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Lying into "Humanitarian" Wars

by Eugen Drewermann Thursday, May. 17, 2007 at 8:41 AM

The worst lie of all is that we are not waging war but only taking "humanitarian peacekeeping measures" in Orwellian newspeak.. The great chance is that a generation will rise up that doesn't need to enter history through the battlefield.


Warning about the next catastrophe. Politicians construct pretexts for military strikes and training for violence

By Eugen Drewermann

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 5/8/2007 is translated abridged from the German on the World Wide Web,]

[Junge Welt recalls the end of the Second World War on May 8, 1945 with an article by Dr. Eugen Drewermann. The catholic teaching authority was withdrawn from the Paderborn theologian in 1991 and a year later the preaching authority. With Constantin Wecker, he was awarded the 2007 Erich Fromm prize because of his engagement for peace and a humane future and against anti-Semitism and hatred of foreigners. During this year’s Easter march, he spoke on April 8, 2007 at the protest in the Ruppiner hearth land in Fretzdorf. The following is a revised version of his address.]

Dear friends of peace and citizens of the Neuruppiner hearth land!

With my whole heart, I thank you for your years of engagement against the use of a beautiful part of nature for learning to kill and murder from a great height.

There are many political, legal and regional arguments [1] for not entrusting the German army with bombs [2]. It is very important to say today we do not want these bombs or any bombs because we do not want any war or any war preparations any more.

Our protest here has a direct connection to current day-to-day politics. We are taught we need Tornados in Afghanistan to defend Germany and protect the civil construction in Afghanistan.


What is practiced with Tornados? All people my age standing here have childhood memories from the Second World War… Today sixty years later there are far more dreadful weapons or weapons of mass destruction than the cluster, fragmentation and phosphorus bombs in the Second World War. Germans especially should know everything is not a war…

We refuse to be led over a bridge from lies into the next catastrophe. Afghanistan did not have the least thing to do with the attacks of September 11… The right to expropriate oil is arrogated with apparent humanitarian reasons or seeming defensive-political reasons.

Sometimes people ask about the progress of history or the reason of history. In a clear comparison to the status quo today, a relapse of 390 years can be seen in the museum on the Thirty Years War in Wittstock. At that time the Habsburg war was waged as the Americans wage their war today. The third world was exploited and millions of Indians in Central- and South America ruined in the zeal for gold and silver. There was money for the troops, for the marauding troops, for the battle in Europe – the first total European thirty years war – to win more rule, power and money for one’s territory. Instead of gold and silver, gaining oil, bauxite, uranium or whatever has been one of NATO’s reasons for war since 1999. This is nothing but securing resources: “We take what we need because we have every right in the differential of power.”

In 2001 red-green, Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Fischer [3], declared unconditional solidarity with the United States of America as though they didn’t know the lies about the attack on Afghanistan violating international law. In 2003 they weren’t against the war but only wanted to win the next election with the support of the peacemakers in the people. We say: red-green or now red-black: we will make a mess of your opportunist plans.

The worst lie of all is that we are not waging war but only taking “humanitarian peacekeeping measures” in Orwellian newspeak. The killing of people is clear, not the saving of people, war preparation not disarmament.. War is promoted, not peace. Lying is not truth-telling and cruelty is not humanliness.

We were lied into “humanitarian” wars when red-green, Mr. Fischer and his men, told us we had to prevent Auschwitz in Kosovo. The Hufeisen plan was presented to us though everyone already knew it never existed, that NATO gave air support to the Albanian UCK and negotiated a treaty in Rambouillet no Serb could have signed. Madaleine Albright, secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, wanted her war in Serbia and the massacre continues today. Perhaps we Europeans protected a tenth of the Serbs in the population. “Humanitarian” wars solved nothing. German bombs fell on Belgrade for the first time since the Second World War! What a nightmare! What outrageous lies!

