Street protests and virtual unrest show that the German people want improvements in their social situation and an end to abusive relations with NATO. Writes Lucas Leiroz
It is increasingly clear that the European people are not willing to follow the policy of automatic alignment with NATO planned by their political leaders. Amid the wave of protests spreading across the continent, Germany has been the scenario of recent unrest against high gas prices, arms supply to Kiev and the risks posed by the energy security crisis. More than that, German internet users have organized to make virtual protests against NATO due to the evident American participation in a sabotage operation against the Nord Stream’s gas pipelines.
On this first weekend in October, German citizens took to the streets in Berlin and other major cities to protest against the supply of arms to Ukraine. The local population seems dissatisfied with spending money to support Kiev in this conflict amid the serious social crisis affecting the country. The main requirement is that the German government revert such expenses to social improvement projects, expanding public policies that serve the interests of the people instead of acting in an interventionist way in armed conflicts that do not concern German interests. There is still no concrete data about the precise number of protesters involved in the weekend’s demonstrations.
Earlier, in the last days of September, protests against the increase in gas prices had already intensified in Germany. Thousands of people took to the streets on September 27 to demand improvements in the energy situation and an end to sanctions on Russia. Protesters carried banners with slogans such as “Stop the price explosion”, “Stop the war, stop the sanctions”, and “Open Nord Stream now”. Some of the groups involved in the demonstrations demanded more radical changes, such as Olaf Scholz’s resignation.
According to data released by the local media, the German state with the highest number of protesters was Thuringia. It is estimated that more than 24,000 people took part in the protests in the region. There was also a high number of protesters in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, around 11,000. In Gera and Altenburg there was also great unrest, but the protests took place more peacefully. A few days earlier, protests motivated by the same factors had already brought about 13,000 people to the streets in Saxony-Anhalt, which shows how massive demonstrations have become commonplace in German cities.
However, an even more curious fact was the virtual unrest raised by some German netizens recently. After the Nord Stream incidents, German internet users began posting content on social media demanding reactions from Berlin against the West over apparent US involvement in sabotage against the gas pipelines. German nationalist activists began to demand that their country cut ties with the US and impose sanctions against Washington and NATO.
For many hours the keywords “Sanktionen gegen USA” (sanctions against the US) and “Kriegserklärung” (declaration of war) were trending topics on Twitter. In fact, the activists understood the sabotage against the gas pipelines as a kind of “declaration of war” by the US against Germany and the entire Europe, which led them to defend sanctions and the end of US-Germany diplomatic relations. Although hashtags have dropped out of trending topics over time, it is still possible to find a lot of anti-US protest on German-speaking virtual channels.
As expected, Western media outlets have simply ignored the existence of these protests against the US and NATO. Faced with the evident unpopularity of anti-Russian measures among European citizens, the stance of the Western media has focused on omitting as much as possible the existence of such manifestations in favor of a sovereign foreign policy for Europe. Previously, mass protests in the Czech Republic, Austria and Spain had already been ignored or minimized by Western agencies – the same is happening now with physical and virtual protests in Germany.
However, this phenomenon cannot be ignored: the European people are dissatisfied with Western interventionism and the EU’s subservience to NATO. This is a reality that demands attention on the part of EU’s authorities. Citizens of European countries are demanding a reduction in gas prices and an end to European participation in sanctions packages that do not respect the interests of the European bloc. In any truly democratic society, the opinions of the people must be heard. And if the EU really values democracy, it will have to meet the demands of its people.
Particularly in the German case the situation becomes even more serious, as there is strong suspicion that the US deliberately destroyed a source of energy supply to Berlin just to force the country to cut relations with Russia. If American participation is proven, it will be necessary to take adequate measures and a course of distance in diplomatic relations with the US, exactly as the German citizens are now demanding in their demonstrations.
Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.