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NATO's German Problem: Who Needs Soldiers or Weapons?

April 10, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The foreign ministers of America’s European allies visited
Washington to celebrate the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO)’s seventieth anniversary. Members engaged in an orgy
of self-congratulation over an alliance which remains better called
“North America and The Others.” One of the meeting
highlights was preparing to bring in the military behemoth of
(North) Macedonia, following the inclusion of equally mighty
Montenegro two years ago.

One discordant subject was Germany’s military outlays, or
lack thereof. Berlin had promised to hike expenditures to two
percent of GDP by 2024—subsequently downgraded to 1.5
percent—but new budget figures indicated that the real amount
would be lower still. Germany’s government evidently lacks
the political will to put Europe’s defense first.

Without a hint of shame, the German Foreign Office responded to
criticism by tweeting: “Germany wholeheartedly
supports @NATO. We will stand by our commitments. True solidarity
is measured in terms of commitment, not Euros.”
Unfortunately, a barrage of bullets and bombs would be more
effective than mere statements of commitments against an
aggressor.

Europeans should not rely
on Americans to spend, fight, and die for them.

Germany has been a “problem” for a century and a
half. Originally Berlin was overly-militarized and insufficiently
restrained. These failings were on dramatic display in World War
II. No wonder General Hastings Ismay, the former Churchill aide
tapped to serve as NATO’s first secretary general, allowed
that one purpose of the alliance was to “keep the Germans
down.”

Moreover, decades later when the Berlin Wall came crashing down,
the venerable Margaret Thatcher was not alone in opposing German
reunification. Some Europeans saw the specter of the Fourth Reich,
and one wit explained that he loved Germany so much he wanted two
of them.

However, the Federal Republic’s militaristic heritage has not
stirred in the years since; even what passes for Germany’s new
nationalistic, xenophobic right offers no politician who hints at
being Adolf Hitler reincarnated. Certainly, neither avuncular
Helmut Kohl, the first chancellor of a united Germany, nor Angela
Merkel, who has dominated German politics for more than a decade,
acted the part of dictator-wannabe.

Far from clamoring to create a military capable of turning the
country into a Weltmacht, the German people seemed to forget the
reason for establishing armed forces. According to a Pew Research
Center poll, four of ten Germans don’t want to defend NATO
allies from attack. For years among the Bundeswehr’s strongest
advocates were social service agencies, which benefited from
draftees choosing alternative service. Furthermore, in January the
Bundeswehr dispatched mountain troops to Bavaria to… shovel snow
from the roofs of homes after a big winter storm.

Berlin’s lack of interest in all things military
wouldn’t much …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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