Rethinking Germany

13 Apr


Not only the unforgettable Nazi past, but also the hard power materialism and reactionary politics of the German success story, made Germany in many respects the least lovable country in the Western world.

Despite the rise of the European Union, and Germany’s dominant role as the economic engine pulling the European train, the culture and politics of the country remained unpleasantly nationalist, unwelcoming to foreign minorities even after several generations of residence, an assessment that the three million Turks will confirm. If anyone doubts this harsh depiction of German reality, I recommend watching the acclaimed Christian Petzold film, Jerichow, that depicts the tragic plight of a Turkish ‘success’ story in Germany, or for that matter, a reading of almost any novel by Gunter Grass, especially, The Tin Drum and The Rat.

Of course, national stereotypes should always be skeptically viewed, if not altogether avoided, but if invoked, at least balanced by an acknowledgement of contradictory evidence, which in this case would call attention to a litany of German achievements through the ages. Germany has given the world far more than its share of great music and literature, and its engineering skills produce a range of superior products. And philosophically, German thinkers have exerted a profound influence on modern thought, perhaps none more than the enigmatic Nietzsche whose metaphysical nihilism induced a still not fully acknowledged or understood courageous humanism.

Personally, I had the good fortune to have a friendship with two extraordinary Germans, Petra Kelly and Rudolph Barro, who represented the opposed factions of the Green Party during its early period of formation and prominence in the heartland of the Cold War. It was this green questioning of modern industrial society in Germany that raised the most serious post-Marxist challenge in the West. It was a challenge directed at what later became known as the ‘Washington Consensus,’ the label used to draw attention to the regressive neoliberal ideology that continues to generate market behavior that exploits the peoples of the world and destroys our natural habitat. In the last several years this ideology of contemporary capitalism proved itself resistant to correction despite a deep recession, and expectations of worse to come in the near future. These two German public intellectuals disagreed sharply as to the proper depth and breadth of the green vision. Kelly thought that a responsible reformation of capitalism was possible while Barro was convinced that nothing less than the rollback of industrialism could ensure ecological and spiritual survival for the human species. Especially in the aftermath of the Sendai/Fukushima ordeal these issues are again becoming integral to the political and moral imagination for all those of us who see the future through a glass darkly.

My emphasis here is on the recent bashing of Germany because of its stands on nuclear energy and the Libyan intervention. With respect to nuclear energy, German public opinion exhibited more of a reaction to the Fukushima problems than anywhere else on the planet, probably in part because of the strong Green political presence, memories of the devastation of World War II, fears generated by the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown and radioactivity carried to the West by wind currents, and because 25% of German power comes from nuclear reactors. With the Fukushima disaster intensifying day by day, Chancellor Angela Merkel found herself in an anxious political atmosphere relating to domestically crucial upcoming elections at the sub-federal or länder level. Merkel retreated from an earlier embrace of nuclear energy, imposing a moratorium on extending the life of existing reactors and temporarily shutting down seven reactors that were of the same design as those in trouble at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex. German voters were not persuaded by this switch, apparently regarding it as a tactical ploy, and in the key conservative länder of Baden-Württemberg the electorate gave the Green Party a stunning surprise victory. It was the first time that the Greens won political control of a German länder, one that was known to be the most conservative in all of Germany where the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had exercised uninterrupted dominance during the past six decades.

The mainstream media has both derided Merkel for her failed cheap political trick to assume an anti-nuclear pose and attacked the Greens as unfit to govern or to devise an economically responsible energy policy for the future. In effect, Green insistence on ending German dependence on nuclear power has been accompanied by the belief that the accelerated development of wind and solar can supply energy needs without hurting the economy. In their bid for greater political influence the Greens now accept capitalism as their policy framework, and believe that markets can be made to function humanely and in a manner that is environmentally sustainable. Whatever else, this Green upsurge in Germany brings to the fore some alternative thinking that is desperately needed throughout the world, and is currently absent in most major societies, perhaps most dramatically here in the United States. This Green thinking has great appeal for German youth, especially women, as a way of forging a brighter future.  Instead of considering the Green success in Germany as an anomaly in secular politics because it focuses less on jobs and Eurozone difficulties, it should be regarded as a challenge to the sterile and historically irrelevant political parties that continue to dominate the scene in Euro-American elections, and help explain the alienation of the young and the embitterment of the old, as well as the rise of the mean spirited and totally dysfunctional Tea Party in America. What strange plants manage to flourish in this political desert of American political life should make all Americans, and for that matter everyone everywhere, tremble.  We not only are damaging ourselves by this politics of evasion, but also due to our heavy global footprint, putting others throughout the world at severe risk.

