Germany’s Geopolitical Interests

BERLIN/ANKARA (Own report) – In spite of the Turkish government’s recent provocations, Berlin is steadfastly maintaining its cooperation with Ankara. Over the past few days, members of the Turkish government have affronted several EU countries as “fascist,” thereby again provoking sharp protests. For some time, human rights organizations and other critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been up in arms over Ankara’s brutal violations of human and civil rights, its attempt to establish a presidential dictatorship and its arbitrary incarceration of citizens of foreign countries. Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that her objective was to prevent Turkey from “becoming even more alienated from us,” which is why we must persist in our cooperation. Since some time, government advisors in Germany’s capital have been warning that Ankara is seriously considering joining the Chinese-Russian Alliance (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – SCO), and that, within the Turkish establishment, voices calling for Turkey to leave NATO are growing louder. That would be a serious setback for Berlin’s ambitions to become a world power, which for geostrategic reasons, is dependent on its cooperation with Ankara. Continue reading

Fundamental Readjustment

BERLIN (Own report) – Just a few days before the NATO summit opens in Poland’s capital Warsaw, German think tanks are not only pushing for stationing combat troops at Russia’s borders but even for the expansion of the West’s nuclear arsenal. A “revision” of NATO’s “nuclear strategy” is “urgently needed,” because, vis à vis Moscow, for a “credible deterrence” a “nuclear component” is necessary, explained the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The German government’s main military policy think tank, the Federal College for Security Studies (BAKS) is also calling for the transatlantic alliance to reach a “new strategic nuclear consensus,” to contain Russia, the “anti-western power.” The implementation of the missile defense system in NATO’s eastern European member countries is also explained with Moscow’s alleged “aggressivity” and the derived need for “deterrence.” The western military alliance demonstrates its “political capability to take action” against Russia, by its “close involvement” of the formally neutral countries Sweden and Finland “in NATO processes,” according to the author. Besides, both think tanks admit their commitment to militaristic “global crisis management.” According to the Adenauer Foundation, NATO must be able to address and “neutralize threats wherever they arise.” The think tank explicitly considers the “flow of migrants” in this category.

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Europe Demands ‘a Greater Role for Nuclear Weapons’

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NATO members attend a meeting at their headquarters in Brussels. (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Russian mind games with nuclear weapons mean that NATO has to step it up, write top German think tanks.

Europe wants to improve its use of nuclear power in response to Russia’s invasion of Georgia and Ukraine. Russia has paired its increased aggression and buildup of conventional forces with an expanded nuclear program, and Europe—especially Eastern Europe—is getting scared.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and Moscow’s associated nuclear threats, have triggered a new discussion in nato about enhancing its nuclear deterrent,” wrote the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (swp), a think tank responsible for advising the German Parliament, this month.

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NATO’s Nuclear Debate

BERLIN (Own report) – In view of the NATO Summit scheduled this year in Warsaw, the deployment of nuclear arms against Russia is being discussed within the German military and think-tanks. The Federal College for Security Studies (BAKS), for example, accuses Moscow of “neo-imperial aggression” against Eastern Europe and calls for a revival of the “nuclear deterrence” strategy. According to BAKS, the idea of a nuclear weapons-free world should be considered as “unrealistic” – after all, “disarmament is not the primary raison d’être of a nuclear weapon.” The government-affiliated German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) sees it similarly, and opposes particularly a general ban on nuclear weapons, proposed by a United Nations working group. Such a “nuclear arms ban treaty” would be in contradiction to NATO’s role as a “nuclear alliance,” SWP claims. It would, however, be “conceivable” to strengthen the” linkage between conventional and nuclear capacities” and the “inclusion” of nuclear arms “in exercise scenarios.”

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The Article 5 World

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) – NATO’s new “Southern Strategy” and further expansion of this war alliance are on the agenda of the NATO Foreign Ministers Conference, which begins today in Brussels. Since some time, Southern European member nations have been pushing for broadening the focus of the alliance’s activities beyond the limits of Eastern Europe, to concentrate more on the Arab World, reported Karl-Heinz Kamp, President of the Federal College for Security Studies (BAKS). This is now up for debate. The idea is to reinforce the ties to countries, such as Jordan or Tunisia, as “partners” – and exclusively equip and provide them with training for waging war in the Arab World. The fact that NATO also will propose membership to Montenegro, Kamp explains, is primarily directed at Russia. NATO wants to show Moscow that, in its acceptance of new members, NATO is not willing to take other powers’ interests into consideration. As the President of BAKS points out, the accent will now be oriented much stronger toward accepting Finland and Sweden’s membership into the war alliance, rather than an eventual Ukrainian membership.

