All posts by Jan Raudszus

Jan is an Editor of theriskyshift.com. He recently finished his MA thesis on Jihadism in Germany and was a student at the Department of War Studies, King's College London. He holds a BA in Political Science, Public Law and Islamic Studies from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. You can find him on twitter: @janraudszus

What Germany should do about Salafism

Salafism is a challenge to German society. Groups that support or incite violence should fall within the responsibility of law enforcement, while those groups that stick to missionary activities might be an issue for society and normal politics and should be handled accordingly with the help of information programs and education.

[dhr]

Salafism

[dhr]

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Federal Office for the Protection of the Consitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence service, estimated for 2011 that about 3.800 people belonged to the Salafist movement in Germany. In addition, about 50 mosques are believed to subscribe to some form of Salafism although the BfV itself notes that this is only an estimate. Generally it is believed that this group is growing, however it is hard to come across more reliable numbers: since there is no Salafist “church” with registered members this will always be a challenge.

Salafism has different sub-groups that are more or less problematic. One of the major problems in the current debate in Germany is the lack of differentiation. Indeed, a difference lies between pious Salafists and more militant forms (lets call them Salafist-Jihadists). While the former pose a challenge on a social, political level only a fraction of the Salafist sphere in Germany subscribes to Jihadist thinking. This latter group is a potential threat to security. However, we also need to realize that “Jihadists” might be interested in becoming foreign fighters in e.g. Syria but would not commit terrorist attacks in Germany and not be a direct threat to the country.

Nevertheless, for historical reasons such a differentiation does not come natural to the German debate. In the German discourse exists the term “intellectual inciters” (geistige Brandstifter) and authorities tend to monitor and sanction them as well, through the BfV and other institutions. However, when it comes to government measures against radical Islamist groups such a differentiation might be crucial. Why is that? Well, Germany is a relative latecomer to this debate, given that the Salafist groups have spread over the country rather recently since ca. 2002. In the UK there has been a debate on whether pious Salafist groups might act as an ideological firewall against Jihadism or whether they actually provided the ideological underpinning for such activities. I personally believe that we lack empirically reliable evidence to make a decision for one of the two positions. It might very well be true that more activist individuals seek out pious Salafist groups to satisfy their radicalism but they move on because those are not radical enough. Such an assumption obviously blows in the face of the position currently held (German authorities have a couple of high class studies on this issue to which the public has no access, sadly).

Germany, on the one hand side has suppressed violent groups and groups it believed to incite violence (as displayed by frequent arrests and raids). On the other hand, it has started a dialogue with the wider Muslim community (that seems however stalling at the moment). The fact that since 2001 there has only been one successful Islamist inspired terrorist attack in Germany is the proof that authorities must be doing something right. Anyway, the level of care in dealing with the Salafist movement should be kept high, otherwise one might cause the radicalisation one wants to prevent. Groups that support or incite violence should fall within the responsibility of law enforcement, while those groups that stick to missionary activities might be an issue for society and normal politics and should be handled accordingly with the help of information programs and education (as well as kept under some surveillance: in the past Jihadist networks have formed in the proximity of these groups). On the individual level I believe Germany has expertise from the handling of sects to helping people that are willing to leave a group: those measures and efforts have been revealed to be effective.

[hr]

Photo Credit: Ahmadtal3t

Europe Needs Modern Journeymen

Recently Berlin was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Elysee treaty of friendship between Germany and France. The celebration gave rise to several discussions on the status of the European project and the possibility of a political union.

One long standing criticism of supporters as well as opponents of European unification has been the assessment that the European project is very much a elitist idea and undertaking driven by intellectuals and politicians in a top down process. What Europe is lacking is a demos, it’s a Europe without Europeans. Several smart measures have been suggested to remedy this issue, but many are so disconnected from the times we are living in that the are just borderline ridiculous; who still believes that French intellectuals or German novelists are important for European understanding is really lost to this century; this is the old elitist discourse we need to get rid off.

The European experience needs to be made tangible for everyone. University students who have understood the importance of Europe on more than just the intellectual level; on the emotional level, often have enjoyed the benefits of the Erasmus program. However, it is an abomination that such programs that support student mobility across Europe have mainly been limited to university students who due to the nature of their profession have a high affinity to the international world anyway.

What we need in Europe is a massive program to facilitated the exchanged of young trainees and professionals; blue-collar workers. They are most important for the future of the Europe and need to understand that there is something beyond their immediate environment that has important implications for their lives. Giving them the opportunity to learn about foreign countries and cultures is crucial in establishing the necessary awareness. On the more concrete side of things, they will also be able learn new technics and ways of doing business that will enrich their lives and work at home. This idea is not a pipe dream; an historical precedent exists.

[hr]

Photo credit: fdecomite

Bye Bye Merkel?

It is an election year in Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel just turned into a “lame duck”. Her governing coalition has lost the majority in Germany’s second chamber (representing the state governments) to the opposition; a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens won the state elections in Lower Saxony on Sunday by the closest margin possible (69 vs. 68 seats). This will severely limit Merkel’s policymaking leeway (some observers have noted that her government hasn’t done much anyway over the past three years).

