• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683.


Exporting Arms to Questionable Regimes


The German armaments industry has a good reputation for doing what it does best – exporting high grade and stylistic means of killing well.  But during the Merkel years, a trend has emerged in what has come to be called the Merkel Doctrine.  Der Spiegel took note of this in July last year.  The case in question involved Saudi Arabia, and the relevant sale of 270 modern Leopard (Model 2A7) tanks.  No reasons were given for the policy shift, and none have been forthcoming.

“This would be the first time Germany supplied heavy arms to an Arab government that has declared its intentions to fight its opponents ‘with an iron fist’, a country that deployed tanks against demonstrators in a neighbouring country and ranks 160th on the Economist’s Democracy Index, just a few spots above North Korea, which holds the very bottom spot” (Der Spiegel, Oct 14, 2011).

The previous position had been articulated by the veteran Foreign Minister of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), Hans-Dietrich Genscher.  Weapons of war were not to be exported to crisis regions.  This position has been a constant in German foreign policy, and did not change under such varied figures as Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl or Gerhard Schröder.

This reversal, which Merkel did her very best to keep secret till Der Spiegel got whiff of it, places German foreign policy in an odd position.  Bonn has been keen to force the European line on human rights closer to home (take the Kosovo dispute with Serbia), but has taken a more Realpolitik line in the context of distant, infamously violent clients, actual and potential.  Clearly, the Saudi deal showed that the human rights dimension had been either sidestepped or mysteriously washed away.  Arab Spring aside, business is business and weapons will always find a market.

The deal warmed the blood of politicians, making them dispute with unusual intensity.  Horst Teltschik, foreign policy advisor to Chancellor Kohl, considered the decision an act of folly.  “I consider the idea of delivering German tanks in such a situation to be absolutely wrong.”

What this stance has shown is that Merkel is not averse to a good deal of secrecy, a closed set which she guards with the assistance of her spokesman Steffen Seibert. There is also some comfort on the part of Merkel and her team – a disclosure of details pertaining to a Federal Security Council can result in a five years’ imprisonment.  Effectively, Germany’s other politicians in the Bundestag have been sidelined on the subject of exporting arms.

Naturally, the question of what is placed into the basket of what we term a “dubious regime” or otherwise is both critical and, to a certain extent, facile. All regimes, whatever their credo, are in the business of buying some lethal machinery in the name of defence.  Whether they end up being rotten apples in the barrel is not something that is always obvious first hand, so some governments prefer to ditch the classification altogether.  Either way, we know they will be used.

It might be said that Merkel has found her inner-Machiavelli, and is content to be self-interested and vicious when required.  Better German weapons than German troops, who can be kept out of harm’s way even as ruthless regimes keep tabs on their unruly subjects.

This well rehearsed amorality applies to Germany’s armaments companies as well.  Business has proven difficult for the cartels.  Regular customers such as Greece, a country scolded for its fiscal irresponsibility while spending more on its defence as a percentage of GDP than any other EU country, are not proving as reliable.  Budget cuts to the Bundeswehr mean that better customers can be found elsewhere.

A debate in Germany is now taking place over the sale of the versatile “Boxer” armoured personal carrier, a state of the art, all killing machine, and certainly a thrill for those who can get their hands on it. The Russians have been very impressed, airing a special report on Ren TV extolling its impregnable features against anti-tank mines.  While Russia has proven to be Germany’s historical enemy at stages, it has also proven to be its greatest enthusiast in engaging German weaponry.  Berlin’s armaments industries know they have a friend eager to spread largess in Moscow.

As with purchases for the Leopard, unsavoury regimes have stepped up to offer their wallets.  The Saudis have again expressed their enthusiasm for German hardware, as has the government of the United Arab Emirates.  Those in the business of approving such deals should again be wary about who they might be deployed against.  Urban uprisings will be choice targets.  Not that it will concern Merkel.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com


October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook Is Listening to You
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid