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Related Categories: International | Anti-War
On Anti-War Day 2021
by Otto Koenig, Richard Detje & W Schreiber
Wednesday Sep 1st, 2021 3:25 AM
"We need more imagination for peace, for completely different forms of managing conflicts. A debate on civil, social and economic management of global conflicts - and their causes - would be a start."
On Anti-War Day 2021
Against all reason
By Otto König/Richard Detje
[This article published on 8/29/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.sozialismus.de/kommentare_analysen/detail/artikel/wider-aller-vernunft/.]

"Against all reason, German policy places itself in the service of a disastrous logic of rearmament and deterrence - a logic that is now once again shaping world events. The international arms race has reached inconceivable proportions," reads the DGB's call for this year's Anti-War Day 2021 on September 1.

On every September 1, the DGB and its member unions have also made it clear since 1957: The German trade unions stand for peace, democracy and freedom. Never again war, never again fascism!

At over 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars, global arms spending is higher than at any time since the Second World War. In Germany, too, decision-makers on military budgets have known only one path for years - and that is upward: from 24.3 billion euros (2000) to 32.5 billion euros (2014) and 38.5 billion (2018) to 52 billion euros (2021).

In view of the still unclear government constellation after the Bundestag elections, strategists at the Ministry of Defense developed massive pressure in spring 2021 to expand its own budgetary leeway and narrow that of the incoming federal government as much as possible. Armaments Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) pulled off a coup worth billions: in the last week of sessions before the summer break, the black-red federal government whipped 27 new armaments projects totaling almost 20 billion euros through the Bundestag's defense and budget committees.

Among the most comprehensive projects are:
the Future Combat Air System (FCAS),
the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft,
the Class 212 Common Design submarines (U212CD),
the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) for the development of a main battle tank
and the upgrade of the PUMA infantry fighting vehicle.

These projects are associated with gigantic costs. Spending on the tank system alone is estimated to be 100 billion euros. Regarding the FCAS, the Handelsblatt even reported expenditures of "up to 500 billion euros ... by the middle of the century." In order to ensure that the particularly expensive Franco-German major projects can be financed, the Ministry of Defense is considering simply imposing their costs on other budget items.

A few days before the budget committee waved through the multi-billion armaments projects, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) gave her third keynote speech on foreign policy to officers of the General Staff in Hamburg, in which she once again threatened the nuclear powers Russia and China and announced a further increase in the military budget. "Rising powers, revolutionary technologies, resurgent ideologies, demographics, pandemics and climate change" - all of these are giving rise to a global situation that is exerting high "pressure to adapt" on German security and defense policy. Defense in this understanding means: "Deterrence with the threat of military force in order to create space for political solutions. But if necessary, it also means using military force - fighting," the commander-in-chief said.

AKK also sees economic potential in arming the army. "It would be best if these technologies came from Germany, because they were developed and invented here," the ministrable arms lobbyist said. Germany must "actively shape" the rapid technological change in the world, she added. She made no calculated mention of the fact that German arms exports contribute to exacerbating crises and conflicts around the world.

"Wars are big business" characterize(d) developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria or in the Sahel. Money machines for international arms manufacturers and their shareholders. From the beginning of 2002 - the start of the U.S. and NATO intervention in Afghanistan - until today, the German government alone has approved arms exports worth 418.8 million euros to the Central Asian country. In the legislative period now coming to an end, the country in the Hindu Kush was among the ten largest recipients of German armaments among developing countries, with 29.8 million euros.

While politicians and military elites close to them characterize interventions that violate international law, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, as "humanitarian acts" and justify them with the "defense of freedom, the rule of law and democracy," arms lobbyists obfuscate their claims to profit with slogans such as Germany must "do more for the security of Europe" and cannot "have its protective umbrella paid for by the USA. The DGB appeal rightly states: "It is high time to turn the tide! We urgently need the armaments billions for other purposes. In the wake of the Corona crisis (and currently the flood disaster - author's note), social inequalities and distribution conflicts have intensified in our country and worldwide".

