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May 20, 2021

Note To Greenwald - The 'Russian' Pipeline Is A Germany Need

Glenn Greenwald writes that President Trump acted more hostile to Russia than President Biden does, even while the media claimed that Trump was 'a Russian agent'. It is probably a fair point to make but in his piece Greenwald himself falls for anti-Russian propaganda nonsense.

The problem starts with the headline:

Biden, Reversing Trump, Permits a Key Putin Goal: a New Russian Natural Gas Pipeline to Germany
That Trump was controlled by Putin and served his agenda was the opposite of reality. First Obama, and now Biden, have accommodated Moscow far more.

Greenwald seems to presume that it is the right or the job of a U.S. president to 'permit' pipelines between two foreign country? That is of course completely false. The U.S. has no right, duty or whatever to interfere in regular businesses between foreign partners. Such interference is in fact illegal under international law. Biden, as well as Trump, should be criticized for even thinking about 'permitting' it.

On to Greenwald's main point:

When it came to actual vital Russian interests — as opposed to the symbolic gestures hyped by the liberal cable and op-ed page circus — Trump and his administration were confronting and undermining the Kremlin in ways Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had, to his credit, steadfastly refused to do.

Indeed, the foreign policy trait relentlessly attributed to Trump in support of the media’s Cold War conspiracy theory — namely, an aversion to confronting Putin — was, in reality, an overarching and explicit belief of President Obama’s foreign policy, not President Trump’s.

Obama waged a massive undercover war to overthrow the Syrian government, an old Russian ally. He arranged a fascist coup in the Ukraine and he sent the anti-Russian academic Michael McFaul as ambassador to Russia where McFaul immediately started to prepare a color revolution against President Putin. It was the Obama administration which launched the 'Russiagate' campaign against Trump which further infested U.S. policies with anti-Russian sentiment.

Seen from the Russian side Obama certainly showed absolutely no 'aversion to confronting Putin'.

While Trump ripped up arms treaties with Russia and gave a few useless weapons to the Ukraine, making sure they would not reach the front lines, he otherwise took, thankfully, few other damaging steps.


Now on to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline of which Greenwald writes:

Trump found one thing even more threatening to the Kremlin’s vital interests than arming Ukrainians: namely, doing everything possible to destroy Russia’s ability to complete construction of its new underwater natural gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2. That new pipeline is designed to double Russian sales capacity to an EU addicted to cheap Russian natural gas, producing massive revenue for the Russian economy and giving Moscow greater leverage when dealing with its European neighbors. But it provides an even more important benefit: it allows Russia to bypass Ukraine and other Eastern European countries, thus avoiding costly transit fees and the risks of political instability or anti-Russian manipulation by outside forces, including the U.S. government.

For all those reasons, few priorities were more important to Putin and the Russian economy than this new pipeline. Yet for at least the last two years of his presidency, Trump — even as he was shrilly depicted as an agent of the Kremlin — was obsessed with stopping the Russian pipeline and thus sabotaging Putin’s key geopolitical project.

This is a complete misunderstanding of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It is not Russia which needs the pipeline. It can sell its gas to China for just as much as it makes by selling gas to Europe.

The new pipeline will not 'double Russian sales capacity' to Europe. In March Russia sold a record 53 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe. The capacity of Nord Stream 2 is 55 billion cubic meters per year(!) (1.9 trillion cu ft/a) equal to 8.3 cubic meters per month. In theory the new pipeline will increase Russia's total sales capacity to Europe by some 15%, not by 100%. But in reality the new pipeline will likely replace existing pipelines which are running through the Ukraine.

It is Germany, the EU's economic powerhouse, that needs the pipeline and the gas flowing through it. Thanks to Chancellor Merkel's misguided energy policy - she put an end to nuclear power in German after a tsunami in Japan destroyed three badly placed reactors - Germany urgently needs the gas to keep its already high electricity prices from rising further.

That the new pipeline will bypass old ones which run through the Ukraine is likewise to the benefit of Germany, not Russia. The pipeline infrastructure in the Ukraine is old and near to disrepair. The Ukraine has no money to renew it. Politically it is under U.S. influence. It could use its control over the energy flow to the EU for blackmail. (It already tried once.) The new pipeline, laid at the bottom of the Baltic sea, requires no payment for crossing Ukrainian land and is safe from potential malign influence.

