A sentence by Foreign Minister Baerbck on the Ukraine war caused a lot of discussion and criticism. One of their highest ministry employees tries to reinterpret this criticism as fake news. And an ARD station is also taking part in this experiment.
Annalena Baerbock has taken a clear position on Ukraine: “If I make this promise to the Ukrainians: ‘We’ll be by your side as long as you need us’, then I want to deliver, no matter what my German voters think, but I do would like to deliver for the Ukrainian people.”
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One can find this clear commitment to Ukraine struggling for its existence right or wrong, cleverly worded or not, exaggerated or appropriate. But there’s one thing you can’t do: you can’t accuse those who quote the foreign minister of falsifying the context and giving German Putin understanders in the AfD and Left Party a through ball.
The message of the Green politician could not be misunderstood, the sentence was exactly like that. Baerbock made it clear to everyone that it is more important for them to support Ukraine than to be considerate of their own electorate, which in part still tends towards naïve pacifism. There’s something Lutheran about it: Here I stand, I can’t help it.
Baerbock’s attitude is nothing unusual in German politics. Many politicians from different parties have risked unsettling or even losing their own voters with their policies: Konrad Adenauer (CDU) with western ties and rearmament, Walter Scheel (FDP) with the support of Willy Brandt’s (SPD) Ostpolitik, Helmut Kohl (CDU) with retrofitting and the euro, Gerhard Schröder (SPD) with Agenda 2010.
Of course, a statement by Baerbock in the context of a discussion is not comparable to what the politicians mentioned have fought through and achieved. Because she is not as brave as Baerbock is. The majority of voters support the traffic light government’s Ukraine course. On top of that, approval of the Greens’ policies has not fallen since the outbreak of the war, but has risen steadily. The CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen therefore rightly scoffed at the “unnecessary sham heroism” of the Green Minister.
Nevertheless, Baerbock’s statements have led to a “shitstorm” in the so-called social media, which is known to be very antisocial. The Greens politicians have been and continue to be accused of simply disregarding the will of the electorate from both the far right and the far left. According to the surveys, this is not the case at all.
In addition, such attacks reveal a very strange understanding of politics. If it were the job of politicians to implement exactly what the people want according to the polls, we would no longer need a parliament. A handful of technocrats were enough to transform the latest survey findings into legal texts. What an absurd notion!
The Baerbock camp is trying to knit a conspiracy legend out of the “affair”, which isn’t one at all: Annalena alone against all the evil political and media powers. The communications officer of the Federal Foreign Office announced on Twitter, both accusingly and imploringly: “The classic: a video edited together that distorts the meaning, boosted by pro-Russian accounts, and the cyber instant court is ready, off-the-shelf disinformation. Can we split up so cheaply? I don’t think so.” One can only say: a lot of noise and nothing.
What is particularly striking in this context: not only Green politicians and the media associated with them are outraged by attacks on Baerbock. The online platform “Faktenfuchs” of Bayerischer Rundfunk, which wants to clarify “bogus arguments and typical traps of false information”, fervently threw itself into the breach for Baerbock: “Baerbock quote falsified and exploited.”
Now it is really nothing new that political opponents “instrumentalise” statements made by politicians. The fact that Baerbock was deliberately misinterpreted, namely as if the Ukrainians were more important to her than all Germans, is not yet a scandal. Something like this happens all the time in the political battle of opinions.
The only question is whether it is the task of public law institutions to protect members of the government with holy zeal when they are allegedly wronged. Whoever rejects the swear word “state radio” – and rightly so – should actually act more sensitively. In any case, the Foreign Office could have saved its own statement and simply adopted the text from Munich.
However, Baerbock is not innocent of the sharpness of the attacks. Your statement shows a certain arrogance. She constantly says “I”, as if she alone determines the guidelines of German politics. One could almost get the impression that one person embodies the positions of chancellor, foreign minister and defense minister.
Of course, Baerbock could have phrased the whole thing like this: “The federal government and the majority of Germans will stand by your side for as long as you need us. That is why Germany will also keep its promises. Although not all Green Party voters unreservedly support the government’s course, I am committed to its continuation – because I think it is the right one.”
The content would have been the same, but it would have sounded completely different. This version would not have stopped the Putin trolls on the Internet from pouncing on the foreign minister. “Faktenfuchs” is right about anyone who puts abridged versions online, as in this case, and always finds something bad from their point of view. But we would have been spared a wave of outrage over alleged fake news tempted to pretend to be the press office of the Federal Foreign Office.