In the run-up to the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, leading German politicians and media outlets are attempting to ignite pro-war hysteria. This demonstrates one thing: NATO is not escalating the war with Russia to defend Ukraine or Europe; its real goal is the complete military defeat of Russia–even if this takes years, with hundreds of thousands of young men on both sides of the front being used as cannon fodder, and threatens a nuclear war that would hurl Europe back to the Stone Age.
In this, Germany distinguishes itself in particular. The mouthpieces of the ruling class, who have been demanding for years that the country once again assume a geopolitical and military role commensurate with its weight as the world’s fourth-largest economy, believe their hour has come. They sense an opportunity to finally take revenge for the defeats in the First and Second World Wars and rebuild Germany as Europe’s leading military power. What used to be discussed behind closed doors or in the pages of exclusive journals is now being expressed quite openly.
On Tuesday, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)–the mouthpiece of the Frankfurt stock exchange–published a hymn of praise for Defence Minister Boris Pistorius (Social Democratic Party, SPD). “The Germans must finally learn to deal with the military again,” writes Eckart Lohse, the head of the FAZ parliamentary editorial department. Pistorius “must familiarise German society” with the fact that there “is a new reality that can come close to a very old reality again.”
Lohse, with a doctorate in history, knows exactly which “very old reality” he is talking about. It concerns the years 1941 to 1945, when German tanks rolled towards Moscow and tried to conquer the Soviet Union in Hitler’s murderous war of extermination that claimed 27 million lives.
It was true that Germany “heralded a return to things military with its participation in the Kosovo war and continued this with its Afghanistan mission,” Lohse notes. “But what has had to be done since February 24 last year is of a different calibre. Germany must not only help Ukraine, but also prepare for tank battles in its neighbourhood–watchword the Baltic. And it must be prepared for that to happen in its own country.”
On Wednesday, Jochen Bittner and Jörg Lau, editors of the weekly Die Zeit, followed up by publishing an interview with Michael Roth (SPD), chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and Stefanie Babst, who was the highest-ranking German in the NATO General Secretariat from 2006 to 2020.
Roth called on the German government to focus “even more strongly on deterrence and defensibility” in the future. Babst demanded that the West “take the strategic initiative” at the Vilnius summit and “present a concrete roadmap on when and how Ukraine could become a member of NATO.” Babst called for “a strategic game-changer that would give the war a new dynamic.”
On Thursday, Britain’s Guardian published an opinion piece by German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, who openly stated that Germany was seeking a “leadership role” again on the world stage. She wrote that Russia’s “war of aggression” ushered in a “new phase” of German foreign policy in which the country could “no longer sit back” and had to “assume its leadership role.” There was “not only a turning point in the way my country perceives threats to its own security, but also in the way we take our responsibility in today’s world: as a leader on whom our partners can rely.”
Baerbock said that Germany would assume this “responsibility” in Europe and beyond through “an integrated security policy.” Earlier phases of German foreign policy–in which the credo “never again war” had applied and “chequebook diplomacy” had been relied upon–were definitely over, she said. In future, Germany would guarantee “the security of Eastern Europe” and organise the security of the continent “not with, but against Putin’s Russia.” For this reason, it was rearming and building “a geopolitical European Union that opens its doors to new members such as Ukraine, Moldova, the Western Balkans and, in the long term, Georgia.”
The propaganda campaign reached at least an initial climax on Friday with an editorial in Der Spiegel. The country’s biggest news magazine carried the headline “Give Ukraine whatever it needs–That’s what a victory over Putin should be worth to us.” [In the English-language edition, “Western Support for Kyiv–It's Now or Never For Ukraine.”]
In the piece, journalist Thore Schröder called on NATO governments to supply the Ukrainian military with “F-16 fighter jets, long-range munitions, more anti-aircraft weaponry and a lot more artillery ammunition than they have been receiving so far.”
“Ukraine is doing all it can to push back the Russian invaders,” Schröder wrote approvingly, but noted that “much-anticipated counteroffensive” by Ukrainian troops had “far fallen far short of the goals” despite “terrible casualties.” In the past week, “the Ukrainians say they reclaimed a total of 38 square kilometers of territory in the southern and eastern part of the country, an area even smaller than Manhattan Island in New York.”
According to media reports, tens of thousands of soldiers have died in this senseless slaughter on the Ukrainian side alone in the last month. The Ukrainian military is using police terror to obtain recruits among the increasingly restive Ukrainian youth. Schröder defends the counteroffensive in almost Orwellian fashion: “The fact is that the leadership in Kyiv hardly had a choice. The expectations from their own populace and from the West to finally begin the process of reconquering occupied territory were overwhelming.”
Schröder (with a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, born 1982) belongs to the category of “embedded journalist” who writes faux-objective “war reports” in close coordination with the military and government and makes a nice career out of it. In an interview with the career portal High Potential, Schröder reports that in recent years he has “really sought out conflicts” because he “functions very well in such situations, the excitement tends to make me more focused.”
After reporting on the war in Nagorno-Karabakh in autumn 2020 and “several weeks in Afghanistan,” Schröder first took over the correspondence at Süddeutsche Zeitung and finally “became a crisis reporter at Der Spiegel almost with the beginning of the Ukraine war.” Since then, he has been calling for German arms deliveries not only in the print and online editions of the news magazine, but also on Instagram.
In the Spiegel editorial, to win the “brutal war of attrition” against Russian “combat helicopters, warplanes, drones and artillery fire,” Schröder demands the Ukrainian side receive “large numbers of weapons systems right now, not small numbers supplied in a slow trickle.” At the upcoming NATO summit, “the West must decide once and for all what the fight against Putin–and with it, the defense of freedom–is really worth.”
What it is “worth” to Schröder, Lohse, Baerbock and numerous other hacks and ruling class politicians, we know by now. Those who believed that after its bestial crimes in the Second World War, the German elite would not make any new attempt at world domination are being taught otherwise.
Or, as Baerbock puts it in the Guardian: “After the horrors of the second world war, unleashed by Germans, our country’s foreign policy was driven by the premise that war should never again emanate from German soil. ... Only two years ago, the idea of Germany delivering tanks, air-defence systems and howitzers to a war zone would have seemed far-fetched, to say the least.” Now, she says, a change of era has taken place: “Not only is there a sea change in how my country perceives the threats to its own security, but also in how we understand our responsibility in today’s world.”
It is high time the working class put a stop to this madness.