(Translated from Der Spiegel)
This is Der Spiegel. Germany is waking-up . . . .
What Trump is talking about
Is there at least one reason to hope for a victory from Donald Trump? Yes, peace. Hillary Clinton wants to risk the military confrontation with Russia in the Syrian war. Germany can not want that.
A column by Jakob Augstein
An argument for Trump? Inconceivably. The refusal of this man is common property. He is the god of politics. It was easier to find the best of the evil wolf from Grimm’s fairy tale than from the mad narcissist from New York. Only one point will be overlooked, one that is, in fact, the most important for any non-American: Trump would probably be the better choice in the question of war and peace than Clinton.
The civil war in Syria is the most dangerous conflict in the world. The USA, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia – all mixed with. All pursue their own interests. And in Syria, Hillary Clinton wants to risk the military confrontation with Russia. Clinton has expressly expressed the wish to establish a flight ban on Syria, or parts of it. In this way, according to Clinton’s plan, the suffering of the civilian population pursued by the war should be alleviated, if not repaired. This sounds like a project of peace. In truth, it would be an act of war. The risks are unpredictable. Above all, the risk of a military conflict with Russia.
A “lever against the Russians”
Risk? The highest soldier of the United States of America, General Joseph Dunford, President of the United States General Staff of the United States Forces, is certain. To control the entire airspace over Syria would mean war with Syria and Russia. Dunford’s predecessor in office estimated a few years ago that an effective flight bomb over Syria would mean the use of 70,000 soldiers and a monthly cost of one billion dollars.
But Hillary is undoubted. “When I was a foreign minister, I was in favor of a flight ban, and I am still today,” Clinton said a few days ago. And so that no one could have any doubts about what she meant, she added, “We need a lever against the Russians.”
Donald Trump has made the greatest effort to prove his inadequacy for the office of the US president. But in war and peace, his vest is clean. Trump, in so far as he has had any foreign policy concept at his fingertips, wants to keep America out of the world’s trades rather than deepen it.
There are now even in Germany still party generals, the desire for military interventions not passed. Green Party chief Cem Özdemir has justly regretted the fact that Germany was not participating in the Libyan operation at the time. Özdemir has also called for a flight ban on Syria to be threatened – and at the same time warned: “If the nuclear power of Russia is in conflict, I strongly advise caution in military interventions.” Thus, from the desk, talking about the war becomes childish.
But the majority of the Germans would have to hunt the fear of fear over the back of the war between the US and Russia. Nevertheless – if the Germans had to decide, there would be no doubt in the triumph of the democrat. Strange. How is it that the German public ignores this real danger of a Clinton victory?
It is because Trumps candidacy is so shrill that too many people do not perceive the signal that it is in truth. Hillary Clinton is exactly the product of the American political establishment that Trump and his followers see in it. It enjoys a reputation in Europe for predictability and continuity.
But that also means that it would continue the American foreign policy of military intervention, devastating in the truest sense of the word.
What the West can do
Yes, Donald Trump is a farce. But he reminds us that the West has long been overwhelmed by the crises of this world – morally, militarily, politically. The West rubs itself between the illusion of omnipotence and the reality of limited possibilities. The West is tangled in its contradictions.
America supports here the Kurds and is at the same time allied with Turkey, which in turn fights bitterly against the Kurds. Against the IS, the US can be helped by the Saudis, who in turn belong to the supporters of Islamic terrorism. The American conflict of interest with Russia seems unbreakable in Syria – but this does not prevent Israel, America’s largest allies in the region, from agreeing with Putin. The terrible suffering in Aleppo horrified the West – but the rebels refuse to evacuate the city and thereby spare the civilian population from further bombs.
Every day, with the images of the horror that this war produces like every war, we are placed under a literally unbearable moral pressure, and yet we ourselves lie. For if it is really the suffering of the people who drive us, the West should cease to pursue its own power-political goals in Syria. It is by no means the case that the West can do nothing – on the contrary, it can stop interfering.
Clinton stands for the continuity of US policy. Trump stands for a break with the traditions. How do these traditions have to be mendacious if someone like Trump suddenly appears to be a more honest choice? Trumps’ success so far is to be explained only by addressing a need: after a new beginning. The New York Times recently wrote: “Trump is the logical consequence of all the bad things in America”
The sentence contains more truth than can be dear to all of us.
“Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one’s mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a cafe, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were.”
~ The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer