Germany on the Nose Ring

The White House calls the shots

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2023 by Uwe Bahr

German tanks for Ukraine.

As a German and believing to be halfway familiar with the history of my country, I can’t trust my own eyes when I read something like the following. Discovered today on CNN:

In supposedly free countries like the USA or Germany, do media still exist that are not addicted to unconditional warmongering – media that do not have in mind to almost uncritically pass on the views of their respective governments to a bleary-eyed population?

Are there any historically literate scribblers or even politicians, called “Western officials”, who still use facts from history to assess today’s situation, even if they only refer to a quotation? How is Ukraine supposed to achieve lasting peace if old mistakes are repeated during the war, possibly also after the war, and the country – which is actually to be feared – continues to be used by the West as a protective shield against Russia?

Didn’t German tanks kill Ukrainians 80 years ago as well? Such an argument to justify German arms deliveries to Ukraine today is not only cynical, but in its naively simplified form it also bears no causal relation to history as it actually happened. Because in reality, by far more ordinary Ukrainians have suffered from a criminal collaboration of German Nazis and Ukrainian nationalists than from German tanks.

Bandera monument in Lviv, western Ukraine, a city which once was called Lemberg.

Of course, from the point of view of those who think they have to use weapons to resolve a conflict that cannot be judged in black and white, it is inevitable to resort to such naive platitudes.

The author of the nonsense at CNN obviously has no knowledge of the fact that when Hitler’s Wehrmacht invaded Ukraine, large parts of the Ukrainian population received the German soldiers as liberators from Stalinism – a mistake for which they were later to pay bitterly. I had former soldiers of the German Wehrmacht in my own relatives who reported about it. It is part of a narrative about a cruel war that brought us (by that I mean: we Germans) too late to the realization: “Whoever picks up a gun again, let his hand fall off.” Unfortunately, the quote does not stem from me, but from Franz-Josef Strauss, an arch-conservative Bavarian politician who himself fought as an officer on the Eastern Front during World War II.

The historical knowledge about the collaboration of Ukrainian extremists with Hitler is linked to an astonishing development, according to which there were and are political forces in Ukraine, which not only strived for a plausible independence of their country, but also wanted to ethnically cleanse it. Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian ideologist and national movement leader of the 20th century, with his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) played into the hands of the Holocaust with active assistance. Under their “cooperation” the German occupiers killed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian Jews. Tens of thousands of Poles who escaped with their lives were expelled from their ancestral homeland.

All this suited the OUN because its goal was to transform Ukraine into an ethnically homogeneous country. It was clear to the organization that this could only be achieved by means of mass killings. The West, with all its peace-preaching politicians, no longer wants to know anything about all this.

What does that have to do with today?

Some. For to this day, Bandera is revered as a national hero in western-oriented parts of the Ukrainian population. Not only are there several monuments to Bandera in Ukraine, erected after the breakaway from the Soviet Union, but a main street in Kiev was renamed after him in 2016 – much to the dismay of the Russians living in eastern Ukraine, and also, by the way, of Israel.

It is not only the memory of Bandera that is glorified today in large parts of the non-Russian speaking population. The notorious Azov regiment, which today plays a large part in Ukraine’s military resistance to Russia, is infested with Nazi ideology; until recently it was seen with symbols closely associated with the German Waffen SS.

So, when Vladimir Putin blathers about wanting to purge Ukraine of “fascist elements,” the West does not have history on its side at all. The problem is that peace cannot be achieved with such attitudes on either side.

And by the way, even German tanks cannot solve problems that have their multi-layered origins in social spheres. Politicians and media should stop poisoning people’s minds with irresponsible war polemics.

One more remark: A country like the U.S., which for sole interest demonstrably carries out one military aggression and intervention after another or has them carried out by third parties, cannot hold the leadership of a pretended defense alliance like NATO. Europe should take care of itself instead of submitting to American market interests. The idea is realistic if the will to implement it were there – but it is not.

Defense, protection from Russia? France, unlike Germany, is a nuclear power, and together the two countries have a higher military budget than the largest country in the world – Russia.

But none of this seems to play a role in the deliberations of those responsible in my home country. Germany is in a politically neglected state and lets itself be led by the Biden administration on the nose ring through world history. It does not seem to occur to any of those playing with fire today how much the possibility of a nuclear confrontation with Russia endangers Europe in particular. The Americans always wage their wars far enough away from their own country and withdraw as soon as things get dicey, or they run away altogether with their glorious military – see Afghanistan – and are then no longer directly affected for the time being.

