German foreign minister Steinmeier agitates for war

Ulrich Rippert

The 100th anniversary of August 4, 1914—the disastrous day on which the SPD (Social Democratic Party) faction voted in the Reichstag for the Kaiser’s war credits to finance World War I—is only weeks away. The SPD is preparing for the anniversary by pressing for renewed German militarism.

At the end of May, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) opened a new web site for the foreign office with the title “Review 2014—Rethinking foreign policy.” The goal of the site is to combat long-standing public opposition to war and militarism.

With the support of the German federal government and the president, Steinmeier declared at the beginning of this year that the country’s previous policy of military restraint was at an end. In the future, Germany would intervene independently, “including militarily,” in crisis regions around the world. The foreign minister justified this by saying that Germany was “too big and too important” to limit itself “to merely commenting from the sidelines of world politics.”

Although this return of an aggressive German foreign policy underwent long and intensive preparation and was supported by all parties in the Bundestag as well as practically the entire media, it has met with the opposition and hostility by the majority of the population. That is now supposed to change.

German press, politicians warn of rupture in US-German relations

Ulrich Rippert

Wärmebild der US-Botschaft in Berlin: je heller die Farbe,
desto wärmer das Mauerwerk.
(Foto: Reuters/Sü

New revelations on the National Security Agency’s activities and the consequences of its bugging of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone dominated German media at the start of the week.

Under the headline “The Sinister Friend,” the German weekly Der Spiegel warned Monday of the threat of an “ice age” in German-American relations. It reported that a likely centre of the US spying operation was the massive, recently built US embassy at Brandenburg Gate, just a stone’s throw from the Chancellery and the main German government buildings. Der Spiegel suggested that a listening post had been established in the embassy, which has a forest of antennae on its roof.

Infrared images indicate that enormous amounts of energy are being consumed inside the building, indicating surveillance activities.

Systematic monitoring of leading German politicians and officials began in 2002, when the Social Democratic (SPD)-Green Party government headed by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) spoke out against German participation in the impending Iraq war. Over the ensuing years, the monitoring of the German government was systematically extended. In addition to the German chancellor, the NSA has monitored at least 34 other international leaders.

The NSA surveillance operations are not limited to politicians, but target masses of people throughout Europe. It was reported at the weekend that the US secret services had monitored 60 million phone calls in Spain in December alone. According to Spanish news reports, the NSA had gathered information on phone numbers, the origin and duration of calls, and their content. On Monday, the Spanish Foreign Ministry officially summoned the US ambassador to inform him of the displeasure of the Spanish government and demand an explanation.

Why Merkel won the German elections

Ulrich Rippert

The German elections last Sunday had many special features. The Free Democratic Party (FDP), which has consistently sat in the Bundestag (parliament), has been involved in government since 1949, longer than any other party, and which most blatantly represents the interests of finance capital, failed to clear the five percent hurdle required to enter parliament.

The new anti-euro party “Alternative for Germany” (AFD), founded just a few months ago, secured almost as many votes as the FDP and narrowly missed a place in the Bundestag.

But most striking was the victory of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The party whose brutal austerity measures have triggered violent protests and mass demonstrations in many European countries, was able, together with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), to get nearly forty-eight percent of the vote.

In contrast, the parties which acted as a supposedly left-wing opposition were punished by the voters. The Greens and the Left Party lost significantly, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) received 25.7 percent of the vote, which despite a minimal gain was its second-worst election result of the Postwar period. The reason is not hard to understand: the SPD, Greens and Left Party are neither left-wing nor an opposition.

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