The Grand Design
“We must find a new starting point which changes the political face of the world ….”
Those visionary words were penned by one of Germany’s most controversial post-war politicians, Franz Josef Strauss. Almost 40 years ago this Munich-born “strongman of Europe” laid out a Grand Design to change the balance of power in the world and thrust a federated Europe forward as a countervailing force between Russia and America.
That was when two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, maintained the balance of global power. Now, with the USSR having faded into history and the European Union having overtaken the U.S. in the size and extent of its economy, the Eurocrats stand on the brink of realizing Strauss’s dream—that Germany “must establish a new set of political facts, a new political Europe … not merely neutral between Russia and America, but a political Europe standing on its own feet. … We must change the balance of power in the world, … we must wage a political campaign with increasing strength on our side” (Franz Josef Strauss, The Grand Design).
The Plan’s Genesis
To really understand the situation Germany faces as it contemplates its future—and by extension the future of Europe and indeed the world—during this election year we need to understand a little of the history which formed it into the powerful nation it is today.
Anciently, Rome conquered Spain, Gaul, the south of Britain, northern Africa south to the Sahara Desert, Illyria, Greece and Central Asia to the Euphrates River. Yet, significantly, Rome could not stretch its hegemony beyond the Rhine River on the European continent. Why? Beyond the Rhine River dwelt a war-like race called by the Romans Germania, meaning “war men.” It was to this race, consisting of numerous small tribes, that the possession of the Roman Empire would fall in a.d. 800 (for more information on this fascinating history, request our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire).
For centuries, having declared itself as “the wall of defense against the barbarism of Asia,” imperial Germany dominated continental Europe with its most enduring political institution: the German Reich. Officially designated by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages as “the Kingdom of God on Earth,” this “Holy Roman Empire of the German people” embraced, until the 19th century, most German-speaking peoples and millions of others.
It has been the nature of this Germanic Reich to be given to frequent mutations. As Luigi Barzini puts it, “Not even the geography stayed put. Borders advanced and retreated like tides. Flags changed. Titles changed. The very language varied somewhat from time to time and from place to place” (The Europeans).
Reflective of the recent transfer of Germany’s capital from Bonn to the Berlin of Holy Roman Empire days, for many centuries the German empire sported a moveable capital, in German known as the Pfalz. It happened to be wherever the emperor and his court pitched their tents. Barzini continues, “For a long time, the only thing that did not vary was the national anthem, its boastful proclamation, ‘Deutschland über alles,’ echoing unchanged down the corridors of time. And every time I was there on a journalistic mission I saw a startlingly new country, only vaguely resembling what I had seen before or what I had read about.”
Such a history is, in itself, but an expression of that which German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche asserted is the indescribable nature of the German people: “As a people of the most monstrous mixture and medley of races, perhaps even with a preponderance of the pre-Aryan element, as ‘people of the middle’ in every sense, the Germans are more incomprehensible, comprehensive, contradictory, unknown, incalculable, surprising, even frightening than other people are to themselves: they elude definition” (Beyond Good and Evil).
Then, in a remarkably candid assessment of the character of the Germany of history, Nietzsche declared, “[I]t is not for nothing that one is called … the Täusche-Volk, deceiver people” (ibid.).
When we study German politics today, particularly as they impact the international arena, we should be most mindful of this trait of German character. The world, in particular America, now sees a Germany democratized, well behaved, repentant of its historic warmongering, even having paid its dues for the Holocaust, regenerated as a responsible leader within a uniting Europe. Germany today is seen as a staunch ally of the West, a prime mover for peace in the Middle East, a beacon of light to other regimes which yet have to overcome their tainted totalitarian past.
But is this real?
Strauss himself admitted that “in contributing to the formation of a European federation, Germany herself would find a new identity.” Well, if this be so, if Germany indeed has taken on a new identity, does it reflect a genuine change of character—or is it simply an identity of convenience?
