When the eagle has landed

Since 9/11, the word "terror" has become more expansive than ever. Once esteemed freedom fighters became "terrorists" and overnight "terrorists" turned into celebrated resistance fighters or respected statesmen. "Terror" became a metaphor in a world in which Washington wanted to be both at the same time – its beneficiary and ordering or unipolar center.

Terror you mean

Domestically, the terror debate fueled fears with which the opponents of this policy were kept small. Marianne Brün, daughter of actor and director Fritz Kortner, has lived in the USA for decades. She described how the domestic political climate has changed since September 11, 2001:

"With the 'Patriot Act' they are now again trying to introduce a kind of McCarthyism, a hunt for supposed leftists like in the fifties. Within the government, on television and also in the film industry, this succeeds in a frightening way. With the help of an extreme right-wing academic organization, led by Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, it has also hit professors. Students are encouraged by Ms. Cheney's organization to report their professors. In the counterattack, meanwhile, some professors have – in a funny way – indicated themselves."

Since September 11, there has also been public discussion in the USA about restricting the universally valid ban on torture. Barbara Lochbihler, Secretary General of the German section of Amnesty International, criticized in this context:

"Since the beginning of the fight against terrorism, fundamental international human rights standards have been increasingly disregarded in the United States. New security laws and decrees allow for weeks of detention without charge of foreign nationals suspected of supporting terrorism. Over 1,200 people have been arrested under these laws."

According to Barbara Lochbihler, a particular concern was an order from President Bush Junior, according to which

"foreigners suspected of terrorism can now be brought before specially established military tribunals, which negotiate in secret, may impose the death penalty and do not allow appeals, thus in no way comply with the principles of fair trials."

The Bush administration did not want to subordinate itself to international legal standards elsewhere either. Since 1 July 2002, the Statute of the International Criminal Court has officially entered into force. From the beginning of 2003, this court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, prosecutes genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, this is only the case if the national courts in the countries from which the potential defendants originate prove to be unable or unwilling to punish them. Even this arrangement went too far for the Bush administration. On July 12, 2002, the Security Council agreed to a one-year limited immunity for U.S. citizens in U.N. missions. Washington dreads the idea that US citizens could be cited in court abroad and fears politically motivated proceedings.

In 1990 and 1991, George Bush Sr. proclaimed that he wanted a world in which nations could live in harmony, in which the law prevailed and not the law of the thumb. And ten years later, his son promised that the US would act "decisively, but without arrogance". In reality, however, the government in Washington has also repeatedly confronted friendly states for years, with George Bush Junior representing US interests even more ruthlessly than his predecessor Bill Clinton. For example, Washington canceled the payment of $ 24 million to the UN Population Fund because it allegedly promoted abortion policy in China. George Bush also made sure that senior UN staff were recalled because they were not friendly enough to him. This included Robert Watson, Chairman of the UN Science Council on Climate Change. The oil company Exxon-Mobil intervened in the White House and achieved that Watson had to leave. For William Schulz, director of the U.S. section of Amnesty International, this was "a new low in isolationism and exceptionalism."

The Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted an EU diplomat in this context as saying:

"We used to be dealing with communist apparatchiks and today with unilateral persuaders."

"The normal rules are overridden," said former Marine Corporal Jeff Paterson, criticizing his home country's policies. As in 1990, when he refused military service at the age of 22 and publicly justified his sensational step, eleven years later he went public again. As an activist of the US anti-war movement, he wrote an appeal "To soldiers, future soldiers and the rest of the youth" shortly after September 11, 2001. It said:

"As we mourn, they are already announcing 'the normal rules no longer apply' – which means: now is the time to settle – they are also announcing 'The nation is united, we have a blank cheque for our actions' – which means: dissenting opinions are ignored or suppressed as needed."

Jeff Paterson concluded his appeal by saying:

"Less than ever before are the people of this world safe from the United States, and the people of the United States themselves are not safe from the United States."

Ramboization of the legal system

With the help of the Patriot Act passed shortly after 9/11 and the Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001 (AUMF), the President of the United States was able to use military force at his own discretion against countries that the US executive in Washington suspected of serving as a base or providing assistance to "international terror(ism)". In addition, the former law, the Patriot Act, served to systematically spy on actual or supposed opponents of the government at home. Not to mention the prison camp at Guantanamo in Cuba and long-kept secret places worldwide, where suspected persons far from the rule of law and a functioning justice system were systematically subjected to violence, torture and humiliation of all kinds and their tormentors enjoyed extraterritorial immunity in different ways.

On September 20, President Bush issued an ultimatum to the Taliban, which has dominated Kabul and large parts of Afghanistan since 1996, to extradite the masterminds of al-Qaeda led by Usama Bin Laden, who were suspected of being behind the attacks in New York and Washington. Without having presented court-proven evidence and listened to de-escalating proposals from the other side, which at least amounted to bringing Bin Laden to justice in another Islamic country, provided that the US presented evidence of his involvement, Bush reiterated his ultimatum with the non-negotiable demand:

"The Taliban must act, immediately. They will extradite the terrorists or they will share their fate. (...) Our war on terror begins with Al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group with global reach is found, stopped and beaten."

In those days, the fastest possible desire for revenge and acts of retribution seemed to dominate all political and military thinking and action, so that much speaks in favor of the thesis of imperialism researcher Atul Kohli, according to which the leadership around Bush is literally "rattled" into war. In a conversation with WOZ, which appeared in Zurich, Kohli answered the question of whether imperial wars are actually always driven by economic interests as follows:

"No, the US invasion of Afghanistan is one of the big exceptions. The US invasion after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and on the Pentagon was much more a war of revenge than a war of greed. It would be foolish to claim that then-President George Bush attacked the country for economic interests. There was also a security interest behind it. However, economic interests developed during the occupation. (...) Usama Bin Laden and his people who planned the attacks hid under the Taliban in Afghanistan – even if one can debate for a long time how close their relationship with the Taliban really was. Apart from the act of revenge, the war was aimed at preventing future terrorist attacks. With the billions that the US spent on Afghanistan, profit interests have also emerged over time. The money went to numerous industries associated with the war: to the defense industry or to private security companies, whose employees have now withdrawn in their thousands from Afghanistan."

The ramboization of the law and the overriding of the presumption of innocence through putative killing by targeted drone attacks are – as well–known critics rightly judged - an unvarnished expression of state terrorism. In this context, in a 2013 3sat interview, Noam Chomsky pointed out that during President Barack Obama's term, every Tuesday morning, known as "Terror Tuesday," a small select circle of politicians and military officials in the White House would decide which victims were next to be "eliminated".

First war target after 9/11: Afghanistan – landlocked, transit camp, "graveyard of the great powers"

A concise short presentation of this country is provided by the Afghanistan country information portal of the Academy for International Cooperation (AIZ / Bonn-Röttgen – As of December 2020), which states:

"Afghanistan can be considered the prototype of a transit country. Since prehistoric times, the paths of the migrations of peoples, conquerors, traders and missionaries of the most diverse religions have crossed here as in hardly any other country on Earth. Most of the time, the area of present-day Afghanistan was contested between two or more dominions (e.g. between the Graeco-Bactrians and the Indian Maurya Empire in the 3rd century). BC or between the early Islamic caliphate of the Omayyads and the Gök Turks in the 8th century. n. Chr.) or even part of a larger empire, whose political and cultural focus was outside Afghanistan (e.g. in the Old Persian Achaemenid Empire or in the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan and his successors). Only rarely did Afghanistan itself represent the heartland of a great power, apart from the modern Afghan kingdom under Ahmad Shah Durrani, most likely at the time of the Ghaznavids (10th/11th century). ad) and the Kushan (about 50-250 AD).

In essence, there were two factors that determined Afghanistan's history up to the recent past: on the one hand, its geographical role as a mediator on the Silk Road, the West-east long-distance trade route between the Mediterranean countries and China, on the other hand, its location on the southern periphery of Central Asia, where it represented an obstacle for conquerors with a view to the riches of India with its deserts and mountains. The latter aspect led to the fact that for more than 2000 years, incursions of Iranian, Turkish or Mongolian nomadic peoples from the Central Asian steppes posed a constant threat to the state formations created on Afghan soil.

This did not change until the beginning of modern times, when equestrian nomadism in Central Asia itself was increasingly subject to sedentary statehood and lost its world-historical significance. On the other hand, the (re)discovery by Europeans of the sea route around Africa to India and soon after the New World led to a rapid decrease in overland trade with India and China on the old caravan routes. The result was an increasing impoverishment of the region – when the Pashtuns under Ahmad Shah Durrani succeeded in establishing an independent Afghan kingdom for the first time in 1747, the economic and cultural decline had long been in full swing. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the global political dualism between the British Empire and Russia, whose spheres of power clashed in Central Asia and the Middle East, led to long periods of political instability and economic-cultural isolation in Afghanistan. The 'Great Game' around Afghanistan continued after World War II as a rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union and led to the progressive destabilization of Afghanistan, which eventually led to a succession of wars and civil wars after the overthrow of King Zahir Shah in 1973."

The interlocking of highly complex and complicated constellations and problems - including urban-rural differences; center-periphery relations as well as relations between regional centers and regional peripheries; diversity of ethnolinguistic tribal and clan structures; resource conflicts of different and frequently changing antagonists - has demanded a lot of empathy from every (civilian) foreign viewer, even in peaceful times, to develop a basic understanding of the political, cultural and socio–economic circumstances and processes of the country. For all those who committed themselves militarily there to establish themselves as conquerors, occupiers or colonial powers or to raise the flag in the name of "humanitarian interventions", the country in the Hindu Kush became a "cemetery". One could have learned from corresponding historical experiences – whether this concerned Britain, Tsarist Russia or later also the troops of the Soviet Red Army under Lieutenant General Boris V. Gromov. As one would have wanted.

Critical voices from science and development policy

"The main reason for the strong local positioning of power and violence in Afghanistan is that a state penetration of Afghanistan never took place, a state monopoly on violence is missing and the state is at best a resource for local elites."

The peace and conflict researcher with a regional focus on Asia, Conrad Schetter. It was precisely the assumption that Afghanistan was a single central state that proved fatal and, as a false premise, inevitably provided the breeding ground for equally false assessments and strategies. Schetter continues:

"Afghan society is characterized by a series of overlapping solidarity references: village communities, clans, tribes as well as religiously or ethnically defined communities form the most important identity and action references. These diverse, particularist community organizations always stood in the way of state-building processes at the supra-local level. (...) The development of the Afghan state has been marked from the outset by its extreme weakness – above all, since it lacked the economic resources for a self-sustaining state-building process financed, for example, by tax revenues. In the course of the 20th century, Afghanistan developed into a reindeer state, which was financially dependent on other states (especially the USA, the Soviet Union). Since the 1950s, over 40 percent of government revenues have come from abroad, especially from development aid. State policy was to balance relations between the various local leaders and Kabul's bureaucratic elite; grants were distributed clientelistically and the local potentates were incorporated into a system of benefices and posts."

"At the same time, the gap between Kabul and the rest of the country has been a constant area of tension that still affects political events today. The state, which was anchored in the urban area and advocated political modernization, was opposed by the rural area, whose traditionally segmented society distrusted the impulses emanating from the government. (...) The seizure of power by the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan in April 1978 led to an open rupture between the state and the rural population. The attempt of the numerically weak, predominantly urban party members to put an end to the system of tribal and local autonomies and to create a modern state through radically implemented reforms in a rush provoked uprisings of the local elites throughout the country. With the invasion of Soviet troops in December 1979, this conflict intensified further, limiting the government's radius of action to Kabul and some provincial cities. One of the main results of the wars that have raged in Afghanistan since 1979 is that the embryonic state structures that had been built up at least in the cities during the 20th century disintegrated at all levels."

