There Must be Consequences for Germany
NATO must show some self-respect
I lived and worked with Germans for years. In their young years, my children's second language - mostly to help their father shop - was German. I have a great affection for Germany and Germans - but with great affection comes great expectations.
I know that my expectations for Germany is not that out of alignment with many Germans, however those Germans and their view of Germany are not presently holding power. As one does with things one values yet does not meet their potential, honest affection requires one to speak up and if needed take action.
The final part of the Merkle administration was problematic, but under the present SDP government led by Olaf Scholz - the Cold War socialist and Soviet apologist, Germany's irresponsible stance in the face of European and NATO security requirements cannot go without consequences. The present, "Just do enough in security to look like we're doing something, but not too much..." should be called out for exactly what it is.
Germany, even more than France, is the keystone to Europe. Too many nations look to her for leadership culturally, economically, and security. Poland is an emerging leader, but she does not have the population or GDP power to match Germany.
Though Germany's present dysfunction is multi-causal, the core of the problem is that the German people chose the wrong leader at the wrong time.
The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has an essay in FP's Jan/Feb edition. It is a long and winding apologia, but look at this Salamanderesque quote from Scholz;
The world must not let Putin get his way; Russia’s revanchist imperialism must be stopped. The crucial role for Germany at this moment is to step up as one of the main providers of security in Europe by investing in our military, strengthening the European defense industry, beefing up our military presence on NATO’s eastern flank, and training and equipping Ukraine’s armed forces.
Germany’s new role will require a new strategic culture, and the national security strategy that my government will adopt a few months from now will reflect this fact. For the last three decades, decisions regarding Germany’s security and the equipment of the country’s armed forces were taken against the backdrop of a Europe at peace. Now, the guiding question will be which threats we and our allies must confront in Europe, most immediately from Russia. These include potential assaults on allied territory, cyberwarfare, and even the remote chance of a nuclear attack, which Putin has not so subtly threatened.
The transatlantic partnership is and remains vital to confronting these challenges. U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration deserve praise for building and investing in strong partnerships and alliances across the globe. But a balanced and resilient transatlantic partnership also requires that Germany and Europe play active roles. One of the first decisions that my government made in the aftermath of Russia’s attack on Ukraine was to designate a special fund of approximately $100 billion to better equip our armed forces, the Bundeswehr. We even changed our constitution to set up this fund. This decision marks the starkest change in German security policy since the establishment of the Bundeswehr in 1955. Our soldiers will receive the political support, materials, and capabilities they need to defend our country and our allies. The goal is a Bundeswehr that we and our allies can rely on. To achieve it, Germany will invest two percent of our gross domestic product in our defense.
Sounds good, but it is just cover.
Of course, serious nations know 2% is a floor, not a ceiling - but there it is.
Earlier this year there was all sorts of talk about boosting spending and getting that floor reached as soon as practical. His words above seem to signal that.
Really? From Politico on Monday,
Germany on Monday walked back its promise to swiftly raise defense spending to at least 2 percent of its economic output — breaching the key commitment made days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to become a more serious military force.
Berlin also sought to play down internal warnings about delays to a flagship procurement of new fighter jets.
During a government press conference, Chief Spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit scaled down expectations for Germany’s defense spending, telling journalists that the 2 percent target would be missed not only this year, but also likely next year: “It’s still open whether that [goal] will be achieved” in 2023, Hebestreit said, adding that his “cautious expectation” was that Germany would still meet the target within this legislative period, which ends in 2025.
The 2 percent pledge had been a key promise of Scholz’s Zeitenwende speech to the German Parliament in February, just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in which the chancellor said: “We will from now, year after year, invest more than 2 percent of gross domestic product invest in our defense.”
This commitment, which is in line with what all members of the NATO military alliance agreed to in 2014, was reiterated by Scholz in an op-ed in Foreign Affairs on Monday — although he no longer said the commitment would be upheld “from now on.”
Last month, it had already emerged that Germany will likely miss its 2 percent target in 2023 as the regular defense budget of about €50 billion will slightly shrink by about €300 million. Only a comparably small first tranche of a massive €100 billion special military upgrading fund is expected to be paid out.
Scholz is not an honest nor a reliable partner. Besides public shaming, what can be done? As outlined many times, there is Plan Salamander;
In NATO, General and Flag Officer billets are distributed amongst nations in a rather complicated way, but this formula is controlled by NATO – and as such – can be changed.
Entering argument: take the present formula for “fair distribution” and multiply by .75 any nation that spends 1.5% to 1.99% GDP on defense. Multiply by .5 any nation that spends between 1.25% to 1.499%. Multiply by .25 1.0% to 1.240%. If you fall below 1%, you get nothing and your OF5 (Col./Capt) billets are halved.
1.25x for 2.01%-2.25%. 1.5X for 2.26%-2.75%; 1.75x for 2.76% -3.0%. 2x for +3.01%.
The NATO nations facing Russia directly are smaller and poorer than Germany and are all spending - or soon will spend - responsibly.
All relationships that are successful and respectful have a common formula; reward positive behavior; punish negative behavior.
Going by to Scholz's article in FP, he reminds everyone what is really driving this. Something going back for decades with him and his cohorts; a thinly disguised dislike of NATO and the Anglo-Saxon influence that comes with it. Like their Western Frankish brothers out of Paris, for a thousand years there is a pull on the German people to control Europe. NATO, be design, will prevent that.
What won't? The EU;
More broadly, the EU must overcome old conflicts and find new solutions. European migration and fiscal policy are cases in point. People will continue to come to Europe, and Europe needs immigrants, so the EU must devise an immigration strategy that is pragmatic and aligns with its values. This means reducing irregular migration and at the same time strengthening legal paths to Europe, in particular for the skilled workers that our labor markets need. On fiscal policy, the union has established a recovery and resilience fund that will also help address the current challenges posed by high energy prices. The union must also do away with selfish blocking tactics in its decision-making processes by eliminating the ability of individual countries to veto certain measures. As the EU expands and becomes a geopolitical actor, quick decision-making will be the key to success. For that reason, Germany has proposed gradually extending the practice of making decisions by majority voting to areas that currently fall under the unanimity rule, such as EU foreign policy and taxation.
Europe must also continue to assume greater responsibility for its own security and needs a coordinated and integrated approach to building its defense capabilities. For example, the militaries of EU member states operate too many different weapons systems, which creates practical and economic inefficiencies. To address these problems, the EU must change its internal bureaucratic procedures, which will require courageous political decisions; EU member states, including Germany, will have to alter their national policies and regulations on exporting jointly manufactured military systems.
NATO is the ultimate guarantor of Euro-Atlantic security, and its strength will only grow with the addition of two prosperous democracies, Finland and Sweden, as members. But NATO is also made stronger when its European members independently take steps toward greater compatibility between their defense structures, within the framework of the EU.
Enough of coddling Germany and not rewarding responsible security partners. Time for NATO to at least start to make a point, and make it publicly.