by Rakib Ehsan
Saturday, 16
January 2021
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19:32

The election of Armin Laschet is deeply worrying

The new CDU chairman has shown a soft-heartedness for autocratic regimes
by Rakib Ehsan
The new CDU chairman has shown a soft-heartedness for autocratic regimes

Well ahead of any of the member-states in the sclerotic and inefficient European Union, the United Kingdom has established itself as one of the leading countries in terms of providing Covid-19 vaccinations to its citizens. Free to pursue an independent vaccination acquisition and provision policy, the benefits of Brexit for the UK are already coming to the fore.

And Saturday provided yet another feather in the Brexiteer cap. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany has elected Armin Laschet, premier of the populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia, as its new leader. Laschet is now well positioned to succeed Angela Merkel when she steps down as the Chancellor of Germany in September. Laschet is not guaranteed to be the CDU’s candidate for chancellor in Germany’s September elections, with health minister Jens Spahn and Markus Sӧder — leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) — tipped to throw their hat in the ring ahead of the final decision in the Spring. But his rise in German politics to chair of the country’s leading party, will raise eyebrows in London.

Laschet has shown a certain soft-heartedness for autocratic regimes and a readiness for entertaining authoritarians. He has previously warned against “anti-Putin populism” over the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. Despite ever-growing evidence of Russian-state interference in the political, legal, and economic systems of liberal democratic societies, Laschet has form in casting doubt over Moscow’s involvement in election meddling, disinformation campaigns, and malicious cyberattacks. Following the Salisbury poisoning of former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, Laschet publicly questioned the UK — a fellow NATO member — over pitting the blame for the attack at the door of the Kremlin.

While the UK is exploring the construction of liberal-democratic alliances which reduce collective strategic dependence on China, Laschet has championed his state’s economic ties with Chinese corporations and supports a deepening of Berlin-Beijing relations. He adopted a clear economics-over-security position on the presence of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in Germany’s 5G infrastructure, arguing that the exclusion of Huawei would be detrimental to German business interests and the country’s technological development.

The prospect of Kanzler Laschet is far from desired in Britain’s foreign-policy and intelligence communities. It is certainly worth noting that recently-appointed MI5 Director General, Ken McCallum, pinpointed both Russian- and Chinese-state espionage when discussing the growing severity of foreign state-sponsored threats to British national security. It is difficult to consider a foreign politician of Laschet’s ilk as a trusted ally when it comes to confronting the CCP’s nefarious influence and the revisionist ambitions of Putin’s Russia.

The election of Laschet as chair of the CDU only serves to widen UK-German fault-lines over Russia and China. And if his political rise in the EU’s dominant member-state, results in a broader softening of the EU’s relations with the CCP and the Kremlin, then Brexit will have been a necessary course of foreign-policy action for the UK.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

The domestic political implications of Laschet as the leader of the CDU are also profound. He is seen as the “Man Merkel” – he can be relied upon to continue along the path she has chosen. “No experiments” seemed to be the motto: the CDU delegates very clearly went for continuity and stability over trying something new.

Or going back to true conservative politics I should say. As far as I can gather, there is a real yearning among the party base to have true conservative politics rather than the leftwards drift Merkel has been performing over the last few years, leaving the party without a true profile. The disappointment over the election of the “weiter so” (“carry on as you were”) candidate has resulted in palpable disappointment among CDU voters.

Laschet might be able to hold the middle ground against the socialists and the greens and block a coalition down those lines in next year’s elections. However, I expect to see the CDU to haemorrhage voters, who will go to the AfD or FDP.

All in all, a bad choice.

stephen f.
stephen f.
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The “leftward drift” seems to be eastward…

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 year ago

Fascism is, always was, something which starts on the political Left (cf the career of Mussolini). This is a truth little known or published in today’s uneducated and partisan Academe.

For two decades and more it has been taking over all levers of power in the USA and now, with the Biden-Harris administration, is completely in the saddle. That country henceforth will resemble the other totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th century.

It appeals to the ruling caste throughout the western world; and that caste has lots of supporters. Some are beneficiaries, office-holders who do well out of enabling it. Others, the cannon-fodder rank and file – the mobs unleashed on the city streets and on Twitter, are angry unhappy Lefties who transfer their rage against their parents and a society with no beliefs, no goals, to strawmen political themes.

If the United Kingdom were awake and well led, it would be shoring up our defences on all fronts and seeking alliance with the few remaining countries on Earth where Freedom is a genuinely cherished principle.

J J
J J
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

You are correct that fascism starts on the Left.

The problem is, many people who think they are on the Right are actually on the Left. What they really want is a form of national socialism. Or socialism for white people.

These people, some of whom support parties such as UKIP or TBP, are likely to support a fascist candidate. The smarter people on the Left have spoken openly about how easy it should be able to convert these people to their cause.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

you seem to be more aware of the real threat. It is indeed the US. Censorship is censorship and the last few years have seen a move away against the primary ideology of old style liberalism ( the good kind). Just today Apple is being sued for not banning Telegram from its severs. This means that not only is Telegram not being treated as a platform, or a carrier ( like a phone company), but the company that merely allows the app to be downloaded is considered responsible. If that goes through I can’t see any social media working on mobile phones.

