No to NATO and war - Yes to peace
By Tilo Gräeser
[This article published on 5/24/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.vierte.online/2022/05/23/kongress-nein-zu-nato-und-krieg-ja-zum-frieden/.]
The war in Ukraine has divided the German peace movement. But criticism of Russia is not a yes to NATO, a number of peace activists and groups made clear at a congress in Berlin. They warned of the consequences of the war logic of Western policy.
For Oskar Lafontaine, there is no alternative to a return to Ostpolitik with its goals of disarmament and common security. This was stated by the former SPD and Left Party chairman on Saturday in Berlin. He was speaking at the congress "Living without NATO - Ideas for Peace," to which a number of individuals and groups from the peace movement had jointly invited people to Humboldt University. About 1,000 people attended in real life and online.
"We must not tire of contradicting the zeitgeist that now prevails," said Lafontaine, who was linked in via video transmission. "We must not tire of pointing out that Ostpolitik was one of the best phases of German foreign policy." Its principles had been correct, the ex-prime minister of Saarland said. He thus contradicted those who currently want to erase all memories of the 20th century policy of détente, to which SPD politicians such as Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr contributed.
"We don't need rearmament, we need disarmament," Lafontaine clarified. "We need common security. That was the best formula that was found. You can only have security together. And we just need change through rapprochement, also again with Russia." This also includes cultural exchange, which brings people together, but which is currently being destroyed by the West, the ex-SPD politician lamented.
"NATO is only a cover name"
He called for a security architecture for Europe, "but not the security alliance that calls itself NATO." This would "basically have to be called the USA," Lafontaine countered the official propaganda: "Nato is a cover name. In its current structure, NATO is nothing more than the military machinery of the U.S., with some states that have joined this military machinery."
The question to ask, he said, is "whether we need an alliance with the U.S. to live safely in Europe." His answer, he said, has been for many years, no peaceful alliance is possible with the world power shaped by oligarch capitalism. "Because the old formula of Jean Jaurès applies: capitalism carries war within itself like the cloud carries the rain," Lafontaine explained.
In his criticism of oligarchic capitalism, the ex-SPD chairman explicitly included that in Russia as well as in Ukraine. Such a system is incapable of peace. For him, this means "that we need a different economic order in order to find peace."
"Peace has long been possible"
He addressed the current war in Ukraine on the basis of the recent article on it in the "New York Times" (NYT). He said he never expected this site to advocate a negotiated settlement as he did. For example, the paper calls on U.S. President Joseph Biden to make clear to his Kiev counterpart Volodymyr Selenskyj the limits of Western support. For Lafontaine, this is a "revolutionary demand, because it would be unthinkable that a member of the current German government would have made such a demand, not even leading politicians of the political parties."
He stressed at the congress that peace would have been possible long ago. For this purpose, Ukraine should not be admitted to NATO or NATO military facilities such as missile systems should not be installed on its territory. When, on the other hand, leading U.S. politicians proclaim as a goal that they want to weaken Russia, this is "a program to destroy Ukraine and kill a great many people."
Lafontaine called for the relevant debate to be held in the Bundestag and with the German government as well. He recalled that for a long time critics of NATO have been pointing out the following aspect: As long as the U.S., as its leading power, wages wars of aggression and covert as well as trade wars worldwide, it endangers the other members of the alliance instead of bringing them the security they desire. "An oligarchy that constantly wages wars cannot lead a defensive alliance."
Applause and counter-demonstrators
The politician, who has since also resigned from the Left Party he co-founded, called for advocating a negotiated solution for Ukraine. If the war continues, it will lead to worldwide damage, he warned. For him, a negotiated solution includes neutrality for Ukraine, autonomy for the Donbas and Crimea remaining part of the Russian Federation. "This is a question of realpolitik," Lafontaine said.
Lafontaine received applause from most of the 300 or so participants in the packed university auditorium. But a clear critical and yet differentiated view like that of the former SPD and Left Party leader and other speakers at the congress on the role of NATO and the war in Ukraine did not seem to be understood by everyone before and during the event. Thus, a small group of counter-demonstrators, apparently mostly students, accompanied the congress in front of the university. They shouted "Russian Propganda kills" via megaphone and loudspeakers, carried signs such as "No Russian propaganda at universities" and Ukrainian flags.
The fact that none of those appearing at the congress live or via video, nor those participating in it, uncritically welcomed the Russian invasion of Ukraine or agreed with it, was not noticed by them. Nor, apparently, did the one of them who appeared in the auditorium after the church critic and peace activist Eugen Drewermann had delivered his moving and stirring "speech against war." Drewermann, too, had condemned Russia for the attack on Ukraine, but at the same time called on it to do everything for peace.
