German militarism coming back

This video about Adolf Hitler’s armed forces is called War crimes of the Wehrmacht – Hannes Heer.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

German government planning major military build-up

11 April 2014

The German government is using the mounting conflict between NATO and Russia to massively rearm the military. This is underscored by an article in the latest edition of the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

The title page of the article sums it up. Defence minister Ursula Von der Leyen stands before a tank smiling, surrounded by German army soldiers armed to the teeth. This is the gruesome smile of German militarism, which is attempting to return to the world stage after two world wars and horrific crimes.

Under the cynical title “Leopards live longer,” a reference to the German tanks of that name, the article provides an insight into the West’s military plans. NATO is to be transformed into an anti-Russian alliance and significantly expand its influence in Eastern Europe. Germany is playing a central role in this. Leading German politicians and military strategists are calling for a massive programme to rearm the army. “The debate cannot be stopped, and the arms industry senses an opportunity for good business,” according to Der Spiegel.

The article first investigates the fundamental policy decisions by the imperialist powers that are once again turning to open confrontation with Russia. Then it describes the consequences for Germany that will arise from this.

“The cooperation firmly established with Russia over the years was officially abandoned last week,” Der Spiegel states. “As a result, Moscow is no longer a partner, but an opponent. This determines the next step, even if it leads back to the past: how does military deterrence, a concept which has not been heard in Western Europe for so long, work in 2014?”

The authors consider tanks and military equipment, and determine that the “deterrence potential” of the German army has been sharply reduced in recent years through its transformation from a “defensive” into an “intervention force.”

“Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, deterrence was based on the potential destruction by nuclear weapons of differing ranges, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers with heavy equipment, mainly tanks,” the article notes. At that time, the German army alone “even during peacetime had around 495,000 men in uniform,” in addition to 4,100 Leopard tanks and almost 600 planes.

But since then, the military budget was “cut from 3 percent to 1.2 percent of gross domestic product. The German army has just 185,000 men, is to be cut further and is equipped more for rapid foreign interventions than for territorial defence.” Instead of “tank divisions and field guns at the Fulda Gap,” there are “paratroopers and helicopters for Kosovo, Afghanistan or a crisis country in Africa.”

The message, which is appearing with increasing frequency in the German media, is unmistakable: After years of reducing troop numbers and heavy military equipment, it is now time to rearm!

Der Spiegel cited the head of the Kiel-based Institute for Security Policy, Joachim Krause, who stated, “Defence policy has focused on peace missions under relatively favourable conditions. The current crisis has made it painfully clear that this was perhaps too one-sided and naïve. Therefore the defence ministry has to fundamentally reconsider its purchasing plans.”

Social Democrat (SPD) defence policy spokesman Rainer Arnold struck a similar tone, saying, “We have to consider whether the uncontrolled reduction of our tank fleet within NATO was correct. In Europe, we need to jointly develop drones as quickly as possible. The decision about the ‘Euro-hawk’ drone should also be reconsidered.” This was in reference to a German government-sponsored project to develop drones, which was abandoned last year.

According to Der Spiegel, the defence ministry is already working on the build-up of NATO in Eastern Europe. Defence minister Von der Leyen ordered “top generals to review what further support can be provided through the alliance for the eastern member states.” It appears as though they “will propose joint military exercises with the Polish and Baltic armies,” the countries that are the strongest advocates of an aggressive role for NATO in Eastern Europe. Just last Tuesday, Polish foreign minister Radoslav Sikorski called for the stationing of two NATO brigades (around 10,000 soldiers) in Poland.

Der Spiegel reported on NATO plans that would effectively be a declaration of war against Russia. “Important military sources in NATO are appealing internally for an increased readiness of western land and air combat forces. Currently it would take 180 days for the vast majority to mobilise and be ready to intervene. This timescale is to be reduced. This will have an impact on at least 10,000 German army soldiers. In addition, according to the military sources, tank divisions were to be strengthened and munitions dumps replenished. It would be the comeback of the German ‘leopard’ tank.”