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
1 year ago

While I need a lot of persuading about the UK’s rather supine pro-US stance regarding Putin and the laughable “Novachuk” allegations, I’m impressed by the speed with which Britain is rolling out the vaccine. The EU took a policy decision that all vaccines would be purchased on behalf of the member states by the Commission to in order to use the clout of the Union to keep prices down and to prevent competition among member states for limited supplies. The vaccines were supposed to be doled out on a per capita basis so everyone got equal shares. So how come the Germans got 60% more than their population merited? And the French, apparently, weren’t behind the door either.

miles1uk9
miles1uk9
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

My understanding is that despite signing an international agreement with their EU partners they broke it, in a limited way, in September by a direct purchase of 60m doses from the manufacturer. So much for holding to international agreements!

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  miles1uk9

What is new?
France and Germany have broken all the EU rules they have made whenever it suited them. All along.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

Everybody in the EU is equal. But some are more equal than others!

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

A few years back, they voted themselves a 92% salary increase in one year, across the board!

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

“in order to use the clout of the Union to keep prices down” … for the Oxford vaccine that is being sold at cost?

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

The others are not.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago

Hasn’t history shown that prosperity seeking always leads Germany to tyrants? They have a deep horror of their own past, let us say hair-shirt grade horror, but seemingly that does not apply to other, modern, autocrat, globe conquering, nations I suppose – because they did fight the Romans to the last only to give in to China Hegemony for faster porn on their cell phones.

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
1 year ago

German politicians have some strange tendencies. I think the elite want to model themselves on Gerard Schroeder, who makes millions with his cozy Russian oil and gas connections.

They are also really lazy. No one said boo to the autocratic pronouncements of Merkel. Not only was Parliament never consulted on big issues, such as opening wide the doors to migrants (official numbers include one person per family, who is then able to bring parents and siblings, as well as wife and children) but their parliament didn’t even bother to follow up with trying to have a say after the fact, or about how things should go later.

They are also so lazy, switching out jobs as posts become available, that they happily spend money on recent college graduates working for American consulting firms, like McKinney, for advice, when they have no expertise to hold their job. I read one bit of onsultring advice, telling Ursula von der Leyen that defense should spend more money on consulting, to get the best advice. The cheek! Von der Leyen spent so much on consulting, that shhe failed up to heading the E.U. to avoid scandal. From her role making sure that the army got new maternity uniforms for women and trans women, she certainly needed more help about actual military strategy. From von Bismarck to Von der Leyen was a Serious drop in competence, right?! Then there are all the “leaders” who played politicians in interminable years at uni before entering party politics.

They never worried about an army. “Teenage” Angela could spend “her own money” on migrants, because Uncle Sam, if not mom and dad, paid for defense.

Their tanks don’t work. Their guns don’t work. They have few aircraft that are functional. OF COURSE they are playing nice with dictators. They have not got their act together militarily, and they need oil because too much is going out on their social welfare projects, and they need to remember to manufacture.

Meine Meinung nach, or, in my opinion.

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
1 year ago

We’re my comments on Germany’s politics that I wrote here yesterday banned? Test.

JEAN RANC
JEAN RANC
1 year ago

It would seem that Laschet might inject a saving dose of sanity into Europe…if not mindless Brits & Americans…almost all of whom have been so steeped in Russophobic delusions by their greedy ruling elites in need of an Enemy to Blame for their incompetence that they’ve become little more than cartoon fodder…as they spin their media to distract their citizens from the fact that they, not the Russians, have sabotaged the once sound ship, Democracy. For shame, for shame…as it was more than 25 million Russians & other Soviet citizens, who died to save themselves, all of Europe & US from the Nazis! And now, paradoxically, it may now be the Germans, who had the courage to face the mirror & admit what monsters they had become, then rose like a phoenix from the ashes of WWII to lead at least Europe, if not the Anglo-American deluded duo, to join the emerging multi-polar world order.

stephen f.
stephen f.
1 year ago
Reply to  JEAN RANC

You should work in Brussels.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  JEAN RANC

Russia did indeed make a huge sacrifice to see off Nazism. To say they saved the whole of Europe and the US from the Nazi’s is laughable.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
1 year ago
Reply to  JEAN RANC

Straight from RT archives..

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
1 year ago

This article, if you read German, points to how Germany seems to easily leave out [email protected] or reviews by Parliament. Finally someone with authority said this, so it is a topic in thE paper. Yet it has long been thought about by people, if you start with the four oldest comments.

https://www.welt.de/debatte

I tried and failed in another article to point out how badly served Germany’s defense was served under von der Leyen vs. von Bismarck. Maybe someone confused him with someone bad from WWII?

walshmr
walshmr
1 year ago

“Free to pursue an independent vaccination acquisition and provision policy, the benefits of Brexit for the UK are already coming to the fore.”; given that error one must wonder about the est.