Guttenberg and the Kunduz Affair

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Guttenberg and the Kunduz Affair

Germany’s left-wing politicians try to oust the nation’s new defense minister.

Germany’s most popular politician, Defense Minister Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, is the very antithesis of a left-wing socialist. Of aristocratic heritage and bearing, articulate in English as well as in his native tongue, with film star looks and excellent connections with the establishment in both Berlin and Washington, Guttenberg possesses all the political star quality that his left-wing political enemies desire but so grossly lack.

Hence the current battle from the left to destroy Guttenberg’s political career. The most embattled are those who feel the threat of Guttenberg’s superior knowledge, experience and professional expertise in the foreign-policy arena. Although his portfolio is that of the Defense Ministry, Guttenberg has defended his right to speak out on foreign affairs as he sees fit.

Germany’s leftists have seized upon the Kunduz bombing incident as a gold-plated opportunity to wage a campaign of vilification, replete with half truths, sinister accusations and outright lies, against Guttenberg.

Guttenberg has the connections with Germany’s most powerful elites to ensure not only his survival through this challenge, but to emerge from it politically stronger, more confident in his role holding one of Germany’s senior political posts, and with his political enemies politically bruised, if not banished.

In addition to Germany’s political leftists, a certain liberal element in the German press has also added its trumpet to the chorus of socialists calling for Guttenberg’s resignation.

The media in Germany are controlled by two huge enterprises—Axel-Springer AG on the conservative side and Bertelsmann on the neo-liberal. Not surprisingly, the Bertelsmann press, primarily via the print and online outlets Spiegel and Stern, has leaned toward anti-Guttenberg stories, stirring a degree of hysteria in the debate over Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan and touting Guttenberg’s alleged culpability in the Kunduz episode. To the contrary, Axel-Springer, mainly through its major outlets Bild and Die Welt, has taken a more reasoned approach, throwing cold water especially on the wilder demands of the left for Guttenberg’s resignation.

But underneath all the media folderol is a grander game that is setting Germany on a course that will stir the expression of greater patriotism by the German people and swing public opinion in support of the German military forces involved in combat zones. This has demanded, at least initially, an effort to have Germany further shed its cloak of post-World War ii penance and openly assert itself once more as a national power. At the heart of all of this is the imperialist drive for the consolidation of a European military force, under German leadership, capable of matching, if not exceeding, the power of both the United States and Russia.

This is but a natural outgrowth of the developing foreign policy of pan-Europa, the new imperial Europe that is the central geopolitical ground between the Atlantic and the East. This is the new superpower that will fill the security gap being left by the rapidly disintegrating Atlantic alliance and the long-dead Warsaw Pact.

Germany, by virtue of national character, strength of population, industrial might and military heritage, is the only European nation capable of pulling together a multi-nation military machine to project the necessary power to take advantage of Anglo-Saxon decline and rising Russian aggression, in tandem with the rapid rise of other Far Eastern powers. It will be a natural concomitant of this equation that both nato military assets (including nuclear weapons) and non-Anglo-Saxon military personnel will eventually fall under the German-led EU umbrella.

The Kunduz affair in Germany could be just the political crisis that will finally end in a more precisely defined brief for Germany’s defense forces, with a clear public mandate to wage war again. The paradox is that nothing would seem to please an increasingly isolationist Washington more!

Technically, German troops have been engaged on a war footing in a number of theaters since the Luftwaffe entered the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The green light for the Bundeswehr to deploy in theaters outside of German territory was given by Germany’s Constitutional Court in a ruling handed down in 1994.

“On [July 12], 1994, the Federal Constitutional Court [settled] the dispute that was fought across all political parties over Bundeswehr operations abroad. … On the basis of Article 24, paragraph 2 of the German Basic Law, this ruling also covers combat missions. … [T]he Karlsruhe ruling created greater room for maneuver to meet Germany’s international commitments. To a greater extent than ever before, the Bundeswehr has now become an army in action” (Federal Ministry of Defense; emphasis mine throughout).

The year after this ruling, Germany (having originally triggered the Balkan wars by its bilateral decision with the Vatican to recognize Croatia and Slovenia as sovereign nation-states separate from Yugoslavia) fielded a force of 4,000 troops in Bosnia. In 1999 it followed up with a return to direct military aggression by deploying the Luftwaffe in the skies over Kosovo.

At the present date, the Bundeswehr is deployed in a total of 11 actual or potential theaters of combat outside of its own home territory. This matter gets little publicity across the Atlantic.

Until recently, Germany has managed to quietly insert its troops from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean to the Horn of Africa, the Caspian region and points in between without attaching the word “war” to its active foreign defense efforts. Then along came Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who roundly and very publicly declared that Germany was at war in Afghanistan.