The sociologist and ethnologist Christian Sigrist, who conducted intensive field research in Afghanistan and was one of the best experts on the country in German-speaking countries, wrote in autumn 2009:

"After September 11, 2001, ultimatums intensified. After the proclamation of Operation Enduring Freedom as a war on terrorism, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder hastily declared his 'unrestricted' solidarity. The wording is embarrassingly reminiscent of corresponding confessions of communist satellite governments to the address of Moscow. Schröder thus continued his subordination to the US Balkan strategy of 1999. Also with his support, NATO declared a state of defense for the first time in its history on October 2, 2001. The US Air Force then began airstrikes on Afghan territory with British support, although not a single Afghan was involved in the September 11 attacks, as Bin Laden relied only on Arab members of Al-Qaeda. The air strikes allowed the troops of the Northern Alliance an offensive accompanied by massacres and, against the agreement with the USA, the capture of Kabul. The ambitious Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer organized after the apparent destruction of the Taliban regime a Berlin pre-conference, the conference on the Petersberg (27.11. until 5.12. 2001) followed. Under the auspices of the United Nations, the US imposed the Northern Alliance as the main political force, and in the interim government of the Alibi Pashtune Hamid Karzai as interim president. In order to protect these institutions and the planned loya jirga, the establishment of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was decided by the Security Council on 20.12.2001. An advance command of the Bundeswehr was sent to Afghanistan in the same month, including the KSK (Special Forces Command). ISAF initially had the task of securing Kabul and the surrounding area as well as the UN facilities and the humanitarian work of NGOs."

Sigrist continued:

"The blatant failure of the German command in the bombing of two tankers near Kunduz on the night of September 4, 2009, which caused about 125 deaths, at least two dozen of them 'civilians', forces a revision of the previous German strategy focused on self-protection and technical assistance. Postponing the exit discussion is no longer justifiable. First of all, after a comprehensive explanation of the bombardment by the Taliban as well as unsuspecting locals, negotiations with the affected family associations on reparation and reconciliation must now be held. But this can only be a start.

First of all, the illusion must be abandoned that NATO can hand over responsibility for the country's security to the Afghans by building an army of 250,000 men and a strong police force. The only realistic option in the medium term is to transfer security tasks to regional law enforcement forces (tribal and urban militias). (…)

On 4.12.2002 Defense Minister Struck claimed in bottomless ignorance of the regional conditions: 'The security of the Federal Republic is also defended in the Hindu Kush.' This sentence is as true as Willy Brandt's dictum: 'The freedom of West Berlin is defended in Saigon.' The subaltern deployment of the Bundeswehr has led to the opposite of Struck's assertion. Now there are increasing signs of a growing threat to German targets by Islamists.

What is more serious, however, is that German politics has missed the opportunity to act as a mediator in the Afghan conflict through military abstinence. The green Bellicos bear a considerable share of the blame for this failure, even if they pretend to be representatives of a prudent exit in view of the current disaster."

"The green Bellicos bear a considerable share of the blame for this failure."

In a later interview with the German press agency dpa, Sigrist explained when asked if a German-trained Afghan police can bring law and order:

"No. As early as the 1960s, German police trainers failed to set up a police force suitable for civil conflict resolution. The result was: in 1965, a student demonstration in Kabul, instead of being regulated by the police, was bloodily crushed by the military. It would be better for Germany to provide scholarships for young Afghans to study in this country."

In the same interview, Sigrist also outlined his idea of regional stabilization:

"A centralist nation-state, such as (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai, the USA and also Germany want to fight for Afghanistan, cannot be done with the Pashtuns, at best a multi-ethnic federal state. Stabilisation in the region is only possible if Afghanistan and Pakistan enter into a federal alliance (...) and ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan) withdraws in an orderly manner."

