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Leading Role for NATO in Germany's New Security and Defense Policy Review

UPDATE: Marco Overhaus, a research fellow at the University of Trier and Fulbright Alumnus, describes Germany's new White Paper on security policy as a "Solid Basis for a Needed Debate.":
The White Paper devotes considerable space to describing the comparative advantages of both NATO (with its integrated military structure) and the European Union (with its broad array of foreign and security instruments) and quite frankly states that the current state of cooperation between both organizations is unsatisfactory. Certainly, a distinct feature of the present White Paper is its clear and unequivocal commitment to NATO as "the cornerstone of German security and defence policy." This is probably the clearest departure of German security policy under the previous government of Chancellor Schroeder who was willing to confront Washington and put more emphasis on the development of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). (...)
Yet, the principal test will be whether the German government will put these ideas into practice. Not surprisingly, a major obstacle to the implementation of the stated goals will be their financial implications. A broad security strategy also necessitates greater financial resources, and at least some of the propositions in the White Paper imply higher expenditures.
Overhaus also criticizes that the White Paper "shies away from honestly addressing the problems of German and international efforts to deal with the decreasing stability" in Afghanistan. His general assessment, however, tilts towards the positive. He concludes that "the White Paper should also be understood as a starting point for a national debate on security policy which is urgently needed as increasing international demands on Germany meet more scepticism on the domestic front."

The Financial Times comments on the White Paper as well and argues that Germany"needs to get rid of conscription, a tradition that limits the country's military effectiveness." That won't happen anytime soon. [END of UPDATE]

The New York Times writes about the new German Defense White Book:
Germany will publish a defense and security policy review on Wednesday [October 25, 2006] that says the country is poised to play a major role in Europe without distancing itself from the NATO alliance. The review -- the first in 12 years -- is a sign that Germany has grown more confident and assertive about its place on the international stage, after decades spent living down the aggression and atrocities of the Nazi years and then knitting itself back into a single nation. (...)
As a member of NATO, the review says, Germany's obligation to defend its allies in case of attack extends to giving "assistance in crises and conflicts that could escalate into concrete threats." That language reflects Germany's decision to start allowing Bundeswehr troops to deploy outside NATO territory as part of international peacekeeping missions. (...) Critics who have seen it say it fails to define under what circumstances the Bundeswehr would intervene outside Germany. Nor does it spell out Germany's view of the role of NATO and the European Union in dealing with new threats, particularly international terrorism. Both organizations have rapid reaction forces that are supposed to be ready to reach trouble spots anywhere in the world within a few days. And both are competing for financing from their members to buy new military equipment and pay for military missions. (...) The review carefully avoids pitting the needs and goals of the European Union and NATO against one another. "Both have indispensable contributions for our security," the document says. Germany "will work toward improving the relationship between both organizations in a way that leads to closer cooperation, greater efficiency, avoids duplication and strengthens the European and transatlantic relationship overall." But it states that the "fundamental questions of Europe's security can only in the future be answered together with the United States."
International Herald Tribune:
The document says that "North Atlantic relations remain the basis of German and European common security," says German-American ties require "constant care and deepening through mutual consultation and agreed action" and stresses that the European Union and NATO are "not in competition."
Ulrich Speck has already read the 133 pages and learned that NATO continues to be the prefered international organisation for Germany, followed by the EU and the UN. His Kosmoblog (in German) and many others observers criticize the lack of precise statements and prioritization.

You can read the full "White Paper 2006 on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr" in German at Weissbuch.de or download a 7 pages long English summary (pdf).

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
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Don S on :

"North Atlantic relations remain the basis of German and European common security" Meaning the North Atlantic and nowhere else? Does Germany have a large navy? ;) "and many others observers criticize the lack of precise statements and prioriticizing." Well, it's HARD to be precise - doesn't leave enough wiggle room to allow one to make one's excuses and opt out - like in Iraq. I would hope that the US mission statement will in future be even MORE ambigouous - if you take my meaning....

Zyme on :

Don S is right about options: If the White Book contained a clear preference for the Nato OR EU-Corps, our country would have lost lots of influence in the non-preferred alliance. By remaining unclear, the decision still remains ours. The latent possibility of leaving one military alliance in favor of the other is a tool for our government, which it does not want to lose. Practically this procedure is very similar to the chinese actions in economical affairs: China always seems to be kind to many industrial nations - so that their "partners" are in constant need to underbid each other.

