Manuel Ochsenreiter interviewed by Leonid Savin.
Manuel, please, can you to characterize contemporary foreign policy of Germany, it’s implications toward EU, changes during last years and possible perspectives?
– The contemporary foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) is not a foreign policy an independent and sovereign state would make. Berlin foreign politicians and so called “foreign policy experts” of the established parties in the Bundestag attach great importance to the fact that Germany is “embedded” in the foreign policy of the “transatlantic values” of the European Union or the NATO.
By the way, The fact that Germany is not a sovereign state is not a conspiracy theory. The German Minister of finance Dr. Wolfgang Schauble said during the European Banking Congress on November 18 2011: “But in Germany since May 8, 1945 [the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht] at no time have we been fully sovereign”.
When we analyze German foreign policy especially since the reunification in 1990 when the so called “post war era” ended officially, we can see clearly that from the German side there were no attempts to regain full sovereignty, although it might have been possible. Instead, Germany participated as a willing NATO-“partner” in conflicts (e.g. Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Syria, Mali). We don?t witness any independent German foreign policy activities. Of course there are also some little exceptions.
Just one example of an exception: When in 2003 the discussion went on if Germany should participate in the military aggression against Iraq, the German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroder from the social democrats refused to be with the US. The opposition leader in that time, Angela Merkel from the Christian democratic union (the Federal Chancellor today!), attacked Schroder in a speech in the Bundestag with the following words: “We don’t want a German Sonderweg [special path]!” She expressed clearly that in her opinion there is no other option than supporting the US in the aggression against Bagdad. But we shouldn’t forget in that context that Schroder’s government already participated in the conflicts in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Schroder’s coaltion of social democrats and greens ordered the German air force to bombard the Serbian capital Belgrade. But when it came to the Iraq aggression, a huge German peace movement became very active with demonstrations in the German cities. So it was more or less about collecting their votes than a general change in German foreign policy.
Everything must be permitted or confirmed by the western “friends” or “partners”. Germany even reforms its army, the Bundeswehr, in a way that it is not anymore a classical defense army but a global rapid deployment force. The Bundeswehr today is seen as an element of the western military forces but not as an independent German army.
There is one important point. The German foreign policy today is not “suffering” under western or EU pressure. All these things happen by the free will of the German politicians in Berlin. This is easy to explain. Especially US-dominated NGOs and foundations take care about the careers and education of German politicians since decades. When we look for example at the activities of the group “Atlantik-Brucke” (“Atlantic bridge”) which was founded in 1952 in Bonn (West-Germany), we have to see that almost all established political parties and media companies in Germany are influenced by that organization. More than 500 elites from the banking sector, economy, political parties, media, and science are organized in the “Atlantik-Brucke”. You find there social democrats as well as liberals and conservative, even greens. With the so called “young leader” program they secure the supply of “new blood”. In the official statement it sounds like this: “In 1973 the Young Leaders Program was added to Atlantik-Brucke’s repertoire. With it the Atlantik-Brucke promotes interaction between rising young German and American professional leaders”.
But the “Atlantik-Brucke” is just one of the many organizations that “shape” German foreign policy in a way that Berlin seems to be more or less a satellite of Washington. The western hegemony is fully developed in German policy. For the near future it doesn’t seem that there might be any big change.
And just to mention in this context, the first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, said in 1949 that the organization?s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Although we are talking since 1990 about the reforms and new aims of the NATO, we have to admit that nothing changed. Lord Ismay’s statement is as actual as it was in 1949. And Germany right now doesn’t have a problem to be “kept down”.
– Is there any attempts to opposite initiatives of U.S. for global dominance such as concept of Anchor States proposed by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development?
– Unfortunately, even the concept of the “Ankerstaaten” [Anchor States] doesn’t really oppose the US global dominance. It simply recognizes the fact that other states develop to influential powers in their regions. But the original document of the Ministry from 2004 says clearly that those new powers, the Anchor States, might have a positive or negative influence on their specific region. And in the “Leitlinien” – the guidelines of the concept given by the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development we can read that Germany acts in “strategic alliances with the EU and other bi- and multinational donors”, and that Germany wants to enforce the integration of the Anchor States into the “international community of shared values”. So if we to analyze the Anchor State concept in a pessimistic way, we have to state that this concept is a pure western hegemony doctrine and not an idea to oppose US dominance.
