Ukraine: No to Putin’s war! No to NATO’s escalation! Why sanctions won’t stop dictator Putin!

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/04/10/18848982.php

Ukraine: No to Putin’s war! No to NATO’s escalation! Why sanctions won’t stop dictator Putin!
by Marx 21, 2/28/2022

Nato expansion to the east: an imperialist act
Putin bears full responsibility for the current Ukraine war. However, Scholz’s rearmament speech is a reminder that the foundation for the escalation that is now culminating in Russian aggression was laid by NATO and the EU.
Ukraine: No to Putin’s war! No to NATO’s escalation!

[This article published on 2/28/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Ukraine: Nein zu Putins Krieg! Nein zur Eskalation der Nato! | marx21]

Why leftists must strongly condemn Putin’s imperialist war over Ukraine, but also the escalation by arming Germany and NATO. An analysis of the marx21 network

On the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian army is waging war against Ukraine. Putin is concerned with restoring Russian domination over Ukraine. For this purpose, he uses Great Russian chauvinist ideas and war lies. Thus he speaks of a “peace mission” with which a “genocide” by a Ukrainian “fascism” is to be prevented.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Since Feb. 24, the Russian army has been overrunning Ukraine with massive shelling and attacks by ground forces using tanks and other heavy weapons. In the face of Ukrainian army resistance, the Russian assault is proceeding more slowly than first expected. Already, there are hundreds of dead and wounded on both sides, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing. Further destruction is expected as more Russian troops invade.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine joins a series of bloody military interventions under Putin’s supreme command. Russia under Putin has put down the Chechen independence movement, waged war on Georgia, annexed Crimea, bombed Syria to save the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, and recently intervened against broad-based protests in Kazakhstan.

Reaction from the German government and NATO

Initially, the German government had reacted rather cautiously compared to other NATO states. However, Chancellor Scholz’s speech on Feb. 27 marked a turn toward a drastic escalation policy. In addition to a tightening of sanctions, the centerpiece of this turnaround is the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, an armament package of 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr, as well as the decision for combat drones.

With this announcement, Chancellor Scholz and the traffic light coalition are further fueling the spiral of military and economic escalation. They are thus complying with the demands of the arms lobby and militarists, who have been beating the drum for a higher military budget and the procurement of combat drones for years.

Gigantic rearmament of Germany

100 billion euros more for armaments – that is twice the amount of a complete year’s military budget. Yet Germany’s military budget has already increased by 50 percent since 2014.

Although there is not even a commitment to NATO’s 2 percent target in the coalition agreement, Scholz’s announcement overfulfills this NATO target. There is no longer a review of combat drone procurement. The militarists in the SPD and the Greens have thus prevailed over the doubters.

This decision will have fatal consequences for foreign policy in the coming years. The vast majority of the population will pay for it. Both social demands and necessary investments in climate change will fall behind the primacy of rearmament.

Nato expansion to the east: an imperialist act

Putin bears full responsibility for the current Ukraine war. However, Scholz’s rearmament speech is a reminder that the foundation for the escalation that is now culminating in Russian aggression was laid by NATO and the EU.

U.S. Secretary of State Baker and West German Foreign Minister Genscher promised the then Soviet foreign minister in 1989, in return for Moscow’s “permission” to reunify Germany, that Nato would not expand eastward. Nato’s eastward expansion is an imperialist act by the West. It allows Putin to present the invasion of Ukraine to his own people as an act of defense by Russia.

NATO is not a defensive alliance. It is a military alliance that secures access to raw materials and markets worldwide. Its purpose is to assert the influence of the Western powers led by the USA. The USA, as the leading power in NATO, has been responsible for 13 wars and military interventions since 2000. None of them was “defensive” because the U.S. would have been attacked militarily.

The NATO-led attack on Serbia in 1999 led to the carve-out of Kosovo and a permanent NATO occupation in the Balkans. The 2001 attack on Afghanistan was followed by a 20-year Nato-led occupation. Many NATO states were also involved in the war against Iraq in 2003.

Ukraine: Plaything of the Great Powers

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the countries of Eastern Europe were very quickly integrated economically and politically into the West, first with free trade agreements and association agreements, and finally with admission to the EU, which was followed by admission to NATO. The association agreement with Ukraine was also about expanding the EU’s economic influence in Ukraine.

The people of Ukraine have become the plaything of the great powers. When Ursula von der Leyen now talks about accepting Ukraine into the EU, it is another step in the escalation.

At its core, this is a conflict between the most powerful bloc in the world, the United States with its European allies on the one hand, and Russia, an imperialist power that is far weaker and weakened economically and militarily and therefore all the more aggressive on the other.

This struggle for zones of influence in an international system of rival blocs threatens to trigger a spiral of violence and counter-violence that could end in a world war.

Economic war and sanctions

Sanctions are the wrong response to Putin’s war. The EU’s economic war preceded NATO’s military expansion. It cannot be the solution for a peaceful future. The sanctions that have now been introduced punish not only oligarchs, but also the Russian people; they are the precursor to further escalation, at the end of which there may also be the use of military means.

We stand by the side of the people who are resisting the Russian invasion. We are for an independent, neutral Ukraine. Only in this way can Ukraine preserve its unity as an independent state.

The key to Putin’s defeat lies in the resistance of the Russian people against the war and Great Russian chauvinism, not in the armament and escalation of NATO. Every Nato soldier more on Russia’s borders is one less anti-war opponent on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Anti-militarism in Russia

There is a tradition of anti-militarism in Russia: in 1989, after more than a decade of Red Army warfare in Afghanistan, with a million dead among the Afghan population and more than 50,000 dead and wounded among Russian occupation forces, there were demonstrations in Moscow and many other Russian cities by mothers whose sons had been killed or wounded in Afghanistan.

Similar to the U.S. Army after the Vietnam War, the Red Army was not operational for many years after the fiasco of its war in Afghanistan. Gorbachev announced in the late 1980s that the Russian Army would no longer intervene in insurgencies in Eastern Europe because he knew the mood in his army all too well.

Anti-war movement and refugee solidarity

It is now crucial to organize solidarity with refugees, to take to the streets and build a protest movement against Putin’s war and the German government’s rearmament plans.

In this anti-war movement we stand up for a no to arms deliveries from Germany to Ukraine, a no to sanctions of the EU and Germany against Russia and a no to the Nato expansion to the East. The Bundeswehr must be withdrawn from the countries bordering Russia.

Against the increase of the Bundeswehr budget and the further rearmament, a broad alliance is needed to oppose this resolutely. For an end to the military arms race, which devours resources that are urgently needed for the fight against poverty and climate change.
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Why sanctions won’t stop dictator Putin

10 points on the sanctions debate, or why it’s important right now for the left to stick to its consistent peace course, writ small and writ large.
By Yaak Pabst
[This article published on 3/2/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.marx21.de/warum-sanktionen-den-diktator-putin-nicht-stoppen-werden/.]

1. the calls for sanctions against Russia by some leftists from Ukraine are understandable given their powerlessness, but they remain wrong. They always hit the civilian population. They are thus water on Putin’s nationalist propaganda mills and help him to rally the population behind him. Moreover, sanctions are only the precursor to further escalation, which may end with the use of military means. In this context, they correspond to imperialist logic. For Germany, sanctions open the door for the left to pursue a policy of truce. Against this background, it is important that DIE LINKE remains on a consistent peace course and rejects the various facets of Western and especially German imperialism in this conflict – sanctions, arms deliveries and rearmament.

2) Whoever associates the sanctions decided by the EU and other Western institutions with boycott movements such as the Palestinian BDS movement or the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s makes a mistake, because the current sanctions have nothing to do with them and they do not lead there. The sanctions that have been decided (account blocking / economic sanctions) are the means of an imperialist bloc to inhibit another imperialist competitor in its development. Such sanctions affect the uninvolved civilian population because they are aimed at imposing the most effective economic damage possible on the entire affected country (otherwise they would be wastepaper in the sense of the NATO states). The effects of such sanctions on the population can be studied very well in Iraq 1990-2003, in Afghanistan since 1999 or in Syria from 2011 until today. Such sanctions are not about a confrontation of oppressed against their oppressors, as in the case of the BDS campaign of the Palestinian liberation movement or the anti-apartheid movement of South Africa.

3. history shows that the rulers in the countries affected by sanctions do not have to fear a loss of power as a result of these sanctions. One of the most poignant examples is North Korea. The regime has repeatedly faced harsh sanctions and economic boycotts from the U.S. and the West since its founding in 1948. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people in the country have died from starvation and medical shortages, yet the regime remains unshaken in power. There is a simple reason for this. Politicians in sanctioned countries can use the situation to close ranks behind them. They are not to blame for the miserable situation, but foreign powers – the opposing imperialist bloc. Butcher Putin is quite a master in this discipline. Sanctions under such conditions weaken the resistance instead of strengthening it. Even the current sanctions adopted by the Western imperial bloc will not stop Putin. Putin’s regime was already subject to EU sanctions after the Crimea annexation in 2014. But instead of revolting against their president Putin, Russia’s population famously re-elected the same president in 2018 with a record result. In other countries with dictators, sanctions have done nothing either, except bring more poverty, hunger and death to the civilian population. Whether Haiti, Serbia, Syria – despite sanctions, those who were supposed to be forced out of office remained firmly in the saddle.

4) To claim that sanctions are a peaceful alternative to war is unrealistic – sanctions are the continuation of war by other means. Or, conversely, they are only the precursor to further escalation, which may end with the use of military means. Take Iraq, for example: At the end of 1990, the United Nations decided to impose sanctions on Iraq. This “sanctions war” lasted for thirteen years (!) and was incredibly brutal. More people died under the sanctions against Iraq than from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Iraq’s economy was systematically attacked and its people were deprived of the chance to develop – UNICEF puts the number of dead children at more than half a million. The dictator at the time, Saddam Hussein, and the Sunni elite that supported him continued to rule unhindered during this period. In Iraq, these UN sanctions, which were disastrous for the people, were followed by the war of aggression waged by the U.S. and its “coalition of the willing.” The USA and its allies fought of course (who is surprised) for “peace, democracy and human rights”. By the way, nobody at that time thought of demanding sanctions against the USA or sanctions against the “oligarchs” in the USA or the countries that had joined the “coalition of the willing”, such as England.

5. the sanctions against Russia, which have been decided now, do not serve the Ukrainian people. They do not bring the people one step closer to peace. On the contrary: wars do not arise from the irrationality of individual politicians, so that personal sanctions could change anything. Imperialism does not only describe a certain violent policy or the fact that presidents of powerful nations, such as Russia, USA or Germany, can rule over smaller nations. Military violence follows an enormous intensification of economic competition. Economic competition turns into political-military competition, and to that extent it takes the form of a global system of competing capitalist states. In this system, sanctions are an integral part of the struggle between imperialist states. Over 150 times in the last decade, the UN Security Council has adopted economic restrictions. In addition, there are hundreds of sanctions that states impose on other states unilaterally without a UN decision. The various imperialisms have made Ukraine their playing field for the trial of strength, and the sanctions are part of it. All this is happening on the backs of the people of Ukraine. The key to Putin’s defeat ultimately lies in the Russian people’s resistance to war and Great Russian chauvinism, not in NATO’s armament and escalation.

6 There are no “good” sanctions. Some leftists want “just” and “sustainable” sanctions, sanctions that hit only the rich oligarchs, sanctions with a “class perspective.” “What’s wrong with that?” they ask. Such “good” sanctions do not exist in the real world. In capitalism, sanctions cannot be “separated” into “good” sanctions that hit only the rich and “bad” sanctions that hit the population. Take Syria, for example: EU sanctions have been in place there since 2011, also by decision of the European Council. They include an oil embargo, restrictions on investment, the freezing of Syrian Central Bank assets held in the EU, and export restrictions on equipment and technology. But these targeted sanctions have added to the suffering of the Syrian people caused by the war. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Consequences of Sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, “The measures that have been applied out of concern for human rights have contributed to the worsening of the humanitarian crisis.” Sanctions against Syria’s central bank and other measures to cut it off from international payments, in particular, have had devastating consequences. Journalist Fabian Goldmann writes in his article “Why Sanctions Only Make Things Worse,” “Research by the World Food Program WFP and the World Health Organization WHO holds EU sanctions partly responsible for the collapse of food and health services in the country. Representatives of international humanitarian organizations in Syria complain that EU sanctions make their work difficult or even impossible.” The left should abandon the idea that Putin’s regime could be weakened or even overthrown by economic sanctions of any kind. Instead, it should educate about the imperialist nature of sanctions and the hypocrisy of the rulers toward the people of Ukraine.

7 But can’t sanctions be used in a targeted manner and thus prevent an uncontrollable spiral of escalation? The answer is no. Sanctions against Putin’s Russia in recent decades have mostly been imposed unilaterally by the largest imperialist power, the United States, and its Western allies, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union or its individual member states. Against Russia alone, the United States imposed sanctions on “at least 735 individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft” in connection with Russia’s occupation of Crimea and on 68 individuals in connection with allegations of election interference in the United States. In addition, 54 individuals were sanctioned for their involvement in human rights abuses and corruption using the 2012 Magnitsky Act. The United States, the EU, and the United Kingdom also jointly sanctioned Russian officials or companies in connection with the poisonings of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in 2018 and opposition activist Alexei Nawalny in 2021, as well as for arms embargo violations and other activities by Russian mercenaries:inside Libya and elsewhere. All these targeted sanctions did not change the spiral of escalation.

8 Targeted sanctions have long been part of the imperialist show of force – also and especially against powerful or influential persons. Here, too, the USA is setting the pace. In 2016, the U.S. government extended the Magnitsky Act, which originally applied to Russia, to all states on earth. This gave the U.S. government the authority to impose sanctions, visa restrictions, asset freezes, or other penalties not only on countries but on specific targeted individuals anywhere in the world. Under the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, these types of sanctions have increased sharply. In 2021, 173 expulsions were issued under the Magnitsky Act, up from 12 in 2020. The U.S. is not alone in this. Canada, the UK, the EU, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and more recently Australia have also passed their own versions of the Magnitsky Act. And sure enough, the EU Parliament passed a resolution in March 2019 to call on the EU Commission and the 28 member states to enact legislation similar to the Magnitsky Act. Accordingly, this is also to be implemented in Germany. The Netherlands, France, Sweden and Denmark are also considering similar versions of the Magnitsky Act. All this is happening despite the fact that it is well known that the imposition of sanctions exacerbates political and geopolitical tensions. For example, U.S. sanctions, visa restrictions, embassy closures and other measures targeting Chinese officials and entities have triggered retaliation from Beijing. The Trump administration wanted to use the sanctions to force Chinese leaders to give in on tariff policies. But this only exacerbated tensions between the U.S. and China. Another example is Iran, where the Trump administration’s numerous sanctions against Iranian generals, agencies and companies led to dangerous saber rattling throughout 2019.

9 There is not one bit of sanctions. The Left should draw the connection between sanctions against Russia and the 100 billion euro rearmament package for the Bundeswehr. The approval of the LEFT to sanctions, would be a first dam break in the direction of escalation and rearmament. Why? The sanctions against Russia are an expression of rivalries between the Western bloc and its competitors. The cornerstone for this war was laid by NATO and the EU with their aggressive foreign policy – for example, with the eastward expansion of NATO, but also with their sanctions policy. Germany plays a very important role in this architecture. On the other hand, the invasion of Ukraine is part of a series of bloody military interventions under Putin’s supreme command. Russia under Putin has put down the Chechen independence movement, waged war on Georgia, annexed Crimea, bombed Syria to save the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, and recently put down mass protests in Kazakhstan. Putin bears full responsibility for the current Ukraine war. However, Chancellor Scholz’s rearmament speech shows that the imperialist escalation, now culminating in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will go on and on. The Scholz government bears a share of responsibility for this, at the latest with its “turn of the times” speech in the Bundestag and its government’s rearmament decisions. The current developments (troop deployments / NATO ally buildup / sanctions / arms deliveries / largest rearmament program in the history of the Federal Republic), prepares for a possible future entry of Germany into war against Russia. Leftists should recognize and sharply criticize the totality of this process. Many qualitative developments, lead from a certain point to a new quality. We are in the middle of this process. Under these conditions, a “little” (symbolic) arms deliveries and sanctions are no small intervention. There is no such thing as a little bit pregnant! The Rulers The new very big coalition of SPD, Greens, FDP, CDU/CSU (and AfD, which clapped along enthusiastically during armament passages in Scholz’s speech) in Germany is not (yet) promoting war entry, but “only” a Cold War of deterrence. But this Cold War threatens to pave the way to barbarism. Karl Liebknecht’s slogan from the First World War is rightly still relevant today. It read, “The main enemy is in our own country.” But this slogan of the main enemy not only refers to the immediate entry into the war, but also describes the attitude of the left before it. This is also the context for the rejection of sanctions and the associated resistance to the largest rearmament program in the history of the Federal Republic.

The Scholz government will further fuel the military arms race with its rearmament program. In times of increasing wars, global poverty, refugee catastrophe, climate crisis, low wages and dilapidated infrastructure in schools, hospitals or lack of housing, this is fatal. Wage earners and their families will pay the price for this policy of militarization and war. Resistance is the only way to put the rulers, no matter in which imperialist bloc they act, on the spot. For the left in Germany, its own government must be in the foreground. Anything that distracts from building this resistance and chains the left to the rulers, such as sanctions, should be rejected by the left. There will have to be a hard struggle in the LEFT to maintain the peace policy position. This should not stop us from organizing solidarity with the refugees from Ukraine now, from taking to the streets and building a protest movement against Putin’s war and the rearmament plans of the German government. Putin is the plague, but NATO / EU is the cholera. We should not choose between two diseases. This is the game of the rulers. The many have nothing of the nationalist bluster, war and rearmament. “The dividends rise and the proletarians fall”, a clever revolutionary once said. We should remember that these days. Instead of demanding sanctions, leftists should educate: About the ugly grimace of the new imperialism in East and West; about the hypocrisy of their own government in this conflict, about the fact that the world needs billions for climate protection and social welfare not for armament and war; about the necessity of a world in which not the profits but the needs of the people are in the center. Neither Washington nor Moscow, neither Brussels nor Berlin, but international socialism should be the slogan of the left.

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Armament Madness

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/04/01/18848869.php
The people of Ukraine are suffering. But who benefits from the “turning of the tide”? The war is a crime, and Putin bears the responsibility. But Western politicians were not sleepwalkers. An appeal brings the conclusion to the point: Lay down your arms! Peace logic instead of war logic!
Armament Madness
by Wolfgang Triebel
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/ruestungswahnsinn/#.]

The memories of my first decade of life are dominated by the invasion of Poland in 1939. It passed into Hitler’s raid for “wheat from Ukraine and oil from Baku” (O-Ton Hitler) into World War 2 in 1941. We high school students celebrated the devastation of Ukraine, Belorussia, Russia up to the Caucasus with little flags stuck on the map of Russia in the classroom as victories of the Wehrmacht – until we woke up in 1945 at the latest. Now I am in the tenth decade of my life, and again – or still? – the old hate tirades against Russia and its president are sounding on German radio. On the television screen we can “participate” in the war events on the ground and witness the suffering of the population from a safe distance. What kind of world are my grandchildren and great-grandchildren growing into?

To put it unequivocally: I condemn all war out of deep humanistic conviction. My first question: Which side benefits from it? The Russian military action in Ukraine brings death and destruction to both sides. It personally harms Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, who has restored national dignity to his people, stabilized their standard of living, and restored Russia’s status as a major European power. Nato states announced tougher “penalties,” they want to “contain Russia’s economy and trade” and “isolate the country internationally” (O-Ton Bundestag 27.02.2022). Where does NATO get the right to “punish” politicians of other countries?

The Ukrainian people have to endure the acts of war and mourn deaths and injuries because its president Selenskyj has rejected the demands of eastern Ukrainian regions for autonomy in the country’s borders despite promises and treaty (Minsk 2). Who benefits from this denial of autonomy? The war creates enmity between two fraternal peoples whose grandfathers and grandmothers expelled Hitler’s fascists together more than 75 years ago. The fathers and mothers of the current soldiers of both countries have rebuilt their homeland. Who benefits from inciting Ukrainians and other peoples of the former USSR against Russia?

The first beneficiaries of this action of the Russian military are USA President Joe Biden and NATO countries in Europe. During Olaf Scholz’s inaugural visit to Washington, Biden said at the joint press conference, “If Russia were to invade Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 would not happen.” What does the U.S. president have to do with Nord Stream 2, a contracted gas pipeline between Germany and Russia? Nothing! And yet he presumes to decide on its commissioning – and in the presence of the German head of government. This display of power by American presidents is based on their self-image, unwavering since 1990, that the USA is the “only world power” (Brzezinski 1997).

The majority of the world’s states see above all the countries militarily invaded and destroyed by the USA, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, in Africa, Latin America, the constantly threatened states such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea and last but not least the PR China. The militant world domination policy of the USA has shaken the confidence in the leadership ability of the USA. Which U.S. president has been punished or sanctioned for these war crimes? In the U.S., infighting between Democrats and Republicans, enormous debt and racism weigh heavily on life. Biden needs success both internally and externally. The Selenskyj administration helped Biden achieve foreign policy success by preventing the border settlement with Russia. Domestically, he scores points with his fracking gas monopolies, which can now export their gas to Europe.

The second beneficiary of the military debacle between Russia and Ukraine is the European NATO states. First of all, let’s remember, the founding of NATO in 1948 was based on the lie that Stalin wanted to advance to the Rhine. The Western democracies had to be protected. Adenauer announced in the Bundestag that the “Russians” were to blame for everything. The cold war against the Soviet
union and its allies was heating up. Adenauer rejected Stalin’s 1952 note on the settlement of the German question. It is not new to demand peace readiness from others, to reject offers in negotiations and to answer them with unacceptable conditions.

In his inaugural speech on Feb. 13, President Steinmeier recalled, as did Chancellor Scholz in the Bundestag on Feb. 27, 2022, the CSCE of 1975, a very good forum for ending the war in Ukraine and creating a new European peace order in which all states of Europe participate. At that time, 35 states of Europe, the USA and Canada negotiated for nine years (1966-1975) until the heads of state and government signed the “Helsinki Final Act” on August 1, 1975. The first lesson of the CSCE: patience in security negotiations.

A second lesson: None of the 35 states set preconditions. All of Europe’s pending problems were put into the famous Helsinki “three baskets” according to security issues, trade and economic interests, and humanitarian and cultural tasks, and negotiated together. Peaceful coexistence in practice.

A third lesson I call political agility in complex negotiating issues. In the final phase of the negotiations, the CDU/CSU demanded in the Bundestag debate on the CSCE on October 17, 1974, that the government set preconditions before signing the Final Act. If accepted, the CSCE could have failed, but this was rejected. The equality of member states functioned until 1990.

Since the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, the USA has behaved like the world’s supreme policeman. USA President Obama now treated Russia as a regional power. In this context, under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the CSCE was reorganized as the OSCE. Henceforth, the “peace and security policy” of the CSCE was taken over by NATO, and the “economic policy for mutual benefit” by the EC (EU). The equal rights of all CSCE members were abolished.

In 1998, NATO waged a war to break up Yugoslavia, UN as well as CSCE/OSCE member. New states were formed in the Balkans. On 27.02.2008 Kosovo declared itself an independent state against the will of the Serbian government. The USA, which maintained a military base in Kosovo, recognized the new state the day after. Where was the respect for international law then? Biden and his NATO claqueurs are now invoking international law to “punish” Putin for recognizing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Their double standards and their USA vassalage make the European Nato states stooges of American interests instead of defenders of their own. German politicians let themselves be applauded for this.

NATO ignores Russia’s legitimate security interests. After the dissolution of the USSR, Americans and Western Europeans have been flocking to the newly independent Soviet republics with offers of help of all kinds and have been promoting NATO membership. NATO and the EU have established military outposts in the Baltic states. A NATO-led ring of states with U.S.-aligned governments has been drawn right up to Russia’s borders. Ukraine and Belarus are still missing from this “ring”. So who, Mr. President, is “putting a noose around the neck” of whom?

The core problem for the aggravation of the international situation and thus an increased danger of war are the changes in the international balance of power between the great powers. The U.S. feels that its influence and power is waning. Russia is a great military, political and economic power, and one with great mineral resources. With his unforgivable military action in Ukraine, Putin has de facto provided Biden with an opportunity to unleash his European NATO brothers for a large-scale campaign against Russia. The “first Sunday special session” of the Bundestag on 27.02.2022 was an embarrassing peace hypocrisy. In front CDU sharpshooter Friedrich Merz. It was the CDU that wanted to prevent the CSCE in 1975. It did not want equal states in Europe then, and it does not want them today. However, high armament and antagonism between nations are the wrong means to bring about peace. The present conflict situation in Europe is not a new edition of the East-West confrontation, nor is it just a struggle of the USA for sales markets for its fracking gas. These and other external manifestations of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are an acute threat of war for Europe. The situation requires immediate diplomatic action by all sides. Russia’s military activities in Ukraine must be stopped. Europe needs a policy of Europeans for Europe’s interests, a new “Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe” (CSCE).

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War and pre-war

by Georg Rammer
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/krieg-und-vorkrieg/.]

War is on again. What is to be demanded is an immediate stop to the Russian attack on Ukraine. And to demand is a logic of peace against the causes of war. “When war begins, one can know, but when does the pre-war begin?” (Christa Wolf) Those who wanted to see could, indeed, had to recognize long before: We are approaching the point of no return.

As late as December of last year, high-ranking German ex-diplomats and military officers issued an urgent appeal in “the greatest concern”: “Get out of the spiral of escalation! For a New Beginning in Relations with Russia” (available under this title on the Internet). It is high time to lead Russia and NATO out of the confrontation. On the basis of the “recognition of the security interests of both sides,” NATO should approach Russia and work toward de-escalation through concrete measures – which the signatories name.

The appeal did not appear – with the exception of zdf.de – in a single major German medium. Only the website Heise, rt.de, the NachDenkSeiten and neues deutschland considered this desperate attempt to prevent the foreseeable war newsworthy. Why did the mainstream media boycott the appeal of “state-supporting” personalities?

A statement by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), which primarily advises the German government and the Bundestag, was no different. Its detailed analysis of the military shift of forces to the detriment of Russia (see german-foreign-policy.com, 2/14/22) was ignored by politicians and opinion-forming media a few days before Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Why this blockade? Because the author, a retired colonel and scholar in the field of security policy, concludes that Moscow’s demand for an end to NATO’s eastward expansion is understandable? As is well known, Russia’s two draft treaties of January – halting NATO’s eastward expansion and the stationing of offensive weapons near its borders, and withdrawing its military to positions of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act – were immediately rejected. Why were negotiations refused?

But the pre-war had begun long before that. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, wild capitalism grew there, fueled by private appropriation of all national wealth. James S. Henry, economist and investigative journalist, wrote (“How Donald Trump Learned to Love Russia. Deals and Ropes from the Days of Shock Therapy,” Leaves 2/2017): At the time, “the West in general and the U.S. Treasury, USAID (the United States Agency for International Development), the U.S. State Department, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and many leading economists in particular operated and financed one of the largest transfers of public property into private hands the world has ever seen.”

As a result, the people became rapidly impoverished: In a very short time, the average life expectancy dropped by 6 to 7 years. While people starved, oligarchs fattened up in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. They seized economic and political power. “For ordinary Russians, it was (…) a disaster. But for many banks, private bankers, hedge funds, law firms and accounting firms, for leading oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP, and for capital-hungry debtors like the Trump Organization, the chance to feed on the post-Soviet spoils was a godsend. It was vulture capitalism at its worst” (ibid.). In the United States, the oligarchs (whose names are different there) saw Russia and Ukraine as spoils at the end of the victorious Cold War.

The suffering, often traumatized people in Ukraine experience a lot of compassion and willingness to help. Hundreds of thousands of refugees – as in numerous other countries – are in need of support. What compassion, what willingness to help did Western politics show to the people of Ukraine when it pushed hard for an association agreement with the EU? This meant neoliberal “reforms” such as raising the retirement age by five years, abolishing subsidies for basic foodstuffs and energy, but also an exclusive customs union with the EU, although almost half of trade was conducted with Russia. The president at the time, the oligarch Poroshenko, issued the slogan that the agreement was intended to “consolidate our final break with the Russian Evil Empire.” Economist Heiner Flassbeck commented: “Russia’s neighbor, whose fate we lament today, was brought by Western advisors under the leadership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into an economic situation that was and is absolutely fatal for the functioning of a young democracy and for the life prospects of its people. Survival was possible at best as a production location for Western companies, as a supplier of raw materials or as a producer of agricultural products.”

In addition to economic interests, there were also strategic interests whose goals had been significantly shaped by an influential political advisor who had served four U.S. presidents, Zbignew Brzezinski. In 1997, in his major work “The Great Chessboard,” he described in detail the geostrategic cornerstones for the lasting domination of the “sole world power,” the United States. For U.S. supremacy, he said, U.S. influence would have to be extended eastward far into Central Asia through the expansion of the EU and NATO. Russian President Putin had repeatedly warned against this.

Now Russia is waging war against Ukraine. What remains to be written is, as it were, the “chronicle of an announced war.” While Russia repeatedly made proposals for cooperation (see Kai Ehlers in Ossietzky 5/2022), the West pushed ahead with the encirclement of Russia. U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan wrote for the New York Times in 1997 that the decision to extend NATO to Russia’s borders was the most disastrous mistake in post-Cold War American policy. “This decision can be expected to (…) have a harmful impact on the development of democracy in Russia, to restore the atmosphere of the Cold War in relations between the East and the West, and to force Russian foreign policy in directions that will be decidedly displeasing to us” (quoted by german-foreign-policy.com).

Even the ex-US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had warned urgently against a war over Ukraine just seven years ago: “But if Ukraine is to survive and prosper, it must not be the outpost of one side against the other – it should act as a bridge between the two sides” (quoted from infosperber.ch, 9.3.22). Reminders did not stand a chance. Everything that has been critically analyzed since the beginning of the war regarding the background – Russia’s encirclement, the military integration of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, the withdrawal from disarmament treaties and from Minsk II, the refusal of all negotiations on Russia’s proposals – contributed to the escalation of the pre-war. Admonitions were thrown to the wind, warnings fizzled out ineffectively, appeals went unheeded – not although, but because this made war inevitable. All that was needed was to increase containment through maneuvers near the border and arms deliveries to Ukraine, to let Minsk II die off and, with the help of the media, to fuel an anti-Russian mood.