Don S on :

I was being sarcastic, Zyme. I'm also pointing out that when Germany and France find it inconvenient to stand with the US on Iraq the US may well find it inconvenient to stand with Germany and France on a future Kosovo or other European crisis. If things remain the way they have been it's pretty clear that Germany and France need the US contribution more than the US needs Germany and France. Nevertheless the 'long-sighted' European 'Statesmen' have provided the US with both a pretext and a rationale for opting out of any future European crisis. This is not intelligent diplomacy. Bismark and Talleyrand are spinning in their graves....

Martin on :

Bismarck and Talleyrand would do the same. Throughout history, the United States found it only "convenient" to get involved in Europe, when it was in her interest.

Don on :

How was fighting the Kosovo War for Europe in US interests, pray tell? No oil in the former Yugoslavia, right? So what did the US fight the war for - to protect a vacation spot popular with Europeans? Perhaps to preserve archeological treasures?

Martin on :

Likewise you could ask what is Europe doing in Afghanistan? Vacation spot or solidarity with the United States or self-interest? There are more European soldiers in Afghanistan than American soldiers in Kosovo and Bosnia.

Martin on :

Not a single American soldier was killed in Bosnia and Kosovo. Many British, Spanish, German, Dutch soldiers died in Afghanistan and some in Kosovo.

Don on :

"Not a single American soldier was killed in Bosnia and Kosovo." Not even in an accident? Not a single NATO soldier was even put in danger's way during the Kosovo War - except Americans and Brits of course. They are the mercenaries who actually commit the war cri - er I mean do the fighting for you. "Many British, Spanish, German, Dutch soldiers died in Afghanistan and some in Kosovo." Kosovo? Can you document that? Dying of VD doesn't count, BTW. BTW - don't count the Brits in this. The Brits have fought as hard as the US in all the wars. The issue is npt with the Brits. And if you want any chance to be heard after the latest round of betrayal - I suggest you send a Brit - unless you're going for comedic effect....

Don on :

"Likewise you could ask what is Europe doing in Afghanistan? Vacation spot or solidarity with the United States or self-interest?" If Europe had not come to Afghanistan NATO would have broken like a cheap toy - sooner or later. Nevertheless we've noted that large parts of Europe have sent only the most token of forces. France and Spain very notably. And Spain is trying to wiggle out completely. The deployment of the continental Europeans is also instructive. The bulk of the combat missions are undertaken by US, British, and Canadian forces. Lately there has been more combat in the EU led sector as things have heated up - leading to demands for the US to deploy more of our 'war criminals' of course....

Olaf Petersen on :

In case of Iraq Germany was right 'to opt out' - Operation Iraqi Freedom was clearly against international law and the UN-Charta. All relevant resolutions including the notorious 1441 were based on the cease-fire resolution 687. The only nation in the world that had the right to announce the end of the 1991 cease-fire with Iraq was Kuwait, but that never happened.- Europe's security is stable for decades now. While NATO has declared Central Asia as its new sphere of interest and responsibility, EU-Forces will primarily engage in Africa in the next following years. Both NATO and EU will coordinate their engagements thoroughly to avoid any redundance - there is nothing 'unclear' about it.

Don S on :

"Operation Iraqi Freedom was clearly against international law and the UN-Charta" Yes, I have observed this. International Law can be always be used to provide a pretext not to fulfill one's obligations. And International Law is what the continental EU countries say it is; neither more or less. For example - the relevant portions of the UN Charter you cite,. They have been a dead letter since 1950 if not befoe that - but suddenly sprang back into life just in time so that Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder could declare the US to be 'wra criminals'. Presumably the corpse will be decently buried again should a future crisis make it necessary - to pursue European interests.

Ulrich Speck on :

The fundamental problem with the Weißbuch is that it doesn't defines priorities. Yes, Nato is important, yes, EU is important, yes, UN is important. Yes, there are many global threats, and Germany has to help to fight them. Yes, we have to work with our allies. Yes, its important to secure free world trade, fight terrorism and other challenges. Yes, we have interests, from number 1 to 9, yes, Bundeswehr should defend them. But for every concrete question, the Weißbuch doesn't help with general ideas and principles, or even strategic advice. Bundeswehr in Afghanistan? Yes, because we fight terrorism, secure democracy, work with the allies. Bundeswehr in Congo? Yes, because its about democracy and we work with our allies. Bundeswehr in Thailand? Sure, if we got an UN mandate and work with our allies. So anything goes, nothing is excluded, everything is of equal importance. As long as there is a UN mandate and a coalition. In practice, this means that the Weißbuch will have no impact on policy. At least the first half which deals with general security policy. You can say this is also the case with NSS 2002 or 2006, but at least there are clear ideas, notions and priorities which have influenced the strategic community. Perhaps this is also true for the European Security Strategy (ESS) 2003, which is a carefully written, clear and short document.

