German Interests in the War
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avgust 20, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

German interests in the war against Yugoslavia 2

By Ulrich Rippert

A new phase of German militarism has begun. Up until German unification 10 years ago the task of the German army was exclusively limited to the defence of its own territory. All political parties agreed that the constitution excluded any intervention for aggressive purposes and interventions outside NATO territory. With the end of the Cold War a new strategic orientation has begun. At the beginning of 1992 leading military officers and Defence Ministry officials presented a strategy paper which completely redefined the tasks of the German army. In future its task was to consist of the following: "The prevention, limitation, and ending of any conflict which could hamper the unity and stability of Germany", "the promotion and securing of worldwide political, economic, military and ecological stability" and "the retention of free international trade and access to strategic raw materials".

The significance of this change is made clear by another paper from the German army. In September last year an information brochure for officers was circulated with the title "Oil Poker in the Caucasus—Security and Political Aspects of Oil and Gas Reserves in the Caspian Sea". Lieutenant Colonel Helmut Udo Napiontek, who served previously in Georgia as a member of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), reviews over 15 pages the conflicts bound up with the exploitation of oil and gas in the region, as well as problems arising from transport routes. He writes: "For potential oil and gas producers the geographical situation is problematic enough: the Great Power China shares an eastern border with the producer Kazakhstan. To the north of the Caspian basin is neighbouring Russia, which controls all of the export routes at the moment. To the south lies war-torn Afghanistan and the Islamic fundamentalist Republic of Iran. To the west of the Caspian basin lie the Transcaucasus—rent by ethnic divisions—and Turkey, which is striving for hegemony in the region. The situation is further complicated by the most varied economic, religious and political situations."

In order to make clear the extent of the conflicts of interest, it is informative to look once more at the above-mentioned strategy paper of the SPD parliamentary fraction: "The Region of the Future—the Caspian Sea". An initial comment warns that the paper is not designed for a broad public or for purposes of propaganda: "This publication by the SPD parliamentary fraction is purely for informational use. It should not be employed in election campaigns." The introduction was written by the chairman of the SPD fraction and current Defence Minister Rudolph Scharping. He emphasises: "The SPD parliamentary fraction pays a great deal of attention to the developments in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea. In this ‘region of the future' a number of conflicts and problems exist which can intensify because of the worldwide interest in oil and gas reserves." Then he draws attention to the fact that the SPD fraction had raised these themes previously in the German parliament. In addition, the SPD Frederich Ebert Institute has held international conferences on the issue in Berlin and Washington.

The paper complains about the aggressive intervention of American companies "which have between 40 percent and 50 percent shares of the most important concerns in Kazakstan and Azerbaijan". The Federal Republic of Germany has no representation among the 100 most important oil companies, the paper notes regrettably. It concentrates therefore on being "oriented heavily towards infrastructure contracts, especially in road creation, the building of transportation systems and communal infrastructure, telecommunications, radio and television, and the production and distribution of electricity," but still the situation with regard to treaties "has been modest". "For example, German investors have gathered that transnational corporations of the mineral oil sector often use their investments for the creation of favourable conditions for other bidders coming from their own home countries. The business done with raw energy materials paves the way for further contracts in infrastructure. German policy must in this case make great efforts to demand fair trade conditions, and a balancing out of the present competitive distortions."

As has often been the case in the history of colonialism, those who come onto the scene late raise a warning finger and caution about the social and ecological consequences arising from the ruthless exploitation of raw materials. The SPD study emphasises that the hasty deals made over the past few years has favoured a "completely one-sided appropriation of this wealth to families, clans or oligarchies". As a result, the crisis in the region has intensified. "Such presently comfortable and profitable agreements will prove in the future extremely costly, when the price is the abetting through silence of those regional rulers who would delay or even refuse to institute reforms."

The study warns of the danger of emerging power blocks, whereby an American-led alliance confronts a Russian bloc. The current development is proceeding in a "disastrous direction". "Under the influence of powers from outside the region, there are two camps emerging. These opposing groups, the line of division of which runs straight through the middle of the Caspian Sea, refer to themselves as ‘strategic alliances'. The one group aligns Azerbaijan and Georgia with foreign powers Turkey and the United States. The other includes Iran, Armenia, the Russian Federation, and (with reservations) Turkmenistan. The antagonism between these ‘alliances' reminds one of the ill-fated geopolitical developments of the last century, which ended in a high death toll for Europe."

A joint European policy must counteract this development and support "regional co-operation". In this respect two things are important from the European standpoint: first, a strengthening of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Although the Russian federation "maintains garrisons in the entire region apart from Azerbaijan", a vacuum of power has emerged since the end of the Soviet Union which has to be filled by the OSCE. The OSCE has won trust and recognition in the region "with its missions in Tadzhikistan, Georgia, Chechnia and Nagorno-Karabach".

Secondly, the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which came into effect on April 16, 1998 and has been ratified by 32 states—including all eight of the republics to the south of Russia—must become the general basis for business. "The ECT creates dependable and equal conditions for investments in exploration, upstream projects and pipeline network projects. It includes instruments to guarantee the fulfilment of contracts, secures the free flow of oil and gas, and offers an effective arbitration procedure for disagreements. It can act as a bulwark against the threatened politicisation of the exploitation and promotion of raw materials and transport of energy sources in the region. In addition, it can prepare the way for an economical and rational decision about the variants in question." There are a few hitches: up until now the US government has refused to participate in ECT and regards the whole thing first and foremost as an attempt to create obstacles for American concerns.

The war in Kosovo has reshuffled the cards in this new "Great Game". The role of the UN and OSCE has been minimised. The aggressive approach of the United States against a sovereign state, with the participation of the rest of the NATO countries, has not only made clear the brutality with which the Great Powers are prepared to secure their economic and political interests, it also heralds new, even greater conflicts.

The dishonest propaganda of Foreign Minister Fischer and Defence Minister Scharping, who are both thoroughly informed of the discussions taking place in their respective ministries, is the incidental music to the re-emergence of the German war machine, which carried out the greatest crimes of the twentieth century.