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Armament Madness

by Wolfgang Triebel, G Rammer and K Ehlers
The people of Ukraine are suffering. But who benefits from the "turning of the tide"? The war is a crime, and Putin bears the responsibility. But Western politicians were not sleepwalkers. An appeal brings the conclusion to the point: Lay down your arms! Peace logic instead of war logic!
Armament Madness
by Wolfgang Triebel
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/ruestungswahnsinn/#.]

The memories of my first decade of life are dominated by the invasion of Poland in 1939. It passed into Hitler's raid for "wheat from Ukraine and oil from Baku" (O-Ton Hitler) into World War 2 in 1941. We high school students celebrated the devastation of Ukraine, Belorussia, Russia up to the Caucasus with little flags stuck on the map of Russia in the classroom as victories of the Wehrmacht - until we woke up in 1945 at the latest. Now I am in the tenth decade of my life, and again - or still? - the old hate tirades against Russia and its president are sounding on German radio. On the television screen we can "participate" in the war events on the ground and witness the suffering of the population from a safe distance. What kind of world are my grandchildren and great-grandchildren growing into?

To put it unequivocally: I condemn all war out of deep humanistic conviction. My first question: Which side benefits from it? The Russian military action in Ukraine brings death and destruction to both sides. It personally harms Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, who has restored national dignity to his people, stabilized their standard of living, and restored Russia's status as a major European power. Nato states announced tougher "penalties," they want to "contain Russia's economy and trade" and "isolate the country internationally" (O-Ton Bundestag 27.02.2022). Where does NATO get the right to "punish" politicians of other countries?

The Ukrainian people have to endure the acts of war and mourn deaths and injuries because its president Selenskyj has rejected the demands of eastern Ukrainian regions for autonomy in the country's borders despite promises and treaty (Minsk 2). Who benefits from this denial of autonomy? The war creates enmity between two fraternal peoples whose grandfathers and grandmothers expelled Hitler's fascists together more than 75 years ago. The fathers and mothers of the current soldiers of both countries have rebuilt their homeland. Who benefits from inciting Ukrainians and other peoples of the former USSR against Russia?

The first beneficiaries of this action of the Russian military are USA President Joe Biden and NATO countries in Europe. During Olaf Scholz's inaugural visit to Washington, Biden said at the joint press conference, "If Russia were to invade Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 would not happen." What does the U.S. president have to do with Nord Stream 2, a contracted gas pipeline between Germany and Russia? Nothing! And yet he presumes to decide on its commissioning - and in the presence of the German head of government. This display of power by American presidents is based on their self-image, unwavering since 1990, that the USA is the "only world power" (Brzezinski 1997).

The majority of the world's states see above all the countries militarily invaded and destroyed by the USA, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, in Africa, Latin America, the constantly threatened states such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea and last but not least the PR China. The militant world domination policy of the USA has shaken the confidence in the leadership ability of the USA. Which U.S. president has been punished or sanctioned for these war crimes? In the U.S., infighting between Democrats and Republicans, enormous debt and racism weigh heavily on life. Biden needs success both internally and externally. The Selenskyj administration helped Biden achieve foreign policy success by preventing the border settlement with Russia. Domestically, he scores points with his fracking gas monopolies, which can now export their gas to Europe.

The second beneficiary of the military debacle between Russia and Ukraine is the European NATO states. First of all, let's remember, the founding of NATO in 1948 was based on the lie that Stalin wanted to advance to the Rhine. The Western democracies had to be protected. Adenauer announced in the Bundestag that the "Russians" were to blame for everything. The cold war against the Soviet
union and its allies was heating up. Adenauer rejected Stalin's 1952 note on the settlement of the German question. It is not new to demand peace readiness from others, to reject offers in negotiations and to answer them with unacceptable conditions.

In his inaugural speech on Feb. 13, President Steinmeier recalled, as did Chancellor Scholz in the Bundestag on Feb. 27, 2022, the CSCE of 1975, a very good forum for ending the war in Ukraine and creating a new European peace order in which all states of Europe participate. At that time, 35 states of Europe, the USA and Canada negotiated for nine years (1966-1975) until the heads of state and government signed the "Helsinki Final Act" on August 1, 1975. The first lesson of the CSCE: patience in security negotiations.