Ukraine, however, is barely a two-hour flight from Germany.

For the First Time since Hitler

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2023 by Uwe Bahr

As long as I have been in this world, we Germans have been told time and again by our own governments – both in the dictatorial GDR and in the later, reunified Germany – war is not a means of politics and that, because of our history, we should stay out of everything that has to do with militarism.

German Tiger tanks in 1943 shortly before the order to attack near Kursk in the Soviet Union. The Kursk arc was the site of the largest tank battle in military history. – I myself lost several relatives during the war in the Soviet Union; their bones still lie buried somewhere in the vastness of Russian space, and no one knows where exactly.

Those who can think of nothing better than to respond to violence with counter-violence are setting in motion a spiral that ends in nothing other than the death of countless innocent people. How many more examples of this kind have to be added to history before mankind learns something from them? Especially Christian people or those who fancy themselves as such should know this better than someone like me.

Now, sooner or later, the German government will actually deliver “Leopard” tanks to Ukraine; tanks that will then shoot at Russian soldiers with the Iron Cross on their turrets for the first time since Adolf Hitler. Every normal person in Germany should know how wrong this is, especially since Ukraine is so torn apart that even after the war with Russia it is very unlikely to achieve a progressive democracy for the country as a whole.

Ukraine has never been an ethnically unified, nation-state entity. Corrupt politicians have squandered all opportunities to do so since the country’s secession from the Soviet Union in 1991, and instead have gradually bartered away sovereignty to Western economic interests and to NATO, which has had its fingers in the pie from the beginning. It is to be feared that corruption and abuse of authority will not end even after a cease-fire with Russia and instead the country will apply for all kinds of aid from the European Union – aid which in turn will only benefit the corrupt politicians on the scene, but not the simple, suffering people.

Europe, and Germany in general, will bear a responsibility in the coming decades which the Germans in particular, as the (still) strongest economic power in Europe, will not be able to escape. I believe this is deliberate – not only on the part of the USA for reasons of its own economic and military world domination, but also on the part of countries such as Poland, where leading politicians still want to take belated revenge because of the German Reich.

1999: When NATO bombed Yugoslavia

The similarity of the Russian strategy in Ukraine is striking

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, especially smart and USA-hawkish German politicians have repeatedly attracted attention with their omniscient remarks that for the first time since Hitler there is war again in Europe. From a historical point of view, this is not true: For in the spring of 1999 – some may still remember – NATO, led by the USA, bombed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia outside the alliance and without a UN mandate. That, too, was war.

Yugoslavia 1999: Burning Belgrade after NATO Bombing

The way of warfare at that time reminds of the current Russian strategy in Ukraine, with the difference that almost 24 years ago nobody talked about a “turn of times” as in Germany and nobody else had the idea to impose sanctions against participating, war-leading NATO countries in view of the crimes against international law. If there was an outcry of indignation, it was nowhere near as loud as it is today – in the media and elsewhere.

Although the operation, which took place between March 24 and June 10, 1999, was code-named “Allied Forces,” the main actor – I would never have guessed – was the United States. The Americans dropped a total of 28,000 bombs on parts of Serbia and Montenegro, with the death of an estimated 500 uninvolved civilians, including children and women, and “accidentally” also bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Three people were killed there, all of them Chinese citizens.

The humanitarian justification for the bombings remains controversial to this day, to say the least. Nevertheless, it is always possible to invent reasons to start a war – see George W. Bush. In any case, as air strikes on Yugoslavia proved unexpectedly ineffective, the Americans suddenly had grave misgivings about allowing ground troops to advance.

So, they did exactly the same thing in Yugoslavia that Putin is doing in Ukraine today: the war henceforth focused on civilian infrastructure, targeting power plants, coal-fired power plants, waterworks, rail links, bridges and government facilities. We remember, the US President at that time was Bill Clinton.

Unlike today with regard to Ukraine, hardly any voices of indignation were heard in the West at the time, while rather timid tones came from former pacifists everywhere, such as the current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who successfully refused military service in his younger years, but today, in an astonishing change of heart, seems to know his way around any tank model. Like the self-proclaimed “peace politicians” from the Greens, part of the current left-liberal traffic light coalition in Germany, Scholz calls for sending more and more weapons to Ukraine – until Russia is defeated.

