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The Bundeswehr is back to the World Military Stage
"The process of German reunification, the first effect of which was to place the entire territory of the nation in NATO, had been consummated with the rebirth of a major military power thought by many to have reached its final quietus in 1945."
Germany is back to the World Military Stage: New NATO
When the post-World War II German states the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, West and East Germany, respectively, were united in 1990, it was for many in Europe and the world as a whole a heady time, fraught with hopes of a continent at peace and perhaps disarmed.
Despite US pledges to the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would not move "one inch" eastward, what German reunification achieved was that the former German Democratic Republic joined not only the Federal Republic but NATO and the military bloc moved hundreds of kilometers nearer the Russian border, over the intervening years to be joined by twelve Eastern European nations. Five of those twelve new NATO members were republics of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union itself, neither of which any longer exists.
Far from issuing in an era of disarmament and a Europe free of military blocs - or even of war - the merging of the two German states and the simultaneous fragmentation of the Eastern Bloc and, a year later, the USSR was instead followed by a Europe almost entirely dominated by a US-controlled global military alliance.
Within mere months of reunification Germany, then governed by the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union-led government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, set to work to insure the fragmentation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would parallel that of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, with each broken down into all of its constituent republics.
The Kohl government and its Free Democrat Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher immediately pushed for recognition of the Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Slovenia. Croatia was the site of the Nazi-administered Independent State of Croatia during World War II and Slovenia had been parceled out among Germany and its Italian and Hungarian fascist allies.
What the rulers of newly unified Germany accomplished is best expressed in a line from Victor Hugo's poetic drama Cromwell: Strike while the iron is hot and in striking make it hot.
By the end of 1991 Germany had browbeaten the other members of the European Community, now the European Union, into recognizing the secession of both republics.
As the above pressure was being applied by Berlin the Deputy Foreign Minister of Serbia Dobrosav Vezovic warned "This is a direct attack on Yugoslavia," one which "erases Yugoslavia from the map of the world." 
Germany was now back on the road to redrawing the map of Europe and would shortly embark on the use of military force outside its borders for the first time since the Third Reich.
Berlin later deployed 4,000 troops to Bosnia in 1995, its largest mission abroad since World War II, but its return to direct military aggression after an almost 55-year hiatus would occur with NATO's war against Yugoslavia in 1999.
The standard Western rationale for that war, Operation Allied Force, is that it was an intervention to prevent alleged genocide in the Serbian province of Kosovo, a crisis that had flared up almost instantaneously, and the 78-day bombing war was then justified by what the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once termed the teleological suspension of ethics.
It was no such thing. The separation of Kosovo from Serbia and the further dissolution of the former Yugoslavia to the sub-federal republic level was the final act of a decade-long drama, but one envisioned before the lifting of the curtain on the first one.
In January of 1991 former US Congressman Joseph DioGuardi in his capacity of the President of the Albanian American Civic League wrote to German Chancellor Kohl demanding the following:
"The European Community, hopefully led by the Federal Republic of Germany, recognizes the Republic of Kosova as a sovereign and independent state as the only logical and effective solution to protect the Albanian people in Kosova from their Serbian communist oppressors." 
Five months earlier, in August of 1990, DioGuardi had escorted six US Senators, including Robert Dole, on a tour to Kosovo.
A year before the war began German newspapers ran headlines on the order of “Mr. Kinkel threatens a NATO intervention in Kosovo,” referring to then German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, who is also quoted in 1998 as saying "Of course you have to consider whether you are permitted from a moral and ethical point of view to prevent the Kosovo-Albanians from buying weapons for their self-defense.” 
Canadian professor and political analyst Michel Chossudovsky has written extensively and trenchantly on the role of the German BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst/Federal Intelligence Service) in arming and training the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army before and in preparation for the NATO onslaught against Yugoslavia on his Web site Global Research at http://www.globalresearch.ca
It was in Kosovo that Germany, which had deployed troops to Bosnia and run a military hospital in Croatia earlier in the 1990s, crossed the post-World War II red line when the Luftwaffe (with its Tornado multirole combat fighters) engaged in combat operations for the first time since 1945.
The precedent was exacerbated when Germany followed up the bombing by military occupation as over a thousand of its troops accompanied their NATO allies into Kosovo in June of 1999. A German general assumed command of the 50,000-troop NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR).
Quoting from memory an account by an American reporter of the words of an older ethnic Albanian witnessing the arrival of the first German troops in Kosovo: "Where have you been? We missed you. The last time you were here you drew the borders the right way."
The Rubicon had been crossed, Germany had been declared by its Western allies cleansed of its Nazi past and was free to dispatch troops and wage war again, this time on the world stage.
As a Der Spiegel feature put it this past February, "The phase of German military intervention that began 10 years ago during the Kosovo war is in no way coming to an end, despite the fact the majority of Germans wish it would. On the contrary: The era of foreign deployments for Germans and their military forces has just begun." 
The lid of Pandora's chest had been thrown open and by 2007 "According to Germany`s Defense Ministry, roughly 8,200 soldiers are serving in missions in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Bosnia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kosovo and Sudan, making Germany one of the top contributors to international missions." 
How post-Cold War unified Germany and the German public were being prepared for the new international military role was insightfully analyzed a year before the Kosovo War by Diana Johnstone. The following is an excerpt from her article "Seeing Yugoslavia through a dark glass" which is far more penetrating than it may be comparatively lengthy:
"In the Bundestag, German Green leader Joschka Fisher [to become foreign minister later in the same year, 1998] pressed for disavowal of 'pacifism' in order to 'combat Auschwitz,' thereby equating Serbs with Nazis. In a heady mood of self-righteous indignation, German politicians across the board joined in using Germany's past guilt as a reason, not for restraint, as had been the logic up until reunification, but on the contrary, for 'bearing their share of the military burden'.
"In the name of human rights, the Federal Republic of Germany abolished its ban on military operations outside the NATO defensive area. Germany could once again be a 'normal' military power—thanks to the 'Serb threat.'
"On the contrary, what occurred in Germany was a strange sort of mass transfer of Nazi identity, and guilt, to the Serbs. In the case of the Germans, this can be seen as a comforting psychological projection which served to give Germans a fresh and welcome sense of innocence in the face of the new 'criminal' people, the Serbs, But the hate campaign against Serbs, started in Germany, did not stop there.
"If somebody had announced in 1989 that, well, the Berlin Wall has come down, now Germany can unite and send military forces back into Yugoslavia — and what is more in order to enforce a partition of the country along similar lines to those it imposed when it occupied the country in 1941 — well, quite a number of people might have raised objections. However, that is what has happened, and many of the very people might who have been expected to object most strongly to what amounts to the most significant act of historical revisionism since World War II have provided the ideological cover and excuse." 
The campaign was not without effect in Germany as subsequent events have proved and has been accompanied by the rehabilitation, honoring and even granting of veteran benefits to Nazi collaborators, including former Waffen SS members, in Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine in recent years.
Following its military interventions in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, Germany sent troops to Macedonia in 2001 after armed continents of the Kosovo-based National Liberation Army (NLA), an offshoot of the Kosovo Liberation Army led by Ali Ahmeti, also a founder of the KLA, invaded the country in the summer of 2001. In connivance with the 50,000 NATO troops in Kosovo, Ahmeti's brigands brought fighters, arms and even artillery past American checkpoints on the Kosovo-Macedonia border to launch deadly raids against government and civilian targets.
In one incident 600 Bundeswehr soldiers were caught in the crossfire between the NLA marauders and government security forces. 
Years later Benjamin Schreer, military expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, reflected on the consequences of what Johnstone had described: "The decision of the SPD [Social Democratic Party] and Greens to send German troops into Kosovo in 1999 has transformed the Bundeswehr....The Bundeswehr is now operating on a global scale." 
The press wire report from which the quote was taken provides these details:
"The mission in Afghanistan had German troops, roughly 100 special forces who, for the first time since World War II, took part in ground combat.
"The Kommando Spezialkraefte, known by its acronym KSK, is a highly trained and well-equipped special unit that has successfully been assigned to Kosovo and Afghanistan. Most of their operations, however, are classified." 
After September 11, 2001 German military missions and deployments were expanded exponentially and in addition to Germany deploying AWACS to the US in Operation Eagle Assist it also "took part in [Operation Active Endeavor] which has German units monitor the Mediterranean waters....In Afghanistan and East Africa, German troops battle...with sea units, ground troops and special forces.
"The Bundeswehr, once restricted by the German constitution to exclusively domestic protection, can now send armed troops to foreign countries." 
Having exploited as well as in an integral way engineered the breakup of Yugoslavia, with Kosovo as the altar and Serbia as the paschal lamb whose slaying wiped clean decades of German guilt, Berlin was now free to play the role assigned to it by NATO: That of an international military power operating on four continents, a far wider range of deployment and engagement than had been achieved by either Bismarck or Hitler.
