Germany is weighing an increase in its military involvement in foreign matters. After a recent meeting between Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, Steinmeier said, “Germany can’t leave France on its own” in its military missions in Africa.
“That is a big step not just for France, but for Germany as well,” said Spiegel. Previously, Germany tried to stay out of armed conflicts by the “culture of military restraint,” which left such unpleasant tasks to others.
But now, two ministers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new coalition are advocating a change. Steinmeier and Ursula von der Leyen argue that Germany cannot stand on the sidelines any more. “We can’t look away when murder and rape are taking place daily,” said von der Leyen.
And policy change is already happening. Germany is going to send more troops to support France in its campaign against Islamists in Mali and is considering providing military aircraft for transport and medical evacuation in the Central African Republic.
“We want to reactivate the Foreign Ministry,” said State Secretary Markus Ederer. And another high ranking official said, “It’s getting harder each month to justify a policy of military restraint.” Von der Leyen wants the German Defense Ministry to lead development of a common European security policy, pooling and sharing resources and capabilities. This would necessitate the centralization of military power and command at the EU level (which Germany mostly controls). Von der Leyen has also broached the topic of a joint European army.
In an interview with Spiegel, Von der Leyen connected foreign policy strategy to globalization, “Due to globalization, distant conflicts are now much closer to Europe, whether we like it or not. That’s why it’s in the European Union’s best interests to provide for security and stability by helping countries live up to their responsibilities… Now we have to realize that globalization also includes completely new challenges for defense and security policy. Europe must speak with a single voice in the future when it comes to security policy.”
Globalization leads to further militarization, not less. And Germany is aiming to lead Europe into armed intervention on an increasingly wider scale. Shifting emphasis from specific nations to regions of nations or even continents is a key aspect in justifying distant military action. “Africa is our direct neighbor,” Von der Leyen said, “even though the Central African Republic is 5,300 km from Germany.”
Germany’s willingness to assist with the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons was a good opportunity for Germany to take on more responsibility without having to take much risk. Though Merkel supports the policy of military restraint, she has authorized substantial exports of German weapons to authoritarian allies like Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
Change was also evident at the Munich Security Conference held recently. Instead of defending its passivity, Germany tried to change the narrative and signal Germany’s willingness to get more involved in military matters. German President Joachim Gauck called on Germans to recognize their place in the world.
Germany is rising gradually, reinstating her military power. Could this be a harbinger of another world war?
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars.” Matthew 24:6