The growing oppostion of the German public to nuclear energy is equally justifiable. Rather than being dismissed by the pundits as an over-reaction (Germany is not prone to earthquakes or tsunamis) or economically quixotic (renewable energy will not be able to supply sufficient energy to dispense with nuclear), it should be praised as taking weighing carefully risks that have been thoughtlessly assumed elsewhere. It is not only the events in Japan that should give us pause. The explosion of the oilrig engaged in deep sea drilling by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico and the oil-driven interventions in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East are kindred events that should be introduced into the societal calculus of gains and losses. These various developments, including a variety of geo-engineering schemes under consideration to gain access to deep pockets of natural gas and oil shale deposits are suggestive of the overall pressure to rely on these economically seductive frontier technologies despite the massive environmental risks posed. In effect, the compulsion of modern civilization to grow beyond the carrying capacity of the earth is pushing human endeavor up against a series of limits, which if not respected enter domains of catastrophic risk that can and will only be appreciated fully in retrospect. It seems self-evident beyond discussion that now that the Fukushima reactor accidents have taken place, the future of nuclear energy will be scrutinized in a manner that was inconceivable only two months earlier.

Will it be enough to prevent future disasters? Just as Hiroshima was a warning ignored with respect to nuclear weaponry, there is every indication that Fukushima will become another unheeded warning. Reassurances from influential members of the governing elites are likely to take the form of promising higher safety and monitoring standards and more care when deciding in the future upon where to locate reactors. These gestures will be reinforced by a variety of arguments put forward by formidable private interests to the effect that soft coal is far more dangerous to human health and societal wellbeing than is nuclear energy even if full account is taken of the periodic occurrences that generate public fear of the sort now present in Japan. Conventional wisdom is claiming that such a catastrophic accident temporarily disrupts social reason, and that in due course there will be a return to rational decision that will restore confidence that nuclear energy is comparatively benign, and in any event, is necessary to prevent economic collapse. Germany, whatever its motivations, has reminded the world that these issues, however resolved, should engage both the leadership and citizenry of a robust democracy, and in this sense, represents a display of public reason at its best, rather than a foolish detour into the underbrush of romantic politics derisively associated with this unexpected Green upsurge. Of course, it is not clear that the rest of the world, or even the rest of Europe, will take any significant note of this German response to Fukushima and the threat of nuclear energy beyond cynical commentary.

Germany has also been widely criticized for its refusal to back the Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011 authorizing the establishment of a No Fly Zone for the protection of civilians in Libya. The widely voiced opinion in Europe and the United States was that the German vote to abstain was a stab in the back from the perspective of European unity and loyalty to NATO, and some went so far as to call it as an inappropriate expression of ingratitude for the protection given to Germany by NATO throughout the Cold War. It was also suggested that the German abstention was an irresponsible refusal to stand up for the humanitarian values that the intervening governments were insisting to be at stake in Libya. No matter that the concerns that Germany expressed prior to the vote have all been proven correct: a No Fly Zone is a clumsy instrument of intervention, essentially incapable of either altering the outcome of the struggle for power that was underway in Libya or achieving regime change, and to the extent this political goal was being pursued it would involve ignoring the limits and purpose set forth by the UN resolution. As the military operation unfolded, it has decreasingly been devoted to protecting Libyan civilians in cities under attack by Qaddafi forces, and mostly dedicated to helping the rebels somehow prevail, despite their meager military capabilities and shadowy political identity. By refusing to endorse such a venture it would seem to me that Germany deserves the thanks of the world, not a lecture about alliance loyalty. Should not a democratic government be reluctant to commit its resources and risk the lives of its citizens in foreign military undertakings?

