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European states destroying themselves with servile US obedience

European states destroying themselves with servile US obedience

Shane Quinn

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This century alone has borne witness to former Warsaw Pact members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania not only joining the European Union, but also NATO – an imperial branch of the United States with aggressive, expansionist ideals. The Baltic States are situated on or nearby Russia’s border, and are currently home to hundreds of US and NATO troops stationed there as a “deterrence” against what is perceived as “increased Russian aggression”.

It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at the recklessness of such policies, as these nations’ leaders willingly endanger the safety of their own citizens. Not to mention throwing away any chance of sovereignty or independence by opening their borders to Western imperial power – welcoming American, British, German soldiers, and so on, and exposing their populations to neoliberal globalisation in the shape of the IMF.

What the Baltic leaders, and others, should be doing is engaging in constructive dialogue with Russia that would be of far greater benefit to the security and wellbeing of their people.

Instead it is one case after another of jumping aboard the gravy train as the money rolls in from the West, and into the hands of elite power while populations are cut adrift. Meanwhile, relations across the border continue sinking to dangerous lows as virulently anti-Russian messages are widely expressed.

It has reached a point in which Estonia’s Prime Minister, Juri Ratas, last month openly discussed the possibility of deploying US surface-to-air missiles in the country – directed at Russia. Ratas was enthusiastically mulling over the instalment of the Patriot missiles with US Vice President Mike Pence. The Estonian leader said the “USA is indispensable to ensuring the security of our immediate neighbourhood, aswell as all of Europe”.

Security for “all of Europe” from what one can only speculate in bewilderment. Security from the US would seem more appropriate judging by the superpower’s “indispensable” record in previous decades. Unfortunately for Ratas, Lithuania have already won the race for deployment of US Patriot missiles – with the “sophisticated missile defence system” having been erected there over a month ago.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite gave full backing to this clear breach of her country’s sovereignty, saying, “The speed of response to an airborne threat may be crucial. Therefore, it would be appropriate to have such weapons in the Baltic region”.

An “airborne threat” from where one can again but guess.  The insanity behind these actions shows no sign of abating. Increasing militarisation of this area is leading to a rising threat of collisions and other incidents that could escalate into something much more serious. In June for example, a US reconnaissance plane and a Russian fighter jet came within several feet of colliding over the Baltic Sea. What would the reaction have been if the aircraft had collided?

Naturally the incident was framed as an example of “Russian aggression”, with few querying why an American reconnaissance plane was operating thousands of miles from Washington, and so close to Russian territory.

Russia, and China for that matter, are acutely aware that US missile “defence” systems are in reality attack systems – a first strike weapon designed to establish strategic superiority and exemption from retaliation. What’s more, these aggressive actions are aimed at a country (Russia) that has been repeatedly invaded over the past two centuries – by Napoleon and Hitler to name two.

Judging by Western commentary, Russian President Vladimir Putin has no right to be concerned about such hostile operations. Instead the blame is put on “Russian incitement” when in reality the incitement is coming from elsewhere – a neutral observer could not help but notice the vast hypocrisy and deceitfulness at work here.

To gain some true perspective, John Mearsheimer, a professor at University of Chicago wrote that, “After all, the United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western hemisphere, much less on its borders.” Russia, if anything, have been remarkably tolerant in the face of ongoing provocations.

Mearsheimer noted, “The West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the US and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics”. A very flawed view it seems, but not that such sensible arguments are ever relayed to the Western public by the corporate media.

One of the key reasons for NATO’s existence was outlined by its then Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer in 2007, that “NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West”. NATO is present to benefit elite Western power along with puppet leaders who, one can assume, are not left out in the cold [Ratas, Grybauskaite, etc].

Nor is the crisis limited to the Baltic states. Earlier this year four thousand US troops arrived in Poland, along with 250 tanks, the largest such deployment since the end of the Cold War. This has prompted outrage from Russia at such haphazard manoeuvres – which will lead to “US troops [being] permanently stationed along Russia’s western border for the first time”.

The Polish President Andrzej Duda was apparently unconcerned at yet another blow to his nation’s independence, welcoming the American soldiers by saying, “Today I am certain we will not be in danger”. Poland – another former Warsaw Pact member – joined NATO in 1999, before becoming part of the EU five years later.

Last month it was reported there are about 45,000 US and NATO troops throughout the European mainland – from Bulgaria in the south, northwards to Romania, through Slovakia and up to the Baltics. They are “staging war rehearsals for a Russian invasion”. In 1951, NATO’s then supreme commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote that “this whole project [NATO] will have failed” if US soldiers had not been withdrawn from Europe within 10 years. It has long become clear why it has failed.

