Here is another ZNet Update. You can remove or add addresses, as always, via ZNet's 
top page at www.zmag.org/weluser.htm
This time I would like to tell you about a new project as well as send last night's 
ZNet Sustainer commentary on a remarkable historical moment in War's Practice, 
included at the end of this message, from ZNet Commentator Andrea Noll. To find out 
more about theZNet Sustainer Commentary Program, as always, check 
The project we want to introduce you to with this message, however, is called The 
NewStandard. It was initially conceived by Brian Dominick and Jessica Azulay, both of 
whom are ZNet Commentators and of course Brian has been involved with ZNet doing all 
kinds of work since ZNet's inception. 
The New Standard aims to provide daily diverse news reporting from around the world 
plus tools to interactactively relate to the on-site content and to other users. 
Really, the only way to assess the effort is to look at the project online...and that 
is easy enough. Just go to http://newstandardnews.net/ and look around. Like any new 
project, they need your eyes, and your support, in order to fulfill their promise. So 
give them a chance -- visit and explore -- we think you will like what you find.
Class war / Christmas Truce
Andrea Noll
Germans to the front! We're at it again: 3 340 'Bundeswehr' soldiers stationed in 
Kosovo (Nato-KFOR), 1 330 in Bosnia-Herzegowina (Nato-SFOR, (in 2004 EU-command?)), a 
few dozen in Macedonia (EU operation 'Concordia' and Nato HQ Skopje), more than 2 000 
in Kabulistan and Kunduz (UN/Nato operation ISAF). 200 German troops in support of 
ISAF in Usbekistan. Several hundred Germans as part of operation "Enduring Freedom" at 
the Horn of Africa, in the Gulf of Oman, and in Kenya. And finally 230 Germans in the 
Eastern Mediterrian (Nato's "Active Endeavor"). 
The newly established Nato Response Force (NRF) - decided November 2002 at the Nato 
Summit in Prague for "humanitarian crisis intervention" worldwide - has already 9 000 
troops under command. Germany is to contribute one of the biggest single contingents - 
1/4 of all troops. The buildup is to be completed till autumn 2006 (21 000 soldiers). 
So, while Germany, as other European countries, officially abstains from the war in 
Iraq we're part of America's wars "against terror" in many places all over the world - 
under the command of EU, Nato (or UN/Nato, as in Kabulistan and surrounding warlord 
countries, formerly known as Afghanistan).
Meanwhile Bigger EU is busy creating "Nato independent military structures" and again 
we Germans ("Germany is to be defended at the Hindukusch", says German Defense 
Minister Wolfgang Struck) play an important part. In 2004 the European Union will 
establish its own massive Rapid Reaction Force - "for rescue and humanitarian 
intervention". It's supposed to operate independent from Nato and its centers of 
command. In December 2003 the EU Summit rubber-stamped ESS, the European Union's new 
security strategy paper, or 'Solana Doctrine' (no, not the Bush-Wolfowitz-Doctrine, 
but there are resemblances).
André Brie, member of the EU Parliament (for the German leftist party PDS) noted:
"The new "security strategy" was officially confirmed in Brussels. It's not about 
crisis prevention or efficient development aid nor is it about a stabilizing 
diplomacy. It's merely about rebuilding Europe ... into a military power capable of 
"robust" intervention worldwide, and this explicitly not against Nato and the US but 
with them - in order to enact American world interests" ('Freitag', December 19, 
And there's the planned European Satellite Navigation System Galileo, supposed to 
render Europe independent from American GPS. Will it open the (military) stargates to 
us? Is it an important step forward for two-paced Europe? Will we eventually become 
independent from Nato and adventurous U.S. (and, yes, there's ESA's blind hound dog 
(Beagle 2) on Mars - the Roman God of War)?
Mainstream media want to sell us Galileo and EU's socalled "independent military 
structures" as our splendid way to (military) self determination. "Emancipation" and 
"independence" are terms favouritely used to sweeten to us the bitter pill of immense 
costs for 'Secure Europe in a Better World' (rather Insecure Europe in an ever more 
Endangered Imperialistic-Globalised World) (1).
But don't let yourself be fooled. André Brie's perfectly right. EU's new military 
forces will be but auxiliary armies for the U.S. - to be quickly integrated in Nato 
structures in case of need. And Galileo? Better read the smallprint of our proud 
starraker's project. The US Administration has already worked out a deal with EU, that 
in case of military necessity America is to close down our (civil) stargate Galileo 
whenever it chooses - which would leave more than one European driver or rescue team 
in the dark. The U.S. is in high command - no matter, what Europeans decide.
"Behind the maze of field trenches, in which working men and employees shot down each 
other while their bosses made good profits by it..."(2)
Europe's military buildup is class warfare. It's a war against Europe's working people 
who pay the price - and not only in Euro or Pound. The ever growing costs for the 
buildup of a military infrastructure on a supranational EU-level, and for transforming 
our (defensive) national armies into (aggressive) reaction forces will swallow our 
European welfare states.