For example, the Development Policy Association of German Non-Governmental Organisations (VENRO), representing numerous domestic and foreign non-governmental organisations active in Afghanistan, spoke out very early on about the many virulent and constantly worsening problems in the country. In a VENRO position paper published on 2 October 2007 and presented in Bonn, it was stated, among other things.:

"One of the serious problems for the work of NGOs results from the concept of civil-military cooperation, which is actively pursued by the Federal Government and other governments engaged in the framework of ISAF and OEF. The Federal Government regards the model of 'civil-military networked security' and the regional civil-military reconstruction teams (PRTs) as a 'model of success' (...) From the NGOs' point of view, it is not only the fact that state development cooperation is increasingly entering into close cooperation with the Bundeswehr that is problematic, e.g. in the context of the so-called 'Provincial Development Funds', and in doing so threatens to lose its independence, but also that the military, in order to win the 'hearts and minds' of the people, is carrying out more and more tasks in the field of reconstruction and humanitarian aid. For some time now, civil-military mixing has posed ever greater threats to NGOs that strive for neutrality. In recent years, some NGOs have suspended their aid in Afghanistan, citing the fact that the military's instrumentalisation of the humanitarian mandate means that independent aid can no longer be provided. (…)

The fight against terrorism, which is being waged by US forces and their allies under the term 'Operation Enduring Freedom', is massively rejected by the Afghan population due to the high civilian casualties. Even in the recent operations of NATO-led ISAF troops, which are becoming more and more mixed with the activities of OEF, more and more deaths among the civilian population have been accepted as "collateral damage" and thus a violation of international humanitarian law. The loss of trust suffered by the Afghan population is serious."

Peter Becker recently commented on this topic on these pages:

"The politicization of humanitarian aid erodes the aid organizations' own protective mechanisms. Above all, the German PRT has by far the highest military share, although it is the only PRT with civilian participation and focuses most on tasks in the civilian sector. A special problem lies in the fact that the largest poppy cultivation areas in Afghanistan are located in the area of operation of the Germans. The German attitude is that the Bundeswehr should secure Kunduz, but leave the warlords and their drug trade alone."

"Violent markets" as well as ever-changing alliances and corruption in a reindeer state & failed "counterinsurgency"

Bernt Glatzer, also an ethnologist and intimate connoisseur of Afghanistan, who, like Sigrist, carried out extensive field research in the country, pointed out at a conference in Berlin in the spring of 2006 to further short-sightedness and deficits in foreign Afghanistan "commitment:

"International cooperation in Afghanistan takes place under the 'free market' paradigm. This is based on the belief in the omnipotence of the market, which governs everything, even if a state hardly exists. This concept opened doors in Afghanistan: the Afghan economy has been market-oriented for centuries. In terms of drug trafficking, Afghanistan is even seen as a champion of the globalized free market economy. The fields of activity of the warlords and militia commanders are veritable 'markets of violence'. Their actions and strategies can best be analyzed in a market economy. However, the free market economy in Afghanistan is characterized by very uneven development – both regionally and socially. This creates winners and losers, with the latter challenging the entire system."

Glatzer noted the correspondingly devastating effects of such a policy - also and especially with regard to democratically legitimized actors and democratic processes or their initiation:

"The majority of the population rejects the concept of modernization because, on the one hand, it does not appear in it and, on the other hand, does not understand it. It is only supported by the Afghan elites. Another goal of modernization is the establishment of democratically legitimate institutions that take development into their own hands. The visible presence of foreign modernisers undermines this project. Thus, they are more likely to be associated with activities than the Afghan state. Thus, its possibilities for action are not perceived at all. In addition, the population has the impression of 'modern' colonialism. 'The Cow that drinks its own milk' is still a rather friendly image, with which the actors of international cooperation are titled.