Strauss clearly unveils the motive for this makeover of the German identity which the cloak of European Union has cast about it: “[I]t was going to be much easier for Germany to make a comeback as a member of an international family, as a member of a European federation, than as a German Reich, a single national state. Therefore we should not insist too much on what good Europeans we are; we must understand that our European attitude was the only escape hatch we had, the only approach that made a comeback possible” (op. cit.).
That comeback is now a reality. Are we, then, about to see the reverse side of that Europeanizing cloak that Germany has clung to its bulging shoulders for nearly 60 years? Is Germany about to reverse its cloak of identity and fling it out around Europe, in essence converting the process of “Europeanizing Germany” into one of “Germanizing Europe”? Is this the time, in this German election year, to contemplate seriously those words of Nietzsche: “The German soul has its passageways and inter-passageways; there are caves, hideouts and dungeons in it; its disorder has a good deal of the attraction of the mysterious; the German is an expert on secret paths to chaos. … [T]he German loves clouds and everything that is unclear, becoming twilit, damp and overcast: whatever is in any way uncertain, unformed, blurred, growing, he feels to be ‘profound’” (op. cit.; emphasis mine throughout). In the art of foreign policy, one should never overlook the historic evidence of nationalcharacter.
Toward the Grand Design
Mr. Strauss had powerful influence on the direction of political thought regarding Germany and Europe within his own country as well as in foreign-policy circles in the U.S. and Britain. His Grand Design for Europe and his home country embodied 10 key objectives:
1. Destroy the legend that Germany is a country congenitally devoted to acts of aggression. This must be done by “Europeanization of the German question.”
2. Europe must make a choice to become a federation. The epoch of national pride and sovereignty must be viewed as having passed.
3. The Soviet Union must radically change its policy toward Europe and Germany.
4. Europe should not become an anti-Russian potential. Europe must become a potential on its own. From the geographical point of view, Europe may extend to the Urals.
5. No definition of Europe should be held to exclude Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the other Eastern countries. When we talk of a European federation, Russia must accept that these countries are included.
6. To counter fragmentation of the European continent and to ensure peace, national thinking in both Western and Eastern Europe must be abandoned. There should be no negotiation on the recognition or non-recognition of nationalrights.
7. Germany has specific territorial demands. Only in an Eastern Europe outside the Communist sphere of influence, in which all nations have gained the right of self-determination, can the right of Germans to settle in the homes of their choice be discussed. A strong United States of Europe must be constructed where every citizen enjoys freedom of movement and free choice of where to work and live.
8. The unification of East and West Germany [prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989] must be seen by Germans as part of a general settlement freeing all Eastern European countries from the Communist yoke.
9. West European states need to become members of a European defense community, having its own atomic armaments, developed via assistance from the United States.
10. Germans must accept the long way round to the achievement of these goals. It must be a step-by-step process, harmonizing our European economic and social structure, foreign policies, relationships with Russia and America and the East-West complex, plus reform of nato.
That this Grand Design has the empowerment of the German nation, under a Europeanizing guise, as an ulterior motive, was not hidden by Strauss. Indeed, he clearly declared that this vision for a “stable European framework, a Continent resuming and fulfilling its historical function, federated and unified, could absorb, catalyze and canalize into the right path the German potential, German emotions, German feelings and German strength” (op. cit.).
Any astute analyst of the German question will realize that, with the specific exception of a well-consolidated European defense community, backed by nuclear armaments, all of the objectives of Strauss’s Grand Design for Germany and Europe have been fulfilled progressively, step by step, over the past 50 years. With the Eurocrats now deliberating over the evolving European constitution, and military strategists meeting behind closed doors to consider how to weld Europe’s disparate armies of, collectively, over 2 million personnel into a single European defense force, the final pieces of this Grand Design are about to be welded into place.