Don S on :

Gentlemen, the US indeed fought the Kosovo war for US interests as we percieved themn at the time. Call it the 'Three Musketeers' rationale. 'All for one and One for All. Events since 2001 have shown that to be utter nonsense, unfortunately. So..... Next time, fight your own damned wars!

Anonymous on :

Don S Fighting its own damned wars is the basic right of any free nation :)

ADMIN on :

The post has been updated to include a commentary, which describes the White Paper as a basis for a much needed national debate about Germany's interests, criteria for international Bundeswehr missions, security policy in general etc. Hopefully that debate will take place and a new and more precise White Paper will emerge soon.

Zyme on :

"Hopefully that debate will take place and a new and more precise White Paper will emerge soon." Are you serious? I mean firstly there rarely is a public debate on such issues here as we have an indirect democracy. And secondly, it took more than a decade to create this white book, there is no reason to expect the next one any sooner.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

I have been imprecise. By "hopefully" I meant that this is what I hope will happen. It should happen, it must happen. It is not very likely, but it is not just wishful thinking either. We need this debate. And more and more German citizens and experts think that we need one and some are starting to have this debate. Got a different impression?? "indirect democracy." What does that have to do with it? Most democracies are indirect democracies. Even Switzerland is more an indirect than a direct democracy. "there is no reason to expect the next one any sooner." Afghanistan is one of the reasons. The missions in Lebanon and Congo are another. I am skeptical about all three missions. And I am confident that we learn some lessons from them. Likewise, the US will learn a lesson from Iraq and change their strategy as well. [b]The White Paper is the German equivalent to the Quadrennial Defense Review[/b] [url]http://www.defenselink.mil/qdr/[/url] As the name says, they are published every four years. The German government should publish its White Paper once a every four years as well, if you ask me. The last QDR is from 2005. The next one will look quite differently, I believe. Likewise, I think the next German White Paper should be more precise.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

The Wikipedia article about the Quadrennial Defense Review is just one sentence long: [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrennial_Defense_Review[/url] Thus, if we take Wikipedia as an indicator of how much debate there is, then the Quadrennial Defense Review is not much of a topic and of not much interest... ;-) Yeah, I know, in general there is more debate in the US about national security strategies and national interests than in Germany.

Fuchur on :

Thanks for (as usual), compiling a load of interesting links! I do not share Marco Overhaus´s semi-positive review. IMO, there´s a simple reason why this White Paper is trash: 149 pages definitely are enough space to make your point. If you write 149 pages, with the result that the whole nation wonders what you´re actually saying - then you did a really crappy job! I love the "Weiß-nicht-so-recht" pun! It´s dead on. Oh - and the FTD is of course right about the conscription/draft: It´s high time we got rid of this atavism.

Zyme on :

"What does that have to do with it? Most democracies are indirect democracies. Even Switzerland is more an indirect than a direct democracy." Well I was just pointing out that a call for a "national" debate is highly inaccurate: Rather than a national debate, all you can hope for is an "exclusive" debate in the political class. That was my message in this :) "As the name says, they are published every four years. The German government should publish its White Paper once a every four years as well, if you ask me." Interesting idea - this doesn´t sound bad. I would prefer a sovereign government though which does not need clear strategy books and can decide from case to case. And practically that is what has been achieved with the current strategy book. This way, it is totally up the coming governments to make the best out of this freedom for our country.

Don S on :

"The White Paper is the German equivalent to the Quadrennial Defense Review" I'm not sure this is true, Joerg. The German White Papaer sounds like it's more of a generational review than the QDR appaears to be. Perhaps somewhere midway between the QDR and Rumsfelds overturning of the US armed forces. Presumably the QDR was used as input into that - but it wasn't used as policy. The German White Paper seems to be policy. I think you need to frequently overhaul such things in light of recent lessons - or at least take those lessons into account in your decision-making process. Particularly when you are changing what you do in a major way - as Germany is doing right now. I think Germany would also be wise to overhaul it's plans and not assume that the US will be there to do the fighting in European crisises any more. I don't believe we will....

Fuchur on :

"and not assume that the US will be there to do the fighting in European crisises any more" Hm - so that´s American gratitude? Is that your way of saying "Thank you" to the Europeans who helped you out in Iraq? To refresh your (apparently quite selective) memory: These include the UK, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Albania, Macedonia, ... (google the complete list)

Don S on :

Spain, Fuchur. Don't forget Spain's unique contribution....

