By the Shoebats
There is a very prestigious assembly that convenes every year in Munich, Germany, called the Munich Security Conference. Its emphasis is on international security, but its special focus is on Europe. What is fascinating about the Munich Security Conference is how its board of directors has numerous Germans who believe in Europe becoming independent of American power. There has been a trend intensifying since Brexit, one of Germans and Europeans revolting against American power. This trend is further seen in the words of several Munich Security Conference board members. As is obvious, America runs the world through its global security umbrella which is primarily represented by NATO. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, we have been accustomed to the American empire. But as this empire recluses itself, regional powers are now rising, and that includes Germany. While there is talk about “Europe” being independent, the reality is that Germany is the most powerful nation within the Euro zone, and thus any talk of “Europe” has to be interpreted in light of Germanic dominance.
As the US withdraws itself as the world’s police, the Europeans — especially the Germans — will continue to rise, and if history is any indication, this should not spark our enthusiasm. This urgency for a militarily independent Europe has been expressed by the Munich Security Conference’s chairman, Wolfgang Ischinger, who said in an interview: “There is no way for Western Europe to, for example, defend itself when you think about nuclear weapons. Because the American nuclear umbrella has been the instrument for protection for all these many, many, non-nuclear weapons countries in Western Europe who are members of NATO.” The interviewer asked him: “Are we at a point where Europeans have to think of a backup plan, a plan B?” To this question, Ischinger replied:
“I’ve always thought that we should, of course, continue to look for as much strategic sovereignty — independence — as is possible. Absolutely. And, for example, in the non-nuclear field of defense — in conventional defense — its our own fault we Europeans are totally dependent also on our big partner on the other side of the Atlantic.”
The interviewer later asks Ischinger: “So where does that leave plans that we hear from time to time from the French president or others talking about, ‘Its time to beef up and make a more common European defense policy or army and so on?” Ischinger’s reply even hints that there may be (like World War Two) another war with Russia within Europe:
“Its inevitable. Its necessary. Look, if there is a question mark about the reliability of our American partner; if we have a huge question mark about Russian intentions, all around this zone surrounding Russia, we have military issues… of course, we need to hedge — we as Europeans — we need to hedge against the possibility that there might be yet another military issue coming our way.”
During both Trump’s campaign and presidency, our main criticism of him was that he was pushing for more American isolationism, which would lead to countries like Japan and Germany to taking advantage of such a situation to advance their own militaries and make themselves more and more independent of American power. Ischinger, in a 2018 interview with Euractiv, acknowledged that Trump forced the Germans to become aware that they could not rely on America for security:
“Trump forces us to realise that it is not possible for 500 million Europeans to ‘outsource’ their security for more than 70 years, ignoring their dignity and pride. Europe’s citizens feel that the EU is repeatedly falling flat on its face with its global political efforts. It is not easy to be proud of this European Union as long as it does not work. That is a common feeling anyway.”
Speaking of Europeans having “pride” reminds us of typical German nationalist rhetoric, which states that Germans rise above its post-war mentality. Ischinger adds to this sentiment the belief that Germans — in their pride — must become independent of the Americans militarily. In the same interview, Ischinger states: “The reference to our history goes far, but we cannot hide behind it.” In other words, those who are concerned of Germany repeating the same evils of its recent past should stop hiding behind such history, and support the boosting of Germany’s military capabilities. Ischinger also speaks of how America is declining as a global power, and how Europe should replace the US as the world’s leading power:
“The will of the Americans to carry the international system almost single-handedly is decreasing. This development is older than Trump. … The European Union should be entitled to be the leading global player. It has more inhabitants than the USA. The American per capita income is not as much higher as it used to be. Is the EU in a position to turn power politics? In trade policy, it can and does. It depends on the will, on the political leadership and on personalities who are able to inspire 500 million Europeans.”
