Since a long time, even during the election campaign, there has been little talk of this subject in Germany. But now, once again it has become an issue in German politics: The conciliation of Europe is equal with an increased European Union.
This originates with the keynote speech on the future of the EU, held by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in mid-September, the speech about Europe by French President Emmanuel Macron and the speech of the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. However, the German leaders have been silent for a long time.
However, the acting German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel has now also spoken out clearly demanding an independent European foreign and security policy. The German Greens have always been in favour of this anyway. This was confirmed by the green EU parliamentarian Jan Philipp Albrecht in an interview with the “Deutschlandfunk” (German world service) on 11 December 2017. The chairman of the SPD (Social Democratic Party) Martin Schulz didn’t want to take a back seat and called for the “United States of Europe” to be realised by 2025, a related Constitutional Treaty and a tough policy against those in the EU who do not want to join. His call is supposed to be a core element of the coalition negotiations with the CDU and CSU. Ms Merkel would not be opposed to it, even if she has remained discrete on the subject so far. But Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet, member of the same political party, joined the call for more EU in an interview with the “Deutschlandfunk” (6 December 2017). These developments are supported by the fact, that the German city of Aachen awarded the prestigious Charlemagne Prize 2018 to the French President “for his vision of a new Europe and the re-establishing of the European project”. Additionally this is supported by the fact, that on 11 December 2017 now also the ministers of foreign affairs – after the ministers of defence – of 25 EU states decided to establish a European Defence Union. How is this to be interpreted?
This reminds us of the strategic considerations of the US-agent Jean Monnet, the “Founding father of European Unification” (Wikipedia), who already in the fifties of the last century considered “crises” essential to promote the “European Unification” step by step.
The myth of the “peace project” was added to the European Unification.
But the “Peace Project” myth doesn’t measure up. Already beginning with Churchill’s speech, held in Zurich in September 1946, the beginning of the Cold War and geostrategic considerations was characterised in his speech. This war was not just “cold”, but it claimed millions of victims: in South America, in Africa, in Asia (several millions only in Korea and Indochina) ... also in the US itself and also in Europe. Added to this, is the famous sentence of the first NATO Secretary General and British Baron Hasting Lionel Ismay describing the purpose of NATO in Europe: “To keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”. According to Jean Monnet’s proposal for a supranational authority to control the German and French coal and steel production, the Montan-Union (European Coal and Steel Community) was started by the 6 founding members of the later EEC in 1951. It served mainly to control the West German coal and steel industry and was an expression of mistrust towards the young Federal Republic.
It is interesting that these origins are revived in today’s debate. This is supported by the first concrete step in founding the European Defence Union. Typical of this is the speech of Sigmar Gabriel at the influential “Berlin Foreign Policy Forum” of 5 December 2017 (https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/newsroom/berliner-forum-aussenpolitik/746464), which the German Foreign Office titled with “Europe in an uncomfortable World”. Gabriel’s line of argument is the following: More than 25 years after the end of the Cold War, Europe – Gabriel always means just the EU – is once again threatened: for example by “emerging states” such as China and Russia. However, in this serious threat situation, EU-Europe could no longer rely on the US – Gabriel is thinking rather of Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or George Soros. So the only way for the EU (for its commissioned work?) is: to become not only economically, but also militarily and politically strong and powerful. “We have to understand: either we try to shape this world, or we will be shaped by the rest of the world.” Respect for international law is supposed to be a secondary concern. Political and strategic considerations are paramount. Germany and the EU are to “fight with confidence” for what they want to achieve – without “oversized moral or normative blinders”.
The commentary in the renowned “Süddeutsche Zeitung” of 11 December 2017 of the initiative of Martin Schulz fits very well to this: “Now Martin Schulz has finally put EU-Europe in the centre of the coalition negotiations. It calls for the ‘United States of Europe’ to be created by 2025, if necessary, even without EU countries that are in fact working against Europe. The time frame of the SPD chairman is unrealistic. But his goal is right. Only a European Federal State can ensure that French, German, Polish or Portuguese people retain their sovereignty against Trump, China or Amazon. Emmanuel Macron has been stretching out his hand towards Germany for months. At some point it will be too late to take it.” Let’s do it!
All of this is reminiscent of lines of argument that do not characterise post-war, but pre-war times. This argument is not kosher. There are enemy images, prejudices. It is often proven that, for example, Russia and China do not have any aggressive intentions against Europe. However, the enemy stereotype of aggression is to be maintained by all means from the official side. The well-known German journalist and publicist Gabriele Krone-Schmalz has once again presented this in her latest book, “Eiszeit. Wie Russland dämonisiert wird und warum das so gefährlich ist” (Ice Age. How Russia is demonized and why it is so Dangerous) (ISBN 978-3-406-71412-2) in an excellent way. Russia and China have repeatedly made offers to cooperate towards Europe and have been doing so until today. Both countries spoke and are rightly speaking of possible “win-win” situations, i.e. ways that all sides could benefit from more cooperation – but the EU has considered it “better” to renew the Cold War against Russia and to impose unutterable sanctions. And China is accused without reason that it wants to split Europe with its project of the “New Silk Road”.
A teacher reported, that a question came up in his lessons if it is sensible to show the persecution and destruction of European Jews in the years 1933 to 1945 in all its brutality. One student replied that this was very important. Everyone must know exactly what happened then – in order to prevent such crimes in the future. A pupil replied that everyone knows exactly what happened then – and yet such crimes are committed again and again. A follow up question, whether young people wanted to take a stand for a better world today, was asked by a third student. A young man who is very interested in historical and political questions, answered with “this is in fact true” – but there is a lack of direction. The teacher nodded his approval.
The young man represents many young (and not only young) people in Germany and probably also in other European countries. Especially the most interested and thoughtful among them, those who do have a certain solid foundation of values, have become perplexed. A policy of grossness and violence, the power politics and the preparation of war (and the wars already taking place) are discouraging. The best hearts and minds are driven into political apathy. So it is not so surprising if a young man interested in historical and political questions is pondering on the lack of direction. If this continues, democratic life will be pushed to its death. For those planning wars this may be “sensible”. However, for most people this is a catastrophe.
In view of this, to bank on “resistance” is not a satisfactory solution. And the “inner emigration” and the retreat into the private sphere are certainly not a solution. So what is the direction? Perhaps, to support those who are genuinely and honestly committed to peace and justice. •
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