We need more advocates for justice and humanity

by Karl Müller

Next to me on the train there is a young lady sitting, she is about 40 years old. During our conversation it turns out that she is a Kurd. Already for many years she has been living in Germany and is married to a Serb. I ask her what she thinks about the latest developments of the Turkish government’s relation with the Kurds. “It’s a tragedy,” she says. Not indignantly, rather helplessly. But that was was not amazing, she continues; primarily because of the numerous natural resources in the regions where the Kurds live, the Turkish government would never allow a separate Kurdish state.
The existing influential powers of the world were not interested in the fate of the Kurds, she says. These powers could not make profits on the part of the Kurds. She and her husband belonged to a minority that has been pilloried and ignored. Her husband came from the Serbian part of the country of Croatia. During the holidays they would probably go there again to visit their family. There it still looked like it used to look in the time immediately after the war in the early nineties. The Croatian central government did not make any reconstruction efforts, she says. Almost only old people lived there. The younger ones are all leaving. The thought crosses my mind that this is also a kind of expulsion as well. After all, Croatia is a member of the EU “community of values”!

Cui bono IS?

On 27 July, one day after the Turkish president had revoked the peace deal with the country’s PKK once more, there was talk of their being a terrorist organisation and Walter Stütz­le, a former state secretary of the German Ministry of Defense expressed his view on radio Deutschlandfunk. The Turkish government has asked for a meeting of the NATO Council. It regards itself as under attack and seeks the support of NATO. A few days earlier there had indeed been an attack in Turkey. The IS was referred to as perpetrator. Turkey bombed positions of the IS … but also of the Kurds … even though in northern Syria they had just been fighting and were still fighting the IS. Now the Turkish government wanted to take control of a 50-kilometre wide strip in northern Syria. There was absolutely no international legal basis for that, he says. Turkey was planning an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign state.

A dynamic, which one day nobody will be able to handle

Walter Stützle says: “I do hope that, above all, the United States will exert some influence on Turkey with a reasonable position in the NATO Council.” But then he adds immediately: “I hope so – my belief, however, is not very strong.” The interviewer adds, that the first US response to the Turkish action was “an understanding one, according to the principle, that also Turkey had the right to proceed against associations, conceived by them as terrorist”. Stützle adds: “If you look at the map, you see that the intention [of the Turkish government] is – as revealed in the report before our conversation – to establish a controlled security zone between Turkey and Syria, that this will in reality result in a policy of occupation against a sovereign state, whose political regime we find unacceptable, but which actually exists and actually still has the responsibility. And that means war, quite simply war.” We are faced with a dynamic, “which one day nobody will be able to handle any more. Precisely in the area that we are talking about, we are experiencing the decline of the national order, by the way essentially caused by the disastrous war in Iraq, triggered by Bush Junior in 2003. And we see that also Western governments, including NATO governments, are facing this problem without any concept so far.”

The Kurds – victims of a new US policy

Three days later, on 30 July, the former state secretary in the German Foreign Office and former German Ambassador in the US, Jürgen Chrobog, takes the floor in the same broadcasting programme. He fears that for Turkey it is not mainly about fighting the IS. Main enemies of the Turkish government are the Syrian President Assad, whom “one wants to get away with”, and the Kurds. Admittedly, the Kurds fought the IS, but now the Turkish government expressed that they wanted to fight the IS. For this they had got a “carte blanche. They could do as they liked, they were backed above all by the Americans”.
Now the Americans, as Chrobog says, could use airbases in Turkey (and maybe not only there) again with the approval of the Turkish government for their operations in the Middle East and now they “reset anything that might annoy the Turks in any way and might jeopardise this again.” Therefore, the US government was willing now to sacrifice the Kurds after they had been previously used for the fight against IS. “In this case here”, the former German US ambassador says, the Kurds “are the victims of a new American policy”. When asked whether the problems in the region would not even become greater that way, he replies: “That is certainly a risk that turns out quite clearly. The Americans see it very one-sidedly, they set up the sole objective that they pursue, everything else is neglected, which will increase the tensions.”

From virtue terror …

Georg Büchner’s drama “Danton’s Death”, written in 1835, is about the deadly confrontation between the Jacobin Robespierre and his opponent Danton during the French Revolution. Büchner makes St. Just, a fellow of Robespierre, express the core of the violence programme and his basic conviction: “There seem to be some sensitive ears at this meeting that cannot tolerate well the word “blood”. Some general observations may convince them that we are not more ferocious than nature and the time. Nature follows its laws quietly and irresistibly; man is destroyed, where he comes into conflict with it. […] Now I ask: Should the spiritual nature be more considerate in revolutions than the physical nature? Should an idea not be allowed to destroy what opposes it, as well as a law of physics does? Shall an event that is about to change the whole essence of the moral nature, i.e. of mankind, not be allowed to go through blood? The cosmic spirit uses our arms in the spiritual sphere just as it uses volcanoes and floods in the physical sphere. What difference is there whether you die of a disease or of the revolution? […] Moses led his people through the Red Sea and in the desert, until the old corrupt generation had destroyed itself, before he founded the new state. Legislators! We have neither the Red Sea nor the desert, but we have the war and the guillotine. The revolution is like Pelias’ daughters: It dismembers the human kind to rejuvenate it. Humanity will rise from the blood vessel with primal power as the earth rises from the waves of the Flood, as if it was created for the first time.”

… to “humanitarian collateral damages”

The perpetrators of violence at the time spoke of the terror of virtue.
Today we speak of “humanitarian intervention”, of “Blood Borders”, plans for a new “Greater Middle East”... and of “collateral damages”.
Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria ... The disposition and the consequences of the programme of violence have remained the same. Under Bush Junior the neoconservatives had decisive influence on the policy of the United States. The neoconservatives have their roots in Trotskyism. Are they pursuing the target of Trotsky’s theory and practice of “permanent revolution” to this day?
Near the end of the drama Georg Büchner lets speak the wife of one of the victims of violence the following words: “Everything is indeed allowed to live, the little mosquito there – the bird. Then why not he? The stream of life would have to stagnate if only a single drop would be spilled. The earth would have to get a wound by the stroke.”

Reverence for life instead of violence that hides behind the lie

More than 100 years later, Albert ­Schweitzer spoke of the “Reverence for Life”: “I call humanity for the ethics of reverence for life. This ethic makes no distinction between more valuable and less valuable life, higher and lower life. It rejects such a distinction. […] The immediate fact in the consciousness of people is: ‘I am life that wants to live, surrounded by life that wants to live.’ This general affirmation of life is a spiritual act by which man ceases to live thoughtless, by which he rather begins to dedicate himself to his life with reverence and giving it its true value. Man, in this way become thinking, experiences at the same time the necessity of practicing the same reverence for life toward all will-to-live as toward his own. So he experiences the other life in his own life. Goodness, by the same token, is the saving or helping of life, the enabling of whatever I can. Therefore, I see that evil is what annihilates, hampers, or hinders life. This is the absolute and reasonable ethic.”
Facing the world today and the past 25 years is there anyone able to better formulate this?

The crescendo of the peaceable persons – against the primitivity of violence

Albert Schweitzer continued his text as follows: “In this time when violence hides behind the lie and dominates the world so eerily as never before, I still remain convinced that truth, peacefulness and love, gentleness and goodness are that power that is over all the power. They will own the world, if only enough people think and live those thoughts of love and truth, of gentleness and peacefulness purely and steadily enough. All ordinary violence in this world creates a limit itself, because it generates a counter-violence that will be equal or superior sooner or later.”
What about today? Fact is that those countries in the world that do not want to subordinate to the dictation of the “world’s only superpower” any longer have heavily gained in importance in the last 15 years. They arm themselves against further outbreaks of violence of that “single world power”, but they do not want to solve the conflicts by wars. First priority is the demand for compliance with the objectives and the ways prescribed by the United Nations Charter and the international law. “War is obsolete”, every sensibly thinking person knows that today.
But why does the Kurdish woman in the train think she is fighting a losing battle? There is the experience of the past 25 years. We all have had this experience, but we must not just perpetuate. “Still …” there is the principle of violence. But was Albert Schweitzer not right, when he wrote about the people who take the reverence for life seriously: “They will own the world, if only enough people …”?    •