Cynical sellout

I am really torn when I ponder the pre-holiday sellout by Germany’s ex-chancellor Schröder to Putin’s little racket Gazprom. Which is the bigger scandal? His cynical, middle-finger-in-your-face exit from the public arena? Or is it even worse that it is apparently perfectly legal to conduct foreign policy for the German people for seven years while netwoking your way into a lucrative job with an international company controlled by the Russian government? And I also want to know what Fischer knew about Schröder’s plans.

Clearly, politicians who retire from the public arena will often sell their experience and contacts to the highest bidder. That’s the reality, and we can probably live with that, as long as we can see clearly that official business is not too blatantly influenced by private economic interests. But the Gazprom job puts Schröder on the same level with Dick Cheney, who lets the U.S. energy industry write its own regulatory framework, and who is clearly in the pocket of companies that profit from the mess in Iraq. And his new job might put Schröder into the same executive suite with Putin, who is exploiting his elected office for his personal enrichment like a banana-republic potentate.

So the $50.000-question is this: when the interests of his employer are in conflict with the national economic interests, or maybe even security interests, of Germany, where will Schröder’s loyalties lie? Will the former chancellor of Germany condone, or even support corporate decisions against German interests? Or will he lobby for German interests at Gazprom? What will it be Herr Bundeskanzler a.D.? Krimsekt und Kaviar oder Riesling und Nordseekrabben?

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