More Greenwald:

That a Putin-controlled Russian asset would send lethal arms to Ukraine and do everything possible to sabotage Nord Stream 2 is so blatantly absurd that it could be ratified only by a media aggressively committed to spreading disinformation and lies.

All of this became even clearer on Tuesday when President Biden reversed Trump’s blockage of the Russian natural gas pipeline. Axios' Jonathan Swan reported that “the Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany,” which “indicates the Biden administration is not willing to compromise its relationship with Germany over this pipeline.” Swan wrote what is clearly true: “the completion of Nord Stream 2 would be a huge geopolitical win for Putin and give him substantial new leverage in Europe.”

This “huge geopolitical win for Putin” is exactly what the Kremlin’s alleged asset in the White House spent years preventing and which Biden is now handing over.

Here Greenwald falls for Axios' view which is again mere anti-Russian propaganda. Nord Stream 1 and 2 are not 'Russia's pipeline'. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline is owned by five companies:

Nord Stream is a joint project involving five major companies: Gazprom international projects LLC (PJSC Gazprom subsidiary), Wintershall Dea GmbH, PEG Infrastruktur AG (PEGI/E.ON subsidiary), N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie and ENGIE.

The Nord Stream companies are international consortia of suppliers and buyers/distributors of natural gas. While Gasprom is a Russian company Wintershall is German, PEG is German and British owned, Gasunie is Dutch and Engie is French. The CEO of Nord Stream 1 is a Russian citizen.

To become sanction proved the Nord Stream 2 pipeline company was structured differently. While Russia's Gasprom is listed as the sole shareholder, the Dutch ENGIE, Austrian OMV, Dutch/British Shell and the German companies UNIPER and Wintershall DEA are listed as 'financial investors'. The CEO or Nord Stream 2 is Matthias Warnig,  a German citizen.

To call either Nord Stream pipeline 'Russian' is like calling the International Space Station European.

Greenwald continues:

While the Biden administration intends to maintain some of those Trump-imposed sanctions, the waivers they intend to issue will allow completion of Nord Stream 2, a gigantic gift to Putin.

No, the waiver it is not a gigantic gift to Putin. Germany needs the pipeline, Russia does not. The pipeline will be finished with or without sanctions. But imposing more sanctions would have had severe consequences for U.S. standing in Germany. The German people are already quite wary of U.S. influence. Increasing their heating and electricity bills by waging illegal sanctions against a German energy deal with Russia would have discredited it even more. Trump didn't care about that, Biden does.

Andrei Martyanow gets it:

This is not a charity move on Biden's side. Not at all, nor is it along the lines of reduction of tensions between the US and Russia Biden's people so love to talk about as of lately. Much of this decision is driven by Germany's sudden allocation of at least rudimentary spine and making sure that the US gets the message that it is risking a lot if it succeeds in sabotaging NS2 and that, as you may have guessed it already, plays into the Russian hands yet again because of major political repercussions in Germany even if the Bundestag gets much "greener", because at stake is an issue of Germany remaining the first world nation and EU's largest economy.

It is Germany, not Russia, which needs the pipeline. Germany's economy and energy security depend on it. That is why the pipeline would have been finished even under U.S. sanctions. Biden has stopped imposing more of those sanctions not as a favor to Russia but because the U.S. wants to keep political support from Germany.

Posted by b on May 20, 2021 at 16:14 UTC | Permalink

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The reason Americans use foreign policy language to speak about divisive and polarizing domestic policy is very simple: the greatest fear of any world empire is not a foreign enemy invasion, but civil war. It's the prospect of fall from within that spooks the American people the most, not the prospect of a fall from without. It's much more comforting to any American to think of any domestic division as fruit of the intervention of a foreign enemy than to simply admit the self-evident fact that his/her Empire is crumbling.

That's why, when Gleen Greenwald, Ted Cruz etc. talk about domestic policy with foreign policy jargon and language, they're actually moderating themselves, trying to bring their people - the American people - back together. Even if at the cost of WWIII.

Posted by: vk | May 23 2021 1:06 utc | 201

202, ty, lol...perhaps you could illuminate for me, what you think has happened since lavrov's meeting with bliken & why putin has 'suddenly' (@ least to western press) commented on the 'bite russia & what one can expect'? to my eyes it seemed both men were obviously angry & this while disenchantment has been building was quite a different, verging on final & disgusted tone. thank you in advance.

