Clausewitz Reloaded


BERLIN (Own report) - The German Minister of Defense is preparing public opinion to accept new Bundeswehr combat missions. Thomas de Maizière explained that there are great "expectations" placed on the German armed forces, far surpassing those that Germany has "so far known" and "accepted." The Minister announced, "we could be concretely called upon" for interventions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or Sudan. De Maizière's announcements received wide-ranging acceptance by the opposition. There is the particular possibility of German soldiers being involved in a war in Sudan, says the Bundestag's Green Party Whip, Juergen Trittin, signaling a positive disposition toward expanding military intervention to that country. The defense minister considers that war is simply "an element of foreign policy." This corresponds to the new Defense Policy Guidelines, recently published by de Maizière, in which future German military interventions will not only be fully unrestricted geographically but also in their military objectives, with all government institutions being placed on the premise of security policy. The national interests of the Federal Republic of Germany are explicitly named as the ultimate authoritative criteria determining whether to go to war.

Dying and Killing

Over the past few days, the German Defense Minister has been repeatedly insisting that the Bundeswehr's restructuration into a professional army will be accompanied by an expansion of German military interventions around the world. In his government statement, Friday, de Maizière demanded that the Federal Republic of Germany "assume international responsibility that we dare undertake, that others dare entrust us with and that is expected from us." This is "more than Germany, until now, has known (...) or even accepted."[1] In an earlier interview, the minister announced that "dying and killing" is "part of it."[2] In the future, the Bundeswehr should be capable of deploying 10,000 soldiers abroad and carry out up to two "major" and "several minor" missions simultaneously, according to the defense ministry. Large sectors of the opposition agree. The SPD is not the only party raising no objections to these plans of militarization. "The Federal Republic of Germany will be confronted with more than before," considers Juergen Trittin, Bundestag Green Party Whip. Trittin favors future military operations. Berlin should "not tolerate any lawless realms on this planet."[3]

An Element of Foreign Policy

The defense minister demands that, in the future, Germany nurture an instrumental relationship to combat missions. "The armed forces' foreign mission" is "always also an instrument of foreign policy,"[4] de Maizière declared. "The criteria (...) cannot be dangerous missions - no, safe missions - yes." Soldiers are an "element of foreign policy." Moreover, non-military forces must support military interventions. De Maizière insists that "a political process must be initiated to accompany the deployment of troops," for example, "economic policy, development cooperation, if necessary financial policy, sanctions and a good neighbor policy" will be included as aspects of warfare. This is nothing other than what "Clausewitz formulated 'war is merely a continuation of politics by other means.'"

Completely Unrestrained

The defense minister's statements correspond to the new Defense Policy Guidelines, published May 18, in which the lifting of restrictions on German military missions are not only argued from a geographic, but also from a political perspective. For example, the guidelines state literally, "ensuring security for our nation today" means more than merely "facilitating free and unrestricted world trade as well as free access to the high seas and to natural resources." "Security" implies "above all, keeping the consequences of crises and conflicts at bay and taking an active part in their prevention and containment."[5] This "includes the employment of armed forces." This formulation is broad and ambiguous enough, to justify any combat mission anywhere in the world. There is but one limitation that remains intact: "In each individual case," there must be "a clear answer to the question of whether German interests require and justify an operation."

Armed Forces, Espionage, Development Aid Workers

The Defense Policy Guidelines insist also on merging non-military with military elements of Berlin's policy and their subordination to the global imposition of German interests. "Today," safeguarding national interests "is only possible in a whole-of-government approach," according to the guidelines. This calls for "a national, comprehensive and coordinated security policy that includes political and diplomatic initiatives as well as economic, development policy, police, humanitarian, social and military measures."[6] "All (!) competent national institutions and forces in Germany" should take "whole-of-government action" and "the goal-oriented interaction of the foreign service, development aid, police, armed forces, civil protection, disaster control, and the intelligence service must be enhanced at all levels." The remaining constitutional restrictions for this "cooperation," particularly between the armed forces, police and espionage, are officially being put into question: "It remains to be examined if and to what extent cooperation in alliances and the changing security and threat situation will necessitate changes in legislation."

Next Theaters of Operations

Invoking possible theaters of operations for German military interventions, the defense minister underlines the seriousness of Berlin's war plans. "We could soon be called upon" for interventions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or Sudan, announced de Maizière. The West is already engaged in an undeclared war in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. These three countries have been the targets of western drone attacks and air raids, so far, carried out mainly by the US military. The minister's announcement indicates that the escalation of these non-declared wars is currently in discussion and could be implemented in the near future. This is the case particularly in Yemen, where, after the recent escalation of upheavals, civil war threatens. The minister's announcement also confirms that Berlin is expecting a bloody escalation of the conflict in Sudan and does not exclude a military intervention into that country, where the German government is supporting the neutralization of the Arab North. ( reported.[7]) Since Germany withdrew larger military contingents from several of Yugoslavia's successor states, an intervention in Sudan would constitute the second "major" deployment - alongside Afghanistan - in accordance with the terms of the new guidelines, the Bundeswehr must also be capable, simultaneously, of carrying out several "minor" interventions.

Please read excerpts from the Defense Policy Guidelines here.

[1] De Maizière wirbt für Reform; 27.05.2011
[2] "Töten und Sterben gehören dazu"; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.05.2011
[3] Neuausrichtung der Bundeswehr; 27.05.2011
[4] "Töten und Sterben gehören dazu"; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.05.2011
[5], [6] Bundesministerium der Verteidigung: Verteidigungspolitische Richtlinien. Nationale Interessen wahren - Internationale Verantwortung übernehmen - Sicherheit gemeinsam gestalten, Berlin, 18.05.2011. Please read excerpts here.
[7] see also The Day After (II)