German President tells the truth

On a visit in May to German troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the German President, Horst Köhler, defended this military action by telling a reporter:

 “A country of our size, with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade, must be aware that . . . military deployments are necessary in an emergency to protect our interests – for example when it comes to trade routes, for example when it comes to preventing regional instabilities that could negatively influence our trade, jobs and incomes” (,1518,697785,00.html).

Thé resulting outcry led to his resignation. But he had only told the truth.

 The reason why the various states into which the world is artificially divided equip their armed forces with the most up-to-date weapons they can afford is because, under capitalism, “might is right”.

 “Might” does not have to be actually used – in fact it normally isn’t – but a state’s “might ” is a factor in the jockeying between states for economic position. This is why a Labour Party shadow foreign secretary once defended the British H-bomb by saying that he didn’t want to go into the conference chamber naked. Neither do Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il.

 The “mightier” a state the more chance it has of getting its point of view taken into account in diplomatic negotiations which, in the end, are over access to sources of raw materials, markets, investment outlets, trade routes and strategic areas to protect these. A fact perfectly expressed by Köhler.

 He was trying to justify German military intervention in Afghanistan, which is not popular in Germany, by explaining the economic rationale behind it. Normally this is reserved for internal foreign ministry memorandums or studies by specialist think tanks, while the general public are fed all sorts of more or less specious reasons less likely to put them off. Blurting out the real reason for German military action – and Western intervention generally – in Afghanistan was an error of judgment for a politician and why he had to resign.

 Britain is also a country of Germany’s size “with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade” and has troops fighting in Afghanistan to try to establish stability in the area and prevent it from being used as a base for groups which threaten the West’s supplies of oil from the Middle East. A pipeline through the area is also a possible “trade route” to the sea for oil from central Asia.

 The troops are not there to protect workers in Britain from terrorist attacks in London and other cities. In fact their presence there probably increases this risk. But putting the protection of capitalist economic interests before people’s safety is typical of capitalism‘s priorities..


Gold in them thar hills…
 Afghanistan is now estimated to have over a trillion dollars of mineral deposits,
according to figures released last month.

 The Pentagon describes the country as the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium’, the element
used in batteries, laptops and in more than 60 percent of mobile phones. There are also important reserves of niobium, which is used in hardened steel.
* Iron: $421bn
* Copper: $274bn
* Niobium: $81bn
* Cobalt: $51bn
* Gold: $25bn
(source: ‘Afghans say US team found huge potential mineral wealth’, BBC Online, 14 June)

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