An Essential Part of the West

WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) – After Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections, the German government announced that it will continue its close cooperation with the United States and is calling for enhancing Germany’s position in the transatlantic relationship. Chancellor Angela Merkel “offered” President-elect Donald Trump “close cooperation” on the basis of particular conditions. Jürgen Hardt, the German government’s Coordinator of Transatlantic Relations, spoke of the “necessity for us Europeans, and particularly for us Germans, to assume more responsibility.” This “responsibility” would “grow” under a US President Trump and this concerns “all … instruments of foreign and security policy.” The call for more German influence reiterates positions recently voiced in Berlin’s foreign policy establishment, demanding “not to leave stability policy proposals up to the USA,” but to independently evaluate how to “shape the future global order.” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, are linking this demand to a call for significantly increasing the German military budget.

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Three Years New Global Policymaking

BERLIN (Own report) – At this years German “Unification” celebrations in Dresden – three years after his first public appeal for an extensive German global policy – German President Joachim Gauck can look back on a successfully concluded phase. October 3, 2013, Gauck first called on Germany to become more involved – also militarily – in international affairs. The campaign initiated with his speech had been carefully prepared and was aimed at incorporating members of the German elite, such as university professors and journalists from leading media organs. The Bundeswehr’s recently adopted new White Paper is somewhat the official crowning of this campaign. In this paper, Berlin explicitly announced its commitment to global leadership, and, if necessary, to its enforcement by military means. At the same time, Berlin is pushing for the Bundeswehr’s arms build-up and the militarization of the EU. Germany is increasing its military involvement in the “Arc of Crisis,” as it is often called, meaning the arc of countries ranging from Mali, to Libya, Syria and Iraq.

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The Foreign Policy Tool Chest

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – German government advisors are speculating about Russia’s possible foreign policy offensives and discussing countermeasures to be taken. According to a research paper published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Russia “has continuously developed and further diversified” its foreign policy “tool chest” over the past few years. Today it includes “enhanced military capabilities, alongside numerous ‘soft’ tools.” like “the orchestrated disinformation campaign in traditional mass media and online social networks, the instrumentalization of ethnic minorities, use of civil society organizations, economic cooperation, or economic pressure.” The research paper describes fictitious scenarios, such as Russian support for extreme right-wing parties in Western European election campaigns as well as steps to ward off Russian influence. The types of international activities being ascribed to Russia are practices long in use by NATO countries – particularly Germany.

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Aiming at Confrontation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – In view of the Duma elections in Russia, the German foreign policy establishment is discussing Russia’s future foreign policy and appropriate western reactions. This discussion is deemed necessary, given the fact that the institutions analyzing foreign policy had failed to foresee Russian initiatives both in the Ukrainian conflict and the Syrian war, according to a study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The SWP analysis indicates that politicians and experts were taken in by their own propaganda and their “stereotyping” interpretations “blinded” them to actual developments. In his contribution to the discussion, a well-known Russian expert wrote that, for the time being, Moscow as well as the western powers will most likely continue a confrontational foreign policy, because it is in their respective interests. With this policy, both sides would seek to consolidate their alliances and overcome the growing divisions within their own societies. In the West, this can be seen in the mantra-like “mention of Putin in the establishment parties’ elections and other campaigns.”

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Beyond the EU

BERLIN/NUUK/REYKJAVÍK/TÓRSHAVN (Own report) – Whereas the Brexit has been met with wholesale rejection by the German and other EU member states’ establishments, it was positively assessed in the little noticed countries of Northwest Europe, growing in strategic importance. Iceland’s president recently invited Great Britain to enhance its cooperation with the “triangle of non-EU countries,” meaning Iceland, and the autonomous regions Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Greenland left the European Community (EC) in 1982; the Faroe Islands have never been members and Iceland officially withdrew its application for EU membership in 2015. All three countries refuse nuclear weapons and NATO’s missile defense shield on their territories, while showing a greater openness towards Russia than most other western countries. Iceland and particularly Greenland have been growing in their strategic importance with the impending opening of Arctic sea routes and exploitation of Arctic natural resources. German experts have already suggested inciting Greenland to secede from Denmark. This would offer Germany greater influence on Greenland and consequently on the Arctic’s political, economic and military affairs.