And it's "lower class" soldiers from Germany, France, Italy or Britain to return in 
the bodybags - not Defense Ministers or EU strategic planners like Mr. Solana. It's 
the young 'Zeitsoldat' to step on a landmine in Kosovo, it's Gefreiter Schmidt or 
Müller who gets killed in an ambush in Kabul. 
It's ordinary people of the Jessica Lynch type that pay the price for our Governments' 
wargames - as it's ordinary Afghans or Iraqis who pay the price of war, not the 
warlords. Ordinary people in Europe - as the people of the U.S., of Russia or Israel - 
must understand, and understand quick: No matter who the officially declared enemy, 
they will be among the victims. So, instead of playing 'universal soldier' we must 
join in an 'universal peace camp' and overrun our warmongers.
In Israel the Refusenik movement and the rebelling elite troops are an encouraging 
sign. In the U.S. and allied countries doubts about the "war on terror" seem to rise. 
And Russians have learned in a bloody lesson that their war on Czechenia has opened 
Pandora's box. People in the EU have yet to learn: The new militaristic buildup won't 
make their continent any securer or more independent, but it sure will make us all 
poorer - and not only morally.
Christmas Truce 1914
"O German mother dreaming by the fire, While you are knitting socks to send your son 
His face is trotten deeper in the mud".(3)
World War I 1914 on the Western Front. It's the first year of war. On both sides 
soldiers live in trenches - trenches, inch-high filled with freezing water. Fleas and 
lice and attacking rats, a ceaseless, penetrating rain from above. "Poor soldiers 
never die, they just fade away", as Woody Guthrie once sang. Rations for normal 
soldiers are lousy, the troops - the German occupiers of Belgium and Northern France 
on one side, and Belgian, British and French defenders on the other all share the same 
conditions: cold, hunger, 'black feet', pneumonia, and officers that force them to 
suicidal attacks across the fenced 'Nomansland' between the trenches.
Christmas Eve 1914 saw a strange phenomenon in many parts of the Western Front 
(stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss border). It often started with the singing 
of German Christmas carols. "More, more", shouted the deadly foe across Nomansland. 
"Encore, encore!" or "Well, done, Fritzens!" Sometimes, British, more rarely, French 
or Belgian, troops joined in the chorus from the other side. Suddenly lights flared up 
on top of the trenches on the German side - like a string of pearls. Was it a cheap 
trick of the "huns"? It was "like the footlights of a theatre" one British soldier 
wrote home. "We not shoot, you not shoot!" shouted the Germans, or held up signs. And 
they meant it. Not a single shot fell.
So started what later became renown as the Christmas Truce or Little Truce.
It was a big one though, the decision of many, many hundred thousand, mostly ordinary 
rank and file, soldiers to rebel peacefully against war. Though it was a spontaneous, 
unorganised act, it spread quickly. Various sectors of the Western Front saw the same 
phenomenon. Soldiers getting up from behind their save trenches - cautiously, with 
hands held up, to show they were unarmed. 
When the other side, with whom they had exchanged deadly fire for so many months, 
didn't shoot, they started moving ahead towards Nomansland. In some cases the impulse 
came from German soldiers carrying little Christmas trees (a custom unknown in other 
countries then) with lamps shining from them. When the first Christmas day dawned 
soldiers on both sides of the divide came out of the trenches on a massive scale and 
joined their fellow enemies in Nomansland. Their first duty was to bury the dead of 
this senseless 'Stellungskrieg' (static warfare) (4) sometimes lying there unburied 
for weeks.
In some cases befoed soldiers buried the bodies together and not all of the dead were 
Christians. On the British side many Common Wealth Soldiers - as they were called - 
fought for a British Empire that held their own countries occupied. Colourful ribbons 
of dead Indish soldiers' turbans blew in the chilling wind. December 25th saw a cold, 
clear day on the Western Front. After having buried their dead, the young men - 
enemies - communicated, using hands and feet, exchanged what little food they had, 
pipes, cigarettes, helmets, in some cases even played soccer. 
Ypern saw a real soccer match between German Saxons and a Scottish Highlanders team. 
That they had more in common with those sick, hungry, frustrated guys on the other 
side of Nomansland than with their own commanders in safe, warm Qatar Headquarter 
(pardon, just a slip of tongue) was a lesson they all had learned during those weeks 
and months in the trenches. So, they made war on war. For their commanders and 
monarchs the Christmas Truce was a nightmare of peace (emperors always think of peace 
as a nightmare and that hasn't changed).
The reaction of their officers, the local commanders in the trenches, varied. Since 
fearing open rebellion by their hungry and frustrated troops they often accepted 
fraternisation for a day or two, hoping it would ease tensions. But often they were 
simply overrun by the spontaneous development of events. In some cases they used the 
opportunity for espionage. Sometimes officers threatened to shoot their own soldiers 
if they tried to go across. In some cases they even did. But all in all the Christmas 
Truce was an overwhelming success. Soldiers' fotographs published in the British press 
are impressive proof of this strange armistice (in France, Belgium and Germany footage 
and reports of the event were censured) (5).