The people of Ukraine are suffering. But who benefits from the “turning of the tide”? The war is a crime, and Putin bears the responsibility. But Western politicians were not sleepwalkers. An appeal brings the conclusion to the point: Lay down your arms! Peace logic instead of war logic!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Resurgence of the West?”

by Kai Ehlers
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/wiederaufstieg-des-westens/]

Frightening what is currently happening in Ukraine. Frightening, too, that the man, Vladimir Putin, who, since he took office as Russia’s president, has been admonishing the U.S.’s adherence to the order of nations, is now himself blatantly calling that order into question by ordering the invasion of Ukraine. This has taken all friends of Russia, including the author of this text, by surprise, who had still seen room for negotiation in the conflict over Ukraine.

No less frightening is how disproportionately and mendaciously the West is reacting to this turn of events: with an ideological mobilization and rearmament against Russia that completely denies its own responsibility for creating this situation and pushes hard against the limits of an international expansion of local war. Such a thing has not been seen in border violations on the part of other powers in the recent past, such as NATO in Yugoslavia or the U.S. in Iraq.

And yet, pity for the Ukrainian people who have to endure this war, indignation over the violation of international law by Putin, who is now showing his “true colors,” and bigoted satisfaction that the West is now experiencing a “resurgence” are not enough. The question arises beyond the formation of camps: who benefits from this whole process?

The answer seems clear. It benefits none of the parties directly involved in the fighting. Not Ukraine, of course, which is being pushed even deeper into the chaos of its civil war than it was in previous years, and which could even emerge divided from the current fighting. Not Russia, which will fall to international ostracism and suffer severe damage to its economic and political stability. But also not the Europeans, who, for better or worse, will separate themselves economically and culturally from Russia and hand themselves over to the Americans. The keyword “Nord Stream 2” can stand for the whole thing here.

The USA alone appears as the laughing third party, far removed from the current war. For them, the divisiveness of the European Union and Russia, which are weakening each other instead of cooperating with each other and building together on the peace and security order, as Russia has repeatedly offered to do since the collapse of the Soviet Union, removes two opponents from the game at once and clears the way for confrontation with China. What is more, the European Union, especially Germany as its center, will once again and for a longer period of time become the vicarious agent of U.S. policy.

So far, so foreseeable, one might think – and the longer and the bloodier the war on Ukrainian soil will last, the more sustainably Europe and Russia will be blocked in this way and become subservient to U.S. goals. Against the backdrop of the unmistakable crisis in the United States, Atlanticists may indeed see this as a “resurgence of the West.”

However, other consequences of this local war are also possible, if the states that were already on a counter-course to the U.S.-dominated West in the far run-up to the current escalations, i.e. the states of the BRICS, as well as the Shanghai alliance, among them in particular China, India, Brazil South Africa, now unite more closely under the pressure of the sanctions war declared against Russia. This is especially true if Russia’s exclusion from the dollar-based SWIFT payment system partially punctures the dominance of that system, or even ends it altogether in the case of Russia’s total exclusion from the Western system, because these states will then coalesce around the Asian Development Bank to form their own financial alliance, which has been growing for a long time. This could create a new financial force capable of breaking the dollar dominance. The local conflict would then have reached global dimensions.

Since this variant is clear to all parties involved, many of the measures that are now being announced by the West with loud bluster will probably ultimately be scaled down to a much smaller scale in order to keep the global conflict in check. What becomes of Ukraine in the process, a takeover by Russia, accession to the EU, or continuation as another “frozen conflict” that joins the other “frozen conflicts” already waiting in the wings as the mines of the century, is currently an open question that will not be decided in Ukraine. The well-being, health and lives of the civilian population will be the least at stake, in Ukraine as well as in Russia or Europe.

https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Preserving Democracy and the Welfare State: An Appeal, 3/24/2022

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/03/31/18848861.php

We are confronted with war and endless suffering, with flight, with poverty and social insecurity, with a global pandemic… The arms buildup planned for decades will not end the deaths in Ukraine, will not make our world more peaceful and will not make it safer. We cannot afford it in the name of the future.
Together we can stop the armament madness!
Preserving Democracy and the Welfare State. No Armament in the Basic Law!
[This appeal was published on 3/24/2022 on the Internet, https://derappell.de/en/.]

On February 24, Russia under President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. This war has already caused thousands of victims and cost hundreds of thousands their homes.

There is no justification for this war. Putin bears full responsibility for the dead and the people fleeing their homes. Putin’s justifications for the war are lies and propaganda.

We are very worried about the future of peace and security in Europe and the world. This fear unites us with the hundreds of thousands of people who, after the war began, took to the streets in Cologne, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and hundreds of other cities alone, expressing their outrage at Putin’s war, their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, their fear of further escalation and their desire for peace and security. Together with them, we demonstrated against Putin’s war and for peace.

These demonstrations were the largest peace demonstrations since the protests against the Iraq war in 2003. On the very same day that people took to the streets against the war in Berlin, the German government, with the support of the CDU/CSU, presented a package of measures that envisages the largest rearmament of Germany since the end of World War II. A massive armament of the Bundeswehr will not help the people in Ukraine. The new weapons to be acquired will not support the Ukrainians in their struggle and right to self-defense.

The “defense expenditures” of all 30 NATO countries already exceed the Russian ones by almost twenty times. Acquiring conventional weapons such as fighter jets and weaponized drones as a deterrent amongst nuclear military blocs is pointless.

NATO countries, including Germany, began to significantly increase their military spending before 2014, which was long before the Ukraine conflict occurred. Parts of the rearmament plans can already be found in the coalition agreement, well before the first warnings of an imminent Russian invasion. This war and the horrific images of the deaths and destruction in Ukraine cannot justify a radical change of course in German foreign policy and the highest increase in German arms spending since World War II – a project that even involves an amendment to the Basic Law.

To decide on such a 180-degree turnaround in German foreign policy, with correspondingly dramatic consequences for domestic policy as well – for the welfare state, for liberality and humanity – without any broad social debate, without any parliamentary debate, and even without any internal party debate at all, would be a scandal in terms of democratic policy.

In addition to the previous 49 billion in military spending in the 2022 budget, 100 billion is to be set aside this year as a special fund that will be available to the Bundeswehr over several years. This sum corresponds to the spending of several federal ministries, including such important departments as Health (16.03 billion), Education and Research (19.36 billion), Interior and Community (18.52 billion), Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (12.16 billion), Economic Affairs and Climate Action (9.81 billion), Environment (2.7 billion), Economic Cooperation and Development (10.8 billion) and Food and Agriculture (6.98 billion). In the future, 2% of GDP is to be spent on armaments on a permanent basis. This would increase spending to well over 70 billion euros a year. At the same time, the German government wants to stick to the “debt brake,” which raises the question of our democratic priorities in the long term and brings with it the danger of massive cuts in the social, cultural and public sectors. In the name of democracy, we reject the idea of making this political course setting additionally binding on future governments by anchoring it in the Basic Law. Security and social justice, not armaments, are the mandate of the Basic Law.

Instead of decisions being made overnight and in the smallest of circles, we call for broad democratic discussion of a comprehensive security concept that includes security against military attacks as well as pandemic and ecological aspects and is based on the concept of the unity of security and common development.

We are confronted with war and endless suffering, with flight, with poverty and social insecurity, with a global pandemic that has shown how tightly calculated the budgets of our health care systems are, with a public infrastructure whose decades-long neglect is costing us dearly today, with a cultural scene that is running on fumes, and with a climate catastrophe that does not stop at national borders and requires immense investments in future technologies and social cushioning. The arms buildup planned for decades will not end the deaths in Ukraine, will not make our world more peaceful and will not make it safer. We cannot afford it in the name of the future.
https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Nato Expansion or Democracy Expansion

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/03/29/18848845.php
The Nato eastward enlargement is for a long time the central – not the only – background of a development dangerous for the world. No justification of any kind for the crime of the war against the Ukraine put into action by the Russian government can be derived from this statement!

Nato expansion or democracy expansion?
by Peter Bürger
[This article published on 3/13/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Nato-Erweiterung oder Demokratie-Erweiterung?]

Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.
George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, interested – military-sophisticated – circles have taken advantage of the scrupulous conscience of many peace lovers and NATO critics: the unsuspecting and those who understand Russia are to blame for the death of peace. Not only did they come to the deathbed too late or not at all, but they had always made a wrong diagnosis and recommended the wrong medicine accordingly …

Perhaps the comparison is misleading, perhaps not: When a person has died, there is almost always at least one survivor who confesses his own failings and accuses himself. How could it be otherwise? After all, since we are not gods, we can never really do justice to our fellow human beings and the world even with the “best will in the world.”

In many cases, feelings of guilt and self-reproach at the death of another are simply the expression of a scrupulous conscience. With this we find preferably just those excellent, who – to call only one example for their peculiarities – as a rule really always reconcile with their neighbor before sunset, out of fear that it could be already no longer possible the next morning.

Many a person allowed himself to be frightened these days and driven into the confessional of the media business. It no longer mattered that peace-moving and peace-researching diagnoses had previously always been dismissed and, above all, that the recommended remedies had never been used.

Being late for the final worsening of a crisis need not be a matter of honor. Even an experienced physician can be late to the deathbed of his or her parents because of an incorrect assessment of the course of the day.

The situation is different, however, if a central component of the diagnosis of the disease really does turn out to be a misdiagnosis in retrospect (due to a blind spot, carelessness or incompetence). In such a case, a “Mea Culpa” would not be embarrassing at all, but mandatory.

Going to Canossa in the “asylum

The makers of the ZDF program “Die Anstalt” took a heavyweight “walk to Canossa” in their special edition of March 8. Heavyweight, because “Die Anstalt” is an institution for the critical mass in our republic, recommended with shining eyes by old and young: a consolation for all those who still believe in the possibility of the public refutation.

It was not a funny show. Who can make jokes or laugh heartily at such an oppressive time – in free flow? Under such auspices, the stamina was remarkable. In view of the assessment of recent developments, there was reason to say: We were wrong.

In the relatively brief passages on the subject of “NATO expansion to the east,” however, some viewers might get the idea that a higher institution management had pushed for a reduction in complexity.

In all humility and with respect, I would like to offer Max Uthoff and Claus von Wagner the suggestion that at a later, appropriate time, they should calmly subject this particular part of their self-reflections to further self-reflection. Do these passages live up to their own standards?

A look at the TV program these days: With strange fragments of quotations, a TV documentary “proves” that Mikhail Gorbachev, too, does not know of any agreement according to which NATO does not expand to the East. Another program then explains to the audience that it was never about NATO expansion, but that the entire genesis of the current war was in fact only to do with the rejection of an expansion of democracy. (Actually, both are about the same thing, if the good democrats of the world are welded together in NATO).

And now also “Die Anstalt” reminds of the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968 by the Warsaw Pact, which can show as its unique selling point that it invades its own alliance members!

What should the memory of sad historical facts tell us in this case? Moscow was never to be trusted, not even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union? Always only disloyalty and war violence came from there. And anyway: The current Russian president was already a follower of the “Pinochet” model before he began his first term in office, and at no time did he love anything but naked power. (What more could not be inserted here, from the juvenile backyard Mafiosi back to the mass murderer Stalin, who probably had more honorable Communists from all over the world murdered than any other ruler).

Looking at peace movements as well as peace scholars’ assessments of the last thirty years, the flashbacks and conflations on the screens undoubtedly amount to a revisionist approach.

It remains necessary for all time to understand not only the trauma of the genocidal German campaign to the East in 1941, but also the deep-seated trauma caused by the bloody military violence that once froze the Prague Spring to ice! But does this trauma of 1968 explain the faithless betrayal of the “West” to Mikhail Gorbachev and does it justify in the end a partisanship for that military power center, which after the Second World War put more than just a “Pinochet” on the throne?

It is not a matter of historical feather dustering or rightism, but of the future course!

To shorten the further preface: Who does not reflect now – mirror-inverted to the “always-known-about-it” – in view of the war of aggression on the Ukraine his perceptions and estimations of the last years together with others self-critically, probably belongs to the “right-about-it”, to whom it is never about the life-serving, but always only about the own ego. Any admission of recognized misjudgements remains exceedingly honorable!

With the topic “Nato eastward enlargement” the revision sketched above is from my view not only not convincing, but highly dangerous! The pretense currently spread on all channels is: The conflict between liberal and authoritarian conceptions of society is the apt, even sole main heading for the backward expansion of an exclusive (excluding) military alliance of interests to the East.

All considerations under another heading were consequently wrong. Even Angela Merkel , who has not caressed Russia with kid gloves – as a persistent advocate of a position that is by no means congruent with U.S. interest strategies – was wrong and had been a naive “Putin-understanding”.

If this reading of the “preceding” prevails, the NATO ideologues looking to Washington (with the assistance of the Russian war government) will have finally proven that they can control “history” and therefore also the future political course. For it is through the steering of history policy that they will determine where the journey will go:

– no “Common House Europe”, but a cementing of the (brought about) new edition of the cold war (as long as possible: transatlantic);

– no new collective system of “common security” of all neighbors (without exclusion), but still a particularistic alliance of power, protection and interests of the “good guys” against enemies of freedom and Western prosperity (with isolation and exclusion of certain countries beyond an iron line);

– accordingly, no disarmament, but a continuation of the rearmament course begun long ago – but now with astronomical increases;

– no accession to the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, but a renewal of the nuclear arms race (on all sides) and possibly a “German bomb” of its own;

– Postponement of the so urgent reform of the United Nations for further decades, in which one then shifts completely to the economic and military struggle of imperial blocs, provided that the planet is still preserved as a dwelling place of homo sapiens …

Confrontation, selective safeguarding of interests and war logic for all eternity: God have mercy on us if not enough politicians and researchers are heard who know that this can only be a road to ruin – especially in the current state of crisis of human civilization.

Recommended reading: Documentary Con-Texts

NATO’s unique selling point remains the fact that, as a Cold War military alliance, it did not dissolve itself after the end of the bloc confrontation – despite a brief window of opportunity for the establishment of a new peace architecture in Europe and for the entire world, which was soon walled off again – like the Warsaw Pact; rather, since the mid-1990s, in full awareness of its threatening effect on the former enemy of the bloc, it has carried out an unparalleled expansion.

In the documents on the Western military doctrine, one can read that it is about securing geostrategic and economic interests – about objectives that are not suitable to finally make the vision of the United Nations (1945) come true.

Meinhardt Creydt notes on Telepolis (Vergiftete Tapferkeit): “Many commentators can’t get enough of finding partisans of Putin’s propaganda already where reference is made to NATO’s decades-long strategy of moving ever closer to Russia militarily.”

So that military-conformist narratives of NATO ideologues do not burn themselves into too many heads now, it is helpful to provide timely interruptions by enlightening reading again and again and to recall in the original wording con-texts of the last three decades.

It is shocking to note how, since the 1990s, the warnings of bourgeois or outspokenly NATO-friendly politicians and experts have been thrown to the wind. The importance of the political development in Ukraine for world affairs has been known on the other side of the Atlantic for decades!

Most recently, in the forums with broad impact, the guaranteed freedom of choice of alliance of any country was declared to be the first, holy commandment of a globe freed from oppression, while one preferred to remain silent about power strategies of the most powerful military alliance NATO, which itself always freely chooses, and their effects on the outside. On such a level the fate of the world in which we live is explained by many people at present!

On the prehistory of the current war in Ukraine, the crisis weeks from December 2021 and in particular also on the question of the Nato eastward enlargement in the course of this year probably more than one high-carat book will appear, which does not support the present hegemonic reading.

However, thanks to Andreas Zumach , the Information Center for Militarization (IMI) and many others, there has long been a whole series of nonconformist presentations with con-texts (in wording) that can be accessed without barrier on the Internet. A manageable group of four selected contributions is recommended for reading at this point:

– Galen Carpenter, Ted (The Guardian): Washington’s handling of Russia was a political mistake of epic proportions. In: Der Freitag, 07.03.2022.

– Paech, Norman: Eastern enlargement – How NATO broke its word. From Wörner to Baker: numerous assurances were given to states of the ex-Soviet space. Later, no one wanted to remember them. In: Telepolis, 03.02.2022

– Wagner, Jürgen: The Nato Prologue to the Ukraine War. Nato, Russia and the decades-long road to escalation. IMI Analysis 2022/06 (March 3, 2022).

– Zumach, Andreas: Who promised whom what when in the 1990s, and why this question is still relevant today. In: Lebenshaus Schwäbische Alb website, Jan. 26, 2022.

As a heading and as a “disclaimer” at the end of this text, always read along: The Nato eastward enlargement is for a long time the central – not the only – background of a development dangerous for the world; a justification of any kind for the crime of the war against the Ukraine put into action by the Russian government can in no way be derived from this statement!

On today’s Sunday peace demonstrations take place in several large cities of the Federal Republic in the context of the internationally connected anti-war protest, a chance for the solidarization with the people of Ukraine and all refusers of the war apparatus. Information can be found on the portal Netzwerk Friedenskooperative.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

The spiral of insecurity – 14 articles from March 24, 2022

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/03/25/18848786.php

The spiral of insecurity
Ukraine It is said that Vladimir Putin is the prisoner of his historical myths. But this is also true for the countries of the West
by Jakob Augstein
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.freitag.de/autoren/jaugstein/ukraine-krieg-die-spirale-der-unsicherheit.]

Disgust for the attacker and pity for the victims: these are the two strong feelings currently shaping public action and thinking

Germany once had a chancellor who was famous for thinking things through “from the end.” For her successor, the motto is apparently more like: the journey is the destination. That fits a time when politics often seems like the continuation of Twitter by other means. Russia has launched a criminal war against Ukraine. The West has decided to respond with military support and unprecedented sanctions. Anyone who takes sides in this way makes himself a party to the conflict, intervenes in the war himself – and thus also shares responsibility for the course and end of the war. There is much speculation about Vladimir Putin’s war aims. But the West should also be clear about its own goals. So does Chancellor Olaf Scholz have an idea of how this war should end and what should happen afterwards?

Disgust for the attacker and pity for the victims: these are the two strong feelings that are currently shaping public action and thinking. Even if it is difficult under these circumstances, it should be noted: The Western response to Putin’s war was a choice, not a necessity. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, yet the West perceives the attack on that country as an attack on itself – and responds accordingly.

When Putin called the economic sanctions against Russia an “act of war,” it was not a rhetorical exaggeration. War has long since been waged not only with bombs. The idea of what constitutes a means of war has changed. Even the so-called cyberattacks do not have to claim victims of life and limb in order to be classified as an act of war. How much more must this apply to the economic measures that will make life even more difficult for people in every last corner of Russia? This is a paradox: as we know, the conflict over Ukraine was sparked, among other things, by whether the country would one day be accepted into NATO. Now we find out: the protection of Article 5 is also granted to non-members in selected cases.

It’s always the others who wage war. This is a widespread misunderstanding in the West, which can also be seen in the reception of the Russian attack. It took the Germans years to admit to themselves that they waged war in Afghanistan. Now they balk at the realization that they entered the war against Russia alongside Ukraine. But in matters of war, repression and forgetfulness prevail. That is why we are again ignoring the lessons that can be learned from Vietnam to Afghanistan: It is much easier to start or wage a war than to end it. That’s true for Putin. But it’s also true for us.

For example, it could be difficult to recapture all the enthusiasm for the military and the heroic that has spilled out of the net into reality and is now driving the mills of a new politics. After all, the scenario of hearts – unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops, restoration of the status quo ante, reparations paid by the aggressor – is the only one that will certainly not come to pass. By the attack alone, Putin has ensured that Ukraine and the West will have to make him any of the concessions that they have until then declared quite out of the question. Perhaps Ukraine will have to give up Crimea; perhaps it will have to commit never to join NATO; perhaps it will have to agree to demilitarization under OSCE supervision.

And then, for example, the German chancellor would have to explain to the public, which has become accustomed to calling Putin in the same breath as Hitler, that these agreements are the best that could be achieved for Ukraine and that, incidentally, economic relations with Russia will now be normalized again and, of necessity, talks will also have to be resumed with the Russian president. Or does Scholz want to “cancel” Putin forever?

The war in Ukraine has a history. It did not fall from the sky and did not rise from hell. In 2008, the NATO summit in Bucharest ended with a promise to Ukraine and Georgia to admit both to the Western defense alliance. As a result, Russia invaded Georgia that same year. In 2014, the EU offered Ukraine an association agreement and the pro-Russia government (elected after all) was deposed. Russia responded by occupying Crimea. What Russia and the West set in motion then is what political scientists call a “spiral of insecurity.” It occurs when a country chooses a certain policy to promote its own security interests and in the process violates those of another country – which then reacts accordingly, and on and on.

Exiting such a spiral is difficult. The first step is to acknowledge one’s own involvement. It is said that Putin is the prisoner of his historical myths. But this is also true for the countries of the West. Their myth is that of their own blamelessness.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lukas Hermsmeier on the Leftist Slide in the USA: Hostile Territory for Amazon
Interview Lukas Hermsmeier observes the young leftist slide in the USA and explains why trade union work can be revolutionary and how to get at Amazon
[This interview published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.freitag.de/autoren/konstantin-nowotny/lukas-hermsmeier-ueber-den-linksrutsch-in-den-usa.]

Occupy Wall Street 2011 – They wanted revolution

Is there a serious slide to the left in the U.S.? Author and journalist Lukas Hermsmeier has been observing the scene for years. Occupy Wall Street hasn’t really petered out at all, he says. His book Uprising about the new, young left in America has just been published.

der Freitag: Dear Lukas, at the beginning a transparency note: You live in the USA, more precisely in New York City – where we met. Your book says that as a journalist you should be sparing with anecdotes, so I’ll tell mine right now: During my time in New York, I had a roommate who was a lawyer and active in the election campaign for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats …

Lukas Hermsmeier: … so we are in 2016?

Exactly. How that campaign turned out is well known. But one day we were talking about where I stood politically. And I had dared to say, “I’m a leftist.” He found that amusing, and then almost got upset that that wasn’t a rational political position at all. So what does it mean to be leftist in the U.S. – and how does that differ from “being liberal,” for example, as many Democrats would describe themselves?

What you experienced there in 2016 was for a long time exactly what the few leftists in the U.S. experienced. When they said they were “left,” the person opposite often couldn’t do anything with it. One advance is that most today associate something with it, certain movements and demands. In the introduction to my book, I write that I don’t want to define being leftist myself, but let people define it. There are those who understand being left very much about economic issues, who are committed to our successively overcoming capitalism. For others, the feminist struggle is in the foreground, and for still others, the anti-racist struggle, which has recently formed mainly around police violence and the penal institutions. The difference with liberal politics is the strong conviction that there must be a systemic change and that there is no belief that things can be solved only through small reforms or technocratically.

Overcoming capitalism, abolishing racism, attacking patriarchy – these are, after all, relatively radical demands for a country that has enough to do with introducing a nationwide minimum wage. I quote: “What is called socialism in the USA would just about pass for social democracy in Europe. (…) Occasionally, there is a tone of condescension mixed in.” What do you mean by that?

In recent years, I’ve noticed that the young socialist movement in the U.S. is occasionally viewed with condescension from Europe, along the lines of: you dress like socialists, but in the end you’re just SPD-level. This is only superficially true. My impression, after many conversations with socialists in the USA, is rather that: They think much bigger, only they know that the great socialist vision of the fight against property, of a completely different economy and so on, has to be connected with real political demands. When a candidate of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the U.S., sits in parliament, he is confronted with the political conditions there.

The DSA appear relatively often in your book. You write, for example, how the organization was able to increase its membership from 10,000 to about 100,000 in just a few years. You also point out that the majority of the younger generation in particular voted for the socialist Bernie Sanders in the last elections. Is there really such a thing as a young slide to the left in the U.S.?

With Bernie Sanders it was young voters, with Black Lives Matter, also in the climate movement, in all areas it is very noticeable. You have to realize that there is a generation in the U.S. – to which we both also belong – that only knows this country in crisis mode: September 11, then the financial and economic crisis, Trump, the climate catastrophe. This generation is characterized by the fact that structurally little works. Many young people in the U.S. are turning this into a demand: what Obama, Clinton or Biden are offering is not enough; we need completely different policies. The young slide to the left is a direct response to this omnipresence of crises.

About the person

Lukas Hermsmeier is a journalist and author living in New York City. He writes about U.S. politics and culture for Zeit Online, Tagesspiegel and taz, among others. His book Uprising. America’s New Left (320 p., 22 euros) was recently published by Klett-Cotta.

Something substantial is coming out of the left-wing movements, that’s one of the theses of your book. And one principle plays an important role in this, which is “organizing.” What is meant by that?

Organizing is best understood as a different approach to politics. This approach consists of turning people into political actors. And it does so in a way that goes beyond going to the polls every four years. Organizers make sure that people come together in companies, in citizens’ councils or other constellations and then develop political demands and talk about how they can be implemented – for example, through strikes, petitions or by sending someone from their own ranks to parliament.

Bringing people together, finding majorities – that all sounds frighteningly like trade unions to me. That’s not a revolutionary concept.

That’s true, although trade union work can also be revolutionary.

It used to be designed that way, yes …

The fatal thing is that unions today function hierarchically and bureaucratically. I don’t think unions as such are a deterrent, it’s just the way unions are often run that’s a deterrent. But to go back to your question: What does organizing mean? It means people getting together on a regular basis and thinking: What do we want to change here in our city, in our neighborhood? Sometimes that’s tearing down the jail, sometimes it’s asking for resources to be moved from the police to health care or housing. Organizing means a never-ending engagement with politics. What’s missing from that is often time.

Let’s look at the problem of time with a concrete example from your book. The Occupy Wall Street movement plays a big role in your book. I quote: “September 17, 2011, actually became an event, a defining one, in fact. It was the beginning of a protest movement that spread from New York to over 1,500 cities worldwide. It was the initial moment of a young, left-wing generation, the kickoff of a resistant era.” First of all, so-so, the prelude to a resistant era, at the end of which one of the most right-wing presidents in a long time was elected? And second, how can something like this even come about when most people spend most of their day working?

The people who gathered at Occupy in 2011 were, to a large extent, not professional activists at all. It was a heterogeneous and spontaneous mass of people. There was no program at the beginning, and there was no program at the end, because people resisted it; after all, they wanted the revolution. People say that nothing came of Occupy, and I’m trying to counter that a little bit: Occupy became many movements, people were politicized by it. The petering out didn’t happen at all.

One of these movements after Occupy was a resistance movement against Amazon in the New York borough of Queens. What happened there exactly?

In 2018, Amazon announced it was going to open its second headquarters in Queens. It was portrayed by political leaders in New York as a groundbreaking, progressive, transformative project – but people in Queens perceived that differently and then expressed it in a very impressive way. They heard decades before about new projects and luxury buildings related to this promise, and they always just noted: Rents are getting more expensive, my neighbor has to move. With this announcement that Amazon was moving to Queens, a protest quickly developed, resulting in meetings, citizen councils, strikes and occupations. It didn’t take more than three months for Amazon to say, as a result of this resistance, “Then we don’t want to be here. Amazon knew they were in hostile territory here.

You write: “Gentrification is what they call it, a term that often resonates with fatalism. Just happens, like the Hudson River flows and New York cabs are yellow.” There is currently a similar project in Berlin. My colleague Benjamin Knödler recently mentioned this in “Freitag” (8/2022) in an article about land prices, he writes: “A square meter at Mercedes-Benz-Platz, where an Amazon Tower is currently being built, costs just under 14,000 euros today.” And now you want to tell me that you can stop such a Goliath with a little door-knocking and demonstrating, right?

Yes, and in one week it will be stopped. No, joke, but: The people I talked to at this Amazon protest, even before it was stopped, said: We don’t think we can stop the whole thing now, but at least we can influence the process, make it all a bit more socially acceptable. They themselves were surprised that their protest was so successful. That’s at least a nice lesson.

In your book, you also talk about the limits that such movements can reach. If you think about the Occupy slogan of the “99 percent,” that means the working people against the rich one percent. Finding someone to join me in opposing rising rents is relatively easy. But maybe this person also gets the idea that there are far too many migrants living in the neighborhood. Is this someone with whom I can fight together, or someone I would rather exclude?

That is one of the central questions. It depends a bit on what we are talking about, if we are talking about a neo-Nazi, then excluding is a good option. A few weeks ago I talked to someone who was active in Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Expropriate was active. He collected a lot of signatures in the eastern districts of Berlin and often came across avowed AfD voters. If he had withdrawn directly from this information, he would have achieved less. In this respect, it is definitely a matter of bringing together people who are politically quite different through very concrete demands and initiatives. If Deutsche Wohnen Enteignen had only joined forces with left-wingers, the project would have failed.
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Controversy over John Mearsheimer: He saw the Ukraine war coming
NATO eastward expansion realist or idea man for Vladimir Putin? A dispute has erupted over the theories of U.S. political scientist John Mearsheimer in the Ukraine war. What’s the truth of the accusations against him?
by Adam Tooze
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.freitag.de/autoren/the-guardian/wladimir-putin-die-nato-und-der-krieg.]

“Why is Ukraine the West’s fault?” That’s the provocative title of a talk Professor John J. Mearsheimer – a famous exponent of the so-called realist school of international relations – gave at a University of Chicago alumni gathering in 2015. The recording has already been viewed more than 18 million times on Youtube. And in 2022, Mearsheimer continues to advance this thesis, most explosively on March 1, for example, in a somewhat unfortunate telephone interview with the New Yorker. In light of the Russian invasion, his provocation draws sheer fury. This begs the question: what is this “realism” he espouses?

On the one hand, Mearsheimer is disarmingly candid. The 2008 push to admit Ukraine and Georgia to NATO was a terrible mistake. The overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych’s Moscow-backed regime, welcomed and encouraged by the West, has pushed Russia even more into an enemy position. The West, he said, must realize that it is itself partly responsible for the emergence of an incendiary situation by extending the old anti-Soviet alliance into what remains of Russia’s sphere of influence. The highly controversial conclusion to be drawn from this situational picture is that Putin’s violent attempt to beat back this advance should surprise no one.

It was already offensive in 2015 – and even more so today, in light of Putin’s wholly unapologetic breach of international law. On Feb. 28, when a tweet from the Russian Foreign Ministry referred to Mearsheimer, Anne Applebaum lashed out: “Here you have it,” wrote the renowned and liberal-minded historian of the post-Soviet era: “One wonders to what extent the Russians have their narrative from Mearsheimer and co. After all, Moscow has to say that its invasions of Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and now Ukraine were the fault of the West, and not based on greed and imperialism. American scholars have provided that narrative.” In response, outrage made waves. Students at the University of Chicago even launched an open letter: it should be clarified whether Professor Mearsheimer was not secretly on a Kremlin payroll?