In the instance of Libya, Germany had urged that diplomacy and sanctions be tried prior to any serious consideration of military intervention. Is not this what the UN Charter mandates, seeking to make recourse to force the last option after all efforts at peaceful resolution have been tried and failed? Unfortunately this is not the first time that the UN has succumbed to American-led geopolitics in the aftermath of the Cold War. It authorized without any ongoing supervision the first Gulf War (1991) when a diplomatic solution could probably have avoided mass killing and the destruction of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure, and now this new authorization in relation to Libya issued twenty years later. True, the Security Council did not endorse the Kosovo War (1999) (thanks to the prospect of a Russian veto) or the Iraq War (2003), but it did acquiesce afterwards in the results produced by the unlawful uses of forces in both instances, thereby making its refusal to mandate the attacks in the first place little more than a nominal obstacle that could be circumvented by ‘a coalition of the willing’ acting independently of UN blessings. For Germany to stand alone among its Western allies while being in solidarity with the BRIC countries should be a moment of national pride, not a time for solemn soul searching as the German mainstream media has been encouraging. It may even be, if the EU cannot manage its sequence of sovereign debt and banking crises that Germany in the future base its security and wellbeing by moving toward a closer alignment with an emergent global multipolarism and giving up altogether an outmoded adherence to an American led unipolarity that has existed in the aftermath of the Cold War era. Admittedly, this remains but a glint in the eye at present, although attractive from the perspective of constituting a genuine ‘new world order,’ which is long overdue. In the face of continuing American decline as a responsible global leader, Germany can seize the day by withdrawing from the anachronistic behavior of violent geopolitics, and put to rest once and for all its own disastrous heritage of failed militarism.

In concluding, where others raise eyebrows over these controversial recent German developments, I find them deserving of admiration and reflection. Just as Turkey has been recently chastised by American neoconservatives and Israeli warmongers for getting out of its lane, that is, seeking a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Iran in relation to its nuclear program, so Germany is being told to get back in its NATO lane, which is tantamount to doing what the United States wants done on the global stage. It is true that here in response to domestic pressures that it was France and Britain that were most ardent champions of intervention, seeming having most to gain (above all, oil and the avoidance of an influx of Libyan immigrants) by getting rid of the Qaddafi regime. But unfortunately, for these former senior partners of the colonial era, a major NATO undertaking cannot be made credible without American leadership. The Libyan operations seem to have demonstrated this, and may inhibit future European adventurism. In effect, in matters of war and peace, each country is ethically sovereign given the way the world is organized even if many countries often act as if they were politically subservient, that is, by being more deferential to the geopolitical hierarchy than respectful of international law or even of its own selfish calculus of values and interests. With this background in mind, let us hope that these German initiatives are not merely episodes soon to be forgotten, but rather represent the first steps along a new pathway to a global future that others should reflect upon rather than dismiss or ignore.

 

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23 Responses to “Rethinking Germany”

  1. Tim Haughton April 14, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    My two favourite thinkers of all time, Nietzsche and Heidegger, both German, both relevant to Nazism (albeit in *very* different ways), and they both had and continue to have a profound impact on my views of the world today.

    I’m also quite isolated as a “liberal” who is in favour of nuclear power. As a physicist, I am in awe of the technology, and very respectful of the terrifying power it represents.

    But there are a number of things about nuclear power which never make there way into the public narrative.

    Our world is dramatically overpopulated. Our population is out of control, and represents a serious threat to global peace and security. The UN predicts that we will have 9 billion people by 2050. Wind turbines, solar energy and tidal power, although great technologies, simply will not be able to provide what we, as a species, will need.

    If history is any indicator, our leaders will not acknowledge that the population spike is a problem until it reaches the point of catastrophe, which it will, probably within my lifetime, and certainly in the lifetime of my children.

    The fact remains that nuclear power is a “green” technology, and I use the term advisedly.

    Even when we see awful disasters, like Chernobyl, like Fukushima, the awful truth is that these disasters pale into insignificance compared with the global disasters that will befall mankind should we not get a handle on global warming and our population levels.

    If our planet had a population level that it could sustain, we would not need nuclear power. It’s another symptom of a root cause.