A nuclear power like Russia, which has launched a brutal war against Ukraine in violation of international law, is difficult to defeat militarily. Vladimir Putin, provoked to the core by the West, is likely to fight to the end and may not recoil to pull the nuclear card as a last option. Meanwhile, US-controlled corporations are making gigantic profits from the production of war materials and the sale of their dirty fracking natural gas, which hardly anyone overseas wanted before, at a price today that is not only dragging the economy in Europe into the abyss, but from which millions of private households in particular are suffering, not least in Germany.

This is far from the end of the line: The new Republican majority in the US House of Representatives could demand a higher cost-sharing by Europeans in the war in Ukraine, which could drag on for who knows how long. It looks like anything but a good new year for Europe.

We threw Chestnuts at Soviet Military Vehicles

Germany intends to deliver GDR Strela anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine

Germany intends these days … to deliver 2,700 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles from former NVA stocks to Ukraine. For the record, the NVA (Nationale Volksarmee) was the National People’s Army of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly known in the U.S. – and not entirely historically accurate – as the former communist East Germany. Like the same state, this army has ceased to exist since 1990.

Germany delivers 2,700 surface-to-air missiles from GDR stock to Ukraine

The military utensil (the official term is 9K32-Strela-2, but there is absolutely no military expert talking in me) is ironically of Soviet design and now to be used in Ukraine against Russian invading forces. It has been in service since 1968, and there has hardly been a conflict hotspot during and since the Cold War in which this weapon has not been deployed. Among others, the Viet Cong also used it against the Americans in the Vietnam War.

Around the same time – we were eight or nine years old – a school friend and I, crouched behind a cemetery wall, threw chestnuts at passing Soviet military vehicles. When one of these vehicles stopped and we heard a loud Russian voice, we almost wet our pants and ran away.

We had actually been told in school to always wave to the Soviet convoys whenever we saw them on the road – because according to official propaganda, they were considered “our liberators from fascism.” But that didn’t really catch on. At the same time, my father was a great admirer of the American Apollo space flights. There I was confronted with the other extreme early in life: For it was Hitler’s former scientists who decisively helped the Americans win the race to the moon during the Cold War. My father’s influence was unconsciously reflected in my thinking, which could not follow the communist propaganda. I feel with almost similar mixed feelings about the portrayals in most news broadcasts today. All this together is probably the material for a whole book.

According to the official GDR account of that time, the Soviets were our friends, but in large parts of the population it was not seen that way. The GDR, a state about two-thirds the size of Florida, was frontline Warsaw Pact territory and therefore fully occupied by Soviet troops. They were omnipresent in the daily street scene, although strangely we hardly came into contact with them.

The chestnuts of 1969 against Soviet military have of course achieved nothing, and yet they were – in a figurative sense – probably trendsetting. For in the fall of 1989, peaceful protests in the Eastern Bloc, not chestnuts and certainly not tanks, led to the end of the Cold War. Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of “glasnost and perestroika”, which means “openness, transparency and reformation”, led to the peaceful withdrawal of the Soviets from Middle and Eastern Europe. When two weapons-staring systems faced each other, things could have gone very differently, despite the supposed weakness of one of the opponents (we see it today with Russia). But in the decades to come, the West has struck at the outstretched hand of the Russians several times and without careful consideration. Without necessity, one did not understand how to turn a previous enemy into a partner.

And now there is a war in Europe, of which no one can say how the conflict would be resolved even after a ceasefire – from the point of view of both sides, the West as well as Russia, by the way. But the beginning of the 1990s proved how peace and security can be achieved: through dialogue, by approaching each other – in no case with more and more weapons.

One would think that the so-called Christianity of the Occident should understand and support Gorbachev’s option better than anyone else, but unfortunately, in the history of the world, the opposite has usually been the case.

Therefore, a Christian who advocates weapons remains for me a very strange Christian, because he permanently disregards his own principles instead of leaving everything to his dear God.

Kiev before the Fall?

