Adrian Hill, a former soldier and diplomat continues his series on the effect of Brexit on Britain’s Defence and Diplomacy, this time looking deeper into leaked German military reports casting doubt on the future of the EU ‘project’, featured in Der Spiegel. Disclaimer: At times we publish the views of our members. This article is not an official Veterans for Britain paper and does not necessarily reflect the view of Veterans for Britain.
With apologies to the late Chester Wilmot:
Whoever holds Berlin, holds Germany.
Whoever holds Germany, holds Europe.
Ever since the articles in Der Spiegel about that leaked report from the German Army there has been radio silence from Berlin. The original report is probably quite lengthy but from just reading the leaks in Der Spiegel (Denken auf Vorrat and Was, wenn der Westen zerfällt?) one realises that the new German strategy plan is a watershed. Not since the Second World War has the German Army contemplated a future without belonging to the NATO command structure though not every German will like this idea. Parts of the report are most likely contributions from diplomats and officials, which is illuminating in itself. Some of the forecasts are astute, indeed already have come to pass. The author, Katrin Suder, has worked for McKinsey. Her study’s core message is that Europe cannot rely on the Americans any longer. I don’t agree. For us Brits, having the Americans involved with Europe’s defence has kept the peace for seventy-two years and still does even with Donald watching TV for hours and tweeting all day long.
The paper’s central worry is that a break up of the European Union could bring about the collapse of the economies surrounding Germany and kill off these valuable export markets. The consequent unemployment could lead to civil disorder, even another Weimar crisis. One assumption is that the European Union started to break up during 2008. This is when the Lisbon Treaty did away with each member country’s veto and replaced it with majority votes. Another assumption suggests that NATO started breaking up during 2014. This was the year when member countries were asked to work towards spending 2% of their gnp on defence and 20% of that on new equipment. Germany falls well short of both targets each year.
Now an observer from space might be forgiven for concluding that the high-handed introduction of the Euro – when the German Parliament decided over the heads of the people, who were not given a vote – followed by the present similarly high-handed push for a European Union super-state complete with its own military just might have something to do with both these break up scares. Add on Sigmar Gabriel and Martin Schultz calling for a United States of Europe built around Germany and the Euro and you have the whole picture bar a few details. Martin Schultz openly contemplates expelling the Poles and Hungarians and possibly others who won’t adopt the Euro nor always toe the line. Angela Merkel’s recent speech at Davos sounded a barely coded message urging the European Union members to shed their cocoon and become a united states of Europe. We have a breathing space after the car-crash coalition when Martin Schultz was thrown into the road but it’s going to be a very short one.
The Army planners are convinced that Germany must look after its own security. An obvious start is to concentrate on binding together the inner core of Euro Zone countries, economically, politically and militarily. An outer ring of satellite economies, which includes us Brits, must be kept within the political and economic orbit of the Euro Zone and its political and economic sun, Germany. The scale of Germany’s reliance on these satellite markets is best measured by the lengths to which the German government goes to disguise the size of the country’s huge annual trade surplus – somewhere around 340 billion Euros according to Professor Heiner Flassbeck and Friedericke Spieker in their recent report – helped enormously by the existence of the Euro as a currency inside which hides a very under-valued Deutschmark. According to Heiner Flassbeck one can reasonably argue that German workers pay for this huge surplus through a lower standard of living than if their money floated at its real worth. Control of markets and money, in my view, becomes essential for managing this export machine as it sucks the life from once thriving industries in almost thirty satellite countries.
One perceives a defensive logic behind the European Union’s crushing of the bid for independence from Catalonia and the gaoling of their elected government; likewise the disapproval of protest in Austria, Hungary and Poland over invasions of Arab refugees from Greece to avoid that county’s economic collapse; deep offence when the Poles want to clean up the way their judges appoint each other which they say hasn’t changed since Communist times. These squabbles also shine a torch on the style of recent European Union negotiating tactics over Brexit – namely, blatant interference in our politics on a scale that makes the FSB look like walk on extras; conjuring up fantasy problems only to make impossible demands such as splitting Northern Ireland from Great Britain; combining these with demands for absurd sums of money; meddling in our affairs by hiding behind has-been politicians like Tony Blair and Nick Clegg; veto even the softest trade deal offer and combine this with demands for a second referendum; threats of sanctions against us and anyone who wants to enter a free trade agreement with us after Brexit.
While I fully respect those who wanted to remain, we voted to leave, and now a brain washed fifth column seems hard at work in London, mostly within the circuit of the M 25, but regardless of the wishes of the millions of others who live in that foreign country that starts about thirty miles in any direction from Charing Cross. All talk of divorce payments, lousy trade deals or threats of trade sanctions, demands for second votes, for European Union defence with European Union armed forces, indeed all speeches by the likes of Angela Merkel, Martin Schultz and Sigmar Gabriel should be swallowed carefully and digested from the viewpoint of the German Army’s Strategic Perspective 2040.
Why the rush? We couldn’t influence the European Union’s regime des petits copains nor its ultimate choice of destination during the last fifty years. One needs only look what happened to David Cameron when he tried to persuade the European Union to become less rigid. Angela Merkel showed him the door. Our membership simply provided a sea anchor that slowed down those small though relentless moves away from NATO towards a unified state with its own chain of command and military forces. Dragging out the negotiations on Brexit allows the European Union to prolong the period when we pay although Britain cannot attend let alone influence European Union political summits. All talk of wanting us to stay – swallowed whole by devoted remainers – is just a means to keep the British money hydrant open so that our taxes continue supporting Germany’s satellite export markets. And perhaps extend a little solace for the liberal minded lovers abandoned by the fickle European Union empress across the water. There seems no other plausible explanation for the total incapability of politicians and officials in Whitehall to see what is right under their noses. Reality is not hidden, it’s in full view. The European Union is sprinting towards a finish line set out by the German umpires seventy-four years ago. One prospect still makes them nervous. Brexit success. That’s why the European Union is so desperate to keep us aligned – controlled by them for as long as possible into the future.
Leaving aside the political dichotomy over our future as a global power, commercially there are sound reasons for splitting from the European Union. Technologies that have not been invented are going utterly change the way we work and do business. To make the most of these wonders requires mental agility and our language – after eight thousand years of immigrants – allows this by default. The European Union is run by people who think in French and German, both precise and logical languages, beautiful to talk and read, yet somehow far more rigid when steering the brain than English. Like the Chinese and Vietnamese, we have simplified our grammar, albeit in different ways, just as six-hundred years ago King Sejong of Korea invented a new alphabet to replace Chinese characters – we all have more in common with each other when it comes to logic and metal processes than with our neighbours across the Channel. Believe me, once we are finally out, making simpler more flexible rules, on a clear day we will offer a highly visible alternative to the latest version of a single continental super state, our white cliffs marching along the skyline a mere twenty-one miles from Calais.
As for the other large neighbours, deciding to deploy Baroness Ashton and her European Union action force diplomats as their public face the Germans rashly brushed aside Britain, the USA and Russia, treaty guarantors of Ukraine’s integrity following the dismantling of the latter’s nuclear arsenal – itself one of the truly great achievements following the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a consequence, their attempt to lure Ukraine into the German orbit as a new satellite export market turned sour through misreading Putin. To their surprise, he invaded. They were caught out a second time by America’s reaction. The price for the European Union’s miscalculations was lives lost and ruined as Putin invaded Eastern Ukraine then the Crimea. Russian suspicion and bungling led them to shoot down a civil airliner. Nor is the danger over but Putin’s ground forces although modernised, cannot sustain a hot operation for longer than a matter of weeks. Perhaps Angela Merkel, educated in the communist system of East Germany and a confident Russian speaker, over-estimated her influence on Putin. After all, she has a former German Chancellor deeply involved with a key Russian company, moreover the one who ran for election with the most anti-American campaign in modern German politics. The way for dodging NATO sanctions on Russia was to build a gas pipeline along the Baltic Sea bed from Russia to Germany.
One should not overlook the impact of childhood and education in East Germany. There is an increasingly visible difference between the old Western Germany of the Cold War and the new united Germany today. During spring 1945 East Germans simply exchanged one tyranny for another. Ten years later when she was three months old, Angela Merkel’s father emigrated from the west to Stalinist East Germany; he was appointed pastor of a country church in Brandenburg. She had to join Communist organisations to gain access to better schools, youth activities and eventually university. She was not alone. All girls and boys had to swear some form of allegiance to Marxist ideology and the state if they were to advance in life. But this means the reunited Germany of today has absorbed mind-sets infected with traces of the old Prussian over-confidence and inflexibility, the tunnel vision that led them into two seismic defeats, followed by partition in the first half of the last century.
After the unconditional surrender in 1945 the victorious allies sent many potential opinion formers on re-education courses at places like Wilton Park in Sussex run by the Foreign Office. No such programme was created for former East Germans in 1989 when – as a very close German friend put it, ‘ The Russian mother could no longer feed her child, so she left the baby on our door step, but twenty years earlier than we expected.’ One sees the echoes of that time in the recent election throughout the east of the country where votes surged for Alternative for Deutschland. They look upon themselves as well meaning but are more dangerous than they realise for reasons that are not their fault. Angela Merkel became involved with the democratic movement only shortly before the first reunification election. We have a friend who was a student with Angela Merkel. She says that on the night the Berlin Wall came down, rather than join the celebrations, Angela spent the evening at a coffee house with fellow students discussing a physics problem set by their tutor and that required answers by next morning.