In any discourse concerning German military revitalization, there are always those who will say that most Germans are against any sort of military revival. But, Ischinger disputes this conventional idea. In a 2018 interview, Ischinger was challenged by Silvia Engels by telling him that the majority of Germans, according to a poll, disagreed with spending tens of billions of euros to rebuild the German Armed Forces: “But spending two percent of the gross domestic product on defense would then correspond to a budget item of more than 80 billion euros. The SPD is against it, as is the majority of public opinion in Germany – 60 percent, according to a recent study.” “I do not agree with you that the population is so negative about it” responded Ischinger. “That is what the latest surveys show” said Engels to whom Ischinger responded:
“No, no, no! There are also completely different surveys. I believe that there has been a massive increase in the population’s awareness in recent years that Europe has to protect itself, that we in the third generation cannot outsource essential parts of our own security to the USA and that we are in this Way are completely dependent on whatever the American president, this or his successor wants to decide. We have to grow up and take responsibility for ourselves, and I think the German citizen understands that too. That doesn’t have to mean two percent; But it has to mean equipping a powerful Bundeswehr [German army] of which we as citizens, as a government, as a parliament can be proud. Everything else is going in the wrong direction.”
Ischinger’s words reflect a growing trend in Germany: the desire for independence from the USA, to have a military that the German people can be proud of. With a prouder Europe comes a defense industry that is independent, especially from the United States which dominates in this field. Within the Munich Security Conference’s board is a very wealthy investor who has been amongst the most prominent proponents of an independent European tech industry, Klaus Hommels. According to a 2017 Forbes article, Hommels believes that European tech “has caught up to the U.S. in the past seven years much more than techies in New York and Silicon Valley would care to admit.” Hommels is a true believer in his cause, and it shows in his investments. Hommels, through his fund Lakestar, invested (alongside two other German investors) 23 million euros in the new startup company Aleph Alpha, which specializes in Artificial Intelligence technology. Amongst the aspirations of Aleph Alpha’s founder, Jonas Andrulis, is to help Europe become independent of the USA when it comes to AI technology. As Handelsblatt reported in July of 2021:
“‘This type of technology is the engine of the next industrial revolution,’ says Andrulis. He wanted to bring European values to the table and thus set himself apart from providers in the USA and China, who are considered to be pioneers. … He is therefore not at a loss for big words when it comes to his long-term goal: “We are the only European company ready to deliver the basic technology for transformative artificial intelligence,” says the founder of Aleph Alpha. He wants to secure nothing less than “European sovereignty” for the key technology from the Heidelberg location.”
Aleph Alpha is collaborating with Darmstadt AI professor Kristian Kersting, who describes his goal as German technological sovereignty: “This is extremely important so that we can build our sovereignty in AI in Germany and Europe.” Aleph Alpha is working on the project for European digital sovereignty, called Gaia X, which is planned to secure the private information of European online users from surveillance. Gaia X, if completed, will be a cloud sharing system for European companies independent of American digital power, and European entities would then have their own digital space to compete with big US companies like Amazon. France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, recently made the call for mass support for Gaia-X in the grand cause of not just digital sovereignty, but political independence for Europe: “I call our European partners, public and private, states and companies, to join this fantastic adventure that is to build our digital sovereignty. Stakes are high, that is nothing less than to protect our political sovereignty” (whats ironic is how American companies have been assisting the project for Gaia-X).
Nonetheless, the Gaia-X project is an indication of the growing trend in Europe: breaking away from American power and bolstering up Europe. Underneath technological struggle is a political struggle with the US. Klaus Hommels expressed this in an article entitled, “Cold War II: A Technology War With Two Dimensions,” in which he wrote of how, in Europe:
“the most valuable tech companies are equally dependent on the US and China. This means that technology can be used as a major foreign policy pressure point, as can be seen from the US trade sanctions against Iran. This is because dominance can be exerted through sanctions imposed over the payment infrastructure. More than 60 percent of European retail spending is processed through Visa, Mastercard and American Express, which makes Europe hugely dependent on the US control over payments.”
That Hommels references US sanctions on Iran is relevant to Germany’s long history of struggling with the United States over economic ties with the Iranians and financial independence from the Americans. Let us delve a little bit into this in light of Germany’s pursuit of toppling the unipolar world of American primacy.