Just a sentimental story? An act of chivalry? A Christmas carol? A Lili-Marlen- Story? 
Far more than that. It was the start of a peaceful mutiny of ordinary soldiers against 
war. It was a spontaneous campaign of thousands and thousands of 'Refuseniks', many of 
them having realized instinctively that they were shooting at the wrong enemy.
They were 'cannon fodder' - those poor guys on both sides of the divide. Threatened 
with diciplinary action, or even death, most soldiers returned to the trenches after 
Christmas. But, the fact that at least in one region the truce held till late February 
- a truce of ordinary soldiers fighting in a regular army, mind you - shows, they 
really meant it. If the Christmas Truce of 1914 had lasted, if it had spread and ended 
the war it would have saved the lives of 9 Million men, women and children, dying from 
January 1915 till the end of war in late 1918. 
The end of World War I saw the end of four monarchies: Russia, German Kaiserreich, 
Austria-Hungary and the Osman Empire. People were fed up with those antidemocratic 
aristocratic warmongers.
"The ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame, and on each end of the 
rifle we're the same" ('Christmas in the Trenches', a ballad by John McCutcheon).
In Germany World War I had been widely greeted with enthusiasm. Even the 
Socialdemocrats joined in the patriotism and signed the Kaiser's war credits. Sound 
judgement was reserved to the far left. Rosa Luxemburg, the German Socialist and 
ardent pacifist murdered by right-wing soldiers in 1919, was sentenced in 1914 to one 
year in prison for her pacifist call-ups. Passionately, she had warned German men, the 
real enemy was not their French counterparts but the Kaiser who planned to misuse them 
as cannon fodder. 
No matter if you wore British khaki or German 'feldgrau', if you had the Prussian 
'Pickelhaube' or the Tommy cap on your head, if your name was Jean or Fritz or John 
you were on the wrong side of Nomansland, bound to shoot your brothers - 
fellow-workers, -employees, fellow-farmers, fellow- students.
"I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who 
want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will 
have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls", wrote British artist Paul 
Nash in a letter home to his wife (1917). 
Every war has its winners. Big weapons' producers/sellers and other multinationals 
always profit from war - no matter who the final victor. Governments profit from war - 
using it as a smokescreen to distract from domestic problems, and its costs as a 
pretext for economically dispossessing their own people. War is a game in which the 
loser is known beforehand: ordinary people. Ordinary people in Israel, paying the 
price for Sharon's wars against the Palestinians/Arabs (Israel being one of the 
biggest military powers on earth while its economy is in tatters). Ordinary people in 
the U.S. who pay for Bush's wars with drastic cutbacks in public spending, and with 
being the object of hate all over the world. It's the "underclass" Allied soldier, 
dying in Bagdad's trenches for a cause which he/she doesn't understand. 
It's people all over this planet trodden down by imperialistic boots.
"I am the enemy you killed, my friend. I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned 
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed. I parried; but my hands were loath and 
cold. Let us sleep now..."
These are words from the trenches of WWI, written by Private Wilfred Owen, a British 
soldier who fell only weeks before the end of war, in November 1918. On the other side 
of the trench lay his German counterpart, Gefreiter Gerrit Engelke, known as "the 
first genius of literature to emerge from the proletariat": 
"On body-eating Somme I lay opposite to you...", he wrote, "but you didn't know! Enemy 
to enemy. Human to human, body to body, warm and cramped."
Engelke died around the same time as Owen.
Today's high-tech soldiers will have to make a decision. Do they want to be but 
remote-controlled robot Terminators - or humans with a clear sense of when it's time 
to lay off the uniform?
Remember: If those Christmas Truce soldiers had been sticking to it, they could have 
saved the lives of 9 Million people! And I'm sure, if they had known what lay ahead of 
them they wouldn't have returned to the trenches, no matter what. How many lives can 
today's soldiers save if they leave their "trenches"?
(1) You may read Solana's doctrine 'A Secure Europe in a Better World' under: 
(2) 'Der bewachte Kriegsschauplatz', Kurt Tucholsky's famous WWI essay
(3) Highly decorated British "hero" of World War I Siegfried Sassoon wrote these 
lines. Because of his war criticism he was tested for psychological disorder
(4) For more on the horrors of the 'Stellungskrieg' on the Western Front read Erich 
Maria Remarque's classic: 'All Quiet on the Western Front'
(5) Due to this censorship, the 'Christmas Truce' has remained widely unknown in 
Germany (unlike Britain, where in the last 89 years many books were written on the 
subject). In 2003 'Der kleine Frieden im Großen Krieg' was published - the first book 
(to my knowledge) on the German perspective. Its author, Michael Jürgs, was 
interviewed on CNN - Christmas Eve 2003, primetime - on the subject.

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