World View: Gorbachev Warns of New Cold War as Germany Commemorates Fall of Berlin Wall

World View: Gorbachev Warns of New Cold War as Germany Commemorates Fall of Berlin Wall

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Germany commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall
  • The reunification of Germany
  • Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warns of a new cold war

Germany commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

7000 illuminated balloons retrace the path of the Berlin Wall (DW)
7000 illuminated balloons retrace the path of the Berlin Wall (DW)

Some 7,000 illuminated balloons are lighting the streets of Berlinthis weekend, retracing the path of a 15 km (9 mile) stretch of theBerlin Wall, whose 3.6 meter concrete slabs split Berlin in two forthirty years. Some 2 million people are filling the streets of Berlinthis weekend, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9,1989.

When the German Nazis were defeated in 1945, the survivors wanted tomake sure that the Nazis could never rise again to fight another war.So the four victorious allies divided Germany into four sectors, orzones of occupation: the American, British, French and Soviet zones.The city of Berlin, the Nazi capital city, which lay inside the Sovietzone, was also split into four zones. In the years that followed,the three western zones were reunited into the country ofWest Germany, leaving the Soviet zone to become East Germany.

It quickly became obvious that the two countries were as different asnight and day. People in West Germany had freedom and a high standardof living under capitalism. People in Communist East Germany were inpoverty and repressed, living under the Stalinist model of a commandeconomy, found today only in Cuba and North Korea. During the years1949-1961, some 2.5 million out of East Germany’s 17 million peoplefled to West Germany, both humiliating the Communists and drainingEast Germany’s best and brightest.

On August 12-13, 1961, the Communists ran a barbed wire fence downthrough Berlin, splitting it into two. When East and West Berlinerswork up on Sunday morning, August 13, 1961, they suddenly discoveredthat they could no longer cross over to the other side. Families weresplit. Neighborhoods were split. The barbed wire was soon replacedwith cinder blocks, and the Berlin Wall was complete. Anyone tryingto cross would be shot on sight. Deutsche-Welle and VOA

The reunification of Germany

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was Technology Editor ofInformationWeek magazine, and I happened to visit the Hannover FairCeBIT, the largest computer show in the world. This was the firsttime that East Germans were able to go to this show, and their mindswere blown. Like every other Communist country, Communist EastGermany had been stuck in the 1950s. (This is because alltransactions are controlled by government regulations, and you caneasily prove mathematically that as a country’s population growsexponentially, the number of regulators required to manage the economygrows exponentially faster. And so communist countries have no choicebut to freeze the economy, allowing no changes. China got around thisproblem essentially by setting up a fascist economy — capitalism andpricing freedom, but repression and no political freedom.)

One Finanzgruppe manager at the show told me of the pain he felt whenhe spoke to visitors from East Germany:

They have no understanding for business, and we haveto help them. They visit here and within an hour they have ablackout — it’s too much for them. Their savings banks have noelectronic devices to do the work. They do all their work withonly mechanical devices.

Finanzgruppe was doing its duty willingly, like every bank in WestGermany. It worked by finding a similar bank in the East and forminga partnership. They give the partner bank an IBM PC compatiblecomputer, basic software including spreadsheet, data base, wordprocessing, accounting software, and financial service programs.Finanzgruppe also provided training and consulting services. “Theydon’t have to begin making payments for a year, and then only if theycan,” I was told.

It was inevitable that the two Germanys were going to reunite, andmany people were frightened, including the French and the Poles andothers that had been massacred by the Nazis. The German nationalanthem still began with the words, “Deutschland, Deutschland überalles, Über alles in der Welt,” meaning “Germany over everything.Germany over the world.” I recall a TV interview of Henry Kissinger,born in 1923 as a German Jew, who said, “I will be able to die happyif I never live to see Germany reunited.”

In fact, reunification happened rather quickly, like the fall of theBerlin Wall itself. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics,this was an Awakening era climax, like the resignation of RichardNixon. A lot of people keep hoping that the same thing will happentoday in Korea, reuniting the North and South. But this is agenerational Crisis era, and Korea will not be reunited without amajor war.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warns of a new cold war

Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev is in Berlinthis weekend, taking part in the commemoration ceremonies. Gorbachevis well respected and even loved in Germany because of something heDIDN’T do — when the Berlin Wall started falling, he didn’t send introops to shoot everyone in sight. He let it happen bloodlessly.

So the Germans are likely to listen carefully to Gorbachev’s warningto the West about causing another Cold War.

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.According to Gorbachev in a speech on Saturday, the leaders of thewestern world were intoxicated with euphoria of triumph, and theyadopted anti-Russian policies that eventually led to the currentcrisis:

Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads ofWestern leaders. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and thelack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership anddomination of the world, refusing to heed words of caution frommany of those present here. The events of the past months areconsequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’swill and fait accompli while ignoring the interests ofone’s partners.

Gorbachev said the West had made mistakes that upset Russia with theenlargement of NATO, with its actions in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq,Libya, Kosovo and Syria and with plans for a missile defense system.Referring to Ukraine, he said:

To put it metaphorically, a blister has now turnedinto a bloody, festering wound. And who is suffering the mostfrom what’s happening? I think the answer is more than clear: Itis Europe.

Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world, Europehas turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition forthe spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict. Theconsequence inevitably is Europe’s weakening at a time when othercenters of power and influence are gaining momentum. If thiscontinues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs andgradually become irrelevant.

Gorbachev advised the West to tone down its anti-Russian rhetoric, butthen he simply excused the rhetoric of Russia’s president VladimirPutin:

Despite the harshness of his criticism of the Westand the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desireto find a way to lower tensions, and ultimately to build a newbasis for partnership.

Gorbachev’s double-standard — criticizing the West’s rhetoric whileexcusing Putin’s rhetoric — illustrates the confusion in Gorbachev’smessage. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, he makesthe same mistake that many others make in this generational Crisisera, by assuming that if everyone makes an effort to be nice andsweet, then everyone will compromise, just the way they did in the 80sand 90s, and that isn’t going to happen. People in Russia and theWest have become far more nationalistic than they were in the 80s and90s, and not willing to compromise.

However, recall that before World War II, Russia was our bitter enemy;during WWII, Russia was our close ally; after WWII, Russia was ourbitter enemy. As I’ve been saying for years, in the coming Clash ofCivilizations world war, Russia, India and Iran will be our allies,versus our enemies, China, Pakistan and the Sunni countries.Generational Dynamics predicts that these alliances are alreadydetermined, whether anyone follows Gorbachev’s advice or not.Russia Today and VOA

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Germany, Berlin Wall, Britain, France,West Germany, East Germany, North Korea, Cuba, Finanzgruppe,Hannover Fair CeBIT, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon,Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev
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