“All parties fool their voters, but there is no other party that has got such a phenomenal difference between its image and its reality.”
Jutta Ditfurth, former chairwoman of the party “Die Grünen” (The Greens)1
2021 is the year of the next federal elections in Germany. For the first time since 2005, it is seriously expected that the party “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” will form the government together with other parties represented in the Bundestag, as for quite some time now, this party has been doing everything it can to accomplish this end. And it is massively supported by the “zeitgeist”. After a few political ascents and descents, this party has achieved high sympathy ratings and considerable electoral successes since the last Bundestag elections; and as so often before, it is making use of its aura of being the environmentalist avant-garde, promoting peace and fighting for human rights, if now without any radicalism and in an entirely liberal and bourgeois way. Its prominent representatives have learned to conduct themselves in a particularly smart way and not to frighten anyone any more. But who actually bothers about what Germany and Europe will really face, should the Greens have a significant influence on German politics? It is time to take a closer look at this question. The following article is about the party’s foreign and security policy programme.
After seven years and 34 rounds of negotiations, the relevant representatives of the European Union and China signed a comprehensive investment agreement called the Comprehensive Agreement on Investments (CAI) on 30 December 2020. Top politicians on both sides agree that this agreement is a milestone in bilateral economic relations and according to the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” of 31 December, it is intended “primarily to offer EU companies new opportunities in the rapidly growing Chinese market and to ensure fairer competitive conditions than before”. China, the newspaper continues, “will in return receive the assurance that the EU’s internal market is open and is intended to remain so.”
Green politician Bütikofer 2020: Coordinate EU-China policy with Biden
This is not the place to go into more detail about this agreement. It is more interesting to note from whom a loud dissenting voice was heard: from Member of the European Parliament Reinhard Bütikofer, who is a member of the German party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and was formerly its leader. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk on 31 December, he complained about the Chinese’ lack of compliance with the treaty and the absence of clear, “European” standards: on sustainability, human rights and the ban on forced labour. Bütikofer suspects that China’s current concession is an attempt to split the EU from the USA before Joseph Biden takes office, and counters that the EU should “first talk to Biden” to “see where we [EU and USA] can adopt a common policy”.
Bütikofer, Özdemir and Biden 2004: Together with neo-conservative war-mongers against Russia
Adopting a “common policy” with powerful forces in the USA is not a one-off within the Green Party, certainly not for Reinhard Bütikofer. Sixteen years ago, on 28 September 2004, he and his party colleague Cem Özdemir together with 98 others signed an “Open Letter” to the heads of state and government of the European Union and the Nato states. This letter was intended to counter the rapprochements of Germany’s own government and “old Europe” with Russia during and after the Iraq war in 2003. It had been written by one of the main warmonger groups in the USA, the neo-conservative “Project for the New American Century”2 after the attack on a Russian school in Beslan. It sharply criticised the Russian President Putin (also in office at the time). Unlike in the 2001 Afghanistan war, Putin had spoken out against the new war waged by the USA and its “coalition of the willing”, which violated international law. The letter, however, glossed over this war as part of an attempt to “bring about democratic change everywhere in the world, including the greater Middle East”, and claimed: “The leaders of the West must realise that their current strategy towards Russia [at that time still partly endeavouring to reach an understanding] has failed.”
In addition to the two prominent Green politicians, numerous well-known US and European neoconservatives had signed the letter. Joseph Biden, the incoming US president, was also among the signatories.
Bütikofer’s anti-Russian and now also anti-Chinese statements correspond to a long-standing line of procedure. Just one more example: On 2 November 2016, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” had reported on German opposition to Nord Stream 2.3 Among those opposed was Reinhard Bütikofer, who criticised Gerhard Schröder at the time: “Gerhard Schröder is committed to Russian energy exports, which finance Russian war exports.”
“Role model” Fischer
Already with NATO’s war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in spring 1999, which violated international law, the image the Green Party had cultivated until then, namely of standing for the protection of the environment and for peace, had been contradicted by reality. Joschka Fischer, at that time German Foreign Minister and a very prominent Green, had, at that time still against the resistance of numerous party colleagues, propagated the war, using an unspeakable Auschwitz comparison. Among other things, this war was accompanied by massive environmental damage, not least through the NATO use of radioactive weapons systems and the bombing of chemical-industrial plants. In the following years Fischer, unlike the then chancellor Gerhard Schröder, never made any critical statements about his policies at the time. The fact that he built up close transatlantic ties in the years that followed, not least with the then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, fitted in with his war propaganda. He has stuck to his line to this day – as was again noticeable in an interview with the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” on 29 December 2020.
Jutta Ditfurth’s view on the German Greens’ US relations
Jutta Ditfurth has shown that Bütikofer, Özdemir and Fischer are no exceptional phenomena in the Green Party in her book published almost ten years ago, “Krieg, Atom, Armut. Was sie reden, was sie tun. Die Grünen – War, Atoms, Poverty. What they talk about, what they do. The Green Party” – especially in the chapter “In Stahlgewittern – In storms of steel”. In an interview with Spiegel online on 20 February 2011, she succinctly summarised her research once more: “Spiegel online: You say the Greens have turned from a pacifist to a war party. You even accuse the federal leader Cem Özdemir of ‘walking on the US leash’. Ditfurth: In 2002, Özdemir disappeared from the German public eye for a while, after the bonus mile affair and the scandal about a private loan […]. He was in the USA, sponsored by the German Marshall Fund, and did some kind of additional training. Then followed his steep political rise – and suddenly he is sitting on all kinds of committees that always have something to do with how Europe and Germany relate to the USA. In October 2010, WikiLeaks published around 400,000 secret documents on the Iraq war. Cem Özdemir found that ethically questionable.” Then she added her personal experience: “I myself have experienced the influence of the US government on local politicians: When I was the federal chairperson of the Green Party, the US State Department wanted to contact me. I said I was not interested. But they tried anyway during my lecture tour through the USA in 1987. At Georgetown University in Washington, I suddenly found myself standing in front of an invited audience – including lots of uniform wearers and CIA employees. We argued loudly - a former city commander of Berlin yelled out: ‘If we had wished so, the Greens would never have existed!’”
