The following excerpt is actually in Politico: “If the history of Austria since the fall of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 has shown anything, it is that this country needs external oversight (sic!). If you leave the Austrians to themselves, their worst instincts will take over them.” “To understand the effects” one only has to look back to 1938.
Referring to the Austrians’ undisputed complicity during World War II and Austria’s unwillingness to openly admit it in the post-war period, the American journalist, who is also a frequent guest on German talk shows, explains: “Austrians are learning not from their mistakes. To this day, Austrians rarely embrace the better aspects of their nature unless the outside world forces them to do so, either through humiliation to the point of submission. Or through brute force.
These lines are serious. What’s more: According to the author, both – “shame and brute force” – are currently lacking. The West is “almost as guilty for Austria’s moral shortcomings as the Austrians” because it does not put enough pressure on Vienna.
One wonders why so much pressure should be put on Austria. Well, the hook of the anti-Austrian pamphlet is the delivery of Russian natural gas to Austria and dubious “blood money” claims by EU representative Martin Selmayr. But, as the article shows, the author is actually interested in something different: a sharp step by Austria away from Russia and its neutrality, a strong turn towards NATO.
In other words: Austria’s happiness lies in NATO, and the country must be forced to this happiness.
The claimant to “blood money” should “lead to greater self-reflection” in Austria, demands the article, titled “Putin exposes the myth of Austria’s victimhood”. Referring to the anti-Austrian clichés developed by the fictional character of Mr. Karl, the author adds: Russia’s war against Ukraine “is a bitter reminder that Austria is still Mr. Karl’s country, which dominates everyone else. Is.” A clear example of this hypocrisy is Austria’s continued dependence on Russian natural gas, which accounts for about 55 percent of the country’s total consumption.”
EU representative Martin Selmayr spoke an “inconvenient truth”.
In the next part of the article, the author mainly argues against Austria’s neutrality. During the Cold War it took on an “almost religious quality”. The author is particularly troubled by the fact that the Austrians still have no dreams of joining the NATO alliance. “Today, Austrian neutrality is little more than a convenient excuse to avoid responsibility.” Most citizens “know nothing about the EU’s mutual defense clause, in which member states undertake to defend each other in the event of an armed attack. Your help.”
The author is clear: “Simply put: Austria is a free rider of its neighbors and the United States and will continue to be so unless it is pressured to change its course.” That’s why “it needs more clear words from people like Selmayr, not less.”
Unlike Sweden and Finland, Austria is not turning to the NATO alliance, although it currently has a European military. The author complains and clarifies: “Nonetheless, rhetoric alone will not persuade Austria to change course. About 80 percent of Austrians support neutrality because it is very convenient. The EU and the US will have to make them uncomfortable. At the moment, most Austrians only see the advantages of neutrality, but only because the West has not imposed any costs on the country for the free ride. This needs to change.”
The journalist cautions against too much consultation with Austria and sees Washington exclusively having a role to play: “Critics of a more aggressive approach towards Vienna argue that this would only serve to maintain neutrality and deter the extreme right. Will strengthen the determination of the population to strengthen. This may be true in the short term, but the history of foreign pressure on Austria, especially from Washington – whether it was isolation during the Waldheim affair or pressure to compensate for wartime slave labor – shows that interventions ultimately work.
So it is clear: “If the Austrians are given the choice of remaining in the West or being isolated, they will always choose the East.” On the other hand, if “Austria’s partners continue to avoid confrontation, the country is likely to escalate further.” There is a further slide towards Orbanism.” Surveys also note increasing support for the FPÖ. It is doubtful that this article will change anything.
What is not mentioned in the article: If Donald Trump becomes the next US President, the NATO alliance in its current form may soon be in turmoil, and then NATO supporters will be completely out of touch with Austria. There will be different concerns. However, such a scenario would be nothing but a threat to Austria – especially after the Politico article.