By Elisabeth Hellenbroich
The Frankfurt based “Westend Verlag” has just published a book by former prominent SPD politician Oskar Lafontaine, who soon will become 80 years old. He was former SPD Minister President of the Federal State of the Saarland as well as Finance Minister under SPD Chancellor Schröder 1998 until 1999, then he became a leading member of “Die Linke,” but left the party this year. The title of Oskar Lafontaine’s, book (in German): “Ami it’s time to go!” (original in English), A Plea for the self-assertion of Europe.” (Westend Verlag, Frankfurt 2022).
As is the case with several other publishers like the German Kremlologist and former ARD correspondent in Moscow, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Krone Schmalz, who end of October gave an excellent speech at the Volkshochschule Reutlingen with more than 1 million clicks in Youtube, the mood in German media is rather trying to suppress the thesis made by Lafontaine, but also to mercilessly attack Dr. Krone -Schmalz. The reality is that Lafontaine as well as other voices are trying to look for a constructive peace solution, in order to end the war in Ukraine. And the truth is that this corresponds to the passionate desire of millions of German citizens right now.
It is worthwhile to study the very polemical booklet of Lafontaine, whose main thesis is that Europe, in particular Germany, have become “vassal” of US geopolitical and economic ambitions in Europe, as the present Russia- Ukraine war illustrates. And his plea is that Germany in particular liberates itself from the “US guardianship” in Germany and resists to be drawn into a major war with Russia.
According to Lafontaine well informed people in Germany know that the conflict with Russia didn’t start this year. He reminds that Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev after 1989 had been given verbal assurances by the US Foreign Minister Baker that NATO would not expand towards the East, an expansion which US diplomat and Kremlologist George Kennan had always identified as a major strategic mistake. He also reminds that it was the US that organized and financed a Putsch at the Maidan Place in Kiev (2014), in order to install a puppet Government that would push Ukraine’s final integration into NATO. (This was by the way laid out in a brilliant documentary film by US film maker Oliver Stone which is not very much known in Germany E.H.)
Lafontaine states in his book that contrary to the policy of former German SPD chancellor Willy Brandt – the famous architect of the German Ostpolitik and détente, the present 3 party coalition between SPD, Greenie and FDP under SPD Chancellor Scholz, is supporting unconditionally the aggressive policy of the US. One sanction package after the other has been concluded since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, in order to “punish” President Putin. What is however overlooked by many, according to Lafontaine is that the “economic war against” Russia already has begun in 2017, long before Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, which of course can’t be justified, according to Lafontaine.
In his book he points out that in 2018 both the US Congress and Senate decided on a “law” whose aim was to “roll back” the Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia. In 2018 the USA focused on the Russian -German Energy Project, the construction of the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. At that time it was decided that sanctions, decided by the USA , in the future should correspond to “international law” and that any “infringements on them should be prosecuted under criminal and civilian law inside the USA.” In a special clause 257 of that law, it was decided that the aim of this new law was to give space for “prioritizing” the exports of US energy resources, so that “new jobs could be created in the US,” Lafontaine reveals in his book. He added that already in December 2017 Democrats and Republicans had threatened the Swiss Firm “Allsees”“, which was laying the pipes for the German- Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 , with “annihilation” , if they would not stop within 48 hours their work on the laying of the pipeline.(sic) The firm gave in. He reported that at least “the Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern at the time had the guts to declare these US laws as a ‘blatant infringement’ on international law”. A courageous German Chancellor today should have stated that the recent explosion of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline was a “declaration of war against Germany.”
Lafontaine is convinced that more and more people in Germany think that the sanctions are a shot in “our own knee”, where heating costs are exploding and where many people are unable to pay the heating and electricity bills and German industry fearing a new wave of insolvencies. Lafontaine notes that only very few dare to say right now that without Russian raw materials and energy deliveries we will not be able to maintain our prosperity .More and more people will end up in poverty and business firms will close down, while unemployment will grow. “The Traffic Light Coalition in Germany drives the German economy against the wall. Therefore this government is the most stupid which we ever had since the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Lafontaine writes
The special role of the US in the war against Ukraine
In order to better explain what is strategically at stake right now, Lafontaine focusses his remarks on the USA, which he qualifies as the strongest military power in the world. He points out that the US is pushing the line that it wants to remain the only world power (as US Joint Chief of staff General Milley once stated, the US ‘is and will be the leading hegemon in the World in next five and even fifty years’ E.H.) Lafontaine refers to the fact that in many US strategic documents, which nobody in Germany wants to report about, it is documented unmistakably that “emerging rivals should be kept down,” as the Wolfowitz doctrine from 1992 (after the collapse of communism) had stated: “Our first aim is to prevent the emergence of new rivals, be it in the territory of the former SU or elsewhere, rivals that could present a threat similar to the one of the former SU.”