An Example of “Great Power Realism”

At the heart of the scandal is Mearsheimer’s refusal to see anything in Putin’s aggression other than a typical great power action. Unlike Applebaum, he has little to do with Russian or Ukrainian history or the present. He simply interprets the events as an example of his favorite theory of international relations, “offensive” or “great power realism”: Russia is a great power, according to this theory, and protects its security interests by establishing and defending spheres of influence. The U.S. does the same – for example, in the form of the Monroe Doctrine, or more contemporary the Carter Doctrine, which delineates the space of American interests all the way to the Persian Gulf. If necessary, these zones are defended with all force. And anyone who does not understand this has no idea of the real logic of International Relations.

Mearsheimer probably just shakes his head wearily at Applebaum’s rhetorical attack. And, of course, Putin certainly doesn’t need coaxing from academic America to understand Russia as a great power. Great powers use moral and immoral methods – instrumentalizing voices from foreign universities is certainly their least sin. For Mearsheimer, international relations revolve around geography, economics, and military power. To the extent that ideas have any influence at all, the most that can be hoped for in this perspective is that public opinion and the decisive elites of these great powers will respect each other’s spheres of influence and not allow unnecessary confrontations to occur. “Realism” here means: Clarity about the basic structure behind events-and a resigned acceptance of their supposedly inevitable logic.

In the 2000s, from this standpoint, Mearsheimer also criticized what he saw as an excessive influence of the Israeli lobby on U.S. policy: This influence clouds the insight of American policy makers into the real interests of the United States in the Middle East. And in the current situation, he urges us to finally abandon the idea that NATO’s eastward expansion is an unstoppable historical trend or a crusade worth fighting for.

Unquestionably, there is little room for Ukraine’s sovereignty in this perspective. The scope of this country is therefore forever and fatefully marked by the fact that it lies within the Russian zone of influence. But as bitter as this may sound: Those who fail to take note of Russia’s de facto power potential and interests risk an even worse outcome: Ukraine risks being shattered. Mearsheimer does not deny Russia’s aggression, he simply takes it for granted. His polemic targets the EU and NATO, which he says have led the country down this dangerously slippery slope: On the one hand, Ukrainian politics could hardly resist the Western wave of possible EU association and NATO membership, but this inevitably exposed it to the concentrated wrath of Moscow.

Of empires and spaces

But what is actually the origin of this captivating but also gloomy world view? If one were to ask Mearsheimer, he would most likely say that it is an ancient insight that can already be found in the writings of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. But this is actually a tradition invented after the fact. In fact, the political science discipline of International Relations only emerged in the Cold War United States.

Anyone who wants to know more about it should pick up Matthew Specter’s just-published book, The Atlantic Realists. In it, Specter presents a much more plausible origin story of “realist” ideas. They do not begin in nebulous antiquity, nor in the age of Otto von Bismarck’s proverbial “realpolitik,” in which there was a relatively settled balance between the great powers – but in the age of imperialism. It was in the late 19th century, when the “distribution” of the world seemed complete and Social Darwinism came into vogue, that this vision of a world defined by the struggle of superior states for space on a limited planet emerged.

Specter draws a straight line that leads from the political geographers and sea power theorists of the late 19th century, such as Friedrich Ratzel in Germany or Alfred Mahan in the United States, through the German geopoliticians of the interwar period-for example, Karl Haushofer and Carl Schmitt-to the classics of American “realism,” for example, Hans Morgenthau. Similar to Mearsheimer, Schmitt, for example, the Nazi jurist and theorist of “Großraum,” thought in terms of a world order based on the division of the planet between large blocs, each of which would be dominated by a superior power. Characteristic of this worldview is a rigid moral relativism that rejects any notion of universal values – and is built less on any philosophical notions than on the taken-for-granted competition of these power blocs themselves. In a style similar to Mearsheimer’s today, Haushofer and Schmitt thereby viewed the German “Großraum” as the equivalent of the British Empire and the Monroe Doctrine, which de facto declared the American double continent to be the sphere of influence of the United States. Advocates of the “Greater East Asian Sphere of Prosperity” also sounded this way when they claimed a Japanese-dominated “Greater Area” in the late 1930s that would encompass the Korean Peninsula, significant parts of China, and Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bali.

This history of ideas is also so little known because it is so scandalous for liberalism. It is not compatible with the ideals of universal human rights to simply accept the claims of the powers and make them the starting point of political thought. Accordingly, German geopoliticians like Haushofer were ostracized by the Allied press during World War II – and some later found themselves in the Nuremberg dock. This must have seemed confusing to them, since they had always referred to the rise of the United States in the 19th century as an object lesson. This was now embarrassing, of course – and Specter shows in a series of eye-opening chapters how American “realism” subsequently came to embrace a new history that made those imperialist roots disappear behind a more abstract theory.

Matthew Specter is a German scholar. He had previously written about Jürgen Habermas, the philosopher in the tradition of the Frankfurt School. Especially for an American audience, it is now a real intellectual coup to associate the sort of “realism” in International Relations with such dark roots that is taught in American universities to this day.

However, Specter’s derivation of “realism” also entails a narrowing. If Mearsheimer is a typical representative of great-power realism, he is thinking less in terms of the imperialist fantasies that led to the First World War. Rather, he is part of a tradition that, with the benefit of hindsight, wondered how the war could have come about and what had gone wrong in the July crisis of 1914.

The German-American line of tradition on which Specter focuses is thus noteworthy, but at this point it is also only a partial aspect. Historians such as Edward Hallett Carr and a philosopher such as Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson also played a role in this debate in Britain – as did leftist historians of international relations in the United States, for example Charles Beard. To this day, there is an affinity between the likes of Mearsheimer and the foreign policy left, which values “realism” for, after all, bluntly stating the brutal logic of powers.

Liberal frustration

It must be acknowledged: Mearsheimer’s optics actually provide some insight into what is going on. Although no one is saying it out loud, his diagnosis of the crisis and war in Ukraine is shared de facto by a large majority of the foreign policy establishment in the United States. The promise of Ukraine’s NATO admission, pushed through by President George W. Bush and his administration in 2008, was indeed an act of hubris. And now the West will not let Ukraine go – but neither will it intervene directly militarily. The anger at Mearsheimer also reflects liberal frustration at realizing the limits of what the West can do – and there are very good reasons for those limits. NATO has always sought to avoid direct confrontation with Russia. The United States has made it clear to Vladimir Putin that it will not intervene militarily. Even the emergency weapons deliveries threaten to blur this line. A “no-fly zone” would be life-threatening.

Nevertheless, even after what has been said so far, it would be perverse to declare an intellectual victory for Mearsheimer’s “realism.” He is undoubtedly right about the background to the tensions that have been mounting in recent years. But that does not explain the war. After all, the German emperor’s decision to issue a blank check to the Austrians in July 1914 cannot be dismissed with a mere reference to the imperialism of the time. The “realist” model is exceedingly unspecific and also fails to capture the qualitative shift that accompanies the opening of armed conflict. Certainly, the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz said that war is the continuation of politics by other means. But the winged word still does not answer why anyone – great power or not – resorts to such a radical and dangerous means.

In Moscow, no serious voice in the security establishment – which is united behind a Russian great power policy – believed that Putin would actually go to war. And this was not because these people did not have an eye for the logic of power, but precisely because they understood it all so well. They saw no good reason to accept the risks, damages and imponderables of open war. And its course so far seems to prove them right.

Human morality and international legalism constitute one weighty reason for being against wars. But the other is that war, at least in the past 100 years, has simply not delivered good results. Beyond the wars of national liberation, it is difficult to find even one war of aggression that has produced the desired results, even in the sense of those who started it. A “realism” that overlooks this and ignores the conclusions that have been drawn in politics for the most part from this historical lesson does not deserve its name.
More realistic than “realism

This does not mean, of course, that war will somehow disappear from the face of the world in the near future. But anyone who imagines its future as a continuous loop of revved-up militarism à la 1914 excludes any common learning from history. Moreover, these ideas are counterfactual, especially in the age of nuclear weapons: In his chapters on the postwar period, for example, Specter shows in great detail how transatlantic “realism” took an overly cautious position on the means of war after Vietnam and under the auspices of nuclear buildup. In this respect, Mearsheimer’s “offensive” realism – which is a phenomenon of the post-1990 period – then again well deserves its name.

Given the horrors of every war, including the present one, one might be tempted to see Mearsheimer’s cool-headed analysis of the logic of great-power conflict as actually legitimizing Vladimir Putin’s attack. In fact, however, Mearsheimer is more likely to be a secret weapon of the West: if Putin has indeed gone to war in his interests in what could become a new Afghanistan, it is hard to avoid this conclusion.

To understand how the Kremlin’s fateful and criminal decision to invade was made, we need not platitudes about the security dilemmas of great powers, but some kind of forensic examination of the decision-making processes and underlying intelligence. And we also need to come to understand why Ukraine, which looks so defenseless on paper, has been able to mount a surprisingly effective resistance, at least so far.

The bottom line, for the time being, is that a truly realistic view of world politics is not limited to reaching for a well-worn toolbox of timeless truths. Nor is it enough to pretend to be hard-nosed and immune to morally overshooting liberalism. Once you take it, realism is an endless challenge. It involves keeping up, literally hour by hour, with the permanent change of a complex world. A world in which we are irredeemably entangled, which we can influence and change to some degree, but which constantly challenges our ways of perceiving – and also what we determine to be our interests.

True realism is the endless task of rationally determining our political goals and the ways to achieve them. To resort to the means of war as a result of this should be condemned as clearly as such a step deserves. Such a decision should not be normalized as a “logical” and ultimately obvious response to any given set of circumstances. Whoever is involved in political decision-making, or whoever makes public and scholarly statements about it, must be judged by this imperative.

Adam Tooze is a professor of history at Columbia University in New York. This article first appeared in the New Statesman
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Two central goals of sanctions against Russia
Ukraine War One should not expect economic sanctions to immediately end Putin’s war on Ukraine. Why they are important nonetheless
by Julia Grauvogel
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.freitag.de/autoren/der-freitag/wie-eine-expertin-die-sanktionen-gegen-russland-beurteilt.]

The West has announced further sanctions against Russia. These include new tariffs on Russian products in addition to the export ban on luxury goods and the import ban on iron and steel. The latest measures further tighten already massive restrictions on energy, finance and transportation. For an economy as large as Russia, the current sanctions, which also include an exclusion of some banks from SWIFT, are unprecedented. They were imposed on the country in a very short period of time, as they were decided against Iran over a period of several years.

Nevertheless, the sanctions have so far not brought about any relenting on Russia’s part. Regardless of their severity, sanctions are unsuitable for stopping wars immediately, as they are no match for military force in terms of the speed of their impact. Nor is a short-term change in Putin’s behavior the primary intention of the current measures. Rather, the international community is pursuing two central goals with its sanctions:

First, the sanctions demonstrate that Russia’s blatant violation of key norms of international law is being punished. The willingness of European countries to accept their own economic losses makes this signal credible. The cooperation in implementing the measures far beyond the circle of “classic” Western sanctioning stations also demonstrates unity – and should deter future imitators of Russia.

Second, sanctions may increase pressure on the Kremlin in the medium term by limiting Putin’s ability to finance the war. Although the Russian regime had “priced in” sanctions on an invasion of Ukraine, the scale was unexpected given much milder measures after the annexation of Crimea. Sanctions against the central bank in particular hit Russia hard, as a large part of its systematically built-up foreign reserves were held in euros. If Europe were to impose comprehensive oil and gas sanctions, there would be an additional revenue shortfall of several hundred million euros per day.

Putin calls sanctions a “declaration of war”

At the same time, one should not have exaggerated expectations of sanctions. In particular, the idea of turning the population against the rulers through extensive economic pressure has only limited chances of success in an autocracy. In the meantime, countless companies such as McDonald’s and Ikea have declared that they will voluntarily end their business dealings with Russia. This primarily affects the younger urban middle class, which could be the nucleus of broad protests against Putin, but in light of the recent wave of arrests at demonstrations against the war, many are shying away from open criticism of the regime. It is unclear whether individual sanctions – i.e., travel restrictions and asset freezes on more than 860 people on EU sanctions lists – will increase elite pressure on Putin. However, the oligarchs’ dependence on Putin is stronger than the other way around.

Putin, as in the past, is trying to discredit Western sanctions as an attack on the people as a whole. This rhetoric includes Putin’s statement that the latest sanctions are “a declaration of war” by the West. However, several studies show that the annexation of Crimea in 2014 led to a surge in Putin’s popularity-not the regime’s subsequent efforts to exploit the West’s sanctions for domestic political purposes.

Clearly stating the limits and purpose of sanctions will increase the willingness of its population to share the costs of the measures over a longer period of time. Even a partial failure should be considered with regard to possible exit scenarios.

Julia Grauvogel works at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies

That is the goal of some. The masses have others. Everyone wants to make their mark as an angel of peace, a helper in need. We have a group dynamic like rarely. Anyone who does not explicitly speak out against Russians, Russia, Putin is ostracized. That was one of the goals for the people at large.

This can be built upon with various measures that are suddenly supported by everyone. Even parts of the “pacifists” are in favor of arms deliveries and armament. One rubs the eyes how well the war propaganda worked.

Selenskyi and his ambassador work daily on the opinion with lies and reproaches. Maybe years from now you will wonder how you got taken for a ride.
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Myself | Community
5 days ago
@ albatross

Yes, the dumbing down of the people is well advanced. But forever this cheap story (NATO good – Russia evil) will not carry, and the anger of the people will be great. At the latest when they have hardly anything left to eat.
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Albatross | Community

That’s what ad agencies are for, directing the anger. After all, Putin is already personally to blame for the high gasoline prices, gas prices, wheat and sunflower oil prices, increased raw material costs and what do I know everything else.

Hardly anyone still thinks about the increased prices before the war or the speculators who are currently driving the prices. After all, Russia is still supplying gas, oil and raw materials. The West, after all, has tipped NS2 or ordered too little gas. The “scrapping” of NS2 was almost decided before the war. Biden has forbidden it, now we also have the reason to follow. Biden has always known it. Russia is an unreliable supplier and gas is its weapon.
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This war is going differently than expected
by Jürgen Todenhöfer
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=82278.]

This is an article by former CDU member of the Bundestag Jürgen Todenhöfer. Direct from Kiev. Not every woman and man will share all facets of his view of things. For example, we cannot verify the details mentioned about “war successes” and war damages. In any case, however, it is an interesting contribution to the discussion. Albrecht Müller.

The Russian army has not been making any real progress in Ukraine for days. The main reasons for Russia’s failures are:

their arrogant strategy; they have not taken Ukraine seriously militarily;
their outdated material and
the troops’ low motivation: “Why are we actually fighting this war? Why is nothing working?”

The reasons for Ukraine’s successes are:

Their high motivation. They are fighting for their lives, for their freedom, carried by the applause of large parts of the world public.
They have weapons, some of them highly superior, supplied by their allies in the West.
And they are successful. They destroyed over 500 Russian tanks, brought down over 100 aircraft. Over 15,000 Russian soldiers were taken out, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. Their own losses are reportedly one-tenth of that (as of March 24). All of this is quite surprising.

Moscow has been playing hard to get. Even those who, like me, appreciate and respect Russia have to admit that. Anything else would be double standards. The reasons for war given by Moscow are sufficient for diplomatic or economic actions, but not for war, not for slaying people.

Yes, NATO has shamelessly deceived Russia, yes, the West has systematically treated the country unfairly. But that is not a reason for war under any law in the world. Russia could have “jostled back” – any cold war would have been better than this grotesque hot war.

That the U.S. and its allies have committed a thousand times more murders since 9/11 alone than Russia is now committing in Ukraine interests few in the West. Hypocrisy has always been a specialty of American foreign policy. In Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone, 3.9 million people have died as a result of America’s wars. But all the U.S. wars in violation of international law do not make Russia’s Ukraine war one bit better.

According to the UN, 977 civilians have died in Ukraine so far. (As of March 22) Among them 121 children. Even assuming a high number of unreported cases and that there would be three times as many civilian deaths by now, it shows that the West’s claim that Russia wants to “wipe out” the entire Ukrainian people is deliberately false. Russia wants to annex Ukraine. This is also unacceptable, but something quite different. When the mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, says in a video message:

“This is genocide. They are destroying the civilian population, they are destroying our country,” “We can’t count the bodies,” he is flatly and deliberately telling the untruth.

At least at the moment, after 4 weeks of war. This war can still bring many nasty surprises, which I explicitly do not exclude. Tomorrow everything can look different.

Therefore once again: There is no excuse for this war. It is illegal under international law. Every single civilian killed is a tragedy. No matter if 900 or 900,000. This war must be stopped. An immediate ceasefire is the least we can do.

But even in these hours of anger, we must look to the future. At least if we really want sustainable peace. For that, we need Russia. Without Russia, there will never be lasting peace in Europe.

It is therefore now more than ever in the vital interest of all Europeans to find a just peace order in which Russia respects its neighbors, but in which the United States also respects Russia. Nobody needs Russia’s war in Ukraine, we all need Russia. Rule of law and democracy.

In the long term, not only Ukraine, but also Russia belongs in the EU and NATO. This long-term vision will be realized or Europe will disintegrate.

I therefore call for an early European peace conference, like the CSCE, which defused the East-West conflict in the 1970s. America must also participate here. We should finally do more for peace than for war. The Basic Law requires our politicians to serve peace and not war.

Addendum Albrecht Müller to the comment about the CSCE, the former CDU member of the Bundestag may forgive me: the CSCE, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, took place in 1975. That was 6 years after Willy Brandt’s government declaration with the key phrase “We want to be a nation of good neighbors” and 5 years after the conclusion of the Moscow Treaty between the Soviet Union and the Federal Republic of Germany on August 12, 1970. The defusing of the East-West conflict did not begin with the CSCE, but with the East and treaty policy that began in 1966 and was fought by the CDU/CSU. I know that this does not belong to the topic of the war in Ukraine. But the historical truth about the former East-West conflict and the beginning of the policy of détente is also somewhat relevant for the deliberation of today’s conflict.
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Gas for Rubles – Russia reacts rationally to sanctions and the West plays again with wrong cards

by Jens Berger
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Gas für Rubel – Russland reagiert rational auf die Sanktionen und der Westen spielt abermals mit falschen Karten.]

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced yesterday that Russia will soon settle its energy exports to “unfriendly countries” only in rubles. The Russian Central Bank is to prepare a payment system for this within a week. The excitement in Germany is great and apparently there is a great deal of confusion in politics and the media, leading to even greater misinterpretations. Russia’s move was to be expected and is a direct reaction to the West’s sanctions against the Russian Central Bank. Depending on how Russia designs the new payment system, this innovation could end up raising energy prices more than anything else. But the West is likely to have “priced this in” if it does not act completely haphazardly. However, it cannot be ruled out that the “ruble constraint” will now be used as a pretext for an energy import embargo that would hurt Germany in particular.

Before taking a closer look at the topic, a short excursion into the basics of international trade and foreign exchange transactions is necessary. Because apparently, even the members of the German government’s Scientific Advisory Council often don’t understand the differences here. In long-term supply contracts, the price to be paid is usually regulated by a price adjustment clause. Such clauses consist of various factors – in the case of domestic water supply contracts, for example, these are the costs of energy and labor, which are determined in certain publications of the Federal Statistical Office. In the case of international supply contracts, currency fluctuations in particular play a role here. The exchange rates to which the supply contracts for German-Russian gas transactions refer when setting prices are not known to the public. However, it can be assumed that in the interests of both sides, a basket of currencies was chosen as the basis for price adjustments, consisting primarily of the euro and the US dollar. Both currencies are stable in value and are particularly important for energy transactions. For both currencies there are very liquid markets on the financial markets for forward and price hedging transactions, so-called “hedging”.

However, the currencies used in the price adjustment clauses and which, as the nominal currency, determine the amount to be paid, have nothing whatsoever to do with the transaction currency in which the transactions are ultimately settled – economists refer to this as “settlement”. It is up to the buyer (e.g. EON) and the seller (e.g. Gazprom) to regulate this individually. The transaction currency is a purely technical factor. If EON and Gazprom were to agree – which would be nonsensical, of course – to pay for gas supplies in Hungarian forints, EON would convert the invoice amount from euros to forints on the day of the transfer, transfer it to Gazprom, and Gazprom would then convert the forints back into rubles. A kind of zero-sum game. And this transaction currency is what Putin’s announcement is about, not, say, the reference currencies that set the price of gas. This distinction is important. The core of the contracts remains untouched. Accordingly, nothing needs to be renegotiated here, as some media are now murmuring.

Russia currently sells its energy exports to Germany primarily in euros, the transaction currency. Until recently, this was convenient for both parties. EON did not have to spend any money on currency transactions, and Gazprom keeps a large part of its accounts in euros anyway, so it only has to exchange its own costs – which are mainly incurred in rubles – from euros into rubles on the formerly quite liquid foreign exchange market. Due to the EU sanctions, however, this is no longer easily possible, as a large part of the Russian banking sector, including the Russian Central Bank, has been cut off from the euro market. In other words, Gazprom’s revenues currently go into a “euro blocked account” to which the Group has de facto no access. The Group can continue to pay its bills in rubles through the credit window of the Russian Central Bank. It is not illiquid, but the sanctions have dried up the foreign exchange market for the ruble. Since almost no one can or wants to exchange euros for rubles, the ruble has come under devaluation pressure. This in turn makes Russia’s imports more expensive and ultimately leads to inflation. But that is, after all, one of the goals of the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the EU. In this respect, it is perfectly normal and understandable that Russia is looking for a way to prevent this devaluation. And a “settlement” of energy exports in rubles is a very good way to do that.

Let’s turn to the German economists and politicians. They don’t seem to have really understood the basic problem. Jens Südekum, who is a member of the German government’s Scientific Advisory Council, is quoted by the media as saying that this is “an escalation of the economic war.” The West, he says, is being forced to “undermine its own sanctions and take rubles from the Russian Central Bank.” This is nonsense, of course, but this nonsense shows once again how little German economists understand about central banking and currency. It is true that the Russian central bank is sanctioned by the EU and the USA. However, this does not apply at all to other currency areas such as Switzerland or China. So if EON wants to settle its bill with Gazprom in rubles, it can do so quite conveniently via its Swiss account, which it surely has anyway. EON then exchanges euros for Swiss francs and exchanges them for rubles to settle the bill. This would also be possible in Chinese renminbi and countless smaller currencies. However, only the liquid Swiss franc and the equally liquid renminbi make sense here, since foreign exchange transactions in nine-digit euro amounts per day would otherwise have a considerable impact on the markets of smaller illiquid currencies.

The advantage for Russia is obvious. By switching to the transaction currency ruble, an artificial demand for the ruble is created, which contributes significantly to supporting the ruble’s exchange rate – especially since the reverse way of exchanging rubles for euros, dollars, pounds or yen is blocked by the sanctions. In the end, Gazprom will receive the purchase sum in rubles in a Russian account, which can also be disposed of, and for EON this conversion is “merely” associated with more effort and higher transaction costs. The price of gas imports will therefore continue to rise. However, since this is “only” a conversion of the transaction currency, the price adjustment clauses remain unaffected.

For Russia, this move is important and correct. To illustrate this, a look at the exchange rates from the ruble to the euro and renminbi will help.

Euro to ruble

Renminbi/Yuan in rubles

The start of the war and the sanctions were followed by a massive devaluation of the ruble. At its peak, customers in Russia would have had to pay twice as much for imports from China as they did just a few months ago. The impact on inflation would have been huge. However, Russia’s initial measures (interest rate hike, compulsory exchange) have already helped to significantly increase the value of the ruble again and it can be assumed that the “ruble compulsion” will strengthen the ruble exchange rate in the long term.

However, this is exactly what the U.S. and the EU do not want. Therefore, it is not surprising that such misinformation and misinterpretations are now being published. It can even be assumed that the “ruble constraint” is now being used as a pretext for entering into an energy import embargo. This is mendacious. As long as importers like EON can cope with the new regulation, there is no pretext for any “reactions” on the part of the federal government. And why should the importers have problems? Gas may be getting a bit more expensive, but it’s coming and it’s coming reliably. Smaller price increases can be cushioned by a price increase anyway. And one should never forget that this inflation is homemade and that Russia is reacting as it must if it does not want to commit economic suicide and make its citizens pay dearly for the West’s sanctions through inflation.

In the end, however, the Germans could once again be the big losers. Because if the German government uses the “ruble squeeze” as a pretext for an energy import embargo, prices will explode for us and we will pay the price for the sanctions in the form of inflation. The Russians know that, too. Whether German newspaper readers know it or not remains to be seen.
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Will Humans Be the Next ‘Freedom Fries’?
by Ray McGovern
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=82252.]

‘Will Humans Be the Next ‘Freedom Fries’?” asks Ray McGovern on March 24, 2022 Here’s the original. And below, the translation procured by Thilo Haase. Ray McGovern thinks Olaf Scholz should know this. – For some time I have been thinking about what a nuclear strike might look like and why it should come about. McGovern’s text gives some pertinent clues. Albrecht Müller

U.S. experts and strategists seem unaware of how close we all are to being fried in a nuclear strike by Russia. (Fair warning: if you’re just looking for another reason to demonize Putin instead of understanding where he’s coming from, save yourself the time and read no further.)

The point is this: The Russians have good reason to be on high alert. Their early warning radar system is so inadequate that there are situations (even those involving innocent missile launches) in which Russian President Putin would have only a few minutes – if that – to decide whether to launch nuclear missiles to destroy the rest of the world – if he suspects Russia is under nuclear attack.

“If that”? Yes, the time between launch and target is now so short that it is very likely that the authority to launch nuclear weapons now rests “on the ground,” so to speak, with subordinate commanders. Anyone who has read Daniel Ellsberg’s Doomsday Machine knows how the U.S. actually delegated this authority in the days of the first Cold War. I, for one, was shocked to learn this. Worse, today the subordinate commanders may be computers without a mission.

Russia, of course, will not admit that its early warning system is far inferior to the U.S. global satellite-based system. But that is the case. The consequences could not be more serious.

This came to mind today when former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared that the Kremlin would never allow Russia to be destroyed. He warned, however, that the world could face a dystopian crisis that would end in what he called a “great nuclear explosion” if Washington achieved its destructive goals.

President Putin spoke out on this issue four years ago, shortly after unveiling Russia’s new nuclear arsenal, including hypersonic missiles and other advanced weapons. On the subject of nuclear war, Putin said in an interview, “Certainly it would be a global catastrophe for humanity, a catastrophe for the whole world.” He added that “as a citizen of Russia and as the head of the Russian state, I have to ask myself: Why would we want a world without Russia?”

Use it or lose it

Putin went on to say that despite the disastrous consequences, Russia is compelled to defend itself with all available means when its existence is at stake:

“A decision on the use of nuclear weapons can be made only if our ballistic missile warning system not only detects a launch but also predicts that the warheads would hit Russian territory. This is called a retaliatory strike.”

Here’s the kicker. If a radar “detects” and “predicts,” we’re all toast – or become french fries. While Russia now has sophisticated weapons that can knock out any conventional anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense, it lags behind the U.S. in early warning capability.

Think about it. Which should you be more afraid of: being intentionally fried or being accidentally fried? Macabre. Aren’t these choices incredibly stupid for rational people? However, if I were forced to choose, I would be much more upset about being accidentally fried. Please read the following and ask yourself if an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine is necessary or if those who want to risk war with Russia should be beheaded.

Russia: limited early warning coverage.

With its satellite-based Global Situational Awareness warning system, the United States is able to immediately detect the launch and location of a ballistic missile anywhere in the world, including at sea. Russia does not have this global capability. If this technical inadequacy is not taken into account (and there are indications that the Pentagon is not paying attention to it), we could all suddenly be very dead – or “mostly dead” (to quote Billy Christal in The Princess Bride). Ted Postol detailed this at a virtual salon hosted by the Committee for the Republic on March 17.

Postol, a retired MIT professor of physics and senior Pentagon advisor, provided a brief case study, which I summarize below:

On January 25, 1995, Russian generals focused on a missile launched from Norway and detected by their automated alert radar. Could this be the opening salvo of a large-scale nuclear attack, including sea-launched ballistic missiles? Since Russia is unable to detect missile launches from submarines at sea, the generals could not rule out the possibility that Russia had already been attacked by nuclear-armed Trident submarines.

The salvation in 1995 was that the same generals had reliable information that U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles were not about to attack. At least as important, in 1995 relations between Russia and the United States were relatively balanced. And now? Not so much anymore.

Postol added the following to illustrate Russia’s increased concern about its early warning deficit: The U.S. has now increased the total killing power of its ballistic missile force by a factor of two to three. This is exactly the kind of capability that a nuclear-armed state would build if it wanted the ability to fight and “win” a nuclear war through a disarming first strike.

The missile from Norway? Scientists had launched it to study the Northern Lights, but apparently no one had thought to inform the Russians.

What else can be done but ask the Norwegians to give the Russians a heads up next time? Washington can stop straining relations even more over Ukraine. The Pentagon may boast of its impressive offensive strategic capabilities, but it has no way to protect us from a Russian nuclear attack. And if there is a false alarm like there was in 1995, this time without the “saving grace” of a reasonable bilateral relationship with Russia, we could all end up as human fries. We should take no comfort in knowing that this will happen to most Russians as well.
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Remarks on the war in Ukraine
by Alfred Spieler
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.isw-muenchen.de/2022/03/bemerkungen-zum-krieg-in-der-ukraine/.]

An early end to this war is urgently needed to prevent more people from dying, being injured and/or traumatized, or having to flee head over heels. Already the (according to the OSCE) approximately 14,000 deaths since 2014 in the Donbass, of which about three quarters are civilian victims, are too much, but are still deliberately ignored in the West because they are part of the causes of this war, for which the USA and NATO bear a considerable share of the responsibility.

This war must end as soon as possible because it threatens peace throughout Europe and, in the worst case, threatens to degenerate into a global conflict.

The longer the war lasts, the greater this danger becomes. The peace movement’s demand “Lay down your arms – No to war!” therefore deserves full support.

