German and other European militarism

This video is called German Militarism 1871-1914.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

The return of German imperialism

21 February 2013

Germany is making intensive preparations to conduct new wars to secure resources. This was the unmistakable message of a lead article in Germany’s business newspaper Handelsblatt, “Expedition Resources: Germany’s new course.”

The article shows the real face of the German bourgeoisie. As in the first half of the twentieth century, when it twice played a central role in plunging humanity into world war, it is again moving to enforce its imperialist interests through war. “The previous political measures to secure raw materials are reaching their limits,” the Handelsblatt states. Dependence on raw materials is the German economy’s Achilles heel, the paper writes: “Industry is plagued by the fear that the high-tech sector in Germany could be cut off from essential supplies.”

The very same business circles that financed Hitler are again banging the war drums. The article cites an interview with Dierk Paskert, the manager of the Resource Alliance founded in 2011. Members of the alliance include Volkswagen, ThyssenKrupp, Bayer and BASF—firms that either directly supported Nazi war plans, or whose predecessors did. Now they work closely with the German government to plan how Berlin will secure access to critical raw materials across the globe, by force if necessary.

The hunger of Germany’s export-dependent industry for materials and markets is huge. According to Handelsblatt German raw material imports over the last decade have nearly tripled. “The battle for resources is about oil and gas, but also minerals.” Handelsblatt gives a detailed overview of such highly prized resources as lithium, cobalt, chromium, indium and rare earth elements, and cites the growing conflict between the major powers over such resources.

Paskert makes clear that the German bourgeoisie is willing to use military force to secure such resources against its rivals. Asked by Handelsblatt whether there will once again be resource wars, he explains: “History shows that many conflicts are rooted in the fight for resources. Up to now it was mostly about oil or gas, but also increasingly minerals. The supply of raw materials is the basis for the value and wealth of a country and therefore has geopolitical significance. The presence of the US military in the Persian Gulf or the massive expansion of Chinese naval forces is also aimed at protecting such interests.” Handelsblatt assures its readers that this view finds support in political circles, and that for the federal government, “the control of raw materials” is a “strategic issue for foreign policy”. It is preparing for a situation where “the existing resource partnerships” are insufficient and “additional security and military instruments are required.”

The return of aggressive German imperialism initiates a new stage of inter-imperialist conflict, raising the threat of a Third World War.

It is increasingly clear that the period after the Second World War—during which the German bourgeoisie adopted a pacifist stance and relied on Washington to carry out the wars and other military operations on which world imperialism relied—was merely a historical interlude.

The austerity policies pursued by the European Union after the outbreak of the world economic crisis have undermined the European market, which provided the basis for the expansion of German trade and production in recent decades. The result is the return of apparently long-buried specters of the past, as all the imperialist powers prepare for war.

In the 19th century Germany arrived late on the scene to take its place in the scramble for the division of the world. Then it acted all the more aggressively to enforce its interests against its rivals and twice plunged the world into war. With the intensification of the financial and economic crisis of world capitalism, German imperialism feels once again compelled to enter the arena.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American ruling class saw an opportunity for unchallenged operations all over the world. For more than a decade, it has waged “preventive wars” throughout the Middle East. Now it is also turning increasingly toward Asia and has organized a global drone war in defense of its strategic and economic interests. US President Barack Obama claims the authority to assassinate even American citizens via drone attacks.

French imperialism is increasingly employing military means to defend its interests in Africa and the Middle East. After playing a key role in starting the war in Libya, as well as wars in two former French colonies, Ivory Coast and Syria, it is now invading a fourth country, Mali.

Like the German bourgeoisie, Japan, Germany’s strategic ally in World War II, is reacting to the crisis with attacks on the working class at home and growing militarism abroad. As in the 1930s, this militarism is particularly directed against China and is currently being inflamed in the conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Under these conditions the German bourgeoisie is re-arming. The Handelsblatt bluntly states that the German army will be rebuilt “in order to be used all over the world.”

The vast majority of the German population is vehemently opposed to militarism. The fact that the Handelsblatt can so publicly formulate the goals of the German bourgeoisie is above all a devastating indictment of the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party. They have repeatedly justified German foreign policy and military operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, falsely claiming these wars were based on democratic and humanitarian considerations.

In the past 15 years, such forces have moved sharply to the right, aligning themselves increasingly openly on the interests of German big business and German militarism. Their silence on the Handelsblatt article speaks volumes. They agree with the war preparations.

Capitalism is once again dragging mankind toward catastrophe, under conditions when the destructive power of the ruling classes is vastly greater than during the two world wars of the last century. Though a new world war would place a question mark over the fate of the entire human race, it is precisely to this end that the ruling classes and their bankrupt social and economic system are leading mankind. To the policies of imperialist barbarism and national conflict, the working class—in Germany, Europe, and around the world—must advance the program of international solidarity and socialist revolution.

On Tuesday, February 19, the German cabinet consisting of the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union and Free Democratic Party agreed to deploy 330 German soldiers for a long-term mission in Mali: here.

By Alan MacKinnon in Britain:

Growing EU military a threat to peace

Wednesday 20 February 2013

The popular myth about the European Union (EU) is that it is a benign international body which brings together the peoples of Europe in a common trading block where everybody benefits. It promotes a pan-European identity – a kind of regional internationalism – and helps to maintain peace, security and welfare across Europe. What’s not to like?

Well, actually quite a lot. In the EU Thatcherite economics is the only game in town. It’s written into the constitution and is enforced on every member country in virtually every sector of the economy. The EU’s decisions are taken by the Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Justice. None of them are elected or accountable to the people.

The European parliament is elected but has few powers and can only amend legislation not initiate it. The EU’s democratic deficit is no accident. It has been carefully fashioned to bypass the democracy of member states to serve the interests of Europe’s biggest transnational firms.

From its origins the EU was always, at least in part, a military project. The real purpose of the first supranational body, the European Coal and Steel Community of 1951, was to facilitate German rearmament at the start of the cold war and at the same time assuage French fears over the danger of resurgent German militarism. Above all else, the US wanted a rearmed West Germany inside Nato.

Subsequent treaty revisions – especially the Amsterdam and Lisbon treaties – have steadily strengthened the military role of the EU. It now has a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security – currently Baroness Ashton. It sees its main threats as terrorism, nuclear proliferation – athough not its own – regional conflict, energy security and cyber-attack.

The Lisbon Treaty sets out clear military obligations on the part of EU member states to “make civilian and military capacity available to the union for the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy … Member states shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities.” This is a particular problem for those states who have a policy of neutrality like Finland, Ireland, Austria and Sweden.

EU military capacities now consist of 13 EU battle groups – battalion-sized forces of 1,500 each – two of which are on standby at any one time and can be dispatched within a few days.

Since 2003 the EU has been involved in military missions in more than 19 countries on three continents – Bosnia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Palestine, Kosovo, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Libya, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Mali.

These missions range from “Petersburg tasks” including humanitarian, rescue, peace keeping and peacemaking operations through to military training and full-scale war – and there is nothing benign about these missions. They exist to support EU foreign policy when diplomacy fails – and to enforce the neoliberal policies of free trade, privatisation, de-regulation and austerity outside Europe as aggressively as they are imposed inside.

But EU forces are intended to complement rather than replace Nato. Indeed, there is a new emphasis on interoperability and integration with Nato.

The EU only intervenes where Nato chooses not to. Despite its size and economic strength, the EU has limited capacity to fight wars – except on a very small scale – outside its own area. It lacks key resources for larger out-of-area operations such as smart bombs, air-to-air refuelling, intelligence, reconnaissance, drones and heavy lift capacity.

Not so Nato. It dwarfs the EU as a military force and takes precedence over it on most occasions.

There is, of course, considerable overlap between Nato and the EU membership. Twenty-one states are members of both organisations but by far the most important difference is that Nato is clearly transatlantic and includes and is dominated by the world’s only military superpower – the United States.

The alliance was conceived in the early days of the cold war, ostensibly to counter the Soviet “threat” to western Europe. But its steady expansion eastwards and southwards more than twenty years after the cold war reveals its true purpose.

It is not about countering any perceived threat to Europe or north America. Nato’s Strategic Concept admits the risk of this is “low.” It is a vehicle for binding member countries into support for US foreign policy and for global intervention.

In November 2010 it reaffirmed the concept of nuclear “deterrence” and the first use of nuclear weapons. In addition it committed itself to building a new and destabilising missile defence system to cover the continent of Europe, adding a new twist to the nuclear arms race.

Today, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, from the Mediterranean to the Horn of Africa, 138,000 Nato military personnel are engaged in military action around the world.

But Nato is not a monolithic bloc. Ten years ago serious differences emerged over the war in Iraq between the “old Europe” of France and Germany and the “new Europe” of eastern Europe supported by Britain.

More recently differences have appeared over who is doing the fighting in Afghanistan and who is not and about whether to recruit new members such as Georgia to the alliance. The Franco-German axis would still like to promote the EU as a military counterweight to the United States – a rival imperialism – but for the moment they are in a minority.

Europe and America – crippled by debt and recession – are empires in decline. Nato and EU armed forces will continue to threaten peace and stability across the world. But they represent the past not the future.

NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen pleaded with member countries today to stop cutting their defence budgets in response to tough economic times.

British military budget: here.

8 thoughts on “German and other European militarism

  1. Ireland is already part of Nato intimidation

    Thursday 21 February 2013

    Paul Doran’s letter (M Star February 16-17) about the Republic of Ireland’s armed forces in Mali was very important.

    Ireland has small detachments of troops “keeping the peace” in Afghanistan, and some other places.

    Ireland is part of Partnership for Peace (PfP), a Nato programme.

    PfP is “sold” to the public as similar to the army’s activities in the service of the United Nations.

    It is not – PfP is imperialist. It is designed to intimidate Russia and any other state that appears not to fall into line with the US, Britain and – to an extent – France.

    In particular China, a state and people with which the Irish people have no quarrel.

    Just as we had in 1914-18 no quarrel with the Bulgarians, Turks, Germans and Hungarians we killed for the greater glory of the British empire.

    The people of Ireland cherish the Republic’s neutrality on anti-imperialist grounds. We should do everything we can to maintain this particular tradition.

    Sean McGouran

    London N7


  2. Pingback: Germany arms Saudi Arabian dictatorship | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: German militarism revival | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: German ThyssenKrupp bosses richer than ever | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Anti Lisbon treaty Irish referendum campaign | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: European Union, more militarism, less workers’ rights | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.