Many American (and German) blogs are always very critical of (alleged) German policies and media reports related to Israel, Hezbollah, and Iran. So let's have a look of what a leading Israeli newspaper and Israel's Prime Minister recently opined and many US newspapers and "pro-Israeli blogs" ignored. The Jerusalem Post wrote on August 22, 2006 (As always, emphasis in bold was added):
In the face of Iran's race to obtain nuclear power, Israel signed a contract with Germany last month to buy two Dolphin-class submarines that will, according to foreign reports, provide superior second-strike nuclear capabilities, The Jerusalem Post has learned. (...) The contract signing was said to have come after a long dispute over the price and financing of the submarines. According to the details obtained by the Post, Israel will purchase the two Dolphins, manufactured by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG, for $1.27 billion, a third of which will be financed by the German government.And on August 24, the Jerusalem Post wrote that these submarines are an indication of "Germany's Transformation":
Israelis will be able to sleep better once these impressive machines are slicing silently through the dangerous waters far from our shores. Added to the three other [German] submarines of their class already in service with the navy, the newcomers will greatly enhance the long-range capabilities of our increasingly formidable sea defenses. The first three vessels - the INS Dolphin, INS Leviatan and INS Tekuma, ushered into Haifa Bay in 1999 and 2000 - are significantly larger than Israel's 30-year-old Gal-class submarines, significantly more advanced and significantly better armed. These new additions, scheduled to arrive within two years, are even more so. (...)Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has asked Germany to send troops to South Lebanon, as Haaretz wrote on August 5, 2006:
That Germany is steadfastly opposing an Iranian nuclear weapons program, while at the same time building advanced submarines for Israel, is profoundly important - for the future, and because of the past. (…)
The stance of the German government underlines a radical transformation for that country's people. While their grandparents' generation perpetrated the Holocaust, and the previous generation paid for the Holocaust with reparations to its victims, the current generation is helping prevent a second Holocaust by providing the IDF with some of the most important defensive weapons systems in its arsenal. As far as corrective steps go, that's a huge one.
"I have informed [German] Chancellor Angela Merkel that we have absolutely no problem having German troops in South Lebanon," Olmert told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "There is no other nation that Israel considers more of a friend that Germany... I would be very happy if Germany participated," he said. The German government has not ruled out sending troops to the Middle East but many citizens are uneasy about sending soldiers to the region. Those in Germany opposed to the deployment of German troops along the Israeli border say they fear it would hurt the feelings of Holocaust survivors and that the troops would find it difficult to be impartially and operate against Israel if necessary. But Olmert said he does not consider this to be problematic. "Why would German troops need to fire at Israelis for? They would be part of a force operating to defend Israel. There is no nation acting in a friendlier manner towards Israel than Germany," he said. The prime minister said Israel has asked of the U.S. many times to deploy its troops as part of the international peacekeeping force, but "we cannot force the U.S." he said.UPDATE: The Washington Post wrote about the submarine deal (HT: Hammer).
The Dolphin submarine could be one of the best deterrents, Beaver [an independent defense analyst who used to work for Jane's Defense Weekly] said. The technology on the subs makes them undetectable and gives them defensive capabilities in the case of attack, he said. "They are very well-built, very well-prepared, lots of interesting equipment, one of the best conventional submarines available," Beaver said. "We are talking about a third string of deterrence capabilities."Also see this comment concerning the sale and arms control guidelines.
Michael Karpin, an expert on Israel's atomic weapons capabilities who published a book on the issue in the United States, said nuclear-armed submarines provide better second-strike capabilities than missiles launched from airplanes. "Planes are vulnerable, unlike nuclear (armed) submarines that can operate for an almost unlimited amount of time without being struck," Karpin said. "Second-strike capabilities are a crucial element in any nuclear conflict."
In Germany, members of two opposition parties criticized the deal. Winfried Nachtwei, national security spokesman for the Greens, said the decision was wrong because Germany had obtained no guarantee the submarines would not be used to carry nuclear weapons.
Olaf Petersen, another commentator with some relevant background considers teh submarines useful for reconaissance, electronic warfare, conducting frogman missions, and special operations rather than nuclear deterrence.
The Jerusalem Post now writes:
Two new submarines which Israel would receive under a deal it signed with Germany last month, will only start being delivered in 2010, German government spokesman Thomas Steg said Friday. Steg added that the submarines would not be equipped to fire nuclear weapons. A German defense official said, however, that it was possible that Israel would make structural changes to the vessels upon delivery and would widen the missile launchers aboard, allowing for the installation of cruise missiles. According to foreign reports, Israel has cruise missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. (...) "The submarines will not... be built and equipped for the firing of nuclear weapons, but are designed for the conduct of conventional war," said Steg. Asked if Germany wanted assurances from Israel on that point, he said: "We have no mistrust and no suspicion toward our Israeli partner."