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Unacceptable Changes to Official German Military and Foreign Policy
Under the guise of contributing to freedom and democracy, a major unacceptable event is the changes to Germany’s military and foreign policy which open the path for it to send German troops all over Europe and the world and to engage in offensive operations. These were not permitted by Germany’s post-World War II constitution.
On February 27, a day after Germany announced it would send weapons to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz went a step further during an emergency session of the Bundestag. In a half hour speech, he declared major changes in Germany’s military and foreign policy.
He said that Germany would completely reverse the relationship with Russia based on trade and non-confrontation that has been in place almost continuously since 1969. Germany will spend 100 billion euros, said to come from an extraordinary fund, to militarize itself to levels not seen since the height of the Cold War. It is going to increase military spending to more than two per cent of GDP for the first time. In relation to its sanctions against Russia, Germany is also going to reorganize its energy infrastructure to end the use of Russian gas as its main source of heating. The German constitution’s ban on major government debt will be bypassed to finance these changes.
Germany’s shipment of weapons is notable as it is claimed by the German government and media that Germany has a policy not to ship arms to conflict zones, yet it says the crisis in Ukraine is so serious that it supposedly warrants violating this policy.
The Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) in 2020 released a report in which they concluded that Germany has repeatedly violated EU arms export regulations for 30 years. The regulations violated include:
– not allowing exports that would provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing tensions or conflicts in the country of final destination;
– maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region.
Previously, Germany has authorized and exported weapons and military equipment to be used in countries with human rights violations and ravaged by war, including sending arms to countries that are part of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that is waging war on Yemen.
Germany has also been sending troops abroad for some time, beginning with the deployment of troops to Croatia in 1995, reportedly to establish a military hospital as part of a NATO mission.
In the 1999 NATO war on Yugoslavia, Germany not only shipped weapons into a conflict zone but sent troops. The coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens — with Gerhard Schroeder of the Social Democrats as Chancellor and Joshka Fischer of the Green Party as Foreign Minister — for the first time since the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, authorized military action by the German armed forces abroad. In that war, Germany also actively supported the Skanderbeg Brigade, made up of the dregs of World War II fascist forces, who engaged in criminal activity and drug trafficking while parading as Kosovar freedom fighters.
In 2002, Germany joined the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, with the German public told that troops would be helping with “development projects.” This fig leaf of humanitarianism was removed in 2010 when Germany formally reclassified the NATO occupation as “an armed conflict under international law” to allow German soldiers in Afghanistan to act without fear of prosecution on their return home. This was after a 2009 air strike ordered by a German colonel, on a truck convoy stuck in the mud that posed no threat, led to “collateral damage” of 100 Afghans killed. The colonel was later cleared of wrong-doing and promoted to general.
While Germany abstained from taking part in NATO’s bombing of Libya in 2011, by that time, as one researcher points out, “German military forces were contributing to at least ten missions abroad. The German contribution to NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan took up the majority of soldiers, with up to 5,350 troops involved in the mission. In the Balkans, Germany was significantly involved in the ongoing missions in Kosovo (KFOR) and Bosnia (EUFOR), which had both been going on in one form or another for more than 10 years. In addition, there were German troops participating in UNIFIL and NATO’s anti-terror mission ‘Active Endeavour’ in the Mediterranean and in the anti-piracy mission ATALANTA at the Horn of Africa.”
When Scholz recently tried to make a case for exceptionalism in sending war materiel to Ukraine, he said the conflict in Ukraine is the first war in Europe since World War II. When reminded of NATO’s war on Yugoslavia, reports indicate he looked like a deer caught in headlights and had nothing to say.
Out of the experience of World War II, the German question is central to the concerns expressed by the peoples of all of Europe, beginning with the German people themselves. The official measures Germany is taking today are of serious concern to the people of the whole world who demand that German troops stay within the confines of German borders and that Germany not be permitted to militarize and export weapons abroad.
1. In a case filed by the Social Democratic Party and the Free Democratic Party, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on July 12, 1994 that German troops could go abroad as part of operations carried out by NATO or the Western European Union to implement Security Council resolutions, with the approval of the Bundestag. This restriction has not been followed, as Germany troops fought as part of NATO’s 1999 war on Yugoslavia, for which NATO was not authorized by the Security Council.
(TML Daily, posted March 2, 2022. With files from Deutsche Welle, germanforeignpolicy.com, Die Link, Globe and Mail, The Guardian, TML Archives.)