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by Sahra Wagenknecht and Peter Becker
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 at 3:39 AM
The attempts to stop Islamic terror through military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought about the opposite. These attempts destabilized societies in those countries, promoted terror and triggered great streams of refugees. So the policy of the West bears a joint responsibility.
“BOMBING STRENGTHENS IS”
Speech by Sahra Wagenknecht in the Bundestag debate on the Involvement of German soldiers in the Syrian War
By Sahra Wagenknecht
[This speech by the DIE LINKE party chairperson published on 12/5/2015 is translated from the German on the Internet, www.jungewelt.de/2015/12-05/013.php?print=1.]
At the emotional funeral service a week ago in Paris commemorating the victims of the terrorist attack, the song Quand on n’a que l’amour of the great pacifist Jacques Brel was sung in crass contrast to the war rhetoric of the French president.
“Quand on n’a que l’amour, pour parler aux canons – If one only has love to speak to the canons.” The whole song is homage to love and peace and a clear rejection of violence and war. The ceremony was also broadcast in Germany. I wish all of you who will vote today could have heard this song and understood its message.
Three weeks ago 130 persons in Paris were victims of a barbaric terrorist attack. The perpetrators were French and Belgian citizens and grew up in the desolate suburbs of Brussels and Paris. Now you tell us we are weakening and fighting IS by bombing and killing innocent women and children in Rakka and other Syrian cities. This is madness. I ask you; in what century do you live?
When you say you didn’t make it easy and meditated while we who say NO have no plan, I say: there is another plan. There is only one other plan. War only makes everything worse. You are not fighting IS. You are strengthening them with this bombing.
Rakka is a city with 200,000 inhabitants. Hospitals and schools were struck in the last bombardment. There are no official numbers of the casualties. The bombing war of the last three weeks in Syria alone killed more civilians than the barbaric attacks in Paris. The mothers of Rakka cry for their children. The bomb war is terror. […]
French economic minister Macron said after the attacks, the French society is responsible “for the breeding ground” on which terror can thrive.
The French republic violates the “promise of equality” day after day. “We have ended the possibilities of social ascent,” he said. – You claim you want to be in solidarity with France. I ask: with which France? With the France of the political class that is already responsible for the worst wars in the past – I mention only the war in Algeria – or with the French population that wants to live in peace and security?
I say to you: If you want genuine friendship and genuine solidarity with France, you should stop forcing an austerity policy on France through Brussels that robs more and more young persons of their future. That would be genuine solidarity. That would be a step forward.
It is a manifest lie that this war action will weaken IS…
Perhaps 14 years ago people could still believe the problem of terrorism could be solved through bomb wars but not today after all the experiences. In 2001 you decided to send the German army to Afghanistan. For 14 years, a war was waged there in which thousands of civilians and over 50 German soldiers were killed. What is the result? Today the Taliban in Afghanistan has more support in the population than ever. You could quietly admit this once.
(Volker Kauder, CDU/CSU: That is nonsense!)
In 2003 Bush marched into Iraq with his “Coalition of the Willing.” Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Six months later the “Islamic State” was founded and rules half of Iraq today. In 2011 Libya was bombed. Ghaddafi was overthrown. Since then chaos has ruled and the “Islamic State” has become established in Libya. The same thing is happening in Syria. The Pentagon recently admitted diverse Islamic terrorist groups and initially even IS was supported by the US to weaken Assad. That is the sad truth. The West, and above all the United States, created the monster
(Cries from the CDU/CSU and the SPD: Oh!)
that frightens all of us today. That is the truth you don’t want to hear. IS is the product of our wars, the western wars in the world.
Question from Dieter Janecek, the Greens/ Alliance 90/ Bundnis
Like you, I am against this deployment. But I wonder whether or not your argumentation is somewhat one-sided. You rightly deplore the civilian casualties in the air strikes in Rakka. But what about the air strikes of the Russian side, for example in the region of Homs? I know a Syrian refugee who has his family in this region and decries Russian bombers for flying massive actions since the middle of September with many casualties. You didn’t say a word about them. Are you blind in one eye so you make the West responsible for everything and don’t put the disastrous actions of the Russians in this context?
(…) Those casualties are obviously just as tragic as the casualties of the bombs of the French, the casualties of the bombs of Americans and the casualties of all other bombs. This bomb wear is the wrong means. Bombs do not make peace whether dropped by Russia, the US or France. Yesterday I spoke at a demonstration here before the Reichstag to which I was invited. I said the same things. Your dishonesty is disabling. You clap and say these casualties are terrible. We also read that in the press but you voted for a military action today that will cause many more casualties. That is simply hypocritical. If you are against bombs and if you condemn Russian bombs, don’t extend your hand with your “Tornados” so other bombs fall there and kill civilians. That would be consistent. Then I would have respect for you.
(Volker Kauder, CDU/CSU: We don’t want your respect!)
I know very well Assad is a dictator who brutally oppresses his country. But I know just as well that democracy and human rights were never central in Washington when decisions were made in high-handed arrogance which dictators of this world should be supported and heavily armed and which dictators should be destabilized and overthrown. All these wars were about gas, oil and spheres of influence. 1.3 million paid for these goals with their lives.
