Silence on the True Goals of the War
Interview with peace prize winner and pacifist Friedrich Schorlemmer
[This interview originally published in MT-Online (mindener Tageblatt), January 12, 2002 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.mt-online.de/minden/t00112383.html. "Icy Times" was the theme of Friedrich Schorlemmer's address on January 13, 2002. In this interview he comments on September 11, the Afghanistan war and Osama bin Laden.]
"Warriors of God" and "unrestricted solidarity" were proposed as the "nonsense words of 2001". Are they nonsense words for you?
Both are dreadful nonsense words and fatally analogous. "Unrestricted solidarity" is an uncritical surrender into the hands of another. "Friendly solidarity" would be appropriate. However when an American president who thinks in the good-evil model coins the slogan - who is not for us is for the terrorists - he sets every critic, every questioning person and alternative thinker in the corner of a terrible enemy.
He didn't merely say "whoever is not for us is against us" but "is with the terrorists". This is a demand of total submission and a threatened curse. Unrestricted solidarity is an impossibility of the German government, not a nonsense word!
"September 11" has become an elizer or quintescence. Are fear and uncertainty felt by people in the western world since then exploited by pointing to international terrorism?
Besides the horror that all of us have not yet processed, September 11 has led to an extremely alarming development. The limitation of our freedom and the restriction of constitutional principles in favor of an illusionary security could give the terrorists a second and more far-reaching success.
One thing is clear: September 11 cannot be minimized. The state must do its best for its citizens' freedom from harm. This includes identifying the culprits and their accomplices and reflecting on the causes and their elimination?
How do you react to the Afghanistan war as a "confessed pacifist"?
Bombing a destroyed country like Afghanistan - after 20 years of disastrous civil war - is not a viable way of eliminating terrorism. Adding to the 3000 victims in New York and Washington uncounted deaths in Afghanistan is morally indefensible.
Geo-strategic goals pursued by this war and the role of oil are kept silent.
Can the western world now pass over to the day's agenda with the end of the war?
It is a false impression if one thinks the war in Afghanistan is ended. In the morning news, the bombardments of the B52 bombers continue in the East. Unfortunately these "intelligent bombs" often miss their targets. The two persons held responsible on whom everything was personalized have not yet been found.
A terrible contrast makes me depressed. $40 billion are available from the Americans for the anti-terrorist struggle. What could relief organizations accomplish with $40 billion?
What should happen to Osama bin Laden when he is caught?
Osama bin Laden must come before an international court of justice. The trial must be open. He may not be handed over to a secret tribunal of the Americans. The strength of democratic states is always their justice and adherence to the rule of law even toward those who violate that rule of law. Justice may not be a dull sword but retains its effect by controlling crimes.
A public trial also has to explain the connections between the secret services and the Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden and geo-strategic interests in this conflict.
The events after September 11 were and are marked by the perspective of western civilization on a worldwide situation. How sound is that for the future?
We live in a globalized world boundless and borderless for streams of capital. The world has become a market. However the world is also the one earth for which we are responsible, from which we live and which we have to surrender in good condition to the next generation.
Every slip of the tongue that speaks of the superiority of western civilization is not healthy for the dialogue of the cultures. When one speaks of "crusade", the underlying thinking is clear. The United Nations and international law should be strengthened so the UN can exercise a worldwide monopoly on force. Americans assuming the monopoly of force in the world is ultimately neither advantageous for the Americans nor for the whole world.
Europe and America belong together as partners.
"A liberal is a conservative who was never attacked", it is said. The whole world speaks of reflection on traditional values. How sound is this neo-conservatism triggered by the terrorist attacks for future German society?
Reflection on traditional values is conservative in a good sense. What is preserved conducive to life and keeping a community both stable and alive is good.
Liberality must also stand the test in conflict zones. We face a basic decision in our societies whether freedom or security is ultimately more important to us. One cannot only protect oneself to death in relation to outward enemies but can also protect democracy to death. In any case, the security packages that are now passed are not a "good sign" for our democracy.
I say this as someone happy to live in the jurisdiction of the constitution and fearful of the return of a security state of whatever shade or color. Joint participation of citizens in the development of our democratic system is a condition for its survival. Democracy lives from participation, not only from moaning and commenting.