German militarism coming back

This video is called German militarism 1871-1914.

Not only revival of militarism in World War II Axis power Japan. Not only attempts to honour war criminals in the armed forces of Mussolini, Hitler’s ally, in Italy. Now, Germany.

By Ulrich Rippert in Germany:

The return of German militarism

6 February 2014

The announcement by the new grand coalition government in Germany that the country’s previous policy of military restraint is at an end marks a historic turning point. It heralds a new stage of aggressive imperialist foreign policy.

For the first time since the end of World War II and the monstrous crimes of the Nazi dictatorship, Berlin’s leading politicians have clearly stated that Germany will in the future intervene in crisis areas and global hot spots more strongly and independently than before, including by military means. The days when Germany was obliged to practice military abstinence are finally over, they insist.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democratic Party—SPD) first announced the new policy last week in the Bundestag (parliament). He said Germany was “too big and too important” to confine itself any longer “to commenting on world politics from the sidelines.”

Due to its economic power and geographical location in the centre of Europe, Germany bore a special responsibility in regard to world affairs, Steinmeier declared, adding, “We recognise our responsibility.” Germany would serve as a catalyst for a common European foreign and security policy, he said, and while the use of military force was only a last resort, it could not be ruled out.

This change of course is supported by the entire government. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (Christian Democratic Union—CDU) said Germany would take on “more responsibility in NATO and other alliances” and announced a significant expansion of foreign missions by the Bundeswehr (armed forces). Von der Leyen added that she had begun to work with Steinmeier and Development Minister Gerd Müller (Christian Social Union—CSU) to develop a “strategy for Africa.”

At the Munich Security Conference last weekend, German President Joachim Gauck bluntly called for the strengthening of German military power. In a demagogic speech, he described the previous policy of military restraint as moral cowardice and freeloading.

Germany had finally to live up to its international responsibilities and change from “a beneficiary to a guarantor of international security and order,” Gauck demanded. Employing a repulsive mixture of pastoral blather and war propaganda, the former East German clergyman preached militarism in the name of humanity.

He warned that “from restraint, something like self-privilege arises” and called for a clear commitment to NATO, “even if the United States cannot always afford more.” It should, he said, be natural for Germany to intervene militarily “if human rights violations culminate in genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.”

This “humanitarian” war propaganda is being repeated in leading newspapers and promoted by all TV channels. Die Welt praised Gauck’s speech as a milestone, marking a rhetorical break with German “Ohnemicheltum” (not with me). The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung spoke of a “brilliant speech by the president” that will reverberate for a long time because it initiates a “farewell to post-war German self-diminution in foreign and security policy.” The Süddeutsche Zeitung praised Gauck as a warning voice against the “defensive comfort” of Germany.

This united front of the media makes clear the level of corruption in the editorial offices and reveals the thoroughgoing integration of the press into the imperialist offensive of Germany’s political elite.

There is literally no one in official politics or the media who characterizes Germany’s foreign policy reversal for what it is. Barely 70 years after the collapse of the Third Reich and 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, German imperialism is once again revealing its historical roots. It is pushing into Eastern Europe and the territories of the former Soviet Union, and reconnecting with its old colonial policy in Africa.

The events in Ukraine expose the propaganda lie that its foreign policy offensive serves the interests of democracy and freedom. The Berlin government is working with an opposition movement whose leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok of the neo-fascist All-Ukrainian Union, or “Svoboda.”

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Berlin has sought to remove Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence and bring it into its own. It wants to transform Ukraine into a low-cost platform for German and European corporations and simultaneously increase pressure on the Russian government.

The return of German imperialism and militarism to the world stage is not limited to foreign policy. It is also directed inwards, against the vast majority of the working population who reject a policy of war and expanded foreign military missions, for which they are forced to pay the costs.

For this reason, the foreign policy shift that had long been planned did not feature in last year’s general election campaign. It was prepared behind the backs of the people. Despite endless TV debates and election meetings, the real plans were concealed from the population in a veritable political conspiracy.

It is no coincidence that the Social Democratic Party has taken the initiative for the foreign policy turn in the grand coalition. More than any other party, it is closely connected with the state apparatus and places state interests above party interests.

Fifteen years ago, it was the Social Democrats, then in a coalition with the Greens, who championed a Bundeswehr combat mission outside the NATO treaty area and ushered in the transformation of the conscription-based Bundeswehr into a professional army. The military offensive was bound up with the social attacks embodied in the government’s Agenda 2010.

And so it is today. Alongside the expansion of Germany’s military capacity, the government is planning an Agenda 2020 that will go far beyond the current social cuts.

The Greens, who govern in the state of Hesse with the CDU and are currently negotiating a drastic austerity programme, have already signalled their support to the federal government. At the Bundestag sitting at which Foreign Minister Steinmeier proclaimed the end of military restraint, the Green Party parliamentary group voted in favour of extending the mandate of 400 German soldiers and two units of the Patriot air defence system in Turkey.

The working class must treat very seriously the return of German imperialism and militarism. The past century saw two world wars, fascist dictatorship and the Holocaust. To prevent another such catastrophe, the struggle against war must be combined with the fight against unemployment and cuts in social spending and be carried out on the basis of an international socialist programme.

A comment on this article, by “gooddoctor:

6 hours ago

What makes it so scary for me is that a decade before the Holocaust that my parents generation suffered, there were very close links between Germany under Hitler and a great many fascist movements in Eastern Europe including the Ukraine which, as you note, was scheduled for another chapter of Hitler’s extermination/settlement building program. It was a tiny party, the Arrow Cross, which was put in charge of the Hungarian government in 1944 and its Holocaust project. I suffered terrific abuse in refugee camp after the 1956 revolution in Hungary from the types drawn to fascism and know them well. It matters not at all that at the moment the Ukrainian fascist want to join the Common Market while their European associates oppose it.

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12 thoughts on “German militarism coming back

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  6. 100 years ago: Socialist leader Karl Liebknecht denounces German military build-up

    On May 11, 1914, Karl Liebknecht, a leading member of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), denounced Germany’s rapid military build-up in a speech delivered on the floor of the Reichstag.

    Liebknecht exposed the association of German government and military officials with major arms manufacturers, who had inordinate weight in the German economy. Liebknecht noted that former senior government officials as well as navy and army officers served as members of the board of management of Krupp, one of the leading German arms manufacturers, which had close connections with other international armament firms such as Skoda, whose activities were financed with French and English capital.

    The connections went right to the top, with the Vice-President of the Reichstag, Dr. Hermann S. Paasche, serving as a member of the Directorate of Erhardt Works, another armaments firm. Liebknecht also cited the connection of Belgian, Italian and French firms with the Loewe Small Arms Company as well as the involvement of banks such as the Disconto-Gesellschaft and the Deutsche Bank in an international explosive powder trust.

    He also charged that senior German military figures operated as intermediaries between foreign countries and the arms industry and stated that officials in the navy, army and the State held positions in the directorate of a well-known optical instrument company that overcharged the army for field glasses.

    These revelations followed the exposure by Liebknecht in 1913 of Prussian War Office officials taking bribes from Krupp in exchange for military documents, which resulted in the conviction of a number of officers.

    One of the leaders of the SPD most closely identified with the fight to mobilize the international working class against imperialist war, Liebknecht had written Militarism and Anti-Militarism in 1907, a seminal exposition of socialist opposition to militarism. The publication of that work had seen him charged with treason, and he was imprisoned for eighteen months. Following his revelations in the Reichstag, Liebknecht, with several British and French socialists, set out to write a book on what they dubbed the “Armament International.” This was never finished due to the outbreak of World War One.


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