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November 22, 2001
Open Letter to the Green Party of Germany
The Greens/Green Party USA
Green Party USA Urges German Greens
to Condemn Bombardment of Afghanistan. NO Troops!
The Green Party USA expresses its support for the 70% of German Greens opposed to the war against Afghanistan and to the 11 of 16 regional Green Party organizations in Germany critical of sending 4,000 combat troops. The GPUSA urges German Greens to stand strong against this war regardless of the political consequences.
“Most Greens worldwide recognize that this is a war for oil and political domination and will do nothing to protect US citizens or any people from terrorism,” says Nancy Oden, a recent victim of airport harassment in the United States. She adds, “Joschka Fischer and the minority of Greens who are propping up the German government have put power before principle. Their claim that they must participate in the war effort in order to make it more humane is obscene. They seem to be saying that by keeping themselves part of the government they can make “humanitarian” cluster bombs or “cancer-free” depleted uranium casings. This is nonsense. It is time for rank-and-file Greens in Germany, and everywhere, to promote a different kind of leadership, one that will not sacrifice moral and political principles on the altar of electoral expediency.”
The Greens first joined the German government after the 1997 elections. Since then, Green officials have been sharply criticized in Germany as well as throughout the world for failing to uphold Green values. In 1999, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer provoked a bitter internal brawl when he supported the US-led bombardment of Yugoslavia. By participating in the war, German Greens rationalized the use of depleted uranium and thereby violated several basic Green principles, including nonviolence, and opposition to nuclear power and weapons.
In 2000, Green Party leaders intensified the hostility by supporting the transportation of radioactive nuclear waste through residential communities, even though an accident could poison the countryside. Before participating in the Social Democratic led government, German Greens had strongly argued that such transportation bolstered the nuclear industry and must be opposed. Many Greens participated in and provided leadership for militant anti-nuclear protests. All those years of clear political and moral leadership on the leading questions of our day have now been compromised. What is the point of remaining in government if it means selling out one’s principles on such vital issues?
Germany’s support for the US war on Afghanistan is another such critical issue. We understand that this could result in a major split in the Green Party in Germany as well as the bringing down of the Coalition government.
On the other hand, the Coalition government could decide, under pressure, to take the antiwar route and withdraw its support for the US war. That would preserve the government coalition as well as heal some of the rift in the German Green Party—if today’s proponents of war truly cared about such concerns.
Mitchel Cohen, a representative from New York to the Green National Committee of GPUSA, argues that “should German troops be sent to Afghanistan, it would be the first time since the Hitler era that they are used beyond Europe. This has an ominous ring for many of us. History is, if nothing else, the power of memory against forgetting. Once again we are seeing what theorist Fredy Perlman described as that ‘rationally planned extermination of human beings, the central experience of so many people in an age of highly developed science and productive forces,’ although they are not calling the victims ‘Jews’ this time. The warmakers are much more sophisticated, but just as power-hungry and just as deadly.”
On November 17, Greens parliamentarians supported Chancellor Schroeder in one of Germany’s rare votes of confidence. They kept him in power by the narrow margin of two votes more than the simple majority he needed. Green parliamentarians could have set an antiwar example for the entire world, but failed to do so. This weekend’s meetings present the rank-and-file of the Green Party of Germany with the opportunity to rectify those serious errors, and reclaim the moral high ground.
On behalf of the Green Party USA, we hope that members of the German Green Party can return to basic Green values and register our opposition to the killing of innocent people to insure the interests (and profits) of the oil companies.
Greens throughout the world have an historic opportunity and responsibility this weekend to say no to war. As novelist Arundhati Roy notes: “When you’re talking about dropping a bomb that explodes and burns everything in a 1-kilometer radius, it’s not just human beings that are being killed but the earth itself.” The future will be what we the people struggle to make it.
Signed, Maris Abelson, Lisa Thurman, and Nancy Oden, Coordinating Committee
The Greens/Green Party USA, Founded 1986
PO Box 1406
Chicago, Illinois 60690
Media Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Response from the German Green Party
Ladies und Gentlemen,
Your so-called Open Letter is a terrific exercise in “green imperialist” thinking. Your government has too often bullied other countries. That has obviously set a bad example for your organization. Now you attempt to lecture and bully other parties.
Why don’t you ask for information first? Why don´t you engage in democratic discussion with those you mean to criticize?
You don’t seem to really know a lot about our party and the positions we are taking. Please, refrain from mingling in business you don’t understand.
We are not asking for sectarian propaganda from afar.
Secretary General, German Green Party