Fuchur on :

What´s your point?! Btw, here´s a fun quiz for you: What do the following persons have in common? Perez Garcia, Gonzalo Egea, Jose Lucas Baro Ollero, Carlos Zanon Tarazona, Luis Ignacio Merino Olivera, Jose Ramon Rodriguez Perez, Jose Carlos Vega Calvo, Alfonso Martinez Gonzalez, Alberto Puga Gandar, Luis Bernal Gomez, Jose Antonio Martin-Oar, Manuel Any idea?

Don S on :

Fuchur, words cannot express the profound depths of my ingratitude toward most of these noble countries - with one exception, the UK. Spain sticks out because of the two weeks notice given of their withdrawal from Iraq, but the Schaudenfreud expressed in the German and French press at this righteous action did not escape my attention..... With such tokens of European regard what can a grateful nation do - but respond in kind?

David on :

These are the names of Spanish troops killed in Bush's Iraq debacle. As the conservative columnist George Will asks this week in Newsweek: "They died for what?" November 7 will be a referendum in America on the Iraq War and the presidency. Watch for a seismic shift.

Fuchur on :

Yes, that´s their names. But I guess one has to do a lot more than to just give one's live in order to earn oneself the gratitude of people like DonS...

Don S on :

Gratitude goes to the individual, Fuchur. Not to a nation or a continent, particularly a nation or a continent which has behaved the way Zapatero did. And Schroeder and Chirac behaved as well.... The depths of my lack of gratitude to those three gentlemen remains untested....

Ulrich Speck on :

Fuchur brings it to the point:"If you write 149 pages, with the result that the whole nation wonders what you´re actually saying - then you did a really crappy job!" NYT and FT and others need to report something, so they choose what they like. There is everything in it, so everybody is free to construct his own Weißbuch. Strategy is about exluding some options, and recommanding others. The Weißbuch leaves everything open. Therefore, there is nothing to discuss.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

I disagree with your understanding of strategy. I think a good strategy never excludes any options. The White Paper should have outlined what security risks are the most serious ones. And it should have described what strategy should be primarily used to deal with them. Apparently the White Paper did not even describe in what circumstances the Bundeswehr shall be deployed on out-of-area missions. I guess, the missions in Lebanon, Congo and Afghanistan have to end in a disaster first. Then they will think about Bundeswehr deployments more seriously. [i]NYT and FT and others need to report something, so they choose what they like. There is everything in it, so everybody is free to construct his own Weißbuch.[/i] Is it really that vague? Aren't many stratgy papers similarly vague? Those from the European Union (like the Barcelona declarations or other documents concerning the Euro-med Partnership) certainly are. I would need to read the Quadrennial Defense Review again to comment on that one. Though, is the White Paper really that ambivalent and totally open to interpretation? You wrote in your blog as well that the White Paper considers NATO as the main organization for security, followed by EU and UN. So the NYT is correct in describing that the White Paper has made some sort of commitment to NATO or even giving NATO preference over ESDP. And Marco Overhaus (see update in the post) made a similar comment. He considers that as "probably the clearest departure of German security policy under the previous government of Chancellor Schroeder who was willing to confront Washington and put more emphasis on the development of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP)." Well, I am sure the development of ESDP will continue. I have not read the entire White Paper yet. I will do so in the next few weeks and then write more.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Bertelsmann Foundation has written a short (15 pages), superficial, not really interesting paper about the Weissbuch titled "Gut, aber nicht gut genug". The consider the Weissbuch a success all in all: "Alles in allem ist das Weißbuch gelungen. Zugleich greift die Analyse an mehreren Stellen zu kurz oder bleibt unvollständig." pdf: [url]http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/bst/de/media/xcms_bst_dms_19147_19148_2.pdf[/url]

joe on :

fucher, Which germans should the US thank?

Fuchur on :

Dunno - guess it depends upon which Americans you feel thankful to. Do you feel grateful to a US soldier serving in Kosovo? Then I see no reason why you shouldn´t also feel grateful to a German soldier serving in Kosovo or Afghanistan. Do you feel grateful towards the American soldiers who kept the Soviet Union at bay during the Cold War? Why shouldn´t you feel the same way towards the German soldiers who did the same thing? Recently I learned that alone 169 German pilots died in training with the tricky and failure-prone Starfighter. I´ve probably mentioned this before, but in the 60s, my dad was one of the German pilots who were ready to fight and die over a dispute over some island far far away from Germany, just off the coast of Florida. So I guess you ought to be grateful to him, too. I hope this answers your question. No need to thank me ;-).