One can only hope that Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine will not become a second Afghanistan. An associated destabilization of the internal situation in Russia would be fatal not only for the population, but also for the prospects of normalizing relations with Russia and for peace in Europe.

Basically, we are witnessing a proxy Russia-NATO war in which Ukrainian and Russian lives are the victims. One cannot ignore the fact that the U.S. has pumped Ukraine full of weapons for over two billion dollars, thousands of military personnel from NATO countries were or are present there, and now the EU and the Federal Republic are also contributing to the further escalation of the conflict with their military “aid.” NATO, which was “brain-dead” (Emmanuel Macron) only a short time ago, has achieved a strategic success because it succeeded in sweeping all of Russia’s demands regarding its security interests off the table and instead driving it into a military confrontation.

Undermining of international law

The Russian military intervention in Ukraine is a massive violation of international law, which has been undermined with impunity, especially after 1990 by NATO wars (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya) – with at least 600,000 deaths in Iraq alone. However, this cannot legitimize Russian military intervention in Ukraine, even by invoking the right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter (as argued by President Putin on Feb. 24, 2022), despite all understanding of legitimate Russian security interests. The danger that international law will be increasingly devalued and replaced by a “law of the fist” is obvious.

It is downright paradoxical that Russia, of all countries, which in recent years has repeatedly insisted on compliance with the UN Charter, is now waging a preventive war in violation of international law. President Putin explained that Russia did not want to find itself again in a situation in which, like the Soviet Union in 1941, its existence would be fundamentally challenged by a lightning-like invasion and it would have had to accept millions of victims. The memory of the trauma of the fascist German invasion, which is still felt in Russia, has a real and undeniable significance here, which should be respected by the German side in particular.

Instead, Russia is all too often accused of having an exaggerated security interest.

Russia’s attempt to justify its military action against Ukraine with a “historical right” is, however, dubious. Even in leadership circles of the Ukrainian opposition platform “For Life,” President Putin’s thesis of “one people” of Russians and Ukrainians has been clearly and publicly rejected. The desire and the right to self-determination play an important role here, but so do massive economic interests of Ukrainian oligarchs who do not want to be hemmed in by the Russian side (though not by the Western side either from the point of view of fighting corruption).

In this respect, Great Russian nationalism and especially Ukrainian nationalism, which is to a large extent consciously based on the traditions of the fascist Bandera criminals, are obstacles to a peace settlement and to a normalization of Russia-Ukraine bilateral relations. Overcoming the tragedy of the war between the two largest and most important republics of the former USSR will therefore require difficult compromises and a political will to find solutions that currently seem beyond short-term horizons.

The calculus of war

It is utterly nonsensical to assume that Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine was not done after weighing all the consequences for Russia. Certainly, the dangers of deploying U.S. mobile missile systems on the Ukrainian-Russian border, which can be equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads and which reduce the warning time for an attack on Moscow to four to five minutes, in the event that Ukraine joins NATO in 2023, play a very decisive role. And the U.S. bioreactors in Ukraine are not as harmless as they are portrayed in Western media, especially since such facilities are not only prohibited by law on U.S. territory, but in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics they are under the control of the Pentagon, yet inaccessible to independent monitoring bodies.

But were the consequences of the Russian attack on Ukraine to be assessed realistically at all? Doesn’t Russia follow the motto “Better an end with horror than horror without an end” here? A starting position that may prevent decision-makers in Moscow from stopping “halfway” and thus risking defeat. And where does that lead?

Having modernized its military force with completely new types of weapons systems, Russia has been in the process since 2018 of focusing on an extensive program to modernize economic and social infrastructure, fight the still high levels of poverty, improve living conditions for families, and develop the healthcare system. An elaborate expansion of transport infrastructure has also been set in motion, as well as much-needed improvements in environmental protection and nature conservation, including the reduction of climate-damaging emissions. This process, which had already suffered setbacks as a result of the Corona pandemic, is now being seriously damaged. The immediate costs of the war and, in particular, the massive Western sanctions, which not only strike Russia to the heart but are apparently intended to drive it off the world stage as a serious competitor for years to come as part of a new economic war, may set Russia’s modernization back by years. Instead of realizing the ambition of transforming capitalist Russia into a modern welfare state along Western lines, preconditions for a neoliberal turn and further domestic hardening will come within reach. What this means for Russia’s stability can be imagined if one remembers the disastrous situation the country was in during the 1990s – and that in the largest country on earth with a nuclear weapons potential that belongs to be eliminated in a treaty-regulated process, just like that of all other nuclear-armed states in the world.

The consequences include not only the human suffering, the economic, social and societal effects for Russia and Ukraine, but also the imponderables for further developments in Europe. Instead of a European security structure with Russia, a climate of confrontation looms for years to come, in which Russia will be assigned the role of a leper pariah and the trees will not grow to the sky in Ukraine either. The division of Europe, which is in the U.S. interest, will finally be shifted to the eastern border of the NATO area between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, possibly with new members of NATO (Finland, Sweden) and almost certainly with an unprecedented militarization of Europe.

The declared Russian war aims of “demilitarization” and “denazification” must be critically questioned. At the moment, Ukraine’s military infrastructure is largely destroyed and nuclear facilities (Chernobyl, Zaporozhye) are occupied, but this is only a snapshot – arms corporations in the USA, Germany, France and Great Britain can hope for new profits. It is hardly foreseeable whether Ukraine will become neutral. At the moment, the possibility of renouncing NATO membership, which has been raised by the Ukrainian president, seems to be more of a tactical move that is not planned for the long term but is due to Ukraine’s difficult military situation.

And how is the intended “denazification” to be implemented? The example of denazification in Germany after 1945, which is repeatedly cited by the Russian government, is hardly likely to be transferable. For at that time there was a common contractual basis for this among the Allies of the anti-Hitler coalition through the Potsdam Agreement. We are a long way from that. Critical voices in Russia point out that large parts of the population in the areas taken by the Russian military are not reacting in a friendly manner. Years of anti-Russian propaganda, nationalist sentiment and persecution of the opposition have left deep scars that will not disappear overnight.

Moreover, the more than two million refugees and the destruction of Ukrainian cities (including the Donbass) show that the horror of war cannot be ignored. Not even by banning the use of the term war – as is currently the case in Russia – but by officially speaking of a “special military-technical measure”.

Upper water for the “hawks” in Germany

In Germany, the Russian military intervention gives the “hawks” an upper hand again. This applies not only to Chancellor Scholz’s proclaimed 100 billion euro rearmament program, the commitment to at least two percent of GDP in annual “defense spending,” but also to the reorientation in foreign policy – away from orientations toward détente and military restraint toward a new militaristic power policy worldwide – as well as targeted media control in favor of narratives that correspond to this course and are intended to suppress critical discourse. This course is accompanied by restrictions on fundamental rights, discrimination and defamation. Those who fail to recognize that the Ukraine war is strengthening a tendency toward authoritarianism in our country underestimate the dangers for the future.

The upper water of the “hawks” is also evident in the media. Not only through the spread of “fake-news” as recently with the alleged Russian attack on a maternity clinic in Mariupol (coyly adding the note “information cannot be independently verified”) and a “shitstorm” on all statements that deviate from the narrative of the West, but also through the climate against almost everything Russian that is co-distributed by the media.

Scandalous are the actions of public officials against world-class Russian artists such as the conductor Valery Gergiev in Munich and by cultural managers against the singer Anna Netrebko, who have been driven out of the cultural scene in a manner reminiscent of the darkest German times. Scandalous the Russophobia that unsettles a majority of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Russian citizens living in the Federal Republic, even as they criticize and condemn President Putin’s actions. Scandalous the acts of violence up to an arson attack on a Berlin school under Russian leadership, which was immediately condemned by the governing mayor of Berlin. Scandalous, too, the activities and calls to break off relations between cities, universities, cultural institutions, etc. that had grown over many years. And finally, scandalous are the campaign-like attempts to sideline people who have been committed for years to good neighborly relations between Germans and the peoples of Russia and to cooperation that is in the interest of both countries. Very few statements from German politics stand out from such often inane attempts to create a climate that seriously damages the values of democracy that are always upheld.
Highest recognition for assistance at the municipal level

In contrast to this is the commitment in the humanitarian field for the refugees from Ukraine, which is largely carried out by voluntary and private initiatives. However, on-site assistance for refugees arriving here, especially women, children and families, requires greater support from the federal government. What is being done here at the municipal level in cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt/Oder, Hamburg, Munich and many others is unprecedented and deserves the highest recognition.

Those who want to stop the war must not stop at demanding its immediate end, but must also ensure that not all bridges to Russia are burned. Otherwise, the necessary conditions for a peaceful future in Europe will be lacking. The fact remains that a stable peace in Europe will only be possible in the long term with Russia.
Alfred Spieler

Dr. rer. pol, project work social policy, guest author

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Russia’s war shakes the world economy
by Joachim Bischoff
Political-Economic Consequences of Economic Warfare
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Russlands Krieg erschüttert die Weltwirtschaft.

Russlands Krieg erschüttert die Weltwirtschaft

24. März 2022 Joachim Bischoff: Politisch-ökonomische Folgen des Wirtschaftskriegs Russlands Krieg erschüttert…

The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development of Industrialized Countries) rightly states, “The most important consequence of the war in Ukraine is the human lives lost and the humanitarian crisis associated with the large number of people besieged and displaced. However, there are also numerous significant economic implications.”[1]

The Russian invasion is also a major humanitarian crisis affecting millions of people in other parts of the world, and a severe economic shock of uncertain duration and magnitude, with a hunger or food crisis looming in many other countries. Before the war, the global recovery from the pandemic was expected to continue in 2022 and 2023, supported by continued progress in global vaccination efforts, supportive macroeconomic policies in major economies, and favorable financial conditions.

The December 2021 OECD Economic Outlook projected global GDP growth of 4.5% in 2022 and 3.2% in 2023, with most countries recovering quickly after the Omicron disruptions to societal reproduction. At the same time, higher food and energy prices, supply constraints related to the pandemic, and a rapid recovery in demand starting in the mid-2020s led to an acceleration and widening of inflation in most OECD economies, particularly the United States, Latin America, and many other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Impact on economic performance

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing war, and also the “tough” sanctions imposed by the West will put significant downward pressure on economic growth in the global economy. In case of prolonged military operations or intensification of the “economic war”[2], a global economic recession is imminent. Even before the Ukraine war, the state of the global economy was not dazzling. The recovery in global accumulation expected as recently as the beginning of the year had already been slowed by the still-ongoing COVID pandemic and discontinuity in supply chains. With the war, a worsened constellation emerges: the OECD expects reduced growth and predicts that global inflation of 4.2% will shoot up by another 2.47% worldwide.

The Russia-Ukraine war is affecting the economy in the euro zone primarily through higher energy prices, but also higher food prices. The repercussions due to the loss of supplies of artificial fertilizers and agricultural products (wheat, corn) on many countries in other continents are devastating. In addition, there is the impact of the largest refugee movement in Europe since World War II. Given the dramatic destruction and human suffering in Ukraine, it is nonetheless essential to try to assess the impact on global economic performance, despite the uncertainty of the data.

The economies directly affected by the war – Ukraine and Russia – are being pushed into contraction. For Ukraine, even in the event of a ceasefire, a brutal destruction of the life process is on the horizon.

Ukraine – the poorhouse of Europe

The invasion of Ukraine hits one of the weakest economies in Europe and the post-Soviet area. Ukraine, once the flagship of the tsarist empire and the Soviet regime, is now only a shadow of its former self.

In 1990, the per capita GDP of the then Socialist Republic of Ukraine within the USSR was $16,428.5. While this was 24% less than that of the Russian Federation and 31% less than the average for the Europe and Central Asia region, it was 70% above the world average.

Thirty years later, in 2020, the same Ukrainian GDP per capita was only $12,375.9, a 25% decrease. Meanwhile, the Russian level increased by 23%, the Europe-Central Asia level by 42%, and the world level by 67%. Thus, Ukraine has been further impoverished and has undergone a massive decline. Its per capita GDP level is now 31% below the world average.

GDP per capita trends since 1990 in the world and in some Eastern European countries.

Ukraine has lost almost eight million inhabitants between 1990 and 2020, from 51.9 million to 44.1 million. Even now, with no end to the war in sight, experts estimate that war-related flight is around 25%.

Economic performance was already depressingly low before the war. The reason: The transformation process toward a capitalist economy that began in 1990 remained stuck in an economy of political clientelism. The takeover of companies by oligarchs led to kleptocratic structures. According to the World Bank, investment declined. Modernization of industrial plants never really took place, wealth distribution was distorted, and Ukraine logically lost ground on world markets.

This development provided the social breeding ground for the Maidan revolution of 2014. After the political upheaval, February 21, 2014, was marked by diplomacy and mediation in the face of another rebellion in the eastern provinces: The foreign ministers of Germany and Poland, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Radoslaw Sikorski, had managed to get Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to sign an agreement with the opposition to settle the crisis and open a pacification of the civil war.

In Kiev or Lviv, the Maidan victory was celebrated as a victory for freedom. But in the east, a war was raging for self-government of the Russian part of the population, backed by Moscow. It claimed over ten thousand victims, created immeasurable suffering, and continues to hold the entire country in its shackles to this day. The worsening crisis with Russia led to the country’s de facto decision to move closer to the EU.

The regime of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ensured an expansion of dollar loans. At the same time, the IMF’s conditionality did little to roll back the deformities of crony capitalism. In addition, the conflict in the Donbass region escalated, ultimately massively weakening Ukraine’s growth by depriving it of the resources of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, and the two occupied territories in the Donbass. A British institute’s estimate concludes that cumulative losses between 2014 and 2020 amount to $280 billion.

After the Maidan, the civil war in the Donbass and the conflict with Russia, Ukraine was able to avoid total bankruptcy only by not having to pay its debts to Russia and by using the IMF. Since 2014, loans from the IMF and other Western countries (FRG) have stabilized the economy and the system of government. While the IMF has not really succeeded in enforcing an active fight against corruption, this influence has had the effect of enshrining the independence of the central bank NBU in the constitution and thus making the monetary and foreign exchange system work.

A downside of this stability policy is the reduction in social spending. Between 2014 and 2020, it fell from 20% to 13% of GDP, and spending on public salaries stagnated. With an already very weakened social sector, these measures were bound to further depress the Ukrainian economy. With unemployment at 10% and an impoverished population, even before Russia’s military intervention, social renewal and modernization of the economy were extremely difficult to get off the ground. After the now foreseeable extent of the destruction of the public and private capitalist infrastructure as well as the loss of population, the country will have to start from scratch, as it were, and would be dependent on massive development aid from the West.

Possibly the biggest problem is the continuing movement of refugees. Migration researcher Knaus believes it is possible that ten million people will flee Ukraine, thus reducing the population of 44 million by another quarter. A larger part will come to Germany. What is certain, however, is that “the flight movement we are now seeing will be historic and unique in terms of numbers.” Knaus expects the largest flight movement in Europe since the Second World War. Already, he said, as many people have fled Ukraine in one week as came to Greece in all of 2015.

Russia’s invasion is the cause of a massive humanitarian and economic crisis in Ukraine, IMF chief Gregorieva said. A severe recession in Ukraine is inevitable, in the IMF’s view. “Even if hostilities stop immediately, reconstruction and economic recovery will come at a massive cost,” Gregorieva said-the IMF is already propping up Ukraine’s currency and economy with billions of dollars.[3]

Russia also faces severe recession

The consequences of the war are by no means limited to Ukraine. Russia, due to the harsh sanctions, is also sliding into a severe recession, including high inflation and “sharply declining” living standards for the majority of Russians. The West has responded to the war in Ukraine with unprecedented sanctions. The big surprise was that transactions with the Russian Central Bank were banned and the bank’s assets were frozen in the EU and the US. Russia has foreign currency reserves of $630 billion. Moscow cannot now access a large portion of them. This is effectively the opening of a momentous economic war.[4]

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska sees the Russian economic crisis as a difficult road ahead: “It will be like the 1998 crisis, but three times worse and will last 3 years.” U.S. bank JP Morgan is a bit more precise in its assessment: it expects Russia’s economy to contract by 35% in the second quarter of 2022 and 7% in 2022, with the economy suffering a decline in economic output comparable to the 1998 crisis. Economists Felbermayr and Braml point out that “Germany is also waging an economic war against Russia,” although it is not yet fully aware of it. “Perhaps Russia – like Germany in the 20th century – will have to collapse twice in a short time economically, but above all morally, before it renounces imperialism and recognizes the benefits of a rules-based and liberal peace order.”[5]

Nonetheless, “A collapse is not to be expected. There will be a recession, the Russian economy will shrink by ten, 13 or 15 percent. But we have to remember that Russia’s total exports are only 28 percent of Russia’s gross national product. So it is not the entire national economy that will be affected. The slump will be followed by a period of adjustment and conversion, and then there will be a recovery. In the long run, growth will be much slower because of inefficiencies.”[6]

According to IMF chief Georgieva, Ukraine and Russia’s neighbors also face declining trade revenues, a lack of remittances from compatriots working in Russia, and costs from hosting refugees.

The other regions

The consequences for many other countries come from increases in commodity and food prices and decreases in the value of money. The International Monetary Fund is on the verge of revising its world economic outlook significantly downward. It sees three chains of effects at work: price increases for food and energy fuel inflation. Falling purchasing power is causing overall economic demand to shrink. Neighboring countries in the war zone are severely affected. Their international supply chains are broken, trade is disrupted and, according to the Monetary Fund, less money is flowing through foreign remittances. Moreover, neighboring countries must cope with large numbers of refugees.[7]

In many countries in Africa in particular, the loss of wheat exports threatens a significant shortage in the food supply and thus a hunger crisis. The IMF fears “massive” economic consequences, not least outside the euro zone. Georgieva predicts a “real shock” for the African continent in particular: 42 of 54 countries there are energy importers, which at the same time often hardly have the funds for state energy subsidies. States dependent on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine, such as Egypt, face “dramatic problems,” Georgieva said. She also reiterated that some states, including Egypt, are having to forgo important income from business with Russian tourists because of sanctions on payments.

Asia is not spared either. More expensive food and energy are also foreseeable there. Georgieva now considers the Chinese leadership’s target of 5.5% economic growth “difficult to achieve.” And India, which is preparing to become the world’s most populous country, will probably also have to fight harder against rising inflation. Often enough, that goes hand in hand with rising unemployment.

In South America, rising prices are likely to be a particularly big problem, according to Georgieva: The countries there are still struggling with the consequences of the pandemic, and inflation is particularly high at the same time. Whether higher food prices will help exporters there is uncertain, according to Georgieva. The global supply of fertilizer is also in danger because Russian exports are not coming in and gas, the basic ingredient for fertilizer production, is becoming much more expensive.

The IMF chief only hinted at whether there might be bottom-line beneficiaries of the current escalation. It is likely to be the states that export many energy sources and where food imports play a rather minor role – i.e. at most a handful of the 193 UN states.

Ukraine-Russia crisis and the financial system

The rumors about an imminent state bankruptcy of Russia with drastic repercussions for the international financial system are rejected by many experts. The outbreak of a systemic crisis for the financial system due to a Russian default is therefore considered unlikely. This has also been pointed out by IMF chief Georgieva. The exposure of banks to Russian securities is considered low and, moreover, also known. By contrast, the problem with the collapse of the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, was that it was not known exactly who had the huge risks on their books.

More expensive energy and commodity imports are coming up against a global economy already suffering the consequences of the pandemic, high inflation and empty public coffers. Now, the IMF chief predicted, the renewed rise in prices would lead to lower purchasing power and thus to declining economic output and more poverty.

And then there is the capital that usually flees to safe – i.e. wealthy – havens during crises. Financing government loans and private investment in poorer countries makes that more difficult, Georgieva warned.

The current omicron wave in the pandemic that has been raging for two years is winding down. Quite a few states are rolling back enacted mobility restrictions. In 2022, the transition to an epidemic stage of viral disease could be reached.

Less positive is the envisioned return to the common accumulation mode. The hoped-for rapid return to economic dynamism is not in sight. Growth rates are lower and price increases remain at a high level. In view of the economic consequences of the war, weaker expected growth in China and the USA, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will have to further downgrade its forecast for the development of the global economy.

Consequences for Germany

Energy prices are a significant factor in the inflation rate. It is already becoming apparent that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will slow down the recovery of the global economy from the consequences of the Corona crisis. Despite Russia’s comparatively low economic output, commodities and agricultural products are having a significant negative impact on the international economy.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions imposed by the West could roughly halve economic growth in Germany in 2022. According to the Ifo Institute, the consequences of the Ukraine war will significantly slow down the German economy in 2022, while also driving inflation extremely high. “We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said of the new forecast. Previously, the Ifo Institute had still expected gross domestic product (GDP) to rise by 3.7 percent. “The Russian attack is dampening the economy via significantly higher commodity prices, the sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products, and increased economic uncertainty.” Inflation is thus likely to rise faster than expected. The Ifo Institute projects 5.1% to 6.1% for 2022 instead of the 3.3% expected in December.[8]

The German government has previously assumed a GDP increase of 3.6%. While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced it would soon lower its forecast for the global economy because of the war, German machinery manufacturers already capped their estimate as a result. “Instead of an originally expected growth of seven percent in real terms, we are now only expecting a production increase of four percent for the current year,” said the president of the VDMA industry association, Karl Haeusgen. He added that the war would have a significant impact on the mechanical and plant engineering sector and would once again exacerbate the supply bottlenecks that have not yet been overcome. According to the VDMA survey, 85% of nearly 550 companies questioned considered the war to be a serious or noticeable risk to their business.

Secular stagnation?

Quite in line with the accumulation movement in the global economy, the U.S. reproduction process is also registering a significant increase in economic growth. The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in decades last quarter, reaching an annualized rate of 6.9%, the highest level in nearly 40 years. This acceleration in accumulation was also the result of enormous government support packages. Most recently, after long delays, the second anti-crisis program was also approved by the budget law with a spending volume of around 1.5 trillion. (1.36 trillion euros), including $13.6 billion for humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.

However, despite the trillion-dollar aid programs, it does not look like a sustained boom, the “Roaring Twenties” of the 21st century. After a short recovery, the accumulation rates of the capitalist countries are falling back into a downward trend. Some economists speak of a trend toward secular (Larry Summers and Robert Gordon) stagnation: they point to the small increases in average productivity growth. The “low-hanging fruit” of technological progress, as it is called in American, has all been harvested. The epoch from 1870 to 1970, with its multiplication of wealth, is seen as a historical exception. The capitalist system has driven social prosperity with new bursts of innovation and advances in productivity, but growth rates are nevertheless flattening out because r effort and commitment to these productivity gains are becoming ever higher.

As early as 1938, the American economist Alvin Hansen argued that if the population grows more slowly and production requires less capital, demand for consumer and capital goods will fall. Full employment would therefore no longer be achieved. Hansen was hugely mistaken because he did not foresee the post-World War II economic dynamics in the final stages of the Great Depression.

Summers insists that Hansen’s arguments were shelved too soon. He sees Japan, probably Europe, and possibly the United States in a situation of underinvestment to take advantage of the supply of savings capital.

Typically, such market imbalances can exist only temporarily. Price regulates supply and demand. The price for saving and investing, however, is the interest rate, or more precisely, the real interest rate adjusted for inflation. It would have to fall in order to bring savings supply and investment into theoretical equilibrium – and thus the economy to full employment.

In this chain of arguments, government credit and monetary policy lose their persuasive power. Not unexpectedly, Summers calls for extended debt-financed investment programs by the government to bring the economy out of sustained slow growth. However, the high rates of price increases, as we also see in the U.S., pose further challenges to this strategy of combating the flattening trend of accumulation and growth.

The current development in the U.S. is an illustration of this accumulation dynamic of the capitalist metropolises. With enormous resource deployment of government fiscal policy, supported by an offensive credit policy of the Federal Reserve, the economy in the U.S. has been prevented from slipping into a crisis mode. With historically high levels of intervention, the accumulation process has been pushed back into accelerated gear at the end of the Corona pandemic – despite the filibustering and obstructionism of the Republican congressional minority. The U.S. accumulation dynamics shine with high growth rates, but the high demonetization and the loss of purchasing power are unpleasant side effects and at the same time the regression to low growth rates is indicated.

The fact is that the U.S. inflation rate rose again to 7.9% in February at a high level, reaching another 40-year high. Due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it is very likely to remain very high in the near future because all the related turbulence on the energy and commodity markets is not yet included in the data.

To be sure, the U.S. economy remains in good shape – at the end of 2021, GDP was up 7% on an annualized basis, and the unemployment rate also fell to 3.8%. But the outlook is more uncertain than ever before against the backdrop of the Ukraine war.

Summers has always stressed that his argument is not about fatalism, but about policies to stimulate aggregate demand through fiscal expansion. To ensure full employment, we must not limit ourselves to interest rate policies to support sustained and adequate aggregate demand. As is now evident, the trend toward low growth rates will return at the end of the pandemic.

U.S. inflation remains above the 2% target at just under 8%, there are an unusually large number of job openings in the labor market, and the U.S. economy is performing comparatively robustly despite all the geopolitical turmoil – and now the Fed has responded by raising the federal funds rate by 0.25 for the first time since the start of the Corona pandemic. It held out the prospect of a series of further increases this year, as well as a reduction in the Fed’s balance sheet soon, to prevent the economy from overheating and to bring inflation down.

“The U.S. economy is so strong right now that no recession is likely in the months ahead,” Fed President Jerome Powell said. The central bank is explicitly committed to the goal of price stability and is prepared to use any means to achieve it, he said. This is because the economic costs of a high inflation rate are too high, and without stable price expectations, it is impossible to achieve sustainable growth.

According to Powell, the U.S. economy is no longer dependent on the extraordinarily generous monetary policy framework after the dynamic recovery of recent months, and consequently the aim is to scale it back. This development even goes somewhat further than what investors in the financial markets have been expecting so far, the central bank chief further explained, referring to the recent tightening of various indices that track financial conditions.

Rising interest rates are meant to curb inflation by dampening demand. Once borrowing becomes more expensive, fewer people will be able to afford real estate, cars, etc., and companies will invest less in production facilities and new machinery. The political tact is to get the “monetary policy withdrawal” right. If it comes too quickly or is too severe, the economy risks sliding into recession. There is no question that this risk has grown considerably in times of the Ukraine war. With this maneuver, the impetus of the U.S. economy on the global economy is also declining. And even the PRC is dropping out as a strong stimulus provider.

PR China

Tough sanctions against Russia, ongoing Corona infections, high commodity prices, and food supply shortages are creating uncertainty across Asia – especially for China’s economy.

Growth in China weakened in the fourth quarter of 2021. In 2022, growth is now expected to be 4.8% instead of 5.5%. China’s Premier Li Keqiang recently told delegates at the National People’s Congress that China’s economy should grow by “around” 5.5% in the current year. Many experts believe that this target is not achievable unless the government resorts to old, outdated instruments such as massive state-funded investment programs.

Economic growth in the People’s Republic of China

Li spreads optimism. “China is capable of dealing with short-term economic fluctuations.” The country coped well with the economic impact of Covid-19, which led to the positive development of asset prices in 2020. However, 2021 was an extremely difficult one for markets as the People’s Bank of China tightened monetary policy and the education and internet sectors became more regulated. Growth was further dampened during the year as the zero-covid strategy slowed consumption, over-indebted real estate companies struggled to pay their debts, and the country faced energy supply shortages. In addition, the Chinese government announced a shift in policy priorities away from growth at all costs toward more widespread prosperity.

High commodity prices in particular, but also sanctions imposed by the West, are likely to leave skid marks on the economy. Chinese economists are nervous about possible supply bottlenecks for fertilizers and foodstuffs. Both Russia and Ukraine are major wheat producers. At the same time, the situation in Chinese agriculture is already tense. Currently, China is 80% self-sufficient in food. The government would like to increase the quota to 95% in the medium term.

“Sanctions are affecting global finances, energy supply, transportation, as well as supply chain stability, and slowing down the global economy, which is already suffering from the pandemic,” China’s leader Xi Jinping said warningly in a recent video call with Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, the heads of government of France and Germany.

In addition to the ongoing Corona pandemic, the repercussions of the war between Russia and Ukraine cannot be ignored for the weakened growth dynamics of the PRC. As a consequence, the PRC is likely to lose significantly in importance as an engine and accumulation center for the global economy.

Ukraine, but also some EU countries, are pushing for a further intensification of the economic war against Russia, especially for an EU import ban on energy from Russia. They argue that President Putin is using the revenues – several hundred million euros every day – to finance his war. The German traffic light government still opposes this demand for an intensification of the economic war. There is equally clear opposition to this escalation logic from academia and civil society.

Economist Monika Schnitzer also strongly warns against an import ban on Russian gas. “I am very concerned that a gas embargo would result not only in massive economic dislocation, but also in social dislocation.”[9] The member of the Council of Economic Experts explains that the update of the annual report on March 30 will also contain significant corrections.

In November, the Council of Economic Experts had forecast economic growth of 4.6% and inflation of 2.6% for 2022. “In fact, you can hardly believe your eyes when you look at the November figures today. At that time, there was no real sign of the Omikron variant of the pandemic. Now the second variant of Omikron will bring the next wave. Add to that the war, which was preceded by a spike in energy prices – as we now see in retrospect – fueled by Russia. All of that will dampen the economy. […] It is also obvious that inflation will be much higher: certainly above 4 percent. But I wouldn’t rule out 5 and even 6 percent either.”

Notes

[1] OECD, Economic and Social Impacts and Policy Implications of the War in Ukraine, 3/17/2022.
[2] See Adam Tooze, “We Are Waging Economic War on Russia. Europe’s and the U.S.’ unprecedented sanctions against Russia mark a turning point, the financial system is being turned into a weapon of war, says economic historian Adam Tooze, interview with “Der Standard”, 5.3.2022. Also Martin Braml and Gabriel Felbermayr, The Logic of Economic War, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), 18.3.2022.
[3] Press release, 23.3.2022.
[4] See Tooze, op. cit.
[5] Braml/Felbermayr, op. cit.
[6] Tooze, op. cit.
[7] Cf. Winand von Petersdorff, Der Krieg bedroht die Weltwirtschaft, in: FAZ, 17.3. 2022.
[8] Ifo Economic Forecast Spring 2022: Consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian War Dampen German Economy, March 23, 2022.
[9] Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), March 21, 2022.

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#DerAppell: No high armament in the Basic Law!

[This appeal published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.marx21.de/derappell-keine-hochruestung-ins-grundgesetz/.]

marx21 asks all readers to sign and spread the appeal against armament. Click here to sign. We document the text of the appeal below

On February 24, Russia under President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. Already this war has claimed thousands of victims and cost hundreds of thousands their homes.

There is no justification for this war. Putin bears full responsibility for the dead and the people on the run. Putin’s justifications for the war are lies and propaganda. We are very worried about the future of peace and security in Europe and the world. This fear unites us with the hundreds of thousands of people who, after the war began, took to the streets in Cologne, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and hundreds of other cities alone, expressing their outrage at Putin’s war, their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, their fear of further escalation and their desire for peace and security. Together with them, we demonstrated against Putin’s war and for peace.

Acquiring conventional weapons such as fighter jets and weaponized drones as a deterrent under nuclear military blocs is pointless.

These demonstrations were the largest peace demonstrations since the protests against the Iraq war in 2003. On the very same day that people took to the streets in Berlin to protest the war, the German government, with the support of the CDU/CSU, presented a package of measures that would see the largest rearmament of Germany since the end of World War II. A massive rearmament of the Bundeswehr will not help the people in Ukraine. The new weapons to be acquired will not support the Ukrainians in their struggle and right to self-defense. Already now the “defense expenditures” of all 30 NATO countries exceed the Russian ones by almost twenty times. Acquiring conventional weapons such as fighter planes and weaponized drones as a deterrent under nuclear military blocs is pointless. NATO countries, including Germany, began to significantly increase their arms spending before 2014, long before the Ukraine conflict occurred. Parts of the rearmament plans can already be found in the coalition agreement, well before the first warnings of an imminent Russian invasion. However, this war and the horrific images of the deaths and destruction in Ukraine cannot justify a radical change of course in German foreign policy and the highest increase in German arms spending since World War II – even through an amendment to the Basic Law.

To decide on such a 180-degree turnaround in German foreign policy, with correspondingly dramatic consequences for domestic policy as well – for the welfare state, for liberality and humanity – without any broad social debate, without any parliamentary debate, and even without any internal party debate at all, would be a scandal in terms of democratic policy.

In addition to the previous 49 billion in armaments spending in the 2022 budget, 100 billion is to be set aside this year as a special fund that will be available to the Bundeswehr over several years. This sum corresponds to the spending of several federal ministries, including such important departments as health (16.03 billion), education and research (19.36 billion), interior, construction and home affairs (18.52 billion), family, seniors, women and youth (12.16 billion), economy and energy (9.81 billion), environment (2.7 billion), cooperation and development (10.8 billion) and food and agriculture (6.98 billion). In the future, 2% of GDP is to be spent on armaments on a permanent basis. This would increase spending to well over 70 billion euros a year. At the same time, the German government wants to adhere to the “debt brake,” which in the long term raises the question of our democratic priorities and brings with it the danger of massive cuts in the social, cultural and public sectors. In the name of democracy, we reject the idea of making this political course setting additionally binding on future governments by anchoring it in the Basic Law. Security and social justice, not armaments, are the mandate of the Basic Law.

The arms buildup planned for decades will not end the deaths in Ukraine and will not make our world more peaceful or safer.

Instead of decisions made virtually overnight and in the smallest of circles, we call for broad democratic discussion of a comprehensive security concept that includes security from military attacks as well as pandemic and ecological aspects and is based on the concept of the unity of security and common development.

We are confronted with war and endless suffering, with flight, with poverty and social insecurity, with a global pandemic that has shown how our health systems are on edge, with a public infrastructure whose decades-long neglect is now costing us dearly, with a cultural scene that is running on fumes, and with a climate catastrophe that does not stop at national borders and requires immense investments in future technologies and social cushioning. The arms buildup planned for decades will not end the deaths in Ukraine, will not make our world more peaceful and will not make it safer. We cannot afford it in the name of the future.
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The privatization of world politics
The repressive surveillance state knows no stopping and secures itself with appropriate contracts under the guise of health protection.
By Christine Wicht
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-privatisierung-der-weltpolitik.]

It is largely taking place under the radar of public attention, and yet it may affect all of our lives more than most issues that are currently quasi-“officially” important. On Dec. 1, 2021, the 194 members of the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed to negotiate an international convention to strengthen pandemic prevention that would be binding under international law. A draft is expected to be ready as early as August 2022, shown to the WHO General Assembly in 2023, and adopted in 2024 (1). As a result, international political organizations such as the UN will be closely intertwined with transnational corporations. However, it is not the control of the private sphere by the sphere of politics that this change is likely to serve – conversely, treaties such as the Global Compact will act as a gateway for corporate interests. We can all still help to stop this disastrous development.

The pandemic industry positions itself globally – totalitarian measures to protect health

On the surface, this agreement is being pushed with the argument that it will allow all countries to expand their health systems and strengthen their resilience to future pandemics. The real goal, however, is to give the WHO broad authority to issue directives to member states. The WHO is the United Nations specialized agency for health, based in Geneva, and is in close commercial contact with pharmaceutical companies. With this agreement, the WHO could enforce vaccination obligations and other restrictive measures or emergency regulations, such as travel restrictions or contact bans, at the national and international level, bypassing national parliaments.

Several organizations, such as the scientific initiative “Health for Austria,” warn that the planned WHO “pandemic treaty” would ultimately undermine democracy and give the international organization incredible power. “So if this planned treaty comes into force, the WHO could not only declare a pandemic on the basis of a moderately dangerous virus and impose strict measures on the entire world. It could also impose mandatory vaccination on all member states for any infectious disease.”

Vaccine manufacturers – some of whom also finance the WHO – probably wouldn’t mind … The WHO lacks democratic legitimacy and is anything but independent: For the most part, it is financed by donations from foundations such as the Bill & Melina Gates Foundation and from companies in the pharmaceutical industry. (2).

The Global Compact, proposed by Kofi Annan at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 31, 1999, and launched in 2000, sought to establish cooperation between the United Nations and transnational corporations with the aim of involving them more closely in the work of the United Nations – with the aim of achieving progress worldwide within the framework of this partnership in accordance with the declared principles of the treaty.

However, the Global Compact is increasingly turning out not to be an instrument of political influence on the part of the United Nations, but precisely the other way around, the United Nations is exposing itself to the danger of a creeping structural change as a result of this partnership:

Until now, the UN has been a (political) organization of the governments of nation states with the function of balancing transnational, worldwide interests and contributing to peace in the world. In this way, the UN exercises control over the peaceful coexistence of peoples, the worldwide protection of the environment and the observance of human rights that is superior to that of the individual states, at least as long as the nation states recognize the binding nature of the UN’s political guidelines or the international community politically sanctions violations.

With the Global Compact, on the other hand, transnational corporations – i.e., non-political but economic institutions – become partners of the UN. This gives the transnational corporations – parallel to and alongside the member states – a different weight at the international level. Some of the power of states is shifted in favor of the influence of business. Thus, not only is there closer contact between the UN and private companies, but global contact has now become, in a sense, a (political) playing field for transnational corporations.

With the Global Compact, the United Nations has not only become a gateway for corporations, but this leads to a privatization of world politics.

The basic idea of the United Nations has thus been reduced to absurdity. Rapidly advancing globalization has become inseparable from the dominance and influence of private corporations and their lobbying associations on broad policy areas. In cooperation with political decision-makers and advisors, business representatives exert considerable influence on supranational laws and treaties under international law – such as in the World Trade Organization (WTO), but also in the European Union (EU) – which easily enable borderless expansion, relocation of production and circumvention of the standards of their countries of origin.

Due to the increasing influence of corporations, a downward ecological and social spiral has developed, which companies take advantage of and profit from considerably. This development is associated with a creeping de-democratization of national policy-making, and the interests of citizens lag far behind those of globally active business. The World Health Organization has become a supranational organization dominated by economic interests and acting in a non-transparent manner far removed from democratic control.

Incidentally, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also holds shares in Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. How does that fit in with its support of the World Health Organization? If these philanthropists really cared about the health of humanity, they wouldn’t be investing in soft drinks and fast food. Bill Gates is also pushing the cultivation of genetically modified seeds, which is also not necessarily beneficial to health. It seems that he is more interested in directing world politics in his interests than in subordinating himself to the democratic will of the people.

It is to be feared that in the future the entire world will be kept in a permanent pandemic state by the WHO.

Such a permanent pandemic mode is already emerging in Austria and Germany. In Austria, compulsory vaccination against coronavirus was suspended for three months for the time being on March 9, 2022, because it was “not proportionate” in view of the prevailing omicron variant, according to the justification of the constitutional minister. This policy resembles the mill game, in which the opponent prepares a mill into which he only needs to place a stone – and the trap is quickly snapped shut. In this way, citizens are given the impression that compulsory vaccination has been abandoned, but reactivation is possible at any time.

In Germany, the legal basis for the Corona exemption will be lifted on March 20, but by means of a so-called hotspot regulation for the states, “certain basic measures” will continue to apply, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced. “Opening everything, of course, is not provided for.” The regulation allows the states to enforce restrictive measures for hotspots through state parliamentary resolutions, which can cover only a district, a city or even an entire state. This gives the states far-reaching powers, and leaves the federal parliament out of the loop.

With this hotspot regulation, the federal government has already anticipated the WHO agreement: The state of panic and emergency can be reactivated at any time and continued at will.

Surveillance and control will also be enshrined in the planned pandemic WHO agreement

Member states will be required to establish vaccination registries, health databases and the like to adequately address the “public health threat.” All data should be able to be collected and exchanged globally. The “technical framework” that member states need for the digital vaccination certificates is the so-called smart health card. This “smart” health card is to store all health data and medical records in addition to the machine-readable QR codes of the vaccination certificates, thus ensuring comprehensive monitoring of all health-related data and possibly other data as well. (3) This will establish the electronic health card on a global scale.

The contract for this lucrative business in Germany was awarded to the Telekom subsidiary T-Systems, which plays a major role in digital vaccination recording and has already developed the Corona warning app together with SAP to curb Corona infection chains – and at a wickedly high tax-funded cost, for which the then Minister of Health Jens Spahn was responsible. In the end, the German Corona warning app as a local tracing app turned out to be extremely overpriced by European standards at 130 million euros. (4) This is a senseless waste of our tax money without public debate.

What does mandatory vaccination have to do with tax identification numbers?

In order to also record the vaccination status of people who do not use a smartphone, a government database is being knitted together that is needed to implement a general vaccination requirement.

To make this database possible, the idea of using tax identification number data came up. This additional use has already been approved by the Bundestag on January 28, 2021, with the so-called Register Modernization Act. The law anchors the online access of relevant data of the administrative registers through the personal tax identification number. This ensures “that basic data of natural persons are checked for inconsistencies, reliably maintained, updated and made available by a body responsible for this purpose.” For unambiguous assignment in these registers, the tax identification number is to be used as a “uniform, non-speaking identification feature.” “For transparency, a “data cockpit” will be established to provide a simple and timely overview of data transfers made between authorities” (6). With this form of comprehensive data collection and exchange, a perfect totalitarian surveillance and control system is created.

What is frightening is that all these drastic intrusions into our private lives on a national and global level, which have already been almost perfected, are hardly debated in public. The mainstream media meticulously list all the infected numbers as well as the occupancy of intensive care units, hammering into our heads every day the necessity of vaccination without addressing the fact that vaccination does not protect against infection and its side effects are not disclosed and named. On the contrary, those who report side effects are discredited.

The fear generated before the virus by means of continuous sprinkling of the mainstream media has put the majority of people into a state of shock and into a submissive obedience mode, so that even the most absurd measures, such as blocking off children’s playgrounds, banning the use of park benches or going out at night – as if the virus were nocturnal – were accepted and followed without much protest.

Aldous Huxley predicted this in his book Brave New World as follows:

“The perfect dictatorship will have the appearance of a democracy, will seem like a prison without walls, where the prisoners do not even dream of breaking out.”

Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that popular protest against this surveillance and control madness and against compulsory vaccination will grow to prevent these dystopian measures. In this sense, it is very welcome that the police union has recently spoken out against a job-related compulsory vaccination for police officers and employees in public order offices. (6)

In Canada, compulsory occupational vaccination was quietly withdrawn because of the threat of a collapse in hospital care due to a shortage of doctors and nurses.

The scandal of vaccine side effects – cartel of silence

While there is little coverage of vaccine health side effects in the mainstream media, much information about them can be found on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website and in alternative media. With his letter in February 2022 to the Paul Ehrlich Institute and other addressees – GKV-Spitzenverband, Bundesärztekammer, Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung, Ständige Impfkommission, BKK Dachverband – the board member of the Pro Vita company health insurance fund (BKK), Andreas Schöfbeck, has ventured far. In the letter, Schöfbeck points the Paul Ehrlich Institute to data “that give reason to believe that there is a very substantial under-reporting of suspected cases of vaccine side effects following Corona vaccinations.” (7) In response, Andreas Schöfbeck was terminated without notice on March 1. This termination is certainly intended to deter others from disrupting the circles of the unscrupulous silence cartel of the pharmaceutical industry, RKI and other associated organizations by asking critical questions or providing information about vaccination side effects.

Although the Paul Ehrlich Institute and the umbrella organization of the BKK have promised to analyze their data on sickness records and sick notes for vaccination side effects, it is to be feared that the side effects will be swept under the carpet so as not to jeopardize the lucrative vaccination business and the introduction of total digital surveillance.

Author Milosz Matuschek has summed up the current situation very aptly:

“We are now entering the strange stage in which politics and the media are still promoting the supposedly ‘side-effect-free’ vaccinations, while the roller of reappraisal with reports of casualties and deaths is coming ever closer. This is the time when one can basically only wait and wonder how long it will take for the penny to drop with those involved.” (8)
Profits from Corona vaccine greater than drug trafficking

The non-governmental organization Oxfam draws attention to the fact that the three pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna earn about 1,000 US dollars profit every second with their vaccines – that is almost 100 million per day. What is little known, however, is that they have received more than eight billion U.S. dollars in public funding for mRNA research and the construction of production facilities. That’s taxpayer money. Strictly speaking, the research results thus obtained belong in government hands, because the research was funded by the citizens. (9)

Health is not a commodity

In view of these huge profit margins, it is understandable that this miraculously bubbling source of money for corporations should not be allowed to dry up and should continue to flow indefinitely. In order to build up sustainable health systems with a preventive health care system that focuses on people instead of pharma-centric apparatus medicine, such exorbitant profits would have to be skimmed off through taxes and used to provide services for the general public, such as hospitals. Equipped with such financial means, critical scientists and physicians, who have pointed out numerous problematic aspects of the fight against the coronavirus in the last two years, could carry out appropriate studies. It is scandalous that corresponding efforts have been obstructed and also prevented. It is equally scandalous that many of these courageous scientists and doctors have been defamed and muzzled in an unbelievable way, and have even lost their professional livelihood.

It was a mistake to put research in the hands of industry. It is imperative that sufficient funding be made available for necessary interdisciplinary research. Under no circumstances should this money be raised through third-party funding, which might then come generously from the pharmaceutical industry.

This would be a fool’s errand, and independent research would be reduced to absurdity.

Resistance is a democratic duty

Even if critics of the repressive Corona measures were very quickly put in the political right corner and defamed as conspiracy theorists, anti-Semites, covidiots and the like, this did not suppress criticism and resistance against these measures and especially against compulsory vaccination. In 70 pages, a group of 81 scientists has elaborated a thesis stating that compulsory corona vaccination is unconstitutional. The letter’s authors conclude, “Mandatory vaccination is neither appropriate, necessary, nor reasonable to effectively reduce serious illness and prevent significant health care overuse, and not reasonable because of high risk potential.”

In addition, they emphasize, “The reported side effects compared to other vaccines are enormous.” Their conclusion: “Mandatory vaccination is not necessary, not appropriate, and therefore unconstitutional.” (10) Hopefully, Members of Parliament will take the time to consider the numerous scientific references to the many problems associated with mandatory vaccination and reject it in the Bundestag.

Even though the war in Ukraine is currently the focus of media attention, the controversies surrounding the Corona measures and the surveillance mechanisms associated with mandatory vaccination must not be sidelined in the public’s attention.

On the contrary, resistance to them must grow if we still want to save the remnant of democracy. This requires networking among the various groups and organizations, including at the European and global levels. And above all, citizens must exercise their democratic rights. Every single EU citizen can easily make a contribution to this. The European Commission itself is even calling on EU citizens to voice their opinion on the planned extension of the COVID certificate. Concerns and objections are to be expressed in a free field. Simply explained here.

EU Regulation 2021/953, which regulates “the issuance, verification and recognition of interoperable certificates attesting to COVID-19 vaccination and testing and recovery from COVID-19 infection,” is planned to be extended for another year. EU citizens are now invited to comment on this plan. Participation in this consultation is the officially provided official channel for objections or criticism of a project of the EU Commission.

Please use this democratic right of influence. This is still possible until April 8, 2022. The democratic instrument of citizen consultation can only be an effective means for a European identity and the legitimacy of European policy if it is publicized and used.

Only if the EU Commission takes citizens’ concerns seriously and takes their objections into account in EU legislation can they slowly develop trust in the European institutions.

Although we live in a democracy, more and more central political issues are being negotiated behind closed doors and subsequently incorporated into national legislation. Technocratic civil servants, under the strong influence of lobbyists, continue to draft treaties, shielded from the public and without any public discussion. It is therefore all the more important that EU citizens exert more influence on Brussels politics and make use of the few democratic opportunities that are available to them.

This is particularly important because political decision-makers in this country like to wash their hands of controversial decisions and point to Brussels when unpopular measures are pending. EU citizens are often confronted with political decisions that have been taken against the majority opinion of the population. In this case, EU citizens are even explicitly asked to express their opinion on the project. In view of the enormous democratic deficits in the EU construct, this call is an advantageous opportunity to democratically argue against and reject the planned extension of the EU’s digital COVID certificate.

Please take a few minutes to participate in this important democratic opinion poll.

Another way to exert democratic influence would be to write a letter directly to your member(s) of the Bundestag, as demonstrated by the former LKA President of Thuringia, Uwe G. Kranz.

Sources and Notes:

(1) https://www.consilium.europa.eu/de/policies/coronavirus/pandemic-treaty/
(2) https://report24.news/wissenschaftsinitiative-warnt-vor-pandemievertrag-who-hebelt-verfassung-der-laender-aus/
(3) https://technoguru.istocks.club/smart-health-card-vs-digital-vaccination-passport-was-ist-der-grosse-unterschied/2021-02-14/
(4) https://ansage.org/sieh-an-who-und-telekom-tochter-basteln-an-globalem-impfregister/
(5) https://www.bundestag.de/dokumente/textarchiv/2021/kw04-de-registermodernisierung-818730, https://dserver.bundestag.de/btd/19/242/1924226.pdf
(6) https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/mensch-metropole/gewerkschaft-der-polizei-will-keine-impfpflicht-mehr-fuer-ihre-mitarbeiter-li.214389
(7) https://bkk-provita.de/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Paul-Ehrlich-Institut-Presseinformation-Impfnebenwirkungen-nach-Corona-Impfung.pdf
(8) https://www.freischwebende-intelligenz.org/p/verschwoerungderdummen?s=r
(9) https://www.oxfam.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/2021-11-16-profit-weltgesundheit-1000-dollar-gewinn-pro-sekunde-pfizer
(10) https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/news/wissenschaftler-darum-ist-die-impfpflicht-verfassungswidrig-li.216116
https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/upload/pdf/220311-Wissenschaftlergruppe_Impfpflicht-ist-verfassungswidrig.pdf

Christine Wicht is a business economist and lives as a freelance author in Munich.

Read more
The simulated morality

Hypocrisy, double standards and mendacity make the self-proclaimed values West more and more ridiculous and untrustworthy.
15.03.2022 by Mathias Tretschog
The genetic scissors in the head

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The disposable citizen
The vaccination campaign suggested that the state should be allowed to control the bodies of its citizens – paving the way for the reinstatement of military service.
by Nicolas Riedl
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/der-verfugbare-burger.]

The “shot” is to become mandatory. Perhaps even in a double sense. On the one hand, this refers to the gene injection known as “vaccination”, which is supposed to protect against a Covid 19 disease, and on the other hand, it refers to what comes out of a gun. The service of the same is now being discussed animatedly in the leading media debate room. Putin’s attack on Ukraine, which violated international law, caused the topic of reinstating compulsory military service to boil up. The media are already working to make conscription acceptable again. The two years of the new normal have paved the way for this. The penetrating vaccination campaign created a new perception that it was self-evident that the state should be allowed to access one’s own body. In view of the ever worsening war situation, which makes a case of defense for Germany more and more likely, “man” cannot avoid dealing with this issue. But we are not powerless. Since 2011, not only has conscription disappeared from the general consciousness, but so have the options for refusing it. However, these still exist.

Germans want a return to conscription! At least, this impression is conveyed by the mass media. For this one avails oneself again of one of the most tried and tested, since still functioning methods of the opinion making: a survey. According to it 47 per cent favor a re-establishment of the military service obligation and only 34 per cent would reject this.

This is the result of the AfD-affiliated Insa opinion research institute. In the above-linked Zeit article, however, it is deliberately concealed how these figures were collected and how many and which people were surveyed. And it is also omitted which party the Insa opinion research institute is affiliated with. The AfD has always called for the reinstatement of compulsory military service, as can be read most recently on page 68 of its most recent election program. Is it any wonder that Insa comes to the above conclusion?

Ironically, Zeit 2019 itself still referred to the fact that this “opinion research institute in the post-factual environment” is rather a “dwarf” in the industry comparison of opinion research institutes. Why, then, does one refer to Insa on such a sensitive topic, when this institute is only of limited relevance anyway and then, of all things, is close to the AfD, which is in favor of conscription? These are all purely rhetorical questions, of course, because it is crystal clear that a survey result was delivered to order here.

The intention is to create in the public consciousness what Albrecht Müller in “Believe little; Question everything; Think for yourself” calls the “bandwagon effect” in this survey manipulation context. When the media recipient reads or hears that a supposed majority is for or against something, this evokes a subconscious pressure to conform, so that one assumes that a thing is right or wrong because a majority is for or against it (1). People decide for or against a thing even if it contradicts their intuition, but the environment is in favor of this thing. We know this at the latest since the conformity experiments of Solomon Asch.

So if the claim is now repeated mantra-like in the public debate space that a majority of Germans are in favor of reinstating compulsory military service, it is highly likely that many recipients of the leading media will change their minds and join the majority. After all, one wants to belong.

Your body, my choice

The road to the reintroduction of compulsory military service was not paved by Germany’s reaction to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which violated international law. The previous two years have significantly changed the relationship of citizens to their bodies. If until 2020 the principle of “My body, my choice” still applied, for example in feminist discourses, the German citizen is now denied the right to decide for himself about the last territory of his own, his own body. Presenter Christian Ehring mocked people who insist on their right to self-determination in the compulsorily fee-financed format “Extra 3,” intended as “funny.” With a theatrical voice and swollen chest, he shouted into the camera: “My body, my body, my body…. is more important than the general public”. Ergo his message: Whoever exercises his right of self-determination over his own body is an egoist who doesn’t give a damn about the common good. The fact that this assertion – contrary to Ehring’s proclamation – is not based on any scientific evidence whatsoever – let’s forget it!

The state of bodily self-determination in this country was also made clear by the quick-witted SPD member of the Bundestag Helge Lindh when he announced that “individual bodily integrity is a vulgar idea of freedom”. May future violent criminals now refer to this statement?

In short: the state, the coldest of all monsters according to Nietzsche, demands the bodies, the incorporated citizens.

Biopolitics, the form of rule in which the life, the body of the individual becomes the focus of the state’s power calculation, is becoming increasingly visible (2). With Michel Foucault, we manage to build an analytical bridge between compulsory “vaccination” and compulsory military service when he writes in “Surveillance and Punishment”:

“In the second half of the eighteenth century, the soldier has become something that is fabricated. From a shapeless dough, from an unfit body, one makes the machine of which one has need; step by step one has trimmed the posture until a calculated compulsion pervades and masters every part of the body, holds the entire body together and makes it available, and secretly asserts itself even into the automaticity of habits. (…) In the course of the classical age, a discovery of the body as object and target of power took place. The signs of that great attention paid to the body at that time are easy to find. The attention was paid to the body, which was manipulated, formed and trained, which obeyed, responded, became agile and whose powers increased.

(…)

Thus, a politics of constraints is formed that work on the body, calculating and manipulating its elements, its gestures, its behaviors. The human body enters into a machinery of power that penetrates, dissects, and reassembles it. A ‘political anatomy’ that is also a ‘mechanics of power’ is emerging. It defines how to take control of the bodies of others, not only to make them do what you ask, but to make them work the way you want: with techniques, with speed, with effectiveness that you determine. In this way, discipline produces subdued and trained bodies, docile and docile bodies. The discipline increases the forces of the body (…) and weakens the same forces (to make them politically docile). In a word, it divides the power of the body, it makes of it, on the one hand, a ‘capacity,’ a ‘fitness,’ which it seeks to increase; and, on the other hand, it poles the energy, the power, which could result from it, into a relation of strict submission” (3).

It becomes clear here how the biopolitical subdivisions of conscription and “vaccination” duty are mutually intertwined. Bodies are to be made usable, both for service at arms and for the intentions behind the “vaccination” duty, which are still hidden. In both subjects, the state seeks to shape the bodies of individuals in its favor. Let’s just think of the equalization, the standardization of physical gestures and textures in both fields: The soldier’s hair is shorn short, he must meticulously rehearse steps, hand movements and gestures, so that, for example, during the parade march the individual people resemble each other one to one and merge into a mass, a block of people.

The “old” form of biopolitics – state access to the body for military purposes – has lain dormant like a silent volcano since the suspension of compulsory basic military service from 2011 to 2020. In this fast-moving decade, it was rapidly forgotten how the state accessed the bodies of its citizens in the period before 2011. One aspect in particular stands out: In its five decades of compulsory military service, muster was an integral part. It applied to everyone, whether one refused military service or not. Every German man was obliged to go to muster and have his body and mind checked for fitness for military service.

It was during this process that the state’s grip on the body became most tangibly visible. Whether they wanted to or not, men had to show their bodies to the state in the form of the medical examiner at the district military replacement office, to be exposed, humiliated and evaluated.

This was not only a blatant violation of individual freedom – the freedom not to have to do what one does not want to, according to Rousseau – but also a form of dehumanization. Young men were no longer seen as whole human beings, but were divided into various classes of fitness, reduced to their bodies, and collectively viewed as disposable mass that could be burned in battle.

Now, while biopolitics receded into the background in the 2010s, the greedy claw of statism re-emerged with the Corona regime. In a hitherto unprecedented way, the new normal to this day involves changing bodies so that “a calculated compulsion permeates every part of the body.” Thus, already at the beginning of the new normality, the state intervened in the physicality of the citizens. It decreed where bodies were – not – to be, what distance they had to keep from others, new greetings emerged, faces had to be masked, and arrows and distance-commanding markings on the ground regulated walking as if people were cars (4).

Over time, a physical automatism set in, so that certain gestures and movements became second nature. When entering indoor spaces, the reach automatically goes to the mask, hands are disinfected as quickly as possible, and so on. And this becomes even clearer in the case of “vaccination”, which must correctly be called a gene injection, since it manipulates gene expression (5). In this case, the state is not just accessing bodies, but intervening in them, wanting to change them from the inside out.

If people have been conditioned over the past two years to accept that the state is allowed to reach inside their bodies as a matter of course, it is not far off that young citizens will accept it as just as a matter of course that the state accesses their bodies in the context of compulsory military service.

Conscription in 2022

The military, the Bundeswehr has been so distant since 2011 and somehow distant and close at the same time since 2015. While in the former period camouflage almost completely disappeared from the public space – analog as well as digital – sprouted in the media landscape as well as in the public space from the mid-2010s the now countless Bundeswehr campaigns that were supposed to inspire young people to serve in the armed forces again. The youth editorial team reported on this here and also here. Since 2020, soldiers have been able to use the train free of charge, which means that the passenger cabins, in view of the numerous uniformed personnel on trains, give other passengers the impression that they have landed in a military convoy. In both analog and digital terms, the military is penetrating the public’s consciousness ever more obtrusively.

A reinstatement of compulsory military service – as Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called for back in the summer of 2019 – has taken up a frightening amount of space in the public debate space in the wake of Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine. Equally frightening in the debate narrative are the parallels to the discussion about mandatory “vaccination.” At the beginning, in April 2020, this issue was fed into the public discourse space. However, the tenor at the outset was that it was not coming. Even those who most vehemently defend the duty today categorically ruled it out. The tenor in the debate is the same, both in the leading media and on Twitter, for example. Most commentators are opposed to this duty, only a few hardliners are happy about it.

In the debate about compulsory “vaccination,” we saw how quickly a 180-degree turn can occur. As an argument for the turnaround, the argument is then put forward that the circumstances had changed and that back then, when the opposite viewpoint was still held, one would have had to deal with a different starting position. But now that the parameters have changed, the old position must be thrown overboard. These changed parameters are then in the “pandemic” new virus mutations. And in the case of the Ukraine war, one could then argue that Russia would now behave in such a different way that a reinstatement of conscription would become without alternative.

The first 20 articles of the Basic Law, which the democracy movement has defended against erosion over the past two years, contain – unfortunately – the basis for reinstating conscription. We take from Article 12a:

“(1) Men may be required to serve in the armed forces, in the Federal Border Guard or in a civil defense unit from the age of eighteen.
(2) Those who, for reasons of conscience, refuse military service with weapons (see also Article 4, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law, note Nicolas Riedl) may be required to perform alternative service. The duration of the alternative service may not exceed the duration of military service. The details shall be regulated by a law which must not interfere with the freedom of conscience and must also provide for a possibility of alternative service unrelated to the units of the armed forces and the Federal Border Guard.”

According to Paragraph 2 of the German Conscription Act, it applies in cases of tension as well as in cases of defense. With ongoing arms deliveries from Germany to Ukraine and other acts of provocation in Eastern Europe, it is not far before Moscow sees these actions as less indirect than direct declarations of war. If even one of the – Eastern European – NATO allies were attacked, this would result in the alliance’s fall, which means nothing other than that the remaining NATO partners would have to rush to the attacked member’s “aid.” Germany, as a model NATO member, would then very quickly find itself in either a case of tension or a case of defense. In view of this parliament, there is no need to hope for the failure to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority that would be required in the Bundestag to declare these cases. In short, one has to deal with the case of ‘man’ being called up for military service.