Dangerous ignorance of history
But the student, who says he is from Georgia and 23 years old, wanted to know from the audience what his options were: He wants to be a pacifist, he said, but he had already experienced what war meant when he was ten years old, because Russian soldiers had invaded his country. He had experienced war twice, he said, and omitted that the war in 2008 in Georgia had been started by its then president Mikhail Saakashvili - probably hoping for support from the United States, which did not come. Drewermann's answer that the Georgians need have no fear of Russia and need not join NATO was unlikely to have reached him.
Shortly thereafter, he demonstrated again in front of the university (right with cap). It was apparently already too much for him and the others that at the congress it was demanded not to demonize Russia with all criticism because of the attack contrary to international law. That it was called upon to use all diplomatic means to ensure peace instead of continuing to supply weapons that prolong the war.
The organizers of the event had experienced similar things before, up to defamation in some media. Or the young people simply did not understand what it was all about. If they were interested, with their ignorance and forgetfulness of history.
Because of the counter-demonstrators, those interested in the congress could only enter the university through the back entrance. Publicist Daniela Dahn was visibly annoyed by the inaudible agitation and lamented the "poisoned discourse space" in the last round of the event. Dahn is one of the first signatories of the Open Letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz against arms deliveries to Ukraine.
She said she had the impression that "Germany now wants to free itself from its liberators." Whoever recalls and points out historical contexts - "a normal thing for thinking people" - has to justify himself. They are being accused of supporting the wrong side, Dahn said. She regretted that "the fact that the peace movement now also has to be against Russia is bitter enough."
"Failure of politics"
Aggression is the most serious violation of international law, she said, but she wondered if it still mattered at all in the world. "Basically, it had long been suspended by many previous wars of aggression." And, "Anyone who raises his voice against Russia today does not yet have to be a NATO ally, as is demanded and expected of us," the publicist clarified. "The simple logic that whoever is against NATO is for Putin is not something we allow ourselves to assume."
Dahn called it "very remarkable" that today pacifists and détente politicians have to justify themselves - "and not those who got us into this situation." She said it was a "failure of policy and nothing else." She quoted Albert Einstein, who once stated, "Masses are never bellicose unless they are poisoned by propaganda." Likewise, she recalled Ukrainian peace activist Yuri Sheliazhenko's statement earlier at the congress that those who profit from war do not stop it.
"Peace is too important to be left to politicians," the publicist stressed, which is why a strong peace movement is still needed. Historian Peter Brandt then spoke in favor of a European security architecture that includes Russia. He condemned the Russian attack, but said, "Peace is not solely a matter for Ukraine," partly because it is a proxy war.
"The real target is China"
Sevim Dagdelem, a member of the Bundestag and foreign policy expert for the Left Party, noted that the dramatic global situation was characterized by NATO's economic and proxy war against Russia. But its goal is actually to weaken China, she said, recounting a German-U.S. meeting a few weeks ago in Washington with senior U.S. policy officials: "It was all about China." That had been the case before at an international parliamentarians' conference in the U.S. capital in December, she said.
Dagdelem, meanwhile, has come under attack even within her own party for not taking a unilateral position against Russia. She warned of the growing danger that arms deliveries to Ukraine by NATO countries could involve them directly in that war. This, in turn, increases the risk of a nuclear-led Third World War, she said.
"All the efforts of the peace movements must be directed at preventing exactly that," she said, adding, "That's why we must not be intimidated!" She said there must be continued assertive advocacy for a halt to arms deliveries to Ukraine and the training of Ukrainian military personnel, as well as for a negotiated settlement to end the war. He said it was a matter of "helping the truth get back on its feet" in the face of media war campaigns.
Reminder of "coalition of reason"
Peace activist Reiner Braun also called for a renewed commitment to the logic of peace. Part of this logic is that the security interests of the other side must be considered just as much as one's own. Braun pointed out that only a few countries worldwide follow the war logic of NATO and its leading power, the United States. And he recalled the former GDR party and state leader Erich Honecker, who had called for a "coalition of reason" in the 1980s, during the Cold War between the two blocs. This was necessary again today, he said, just as criticism of NATO as a global military alliance needed to be stepped up.
The full program of the congress, which lasted several hours, also included a greeting by journalist Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, who was unable to attend in person. She called for the war in Ukraine to be ended "as quickly as possible." She said that it must be possible to argue about the way to achieve this without immediately defaming the other side. "For this, it is necessary to listen to each other and not to dismiss everything that does not fit into one's own view as propaganda," Krone-Schmalz said. "We need informed debates, which is difficult enough in times of war."
Journalist Ekkehard Sieker read the greeting on behalf of the event. He later recalled the "watchdog" function of journalism in a lecture of his own. But Sieker lamented that this function is no longer performed and that intelligence has become a matter for the secret services. He spoke about the targeted "strategic communication" of NATO and the EU, which is directed against Russia. There is a threat of a "slow fascization of civil society," the journalist warned.
