What if …

Germany and the Ukrainian war

by Karl-Jürgen Müller

Driven by other NATO states and the private and public media in Germany, most of the country’s politicians and officials have been outdoing each other since 24 February 2022 with anti-Russian rhetoric and pledges of allegiance to the transatlantic alliance that were unheard of even in the first Cold War. And so far, there are no signs of improvement. The most recent examples were the government statement of the German Chancellor and the subsequent speeches in the German Bundestag on 19 May, but also the speech by the President of the German Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz [Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution] on the same day.
  Why is a speech by Thomas Haldenwang worth mentioning at all? The fact that heads of public authorities and representatives of public authorities in Germany are now talking along the lines of politics is not what Germans had hoped for from their civil servants after 1945: independent-minded personalities, inspired by the common good, committed to the constitution of the country as well as to law and order, but not to the media and politicians who are currently setting the tone.
  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tried to characterise the current state of our countries in a speech on 14 May 2022, saying not only that the West had “declared an all-out hybrid war on Russia”. But also: “The amazing thing is that in almost all ‘civilised’ countries a raging Russophobia is rampant. They have thrown their political correctness, decency, rules and legal standards overboard.”
  One should not dismiss these words as Russian propaganda.

What has become unbearable

What our media, our politicians, our representatives of the authorities are currently stating, on a daily basis, has become unbearable. If you don’t want to take part in it, don’t want to submit to it or don’t want to numb your own thinking and feeling, you can only endure analysing the events and the behaviour of those “responsible” with an alert mind and a healthy distance. Don’t get too emotionally involved ... and don’t forget the question of what would be “normal”, reasonable and emotionally appropriate in view of the tragedy that didn’t just begin on 24 February 2022, which also doesn’t just concern Ukraine, but the overall state of our world today.
  I imagine, for example, what the government statement of a German chancellor on 19 May 2022 might have been that took seriously what the Russian foreign minister had said five days earlier and extended a hand towards peace.

Core ideas of a of an imagined Chancellor’s speech

Of course, this is not meant to be a complete speech, but a few key ideas of such an imagined speech. The German Chancellor could have started his speech with the Charter of the United Nations of June 1945; with the attempt of many serious politicians from all over the world who had been shaken up by death and destruction to create a basis for peaceful and equal coexistence of sovereign nations and self-determined peoples after the end of the European war. And how difficult it was even then to follow words with deeds. For only a few weeks after the adoption of the Charter and the hope for a better world, bomber pilots of a founding member of the UN dropped the first two atomic bombs on Japan, killing tens of thousands of innocent people.
  The German chancellor could have pointed to the more than 10 million other victims of wars between 1945 and 1990, to the failure of the world community and especially of the great powers to put their power and money interests behind a global bonum commune.
  To the hopes of people all over the world that in 1990, after the end of a Cold War with many hot wars, they would be able to build a more peaceful and just world.

Bitter disappointment in many parts of the world

And to the bitter disappointment in many places of the world, when one country of the world and its influential forces was reaching for the only world power and in doing so once again overran many states and peoples with wars and other plagues. Not at all being prepared to allow any kind of equality among the peoples and states of the world. On the contrary, other peoples and states were considered vassals or colonies of a modern kind! The Chancellor could have spoken of Africa, Asia, and Latin America ... but also of Europe and its intended function as a “bridgehead” on the Eurasian continent before the “black hole” – that’s how some in the West spoke of Russia in the 1990s. Of the Anglo-Saxon belief in its own special position in the world. Of the “Five Eyes” and their claim to be able to put the whole world under surveillance.

Germany – still not sovereign, but no longer “Never again war”

The German chancellor could also have talked about how his own country, Germany, failed in its attempt to become a truly sovereign country with a self-determined people – even though this was officially proclaimed in 1990. That after 1990 unfortunately the reunited Germany did not much contribute to peace in the world, as its government and parliament had contractually promised. Instead, it pursued power and interest politics in the Balkans – and not only there – and was jointly responsible for the wars there in the 1990s. Yes, that his country, Germany, was complicit in a war of aggression that violated international law against another European country in 1999 – and was jointly responsible for the death and destruction there. And that after 1990, his country’s politicians wanted this “never again war” to be forgotten and instead wanted to “normalise” German participation in wars step by step with “salami tactics”.
  The German chancellor could have said that he deeply regrets all this, that he is ashamed of this policy of injustice and violence, that he is filled with deep compassion for the victims of this policy.

Taking Russia seriously

And that Germany’s dealings with Russia after 1990 also were neither fair nor open, that Germany did not answer honestly Russia’s many offers of cooperation and that Germany, with many wrong steps, is partly responsible for the tragedy that has been unfolding in Ukraine for many years. But that he now finally wanted to take seriously what a Russian President has said again and again for two decades and once again on 9 May 2022: “The United States began claiming their exceptionalism, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, thus denigrating not just the entire world but also their satellites, who have to pretend not to see anything, and to obediently put up with it.
  But we are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never give up our love for our Motherland, our faith and traditional values, our ancestors’ customs and respect for all peoples and cultures.”
  Yes, the German chancellor could also have said that Russia should not be made the scapegoat for the economic turmoil in Germany and many other countries in the world, especially those that are already poor. That there were once again profiteers of war at the expense of the general public and that it would be very worthwhile to look more closely at the economic and financial policy mistakes of the past decades, at the devastating consequences of our own sanctions policy, at our stock exchanges and the large fortunes in our countries.
  Finally, he said that he could no longer stand the disrespect with which politicians and other “elites” in his country looked down on other countries and governments, and how they set themselves up as judges of good and evil, when Germany had every reason to be self-critical and now finally had to tackle its own serious, home-made political, economic, and social problems.

A real “turn of the times”

Therefore, the German chancellor could have said that it is now high time to take a different, completely different path, a real “turn of the times”, which recognises that a world full of enemy images, a Europe against Russia cannot be an outlook, but only self-destructive for all of Europe …And that he therefore wants to change the course of German politics, fundamentally. And that he also wants to campaign for this in the EU, in all of Europe and with his allies in the USA. That he now wants to fully comply with his oath of office to “devote his strength to the welfare of the German people, to increase its benefit and to prevent it from harm”. Above all, however, the commandment of the German basic law to “serve the peace of the world”.
  From the depths of his conviction and with all his strength. Because the current path is a dead end: for politics, for the economy, for culture ... for the vast majority of people. And that otherwise it may very well be that humanity will not be “lucky” again ...
  The German chancellor could have said all this and much more on 19 May. We must live with the fact that he did not ... it would have been quite unlikely and very likely will be anytime soon. However – this also strengthens the thinking and the feeling: to imagine alternatives to what is wrong.  •

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