More worrying is the tendency towards a reindeer state. This is a state that thrives on external funding. It does not need its own population to generate the resources it needs. Experience shows that reindeer states rarely have the potential to get on their own feet. This development is all the more dangerous because it can be assumed that the international community will sooner or later withdraw from Afghanistan. What happens then? In this context, the question of control arises. According to the general principle of 'who pays controls', parliament becomes pretty decor. However, control is up to donors. This, in turn, has a negative impact on the democratization process."

And where neither genuine participation of those in whose name supposedly "development projects" are justified, nor democratically legitimized leaders appear, any attempt by occupiers to "win the brains and hearts of the population" is wilfully doomed to failure. In 2009, political scientist and conflict researcher Jochen Hippler noted:

"Today, Afghanistan is the test of the ability of the Alliance – and the armed forces of its most important member countries – to adapt conceptually to the conditions of the new forms of use of civil military interventions. A second challenge of Western peace and security policy is currently to learn that restraint and self-restraint in military operations are often wiser than to want to bring their military superiority to bear with little conceptual clarity where violent conflicts require above all political, economic and social reforms."

In this context, I would like to remind you of an "elite officer" par excellence. At least that's what Mr. David Howell Petraeus thought for a while. A man who had a brilliant career, especially during the eight-year term of US President George W. Bush (January 2001 to January 2009) – from the celebrated "counterinsurgency" strategist in Iraq to the post of ISAF commander in Afghanistan to the director of the CIA from 2011 to 2012. In both of these countries, the name Petraeus is still inextricably linked with the expansion of US Air Force bombing, each of which claimed a high toll of blood among the civilian population.

Until 2012, ex-General David H. Petraeus was praised above all by the US leading media as a darling among the military over the green clover. Until he stumbled because of an affair with Paula Broadwell, a former reserve officer and biographer of the general. Petraeus had also given the lady access to confidential files and emails, which earned him a $100,000 fine and a two-year suspended sentence after a guilty plea in April 2015. Peanuts for the former four-star general, who has held the tailor-made job of chairman of the KKR Global Institute at the billion-dollar investment firm Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts & Co. since May 2013. The general also offered his "expertise" to Bush's successor, President Barack Obama, whom he seriously recommended to take action against ISIS in Syria with the support of al-Qaeda.

Anyone who knowingly and willingly accepts further "collateral damage" with every use of aircraft or drones and indiscriminately invades private quarters in night-time military operations such as robbers and thieves - also with the help of specially recruited and trained "national" vassals, who have often been cheated out of their pay by their own corrupt superiors – need not be surprised that such persons are perceived by the population in the respective "operation area" as what they simply are – invaders and occupiers! If then, as a counter-reaction, this very population is only perceived from the crosshairs of rifles or heavy guns, at the latest the time has come when no distinction between friend and enemy is possible. A situation that GIs had lamented most often during the Vietnam War.

"... that in case of doubt, in an emergency, military use is also necessary" or The case of Köhler

In 2010, the then Federal President Horst Köhler made a stopover at Camp Marmal, the Bundeswehr's field camp in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, on his return from Shanghai. It was a time when, after the devastating "Kunduz incident", German soldiers stationed in the country were increasingly involved in battles, and it was necessary to provide the necessary support on the "home front".

Koehler in front of the troops at Camp Marmal:

"I promise you, I will do everything I can so that in Germany what you are doing in Afghanistan will be appreciated."