Anonymous on :

@ Joe "Which germans should the US thank?" The families of these guys, who gave their lives in Afghanistan, because the German government sent them there in support of the United States after 9/11: Franz, Armin Schlotterhose, Christian Heine, Andreas Kuehlmorgen, Carsten Beljo, Andreas Jimenez-Paradis, Helmi Baasch, Joerg Kamins, Stephen Kaiser, Bernhard Deininger, Friedrich Ehrlich, Frank Vierling, Uwe Schmidt, Enrico Schiebel, Thomas Hewußt, Heinz-Ullrich Hewußt Rubel, Mike Kochert, Thomas and one soldier whose name is kept secret http://www.icasualties.org/oef/byNationality.aspx?hndQry=Germany

joe on :

fucher thank you for what? You also failed to answer the very simple and straight forward question I asked.

joe on :

Anno Without going into the rather bitter and boring discussion of the death of service members, your comment lacks both perception and depth. It is unfortunate any service member of any nation dies while on active duty. Be thankful as I am that this is a short list for Germany. I believe the majority of those you referenced in your comment were non combat deaths. That these deaths happened in Afghanistan is both immaterial and secondary. Their loss would have been felt by their families just as greatly as if they had died during a training exercise within Germany or in a skiing accident while on vacation. The reality is these families have lost a loved one. To say some how there is an obligation for Americans to thank these families is disingenuous. Neither the German government nor the German people ever thanked the thousands of US service member’s families whose sons died while training in Germany to protect Germans prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. That you would somehow hold the US to a higher standard than Germany is understandable. I happen to also. You do in a round about way raise an interesting question. That question is, “Why is Germany in Afghanistan?” Your stated reason, in support of the US, is not very valid and surely is not sufficient reason to put German soldiers in harms way. If this is the rational for German deployment then it might explain the why German forces have not been committed to combat leaving the heavy lifting to others. That would seem a reasonable conclusion if the majority believes as you apparently do that Germany has no strategic interests in seeing a stable democratic Afghanistan then German forces should be withdrawn now. Your comment also raises the central issue of what is wrong with this so called ‘white paper”. To publish such a paper there has to be a foreign policy. That foreign policy must reflect what Germany feels are its strategic and vital interests. These have yet to be defined. This is not necessarily a major failing of Germany since Germany is a relative new nation in the geopolitical world. Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall there was no need for Germany to define these interests. Today there is a need for definition. Germany needs to get on with it. Until such time as these interests are defined, Germany will remain both adrift and a wild card. Trying to defer German interests to the EU will result in long term disappointment. Then again maybe this is what Germany wants. To have no foreign policy and therefore not to be held to accountability for this policy. It is an easy route to take. So from the German actions to date and reading the “white paper”, it would appear the only strategic interest Germany can currently identify is to keep the US in NATO and to provide the minimum support possible to prevent a disbanding of NATO all the time making a huge issue out of its minimal contributions. It is a great game, for you hopefully you can continue to play it.

Anonymous on :

[i]"Neither the German government nor the German people ever thanked the thousands of US service member’s families whose sons died while training in Germany to protect Germans prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall."[/i] Got a source for the "thousands"? There were plenty of "thank yous" over the decades. [i] "If this is the rational for German deployment then it might explain the why German forces have not been committed to combat leaving the heavy lifting to others. That would seem a reasonable conclusion if the majority believes as you apparently do that Germany has no strategic interests in seeing a stable democratic Afghanistan then German forces should be withdrawn now."[/i] Could you please explain how the fighting in South Afghanistan leads to a "stable democratic Afghanistan"?? The German forces in the North of Afghanistan contribute to stability and reconstruction. They are more successful than other countries in other regions of Afghanistan. The North is far from being quiet. That's why the Bundeswehr should not move the South. The South is lost, because America's ally Pakistan is supporting the Taleban in North Pakistan and South Afghanistan. That region is lost. If you don't want to give up that region you should put real pressure on Pakistan, but Bush does not want to do that. NATO should concentrate on the North. The only region that has a chance to develop some sort of democracy and stability.

joe on :

Ammo, You can call this telephone number, 496221-578084. It is the Safety Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1 HQ USAREUR. It should be more or less a local telephone call for you. As a factual statement your comment about families being thanked by the Germany government or the German people is again false. Having known and written some of the families who lost sons in Germany, I can assure you they did not receive letters of thanks for the sacrifice of their love ones. As to where NATO should deploy, maybe the best place is back in its barracks. Fortunately there are some who realize the importance of the South. That Germany lacks the political will to deploy it soldiers into combat is also an unfortunate fact.

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