Wagenknecht: The worst enemy of the EU is sitting in Brussels, and furthermore, NATO needs to be replaced

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Speech by Sahra Wagenknecht in the Bundestag debate, 07.07.2016, over the Government Declaration on the NATO Summit in Warsaw
Source: Sahra Wagenknecht’s site
Translated from German by Tom Winter

Dr. Sahra Wagenknecht (DIE LINKE):

Mister President! Dear Colleagues! Madam Chancellor, history does not repeat itself, but there are phases where the political clocks seem to be going backwards, inexorably back to a time that no one could possibly want. Anyone who follows the developments of recent years, can not help escape the depressing feeling that we are living in precisely such a phase, and I do not want to imagine how it could end.

75 years after the start of the German war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, in the immediate vicinity of the Russian border, again there are war exercises taking place with German participation.

(Michael Grosse-Brömer (CDU / CSU): Located just outside the Baltics, too!)

The US nuclear weapons in Germany are to be modernized – not degraded, Mrs Merkel: modernized – and missile bases are to be set up in Europe. Supposedly it’s all about deterrence, i.e. to keep Putin keep from invading the Baltics. I would be really interested to know whether those who tell us this nonsense, believe it themselves, even for a second.

(Applause from the Left – Michael Grosse-Brömer (CDU / CSU): so why does he do then that big maneuver?)

(Who has always pushed his limits forward in the past two decades?)

(Gunther Krichbaum (CDU / CSU): Russia!)

Russia toward NATO, or was it not rather the reverse?

(Applause from the Left – Gunther Krichbaum (CDU / CSU): Russia via Ukraine. So there!)
(Gunther Krichbaum (CDU / CSU): Not for peacefulness!)

Supposedly the new arms race is just to keep the Russian bear at bay. You really couldn’t think of a sillier reason.

(Applause from the Left)

Currently the military spending of NATO is 13 times Russia’s. And now we need more upgrading in order to ensure security in Europe? What kind of nonsense is that!

(Applause from the Left)

Nevertheless, you, Frau Chancellor, are once again among the first to announce the implementation of the 2 percent target. 2 percent — that means 25 billion euros every year for murder weapons, for tanks, and military equipment, but we’re told we don’t have the money for good pensions or for better education. What kind of absurd political priorities are you proposing here? That can not be serious.

(Applause from the Left)

The great ambassador-politician George F. Kennan, called the eastward expansion of NATO at the end of the nineties the most fatal error of US policy since the era of the Cold War, precisely because the encirclement of Russia does not secure world peace, but endangers it. And yet it is always being pressed forward, with your support, Frau Merkel. We find that irresponsible.

(Applause from the Left)

You have referred to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. Unfortunately, you have not mentioned Article 1, which obliges the members of NATO, to refrain from any threat or use of force. I think it is plain as day that NATO and especially the United States are riding roughshod over their own treaty every day with their wars and their drone killings in breach of international law. I would have expected a word from you about this.

(Applause from the Left – Michael Grosse-Brömer (CDU / CSU): Long live the international legal reliability of the Russians!)

I have to say it: Talking about the destabilization of the Middle East, as you have just done, without any mention of the primary responsibility of NATO and the Iraq war, fully demonstrates a remarkable one-eyed vision.

(Applause from the Left)

The maneuvers in Eastern Europe, the upgrades the missile bases, the stationing of troops: What can Moscow possibly see in this except war preparations? In any case the likelihood and the possibility of a military escalation with nuclear power Russia is considerably increased. The real emergency, for which you rehearse so casually in Eastern Europe and that they speak of openly in military circles, as if it were a predictable event
– – Mrs Merkel, I find it quite interesting that you converse with Mr. Hofreiter; but I would find it a good thing if you would give my speech at least some hearing. —
(Applause from the Left – Sabine Weiss (Wesel I) (CDU / CSU): Maybe you should you even listen to her! – Michael Grosse-Brömer (CDU / CSU): This is of course a bit of your speech – Gunther Krichbaum (! CDU / CSU): We would rather hear Bartsch)!

After such an emergency, for which you rehearse so casually in Eastern Europe and which is again being spoken of in military circles, as if it were a predictable event, Europe with its more than 700 million inhabitants might no longer be.