Today’s rivals of the US, according to Lafontaine, are Russia, increasingly China and since the end of the Second World War also Europe. Yet Europe has followed Washington’s dictate, even if it was to the detriment of Europe. Germany, the most important economy of the old continent, was hit particularly hard and “it was the declared goal of the US to prevent a coming together of German technology with Russian Raw materials,” Lafontaine wrote.
What does the US do in order to keep its rivals down? They provoke them constantly, stir up conflicts and do everything to weaken the opponent. Lafontaine makes reference to a recent speech that was given by Lloyd Austin, the US “war minister”, at a conference in Ramstein (Germany, April 2022), where the European NATO partners , “the US vassals had to put their contributions for the war in Ukraine on the table (…) I consciously say “war minister” and not US “defense minister,” since there is none. The US is not attacked by any state. In order to push through their interests and secure hegemony, the US after the Second World War began to conduct murderous wars in Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia or in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. On this background it should not be a surprise, that the US War Minister Lloyd Austin stated in the (US air base ) Ramstein in Germany, that ‘we want to weaken Russia in such a way that the country wont anymore recover from that and that it will not conduct a war like the one in Ukraine.’” Aside challenging Beijing over the Taiwan issue, the US mercilessly conducts economic wars, in order to weaken their rivals. For that the US needs “vassals” that carry their aggressive foreign policy. “The most loyal vassals are the Europeans, above all Germany.”
Germany must leave its “vassal” role
Lafontaine qualifies the war of Russia in Ukraine as a “proxy war between Russia on the one side and the USA on the other side.” He further adds that the economic war against Russia started many decades ago. 30 Years ago Zbigniew Brzezinski, former NSC advisor of the US, had written, that the US wanted to dominate the European and Eurasian continent. For that they had to also get Ukraine under their control. Since decades the US has pushed that aim. In Germany the line is that the war in Ukraine began on the 24th of February 2022, yet nobody mentions the 8 years of war in Eastern Ukraine where 14.000 people died.
The truth has been sacrificed and “we are being deceived by our allied partner”, that tries “to frame their constant stirring provocations at the Russian border as ‘Russian aggression’. The truth is that the most powerful country wants to dominate the world (…) More and more countries don’t want to agree with that.” From Lafontaine’s point of view “our aim should be to restore peace in Europe. In respect to Ukraine everything must be done to develop as quickly as possible a cease fire.” But instead of thinking about a peace plan, German politicians and journalists demand further weapon deliveries to Ukraine. “Our foreign minister went as far as saying that ‘our weapons help to save human lives.’”
Lafontaine emphasizes that the big lie of NATO is that it is just a “defensive alliance and never threatens anybody. “Yet, NATO is nothing but a geopolitical instrument of the USA , a power which in order to push through its interests in the whole world, must conducts covert, economic , drone and bombing wars.”
In order to illustrate the reckless US game, Lafontaine refers to the explosion of the gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2 (September 2022). He recalls that US President Biden in February 2022, shortly before the war, had stated in front of German Chancellor Scholz, that a Russian invasion into Ukraine would mean the end of Nordstream 2. “When being asked, how he wanted to do this, he answered ‘I promise you .We will make that possible’.”
The vociferous war mongers in the German government are the Greenies. Lafontaine reminds that in the past under former Greenie Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, US foreign State Secretary Madeleine Albright, who had “justified the death of 500.000 children in the Iraq war”, was invited to many Greenie conferences. The economic consultancy office of Joschka Fischer since many years had an exclusive partnership with Albrights “Stonebridge Group.” “When today’s German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announces joyfully ‘Our sanctions will ruin Russia’”, according to Lafontaine, this is the “language of fascism.”
