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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 9-Nov-2014
9-Nov-14 World View -- Gorbachev warns of new cold war as Germany commemorates fall of Berlin Wall

Web Log - November, 2014

9-Nov-14 World View -- Gorbachev warns of new cold war as Germany commemorates fall of Berlin Wall

The reunification of Germany

This morning's key headlines from

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 Berlin this weekend, retracing the path of a 15 km (9 mile) stretch of the Berlin Wall, whose 3.6 meter concrete slabs split Berlin into two for thirty years. Some 2 million people are filling the streets of Berlin this weekend, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

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

It quickly became obvious that the two countries were as different as night and day. People in West Germany had freedom and a high standard of living under capitalism. People in Communist East Germany were in poverty and repressed, living under the Stalinist model of a command economy, found today only in Cuba and North Korea. During the years 1949-1961, some 2.5 million out of East Germany's 17 million people fled to West Germany, both humiliating the Communists and draining East Germany's best and brightest.

On August 12-13, 1961, the Communists ran a barbed wire fence down through Berlin, splitting it into two. When East and West Berliners work up on Sunday morning, August 13, 1961, they suddenly discovered that they could no longer cross over to the other side. Families were split. Neighborhoods were split. The barbed wire was soon replaced with cinder blocks, and the Berlin Wall was complete. Anyone trying to 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 of InformationWeek magazine, and I happened to visit the Hannover Fair CeBIT, the largest computer show in the world. This was the first time that East Germans were able to go to this show, and their minds were blown. Like every other Communist country, Communist East Germany had been stuck in the 1950s. (This is because all transactions are controlled by government regulations, and you can easily prove mathematically that that as a country's population grows exponentially, the number of regulators required to manage the economy grows exponentially faster. And so communist countries have no choice but to freeze the economy, allowing no changes. China got around this problem essentially by setting up a fascist economy -- capitalism and pricing freedom, but repression and no political freedom.)

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

"They have no understanding for business, and we have to help them. They visit here and within an hour they have a blackout -- it's too much for them. Their savings banks have no electronic devices to do the work. They do all their work with only mechanical devices."

Finanzgruppe was doing its duty willingly, like every bank in West Germany. It worked by finding a similar bank in the East and forming a partnership. They give the partner bank an IBM PC compatible computer, basic software including spreadsheet, data base, word processing, accounting software, and financial service programs. Finanzgruppe also provided training and consulting services. "They don't have to begin making payments for a year, and then only if they can," I was told.

It was inevitable that the two Germanys were going to reunite, and many people were frightened, including the French and the Poles and others that had been massacred by the Nazis. The German national anthem still began with the words, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, 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 happy if I never live to see Germany reunited."

In fact, reunification happened rather quickly, like the fall of the Berlin Wall itself. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this was an Awakening era climax, like the resignation of Richard Nixon. A lot of people keep hoping that the same thing will happen today in Korea, reuniting the North and South. But this is a generational Crisis era, and Korea will not be reunited without a major war.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warns of a new cold war

Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev is in Berlin this weekend, taking part in the commemoration ceremonies. Gorbachev is well respect and even loved in Germany because of something he DIDN'T do -- when the Berlin Wall started falling, he didn't send in troops to shoot everyone in sight. He let it happen bloodlessly.

So the Germans are likely to listen carefully to Gorbachev's warning to 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 the western world were intoxicated with euphoria of triumph, and they adopted anti-Russian policies that eventually led to the current crisis:

"Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of Western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia's weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination of the world, refusing to heed words of caution from many of those present here. The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’s will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one’s partners."

Gorbachev said the West had made mistakes that upset Russia with the enlargement 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 turned into a bloody, festering wound. And who is suffering the most from what's happening? I think the answer is more than clear: It is Europe.

Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for the spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict. The consequence inevitably is Europe’s weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining momentum. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant."

Gorbachev advised the West to tone down its anti-Russian rhetoric, but then he simply excused the rhetoric of Russia's president Vladimir Putin:

"Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions, and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership."

Gorbachev's double-standard -- criticizing the West's rhetoric while excusing Putin's rhetoric -- illustrates the confusion in Gorbachev's message. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, he makes the same mistake that many others make in this generational Crisis era, by assuming that if everyone makes an effort to be nice and sweet, then everyone will compromise, just the way they did in the 80s and 90s, and that isn't going to happen. People in Russia and the West have become far more nationalistic than they were in the 80s and 90s, and not willing to compromise.

However, recall that before World War II, Russia was our bitter enemy; during WW II, Russia was our close ally; after WW II, Russia was our bitter enemy. As I've been saying for years, in the coming Clash of Civilizations 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 already determined, whether anyone follows Gorbachev's advice or not. Russia Today and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Nov-14 World View -- Gorbachev warns of new cold war as Germany commemorates fall of Berlin Wall thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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