Munich Security Conference and German Bundeswehr on a dangerous policy of confrontation towards Russia

by Karl-Jürgen Müller

In his speech to this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos on 27 January1, the Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of the dangers of a major war. This was not the first time. Unimpressed by this, important Western mass media – also in Switzerland – are continuing their anti-Russia campaign journalism – and they do this not without beeing backed by interested circles in politics, business and society. Probably the biggest agitator in this is NATO. It proved this once again with its almost 70-page paper “NATO 2030: United for a New Era. Analysis and Recommendations of the Reflection Group Appointed by the NATO Secretary-General”2 of 25 November 2020, which identifies Russia as “the main threat to the Alliance in this decade”. Co-chair of the “expert group” was the former German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière.

The fact that this is an “enemy image” distorting reality becomes apparent as soon as one tries to get to the bottom of the countless massive accusations against Russia and especially against its president. This also applies to the “official” accusations made by NATO. It applies to accusations in connection with Ukraine all the way to the issue of Nawalny and cannot be set out again here. It is to be hoped that the assertion made more than 100 years ago by Gustave Le Bon in his book “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind” that people can be made to believe any lie if it is repeated often enough and insistently enough, will perhaps today have the opposite effect on many people, that is, to raise many question marks against the obtrusively repeated “enemy image of Russia”.

Basic strategic decisions of US governments

Let us merely recall three basic strategic decisions taken by the NATO states and above all by their leading power, the USA, over the past 30 years.

  • In 1991, the war against Iraq3 – even before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and only a few weeks after the Charter of Paris of November 1990 still pointing in a different direction – was the clearly visible prelude to the attempt to impose a “New World Order” dominated by the USA. Like the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shortly before the end of the Second World War, the massive US use of weapons was intended to demonstrate to the whole world the power of the USA and that it does not hesitate to use its means.
  • In 1999, the NATO war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia showed that the USA and its allies were no longer willing to respect international law and the United Nations Charter. The political leadership of Russia – at that time still with President Boris Yeltsin – was openly ignored.4
  • In 2003, the second US war against Iraq showed that the leaderships of the USA and its allies are prepared to lie in order to justify their own strategic interests (domination of the Middle East and its raw material reserves) with the vociferous invocation of interests of mankind (engagement against the threat of weapons of mass destruction, ending dictatorships, assertion of democracy and human rights).

Much has been written and reported on these and many other points over the past 30 years – also in this newspaper – but nothing has improved. On the contrary: the NATO states continue to arm – although they still by far exceed the armament efforts of Russia (and also China); the mass media campaign propagating the enemy image is in full swing, and the opposition to the preparations for war, dedicated to the cause of peace, is today weakened rather than strengthened – apart from courageous exceptions time and again.

The Bundeswehr is meant to take the military lead in Europe

And, so far, almost everything indicates that the NATO states and their allies are about to intensify the confrontation course with the new US President Joe Biden. The German “Position Paper: Reflections on the Bundeswehr of the Future”5 of 9 February 2021 and the Munich Security Conference on the afternoon of 19 February 20216, which was conducted in online format, are currently indicative of this.
  The German Bundeswehr position paper, written by German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr Eberhard Zorn, states under “Risks and threats”, among other things: “Russia self-identifies as an antagonist to the West. With increasing obviousness, Moscow has lately stepped up its military and political threats, knowingly violating international agreements. In recent years, Russia has used military force against its neighbours and has conducted an extensive conventional and nuclear arms build-up.”
  While this account gives a very distorted and out-of-context account of reality, it serves as an authoritative justification for the demand for further rearmament and for a German army that is to be ready to go to war. The paper puts it this way: It needs “to be willing and able to hold their own in combat”. Or also like this: “Our partners quite rightly expect us to raise our ambitions [...].” Within the NATO states, Germany is to take on a special role in future, as a “‘hub’ within the Alliance”, closely alongside US forces. Germany is to take on the “role as a framework nation”, “framework nation that its allies can rely on with their capabilities and structures, especially those with limited military assets.” “This means that the Bundeswehr needs a broad capability spectrum so that we can our partners in all military areas”. Germany has the “role as a ‘first responder’, which, owing to its central position, must be on the scene quicker than anyone else in the event of crisis, especially on the external borders of NATO and the EU”. This applies to everywhere from the Baltic states to the Balkans, from the Mediterranean to the North and Baltic Sea”. However, the Bundeswehr is “still underfunded” and “not sufficiently prepared” for all this, i. e., for “a modern, fully operational Bundeswehr”. At the end of the paper, it says: “We have no time to lose now”.

The “Big Four” in Munich

In Munich, mainly four politicians had their say online: first the new US President Joe Biden, then German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then French President Emmanuel Macron and finally British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Now that US President Donald Trump was voted out of office, all four politicians were very eager to demonstrate unity and make commitments to NATO and the transatlantic “partnership”. Not only niceties were exchanged. Joe Biden spoke about “how we’re [!] going to be able to meet the threat from Russia”. Because: “The Kremlin attacks our democracies and weaponises corruption to try to undermine our system of governance.” Putin seeks to “weaken Europe – the European project and our NATO Alliance”. He also wanted to “undermine transatlantic unity and our resolve”. Angela Merkel did not disagree. Instead, she said, “the transatlantic partnership has [among others] two major tasks for which we have to devise joint strategies.” On the one hand, this concerns the relationship with China. The other is the relationship with Russia. It is very important “that we draw up a joint transatlantic agenda on Russia”.
  Ms Merkel will be aware that a “joint transatlantic agenda on Russia” will primarily mean that the European NATO states – apart from a few niches – will have to adapt to the ideas of the US government.

What’s the issue? Regime-change in Russia!

Of course, things are not openly stated in public. That is left to others. For example, Gabriel Felbermayr, the president of the German-based Institute for the World Economy. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk on 11 February 2021, he commented on the new EU sanctions against Russia that were only planned at that time (and have since been decided). He criticised them, not because he is against sanctions against Russia, but because they have had too little effect so far: “The goals we have towards Russia are very big: we want nothing less than a regime-change in Russia […]. If you really want to bring Russia to its knees economically, you will need a grand coalition of countries, because Europe alone cannot get everything it needs.” [Emphasis km]
  It is very likely that this “project” is being worked on. So, who actually has reasons to feel threatened?
  The German Russia expert Alexander Rahr has written a new book that will be published in March 2021. Its telling title, “Anmassung. Wie Deutschland sein Ansehen bei den Russen verspielt” (Arrogance. How Germany is squandering its reputation with the Russians).  •


cf. Current Concerns No. 4/5 of 2 March 2021
2 https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2020/12/pdf/201201-Reflection-Group-Final-Report-Uni.pdf; also see the article by Manlio Dinucci in this issue of Current Concerns
3 cf. Current Concerns No. 3 of 16 February 2021
4 This was not an oversight but a clear signal to Russia that it no longer had any say in world political issues. As an example of US hubris, just read the remarks of Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book “The Grand Chessboard” (1997) in the chapter “The Black Hole”.
5 https://www.bmvg.de/resource/blob/5028534/44dcd6d650e6c1f19ab2b82fe1f9510f/210209_BMin%20%26%20GenInsp_Positionspapier-Bundeswehr%20der%20Zukunft.pdf
6 https://securityconference.org/msc-2021/

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