But, Strauss is dead. This Munich-born political visionary died in 1988, without seeing his grand vision realized—yet not before passing it on to his hand-picked successor: Edmund Stoiber, leading candidate in the race for the German chancellorship in the September elections. The vision of Franz Josef Strauss lives today in the mind of Edmund Stoiber. Will it be left to the right-wing Stoiber, cast in the mold of his influential mentor, to see that vision through to ultimate fruition?
The Peace Broker
To counteract, or at the very least to limit, fears of German hegemony, brought about by its increasing economic, business and political incursions into Eastern Europe and its recent political and military role in the Balkans, one of the facades presently attached to the constantly developing German image is that of peacemaker or peace broker.
The Germans have powerfully supported the EU in its role as chief bankroller for the Palestinians in their drive for recognition in the Middle East. Joschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign minister, has vied with EU Secretary General Javier Solana and EU special envoy to the Middle East Miguel Moratinos in making overtures for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Last month Fischer released a new “peace plan” for the Middle East—right at the time that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the Middle East and Europe in America’s most recent unsuccessful peace effort.
It was also Fischer who burned the midnight oil preparing Balkan reconstruction proposals, even as nato was bombing Yugoslavia from 14,000 feet up during the Kosovo war. This ex-terrorist-supporter of the mid-1960s has succeeded in creating an entirely new image for himself as globe-trotting peacemaker and has put Germany on the map with its new identity of peace-broker.
Germany’s ground troops and air force have seen battle over the past half-decade in the Balkans and Afghanistan; its navy has been deployed to East Africa. These initiatives have always been in the guise of “peacekeeping” missions, overseen by umbrella bodies such as the UN or nato. Most recently, crack German special forces have seen action in Afghanistan as part of the U.S.-led alliance against terrorism. In all of these situations, publicity has it that the Germans behaved impeccably, true to the nature of their clearly defined missions.
This new identity as a militarized peacekeeper is gradually being accepted by all sides in German politics, including Fischer’s Green Party. Interestingly enough, this has resulted in a complete makeover of the Green Party’s reason for existence, as that party had initially been founded upon a totally anti-military platform.
Dangerous When Unhappy
Luigi Barzini summed up the course of post-war Continental affairs thus: “The future … will probably be decided, once again, by Germany’s decisions. And Germany is, as it always was, a mutable, proteus-like, unpredictable country, particularly dangerous when it is unhappy” (op. cit.).
Facing its election year, Germany is increasingly unhappy. Chancellor Schröder’s coalition government has failed to deliver. Industrial output is down, unemployment is up, xenophobic fears bubble to the surface, anti-Zionist outbursts increase, neo-Nazi demonstrations continue to escalate. Cracks are now appearing in the government coalition, in particular in the relationship between the chancellor and his foreign minister, heading up the Green faction, Joschka Fischer. In the meantime, German nationalism finds a voice in expressing a new discontent with the effects of European Union. To top this off, at a recent conference of military officers and politicians in Hannover, Germany’s military men made it clear to Schröder and his defense minister, Rudolf Scharping, that they were most discontented with what one officer described as the “drift towards a bargain basement army” (Times, London, April 9). Scharping was forced to admit that Germany’s overseas military commitments have stretched its forces to the limit.
In addition to this basket of woes, Germany is now faced with “The prospect of a spring and summer of industrial discontent [which] could spell the end of any realistic hopes of re-election in September for Gerhard Schröder, the chancellor” (Times, London, March 26). With the blue collar vote vital to Schröder’s election chances, the chancellor will be wracking his brains for a solution to a seemingly insoluble problem posed by the general union of ig Metall. The country’s most powerful union has launched a series of strikes in support of what the government and industry bosses call an “indefensible” wage claim.
The seriousness of this situation was highlighted recently by a business spokesman: “‘It is grotesque that, in the worst economic situation in years, ig Metall is making the highest wage claim in years,’ said Otmar Zwiebelhofer of the German Employers’ Federation. About 17 percent of the industries in which the union is represented are making losses, according to the Gesamtmetall employers’ group” (ibid.).