A second lesson: None of the 35 states set preconditions. All of Europe's pending problems were put into the famous Helsinki "three baskets" according to security issues, trade and economic interests, and humanitarian and cultural tasks, and negotiated together. Peaceful coexistence in practice.

A third lesson I call political agility in complex negotiating issues. In the final phase of the negotiations, the CDU/CSU demanded in the Bundestag debate on the CSCE on October 17, 1974, that the government set preconditions before signing the Final Act. If accepted, the CSCE could have failed, but this was rejected. The equality of member states functioned until 1990.

Since the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, the USA has behaved like the world's supreme policeman. USA President Obama now treated Russia as a regional power. In this context, under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the CSCE was reorganized as the OSCE. Henceforth, the "peace and security policy" of the CSCE was taken over by NATO, and the "economic policy for mutual benefit" by the EC (EU). The equal rights of all CSCE members were abolished.

In 1998, NATO waged a war to break up Yugoslavia, UN as well as CSCE/OSCE member. New states were formed in the Balkans. On 27.02.2008 Kosovo declared itself an independent state against the will of the Serbian government. The USA, which maintained a military base in Kosovo, recognized the new state the day after. Where was the respect for international law then? Biden and his NATO claqueurs are now invoking international law to "punish" Putin for recognizing the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Their double standards and their USA vassalage make the European Nato states stooges of American interests instead of defenders of their own. German politicians let themselves be applauded for this.

NATO ignores Russia's legitimate security interests. After the dissolution of the USSR, Americans and Western Europeans have been flocking to the newly independent Soviet republics with offers of help of all kinds and have been promoting NATO membership. NATO and the EU have established military outposts in the Baltic states. A NATO-led ring of states with U.S.-aligned governments has been drawn right up to Russia's borders. Ukraine and Belarus are still missing from this "ring". So who, Mr. President, is "putting a noose around the neck" of whom?

The core problem for the aggravation of the international situation and thus an increased danger of war are the changes in the international balance of power between the great powers. The U.S. feels that its influence and power is waning. Russia is a great military, political and economic power, and one with great mineral resources. With his unforgivable military action in Ukraine, Putin has de facto provided Biden with an opportunity to unleash his European NATO brothers for a large-scale campaign against Russia. The "first Sunday special session" of the Bundestag on 27.02.2022 was an embarrassing peace hypocrisy. In front CDU sharpshooter Friedrich Merz. It was the CDU that wanted to prevent the CSCE in 1975. It did not want equal states in Europe then, and it does not want them today. However, high armament and antagonism between nations are the wrong means to bring about peace. The present conflict situation in Europe is not a new edition of the East-West confrontation, nor is it just a struggle of the USA for sales markets for its fracking gas. These and other external manifestations of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are an acute threat of war for Europe. The situation requires immediate diplomatic action by all sides. Russia's military activities in Ukraine must be stopped. Europe needs a policy of Europeans for Europe's interests, a new "Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe" (CSCE).

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

War and pre-war

by Georg Rammer
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/krieg-und-vorkrieg/.]

War is on again. What is to be demanded is an immediate stop to the Russian attack on Ukraine. And to demand is a logic of peace against the causes of war. "When war begins, one can know, but when does the pre-war begin?" (Christa Wolf) Those who wanted to see could, indeed, had to recognize long before: We are approaching the point of no return.

As late as December of last year, high-ranking German ex-diplomats and military officers issued an urgent appeal in "the greatest concern": "Get out of the spiral of escalation! For a New Beginning in Relations with Russia" (available under this title on the Internet). It is high time to lead Russia and NATO out of the confrontation. On the basis of the "recognition of the security interests of both sides," NATO should approach Russia and work toward de-escalation through concrete measures - which the signatories name.

The appeal did not appear - with the exception of zdf.de - in a single major German medium. Only the website Heise, rt.de, the NachDenkSeiten and neues deutschland considered this desperate attempt to prevent the foreseeable war newsworthy. Why did the mainstream media boycott the appeal of "state-supporting" personalities?