Posted by: emersonreturn | May 23 2021 1:24 utc | 202

Posted by: vk | May 23 2021 1:06 utc | 203

Can you please refer me to which portion of Greenwald's piece on the Nordstream 2 was about "domestic policy"? Otherwise, we agree tangentially about how Americans discuss *ANY* policy whether foreign or domestic because - as we all know - the USSA is a colonial imperial power.

The language and the law of Amerikkka are very interrelated as are the rather uniquely American phenomena of police shootings of civilians and USSAians going on mass shooting sprees.

Every empire has to have a strong military run from the very top, and as they say bullshit trickles down.

It's part of the (right wing) American culture.

Posted by: _K_C_ | May 23 2021 5:59 utc | 203

P.S. to vk -

I enjoyed and shared the Lyin' Ted link. Thanks. Putin a left-wing dictator, LMAO. My friends and family in Texas enjoyed it too, well, those who aren't completely brainwashed anyway.

Posted by: _K_C_ | May 23 2021 6:01 utc | 204

the comment section is hilarious , so many hasbara telling B to stop criticizing greenwald while the usual residents all know greenwald is just yet another controlled opposition nonsense

Posted by: milomilo | May 23 2021 6:39 utc | 205

@Piotr Berman | May 22 2021 23:42 utc | 200

Industry can locate the most energy intensive processes in places where the cost is low. Residential/commercial energy use cannot use that strategy (why not to relocate, say, Hamburg, to Norway with local natural gas and plentiful hydro electricity?).

You forget to take destructive madness into account (btw. almost nobody use natural gas domestically in Norway, it is all electric).

Do you know what is happening to hydroelectric power in this country? It is literally pumped out into the sea! The "argument" goes that natural gas powered power plants on the offshore platforms producing natural gas "harms the climate" by burning the gas that it produces. "Therefore", hydroelectric power from shore is now increasingly fed to these platforms, obviously with the side effect of increasing domestic electric prices. And of course, the gas that is not burnt on the offshore platforms is pumped to Germany and burnt there instead, so even by these destructive maniacs own logic, the whole scheme falls apart. The idea that this has to do with "climate" is ludicrous, it is a criminal scheme to enrich some people by stealing from the common man.

Posted by: Norwegian | May 23 2021 7:06 utc | 206

Norwegian #208

Sounds familiar :(

Posted by: uncle tungsten | May 23 2021 7:23 utc | 207

Posted by: Norwegian | May 23 2021 7:06 utc | 208

Well, the thing is, this is methane, and with methane, if you think Anthropogenic Climate Change is real, then you ARE better off burning it, as it is a much more effective greenhouse gas than CO2. I have read all this many times. So it's a stupid argument either way.

But then the preponderance of our daily public discourse now is similar that way. It's stupid and it will make you stupid too if you listen to it too much.

I read a book in the 70s that said climate change is real, but it is because the sun is getting hotter as it ages and CO2 has declined over time to allow more heat out, see, but we are almost down to nothing now so we can't use reducing CO2 to cool off any more. This is the doom scenario.

That was back when most of the doom scenarios were global winter. Then there was the global methane release leading to oxygen depletion, making low lying places with lots of plants the right choice.

Personally I think we have no idea what the climate is going to do next. Weather, OK, we are not so clueless as we once were there, but climate is more like "economics" as a "science".

Posted by: Bemildred | May 23 2021 8:35 utc | 208

Bemildred @ 210

The global winter hypothesis was never promoted by more than a handful of scientists. That they were busy doing promotional work should have been a clue. Of course that nonsense was enormously popular in the media. Sensationalism always sells. Science reporting is always ridiculous. Anyone who works in journalism is by definition innumerate.

It is possible to be oriented in the world. Bad actors like Greta Thunberg or Michael Mann do make the task more difficult. If you choose to throw up your hands and know nothing that is your choice. A choice that is strongly encouraged by your owners.

The other doom scenarios you cite past the global winter poppycock sound like comic books.

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2021 11:52 utc | 209

Looks as though someone is trying to start a wave. Ever seen people doing a wave at a stadium. Of course you have.
Kinda funny when someone tries to start a wave and it fizzles - one sot standing up like a sore thumb trying
to get others to copy her flailing motions.

Looks like a Cancel Greenwald's Substack Subscriptions Wave
was barely a ripple.

Posted by: librul | May 23 2021 12:45 utc | 210

@ oldhippie

You evidently know a few things about weather information. For quite a few years I have been looking for an online source of proper meteorological charts, as opposed to the dumbed down crap that passes under that description these days.

