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Letter to the German Green Party
[In January, 2002, the Manhattan Green local adopted the letter below by consensus.]
Letter to the German Green Party: As New York City Greens—here at Ground Zero—we want to express our profound disappointment at your recent vote to lend your moral support to the US bombing campaign against Afghanistan, and to endorse the participation of your government in the war effort, including sending German military personnel to Afghanistan. The Green movement is an international movement and consequently all Greens are morally diminished by the sanction you have given to a war that violates elementary principles of international law and universal ethical norms based on respect for the sanctity of human life. Contrary to assertions in some quarters this war was not a “just war.” The war against Afghanistan was initiated before peaceful means of settling the dispute with Afghanistan (by securing the extradition of terrorist suspects) were initiated, let alone exhausted, and is therefore a violation of Article 33 of the United Nations Charter.
Furthermore the conduct of the war was itself in violation of international law and ethics, as civilians in Afghanistan were indiscriminately victimized by the bombing. The use of cluster bombs alone vitiates the argument that this was a just war. Furthermore the war indirectly killed thousands of starving Afghan refugees by preventing relief agencies from bringing food to them. If the hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians (including women and children)who were maimed or killed by the bombing itself were not deliberately targeted, they were victims of negligence and a depraved indifference to human life on the part on our government and Department of Defense.
We do not know why you have chosen to support this war. Perhaps you think this is a way of honoring the victims of the atrocious act committed by the September 11 terrorists. We want to remind you that many of us here at Ground Zero lost relatives and friends on September 11. Some Greens perished in this tragedy. But this does not impel us to support Bush’s war and perpetuate the cycle of violence.
To the contrary, we resonate with the sentiments eloquently expressed in a letter written by Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez four days after their son Greg, a peace activist, was killed in the World Trade Center: “[O]ur government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son’s death. Not in our son’s name.” We believe that the support of the German Greens for this war brings shame to Greens around the world, and paraphrasing the Rodriguezes, we state to you:
Not in our name, not in the name of the victims of September 11, not in the name of the people of Afghanistan—not in the name of the Green Party which has come to symbolize for millions of people around the world a politics based on reverence for the earth.
Forgive us if we are being unduly cynical but we cannot help but conjecture that a major factor in your actions was the desire of both your party organization and your parliamentary group to maintain the advantage of retaining power and influence by remaining in the governing coalition. We understand the appeal of this strategy over the more difficult and less glamourous approach of losing popularity (at least in the short run) and speaking truth to power. We understand, but we do not forgive. We mourn the opportunity you threw away to set an example for all humanity by sacrificing power to principle, by choosing justice over worldly influence.
We are saddened when we recall the global leadership provided by the German Greens over the last two decades. Many of us in New York and elsewhere became Green activists because we were inspired by the heroic and exemplary deeds of your party. It is hard to believe that only a short while ago, Jurgen Maier, Federal Executive Committee, Die Gruenen, wrote in Winter, 1990, speaking for the German Greens: “After the end of the Cold War, NATO and the Warsaw Treaty have to be dissolved and replaced by an all-European security system. The enemy images lost in Europe must not be replaced by new enemies in the Middle East. Instead of first arming dictatorships like Iraq [or Afghanistan] and then fighting them with intervention forces, we call for the comprehensive ban on any arms exports and reject any participation of the German army in intervention forces.”
You were correct then. Who could have predicted that less than 10 years later you would have betrayed these principles by supporting NATO’s war on Yugoslavia? And that you would have betrayed these principles yet again two years after that in an even more grievous manner by supporting the participation of the German Army in another war led by the imperialist government of the United States? What would Petra Kelly think if she were still alive? We implore you to reconsider your decision to support Bush’s war.
This war can have no positive consequences, only increased international hostilities, more terrorism and other forms of “blowback.” We do not believe that the purpose of this war is to secure justice or to protect our nation’s security but rather to exact “vengeance,” upon a scapegoat and to enable the US government and ruling elite to consolidate its control over the oil and gas reserves in the Mideast and Central Asia. Or would you ask us to believe that it is merely an accident that most of the key decision makers in the Bush Administration have intimate ties with oil companies?
Nor do we believe that this war will end with the “victory” in Afghanistan. It is no secret that the Wolfowitz faction in the Bush Administration—and probably Bush himself—want to expand this war to Iraq and other Islamic countries. The Bush Administration’s “war on terrorism” has initiated a process of global destabilization, as evidenced by the Pakistan-India conflict and Israel’s sabotage (sanctioned by the administration) of the Mideast peace initiative.
By supporting the war effort the German Greens have impeded the development of international resistance to the further expansion of the war, and increased the risk of a global conflagration. If the US attacks Iraq or Somalia, it will confirm many Moslems’ suspicions that this is a war against the Islamic world itself. We can then anticipate that the hostilities will spiral further out of control, leading to the realization of bin Laden’s dream of a world war between Moslems and the Western infidels. The German Greens will bear partial responsibility for this outcome.
The attacks of September 11 could have been treated and prosecuted as crimes, by the international community. An international court could have been established for such a purpose. This would have been in accord with international law and would have gained the US sympathy among the Islamic masses. Instead, the US has pursued a unilateralist approach, and recruited allies as token partners in its war policy in order to present a facade of multilateralism. The German Greens have helped our imperialist government in this endeavor.
It is still not too late for the German Greens to rescind their support for the war, and to demand instead, as many progressive organizations in the US have done, that terrorist suspects be apprehended and prosecuted by the international community. If the German Greens were to do this, it would garner international attention, add incalculable weight to the European resistance, and thus possibly play a decisive role in putting external constraints on the reckless policies of the power-drunk Bush Administration.
We appeal to you: Change your direction, renounce this war, and seek to do honor to the legacy bequeathed to you by Petra Kelly and other Greens who dedicated their lives to building a party that would fight to save humanity and the earth from the forces of corporate greed, militarist belligerence and political oppression.