At the same time, Der Spiegel sought to portray German politicians as being forced to act by events rather than driving them. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier understood Germany’s policy on Ukraine as “pure diplomacy” and advocated a “course of de-escalation.” The defence minister was opposed to sending heavy military equipment and permanent troops to Eastern Europe. The German government viewed the NATO strategy with “extreme scepticism and would prefer to ignore the issue.”

This is utter nonsense. In reality, the plans of NATO to rearm express the new direction in German foreign policy, which is supported by all parliamentary parties. At the beginning of February, defence minister Von der Leyen, Steinmeier and President Joachim Gauck announced the end of military restraint at the Munich security conference. The German bourgeoisie now views the crisis in Ukraine, which it provoked, and the NATO offensive against Russia as an opportunity to turn to German imperialism’s traditional sphere in the east and rearm.

However, the drive to war within the ruling class is meeting broad opposition. The latest poll by public broadcaster ARD illustrated that a policy of increased security in Eastern Europe was opposed by the majority of the German population. Only four in ten spoke out in favour of strengthened air surveillance in Eastern Europe, while 53 percent opposed it. “German army involvement in related measures would be very unpopular here,” according to the poll. “Only one in three (35 percent) believed German engagement was correct, while 61 percent rejected this.”

The pollsters did not dare to ask about the sending of NATO troops to Eastern Europe, the reintroduction of conscription or the massive rearming of the German military. All of these plans are currently being discussed by the ruling elite, but are even more decisively opposed by the population.

Plans to deploy the army domestically in the future must be seen in this context. On Monday it was announced that the interior ministry would soon be seeking to change article 35 of the constitution, in order to make it easier to shoot down “terror planes.” In conditions of immediate danger, the defence minister is to give the order alone for the intervention of the air force, Spiegel Online reported.

The timing of this attempt makes clear that the German government is not concerned with a struggle against terrorism, but the use of the army domestically, which is strictly limited by the constitution. Should these limits be overcome in one instance, the military could once again be used to suppress social opposition.

In recent months and weeks the government has not once given a concrete warning of a terror attack. But they have initiated an aggressive course in foreign policy that is opposed by the vast majority of the population. The massive military build-up must be seen as doubly threatening. In order to return to an imperialist foreign policy on a global scale, Germany’s bourgeoisie is prepared to brutally suppress all domestic political and social opposition.

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German nazis abuse Sesame Street Cookie Monster

This video is called Modern Nazi Murderers in Germany (Full Documentary).

After British nazis abusing an anti-fascist song by the Manic Street Preachers … and abuse of Sesame Street music for torture in Guantanamo Bay … now this.

From NBC News in the USA:

Cookie Monster Corrupted by Neo-Nazis to Lure Kids

MAINZ, Germany — Cookie Monster is being used by two neo-Nazis in eastern Germany to spread right-wing ideology among students in a local high-school, according to police.

“After months of investigation, we were able to arrest a well-known right-wing extremist dressed in a Cookie Monster costume, while he and an accomplice were handing out leaflets that read “To Be German is Cool’ at a local school in Senftenberg,” Ines Filohn, a police spokeswoman in the state of Brandenburg, told NBC News.

Following the incident, police searched the homes of the two extremists in the cities of Cottbus and Schwarzheide and confiscated computers with other neo-Nazi material. Pending official charges and further investigations, the two men –– both in their thirties — were released by police.

According to reports in Britain’s Daily Mail, one image found on one of the suspect’s computers included a picture of the Sesame Street character Cookie Monster standing next to Adolf Hitler with the caption “Who ate my cookie?”

“We are presently trying to identify whether the two men can be linked to 20 other incidents that involved the Cookie Monster,” Filohn said.

Since the end of September, German police have been searching for the makers of short comic-like Internet videos showing the Cookie Monster and were investigating at least one case in which unknown suspects had plastered posters on school walls that read: “In 2030, the last Germans.”