I do not give my body!

Thankfully, as already indicated, Article 4, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law stipulates that no one may be forced to serve in the armed forces against his conscience. This incompatibility with one’s own conscience can self-explanatory not simply be certified by implied behavior, for example by the fact that one regularly goes to peace demonstrations or still has his old ticket from the Pax Terra Musica peace festival. No, this requires a detailed application for conscientious objection, i.e. at least four pages long. In this application, the person who refuses must explain in detail and credibly why it is incompatible with his conscience to go to war and to end up in situations in which it is unavoidable to shoot at other people with weapons.

It is of course questionable to what extent the dramatic softening of the Basic Law means that Article 4, Paragraph 3 still applies, or whether it has not already recently degenerated into wastepaper. But formally one is not completely powerless. This article deals in detail with applications for conscientious objection.

Hope

Of all things, the mentally and physically deplorable condition of the younger generation can give one hope in this context. Because – to be quite honest – a much larger proportion of young people than in 2011 are probably not fit for service at all. Shortened attention spans and poor concentration due to TikTok consumption, unhealthy diets, and the hype surrounding designer drugs – which are being consumed at an ever earlier age – have probably done the rest, so that a large proportion are no longer capable of serving at all. In addition it comes that straight under the woken students the armed forces stand very badly in the course. The problems of the Bundeswehr with right-wing extremism are criticized, as are the patriarchal structures in the federal government. The equal opportunity campaigns of the career centers can’t do much about that.

Moreover, for all the climate activists, military service should theoretically be a no-go. After all, shooting, bombing and driving tanks is not very CO2-neutral and the military is known to be the biggest “polluter” of all time. It’s just that, unfortunately, double standards and cognitive dissonance are constant companions of climate youth.

Nonetheless, the state of the current generation provides a certain buffer that stands in the way of a timely general mobilization. Of course, through clever marketing – as the Bundeswehr has already been doing for almost 10 years – new cult norms and new narratives, the generation can in the long run be turned around in such a way that being a soldier seems desirable to them. It is precisely from the emerging vacuum of meaning in the lockdown period, which many feel, that a new urge for meaningfulness, a purpose, a mission that gives meaning to life could emerge.

Will the democracy and peace movement perhaps be able to fill this vacuum with meaning? A meaning that no longer feeds the necrophile but the biophile?

Sources and Notes:

(1) Müller, Albrecht: “Believe little; Question everything; Think for yourself,” Frankfurt am Main, 2019, page 46.
(2) Agamben, Giorgio: “Homo sacer – Die souveräne Macht und das nackte Leben,” Frankfurt am Main, 2019, Suhrkamp, page 127.
Lemke, Thomas: “An Analytics of Biopolitics. Reflections on the History and Present of a
Contested Concept,” Behemoth, 2008 A Journal of Civilization, pp. 79-82.
(3) See Foucault, Michel: “Surveillance and Punishment,” Frankfurt am Main, 2021, pp. 173-177.
(4) Klein, Gabriele; Liebsch, Katharina: “Herds and Control: Bodies in Corona Times,” in Keitel, Christian; Volkmer, Michael; Werner, Karin: “The Corona Society: Analyses of the Situation and Perspectives for the Future,” Bielefeld, 2020, pp. 57 ff.
Alkenmeyer, Thomas; Bröskamp, Bernd: “Body – Corona – Constellation; The world as a (body-)sociological real laboratory”, in the same page 70 ff.
(5) https://www.mdpi.com/1467-3045/44/3/73
Arvay, Clemens G.: “Corona vaccines: salvation or risk? Mode of action, protection and

Nicolas Riedl, born in 1993, is a student of political science, theater and media studies in Erlangen. He got to know almost every type of school in the German education system from the inside and also the interpersonal coldness of the working world during a commercial apprenticeship. The media and Ukraine crisis in 2014 was a caesura for his world view and perception. Since then, he has been dealing in depth and self-critically with political, socio-economic, ecological as well as psychological topics and found his way back to his passion of writing through the Rubicon. As far as his technical skills allow, he produces films and music videos. He is a member of the Rubicon Youth Editorial Board and writes for the Young Feathers column.
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In the penal colony
In its manifestations, as absurd as they are oppressive, the Corona Crisis recalls the literary world of Franz Kafka.
by Ralph Zedler
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/in-der-strafkolonie.]

Without having done anything evil, one morning we were disenfranchised, forcibly masked, locked in our homes. The attitude towards life of the one who is harassed for no reason, who runs desperately and in vain against an overpowering apparatus of authorities, whose world is transformed overnight into something dark and grotesque – we know it from the work of a great writer: Franz Kafka. “Do not spend time looking for an obstacle. Perhaps there is none,” Franz Kafka noted in his diary on September 16, 1920. The author dedicates his essay to this Kafkaesque tension between hopelessness and hope, resignation and ways out of the crisis by means of many pithy quotes from Kafka and thus attempts to draw a mood picture of the last two years.

Do you know this as well? Do you also regularly ask yourself the question: Where is the door? Where is the exit? Do you also feel this scenario, in which we have all been held captive for more than two years now, like a prison from which you are desperately trying to break out?

“The lie is made the world order” (1).

For two years we have all been vegetating in a rotten building of lies that has been elevated to the center of the world. And in the cellar of this building of lies there is a dungeon. There seems to be no way out of it.

Every now and then the guards come by and wave the key, but they don’t unlock the door. They leave us to our fate in this stinking, rotting dungeon and exhaust themselves in promises: only two hard weeks, only two more hard months, only four more exhausting weeks, only until Christmas, only until Easter, only until May, only until summer, only until the next conference of ministers, only until March 20, 2022.

We have been enduring this cruel stalling tactic for two years now. And there is no real end in sight. Uprooted like Josef K. “The Trial” or Surveyor K. in “The Castle” by Franz Kafka, we lurch from lockdown to lockdown and from relaxation to relaxation and back again.

We shimmy from promise to promise and from hope to hope. And in the end, everything always ends in disappointment. In between, we are given small breaks to relax, euphemistic names like “Lockdown light” or “Freedom Day”, but at the same time the next spectre is painted on the wall so that no real relaxation can take hold of us.

# Oracle and pardon

We are still in the first quarter of the year 2022 and our politicians are already talking about the fact that there will be another tightening in the fall. So they know that already now. There is no need for figures, data and facts, there is no need for dangerous viruses or new mutants. Everything seems to be already decided. The development over summer doesn’t matter at all, because what is to come in autumn and winter is already decided now anyway.

Our life has felt like a penal colony for the past two years, it resembles a prison sentence that has to be served, but no one knows its length. Nobody knows whether there will be a pardon. One does not even know who to turn to in order to apply for the same. There are too few enlightened lawyers, judges are largely in line with the government, the rule of law blindly follows the executive instead of controlling it. And we inmates are virtually helpless in the face of this scenario.

“The shackles of tortured humanity are made of chancery paper” (2).

Our living situation has seemed thoroughly Kafkaesque for the past two years. And this obtuse bureaucracy, together with this state apparatus that has gradually empowered itself, is another frightening component in this bizarre spectacle.

Authorities that indulge in complacent and authoritarian orders and are virtually unavailable to citizens and their concerns and fears have a paralyzing and threatening effect on us.

Almost every politician we approach or write to ducks away. Offices and institutions do not answer letters, or if they do, then only with the usual empty phrases, or they reveal themselves to be masters of delegation by referring to their lack of competence and thus to others. As if walled in, the highly paid civil servants sit in their offices, do their job by the book, refer to paragraphs and regulations, whose sense and nonsense and contradictions they naturally do not question. The authoritarian state shows all its power and shines in its old glory.

Critically inquiring citizens are no longer simply a nuisance, no, they are now considered a danger to internal security and the existing system. The administration not only manages us, but now primarily manages itself. With a few exceptions, mayors are not interested in citizen dialogue.
Kafka once wrote:

“You have to charm if you want to get something substantial” (3).

But even our peaceful and humane charm seems to bounce off these dehumanized bureaucrats.
Authoritarian arbitrariness or obfuscation

The famous first sentence from Kafka’s “Trial” has inevitably come to mind for some time:

“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for without his doing anything wrong, he was arrested one morning.”

While we used to know arbitrary arrests and house searches only from hearsay, and the latter seem quite justified in the case of serious criminals such as human traffickers, drug cartels or child porn rings, we are immensely disturbed by the arbitrary actions taken against hitherto blameless citizens over the past two years. Doctors are being searched for allegedly false mask certificates (4). Or judges, who for once have pronounced a verdict in the name of the people and not in the name of the government, have all their files and computers confiscated (5).

International luminaries of medicine are driven into emigration (6), doctors are threatened with losing their license to practice (7) or even their entire existence (8). Is this arbitrary action by the authorities or systematic extermination? That is the question. What is being played here? Is it just about intimidation or is it about destroying the existence of individuals who are critical of the government? Is it to divert attention from one’s own failures or is it to make an example of those declared delinquents? Is this already dictatorship or just a constitutional state that has completely lost its way and is supporting a government line to the death because no one has the courage to publicly admit their error?

“Nothing but an expectation, eternal helplessness” (9).

Our complete life situation creates powerlessness and helplessness in us. As critical and usually sensitive beings, we have been running around for two years startled by attempt after attempt to end this misery or at least to escape from it.

We try everything possible, and we have tried what is legally possible – sometimes countless times: we protest publicly in the streets. We rebel against measures in stores. We write letters to newspapers, politicians and authorities.

We look for allies, we found aid organizations, associations and parties like the grassroots. We open chat groups and closed channels on Telegram. We network. We read books, some literarily gifted among us even write some. We read countless articles every day, listen to songs with critical lyrics, listen to Taylor and Björn Banane. We paste posters and stickers. We hand out flyers to passersby and drop them in mailboxes. We conduct car parades. We talk among ourselves and with each other – and unfortunately sometimes also about each other.

“The fact that I do not shrink from any humiliation can just as well mean hopelessness as give hope “* (10).

We seek to talk to the outside world. Often with complete strangers. Either we meet like-minded people or we come up against a wall of rejection, often even blind hatred. We endure being confronted with prejudices and pre-judgements. The most vicious and slanderous terms are unpacked to discredit us. We have to put up with being called “fascists” and “Nazis”, “aluhutträger” and “Covidiot” still sound harmless, “Schwurbler” is almost funny. We stoically put up with all this because we stand for freedom, which is the highest good for us.

We discuss and argue among ourselves about the best strategy, about the most effective form of protest, of resistance. We organize demonstrations, we are beaten up on them by alleged “friends and helpers”. Our demonstrations are sometimes arbitrarily and coldly banned or at least severely obstructed. The constitutionally guaranteed assembly law is suspended or we are dictated unfulfillable conditions. Everything is done from the highest authority to make the protest as difficult as possible for us.

However, all our actions lead nowhere – with the exception of small successes. Many of us have the feeling that we keep running into a wall – a wall of indifference, ignorance and political complacency. There seems to be no hope.

Franz Kafka once said to Max Brod:

“Hope, infinite hope – only not for us” (11).

Claustrophobically the whole thing comes across, or to say it with Kafka:

*”Don’t despair, not even about the fact that you don’t despair. When everything seems to be over, new forces come, which means that you are alive. If they do not come, then everything is over here, but for good” (12).

Self-empowerment

The only thing that strengthens us from the very beginning is self-encouragement. By telling each other over and over again how many we are by now, how many awakened people there are, and how many see through what is going on, we ground ourselves. Maybe we are just placating ourselves. In any case, this strengthens our community, even if doubts come up again and again at regular intervals. According to surveys, 4 percent of us have already been on demonstrations, 11 other percent can imagine it, and 7 percent are at least thinking about it (13). That gives us hope.

We are waiting for the big wave. A wave that washes people into the streets and the detritus of corruption, lobbying and now open discrimination into the orcus of oblivion.

“Hiding places are innumerable, rescue only one, but possibilities of rescue again as many as hiding places” (14).

Where is the door out of this nightmare? Where is the exit? Where is the exit to freedom?

Is it the masks? No, because these seem to remain with us as a symbol of submission and of being formally a slave at all costs.

Is it the distance? The distance has become literal. The division of society is the consequence of this distance imposed on us. Those who keep their distance separate themselves, and at some point they lose their connection. The consequence is a split-off existence.

Are the gene experimental injections, falsely called vaccination, the way out of this prison? Definitely not. Because the incidences are, although 70 percent of the population is now injected, all the while ten, twelve and several times as high as when there were no vaccines at all. Although former Chancellor Angela Merkel said right at the beginning that the pandemic would only be over when everyone in the world had been vaccinated, it is now clear to all alert minds that this is not the case and never will be.

Will the sum of all these measures lead us out of the dungeon? No, we are not dealing with Gestalt therapy, where the final product is more than the sum of its parts. The addition of unsuitable measures does not lead to success, even in sum.

“Evil cannot be paid for in installments – and tried ceaselessly” (15).

Is it obedience? Apparently not. Because an estimated 80 percent of Germans, sometimes in anticipatory obedience, submit to all kinds of bullshit measures and still don’t get their freedom back. They play along with the perfidious game, the perfidiousness of which many even see through and still go along with it. They still naively believe in what they learned in school: that obedience is rewarded. But in this horror scenario, even obedience is not rewarded; it is only pushed and pushed from above until it has mutated into a re-education program. Obedience – applied long enough – becomes drill.

Is the way out to emigrate? Some people will already have flirted with the idea, and some will already have taken this step. But given that this crisis is a global one and affects at least all the states where there is a certain standard of living and prosperity, it is difficult to find a suitable place where this diabolical agenda will not be executed. After all, we don’t just want to change prisons – to be transferred, so to speak – but we want our unconditional freedom back!

“In a world of lies, the lie is not even eradicated by its opposite, but by a world of truth” (16).

Does the way out lie in enlightenment, in a relentless, large-scale truth movement? No, this train also seems to have sailed. One of the main strategies of propaganda – repeating the lie until it becomes the truth – has been used so successfully that there seems to be no way out. Although we all live in prison, only a few seem to perceive and suffer from their bondage. The majority, on the other hand, seem to have come to terms with their lack of freedom, willingly wearing the slave mask, stockpiling test kits at home and reflexively avoiding oncoming passers-by even on the open road in order to keep a safe distance.

Escaping into the private sphere is more in vogue than ever. Sofa, television, beer and chips replace pubs, cinemas, clubs and socializing. People hole up at home and sink into indifference and lethargy in front of the sprinkling TV.

“There is a goal, but no way; what we call way is hesitation” (17).

Accordingly, the exit can only lie in disobedience, in civil disobedience and in protest, which we must take to the streets peacefully but loudly and decisively. Otherwise it will never end, otherwise we will remain in the basement of this building of lies for the rest of our lives. If we behave very well from the perspective of the authorities and continue to play along, we may eventually be let out into the courtyard for a free walk and or get to see the first floor of the building of lies by the hour, but we will never find the exit. This is the path we should take, and as soon as possible, because: *”The longer you hesitate in front of the door, the stranger you become” *(18).

Besides, new abominations are already planned against us in the background. Again and again something of it seeps through to us: If compulsory vaccination does not come now, it will come in the fall. If it doesn’t come during this pandemic, which on top of that was never a pandemic, it will come during the next one. But when will the next pandemic come? Is it perhaps already in preparation? Bill Gates seems to know. Will the next virus be many times more deadly than the current one? Will the burden sharing planned for 2024 lead to large-scale expropriation? Will people be systematically impoverished by horrendous energy prices? Wild speculations are opened door and gate – only not our freedom!

But as Franz Kafka said: “From the true opponent drives boundless courage into you” (19).

Sources and notes:

(1) Franz Kafka: The Trial, novel, Verlag Die Schmiede, Berlin 1925, 9th chapter, page 388.
(2) Gustav Janouch: Gespräche mit Kafka, Frankfurt am Main 1951, page 71.
(3) Letter to Oskar Pollak, January 27, 1904, in: Franz Kafka: Briefe 1902-1924. S. Fischer Verlag. Licensed edition for Europe by Schocken Books New York 1958, page 27.
(4) https://www.welt.de/regionales/hamburg/article226469595/Razzia-bei-Hamburger-Aerzten-Atteste-fuer-Maskenverweigerer-ausgestellt.html
(5) https://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/thueringen/mitte-thueringen/weimar/amtsrichter-maskenpflicht-durchsuchung-polizei-102.html
(6) https://querdenken-761.de/der-wissenschaftler-prof-stefan-hockertz-hat-deutschland-verlassen/
(7) https://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/deutschland/gesellschaft/corona-leugnen-arzt-sachsen-thueringen-konsequenzen-100.html
(8) https://www.tagesschau.de/investigativ/anklage-atteste-maske-101.html
(9) Franz Kafka. Diary entry of March 15, 1914.
(10) https://www.zitate.eu/autor/franz-kafka-zitate/76447
(11) http://www.lexikus.de/bibliothek/Juden-in-der-deutschen-Literatur/Der-Dichter-Franz-Kafka-von-Max-Brod
(12) Franz Kafka: diary entry of July 21, 1913.
(13) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1240714/umfrage/demonstrationsbereitschaft-gegen-corona-schutzmassnahmen-in-deutschland/
(14) Franz Kafka, Reflections on Sin, Suffering, Hope and the True Path. In: Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer, edited by Max Brod, Hans Joachim Schoeps, Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag, Berlin 1931, page 229.
(15) Kafka, Oktavhefte. Drittes Heft, 1916.
(16) Kafka, Oktavhefte. Fourth issue, 1916
(17) Franz Kafka, Reflections on Sin, Suffering, Hope and the True Path. In: Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer, edited by Max Brod, Hans Joachim Schoeps, Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag, Berlin 1931, page 229.
(18) Franz Kafka: Heimkehr (1920), published posthumously in 1936.

Ralph Zedler, born in 1970, studied musicology, pedagogy and general linguistics at the University of Cologne after graduating from high school. As a pianist, he studied song interpretation at the Cologne University of Music. At the same time, he worked as a music critic for the Trierischer Volksfreund newspaper. From 1999 to 2011 he was employed as a repetiteur at the Mecklenburg State Theater in Schwerin. In 2013 his monograph on the American soprano Arleen Auger was published by Dohr-Verlag and in the following years three CDs with opera fantasies for the label MDG. Today he is engaged at the Volkstheater Rostock.

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The Breath of Words
A writer roots himself in the spiritual and draws from it the strength to withstand even the storms of everyday material life.
by Peter Fahr
[This article published on 3/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Der Atem der Worte.]

What does it mean to write? What does the real have to do with the imaginary? What are visions? What is a beautiful sentence? Does writing have to have meaning? What does writing demand of the writer? – The poet and writer Peter Fahr answers with aphoristic conciseness.

In the beginning was the word … Thinking, speaking, writing develop from the word. Without word no play – without play no spirit. Wordplay is everything thought, spoken, written.

The word is anchor and foundation, lighthouse and signpost. The word is old and makes everything new. The word conjures up nothingness and wants everything. The word is everything.

When you begin to speak, the Word is in the future. When you end it, it slips into the past. Is language ever present?

Language is always translation and interpretation, a makeshift compromise between speaker and listener, writer and reader.

Language is spiritual home, it gives identity and dignity to the speakers. Its effect on listeners can be uplifting or destructive. Language triggers something, is decisive, decisive. It can be vital or lethal. That is why it depends on love and poetry. Language without love and poetry is not reasonable.

Rimbaud says, “I is another.” – I reply, “I is the other.”

The beast is not tamed by morality, but by beauty.

Reality is not enough

Writers are people who cannot forget, who must not forget. They are filled with an immense, nameless nostalgia. Curiously, they look at the world as if through the glass of a shop window. In the appearance of the existing, their gaze encounters the past. They raise their hands to wipe their eyes, irritated by the dazzling simultaneity of the different states of being.

Everything is mysterious and incomprehensible to them. But suddenly they are seized by the desire for clear words and complete sentences. With the serious expression of precocious children they play the game that every art should be. In writing they banish the tragedy of the real, in writing they conjure up the sublimity of the possible.

By coming face to face with reality as a human being, I realize as an artist that art is not reality. Art is a design of life, not life itself. Art is creation, invented reality, the prudent act of despair of the dissatisfied.

He who denies the unreal and approves only of the possible is truly impossible.

Writing, I connect the real with the imaginary – I build bridges in the air.

My aerial roots in the spiritual provide me with the necessary strength to weather the storms of life. Without this source of almost inexhaustible energy, I would not be able to withstand the energy-sapping shaking and tugging of the winds. The spiritual guarantees my survival.

The German impostor and gusher Karl May wrote the most poignant adventure novels about the North American Indians without having been to America even once. It is the poet’s prerogative to be an impostor.

Why does writing have to have meaning? When I breathe, do I ask myself if it makes sense? I breathe, so I write.

Memory and vision

Your character is the quarry of your art. Trust your character, your essence. Believe in your intuition, even if the existing refutes it. Go your way, even if doubts confuse you. Be confident, even if many things speak against it. Cheerful perseverance lets you realize your visions.

The gaze sees the reality and shows the present, the vision sees the possibility and shows the future. The look exposes the seeing, the vision the seen. The gaze is necessary, the vision turning distress.

Memory is the heartbeat, vision the breath of every narrative.

What is experienced for the first time is new, exciting, mysterious, necessary. Only repetition makes memory possible. Only when I carry lived life in my consciousness do I gain the necessary distance from reality, the necessary relativization of myself, without which there can be no literature.

The written examination of the day, of the hour, of the moment facilitates my passage through time. The path of the spiritual man is full of obstacles and so I lean on this confrontation with the world as on a stick. While walking, I meet other people who cross my path or travel a distance with me, I get to know them and consider our fate. I observe – the others and myself -, consider and draw conclusions that are already discarded a few steps further on. By writing, I realize anew every day what contemporaneity means: to face the questions that life has in store for me.

By processing the impulses he receives from the outside world in writing, the writer curtails his interpersonal understanding. He internalizes the impressions and neutralizes them instead of responding to them with immediate expression. He does not answer, he names. Naming means demystifying, de-romanticizing, disenchanting. People, things and conditions that are named lose their mystery. The loving person, on the other hand, is content to surrender to the inexplicable. His simple insight is: Whoever names love destroys it.

J. D. Salinger demanded that there must be fire between words. I see it differently. Between the words there must be devotion, between the words there must be heart blood.

Follow the track

Leisure is the mother, frivolity the father of inspiration.

Observation, inspiration and transpiration enable creation.

A creative spirit is always on the way, it is not sedentary. Having reached a set goal, it pushes on to the next one. The pulse of his creative power is the restlessness, the dissatisfaction, the insufficiency.

Such a spirit exposes itself again and again to the unknown and threatening in order to discover new territory mentally. He experiences the loneliness of his search like a purification. A creative spirit never gives up because it cannot give up.

The writer does not invent the story, he discovers it. He follows its trail – and if he is artist enough, humble and devoted enough, then he manages to immerse himself in it and to recognize its laws, to understand and record its development and resolution.

I do not start from something, but I am led to something. I do not refer to substances, they take possession of me. The writer is his own reader: writing is reading.

I write. I am written.

The aspiration to write, as Edith Piaf sang – without pose, truthful, clear and strong, in expression simple and sincere, in content profound and poignant in effect.

What Brecht and others were still allowed to aspire to is today consigned to ridicule. The claim to influence the course of the world by means of books is laughed at. Dead ends are opening up everywhere, including in literature. And how do we get out of the literary cul-de-sac? This question haunts the minds of writers. Those who can answer it for themselves continue to write.

Spirit and humanity

Writers make an important contribution to the social success of the human experiment. Their works crystallize not only knowledge, but also the sentiments and wisdom of generations. Literature defies transience. It contains an essential part of the wealth of cultural experience that society needs in order to face the challenges of the present and to create perspectives for the future.

As a writer, I tell myself: He who has no knife cannot cut bread. Nevertheless, I am not ready to make a murderer’s pit out of my heart. Since I want to understand, I cannot avoid making judgments. To judge means: to recognize and to separate. To love means: to recognize and to connect. To understand means: to judge and to love.

The revolution of the writer is his rebellion.

What is a good writer? Pepper in the eyes of the dormouse.

From former French President Mitterrand comes the saying, “The word is humble.” A tragic saying because it comes from a powerful man. I carry the burden of modesty on my shoulders like the weight of irresponsibility. Only do not remain silent, I implore myself. It is not enough to know the truth, one must speak it. The silence of the lambs is a lie. The word is there to be heard.

Hemingway’s demand for the true sentence – I try to fulfill it. The true sentence is the beautiful sentence.

A necessary literary response to the suicidal society with its drastic environmental destruction is a simple, clear language. The commitment to an archaic language is a commitment to spirit and humanity.

The highest culture of the mind is worth nothing without a culture of the heart.

Peter Fahr’s latest publication is the essay collection “Der Atem der Worte”, Edition Königstuhl – with many essays also known from “Rubikon” as well as this one, among others.

Peter Fahr, born in 1958, studied German and art history. After his first book publications and highly acclaimed poster campaigns with aphorisms, he wrote radio plays. He then published books with essays critical of the times and political poetry. A collection of love poems was followed by children’s picture books, a short story, the autobiography “Alles ist nicht alles” and the collected poems “Selten nur”. Peter Fahr’s literary work has won several awards. For more information, visit www.peterfahr.ch.

The pogrom mood

In the moral campaign against Russia, the marginalization started by Corona reaches a new climax.
15.03.2022 by Felix Feistel
Maintaining the landscape

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Biden and Putin play with fire by Gilbert Achcar and Jan van Aken, March 2022

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/03/24/18848770.php
Biden and Putin play with fire
by Gilbert Achcar and Jan van Aken

Biden and Putin play with fire
The risk of an escalation of the Ukraine conflict is real
by Gilbert Achcar*
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.sozonline.de/2022/03/biden-und-putin-spielen-mit-dem-feuer/.]

It is no exaggeration to say that what is currently unfolding in Europe represents the most dangerous moment in recent history. The Ukraine conflict is taking us as close to a Third World War as only the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 last did.

Neither Moscow nor Washington has yet hinted at using nuclear weapons – but there is no doubt that they are keeping their nuclear arsenals on standby. Also, U.S. military alert levels have not yet reached those of 1962.

But Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine exceeds the scale of troop concentrations on a European border even in the hottest moments of the Cold War. And the West’s verbal escalation toward Russia has also reached a dangerous level – accompanied by military gestures and preparations that increase the risk of a conflagration.

The rulers of the two great powers are playing with fire. In Vladimir Putin’s eyes, it may just be a matter of positioning his troops like queens and rooks on a chessboard to force the opponent to retreat his pieces.

Joe Biden, for his part, may believe that this crisis provides an opportunity to burnish his image at home and abroad, which has been badly tarnished since the embarrassing failure to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Boris Johnson may think that his government’s pretentious grandstanding is a distraction from his domestic problems. The fact remains, however, that in such a tense situation, and especially to the beat of the war drums, events can quickly develop a momentum of their own that is beyond the control of the individual actors and threatens to set off an explosion that none of the participants originally intended.

The current tensions between Russia and the West have reached a level that the European continent has probably not seen since the end of World War II. The first episodes of war in Europe since then – the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s – never reached today’s levels of sustained tension and alarm between the great powers themselves.

If war breaks out as a result of current tensions, even if it initially rages only on Ukrainian soil, the country’s central location and sheer size mean that there is a danger that the fire will spread to other countries bordering Russia in Eastern Europe, as well as to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

What we are witnessing today stems from developments for which the world’s most powerful state is primarily responsible: the United States. Ever since the Soviet Union disintegrated under Mikhail Gorbachev, and even more so under the first president of post-Soviet Russia, Boris Yeltsin, Washington has behaved like a merciless victor, intent on preventing its defeated adversary from ever getting back on its feet.

This looked, for example, like expanding the U.S.-dominated NATO to include countries that had previously belonged to the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact, rather than dissolving the Western alliance in parallel with its Eastern counterpart. Moreover, the West dictated “shock therapy” to Russia’s bureaucratic economy, triggering a massive socioeconomic crisis and eventual collapse.

New Cold War

These conditions led quite naturally to the outcome that one of Gorbachev’s most prominent advisors, a former member of the CPSU CC, Georgi Arbatov, had warned about thirty years ago: he predicted that Western policies toward Russia would lead to a “new Cold War” and the rise of an authoritarian power in Moscow that would revive Russia’s old imperial tradition.

This has indeed occurred with Putin’s presidency. He represents the two main blocs of the capitalist economy in Russia (in which state capitalism and private interests are mixed): the military-industrial complex – which employs one-fifth of Russia’s industrial workforce in addition to members of the military – and the oil and gas sector.

The result is that Russia has pursued a policy of military expansion since Putin took office. That in itself represents a historic shift: after 1945, the Soviet Union did not deploy combat troops outside the territory that fell under its control in World War II until it invaded Afghanistan in late 1979, precipitating its own demise.

Thanks to the rise in fuel prices since the turn of the century, Putin’s Russia has regained its economic vitality. Since then, it has intervened militarily outside its borders with a frequency reminiscent of the United States before its defeat in Vietnam or in the period between the first Iraq War in 1991 and its inglorious withdrawal from that country twenty years later.

Russia’s interventions and invasions are no longer limited to its “near abroad,” those neighboring countries that were dominated by Moscow in the days of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. Thus, post-Soviet Russia has indeed intervened militarily in the Caucasus, particularly in Georgia, Ukraine, and most recently Kazakhstan. But since 2015, it has also been at war in Syria, intervening under a very transparent guise in Libya, and more recently in sub-Saharan Africa.

With Russia’s renewed aggression and the continued arrogance of the U.S., the world is on the brink of a catastrophe that could greatly accelerate our destruction, toward which we are already headed due to environmental degradation.

We can only hope that reason will prevail and the great powers will come to an agreement that addresses Russia’s security concerns and restores the conditions for a new “peaceful coexistence.” This would reduce the heat of this new Cold War and prevent it from turning into a hot war that would be a disaster for all humanity.

Source: Courtesy of Jacobin.de. The article originally appeared in Arabic at Al-Quds al-Arabi.
Gilbert Achcar is Professor of Development Policy and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

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Building peace without weapons

Militarization is not solidarity!
By Jan van Aken
[This article published in March 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://zeitschrift-luxemburg.de/artikel/frieden-schaffen-ohne-waffen/.]

Yes, this is still true: Building peace without weapons. Even if it is currently difficult to stick to this principle, perhaps more difficult than ever.