In 1996 Albright was asked whether the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under five from the US arms embargo against Iraq was worth it. How do you think a secretary of state of a western state responded to the murder of 500,000 children under five? “Yes, Sir” was her answer. Do not criminals govern us, irresponsible cynics of power? In 1998 her boss Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical factory in the south of Sudan merely on suspicion. He assumed it produced weapons. It actually produced medicines! What did a US president do after bombing the only pharmaceutical plant in a third world country? Did he rebu9ilt it? Did he apologize? Did he ship medicines? Not at all! As a result, hundreds of thousands of people died of malaria or sleeping sickness. Cattle herds were decimated by the plague.

So began the disaster in Darfur. Did we have to intervene “for humanitarian reasons” instead of identifying crimes at home? The media should focus its cameras on those crimes.


We could continue endlessly in this discussion about threats of war, working out point after point. We are against the war for a single reason proclaimed on posters. “You shall not kill” is the fifth commandment. I was shocked to encounter a Moses here in the church of Fretzdorf for the first time in my life who nearly collapsed under the strain of the pulpit and had to rely on the table of the Ten Commandments. “You shall not kill!” How hard it is to remember in our furiously murderous peace policy that “You shall not kill!” means “You shall not train an 18-year old to murder most efficiently!’

There are many economic reasons for being against war and all preparation for war. We in Germany spend thirty billion euro for armaments every year. This represents 100 million euro that we blow daily. Everyone can figure out how 100 million euro could be spent. This is not even a tenth of what Americans waste: over four hundred billion dollars every year for armaments alone plus supplements of 80 billion or 100 billion. The US alone spends more for armaments than half the world. A hegemonial claim is sought. How different the world could have been when the Russians withdrew? At that time in 1989, Gorbatchev declared an end to all armaments – including dismantling the Warsaw Pact and NATO. Do you recall Stalin’s 1952 note or the 1957 Rapacki plan? “No” came from the Americans without a “nyet” from the Russian side! The Americans wanted to win the Cold War and enforce hegemonial claims for globalized capitalism. This is our situation today. Therefore an eastern NATO expansion is necessary. We are deluded to this day with a “success story.” When US president George Bush senior declared in 1991 they had won the Cold War, no German politician asked him about the cost: fifty million people who starve to death every year. That is the price for the victorious Cold War. I confess I would never want to be a winner at that price. We could have done something better during the whole Cold War.

Then I hear Green politicians say: But we have to establish a reliable and calculable foreign policy. We cannot leave NATO. But if we discover we are basically part of a criminal union because of deficient watchfulness in entering, remaining in this union equals a crime. Withdrawal becomes a duty.

We have no enemies any more in all of Europe. If armaments means the devastation of the world – millions of dead, more than the whole Second World War devoured over six years in East Asia and Europe -, political madness to maintain and gain power dominate, not security. This must be the conclusion.

If all this can still be discussed, modified and differentiated, there are now no ifs or buts on this point. War preparation with eighteen year olds in barracks everywhere on earth means allowing war to penetrate our culture changing every civil impetus into its opposite. We wage war under the eternal terms justice, progress, freedom and humanliness while causing the opposite at every point. In this way, terror spreads in the struggle against terrorism. Coercion and dictatorship expand in this kind of progress for democracy. Inhumanity and lack of dignity spread with this type of humanliness. All this is an ultimate madness that everyone can see and that could be clearly decried in the Bundestag at least by the Left parties.


What does an eighteen-year old learn when put through the mill to be trained as a professional killer? Shouldn’t we say impassively with Kurt Tucholsky and Carl von Ossietzky “soldiers are murderers”? For what are they trained other than to drive their killing inhibition from the animal kingdom through mechanized training into perfect insensitivity to kill on command? That is what should be learned. I hear it said our soldiers remain citizens in uniform. War makes a counter-world out of them, members of the Stone Age in the midst of the nuclear age, making out of them latent beasts who like sleepers only wait for the command to be led by a chain.

