Europe and Russia – who wants war, who wants peace?

by Karl Müller

Two and a half weeks after the agreement between the President of France, the Ukraine, Russia and the German Chancellor on a ceasefire in the East of Ukraine in a joint declaration and after the simultaneously reached agreement on measures to ensure the ceasefire there has indeed been some progress. The number of combat operations declined, prisoners were exchanged and heavy weapons were withdrawn from the immediate front line.
However, no progress has been made on the propaganda front. On the contrary, the pitch in the Western media and by Western politicians and military – apart from interesting exceptions – is becoming ever more acrid. Even in Germany, whose Chancellor was involved in the agreement on the ceasefire.
The German private mainstream media reports are very gross. But also the public broadcasting and public television stations like ARD and ZDF are further demonising – in a rather simplistic fashion – the Russian President and portray Russia as the “evil empire”. The German government opposed, however, the prohibiton of work for Russian journalists in the EU countries – which was proposed by bodies of the European Union, and which was especially favoured by the governments of the Baltic States, Poland and Romania. Nonetheless Germany plans its own English-language channel at the public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which is to counter “Russian propaganda”. The German Foreign Ministry has written a “set of arguments” to counter alleged Russian claims on the East-West relationship and Ukraine circulating it within the ministry and the “Bundestag”. But unfortunately this paper is neither a scientific nor a serious factual analysis or opinion.
There are various explanations for this development on the propaganda front.
Some say that Western policy is not really interested in a ceasefire, it wants to increase tensions with Russia and provoke an escalation! Certainly this is true for a number of US politicians and senior NATO military leaders such as the Commander in Chief in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove. The United States “need” an enemy and confrontation, a number of analysts believe. Economically, they have weakened and now seek to polarize the world, and especially to bind EU-Europe more closely to themselves. But will this work without Europe?
Others say that Europe does not want war with Russia. Particularly, the German propaganda battle is not a preparation for an imminent military confrontation with Russia, but the attempt to impress and to bring the domestic audience in line politically.
In fact, it is striking that for years the German government has been unable to convince the majority of its population that Germany must take on more “responsibility” in the world – even with war-like means. From Security Conference to Security Conference German politicians like Joachim Gauck, Ursula von der Leyen or Frank-Walter Steinmeier do support this effort. Now even the German Minister of Defence while referring to Russia, wants to reinstate a previously discharged tank battalion (about 500 soldiers with around 50 tanks). Militarily this is largely meaningless, but it is eloquent symbol politics. Finally, the Germans are to understand that great dangers are imminent …
Previous surveys showed, that in the past years the German population has become even more restrained to take on “responsibility” in the context of a “robust mandate”, as it has always been since the end of World War II. In 2014, the German Körber Foundation has commissioned a representative survey of TNS Policy Research. The title of the study is “Interfering or retaining?” On the first page the study already summarizes the main result: “The interest in foreign-policy issues is high. However, the willingness to engage in a stronger international commitment is rather slight and fell sharply in the last 20 years. The Germans are particularly sceptical with regard to German soldiers in operation. The Germans have a clear priority for civilian capabilities in foreign policy commitments.”
In the US, the impact of the propaganda war against Russia in recent years has shown in the results of opinion polls. “The attitude of the Americans regarding Russia is as negative as ever. Not even in the 1960s, when the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev threatened the United States directly, was the gap so deep,” wrote the Russian news agency Sputnik News (formerly Ria Novosti) on 27 February. Which path will Europe follow, which one will the Germans follow? The public protests against the media propaganda battle have not abated in Germany. In the meantime, anyone interested can inform themselves well by reading a number of recent books and a large number of other publications, describing how the Germans are to be manipulated into a confrontation with Russia, but also towards a comprehensive readiness for war. But does the “Sportpalast” speech still work? Even then it was a propaganda lie – and profoundly contradicted human nature. “Another war in Europe? Not in our name!” A few months ago, more than 60 German personalities from public life have expressed under this premise, what millions of Germans and billions of people around the world think, feel and want. This must be the basis of German and European foreign policy. Then there will be no more war in Europe.    •