Game is over in Ukraine for the Giuliani’s, the Trump’s, and the Biden Juniors

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr

Once again: Cui Bono, for whose benefit? Putin, too, can talk all he wants. The real reason for the invasion of Ukraine was the not unjustified fear that sooner or later NATO would also present itself there. After all, Ukraine’s goal, declared in its own constitution, was to join the NATO alliance. From the Russian point of view, it is understandable that Putin would not allow that – conversely, the Americans would not have done it differently if they had felt threatened in front of their own door (see the Cuban missile crisis in 1962). Perhaps with the difference that their army would have bogged down in such a situation as usual, with helicopters evacuating their own people from roofs.

After all the grandiose assurances, after all the support for Ukraine against Russia, it now looks like Americans and Europeans are dropping the country like a hot potato, while, as in any war, the civilian population suffers the most.

Already there are first reports that Kiev could soon fall. The city is considered the mother of the Russian state system, which originated a thousand years ago. Scandinavian traders formed the Kievan Rus there together with Slavic tribes as early as the eighth century.

One only needs to follow the development since 1990. Germany could have cultivated the friendly atmosphere that prevailed toward the then Soviet Union, even in the course of the many changes. We got our reunification only because the Soviets allowed it and did not send tanks in the GDR in 1989 as they did in 1953 – a previously unimaginable situation.

Already Bismarck, anything but a socialist, had warned 140 years ago not to mess with Russia. But the Atlantic alliance compulsion of our days has degenerated the initially good German relationship with Russia into a willing allegiance to the Atlantic alliance. In another scenario of history, we would not see the things that we have to see today with regard to Ukraine.

It looks like the game is over in Ukraine for the Giuliani’s, the Trump’s, and the Biden juniors (remember?). Wherever there is quick money to be made, they have their fingers in the dirt. They and their ilk have made a run for it and will try elsewhere.

A War Crime, nothing else

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

First, they made the world believe to have successfully killed ISIS-K terrorists in the late August drone strike in Kabul. When even they realized that something had gone wrong again, they tried to cover it up as long as possible. This time, German public television was on the scene shortly after the attack and interviewed people from the immediate neighborhood where the drone struck. These people told a different story from the start than American officials, who quickly stated that no other military in the world uses drones more safely than the United States. In reality, they murdered children, purely by “accident.” This is what Christian retaliation looks like in response to an attack by terrorists.

After the mess the Americans made in Afghanistan, they are already planning the next invasions. AUKUS – the “security agreement” for the Indo-Pacific Region – with the British and Australia, came out of blue sky. Biden, this time, could have been Trump. The treaty is reminiscent of Victorian imperialistic alliances before the First World War and Roosevelt-policies in the Second World War, when spheres of interest in the Southeast Asian region were to be “secured”, deliberately provoking potential confrontations with Japan.

In order not to create any false impressions: this new agreement is ostensibly not directed against China, because in a confrontation with this country the Americans would more than likely go down. Moreover, why would they even fight a country to which large American corporations like Walmart have outsourced much of the American manufacturing base to make the most profit possible instead of creating good paying jobs for their own people at home? Rather, the US once again wants to poke around in regions of the world and explore lucrative expansion opportunities where it is anything but wanted. This just screams for new proxy wars against small countries, this time not with ground troops, but with new war technology that is labeled “infallible”, especially when in the hands of the American military.

After all, the arms business is the main concern in the land of the free, because it secures billions in profits, no matter if the war is lost or won. If children die in the process, as in Afghanistan – that is collateral damage, which is accepted with hypocritical excuses. The poor French are now angry because their submarine deal with Australia was screwed up by the Biden administration. But that’s too bad.

When the time comes, when the next bang occurs, the Americans at home will be told the next lie. People who have fallen for the insane “Make America Great Again” philosophy believe everything they are led to believe anyway – as soon as it is about feigned “American patriotism” and “American freedom” that has to be defended, next time somewhere in South-East Asia.

Vietnam is long forgotten.

Change Starts in the Head

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

As expected, the USA is now tearing itself apart in recriminations over Afghanistan. While many Republicans are trying to whitewash history with their own version of “alternative facts”, Joe Biden is in some ways the executor of Trump’s policy, who engineered the crucial withdrawal from Afghanistan. The unfortunate, deplorable minds are the die-hard supporters of the Republican party who are falling again for every falsification of history, as they did when George Bush started the American journey into the disaster after the terror attacks of 9/11. With so many people absorbing and believing in so much nonsense, putting party ideology first, there is no prospect of positive change for the USA.

Change starts in the head.