Warning of war consequences
The silence of artists contributes to this, noted musician and former member of the Bundestag Diether Dehm.
Quoting Peter Hacks, he lamented the "media hunting fever" against anyone who represents an opinion other than the prevailing one. Actually, he said, cultural workers and journalists should be expected to "reduce fear of the top, fear of the rulers, and argue with less fear." Dehm advocated networking efforts for peace and social alternatives.
Yet the paths to peace have been known for centuries, as theologian Drewermann showed in his "speech against war" using quotes from great thinkers. He impressively accomplished what Bertolt Brecht called for in his speech for the Peace Congress in 1952:
"Let us say again and again what has been said a thousand times, so that it has not been said once too little!
Let us renew the warnings, even if they are already like ashes in our mouths!
For mankind is threatened with wars, against which the past ones are like poor attempts, and they will come without any doubt, if those who prepare them in public,
are not broken."
Drewermann quoted, among others, the writer Wolfgang Borchert, who shortly after the million-fold murder of the Second World War demanded:
"... You. Man at the station. If tomorrow they order you to give the signal for departure for the ammunition train and for the troop transport, there is only one thing to do:
You. Man in the village and man in the city. When they come tomorrow and bring you the order to present yourself, there is only one thing to do:
You. Mother in Normandy and mother in Ukraine, you, mother in Frisco and London, you at the Hoangho and at the Missisippi, you, mother in Naples and Hamburg and Cairo and Oslo - mothers in all continents, mothers in the world, when tomorrow they order you to bear children,
nurses for war hospitals and new soldiers for new battles, mothers in the world, there is only one thing to do:
Say NO! Mothers, say NO! ..."
Borchert had warned shortly before his death of the consequences if the No is not said aloud.
The congress in the Humboldt University was a clear and unequivocal no to the warmongers, especially NATO. This was also helped by those from various countries who spoke on issues of international law, international perspectives and topics such as environmental protection and artificial intelligence as a weapon.
That the No was not to be overlooked or ignored was equally evident from the disruptive maneuvers and attacks in the run-up to the event, during the event, and many a pejorative mainstream media report afterwards. The organizers are not impressed by this, as the journalist and peace activist Christiane Reymann, one of them, stated at the end. They want to document the congress and continue the joint work they started, also with new ideas.
TagsEU peace peace movement war media NATO Russia Ukraine USA
Previous PostPrevious News Mosaic - Episode 3
3 thoughts on "No to Nato and war - Yes to peace"
Ingeborg Schuster says:
May 25, 2022 at 12:20 pm
"Yet the ways to peace have been known for centuries..."
justifies the question:
Why do countries nevertheless end up in wars again and again?
Why does the war fever of 1914 prevail again in Germany in 2022?
Can it be that a peaceful society consists of peaceful people, instead of daily word wars of the blame assignments against others to lead?
Can it be that the thing itself is beside the point and the way of dealing with a thing is essential, because it is the essence of the decision that counts?
If we answer these questions in the affirmative, then the war with words of blame in the nucleus of a country, the family, is at least as dangerous as the played war in video games, the competition in sports or the political election campaign and prepares the way for the war with firearms. Because people are unique and only in the competition with themselves sustainably victorious, because they always become freer from envy, fear, discord, intrigue. The acronym of these four qualities, as old as man on earth is the worm in the gear of life and the igniter of every war with words, weapons, values.
Even if "the ways to peace have been known for centuries", people have misjudged that peace in the country can only be the effect of the INNER PEACE of the people, which everyone realizes for himself with the FREE decision to act more and more often (especially in the everyday questions of life) self-responsibly instead of expectantly and hopefully assigning the blame to the others and despairing of the fact that the elites fail and disappoint more and more often. Also and especially with the social ideology as a supposed security, which for about 150 years has only generated expectations, victimhood and dependence.
The sense of the word 'disenchantment' resembles its sense-sisters disenfranchisement, disempowerment, denazification, demilitarization, and others:
Disenchantment, that is, freeing myself from the delusion that other people could do lasting things for me. In the end, everyone lives from his own deeds, as school education and profession (minus tricks) show. Since more than 25 years I am still amazed how peaceful and balancing my decisions for deceiving and dissolving the deception still work, even if they sometimes come across as very demanding.
May 25, 2022 at 9:55 am
Am thrilled with every voice that speaks against the warmongering of Leyen, Baerbock, NATO, ....
Werner Bischoff says:
May 24, 2022 at 6:30 pm
Thank you for the peace discussion. Thank you to the speakers.I saw in all contributions more or less a call to the party DIE LINKE in their upcoming federal party conference not to become the SPD and Bündnis 90 Die Grünen.I saw in all contributions the current warning of a nuclear war, of further impoverishment and rising inflation..Theologian Drewermann reported very emotional what actually means war.staatlich amgordneter MORD. (state-ordered murder) ..We defend ourselves.