  2. JamesEJ April 14, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    When will you ever write: “Of course, national stereotypes should always be skeptically viewed, if not altogether avoided, but if invoked, at least balanced by an acknowledgement of contradictory evidence, which in this case would call attention to a litany of [Israeli] achievements.” Somehow I suspect that, while you are capable of an apologia for Germany, a similar apologia for Israel will never come.

    • Richard Falk April 14, 2011 at 8:08 am #

      I promise that it will when there is some expression of empathy for the long suffering of the Palestinians living under an oppressive occupation for 44 years and many as refugees for a longer period.

  3. JamesEJ April 14, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Is it fair to assume that because you will write something “when there is some expression of empathy for the long suffering of the Palestinians” that you therefore believe that the Israelis have never made any such expression of empathy?

    • Richard Falk April 14, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      I am not aware of it in a form that is relevant to the current realities of the occupation as I have observed them.

  4. Robert Hachmeister April 15, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    I read this article on Aljazeera yesterday and I feel compelled to comment on it. Your acknowledgement of German achievements does not balance your prior depiction of Germany and German society.

    “…the culture and politics of the country remained unpleasantly nationalist, unwelcoming to foreign minorities even after several generations of residence, an assessment that the three million Turks will confirm. If anyone doubts this harsh depiction of German reality, I recommend watching the acclaimed Christian Petzold film, Jerichow, that depicts the tragic plight of a Turkish ‘success’ story in Germany, or for that matter, a reading of almost any novel by Gunter Grass, especially, The Tin Drum and The Rat.”

    I feel that your assessment is false and far from reality. It is nothing like the Germany I grew up and spend the majority of my young life in. The claim that culture and politics of Germany remained unpleasantly nationalist and that Germany is unwelcoming to foreigners is outrageous and simply not true. Germany has the 3rd most immigrants in the world and I have never sensed a strong nationalist sentiment in Germany what so ever – it is actually quite the opposite. Germany describes itself today as a “country of migration”. I very much doubt that the Turks you mentioned will confirm your assessment of Germany – if Germany was such an unwelcoming place how come the once guest workers decided to stay moreover bring their family over too. Many of their children and children’s children have all German passports. I invite you to just spend 5 minutes in the city center of any major German city you will see hundreds of people from almost every country in the world walking by. They are all Germany – they all shape this diverse German society.

    What I find even more surprising is what you use a MELODRAMA that takes place in a small village in Saxony-Anhalt and novels by Günter Grass that focus on WW2 and the postwar period to back up your assessment of ‘German reality’ . I can’t help to feel that you just mentioned the only German movie and books you know to make people believe you know what you are talking about. Not what I expected from a Princeton professor. Now to be fair, I did not watch Jerichow BUT watching the trailer and skimming over reviews of it is enough to know that this is as far from German reality as it gets. I’ll give you an analogy so you can understand how I feel – imagine the same movie taking place in some small redneck place in Kentucky. Do you think that would adequately represent the “American reality”? I hope you can understand how deeply disturbing this is.
    Have you ever even been to Germany?

    • Richard Falk April 15, 2011 at 7:39 am #

      I am sorry that my interpretation of Germany has so deeply disappointed you, but I can assure you that I have visited Germany on numerous occasions, taken part in German academic projects, have a German daughter-in-law, and participated in a town meeting hosted by the Berlin ‘House of Culture’ at which Turkish complaints about non-acceptance after long residence in Germany were a constant theme. Perhaps, I overstated the lingering of German nationalism, and it is of course true that different persons will see the same reality in very different ways.