– How going actualization of this process of dialogue between countries of Asia, Africa and South America?
– This dialogue fits perfectly to the western agenda. You will not find any “German attempts” here. For the Russian Federation and China the so called “human rights” questions are dominant. We witnessed the campaigns during the Pussy Riot scandal. Many German established politicians didn?t hesitate to call Russia a type of dictatorship with President Vladimir Putin as an “almighty” leader. Sometimes the hostility towards Russia is conspicuous. The announcement that Putin would receive the official German Quadriga award in 2011 was widely condemned. As a result of protests by Quadriga board members and former recipients all the 2011 awards and ceremonies were cancelled. Same thing with China. Also here Germany acts as a political “housemaster” for liberal “western values”. So dialogue is a strong word. What takes place in reality is schoolmastering.
And we can see the same things in the majority of “dialogues” Germany has with the so called Anchor States. The dialogue with Iran shows that Berlin is one of the motors of the policy of sanctions against Teheran because of defending alleged Israeli and US interests instead German interests. The dialogue with Turkey doesn?t deserve the term “dialogue”. The large Turkish national minority in Germany is abused by the Ankara government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a “fifth column” for influencing German interior policy. Turkey, as a “NATO-partner”, is under the direct protection of Washington.
These are just some examples of dialogue. The rule is: Berlin will not do anything that opposes the US-hegemony. Germany with those personal elite will not follow its national interest.
– Representatives of German government some time ago told about necessity to back golden reserves to the country. Why it happens?
– The real questions should be as follows: Why did it take so long until our politicians became active? More than two thirds of Germany?s gold reserves valued at 137 billion euros or $183 billion is abroad, stored in the vaults in New York, Paris, and London. The official reason: During the Cold War times the gold was transferred from Frankfurt to USA, UK, and France because it is more secure in case of a Soviet attack. Frankfurt was considered too “close to the iron curtain”.
The Cold war ended 23 years ago. But some analysts say it might be for a certain reason that the German gold is in the vaults of the western allied powers of World War II.
Why is Germany only now interested to get the gold of the Bundesbank back? It might have to do with the crisis of the euro and with the European economic crisis in general. Some analysts like the UK based financial journalist Matthew Lynn speaks out very clearly: “German sentiment is hardening against the single currency with every month that passes. What is a whole vault full of gold in the basement of your central bank good for exactly after all? Starting a new currency of course.” So hopefully this might be the overture for the comeback of the Deutsche Mark. To be honest I doubt that our government thinks that way. But hope dies last.
– Is any signals in military sector for re-nationalization (I mean decrease of NATO and US influence on German military planning, strategy and so on)?
– No especially that the military sector becomes more and more fully integrated into the NATO-structures. Germany is “castrating” its own security forces. They are not fit anymore for homeland defense but as an element for international operations. We practically abolished conscription in July 2011 which was a long term tradition of the German forces and a base for the national defense.
Germany never seemed so far away from a re-nationalization of its military defense as seen nowadays. Although during the Cold War times West German generals opposed the NATO-plan that Germany should become a nuclear battle field in case of a hot conflict with the Eastern block.
– What is your opinion about idea of Multistakeholder-approach developed by German think-tank SWP?
– Generally it would be crazy to deny the danger of cyber-attacks against infrastructure of a country. And it would be crazy as well to deny the necessity of international cooperation in this new battle field. We should be prepared and build up a well-organized defense structure.
But “Angst” (fear) alone is always a bad advisor for reacting in a clever way to such threats. So we should read the SWP-concept of the Multistakeholder approach very clearly before we celebrate a plan to protect our countries against cyber-attacks.
First of all we should take into account that the SWP is not an independent think-tank although it claims to be independent. The SWP is supported by several German and EU-governmental institutions as some German ministries and the European Commission. The author of the Multistakeholder-concept, Dr. Annegret Bendiek, is Deputy Head of Research Division “EU External Relations” of the SWP. So we can say that the SWP is more or less part of a multinational network.
And the Multistakeholder-concept should be read carefully, precisely, and accurately. It contains ideas of mixing up the cyber security tasks with the private sector and the so called “civil society”, and that this cooperation should happen with “equal rights” of all participants. This means nothing else other than giving state functions to non-state institutions. At the same time it mentions the fields of inner and foreign politics “melting” with each other. And the concept is again a very US-related. It gives the impression that the threat generally comes from the “evil” east but never from the west!