(Henning Otte, CDU/CSU: All clichés!)
What are clichés? How can you speak of 1.3 million human lives as clichés? You can’t be serious! I find that really outrageous.
(Matthias Ilgen, SPD: You are outrageous!)
These wars changed the Middle East into a trouble-spot from which millions of people are fleeing for their naked survival. It is a great failure of European policy to support the US in its wars for so long.
In 2001 when the so-called War on Terror began, there were 100 dangerous international terrorists. Today there are a hundred thousand after 14 years of the so-called anti-terror war. Do you want millions of terrorists? Then you must continue the status quo and drive the spiral of war and violence more and more.
In the year 2000, 3000 persons were killed worldwide in terrorist attacks. In 2014, there were 30,000. You know the danger of attack will increase in Germany with today’s decision. Whoever wants to really weaken IS must cut off their weapons, finances and reinforcements in new fighters.
This means to finally put a stop to the game, to stop the terror godparents among their supposed allies, Turkey and the Saudis.
It is outrageous that the oil smuggling across the Turkish border is not stopped today and 100 new Dschihadists cross over this border very night that are reinforcements of IS. Instead of bombing Syria, you should force Erdogan to finally end his false game. This Erdogan bombards the Kurdish army who really fight bravely there with German weapons. That is a scandal. That is the great hypocrisy of this policy.
Stop supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia and Katar. Today we propose a resolution for the immediate ending of weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, Katar, Turkey and the war region. Whoever votes against this proposed resolution should never again claim he wants to weaken the Islamic terror. That is really pure hypocrisy.
(Opposition among the CDU/CSU and the SPD)
Whoever approves bombing today leads Germany into a war with completely incalculable dangers of escalation, in a war for which there is no mandate of the United Nations, that violates international law and contradicts the basic law because neither France nor Germany are defended in Rakka and Aleppo (…).
Recognize at last what the so-called anti-terror wars have really brought. War is terror that produces new terror.
I tell you: this is as though you wanted to confirm Pope Julius III who said already n the 16th century…
You don’t want to hear this but you must hear this more often because this war will unfortunately continue for a long while… A heavily armed world with nuclear weapons cannot afford being governed without intelligence because that is simply too dangerous. Therefore the left will resolutely vote against this military action today.
BOMBING ISIS WOULD VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL LAW
By Peter Becker
[This letter published on December 3, 2015 is translated from the German on the Internet. Peter Becker is co-president of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms.]
1. THE LEGAL POSITION
International law, the basic law and general laws are in force for fighting terrorism.
According to Art. 25 of the German Basic Law, the general rules of international law are components of Federal German law and have priority over the general laws.
The prohibition of violence according to Art. 2 Par. 4 and the right of self-defense according to Art. 51 of the UN Charter are included in the general rules.
There are only two exceptions:
• the authorization of the Security Council
• the right of self-defense.
The Security Council did not authorize a military action against ISIS.
The right of self-defense is inapplicable.
According to the prevailing interpretation of international law, a state is only entitled to the right of self-defense when attacked by another state (IGH Advisory Opinion of 7/9/2004). Such a case does not arise with a terrorist attack.
The development of rules for a very far-reaching terrorist threat like IS may be desirable. However these rules do not exist… Moreover Germany was not attacked.
The “war on terrorism” announced after 9/11 has led to disaster. Germany was not defended at Hindukusch. We are also not defending our security in Syria.
2. WAR AGAINST TERRORISM MISJUDGES THE ORIGINA AND NATURE OF TERRORISM
The terror of IS is the result of incredible war crimes of the US with the support of European states like France, Italy and Spain.
The right reaction is
• analyzing the reasons for the terrorist attacks,
• not concealing one’s own lapses,
• trying to make terrorism obsolete with the means of civil conflict resolution,
• and punishing terrorist attacks with the means of criminal law and the code of criminal procedure.
WAR IS NOT THE RIGHT INSTRUMENT
Terrorism is the “weapon of the weak” (Noam Chomsky). This began on 7/23/1968 with the hijacking of an Israeli passenger airline by “Palestinian terrorists.” That was a response to the 1967 Six-Day War at whose end Israeli troops occupied the whole Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza strip and West Jordan, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians came under Israeli occupation and military administration. Afterwards there were several similar hijackings. The Middle East problem arose at that time with which we still struggle today.
Many UN resolutions that Israel never observed preceded the occupations. The UN regards the settlements as illegal according to the 4th Geneva Convention.
The war on terrorism was first declared by the Reagan administration in 1981 and not first after September 11, 2001. Donald Rumsfeld was the Middle East ambassador at that time and led the anti-terror war after 2001 under George W. Bush.
ISIS is the result of the 2003 Iraq War in violation of international law. In June 2003, General Jay Garner, the first civil administrator of Iraq, referred Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to three tragic mistakes:
• the dissolution of the Iraqi army,
• ignoring Iraqi leaders,
• the drastic prohibition of former members of the Baath-Party in the collaborative development of the country.
The Shiite Premier Maliki forced the battle against the Baathists.