      • Robert Hachmeister April 15, 2011 at 9:59 am #

        As you put it yourself – stereotypes should be avoided. I don’t see the necessity for them in relation to the core of your article. Could it be that the part that I was criticizing including what you call contradictory evidence was an attempt to add credibility to the subsequent body of your article by trying to demonstrate profound knowledge of Germany? It is indeed true that different persons will see the same reality in very different ways. I for example see a different reality when it comes to Germany not backing the UN resolution but that is not my point. What you wrote about Germany before could be considered defamation. I hope you will rethink this and I hope you have the courage to hit the edit button. If you don’t believe me ask your German daughter-in-law. I’m not particularly attached to Germany or feel like I have to defend it, the only reason I commented on it is because it is so utterly false. If Germany was unpleasantly nationalist and unwelcoming to foreign minorities I can’t even imagine what words you would use to describe countries like France, Italy, USA, Japan etc…

      • Richard Falk April 15, 2011 at 11:03 am #

        I will consult my daughter in law, but I also have a Turkish wife with many
        experiences of the sort of societal discrimination I had written about, which contrasts with the much more welcoming atmosphere encountered in countries such as the U.S. or Brazil, but I will consult more widely, and if I have reason to alter my views I will not hesitate to do so.

    • Cole Harry April 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

      As a foreigner living in Germany I most certainly agree with Professor Falk’s depiction of Germany. Only the most progressive segments of German society would describe Germany as a “country of migrants” in any sort of positive sense. It is shockingly common to hear Germans complaining about immigrants and voicing incredibly xenophobic opinions. Furthermore, integrating into German culture as a foreigner is difficult, to say the least (I say this from an American perspective- I can’t fathom how difficult it would be coming from one of the cultures that are so commonly discriminated against by Germans).

      My friends in Leipzig who are of Middle Eastern or North African origin (or merely appear to be) are constantly aware of people staring at them in the street, making rude comments, or even being physically aggressive. An Indian student was attacked by a man in a particularly right wing neighborhood that last year, and an Iraqi boy was killed in the streets of Leipzig by a group of Neo-Nazis at the end of 2010.

      Germany is not the shining image of multiculturalism you depict. Professor Falk’s harsh analysis is much closer to reality.

      • Richard Falk April 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

        I appreciate very much the trouble you took to let me know your general agreement with my depiction of German society. I knew that I was on thin ice, and I was hoping for some help with argument.

  5. Norm Depalma April 15, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Terrific analysis, Professor.
    By the way, I am still awaiting a poem or two that you have written about the issues of nuclear power.

    • Richard Falk April 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks for the nice words, and I will try to wake up my muse, but it is not that
      easy to write poems on assignment!

  6. kester2 April 16, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Well, Professor Falk, I find your reasoning and facts extremely muddled in this post. You are tying yourself in knots avoiding some truths while attempting to connect a series of old myths.

    You ascribe the Libyan intervention to a desire of the NATO no-fly zone actors for access to Libyan oil. Where was it being already sold before the revolution started if not Europe? Germany that you praise for its disinterest in ‘colonial oil adventures’ had always imported the largest percentage of Libyan oil in Europe.

    You applaud the BRIC countries for their noble stance, but ignore the fact that China is involved in preventing the success of the Libyan revolution because it has been courting Qaddhafi in order to gain the major portion of the oil exports for itself. Read Pepe Escobar’s article in Al Jazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/04/201141195046788263.html

    I must admit I found his article 180 degrees in alignment from his irrational diatribes in Asia Times online (where he champions the Gbagbos and Mugabes of the AU as credible intermediaries in Libya)(Jacob Zuma is NO Mandela) but I suppose venality knows no loyalty. My own stance changed when Qaddhafi began murdering his citizens in the streets (zenga zenga – I worked in Libya in the 60s) and then turned his armed forces against Libyan civilians.

    Germany, Turkey, and yourself are being very hypocritical in lauding negotiation above direct action as the superior means of settling the Libyan revolution. If there had not been the air intervention, and scattering of Qaddhafi forces first, there would have conveniently been NO revolution to negotiate. Thousands of bodies in Benghazi would have been able to say little in their own defence. The US is the most dangerous loose cannon in the world, but I’m not averse to taking advantage of its predilictions when they serve a humanitarian service.

    Don’t forget where the idea of using solar powered electricity generation to supply Europe’s needs came from… Germany in the form of the Desertech Industrial Initiative. Since it’s the only green technology likely to replace Europe’s need for nuclear power, one can hardly assert that Germany’s interests in North Africa are purely selfless and noble. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,664842,00.html Spreading the collector network across climatically (weather) independent desert would entail many of the sites needing to be located in Libya. Making steam with heat from the sun is a far safer prospect that any nuclear project, and avoids turning the Earth into a wasteland through climate change, but it would never happen without a strong measure of European control over the nations where the electricity is generated.