So when we analyze the concept we see that it contains in many ways guidelines how to disintegrate more and more sovereign state tasks. The concept follows the postmodern trend determining that the state alone is not able to take care of traditional state organized challenges. When it comes to security issues, maybe the most important national challenge for any state, we should be very careful. We should also be careful when such concepts tell us today where the future threats will come from exactly. We can interpret this in two ways. The author is able to read in the coffee cup and knows exactly what will happen in the future, or the author follows an explicit frontline given to him by the party ordering the research study.
– What is role of Germany in Cyber-G5 (Deutschland, Frankreich, Gro?britannien, Niederlande, Schweden) and how Bundestag reflects on cyberpolicy and cyberthreats in general? The results of summit in Dubai shows red line between Russia, China, India, Iran etc. and U.S. + E.U. on other side that mean possible confrontation in this specific domen in future.
– The cyber policy is a political field which is underestimated by the majority of political analysts today. Let us talk frankly. Cyber policy is a part of the so called western concept of “world inner policy”. It denies national sovereignty. The European concept is close to the US concept given by the former US head of state department Hillary Clinton. She declared the “freedom of the internet” a “fundamental principle” of the US foreign policy. By the way, this was the justification of supporting the Libyan Sunni extremist fighters during their war against the Gaddafi-regime in capturing big parts of the Libyan national mobile phone network. The “freedom of the internet” argument is used right now to support anti-state groups with communication material. State sovereignty, where information policy is also an important part of state security, is violated by those Washington activities nonstop.
In the so called “Cyber-G5” group, the German government supports exactly this understanding of the “freedom of the internet”. Again German SWP-authors (Annegret Bendiek, Marcel Dickow and Jens Meyer) framed the concept in an article for “SWP-Aktuell”: The authors speak about an “emancipating and democratizing effect” of the internet and mention the so called “Arab Spring” as an evidence, although in the “Spring”-countries sunni islamist governments came to power who are not really well known for supporting “information freedom”.
So we cannot ignore the fact that what is called today with a nice term “freedom of the internet” might be tomorrow already the justification for violating the sovereignty of those states that don?t obey that idea.
This is also cynicism and hypocrisy. While talking about the “freedom of the internet” and “freedom of information” all over the world the EU-countries violate freedom of speech and press inside. So we can say that the “freedom of the internet” policy is nothing else other than an instrument to violate and destabilize other states in the future.
And of course there is a fat red line between the west and those states that have a strong sovereign agenda such as Russia, China, India or Iran.
– And what you think about trade relations and it’s link with politics and ideology? For example, last year presence of German companies in Russia become smaller than before.
– I consider Germany and Russia as natural partners in business and trade. Unfortunately the political situation doesn’t encourage good and prosperous business relations. Germany is Russia’s second biggest trade partner after China. We import resources and export industrial goods and high technology. In a positive political atmosphere Germany and Russia could benefit much more by close relations, not just in the economic field. But as long as the guidelines for German foreign politics are written in Washington and Brussels I don?t see big chances for a change.
But why not think ahead? There are plenty of fields for great future cooperation. Germany and Russia could build up Northern East Prussia in modern day Russian exclave “Oblast Kaliningrad” with a joint venture! Konigsberg (Kaliningrad), the old Prussian town, could become again a capital of German-Russian free state outside the EU. Why shouldn’t we combine our skills there on a historical soil. Konigsberg used to be an important center for north eastern European trade.
Of course for many readers this might sound like fantasy and very unrealistic. But the people who talked in 1988 and even in summer 1989 about a German reunification were also considered as lunatics. So why not be little bit crazy and think about such great opportunities. Things might change, and sometimes very quickly.
– Actually what is geopolitical thought of Germany now? It mostly unknown in Russia. After Haushoffers (father and son) and few names there is no information about it, expect discource of some political scientists, but not geopoliticians.
– Geopolitics is banned in Germany since 1945. It was considered especially by the US as one of the evil sources of “German aggression”. So what does that mean today? The German authorities don’t consider Germany itself to be an independent global player anymore. Geopolitically Germany became a full part of the so called “western international community” although this is anti-historical. Germany used to be a central European state, a bridge between east and west. This thinking almost disappeared.
If I personally want to talk with someone about geopolitics and e.g. about Haushofer’s ideas I have to find most probably a Russian or Middle Eastern conversation partner.