Germany to Be a Bigger Military Power Than Russia
Germany plans to boost its armed forces to more than 200,000 soldiers by 2025, the latest sign that Berlin is committed to rebuilding its military after decades of neglect.
Even a modest boost to German defence spending means radical changes to the world order.
The German Army should be deployed proactively abroad, German defence minister said. She has pledged to bump defence spending to 2% of GDP by 2031, which could make Germany the third largest defence spender in the world.
In an announcement by Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany finally pledged to reach the NATO spending goal of 2 percent of economic output.
Speaking at a private event to honour NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Munich on Thursday, Kramp-Karrenbauer said that Europe’s ability to defend itself “starts with the defence budget.”
President Trump, like other U.S. leaders before him, has publicly assailed European nations such as Germany for their relatively low military spending.
Trump had singled out Germany, the largest economy in Europe, as a freeloader on the back of the U.S. military, telling Fox Business Network this summer that “Germany doesn’t pay what they’re supposed to pay” on NATO and that the country was “taking tremendous advantage.”
We will do it for Germany and not for Trump.
But the defence minister’s ambitions for Germany’s military may extend beyond the whims of Trump. Kramp-Karrenbauer is currently leader of the CDU; she is widely seen as a possible successor to Merkel, who has said she will step down as German chancellor before 2021. If Kramp-Karrenbauer were to lead Germany as long as Merkel has, she could be in the chancellor’s office until 2033.
As she spoke in Munich on Thursday, Kramp-Karrenbauer said the increase in spending was needed “not because the American president — and not just the current one — demands that, but because it is in our own security interest.”
Germany greatly benefits from the rules-based global order and should do more to secure its success, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a speech delivered Thursday at the Bundeswehr University in Munich
“A country of our size, with our economic and technological power, our geostrategic position and global interests, cannot just stand on the sidelines and watch,” she said. “Germany must participate in international debates and drive them forward.”
She pledged to boost defence spending to 2% of GDP, a NATO target, by 2031. While it would be well behind the 2024 goal, it could eventually make Germany the third largest defence spender in the world, behind the US and China. For now, Germany would try to reach 1.5% of GDP by 2024, she added.
The defence minister, who also serves as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said she plans to move forward with the formation of a national security council in recognition of Germany’s strategic interests.
In an earlier interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, she urged Berlin to take an increasingly active role in military engagements abroad.
Germany must “openly deal with the fact that we, like every other country in the world, have our own strategic interests,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
But her proposal was met with caution from other Cabinet members. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the idea of a more assertive German military required robust support from European allies.
“Above all, we must define our responsibility on a European basis,” Maas told public broadcaster ZDF. “That means that we don’t just take care of our own issues alone, but rather that we as part of Europe play a leading role in competition between superpowers.”
Ursula von der Leyen the new EU president is starting her new career as European Commission chief in Brussels, but the German defence minister still has questions to answer back home. The former German defence minister is being probed over An investigative committee of the German parliament — the toughest instrument that German lawmakers can use to probe government misdeeds — is digging into how lucrative contracts from her ministry were awarded to outside consultants without proper oversight, and whether a network of informal personal connections facilitated those deals.
Europe must also learn the language of power
The European Union needs to take a more active role in global politics if it wants to protect its interests, incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.
“Europe must also learn the language of power,” von der Leyen said during a speech on European policy in Berlin.
“On the one hand, this means building our own muscles [in areas] where we’ve long been relying on others — for example in security policies,” the former German defence minister said. “That also means applying our existing power in a more targeted way in areas where European interests are concerned.”
In the future, she added, the EU’s partners should expect stronger positions from the bloc as the former strategy of exercising “soft power” is no longer enough in today’s world.