A statement by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), which primarily advises the German government and the Bundestag, was no different. Its detailed analysis of the military shift of forces to the detriment of Russia (see german-foreign-policy.com, 2/14/22) was ignored by politicians and opinion-forming media a few days before Russia's attack on Ukraine. Why this blockade? Because the author, a retired colonel and scholar in the field of security policy, concludes that Moscow's demand for an end to NATO's eastward expansion is understandable? As is well known, Russia's two draft treaties of January - halting NATO's eastward expansion and the stationing of offensive weapons near its borders, and withdrawing its military to positions of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act - were immediately rejected. Why were negotiations refused?

But the pre-war had begun long before that. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, wild capitalism grew there, fueled by private appropriation of all national wealth. James S. Henry, economist and investigative journalist, wrote ("How Donald Trump Learned to Love Russia. Deals and Ropes from the Days of Shock Therapy," Leaves 2/2017): At the time, "the West in general and the U.S. Treasury, USAID (the United States Agency for International Development), the U.S. State Department, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and many leading economists in particular operated and financed one of the largest transfers of public property into private hands the world has ever seen."

As a result, the people became rapidly impoverished: In a very short time, the average life expectancy dropped by 6 to 7 years. While people starved, oligarchs fattened up in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. They seized economic and political power. "For ordinary Russians, it was (...) a disaster. But for many banks, private bankers, hedge funds, law firms and accounting firms, for leading oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP, and for capital-hungry debtors like the Trump Organization, the chance to feed on the post-Soviet spoils was a godsend. It was vulture capitalism at its worst" (ibid.). In the United States, the oligarchs (whose names are different there) saw Russia and Ukraine as spoils at the end of the victorious Cold War.

The suffering, often traumatized people in Ukraine experience a lot of compassion and willingness to help. Hundreds of thousands of refugees - as in numerous other countries - are in need of support. What compassion, what willingness to help did Western politics show to the people of Ukraine when it pushed hard for an association agreement with the EU? This meant neoliberal "reforms" such as raising the retirement age by five years, abolishing subsidies for basic foodstuffs and energy, but also an exclusive customs union with the EU, although almost half of trade was conducted with Russia. The president at the time, the oligarch Poroshenko, issued the slogan that the agreement was intended to "consolidate our final break with the Russian Evil Empire." Economist Heiner Flassbeck commented: "Russia's neighbor, whose fate we lament today, was brought by Western advisors under the leadership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into an economic situation that was and is absolutely fatal for the functioning of a young democracy and for the life prospects of its people. Survival was possible at best as a production location for Western companies, as a supplier of raw materials or as a producer of agricultural products."

In addition to economic interests, there were also strategic interests whose goals had been significantly shaped by an influential political advisor who had served four U.S. presidents, Zbignew Brzezinski. In 1997, in his major work "The Great Chessboard," he described in detail the geostrategic cornerstones for the lasting domination of the "sole world power," the United States. For U.S. supremacy, he said, U.S. influence would have to be extended eastward far into Central Asia through the expansion of the EU and NATO. Russian President Putin had repeatedly warned against this.

Now Russia is waging war against Ukraine. What remains to be written is, as it were, the "chronicle of an announced war." While Russia repeatedly made proposals for cooperation (see Kai Ehlers in Ossietzky 5/2022), the West pushed ahead with the encirclement of Russia. U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan wrote for the New York Times in 1997 that the decision to extend NATO to Russia's borders was the most disastrous mistake in post-Cold War American policy. "This decision can be expected to (...) have a harmful impact on the development of democracy in Russia, to restore the atmosphere of the Cold War in relations between the East and the West, and to force Russian foreign policy in directions that will be decidedly displeasing to us" (quoted by german-foreign-policy.com).

Even the ex-US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had warned urgently against a war over Ukraine just seven years ago: "But if Ukraine is to survive and prosper, it must not be the outpost of one side against the other - it should act as a bridge between the two sides" (quoted from infosperber.ch, 9.3.22). Reminders did not stand a chance. Everything that has been critically analyzed since the beginning of the war regarding the background - Russia's encirclement, the military integration of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, the withdrawal from disarmament treaties and from Minsk II, the refusal of all negotiations on Russia's proposals - contributed to the escalation of the pre-war. Admonitions were thrown to the wind, warnings fizzled out ineffectively, appeals went unheeded - not although, but because this made war inevitable. All that was needed was to increase containment through maneuvers near the border and arms deliveries to Ukraine, to let Minsk II die off and, with the help of the media, to fuel an anti-Russian mood.

