For the vast majority of German politicians and journalists, the war in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. With this view, which ignores the complete history of the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany cannot make any contribution to peace.
The sentence is attributed to the poet Aeschylus: In war, truth is the first casualty. From this it follows that in order to find peace one must return to the truth, better: to truthfulness. And that means that every war has its history. And the prehistory of the Ukraine war begins with the USA’s self-image as a chosen nation with the claim to be and remain the only world power.
Therefore, the US must do everything possible to prevent the emergence of another world power. This applies not only to China and Russia, but also to the EU or, in the future, perhaps to India or other countries. If you accept this assumption, and at the same time know that the US has by far the largest military apparatus in the world, then you can come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is take refuge under the wing of this sole world power.
Germany is not a sovereign country
However, this consideration is only correct if the protecting power pursues a peaceful foreign policy and does not militarily encircle emerging rivals, constantly provokes them and thereby accepts the risk of war. If the protecting power has military facilities on the territory of its allies from which it conducts its wars, then it endangers not only itself but also the allies with aggressive geopolitics.
Ramstein Airport, for example, was and is indispensable for the USA’s warfare in the Middle East, in Africa and in Ukraine.
Therefore, when the Americans are at war, Germany is always a party to the war, whether it likes it or not. Because he had seen this connection, Charles de Gaulle, for example, did not want any NATO, i.e. US, facilities on French soil. A country, he said, must be able to make its own decisions about war or peace.
That Germany is not a sovereign country became clear again when US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin invited the allies to a conference in Ramstein in which the vassal states had to make their contribution to the Ukraine war. Of course, the US also claims the decision as to whether a country like Germany can put an energy supply line like Nord Stream 2 into operation.
War with a long history
The history of the Ukraine war also includes considerations by US strategists, according to which Ukraine is a key state when it comes to dominance on the Eurasian continent. For this reason, according to President Carter’s former national security adviser, Brzezinski, in a 1997 book entitled The Only World Power, Ukraine must be made a vassal state of the United States.
Although clever US politicians like George Kennan warned against turning Ukraine into a military outpost on Russia’s border, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden pushed ahead with the eastward expansion of NATO and the armament of Ukraine, although Russia has indicated for more than 20 years that it will not accept US troops and missiles on its Ukrainian border.
At least since the putsch on the Maidan in 2014, the USA showed that they were not willing to take Russia’s security interests into account. They installed a US puppet government and did everything possible to integrate Ukraine’s armed forces into NATO structures. Joint manoeuvres were held and the Russian government’s constant objections were ignored.
No state should set up rockets from a rival power on the border of a nuclear power without warning and naively justify this with the free choice of alliance.
In this context, the mendacious argument is used that every state has the right to freely choose its alliance. But no state should set up rockets from a rival power on the border of a nuclear power without warning and justify this naively with the free choice of alliance. Imagine if Canada, Mexico or Cuba allowed Chinese or Russian troops on their territory while allowing missile bases to reach Washington without warning.
Since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, we have known that the USA would never accept that and would risk nuclear war if in doubt. From these considerations it follows that an aggressive superpower cannot lead a “defensive alliance”. After all the experiences of the past decades, how long will it be before Germany finally understands that it must take its security into its own hands and become independent of the United States?
There were German politicians who saw the danger emanating from US policy and attempted an independent German foreign policy. Willy Brandt, for example, knew that peace had to be found with Russia and its Eastern European neighbours after the Second World War. He called for disarmament and detente and was convinced that security cannot be achieved against each other, but only together. Helmut Kohl negotiated German unity with Gorbachev and recognized that peace and cooperation with Russia were prerequisites for a European peace order.
Hans-Dietrich Genscher had at times fallen out of favour with US politicians because he feared a limited nuclear war in Europe and therefore did everything to ban short-range missiles and tactical nuclear weapons from German and European territory. “Genscherism” became a dirty word in Washington. In his excellent book National Interests, Klaus von Dohnanyi recently pointed out the attitude of some US strategists that a nuclear war limited to Europe could very well be waged.
How to prevent escalation
At present, there is not even a hint of a foreign policy that puts Germany’s interests first. Traffic light leaders Scholz, Baerbock, Habeck and Lindner are loyal US vassals. Scholz advocates rearmament and is proud to be able to announce arms deliveries to Ukraine at ever shorter intervals. He acts as if he had never heard of Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik and détente policies. The foreign policy of the FDP is dominated by the armaments lobbyist Strack-Zimmermann, who calls for new weapons for Ukraine every other day.
The Greens have changed from a party that came out of the German peace movement to the worst war party in the German Bundestag. Annalena Baerbock’s statements that we should “ruin Russia” have to be called fascistoid. The largest opposition party is also absent. As a former employee of the US financial giant Blackrock, the CDU chairman Friedrich Merz is a loyal Atlanticist, demands even more arms deliveries and even wanted to shut down Nord Stream 1.
German foreign policy damages the interests of our country and does not contribute to peace in Europe. It needs a complete reorientation. If there is a danger of war between nuclear powers due to US geopolitics, then it is the task of German and European politicians to do everything possible to keep our territory out of this conflict.
Europe needs to detach itself from the United States and play a mediating role between the rival world powers. Together, Germany and France have the potential to develop an independent European foreign and security policy.
It is high time to start. We cannot always rely on the level-headed military to prevent a nuclear world conflagration when war escalates. Examples include the Soviet naval officer Archipov, who prevented a nuclear torpedo from being launched during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the Soviet Colonel Petrov, who in 1984, when the Russian computer incorrectly reported an approach of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles from the USA, decided to take action in this case and not to trigger the nuclear “counterstrike” that was actually ordered.
It is time to stop leaving peace initiatives to Turkey’s President Erdogan alone. Even if the USA, by its own admission, is not prepared to work towards a ceasefire and a quick end to the war in Ukraine, this is in the existential interest of the Europeans.
The founder of the music group Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, is right when he points out that peace can still be achieved on the basis of the Minsk agreements. On the other hand, when the United States declares that its aim is to weaken Russia so that it can never again start a similar war, that is sheer cynicism. How many more Ukrainians and Russians are supposed to die before the US gets close enough to its geopolitical goal of significantly weakening Russia?
Europe now has the highest energy prices. European industrial companies are in the process of migrating and setting up new branches in the USA. The huge orders for the US armaments industry and the exorbitant profits that the environmentally harmful US fracking industry is bringing in make it abundantly clear who benefits from this war and the sanctions.
In view of this situation, traffic light politicians who are inexperienced in foreign policy should also understand that there is no way around Europe’s self-assertion. A first step would be to push for a ceasefire, present a peace plan and put Nord Stream 2 into operation.
The continuation of the current policy, on the other hand, leads to the impoverishment of large parts of the population, destroys entire sectors of German industry and exposes Germany to the danger of being involved in a nuclear war.
*Oskar Lafontaine is a Germany politician and former foreign Minister.