Up to that point, German politicians had pretended that German troops were only frontline decorations in the many theaters in which they were deployed. But when Iran, via its proxy the Taliban, began to penetrate Germany’s comfort zone in the relatively strife-free northwestern corner of Afghanistan and inflict losses on German troops, suddenly reality dawned on the German public: Their troops were actually being shot at and were shooting back!

Then came the Kunduz bombing. A German commander called in an air strike by usaf pilots, who hit a bogged gas tanker surrounded by Taliban and Afghan civilians. Civilian casualties resulted. The leftist politicians and press seized the moment and went on the attack against Germany’s new minister of defense.

Kunduz is the scenario now being used by both left and right in German politics to force a political decision for the justification or otherwise of the deployment of the Bundeswehr in theaters of combat. In this the left have been the loudest and most consistent in commanding the attention of the public. But they have grossly underestimated their opponent.

German and Vatican elites started Germany down the road of reviving military aggression with a deliberate goal in mind: the resurrection of the Berlin-Rome axis as the dominant force ruling a new global power—in fact a revived old power, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation! The power that the German-Vatican elites have at their disposal is literally destined to leave the left-wing push in Germany for dead.

Watch for these elites to carefully stage-manage the hearing into the Kunduz bombing in the progressive effort to get the public attuned to Germany’s defense forces drawing and shedding blood in battle again, and to get the German army the support from its politicians and public that it needs to effectively carry out its increasing role.

If ever there was a politician who could take clear advantage of this situation and succeed in the agenda to put the German defense forces at the forefront of European defense, it is Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg! Notwithstanding the attack on him by the left, Guttenberg enjoys powerful popular support. In fact, the left may well have made a gross miscalculation, not only by underestimating the power of the elites backing Guttenberg, but by attacking Germany’s most popular politician in the eyes of the public.

Not only does Guttenberg enjoy great support from the German public, not only is he backed by powerful forces in Rome and Berlin, he has extremely strong support from his main constituency—the Bundeswehr! That this is mutual can be judged by the following exchange between the German weekend paper Bild am Sonntag and Guttenberg (December 27; our translation):

Bild: Thousands of mothers and fathers, wives and children of soldiers in Afghanistan had an anxious Christmas. What is your message to the soldiers and their families?Guttenberg: My thoughts are these days in a special way with the soldiers and their families. And not just my thoughts, even in my heart I am with them. Because they are away from home for months and are in a dangerous operation. Germany can be proud of the achievements of our soldiers. … I’m not the only one who thinks these days of our soldiers. I receive letters from citizens from all generations and all parts of Germany to support our soldiers.Bild: Do you pray for the men and women in the field?Guttenberg: I do, not just at Christmas. For me, as a devout Christian, this is a matter of course. But prayer alone is not enough. As a government we have in many respects responsibility for the best possible security, political and strategic impetus—particularly at the locations of deployment and in the international community.Bild: The new year offers an unprecedented threat of a party dispute over the Afghanistan mission. spd leader Gabriel rejects more troops in Afghanistan and they accuse you of endangering the common security policy. How does this affect the troops?Guttenberg: Many soldiers can only shake their heads about this. Of course, I can and I will discuss any dispute over the design of our military interventions. But this argument cannot be just passed onto the backs of the soldiers. I will appeal on their behalf to all, in the tone and content of exercising reason. For there is a shared responsibility across party boundaries for the Afghanistan mission. … From everything I hear, the soldiers truly understand that I have set myself to follow through with the discussion initiated by me about the realities of war and the soldiers’ response to them. … I have always supported the establishment of this committee [of inquiry] because I am of the opinion that the operations in Kunduz, and immediately thereafter, are in need of enlightenment. To this I will gladly make my contribution.Bild: U.S. President Obama wants to expand the troops in Afghanistan in the new year, in the hope of disengagement in 2011 following appropriate military successes. What is wrong with that?Guttenberg: I think it is right that we should make it clear to the citizens now when the actual withdrawal is to begin, what goals we pursue and what intermediate steps are necessary to achieve them. We should be more concrete than before. But I do not believe that we should immediately name an end-date. We would then provide the forces who, for example, wish to make Afghanistan once again a center of global terrorism the opportunity they seek.Bild: What is your wish for the soldiers in 2010?Guttenberg: Health, strong popular support, and a defense policy that meets their challenges, rather than having to just rely on themselves.

Watch for Guttenberg’s political star to rise even higher as a result of the Kunduz inquiry. Even more importantly, watch for the military empowerment of Germany and its proxy, the European Union, to be strengthened in the wake of the Kunduz affair.