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"War never serves peace"

by Eugen Drewermann Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 at 2:34 AM

War never serves peace just as lies never serve truth and cats are not dogs. We wage war against the nature that we exploit and against the starving whom we drive into misery. As soon as one says war, we fall back thousands of years to the Stone Age and lose the option for the future.

Speech by Eugen Drewermann at the Berlin peace demonstration on February 20, 2010
[This speech is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb5/frieden/bewegung/afgh/drewermann.html.
On February 20, 2010, a few days before the vote on the new Afghanistan mandate in the German Bundestag, the peace movement protested with a rally and demonstration against the war (motto: “No soldiers anymore!”). The main speaker at the rally was the well-known theologian Eugen Drewermann.]

Dear friends of peace!

I thank you very much for standing here today to say what 70 percent of the German population says: Out of Afghanistan, today not tomorrow. We do not demand this withdrawal for the year 2015, the year 2020 or, as Ms. Clinton hinted, till kingdom come. We demand it now.

We must say this in the squares and on the streets because 90 percent of the people in the German Reichstag whom we elected as our representatives say the exact opposite.


In 2001 Schroeder and Fischer said: We defend our values at Hindukusch. Peter Struck said: We defend our security in Afghanistan. One lie chases another lie. Red-Green was called the clientele of dependence in relation to the US. Ms. Merkel and Mr. Steinmeier could extend the disaster and not refute it in any points. Black-Red was only the continuance of the old mistakes. Black-yellow, Merkel and Westerwelle push a new strategic program, as they call it, to escalate what was already wrong so it will be irreparable for decades. Therefore we say No to the war in Afghanistan and to this management of the German people by the Bundestag. Of all the parties, only the German Left party (Die Linke) has consistently been against this war. They are our allies. Perhaps people will remember this in the next election.

Our security is at stake if we do not bomb the Taliban, we are told. Afghanistan has never attacked a foreign country in its three-thousand year history. It could not even do that since it was not a state in the western sense. Afghanistan is a mixture of many peoples held together by tribal chieftains.

Until the Soviets were enticed to Afghanistan by Brzezinski, it was a formal monarchy that hardly had an influencer in the border provinces.

This is now the fifth war waged by Europeans in Afghanistan though Afghanistan has not threatened any one: three times the Brits attacked, once the Soviets and recently the US with participation of NATO and us Germans. Who attacks whom? As we have seen, neocolonialism, imperialism and militarism are only words for the same international aggression around the globe. We are told we have to chase the terrorists at Hindukusch, between Heart, Kabul and Kandahar. The Taliban are not terrorists. They were forced into power by the United States of America to replace a disastrous civil war with an ally – as Al Kaida was used by the Americans to drive the USSR out of Afghanistan. Today Russia is certified by NATO and we are repeating all the mistakes from the Russian occupation.

The Soviets also wanted freedom of women and access to education. They wanted the dictation of themselves, the fingerprint of the foreigner in another land. We do the same and will experience the same failure.

A war against terror, as George W. Bush the younger called it, is an absurdity. Terror is not an adversary but a method of warfare in the status of inferiority. Who is a terrorist here? one must ask. Someone who detonates his own body to inflict maximum damage is a terrorist, especially when he does this before a mosque, at a marketplace or on a bus where many citizens will certainly be hit hard. Predator drones outfitted with missiles in Wyoming are sent over Pakistan, Wasiristan and Afghanistan. Bombing is done at a safe distance while drinking coffee and using computer programs.

Who is really the terrorist when we hear seven dead or twenty dead through collateral damage at Helmand in the new offensive? Hatred to the occupiers who can only murder from a safe distance must infect everyone who has watched this for years. We do not chase the terrorists; we are ourselves terrorists in Afghanistan. Therefore we urge our own soldiers to do what some in America have done for a long time. Refuse the command to kill, desert against your oath of allegiance and replacer the supposed loyalty to the pseudo-democratic regime with loyalty to a humanity that everyone can feel.


