The Rivals' Alliances

DAMASCUS/BERLIN | | syriengrossbritannien

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin has reacted to the UK parliament's decision not to participate in an attack on Syria with an about-face in its own foreign policy. Up until Thursday, the German government and the opposition had been unanimously proclaiming that the use chemical weapons near Damascus must have "consequences" and emphasizing their approval of the British prime minster's belligerency. Now the German government is declaring that it is not considering "a military strike," while the opposition is professing that "a military intervention would be a mistake." This about-face must be seen in the context of the strategic leeway in Europe, resulting from the new situation, which only concerns Syria at a secondary level. As the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) notes, the British parliament's decision has not only "damaged the special relationship with the United States," it also provides Germany new political advantages. Moreover, "the British-French security and defense policy alliance has been weakened," thereby strengthening Germany's position. In spite of its about-face in foreign policy, bellicose positions are still remnant in Berlin. For example, the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, declared that the West should not "from the outset" exclude any option - including participation in a war.

No Dissociation

Berlin has reacted to the UK parliament's decision not to participate in an attack on Syria with a rapid about-face in its own foreign policy. Following her telephone conversation with the British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday, the German chancellor declared that both had agreed that the "Syrian regime" should not hope "to be able to continue this kind of internationally illegal warfare without punishment:" An international reaction is "inevitable."[1] On Thursday the SPD's candidate for the chancellery, Peer Steinbrück, stated that he shared the government's position that "a serious violation of international legal norms," such as the use of poison gas cannot be ignored: "We cannot dissociate ourselves one from another, just because we are in an election campaign."[2] This was the situation up to London's Lower House's decision to refuse military aggression against Syria by a vote of 285 - 272. This is not binding for the British government, however de facto Prime Minister Cameron can no longer implement his war plans as he had intended.

New Accent

In Berlin, the reaction Friday morning was what the press politely referred to as a new "accent," [3] and a cross-party consensus. Whereas the chancellor stuck to her formulations that there must be "consequences" for using chemical weapons, thereby maintaining verbal continuity and all options open, the Minister of Foreign Affairs declared that Germany would, under no conditions, take part in an attack on Syria. He spoke in the name of the "entire German government." "We are not considering military means," confirmed a spokesperson for the government.[4] The SPD chancellor candidate chimed in almost in unison: "I would like to make it clear that I, and the SPD, consider a military intervention to be a mistake, because we cannot see how this would help the people of Syria." Berlin's foreign policy consensus has been maintained, even though the opposition has a greater margin of maneuver and can formulate more offensively than the German government.

Damaged "Special Relationship"

London's change of course, imposed by the British parliament, provides Berlin an opportunity that only concerns Syria at a secondary level. According to a position statement by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the British Lower House's "No" expresses "the doubts the parliamentarians have," about whether an attack on Syria is appropriate and expedient, while extending "far beyond the motivations and consequences (...) of the Syria policy." On the one hand, hesitation about using military means has grown, not only within British public opinion, but also at the political level since the failure of the Iraq war. On the other, the growing parliamentary control will have an effect. "Great Britain has relinquished its claim of being able to step into the international ring above its 'weight class,' as well as a portion of its role as the junior partner of the USA." In effect, with Friday night's decision, "the 'special relationship' with the USA (...) has been damaged; in Washington, the reliability of the British government has been put into question." "The highest objective of British security policy - maintaining military and political relevance in US military interventions, to keep the USA as the protective power of Europe - is a failure."[5]

Weakened British-French Alliance

And that is not all. According to the SWP, the British parliament's decision also "weakened the French-British security and defense policy alliance." The military alliance between London and Paris - formally concluded in November 2010 - (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]), which first openly went into action in the war on Libya, had been very critically scrutinized by German government advisors. The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) pointed out that this alliance was a rival model to the German-French military cooperation within the EU. It has even been referred to as a new form of nascent opposition to German hegemony, as a "new Entente Cordiale" against Berlin.[7] Whereas London and Paris had recently been making joint preparations for war on Syria, France now stands "almost alone in Europe, with its willingness to use military force," writes the SWP.[8] Berlin benefits most from the fact that Paris, having isolated itself, has pushed London "closer toward the European mainstream" - i.e. closer to the German position.

Bellicose Demands

Even though the German government and opposition have made an about-face in accordance with these new constellations, to consolidate the emerging strategic shifts in the inner-European balance of power, this has not silenced the bellicose voices in the German capital. One example is the current chair of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, who expresses his position on war against Syria in the most recent issue of "Internationale Politik." According to Ischinger, "most observers (...) view the current conflict in Syria (...) through glasses, which are mainly tinted by the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq." Since these debacles, they have become skeptical or even resistant to going to war. But this is false. Ischinger insists that the West must make reference to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine [9] also in regards to Syria and, if possible carry out armed intervention. It would be "politically irresponsible to preclude certain options from the outset." The refusal to use military means - as a matter of principle - would be "tantamount to a declaration of both moral and political bankruptcy."[10]

Occult War Contribution

It is also questionable, whether Berlin would stand on the sidelines, if Washington and Paris should, in fact, begin an aggression against Syria. At the moment a German fleet service ship, the "Oker," is cruising - again - in the Eastern Mediterranean. The German Navy's fleet service ships are equipped with the most modern espionage technology, with which it can also "do reconnaissance" of radio communication and any movement on land. As experts have confirmed, the BND, whose very close cooperation with its western partner services is well known - at least since the NSA scandal, is participating.[11] Experience from the war on Iraq has demonstrated that the German foreign espionage service had been providing support to its NATO partners, even though Berlin was - officially - in opposition to military engagement.[12] In the case of a US-led aggression against Syria, Germany's true position would be judged on the basis of its handling of intelligence gathered by the "Oker" and other means of espionage, which will be an occult contribution to the war.

Other reports and background information on Germany's policy toward Syria can be found here: War Threats against Syria, Iran's Achilles Heel, War Scenarios for Syria, War Scenarios for Syria (II), With the UN toward Escalation, Market Economy for Syria, The Yemenite Solution, Smuggle Supervisors, The Day After, The Day After (II), The Day After (IV), The Islamization of the Rebellion, Air Defense for the Exile Leadership, A Proxy War, In Rebel Territory (II), In Rebel Territory (III), The End of Artificial Borders, In Rebel Territory (IV), German War Assistance and Democratic Interventionism.

[1] Merkel und Cameron fordern Konsequenzen für Assad; www.n24.de 28.08.2013
[2] Kein Einsatz für die Kavallerie; www.faz.net 29.08.2013
[3] Ringen um Militärschlag gegen Assad; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 31.08.2013
[4] Was man sich so wünscht; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 31.08.2013
[5] Nicolai von Ondarza: Nach dem Nein zum Militäreinsatz in Syrien: Großbritannien vor der außenpolitischen Neuausrichtung; www.swp-berlin.org 30.08.2013
[6], [7] see also The New Entente Cordiale
[8] Nicolai von Ondarza: Nach dem Nein zum Militäreinsatz in Syrien: Großbritannien vor der außenpolitischen Neuausrichtung; www.swp-berlin.org 30.08.2013
[9] see also The Right of Might and Western Morals
[10] Wolfgang Ischinger: Die syrische Hölle. Warum wir die Lehren aus Bosnien nicht vergessen dürfen; Internationale Politik September/Oktober 2013
[12] see also The Case of NATO's Mutual Defense and Enemy Combatants
[12] see also Erpressbar and Gardist