The images of merciless bombardments of Ukrainian cities, advancing tank units and displaced civilians are shocking. It therefore warms the heart that hundreds of thousands in Germany are now taking to the streets to demonstrate against the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. From trade unions to Fridays for Future to the Bundesliga, the peace sign is being held high, blue-yellow solidarity is everywhere, the whole country is helping to take in the war refugees. And that is a good thing.

How I would love to write now about how the Western European peace movement is standing up to the geopolitical chess game of governments and taking matters into its own hands. How it actively supports the insanely courageous Russian peace movement on the ground. How it is now discussing civil resistance against Russian oligarchs and German rearmament in Germany instead of arms deliveries. But unfortunately we are not there – apart from the right and important verbal declarations of solidarity with the non-violent resistance in Ukraine and Russia, the peace movement in this country seems strangely paralyzed at the moment.

Therefore, this text focuses on options for state action and on possible demands of the peace movement to the federal government. From my point of view, there are currently two essential questions: How can we – in the short term – stand by the Ukrainian people and help to end the war, and how – in the long term – can we secure a peace order in Europe. The one must not torpedo the other, in the literal sense of the word, and this is where opinions differ.

The acute question: How can this war end?

There is a very simple answer to this question: only through negotiations. This is a truism and it applies to almost every war. A cease-fire is followed by more or less protracted peace negotiations.

However, there are serious negotiations only when both sides are ready for them at the same time. Therefore, the question about the end of the Ukrainian war is primarily a question about what could motivate the Russian government around Vladimir Putin to enter into peace negotiations as soon as possible, which do not have the total destruction and/or takeover of Ukraine as a prerequisite? From my point of view, the meaningfulness and value of solidarity actions, sanctions, arms deliveries and NATO armament can only be judged against precisely this background. An attempt in ten theses and a call:

Strengthen the Russian peace movement!

No government can hold out a war for long without support in its own country. At the moment, resistance to the war in Russia is minimal, which is not surprising given the tremendous repression and the fierce media laws and agitation. Nevertheless, a central question for a left peace movement here in Germany is how we can also reach out to the Russian population and support them in their criticism of the Russian state. How we can contribute to delegitimize the Putin regime and the war inside Russia. How can we establish contact with peace groups in Russia? I don’t have answers to these questions either, but I observe with increasing astonishment that they have hardly been discussed in the German peace movement so far. We should close this gap – and this is also a challenge to myself – as soon as possible.

Thesis 1: The 100-billion-euro rearmament program has nothing to do with Ukraine

It was a clever move by the German government to use the initial horror over Russian aggression to quickly wave through a 100-billion-euro rearmament package for the Bundeswehr. However, this was not about Ukraine, but simply about NATO’s two-percent target, which has been discussed for many years – and which has so far met with great resistance from the German public. Now, in the slipstream of the war in Ukraine, it has been agreed without any problems: 20 billion euros for each of the five years of the Bundeswehr, which means that the two percent of GDP target will be reached almost exactly. However, before all this money is spent and the weapons are purchased, the war in Ukraine will be long over, so the 100 billion really have nothing to do with it. This is about a long-term positioning (in) NATO and in Europe – more on this below.

Thesis 2: Arms deliveries will not influence the outcome of the war.

A quick look at the global SIPRI database on national military spending is enough to prove this point. According to it, Russia spent ten times more money on the military than Ukraine in the year before last. Over the last ten years combined, it has spent as much as 17 times more. This is a military imbalance that even the delivery of a few thousand anti-tank or anti-aircraft missiles cannot even begin to shift. Nor will the planned delivery of a few Soviet-era Eastern European fighters have any lasting effect on the course of the war. This is also evident from the fact that Ukraine is not only asking for arms deliveries but also, very centrally, for the establishment and enforcement of a no-fly zone in its own country. Kiev, too, knows about the massive military superiority of its adversary and that this imbalance could never be eliminated with additional weapons alone.

As long as NATO does not enter the war itself – and hopefully it never will – the military outcome of this war is clear: Russia will overrun and take Ukraine, if that is the Russian war objective.

For our initial question, this means: No, supplying weapons to Ukraine will not make Russia willing to negotiate peace more quickly or with lowered demands. Therefore, from my point of view, any arms delivery to Ukraine is wrong at the moment, because in principle it will not change the outcome of the war. In the best case, it will have no effect at all, and in the worst case, it will only prolong the suffering.

Let me make one thing clear: I am not a radical pacifist. On the contrary, I think it is absolutely right that people defend themselves against aggression even with a weapon in their hand. My opposition to arms exports is simply based on a sober view of the current situation and the enormously highly armed Russian military.

The claim that refusing to supply weapons would undermine the right of self-defense enshrined in the UN Charter is simply false. Using the same argument, we would have to supply weapons to Yemen today; we would also have had to supply them to Saddam Hussein when Iraq was invaded by the United States in 2003, and no one would even think of doing that. There is a right of self-defense in the UN Charter, but no obligation for other states to support this militarily.

3rd thesis: Whoever is in favor of supplying weapons is far from being a warmonger.

What I have said so far is based on a very sober view of the situation, which is often difficult in view of the pictures from Ukraine. Of course, I understand the impulse that many people are feeling right now: We can’t leave the people in Ukraine alone who are defending their lives with homemade Molotov cocktails – of course a real weapon makes a difference. For those who are defending their homes in Kiev, a bazooka is of course better than no bazooka. This is also an emotional question, which from my point of view – with all sobriety – of course has its justification. It reminds me very much of the situation in 2014, when there was a broad debate on the social left about whether or not it was right to supply weapons to the Kurds in northern Iraq in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS). I can understand very well if someone decides in favor of supplying weapons in this situation, even if I myself considered and still consider it wrong from a rational point of view in these two extreme situations.

However, we must be aware that in such situations the militarists of this world always try to bring about a deliberate aggravation in which any refusal to intervene militarily seems heartless and inhumane. Remember Benghazi in Libya in 2011, when it was suddenly said that if there was no intervention tonight, Gaddafi would kill tens of thousands of people in Benghazi. That night, the U.S. President Obama gave his okay, together with England and France, the U.S. bombed Libya that same night. The people in Benghazi were saved – at the price of a long civil war with many, many dead.

Also at the price of seeming hard-hearted and lacking in empathy: I plead for a sober view even in extremely acute situations. Supplying even the most modern weapons to the Ukrainian army will not change the outcome of the Russian invasion any more than the West’s interventions to overthrow Gaddafi prevented the suffering and misery in Libya. And yes, that hurts me, too. But even one’s own powerlessness should not lead one to choose the wrong path.

Thesis 4: Small arms in particular often end up in the wrong hands

In addition to all the acute considerations, there is another very good reason that speaks against arms exports in general: once weapons have crossed national borders, there is no control over where they end up. We know from small arms and light weapons in particular (and anti-tank missiles or Stingers are among them) that they are sometimes passed on from war to war for decades. IS fought the Democratic Kurdish Federation in northern Syria with a German anti-tank missile – a weapon that had been supplied to the Syrian government more than 30 years earlier. In all experience, it is not only possible but very likely that some of the weapons now supplied by Germany will be captured by the Russian army – and then possibly used in the attack on the next country. Supplying weapons to a war does not automatically arm only one side; the fighting is often far too fluid for that.

Thesis 5: Weapons deliveries to the end mean a new arms race

We should not forget one thing when looking at the current situation: It is very likely not just about Ukraine. If the goal of the Russian government is indeed the (re)creation of a Greater Russian Empire – quasi the Soviet Union without socialism – then other countries such as Kazakhstan or Georgia are also in danger. If we now follow the logic of arms deliveries, this means a new arms race for decades to come, in which NATO “would have to” keep upgrading all countries that might be affected. Apart from all the practical and financial questions that this raises, it would above all be a clear rejection of long-term peace prospects for Europe – see more on this below.

Thesis 6: Not supplying weapons is not doing nothing

For eight years I had to listen to the war-mongers of the other parties in the Bundestag saying that we would leave the girls in Afghanistan alone if we were against the foreign mission. That was wrong then, and it is just as wrong today when opponents of arms deliveries are accused of letting the people in Kiev “die” if we don’t deliver weapons. O-Ton Linkspartei to Linkspartei.

We on the left must never allow ourselves to be faced with the false choice of intervening militarily or doing nothing at all. We must always consider a civilian option as well – and in most cases we will find that there are, of course, non-military options that are more effective and also do not cause lasting damage. Military intervention and doing nothing is and remains a false dichotomy.

But this also means that it is not enough to simply shout “No War”, to declare solidarity with the democrats in Russia and Ukraine, to be in favor of peace negotiations and against the rearmament of NATO. We as the left must also have an idea of how an aggressor like the current Russian government can be stopped. Very concretely.

7th thesis: The world is bigger than Russia and NATO

Faced with the narrowed choice between acting militarily or not acting at all, one of several alternative paths is to engage third parties. I have wondered for some time why Scholz, Macron, and Biden do not visit Beijing daily to try to engage China in support of an acceptable peace settlement. Of course, no one knows how much the Russian government needs China to support or at least keep quiet, but it could actually make all the difference. Therefore, real peace diplomacy would have to start here as well, even if the probability of success is low.

This situation is again very reminiscent of the discussion about arms deliveries to the Kurdish peshmerga in 2014, when IS was still mainly financed by donations from the Gulf states. In order to cut off this flow of money, there were corresponding UN resolutions. During a visit to Qatar, we discovered that the German Embassy in Qatar did not even know who was responsible for such issues in the Gulf state. As an explanation for this, members of the CDU later said succinctly: There is nothing that can be done in Qatar, because they own large shares of VW stock, and this has to be taken into account. A very simple question, a very simple answer: Germany could have used its economic power to exert influence on Qatar and thus significantly weaken IS financially, but it shied away from the political and economic costs of this civilian measure. Supplying weapons was – politically – simply cheaper. This is militarism.

Against this background, I fear that the German government is shying away from such a discussion with Beijing precisely because they would have to pay a political price. But if all the expressions of solidarity with Ukraine are serious, then they should at least try to go down that road. Solidarity must not stop where it starts to hurt. Especially not if the alternative is the mass export of war equipment – because this inflicts life-threatening injuries on other people in other countries as intended and guaranteed.

Thesis 8: We should redefine the concept of “targeted” sanctions.

Another non-military way of intervening, of course, is to apply economic pressure through sanctions. There are many good arguments against general economic sanctions because in the past they have rarely had the intended effect, but have hit hardest the poorest of the poor in the sanctioned countries. Sanctions exacerbate social inequality within capitalist societies, which has often enough led to national closing of ranks against an external enemy. This danger is particularly prevalent in authoritarian states where freedom of expression, civil society and the media are suppressed. As a left, we have therefore spoken out in the past in favor of targeted sanctions, but against general sanctions.

“Targeted” sanctions have so far always meant personal sanctions against the respective power elite of a country: Travel bans, for example, or a freeze on assets abroad. This is exactly what has happened with Russia, sanctions against the closest circle around Putin, including some multi-billionaires, the so-called oligarchs.

At this point, we have to come back to the initial question: What could most likely persuade the Russian government to enter into peace negotiations as soon as possible? One way to do this is surely to weaken the Putin government’s power base in Russia. Russia is a thoroughly capitalist country, and Putin’s power is based on a strong capital faction. But this consists of much more than just a few banks and the few richest oligarchs who are currently affected by sanctions. Only when the layer below, the tens of thousands of multi-millionaires, turn against Putin could things get tight for him.

That’s why I advocate putting them all on a sanctions list. Then, in principle, everything these people own in the West can be frozen. The problem will then be that they have placed a lot in tax havens, the problem will be that there is no real estate register in Germany. But you could try: freeze the accounts and deny access to yachts and luxury apartments. There is a legitimate hope that many will then turn against the expansion plans; in the end, for many, their own wallets are more important than the dream of a Greater Russian Empire.

Such an approach would have another very special advantage: to be effective, it would need more transparency about who owns which assets in Europe in the first place. The whole system of tax havens and letterbox companies would finally have to be eliminated – this would also affect the Western European super-rich. I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but the German government would, and that’s a point we need to emphasize much more in the public debate: You can’t resort to false arms deliveries just because the protection of the German super-rich is more important to you than the fate of Ukrainians and Ukraine…! This is a truly left-wing approach that goes far beyond the current war.

9th thesis: We should discuss a stop of oil and gas imports from Russia.

And here I reach my limit, so this is not really a thesis, but rather an open question for me: If all the other things don’t help, if China sides with Russia, if even a sanction of the multimillionaires and a support of the peace movement in Russia doesn’t change anything: Wouldn’t it then be right to finally stop all oil and gas deliveries from Russia? Every day, the West transfers several hundred million US dollars to Russia for fossil energies. Without this money, even Moscow’s already highly equipped war machine would soon grind to a halt.

Against this, however, is the strong argument that this would primarily hit the poorer population in Russia; it would be grist to the mill of Russian propaganda and could give Putin much more backing, even for future wars, than he has so far.

And the other way around, even within the EU, those people would be hit hardest by price increases and shortages of raw materials who already rarely have enough to live on. Such a demand for a complete import stop for fossil energies from Russia would therefore have to be linked to solidarity-based crisis financing here in Germany and the EU.

Thesis 10: Neutrality for Ukraine is a decision of Ukraine, not ours.

Should there be – hopefully very soon – a willingness on both sides to engage in serious peace negotiations, the question of a neutral Ukraine will of course be on the table as a Russian demand.

A brief clarification on this: until a few weeks ago, I too assumed that Russia was primarily concerned with security interests. I now consider this analysis to be completely wrong. Nor is it obviously “only” about demilitarizing Ukraine, because that would not require the Russian army to bomb civilian residential areas. Regardless of Russia’s actual war aims, the security issue will nevertheless play an important role in upcoming peace negotiations.

In recent months, there has often been talk of a “Finnish” solution for Ukraine, that is, a neutral status. The important thing to remember, however, is that Finland chose neutrality on its own at the time; it was not negotiated over Finland. The same must be true for Ukraine – it would be fundamentally wrong and almost neocolonial in character if, for example, the U.S. and Russia were to negotiate such a status for Ukraine.

In a perfect world, it would certainly be a good idea for the EU and Russia to discuss with Ukraine that a neutral status for Ukraine would be a good option. Both sides could then make appropriate offers that could make neutrality attractive to Ukraine. Unfortunately, we are currently very far away from such a situation.

The long road to a new peace order

At first glance, it looks as if with the Russian war of aggression all considerations for a peaceful future on the Eurasian continent have also failed. The LEFT always stood for a cooperative security system including Russia. Now we have to state soberly: It won’t work with this Russia.

But that does not necessarily mean that rearmament and Cold War are now the only options. Of course, a cooperative security system has receded into the distant future – but the vision is still the right one. In the long run, in a post-Putin era, it will be a matter of slowly rebuilding trust. To do so, however, the West should take the right steps now and refrain from taking the wrong ones:

1. this war is first and foremost Putin’s war. It is not Russia, not the Russian people, but a small power elite in Moscow from which this war emanates. It would be fatal if the old West German hatred of Russia were to take hold again.

2 Even if the current war of aggression is certainly not due to Russia’s elementary security interests, the criticism of NATO’s eastward expansion remains correct. NATO is and remains a child of the Cold War; it has no place in the 21st century. Any expansion of NATO to the east will also complicate or even prevent a cooperative solution in Europe with Russia in the long term. As much as Finland’s current desire to join NATO is understandable – it would have long-term consequences that none of us can want.

3 The massive rearmament of the Bundeswehr with the 100-billion-euro package is more likely to lead in the direction of a new arms race and Cold War. If Russia is indeed perceived as a threat, then the logical consequence would be to convert the Bundeswehr to a purely defensive army for national defense. We used to call this “Structural Non-Aggression Capability,” meaning that the Bundeswehr would dispense with all weapons and systems it needs only for foreign missions (e.g., the A400M transport aircraft or corvettes or or or …). That would save so much money, there would be 100 billion euros left over the next few years. At the same time the way into a new arms race would be stopped.

This article was published on rosalux.de. More on this topic in the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s dossier “Against the new war in Europe”.

Jan van Aken is a biologist, has worked for many years on issues of genetic engineering at Greenpeace and was a bioweapons inspector at the UN. Between 2009 and 2017, he sat for The Left Party in the Bundestag and was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

A Comparison Between Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau

This article published in www.academia.edu is translated from the German.

The main idea of Thomas Hobbes’s opinion about human nature is the selfishness and the greed of humans. Hobbes claimed that humans are inherently selfish and greedy so that they act like they have the right to do whatever they want, especially kinds of bad acts. We can take a few to get back some composure on what Hobbes referenced in Leviathan with regards to people, it is guaranteed that individuals are normally self seekers who search for their advantages and the condition of nature which every single person are against to each other. At this point, this selfishness of people led Hobbes to think a kind of theory assumed as a pessimistic theory, which is about not trusting in human beings and furthermore create the monarchy with strict rules and less freedom. By creating this social contract among people and giving the power to only one person that is Leviathan providing the peaceful atmosphere for people and making the laws, Hobbes found the way to prevent any kind of threat from people who could attack each other in this world…

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries emergence of various works on political philosophy emerged, giving current political scholars a meaningful and rational foundation on politics and society. Various works have constructed a core knowledge and have influenced how we view the world around us today. Political philosophy seeks the application of ethical concepts in regards to the social sphere, and in turn, deals with the variety of forms of government and social existence that people could live in. In return, political philosophy provides a standard by which we analyze and judge existing institutions and relationships.

Thomas Hobbes was an English born philosopher while Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss-born philosopher. Both philosophers were influenced by various ongoing events and therefore their work inherently reflected this. Both were well known for their controversial interpretations of human nature. In this paper, an effort will be made to compare and contrast the works of both political philosophers. An analysis of the works and viewpoints of both Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau will be made, to determine how Hobbsian Rousseau is. An examination of the background and contributing factors to the philosopher’s writing will be made, in order to gain a better understanding of their views. Then, it will be necessary to examine their standpoints of human nature and the social contract. Furthermore, language will be explored as a tool of similarity and each philosopher’s thoughts on the sovereign will be presented to understand how Hobbsian Rousseau is.

Thomas Hobbes was influenced by traumatic conditions which greatly influenced his work. He was born in Westport, England on April 5th, 1588 (Duncan, 2017). Hobbes was influenced by the Spanish Armada. In his autobiography, Hobbes states “fear and I were born together” (Hobbes, pg.5). By which he refers to his premature birth due to the fear that his mother experienced when discovering that the Spanish Armada was sent to attack England. Fear is a significant theme in Hobbes writing and the Hobbesian philosophical system. The Spanish Armada was a planned invasion of England, due to the hostilities between Spain and England. King Philip II of the Catholic Church set out an attack on Queen Elizabeth’s Protestant England (History, 2018). This was a period of instability and insecurity and it was this particular upheaval that influenced Hobbes’ thoughts.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, 1712, in Geneva, Switzerland (Biography, 2019). He was known as one of the most influential thinkers during the Enlightenment period. A time of social change and cultural prosperity. The Enlightenment period was known as the time of reason, where thinkers in Britain and in France and all throughout Europe “questioned the traditional authority and embraced the notion that humanity could be improved through rational change” (History, 2009). Rousseau witnessed the death of his mother, as well as his father’s exile and due to humiliation, he fled to France where he converted to Catholicism. It was the conditions of the French Enlightenment and his early childhood which influenced Rousseaus’ writing and views on human nature.

An analysis of human nature will be made to contrast both philosophers and their work. By definition, human nature is the characteristics, instincts, feelings and behavioural traits of a human that are shared across the globe (Merriam-Webster, 2020). Human Nature will greatly impact your societal, moral and political views, which in turn means that if you believe humans are either good or evil it can influence your entire viewpoint on how you view the world. This is evidently noticed throughout both philosopher’s works.

Thomas Hobbes did not believe in the soul, or in the mind as separate from the body. Instead, he saw human beings as highly sophisticated machines with thoughts and emotions operating according to physical laws and chains of cause and effect. Just like machines, human beings pursue their own self-interest, avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. According to Hobbes, the state of nature was a state of human existence without any established form of government and society. He describes this state as “solidarity, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Hobbes, pg.107). In this state of nature, there are no moral or legal rules, which quickly turns into a state of war in which humans are constantly disposed to harm others to achieve their goals. Hobbes depicts the state of nature by saying “someone who comes with forces united to dispossess and deprive him, not only of the fruit but also his life or Liberty” (Leviathan, pg.57). In short, the state of nature is one of fear, violence and distrust, and would consequently have “no practical skills, no literature or scholarship, no society; and—worst of all—continual fear and danger of violent death” (Hobbes, pg.58)

According to Hobbes, moral ideas do not exist in man’s natural state. Hobbes states that it is an endeavour that motivates us, which he defines as “small beginnings of motion within the body of man before they appear in…visible actions” (Hobbes, pg.22). From endeavour, either appetite or aversion will arise. Hobbes states “This Endeavour, when it is toward something which causes it, is appetite or desire. . . when the Endeavour is fromward something, it is generally called aversion” (Leviathan, pg.52). According to Hobbes’ mechanistic universe, appetites and aversions are the product of transferred motion and depict human nature according to Hobbes. Hobbes recognized these two natural rights and concluded that a shift of power must occur to lift humanity out of this state of nature, and into what he recognizes as the social contract.

The social contract consists of moral and legal roles because it is essential to escape the state of nature, and allow men to flourish. Everyone must agree to these rules, and by doing so men must transfer their rights to all men in order to foster mutual reinforcement of the contract. Hobbes explains that it is in the hands of the sovereign to control appetites and aversions so that mankind could be lifted from the state of war which he refers to as human nature.
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau, contrary to Hobbes, was influenced by the French Enlightenment which influenced his conception of humans in the state of nature. Rousseau addresses freedom and aims to explain how a man in the state of nature is blessed with inevitable total freedom. Unlike Hobbes who believed that men are inherently evil, Rousseau believed humans are naturally neither good nor bad, however, the problem lies when society is imposed upon individuals because he believes this creates corruption. In comparison to Hobbes, who describes the state of nature as a place of chaos before the arrival of the sovereign power, Rousseau describes the state of nature as a morally neutral and peaceful condition in which individuals act according to their basic urges. It was a rich environment where humans were living solitary and peaceful lives. Rousseau describes the state of nature as a “state which no longer exists, which perhaps never existed, which probably never will exist,” (Rousseau, pg.34). Rousseau proclaimed the natural goodness of man and believed that one man by nature is just as good as his neighbour. For Rousseau, a man could be just without virtue and good without effort. According to Rousseau, a man in the state of nature was free, wise, and good and the laws of nature were good. It follows that it was a civilization that enslaved and corrupted man and made him unnatural.

Rousseau, was aware of the fact that humans changed over time and that they possess the faculty of self-perfection, he compares humans to animals by saying; “difference in this respect between men and brutes, there is another very specific quality which distinguishes them, and which will admit of no dispute. This is the faculty of self-improvement” (Rousseau, pg.6). Rousseau saw mankind in its natural state as being humble, wise, judicious and even noble and that every step away from the state of nature was one very much in the wrong direction. Rousseau takes an anti-enlightenment tone when he says “the first man who having enclosed a piece of land thought of saying this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society” (Rousseau, pg.272). Here, Rousseau expresses the development of what we know about civilization and how it was founded on injustice, creating fundamental flaws. According to Rousseau, humans become violent due to “enlightenment, which develops only with great difficulty and by a very small number of people within the society itself.” (Rousseau, pg.35). The solution to this was referred to as the social contract.

Rousseau advocates for a corrective social contract through which a proper society can be built. He claims that “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains,” (Rousseau, pg.144), to which he refers to the rationality of man, thus allowing for a sovereign, that can be questioned if the general will is not upheld. The social contract eliminated the social dependence on one another while permitting each other to obey only themselves and to remain as free as before. Individuals must give up their right to control their lives in order to gain an equal voice in setting the rules of society. Thus, giving man equal power since our gradual escape from the state of nature is what Rousseau believed to be the origin of inequality. According to Rousseau’s theory of social contract, people leave an anarchic state of nature by voluntarily transferring their personal rights to the community in return for the security of life and property. According to Rousseau, the original freedom, happiness, equality and liberty which existed in primitive societies prior to the social contract was lost in the modern civilisation. Through Social Contract, which was a new form of social organisation, the state was formed to assure and guarantee rights, liberties, freedom and equality.

An extent of language and liberty will be made to examine how Rousseau is Hobbsian. It is no doubt that language plays a key role in both philosophers’ works. Hobbes and Rousseau agree that language plays an essential role in allowing humans to exit the state of nature. Rousseau believes that a language is a tool used to aid men’s ability to communicate their passions and ideas, thus resulting in enlightenment and rationality. The language was a key factor that separated man from animals in the Discourses on Inequality. According to Rousseau men and animals are equal, since both are exposed to the same conditions. However, when examining humans, Rousseau was under the impression that both humans and animals have senses and ideas, which allow us to “renew strength and to protect ourselves… from all that tends to destroy or disturb ”. Additionally, Rousseau believes that humans rely on passion and the ability to make decisions. Without this ability, humans would remain in the state of nature. Rousseau credits language as a tool of reason. Thus, allowing humans to exit the state of nature.

In comparison, Thomas Hobbes believes that language grants humans the ability to consent to a social contract. Hobbes emphasizes the importance of words and their universal meanings to ensure that thoughts are consistent. Hobbes claims that words with multiple interpretations “deceive others” (Hobbes, 38). Humans must consent to the social contract through a universal understanding of language. To Hobbes, the reciprocity of consent is what keeps men from breaking the contract, and binds people together. Both philosophers understand the importance of language, however, how it is viewed is the ultimate difference. While Rousseau believes that language will ultimately lift humans out of the state of nature, Hobbes views language as a tool used to create trust within the social contract, and without it, humans can fall into the state of nature.

Liberty is another important element to analyze. Although Rousseau does not specifically define liberty he makes many implications as to what it entails. Rousseau implies that freedom is not pursuing whatever man desires, instead, it relies on the foundations of freedom of the general will and it becomes the basis for what one can do. This motivating force behind freedom traces back to the social contract. In the state of nature, people have physical freedom however they are slaves to their own instincts. The social contract is a way to secure civil freedom. Rousseau however does define the sovereign as the citizens acting collectively. Citizens come together and create the will and laws of that particular state. The sovereign cannot be divided up in any way: only all the people speaking collectively can be sovereign.

Hobbes on the other hand explains that the nature of liberty falls under sovereign power. According to Hobbes liberty means the ability to act according to a man’s own hill without being obstructed. This means that without and hindering all subjects have absolute liberty. It can be noted that while civil laws are regulated by the sovereign and can be seen as chains, liberty still exists due to subjects creating thus chains. Hobbes believes the subjects write the social contract and therefore inherently have a connection with the sovereign’s power. Hobbes suggests that humans are required to transfer their natural right to follow their appetites and aversions to the sovereign, suggesting that “the liberty of subjects lies…only in those things which, in regulating their actions, the sovereign has permitted”. According to Hobbes liberty falls under the responsibility of the subject. In regards to the state of nature, liberty was non-existent due to fear of death. Actions were hindered by fear and power. While fear and power are present in the Leviathan, subjects have agreed to pass them onto the sovereign, therefore the subject has attained absolute liberty.

In conclusion, although greatly differ on their opinions of human nature and their views on liberty. However, one can conclude that both philosophers valued language, and agreed that some form of government was needed to establish order as well as the idea of the social contract. While Hobbes believes that humans could be seen as machines, who were selfish and acted upon selfish impulses. These selfish tendencies are what will create a state of war. Rousseau believes that humans are rational creatures, however, they are corrupt when society imposes on them and they then become enlightened. To a certain degree, both philosophers share the importance of language and view it as an essential tool in allowing humans to exit the state of nature. While Hobbes views language as a tool used to create trust within the social contract, and without it, humans can fall into the state of nature, Rousseau believes that language will ultimately lift humans out of the state of nature. Finally, both philosopher’s view on liberty showcases their view on legitimacy and sovereign power, as well as the potential of governing forces. While Hobbes believes that all power should be transferred to the sovereign, given by the transfer of citizens rights. Rousseau believed the power falls under the people speaking collectively thus creating the sovereign. Although two very different philosophers, each influenced by various moments and conditions ultimately leading them to contrasting views of human nature, the concept of the sovereign and the government is what creates similar aspects in both of their works.
Modern politics are the actions or activities concerned with achieving and using power in a country or society

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Manifesto against war, March 19, 2022

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/03/22/18848751.php
Manifesto against war, March 19, 2022
by Karl Heinz Roth and Karl-W. Koch
Tuesday Mar 22nd, 2022 6:56 AM
It is therefore high time for the mobilization of a broad anti-militarist resistance that is integrated comprehensively and transnationally into the social struggles. This approach is by no means without chance, as the inclusion of the resistance against the Vietnam War in the global social revolt of the late 1960s has shown.

Manifesto against war
by Karl Heinz Roth
[This manifesto published on 3/15/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Manifest-gegen-den-Krieg-6549580.html?seite=all.]

Telepolis documents: Call from academics on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, NATO’s role and upcoming challenges

The monstrous has happened: War has finally returned to our everyday life in Europe. Currently, major cities in Ukraine are becoming battlefields. Peaceful people are being torn apart by shells and rockets or buried under the rubble of their dwellings.

Those who survive the barbaric attacks in basements or subway shafts are driven to flee by hunger, cold, deprivation of water and darkness. Barbarism is making a comeback.

For more than 20 years, this inferno has been brewing and spreading: First in Chechnya and Yugoslavia, then in Afghanistan, in Iraq and until today in Yemen, Syria and other regions of the Middle East.

Now it has reached Europe once again and has assumed catastrophic proportions with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The metropolitan agglomerations overbuilt and inhabited by millions of people became the main combat zone of the two armies.

The brutalization of military conflicts has multiple causes. It was an expression of the growing rivalry between the major imperialist powers that had been building up in recent decades behind the facades of world economic globalization.

Worldwide demonstrations against the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Washington, D.C. on March 6.
The world capitalist system once again showed its Janus face. On the one hand, it relied on the profit-generating world peace of globalized commodity chains and information systems to relegate the exploitation of the working classes and push it to the far corners of the planet.

On the other hand, it unleashed increasingly violent struggles for geostrategic zones of influence. Typical of this is China, which has combined its project of the continent-connecting New Silk Road with territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea.

