Former German Defense Minister Guttenberg on Fritz Kraemer Book at CSIS

Posted in Other | 25-Mar-13 | Source: World Security Network Foundation

Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is now a Distinguished Statesman at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), one of the most effective and prestigious think tanks in Washington DC. Together with former U.S. Ambassador and LtGen Edward Rowny he presented the new book of Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann, "True Keeper of the Holy Flame. The Legacy of Pentagon Strategist and Mentor Dr Fritz Kraemer", about Dr. Hoffmann's mentor for 25 years (book-orders for USD 29.20 and more information in

The discussion about "The Legacy of Pentagon Strategist Dr. Fritz Kraemer: Lessons for Security Challenges of Today?" was moderated by CSIS Europe Program Director Heather A. Conley.

CSIS Guttenberg Kraemer
Former Defense Minister of Germany, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (right) and Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann at the CSIS in Washington discussing the legacy of Dr. Fritz Kraemer. "A remarkable book - interesting to read - it catches your attention immediately”

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg opened the round table with a remark about the book: "Dr. Fritz Kraemer, an emigrant from Germany, was influencing certain strategic decisions in the Pentagon over more than four decades. He as well was a mentor of rather intriguing character, which we find in the book by Hubertus Hoffmann about the "Legacy of Pentagon Strategist and Mentor Dr. Fritz Kraemer". It is a remarkable book. Very untypically shaped and therefore, in a way, interesting to read. It catches your attention immediately. It bears the title "True Keeper of the Holy Flame"; I must admit, I have read more modest titles. It is a book which covers lots of ground. It gives some inspiration for situations that we are facing today and that in the years to come. It is as well a panopticum of characters. It also serves as a monument for Dr Fritz Kraemer. It is also a collection of sentences which really serve as aphorism, which you rarely find nowadays. But why would a prophet choose the Pentagon? I have some knowledge of defense ministries.

There are few places where the coalition between the, not always rational, day-to-day politics and long-term strategic thinking is as obvious as it is there.

The most interesting part of it was for me to read between the lines and find conflicting approaches. It starts with the speech by Dr. Henry Kissinger - one of my mentors - where he clearly points at the moment where he and Kraemer split and did not speak for more than 30 years. It was due to two different ways how to conduct politics that conflicted at a certain moment. One was the way to conduct politics 'as a prophet'. The other one had to deal with the realistic and the realities of day-to-day politics, including the necessity of ad-hoc-decision-making. This basic conflict is one of the most striking parts of the book. One that follows us until now.

Its author Hubertus Hoffmann is the Founder of the World Security Network Foundation and one of the shrinking community of committed trans-Atlantists, looking on both sides of the ocean and looking further than the things we are currently dealing with. He has shaped in the last chapter of the book ideas of a fresh foreign policy which he calls "World 3.0". He was Research Fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) as protégé of Dr. Fritz Kraemer in 1983/84."

U.S. Ambassador Edward L. Rowny, who was one of the few real friends of Fritz Kraemer for many decades, congratulated Hubertus Hoffmann on the new book and described the Pentagon strategist and mentor in a convincing way: "If we would give a prize for the most colorful man in Washington we would give it to Fritz. His philosophy of 'Provocative Weakness' impressed several Secretaries of Defense and U.S. Presidents: If you are weak you provoke enemies to test your will and capabilities. Therefore we need strong forces. President Ronald Reagan understood that very well. (In March 23, 1983 he said: " We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.") His core belief was: 'I took an oath to defend the constitution. Defense first. We cannot approve anything not to do so.' By a policy of 'Peace Through Strength' we won at the very end World War III , the Cold War, without a single shot- what a success. I credit a lot to Fritz Kraemer in those decades of the cold war with the USSR. He was always my friend. Nevertheless I was on the short-list with Alexander Haig to become military liaison in the Kissinger National Security Council. Kraemer supported Al Haig's nomination in 1969 - and he was an excellent choice."