Few other analyses so far
Jutta Ditfurth has remained pretty much alone with her presentation of these matters. Yet a few exceptions should be pointed out here. On 17 July 2011, a few months after the publication of Ms Ditfurth’s book, David Noack published a chart showing a transatlantic network in which Green politicians are involved. Eight years later, on 21 June 2019, this illustration was subjected to a “fact check”.4 The conclusion: “A chart apparently shows transatlantic relations of prominent Green politicians. It is currently being re-circulated on Facebook, but dates from 2011. Most of the claims are true, but some information is wrong or out of date.” (Emphasis by the author)
Also interesting is a text from 2 March 2015 by Robert Zion, at that time himself a member of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and at the same time active in the German Peace Society. It is entitled: “Die Grünen: Parteiferne Anstiftung – The Greens: incitement without affiliation.”5 In its introduction it says: “In the Ukraine crisis, a good part of the external image of the Greens is shaped by parts of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is close to the party. In the process, very specific transatlantic attitudes and connections with a long history emerge once more. “The text refers to events already mentioned above and then reports on a conference hosted by the US Center for European Policy Analysis in early October 2014. The topic of this conference was “Reviving Atlanticism in Central Europe: Threats and Opportunities.” One of the keynote speakers was Victoria Nuland, co-responsible for the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and wife of neo-conservative Robert Kagan. From Germany, only two people were invited: the Green politician Marieluise Beck, married to the co-chair of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Ralf Fücks, and their daughter Charlotte Beck, who shortly afterwards became programme director for foreign and security policy at the Washington office of the Green Foundation.
Also interesting are the references in the text to the ideological origins of the Greens, who are courted by US neo-conservatives: they do not come from the environmental movement, but were once avowed Trotskyists or Maoists. In 1983, for example, Marieluise Beck still described herself as a “Trotskyist sympathiser”. Many prominent US neo-conservatives also have a Trotskyist background. Incidentally, the already mentioned Reinhard Bütikofer writes on his own internet site about his student days: “He joined the Communist University Group (KHG), later the Communist League of West Germany (KBW).”
The German Greens in the year of the federal elections: fully NATO-compatible
On 26 September 2021, the next Bundestag will be elected in Germany. Almost all the top politicians of the “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” party have now embraced transatlantic ties and made the party not only fully EU-compatible, but also NATO-
compatible. The latest pieces in the mosaic so far are the new party manifesto adopted at the end of November 2020 and the statements of top Green politicians during and around the perfectly organised digital party convention.
The party leaders largely followed a policy paper of 16 April 2020 drafted by their member of the Bundestag Franziska Brantner.6 Her line of argument was as follows: The world is in great disorder. Authoritarian states lusting for conquest like Russia and China are trying with all their might to fill the power-political vacuum. What the USA will do is uncertain (in April it was not yet clear whether Donald Trump would remain US president). Even so the Greens see themselves “closely linked to the USA in terms of values and defence policy” (!). EU-Europe and Germany as a part of this, would have to assume “more responsibility” in the whole world, which means also being ready for more military efforts, if necessary for more war operations everywhere in the world. According to the Green politician, Europe ought to “grow up and reorganise the division of labour in the transatlantic alliance”, ought to “optimise its military capabilities”. Of course, there are always reservations about military missions, also because of Germany’s history, and it is true that they should be raised. However, the Greens must “also face up to difficult questions about war and peace”. For example, “How do we ensure that it is we who dominate the spiral of escalation and not Putin, Erdogan or Xi Jinping?”
In the new party programme, we find the significant statement: “Direct [military] operations [of the Bundeswehr] within the framework of the United Nations have [...] priority over crisis operations of the EU and NATO. So it is only “priority” now. This has little connection to international law and the UN Charter.
The chairperson of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Annalena Baerbock, continued this line around the party conference at the end of November 2020, so that the Berlin daily “Der Tagesspiegel” wrote on 1 December 2020: “The Greens are making themselves fit for government. Higher spending on the Bundeswehr or combat missions with France – Green Party leader Baerbock is ready to talk about it. There is much praise from the CDU.”
Oskar Lafontaine: “When it comes down to business, the Greens are reliable from the point of view of the USA”
Oskar Lafontaine, former SPD leader and now prominent, but reclusive, in the Die Linke party, commented on the development of the Greens as early as 29 April 2020: “When it comes down to business – rearmament, Russia-bashing, Nord Stream 2 – the Greens are reliable from the point of view of the USA, which is terrorising half the world with sanctions, trade wars, drone wars and bomb wars even in the corona crisis.”7
Do all German Greens voters know and approve of all this? •
1 «Grünen-Wähler wollen getäuscht werden», (Green voters want to be deceived),Spiegel online in conversation with Jutta Ditfurth, 20 February 2011; https://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/alt-linke-jutta-ditfurth-gruenen-waehler-wollen-getaeuscht-werden-a-745943.html