The rift between the US and Germany over Iran is traced back to the 1990s when the Clinton Administration wanted to impose sanctions on Iran on account of its support for terrorist attacks against Americans, especially the suicide bombing of the American Embassy in Lebanon in 1983. According to Seyyed Hossein Mousavian, who served as the Iranian ambassador to Germany from 1990 to 1997, the tension between the US and Germany over Iran was first seen in 1992 at a G7 conference in Munich, when Germany refused to support a US initiated resolution condemning Iran. As Mousavian recounted, Minister Bernd Schmidbauer gave him the details on his conversations with the incoming Clinton administration about Iran: “Mr. Schmidbauer commented that he had never before seen the Americans so serious in their antagonism toward Iran and their hostility to the continuation of warm relations between Germany and Iran.” (Kuntzel, ch. 17, p. 171).
The Clinton administration, in 1995, prohibited all American firms from trading with Iran. But the Germans strove to break the American pressure by intensifying German exports to Iran. “Iranian decision-makers were well aware in the 1990s of Germany’s significant role in breaking the economic chains with which the United States had surrounded Iran”, remembered Mousavian. But Germany’s relation with Iran went beyond economics and into the realm of geopolitics and even, according to Mousavian, ideology. In Mousavian’s words: “the particular engagement of Germany had deeper institutional, ideological, and historical roots.” Peter Rudolf, a member of Germany’s leading think tank, Stiftung Wissenschaft, explained in 1997 that Germany’s ties with Iran was not solely about money: “Economic interests cannot fully account for why Germany has adhered to a policy so much criticized in the United States. And economic interests do not explain why engagement is the widely preferred approach in the German debate about dealing with Iran”.
Rudolf concludes that Germany’s connection with Iran can only be explained in light of a “historically rooted strategic preference.” This historical root was referred to in 1997 by Klaus Kinkel, who at the time was German minister of foreign affairs, when he stated that one must “take into consideration the fact that the German and Iranian people are bound to each other by a century-long tradition of good relations”. (Kuntzel, pp. 174-175) This deeply rooted relationship can be traced back from the 19th century, into the 1920s, into the Nazi era, to now. During the reign of Hitler, many Iranians revered the fuhrer, and today Iran wants to destroy Israel and its biggest backer in Europe is the very country that raised up the Third Reich.
Iran’s president, Rafsanjani, was trying to weaken the effectiveness of US sanctions. But, he also had another goal, one much deeper than what was currently taking place politically. Rafsanjani had a dream of restoring the “strategic alliance” between Iran and Germany reminiscent to the days of the Third Reich when the Nazis were backed by their many Persian supporters. As Rafsanjani would write in 2006, the reunification of East and West Germany brought an opportunity to Iran to revive its alliance with the Germans as it was in Nazi times:
“With the collapse of the strategic alliance between the two countries during the Second World War, the Allies were able to divide Germany into eastern and western parts. …. During the same period, Iran was also technically under the influence of foreign powers. … The reunification of East and West Germany into a sovereign, politically independent Germany in 1990 … provided leaders of both countries with a suitable opportunity to take steps toward the revival of historical ties and the adoption of a new diplomatic approach.” (See Kuntzel, Germany and Iran, ch. 17, p. 169).
This same opinion was echoed by Seyyed Hossein Mousavian, who wrote in his 2008 book, Iran-Europe Relations:
“Iran’s geopolitical situation has long attracted German strategists. This fact was clearly reflected in German military planning during the Second World War … [t]he allied forces occupied Iran, because of its close cooperation with Germany in the war. After half a century of division and weakness, Germany has regained its unity.”
Mousavian then describes the revival of German-Iranian relations after 1990 as “the revitalization of an old established relationship as the creation of a new one.” (Kuntzel, ch. 17. pp. 169-170).