In a feature called "Preparing Germany's Military for War," it was reported in 2005 that then German Defense Minister Peter Struck was "proposing that...his department considers missions other than peace-keeping and stabilization for the Bundeswehr" and that "the Bundeswehr could be asked to play a stronger role in Africa in the future." 
While visiting German troops in Uzbekistan on his way to Afghanistan, Struck was quoted as saying "For those of us who were born after the war this is an unfavorable idea but we must be realistic. It is possible that we will consider going to other countries and separate warring parties by military means" and that the Bundeswehr must be prepared to "carry out peace enforcement missions anywhere in the world." 
In late 2006 Struck's successor, Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, released a 133-page White Paper which stated "The Bundeswehr is to be thoroughly restructured into an intervention force." 
In an article entitled "Germany plans to remake its Army into a rapid-reaction, humanitarian-intervention force," Newsweek commented: "The pace of change has indeed been unsettling. It took a constitutional-court ruling in 1994 to permit German soldiers to be deployed abroad at all. Today, close to 10,000 Bundeswehr troops find themselves stationed in places as far-flung as Bosnia, Djibouti and southern Sudan...." 
Germany has become so comfortable with its current global military status that last week Chancellor Angela Merkel conferred the first combat medals on German soldiers since World War II.
"The new Cross of Honour for Bravery, is the military's first such medal since the end of World War II when it stopped awarding the Iron Cross tarnished by its use in Nazi Germany. Some see this as another sign of Germany emerging from its post-World War II diplomatic and military shell since the country's reunification in 1990." 
A column in the Times of London embraced this further reemergence of a militarized Germany, and one moreover of an expeditionary and aggressive nature - the soldiers awarded by Merkel were veterans of the Afghan war - with this panegyric:
"When Germany once again has the confidence proudly to parade its military heroes, its journey from the darkness of diplomatic and military purdah - via reunification in 1990 - is surely complete.
"Germany's new medal, the Honour Cross, stands as a bold response to the growing role played in the world by German military.
"The presentation by Chancellor Angela Merkel marks a potent moment in Germany's return to the heart of the community of nations." 
Last November German Defense Minister Jung laid the foundation stone for "the first national memorial to soldiers killed serving in the country's post-World War II military."
Combat deaths and their commemoration, for decades considered matters of a dark and distant past, are now commonplace as "Germany...has emerged gradually from its postwar diplomatic and military shell, increasingly puts soldiers in the line of fire in places such as Afghanistan." 
The process of German reunification, the first effect of which was to place the entire territory of the nation in NATO, had been consummated with the rebirth of a major military power thought by many to have reached its final quietus in 1945.
The mainstream weekly Der Spiegel wrote in 2005 in a feature aptly named "Germany's Bundeswehr Steps out on the Global Stage" that "With reunification, the nation had not just regained full sovereignty: it also became subject to rules that had effectively been put on ice during the Cold War. On the new international stage, political influence was reserved for those who were willing and able to assert their interests in concert with their partners. If need be, by force. If need be, by military means."
The celebratory piece went on to say:
"Today the Bundeswehr has become one of the most powerful tools available to German foreign-policy makers.
"[T]he German government is in the process of fostering a totally different breed of soldier. The elite members of the Kommando Spezialkrafte (Special Forces Command), or KSK...are highly trained professionals who can hold their own with their colleagues from the British SAS or American Delta Force....
"Germany has 'finally reached a state of normality,' and its democracy will now be 'defended directly' wherever threats arise. That could be anywhere, soon even in Africa." 
In the culmination of almost twenty years of German and allied efforts to subvert and tear apart the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, its truncated successor the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and finally Serbia, almost on the first anniversary of the Western-supported secession of Kosovo in February of 2008 Berlin announced that it was donating 200 vehicles to the newly formed Kosovo Security Force, a revamped Kosovo Liberation Army headed up by a KLA commander who has already proclaimed his intention to join NATO.
The German offering is "a substantial contribution to the build up" of the fledgling army of an illegal entity not recognized by over two-thirds of the world including Russia, China and India. 
In an interview with Radio Kosova this February Colonel Dieter Jensch, senior official of the German Defense Ministry, boasted that "The Bundeswehr is helping the Kosovo Security Force through material assistance, which includes the donation of 204 vehicles and other technical equipment, and we have assigned a team of 15 professional military officers to help in building the KSF structures."
The account from which the above emanates added "The assistance is valued at 2.6 million Euros. Germany will also send 15 military personnel to help build KSF structures and to train the members of this force.
"The building of the Kosovo Security Force and its professional training is expected to cost 43 million Euros. Germany is among the first countries to help in building this force. It has already sent 15 military officers to help in building the structures of this force and to train its members." 
Yesterday the Balkans and today the world.
Global NATO and Remilitarized Germany: From WW II to WW III
The reunification of Germany in 1990 did not signify a centripetal trend in Europe but instead was an anomaly. The following year the Soviet Union was broken up into its fifteen constituent federal republics and the same process began in Yugoslavia, with Germany leading the charge in hastening on and recognizing the secession of Croatia and Slovenia from the nation that grew out of the destruction of World War I and again of World War II.
Two years later Czechoslovakia, like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia a multiethnic state created after the First World War, split apart.
With the absorption of the former German Democratic Republic into the Federal Republic, which since 1949 had already claimed an exclusive mandate to govern all of Germany, the entire nation was now subsumed under a common military structure and brought into the NATO bloc.
Wasting no time in reasserting itself as a continental power, united Germany inaugurated its new claim as a geopolitical - and military - power by turning its attention to a part of Europe that it had previously visited in the two World Wars: The Balkans.
With military deployments and interventions in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia from at least as early as 1995-2001 onward, the German Bundeswehr had crossed a barrier, violated a taboo and established a new precedent that paralleled the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936, the latter in flagrant contravention of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Hitler's sending the Wehrmacht into the Rhineland in that year has been observed by historians to have marked a decisive turning point in plans by the Third Reich towards territorial expansion and war. In fact, the standard argument runs, the provocation in 1936 made possible the next year's bombing assault on the Spanish town of Guernica, the Munich betrayal of Czechoslovakia and the Anschluss takeover of Austria in 1938, the attack on Poland in 1939 and with it the beginning in earnest of a second European conflagration which wouldn't end before some fifty million people had been killed.
The comparison between German military deployments in the Rhineland in 1936 and later ones in the Balkans in the 1990s will only appear extreme if the history of the years immediately following World War II are forgotten.
In the last of three meetings of the leaders of the major anti-Axis powers in the Second World War - Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States - in Potsdam, Germany after the defeat of the Third Reich, Winston Churchill [later replaced by his replacement as prime minister Clement Attlee], Joseph Stalin and Harry Truman met and discussed precise plans for Europe in general and Germany in particular for the post-war period.
The Potsdam Conference issued a Protocol which stipulated that there was to be "a complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany" and all aspects of German industry that could be employed for military purposes were to be dismantled. Additionally, all German military and paramilitary forces were to be eliminated and the production of all arms in the nation was prohibited.
It is now evident in retrospect that two nations whose heads of state were present either had no plans at the time to adhere to the Potsdam Agreement or if so quickly abandoned them.
A British document from the months preceding the surrender of Nazi Germany in May of 1945 and the subsequent Potsdam Conference of July 17-August 2 called "Operation Unthinkable: 'Russia: Threat to Western Civilization'" was declassified and made public in 1998. A photocopy of the Joint Planning Staff of the British War Cabinet report identified by the dates May 22, June 8, and July 11, 1945 is available for viewing on the website of Northeastern University in Boston at: http://www.history.neu.edu/PRO2/pages/002.htm
"The overall political objective is to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire.
"A quick success might induce the Russians to submit to our will....That is for the Russians to decide. If they want total war, they are in a position to have it."
A few years ago a Russian appraisal of the document would state "This was the groundwork for the notorious Operation Unthinkable, under which World War II was to develop immediately, without interim stages, into a third world war, with the goal of ensuring the total defeat of the Soviet Union and its destruction as a multinational community."  The total defeat of the Soviet Union and its disappearance as a multinational community in fact occurred in 1991.
The British wartime document consistently refers to the then Soviet Union as Russia, incidentally, and as such suggests plans not only for war but for a change of political system and a vivisection of the sort seen later in a post-war - that is, post-World War III - Russia.
When revelations concerning Operation Unthinkable became public in the late 1990s the strongest response to them came, not surprisingly, from post-Soviet Russia.
In March of 2005 Russian historian Valentin Falin was interviewed by the Russian Information Agency Novosti website in a feature called "Russia Would Have Faced World War III Had It Not Stormed Berlin" and spelled out the details of Churchill's plans:
"The new war was scheduled to start on July 1, 1945. American, Canadian, and British contingents in Europe, the Polish Expeditionary Corps and 10-12 German divisions (the ones that had not been disbanded and kept in Schleswig-Holstein and Southern Denmark) were supposed to participate in the operation." 