The disastrous failure of the U.S. "war on terror" in Afghanistan, propagandistically sold as "Operation Enduring Freedom,"[1] should be a reason to question the enormous expansion of the German military budget. For the Bundeswehr's war in Afghanistan alone, the German government has spent around 12.2 billion euros from 2001 to the end of 2020.[2] The "Costs of War Project" puts U.S. spending from 2001 to 2021 at around $2.26 trillion. This does not include the amounts that Washington will have to pay to war veterans in the coming years and decades. Also missing are the interest amounts that will have to be raised in the future to service war-related loans (German Foreign Policy, July 1, 2021).

It is a "bitter realization" that "not everything has succeeded and has not been accomplished as we had planned," Chancellor Angela Merkel belittles the Waterloo of the "coalition of the willing," which cost the lives of a quarter of a million people[3] - not counting the injured, maimed and traumatized people, including tens of thousands of children. Berlin's official justifications for the Bundeswehr's deployment abroad, which the majority of members of the Bundestag repeatedly rubber-stamped, proved to be highly adaptable.

It began with then Defense Minister Peter Struck (SPD) saying, "The security of the Federal Republic of Germany will also be defended in the Hindu Kush." Later, the narrative was cultivated that it was a "humanitarian mission": the Bundeswehr was primarily drilling wells, was involved in building a contemporary education system and was committed to women's rights. However, this had nothing to do with freedom, democracy and human rights, which are always used to justify U.S.-led wars in the Islamic world - the "securing" of "supremacy in the Indo-Pacific region" was at the center of attention.[4] The German army was not involved in this mission.

Like the chaotic flight of the U.S. Army from Vietnam in 1975, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 highlights the failure of the geopolitically based "war and nation-building concept" of the U.S. and NATO countries. The assumption, questionable from the outset, that it would be possible to impose the so-called "Western value system" on a country in which 50 languages are spoken, which looks back on a millennia-old cultural history, and which has slumped into poverty and socio-economic decline in recent decades, by means of a militarily flanked export of ideology, went up in smoke in August 2021. Indeed, from day one of this war, the U.S. and its allies have greased a vast corruption machine of warlords and politicians.

But the leading representatives of the political class and their advisers in Berlin are far from understanding the failures in Afghanistan. Because the deployment of the Bundeswehr has always been approved by a large cross-party parliamentary alliance - the CDU/CSU, the FDP, a majority of the SPD and the Greens - there is no self-critical debate about whether this war was necessary and justifiable at all. Instead, the head of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, warns against "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" and condemning any military intervention from the outset. Yet it is long past time to finally bury the intervention doctrine, which has been marketed under the euphonious title "responsiblility to protect"[5] since 2001, and to brand it for what it was from the beginning: a neocolonial project.

While the Bundeswehr has left the Central Asian country in flight in the wake of the U.S. troops, the German government is already sending soldiers to the next doomed mission, Minusma, in Mali. There, in the name of stability, the countless migration routes through the Sahara, which have existed since the heyday of the West African kingdoms 500 years ago, are to be dried up. In Mali, too, the situation is confusing, the adversary barely tangible and the local population's approval rating low. Worse still, troops are being trained in this African country, controlled by a democratically illegitimate coup government, while Islamists are expanding their influence. An African Afghanistan is on the horizon.

"Nothing is good in Afghanistan. (...) I am not naive. But weapons obviously don't create peace in Afghanistan either. We need more imagination for peace, for completely different ways of dealing with conflicts. That can sometimes have more effect than all the detached agreement with the supposedly so pragmatic call to arms," said Margot Käßmann, former chairwoman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, in 2010. She rightly demanded: "We need more imagination for peace, for completely different forms of managing conflicts. A debate on civil, social and economic management of global conflicts - and their causes - would be a start."