Von der Leyen’s remarks in the German capital came on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. They also come a day after Germany’s current defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, called for Germany to play a more active military role in the world.LINK
Few appreciate what a massive shift this would mean for Europe. In an article titled “Should Europeans Spend More on Defence?”, Dalibor Rohac wrote for the EU Observer:
Yet there is also a dark side to a hypothetical beefing-up of Europe’s militarises. America’s dominance of nato, and Europe’s apparent free riding, has brought one significant benefit. Namely, there has been a taming of the regional rivalries that had long existed between European countries and had periodically devastated the Continent. If land warfare between Europe’s democracies has become unthinkable, this is to say that it is unthinkable primarily in the literal, practical sense. There is no capacity to fight any such war: not enough men in uniforms, tanks, guns or airplanes. A Europe that takes care of its own security without “free riding” on the United States would likely see traditional rivalries return. For instance, by bringing its defence spending a bit above 2 percent of gdp, Germany would outspend Russia and become the fourth-largest military power in the world.
This trend could result in Europe developing its massive military potential. Already nato’s European members spend five times more on defence than Russia, and Russia has been able to accomplish quite a lot with its armed forces. Add a little more spending, a bit more military cooperation and especially a strong leader willing to use the force that already exists, and Europe can very quickly become a major power.
When Germany spends 2 percent of gdp on its military, it will be even more dominant within the European Union. Once von der Leyen’s plans are complete, the German army would be slightly larger than the British armed forces are right now. Rohac continued in his article:
Some have blamed Germany, rightly or wrongly, for imposing austerity on economies in the eurozone’s Mediterranean periphery. Central European countries such as Hungary or Slovakia, in turn, soured to Berlin’s leadership following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “welcome” extended to Syrian asylum seekers in September 2015.These disputes might have been heated, but they were still largely amicable. But what would the standoff over Greek debt or the EU’s asylum policies look like if Germany were not just an economic powerhouse but also wielded real military might? How would it shape the country’s relations with the Czech Republic, which expelled 2.5 million ethnic Germans from the Sudetenland after World War ii? And what about with Poland?[I]f Europeans are to spend more on defence, they need be careful to do it in a way that does not resuscitate the Continent’s old demons.
Even Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, raised similar concerns. “One has to ask whether it would really calm Germany’s neighbours if we turned into a big military power in Europe and … spent over €60 billion (us$64 billion) a year in weapons,” he said. “I have my doubts.”
Germany has often taken a back seat in foreign military engagements, largely because of constitutional restrictions put in place to prevent similar atrocities to those committed during World War II.
The Wehrbeauftragte (Military commissioner) Bartels agreed Kramp-Karrenbauer also, but also referred to international missions in which the Bundeswehr already stands. “Standing on the sidelines and distributing attitude notes is certainly not the case for Europe’s largest country, the world’s fourth largest economy.” Mrs. Kramp-Karrenbauer was “completely right”.
Currently, 3,100 soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan, Mali and Niger, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Jordan and Iraq. There would be far greater NATO commitments in Europe. “The troops are already plaguing bottlenecks,” said Bartels.
But Germany’s allies, including the US, have urged the country to take on more responsibilities concerning collective security in NATO and the EU.
Washington has notably pushed for significant increases to defence spending, long considered a divisive move in the German public.
Kramp-Karrenbauer’s comments came hours before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Germany for commemorations marking 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Cautious while a racist sits in the White House.
The Greens and the SPD criticize Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer for calling for a stronger military engagement. The ideas of the CDU boss are daring.
Green Party leader Anton Hofreiter has criticised the plans of Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer for a stronger military engagement of Germany in the world . “My impression is that this Secretary of Defence is above all defending herself, and in the last few weeks she has been putting together daring, ill-conceived and age-old ideas,” said Hofreiter
Raising defense spending in Germany is politically sensitive. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior party in the government coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has argued against increased military funding. Der Spiegel reported Thursday that the two parties are already at odds over the details of Kramp-Karrenbauer’s proposal.
The sometimes fraught relationship between Germany and the United States is one factor in the political debate. One member of the SPD leadership said this summer that Germany needed to remain cautious about sending troops abroad in partnership with the United States as “a racist sits in the White House.”