Pros & cons on arms aid: german weapons for the kurds?

Should Germany support the fight against Islamists in Iraq with military exports? Daniel Cohn-Bendit is in favor, SPD Vice President Ralf Stegner against.

Here in Afghanistan. Soon in Iraq? A German G36-K rifle. Picture: dpa

Yes, of course you have to supply weapons to the Kurds.

Everything must be done to stop the Islamic State (IS) and its militias from advancing further. The competition between the do-gooders – Claudia Roth, Jurgen Trittin or Norbert Rottgen – as to who has the most peaceful solution for Iraq is embarrassing and shameful. If I were a Kurd, I would not want to depend on Germany for survival!

Let’s summarize: Everyone, this time without exception, agrees that the IS militia has fallen below the civilizational line. It is the most radical, the worst barbarism that is operating politically and militarily in the world at the moment. Just remember what happened to the Christians in Mosul, to the Yezidis in the Sandshar Mountains. All those who did not submit were destroyed or attempts were made to destroy them.

It is true, of course, that the refugees need tents, water and food. But how did the Kurds manage to get tens of thousands of Yazidis to flee the mountains? With weapons, thanks to U.S. drones and planes.

Yes, yes, the evil Americans. Always the Americans. Wherever there’s a bang, they’re there. I can already hear the voices from Germany. But there is one thing we must finally learn: History does not run in a straight line.

The Allies had to make a pact with Stalin against Hitler; that was the only way to beat the Nazis. The debate by Roth, Trittin and Rottgen that we should not supply weapons to war regions is hypocritical. Why? Do we want the jihadists to win? Or do we wish that the Kurds would be able to defend themselves? It would be insane if the Kurds’ defense line were breached and the IS came to Erbil, where there are hundreds of thousands of refugees. What happens to these refugees then? They have tents, they have water, but they can’t defend themselves.

There are historical moments, sad as it is, where weapons are the only way to survive.

The resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto also needed weapons. Would we have said we can’t supply weapons in a war situation? Of course we wouldn’t. And it is the same with the Kurds. That’s why, I think, there is a moral and political obligation to do everything we can to defeat IS. DANIEL COHN-BENDIT

No! No arms exports to areas of tension and dictatorships.

It is a bit scary how easy it is for some people, from the CSU to the Left Party, to call for German arms deliveries to northern Iraq. After all, the situation is certainly not simple: during the Iraq war, the structures were destroyed there that could now perhaps put a stop to the Islamist IS militias. A war against the same Saddam Hussein, by the way, whom the West had previously armed to the teeth militarily against the Iranian Ayatollahs. And this is not the first story of its kind.

It is right and necessary to stop the atrocities of the IS militias against religious minorities. In this respect, the U.S. military intervention in northern Iraq is in some respects also a late consequence of the Iraq war launched by George W. Bush. Germany, too, must assume responsibility, for example by providing humanitarian and logistical support: protection, shelter and medical care – these are what the refugees need most urgently now. But there is no reason for German arms deliveries to this crisis region. The SPD must ensure in the new governing coalition that there are no arms exports to areas of tension or dictatorships.

After all, when in the history of mankind have arms deliveries really done any good? Today we supply weapons, tomorrow we are amazed that innocent people are killed with them. We therefore need crystal-clear rules for arms exports and must not call them into question at every opportunity. This "Si vis pacem, para bellum" philosophy is reactionary, especially since there is no historical evidence for its correctness, but an overwhelming amount of historical material to the contrary.

Of course, the international community must intervene in an emergency to stop genocide or to secure the right to self-defense in self-defense. But I am alarmed by the casual dismissal of the taboo of military logic that is rampant in Germany. Germany could do a lot of good as the world champion of development cooperation and tireless diplomacy.

I stand by my position: No arms exports to areas of tension and dictatorships, whether Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Iraq. Simple answers are often wrong, even if the chorus is already shouting! RALF STEGNER

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