By Glenn Greenwald
February 2, 2023
The following is a transcript from an interview I conducted with German politician Sahra Wagenknecht as part of our nightly System Update program on Rumble. In this interview, we discuss her political trajectory; delve deeply into her views on the war in Ukraine generally and the relationship of Germany to both Russia and France; discuss her views on why the left is increasingly losing touch with the working classes of the West; whether she seeks or wants a coalition with parts of the populist German right; and her vision for how to improve our politics and democracies in general.
Whatever else one may think of her, Wagenknecht is a deeply original and informed thinker. She clearly has no fear of alienating allies and forging her own path. And I found the entire discussion very refreshing in terms of her candor and the clarity of her thought, and am confident you'll find it as illuminating as I did.
Watch the full interview here on Rumble.
GG: So, first of all, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We have, I think, a lot of interesting topics to cover. Germany is very much in the news throughout the West. And, before we get to that, I just want to begin with a question about you, because your politics from the very beginning has been defined by an association with left-wing politics, at times even communist or socialist politics. Can you talk a little bit about the trajectory of your ideology and how you consider your politics best described today?
SW: I got into politics relatively early. It was in the nineties. I did political work on a voluntary basis and got involved with the left. That was after Germany's reunification, and unemployment was huge in the East. That's how I started my political career. Then the Left Party was founded in Germany, and I started working full time for them. I got elected to the European Parliament for five years in 2004. After that, from 2009 on, I've been in the Bundestag and was also the parliamentary group leader of the Left. The Left Party has had a history of ups and downs. It once had around 12 percent of the votes, but has lost a lot of trust among people in recent years. I'm still a member of parliament, and I'm now involved in issues such as war and peace.
I am against this sort of insane drunkenness about war that all the other parties celebrate. Arms deliveries, tank deliveries; it's critical that more resistance emerges; that's a very important issue for me. And then there are the social and economic issues in Germany. The economic sanctions [against Russia] in particular are hurting the economy and people in Germany; everything has become much more expensive. These are the issues that are currently moving a lot of people here.
GG: So for as long as I can remember left-wing politics in the U.S., and in Europe, and in Germany was always against war and now some of the leading voices in your country and in the United States in favor of more involvement in the war in Ukraine are coming from the left. I'm wondering, do you see yourself as being ideologically consistent over the years, still a member of the left? Or do you think that people who identify on the left have themselves changed their ideological outlook?
SW: A quite radical change has taken place. In Germany, the Green Party was founded in the 1980s with deep roots in the peace movement; they were pacifists. The Greens were always against arms, against war, and against military missions. But that has changed in recent years. The Greens were in a coalition with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder when the war in Yugoslavia started and Belgrade was bombed. The Greens supported that.
It was a bit more complicated during the Iraq War, in which Germany did not participate, but that was rather an achievement of the Social Democrats. The Greens would probably have gone along with the war. In recent years, the Greens have become more and more aggressive. Today, they are the worst war party we have in Germany. Mrs. Baerbock [the Foreign Minister] has just said publicly that we are at war with Russia, which fortunately does not correspond with reality. We are not officially at war; NATO still holds the position that we supply weapons but are not a war party. Otherwise, the war in Europe could escalate to such an extent that the survival of the continent would be in danger.
You can see how completely self-delusional and insane this policy is, as well as how oblivious it is to history. I think this is an important aspect: Tanks are now rolling into Ukraine to shoot at Russian soldiers. It will undoubtedly reawaken deep traumas in Russia. Nazi Germany's war of extermination against Russia happened 80 years ago, but it has not been forgotten. German tanks against the Russians mean more or less the same as if we were to deliver tanks to fight against the Israelis. This policy is completely self-delusional.
Our policy is only following the United States. The United States is the only one that benefits from this war. Their arms industry benefits, their gas industry benefits, and their energy companies benefit because they can finally sell their fracking gas to Europe. And they will benefit from new investments. The U.S. is suddenly much cheaper and better than Europe because energy prices are very high here. The U.S. also benefits geostrategically. NATO is making a huge comeback. NATO was declared "brain-dead" by French President Macron just a few years ago, but now no one is questioning NATO anymore. That also means that no one is questioning the leadership of the United States. NATO is the primary tool of US dominance, and German politics fully supports it; in particular, a large part of the left, particularly the Greens, supports this position to an extreme...