Militarism in Germany
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed WW I’s 100th anniversary. On July 29, 1914, it began. It was called the war to end all wars.
WW II followed. German involvement was central in both wars. In 1945, Hitler’s Wehrmacht was disbanded.
It ravaged and destroyed much of Europe. It killed millions of people. Most Germans wanted never again. They renounced militarism.
A new Bundeswehr was established. It was constitutionally restricted to defense. Conscripts were called “citizens in uniform.”
At the same time, West Germany joined NATO. It did so in May 1955. In October 1990, membership included the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).
NATO is a killing machine. It’s a US-led imperial tool. It threatens world peace.
Germany bears its share of responsibility. Especially after reunification. In November 2010, a new combat medal was established.
At the time, the Frankfurter Rundschau said:
“For a long time we have heard very little about the citizen in uniform, but increasingly about combatants for German interests around the world.”
“And good combat soldiers need not only proper equipment, but also recognition.”
Months after German reunification, Bundeswehr policy objectives changed. They went beyond defense.
They include the “promotion and protection of worldwide political, economic, military and ecological stability.”
They involve “maintain(ing) free world trade and access to strategic raw materials.”
In 1998, Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party/Green Party coalition government approved combat in Yugoslavia. It was lawless aggression.
It was Germany’s first involvement since WW II. It wasn’t the last.
Germany is an active NATO member. Thousands of Bundeswehr soldiers served with US ones in Afghanistan. They did so for over a decade.
In October 2013, Der Spiegel discussed how “Afghanistan changed the German military.”
It arrived over a decade ago. Allegedly as peacekeepers. In October 2013, Germany ceremonially handed over its Kunduz military base to Afghan security forces.
Then German Defense Minister Thomas d Maiziere said: “Here we built and fought, cried and consoled, killed and died.”
Then German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle added: “We are not turning our backs on the people of Afghanistan.”
Neither minister acknowledged Germany’s role in ravaging and destroying a long-suffering country.
In more than ever turning it into a wasteland. In sustaining conflict without end. In causing mass slaughter, destruction, and horrific human suffering. In destroying an entire generation.
Afghanistan transformed Germany for the worst. Its Bundeswehr is an offensive fighting force. It partners in NATO aggression.
Retired General Harald Kujat/former Bundeswehr chief of staff acknowledged it, saying:
“Afghanistan has been the most important experience for the German armed forces.”
“It was the first time since World War II that the German military was involved in real combat action.”
Its experience made it a “real fighting force.” Patrick Keller is a German foreign policy/security analyst.
“It’s not too far fetched that we will have to be prepared to act” in future Middle East, North African, central and eastern European conflicts, he argued.
“Germany increasingly shoulder(s) more responsibility,” he added. Militant Bundestag members want greater German assertiveness.
German parliamentarian Roderich Kiesewetter wants increased German leadership – “to take over responsibility where others are not willing to,” he said.
German militarism is small compared to America’s. Its budget is a small fraction of Washington’s. It’s less than what Britain, France, Japan and Saudi Arabia spend.
Its militarism assures it’s only a matter of time until it’s increased. Germany is Europe’s economic powerhouse. It wields enormous political influence.
Hardline German officials stress the close connection between security and economic interests. German militarism reflects it.
So does Chancellor Angela Merkel. She wants Germany’s NATO role increased. She wants it more involved in “shap(ing) the global order.”
She’s a reliable US imperial partner. On January 28, Der Spiegel headlined “Germany Weighs Stronger Military Role,” saying:
“Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen want Germany to assume a greater role in world affairs, including military missions abroad.”
Both ministers believe an economic powerhouse like Germany can’t stay on the sidelines.
Policy changes are happening. Germany plans greater involvement in France’s Mali operation.
It’s “considering providing military aircraft for transport and medical evacuation in the Central African Republic,” said Der Spiegel.
Greater military assertiveness is replacing earlier restraint. Steinmeier wants Germany “ready to engage in foreign and security policy issues earlier, more decisively, and more substantially.”
An unnamed Foreign Ministry official said Germany can’t stay uninvolved.
Merkel is rhetorically noncommittal. An unnamed Chancellery official claims “no fundamental change regarding foreign missions.”
How far she’ll go remains to be seen. Germans are “skeptical.” They’re leery about “engaging in combat missions,” said Der Spiegel.
Most oppose greater involvement. Nearly half of Germans think the Bundeswehr is too engaged abroad.
At the same time, Merkel won’t leave French foreign operations “left alone.” Or America’s.
Defense Minister von der Leyen wants Germany involved in a “joint European defense policy worthy of the name.”
She wants Germany involved in “current crises and conflictsÃ¢â‚¬¦To sit and wait is not an option,” she said.
“If we have means, we have capabilities. We have the obligation and, we have the responsibility to engage.”
Rhetorically, Merkel is largely ambiguous. Officially she’s supportive.
German President Joachim Gauck’s just concluded Munich Security Conference comments reflects it.
He called for greater German assertiveness. “Germany can’t carry on as before,” he said.
“Dramatic” new “open world order threats” require more frequent and decisive German responses, he added.
In other words, he argued for stepped up militarism. He wants Germany involved globally.
“Are we doing what we can to stabilize our neighborhood, both in the East and in Africa,” he asked?
“Are we doing what we have to in order to counter the (non-existent) threat of terrorism?”
“And, in cases where we have found convincing reasons to join our allies in taking military action, are we willing to bear our fair share of the risks?”
In cases of military intervention, “Germany should not say no on principle.”
Gauck, Foreign Minister Steinmeier, and Defense Minister von der Leyen share likeminded sentiment.
Germany has a disturbing pre-WW II history of militarism. Millions of Germans died in both wars.
Older Germans remember. They want never again. Younger ones never experienced the horrors of war. Everyone everywhere is vulnerable today.
Einstein explained saying: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Waging global war is unthinkable. Today’s super-weapons can extinguish life worldwide. Imagine mushroom-shaped cloud denouement.
Helen Caldicott said enough nuclear explosions “would create nuclear winter, with the US covered with a cloud so thick that it would block out the sun for years, and that would be the end.”
Nobel laureate George Wald (1906 – 1997) said “there’s no such thing as safe nuclear power.” He called dying from it “so ghastly ignoble as to be, I think, intolerable, altogether unacceptable.”
He deplored nuclear weapons. He denounced them. He wanted them eliminated. “Our business is life, not death,” he said.
He called for “closing down all nuclear power plants tomorrow.”
He made Richard Nixon’s enemies list.
He called political leaders of his time “insane.” He called the Vietnam War one of “the most shameful episodes in the whole of American history.”
Imagine what he’d say today. Admiral Hyman Rickover founded America’s nuclear navy. In 1982, he told Congress:
“I do not believe that nuclear power is worth it if it creates radiation. Then you might ask me why do I have nuclear powered ships?”
“That is a necessary evil. I would sink them all. I am not proud of the part I played in it. I did it because it was necessary for the safety of this country.”
That’s why I am such a great exponent of stopping this whole nonsense of war. Unfortunately limits – attempts to limit war have always failed.”
“The lesson of history is when a war starts every nation will ultimately use whatever weapons it has available.”
“Every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has a certain half-life, in some cases for billions of years.”
“I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.”
Potential disaster awaits humanity. Deranged leaders risk the unthinkable.
Imagine waging war risking extinction. We have a choice. End them or they’ll end us. There’s no in between.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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