Without America?There are growing indications that the position on “Operation Iraqi Freedom” taken by France, Germany, and Russia was not primarily a question of war or peace, but rather a deliberate choice to undermine the power and authority of the sole world superpower – the United States of America.
It is becoming more and more obvious that in Germany the “no” of the present government was not just a question of tactical move looking at the federal elections in September 2002. The new strategic codewords of the present German government are “multipolar world” and “emancipation.”
Because neither priorities nor objectives – German or European – can realistically be achieved alone any more, the American superpower must be reduced to the level of the various second ranking powers. In this logic the conflict over Iraq was the best possible camouflage for that policy.
In Germany, latent anti-Americanism combined with deeply rooted pacifism. From this moral high ground, it was relatively easy to bring people – veterans from the peace movements of the 60’s and 70’s, children, and teenagers – to the streets.
Media pundits and lofty representatives of tax-subsidized German churches have commenced their own form of “information warfare.” These self-appointed cultural warlords celebrate a “moral arrogance of powerlessness.”
The political-military priorities of the present German government aim at a kind of “structural military impotence” rather than peacekeeping operations (not to mention either coalition building or war winning). German forces leg behind American and British forces in almost all important military areas.
German Army forces have almost lost their in-former-times highly regarded quality to fight the combat of combined arms. There is no political will to change this downslide.
That Germany will now jump into a new military lifeboat of joint military operations with France, Belgium and Luxembourg signals a new episode in the European history of figurative Zeppelins, a.k.a., hot air balloons.
The primarily emotional debate in Germany has formed a smokescreen behind which
the fundamental challenges of the future lurk. Serious questions of common security abound, but convincing common answers are missing.
The diplomatic failures preceding the military successes of Operation Iraq Freedom demonstrate that the United Nations had not done their collective homework.
Where were the “lessons learned” from the 1999 “humanitarian intervention” into Kosovo? In that instance, an American-led coalition carried out a humanitarian intervention to avoid genocide – without UN mandate. That moment of irrelevance should have sounded an urgent cry from the world community to harmonise the UN Charter with current and future challenges. Such harmonization should include the qualified acceptance of “pre-emptive operations,” because the 20th Century system of deterrence has obviously failed in the face of 21st Century ruthless regimes.
Because the world cannot afford to wait until those ruthless regimes prove their fatal threats, there is a need to find new responses.
If the UN is not able to establish a commonly accepted new system in due course, the next disaster is already programmed.
“Old Europe” cannot have its cake and eat it: Europe cannot hanker both for “European autonomy” and protection by the USA.
The only way out is to return to the underlying assumptions of the Atlantic Alliance. Europe and the transatlantic partners must find a common and complementary answer.
In the mid- to long-term perspective, even the USA will not be able alone to tackle the newly emerging worldwide risks and threats of international terrorism and highly mobile weapons of mass destruction. Among the enduring “lessons learned” from the “Cold War,” however, is that common transatlantic values, like U.S. Marine Corps virtues, breed uncommon success.
The Anglo-American military success in Operation Iraqi Freedom should remind political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic that we are strong together. That the present German government is willing to make the necessary U-turn to realize this paradigm of transatlantic success has yet to be seen.