In an interview with the Federal President, which Deutschlandradio Kultur broadcast on May 22, 2010 at just before eight o'clock, Köhler expressed himself again for the purpose of his short visit to the Hindu Kush, in order to then, in addition to "respect and recognition" for the Bundeswehr soldiers serving there, to declare:

"From my assessment, it is really like this: We are also fighting there for our security in Germany, we are fighting there in alliance with allies on the basis of a mandate from the United Nations. All that means we have responsibilities. I think it is okay if it is repeatedly discussed skeptically in Germany with question marks. My assessment, however, is that overall we are on the way, but also to understand in the breadth of society that a country of our size with this foreign trade orientation and thus also foreign trade dependence must also know that in case of doubt, in an emergency, military deployment is also necessary to safeguard our interests, for example free trade routes, for example to prevent entire regional instabilities, which will certainly then also have a negative impact on our chances through trade, jobs and income. All this is to be discussed, and I believe we are on a not so bad path."

The Federal President was obviously on the wrong track because of his last sentences. Just a few days later, on 31 May 2010, he appeared before the press:

"I hereby declare my resignation from the office of the Federal President – with immediate effect."

The "monstrous" thing was that Köhler had publicly stated what should have remained as far as possible under the political cover – namely that the FRG also and especially abroad pursues tough – primarily economic – interests. Already in the "Defense Policy Guidelines" of 26. November 1992 as well as in the Bundeswehr "White Paper" of 2006, it could be read that the future defense policy "can be guided by vital security interests", as far as the "maintenance of free world trade and unhindered access to markets and raw materials all over the world" is concerned. The "security policy of Germany" is guided by "the goal of protecting the interests of our country". This includes "promoting free and unhindered world trade as the basis of our prosperity". Germany has "an elementary interest" in "an open world trade system and free transport routes".

Déjà-vu or Once "gateway to the East", today new Indo-Pacific guidelines

More than 120 years ago, the United States of America, turning from a hemispheric power into a global empire, simultaneously with the forcible seizure of the Philippines in the course of the American-Spanish War, claimed to have opened the "gateway to the East" wide and to have gained a foothold directly on China's doorstep. With the declared prospect of opening up the "almost immeasurable markets" of China. Although the revolutionary shocks and upheavals "in the Middle Kingdom" thwarted these plans, Washington still claimed the South China Sea as one of its "territorial waters" during its colonial rule over the Philippines (1898 to 1946) and the Cold War era that began shortly thereafter. A strategically very important shipping route, over which a considerable part of the international traffic of goods and goods has been handled for centuries.

On September 2, 2020, the Federal Government adopted the Indo-Pacific Guidelines and thus defined the new framework for German Indo-Pacific policy. The strategy is based on the recognition that the region has gained significantly in importance in recent years. Stability in the region is important for German security and prosperity in view of the close interdependencies:

"As an open, globally oriented economy, free maritime trade routes and maritime security are of vital importance to Germany. More than 20 percent of German trade takes place in the Indo-Pacific region. Germany's trade volume with the region has almost doubled in the last 15 years. In terms of ship ownership and beneficial ownership, the German merchant fleet ranks 5th in the world."

"Against this background, too, the Federal Government intends to expand its security policy engagement in the Indo-Pacific region across the entire spectrum, including the maritime sector. Germany joined the 1976 Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in 2020. In doing so, the German Government has committed itself to peaceful conflict resolution and dialogue in Southeast Asia."

"The majority of the Indo-Pacific states have a high degree of internal stability. Nevertheless, there are a number of regional security risks and threats. These include North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile program, unresolved territorial issues both on land and at sea, conflicts over natural resources, and the deepening antagonisms between China and the United States."

"The conflicts are reflected in rising defense spending in the region – from 2010 to 2019 by over 50 percent, in the case of China alone by 85 percent."

In the course of the past year, cooperation with the region in various areas has therefore been promoted. In addition, Germany actively campaigned for Indo-Pacific policy to be brought into focus at European level, including by formulating its own Indo-Pacific strategy. Security and foreign policy consultations were also held with Australia and Japan. As an "active contribution to strengthening the international order", the frigate "Bavaria" is currently in Australian waters to head for Japan from there.

"Vestigia terrent" ("The traces scare off") or What now?

What (at least preliminary) conclusions can be drawn from all this?

An extensive list of important sources, references and further reading can be found in this PDF document.