According to The New Republic Online, the EU's Congo mission is "the latest stage in the evolution of resurging German power":
Even without the Congo, Germany's plate is already full. At present, the army is involved in no less than eight peacekeeping operations--several in active war zones. In Afghanistan, they have recently taken over command of the nearly 10,000-strong multinational force that controls the northern part of the country (the ISAF) -- to which they currently contribute by far the largest non-U.S. contingent, with about 2,700 troops. In the Balkans, they are spearheading NATO and EU operations with significant ground forces, and they are expected to take command of the EU Bosnian mission by year's end. Alongside these growing responsibilities, Berlin has taken the lead role in NATO's rapid-response force, scheduled to go operational this autumn. Just last month, the force underwent its last test run in a joint exercise in the Atlantic (codenamed "Steadfast Jaguar"). Besides commanding the entire exercise, German General Gerhard Back -- who serves as nato's joint forces commander in Brunssum (the organization's number-two job) -- is also the overall commander of the ISAF operation in Afghanistan and is presently designated to lead the organization's response force if called upon. And there's more. The latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East has created yet another peacekeeping destination to which the German army may be headed.Indeed, Germany will probably contribute a small naval unit to patrol along Lebanon's coast.
In the '90s, in the aftermath of reunification, Germany systematically redefined its military power on the international stage by increasing its involvement in calculated gradations. It offered mostly logistical and medical support during the first Gulf war and the Somali crisis, and it sent Tornado fighter jets to help with NATO's Bosnia campaign. By then, the Germans had come to the water's edge time and again without getting their feet wet. In Kosovo, they took the plunge and deployed heavily armed ground forces. And, while the DRC signifies the next step for the reemerging German postwar power, it certainly doesn't appear to be the last.Indeed, it won't be the last, especially since the Munich based company ESG is developing a Special High Altitude Parachute System (SHAPS) even Batman does not have yet ;-) The fixed wing stealth system will enable the Bundeswehr Special Forces to parachute at 10,000 meters and fly up to 200 km into territories that are too dangerous for planes and helicopters. The Times has more information and Heise has more information and pictures (including the above picture). SHAPS is the final proof of the "reemerging German postwar power." ;-)
The New Republic continues with a good question:
To be sure, there are still German doubts. In June, the Bundestag formally authorized the Congolese deployment by a comfortable margin, but not without several weeks of acrimonious debate. At the time, a poll by Die Welt suggested why passions ran high in the Bundestag: Only 37 percent of Germans supported the mission, while 59 percent remained opposed. Which raises the question of why, exactly, Berlin is flexing its muscles abroad.This also raises the question why the New Republic chose the headline "Germany's Taste for Foreign Intervention: Wil(helm)sonianism" for this article. "Taste", "Wilsonianism" and "Wilhelmsonianism" are inaccurate, confusing and misleading terms.
According to a survey commisioned by the Bundeswehr, most Germans don't have a "taste" for foreign interventions, but rather a pacifist attitude. According to the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung the survey indicates that Germans are more afraid of social service cutbacks than of WMD or a terror attack. Moreover, the poll is supposed to indicate that less Germans support an "active foreign policy" than five years ago:
So fürchten sich 60 Prozent der Deutschen vor der Kürzung von Sozialleistungen, aber nur 29 Prozent vor der Verbreitung von Massenvernichtungswaffen und sogar nur 25 Prozent vor einem Terrorangriff in Deutschland. Auch der Anteil der Menschen, die den Klimawandel und die globale Erwärmung für eine ernste Gefahr halten, liegt mit 34 Prozent höher. (...) Zugleich lehnen immer mehr Deutsche ein starkes aussenpolitisches Engagement ihres Landes ab. Sprachen sich bis 2001 noch mehr als die Hälfte der Befragten für eine aktive Aussenpolitik aus, so waren es im vergangenen Jahr nur noch 34 Prozent. Zwei Drittel der Befragten stimmen der Aussage zu, dass es in Deutschland genug Probleme gebe, die erst gelöst werden müssten, bevor man sich im Ausland engagiere. (...) «Wie unsere Untersuchungen zeigen, ist die Mehrheit der Bundesbürger pazifistisch eingestellt», sagt der Autor der Bundeswehr-Studie, Thomas Bulmahn.Anyway, the The New Republic Online article by Yoav Fromer, the political correspondent in New York for the Israeli newspaper Maariv, is interesting and I would like to thank Don for recommending it.
Related: Regina Karp, associate professor in international studies and director of the Center for Regional and Global Study at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, wrote about "The New German Foreign Policy Consensus" for the freely available Washington Quarterly (PDF), Winter 2005/2006. Some quotes:
German foreign policy has been transformed more fundamentally since unification in 1990, with German leaders having progressively evolved their country’s international goals from an almost exclusive focus on Europe to an increasingly global outlook that embraces political, economic, and security interests. Most noticeable has been Germany’s greater willingness to become militarily engaged in missions beyond NATO’s traditional boundaries. Underlying Germany’s change has been the rise of a distinct vision of international order and the principles that govern it. This vision (Weltanschauung) rests on deeply held assumptions about the possibilities and opportunities for progress in international relations; the mechanisms by which peace and stability can be achieved and sustained; the civilizational potential of treaties, rules, and norms; and the inevitable decline of the state as the single most important locus of political organization. (...)
The Bush administration views institutions in an instrumental capacity. They need to identify violators of rules and norms and punish them as appropriate. This view was clearly evident in Bush’s assessment of the UN’s role vis-à-vis Iraq. Institutions that are ultimately unwilling to enforce the rules they claim to uphold are hollow in Washington. Germany sees institutions as essential building blocks of international order and the process of institution building as more important than issue-related outcomes. The spread of democracy is the task of institutional governance, and institutions are the agents of change. Where the United States confronts opposition, Germany conciliates.
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