Killing people is not saving people. Bombing people is not liberating people. The children who are eight years old today in Afghanistan go through the streets with horror-filled eyes and have never seen the red dawn sunrise of freedom and peace. We owe the ending of the madness to the people living there today. For the 2001 propaganda of this war, bringing the women into the boat was obviously central to the Pentagon. We really wage war for women’s rights! If this were true, the Americans would have many things to do to finally end their backyard of prostitutes in Bangkok and the consequential damage of the American Vietnam War with hundreds of thousands of heroinized GIs. That would be a concrete liberation for women. The burke has nothing to do with the Taliban. It was there before them and will be there after them. But Ms. Merkel and Mr. Guttenberg now tell us we must fight the Taliban.

Who are they and what makes them so dangerous? They are called Islamic fundamentalists and think just like their mentors in Saudi Arabia. Wahabi Koran interpretation is their home. One can be for that or against that. But that is not a reason for war. In June 2001, there was a meeting in Bonn with the Taliban. At that time they were alliance partners of the United States of America. Laying two pipelines from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, brought into the conversation by Cheney, was the important point of negotiation. The Taliban rejected that. Nine-eleven was nothing but a process to finally take the war plans out of the sack. However fighting for natural gas and crude oil does not deserve human blood. Germans, Afghans, Americans and the Brits have not always made trade agreements in peace and respect for one another.

America does not have the right to dictate what areas are relevant to maintain its giant over-indebtedness as an economic power. Without the Chinese, the American currency would have collapsed long ago. As we hoarded, they could be the only ones in the region neutral enough to bring the threatening civil war after withdrawal of the occupier army into the future – perhaps in peace with India. After everything they have done, Americans have nothing to lose any more for decades.

We Germans have become a civil war party. The Brits have a past that is so bloodstained that the walls of history can hardly be washed off. These two are the last ones to tell Afghans how to live. But formulating the Afghanistan theme is in no way enough today because it is part of a long series of a carefully planned reeducation of German consciousness, at the latest since 1991.

NATO and Cold War

We were taught in Germany in 1955 that we had to join NATO. Konrad Adenauer saw the danger of the USSR marching to the Atlantic. Ten years after the atrocity of the Second World War with over 50 million dead including 20 million Russian citizens, Germans learned to kill again. We only learned all about the atrocity so we could credibly frighten and keep every aggressor far from our country. We are soldiers so we never must do what soldiers do – a moral splitting or schizophrenia. The Catholic Church even declared at that time no Catholic has the right to appeal to his or her conscience and refuse military service and be a conscientious objector. The Protestant Niemoller declared Germany is a child conceived in Washington and baptized in the Vatican.

For forty years, a well-balanced threat was important in the Cold War. We had people in power who calculated 50 million, 100 million or 150 million people would die in a few minutes in a first nuclear strike depending on the wind direction. These people call themselves the winners of the Cold War and supporters of law, morality and freedom! We should ask ourselves in all seriousness whether they do not belong somewhere else than in any parliament or government bench.

In 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet empire and the beginning dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, Mikhail Gorbatchev took up a proposal that was already floated in 1956 by the Polish foreign minister: disarmament in all Europe from Byelorussia and France to the end of the world. Gorbatchev made this proposal in the hope we could all convert the gigantic scholarly, economic and financial possibilities into civilian goals and a Europe-wide cooperation. Nothing came of this under Bush the elder and Chancellor Kohl. The Eastern expansion of NATO was planned. Since then we have been in this state.

In the meantime missiles are stationed in Poland, Rumania and Bulgaria. But Russia cannot criticize this. In the meantime NATO campaigns in Georgia, destabilizes the Ukraine and has a timetable for further wars: Somalia, Yemen and wherever. Iran was long the target with a mass of twisted quotations of Ahmadinedschad on exterminating Israel that he never said. Missile shields were installed against missiles that did not exist and certainly did not threaten Israel since they would fly over Poland or Germany. In all this madness, we Germans are called to follow suit. In 1991 in Kuwait, we paid according to check book policy. The lie that weakened the peace movement at that time was known to Bush the elder: the scenes of babies torn from incubators and thrown on the rocky ground of hospitals. These were staged in London with the Kuwaiti ambassador, propaganda that Bush the elder repeated forty times to make us willing for war against such barbarians.