With a wave of insolvencies currently rolling over the country, Germany’s current economic condition and, as a consequence, its social impact, will figure highly in this election. Figures published by the German news service Handelsblatt are startling: “Germany faces one of the biggest waves of insolvencies in its history this year. Economic-data agency Creditreform said Wednesday that the number of company insolvencies is set to reach 40,000 in 2002, a rise of around 25 percent from the previous year” (April 3).
Such a situation is set to deal a massive blow to German morale as Germans perceive their post-war economic miracle at risk of sliding into chaos.
Yet, the Germans are no strangers to chaos. Indeed, as Nietzsche opined, “The German is an expert on secret paths to chaos.” On more than one occasion, certain German leaders have even deliberately engineered a situation of chaos, crisis and seeming catastrophe, only to miraculously then rise to the occasion with the solution. Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler are three cases in point.
The intriguing reality is, this German mind that so readily embraces order and discipline can, at times, so quickly descend into chaos, and out of that chaos, emerge with a singular determination to prove its claim to masterliness, at all costs, and without feeling for those who stand in its path. This phenomenon has been most clearly evidenced during Germany’s great wars of 1870-1871, 1914-1918, and 1939-1945.
“When they are at war they do the job, as they do it in peacetime, as thoroughly, efficiently and expediently as possible, without looking left or right, like the good obedient workmen they are. They never bother about what the rest of the world will think. Scruples and doubts might slow them down” (The Europeans).
Nobody wants to see Germany at war again. Yet, when Germany is unhappy, that is when it tends to dust off and start banging the gray drums of war. At present, this unhappy Germany is waging war domestically—via strikes, street marches, political schisms, voracious business takeovers in the wake of a stream of corporate failures. The present war is largely political and economic. It will soon be fought out on the hustings from Brandenburg to the Rhineland, from Schleswig-Holstein to Baden-Wurttemberg.
This election could develop into a knock-down, drag-out fight, with Schröder scrambling for his political life, and the leading opposition contender, Edmund Stoiber, battling to gain the power to fulfill a dream, the vision of his old mentor, Franz Josef Strauss. Who will win? Watch events in Germany and Europe over the next four months in the lead-up to this election. It may yet prove to be Germany’s most critical election.
The outcome of this election in Germany may ripple on across the North Sea, the Atlantic and the Pacific to ultimately affect you!
Bible prophecy clearly indicates that a German-led European power will descend upon the Anglo-American nations with overwhelming force and take them into slavery (Isa. 10:5-7). That would have been unthinkable 57 years ago, as Germany lay crushed and defeated at the feet of the victors in 1945. Yet, the German National Socialist intelligentsia, its leadership and its visionaries, largely went underground to bide their time and build once again for the fulfillment of their dream of global dominance. But their tactics changed. This time, instead of war they used trade, diplomacy, treaties and laws to build their dream. That dream has found its expression over the past half-century in the apparent Europeanizing of Germany. It has been fundamental to that dream that nationalism and the sovereignty of European nations be subsumed to the Eurostate—yet, strangely, German nationalism seems exempt from this process. Now evident is Germany’s one insatiable desire: “to see Germany once more decide its own future and Europe’s and the world’s with an authority proportionate to its economic and cultural weight …” (ibid.).
Domestic issues may shape this German election on the surface, but underneath lies a hidden agenda, hidden by the protean mask of the German people: “Which is the shape of the German Proteus this morning? Which will be its shape tomorrow? Johannes Gross thinks his countrymen wear a mask. ‘But the day may come when someone lifts the mask,’ he wrote. ‘The face that appears may be less full-cheeked and rosy than today’s. … So long as we wear the mask, we remain hidden and continue to conceal the situation even from ourselves. …’ Is the German, as Nietzsche wrote, still ‘acquainted with the hidden paths to chaos?’” (ibid.).
Watch the election date, September 22, for the answer to that question.