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Ex-NATO General: Work with Russia on Syria or Risk WW III

Sept. 10, 2015 (EIRNS)—On Germany's Second Channel-TV (ZDF) late night talk show on Sept. 9, Gen. Harald Kujat (ret.) continued to emphasize his remarks from Sept. 8 interviews that the United States and Russia must come to a political agreement on ending the war in Syria. General Kujat headed the NATO Military Committee in 2002-05, and before that was Bundeswehr chief of general staff (2000-02).

The ZDF host Markus Lanz, playing up the possibility of troops on the ground in Syria, then asked General Kujat the "Gretchen question" (the difficult question which goes to the heart of the matter): How do you explain to an American population "who are weary of war, who don't want to anymore," or the Germans, the majority of whom are against deploying the Bundeswehr into war, that troops in Syria might be necessary?

Kujat replied: Yes, the American population is Kriegsmüde," war weary, after two wars in Iraq, the large losses in Afghanistan, and second, "we are now facing a [U.S.] Presidential election and the pre-election campaigns have already begun." After commenting on Obama's own preoccupation on how history would judge him, he said, "We are going to have problems with bringing America into this alliance with Russia," because the question will also arise, what must we do in Syria militarily to prevent ISIS from taking over, given the complicated situation on the ground, and "the Americans have no great interest to again be pulled into a conflict."

Asked what he would advise the German government, Kujat replied,

"I would advise the government that jointly, with Russia, with the United States, and with the Europeans, we find a political solution for this conflict,"

only then can we think about what military means would be necessary; and, when we have agreement with Putin, "I wouldn't recommend that."

Just at that point, the moderator asked,

"do think it conceivable that out of this situation a third world war could happen, when it really comes to a major conflict between the superpowers? There are people who are saying that."

General Kujat:

"I am always worried when we have a constellation with the sole remaining nuclear superpowers that could go into confrontation. That is the case in Ukraine, and it could happen, that things could go further, such that we could not find a political solution, also in the Middle East and especially in Syria. ... I am not so pessimistic that it will run out of control, but, the risks are very, very great, and are that way because Russia is not treated as a negotiating partner on an equal footing, either by the Americans, or the Europeans.... " And when the moderator quoted Obama that "Russia is only a regional power," Kujat replied that "that was a dumb mistake."