Commentators have not yet decided what the consequences of Sunday’s election means for national elections in fall. While Merkel’s CDU lost the government in Lower Saxon it is polling at a five year high nationally. At the same time, the SPD and Greens were running against a popular MP and especially the SPD was under a lot of pressure due to a media campaign against its candidate for Chancellery, Peer Steinbrück and is far from having started serious campaigning. Merkel’s coalition partner the FDP, without which is will become hard for her to form a government, is consistently polling below the 5% election threshold, nationally. Social Democrats and Greens have argued that they will beat Merkel during campaign, believing their political programs are superior. Germany’s Chancellor is considered by many to be devoid of any political program since she abandoned her neoliberal ideas after the election in 2005 which she almost lost against Gerhard Schröder. However, this has not been an obstacle for her popularity so far.

The elections in Germany are much more open than many international (and domestic) observers believe. While widely considered the most powerful woman alive, she might soon be an elder stateswoman.

[hr]

Photo Credit: Abode of Chaos

The Life & Significance of a Cautious Jihadi

Jan Raudszus’ thoughts on Joas Wagemakers’ A Quietist Jihadi: The Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.

[dhr]

Searching for the Taliban in Kandahar Province

[dhr]

A Quietist Jihadi: The Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi by Joas Wagemakers
Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781107606562
Paperback: £18.99

Let’s get right to the point: this is a book about Islamist theology, it is not a book for the lay reader. Only few people have ever heard of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and know of his relevance in contemporary Islamist writing. Yet relevant he is: according to a study by the Counter Terrorism Centre at West Point, Maqdisi is one of the most important scholars in Islamist militant circles. Jarret Brachman in his authoritative 2009 book Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice devoted several pages to a short biography of him in a section on important Salafist ideologues. In connection with the ideological developments in Saudi Arabia, Stephane Lacroix in his acclaimed recent book discussed Maqdisi’s role as well. Now, Joas Wagemakers presents a comprehensive and detailed overview of Maqdisi’s life and ideology. Wagemakers comes with credentials; he interviewed Maqdisi himself, as well as, students of Maqdisi, Arab journalists, former cellmates, and friends. His large access to primary sources is something not all authors can claim.

The book is based on Wagemakers’ PhD thesis that was supervised by Harald Motzki and Roel Meijir, hence, at times has the feeling of a reworked thesis. While this sometimes makes it awkward to read, it comes with the benefit of high transparency and rigour we would expect from a piece of academic writing. An additional advantage is that the text is supplemented with background information giving the less well-versed reader the chance to understand the difficult ideological concepts and their relevance, though some sections remain challenging for readers not trained in Islamic sciences. Helpfully, Wagemakers provides a very good and comprehensive summary of the major points of each chapter at the end of the book. Wagemakers also draws on Arabic, English, French and German sources which gives the text additional depth.

The core question of the book is: Why has al-Maqdisi been so influential on the Jihadi-Salafi movement? To answer it Wagemakers has researched which important Islamist scholars mention and cite al-Maqdisi. After establishing his degree of influence, Wagemakers uses framing theory to identify those aspects of Maqdisi’s work that served as good frames and tested the validity of his results through interviews. Wagemakers uses the introduction to set the stage. He gives an overview of Salafism, its history and different branches. Furthermore, he critically discusses the dominant categorizations of Quintan Wiktorowicz, who divided Salafis into three types: the quietists (or purists), who focus on propagating the Salafi creed and shy away from participation in politics; the politicos who engage in debate and the political process; and the jihadis. Wagemakers calls this breakdown too schematic and points out that some ideologues – like Maqdisi – transcend the categories, hence Wagemaker designates Maqdisi as a “quietist Jihadi.”

In Part I of his book Wagemakers offers a biography of Maqdisi who was born in 1959 into a Palestinian family. They left the West Bank for Kuwait when he was just a few years old and despite being Palestinian he never felt close to the Palestinian national call but instead became affiliated with Islamist circles. He finally ended up in Saudi Arabia, where he – in his own words- became “a real Salafi” while studying at the University of Medina (even though he never was an official student). Maqdisi utilized the Wahabist doctrine as a tool for excommunication against what he perceived to be heretical Muslim rulers. He travelled to Afghanistan to fight against the Sovjets but ended up teaching and spreading his ideas among the Mujahideen instead. Here he made the acquaintance of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Suri but never became a member of AQ. More importantly he met Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The two men were significantly different, Maqdisi the studious educated man and al-Zarqawi a rough man of action, but joined forces in Jordan after Maqdisi was forced out of Kuwait in 1991. They founded a group of followers critical of the Jordanian government and were arrested after a foiled attack on Israel. In prison ideological differences between the two men became apparent. Those differences were at the core of the famous criticism that Maqdisi aimed at his former companion who was fighting in Iraq at the time. Maqdisi has been released and imprisoned by Jordanian authorities several times of the past decade and is currently incarcerated.

Wagemakers places Maqdisi in the wider context of Islamist scholars but makes clear that he is most concerned with a justification for Jihad against rulers based on their lack of devotion to Sharia law. He is cautious when it comes to justifying attacks on civilians or even whole populations and has also criticised the current Jihadis for being good at attacking the enemy but bad at consolidating power. Nevertheless, he has expressed positive views about 9/11 and Usama bin Laden. What becomes clear is that Maqdisi’s position is hard to press into simple schemes of Salafism in which many today like to categorize the ideology.

Part II deals with his influence on the development of the Islamic opposition in Saudi Arabia, especially Maqdisi’s important influence on al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. Part III investigates al-Maqdisi’s crucial contribution to the concepts of al-wala wa-l-bara (loyalty and disavowal) and al-isti’ana bi-l-kuffar (the injunction on asking non-Muslims for help in a time of war). Part IV analyses Maqdisi’s role within the Jordanian Jihadi-Salafi community between 1992 and 2009.

The book is definitely not for the casual reader, the subject is not easily accessible despite Wagemakers’ best efforts. However, people with a passion for Islamist ideology, an interest in Islamist inspired violence, or a training in Islamic studies will find the book a useful resource and a worthy addition to their library.

[hr]

Photo Credit: isafmedia

Germany Won’t Fight

France has intervened in Mali to stop an assault of rebel forces from the north of the country. While Britain has supplied two transport aircraft to airlift equipment to the West African state, Germany initially remained hesitant. What is clear is that the country will not send combat forces, but will probably provide logistical, humanitarian and/or medical support. Comments from the governing coalition experts pointed towards a lack of consensus regarding what such help would entail. Nevertheless, Tuesday night it was reported that France and Germany are in negotiations to use German Transall aircraft and that a decision will be announced by Thursday.

Germany’s role during the war in Libya drew a lot of criticism from its partners. Hence, it was clear that Angela Merkel’s government would not be able to stay out of this conflict entirely. However, its reaction sticks to an established modus operandi. Germany has gotten rid of the highly moralized arguments that dominated the discussion about sending military forces abroad during the 1990s. The recent end of conscription went hand-in-hand with a hasty attempt to form a fully professional army. At the same time, do not expect that Germany will take such an active role again as it did in Afghanistan (some might beg to differ on the “active” part) in the near future. It will try using other measures (such as export of weapons and military equipment or supporting other countries in military campaigns where necessary) or only send troops where it can guarantee relative safety for its soldiers (Patriot rockets in Turkey).

During the red-green administration Joschka Fischer and Gerhard Schröder gave Germany an active foreign policy profile, taking a leading role on Kosovo for example. We cannot expect such an approach from Westerwelle and Merkel; their default mode for politics remains hesitation and low profile. In addition military interventions are largely unpopular in Germany and it is an election year.

Update: The German government announced today that it will indeed send two aircraft to support French operations. Merkel said that the “the terrorism in Mali is not only a threat to Africa but also to Europe”.

[hr]

Photo Credit: fdecomite

The Consequences of Non-intervention?

The civil war in Syria has gone on for almost two years now. Western states have not intervened directly and the deployment of US American, Dutch and German Patriot rockets is not a preparation to do so. While Turkey and some Arab states have supported the rebel forces with weapons and equipment none of them has gone all in, while Iran has given large scale aid to forces loyal to the Syrian regime. The war has become prolonged, cruel and bloody.

An effect of this drawn out conflict has been the radicalization of the opposition forces which goes hand in hand with an increasing polarization along ethnic lines. The protest in Syria – as in other countries of the Middle East – started with demands for democracy and freedom but was brutally suppressed by the Syrian government. The militarization of the Syrian opposition can be seen as a reaction to a crackdown by a regime that has never had an interest in accommodating their demands. The radicalization equally is a result of the fact that the conflict has been burning for so long.

Long internal wars have the tendency to become prolonged and fester on for years if one side is unable to win the momentum, cleavages become more and more pronounced and community relations entirely determined by violence. Globalization provides the necessary resources to continue such a conflict.

The conflict in Syria is a new theatre for jihadists who want to acquire experiences at the front-lines. At the same time the Western inaction will feed into the narrative that the West stands idly by when Muslims are killed. If the war in Bosnia and its call to arms for a generation of Jihadists can tell us anything than it is that the Western inaction will have consequences in the future.

The thought to ponder about: could all of this been prevented if the West had reacted differently? A no-fly zone would have prevented the deployment of Syrian air force and would have given the Syrian rebels a better chance of opposing the Syrian regime. However, a lot of intellectual effort was spent arguing why such an intervention would be a dangerous adventure. All of those arguments are well reasoned and thought through. Where the debate falls short, however, is when it comes the consequences of non-intervention.

So after almost two years of war and about 60,000 casualties: would an early intervention have been the better choice?

[hr]

Photo credit: FreedomHouse2

Revolution Is A Messy Business

So 2012 is over and we are looking ahead to 2013. A lot has happened during the last year as the Middle East plodded on through the late stages of the Arab Spring. Now there is talk of an Arab Fall (or an Islamist Spring) due to the rise of Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates as well as Salafists in Egypt, Tunisia, etc..

Among many there was a vague expectation of a liberal democratic turn in the Middle East when the first regimes fell. However – especially in Egypt – the Muslim Brotherhood was simply the most organized organization with the most clout. It was obvious that it would gain a strong role in post-Mubarak Egypt.

A swift and easy transformation was equally unlikely. The Arab Spring in its historical dimension can be compared to the end of the evil empire; the Soviet Union and its satellites. Gregory Gause, III makes a good point when he says that after the fall of Communism, Eastern Europeans had no other ideological paradigm than capitalist democracy to turn to. This is very different to the Arab Spring.

In the Middle East Islam is an alternative program, and the result is the aforementioned rise of Islamists. However, recent events in some Eastern European states might suggest a surprising resurgence of nationalism. Furthermore, the conflicts in the Balkans and in Moldova reveal that the fall of the Iron Curtain did not go over as easily and without violence as suggested by Gause. Hence, if we poke around a little it becomes clear that historic shifts often work out similarly.

We need to keep in mind when dealing with such shifts that the results will be diverse and depend a lot on the circumstances in the respective countries. Revolutions are often connected to violence, and continued conflict after the old regime has been removed is a by-product. We know from empirical studies that transformative regimes are more prone to internal conflict. This is obvious for Syria and Libya, but keep an eye on Egypt as the country faces huge obstacles in the immediate future and holds a lot of potential for conflict that might escape the recent events of street violence. What will happen when politics in Egypt become unhinged?

This does not mean that the Arab Spring will be in vain. Simply that transformative periods are almost never short-lived and countries face numerous possible outcomes.

[hr]

Photo credit: Denis Bocquet

Germany: The Illusionary Giant

It is a mistake to depict Germany as a hegemonic power; in fact, Germany is a illusionary giant.  It yields much less power within the EU than many believe and its influence is actually decreasing.

[dhr]

[dhr]

[dropcap]“M[/dropcap]r. Tur Tur, the illusionary giant, is a gentle and modest person, and tragically alone because everybody is afraid of him when he seems to be a giant from the distance.” Increasingly, Germany’s stance in Europe looks like Mr. Tur Tur from Michael Ende’s fairy tale: Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver. While I write these words, protesters are crowding the streets of Athens to protest the austerity measures that Greece has been subjected to. They blame the European giant: Germany. Clearly, when people make a national past-time out of burning your flag you have reached a special status as a country. This privilege is reserved for powerful and despised states (such as the US or Israel). For Germans this sight is new and understandably uncomfortable. They ask what they have done to deserve such treatment. The complexities of the financial entanglement escape the normal citizen and they perceive the behavior of Greek protesters as ungrateful at best; after all Germany has bailed out Greece with their tax money. The current German government has avoided explaining the benefits of the Euro and a stable Greece to its population leaving a lot of frustration on both sides; Greeks affected by the austerity measures and Germans mistreated for their charitableness. Germans have forgotten what happened when the former social democratic and green government reformed the social and unemployment system (in Germany the reforms are known as Hartz IV and Agenda 2010). The reforms brought down the government. And while it is those reforms that many today say are responsible for German stability and good performance, it is nothing compared to the revolution in Greek society that has been taken place over the past months.

This mismatch between public perception and reality extends further. Germany is really not the giant that many believe it to be. In addition to a lack of strategic visionGermany is losing political clout in Europe; it has lost key European allies and its ability to dominate the direction of anti-crisis policies in Europe. The Paris-Berlin axis was destroyed by the election of Francois Hollande, and other traditional allies have either withdrawn from rescue mechanisms or have increased the demand for regulation of recipient countries. In contrast to smaller countries, Germany cannot veto policies when such a veto might cause chaos on the financial markets. A German exit from the Euro is not a credible threat: it has long been noted that such a maneuver would lead to a rise of the new currency’s value and a disaster for the export-dependent German economy.

Domestically, Germany might be less stable than the mainstream perception currently suggests. Instability related to currency has high impacts on the German economy and a renewed crisis in the US economy would have a severe impact on German exports. For the past years Chancellor Merkel has dragged her feet on several important issues. The demographic development in Germany is dramatic, and dwindling immigration will soon have an impact on the country’s economy. When it comes to education Germany ranks far bellow the level that would be necessary for a major industrial nation today. Merkel’s government has taken any steps to address those issues and in general has proven to be rather inefficient when it comes to policy-making.

I have said before that it is a mistake to depict Germany as a hegemonic power; in fact Germany is a illusionary giant, it yields much less power within the EU than many believe and its influence is actually decreasing. With necessary reform left unattended, the economic success the perception is based on might also be a straw fire.

[hr]

Photo Credit: Pennello

Początek Czwartej Rzeszy?

Nikt nie potrafi zrozumieć czego chcą Niemcy. Czy mają jakieś wielkie plany? Europejską strategię dominacji?

[dhr]

[dhr]

Gdy na świecie szaleje kryzys, Niemcy stały się najważniejszym krajem dla rozstrzygnięcia przyszłości kontynentu i dla wielu jawi się jako jedyna nadzieja na rozwiązanie europejskiego chaosu. Jednocześnie, rosną obawy o stworzenie niemieckiego imperium, opartego na innych krajach Europy i dominującego nad europejskimi instytucjami. Włoskie gazety już mówią o Czwartej Rzeszy, a włoscy politycy w programach na żywo pytają swoich niemieckich kolegów czy wszyscy obywatele Stanów Zjednoczonych Europy będą mieli blond włosy i niebieskie oczy. Wielu podziela pogląd, który można podsumować słowami „Czego nie osiągnęli czołgami w 1940, osiągną teraz za pomocą euro”.  Niemiecki pęd to dominacji uważa się za pewnik. W sierpniowym wydaniu niemieckiego dziennika Die Zeit, redakcja spytała pisarzy i intelektualistów z całej Europy co myślą o Niemczech. Jeden z nich najpierw stwierdził, że Niemcy chcą przewodzić Europie a następnie przeszedł do oceny co Niemcy powinni, a czego nie powinni robić jako Europejski hegemon.

Po drugiej stronie barykady są ci, którzy ubolewają nad niemiecką biernością. Pod koniec 2011, polski szef MSZ-u, Radosław Sikorski oświadczył:  „Prawdopodobnie będę pierwszym ministrem spraw zagranicznych, który tak mówi, ale to powiem: mniej się obawiam niemieckiej siły, niż zaczynam bać się niemieckiej bezczynności”. Jest to trochę zaskakująca postawa pochodząca od polityka z kraju, który najbardziej wycierpiał z ręki Niemców w czasie wojny, a także kraju, w którym media nie wahają się użyć nazistowskich inwektyw, gdy tylko oba kraje spierają się między sobą. Ten przykład wspaniale pokazuje dwuznaczność podejścia do niemieckiej polityki zagranicznej wobec Europy. Nikt nie potrafi zrozumieć czego chcą Niemcy. Czy Niemcy mają wielkie plany? Jakąś europejską strategię dominacji?
Problem w tym, że Niemcy sami tego nie wiedzą. W Niemczech brak spójnej strategii polityki zagranicznej, a także dominuje niechęć  wśród społeczeństwa i elit politycznych do działania poza wyjątkowymi sytuacjami, w których światowe media kierują swoją uwagę na Berlin. Wyrafinowana elita, która zdobyłaby szersze uznanie, nie istnieje, gdyż jedyni intelektualiści niemieckiej polityki zagranicznej to dwóch starszych panów – dziennikarz Peter Scholl-Latour , który już of 50 lat przybliża  niemieckim czytelnikom politykę Wschodu, a także dziewięćdziesięcioletni Helmut Schmidt, były kanclerz Republiki oraz nałogowy palacz, który z kolei przybliża niemieckim czytelnikom politykę reszty świata.

Można łatwo wywnioskować jaki wpływ mają ci dwaj panowie, gdy spojrzy się na rzędy półek które zajmują ich książki w niemieckich księgarniach. Ciężko znaleźć młodszych myślicieli (co nie znaczy, że nie istnieją), wynikiem czego, niemiecka polityka zagraniczna jest niekonsekwentna i nieskoordynowana, mimo, że Niemcy pokrywają dużą część unijnego budżetu (największy płatnik UE wg wartości absolutnej), a także płaci spore składki do innych organizacji międzynarodowych jak ONZ (trzeci największy płatnik w 2011). Często się mówi, że Niemcy nie mają nawet w przybliżeniu tylu reprezentantów w tych instytucjach, na ile wskazywałyby płacone przez nich składki. Na ironię, gdy niemieccy dyplomaci lobbowali w Nowym Jorku na rzecz rezolucji przeciwko przemytom broni, niemiecki rząd sprzedał duże ilości Leopardów II do krajów takich jak Arabia Saudyjska czy Zjednoczone Emiraty Arabskie w samym środku Arabskiej Wiosny. Taka niespójność polityki zagranicznej jest powodem do zmartwień dla wielu ekspertów w Niemczech (innych powodów dla rzeczonej niespójności jest tyle, że zasługiwałyby na swój własny, osobny artykuł). Nie oznacza to jednak, że Niemcom zupełnie brakuje strategicznych założeń. Poprzednio, żywotnym interesem Federacji było zjednoczenie Niemiec, lecz ten cel został już zrealizowany. Zjednoczenie było jednym z podstaw Ostpolitik, a odwilż w stosunkach z blokiem wschodnim miała ten cel zapewnić. Kolejny centralny punkt niemieckiej strategii zagranicznej są specjalne stosunki z Izraelem – w 2008 Angela Merkel uznała bezpieczeństwo Izraela za raison d’etat Niemiec.

Dla Berlina integracja w ponadpaństwowe struktury nie jest próbą odtworzenia swojej pozycji władzy, lecz logicznym skutkiem głównego nurtu niemieckiej polityki zagranicznej. Dla powojennych Niemiec będących pod aliancką okupacją, integracja europejska była jedynym sposobem udowodnienia innym krajom, że Niemcami nie zawładnie znów rewizjonizm, a także umożliwi stopniowe odzyskanie niepodległości. Multilateralizm jest wysoko oceniany przez niemieckich polityków, rzadko natomiast spotyka się myślenie o dominacji Niemiec nad Europą. Podstawowym paradygmatem niemieckiej polityki zagranicznej jest „kultura wstrzemięźliwości”, która przez długi czas oznaczała, że agresywna formuła i ochrona swoich narodowych interesów jest wykluczona. Wysiłki niemieckiej służby zagranicznej skupiały się głównie na promocji rodzimej gospodarki, co miało zapewnić dobrobyt poprzez współpracę i integrację międzynarodową. Gdy wybuchł kryzys finansowy, kultura wstrzemięźliwości znacząco ucierpiała, jednak śledząc niemiecką debatę na temat kryzysu, dominujące w niej głosy wciąż wpisują się w powojenną tradycję propagowania integracji, nie dominacji.

Twierdzenie, że Niemcy po cichu próbują odbudować nazistowski układ sił w Europie jest mylne. Europejczycy powinni pamiętać, że polityka  zagraniczna demokratycznej republiki, jaką są Niemcy od prawie 70 lat, kieruje się dodatkową, bardzo ważną zasadą, do której nawiązuje Anika Leithner w swojej książce z 2009, „Shaping German Foreign Policy”: „Często słyszę cudzoziemców mówiących co by zrobili gdyby mieli niemiecki majątek, rozmiar i populację. Nigdy nie słyszę, by mówili co by zrobili gdy mieli niemiecką przeszłość”. Powinniśmy się przyzwyczaić do Niemiec formułujących swoje interesy narodowe w bardziej oczywisty sposób niż w przeszłości. Niemcy bez przerwy odrabiają lekcję historii i dominacja Europy jest jedną z nich.

Wiadomości z Czwartej Rzeszy? Czwarta Rzesza nie istnieje.

[hr]

Tekst autorstwa Jana Raudszusa, przetłumaczony na język polski przez Sergiusza Schellera. Oryginalny tekst w języku angielskim dostępny jest pod tym linkiem: http://theriskyshift.com/2012/08/fourth-reich-rises/

Photo credit: 

Il Quarto Reich In Ascesa? Una Risposta (Tedesca) Al Giornale

Nessuno riesce a cogliere gli obiettivi della Germania a livello internazionale: è forse in procinto di attuare piani da grandeur, magari attraverso una strategia egemonica sull’intero continente?

[dhr]

[dhr]

Nella tempesta scatenata dalla crisi finanziaria internazionale, la Germania ha assunto il ruolo di guida europea, al punto da sembrare l’unica speranza per uscire dall’impasse. Allo stesso tempo vari commentatori temono, arrivando persino a  denunciarlo, la rinascita di un impero tedesco costruito sulle spalle degli altri Stati europei, tramite il coinvolgimento delle istituzioni dell’Unione Europea. In Italia i giornali parlano di Quarto Reich, e i politici nei talk-show chiedono sarcasticamente ai rispettivi colleghi tedeschi se i prossimi cittadini degli Stati Uniti d’Europa saranno biondi e con gli occhi azzurri.

Ampiamente diffuso a livello europeo, tra comuni cittadini e rappresentanti istituzionali, è quel ragionamento secondo il quale “ciò che i tedeschi non hanno ottenuto con i carroarmati nel 1940, lo avranno ora con l’Euro”. Di conseguenza, sembra scontata l’assenza di qualsiasi alternativa alla ferma volontà tedesca di guidare l’Europa. Il Die Zeit, uno dei più noti e diffusi settimanali tedeschi, ha chiesto a studiosi di tutta Europa di descrivere come i propri paesi percepiscano la Germania: uno di questi ha dapprima chiaramente affermato che la Germania intende guidare l’Europa, per poi elencare una lunga serie di comportamenti che, in qualità di potenza egemonica europea, lo stato tedesco dovrebbe e non dovrebbe assumere.

D’altro canto, altri attori denunciano e si lamentano dell’inattività tedesca. Ad esempio, alla fine del 2011 il Ministro degli Esteri polacco Radek Sikorski sostenne: “Probabilmente sarò il primo ministro degli esteri nella storia polacca ad affermarlo, ma non sono spaventato dal potere della Germania, piuttosto dalla sua inattività”. Tale dichiarazione giunse alquanto inaspettatamente da parte di un politico il cui paese aveva sofferto per l’occupazione tedesca durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale, e la cui la stampa non si era recentemente astenuta dal riecheggiare la cosiddetta “Nazi card”, risalente a quando i due Paesi entrarono in conflitto.

Da ciò si può dedurre l’ambiguità che caratterizza la percezione della politica estera tedesca in Europa, dato che nessuno  riesce a cogliere gli obiettivi della Germania a livello internazionale: è forse in procinto di attuare piani da grandeur, magari attraverso una strategia egemonica sull’intero continente?

Il problema è che, a questi quesiti, nemmeno Berlino saprebbe rispondere. Difatti, dal dibattito politico traspare uno sconcertante disorientamento sulla strategia di politica estera che il governo dovrebbe assumere, al pari, a parte la contingente e temporanea attenzione dedicata dai media, di un netto disinteresse manifestato dai cittadini e dalla classe dirigente tedesca. Manca, quindi, un’elite preparata a riguardo, che sia in grado di ottenere maggior seguito e credibilità. Come se non bastasse, i più importanti esperti di politica estera sono due signori anziani: il giornalista Peter Scholl-Latour, impegnato da oltre mezzo secolo con la rivista ”Oriente”, e l’ex Cancelliere Helmut Schmidt che, dall’alto dei suoi 94 anni caratterizzati da un irrefrenabile tabagismo, è l’esperto di politica internazionale (e quando serve anche di economia).

In effetti, la rilevanza intellettuale e politica di questi due studiosi si può facilmente dedurre dallo spazio dedicato ai loro saggi nelle librerie tedesche, mentre è difficile trovare la stessa quantità di riferimenti bibliografici appartenenti a studiosi più giovani (sebbene questo non significhi che non ve ne siano). In sostanza, ne risulta una politica estera vaga, goffa e mal attuata, nonostante il notevole sforzo della Germania nel coprire le spese di funzionamento delle istituzioni europee (maggior contribuente in assoluto) e partecipando con simile impegno e dedizione ad altre organizzazioni internazionali quali le Nazioni Unite (terzo maggior contribuente nel 2011). A conferma della mancanza di un coordinamento coerente e funzionale della sua politica estera, alle delegazioni tedesche presso tali istituzioni non sono assegnati tutti gli incarichi direttivi che, in teoria, dovrebbero corrispondere ai contributi economici elargiti. Inoltre, mentre i diplomatici tedeschi a New York si battono e promuovono risoluzioni ONU contro il traffico di armi, il governo di Berlino approva massicce vendite di carroarmati Leopard 2 all’Arabia Saudita e agli Emirati Arabi Uniti, tra l’altro nel bel mezzo della Primavera Araba.

La mancanza di una strategia coerente e complessa viene spesso lamentata dai professionisti di politica estera tedeschi (le cause di tali carenze sono talmente varie che meriterebbero un articolo a parte); tuttavia ciò non significa che la Germania non abbia mai avuto dei paradigmi strategici legati al proprio ruolo internazionale. A riguardo, basti citare l’obiettivo nazionale della riunificazione, perseguito da Bonn fino alla fine della guerra fredda, e messo in atto in seguito alle politiche di distensione verso l’Est. Un altro concetto strategico fondamentale della Germania si basa sulla relazione speciale con Israele: risale infatti al 2008 la presa di posizione di Angela Merkel, la quale equiparò ed elevò l’obiettivo della sicurezza di Israele a interesse nazionale.

Altri concetti strategici che caratterizzano l’azione di politica estera tedesca attengono a progetti sovranazionali di integrazione. Questi, però, non dovrebbero esser visti come ulteriori tentativi atti ad imporre il proprio potere, bensì come il retaggio dell’approccio di politica estera tedesco successivo alla Seconda Guerra Mondiale. A quel tempo, l’integrazione della Germania Ovest nel blocco occidentale e nelle organizzazioni internazionali ad esso collaterali quali la CEE e l’ONU (Westintegration), contemplava una duplice funzione: dimostrare ai vicini europei la dismissione di qualsiasi atteggiamento revanscista, e il tentativo di riconquistare la sovranità perduta dalle potenze occupanti. Per questo, un pensiero puramente egemonico tra i politici e gli esperti di politica internazionale semplicemente non trova supporto in Germania, dove al contrario, fino ad oggi, il principio dominante che ha sostanziato la sua politica estera è stato quello della auto-limitazione, diretto a contenere e ad evitare il perseguimento dei propri interessi nazionali con la forza. In aggiunta, secondo la cultura tedesca, sostenere la propria economia ha sempre implicato la creazione di benessere diffuso attraverso la cooperazione e l’integrazione. Seppur durante tale crisi finanziaria il principio di auto-limitazione sia stato più volte contraddetto, le strategie per la sua risoluzione hanno sempre perseguito l’approccio tedesco post-1945, teso a creare le condizioni per una maggiore integrazione.

Pertanto, è storicamente errato e politicamente fuorviante sostenere che la Germania punti a ricreare un’egemonia simil-nazista. Non bisognerebbe mai dimenticare di citare, quando si parla di Germania quale repubblica democratica oramai esistente da circa 70 anni, una riflessione tratta dal libro di Anika Leithner, Shaping German Foreign Policy: “Sento spesso cittadini stranieri chiedersi cosa farebbero con la ricchezza, le dimensioni geografiche e la popolazione della Germania. Eppure, non capita mai di sentirli fantasticare su cosa farebbero se ne condividessero anche il passato.”

E allora, questo Quarto Reich? Semplicemente, non esiste.

[hr]

Traduzione di Giuseppe Paparella (si ringrazia per la collaborazione Marianna Bettini).

Articolo originale: The Fourth Reich Rises

The Fourth Reich Rises?

No one seems to understand what Germany wants. Does Germany have big plans? A European strategy of hegemony?

[dhr]

german empire

[dhr]

Amid the international finance crisis the role of Germany has become central to the fate of the continent and for many appears to be the only hope for solving this quagmire. At the same time many seem to fear the creation of a German empire built on the shoulders of the other European countries and infiltrating EU institutions. Italian newspapers speak of the Fourth Reich, while Italian politicians on live TV ask their German colleagues if they think a United States of Europe would be blond and blue eyed. The sentiment among many seems to follow the lines of: “What they did not achieve with tanks in 1940, they are now doing with the Euro”. Many see it as a foregone conclusion that Germany wants to lead. In last week’s issue of Germany’s biggest quality weekly Die Zeit, the newspaper asked literates from all over Europe to describe their countries’ view on Germany. One of them first asserted that Germany wants to lead Europe and than goes on to denote what the country had to do and not to do as the European hegemon.

On the other side of the fence, some deplore German inactivity. In late 2011 Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski stated: “I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity”. This is a little surprising from a politician from a country that suffered tremendously from German occupation during the Second World War and whose press has not abstained from playing the Nazi card when the two countries were involved in a conflict.

This very well illustrates the ambiguity surrounding the perception of German foreign policy in Europe. No one seems to understand what Germany wants. Does Germany have big plans? A European strategy of hegemony?

The problem is, Germany does not know itself. Important is the insight of Germany’s profound lack of a foreign policy strategy and a lack of interest within the general population and political elites beyond situational attention driven by the media cycle. A sophisticated foreign policy elite that would gain wider attention is lacking; the most important foreign policy intellectuals are two old men. While journalist Peter Scholl-Latour has been explaining the “Orient” to the German audience for the better half of the last century, former Chancellor, proverbial chain smoker and 90 years old statesman Helmut Schmidt basically covers the rest of the world (… and economy).

Their influence can be easily deduced by the metres of bookshelf space the two inhabit in Germany’s bookshops. Younger protagonists are hard to come by (which does not mean that they do not exist here & here). As a result German foreign policy often is erratic and uncoordinated despite the fact that Germany is covering large parts of the EU budget (highest absolute contributor) and makes substantial contributions to other international organisations such as the UN (third largest contributor in 2011). Germany is often said to hold nowhere as many senior positions within these organisation as would be suggested by the contributions. Further, while Germany diplomats in New York are lobbying for, and even sponsoring, UN resolutions against weapons trafficking, the German government is selling large quantities of Leopard 2 tanks to countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid the Arab Spring.

The lack of a sophisticated strategy is often deplored by foreign policy professionals in Germany (the reasons for such lackings are so plentiful that they deserve their own article). This however, does not mean that Germany lacks strategic paradigms all together. There used to be crucial interests of German foreign policy making: reunification was central but became obsolete after the Cold War. Reunification was prepared by the “East policies” and détente was the vehicle for that. Another central paradigm is the special relationship with Israel: in 2008 Angela Merkel elevated Israel’s security to the level of “raison d’Etat” of Germany.

Other paradigms continue to shape foreign policy making: for Germany the suggestion of integration into supranational organisation is not an attempt to fix its own power into place. Rather, it is a logical consequence of another main line of German foreign politics. After the Second World War – and under occupation – integration into a supranational organisation was the only way for Germany to ensure the other European states that it would not become a revenge power again and opened the way to regain lost sovereignty from the occupation powers. This was a major purpose of “Westintegration”. Multilateralism is in general highly valued by many decision makers. Hegemonic thinking rarely exists. The core tenet of German foreign policy has been the “culture of restrained”. This for a very long time meant that Germany would not aggressively formulate and push for national interests. This is not to say that Germany is following any foreign interests: professionals that have interacted with German embassies can confirm that the country’s diplomats will often help companies to get a foot into the door. However, in the German tradition supporting its own economy has always meant creating economic welfare through cooperation and integration. During the financial crisis the culture of restrained has arguably suffered to a certain degree. However, reviewing German suggestions for how to tackle the problem fits German post-1945 tradition. It aims for further integration, not hegemony.

Arguing that Germany is bound on a course of recreating a Nazi like European hegemony is the wrong conclusion. When dealing with the democratic republic that Germany has been for almost 70 years now, Europeans should keep in mind this quote from Anika Leithner’s 2009 book Shaping German Foreign Policy: “ I often hear foreigners say what they would do if they had Germany’s wealth, its size or its population. I never hear them say what they would do if they had Germany’s past”. They should get used to Germany formulating national interests more obviously than it she has done in the past. However, the lessons of the past are well learned, becoming a hegemony is not one them.

The news from the Fourth Reich? It does not exist.

Europol’s TE-SAT: Disappointing Analysis On Terrorism

In the 21st century decision makers are confronted with an increasingly complex environment and subsequently the demands on institutions such as Europol have grown exponentially: the body must keep up.

[dhr]

[dhr]

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]uropol publishes an annual report (TE-SAT: EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report) on terrorism activity in Europe which has shown that since 2007 there has been a continued decline of terrorist activity in the continent. The 2012 report however suffers from flaws: Firstly, the definition of the Andreas Breivik attack as explicitly not right wing and secondly, the questionable outlook and trends that it provides. This piece will briefly look at both of these aspects in turn.

Breivik

The report fails to identify the Breivik attack for what it was: a right wing attack. Separating it from other incidents, such as recent right wing attacks in Germany, creates the illusion of continued low levels of right wing violence in line with historical attitudes of governments in Europe that have tended to underestimate this issue. The report is also inconsistent: In its key judgments the report states that right wing extremism has reached new levels in Europe and should not be underestimated. It is assessed to most likely come from lone actors or underground groups making an implicit link to Breivik. This is, however, surprising because when ignoring Breivik, right wing terrorism is only responsible for a single attack in the EU in 2011. When later discussing the case it is explicitly said that Breivik ‘established his own ideology from various influences and without clear affiliation, presenting himself as a “cultural conservative”’. The formulation here is puzzling as well: “His ideology is assessed as opposing multiculturalism and more specifically Islamism”. It can be assumed that Europol does not believe Islamism to be a form of multiculturalism, but this might be another indication for the somewhat disorientated approach that Europol has taken to this specific case. In addition we can be quite sure that for Breivik a difference between Islam and Islamism does not exist; he opposes Islam per se, making him an enemy of a part of society based on its religious believes. Signifying that he is indeed right-wing.

The contradiction here is obvious; When it comes to the political spectrum: “cultural conservatism” can easily be fitted on the right side of the scale. In addition the use of “conservatism” in this context is a stark euphemism. Taking up weapons with the will to smite the perceived “traitor” is clearly outside the realm of classical “conservatism”.

Even worse: the notion that Breivik has constructed his ideology without connection to a wider ideological movement ignores the obvious facts to the contrary. His manifesto is a copy & paste work. It is not an original piece of work, but incooperates the work of Islamophobes “cultural conservatists” from all over Europe. Europol ignores recent developments on the right side of the political spectrum and the fact that Breivik is embedded in a much larger movement.

Trends and outlook

The trends and outlooks that conclude the report concentrate almost exclusively on Jihadist oriented threats despite that fact that Europe has seen only one such attack in 2011 (the shooting of two US airmen in Frankfurt, Germany). Other than that the report registers 110 separatist motivated plots that either failed, were foiled or were completed, and 37 leftwing oriented. Even when it comes to arrests separatist terrorism still beats religious oriented. A possible bias is also showing itself when discussing the Olympics. Despite fears by experts that Irish republican dissident groups might use the event for attacks, the only variant discussed is al-Qaida inspired terrorism.

To improve future reports in this regard is crucial especially when Europol states that: “The TE-SAT aims to provide law enforcement officials, policymakers and the general public with facts and figures regarding terrorism in the EU, while also seeking to identify trends in the development of this phenomenon”. If this report is supposed to inform decision makers than it will have to improve its assessments. In the 21st century decision makers are confronted with an increasingly complex environment and subsequently the demands on institutions such as Europol have grown exponentially: the body must keep up.