In further observations that provided the article its title, Falin added, "Behind the determination of the Soviet leadership to capture Berlin and reach the demarcation lines established during the 1945 Yalta conference attended by Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill was a task of great importance - to make all possible efforts to foil a political gamble envisioned by the British leader with the support of influential US circles, and to prevent the transformation of World War II into World War III, where our former allies would have turned into enemies." 
The Russian scholar, author of the book The Second Front, argued further that the taking of Berlin, which cost the lives of 120,000 Soviet soldiers, preempted Western plans for what may well have triggered a continuation of the Second World War into a third one.
"The battle for Berlin sobered up quite a few warmongers and, therefore, fulfilled its political, psychological and military purpose. Believe me, there were many political and military figures in the West who were stupefied by easy victories in Europe by the spring of 1945.
"One of them was US General George Patton. He demanded hysterically to continue the advance of American troops from the Elbe, through Poland and Ukraine, to Stalingrad in order to finish the war at the place where Hitler had been defeated.
"Patton called the Russians 'the descendants of Genghis Khan.' Churchill, in his turn, was not overly scrupulous about the choice of words in his description of Soviet people. He called the Bolsheviks 'barbarians' and 'ferocious baboons.' In short, the "theory of subhuman races" was obviously not a German monopoly. 
In a subsequent interview with the same source, Falin provided more information:
"U.S. Under-Secretary of State Joseph Clark Grew wrote in his diary in May 1945 that as a result of the war the dictatorship and domination of Germany and Japan passed over to the Soviet Union, which would present as much threat to Americans in the future as the Axis powers. He added that a war against the Soviet Union was as imminent as anything in this world can be. Grew was supposed to be a friend of the late President Roosevelt." 
Recalling the dimensions of the proposed Operation Unthinkable - the combined attack (and invasion) force was to consist of 112-113 divisions including 10-12 Wehrmacht divisions - the Russian historian added that "The file on Operation Unthinkable declassified in 1998 says nothing about the propaganda chimeras about Moscow's alleged plans of occupying 'defenseless Europe' and pushing to the Atlantic coast, as the Chiefs of Staff worked on practical operations directives." 
Falin wrote an article a year later titled "Cold War an offspring of 'hot war'" in which he says that the British "MI5 head, Sir Stewart Menzies, held a series of secret meetings with his German counterpart, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, in the unoccupied part of France to discuss making Germany a friend and the Soviet Union an enemy." 
Sixty five years after the defeat of Nazi Germany there is more rather than less examination of the accusation that American and British government and military figures conspired with the Nazis before World War II and with German Defense Ministry and Wehrmacht officials in the waning days of the war.
In commenting on the rising tide of WWII revisionism in the West, reaching its nadir - to date - on this July 3rd with the passage of a resolution called Reunification of Divided Europe by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which in effect makes the former Soviet Union (and by implication current Russia) co-responsible for provoking WWII, veteran Russian journalist Valentin Zorin reminded his readers of several events usually swept under the carpet by leading Western circles and their compliant media and scholars:
"The infamously failed Munich conspiracy of the western politicians and the Nazi Fuehrer sought to make the German Army march against the Soviet Union. In those days Moscow was pressing for forming an anti-Hitler coalition and invited a British and French delegation to that end. The talks proved long and fruitless. London and Paris actually sabotaged the talks while urging the Fuehrer to attack the USSR.
"Even after the war had broken out, top-echelon leaders in London and Paris would not give up their attempts to make Hitler’s divisions turn about and attack the Soviet Union. A several-month-long period of strange developments came to be known as a Phoney War. While deliberately inactive at the front, the British and French rulers engaged themselves in secret bargaining with Hitler.
"The secrecy of the bargaining was buried for a good half century later, on the 17th of August 1987, when Hitler’s Deputy in the Nazi Party Rudolph Hess, tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to life in prison, died at Berlin’s Spandau Prison in unexplained circumstances. 10 days before Germany attacked the Soviet Union Hess flew solo to Scotland to start secret talks with the circles close to the British government. It later transpired that the talks focused on ending fighting between the UK and Germany and agreeing on joint action against the Soviet Union...." 
It's important to point out that neither the academician Falin nor the journalist Zorin is invested in invoking the events of 1939-1945 in defense of the former USSR and its leadership at the time or in settling scores regarding conflicts of past decades. Instead they and others, including Russia's current political leadership, are far more concerned - more alarmed - about matters of the present and the impending future.
With the NATO Alliance, which in recent years has come to refer to itself routinely as Global and 21st Century NATO, encroaching upon contemporary Russia from most all directions and with increasingly brazen historical revisionism growing out of Western post-Cold War triumphalism reaching the point that Nazis and their collaborators are being exonerated while modern Russia is being tainted ex post facto as a villain in the Second World War, the prospect of a "transformation of World War II into World War III" mentioned above is not so far-fetched.
As Valentin Zorin's article also says, "Some quarters would like to redraw the post-war boundaries in Europe and the Far East, question the validity of the UN Charter and bury the Nuremberg Tribunal rulings in oblivion. It is these modern-day revenge-seekers that channel and obviously fund the large-scale propaganda campaign of falsifying the history of the Second World War." 
It's been seen above that the leaders of Britain, the United States and Soviet Russia agreed in the summer of 1945 at the Potsdam Conference to the total demilitarization of Germany. All indications were that once that systemic disarming of the nation was completed Germany would never militarize again.
Instead in 1950, while fighting a war in Korea which included troops from most of its new NATO allies and which escalated into armed conflict with China, the United States started the process of forcing the rearming of West Germany and its eventual incorporation into NATO. Members of the US-led military bloc pushed for the creation of a European Defence Community (EDC) with an integrated army, navy and air force, composed of the armed forces of all its member states.
A European Defence Community treaty was signed in May of 1952 but defeated by Gaullists and Communists alike in France. With that nation in opposition, the EDC was dead but the US and Britain found other subterfuges to remilitarize the Federal Republic.
With the creation of the Western European Union in 1954 West Germany was permitted - for which read encouraged - to rearm and was given control over its own armed forces, the Bundeswehr.
The following year the Federal Republic of Germany was inducted into NATO. The Soviet Union and its allies responded by establishing the Warsaw Pact later in 1955.
Two of the fundamental purposes in launching the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance in 1949 were to base nuclear weapons, which the US had a monopoly on at the time of the bloc's founding, in Europe and to rearm Germany as a military bulwark on the continent and for use abroad.
Anyone still in thrall to the notion that NATO was planned as a defensive alliance against a Soviet military threat in Europe would do well to recall that:
The Warsaw Pact was formed six years after and in response to NATO, especially to NATO's advance into Germany.
The Warsaw Pact, already long moribund, officially dissolved itself in 1991. Eighteen years later NATO still exists without any pretense of a Soviet or any other credible threat.
In the past decade alone it has expanded from 16 to 28 member states, all of the twelve new ones in Eastern Europe and four of those bordering Russian territory.
During the same ten year period it waged its first air war, against Yugoslavia, outside the bloc's own defined area of responsibility and its first ground war, in Afghanistan, a continent removed from Europe, half a world away from North America and nowhere near the North Atlantic Ocean.
That NATO officially expanded into the former Warsaw Pact by admitting the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland at its fiftieth anniversary summit in 1999 while in the midst of its first war, the 78-day bombing onslaught against Yugoslavia - ten years after the end of the Cold War - is an irrefutable retroactive indictment of its true nature and purpose since inception.
The bloc continues to maintain nuclear warheads in Europe, including on air bases in Germany, with long-range bombers and missiles able to deliver them. NATO recently renewed the commitment to its nuclear doctrine, which continues to include the first use of nuclear weapons.
The world's largest and only surviving military bloc, one which now takes in a third of the planet's nations through full membership or various partnerships, was born out of the last days of World War II in Europe. It's fundamental purpose was to unite the military potential of the countries of the continent's west, north and south into a cohesive and expanding phalanx for use at home and abroad. Victors and vanquished of the most mass-scale and murderous conflict in history - Britain, the US and France and Germany and Italy - were gathered together under a joint military command.
If the transition from WW II to a far deadlier, because nuclear, WW III was averted, an argument nevertheless exists that the Second World War never ended but shifted focus. As an illustrative biographical case study of the seamless adaptation, the New York Times ran a reverential obituary three years ago from which the following is an excerpt:
"Gen. Johann-Adolf Count von Kielmansegg, a German Panzer division officer during World War II who became commander in chief of NATO forces in Central Europe during the height of the cold war, died on May 26 in Bonn. He was 99....By the start of World War II, he was commander of a Panzer, or armored, division. In 1940, he took part in the German invasion of France, sweeping around the Maginot line's obsolete fortifications in eastern France and rushing to the English Channel. After fighting on the Russian front, he joined the General Staff in Berlin. Restored to tank duty, he fought the American Army in western Germany...." 
It would be intriguing to learn what Count von Kielmansegg thought at the end of his nearly century-long life about the return of his homeland to the ranks of nations sending troops to and waging war against others both near and far.
It would prove equally edifying to hear whether he thought that his career as a military commander ever truly changed course or rather pursued a logical if not inevitable path from the Wehrmacht to NATO.
Lastly, it doesn't seem unjustified to believe that the Count might at the end of his days have been proud of a Germany that had become the third largest exporter of weapons in the world, one which has arms agreements with 126 nations - over two-thirds of all countries - and that had troops deployed to war and post-conflict occupation zones in at least eleven countries at the same time and would soon, at this year's NATO summit, use its army at home again.
First New Post-Cold War World Military Power: Germany
The reemergence of Germany as an active military power in Europe and increasingly worldwide occurred entirely under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which West Germany joined in 1955 and the East was brought into with reunification in 1990. The citizens of the former German Democratic Republic were given no opportunity to discuss much less vote on the issue.
The first post-World War II deployment of German military forces outside its borders - and outside of NATO's self-defined security zone - in active military roles rather than in multinational exercises and United Nations missions was fostered and initiated under the chancellorship of Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl in the first half of the last decade.
But it was the Social Democrat-Green Party coalition government of Gerhard Schroeder and Joschka Fischer, what the Western press regularly referred to (with no tincture of irony and less understanding of political history) as a Red-Green alliance, that involved Germany in its first wars since the fall of Berlin in 1945. In fact two wars in less than two and a half years.
Chancellor Schroeder and his foreign minister Joschka Fischer provided Tornado warplanes for the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 and troops for the post-invasion occupation of Afghanistan after October, 2001. Both were NATO operations and the second was in response to the first-ever activation of the Alliance's Article 5 mutual military assistance clause.
"Humanitarian Intervention": 1939 And 1999
Writing in his memoirs years after the event, Schroeder justified his participating in the first unprovoked military assault against a European nation that had not threatened any other country since Hitler's blitzkrieg campaigns of 1939-1941 by describing his motivations at the time, 1999:
"Now, on the cusp of the 21st century, the real challenge seemed to me not just to douse the most recent fire in the Balkans, but to bring peace to the region....The goal was exclusively humanitarian."
Sixty years before the war upon which he reflected a predecessor of Schroeder as chancellor of Germany said:
"I ordered the German Air Force to conduct humanitarian warfare....In this campaign I gave an order to spare human beings."
The latter is from Adolf Hitler's speech in Danzig/Gdansk on September 19, 1939.
It's also worth noting that one of the main justifications Hitler used for the invasion of Poland eighteen days before that speech was the alleged abuse and persecution of ethnic minorities. ("More than 1,000,000 people of German blood had in the years 1919-20 to leave their homeland. As always, I attempted to bring about, by the peaceful method of making proposals for revision."}
In an interview with an American television station during the war against Yugoslavia German Foreign Minister Fischer said, "I think tradition and historical experiences, historical fears are very important. And for us now we have to find our role. And this is, on the military level, a very difficult one, but we are taking part in the air campaign. We have ships in the Adriatic."
The air campaign wreaked death and destruction from the skies for 78 days, not sparing factories, bridges, refugee columns, passenger trains, religious processions, apartment complexes, hospitals and the Chinese embassy.
Strengthening NATO, Weakening United Nations
The aggression Fischer endorsed and help to direct, malicious and cowardly as it was, was also conducted without UN authorization and in flagrant violation of the principles upon which the United Nations Organization was formed.
Article 33 of the United Nations Charter states:
"The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice."
The mediation indicated is to be conducted as a last resort in the UN Security Council and not unilaterally at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
The Nuremberg Tribunal convened after the defeat of the last European power that arrogated to itself the right to attack other nations on the continent and to redraw its borders and defined crimes against peace as the worst violation of international law.
Principle Vl of the 1950 Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal characterized crimes against peace as the "Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances" and as the "Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under."
Air War followed by Ground War and Naval Blockades: From The Balkans to South Asia and the Middle East
Although the tool employed to pry open the door barring the resumption of military aggression in Europe was so-called humanitarian intervention, that rationale would be discarded immediately after 50,000 NATO troops marched into the Serbian province of Kosovo. Few wars in moderns times have not hid behind the pretext of defending the national security and safety of the citizens of the aggressor and of protecting innocents from harm and mistreatment.
The Schroeder-Fischer administration put Germany back into the business of waging war from the skies and on the ground and the country has continued to travel the same route ever since. Troops, armored vehicles and Tornados were transferred to South Asia and warships to the coasts of Lebanon and Somalia.
Humanitarian intervention was an ad hoc ruse employed to launch NATO as an active 'out of area' warfighting machine and a political body to circumvent and replace the United Nations. Once the first part of that objective had been achieved it was dropped as quickly as it had been concocted and wars could then be conducted for traditional reasons: Territorial designs, the acquisition of resources, control of vital transport routes including sea lanes, punishing recalcitrant adversaries, revenge.
In the process Germany became the first major post-Cold War international military power. So much so indeed that even Time Magazine couldn't ignore the transformation - the Transformation as will be seen later - and in January of this year ran a feature entitled "Will Germany's Army Ever Be Ready for Battle?"
In two sentences the Time report summed up how much territory has been traversed since what many in the world thought was the end of German militarism in 1945.
"The German army as it stands today is a relatively young creation, born after a period of demilitarization following the end of World War II. [T]he Bundeswehr has become increasingly engaged in international missions and is coming under pressure to step up its involvement in out-and-out warfare."
The turning point was, of course, 1990.
"Since the 1990s, after reunification, German forces have become more involved in military missions abroad....There are currently 247,000 soldiers enrolled in the Bundeswehr and German troops are now serving all over the world, in places such as Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia and Lebanon." 
Why wars are really launched
By 2006 "Germany [had] about 9,000 soldiers deployed in German missions around the world, a level [that] could increase to...14,000 troops in five theaters of operation." At the time Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung identified a main purpose of such missions and humanitarian intervention was conspicuously not mentioned:
"Eighty percent of our trade occurs on the seas, which naturally includes the security of energy supplies and raw materials."
The exact words could have been used in 1914 and 1941.
In discussing the White Paper his ministry had just released, one which highlighted the transformation of the Bundeswehr into an international intervention force, Jung reiterated that NATO relations "remain the basis for Germany and Europe's shared security" and that Germany's alliance with the United States was of "paramount importance" to the nation. 
Jung added that "the government needs the ability to use the Bundeswehr inside of Germany...." 
Later that year Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated the next step in Germany's expanding militarization and demanded an end to caps on defense spending. "You cannot say that the planned defense budget for the next 20 years is sacrosanct. A German government cannot say, 'Please, don't take part in any new conflicts in the next decades, because we can't afford it.'" 
As she spoke German armed forces were deployed on eleven international military missions and would soon begin a twelfth by sending warships and troops to enforce the naval blockade of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast.
A German news report in the autumn of 2006 revealed that "An official plan to modernize the Bundeswehr - to turn it from an unwieldy behemoth created to defend its own borders into a lithe organization ready to take on asymmetric threats around the world - has been underway for several years.
"Known in policy circles simply as 'the transformation,' it is due to be completed by 2010." 
That conversion process included acquiring 600 Taurus air-launched cruise missiles. "Taurus is a 1,400–kilogram, all-weather guided missile with a range of more than 350 kilometers. The system will equip Tornado, Eurofighter and F-18 aircraft of the German and Spanish air forces." 
It also, in 2006, included plans to spend six billion euros on "new navy frigates, submarines, helicopters and armored personnel vehicles."
In relation to Defense Minister Jung's earlier comments, "Germany's military leadership has especially focused on modernizing the country's navy fleet." 
At roughly the same time it was announced that Germany would acquire 405 Puma tanks, "the most modern infantry tank on the market," comparable to the US Abrams tank used in Iraq. This month Berlin formally placed an order for the Pumas and a spokesman for its manufacturer said "NATO countries already equipped with the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann's Leopard tanks - such as Spain, Turkey, Greece and Australia - would be ideal customers." 
The Puma, which "sets new global standards for armored vehicles," was first unveiled at the Bundeswehr's fifty-year anniversary celebrations in Munster in 2006. "New types of missions...require a highly mobile weapons system that is ready for international deployment...." 
The preceding autumn Germany acquired two new submarines to add to eleven already in the Baltic Sea which then Defense Minister Peter Struck described as "a milestone" for his nation's navy. 
