Franz Alt’s speech at the Katholikentag to Africom in Stuttgart.
The FAZ of 28 May 20 appeared with the headline “Creating peace with more weapons”. This is the answer in times of war to the motto of the peace movement “Create peace without weapons”.
For more than 2000 years, the old Roman principle “Who wants peace, must prepare war” has been valid. Result: 2000 years of wars again and again. In the same spirit, the defense ministers of all NATO countries keep demanding: “More money for the military”. We are still stuck in the war trap that whispers to us: “Create peace with more and more weapons”. This applies to NATO, but also to Russia and China.
Where this unthinking policy leads, we have seen most recently in Afghanistan. The West failed in Afghanistan because it once again wanted to win a war, but not peace. Today, Afghanistan is a graveyard of the great powers. The Ukraine war, too, can only be waged because Putin prepared it.
What and how would be a new culture of peace instead of the old logic of war? What could the alternative look like? How about the motto “Who wants peace, must prepare peace”? And how would that work concretely and practically? In Europe today, we would need a lot of money for railways and schools, for climate protection and daycare centers, and for a lot of social housing. Just like almost all other countries. In other words, money for civil security policy.
In concrete and practical terms, this means converting both U.S. command centers here, Africom and Eucom, into peacekeeping centers. This is where the U.S. drone wars in Africa and Arabia are planned from, and this clearly contradicts the German Basic Law, according to which no wars may be launched from German soil.
A new policy begins with new thinking
That disarmament is also possible was successfully demonstrated to us over 30 years ago by Mikhail Gorbachev, a real politician with vision. Because someone had the courage to go forward and to rely on realizable visions in an environment of hardliners, entire weapons systems could simply be scrapped for the first time in human history. Controlled scrapping. It was actually disarmed instead of rearmed. Europe became safer and peaceful German unification became possible. Because Gorbachev was the greatest disarmor of all times. On his initiative, 80 percent of all nuclear weapons in Europe were scrapped.
And how does it look today, now that the old madness of the nuclear arms race is starting all over again? No Gorbachev far and wide. But again thinking in the old logic of war. Rising arms budgets everywhere. Were we only capable of learning in the short term? Do we really have no other worries than to rearm again?
There are always alternatives
What would be a nuclear war, I once asked the expert Gorbachev. His answer: “A nuclear war would probably be the last war in the history of mankind, because afterwards there would be no more people who could still wage war. Let us finally stop this madness.”
The Russian and Chinese leaders are just showing us again that and how enemy images are built up and cultivated. In this dangerous situation, Germany could show that things can be done differently. The Protestant Church of Baden has presented a realistic and feasible peace paper: “Rethinking Security. According to this paper, five percent less money is to be spent on armaments and the military every year until 2040 and invested in civilian and ecological projects.
There are always alternatives. Financially, the NATO countries already spend far more money on the military than Russia.
With its more than 700 billion dollars, the U.S. alone finances 40 percent of all global arms spending every year. That really doesn’t have to be the case. So let’s cut US military spending.
All the peoples of the world would thank their rulers, because all the peoples of the world want disarmament rather than rearmament. After this first US step, there would be confidence in further disarmament steps. The only loser would be the arms industry. But would that really be a loss? No, it would be a gain for everyone, including the employees of the arms industry, because they too would live more securely in a world with fewer weapons.
Why shouldn’t what succeeded under Gorbachev work today?
Fewer weapons mean more security for everyone. But jobs in the arms industry?
In Germany, too, jobs are often used to justify arms exports. We are among the largest arms exporters in the world. According to the research of the renowned arms critic Jürgen Grässlin, two million people have been killed in recent decades with the German G3 rifle from the arms manufacturer Heckler und Koch on Lake Constance alone. Arms exports are often aiding and abetting mass murder.
But why should what worked under Mikhail Gorbachev and led to peaceful German reunification not work today? After all, 30 years ago, 80 percent of all nuclear weapons were scrapped, and we all dreamed of the “peace dividend” for social and ecological projects. This need not remain a one-time dream. A culture of peace and disarmament is also possible today. But the political will for it is still missing.
Perhaps I may remind you at a Catholic Day of the wonderful young man from Nazareth. Jesus recommended “love of enemies” in his Sermon on the Mount. Is that naive? Was Jesus a crank?
Love of enemies doesn’t mean: Let yourself be offered everything. It means: Be smarter than your enemy. Have the courage to take the first step. The Sermon on the Mount is not a novel about the homeland, but “in the nuclear age, the survival program of mankind,” Mikhail Gorbachev told me four years ago in Moscow. The ruling Christians in the West never said that.
Let’s think of security in a completely new way. You can make politics with the Sermon on the Mount, dear Christians in politics! Real peace politics. The Sermon on the Mount is a message of joy and not a threatening message. Jesus was a realist.
And to those who say that you cannot govern with the Sermon on the Mount, my counter-question: Have you ever tried it? Gorbachev showed us how.
Putin’s predecessor in Moscow, Mikhail Gorbachev, says in our book “Never Again War – Come to Your Senses”, which we wrote together: “Peace can only be won under the conditions of demilitarized politics and demilitarized international relations. Politicians who think that problems and disputes can be solved by the use of military force – us ei it only as a last resort – should be rejected by society. These politicians should clear the political stage.”
What to do now? What could all this currently mean in the Ukraine -war?
- Firstly, the West and NATO countries must openly admit that they did not sufficiently take into account Russia’s security interests after 1990. The West has played itself out as the victor in the Cold War.
- Second: Ukraine and the West should make Putin an offer of talks that seems lucrative enough to the Kremlin leader to enter into negotiations.
- Third: At its core, peace negotiations must be about a new European peace order, which is still not possible without Russia’s involvement. For centuries, it has been crucial for a peace policy in Europe that the security interests of different nations be reasonably “in balance.” For Bismarck, Adenauer, Brandt, Schmidt, Kohl, Genscher and Henry Kissinger, this thinking “in balance” was the basis of their foreign and security policies.
- Fourth, Paris and Berlin have already brought Moscow and Kiev to the table once to prevent worse. Paris and Berlin should therefore now also put together a negotiating offer, coordinate it with their partners and convey it to Putin.
After all, it is about our common survival as one humanity on one planet under one sun in our common house Europe.
The great peace lover Henning Zierock put it this way: Our aspiration must be to win peace, not war.
- United States Africa Command
- Mikhail Gorbachev “Listen to reason – War no more!: An Appeal from Mikhail Gorbachev to the world” (English Edition)
- Mikhail Gorbachev “An Appeal from Mikhail Gorbachev to the world” – (Russian Edition)
- “An Appeal to the World: The Way to Peace in a Time of Division” – by Dalai Lama (Author), Franz Alt (Editor)
FRANZ ALT 2022 / Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)