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Auxiliary Troops Against Moscow (I)

BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – One of Berlin’s government advisors is calling for Russia’s expulsion from the Council of Europe. The Russian government’s actions against the Crimean Tatars and its banning their Mejlis – a political organization – along with other measures, make it “no longer possible to justify continuing Russian membership in the Council of Europe,” according to a current position statement published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). This demand is made at a time when the Crimean Tatars have been drawn into the spotlight throughout Europe, by the openly politicized Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). Whereas public perception of Crimean Tatars has been predominated by their 1944 deportation, their collaboration with the Nazis, which had preceded their deportation, has been obscured. As historians have ascertained, in 1942, “every tenth Tatar on the Crimean Peninsula was in the military” – on the side of Nazi Germany. Crimean Tatars fought on the side of the German Wehrmacht against the Soviet Union, excelling in the notorious “efforts to crush the partisan movement” and turned their Jewish neighbors over to the Nazis’ henchmen. Already in the 1920s, leading Tatar functionaries had complained of a “Jewification” of their communities, in their protests against Moscow’s resettlement measures of Jewish families. Later, exiled Crimean Tatars volunteered their services for the West’s cold war efforts to destabilize Moscow. The Mejlis, which today is quite controversial among the Crimean Tatars, stands in this tradition.

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The Wars of the Near Future (I)

The Fourth Reich rising:

 

BERLIN (Own report) – For the first time since 1990, the Bundeswehr will be increased in size, provided new capabilities and have its budget massively expanded. This was announced by Germany’s Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen. According to her announcement, from now on, the German military’s “human resources” will be flexibly determined. For now, an additional 14,300 military personnel and 4,400 civilians will be added by 2023. The military budget, which, in 2000, was still at 23 billion Euros, will be increased to 39.2 billion by 2020. This is the materialization of Berlin’s geopolitical ambitions, which have been massively propagated since the fall of 2013, with the energetic participation of Germany’s President, who has repeatedly called for a more offensive German global policy with the inclusion of its military. In the process, Germany aims to take control of a ring of countries bordering on Europe – some, rich in natural resources – that can constitute, above all, a “cordon sanitaire” designed to shield the prosperous European empire from all sorts of problems. Because the EU’s original plans to use political-economic means to dominate this ring of states have proven unsuccessful, the German government is now turning to an open show of military force.

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Laboratories of Forced Emigration

BERLIN (Own report) – While the EU is sealing itself off by fortifying borders, including in North Africa, it is establishing a system of “concentric circles” of refugee camps, write Berlin’s government advisors in a recent analysis on the German-European policy of warding off refugees. In the future, “EU refugee policy” will most likely be characterized by the “synergy of border fortifications, camps and quotas,” according to the analysis published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Since some time, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex) has been considerably enhanced. The EU Commission has called for increased deployment of drones and satellite surveillance systems to seal the borders. Admission quotas would de facto eliminate the right of asylum for individuals. Above all, the EU is establishing a system of camps in “concentric circles” extending from the EU’s center of prosperity all the way to North Africa and Syria. These camps can “easily” be transformed into “detention centers,” warns the SWP, making reference to the detention “hot spots” in Greece. These “hotspots” had recently placed the EU in direct conflict with aid organizations, the United Nations and the Pope. Detention centers for refugees, built with EU financing, also exist in Libya and Turkey.

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In Alliance with Al Qaeda

BERLIN/DAMASCUS (Own report) – The ceasefire in Syria is threatened to be torpedoed by a militia, armed by Germany’s allies and included, under German government pressure, in the Syria peace talks in Geneva. According to reports, the militia, Ahrar al Sham, covered by the ceasefire, is participating in the current military offensive waged by the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front, which has been excluded from the ceasefire. Ahrar al Sham has been financed and armed by Berlin’s NATO partner, Turkey and by Qatar, one of Germany’s main Middle East allies. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had been vigorously pushing for al Sham’s membership in the delegation of the government opposition at the Geneva peace talks, even though it has been closely cooperating with al Nusra (al Qaeda) for years. A recent analysis published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) confirms that this military cooperation is based on a broad ideological kinship. Ahrar al Sham is said to have also been implicated in a massacre of members of the Alawite minority. The militia is often referred to as the “Syrian Taliban,” according to a leading German expert on Salafism and jihadism, who maintains that whoever “enhances its prestige,” is “indirectly also reinforcing al Qaeda.” This applies to Berlin’s close allies as well as its foreign ministry.