The Tornado multirole warplane first used against Yugoslavia in 1999 and since deployed to Afghanistan is reported to be capable of delivering nuclear warheads, including the twenty the US maintains at the German air base at Buechel.
Since 1989 German Tornado fighter-bombers have been based at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in the Southwestern United States. The American base "is the only location where the German Air Force trains aircrews in Tornado aircraft operations and tactics."  Last year the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency advocated the continuation of the arrangement, stating that it would "contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the military capabilities of Germany and enhancing standardization and interoperability with U.S. forces." 
The Bundeswehr in South and Central Asia
In 2006 NATO first requested that the Luftwaffe send Tornado planes to Afghanistan where Berlin has stationed 3,700 troops, the third largest contingent in NATO's International Security Assistance (ISAF) force, with the only the US and Britain providing larger numbers of troops. Germany has its own base in Uzbekistan near Termez and as such has the only foreign forces left in that nation since the US and other NATO forces were expelled in 2005. As of three years ago Germany had transported over 125,000 troops through the base.  Last year the German military announced plans to build a 67-kilometer railway line from Uzbekistan to Northern Afghanistan, complementing the air bridge it already operates.
In 2007, Germany delivered the first six Tornados to the war front in Afghanistan even though "More than three-quarters of Germans - 77 percent - said the country shouldn't comply with NATO's request to send Tornado jets to Afghanistan...." 
Plans for the warplanes were that they "would operate across the entire country, taking aerial pictures of Taliban positions and passing the information on to other NATO partners who would carry out strikes." 
A German defense official at the time finally acknowledged that "What happens in Afghanistan is combat. Our troops have already been engaged in that, also in the north." 
Though a year earlier a Defense Ministry spokesman, with no reference to alleged peacekeeping and certainly not to humanitarianism, admitted that "German military aircraft are seeing action in the volatile southern region of Afghanistan" and that "German military aircraft are supporting NATO operations in volatile southern Afghanistan." 
No more 'Humanitarian' Bombs
In a Der Spiegel feature called "Slouching Towards Combat," a warning was issued that "He who spies targets, contributes to later bombing attacks with all the consequences that go along with them, including the ominous collateral damages previously known from the war in Kosovo."  The admonition fell on deaf ears in Berlin.
The same source had earlier sounded another alarm, one worth quoting in length.
"Now it's Tornado surveillance jets, equipped with cameras - and cannons. The Germans are allowing themselves to get deeper and deeper involved in the Afghanistan conflict, and there is no end in sight.
"Between Christmas and New Year , US C-17 transport planes will unload heavy German Marder tanks at the German military's central headquarters in Mazar-e-Sharif.
"German Tornado jets were already deployed in combat situations about eight years ago - in order to 'avert a humanitarian catastrophe' in the Kosovo conflict, as the Bundestag resolution...stated then. It was the first time that German troops were deployed in combat since World War II. This time the Tornados are meant to fly as reconnaissance planes - but that can of course be changed at any time. They fire armor-shattering uranium munitions from their cannons and drop laser-guided precision bombs on the farms where the Taliban take refuge.
"But they also drop so-called 'general purpose bombs' - regular explosives of the kind commonly used for carpet bombing during World War II and in Vietnam." 
In 2007 Germany additionally sent several Kleinfluggeraet Zielortung drones to the war theater, a type "much better suited to relay target information for artillery used by the Dutch troops in their fight against the Taliban...." 
At the same time former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who had first sent German combat troops to Afghanistan and for the first time ever to Asia, urged the current government to "widen its military operation into the southern part of the war-afflicted country." 
Early in 2007 Germany signaled its intent to send its most sophisticated battle tank, the Leopard 2A6, to Southern Afghanistan, although German troops are stationed in the until recently comparatively peaceful North.
Last year Germany assumed command of NATO's Rapid Reaction Force in Afghanistan. A news report on that development added that "When the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) deployed in Afghanistan in early 2002, some 850 German troops were in its ranks.
"That number has increased more than fourfold.
From Kabul to the North to the Southern War Zone: War of the West, NATO and Civilization
"Confined at first to Kabul, the Germans' mission was widened to the northern part of the country, where they took command in 2006....A few days ago the German Defence Ministry announced it was raising the ceiling on its troop deployments in Afghanistan from 3,500 to 4,500. And the next escalation is due on Monday as Germany takes over the [Rapid] Reaction Force in the north." 
Earlier in the year an American presswire report titled "Germany enters Afghan war" said that "Germany...will now send battle forces to Afghanistan.
"NATO has for the second time requested that the German government deploy a unit of 250 battle soldiers to Afghanistan as part of a rapid-response force.....The unit would have to enter bloody combat if needed...." 
Der Spiegel reported last October that Germany, which has disguised its role in the war in Afghanistan behind the mask of so-called provincial reconstruction and other civilian projects, had spent over 3 billion euros on the Afghan War and that "Germany's military expenditures in Afghanistan are nearly four times as high as its civilian aid." 
This year, as part of Washington's and NATO's massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan, German troop strength is to be boosted from 3,700 to 4,400 no later than next month and Berlin has agreed to send four AWACS for the war effort in South Asia.
As German combat deaths increased to 35 late last month, Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung demonstrated no reservations about sacrificing more soldiers and to any who had misgivings about a war that will soon be eight years old and that is only intensifying he blustered: "My answer is clear: we are in Afghanistan because we have to protect there the security of citizens in Germany."  A decade before some reference to the well-being of the local population would have been invoked, however disingenuously.
A week before, Jung, casting aside all use of peacekeeping, reconstruction and other euphemisms, told a German public television station: "If we are attacked we will fight back. The army has the necessary answers. In recent battles we have done well and we will continue to do so in the future." 
Former defense minister Volker Ruhe, in referring to the fact that the Bundeswehr is conducting the largest and longest military operation in its history, said: "It is delusive if the Government pretends that the Afghanistan operation is a sort of armed development assistance. It is a war of NATO, of the West, of civilisation...." 
Afghanistan and Central Asia are not the only places where the German military is waging a "war of NATO, of the West, of civilisation."
Battle Duty: Germany returns to the Middle East
After Israel's war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 NATO nations began a naval blockade of the country's coast. It was announced shortly thereafter that "Germany is to take the lead in patrolling the Lebanese coast and the German parliament is expected to vote next week on the historic deployment of the German army in the Middle East.
"Up to 3,000 troops and some 13 vessels are then planned to be sent to the troubled region. They are to prevent sea-based arms smuggling mainly from Syria to Hezbollah militants." 
That is, the German military returned to the Middle East for the first time since World War II.
Describing the mission as it was being planned, Defense Minister Jung stated, "German soldiers have to be prepared against the will of ships' captains to board ships suspected of smuggling weapons. In this regard, one can speak of battle duty." 
In late 2008 there were 1,000 German troops stationed on eight ships off the Lebanese coast.
By February of last year "Germany contributed 2,400 personnel, including 625 soldiers, to the naval mission and led the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for 17 months, with a maritime force consisting of among others two frigates and two supply ships. The multinational force also includes ships from France, Spain and Portugal." 
Two years later a Lebanese news report, "German Tanks to Lebanon to Control Border with Syria," said that "Germany has decided to provide Lebanon with 50 Leopard tanks in addition to other military equipment to upgrade its border control with Syria" and that "a German military delegation is expected to arrive in Lebanon early in 2009 for discussions with Lebanese military officials regarding providing the Lebanese army with more military supplies." 
Since the early 1990s Germany has not so much sold but given Israel six Dolphin submarines capable of launching nuclear-tipped missiles. One of those submarines recently crossed the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean in what Reuters characterized as a "signal to Iran."
Germany has military personnel assigned to NATO in Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq, where in the latter instance they are part of the NATO Training Mission - Iraq in Baghdad.
Beginning in 2006 major German news sources revealed that the foreign intelligence agency BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) during the Schroeder-Fischer years had provided the US information on bombing targets in Iraq leading up to and during the attack against the nation in 2003.
If so, it would represent nothing new. More than two years before, in February of 2001, the BND released a report which stated it possessed "evidence" that "Iraq has resumed its nuclear programme and may be capable of producing an atomic bomb in three years" and was working on chemical and biological weapons. 
Berlin also trains Iraqi and Afghan officers and troops on its own soil.
German Military returns to Africa and targets Gaza
Germany has provided troops for the NATO mission in the Darfur region of Sudan and the European Union deployment in Congo as well as a nominal force for the EU's military role in Chad and the Central African Republic in the conflict-ridden triangle of those two nations and Sudan.
In 2005, the government of Togo, a former German colony, accused Berlin of complicity in plotting its overthrow. Three years earlier Germany sent troops to join French, British and American allies in Ivory Coast after an invasion of and coup attempt in that nation.
Late last year Germany joined the European naval deployment in the Horn of Africa to complement its involvement with the NATO mission there. The Cabinet authorized "as many as 1,400 German Navy soldiers and one warship go to the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia as part of a joint EU effort" which "together with German soldiers involved in Enduring Freedom and NATO's Allied Provider missions, could be moved back and forth at will...." 
Before the deployment was authorized defense chief Jung said "German warships should be used against pirates wherever German interests are threatened." 
During and immediately after the Israeli offensive in Gaza from December 27, 2008-January 18 2009 it was announced that "Germany plans to send experts to detect Gaza tunnels"  and that "Technical experts from Germany are to travel to Egypt in the coming days to help secure its border with the Gaza Strip." 
In the middle of the war Chancellor Angela Merkel "suggested German peacekeepers be sent to Gaza" and Eckart von Klaeden, a foreign policy spokesman for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, said "the use of German troops was feasible but they must have 'robust' powers." 
In January a meeting was held in London of the Gaza Counter-Arms Smuggling Initiative (GCASI) and was followed up last month in Ottawa, Canada.
It was reported in a story called "Canada hosts a summit of NATO countries participating in the Israeli siege of Gaza Strip" that the second meeting of the Gaza Counter-Arms Smuggling Initiative was held with the "declared goal of tightening the Israeli siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip." 
The GCASI members are Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.
While the assault on Gaza was still underway a feature called "Israeli unilateral ceasefire to pave the way for deployment of NATO forces" offered this analysis of the role that the Gaza Counter-Arms Smuggling Initiative was intended to play:
"Germany, Great Britain and France already offered to send their naval forces to guard the Gaza Strip coastal waters. With the naval forces of leading European NATO powers already deployed off the coast of Lebanon and – allegedly to thwart pirates – off the Somali coast, the extension of NATO presence to the coastal waters of the Gaza Strip is designed to create a permanent hold on the entire area from the Horn of Africa and beyond, through the Suez Canal and up the eastern Mediterranean coast." 
Training Armed Forces for New Caucasus Wars
A German Defense Ministry envoy visited the Georgia capital of Tbilisi this January and met with Deputy Defense Minister Giorgi Muchaidze, who said that "Georgia approaches closer to NATO standards” in large part because "Germany has been helping Georgia’s Defence Ministry for a long time" and "Up to 2,000 officers were trained in Germany." 
Germany conducts comparable military training for the armed forces of Azerbaijan, like Georgia which fought a war with Russia last August a nation that may resume armed hostilities any day over so-called frozen conflicts in the South Caucasus.
In late May of this year Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Giorgi Muchaidze paid a three-day visit to Berlin where "The sides held military and political negotiations in the framework of the cooperation of Defense Ministries of Georgia and Germany in 2009. The parties also discussed the situation in Georgia after the August war...." 
Article 5 War Clause: Defending NATO Members and Allies from the Baltic to the Black Sea
In June Defense Minister Jung was in Lithuania preparatory to Germany resuming its command of the NATO Baltic air patrol and he and his Lithuanian counterpart "agreed on the need to implement the commitment on Ukraine and Georgia's future membership of the alliance."
As to what support for Ukraine's and Georgia's "NATO aspirations" entailed, Jung said "this process must involve all new members of the alliance, whereas NATO itself must ensure collective defence and strengthen its military response forces so that it can give an immediate response when the need arises." 
Defending Berlin with Warships off Cape Town
In 2006 Germany led 19-day joint military maneuvers in South Africa where Berlin has long-standing ties to the defense establishment going back to the longstanding cooperation between West Germany and the former apartheid regime there. The exercises off Cape Town included an estimated 1,300 soldiers and sailors, warplanes and warships.
A description of the war games said "Two of the world's most advanced warships, South Africa's SAS Amatola and Germany's FGS Hamburg, together with fighter aircraft were protecting a virtual Berlin from attack.
"Berlin was successfully defended." 
A year later NATO held naval exercises in South Africa in which warships from the navies of Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United States participated.
The drills marked the "the first time that South Africa engage[d] its newly acquired frigates as well as its submarines in a training exercise with foreign forces in local waters.
"South Africa's new warships were acquired from a German company." 
The road from Bosnia and Kosovo has been a long one for the Bundeswehr. It has crossed four continents and no less than fourteen war and conflict zones. It has permitted a military buildup unimaginable a generation ago and has led to German military forces being dispersed to many nations and regions they had never been to before.
It has also permitted Germany to become the third largest arms exporter in the world and the supplier of advanced weapons - tanks, warplanes, submarines - to scores of nations.
NATO and Germany's Nuclear Nexus
The reunification of Germany and the start of NATO's post-Cold War expansion, drive east and beginning of its transformation into a global military force occurred on the same day, October 3, 1990.
On that date East Germany was absorbed into the Federal Republic and simultaneously into NATO, the first of thirteen additions to the bloc from that time to the present year.
United since 1990 within its pre-1938 borders, Germany has cast aside most all post-Potsdam Agreement and Nuremberg Principles constraints and become a military power engaged in wars on the European and Asian continents (Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan since 2001) and naval surveillance and interdiction operations in the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
NATO membership was the gateway for Germany to send troops, warplanes and warships outside its borders and overseas for the first time since the end of World War II; to date to Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Sudan and off the coast of Somalia as well as deploying AWACS, Tornado warplanes and tanks to the US since the activation of NATO's Article 5 in 2001. The latter also led to the participation of the German Navy in the nearly eight-year-old Operation Active Endeavor monitoring and interdiction patrols throughout the Mediterranean Sea.
The nation has the third largest military budget of all European states, only surpassed by Britain and France. Germany's military spending is larger than Russia's, for example, even after German spending dropped and Russian increased last year. The numbers were $46.8 and $40 billion, respectively.
It also has the third largest army of any exclusively European state (Russia and Turkey excluded from this category) with some quarter of a million troops.
Though not itself a nuclear power, Germany hosts an undisclosed (for apparent reasons) number of the estimated 350-480 US nuclear warheads deployed in Europe to this day under NATO arrangements.
According to one report of two years ago "At least 20 US atomic warheads are reportedly still deployed underground at the German air base in the southwestern town of Buechel, where they can be mounted on German Tornado fighter planes...." 
According to a statement of the opposition Left Party, an additional 130 US warheads may be stored at the Ramstein Air Base, headquarters for the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and also a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) installation. The same report adds "German air force pilots headquartered in Buechel will be ordered to drop nuclear bombs in case of a military attack or war." 
Regarding Germany's unabashed housing of nuclear weapons, the Director of NATO's Nuclear Policy Section Guy Roberts said in 2007 that "Each decision in this field is up to national sovereignty. Each nation is free to decide whether or not it wants to actively participate in the joint management of nuclear devices." 
Last year German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm made a statement that didn't receive much coverage in the international news, to wit "For the foreseeable future ... we remain of the view that a deterring military capacity includes not only conventional capacity but also nuclear components.
"There is a NATO policy framework for the presence of US nuclear weapons in Europe. But the security details and the handling of those weapons are a matter of bilateral arrangements." 
For bilateral, one is to understand the United States which placed the nuclear weapons and Germany which stores them and would deliver them if ordered to by the US and NATO. Among the American nuclear arms in Europe are 200-350 air-launched B-61 bombs stored in air bases in Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. 
Last year an internal U.S. Air Force report, The Blue Ribbon Review of Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures, "recommended that American nuclear assets in Europe be 'consolidated,' which analysts interpret as a recommendation to move the bombs to NATO bases under 'U.S. wings,' meaning American bases in Europe."
The news source cited above also revealed that "Although technically owned by the U.S., nuclear bombs stored at NATO bases are designed to be delivered by planes from the host country."  If the deployment of nuclear arms at US and NATO air bases in Europe wasn't alarming enough, in January of 2006 former German Defense Minister Rupert Scholz was quoted as stating "Germany needed to ponder building its own nuclear deterrence system."
In Scholz's own words, "We need a serious discussion over how we can react to a nuclear threat by a terrorist ***state*** [emphasis added] in an appropriate manner - and in extreme cases with our own nuclear weapons." 
Only hours after assuming the mantle of the French presidency in May of 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy spoke of a "holy" (his precise word) alliance with Germany and "underscored...France's willingness to use its nuclear weapons to defend Germany in case of a hostile attack." Sarkozy's Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was quoted as saying, "If Germany asked us for help, it is probable that European solidarity would come into play. For us, nuclear weapons are the ultimate protection against a threat from abroad." 
Later in the year a German news source wrote of a reiteration of the offer and said that "President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked Germany to open talks about a possible role the country could play in France's nuclear defence system" and that "Sarkozy told German leaders that French nuclear weapons were also protecting neighbouring Germany, which was one reason why they should think about a closer cooperation in that area." 