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The judgment of Willy Brandt that a war with Russia is not the final resort, but the final madness applies today no less than in the 70s. It is incumbent on our time that there be an independent European foreign policy in the tradition of detente and of course also a replacement of the US-dominated NATO with a collective security system which includes Russia.

(Applause from the Left)

Helmut Schmidt was already of the opinion that there is more risk today from the US than from Russia. The next US presidential election, when either a lunatic or a puppet of the US arms lobby will hold the White House, will not change that.
(Gunther Krichbaum (CDU / CSU): Oh veh, now it is getting from one level up to unbearable!)

Unfortunately, the relationship with Russia and the threat of war are not the only issues where the political clocks are running backwards. I have to say it: I think it’s as significant as it is sad, that your government explanation to the results of European Council last week, was just withdrawn from the agenda. Keep mum, sit out, just not talk about changes – that can not seriously be your take-away from the current crisis.

(Applause from the Left)

The French economist Piketty was in fact correct when he assigns you, Madam Chancellor, a substantial share of responsibility for the Brexit and the rise of nationalism abroad.

(Michael Grosse-Brömer (CDU / CSU): This is ridiculous!)

Your persistent unilateralism has so little strengthened European cohesion as the condescension with which the German government is trying to bring the whole of Europe to the line of German economic policy. Stop it finally, and reconsider your policy before it is really too late.

(Applause from the Left)

The united Europe — the understanding and cooperation between centuries nations warring for centuries, a European social model as an alternative to unfettered capitalism — that was once a grand, I would say a magnificent, project. It’s no longer about whether this project has a long future. It’s about whether it has a present; because instead, European integration has long been reversed, in a project for unleashing the markets and slashing the democracy, in a project where Europe promotes the precariousness of labor and the reduction of social benefits. The growth rates are lower today in most EU countries and unemployment is higher than it was before the introduction of the internal market. Cold ambition-reduction programs are forced upon countries where every second young person has no job and no prospects. The EU abandons this goal as soon as it comes to finally pulling the rug out from under the tax tricks of Apple, Google & Co. They carry God knows more responsibility for the public deficit than the supposedly generous social programs.

Across Europe, there is growing inequality. Between endless wealth at the top and desperate poverty at the bottom lives a shrinking, relegation-threatened middle class that feels politically abandoned.

Low approval of the EU is not therefore because some nationalists are stoking moods. The approval ratings are dropping because the majority simply has no reason to be enthusiastic for an EU which reduces their prosperity and annuls their democratic rights.

(Applause from the Left – Michael Grosse-Brömer (CDU / CSU): So the member states have to make correct policies, not always making only debt, but better policies! that would be the right way – Max Straubinger (CDU! / CSU): Then the socialist-led government must sometimes make better policies)!

The most agile opponent of Europe today is sitting in Brussels. It is not known if Marine Le Pen has hired Mr Juncker as an employee of her Frexit campaign but he is definitely her best man. The votes in the UK were barely counted, when Mr Juncker once again reiterated that the CETA trade agreement should be put in place without the consent of the Member States.

Meanwhile, although the Commission has generously granted the Member States the right to ratify; However, this is just a ploy again, because you want to put the Agreement into force provisionally. I would have liked hearing from the federal government how stands this renewed insolence of our Brussels Anti-Democrats.

(Applause from the Left)

That’s not all. A few days after the Brexit, the European Commission decided to allow the suspected carcinogenic herbicide glyphosate for another one and a half years. The excessive deficit procedure for Portugal and Spain will be sharpened despite the crisis. Ignorance about democratic rights, bending over for the business lobby, and indifference …

(Max Straubinger (CDU / CSU): They are opposed to jobs, Frau Wagenknecht, against the economy!)

… indifference to a young generation that is out of hope: You simply could not, more clearly than with these three decisions, in the short time since the Brexit, demonstrate everything that repels people about the EU.

(Applause from the Left)

Whoever does not want Europe to finally disintegrate, must at least now rely on a social and democratic rebirth, on a Europe which can inspire people again and in which referenda are not seen as a threat but as a normal part of democracy.

(Applause from the Left)

THAT, at least, is the Europe we want in the Left, because we do not want the ghosts of the past determine our future.

(Applause from the Left – Ulli Nissen (SPD): Who can applaud that?)


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