The people of Ukraine are suffering. But who benefits from the "turning of the tide"? The war is a crime, and Putin bears the responsibility. But Western politicians were not sleepwalkers. An appeal brings the conclusion to the point: Lay down your arms! Peace logic instead of war logic!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Resurgence of the West?"

by Kai Ehlers
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/wiederaufstieg-des-westens/]

Frightening what is currently happening in Ukraine. Frightening, too, that the man, Vladimir Putin, who, since he took office as Russia's president, has been admonishing the U.S.'s adherence to the order of nations, is now himself blatantly calling that order into question by ordering the invasion of Ukraine. This has taken all friends of Russia, including the author of this text, by surprise, who had still seen room for negotiation in the conflict over Ukraine.

No less frightening is how disproportionately and mendaciously the West is reacting to this turn of events: with an ideological mobilization and rearmament against Russia that completely denies its own responsibility for creating this situation and pushes hard against the limits of an international expansion of local war. Such a thing has not been seen in border violations on the part of other powers in the recent past, such as NATO in Yugoslavia or the U.S. in Iraq.

And yet, pity for the Ukrainian people who have to endure this war, indignation over the violation of international law by Putin, who is now showing his "true colors," and bigoted satisfaction that the West is now experiencing a "resurgence" are not enough. The question arises beyond the formation of camps: who benefits from this whole process?

The answer seems clear. It benefits none of the parties directly involved in the fighting. Not Ukraine, of course, which is being pushed even deeper into the chaos of its civil war than it was in previous years, and which could even emerge divided from the current fighting. Not Russia, which will fall to international ostracism and suffer severe damage to its economic and political stability. But also not the Europeans, who, for better or worse, will separate themselves economically and culturally from Russia and hand themselves over to the Americans. The keyword "Nord Stream 2" can stand for the whole thing here.

The USA alone appears as the laughing third party, far removed from the current war. For them, the divisiveness of the European Union and Russia, which are weakening each other instead of cooperating with each other and building together on the peace and security order, as Russia has repeatedly offered to do since the collapse of the Soviet Union, removes two opponents from the game at once and clears the way for confrontation with China. What is more, the European Union, especially Germany as its center, will once again and for a longer period of time become the vicarious agent of U.S. policy.

So far, so foreseeable, one might think - and the longer and the bloodier the war on Ukrainian soil will last, the more sustainably Europe and Russia will be blocked in this way and become subservient to U.S. goals. Against the backdrop of the unmistakable crisis in the United States, Atlanticists may indeed see this as a "resurgence of the West."

However, other consequences of this local war are also possible, if the states that were already on a counter-course to the U.S.-dominated West in the far run-up to the current escalations, i.e. the states of the BRICS, as well as the Shanghai alliance, among them in particular China, India, Brazil South Africa, now unite more closely under the pressure of the sanctions war declared against Russia. This is especially true if Russia's exclusion from the dollar-based SWIFT payment system partially punctures the dominance of that system, or even ends it altogether in the case of Russia's total exclusion from the Western system, because these states will then coalesce around the Asian Development Bank to form their own financial alliance, which has been growing for a long time. This could create a new financial force capable of breaking the dollar dominance. The local conflict would then have reached global dimensions.

Since this variant is clear to all parties involved, many of the measures that are now being announced by the West with loud bluster will probably ultimately be scaled down to a much smaller scale in order to keep the global conflict in check. What becomes of Ukraine in the process, a takeover by Russia, accession to the EU, or continuation as another "frozen conflict" that joins the other "frozen conflicts" already waiting in the wings as the mines of the century, is currently an open question that will not be decided in Ukraine. The well-being, health and lives of the civilian population will be the least at stake, in Ukraine as well as in Russia or Europe.
Related Categories: International | Anti-War
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