NATO membership alone allows for - in fact necessitates - this policy but its public mention at such a high level signifies a qualitatively new emphasis on the use of nuclear weapons.
Another aspect of Sarkozy's proposed new Holy Alliance was detailed this past February:
"German troops are to be posted in France for the first time in 60 years, in an effort to uphold military cooperation between the ex-foes.
"Paris has agreed in principle to a proposal made by Germany earlier this year to allow a German battalion to be stationed in eastern France." 
This February German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of NATO's collective defense obligation and an account issued by her office summarized her position as follows: "NATO has proved its worth as a defence alliance, which is why Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty (which lays out the right to individual and collective self-defence) should in the Chancellor's view continue to embody the substance of NATO. In future its main responsibility should continue to be to ensure the defence of member states. But today we face new threats and new conflicts. We must also prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons at all costs." 
A year before five former military chiefs of staff of major NATO states - General John Shalikashvili (former US chief of staff under Clinton and NATO's ex-Supreme Allied Commander), General Klaus Naumann (Germany's former top military commander and ex-Chairman of NATO's Military Committee), Lord Inge (former British Chief of the General Staff), General Henk van den Breemen (former Dutch chief of staff) and Admiral Jacques Lanxade (former French chief of staff) - issued a joint 150-page document which affirmed that the option of a nuclear first strike is indispensable, "since there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world." 
Germany's Naumann was Chairman of the NATO Military Committee during the war against Yugoslavia in 1999.
On the eve of the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania - for which the document discussed above was largely prepared - a German news source wrote that "A French officer was quoted as saying that the document showed US determination to hand NATO the task of fighting terrorism on all five continents" and that "NATO will discuss the use of so-called mini-nukes behind closed doors at its Bucharest summit...." 
This January a high-level task force appointed by Pentagon chief Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense Task Force on Defense Department Nuclear Weapons Management chaired by former defense secretary James Schlesinger, released a report advocating that the "United States should keep tactical nuclear bombs in Europe and even consider modernizing older warheads on cruise missiles...." The document states "The presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe remains a pillar of NATO unity." 
A Washington Post report on the study mentions that "The Natural Resources Defense Council, which specializes in nuclear matters, recently reported that about 400 U.S. B-61 tactical nuclear bombs are stored at bases in several NATO countries, including Germany, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom." 
The 1990 Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany (or the 2 + 4 Agreement) with the Federal Republic of Germany, The German Democratic Republic, the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union in the final months of its existence expressly prohibited the "manufacture, possession of, and control over nuclear" weapons.
How faithfully Berlin, Brussels and Washington have abided by that pledge in both letter and spirit has been seen. US nuclear weapons stored in Germany "can be mounted on German Tornado fighter planes" because "nuclear bombs stored at NATO bases are designed to be delivered by planes from the host country" and "German air force pilots headquartered in Buechel will be ordered to drop nuclear bombs in case of a military attack or war." And as a former German defense minister urged "We need a serious discussion over how we can react...with our own nuclear weapons."
World Arms Merchant in First Post-WW II Combat: Germany
Earlier this week (July 2009) German soldiers under NATO command shot to death two Afghan civilians and seriously injured two more in the north of the nation.
During the past ten days German troops in NATO's Rapid Reaction Force have been conducting a major combat operation in Afghanistan's Kunduz Province.
300 German soldiers in charge of an estimated 1,200 Afghan government troops launched an offensive with the use of armor and artillery, including Marder infantry tanks and mortars.
A Bundeswehr soldier was quoted as saying that orders were issued to employ "the full reaction force spectrum" and as a result "We are using everything we have." 
A German news source revealed that "It is believed to be the first time that the Bundeswehr...has deployed heavy artillery." 
Berlin's Defense Ministry additionally acknowledged that the "German air force had also provided close air support for the ground troops for the first time in Afghanistan."  And it also divulged that "on July 15 and July 19, for the first time, bombs were dropped in the North by combat aircraft after they had been requested by ground forces." 
On July 22 Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, placed emphasis on the precedents established by the current offensive, describing it as "probably the biggest" operation by German forces in Afghanistan, one which includes "house-by-house searches and looking for the enemy." 
As the German news weekly Der Spiegel characterized the development, "For Germans, having their military on the offensive for the first time since World War II involves passing over a major psychological threshold." 
Indeed several precedents have been created and several thresholds have been crossed. Not only has Germany now used heavy artillery and warplanes for close air support in combat operations, it has launched a military offensive almost 5,000 kilometers from its borders, the furthest afield that any German army has ever fought.
Moreover, although reunified Germany provided warplanes for NATO's air offensive against Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan is the first time that the armed forces of that nation have conducted - and now commanded - infantry and artillery combat assaults since the defeat of Hitler's Nazi regime in 1945.
The significance of these developments, both in their own right and symbolically, has been completely ignored by the world news media; the quotes used above are with one exception exclusively from German sources.
Never slow to and never scrupulous in using strained comparisons to World War II Germany when it suits their respective governments' purpose at the time, the Western media can be depended upon to pass over the genuine article in favor of false analogies: Any number of "new Hitlers" with black, brown, white and yellow faces have been conjured up during the past fifteen years, but the revival of German militarism and the rehabilitation of Waffen SS soldiers and other Nazi collaborators in several Eastern European nations are either not deemed worthy of attention or excused as a justified response to past or current Russian actions.
The German army is back in action in Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa and its role in past wars is being viewed with an increasingly indulgent eye among the Western nations that along with it compose NATO.
Yet other prohibitions are being rudely violated, again to an oblivious press corps.
This week the mayor of the Romanian city of Constanta was obliging enough to provide an illustrative lesson. Constanta is home to an air base that is one of four new Romanian military sites acquired by the Pentagon and NATO four years ago with three more in neighboring Bulgaria. The US troops stationed at the seven bases are the first foreign military forces in Romania since 1958 and the first in Bulgaria since World War II.
Constanta's mayor, Radu Mazare, wore a Nazi military uniform at a fashion show in the city he governs and when questioned about it responded, "I wanted to dress like a general from the Wehrmacht because I have always liked this uniform, and have admired the strict organization of the German army." 
After coming under pressure for his action he claimed "that the uniform had no swastikas, and that it was just the uniform of a German infantry general, which had nothing to do with SS troops." 
To extrapolate from his comments, there would have been no fault to find with Hitler's legions in overrunning Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Yugoslavia, Greece and the Soviet Union - leaving tens of millions dead in their wake - if they had first divested themselves of swastika armbands and other party insignia.
It is a lesson that has been learned by the contemporary proponents and practitioners of a Europe united under a common military structure deploying expeditionary forces for wars, occupations and blockades around the world. Collectively, NATO.
Bombers sent to wreak death and destruction the length and breadth of Yugoslavia were named angels of mercy. Multinational military occupation forces firing artillery barrages and dropping 1,000-pound bombs in Afghanistan are an international security assistance force engaged in peacekeeping and provincial reconstruction.
What could be more simple? No swastikas, no war crimes.
In 2006 the German Defense Ministry released a White Paper calling for a transformation of its nation's army into one prepared for international intervention; not ad hoc, as needed or occasionally, but on a permanent basis.
The nation's defense chief, Franz-Josef Jung, in commenting on the White Paper, "which highlighted the transformation of the Bundeswehr into an international intervention force,"  demanded that "the government needs the ability to use the Bundeswehr inside of Germany...." 
More thresholds were crossed and more decades-long proscriptions transgressed.
Two years ago this December German Chancellor Angela Merkel "said that Germany's growth and prosperity depended on its readiness to be engaged internationally, in cooperation with the EU and NATO, and in the face of challenges such as Kosovo and Iran" and wrote in the Handelsblatt daily that "The classical division between inner and foreign policy is outdated,"  thereby echoing her defense minister's comments of a year before in both vital regards.
The following May a spokesman for Merkel said that the chancellor endorsed a security paper written by her party, the Christian Democratic Union, which in the words of its author, Bundestag deputy Andreas Schockenhoff, "says it is time that Germany moved on from its postwar inhibitions about force." 
A news account at the time wrote that the objective of Merkel and her party was "to drop some of [Germany's] post-World War II inhibitions about robust security measures, including the use of military force abroad and at home."
Among measures advocated in the above-mentioned paper and supported by the chancellor are that "Germany's parliament should cede greater discretion over troop deployments to the executive branch" and that "a new 'national security council,' based in the chancellor's office, should coordinate security ministries." 
An important component of endowing Germany with a new international military role made possible by reunification and promoted by NATO is its expansion into the global arms market. Arms manufacturers have no less influence in Berlin than they do in other "free market economies," but the profit motive alone doesn't account for the unparalleled growth of German weapons exports around the world.
Providing arms and capturing the arms market in other countries ensures weapons interoperability and entails training and exercises for future joint actions against third parties. Instruction and drills include mock combat against the planes, ships, submarines, air defenses, ground forces and surveillance systems of potential and prospective adversaries.
The sort of arms Germany is selling in most every part of the world - tanks, submarines, warplanes - aren't used for escort or peacekeeping missions.
Anyone not watching the developments of the past fifteen years may have been shocked to learn this past month in the annual report issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) that while global military spending reached $1.5 trillion in 2008, with the US accounting for almost half of the total, Germany had superseded Britain and France and become the world's third largest weapons exporter.
German arms shipments abroad rose by 20% between 2005 and 2006 and increased by 70% in a five year period. In 2007 Berlin delivered weapons to 126 nations, almost two-thirds of those in the world. The main purchasers were Greece, Turkey and South Africa and the main export items were Leopard II tanks and 124 submarines. Small arms are not Germany's main commodity for export.
In the words of a German think tank expert, "That makes Germany the European Union's biggest military goods exporter, and worldwide it's behind only the US and Russia." 
Just as the bulk of Germany's military exports are advanced weapons designed for war, so its clients include several nations currently and recently involved in armed conflicts and that may soon be engaged in others, some of a catastrophic nature.
In 2005 Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, "as something as a good-bye gift," sold Israel two more Dolphin-class submarines, reported to be capable of accommodating missiles with nuclear warheads, at a nominal price. "Outgoing Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, a member of the once-pacifist Green Party, agreed to the sale." 
This followed the delivery of three Dolphins to Tel Aviv in the 1990s - "the most expensive weapon platforms in Israel’s arsenal"  - by the Helmut Kohl government when "Germany had built two of these in accordance with Israel’s demands and donated them free of charge."
Regarding the first installment, "Israel might have given the other three Dolphins it already has nuclear capability, or has increased the range of the nuclear warheads or is planning to increase the range in the new ones." 
In reference to the newer acquisitions, "The latest submarines...would be able to carry out a first strike" and "military experts say Israel is sending a clear message to Iran...." 
Earlier this month Israel sent one of its Dolphin submarines through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in what the Reuters news agency referred to as "signal to Iran."
In late 2005 it was reported that Germany would add to its Luftwaffe-Israel Air Force and naval, including submarine, collaboration with Israel by forging ties between the two nations' armies.
The head of the European Branch of the Israeli military’s Foreign Relations Branch Yigal Hakon was quoted as saying, “After 40 years of unique and very special relations between our two countries, we’ve been able to develop military-to-military cooperation in almost every area.
"Now it’s time to encourage development of operational cooperation among the ground forces.” 
Last December Germany, in supplementing almost half a billion dollars in US military aid aimed at gaining control over the Lebanese armed forces after the war with Israel in 2006, announced that it "had decided to provide Lebanon with 50 Leopard tanks in addition to other equipment to enhance the army's monitoring capabilities of Lebanon's borders with Syria."  German tanks on the Syrian border complement German warships and troops off Lebanon's coast, also avowedly targeting Syria.
In 2005 Germany signed an agreement with Greece for the purchase of 333 Leopard tanks. Greece has intermittent tense relations with Turkey which in recent years have entailed confrontations between the two countries' air forces over the Aegean Sea.
Three months later Berlin reached an arrangement with Greece's rival Turkey to sell it 298 Leopard 2A4 tanks. The Schroeder-Fischer government had made a display of not selling offensive arms to nations engaged in internal conflicts, but had no scruples in selling tanks for use against the Kurdish Workers Party inside Turkey and later in Iraq.
In 2007 Germany offered to lease Marder tanks - currently used by Germany itself in Afghanistan - to Greece, permitting the country's army to "acquire immediately a considerable number of fully operational and combat-condition [armored infantry fighting vehicles], which can be used without any political, operational, functional and legal restrictions, either within, or outside the Greek territory...." 
In the same year Poland revealed plans to ship 10 Leopard tanks to Afghanistan. Canada simultaneously announced plans to lease 20 Leopard tanks - "probably the most modern battle tank today in the world"  - from Germany and purchase 100 from the Netherlands for use in Afghanistan. "[D]efence chiefs in other countries will have noted the latest demonstration of the weapon's potency." 
In 2005 Germany offered to sell submarines to Indonesia, with a Jakarta official stating "Germany offers us a program to acquire submarines to strengthen our military equipment." 
Two years ago German Defense Minister Jung visited Japan and met with his opposite number, Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma. At the time it was reported that "Germany has reason to believe it is about to finalize a billion-dollar deal with Japan on military equipment" and that "Japanese military officials will visit Germany and examine Bundeswehr military equipment, such as the Eurofighter jet, choppers and submarines." 
As an aside, Japan announced this week that it may send ground troops to Afghanistan for the first time. If so, troops from the former Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis will be serving in the same theater of war for the first time also.
On his way to Japan Jung stopped in South Korea where he discussed "the proposed sale of second-hand Patriot missiles and other military issues, officials said.
"Germany is a main source of South Korea’s submarine imports. Eurocopter, a Franco-German firm, is South Korea’s partner for the development of advanced military transport helicopters." 
In 2006-2007 Germany also solidified military ties with Singapore, which now has a small contingent of troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan. Three years ago Germany signed an agreement with the nation to provide 66 refurbished Leopard 2A4 tanks, which "represents a significant enhancement in the army’s capability” and offered 30 tanks into the bargain. "Training on the Leopard tanks will be provided by the German Army,” it was announced. 
By the following year Singapore had bought 110 Leopard 2A4 combat tanks and its Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean met with Germany's Jung at an "army tank unit training complex" near Munster where "Troops from the Singapore defence forces began training...." 
In 2007 Germany began talks with Pakistan to sell it three submarines, augmenting what had already been deepening military cooperation. A Pakistani news report provided this background information:
"Pakistan and Germany have deepened military and security ties over the past years.
"There are regular political-military talks with Pakistan army officials on security and military issues which include counter-terrorism and the training of Pakistani officers in Germany.
"Pakistani officers have received military training and education in Germany in recent years as part of military education and training programs."
Germany also trains military personnel from Pakistan's neighbor Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other nations either currently in a state of war, having recently concluded one or threatening the same. It provides arms to Azerbaijan and Georgia through NATO arrangements and bilaterally.
The following year Berlin completed the billion dollar sale of three 214 submarines, ones possessing "extraordinarily developed stealth characteristics and an impressive weapon and sensor payload" , to Islamabad.
With political and security dynamics in South America not being to the US's - and the West's - liking in recent years, efforts are underway to secure new military allies and client states to add to mainstay Colombia in offsetting the influence of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina.
A 2005 news story called "Chilean Armaments Policy Worries Neighboring Countries" reported that Germany was planning to deliver the first of 100 Leopard 2 tanks to Chile to add to its arsenal of "over 200 Leopard 1 state-of-the-art tanks from Germany, as well as 60 AMX-30 Tanks from France, and 150 M-41 from the United States."  A joint agreement planned to further increase the number of Leopard 2 tanks to 200.
The feature added, "Leopard 2 is one of the most up-to-date battle tanks in the world. These tanks are similar to the M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, which has figured in the Iraq War. Foreign analysts have said that Chile is seeking hegemonic military power in Latin America vis-a-vis Peru, Argentina and Bolivia....and, in case of armed conflict, to expand its territory in the way it has done in the past." 
By last year German Bundeswehr tank trainers were in the country.
This February, almost a year after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, Germany was the first nation to offer military equipment - 204 military vehicles - to the illegal entity.
Germany is among the largest weapons providers to South Africa, another nation that could play the role of a regional and continental policeman, and in 2006 staged joint naval war games there according to a scenario designed to "defend Berlin."
In the months proceeding the US and British invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 the German Social Democratic-Green coalition government was portrayed in the Western media as opposing the war, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and at the time and since Germany is routinely referred to as anti-war and even pacifist.
It's true that Germany didn't provide troops for the invasion and occupation, but hardly because of its opposition to war in principle. The government at the time, that of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, in the preceding four years authorized their nation's participation in the first two wars waged by NATO - against Yugoslavia in 1999 and Afghanistan from 2001 onward - thereby involving Germany in its first wars since the end of World War II.
Berlin also voted with its allies in NATO's Military Command in February of 2003 to send AWACS and Patriot missiles to Turkey under NATO's Article 5 mutual military assistance clause. The action reprised that of Washington in sending Patriots to Israel on the eve of the first war against Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, in 1991.
German troops weren't dispatched to Iraq in large part because of popular opposition to the move, but primarily because with some 10,000 soldiers already stationed in war and post-war zones in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Africa the Bundeswehr's pool of available forces for foreign deployment had been depleted.
With the current government's announcement three years ago that the entire army is to be transformed into "an international intervention force," Berlin may never encounter the need to limit its overseas deployment again.
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by courtesy & © 2009 Rick Rozoff
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