When I was young any broadsheet newspaper used to have a daily meteorological chart showing pressure contours, frontal systems, wind direction and speed, etc. Nowadays all you get is a little map with useless icons on it, which is not much use for telling what is really happening. The last time I made a concerted search for such charts I seem to remember I found a few things for certain parts of the world, but not where I was interested (primarily Asia-Pacific). Plenty of satellite imagery available, but few pressure charts.

If you happen to know of a source for such charts, do please tell!

Posted by: BM | May 23 2021 13:21 utc | 211

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2021 11:52 utc | 21

I don't want to argue, and I was certainly not selling global winter, but I do feel I have to assert that skepticism is quite a comfortable and well-oriented place to be.

Posted by: Bemildred | May 23 2021 13:31 utc | 212

BM @ 213

Try On homepage click hourly forecasts. After that the choices are, I think, self explanatory.

I know the maps you miss. I miss them too. No exact analog AFAIK.

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2021 13:31 utc | 213

Misconceptions about Trump; left and right!

Nothing Trump has done during his presidency makes it LESS LIKELY THAT HE WASN'T A RUSSIAN ASSET.
Sending arms to Ukraine was against his latent wishes. That is to say, he couldn't do much to stop it. Arming Ukraine was an overwhelming Congress decision that he couldn't oppose or veto.
Opposing NS2 resulted from Trump being as always fixated by business deals and the opportunity of making money for America by instead selling expensive US LNG to Germany.

Posted by: Aren Haich | May 23 2021 13:37 utc | 214

BM@ 213

The other good choice is

On homepage scroll up to ‘view all charts’ and click. Click on any map. In upper right it says Select Dimensions. Third choice on the dropdown is area, meaning geographical area. There is way more information than you need or want, it is all there.

Posted by: Oldhippie | May 23 2021 13:54 utc | 215

Many thanks oldhippie, I'll try both sites.

Posted by: BM | May 23 2021 14:58 utc | 216

@ Posted by: _K_C_ | May 23 2021 5:59 utc | 205

All of it. Greenwald's article essentially talks about Russiagate, which is an 100% American domestic phenomenon.

The Republicans know Trump is not a Putin puppet. The Democrats know Biden is not a Putin puppet. What's on the table here is the fratricide dispute between Republicans and Democrats for the entire American Empire, the battle for the Soul of America, i.e. the dispute to see which political faction is more American than the other.

Posted by: vk | May 23 2021 15:40 utc | 217

It's the prospect of fall from within that spooks the American people the most, not the prospect of a fall from without. It's much more comforting to any American to think of any domestic division as fruit of the intervention of a foreign enemy than to simply admit the self-evident fact that his/her Empire is crumbling.

That's why, when Gleen Greenwald, Ted Cruz etc. talk about domestic policy with foreign policy jargon and language, they're actually moderating themselves, trying to bring their people - the American people - back together. Even if at the cost of WWIII.

Posted by: vk | May 23 2021 1:06 utc | 203 <= Not sure Americans are fearful of civil war from within?

Oligarch and corporate knee-breakers in charge and the yes-sir-officials who conduct government affairs in secrecy and deceit and who use the government to accommodate the private will of Oligarchs might fear civil war? I don't know, their plans and fears are determined in secret?

The architecture of the American soul was rafted in civil war. Its possible a tyranny might once again deny Americans their freedom and independence, but its not likely MSM propaganda or rule by tyranny can change by "deception or force" the architecture of the American soul (infiltrate America with foreigners noted)? The architecture of the American soul embodies democracy, human rights, equal justice for all, and the un-coerced right of the majority-of-all-of-the-to-be-governed to determinate who it is they wish to govern. As long as the government defends the essence of the American soul and holds corporate monopoly powers at bay, I think it need not fear civil war even in the case of catastrophic economic downfalls.

Historically, Americans identify corporate anything as the work of tyrants <=governments are instituted to control the tyrants and to defend human rights. When governments fail corrective actions are possible.

The American soul developed during the first 11 years (Articles of Confederation government[1776-1788], John Hanson, first President of the USA); in the period between the 1776 Declaration of Independence (which ended UK government rule as proxy for British Corporate rule) and the ratification of the constitution of the USA (1788) (which installed an Americanized version of corporate influence and oligarch control over government and commerce).

The Bill of rights were forced into the USA constitution by tyranny experienced Americans; very much against the will of those who wrote the constitution. Human rights (Bill of Rights) including the right of self determination are at the heart, mind and soul of American acceptance of any government. I just don't see civil war in sight.