    Yours truly…………..C. Hoare

    • Bandolero April 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Christopher,

      the German Desertec project has neither a problem with the old nor with a new goverment of Libya.

      The point is another. You write “China is involved in preventing the success of the Libyan revolution.”

      The point here is, is there a “revolution” in 2011 in Libya at all?

      Or is it a preplanned war of aggression with a kind of bay of the pigs pretext?

      If you look at the whole story in Libya from the other point of view, it looks pretty much like a preplanned war of aggression using murderous local CIA and MI6 stooges as pretext.

      Have a look to the annotation, that India’s ambassador to the UN made regarding to the UNSC resoution 1973:

      “MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India), explaining his abstention, expressed great concern over the welfare of the population of Libya and supported the appointment of the Secretary-General’s Envoy. The report of that Envoy and that of others had not yet been received. As a consequence, today’s resolution was based on very little clear information, including a lack of certainty regarding who was going to enforce the measures. There must be certainty that negative outcomes were not likely before such wide-ranging measures were adopted. Political efforts must be the priority in resolving the situation.”

      The key words are there: “very little clear information”.

      So, what is usual procedere when clear information is lacking in a conflict? It’s immediate ceasefire, fact finding missions and negotations, to bring the conflict to a policial solution.

      But that is not, what France, UK and USA have drafted the resolution for. They got a resolution to “protect civilians”, but they use it to try “regime change”. In Germany waging war with the goal of “regime change” may well be prsecuted as a participation in a “war of aggression” crime.

      And if the assumption of the supporters of the Libyan government is true, that we are here witness of a war of aggresion, it may well be correct if “war of aggression” charges are being pressed against Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama in the future.

      I doubt that being afraid of such charges was the reason for the German abstention, but if it turned out in the end, that the German government was taking part in a preplanned war of aggression, it could do serious political damage to the government. That is likely to be the reason.

      There is a very simple formula for this: war is a crime.

      • kester2 April 18, 2011 at 11:14 am #

        Bandolero (are those loose cartridges in it?)

        I suppose murdering ones own civilian population is not a crime?

        Having to go back to 1973 to find any justification for your opinion does not give it the credibility you ascribe it. Qaddhafi was new and hadn’t murdered as many opponents.

        CH.

      • kester2 April 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

        My apologies for misreading your quote. (1973: see my other comment) However, the art of war and oppression hinges upon the situation of ‘no clear information’ being maintained. Not that the carrying out the principle of Responsibility to Protect is in any way a war. As with Kosovo (and what should have been done in Rwanda)the actions are aimed rather at stopping wars waged against civilians.

        Courage to act upon ones principles, as in creating the no-fly zone, usually requires one to take a stand before all the information is gathered, and before all the killing has accomplished its purpose.

        The supporters of Qaddhafi are clearly intending to prevent the dissemination of clear information — for their own purposes. You may choose to believe such people, but my conscience will not let me see hundreds of innocent people murdered to assuage prejudice against the western democracies.

      • Bandolero April 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

        @Christopher
        Thank you for your kind reply. In my point of view, the “Responsibility to Protect” is a concept, what bears a great danger of being misused. And that is even more true, if there is “no clear information.”

        Just have a look at the examples you cited.

        Take Ruanda: it’s hard to know, if it had been possible tp prevent the bloodbath, if their would have been a strong foreign intervention. That was large small massacres in neighborhoods committed with most primitive weapons, something what’s very hard to stop even for a very large foreign force. A much more promising way to prevent the massacres in Ruanda would have been, if the US would have tried to stop it’s “friend” Paul Kagame to conquer Ruanda by force long before. The lesson of this is that a diplomacy aiming at discouraging the overthrow of a government by force is a more promising way to prevent humanitairan desasters like it happened in Ruanda than R2P.

        That is even much more true for Kosovo. The KLA was well-funded from within Germany aiming to violently overthrow the government. If that would have not happened the whole humanitarian desaster in Kosovo might have been well avoided. But Kosovo gives even a more broader lesson on the risks of R2P.

