who have fled to Germany since the war in Ukraine began.
Polling in Germany has consistently shown enormous discontent with the economic crisis it faces. One survey analyzed by Bloomberg last month found that only 39 percent of German voters believe the country will be a leading industrial nation in the next decade. The dispatch specifically cited internal political infighting over the nation’s home and business heating subsidy policies but did not mention a major cause of the crisis—Biden’s decision to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines.