G-20 in Hamburg – some afterthoughts

by Karl Müller

There have been many reports and commentaries regarding the costly Hamburg G-20 meeting. Time will show if the meeting was worth the effort.
It is a valid question if the huge effort for such a meeting will pay off. State and EU representatives are accompanied by some 10,000 supporting persons who all have to be moved, accommodated and catered for. Sure it can make sense for leading politicians to talk to each other. Yet this is a pretty abstract concept: Talking to each other is no guarantee for an equal dialogue and for results towards a common good. In 2009 – in the middle of the global financial and economic crisis – the President of the UN General Assembly at the time, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (unfortunately, he passed away a few weeks ago) together with Joseph E. Stiglitz, former Chief Economist of the World Bank and Laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, had invited representatives of 192 UN states (Brockmann called it the G-192) to the UN building in New York, denying – rightly – the G-20 the authority to discuss global problems on behalf of all states and peoples and to pass decisions relevant for the international community. To a certain degree, this criticism has become common sense; it has even been taken up by the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, for example in its editorial of 8 July 2017.

Meeting of the US-American and the Russian President

We sincerely hope that the extensive conversation between the US-American and the Russian President will bear fruit towards détente and peace. Willy Wimmer, former undersecretary of state in the Defense Ministry, thinks that the only event of relevance during the G-20 meeting “had been the meeting of the Russian President Putin and the American President Trump”. This renders commentaries in the Western media even more grotesque who had reported on the meeting with suspicion and criticism rather than with relief and hope. It seems like détente and peace is not top priority for everybody. We hope, however, that these forces will not prevail. Apropos: Why should it be a political crime during an election campaign if the son of a presidential candidate tries to obtain useful information about the opposing candidate also in other countries? Should not everyone be interested to learn all facts about any presidential candidate – even if the information came from Russia?

Many questions regarding the violent clashes

There are many questions regarding the violent clashes during the summit. How are we to understand if Willy Wimmer writes: “And all these chaos we have seen in Hamburg, these clashes verging on civil war, seemed to document the efforts taken in the US in order to prevent a meeting of the two Presidents [Putin and Trump].” And then, thinking further: “We have to wonder, of course, if our Ministers of the Interior are blind. After all, what we citizens have experienced in Hamburg made obvious that civil war militia from the whole of Europe have been deployed to wreak havoc in the city, at least in some parts of it. And if we imagine the immense control system we have meanwhile installed in Western Europe, the measures taken to spy on the citizens and to put them under pressure, we have to wonder what all these technical and political means are good for if it is possible that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civil war rioters from all over Europe can travel to Hamburg unimpededly.”

What comes after instrumentalising terrorist networks?

This is food for thought. Meanwhile it is a proven fact that the NATO states have formed terrorist networks and used them for their purposes. The price the world had (and still has) to pay for this is high – and we sometimes think of Goethe’s famous ballad of the “sorcerer’s apprentice”: “Sir, my need is sore. Spirits that I’ve cited my commands ignore.”
It is a fact that German politicians and the German state have mobilised many forces in the “Campaign against the Right”. Just two examples: In May and July 2015 there have been two parliamentary inquiries in the state parliament of Thuringia (inquiry 304 of 8 May 2015 and inquiry 370 of 7 July 2015) if the state government had, in the context of its program “For democracy, tolerance and openness”, subsidised trips to counter-demonstrations “against right-wing marches” (as for example the weekly PEGIDA rallies in Dresden). The state government has admitted to the subsidises (according to the response a sum of more than 40,000 euros for the period since 2012). It has, however, avoided to respond to the further question if it was aware that “participants of the subsidised trips had turned violent or had committed breach of the peace during counter-demonstrations” by responding “No”. Well, this violence and the breach of peace from the side of the counter-demonstrations have really occurred.

No qualms in the “Campaign against the Right”?

On 7 July 2017, the blog page www.tichyseinblick.de interviewed the director of the Stasi memorial in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, Hubertus Knabe, on the way the German state is dealing with left-wing extremism. Hubertus Knabe was also asked who was financing left-wing extremism. The response was: “There is mainly one area where the state is fostering political activities – that is the area of fighting right-wing extremism. Citizens are supposed to become involved in order to isolate right-wing extremists and to challenge their arguments. There are, however, several reports that the money from the Federal Ministry for Families also goes to groups which are not concerned about democracy but have their own extremist orientation. […] Thus the former Minister for Families, Kristina Schröder, had committed the receivers of subsidises to declare that they would not transfer the money to organisations which are extremist themselves. This so-called extremist clause, however, has been repealed by her successor, Manuela Schwesig. I think this has not been a clever decision. […] that now also groups can receive money which do not guarantee not to be extremist. Thus persons can be subsidised who are not supporting parliamentary democracy but are fighting against it.”

Obviously there is need for clarification

Incidentally: A web page where the so-called “black bloc” is introducing itself is named “buendnis-gegen-rechts” (alliance against the right). It declares grandiosely: “Our actions are directed against representatives of the capitalist and sexist system, against the state and the fascists – hence they are absolutely not random. Our ‘violence’ is mainly of symbolical nature […] and is – except in the case of self-defense – only directed against infrastructure belonging to the capital and the fascists. Of course we take the liberty to defend our actions and our latitude against attacks by the state and others.”
Hamburg’s citizens have learned how this is to be understood.
This is an open rejection of the state of law and democracy. Using anti-fascist slogans, these circles consider themselves as authorised to use violence against other citizens and to intimidate them. Haven’t we had this before? Remember Rudolf Bahro’s prophecy: “The next Adolf will be a green Adolf.”
PS: Sometimes one has to pause for a moment. Many groups are instrumentalised by and for power politics. In one country it may be “anti-fascists” and the “black bloc”, in another country like Ukraine it were and are the forces with an openly fascist ideology.    •

Who decides on war and peace?

km. On 14 July 2017 the Deutsche Wirtschaftsnachrichten reported, the presidents of the USA and France made clear during a press conference in Paris that there admittedly were differences with Russia in some respects but that cooperation with Russia in many domains was indispensable. Concretely the rapprochement referred to Syria. Both presidents want to cooperate with Russia to end the war. The point of main effort was to be the fight against terrorist-groups. The article continues that Macron repeated that in respect of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad there was a new strategy of France. Paris did not work any longer towards the overthrow of Assad but included representatives of the Syrian government as well as representatives of the opposition in a political plan for the time after war.
US President Trump referred to his agreement with Putin in Hamburg and declared that the cease-fire achieved in the South-West continuing since five days was a major step forward. Macron added there was expected a close cooperation with Russia to, even on the level of intelligence agencies, end war.
It is said that Emanuel Macron spoke about Putin with exquisite politeness and that Donald Trump said the USA had to treat all other states with “respect” because in a “complex world” there couldn’t be dominance of one nation.
One day before, the internet site www.nachdenkseiten.de had published an article by Ray McGovern where he commented on the issue of the relations to Russia after the meeting of the US-American and the Russian president. McGovern had been analyst in the CIA for 27 years and responsible for the assessment of the Russian foreign policy. Today he belongs to the executive committee of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) – an association that critically and with expertise comments on the US foreign policy since the Iraq war 2003. McGovern expressed himself more sceptical than the Deutsche Wirtschaftsnachrichten. Accordingly, he writes at the beginning: “The chance for an immediate improvement of the relations between the USA and Russia now depends on a really tangible result. Will this time again the neoconservatives and the liberal interventionists who still dream about a ‘regime change in Syria’ and up to now have boycotted all agreed cease-fires be successful to prevent a rapprochement [between Trump and Putin]?” McGovern describes the bad experiences of the previous government with the influence of the “Deep State” in the USA, which means the mighty powers of the military-industrial complex and the closely linked powers in the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies. He concludes: “As the cease-fire newly agreed between the USA and Russia came into force on Sunday, [9 July 2017] Putin will wait in suspense if Trump will be able to effectively enforce the cease-fire or if he like his predecessor Obama has to accept that the Deep State will sabotage again the new cease-fire. We soon will know how it turns out. After the experiences Putin will hardly expect that the agreed cease-fire will be observed this time.”
Both texts together show how dissatisfying the situation is, in which very few influential powers decide on the question of war or peace. That now everything is about to depend on Macron and Trump or on the “countervailing powers” of the “Deep State” reminds of medieval feudal systems, in which alone “those at the top” decided on war. In the 21st century mankind must not put up with this. It is not sustainable that repeatedly – past the peoples – only a few decide on war and peace.