        Two of the main reasons of the humanitarian militray inervention into Yugoslavia, which was in forst place a deadly bombing campaign causing a humanitarian desaster by itself, were the information of the “Racak massacre” and the “Horseshoe plan”. The “Racak massacre” was proof, that the Yugoslavian government massacred civilians and the “Horseshoe plan” was proof that it planned to massacre much more people. After the war both these reasons for war turned out to have been fabricated, fakes, to call in the NATO bombing campaign.

        Now in Libya we have a similar situation, there is “no clear information” on past and planned government attrocities, but there is a bombing campaign which in itself definitely causes suffering of many people. And what’s even worse, is that the major powers committed to “protect civilians” under the UNSC resolution 1973 publicly stated, that their real goal is “regime change”.

        That goal will definitely cause even suffering of many more civilians, than just go inbetween the combattants and encourage both sides to an immediate ceasefire which can be monitored by neutral forces after it is impemented and then lead to a political process.

        With regard to who disseminates wrongful information in Libya, I woulld be not so sure, who is the one, who prevents the dissemination of clear information. See for examplle the allegation, that the Libyan government used fighter jets to bomb civilians in Tripoli on February 22.

        Al Jazeera reported that incident based on a call in from someone from the street. The BBC reported that Al Jazeera reported it.

        The Russian military said, it monitored Libyan airspace closely and it had no indication that the alegation was true. US defense secretary Robert Gates said he had no reliable information that these press reports of fighter used to bomb protesters were true.

        The UN was invited to send a fact finding mission, but declined to send one. The no fly zone in UNSC resolution 1973 was based on this incidents of February 22 in Tripoli without any given evidence. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama then cited these events as making the difference why the U.S. is bombing Libya and not Bahrain or Yemen. A fact finding mission from the Socialist Labour Party of Britain just visited the alleged places of that alleged bombing and found no evidence for any bombing. The UN continues to deny a fact finding mission.

        So, when you allege that “supporters of Qaddhafi are clearly intending to prevent the dissemination of clear information”, so you think that Robert Gates is a supporter of Gaddafi? I find the term “very little clear information” really very mildly for that situation.

        So you say, that your conscience will not let you “see hundreds of innocent people murdered to assuage prejudice against the western democracies”. But will your conscience let you murder hundreds of innocent people with bombs dropped from jets, because you wrongly thought they were guilty of something based on false rumors?

        I think that’s a core of the problem desciption matches our argument. We had that situation regarding Kosovo before – and the given western reasons for going to war turned later out to be untrue, fabrications, deliberate lies.

  7. Bandolero April 16, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Dear Mr. Falk,

    thanks a lot for your sensible comment on Germany and it’s green movement.

    However, in this comment there is missing a not so pleasant part in the green success story. While it is true, that the greens have it’s roots in the western German peace and alternative energy movement, and the greens preserved it’s character as an alternative energy movement, with regard to peace the greens have turned the staunched supporters of NATO military missions.

    Petra Kelly and Rudolph Bahro are long dead, sadly. When the greens came to power in 1998, the Greens voted for bombing Yugoslavia and after that they voted for the German participation in the NATO military mission to Afghanistan. Germanys military is still there.

    What’s ironic now, is that Germany is now governed by a pro-business coalition again (CDU/CSU and FDP), and it is the leader of the liberal business party FDP – Guido Westerwelle – who was responsible for the German abstention in regard to Libya military action.

    The greens were the staunchest critics of the pro-business parties decision to abstain from bombing Libya. The Greens alongside with the social democrats, demanded that Germany both supported the UNSC resolution 1973 and participates in the bombing of Libya.

    So the sad story with the green movement is that the green peace movement has turned into a pro-war movement, but some of their ealier peace thinking prevailed, in the Left party strongly based in eastern Germany and even in Germany’s business parties.

    In Germany, we in the peace camp like to mock nowadays green party as “strong supporters of warfare done by 3-liter-tanks”.

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  1. Chomsky on Global Order | ikners.com - April 16, 2011

    [...] Rethinking Germany (richardfalk.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Rethinking Germany - April 18, 2011

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