Berlin could have blocked even such modest retaliation. But it did not. This new tack reflects - what? For one, Germany is no longer threatened by Soviet shock armies ensconced at the gates of Hamburg. Second, the Kremlin's gas weapon - Germany gets about 37 percent of its gas from Gazprom - has become a bit blunt. The EU's reserves are overflowing, and farther down the line beckons America's gas bonanza. Third, the Germans are watching the U.S., their old "security lender of the last resort," going into retraction mode. Hence, a fresh look at self-help.