And yet adults in particular, who have experience of life, should know better – one would think. Many apparently don’t: “They are as stupid as they were born and have never learned something new”, says an old proverb. One can see it in the obtuse statements in the social media, in the colorful cartoons posted by grown people who want to express something that others have long since invented. They parrot other people’s opinions while they themselves are unable to summarize their own thoughts in writing. Each and every one of these self-proclaimed patriots is responsible for the deep rift that continues to divide the United States.

Only through such misguided souls could someone like Trump make it to the presidency.

“We will hunt them down, we will smoke them out”

President Bush’s War on Terror ends in Disaster for the entire West

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

For twenty years, international troops under U.S. leadership were in Afghanistan with the goal of providing peace and security, including their very own ideas of democracy. Now, the Taliban are closing in on Kabul. They ride in captured American pick-up trucks; a fighting force seemingly from the middle Ages. American interference once again turns out to be a failure all along the line: wherever they show up with their military, only disaster comes out. These days, the allies are rushing to fly out their embassy staff before they too fall into enemy hands. Meanwhile, a human tragedy is emerging for Afghans who thought they could trust the West.

History is often easy to internalize. To do this, you sometimes just need to remember quotes from the past and compare them with the present. Thereby, it would be helpful especially for Americans and their country to learn from history. The only problem is: People who fell for the phrases at that time, fall for all possible charlatanry also today and do not want or cannot remember their own words from yesterday. From which follows: Those are incapable of learning to whom it does not even occur to draw conclusions from the past.

The allegations that circulated and were deliberately spread among the American public even before President Bush’s war on terror began less than twenty years ago were nothing more than the result of obtuse propaganda hammered into Americans almost continuously via the media. It was a typical example of how, even in a democratic country, people’s patriotism was exploited by the cheapest methods.

The following should give pause for thought:

“I’d rather the war be there [in Iraq, Afghanistan] than in our own country.”
I heard this sentence over and over again back then from the mouths of regulars, most of them staunch Republicans. Nobody should want a war anywhere, because it can always strike back and hit you. People don’t believe it until it happens.

“He [Saddam Hussein] is just like another Hitler. We need to take him out of there.”
This was a similar saying from that time, hardly to be surpassed in ignorance to the facts. For comparing a big shot like Hussein with Adolf Hitler is one of the most surprising sentences, while incoherent assessments I have ever heard. Hitler controlled, for a short time, almost all of Europe and kept the whole world in suspense. The German Wehrmacht was the strongest military force of its time, and it took the rest of the world nearly six years in a combined effort to defeat it. Hussein, on his part, had nothing of that sort to display. He never possessed the weapons of mass destruction that were attributed to him, serving as the main reason for a mindless military invasion. If he had possessed them, the USA and its allies would hardly have attacked him – for he would have used them instantly. That simple fact would not go into the heads of most Americans at the time.

No matter how many I talked to back then – the result was almost always the same. The majority of Americans were unstoppable in their euphoria and belief that whatever their government was doing was right. Certainly, a legitimate rage about unprecedented terrorist attacks on their country played a significant role to fume their judgement.

“We will hunt them down, we will smoke them out.”
Remarks by President George W. Bush on September 17, 2001, to employees at the Pentagon. He repeated this phrase as if in a Wild West movie at several other occasions.

In truth, the military invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq made little sense, if only because the terrorist attackers of September 11 essentially not only came from Saudi Arabia, but were also financed from there. Saudi Arabia, however, is the closest U.S. ally in the region, albeit not for reasons of sympathy but of profit from the oil business. The price for this American hypocrisy could be costly: For the disastrous and maybe intended miscalculation of the Bush administration – politically, historically, and geostrategically – could now, after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, carry toxic smoke back to the US. The Taliban, once equipped and trained by the Americans, will in all likelihood find with their present advance sufficient basis and encouragement to launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its allies anew and around the world.

Thus, nothing remains of the goals that President Bush announced less than twenty years ago. To hunt down the real culprits of 9/11, there was no need for wars started by the USA, as the elimination of Osama bin Laden has shown. It is very likely that governments with which the U.S. is friendly are also behind dubious plots against the Americans, just as the Americans once created the Taliban to pit them against the Soviets. It is inconceivable.

The ones who suffer are always the innocent. Large parts of the Afghan people have believed the grandiose announcements of democracy and prosperity and are now suffering the revenge of the Taliban, while the West abandons its promises and cowardly runs away.