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The Renaissance of the West (II)

BERLIN (Own report) – German military experts have initiated a debate on NATO’s nuclear rearmament. The Western war alliance has “become more important” through the Ukraine crisis, wrote a high-ranking specialist of the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS) in Berlin in a recently published discussion paper. In this context, “nuclear deterrence” must again become a topic of discussion. The “entire deterrence package” must put be on the agenda, not only nuclear arms in general, but also Europe-based US nuclear weapons – not least of all, those stored in Germany. Beyond the threat of nuclear war, the danger of a further barbarization of future wars is looming in the wake of the regeneration of the West. A former head of the Policy Planning Staff of the German Defense Ministry is proposing that Berlin consider procuring depleted uranium munitions for the Bundeswehr to combat Russian tanks. Depleted uranium is extremely destructive, even after their battlefield use. In Iraq for example, where NATO countries used these weapons, vast areas are contaminated still today.

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New Debate on the Responsibility for War

BERLIN (Own report) – In the few months leading up to the one-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of World War I, a new debate, over who was responsible for starting the war, is gaining momentum in Germany. As relevant publications – such as the bestseller, “The Sleepwalkers” by the historian Christopher Clark – show, “a shift in paradigm has taken place” in scholarship, according to a recent press article: “The German Empire was not ‘responsible’ for World War I.” The debate strongly contradicts the recognition that, even though Berlin did not bear it alone, it bore the primary responsibility for the bloody escalation of the 1914 July Crisis. This insight, which was derived particularly from the analyses of the historian Fritz Fischer in the 1960s, is now being massively contested. Historians are strongly criticizing remarks, such as those by Christopher Clark, who, working closely with government-affiliated academic institutions, is denying German responsibility for the war. According to Clark, “the Serbs” are supposedly a priori “the bad guys” of the pre war era, while he openly displays his preference for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The denial of Germany’s main culpability for the war is “balm on the soul of educated social sectors, grown more self-confident” at a time when Berlin’s political power is again on the rise. Continue reading

Germany Strengthens African Military Presence

One of the main points of discussion at last week’s high-level forum on defense and security in Berlin centered on raising the military protection of Germany’s raw materials sources.

Broadcast live via the government-financed media outlet Deutsche Welle, the forum—hosted by Berlin’s Federal College for Security Studies (baks)—had, as a top item on its agenda, ways and means of adding to the Bundeswehr’s existing presence in Africa within countries that are vital to the continuing supply of raw materials for Germany’s export-led economy. Continue reading

A Ring of Fire Around China (II)

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – Berlin’s main think tank for military policy has announced “war game exercises” for military confrontations with China. This year’s “Trier China-Dialogue,” to be convened in Berlin at the beginning of June by the Federal College for Security Studies, will focus on analyzing the “combat capabilities” of the Chinese armed forces. The forum will be concluded with two “hypothetical practical tests,” to learn whether the Peoples Republic of China’s military can “take over” and “hold onto” Taiwan or islands in the South China Sea. The conflict with Taiwan, as well as that over various islands in the South China Sea, impinges upon China’s vital interests. In both cases, the USA has adopted the position of China’s adversary as its own, therefore, in the case of armed conflict, NATO – and therefore, the rest of the West – could become directly involved. A supplementary objective for the “war game exercises” is the West’s rapidly expanding military presence in east and Southeast Asia. In the wake of the stationing of US troops, Germany is also strengthening its military cooperation with China’s potential adversaries in Southeast Asia and intensifying arms exports into the region.

China’s Fighting Power

The Federal College for Security Studies (BAKS) has announced its next “Trier China-Dialogue” to be held June 6. This will be the third time – following 2009 and 2011. The name is derived from cooperation between BAKS and the former junior political science professor at the University of Trier, Martin Wagener, who, last October, has transferred to the Federal University of Applied Administrative Sciences in Munich. Wagener is considered an East Asia specialist and will participate also this year in the symposium, which is co-parented by the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Trier University’s Political Science Alumni Association. The theme of the symposium is: “Fighting Power: How Capable is China’s Armed Forces?” Continue reading