This is all the more true in 2021. It is to be hoped that the voters will understand: If humanity is to live together peacefully, a policy is called for that focuses on disarmament, détente and dialogue rather than on armament and deterrence. The insanity of armament must come to an end and any military intervention in crisis areas that is not covered by international law must be stopped. Therefore, on September 26, it is necessary to reject the foreign policy harebrains in all parties who rely on military build-up, armed force and foreign deployments of the Bundeswehr.
"Set the course for a secure and peaceful future! Choose disarmament and détente!" is therefore rightly the motto of the German Trade Union Confederation's call for Anti-War Day 2021.

Notes
[1] The Bundeswehr has been participating in foreign missions since 1992. Since then, 114 German soldiers have lost their lives. The highest death toll to date was in Afghanistan, where 59 German soldiers lost their lives, 35 of them due to external causes.
[2] Response by the German government to the minor inquiry by Heike Hänsel, Christine Buchholz, Sevim Dağdelen, other members of parliament and the parliamentary group DIE LINKE. German Bundestag, printed matter 19/28361. Berlin, April 12, 2021.
[3] According to the Costs of War Project, as of mid-April 2021, some 241,000 people have died in Afghanistan and in neighboring areas of Pakistan to which the war has spilled over, including some 71,300 civilians and approximately 69,000 Afghan soldiers and police. The project also lists 2,442 U.S. soldiers killed, 1,144 military personnel of allied forces, and nearly 4,000 U.S. mercenaries killed, including other security personnel (CFP, 7/1/2021).
[4] Friedrich Steinfeld, Self-Delusion of the West. The Afghan Debacle, Sozialismus.deAktuell, 8/21/2021.
[5] The United Nations Security Council pursued the principle of "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) for the first time in the case of Libya. This involves the responsibility of the global community to ensure protection from human rights abuses - by force if necessary and against the will of a sovereign state. Today, Libya is a classic example of a failed state and a place of horror - a country where migrants from other parts of Africa are traded as slaves.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
A joint response from Russia and China to the West
by Wilfried Schreiber
[This article published on 8/30/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://das-blaettchen.de/2021/08/eine-gemeinsame-antwort-von-russland-und-china-an-den-westen-58392.html.]

On June 28, 2021, the presidents of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation renewed for another 20 years the Treaty of Neighborhood, Friendship and Cooperation between these countries signed in July 2001. The event took place publicly in the media of Russia and China quite unspectacularly in the form of a video conference, during which the two presidents Xi and Putin gave short speeches. At the same time, the ratification of the follow-up treaty was announced for February 2022. The Western media took little notice of this event.

In fact, however, the treaty extension and the new emphases set in the process represent a turning point for the further shaping of geostrategic relations - both between the two treaty partners and for relations with their major rivals. This is already evident from the enormous dimensions that a treaty between Russia, as the largest country in terms of area, and China, as the most populous country on earth, objectively has. The parties to the treaty want to gradually expand the scope of their cooperation and give it a "truly strategic character."

In this regard, the joint declaration initially focuses primarily on future-relevant areas of cooperation in the development of the economies of the two countries. The main areas of this cooperation concern the energy, transport, infrastructure and digital communications sectors. Special attention is paid to the technological development of space travel and aircraft construction as well as to agriculture. Cooperation in the field of finance will be of independent importance. At the same time, a closer "coupling of the Eurasian Economic Union with the development of the 'New Silk Road'" is to take place. Overall, China and Russia are pursuing the intention of creating a model of a new type of interstate relations with their further development of the treaty.

In this respect, attention should be focused primarily on the international significance arising from the new quality of Russian-Chinese cooperation. Therefore, special reference should be made here to the conceptual statements of the Joint Declaration for the Creation of a New World Order. In the West, this debate has been conducted for several years under the catchword "global governance." The U.S. argues specifically with the formula of the "rule-based order," which must be the standard for all international relations. This refers to norms of behavior that primarily serve the interests and values of the West or are aimed at securing the U.S. leadership role. In particular, these are categories and values such as freedom, democracy and human rights, which are interpreted unilaterally according to Western interpretations without being legitimized by international law.

China and Russia, on the other hand, with their Joint Declaration represent a multilateral world order that must be based on the United Nations Charter. Ultimately, both countries reject the presumptuous ideas of the United States and the transatlantic West and demand the sole validity of the rules set by the UN and international law. At least as they are accepted and practiced by such institutions as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ASEAN Organization or the OSCE.

The Joint Declaration assumes that there can be no going back behind the norms set by the UN Charter. Only the rules based on them correspond to the principles of equality and national sovereignty, which apply equally to all member states of the United Nations. In this respect, the way forward can only be through such a reform of the United Nations that leads to its strengthening and not to its weakening or dissolution. De facto, however, the United Nations organization is the decisive disruptive factor for the U.S. in enforcing its "rules-based order" and is treated accordingly by the United States.

According to the ideas of the U.S. administration, the new world order is to be led by a "league of democracies" opposed to a "league of autocracies." This idea reflects the old Manichean worldview of the West, according to which the world is divided into "good guys" and "bad guys." In this, the West sees itself as the embodiment of the "good" and the only acceptable model for all human civilization. This worldview is resolutely rejected by Russia and China in the Joint Declaration.

At the same time, the Joint Declaration sees itself as an offer or invitation to the transatlantic West to conduct a strategic dialogue on the future of the Earth. In this context, Russia and China assume that in today's world it is above all the nuclear weapon states that have a special responsibility. The Joint Declaration therefore addresses the Permanent Members of the Security Council directly and urges them to live up to this responsibility as leading nuclear weapons powers. To this end, it proposes a summit meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council.

By deepening their interstate relations, China and Russia themselves want to set an example for the new world order of law and multilateralism. In the Joint Declaration, therefore, they articulate such a self-understanding of action, which is intended to have a calming effect on the main conflicts of our time. In particular, they refer to joint activities to ensure security and stability in Asia and in the Near and Middle East.
As a preliminary summary, what can be concluded from the new dimensions of Russia-China relations?

The "rules-based order" of the "West" is not accepted by Russia and China to shape a multilateral world order of law.
The world order of the unchallenged hegemony of the United States is challenged.
The center of gravity of geostrategic activities has shifted to Asia, especially the Indo-Pacific region.
Russia and China's have grown closer under the pressure of sanctions from the transatlantic West, and they are coming out more confidently and as close allies to the West.

A new geostrategic balance of power is a reality, especially with the rise of China. De facto, China has caught up with the United States in terms of adjusted GDP. China's real economic dynamism points to a potential that even the remaining technological gap with the U.S. can be closed.

With a population of about 1.4 billion, China accounts for about 17.5 % of the world's population. This means that China alone has a human potential that is significantly higher than that of the entire transatlantic West, whose share of about 900 million is about 11%. The West is a minority society that has lost authority.

The old geostrategic power relations cannot be bombed back militarily or sanctioned economically.
In view of the complexity of the world's overall problems, pragmatic and realpolitik solutions are called for. Many developments are not exactly foreseeable. Some questions must remain unanswered today:

Where and how fast is India, which also has a population potential of nearly 1.4 billion people, heading?
Can and will Russia free itself from its economic weaknesses with Chinese help? Can Russia overcome its political stagnation?
Will the European Union be able to play a mediating role in the increasing confrontation between the great powers, or will it remain a vassal of the United States or once again break up into individual states?

The decisive factor for Europe's future will probably be whether the European Union sees itself primarily as an independent geopolitical player and rival or primarily as a mediator between the major adversaries. The European Union's chance to survive in this competition is not confrontation but global cooperation. All the more so because the major life issues of this world - such as increasing differentiation between rich and poor at the national and international level, climate stabilization, resource consumption, global health and world nutrition, and the inequality of demographic development - can only be solved through international cooperation on the basis of equality. But this presupposes that the transatlantic West as a whole gives up its neocolonialist claim to be the only acceptable model of civilization for humanity. But since that is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future, it remains unclear what role the EU will play in tomorrow's world.
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