Launching the Military Union

BERLIN/BRUSSELS(Own report) – The German government has announced that the EU Military Union will be officially launched this Monday, with the European Council formally adopting 17 projects aimed at creating joint EU military structures. Germany is in charge of the establishment of a European Medical Command, considered an indispensable element of future EU military operations, alongside the European Air Transport Command, which has existed since 2010. Berlin is also establishing logistical structures that would facilitate rapid interventions. The German Bundeswehr is also active in both fields within the NATO framework. The operational preparation for future military missions is influenced by a fierce power struggle between Germany and France. According to the German ministry of defense, the military union is not only aimed at reaching more “independence” from the United States, but also at advancing EU “integration,” which is difficult to achieve with civilian means. Continue reading

Berlin’s Beacon Policy

BERLIN(Own report) – Germany and the three remaining major West European EU member countries should formulate a joint foreign policy and implement it even without an EU-wide consensus, demands Norbert Röttgen, former Chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the German Bundestag. Such an approach would be inevitable, because a foreign policy consensus in the EU is impossible “within the foreseeable future,” although rapid and resolute activity is needed to reach an “equal footing with the USA and Russia.” Experts are proposing, as an alternative, the introduction of foreign policy decisions being taken at majority votes. This would mean that EU countries – against the will of their respective governments – could, for example, be forced into serious conflicts with third countries. Reflecting major shifts in the global political fabric, these proposals have become elements of an intense debate within Berlin’s political establishment. The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is warning against the escalation of conflicts, for example, with China, and the military does not rule out the possibility of Berlin’s loss of power, through the potential disintegration of the EU.

The Militarization of the Sahel (II)

 

BERLIN/PARIS/BAMAKO(Own report) – Nearly five years after the European military mission was launched in Mali, experts are describing the country’s situation as a disaster and warning against Berlin and Paris’ further militarization of the Sahel. Mali “has never” seen “such a level of violence” as “currently,” says a former French diplomat. The regional conflicts cannot be solved militarily, explained the International Crisis Group, a pro-western think tank, using the example of a Burkinabe province at the border with Mali, where, even though it was possible to suppress jihadi unrest, for the time being, the conflict can again flare up at any time, because the reasons for the unrest have not been dealt with. Nevertheless, the German government supports the creation of an intervention force of the “G5 Sahel” group of countries, which launched its first military operation yesterday. Despite the disastrous consequences of militarization, the Bundeswehr is using the Mali mission as the focus of its PR campaign.

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Europe’s Push Toward a Unified Military

The official flag of Eurocorps military contingent (FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

 

As global threats increase, many nations support the idea of an independent and united European military. Here is why we expect it to happen, and where we expect it to lead.

The 100 years between 1815 and when World War i started in 1914 were one of Europe’s greatest periods of peace ever. But that isn’t to say it was peaceful.

Consider what happened during those years: France invaded Spain; Russia fought Turkey; various German states fought with Denmark, Austria and France; Britain and Turkey fought Russia; and Greece fought Turkey. Those are just the “highlights”—and they don’t include the numerous internal conflicts, uprisings, declarations of independence and other political unrest that occurred. Even Switzerland had a civil war.

That is what “peace” in Europe looked like before the latter half of the 20th century.

The states of Europe spent 75 percent of the 17th century at war with each other, 50 percent of the 18th century, and 25 percent of the 19th. The periods of war became shorter—but more than made up for it with devastatingly more effective weapons.

This is why many are skeptical of the creation of a “European army.” How can a continent with such a long history of war and division form a united military force? Continue reading

America’s Cyber Vulnerabilities

ISTOCK.COM/MONSITJ

 

Cyber is the newest branch of warfare. Even in its baby stages, it has the potential to cripple the United States.

On the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2015, Ukrainian engineers from a Prykarpattya Oblenergo power station stared at a computer screen while the cursor progressed on its own across the monitor. The mouse on the table had not moved. But the cursor hovered over the station’s breakers, each one controlling power to thousands of Ukrainian citizens. Then, with one mouse click at a time, the hackers now in control of the power station began shutting off power to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.

