On 23 May, the Federal Republic of Germany celebrates two anniversaries: its 70th anniversary and the 70th anniversary of its constitution, the Basic Law, which is exemplary in terms of German history. It formed the ethical basis for my profession as an officer of the Bundeswehr, because the Soldiers’ Law defined as a basic obligation “to defend the right and freedom of the German people […]”. By “law” is meant precisely this Basic Law, which, in Article 20, paragraph 3, binds the executive branch, of which the armed forces are a part, to law and justice. In other words, the Constitution prohibits government action outside the law. Furthermore, Article 25 of the Basic Law states that “the general rules of international law shall prevail over [German] laws, shall form an integral part of federal law, and shall directly create rights and obligations for the residents of the territory of the Federal Republic”. Article 26 also makes the preparation of a war of aggression a punishable offence. The military self-image of the Bundeswehr, whose air force I joined in 1962 and to which I belonged for 38 years, was to prevent wars in order not to conjure up the permissible case of national and alliance defence in the first place.
I have therefore already followed with some concern the considerations of military planners and politicians at the beginning of the 1990s to redefine the role of the Bundeswehr after the disappearance of the opponent to whose address the deterrence was directed. In short, the German armed forces should be turned into a normal instrument of foreign policy for the assertion of interests, as has always been the case among NATO allies, and the eyes should be closed to the fact that the Basic Law was the survivors’ answer to Nazi barbarism. Its authors wanted to rule out for the future the possibility that war would ever again emanate from German soil, a formulation literally found in the Two-Plus-Four Agreement of 1990, which gave Germany back full sovereignty.
Nevertheless, the Bundeswehr’s operations in the international arena, such as in Somalia in 1993 or later in Bosnia after the Dayton Agreement, could not be objected to under legal conditions, although one can of course reach different opinions.
When the crisis around Kosovo in 1997/98/99 came to a dangerous head with the active assistance of Western secret services and the work of PR agencies, I was employed as a consultant in the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) in Bonn. Until the beginning of the war on 24 March 1999, I was able to read the weekly situation assessments written by the Ministry for the parliamentary group leaders in the German Bundestag and the Bundestag Committees for Foreign Affairs and Defence. At first with astonishment, but in the course of the months increasingly angry I had to find out that the situation analyses of my comrades and the statements of leading politicians diverged more and more. This became particularly clear after the Bundestag elections and the start of the new red-green federal government on 27 October 1998. In the aforementioned situation assessments, a civil war situation was always described which dispensed with any one-sided attribution of blame to the Serbian side, did not speak of displaced persons, but of refugees – as is well known, a serious difference.
The fairness of the analyses can be illustrated by a very concrete example, but it is pars pro toto. When the Kosovo Verification Mission began at the end of October 1998 on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1203, the situation analyses reported that the Serbian side fully adhered to the agreements and withdrew the armed forces to the north for unbundling. A few weeks later it was clear from the linguistic style that Serbia reacted to the massive violations of the agreements by the Kosovar side with offensive actions. In the German press, on the other hand, and in political discourses, Serbia was accused of breaking the agreements without mentioning the provocations in Kosovo.
The contradictions between political statements and those responsible for analysing the situation can be seen particularly in the following example. While the threat of military measures was justified by Serbia with “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide”, the assessment of the situation by the then “Amt für Nachrichtenwesen der Bundeswehr” (!) ends on March 23, 1999 (!): “[...] in Kosovo there are still [emphasis of the author] no tendencies towards ethnic cleansing discernible”.
With my opposition to the course towards Serbia, which was aggravated after the assumption of government responsibility by a Social Democrat-led federal government, I belonged to a minority that, however, included parts of all parties represented in parliament and some among the thousands of civilian and military employees of the BMVg. Despite our networking up to the Bundestag faction of the SPD and the Greens, it was not possible to draw the attention of the determining media in Germany to the contradictions between the objective analyses, based on facts, and the argumentation of the politicians.
When it became apparent at the beginning of 1999 during the sham negotiations in Rambouillet that everything was heading for a war with German participation against Serbia without a mandate from the UN Security Council, this was a blow to my military and civic self-image. The – futile – efforts to create a counter-public were rooted in the efforts of all comrades-in-arms to prevent a dangerous precedent with which German politics could continue to decide on military missions in the future, without regard to international law and the constitution. Developments since then have shown that this concern was not unfounded, most recently in the case of the Syrian mission without any basis in international law, as the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag has judged.
The geopolitical and geostrategic backgrounds of the international law crime against Serbia, on the other hand, were only revealed to me later, after my retirement in 2000. This war was to be waged, and all serious considerations to prevent it were therefore doomed to failure from the outset. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was no longer needed by the USA after the end of the East-West conflict; it had become superfluous and, as a non-aligned state, no longer needed to be maintained politically and diplomatically. Its economic model of workers’ self-administration stood in the way of the neoliberal oriented transformation of the former socialist states. Above all, however, it was the USA’s intention to revitalize Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory (1904) and create the conditions for achieving control of this very heartland, which is essentially identical to today’s Russian Federation and parts of China, in perspective by controlling Eastern Europe.
When the signatures under the Charter of Paris in 1990 had not yet dried, the so-called Neocons in the USA began to think intensively about how the dominance of the USA could be saved and extended into the next century after the end of the Soviet Union. The result was the “Wolfowitz Doctrine” of 1992 and the strategy paper “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” of 2000. From this point of view, the last remnant of Yugoslavia had to disappear, after everything had been done to smash it up since 1991. Such strategic considerations cannot be presented to the public as a basis for action without creating a massive headwind. Thus the cards “human rights”, “ethnic cleansing” or “genocide” and the “Western community of values”, which cannot stand by and watch such an event inactively, are played. What the destruction of the chemical industry with its environmental consequences, which still have an effect today, has to do with such noble intentions is, however, only a few people ask.
Serbia didn’t stand a chance. German participation in the war of aggression, “the ultimate crime because it holds all others” (chief prosecutor Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg Trials), will remain an eternal stain on German post-war history. However, this will certainly not play a role in the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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