“The war on terror may take 50 years or longer.” – This statement was made by the former US Vice President, the neo-conservative Dick Cheney. Don’t we have to remember this statement, especially at the present time – since the terrible attacks in Paris on 13th November 2015, and when the French President François Hollande says that his country is now at war? Many of the current prominent opinions remind us of the many public statements in the days, weeks and months after 11 September 2001. Abiding by these words has the world not made a safer place in the past 14 years. On the contrary.
On 17 November the French Government referenced the EU Member States on article 42 of the EU Treaty and requested “support” to be provided. Article 42 of the EU Treaty contains provisions on the common security and defense policy. The first sentence of the seventh paragraph reads as follows: “If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.” Paragraph 7 is commonly referred to as “mutual defence clause” in the EU and calls for more effort by the other EU member states than Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. In the NATO Treaty the member states of NATO can freely decide how they will comply with their treaty obligations, Article 42, paragraph 7 of the EU Treaty, however, calls on the other Member States, to grant “aid and assistance by all the means in their power” to the State which is the victim of an armed aggression on its territory. Article 42, paragraph 7, presumes the state of war. The EU Treaty leaves it open how article 42, paragraph 7 is to be precisely defined. Accordingly, the current comments are now wide-spread. Politicians with close ties to the leading German media vary between appeasement and calls to war.
While on 16 November some German media and politicians expressed great concerns about the use of the word “war” in connection with the attacks dated 13 November the German government announced in a press release dated 17 November – citing the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen – that also Germany would “do everything in [its] power to help and support”. Thus, the German Minister of Defense took over the wording of article 42, paragraph 7 of the EU Treaty and has joined in the interpretation of the French President, that since 13 November France is in a state of war. The press release of the Federal Government adopted the French request for application of article 42, paragraph 7 also without any distance or constraint.
The end of the press release reads: “Already last Saturday Chancellor Angela Merkel had phoned with French President François Hollande. She condemned the barbaric terrorist attacks in the strongest terms and underlined that Germany stood firmly at the side of France. Germany would send all possible support to Paris in the fight against terrorism, said Merkel. ‘This attack on freedom applies not only to Paris – it concerns all of us, and it hits us all. Therefore, we all will jointly provide the answer’, said Merkel.”
Yet on 16 November Rainer Arnold, the defense spokesman of the SPD (Social Democrat Party), had warned in an interview with Deutschlandfunk (German World Service radio): “I’m still very attached to our decisions regarding Afghanistan, and that I, and probably other parliamentarians, who were involved in these discussions were under high emotional pressure. At that time I decided, that this must never be repeated even in case of a severe tragedy. We have to do that which makes sense. We need a smart collaborative approach, and of course you will need to talk in this alliance against terrorism about what is necessary to be done in addition. And Germany will then also be asked, what else can we do, and we will talk about it. But if a few generals and perhaps a few media are forcing us today to enter into a debate, for instance, about the mutual defense clause, I do not consider this adequate”. Are all these considerations now merely waste paper?
On Monday, 16 November, the EU leaders had called on all citizens in the EU to oserve a minute’s silence at 12:00 clock in memory of the victims of Paris. Politicians said that now it was about solidarity and also about working together to defend the values of freedom and democracy. That morning, the German Minister of Education called on the schools of their Federal States that all students should observe a minute’s silence, as well.
What should one make of this? Unfortunately, that Monday was not used to commemorate all victims of war and violence. Unfortunately, there was no discussion about the history behind it and the circumstances that young people have entered such an erroneous path and are so filled with hatred and delusion that they are ready to destroy the lives of more than 100 people and to throw their own lives away, as well.
Two days after the assaults of Paris, Willy Wimmer, who has served the CDU (Christian Democratic Party) in the German Bundestag for more than 30 years and was State Secretary in the German Ministry of Defense, wrote: “ Our experiences teach us that from the moment of an attack onward, interested forces used such a horrible crime for their own purposes and did not even have to wait for the the massacre to happen. Let us remember: It was the mid-nineties, as a senior representatives of the US State Department spoke about the Taliban in Afghanistan as ‘our boys’, at that time hardly known. It was followed by the surprising insight that you ‘can rent an Afghan, but cannot buy him’. Renting of course, to help enforcing one’s own interests. Since that time a trail of blood by known financiers has been runnig through the terrorist organizations extending to the IS. We can read about the states which are involved. These publications are so numerous that it is almost overwhelming. The US are at the top of the named countries, ever since the Mujahedeen and Taliban have existed. They left nothing out, but there are Saudi and Qatari, as well and, unfortunately, also French and British forces. You just have to take a look at the local newspapers, since it was clearly written there, how the current Syrian civil war had been fired by such states or forces. Hundreds of thousands of victims in Syria could have been prevented without these forces. […] The IS is the creation of a hell organized by our friends.”
Is it still allowed to write anything like that? Is this not apt to weaken the readiness and legitimate defense against terrorist attacks? Yes, it is the right time now, that you have to write something like that again. As long as the fight against terrorism is lacking sincerity, we must not trust those an inch, who pretend to fight against terrorism.
“War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity.” These were the Pope’s words more than two years ago. Why should this have changed? Would it not mean much less suffering and destruction, if the international community agreed on fighting with all legal means against all forces who commit acts of terror, whether they call themselves Islamic State, or whatever name they give themselves – and: to stop delivering weapons, to stop buying oil, to stop providing money, to stop offering any more retreat possibilities, etc., etc. - instead of calling for a war once again?
Would it not really make sense to consult the law before breaking the law again, as was done so often during the past 25 years? •
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