Training refusal to obey orders for reasons of conscience and learning to refuse inhuman commands do not occur in any army of the world. Nowhere. A soldier has to learn he is responsible for the execution of the command, not for its substance. That is delegated. We Germans know or should have learned between 1945 and 1948 in Nurnberg how little this thinking fits in any legal system. At that time the American prosecutors asked the Nazi criminals whether they believed themselves: “a command is a command!” What is wrong with them, one shoves a helmet over their head and then they stop thinking! Does one put on a uniform and simply check one’s humanliness in the cloakroom? If one tightens a belt ov3er one’s belly with the inscription “God with us,” does one have a right to any crime? If the delegation of responsibility to the next higher command-giving hierarchical plane is irresponsible and inhuman in its core, then the obedience idea of the military is also inhuman. We should tell this to our American allies across the pond as they said it to us in 1947.

In the whole Cold War, we were taught we only learned the atrocities to never have to do them. Now the cover story of “Der Spiegel” in issue 47 of 2006 was “Germans Must Learn to Kill.” We say we will never learn killing any more. We want a politics without the option of war in its program.

As an example, consider what military obedience makes out of persons in the experiments of Stanley Migram from the seventies at Yale University. Consider a little 1995 interview on RTL. Gunther Jauch questioned a bomber-commander who flew over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945: “Major Sweeney, what were you thinking a half century ago..?” He didn’t ask: “Major Sweeney, like Major Tibbits three days before over Hiroshima, you killed more people with your own hand than anyone in the history of humanity. Didn’t you know Japanese women a dozen years later would ask upon the birth of a child whether it was a boy or a girl or whether the baby had genetic defects? That people twenty years later in Japan’s clinics would be radiation-poisoned in a life you stole. Major Sweeney replied very simply: “What should I say? Every soldier of the world would have done the same. A command is a command. His president explains he will never apologize for America.

What do militarism and the warrior cult make out of a person? The US army has 100,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, persons who ran off course because they were taught to cross every limit. When one kills, there is no support any more. The inhibition in us from the time of the wolves and chimpanzees is torn down. We do not stop being persons. We become worse than beasts because we learn all that is dreadful systematically with numbness, heartlessness, cruelty and destruction of compassion. I have read a series of letters from the front from the Second World War from men who wrote: “Merry Christmas, I can’t tell you what we are doing here. Returning to Germany will be like God’s judgment.” How can people be healed who were traumatized by what they had to do to others, not by what was done to them? Their souls are torn. They are divided into very different puppet personalities where no spiritual synthesis can be found any more.

The great chance exists that a generation will finally rise up that doesn’t need to enter history through the battlefield. Let us spare our children and grandchildren from war once and for all..


1 Till Backhaus (SPD) ist Landwirtschaftsminister in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Matthias Platzeck (SPD) ist Brandenburgs Ministerpräsident, Dr. Rainer Geulen ist der Anwalt der Klägergemeinschaft gegen das Bombodrom. [alle Fußnoten von jW]

2 Peter Struck (SPD) war von 2002 bis 2005 »Verteidi-gungs«minister. Er wurde in seinem Amt von Franz Josef Jung (CDU) abgelöst.

3 Gerhard Schröder (SPD) war von 1998 bis 2005 Bundeskanzler, Josef Fischer (Die Grünen) sein Außenminister.

4 Michail Gorbatschow war bis 1991 Generalsekretär des Zentralkomitees der Kommunistischen Partei der Sowjet¬union und von März 1990 bis Dezember 1991 Präsident der Sowjetunion.

5 Am 10. März 1952 bot Stalin Frankreich, Großbritannien und den USA Verhandlungen über die Wiedervereinigung und Neutralisierung Deutschlands an.

6 Der damalige polnische Außenminister machte auf einer UN-Vollversammlung einen Vorschlag zur Schaffung einer atomowaffenfreien Zone in Mitteleurpa. Der Plan scheiterte am Widerstand der NATO. [The former Polish foreign minister proposed creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Europe. The proposal failed because of the resistance of NATO.]

7 Der US-amerikanische Psychologe erkannte experimentell, daß Menschen sich durch Vorgesetzte zu systematischen Mißhandlungen anderer hinreißen lassen. [American psychology showed people can be carried away by superiors to systematic abuse of others.]

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