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After the War is Before the War

by Frank Deppe Friday, May. 30, 2003 at 2:49 AM

The Marburg professor of political science gave this address at the union conference "After the Kosovo War" on Sept 4, 1999. Translated from the German

After the War is Before the War

The Risks of the “New World Order” and the New Strategy of NATO

By Frank Deppe

[This article first published in: junge Welte, September 7, 1999 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, The Marburg professor of political science Frank Deppe gave the following address at the union conference “After the Kosovo War” on September 4, 1999 in Frankfurt. The unabridged version appeared in the October issue of the journal “Sozialismus”,]

In the time available to me, I will try to illumine the connection between the Kosovo war and international politics. Secondly, I will attempt to make a connection between international politics and our union experiences and debates.

This war was often stylized as a “war of a new style”. In the union journal “Die Mitbestimmung”, the chief ideologue of the third way and the new middle, Anthony Giddens, proclaimed smiling (as the NATO spokesperson during the war): “The intervention of the community of states was a war of a new type that hopefully contributed to establishing cosmopolitan democracy.”

The justification for this message (almost identical in Habermas and Beck) is: “There is a global civil society and forms of global governance which follow democratic rules.” The Serbs tried to stop this process with violence and separation and are punished for that.

Only if necessary

In “Le Monde Diplomatique”, Inacio Ramonet also spoke of a war of a “new type”. He referred to its enforcement: the electronic war for which the principle “zero dead” and as little material losses as possible for one’s own side has become the supreme maxim of conduct while the adversary – here Yugoslavia – is massively injured.

(…) In the 1997 “New Strategy” paper from the White House, it says – in a clear definition of the economic interests of the US: “Because we are a nation with global interests, we face a huge number of challenges to our interests, often far beyond our coasts. We must always maintain our superior diplomatic, technological, industrial and military capabilities to tackle this wide host of challenges so we can react together with other nations when possible and alone when necessary.”

We should add here that the strength of the US does not only refer to its economic and military potential. Its worldwide leadership in the coming 21st century or “American” century of the information age is based on the domination over the “waves of international communication”, as Joseph Nye and William Owens formulated in “Foreign Affairs” (1996). Irving Kristoi (in the “Wall Street Journal” of August 18, 1997) was more concrete. What is crucial is fixing the rules for communication in the electronic era or through domination over the global networks onesidedly in the world and to the American advantage. The new military doctrine is obviously derived from this. Its goal (according to Nye and Owens) is “to use deadly force with greater speed, range and precision”.

Rogue world power

In the article “The Lonely Superpower” (Blatter fur deutsche und internationale Politik 5/99; reprint from Foreign Affairs), Samuel Huntington declares that the American foreign policy of the 90s will be considerably defined by these convictions. Free markets, freer flow of information and freedom for multinational conglomerates are regarded as immediate indispensable conditions for democracy, freedom and human rights according to the American model. The following goals are named by Huntington: “to promote the interests of American corporations under the slogans `free trade’ and `open markets’; to structure the policy of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund so that they serve business interests; …to force other states to follow an economic- and social policy that complies with American economic interests; to advance American weapon slaves abroad while simultaneously seeking to prevent comparative sales by other states; to chase a UN General secretary from office and to dictate the appointment of his successor…; to rate certain countries as `rogue states’ and exclude them from global institutions because they refuse to yield to American desires”.

Huntington judges the role of the “lonely sheriff” as very dangerous. More and more (as he says) the US becomes “the rogue world power in the eyes of many countries”. The danger of “anti-hegemonial alliances” grows, for example the cooperation between Russia, India and China. However the most important individual step to an anti-hegemonial coalition was taken – he said – before the end of the Cold War with the founding of the European Union.

The UN only disturbs

Two fields are especially important in the conversion of American foreign policy. Firstly the US has been uneasy with the role of the UN for a long time – some authors speak of the early 80s, of the Reagan era – and it was increasingly clear that they were (and are) no longer ready to come to an understanding with the UN, to find compromises in the Security Council and to bridle itself through its legalist procedures. With the Kosovo war, this superseding of the UN has reached a new stage and quality. Beside the conscious contempt of international law whose civilizing value – with all its inadequacies – cannot be rated highly enough for international relations, what is involved here is a conscious disdain for the idea of collective security. The UN was passed over and the OSZE (European security alliance) simply abandoned not out of powerlessness but on account of targeted strategic reflections!