Many decisions of the West fomenting hatred of the Baathists preceded this war:
• The US supported Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War against Iran that ended with an armistice after horrible casualties on both sides.
• The US brought him down at the beginning of the second Gulf War against Kuwait. The Iraqi army was destroyed in Kuwait by an international coalition. The army in retreat was attacked by US troops under General Barry McCaffrey. Thousands died in that war crime.
• The subsequent embargo caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children.
• The UN program “Food for Oil” was misused especially by the US and Great Britain, as we know from vice-general secretary von Sponeck.
• Hundreds of Iraqis were humiliated most wickedly in the Abu Ghraib prison.
The hatred with which ISIS now commits assaults is the result of behavior of the West and is by no means a characteristic of Islam.
France also made serious mistakes. The US, Great Britain and France misused the UN mandate on protecting the civilian population in Libya and instead carried out a “regime change” of a functioning state, a respected leading power in North Africa that was at the same time a friend of the West.
The intervention in north Mali was the wrong reaction to an unsolved regional conflict. The Tuareq sought regional autonomy. Their rebel movement was “infected” by the Libyan IS – that is now shelled by French fighter jets.
How should we judge the war in Syria? The ruler Assad fought the nonviolent democratic rebel movement with force. However this rebellion was “infected” by the different militias – by the most different militias that are supported “by the West” – led by the US but also including Saudi Arabia and Katar. In this confusing war, ISIS is trying to build a state. However it is not a state which is legally important. Its atrocities are revenge on one hand and recruitment tools on the other hand.
But is bombing – with the help of the German army – the right answer?
In the past, the West always recommended “truth commissions” to states like Ruanda etc. In relation to IS, “the West” should first analyze its own mistakes – and then try to speak (Jurgen Todenhofer).
3. THE ALTERNATIVE
Germany, above all German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeyer, used the instruments of diplomacy again and again – in the Minsk I and II agreements and as one of 17 states participating in the Syria conference in Vienna in passing a resolution. That is the right way.
PEACE CANNOT BE WON WITH WEAPONS
Opinion of the Evangelical Regional Church in Baden on the Planned Military Action in Syria
[This statement published on 12/3/2015 is translated from the German on the Internet.]
Many terrorist attacks in Paris, countries of the Middle East and Africa spread horror, fear and rage. We mourn with the families of the victims. In solidarity with them, with their people and all people of good will, we demand an end to terror and violence and do our utmost that all conceivable political means will be used to reach that goal. The resolution of the German cabinet on the German army’s participation in a military action in Syria to fight the Islamic terror with France and other allies worries us. It follows the logic of producing more security through military force. This does not seem helpful to us to curb Islamic terror and bring Syria nearer to peace.
The perpetrators of Paris came from France and Belgium. That may not be forgotten. Terrorist attacks are criminal acts and must be prosecuted with police means like all crimes and the culprits taken to court. Attacking Syria with military force of arms will not prevent any terrorists from carrying out more assassinations. On the contrary, such militarism can strengthen terrorism since this increases hatred of the West. Since September 2014, the Islamic State has been fought with military means – without success. The Islamic State is a terrorist organization with a diverse composition. Many of Saddam Hussein’s former fighters joined IS – often for lack of alternative perspectives, not for ideological reasons.
The resolution of the Baden regional synod “Direct our Feet in the Way of Peace,” October 24, 2013 insists conflicts must be solved nonviolently “on all planes.” It is oriented in basic Biblical directives. Paul’s saying “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12, 21) is not an expression of naïve world demonization. Transferred to the current political situation, it means directing all efforts at alternatives to military actions to break the violence spiral!
We urge carefully analyzing how peace and freedom can be really defended and secured and how the resolution of the church synod of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau of November 28, 2015 can be fulfilled: “We urge curbing and ending terror with the civil means of international law, through economic measures, sanctions and stopping weapon exports to crisis areas and dictatorships and with all conceivable means of diplomacy, dialogue and building partnership relations… “This is a common task of all peace-loving people, all states and all religious communities.”
In his declaration of December 2, 2015, Renke Brahms emphasized the decision for the planned military action violates the ethical principles cited by the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany) in the 2007 Peace memorandum “Living from God’s Peace – Caring for Just Peace.” According to the understanding of the EKD memorandum, military force can only be used as a last resort in the most serious human rights violations. A mandate of the UN Security Council must be presented. Military intervention must have a “well-founded prospect for success” and be part of a “total concept of a peace- and security policy.” This is not the case with the present military action in Syria. The attempts to stop Islamic terror through military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought about the opposite. These attempts destabilized societies in these countries, promoted terror and triggered great streams of refugees. So the policy of the West bears a joint responsibility for the developments of the last years.
Therefore we call for level-headedness and urge political decision-makers to discover what instruments really help against terrorism and not to make hasty decisions.
We call upon all peace-loving persons in all religious communities to raise their voices, pray for peaceful solutions and actively take responsibility. We remember Jesus’ message of peace that shows the way to Christians. With our sisters and brothers from the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau and in many churches worldwide, we are convinced: “Peace cannot be won with weapons.”
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