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Germany at war

A US F-15E Strike Eagle takes off from its Italian base
A US F-15E Strike Eagle takes off from its Italian base. Photo: DoD (US)

Efforts at mediation between the Serb government in Belgrade and the political leaders of the Kosovar Albanians finally failed at the conference of Rambouillet in France. Paul Hockenos describes what followed:

On March 24, 1999, NATO aircraft took off from bases in northern Italy to bomb Serbia into submission. The first sortie included four Tornado jets flown by German pilots. Germany was in a shooting war for the first time in fifty-four years without a U.N. mandate, against a state that had not attacked it or a NATO ally, in a region the Nazis had once wreaked terror upon, and under the leadership of a leftist government.

"Germany goes to war, silently. No enthusiasm, naturally not, but also with astonishing little uproar," commented the weekly Die Zeit. "What's so incredible is the simple acceptance of this in the Federal Republic after half a century of nonviolent foreign policy and a societal pacifism that we thought was deeply rooted." Was it blind conformism or "normality in the good sense"? asked Die Zeit. The author speculated that opposition could mount quickly: "The millions of peace demonstrators from the 1980s are all still there, even if not currently on the streets. Has their world really changed as much as Joschka Fischer's?"

[pp. 267-268]

Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic. 2007. [Oxford University Press]

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