Secondly, the Atlantic relations, the economic, political and cultural relations to Europe, are very important for the US. What is important?

1. The economic development of the EU – as a market and as a competitor (cf. Huntington on the Euro).

2. The organization of all of Europe (including the Caucasus – and particularly the future development in eastern and southeast Europe. The interests of the Europeans and the Americans are here both economic and political security (regional conflicts on the Balkans or between the Black Sea and the Caspian sea where future oil pipelines are planned).

Many things are at stake since the end of the Cold War – particularly for Europeans – with regard to mastering these questions. Should Europe establish itself as an independent civil power in competition with the US or should Europe accept a primarily military definition of world politics under the unrestricted leadership of the US? This is an area where divergent interests of power politics – like the divergences of economic interests in the area of global competitiveness – appear openly (earlier one would have said: the imperialist conflicts are especially striking in this area; the classical theory of imperialism spoke of the war that almost inevitably issued from these conflicts between the leading imperialist powers. We have to discuss the Kosovo war in which – despite these basic strategic differences – there was so much shared interest that these states acted together even though vehement differences existed during the war about warfare, length of the war, use of ground troops, Russia’s inclusion and the UN and so forth).

Since the early 90s, three options for the new order of all Europe – with very different power structures – were discussed: 1. A KSZE solution, a total European security system; 2. A bipolar power structure with the EU (European Union) in the West and the GUS in the East – with an expansion of the EU (and also of the WEU as a military organization of the EU) toward central- and eastern Europe; 3. A leadership role of NATO – and thus of the US – in the reconstruction of European security policy.

NATO dominates

The third variant prevailed for a long time as the dominant line with the NATO-eastern expansion (before the EU-eastern expansion) and now with the role of NATO in the Kosovo war. The reasons are firstly the increasing problems facing the EU in view of the post-Maastricht crisis in enduring its policy of parallelism, deepening (internal market, Euro, institutional reform) and expansion (toward the East). Considering the expected costs of eastern expansion and the related redistribution of the EU (and of the resulting conflicts, that is the resistance of the Mediterranean countries), it will be increasingly difficult for the EU to keep its former promises for the time plan of eastern expansion.

In addition, there are reasons bound up with the inner socio-economic and political conditions in east Europe’s post-socialist systems. There is also a reason connected with the hegemonial competition of the most powerful states in the EU – and particularly Germany’s role and its relation to Great Britain, France and so forth. In that the US plays the role of the lonely superpower, the other great powers (sub-imperialist powers) are intent on strengthening their international (and European) power positions by seeking special privileged relations to the US. This is also how it is seen in the US.

Huntington writes: “The relation to Europe is decisive for the success of American foreign policy. In view of the pro- or anti-American attitude of Great Britain or France, the relations of the United States to Germany are crucial for the relation to Europe. A healthy cooperation with Europe is the best antidote against the loneliness of American striving for hegemony.”

However when European states seek to increase their power through military nearness to the US, this inevitably weakens the inner coherence in the EU and the presuppositions of the common foreign- and security policy of the EU (GASP). NATO is strengthened under the leadership of the US. Thus it is understandable that US president Clinton on March 23, 1999, one day before the beginning of the war, said (adding an interesting variant to the different justifications for military action): “A strong US-European partnership – this is the heart of the Kosovo affair.” In the same speech, Clinton explained why the vital interests of the US were involved in this partnership: “If we seek a strong economic connection with the world which includes the ability to sell around the world, Europe must be a key.”

Since its founding in 1949, NATO was the central political instrument for securing US hegemony in a Europe divided by the system opposition. As everybody knows, France since DeGaulle resisted. In the framework of German-French cooperation (that Bonn-Paris axis which the EU has made dynamic), there were initiatives since the 80s to security cooperation that could have led to the development of an independent military dimension of the EU – through the WEU. The British governments – whether under Thatcher or under Blair – have always understood their “special relationships” to the US so that – in arrangement with the US – they block such projects.