Experts say that neo-Nazi groups and individual extremists have been searching for new ways to draw attention to racist ideologies and in particular are promoting their “Volkstod,” or “National Death” campaign, which is used by right-wing extremists to describe what they perceive as the degradation of the German race in a multicultural society.

The police spokeswoman in Cottbus expressed concern over the manipulation methods used by the neo-Nazi duo.

“These extremists are trying to trivialize their dangerous ideology by using simple language, by creating ironic cartoons and by increasingly using social media to reach adolescents,” Filohn said.

“The hardcore extremist scene is small, but very well connected,” Filohn added. “And, they are cleverly using this type of provocation to gain broader attention, especially in the media.”

- Andy Eckardt

First published April 8th 2014, 4:40 pm

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United States drone war from Germany

This 2013 video from the USA is called Jeremy Scahill – Dirty Wars: Inside America’s Covert Wars.

By Elisabeth Zimmermann in Germany:

US conducting drone war from Germany

8 April 2014

The American Ramstein military base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate plays a central role in Washington’s global drone war. This has been revealed by research from the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, and the radio networks Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) and Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR), based on details from American military documents and former drone pilot Brandon Bryant.

Already early last summer, it was revealed that drone attacks in Africa were being directed from Germany. The central role is played by the Air and Space Operation Centre at the Ramstein base in Rhineland-Palatinate, which is the largest overseas US air base. Pictures from drones circling over African countries such as Somalia are evaluated there. The men and women in the flight centre receive their orders from Stuttgart, where Africom, the headquarters of the US’s African command, has been based since 2007.

Representatives of the German and American governments have always denied that drone attacks are launched from German territory.

When US president Obama visited Germany last June, he claimed in reference to such reports that no drone attacks were conducted or ordered from German territory. “We don’t use Germany as a starting point for unmanned drones in the war on terror. I know that there have been some reports here in Germany according to which that could be the case. It is not the case,” said Obama.

German government representatives answered related questions in parliament, claiming they were not aware that such attacks were flown or directed from Germany.

Both statements were false. The latest revelations also prove that interventions in Pakistan and Yemen were handled from Ramstein. The US military base plays a crucial role in the drone war, which has executed thousands of “suspected terrorists” who had no judicial process or opportunity to defend themselves, as well as numerous civilians that even the US government admits are entirely innocent.

According to estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalists, approximately 1,000 civilians have been killed in Pakistan and Yemen by drone attacks since 2004. Foreign Policy magazine estimates that 2,000 “suspects” have been killed by drones since November 2001. The number of civilian deaths remains disputed and is likely many times more than the published figures.

The US Ramstein base serves as a centre for data collection in the drone war. The remote-controlled machines send their data via a satellite to the base, from where it is forwarded through fiber-optic cables to the United States.

In a bunker deep underground on the Ramstein base is the so-called distributed ground system (DGS). There are only five of these US Air Force installations globally that are permanently in operation. Three are located in the United States, one in South Korea, and another, DSG 4, has been at Ramstein since 2003. Only selected soldiers have access to this high security area. No outsider would have any idea of what is going on under their noses.

The DGS is the “central nervous system” of US drone interventions. All of the strands involved in a drone attack are brought together here. Live pictures supplied by drones from Yemen, Somalia, the Afghan-Pakistani border area or other countries are analysed and compared against intelligence information. Decisions are taken, meaning the orders for illegal killings, and then carried out in each target area.

Drone pilots, who are usually based in the US, receive analysis and instructions from DSG-4 in Ramstein through an encrypted chat system called mIRC.

“Without Germany, the US military’s entire drone war would not be possible,” former drone pilot Brandon Bryant told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He explained on the ARD television programme Panorama, “The air base at Ramstein plays a very essential role in the global drone war. Without this base in Germany, none of it would work. It is the epicentre for the flow of information for the US’s overseas operations.”

Bryant, 28, was stationed at an airbase in New Mexico until April 2011, from where he controlled drones. According to his own figures, he participated in the deaths of 1,626 people, including alleged terrorists, terrorist suspects, and probably civilians.

In the more than 6,000 hours that he flew, there was not a single operation “in which I did not call Ramstein to connect with my drone. At the airbase, virtually all information comes together, like in a funnel,” Bryant said April 3 on the Panorama programme.

He left the air force because he had questioned the integrity of his superiors. “They broke international law and violated human rights. We were basically a killing machine,” said Bryant in explaining his departure from the US military.

The German government responded with evasions to the new evidence that the Ramstein base plays a central role in the US global drone war.

“The American government gave assurances to the federal government that such armed and remote-controlled aircraft were neither flown nor guided from American bases in Germany,” claimed government spokesman Stefan Seibert, referring to the government’s previous level of awareness. But now there was “new information reported,” which the German government wished to make the subject of discussions with the US government. The German government took these reports “seriously.”

In reality, the German government not only knew a lot more about the US drone programme than it is admitting in public, but is directly implicated in it. However, to admit this would have wide-ranging consequences, since the drone programme is in blatant violation of German and international law.

A parliamentary report from January 20, 2014, cited by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, comes to the conclusion that it was “indisputable that Germany” should not tolerate “military operations in violation of international law” that were being implemented by foreign states from German territory. If the US military executes a terror suspect by drone-fired missile outside of a combat zone and in breach of international law, this could “represent complicity in a crime against international law,” if the German government knew about it but didn’t protest.

German intelligence services pass information to the NSA and US military that assists in the identification of drone targets, receiving information in exchange. Three German citizens have also been killed as a result of such data in Pakistan.

Twenty-year-old Bünyamin E from Wuppertal lost his life on October 4, 2010, in a drone attack in Waziristan. The state prosecutor abandoned a full investigation in June 2013.

Patrick N from Offenbach, a German who had converted to Islam, travelled with his wife and two children to Pakistan in 2011 and allegedly joined the “Islamic movement of Uzbekistan.” The 27-year-old died on February 16, 2012, when rockets struck the pickup in which he was travelling near the border with Afghanistan. In addition to him, a further nine people are estimated to have lost their lives.

Samir H from Aachen was killed in a drone attack on a land rover on March 9, 2012. The 29-year-old had travelled to the Afghan-Pakistan border region with his wife and children in 2009 and allegedly also joined the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” The German government gave no statements on whether German security forces had passed information on Samir H to American intelligence. Investigations into his death were halted by the state prosecutor in August 2013.

These are the three cases made public. It is not known how many more cases there are where information obtained and passed on by German security forces have led to the deaths of those targeted. However, it is known that a broad range of information flows from Germany to the United States daily, including names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses from suspects who have travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria or Yemen.

The close, and in many areas illegal, collaboration of German and American security forces goes back to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the Social Democratic-Green Party government in Germany at the time.

So-called rendition flights, which took prisoners to secret “black sites” in various locations around the world, were allowed to stop over regularly in Germany without any obstruction. The German government refused to call for the release of Morat Kurnaz, who grew up in Bremen but sat in Guantanamo Bay for four years, having committed no crime. And in 2003, when the German-Lebanese Khalid El-Masri was kidnapped in Macedonia by the CIA, the German government did not lift a finger to support him.

Last week, the German parliament established an investigatory committee to focus on the surveillance practices of the NSA, while shedding light on Ramstein’s role in the global drone war. But like the investigation of the committee into the murders by the neo-Nazi NSU, all indications are that this will be a cover-up rather than an exposure.

This is shown by the treatment of the most important witness on the NSA programmes, Edward Snowden, who exposed the NSA’s surveillance systems. Although the investigatory committee has invited him as a witness, the German government at the same time refused to give him any assurance of asylum or a secure period of residency in Germany. As a result, Snowden, who understandably fears for his life, will not be able to appear in person before the committee.

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