Lafontaine is convinced that Germany must get rid of its “vassal role” and truly independent. He states that France and Germany have a higher defense budget than Russia and he quotes from a book published this year by former SPD politician Klaus von Dohnanyi who in this book “National interests” had reported about his experience when he participated in a military exercise, where the US openly discussed the possibility of using the nuclear weapons for a limited nuclear war in Europe, where the US is far away. “Exactly such scenarios are being again discussed during the Ukraine war. We should certainly have an interest to prevent nuclear war in Europe. Today the US has missile bases in Poland, Rumania and they want to have missile bases in Ukraine. The Russians don’t want to have at their border missiles equipped with nuclear warheads that could reach Moscow within five minutes. Nobody who wants security and peace in Europe can agree with such a dangerous stationing of missiles in the Russian neighboring countries.” He refers to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis where soviet nuclear submarines cruised nearby Cuba. He referred to the example of one Russian commander who because he thought at one point that given that he had no contact with Moscow any more that nuclear war had begun, luckily refrained from deploying nuclear equipped tornados.
Lafontaine admires Gorbachev negotiations with Kohl
Lafontaine refers to Willy Brandt and his very successful détente Policy. Brandt knew that we could only have peace if we live in peace with our Eastern European partners, in particular with Russia, (at the time S.U.) Schmidt said that war is not a means of politics and Helmut Kohl realized that he needed peace with the SU, in order to achieve German unification and preserve peace in Europe. He negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev who didn’t want war but who dreamt of the construction of a common European House. Kohl concluded the two-plus-four agreement and assured Gorbachev an expansion of NATO would not happen. There are several documents that prove this and there was also former German Foreign Minister H.D. Genscher who was against the stationing of short range missiles and tactical nuclear missiles in both parts of Germany since this would increase the danger of a tactical nuclear war in Europe.
Given the recent explosion of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines which according to Lafontaine point in the direction of the US as a potential perpetrator, as well as the destruction of the Crimean Kertsch bridge, and the war sanctions which have particularly hit hard Europe and Germany, Lafontaine suggests as the only solution a “sovereign European policy”, which orients along Willy Brandt, Charles de Gaulle, H.D. Genscher as well as Helmut Kohl. All of these statesmen had the guts to clearly represent German as well as European interests in respect to the US.
Lafontaine argues in favor of resuming the gas deliveries from Russia, given that Russian gas deliveries can’t be easily replaced and he refers at one point to George Friedman, the former chairman of the US consultancy institute Stratfor who once had stated that “the aim of US policy since 100 years is to prevent a coming together of Russian raw materials with German technology”. There is from Lafontaine’s point view no way to maintain our present prosperity without Russian raw materials, since there is no replacement for them.
Yet, fact is that up to this day the US is boycotting true dialogue with Russia which might lead to the end of this bloody war and peace in Europe. One of the reasons is the powerful US weapon Lobby, according to Lafontaine, which former US president Eisenhower had singled out as becoming a key problem for the US. With the biggest defense budget in the World the US at this point is steadily increasing its defense budget and plans to deliver weapons into Ukraine for 40bn US Dollars next year. Hence this means that we should be prepared for years of war. The US does not want a peace solution.
In order to find a solution we should recognize those structures that lead to war or peace, according to Lafontaine: We deal with a power (the USA) which is the most powerful power on earth and is in rivalry with the two atomic powers Russia and China. The US hegemon is not a peaceful power: since 1991 it engaged in 251 military interventions and it will increase these kind of interventions, including the launching of drone attacks from German ground (US air base in Ramstein).
Up to this day the “US is torpedoing any cease fire. This was unmistakably expressed by US war minister Lloyd Austin at the recent conference in Ramstein in which he stated that the US will stop the war if “Russia is significantly weakened.”
When Putin gave his speech about the need for a partial mobilization, he stated that already beginning of April there had been an agreement between Russia and Ukraine that would have made possible a peaceful solution. Russia was to withdraw from the areas it had conquered since 24 of February and in turn the Ukraine would renounce an accession to NATO and receive security guarantees from other states. When this agreement came into being, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the 9th of April travelled to Kiev and motivated Zelenskyy not to sign the agreement, which was mentioned by the American magazines “Foreign Affairs” and “Responsible Statecraft.” This illustrates, according to Lafontaine, that the Ukraine war in reality is a “Proxy War” between the USA and Russia. From Washington’s point of view the war should be conducted as long as possible. Its high time that the French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Scholz begin to coordinate and declare Biden unmistakably that in the interest of Europe and the people dying in Ukraine, they no longer want to support this policy and will under no circumstances support Ukraine in NATO.”