Cold New Middle

Ex-chancellor Helmut Schmidt warned of the change in German-French relations several weeks ago in DIE ZEIT. The new German government under Gerhard Schroder did not miss affronts and symbolic gestures, Schmidt said, to make clear that German-French relations should in no way be privileged (the Blair-Schroder paper was also a clear signal). Schmidt assumed that a turn of German politics to the Anglo Saxons, that is to the British and the Americans, is funded materially by the economic interests and the increasing activities of German capital in the Anglo Saxon area (Chrysler-Daimler Benz; BMW/ Rover and so forth).

How the power constellations of world politics determined by the US (and then also by NATO) also define the strategic conduct of European governments – here the German government – is intimated in such shifts.

NATO in its strategic conception adjusted to these constellations. In the course of the 90s, new documents on the security situation and on strategy (the strategy of the “information war” among others) were worked out. Celebrating its 50th birthday at the end of April, a month after the beginning of the Kosovo war, NATO passed its new strategic concept which it already practiced since the end of March. The future projects and authorities of NATO can be summarized in three areas:

1. Annulment of the limitation of its function to defense;

2. Expansion of the geographical area of its competence and

3. Repeal of the international law bond of its interventions to mandates issued by the Security Council of the United Nations.

When it was said again and again by those who ordered the offensive (after Rambouillet) that the “credibility of NATO” (and thus the credibility of the western alliance altogether) was at stake, it is now very clear on the background of the described connections that this argument is in fact correct.

I hope that I have succeeded in making clear several connections and in showing how certain strategies and contradictions, interest oppositions and shifts in power politics after the end of the Cold War in the Kosovo conflict are bundled.

In conclusion, I will go beyond the analysis of international politics with three ideas. I’d like to return again to the quotation by Anthony Giddens about the “war of a new type”. It is striking that those who – coming from the left (seen historically) – legitimate the war refuse in an alarming way on an analysis of power constellations and power interests in international politics and therefore are no longer prepared for an ideology-critical examination of dominant legitimation models. Instead, this extraordinarily trifling analytical depth correlates with readiness to thrash the “old left” and “pacifists”. I think we can draw an important conclusion from the analyses of the new world order. The key term is “globalization” which is defined by the accumulation conditions, profit expectations and competitive conditions of global capitalism. Practical necessities for politics, unions, works councils, schools, universities and so forth arise out of the globalization, according to the ruling ideology, which has deeply eaten into everyday consciousness. Politics has to subordinate itself to practical economic necessities or constraints.

Increasing Repression

Politics must renounce on its creative or reform claim. That is the message announced to us everywhere in the guise of globalization. This practical necessity is now supplemented by a political-military dimension. The horror of warfare (in the name of cosmopolitan democracy executed by NATO) appears alongside the horror of the economy (Viviane Forrester). The immense social divisions which are intensified by capitalist globalization and cause social conflicts do not give rise to a global Marshall Plan or a global redistribution program but rather promote a new stage of the arms race (military revolution), the race of arms exports permanently increasing the danger of wars. It is this direct connection between the internal consequences of globalization (in the factories, for unions and so forth) and the constantly growing danger of the barbarization of international politics which should increase our interest for questions of international politics, peace policy and also our criticism and our resistance to all forms of new social partnership (justified with globalization and with the pressure of global competition).

It is striking that the most zealous warmongers of the “new type” are at the same time conceptual ideologues of the third way, the new middle and the new social democracy (Anthony Giddens and Tony Blair are not “lone operators”). It should at least be considered whether there is a connection here – between the coldness with which advocates of the new successful middle classes (the new middle) discuss the social problems of exclusion, social polarization and the dismantling of the welfare state and the coldness toward global poverty and the coldness with which the interests of the West are militarily enforced and justified against the “rogues”.

A new generation of politicians are in power who have repeatedly and profoundly changed their earlier basic convictions on their way to power or in power.

The third way is a program of the adjustment of politics to the laws of the market, under the primacy of the economy, more exactly of global shareholder capitalism. The “war of a new type” is that extreme form of politics (as Clausewitz formulated) which gives outward global effectiveness to this program. The war of a new type is the violent and pure form of what Stephen Gill (a Canadian political scientist) describes as “disciplinary neoliberalism”, which means neoliberalism in transition from market liberalization to political (also military) disciplining because market liberalization has in no way annulled the contradictions which it sought to overcome but rather strengthens them and produces new contradictions and conflicts. The side of political repression now appears much more strongly in the foreground. We must put up a resistance!

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