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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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Bloody Alliance (II)

RIYADH/BERLIN (Own report) – With its own anti-Iranian policy, the West had prepared the basis for the aggressive stance Saudi Arabia is currently taking in relationship to Teheran. This becomes clear, when looking at the Middle East policy pursued by the West over the past 13 years. During that period, western countries, including Germany, have been systematically strengthening Saudi Arabia to make it a countervailing power in confrontation with an emerging Iran, a function previously held by Iraq. The West has not only been supporting Riyadh economically but also militarily, including with supplies of repression technology – also from the Federal Republic of Germany – to put down possible domestic unrest. In the meantime, however, Germany’s interests have shifted and Berlin has assisted in reaching the nuclear agreement with Teheran. This will permit German enterprises to have close cooperation with Iran, promising high profits. This is why the German government now seeks to promote a settlement between Iran and Saudi Arabia and to induce Riyadh’s acceptance of a “dialogue.” Determined to continue its anti-Iranian course, Riyadh still rejects talking to Teheran.

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Cynical Options

Out of all this mess, nobody is certain exactly what’s going to happen next. However, one thing is certain: Damascus will fall.

Whether it’s today, tomorrow or next year, by bombs and sudden war or slow destruction, Isaiah 17:1 will absolutely be fulfilled.

 

DAMASCUS/NEW YORK/BERLIN (Own report) – In New York, Germany’s foreign minister will take part in talks this week to seek possible alignments of interests between the major powers in reference to the war in Syria. Parallel developments have made it appear advisable for western powers to accept ending – or at least freezing – the war. Russia has grown stronger and can no longer be ignored in Middle East affairs. Simultaneously, the US administration would like to proceed with its announced global political “pivot to Asia” and would like to avoid over-stretching its forces in the Middle East quagmire – as the Bush administration had done. Berlin, and the rest of the EU are currently doing everything to halt the flow of refugees. It can no longer be afforded to bleed Syria dry with this war, according to one author. A similar alignment of interests would already have been possible back in February 2012, reported the diplomat and former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari. At the time, according to his account, Russia had proposed to the West that the Syrian government and opposition reach an agreement, following a period of grace, President Bashar al Assad would be forced to step down. According to Ahtisaari, the West, turned down the proposition, based on the assumption of Assad’s assured overthrow and a complete takeover of Syria. Berlin also followed this line of action. The theme discussed in the current talks resemble Moscow’s proposition at that time – three and a half years and hundreds of thousands of deaths later.

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Ankara’s War

ANKARA/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin has reacted to Turkish air strikes on the “Islamic State” (IS) and the PKK, with both praise and sharp criticism. After several IS attacks on Turkish territory, Ankara halted its support for the IS last week and launched air strikes on the organization in northern Syria. For years, the West, including Berlin, had been benevolently observing how Ankara had been granting assistance to the IS – as an aspect of the war against the Bashar al Assad government in Syria. Ankara is now following the change of course, initiated last year by the West, when it declared war on IS. Berlin’s sharp criticism of Turkish air strikes on PKK camps in northern Iraq must be seen in the context of Turkish plans to invade northern Syria, which would lead to a confrontation with Kurdish forces affiliated to the PKK. Germany clearly rejects such an invasion because either it would strengthen Ankara, which recently has been regularly opposing Berlin, or it would turn another EU-bordering country into a theater of armed conflict – between the Turkish armed forces and Kurdish units.

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Germany and Russia Back to Business as Usual

Yet more signs that the two are working together

Is the cold war between the West and Russia over Ukraine finished? For the United States certainly not. But Germany, and therefore much of the European Union, are returning to business as usual.

On June 22, the EU voted to extend sanctions against Russia. Yet in other areas, the relations between Germany and Russia are improving.

The biggest sign of this is the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. That’s an important story in its own right—read Robert Morley’s article “Gazprom’s Dangerous New Nord Stream Gas Pipeline to Germany” if you’ve not done so already. The two countries have teamed up on a project that allows Russia to cut off gas to any Central or Eastern European country it wants to, while keeping its lucrative contracts with Western European customers intact.

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