In 2006, Volker Perthes, who was at the time the German government’s leading foreign policy advisor, argued in favor a “strategic partnership” between Germany and Iran. In October of 2011, the German Council on Foreign Relations (Germany’s national foreign policy network) published a paper by Simon Koshchut advocating a “reversal of existing policy toward Iran” and “comprehensive cooperation [with Iran] in various spheres.” Even a nuclear armed Iran was looked upon favorably by the German Council on Foreign Relations:
“The next step to military capability could give give a nuclear weapons-equipped Iran great power status and so international recognition and respect. At the end of the day, the production of nuclear weapons and delivery systems offer adequate deterrent potential against external aggressors.”
Who are the “external aggressors” to Iran, besides Saudi Arabia, but Israel and the United States? The only nation in history to have come close to exterminating the Jews — Germany — is now Europe’s biggest ally to the only government that currently openly calls for the destruction of Israel, the country that was to be a refuge for the Jews as a response to the genocide orchestrated by the Germans. As Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi observed in 2007: “By strengthening the Iranian regime, Germany endangers Israel, to whose well-being it is committed. And perhaps the most ironic of all, by appeasing evil rather than resisting it, Germany compromises its profound efforts to break with its past.”
As shoebat.com monitors global trends, one thing that we have noticed — that changes the tide towards a direction to increasing German nationalism — is the rise of anti-Israel sentiment and how it is becoming fashionably more common. With such a phenomena intensifying, we have a rise in German nationalism boosted by the common public, alongside the increasing favor to German independence from US power, alongside Germany’s willingness to get closer to Iran as a partner against American control — not a very good combination.
The altering of the world order under American power is not a minor objective of the Germans, but rather it is top priority. For example, in 2013 the German Marshall Fund drafted a paper stating that “The most important of all foreign policy tasks” is the “renewal, adjustment, and reshaping of the international order”. In 2014, after Russia took control of Crimea, a German professor of politics, Wolfgang Seibel, reported on how the German Foreign Office was pivoting toward “new power centers of the world” with Germany desiring to make “strategic alliances.” With these new alliances the Germans wished to act as a counter to, and to contain, American power. One of these alliances is definitely between Germany and Iran.
When Hommels brings up US sanctions on Iran as an example of America’s global financial dominance, while pushing for European (German) independence from American power, it really coincides with Germany’s years long struggle with the American economic empire over commerce and financial dealings with the Iranians. Ultimately, the Germans are leading a revolt alongside Iran against the US. For example, in 2007, the Americans sent envoys to European countries to convince governments, banks and companies to cease doing business with the Iranians. This operation was supported by the British and, hesitantly, by the French. But it was resisted by the Germans. As the New York Times reported: “Britain is also backing the new push, as is France, although to a lesser extent. Germany, with far more business interests in Iran, is not quite as eager”. The German Chancellory was furious and declared in a policy paper: “A direct attack by US officials on European firms and banks is not acceptable”. A report from the FAZ newspaper stated that Germany was not ready “to stop underwriting business with Iran” because “That would mean surrendering the field to the competitors.”
The Germans see the US as their competitor, not entirely in the financial sense, but in the geopolitical sense, and they see America’s tension with Iran as a way to disrupt the American world order. By backing an enemy of the US, Germany undermines America’s leverage over the Near East. Germany also shares a nuclear interest with Iran. Germany (alongside Japan) are amongst the nuclear have-nots that have, nonetheless, become global industrial and technological powerhouses that can — if they wanted to — produce nuclear weapons within months. This is the status that Iran wants to obtain, and it has been doing so with the support of Germany. Both Iran and Germany are countries that are resisting US power and have interests in nuclear armament. In fact, in the 1990s the Clinton administration expressed worries about certain German nuclear projects, especially the storing of some 2.5 tons of plutonium in a bunker in the German city of Hanau, and the use of highly enriched uranium in a research reactor in Garching near Munich. (See Matthias Kuntzel, Germany and Iran, epilogue, pp. 268-9; p. 267; p. 231; p. 212) So, when Klaus Hommels complains about how Europe’s “most valuable tech companies” are “dependent on the US”, and then proceeds to talk about how the US uses this power “as a major foreign policy pressure point,” and then points to “US trade sanctions against Iran” as an example, such an opinion, obviously, comes from the German desire to be independent of the US while seeing Iran as an ally in the struggle against the US.