Ten for Germany

By MacShane, Denis | The Nation, April 2, 1990 | Go to article overview

Ten for Germany


MacShane, Denis, The Nation


The reunification of Germany means a new Europe, but the left is absent from the discussion of its contours. Muted voices are heard on the German left - from Gunter Grass, the I.G. Metall metal workers' union, or the Social Democratic leader HansJochen Vogel - about the exact form of the Anschluss, but these are like corks bobbing on a tidal wave. Here are ten conditions that the new Germany could fulfill to contribute to the security, well-being, progress and political pluralism of the rest of Europe, and the world.

One. Germany should follow Japan's example and insert into a new Constitution a clause renouncing forever the use of war as a means of settling disputes. In addition, the Constitution should state that Germany would never make or possess nuclear weapons, or station armed forces outside its borders.

Two. Bonn should remain as the capital of the new Germany. Berlin may become New York to Bonn's Washington, but Berlin symbolized the old Prussian, centralized system of power.

Three. German politicians should be unequivocal in renouncing any claim on prewar German territory. Germany's borders should be those of 1945. Until Chancellor Helmut Kohl gives this pledge, Polish suspicions about long-term German designs on Silesia, Gdansk and what was East Prussia will remain.

Four. The question of NATO or neutrality avoids the real issue -the size and capability of a unified German army. A Costa Rica solution - no army at all - is unlikely. No matter how democratically constituted, a German army whose size is proportionate to the country's population would frighten its neighbors and could start a new conventional arms race. Therefore, and although this means breaking with a cherished principle of post-1945 left thinking, NATO and Warsaw Pact troops, severely reduced in numbers and without nuclear weapons, should remain on German territory.

Five. A reunited Germany should be urged to outlaw industrial production of offensive weapons and especially chemical warfare capability. The merger last year between Daimler-Benz and the aerospace company M.B.B. gave rise to fears that another giant arms-producing monster was being conceived. …

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