At the same time, Kyivoblenergo employees watched as dozens of substations shut down, one by one. In their case, there was no phantom mouse. A computer on their network that they could not locate was being used by someone to shut down the power—and there was nothing they could do. Continue reading

NATO Splinters: Germany Completes Withdrawal From Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase

 

Several months after an unprecedented collapse in relations between two NATO member states, on Thursday Germany’s military announced it has finished its withdrawal from Turkey’s strategic airbase Incirlik, which as a reminder was prompted by Ankara’s refusal to allow visits by German parliamentarians. Going forward, Bundeswehr planes will instead be based in Jordan. Continue reading

Fresh Wind Down the Silk Road (I)

BERLIN/TASHKENT (Own report) – To secure its influence in Central Asia in rivalry to Russia and China, Berlin is taking new initiatives toward Uzbekistan, the most populous country in the region. Among the five post-Soviet Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan has been Germany’s key partner for the past 25 years, even hosting a Bundeswehr base over an extended period of time. Now the German government seeks to reinforce it position in Uzbekistan by expanding economic relations. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in office since one year, is initiating a neo-liberal policy in his country. At the same time, Russia’s rise in influence in the economic and military sectors, alongside China’s greatly enhanced economic advances has put Germany under pressure. If Germany does not want to lose ground in Central Asia, it must act quickly.

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The Imperial Consensus

BERLIN (Own report) – With the Alternative for Germany (AfD), an extreme right wing party will enter the German Bundestag for the first time since the 1950s. With 13 percent of the vote, the AfD has successfully mobilized an extreme right-wing potential that, according to a sociological study, has always existed within the German population. All parties in the Bundestag openly repudiate the AfD. However, this only obscures the fact that the AfD’s program, particularly on the important issues of foreign and military policy, show remarkable parallels to the political objectives of almost all other parties in the Bundestag. Like the CDU/CSU, FDP, SPD and the Greens, the AfD sees Germany as a global “policy-making power,” whose armed forces should be massively upgraded and made more operational. Whereas, the mainstream parties in the Bundestag are relying on the EU as the instrument for German global policy, the AfD favors a national course for Germany exercising global power. This course would probably take effect should the EU disintegrate due to the growing internal dissentions or if more and more countries opt to exit.

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Struggle over the Arctic

BERLIN (Own report) – According to a German military officer, China’s economic activities in Greenland and Iceland could cause future wars. If the People’s Republic should “establish” itself in the Arctic – as a “great power alien to the region” – this would “instigate military conflicts,” according to a recent semi-official publication. To prove his point, the author, a reserve officer of the Bundeswehr, refers to China’s mining investments in Greenland and Beijing’s alleged plans to settle systematically Chinese specialists in the region. The “ethnic form of influence” expressed in this plan and the People’s Republic’s commitment to protect the “sovereign rights of the indigenous population” constitute a “declaration of war on the West,” the author writes. With regard to Iceland, the officer particularly criticizes the construction of a harbor in the Northeast of the island state, which is allegedly financed by a Chinese company. If the People’s Republic is thus creating a “regional central hub” for raw materials extracted from the Arctic, it would be in “favorable geopolitical starting blocks” vis-à-vis the “European Atlantic states,” the author explains, speaking already of a “gradual Chinese land grab” at the polar circle.

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Germany Is Conquering NATO

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) speaks with US President Donald Trump (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ® at the NATO headquarters, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

 

Many think President Trump is pushing Germany to remilitarize, but he is actually giving in to what Germany demanded decades ago when NATO was founded.

At the nato headquarters in Brussels at the end of May, United States President Donald Trump once again urged European nato members to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their military. Meeting President Trump’s demands will make Germany and Europe an independent military superpower within nato. Many in Germany, such as Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, are up in arms about Mr. Trump’s demands.

But other German politicians have been calling for this for decades.

Germany is currently only spending about 1.2 percent of annual gdp on its military. Spending 2 percent would mean spending $80 billion—more than any other European state. This would make Germany a military powerhouse within Europe and nato. Continue reading

Citizen Participation (II)

BERLIN (Own report) – The current discussion in Germany about the German population’s “resilience” to attacks by enemy combatants can be traced back to reflections expressed in World War I and during the Nazi period. In 1935, Gen. Erich Ludendorff, who had been appointed in 1916 to the Supreme Command of the German Empire’s army, declared that the “German people’s spiritual unity” was a prerequisite to victory in the coming “total war.” According to Ludendorff, the population, the military and the political leadership must be “welded” into a “powerful unity,” seeing itself as a “community of destiny” and devoting all its energy to the service of warfare. To this end, the general demanded the introduction of “general compulsory service” for men and women, as well as the launching of the appropriate propaganda campaigns – “already in peacetime.” Parallels can be found today in current German government initiatives. For example, in its “Civil Defense Concept” the German Ministry of the Interior speaks of changing the constitution to permit women to be obligated to work in “defense-relevant domains.” Through “social discourse” the population should be prepared to “assume risks” and “endure” damaging events.

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Citizen Participation (I)

BERLIN (Own report) – The Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS) is calling for a propaganda campaign to strengthen the German population’s resilience to attacks in their country by enemy combatants. In collaboration with “media partners” and “civil society,” an “understanding” must be achieved that “firmness against crisis” by each citizen towards “terrorist attacks” forms an “integral part” of society’s overall resilience,” explains the government’s military policy think tank. BAKS explicitly refers to the “White Paper on Security Policy and Future of the Bundeswehr,” presented by the German Defense Ministry in 2016, which is also pleading “to improve the ability of both state and society to withstand and adapt” to all kinds of attacks, necessitating a “whole-of-government approach to security.” The state-owned Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft had launched urban projects along the same lines, already years ago, in which “each individual citizen” is considered “part of a comprehensive concept of resilience to multiple security risks.”

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Future of Iraq

WASHINGTON/BERLIN/BAGHDAD (Own report) – A strategy paper prepared by the US Atlantic Council think tank – with the assistance of Germany’s CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation – is proposing measures for Western powers to take to insure their continued influence in Iraq following the fall of Mosul. According to the paper, published a few days ago, US military forces should remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future, train and equip Iraqi forces to prevent IS from regrouping and recovering after its expected defeat. To push back Iran’s influence, measures should also be taken to help the country’s economic development. In Baghdad, a government “strongly inclined to cooperate closely with the United States” is needed, the paper states, and calls for US allies – particularly European countries – to engage in Iraq to “tackle sensitive areas in which the United States is not seen as neutral.” Berlin is already using this opportunity to build its own base of influence in Iraq and is supporting the reconstruction of towns recaptured from the IS. Insuring western control of Iraq is considered all the more urgent, since Russia could successfully obtain major influence in Damascus following the anticipated end of the Syrian war.

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The Years of Terror (I)

LONDON/BERLIN/RIYADH (Own report) – With its continued worldwide support for Salafis, Germany’s close partner, Saudi Arabia, is relentlessly fertilizing the soil for the growth of jihadi terror, according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). “The consequences of Saudi Arabia’s support for Salafism are catastrophic,” the SWP concludes in light of IS/Daesh activities in Europe. British experts are also sharply criticizing cooperation with Riyadh. If one seriously wants to combat jihadi terror, one “should start by stopping the mass export of Wahhabism’s intolerance and hatred from Saudi Arabia,” an insider recommends. This is, however, countered by Germany, other European powers and North America’s relentless cooperation with the Saudi ruling clan. Just a few weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel launched regular military cooperation with the Saudi armed forces. Out of consideration for Riyadh, the British government has been withholding an investigation, showing the – presumably Saudi – financiers of British jihadis. This had been made known only three days before the latest terror attack in London.

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Germany Is Quietly Building a European Army Under Its Command

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Berlin is using a bland name to obscure a dramatic shift in its approach to defense: integrating brigades from smaller countries into the Bundeswehr.

Every few years, the idea of an EU army finds its way back into the news, causing a kerfuffle. The concept is both fantasy and bogeyman: For every federalist in Brussels who thinks a common defense force is what Europe needs to boost its standing in the world, there are those in London and elsewhere who recoil at the notion of a potential NATO rival.

But this year, far from the headlines, Germany and two of its European allies, the Czech Republic and Romania, quietly took a radical step down a path toward something that looks like an EU army while avoiding the messy politics associated with it: They announced the integration of their armed forces. Continue reading