Dr. Hoffmann praised General Rowny, who had also served as U.S. Representative in NATOs Military Committee under its chairman German Luftwaffe General Johannes Steinhoff (1971-1974), who was another mentor of Dr. Hoffmann. "We are pleased to see now a real stable friendship between the Polish and the Germans within NATO and the EU, who had been arch enemies for centuries. We have to thank you, the people of Poland, especially the 'Solidarnosc' workers movement, the Polish bishops with their 1965 letter to the German bishops asking of reconciliation, Pope Johannes Paul II and other people like the great reconciler of the Germans and the Polish, my friend Archbishop Alfons Nossols from Opole/Oppeln in Upper Silesia, for all their contributions to peace and freedom in Europe. They all build a solid corner stone of peace in Europe."

Madeleine Kraemer-Byrant, who added two chapters to the new book and attended the discussion with her son Glenn issued a moving statement: "Ed, you were a good and trusted real friend for my father - thank you. It is interesting to see what aspects Hubertus assembles in the book from the many conversations with my father. I am grateful the book keeps him alive. It collects my father's aphorisms of very complex things in simple sentences. My father wanted those easy to read wisdoms out for the next generations of students. Even the casual reader can pick it up. These are important wisdoms for all ages.

I was surprised by the chapter about the personal family history. Fritz Kraemer was always very private. He did not talk about the family history, even to his daughter. My father understood life well. He was a historian, officer, mentor, a friend. Hubertus has captured parts of his complex character.

He was a political man but never a politician, always behind the scenes. He refused promotions not to become a political appointee. It touched my heart to see how many people have been influenced by him. In the Pentagon he made a difference. He called himself "the oldest fossil left". He was a missionary. His priorities were: God-country-family. The book True Keeper of the Holy Flame will keep his heritage. It is a lobar of love. Thank you Hubertus!"

Hubertus Hoffmann outlined his ideas and proposals for a better foreign- and  defense policy he terms "World 3.0", which is the last chapter of the book.

"I am totally unsatisfied with how we promote our foreign policy today, the inability of our bureaucracies to effectively deal with foreign affairs and hotspots like Syria, Mali or Afghanistan. If you compare this with the planning of large global companies like Apple, Siemens and Volkswagen, we are light years behind. We need better planning and much more creativity. We need a fresh foreign policy, World 3.0. We need dual track approaches like we did so successfully with the Harmel Report of NATO in 1967 or the NATO two track decision in 1979. Our exclusive focus on short-term crisis management and "on sight-planning" is showing us all what 'provocative weaknesses' are". It is no strategy but mini-tactics without a chance to be successful. We spend too much money for a minimal effect; we are too late, too slow, lose too many lives. This must change now."

Dr. Hoffmann, who founded the independent World Security Network Foundation inspired by Dr. Fritz Kraemer in 2001, also urged to keep up moral values like Fritz Kraemer did: "Our foreign policy needs a soul. Values we find in the UN Charter from 1945. Today we do not even dare to discuss these values of freedom and human rights for hotspots such as Syria. We should only support those who are 'freedom fighters' for our UN values. They must sign a clear commitment to the principles of the UN before they should get any support from us. That is the red line." He urged to come back to a broader bi-partisan-approach in foreign affairs as well in the U.S. and to form a fresh American policy with better planning and a soul.

Heather A. Conley agreed in the following discussion to the need for a new "Harmel 2"-NATO report with fresh approaches. "Until now we lack the big strategic picture and focus on short-term tactical approaches. We have no ideas what to do after Afghanistan in the alliance."

Dr. Hoffmann announced the start of a new working group "NATO 3.0" of the World Security Network to draft fresh ideas for NATO and an action plan.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg remarked, he is not optimistic about the European capabilities. "We hear the call for a new "Harmel 2" every five years, but have no strategy paper yet in NATO. We should first discuss the new realities, the quick global changes, including the implication of the digital revolution and its impact on governments."