It has become so urgent to rally all those who oppose the most bellicose elements now panting for more weapons, more billions, militarization, even the draft and, basically, more war. German Foreign Minister Baerbock, the new Defense Minister Pistorius, EU boss von der Leyen and NATO-leader Stoltenberg all seem so close to Washington military policy they deserve a Stars-and-Stripes flag sewed on their pants or at least a USA lapel pin. Others, full of talk of “Eastern flank” and “Southern flank” and tactics for 2026 or 2067, dream once again of Prussian glory. They want regime change in Moscow, the opening of vast reaches of Eurasia and a springboard toward China.
Till recently China was Germany’s peaceful trade partner, its biggest. Now, with one provocative visit to Taiwan after the other, with a German warship, fighter planes and soldiers back in old German colonial areas, it is joining in with an encirclement of China like that against Russia.
Olaf Scholz just visited Japan to increase trade and cement common policies. “We are united by democratic principles,” the SPD politician made clear, as he does at virtually all state visits. A leading Japanese journalist noted that “in view of the current world situation, our coordination and cooperation with Germany in dealing with Russia and China are very important.” And Premier Kishida stressed that “Japanese-German relations are stronger and closer than ever before!”
He was not quite correct. They were once even closer. If, like the legendary American long-sleeper Rip van Winkel, I had fallen asleep in 1936, I might have read, before drowsing off:
“… the following November (1936) saw the ratification of the Anti-Comintern Pact, an anti-communist treaty between Germany and Japan; Italy joined the Pact in 1937… It aimed at “formally integrating the military aims of Germany, Italy, Japan, and later followed by other nations… to stand side by side and cooperate in their endeavours in the Greater East Asian region and the European territories, their primary aim being to establish and maintain a new order of affairs capable of promoting prosperity and welfare for the peoples there.“
On awakening today I would have been amazed at some similarities, such as the aspects on Russia and China! To quote Yogi Berra: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
There was a major difference from 1936; today’ German-Japanese friendship is under the aegis of that other major power, which also likes to promote prosperity and welfare but is more blatant about its goals – and more frightening. It would have been a rude awakening!
“Twentynine Palms, Calif.: “…a half-dozen officers of the Hawaii-based Third Marine Littoral Regiment took a very short break from days of fighting … The war, they said, was going well.
“The unit, newly created and innovative in nature, was facing its toughest test yet — a 10-day mock battle across Southern California…developing new tactics to figure out one of the service’s highest priorities: how to fight a war against Chinese forces in their own backyard, and win.
“Over the next two years, the new unit will have a relentless schedule, with about four or five times as many exercises as most infantry regiments. Its next big test will be in the Philippines in April.” (NY Times, 3.5.23)
The China-Russia-USA tension recalls another game known to kids in many countries: “Rock, scissors, paper.” Which one wins points? During a visit to a Russian children’s home ten years ago I watched two sweet little 9-year-olds playing it and asked if I could join in. They laughed and nodded. Under their rules, the winner touches the loser‘s forehead with a gentle finger. As I followed this rule they roared at a funny foreigner playing along. Of course they could not know (or care) that I was an American.
I reflected later about another possible finger pushing a special button, not gently, and bringing an end to the girls, now adults, that happy home, all such games – and me if I am still around. People have marched to prevent such an ending in recent weeks, fine people, but far, far too few. Despite all differences, all quarrels, all coalitions. Such protests and demands must quickly increase, everywhere, with countless worried humans, of all colors, preferences and beliefs. My plea is: join in!