But the USA is also typical of this. In order to secure its world hegemony economically, Washington has made its East Asian counterpart the extended workbench of its production potential.

At the same time, Washington sabotaged the Chinese New Silk Road project at all levels and did everything it could to undermine a peaceful economic relationship between China, Russia and Europe.

In parallel, the U.S. government has positioned its military alliance system, NATO, against the Russian Federation to prevent the integration of the successor to the defunct Soviet empire into an expanded Europe with a stable peace order and mutual security guarantees.

The sabotage of North Stream 2 shows that economic pressure has the same significance here as in the positioning against China. What the U.S. succeeded in doing to Russia proved to be a boomerang in the case of China and favored China’s rise as a competing world power.

Finally, the third factor of barbarization was Islamist fundamentalism, a profoundly regressive variant of anti-imperialism that strives for a patriarchal god-state.

These developments became threatening to humanity because all parties involved in the conflict were able to draw on war material in which the technological thrusts of capitalist development were combined into an ever greater destructive power of conventional weapons systems.

Why the prehistory of the Russian attack must not be ignored

Only against this background can Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, unleashed on February 24, be understood. These contexts also explain the prehistory.

When the Soviet empire collapsed, the U.S. bought Russian consent to the inclusion of a unified Germany in NATO in exchange for a pledge not to expand NATO further into Eastern Europe. At that time, the chances for Russia’s democratization and opening toward Europe were quite favorable.

However, this chance was lost after a few years. Since 1997, the subliminal and finally also openly promoted eastward expansion of NATO and, in its wake, of the European Union began. The Russian power elite and the majority of the population perceived this exclusion as humiliation.

There were also countervailing tendencies toward understanding, especially in France and Germany; however, they were thwarted by the new special alliance of the United States with the Eastern European states.

This hubris created the external conditions in Russia for the implementation of an imperialist strategy of revision, which had been propagated by parts of the power elite since the fall of the Soviet Union and then culminated in the Putin era.

The warning signals emanating from this revisionary course – the 2008 Georgian war and the 2014 Crimean annexation – were also disregarded. Instead, Ukraine pushed ahead with NATO infrastructure building even though the country had been in civil war with indirect Russian involvement since 2014.

The joint maneuvers of Ukrainian forces with NATO in September 2021 then marked the crossing of the red line.

Nato’s direct advance 1,200 km to Russia’s western border was intolerable to the Russian power and military elite, and it decided to wage a war of aggression against Ukraine before its formal entry into Nato.

These considerations are not about justifying apologetics. The war of aggression against Ukraine cannot be legitimized by anything.

It is only a matter of clarifying that this catastrophic war of aggression was preceded by imperialist acts of aggression, also on the part of the West, which provoked in Putin-Russia a geostrategic logic common to all imperialist power elites.

Imagine if the Russian Federation had entered into a military pact with Cuba and Mexico and was building a military infrastructure directed against the U.S. in the Caribbean and just off its southern border!

This comparison makes it clear that we cannot be party to this disastrous poker of imperialist powers. We strongly condemn the Russian aggression. But we also firmly reject the power elites of the West.

Instead of admitting the failure of their immoderate expansionist goals, they are now turning the escalation screw and advocating all-out economic warfare as well as far-reaching military aid operations and arms deliveries.

We are aware that with this positioning against all direct and indirect parties and actors in the Ukraine war, we currently represent only a vanishing minority.

Ways out of the logic of the warmongers

But we must not cede our identity, our orientation towards the social and emancipatory struggles for equality and self-determination to the logic of imperialist war and the cynicism of the warmongers on all sides.

We share the responsibility to immediately stop the military slaughter, the killing of civilians, the bombings, the starvation and the mass displacement of the Ukrainian population, and to stop the destruction of social infrastructures.

We must not allow NATO and the West to let Ukraine be defended to the last Ukrainian fit for military service, and the Russian General Staff to accept the death of tens of thousands of soldiers – mostly conscripts.

But we also do not want to be asked later by our children and grandchildren why we did nothing to prevent the Ukraine conflict from expanding into a major European war or even into a nuclear Armageddon.

This danger has been steadily growing due to massive military support from the U.S. and NATO, as well as comprehensive economic sanctions. We are not passive spectators. If the escalation screw is turned even further, we could face the horrors of war in the coming weeks just as Ukrainian civilians currently do.

We demand:

1. an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all combat troops from all urban agglomerations

2. the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. The disarmament and disbanding of all paramilitary formations on the territory of Ukraine.

3. the immediate cessation of arms deliveries and of NATO’s covert participation in the war

4. the immediate lifting of sanctions and the end of economic warfare

5. the start of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine under the supervision of the OSCE. Assurance of Ukraine’s indefinite neutrality and dismantling of NATO infrastructure in Ukraine in return for comprehensive and internationally backed Russian security guarantees.

6. establishing Ukraine as an independent bridge state between NATO/EU and Russia under the OSCE umbrella. Ukraine’s bilateral reconstruction and economic treaties with the EU and the post-Soviet Customs Union.

We are well aware that these demands will hang in the air as long as they are not forced by the social movements, the working classes and the critical intelligentsia strata in an internationally coordinated effort.

It is therefore high time for the mobilization of a broad anti-militarist resistance that is integrated comprehensively and transnationally into the social struggles. This approach is by no means without chance, as the inclusion of the resistance against the Vietnam War in the global social revolt of the late 1960s has shown.

We therefore propose as first steps to mobilize resistance:

1. the halting of all arms shipments to Ukraine and the other war zones of the world through boycott actions

2. the launch of a campaign of refusal of military service in all armies directly or indirectly involved in the Ukrainian war: Defiance of conscription orders, refusal to obey orders, desertion from combat forces and supply units of Russia, Ukraine and NATO. Building a broad solidarity movement for conscientious objectors.

3. participation in the relief actions for all refugees from Ukraine and other war and civil war zones indiscriminately

4. it is high time to take a stand against the disorientation of the peace and protest movement. The mass demonstrations around the world and the interests of the working classes are directed against all imperialist powers and must not take one-sided sides.

Their goal was and is to overcome exploitation, patriarchal oppression, racism, nationalism, destruction of nature, and to assert individual and social human rights. Now the struggle against the revived barbarism has been added.

It is high time for the opponents of war in all countries to unite before it is too late. The danger of the use of nuclear weapons is real. We must do everything we can to prevent it. This is our responsibility to our children and grandchildren!

Initial signatory:

Sergio Bologna, historian and logistics consultant, Milano
Rüdiger Hachtmann, historian, Berlin
Erik Merks, retired trade union official, Hamburg
Karl Heinz Roth, historian and medical doctor, Bremen
Bernd Schrader, sociologist, Hanover
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What if Ukraine war goes nuclear?
by Karl-W. Koch
[This article published on 3/19/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Was, wenn der Ukraine-Krieg atomar eskaliert?]

With the war in Ukraine, a confrontation between nuclear powers Russia and NATO has become conceivable. Ten questions and answers on the possible consequences

Russia expert and former U.S. National Security Advisor Fiona Hill said in a recent interview about Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian nuclear weapons, “The thing about Putin is, when he has an instrument, he wants to use it.” (paywall)

From our responsible politicians and from the military officials a too-end-thinking of the next political and military steps is actually to be expected as a matter of course. However, if one follows the statements and discussions in public, there are justified doubts as to whether this can be taken for granted. Let us consider the following ten questions:

Can the Ukraine war escalate nuclear?

Of course! One of the two warring parties involved is a nuclear power. At its head – obviously with unlimited powers – is an unpredictable and ruthless power politician. In the case of an imminent military defeat, nothing and no one will stop him from resorting to “stronger” weapons to turn the course of the war.

Can NATO be “involuntarily” drawn into the war?

Of course! Occasions for an adversary, who is perhaps only looking for a pretext to escalate further, are already provided by NATO. Thus, the deliveries of weapons (anti-aircraft, anti-tank missiles, …) are clearly a “hostile” act. If these were extended, as discussed to combat aircraft, the danger increases. Also, attacks by the Russian military on the weapons transports could already take place in Poland, which would trigger a NATO case under Art. 5.

Can there be a NATO decision to actively intervene in the war?

Of course! Discussions are already in full swing. The establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine would inevitably entail NATO intervention, making it a belligerent. If the no-fly zone is to be effective, Russian aircraft must be prevented from flying there. Only on “instructions” they will not leave the airspace, so they must be shot down, de facto that would be NATO’s entry into the war at the latest.
Destruction radii in case of explosion of a SS-25 in German capitals

Estimated destruction on impact of a Russian SS-25 with 800 kilotons in Kiel. Picture: Screenshot Nukemap. A detailed legend of the destruction radii can be found here.

Furthermore, as Russian bombing intensifies, a moment may be reached when the horror on the part of the population of NATO countries becomes so great that they urge their governments to enter the war. This is to be expected in particular if the Russian troops use NBC weapons, i.e. nuclear weapons (see 1.), biological – in my opinion rather unlikely – or chemical warfare agents.

Even below this level, intervention would be conceivable if, for example, large-scale radioactive contamination were triggered by the shelling of nuclear facilities. Targeted bombardment of an interim storage facility would be sufficient. Attacks on nuclear facilities have already occurred.

Would it be possible to limit a nuclear strike?

With great probability not! The reason lies in the logic of nuclear warfare: Every use of nuclear weapons is followed by a counterattack, the principle of deterrence. Due to the extremely short reaction times, the procedures are so well-rehearsed, automated and fixed that there is practically no room for maneuver or decision for those responsible.

The principle of nuclear warfare is the “decapitation” of the enemy, both in terms of weapons and personnel. This means that one’s own nuclear missiles must be fired immediately if an attack is imminent, otherwise there is a danger that the commander and/or one’s own launch capability will be destroyed before the decision would have been made.

Thanks to the latest hypersonic technology, this reaction time has been shortened again considerably; the former 20 to 30 minutes have long since become obsolete. Also, nuclear-armed submarines are stationed just off the coasts, which also suggests the shortest possible attack times.

Would a nuclear war be terminable after the first exchange of blows?

What has just been said applies here: Probably not! Who starts a nuclear war, assumes that he will win it, otherwise he does not start it. Also the temporal sequences leave no time for reflection or even for negotiation. If a nuclear war is started, it is probably not over until all ready weapons are fired or their launching base would be destroyed.

Eliminating each other’s command structure, on the other hand, does little good because that is “priced in”: the procedures are automated that they do not require new intermediate orders after the basic first fire order. Both states, with mobile and concealable nuclear weapons (land-based-transportable, bombers-permanently airborne or on submarines in the event of a crisis), have the certain possibility of a retaliatory strike.

The only macabre but unrealistic chance would be if one side deployed a single or a few nuclear weapons and so impressed the other side that it capitulated.

What roles does Germany’s “nuclear sharing” play in the current war?

Exactly for this purpose! The current situation is one of the few seriously envisaged deployment scenarios for the bombs from Büchel: they are planned for use in major battles in the event of an attack by Russia. There, the bombs are to be used on large combat units of the enemy. But the convoy over 60 kilometers long in the direction of Kiev in the second week of the war alone shows how little that would work. Directly destroyed would then be a fraction of this convoy (and large parts of the surrounding area, right and left several kilometers wide).

Is there a threat of a first strike against Büchel?

Of course! Because the just said leads conversely to the gladly suppressed problem: Büchel is (like e.g. also Ramstein and Spangdahlem as military hubs of the USA) a clear target for Russia, if Putin decides to a preventive first strike. The population of these regions should be informed about this, and the corresponding emergency plans must be published, if they exist at all.

What would be the consequences of a nuclear strike in Ukraine?

Devastating consequences! The direct consequences would be a massive destruction of the affected area. The nuclear weapons currently in use usually have a much more powerful explosive force than the bomb used in Hiroshima.
Karl-W. Koch, resident in the Eifel region (Mehren), ten kilometers as the crow flies from the Büchel airbase, where U.S. nuclear bombs are held in readiness for deployment. Born in 1952, trained as a chemical laboratory assistant, then studied chemical engineering. From 1982, teacher at vocational schools, lastly upper secondary school with chemistry, mathematics, environmental technology; already before and since retirement active as technical writer, photojournalist and editor; publications on the subject of “nuclear accident”.

This is mostly used as a reference in comparisons. The B61 bombs in Büchel have about 10 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb and are currently rated as “small” nuclear weapons. In addition to the firestorm and the shock waves, there is the radioactive contamination of the affected areas.

Besides the direct effect, the indirect effect has to be considered, a drastic change of the local, but also of the global climate, the so-called nuclear winter:

Studies have calculated that the use of 50 to 100 nuclear weapons would lead to a nuclear winter, where dust, soot and wildfires on the affected hemisphere (North/South) would lead to a darkening and thus cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere for years.

The famines caused by crop failures would be even more drastic than the direct consequences of the atomic bombs. In addition, there would be high levels of UV radiation due to the depletion of the ozone layer. A significant cooling of the earth’s atmosphere over decades would be another consequence. Unimaginable would be the effect of a big nuclear war with 20 – 30 % of the existing potential. Directly usable are about 1600 nuclear bombs of both sides. In a large nuclear war, therefore, the use of at least 500 to 1000 nuclear weapons is to be expected.

Can a nuclear war be won?

Yes! This question can only be answered if it is clear who would wage this war against whom. In the case of the USA against Russia, all experts assume that this war would not be winnable for either side. The destruction on both sides and the consequence of the nuclear winter would be so destructive that also the “victorious” country (and probably the rest of mankind) would be bombed back centuries into the past.

Collapse of most, if not all, civilizations, worldwide famines, contaminated drinking water, untreatable diseases, and hundreds of millions of dead and injured people would be the end of at least large parts of today’s world. It does not matter at all whether the USA destroyed Russia twelve times or Russia destroyed the USA eight times.

Even with two “smaller” nuclear powers, for example India against Pakistan, such a war would probably not be won – if no surprise strike succeeds. If the other side still succeeds in counterattacking, 10, 20 or more major cities would be destroyed in each case. Concerning the further consequences, e.g. the nuclear winter, what has been said under the eighth point is valid.

A limited nuclear war of a nuclear power against a non-nuclear state is militarily winnable. The infra and military structure of the opposing state is largely destructible with a manageable amount of nuclear weapons.

Is there an exit strategy?

No! In the logic of nuclear deterrence, there is no room to consider and weigh further consequences. Once one side has decided to deploy, no interruption is conceivable. An action (use of nuclear weapons) MUST be followed immediately – even before the impacts – by a response, otherwise there is a threat of destruction of the second strike capability and/or the command infrastructure.

Without a counterstrike, the attacker would have won. If the second-strike capability is not present or can be eliminated, the adversary is encouraged to launch a first strike, and the war would be winnable. First and second strike must each ensure the extensive destruction of the enemy’s capabilities. In an emergency, this would probably take place within a few hours, so there is no possibility for an “exit”.

Only the targeted use of a few nuclear weapons – possibly with an appropriate indication to the adversary – would offer an exit chance. Even this variant is improbable, whether the opponent then reacts as desired by pausing or instead carries out the big first(?) strike is completely open, with the corresponding risk for the first attacker.

Conclusion: Everyone who talks about a further escalation of the Ukrainian war should be informed about the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

A radical peace movement is needed more than ever

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/03/21/18848741.php

The prevention of Ukraine’s integration into NATO is likewise not a snap idea of an irrationally acting Russian President Vladimir Putin, but a basic consensus within the Russian state oligarchy. The latter had repeatedly clearly marked the corresponding efforts of the West as a red line.
A radical peace movement is needed more than ever before
Ukraine is facing a similar horror scenario as Syria – and the world may be facing nuclear war

By Tomasz Konicz
[This article published on 3/16/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.streifzuege.org/2022/eine-radikale-friedensbewegung-ist-noetiger-denn-je/.]

While the course of the war may be a disaster for Russia’s army so far, the Kremlin has chosen an opportune strategic moment to invade Ukraine. At least, this is suggested by the skyrocketing prices of many raw materials, fossil fuels and basic foodstuffs. With the sanctions that the West has imposed on the Russian Federation as part of its economic war, it is thus also hitting itself. The supply bottlenecks that have already existed since the beginning of the pandemic, the accelerating inflation in the wake of the expansive monetary policy of the Western central banks – they will increase as a result of the sanctions. The tendency to further tighten sanctions, especially in the Federal Republic, is thus likely to be quickly overridden by economic calculations. While gas prices are going through the roof, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has already ruled out a boycott of Russian energy sources. The Kremlin thus retains a crucial economic lifeline despite its brutal imperialist war.

This one calculation by Putin, who otherwise sees himself facing a shambles of his great power policy, thus seems to be working. It is based on the Kremlin’s strategic geopolitical conception, which was already worked out at the beginning of the 21st century, at the start of Putin’s reign. According to this concept, Russia is to rise to become an energy empire. It is to become a world power that economically controls the entire exploitation chain of fossil fuels: from extraction in the vast expanses of Siberia, through transport to the markets of Western Europe and China, to local distribution and final sale. The Baltic Sea pipeline formed one project within this strategy, where natural gas is transported directly to a center of the world system, excluding transit countries.

Putin’s second strategic project is the modernization of Russia’s national economy. Since this has largely failed, the invasion of Ukraine is taking place at the last minute, so to speak: On the one hand, the current supply bottlenecks in the – in any case rapidly eroding – global production chains are potentiating the follow-up costs of the sanctions for the West. At the same time, the energy transition in the centers has not yet been advanced far enough to be able to cope with a decoupling from Russian energy sources without severe disruptions. Russia’s entire imperial conception of using fossil fuels as a means of imperial power seems to be becoming obsolete in the medium term.

It was precisely the establishment of a “hydrogen office” in Kiev announced in January 2022 as part of the first state visit by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) that probably set alarm bells ringing in the Kremlin in this regard. The longer the Kremlin would have waited, the less its “fossil” levers of power would have been in the fight over Ukraine. Based on this imperialist calculation, the far from “insane” decision was made to launch the invasion of Ukraine.

Struggle for zones of influence

The prevention of Ukraine’s integration into NATO is likewise not a snap idea of an irrationally acting Russian President Vladimir Putin, but a basic consensus within the Russian state oligarchy. The latter had repeatedly clearly marked the corresponding efforts of the West as a red line. Ukraine was originally supposed to become part of a Moscow-dominated Eurasian Economic Community until the pro-Western government overthrow in 2014. Putin wanted to establish, in effect, a greater economic area between China and the EU, which was perceived by the West – both the U.S. and the EU – as a clear threat to its own eastern periphery. The countries put on a neoliberal starvation diet by the then German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), such as Greece, would simply have had alternatives as a result.

It was precisely this classic “zone of influence,” such as that claimed by the United States in the Western Hemisphere or Germany in Central Eastern and Southeastern Europe, that the West was no longer willing to grant Moscow. During the months of negotiations leading up to the war, neither Washington nor Berlin wanted to rule out future membership of Ukraine in NATO. They clearly signaled to Kiev their willingness to accept it – but at the same time, the West ruled out direct intervention in the conflict. Moscow and Kiev were thus signaled Nato’s will to expand in the post-Soviet space, without any guarantees of assistance for Kiev in the event of a resulting conflict.

In this respect, the West was clearly complicit in the war. Whether this was a miscalculation, since hardly anyone expected such a major attack by Russia, or whether the conflict was deliberately provoked in order to let Russia “bleed white” in Ukraine, as the lightning-fast and massive military aid suggests, remains speculation. But the fact remains that Ukraine, as a “borderland,” has become the bloody battleground of an imperialist war between East and West. A similar confrontation between Eurasia and Oceania, in which spheres of influence would be drawn by military force if necessary, also threatens in the Pacific region, especially in Taiwan.

Moreover, Moscow found itself deprived of other opportunities to exert influence in Ukraine after the pro-Russian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk was arrested for “high treason” in 2021 and three Russian-language television stations were banned. The authoritarian, nationalist aspirations in Ukraine under President Volodymyr Selenskyj, which were characteristically hardly noticed in the West, went hand in hand with a revisionist politics of history. Many Western Ukrainian Nazi collaborators were rehabilitated and stylized as real national heroes. The political division of Ukraine into a pro-Russian east and a nationalist west, which had manifested itself since the 1990s in the corresponding changes of power between eastern Ukrainian (Viktor Yanukovych) and pro-western oligarch clans (Viktor Yushchenko), has thus been resolved unilaterally in favor of western Ukrainian nationalism. This is a red rag for Moscow, which had itself contributed to this intra-Ukrainian front shift precisely through its imperial annexation of Crimea.

Toward a Failed State

The already rampant oligarchic power structure in Ukraine as well as in Russia (where Putin’s state oligarchy has directly seized the state apparatus and state-owned enterprises), however, highlights the central difference between the current crisis imperialism and the bloody “Great Game” in the second half of the 19th century. This difference consists in the increasing tendencies toward denationalization, toward the crisis-induced savagery of the state apparatus, which in Russia is in the hands of oligarchic and mafia networks and networks of cronies and which also relies on mercenary units, for example from Chechnya, for its invasion of Ukraine.

In the case of Ukraine, it is again the fascist militias that are taking on a life of their own. After Selenskyj’s initial attempts to demobilize these Nazi units active in eastern Ukraine failed due to threats and resistance, he integrated them into the army, or placed them under the control of the Interior Ministry as an auxiliary force of the police (“National Militia Units”). The growing influence of fascist militias in Ukraine’s state apparatus, responsible for attacks on minorities such as Rom*nya and murders of pro-Russian opposition activists, manifested itself in Selenskyj’s awarding of the Order “Hero of Ukraine” to Nazi commander Dmytro Kotsyubaylo in December 2021.

Late capitalism does not have to go away with a miserable whimper – it can also go away with a big bang.

The war in Ukraine is accompanied by an influx of mercenaries, war veterans, adventurers, Islamists and Nazis, promoted by all warring parties, who are already active in Ukraine by the thousands. Russia not only has the notorious troops of Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov (who has repeatedly praised AfD politicians) fighting for it, but Moscow is now also trying to recruit fighters from the post-state entity that was once “Syria”.

Without an early diplomatic solution, these forces will gain weight in the conflict. Ukraine will thus turn into a second Syria, a “failed state” in which there is a permanent, externally fomented war. So far, it is precisely these “wars of denationalization” (Robert Kurz), which tend to devastate the periphery of the world system, that are executing the crisis process that is objectively underway, acting, as it were, as “fire accelerators” of the social and ecological crisis of the capitalist world system.

In this context, all imperial powers feel the crisis breathing down their necks: Putin wants to prevent Russia’s imperial descent, the U.S. sees itself confronted with growing inflation despite world money, which endangers the previous deficit formation, the Germany sees its export-oriented economic model, its supply of raw materials threatened, and so on – that’s why the state monsters are ready to play this monstrous imperialist “poker” over Ukraine, which may well lead to a nuclear exchange of blows.

Anti-capitalist peace policy

The impacts that devastated Somalia, Libya, Syria or Afghanistan in the past decades are thus moving closer to the centers of the world system, Ukraine is a country of the semi-periphery. However, as the impacts of the relentlessly advancing crisis dynamics come closer, powerlessness is also increasing, especially on the left, which could be pulverized between the fronts of this confrontation. Movement autonomy can probably only be fought for together with radical critique.

The compulsion to unreflectively join one of the imperialist warring parties would have to be countered by an offensively anti-capitalist peace policy, in which the demand for an immediate ceasefire would go hand in hand with the thematization of the systemic crisis – not out of a left-wing radicalism, but because it is this real crisis movement that makes late capitalism unstable and drives it into self-destruction.

A consistent, radical peace movement, which could only emerge in demarcation from red-brown Putin trolls as well as from NATO propagandists from the environment of the Greens, would have to emphasize the clearly emerging necessity of system transformation. That capitalism is at its end is obvious, but its end is open. Without its conscious emancipatory overcoming, this system will break down due to its internal and external contradictions, which would actually mark the final defeat of the left. Late capitalism does not have to pass away with a miserable long whimper in social decomposition and climate catastrophe – it can also, and this seems likely due to the accumulated potential for destruction, go out with a very big bang.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

War as crisis accelerator

War as crisis accelerator
by Tomasz Konicz
Friday Mar 18th, 2022
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/03/18/18848719.php
Opportunistic parts of the German left are already sorting themselves into NATO supporters and cheerleaders of hollow Western values, who are peddling the stale bourgeois-liberal ideology one last time before the Western states also sink into barbarism.

War as a crisis accelerator
West can see its own future in Putin regime
Today’s global political conflicts take place in the context of intensifying crises. In Russia’s militarily highly armed and authoritarian state, the West may see its own future.
By Tomasz Konicz
[This article published on 3/10/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://jungle.world/artikel/2022/10/krieg-als-krisenbeschleuniger.]

Like one egg to another? Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump exchange glances during a meeting in Japan, 2019.

Even trying to approximate the consequences of the catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine can be dizzying. The war is perceived by Western public opinion as an epochal shift, the beginning of a new era of renewed bloc confrontation between bourgeois democracies and authoritarian regimes. But it is actually the culmination of long-term crisis processes that are now being violently unleashed. The war thus represents the transformation of quantity into quality: Contradictions that previously manifested themselves in developments steadily increasing in intensity are now escalating.

Most conspicuous is the hysterical projection performance with which the Western, liberal public projects its own authoritarian-anomic erosion onto a new empire of evil, onto Russia and China. The Russian state oligarchy with President Vladimir Putin at its head is imagined as a demonic counter-principle that has nothing to do with the capitalist-liberal democracies in the Western centers of the world system, while at the same time, in view of the intensifying geopolitical conflict, similar methods are applied for which Russia was denounced in the past: Russian state propaganda broadcasters have been banned in the EU, public support for Russia’s war of aggression can be punished with prison sentences in the Czech Republic and Slovakia under pre-existing laws, and the gigantic arms program in Germany emulates Russian armament efforts. The anachronistic idea that “our” armies would protect Western “freedom” fails to recognize not only the de-democratization that has also long been taking place in the West, as expressed in Germany in recent years in the tightening of state police laws, but also the fascist machinations and anomic tendencies in the state apparatus and in the armed forces of the West itself – from coup plots in the German army to the constantly recurring single Nazi case in the police.

Russia, which is falling further and further behind the West in economic terms, is striving to maintain its status as a great power through the sheer use of military force.

In its confrontation with the Russian Federation and its satellite states, which is imagined as a struggle over values and systems, the West will become more like them. The interaction of authoritarian state formation and anomic state erosion, as manifested in the highly corrupt Russian state oligarchy, represents a course of the capitalist crisis process that is only more advanced in the semiperiphery than in the Western centers. The current conflict can possibly be summed up in the concept of crisis imperialism: While imperialism had entered a phase of global expansion of capital valorization in the second half of the 20th century, the current confrontation between rotten state apparatuses is taking place in a phase of contraction of the valorization process, which lacks the perspective of a new accumulation regime (as was last the case under Fordism) because of the global level of productivity. It is like a battle on the “Titanic” in which the economically inferior state monsters permanently descend socio-economically or even threaten to turn into failed states in the long run. The notion of a new Cold War with its clear bloc confrontation is deceptive, since crisis-induced competition continues to operate within the West as well: between the U.S. and Germany, for example, or within the EU between France and Germany, whose arms program the government in Paris could perceive as a threat to its military superiority within the framework of the European Union. Already once – in the middle of the Cold War – France had turned its back on NATO.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also a result of this situation. Russia, which is falling further and further behind the West in economic terms, is striving to maintain its status as a great power through the sheer use of military force after Russia was unable to reverse the 2014 Western-backed overthrow in Ukraine through similar methods of indirect intervention. Russia, with its economy built primarily on commodity exports, is steadily losing influence in the post-Soviet space, while Putin’s imperial conception of building a fossil commodity empire threatens to become obsolete as the West seeks to transform its energy system. The Hydrogen Office, opened by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) during a visit to Kiev in January to help Ukraine become a supplier of “green” hydrogen to the EU, virtually symbolized Russian fears of crisis-induced decline. The Russian leadership apparently estimated the costs of further erosion of its own sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space as higher than the costs (which it apparently criminally underestimated) of the war now being waged.

The worst-case scenario of the confrontation in Ukraine is nuclear war, which can no longer be ruled out because of the high stakes in this bloody struggle in which Russia seeks to assert its position as an imperial power in its historic sphere of influence. For Russia, the arms race is already in many ways a debacle that could escalate into a catastrophe: Although the Russian army should ultimately win the war militarily, the forecasts of even Western military experts, who saw Kiev falling within a few days, have been missed by a wide margin, not least because of the apparently inadequate modernization of the Russian armed forces.

The current course of the war makes the economically weakening Russia appear weaker in military terms than it appeared on paper. Russia has thus finally been relegated to the role of a junior partner in the alliance of convenience with China, which is now unavoidable due to the severe Western economic sanctions – because that is all that is involved here. In addition, there are the social and economic consequences of the historically unprecedented Western sanctions, which take on the character of a “total economic war,” as French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire put it, and which could endanger the stability of the so-called power vertical of the Russian regime in the medium term.

The economic war answering the invasion is also likely to reinforce the global stagflation dynamics, a consequence of the ever-growing debt of the past decades and, in particular, of the crisis surge of 2020, when the collapse of the global economy was painstakingly prevented by means of unprecedented money printing by central banks. Inflation, already high, is likely to rise further because of the price explosion of many fossil fuels and raw materials – it is itself a mode of the inevitable devaluation of value. Virtually all regions of the world must expect an economic slowdown or recession, which could once again result in financial crashes, especially in the highly indebted currency areas, such as the euro zone.

Added to this is the strain on global supply chains caused by war and sanctions, which is likely to push prices up further. As Russia and Ukraine are major grain exporters and together account for around 29 percent of global wheat exports, for example, this war is likely to lead to an increase in hunger and life-threatening malnutrition in many regions of the Global South, which have already been enormously impoverished in the course of the Covid 19 pandemic – this in interaction with the fully unfolding climate crisis, which is causing droughts, water shortages and miserable crop yields in many regions, for example in the USA, Spain, North Africa or Brazil.

And finally, the war is also likely to accelerate the disintegration of the crisis-blind and opportunistic parts of the German left, which are already sorting themselves along the ideological front: into Putin apologists around Sahra Wagenknecht and media with cross-front tendencies such as the online magazine Telepolis, which are already shamelessly practicing apologetics of Putin’s Russia again despite their disgraceful peace prognosis before the war, and into NATO supporters and cheerleaders of hollow Western values, who are peddling the stale bourgeois-liberal ideology one last time before the Western states also sink into barbarism.

https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment