German Left Party delegates vote for military deployment

By Ulrich Rippert
14 April 2014

Last Wednesday, five Left Party Bundestag (German parliament) deputies voted for the government’s proposal to send a frigate and 300 Bundeswehr (German army) soldiers to the Mediterranean. In doing so, they supported a deployment of the German army abroad for the first time in the party’s history. Until now, the Left Party has officially rejected such a policy.

Eighteen other Left Party deputies abstained and five did not participate in the vote. This meant that almost half of the party’s deputies disavowed their previous opposition to Bundeswehr overseas operations.

The federal government’s resolution would have been carried by an overwhelming majority of parliamentarians even without the votes of the Left Party. Apart from the coalition parties, the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union alliance (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens also declared their unconditional support. But the Left Party had no intention of missing the opportunity to effect a reversal of their war policy and support the government in its current war offensive.

The cynics heading the Left Party’s parliamentary faction were pursuing a well-calculated aim. They wanted to represent the military operation, supposedly undertaken to secure the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, as a disarmament measure in a peacekeeping mission. The cabinet’s proposal scheduled for balloting stipulated that the Bundeswehr participation, consisting of 300 troops and a naval frigate, was to support the deployment of the US dedicated vessel, Cape Rey. Syrian chemical weapons would purportedly be rendered inoperative by the so-called hydrolysis process to be conducted on this ship in the Mediterranean. The US navy was also to participate in safeguarding the procedure.

The parliamentary debate consisted of one demagogic speech after the other. Left Party executive member Stefan Liebich, who represents his party in the Bundestag foreign affairs committee, urged deputies to recognise that the destruction of chemical weapons was “the best thing an army can ever do.” He justified his support for the resolution with the words: “I’m for the systematic disarmament of weapons of mass destruction worldwide, and I’ll always fight for it.”

Deputy faction leader Dietmar Bartsch justified his consent to the Bundeswehr mission by saying: “I think the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons is a disarmament and peace-seeking measure that deserves every support.” He added that “the eradication of weapons of mass destruction” had reached a level of international approval that was previously unknown and would be pursued under the auspices of the United Nations. Bartsch thereby hinted that he regarded future military operations carried out “under the auspices of the UN” as being worthy of support.

Left Party faction leader Gregor Gysi, who abstained from the vote, revealed in his speech that, in reality, the entire faction agrees with the UN mission. “In essence, we are and always have been in complete agreement,” he declared. All Left Party parliamentarians were to be seen as in favour of destroying chemical weapons. The only contentious question was whether the Bundeswehr should be involved. Gysi stressed that the Left Party had always been a party for peace, and all the faction members continued to oppose participation of the German army in military operations.

Does Gysi seriously believe he can treat anyone who can put one and one together as a complete fool—apart from those in his own party? The Bundeswehr deployment in the Mediterranean is not a peacekeeping mission; it is part of the imperialist war offensive against Syria.

For almost three years, the Western powers and their regional allies in the Gulf states have been provoking a brutal civil war in Syria to topple the Assad regime and install a pro-Western regime in Damascus. They support Islamist terrorists and have repeatedly threatened to launch a direct military strike. Germany has been playing a central role in all this. The Bundeswehr has deployed a spy ship to patrol the Syrian coast and stationed Patriot air defence systems in Turkey. The Left Party itself has long been involved in the Syrian war and collaborates closely with the pro-Western opposition insurgents. Its consent to the Bundeswehr mission has only clarified its actual policy.

The Left Party’s obvious change of course on the issue of war was well understood and welcomed by the other political parties and the media. After the vote, German big business’s mouthpiece publication Handelsblatt ran the headline: “Historic ballot: The Left Party’s first-ever vote for a Bundeswehr mission.” The article begins with the words: “Normally, the Left Party firmly opposes Bundeswehr operations abroad. But it was a different matter when it came to voting on German assistance in the eradication of Syrian chemical weapons. A real first in the history of the party.”

What the Handelsblatt journalists call a “first” is worth looking at a little more closely. The parliamentary vote exposes the fact that the Left Party is part of a military build-up and belligerent campaign, which is currently being organised and conducted in the form of a veritable conspiracy against the populace.

Last January, after months of coalition negotiations last autumn, not a word of which was conveyed to the public, all the leading representatives of government—Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, the interior minister and chancellor—together with the federal president suddenly took the stage, proclaiming that the era of military restraint was at an end. It was deemed that, in future, Germany was to participate more robustly in the world’s crisis-torn regions and also be prepared to intervene militarily.

Since then, politics and the media have been dominated by rabid warmongering. The federal government have been working with fascists in Ukraine and stoking conflict with Russia. In the past week, NATO declared that Russia was no longer a partner, but an enemy. Since then, it has relocated aircraft, ships and troops to the vicinity of the Russian border and is preparing an enormous military build-up. The German defence minister is attributing new meaning to “Bundeswehr reform” and military leaders are lobbying for the reintroduction of conscription.

Many people are profoundly concerned about the looming prospect of war. From the very beginning, however, the Left Party has been involved in the foreign policy change and military offensive at the highest level, and it is part of the conspiracy against the people.

This was made clear in an article appearing in the Die Zeit national weekly a few weeks ago. It described how the foreign policy reversal was prepared and the role played in it by leading Left Party politicians such as Stefan Liebich. The Die Zeit article states: “Dissatisfaction with German lethargy has been fermenting in Berlin’s foreign policy community for a long time.” Four years under foreign affairs minister Guido Westerwelle were four years lost, “with no clear course, and thus much to the displeasure of our Allies.”

According to the article, a work group had been meeting in Berlin to develop a foreign policy strategy for Germany for a whole year, from November 2012 to October 2013. Officials from the chancellery and the foreign office were involved, as were representatives of think tanks, international law professors, journalists and leading foreign policy experts from all the parliamentary parties.

The impetus for this was given by the German Marshall Fund (GMF), a Washington think tank. As a result of the deliberations, a paper was drawn up with the title: “New Power, New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing World.” One of the initiators of the project was the then GMF director and former Time magazine editor, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff. A short time later, in August of last year, he became head of the policy planning staff in the office of the federal president. President Gauck’s speech at the Munich Security Conference, which had previously been approved by the defence and foreign ministries as well as the chancellor’s department, bears the hallmark of the former GMF director.

Representing the Left Party, Stefan Liebich was involved in all important discussions with the German Marshall Fund and thus made a special trip to Washington in the past year, reporting on his web site that he was thrilled to be working closely with leading military strategists.

The Left Party is thereby involved in the federal government’s foreign policy reversal at the highest level and plays a crucial role in the revival of German militarism. Its “humanitarian” and “democratic” phrasemongering serves to confuse the working class and enforce the new course towards war in the face of growing opposition from the population.

While the SPD celebrates the 100th anniversary of its consent to Germany’s entry into World War I in order to set the climate for Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s announcement of the massive military build-up, and the Greens’ top politicians, having played a leading role in supporting the fascist coup in Kiev, call for tougher moves against Russia, the Left Party endlessly expresses its interest in the formation of an SPD-Left Party-Green coalition government. The party, which falsely describes itself as left-wing, could hardly reveal more clearly its role as a right-wing party of the establishment.

We live in a period “where the masks are falling.” In a situation where the socio-political crisis is reaching a climax, all social forces and political parties are being forced to show their true colours. The Left Party is revealing its true nature: a party of German imperialism, ripping off its pacifist disguise precisely at a time when the country’s ruling elite is again preparing—after two world wars and the most heinous crimes—to return to the world stage.

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