Stern Calls in Germany for Diplomacy to Prevail
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under intense pressure, both at home and internationally, to send more military equipment to Ukraine, including heavy weapons, and to end all oil and gas imports from Russia. Until now, he has resisted, despite the pressure exerted by his coalition partners, the Greens and the FDP, as well as the CDU. Scholz told Der Spiegel dated April 22, that he would do “everything to avoid an escalation that could lead to World War III – there can be no nuclear war”.
That concern has been voiced by a growing number of voices. One of the most prominent is retired General Erich Vad, a former security adviser to former Chancellor Angela Merkel, who repeatedly stresses the need to stop the military escalation and seek a political and diplomatic solution. He has warned against labeling President Putin a pathological despot with whom one can no longer talk. As horrendous as the Ukraine war is, he notes, in relation to other recent wars, such as in Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Afghanistan, the Russians have inflicted far less “collateral damage” (civilian deaths) than the U.S. and NATO did. In the popular talk show with Maybrit Illner on April 22, General Vad particularly attacked the position of the Green Party (represented in the government by Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock). “It bothers me”, he said, “when German politicians from the Greens present a military solution as the ultimate goal. It’s crazy! And it’s done by politicians who had nothing to do with the military, who refused military service, who know nothing about the Bundeswehr.”
The traditional Easter Marches for peace in some 100 cities of Germany also warned against escalation into a third world war. A declaration by the Bremen Peace Forum notes that “NATO, with its devastating wars and its weapons budget in the billions, is a major factor in preventing global cooperation on the task of making our planet sustainable. Every day 30,000 people die as a result of hunger, 10% of the expenditures for arms could defeat hunger in the world. Disarm instead of rearm!”
A widely-circulated open letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, signed by prominent news people, churchmen, politicians and artists followed a few days later, calling for “replacing the logic of war by the logic of peace.” The letter, signed by Hans Christof Graf von Sponeck, former Assistant Secretary General of the UNO and Dr. Antje Vollmer, former Vice President of the German Bundestag, warns that the “war carries the real danger of an expansion and uncontrollable military escalation — similar to that in the First World War.” The signers call on the government, and the EU and NATO countries to stop supplying arms to Ukrainian troops and to encourage the government in Kiev to end military resistance — in exchange for assurances of negotiations on a ceasefire and a political solution.