Willing to go to War

MUNICH (Own report) - The Munich Security Conference, which ended yesterday, was marked by appeals for "Europe" to be more willing to go to war and have a resolute EU "global projection of power." In addition to a significant arms buildup, the EU needs a "common desire to actually use its military weight," German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen admonished. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that Europe's future "projection of power" cannot "do without" military force. Currently, this is not yet possible without the involvement of NATO or US armed forces; however, cooperation with Washington should be "on a par" and "not as deputies." In the foreseeable future, the EU will be able to buildup its arms to such an extent that it will no longer need US support. Gabriel branded Russia and China - current "rivals" to the Western "system" - as "autocracies."

"Freedom and Democracy"

The call in Munich for Germany and the EU to be better prepared for war must be seen in the context of Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel seeing Germany in a new "rivalry of systems" - a "rivalry between developed democracies and autocracies."[1] Autocracies - as Gabriel sees Russia and China - are political systems ruled by autocrats, whose power is not limited by the restrictions of elections or a constitution. In resuscitation of the old cold war PR vocabulary, Gabriel claims that the "old question of freedom and democracy" is again at the heart of the power struggle with Moscow and Beijing, whose ascendance is "massively shifting the balance" of global power. The alleged struggle for "freedom and democracy" is again pure propaganda, as can be seen by the fact that the Persian Gulf monarchies and emirates, whose rule is similar to that of autocracies, are the West's closest allies in the Middle East. During the Cold War the West did not shy away from cooperation with fascist dictatorships - such as with Spain and those in Latin America - all in the name of "freedom."

Europe's Projection of Power

The statements in Munich by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen again show that Germany is following a two-pronged strategy in the global power struggle. The EU is the main pillar of the German foreign and - to a growing extent - military policy. As von der Leyen declared Friday, the establishment of "capabilities and structures" - vigorously pursued since last year (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[2]) - "is one thing. The other thing is our common desire to actually make use of this military weight" [3] - an obvious willingness to go to war. In addition, Sigmar Gabriel is calling for generating a cohesive approach to EU foreign policy, and a "common understanding" of global interests and to develop "strategies and tools" to "jointly satisfy these interests." "Europe needs … a common global projection of power," and should not "do without military force." As a first step, Gabriel suggests an "initiative" to "promote the development of infrastructure from Eastern Europe to Central Asia and to Africa, with European finances, but also in accordance with European standards." This is obviously directed against China's "New Silk Road" [4] and Chinese activities in Africa.[5] However, until now, all similar EU projects have failed. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6])

"On a Par with the USA"

In the long run, the EU seeks to rely solely on its own military means in its "projection of power." This was reiterated in Munich last Friday by France's Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly. The demand for the "strategic autonomy" of the EU also means that perspectively Brussels must be in a position to carry out military interventions, without having to rely on NATO or US armed forces.[7] That, at least for the moment, is not yet the case, said Gabriel in Munich. "If we want to be influential in this world ... we must also recognize that our strength here in Europe is not yet sufficient. Neither we nor the United States can go it alone." Therefore, against Russia, North Korea and in future, also China, "the close exchange and concord with the American ally" must be sought. The foreign minister, however, attaches importance to the assessment: "The European Union is by all means a self-confident partner, seeking to cooperate in a trustworthy manner, on a par with the USA" - "but not as deputies."

"More Battle Tanks, Fewer Think Tanks"

Berlin is resolutely committed to strengthening the "European pillar" of the western war alliance accordingly. "Europe" must "become more self-reliant, also militarily, and carry a greater share of responsibility" - "ultimately, also in NATO," said von der Leyen, Friday in Munich. It is reported that the German Defense Minister is in consideration for becoming the successor to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, whose term of office expires in 2020. This received wide-ranging approbation in Munich, and would enhance Berlin's influence within the western war alliance. Turkey is the only member, still with reservations, but these are "not considered insurmountable."[8] The German defense budget must, in fact, be increased to 2 percent of Germany's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to Germany's Chair of the Parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, Norbert Röttgen (CDU).[9] In 2017, Berlin spent around €37 billion on the Bundeswehr. Two percent of its GDP would have brought this sum to more than €65 billion. France has now tabled a plan to increase its military budget accordingly. Last year, that would have meant more than €51 billion rather than the €32.4 billion actually spent. Paris seeks to meet the 2 percent objective by the mid-2020s. Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the sentiment among the European NATO powers in Munich as "we need more battle tanks and fewer think tanks."[10]

Consideration for the East Caucus

Foreign Minister Gabriel does not rule out the gradual lifting of sanctions on Russia, provided Russia is prepared to make concessions. This has been a long standing demand of the East Caucus of Germany's economy.[11] Moscow should "also see us as something other than an adversary," Gabriel said in Munich. "In cooperation with Europe," Russia has an "opportunity for sustainable economic success." However, on the sidelines of the security conference, Gabriel confirmed that no consensus has been reached concerning a possible gradual lifting of sanctions. Quite undisputed, on the other hand is that military pressure on Moscow must be maintained.

A Historical Crossroad

Gabriel characterizes the current global political development as a historical "crossroads," such "as the world only experiences once every few centuries." The current situation will decide whether "this is the beginning of a new Asiatic era ... and the West's abdication" or whether "our continent" will find the "courage" to "face up to the challenges of a much more uncomfortable and dangerous world, than the one we had thought we were growing into," the foreign minister declared in Munich. In the 1430s, European powers set out "to explore the world." By this time, China had also already begun to expand to other continents, and had ceased. In fact, at the time it had been the interest group in the Chinese capital that had overruled the inestimable risks of expansion in favor of the focus on a prosperous development in the homeland, who had won out. That was "a preliminary decision for the centuries to come," explained Gabriel. While China retreated, "Europe" set out "to conquer the world." The victims made by "Europe's" expeditions of conquest and its brutal colonial rule in North and South America, in Australia in nearly all of Africa and large portions of Asia are well known.


[1] Quotations from: Rede von Außenminister Sigmar Gabriel bei der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz. 17.02.2018. Excerpts (in German language) can be found here.

[2] See also Launching the Military Union.

[3] Quotations from: Rede der Bundesministerin der Verteidigung Dr. Ursula von der Leyen auf der 54. Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz am 16. Februar 2018.

[4] See also China's Project of the Century.

[5] See also Struggle for Influence in Africa.

[6] See also China's Project of the Century and Struggle for Influence in Africa (II).

[7] Leyen sieht "kräftigen Schub" für europäische Armee. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 17.02.2018.

[8], [9] Thorsten Jungholt, Christoph B. Schiltz: Von der Leyen als Nato-Generalsekretärin im Gespräch. welt.de 17.02.2018.

[10] "Wir brauchen mehr Kampfpanzer und weniger Denkfabriken". faz.net 17.02.2018.

[11] See also Entfremdung und Dialog.