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AM HantskfirVicente de la FuenteBrian De PaoloVoltaire Recent comment authors
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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at the recklessness of such policies, as these nations’ leaders willingly endanger the safety of their own citizens”. Why would the leaders care? They are gambling that there will be no outbreak of war – and, if there is, they will be safe. Whether in Florida, Hawaii, Argentina, New Zealand, or – if the worst comes to the worst – sharing the American leaders’ luxurious mineshafts. The real question is why the citizens of those countries tolerate such “leaders”, who absolutely do not care about the citizens’ interests. What has… Read more »

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

“Elites in the US and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics”.

Not so! They have not been “blindsided by events” at all. Everything is easy to understand as soon as you realize that they have no concern at all for their national interests, or for the interests of their citizens. They have got what they want, as individuals, and their countries can shrivel up and die for all they care.

Brian De Paolo
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Brian De Paolo

If you put a missile defense (aggressive) system in your country….you become a target…its as simple as that….there is no reason for Russia to be aggressive..they own half the planet already just in there own territory…they don’t need the headaches of controlling other nations…

cortisol
Guest
cortisol

Some argue that missile defense is for defense only. This is not true. Think of it as a coin with two sides. The purpose of defending is to make attacking easier. If you increase defense, you are more likely to attack as you perceive it to be safer. So it is an offensive system, nothing less nothing more.

Anyway, conventional missile defense can’t touch the Iskanders or the new RS-26 (two stage faster, lighter, flatter, shorter version of Yars) missiles, which have been precisely created to counter it.

Brian De Paolo
Guest
Brian De Paolo

Agreed

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

The fabricated lie that Russia is a military threat to Europe forms part of deliberate and sordid US policy to divide and rule Europe…Even the US Joints Chiefr of Staff say that Russia does not pose a strategic threat to Europe… As a Western European, the sooner Poland and the the Baltics get over their infantile Russophobia and learn to behave like civilised people who have got over historical conflicts, the better… … In the meantime, the stream of propaganda and lies coming from the US is worthy of Goebbels and destroys any idea that the US is anything but… Read more »

thnkfryrslf
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thnkfryrslf

All of America’s threats to sovereign nations start off with a lie.

Great Expectations
Guest
Great Expectations

It’s a bad habit they learned from the British elite in the late 19th Century.

thnkfryrslf
Guest
thnkfryrslf

And the British elite are still lying.

Great Expectations
Guest
Great Expectations

Indeed. And robbing and killing.

Nancyrcockerham
Guest
Nancyrcockerham

Google is paying 97$ per hour! work for few hours and have longer with friends & family!
On tuesday I got a Smart new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
:!ap112d:
➽➽
➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobs402CashShopDesigns/GetPay$97/Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!ap112l..,..

Great Expectations
Guest
Great Expectations

Agreed. When compared with Hungary’s intelligent and measured approach, the Baltics and Poland are a long way behind.

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

Agreed…

I recently visited Hungary and found them balanced and civilised….

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

“the sooner Poland and the the Baltics get over their infantile Russophobia and learn to behave like civilised peopl” You clearly do not know these scummy tribes. They are the Khazar Jews of Eastern Europe. They cannot be redeemed.

samo war
Guest
samo war

NATO is pssychopats mafia club ?

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Why is Serbia so important to the CIA? Links in a tangent way as no doubt the EU will roll over and support yet another regime change/colour revolution, war in poor Serbia.

BREAKING NEWS: OPERATION TARGET SERBIA, CIA WORKING WITH FASCIST MACEDONIA REGIME, SERBIA MUST FALL !!!

http://nrt24.ru/en/news/breaking-news-operation-target-serbia-cia-working-fascist-macedonia-regime-serbia-must-fall

Guy
Member
Guy

Am presently reading the book “The Lost Hegemon -Whom the Gods Would Destroy ” by F.William Engdahl and into the section on what transpired in the Yugoslavia war and destruction of this country .I never knew much about that part of geopolitics and I must say ,the author is very well informed with tons of links in the book .Very enlightening to say the least . I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the Middle East,Levant ,USSR and now Russia and neighboring states. As usual ,what we were told is not what happened . When… Read more »

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Thanks Guy and for recommending the book. They said the Kosovo War was to get Monica and the cigars out of the headlines, however, like you, I did not know much about the geopolitics of the time and wish to know more. I will look out for the book. Must admit, F. William Engdahl’s article on ‘Kiev and Right Sector Kristalnecht Odessa’, still stays with me. One of the best articles, with regards The Odessa Trade Union Massacres, on 2 May 2014, that I came and have come across. I have just gone to get a copy of the book,… Read more »

Great Expectations
Guest
Great Expectations

Interesting website. I haven’t come across this one before. Thanks.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The talmudo satanist jews hate Christians. The Christians they hate most are Orthodox.

kfir
Guest
kfir

Obama did his share to support the Nazi regime in Ukraine.

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Interesting timing, reading your comment, just after reading this article. He would do anything for his mentors Brzezinsky and Soros and didn’t the US also vote with Ukraine, in 2016 again to support the N*zi Party?

In 2014, Barack Obama voted against UN anti-Nazi resolution (Video)
Obama was protecting the only nazi regime in the world… http://theduran.com/in-2014-barack-obama-voted-against-un-anti-nazi-resolution-video/

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

Those brain-dead leaders are incapable, or unwilling, to realize that by now – if Russia really had wanted, it would have marched in long time ago. Kind of amusing that Lithuania is building a fence to keep Russia out. As I said…brain-dead.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Tribal lesbo-sister of “Fuck the EU Nuland” – “Fuck Europe and Russia” Dalia Grabuskikeass. LOL Perfect. Handmaiden of Satanyahu.

Vicente de la Fuente
Guest
Vicente de la Fuente

I have nothing to think at; I all ready know the amount of late motives about. All ways provoking, is a large amount of many spend about… Vfg

kfir
Guest
kfir

Russia is once again an enemy of convenience, DC , Wall Street, etc. always need an imaginary enemy to spread fear & panic among the stupid taxpayer who gladly empty their pockets “to be protected from the ENEMY” and those fat cats rake billions of $$$$s; when the CIA is supplying the missiles to NK is another “ENEMY” just as NATO gave Jet engines and Marine Diesel Engines to the Soviets to be our ENEMIES. Now NATO is nothing but, a vulgar mercenary force, Salvadorian soldiers (a tiny country on the pacific Ocean) get paid $163.00 per month to go… Read more »

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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part II – news fatigue across America

The daily barrage of Russiagate news may have been a tool to wear down the American public as the Deep State plays the long game for control.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Presently there is a media blitz on across the American news media networks. As was the case with the Russiagate investigation while it was ongoing, the conclusions have merely given rise to a rather unpleasant afterbirth in some ways as all the parties involve pivot their narratives. The conclusion of Russiagate appears to be heavily covered, yet if statistics here at The Duran are any indication, there is a good possibility that the public is absolutely fatigued over this situation.

And, perhaps, folks, that is by design.

Joseph Goebbels had many insights about the use of the media to deliver and enforce propaganda. One of his quotes runs thus:

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.

and another:

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

If there has ever been a narrative that employed these two principles, it is Russiagate.

A staggering amount of attention has been lavished on this nothing-burger issue. Axios reports that an analytics company named Newswhip tallied an astounding 533,074 web articles published about Russia and President Trump and the Mueller investigation (a number which is being driven higher even now, moment by moment, ad nauseam). Newsbusters presently reports that the networks gave 2,284 minutes to the coverage of this issue, a number which seems completely inaccurate because it is much too low (38 hours at present), and we are waiting for a correction on this estimate.

Put it another way: Are you sick of Russiagate? That is because it has dominated the news for over 675 days of nearly wall-to-wall news cycles. The political junkies on both sides are still pretty jazzed up about this story – the Pro-Trump folks rejoicing over the presently ‘cleared’ status, while of course preparing for the upcoming Democrat / Deep State pivot, and the Dems in various levels of stress as they try to figure out exactly how to pivot in such a manner that they do not lose face – or pace – in continuing their efforts to rid their lives of the “Irritant-in-Chief” who now looks like he is in the best position of his entire presidency.

But a lot of people do not care. They are tired.

I hate to say it (and yes, I am speaking personally and directly), but this may be a dangerous fatigue. Here is why:

The barrage of propaganda on this issue was never predicated on any facts. It still isn’t. However, as we noted a few days ago, courtesy of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, at present, 53% of US registered voters believe that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

That means 53% of the voting public now believes something that is totally false.

Many of these people are probably simply exhausted from the constant coverage of this allegation as well. So when the news came out Sunday night that there was no evidence of collusion and no conclusive evidence, hence, of obstruction of justice by the Trump Administration – in other words, this whole thing was a nothing burger – will this snap those 53% back into reality?

Probably not. Many of them may well be so worn down that they no longer care. Or worse, they are so worn out that they will continue to believe the things they are told that sustain the lie, despite its being called out as such.

C.S. Lewis wrote about this peculiarity of human nature, in particular in the seventh book of his Chronicles of Narnia. After a prolonged and fierce assault on the sensibilities of the Narnians with the story that Aslan, the Christ figure of this world, was in fact an angry overlord, selling the Narnians themselves into slavery, and selling the whole country out to its enemy, with the final touch being that Aslan and the devilish deity of the enemy nation were in fact one and the same, the Narnians were unable to snap back to reality when it was shown conclusively and clearly that this was in fact not the case.

The fear that was instilled from the use of false narratives persisted and blocked the animals from reality.

Lewis summarized it this way through the thoughts of Tirian, the lead character in this tale:

Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up as a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one. He had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures and everyone would have turned against the Ape and, perhaps after a scuffle with the Calormenes, the whole thing would have been over. But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing. How many other Narnians might turn the same way as the Dwarfs?

This is part of the toll this very long propaganda campaign is very likely to take on many Americans. It takes being strongly informed and educated on facts to withstand the withering force of a narrative that never goes away. Indeed, if anything, it takes even more effort now, because the temptation of the pro-Trump side will be to retreat to a set of political talking points that, interestingly enough, validate Robert Mueller’s “integrity” when only a week ago they were attacking this as a false notion.

This is very dangerous, and even though Mr. Trump and his supporters won this battle, if they do not come at this matter in a way that shows education, and not merely the restating of platitudes and talking points that “should be more comfortable, now that we’ve won!”

The cost of Russiagate may be far higher than anyone wants it to be. And yes, speaking personally, I understand the fatigue. I am tired of this issue too. But the temptation to go silent may have already taken a lot of people so far that they will not accept the reality that has just been revealed.

Politics is a very fickle subject. Truth is extremely malleable for many politicians, and that is saying it very nicely. But this issue was not just politics. It was slander with a purpose, and that purpose is unchanged now. In fact things may even be more dangerous for the President – even risking his very life – because if the powers that are working behind the people trying to get rid of President Trump come to realize that they have no political support, they will move to more extreme measures. In fact this may have already been attempted.

We at The Duran reported a few months ago on a very strange but very compelling story that suggested that there was an attempted assassination and coup that was supposed to have taken place on January 17th of this year. It did not happen, but there was a parallel story that noted that the President may have been targeted for assassination already no fewer than twelve times.  Hopefully this is just tinfoil-hat stuff. But we have seen that this effort to be rid of President Trump is fierce and it is extremely well-supported within its group. There is no reason to think that the pressure will lighten now that this battle has been lost.

The stakes are much too high, and even this long investigation may well have been part of the weaponry of the group we sometimes refer to as the “Deep State” in their effort to reacquire power, and in their effort to continue to pursue both a domestic and geopolitical agenda that has so far shown itself to be destructive to both individuals and nations all over the world.

Speculation? Yes. Needless? We hope so. This is a terrible possibility that hopefully no reasonable person wants to consider.

Honestly, folks, we do not know. But we had to put this out there for your consideration.

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Parliament Seizes Control Of Brexit From Theresa May

Zerohedge

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Schaeuble, Greece and the lessons learned from a failed GREXIT (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine a recent interview with the Financial Times given by Wolfgang Schäuble, where the former German Finance Minister, who was charged with finding a workable and sustainable solution to the Greek debt crisis, reveals that his plan for Greece to take a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone (in order to devalue its currency and save its economy) was met with fierce resistance from Brussels hard liners, and Angela Merkel herself.

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Via FT

“Look where we’re sitting!” says Wolfgang Schäuble, gesturing at the Berlin panorama stretching out beneath us. It is his crisp retort to those who say that Europe is a failure, condemned to a slow demise by its own internal contradictions. “Walk through the Reichstag, the graffiti left by the Red Army soldiers, the images of a destroyed Berlin. Until 1990 the Berlin Wall ran just below where we are now!”

We are in Käfer, a restaurant on the rooftop of the Reichstag. The views are indeed stupendous: Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz loom through the mist. Both were once in communist East Berlin, cut off from where we are now by the wall. Now they’re landmarks of a single, undivided city. “Without European integration, without this incredible story, we wouldn’t have come close to this point,” he says. “That’s the crazy thing.”

As Angela Merkel’s finance minister from 2009 to 2017, Schäuble was at the heart of efforts to steer the eurozone through a period of unprecedented turbulence. But at home he is most associated with Germany’s postwar political journey, having not only negotiated the 1990 treaty unifying East and West Germany but also campaigned successfully for the capital to move from Bonn.

For a man who has done so much to put Berlin — and the Reichstag — back on the world-historical map, it is hard to imagine a more fitting lunch venue. With its open-plan kitchen and grey formica tables edged in chrome, Käfer has a cool, functional aesthetic that is typical of the city. On the wall hangs a sketch by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric in 1995.

The restaurant has one other big advantage: it is easy to reach from Schäuble’s office. Now 76, he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, and mobility is an issue. Aides say he tends to avoid restaurants if he can, especially at lunchtime.

As we take our places, we talk about Schäuble’s old dream — that German reunification would be a harbinger of European unity, a step on the road to a United States of Europe. That seems hopelessly out of reach in these days of Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, Lega and the Five Star Movement in Italy.

Some blame Schäuble himself for that. He was, after all, the architect of austerity, a fiscal hawk whose policy prescriptions during the euro crisis caused untold hardship for millions of ordinary people, or so his critics say. He became a hate figure, especially in Greece. Posters in Athens in 2015 depicted him with a Hitler moustache below the words: “Wanted — for mass poverty and devastation”.

Schäuble rejects the criticism that austerity caused the rise of populism. “Higher spending doesn’t lead to greater contentment,” he says. The root cause lies in mass immigration, and the insecurities it has unleashed. “What European country doesn’t have this problem?” he asks. “Even Sweden. The poster child of openness and the willingness to help.”

But what of the accusation that he didn’t care enough about the suffering of the southern Europeans? Austerity divided the EU and spawned a real animus against Schäuble. I ask him how that makes him feel now. “Well I’m sad, because I played a part in all of that,” he says, wistfully. “And I think about how we could have done it differently.”

I glance at the menu — simple German classics with a contemporary twist. I’m drawn to the starters, such as Oldenburg duck pâté and the Müritz smoked trout. But true to his somewhat abstemious reputation, Schäuble has no interest in these and zeroes in on the entrées. He chooses Käfer’s signature veal meatballs, a Berlin classic. I go for the Arctic char and pumpkin.

Schäuble switches seamlessly back to the eurozone crisis. The original mistake was in trying to create a common currency without a “common economic, employment and social policy” for all eurozone member states. The fathers of the euro had decided that if they waited for political union to happen first they’d wait forever, he says.

Yet the prospects for greater political union are now worse than they have been in years. “The construction of the EU has proven to be questionable,” he says. “We should have taken the bigger steps towards integration earlier on, and now, because we can’t convince the member states to take them, they are unachievable.”

Greece was a particularly thorny problem. It should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place, Schäuble says. But when its debt crisis first blew up, it should have taken a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone — an idea he first floated with Giorgos Papakonstantinou, his Greek counterpart between 2009 and 2011. “I told him you need to be able to devalue your currency, you’re not competitive,” he says. The reforms required to repair the Greek economy were going to be “hard to achieve in a democracy”. “That’s why you need to leave the euro for a certain period. But everyone said there was no chance of that.”

The idea didn’t go away, though. Schäuble pushed for a temporary “Grexit” in 2015, during another round of the debt crisis. But Merkel and the other EU heads of government nixed the idea. He now reveals he thought about resigning over the issue. “On the morning the decision was made, [Merkel] said to me: ‘You’ll carry on?’ . . . But that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].”

It is an extraordinary revelation, one that highlights just how rocky his relationship with Merkel has been over the years. Schäuble has been at her side from the start, an éminence grise who has helped to resolve many of the periodic crises of her 13 years as chancellor. But it was never plain sailing.

“There were a few really bad conflicts where she knew too that we were on the edge and I would have gone,” he says. “I always had to weigh up whether to go along with things, even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do, as was the case with Greece, or whether I should go.” But his sense of duty prevailed. “We didn’t always agree — but I was always loyal.”

That might have been the case when he was a serving minister, but since becoming speaker of parliament in late 2017 he has increasingly distanced himself from Merkel. Last year, when she announced she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party that has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, Schäuble openly backed a candidate described by the Berlin press as the “anti-Merkel”. Friedrich Merz, a millionaire corporate lawyer who is the chairman of BlackRock Germany, had once led the CDU’s parliamentary group but lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002, quitting politics a few years later. He has long been seen as one of the chancellor’s fiercest conservative critics — and is a good friend of Schäuble’s.

Ultimately, in a nail-biting election last December, Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly beat Merz. The woman universally known as “AKK” is in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor when her fourth and final term ends in 2021.

I ask Schäuble if it’s true that he had once again waged a battle against Merkel and once again lost. “I never went to war against Ms Merkel,” he says. “Everybody says that if I’m for Merz then I’m against Merkel. Why is that so? That’s nonsense.”

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