In 1998 foreign minister Joschka Fischer suddenly declared Milosevic’ plan to cleanse Kosovo of Albanians. This plan did not exist; it was the war of Madeleine Albright. German fighter aircraft bombed Belgrade for the first time. That was a Green initiative. Since then, wars should be accepted by the German population. In 2001 Schroeder and Fischer announced unconditional solidarity with the United States of America. That we are also not stuck in Iraq is because Ms. Merkel was not chancellor at that time. Without any office, she travelled to Washington to tell Bush the younger that Germany would of course participate under her auspices. Now we should learn waging war is a good cause again. Two weeks before, “DIE ZEIT” actually wrote: “We now live in times of such humanitarian and international challenges and obligations that a fundamental pacifist reflex from the postwar time of 1945 has become obsolete… Pacifism is not something that is only the trend of the times… Pacifism is a conviction of high moral quality and holds up against the propaganda lies in the electronic media and the print media.

We have no humanitarian duties. We have an alliance loyalty toward a movement of NATO that has long mutated from a so-called defensive alliance – which it never was – or offensive alliance – to a criminal union that rattles the whole world. NATO is worse than the Mafia. Loyalty to the alliance assumes observance of the conditions of the alliance. If the conditions change, one has the right to leave.


The truth today under Obama is that the United States of America spends seven hundred billion dollars for armament, more than under George W. Bush. We always have money for armaments and seemingly no money for anything else… The war in Afghanistan costs roughly a billion dollars daily. For the 15 million people in Afghanistan, that represents $70,000 per day. Can you imagine what could be done with this sum to benefit people in Afghanistan? We would not have poppy-cultivation or backward development. We would have a well-protected prosperous people. But we achieve the opposite with bombs and the military.


We wage war against the nature that we exploit and against the starving whom we drive into misery. All the damage that we inflict with war and war preparation has only one answer: war. We sit in a vicious circle from which we must find our way out by not believing the lies of the ruling elite any longer. To the twenty-year olds urged to join the German army and assisted by the propagandists of universities and schools, we can only say: war never serves peace just as lies never serve truth and cats are not dogs. War is the killing of people. A soldier has the task of learning that. Therefore pacifism should be understood as a principle and not applied as a reflex in political crisis situations or under the pressure of public anxiety. In the 1920s Albert Einstein, Hermann Hesse and Henry Barbusse, people who are read today, publically urged the abolition of universal conscription. Young men who do the killing and the drills on the barracks grounds serve a falsely understood Fatherland. This should never happen any more. We will only experience a real cultural progress when war is no longer conceded as an option to the governing. Through that gap, they can chase us from one hell to another.

As soon as one says war, we fall back thousands of years into the Stone Age and lose the option of the future. Instead the disarming of all national armies must go along with strengthening the UN as the only crisis authority with power to enforce judgments and resolve conflicts that cannot be solved locally. Then we will not need any American hegemonial policy that strangles the UN or misuses it as a propaganda platform.


What moral and religious support can we hope for in these points? Bishop Kassmann did not receive a single word of support from the Catholic Church when she gave her New Year’s address that sounded a little new. Instead there was resistance from all the parties that stylize themselves as Christian. Politics has to be free from religious influence – as though human souls could be divided into what the hands do, what the heart feels and the head thinks. This surgery should not be promoted any longer in the Reichstag. This is called schizophrenia in psychiatry and a public danger in cultural history. We do not want to hear how the AWACS – reconnaissance planes – were sent to Afghanistan, as military bishop MIxa announced…

I would like to conclude with a 1947 call by a poet Wolfgang Borchert in a Basel hospital with a lung disease that is a legacy to humanity. We know the horror of the Second World War and what every following war will be.

“Man at the work bench,” he wrote, “when they come and tell you: build hand grenades and cannons instead of pipes and buckets, man at the work bench, say: No.
And mother in Germany, mother in the Ukraine, when they come and tell you: you should bear children, sons for the trenches and daughters for the hospitals, mother in Germany, mother in the Ukraine say: No.”

I thank you that you are hear to say No.

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