Posted by: snake | May 23 2021 15:57 utc | 218

Mr. snake | May 23 2021 15:57 utc | 220

And pray, tell, how did this architecture of WASP soul became entwined with Judeo-Christianity and later, the Enemy of Islam?

Posted by: Fyi | May 23 2021 16:11 utc | 219

Posted by: steven t johnson | May 22 2021 13:02 utc | 188

Sorry I neglected to address the laughable notion of the "rest of the horrible stuff gets released if he's arrested"

Come on steven. I tend to appreciate your commentary. But I've laid it out here in much starker relief than anyone else. Essentially what you're saying is that the only thing likely to be revealed if Greenwald were ever to be pro/per-secuted by the US security state is that his Daddy Warbucks and himself actively covered up for SOME of the Empire's actions while they were colleagues. DUH.

I think there's more. Enough to cast Greenwald's reputation into complete disrepute. He sat on shit that could've been called bombshell material while he was sifting through the Snowden files and reporting as an "independent" "fearless" journalist on Daddy Pierre (and the US surveillance state's) dime.

There's a lot more to it than you're willing to consider.

Posted by: _K_C_ | May 25 2021 6:47 utc | 220

_K_C_@220 argues that if Greenwald is a moderate reformer who refuses to wreak real damage on the state, but seeks only to reform the abuses of free speech and state surveillance etc., therefore Greenwald is an agent of the CIA or NSA or somebody nefarious. (Around MoA, that could include the Elders of Zion.) That is non sequitur Greenwald compares to Julian Assange as Snowden compares to Chelsea Manning. But Snowden, despite his right-wing leanings (see the Oliver Stone movie) was not an NSA project. And nor is Greenwald.

And, as aggravating as it is to see that freedom of the press is really only true for those who own one---like Pierre Omidyar--- that means Omidyar is a genuine example of bourgeois freedom of the press. AS such, Omidyar is a dissident voice in the bourgeoisie. That's what bourgeois freedom means, not that Greenwald is an employee of the security services. Bourgeois democracy is by its sell-by date, so it is inevitable that a petty bourgeois like Greenwald could not, would not and by his retrograde standards should not be "irresponsible." Bourgeois democracy calls for class collaboration. If you have illusions about how "democracy," without meaningful qualifiers like bourgeois or proletarian, and you think "democracy" just needs to be added to public banking and antitrust legislation and welfare programs to usher in the socialist millennium, only then I think can you wax wroth at a petty bourgeois like Greenwald being petty. For my part, I think, Greenwald's not one of us, never was, but within the narrow, narrow limits will occasionally let slip useful information. It's not like honest journalism and freedom of the press will cure the ills of bourgeois democracy, after all.

Posted by: steven t johnson | May 25 2021 14:12 utc | 221

Greenwald got his fame by dabbling in the spook world, but he isn't very bright. He allowed Micah Lee to write a juvenile smear hit piece against Julian Assange for the intercept---which I'm sure the CIA appreciated---and denied any editorial responsibility and did not repudiate the piece. Later, when Assange was arrested, Greenwald immediately jumped into bed with Micah Lee to publically don the hair shirt and decry the injustice---as if Micah Lee hadn't had a hand in doing the CIA's dirty work, purposefully or as a useful idiot. Greenwald saw on contradiction in this. It raised no red flags for him. If the X is not clearly marked on the treasure map, Greenwald doesn't find it.

What offends Greenwald? Not the character assasination of this generations greatest digital rebel. Junior high school mean girls bitchiness appeals to Greenwald's gay psyche. That's just girl talk.

No, Greenwald was offended by the direction of the Intercept only when one of his articles was forced into editorial limbo by people he deemed to be Democratic Party operatives. This is the logic of an aparatchik who has no ideological center. He doesn't care if the Leader lives or dies. He doesn't care if the Republic falls. He cares if some dust gets blown into his typewriter---and he wants the cleaning lady fired!

How did that happen? How did the journalism outlet Greenwald help found get filled with CIA useful idiots and DNC operatives. It was through Greenwalds own incompetence, his naivety about how power works. He probably still thinks his exit from the Intercept was his idea, rather than the plan all along, executed to perfection.

But damn the world to hell if a DNC operative tries to edit his article! Then you watch out.

Posted by: Dr. Jones Town | May 26 2021 1:26 utc | 222

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