Ecumenical News International

EKD peace spokesperson wants to use more money for peace-building

August 25, 2015

Schwerte (epd). Renke Brahms, spokesperson of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) on peace issues, has criticized the debate about Germany's responsibility in the world as "military-minded". The historical commitment of Germany is still reflected in its caution with respect to military engagements, he told a conference on peace ethics in Schwerte. By contrast, former NATO general Egon Ramms considered it necessary to retain the use of military force as an option to combat extremist terrorism. Westphalian church president Annette Kurschus criticized the fact that major decisions were often presented as being without any alternative.

Combating poverty and hunger to avoid war

Brahms calls for much more money to be devoted to civil conflict prevention. "The disproportion between military and civil spending" must be reversed, he stated. Germany afforded itself an army with 180,000 soldiers and this year would spend EUR 33 billion on defence. Much less money (approx. EUR 10 million) went into development aid and, at EUR 34 million, only a fraction of these sums was spent on civil peace services. The most important way of preventing armed conflicts was to combat poverty, hunger and injustice, Brahms claimed.

Former NATO general Ramms remarked critically that in Germany it was a reflex response to reject the use of military force. The existence and threat of military force could, however, be a politically effective before it came to a military conflict. In view of the increasing Islamist terrorism it was necessary to for the whole international community to adopt a resolute common line, Ramms declared. If the majority of moderate Muslims could not succeed in stopping the terror through dialogue with the extremists there also had to be the option of using military force.

Brahms sees war as political failure

"Sometimes the only response to violence is that of using force, Ramms continued. Often the German armed forces are only deployed when the situation is no longer controllable by other means. However, that was the responsibility of parliament, not the army. The former general called the armed forces a "parliamentary army", and the army was thus a means of policy-making. Peace spokesperson Brahms countered: "War is not the 'continuation of politics by other means'. War is always the failure of political means."

Church president Kurschus warned against over-hasty decisions in matters of war and peace. While time was often short in actual emergencies and the pressure great, she said, there was often too little time to examine the pros and cons. The concept of ultima ratio - last resort - was often used "more as a claim that there is no alternative". Instead of opening debates, that was a way of ending them, she protested.



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