BERLIN/LONDON | | grossbritannien

BERLIN/LONDON (Own report) - An advisor to the German government predicts a rapid loss of world political significance by Great Britain. The United Kingdom had overtaxed its armed forces in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and could not maintain its combat forces - "one of the central instruments for the achievement of political aims" - at their present levels, according to a a study paper by the Stiftung Wirtschaft Politik (SWP, German Institute for International and Security Affairs). This development will be intensified by the heavy financial losses arising from the world financial crisis and will be accompanied by a severe loss of financial influence by the City of London. London's decline is likely to lead to "a movement of world-wide power structures favouring newly rising powers", say the authors. These prognoses, founded on wishful thinking, are nonetheless supported by underlying realities. Britain's economy is running into greater and greater indebtedness with the EU. This economic weakness is leading to a trade deficit which London sources describe as "astronomic". Britain is running the biggest deficit with Germany. Seventy years after the beginning of the war, Germany has become the biggest creditor of the formerly victorious power. more…

WASHINGTON/KANDAHAR/BERLIN | | usa

WASHINGTON/KANDAHAR/BERLIN (Own report) - Recently released US documents on CIA use of torture have brought to light crimes against humanity, committed by the West, with German support, in its "War on Terror". As became known from an internal CIA report, released Monday, even the new interrogation guidelines for the foreign intelligence agencies handed down in 2002, permitting numerous torture techniques, had been violated by both intelligence agents and employees of private repression firms. Simulated executions and suffocation attempts were used on presumed Islamists. Some were tortured to death. The US services could always count on a supply of information from German officials. The German government has taken no measures to halt US torture transports over its territory. German government efforts to thwart an investigation into what has been happening have now been ruled illegal by the German Constitutional Court. Whereas the change of administration has cracked, for the time being, the boycott through silence in Washington, nothing comparable is expected in Germany. more…

WASHINGTON/LEVERKUSEN/MUNICH | | usa

WASHINGTON/LEVERKUSEN/MUNICH (Own report) - German companies are backing up their million dollar business deals with the Pentagon by providing special benefits to personnel of the US armed forces, according to NGOs in Germany and the USA. Employees of US military hospitals have their travel expenses to "congresses" and "trainings" paid particularly by pharmaceutical and medical technology companies. These include a prosthetics firm, but also the Bayer and Siemens Corporations, which have been business partners of the US defense department for years. The Pentagon's medical care budget for US soldiers has sharply increased with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Observers are estimating that by 2015, the annual drug budget alone could double to reach $15 billion. Even producers of sportswear, such as Adidas, are among the companies, sponsoring trips in support of their lobbying the US military. Boehringer Ingelheim is another company interested in the war business. It had already been involved in business operations with the Pentagon during the war against Vietnam, supplying the basic component for the herbicide Agent Orange. The dramatic effects of Agent Orange are being felt by hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese still today. more…

VIENNA/ZAGREB/BERLIN | | oesterreichjugoslawienkroatien

VIENNA/ZAGREB/BERLIN (Own report) - The Austrian government is pushing the government of Croatia to compensate the Nazi profiteers resettled in the aftermath of the Second World War. This was reported by an association of resettled persons in Vienna. According to a letter written by the Austrian President to the Danube Swabian Working Group, Austria's foreign minister will "raise the issue of restitution time and again" with the Croatian government. The president himself is strongly supporting the ratification of an accord negotiated in 2005. The accord provides for restitution or compensation of Danube Swabians, who, after the war, had had their property confiscated and had been resettled because of their collaboration with the Nazi occupying power, or at least had profited from the German occupation. Its ratification was halted in the last minute by the Croatian Parliament. Already years ago, Berlin had declared its wish to have Germans benefit from these restitution regulations, which currently apply only to Austrian citizens. This operation also pertains to Serbia and serves as precedence for demands posed by resettled Germans to the Czech Republic and Poland. more…

ISLAMABAD/BERLIN/LONDON | | pakistangrossbritannien

ISLAMABAD/BERLIN/LONDON (Own report) - Government advisors in Berlin are calling for the activities of the British police and military in Pakistan to be placed under EU control. As recently formulated in a discussion paper of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Brussels is, at the moment, developing only economic activities in this South Asian country and, therefore, has insufficient clout to rival competition from the USA or China. The remedy could be the EU's becoming involved in the upgrading of the Pakistani military and repressive apparatus, along the lines of the German-European police initiatives in Southeast Europe and Afghanistan. For this, it would be necessary to integrate current British activities under EU authority. The SWP reminds of Great Britain's colonial past, to praise Brussels as allegedly unblemished. These government advisors also see an opportunity for the EU to extend its influence at the expense of the United States. In many respects, the USA has its hands tied due to the region's virulent anti-Americanism. Europe could profit from this void. This SWP demand is gaining in significance now because of Pakistan's greater importance, through the escalation in the war in Afghanistan, as the linchpin country for preventing a total defeat at the Hindu Kush. more…