Chancellor Scholz promotes militarization of German-led Europe in his Prague speech
Germany deliberately escalates the war in Ukraine in order to weld Europe under its hegemony and to militarize the continent so that it becomes a world power. This was the central message contained in German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s keynote address at Charles University in Prague on Monday.
Against the backdrop of the venerable Czech university founded in 1348, Scholz wasted no time with the usual phrases about the peace, freedom and democracy that the European Union is meant to embody. He then came to the point of his remarks.
“In recent years, many have rightly called for a stronger and more sovereign geopolitical European Union,” he said. “For a Union that knows its place in the history and geography of the continent and acts with strength and solidarity in the world. The historic decisions of recent months have brought us closer to this objective.
By “historic decisions,” Scholz meant “the determination and speed” with which the EU imposed sanctions on Russia and exacerbated the war in Ukraine through NATO intervention. He didn’t even allude to the suggestion that the German government or the EU might be interested in a quick ceasefire or a negotiated solution to the conflict.
Instead, he boasted about the economic, financial, political and, above all, military support – “here, Germany has fundamentally changed course in recent months” – given to Ukraine. “We will maintain this support, reliably and above all: for as long as necessary!
In the weeks and months to come, Ukraine will receive from Germany “new, state-of-the-art weapons – air defense and radar systems, for example, or reconnaissance drones”, said the Chancellor. The last package of arms supplies alone was worth more than 600 million euros. “Our goal is a modern Ukrainian army that can permanently defend its country,” he said. He could imagine that “Germany would take a special responsibility in the construction of Ukrainian artillery and air defense.”
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) promised Ukraine on Sunday that she would continue to support Ukraine with heavy weapons indefinitely. We must “expect this war to last for years to come”, she declared to the Bild am Sonntag. Like Scholz, Baerbock has explicitly declared his support for the goal of reconquering the Crimean peninsula by military force and thereby inflicting total military defeat on nuclear-powered Russia.
The German government previously backed the right-wing coup in Ukraine in 2014, which brought a pro-Western puppet regime to power and sowed the seeds of the current war. But it has long been reluctant to completely sever economic ties with Russia, which has supplied Germany with cheap and safe energy since Soviet times.
Despite significant pressure, Chancellor Angela Merkel refused throughout her mandate to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would have doubled the capacity of the existing gas pipeline. The Scholz government did not take this step until after the outbreak of war. Even then, his government came under heavy fire for allegedly acting too hesitantly and delaying promised arms deliveries.
This has radically changed. After the United States, Germany is the engine of the proxy war with Russia. In order to dismember Russia and take control of its rich natural resources, the German government is willing to let its own population freeze and inflation rise uninterrupted, and risk a world war fought with nuclear weapons.
Already three days after the outbreak of war, Scholz announced to the Bundestag (parliament) a “new era”, massive arms deliveries to Ukraine and a tripling of the defense budget in order to make Germany Europe’s leading military power. His Prague speech was directly linked to his “new era” speech. The demand for a “geopolitical Europe capable of world politics” which “can affirm its values and its interests throughout the world” is a constant theme throughout the one-hour text.
“In a world of 8, probably 10 billion people in the future, each of our European nation-states is far too small to assert its interests and values on its own. This makes a united European Union all the more important for us,” Scholz stressed.
He refrained from saying a critical word about the United States and praised the “indispensable value of the transatlantic partnership”. Nevertheless, he made it clear that Germany’s geopolitical ambitions are also directed against the United States.
It is “fortunate for all of us” that “today, with President Biden, a convinced transatlanticist sits in the White House”, he declared. But despite all that Biden has done for the partnership, “we know at the same time that Washington’s vision is more focused on competition with China and the Asia-Pacific region. This will also apply to future US governments, perhaps even more so.
According to Scholz, in the multipolar world of the 21st century, “it is therefore not enough to cultivate existing partnerships as valuable as they are. We will invest in new partnerships, in Asia, Africa and Latin America. A united Europe must also “strengthen its weight even more vis-à-vis China”.
In order to strengthen the EU accordingly, Scholz advocates its further eastward expansion: “The fact that the EU continues to grow eastwards is a win-win situation for all of us! he stated. In addition to the Western Balkan countries, Ukraine and Moldova, he also wants to “prospectively” welcome Georgia into the EU. The EU would thus go from the current 27 members to 36 members.
Scholz also hopes it will strengthen Germany’s position in Europe. “Germany, as a country in the middle of the continent, will do everything in its power to bring East and West, North and South closer together in Europe,” he said.
In order to make the EU more effective and strengthen Germany’s leadership role, Scholz intends to centralize its institutions and largely disempower smaller members. In the Council of the EU, where the heads of government or ministers responsible for the various countries are represented, the principle of unanimity must be replaced by the principle of majority, so that individual members can no longer veto proposals.
Scholz wants to reduce the size of the European Parliament, “in accordance with the democratic principle that each vote should have approximately the same weight”. So far, small countries have been favored because they have more MPs per capita than other states.
With an ambitious program of technological and economic development, Europe should “fight to the top of the world” and join the trade war against China and the United States. Scholz cited the production of chips and semiconductors, the mobility of the future and the “ecological and digital transformation of our economy” as central areas.
Scholz also plans to include space: “Independent access to space, modern satellites and megaconstellations – this is not only crucial for our security, but also for environmental protection, agriculture and, last but not least, for digitization.”
To realize these plans, Scholz intends to arm the EU as a global military power under German leadership so that it is capable of waging war all over the world.
“The past uncoordinated reduction of European armies and defense budgets should now be followed by a coordinated growth of European capabilities,” he said.
In addition to joint armament projects, the unification of European defense structures and a well-equipped EU military headquarters, it intends to speed up decision-making processes and form “coalitions of the determined” from states individual members for military operations.
Germany “will also ensure that the planned EU Rapid Reaction Force is operational in 2025 and then also provide its core,” Scholz promised. It was decided that Germany would support Lithuania with a rapidly deployable brigade and Slovakia in air defense, as well as compensate the Czech Republic and other countries for the delivery of Soviet tanks to Ukraine with tanks of design German.
Europe needs to significantly catch up to counter air and space threats, he continued. Therefore, Germany will invest very heavily in an air defense system and design it in such a way that European neighbors can also participate. An air defense system commonly built in Europe is “a security asset for the whole of Europe”, he said.
The fact that the German government bases its European program on the prospect of a long war against Russia, which costs hundreds of lives every day in Ukraine, ruins the standard of living of the European working class and threatens to degenerate into a war nuclear, shows its reactionary character. The federal government thus returns to the worst traditions of German imperialism and is supported by all the parties represented in the Bundestag.
At the end of the 19th century, capitalist Germany was developing the most advanced industry in Europe, but at a time when the world was already divided between its capitalist rivals. With World War I, he tried to change that by redividing the world. Control of Eastern Europe – or “Central Europe” (Mitteleuropa) as it was then called – including Ukraine was one of the central German war objectives.
After the defeat in World War I, Hitler made another attempt to redivide the world in the interests of German imperialism 20 years later. “Make a united Germany a base for European domination; to transform united Europe into a base for the struggle for world domination, consequently to confine, weaken and reduce America – this task remains unchanged for Hitler”, wrote Leon Trotsky in December 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II. world.
Scholz’s European strategy follows the same trajectory. His attempt to subordinate the EU to German interests and turn it into the basis of the struggle for world domination will inevitably lead to catastrophe. This will not only lead to violent conflicts between the European powers, but will also intensify the class struggle.
This is the key to developing a response to the danger of war. The working class must combine the struggle to defend its social gains and democratic rights with the struggle against war and militarism. It must reject the European Union, an instrument of the European imperialist powers, and resume the fight for the United Socialist States of Europe – for a united socialist Europe in which social interests prevail, not the profit interests of the capitalists.