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WSJ: Russia and Jihadists Target America's "Giant Aircraft Carrier with Sausages"

Mark Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is concerned about Germany's security. He describes Germany as the "soft underbelly of Europe," which presents a tempting target for Russia and the Jihadists.

Having been deeply humiliated in recent years, Russia is now "like Germany between the wars." Moscow is encouraged by European pacifisim and US failure in Iraq and views Germany as "the strategic gate to Western Europe," says Helprin.

And the Jihadists are interested in Germany, because it is according to Helprin the "richest target least defended," because Germany does not spend much on defense and lacks an independent expeditionary capability and nuclear weapons. Helprin assumes that nukes would deterr Jihadists... He also opines that NATO would not retaliate with nuclear weapons, if a member country was attacked by a nuclear weapon.

Germany, says Helprin, "sleeps and dreams unaware" of all theses threats. And the The US just views Germany as a "giant aircraft carrier with sausages." His entire post is available in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal (HT: ROA and GM Roper). I find Helprin's comments on Russia more convincing than those on the "Jihadists."

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Kevin Sampson on :

‘He also opines that NATO would not retaliate with nuclear weapons, if a member country was attacked by a nuclear weapon.’ If a NATO member were attacked by another nation-state, it would certainly elicit a response. If it were attacked covertly under circumstances were there was not a clearly responsible party, he might very well be right. Especially in the case of Germany, since Germany has no organic nuclear capability.

joe on :

Much of Europe has made the bet no one will attack them. As to a nuclear response, I don't really see that coming from the US. Hopefully the french will step up.

Fuchur on :

[i]the richest target least defended[/i] What about Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Slovenia ... Seriously, this argument is just to silly to address. The nuclear question is indeed tricky. Let's say a terrorist organization gets its hands on a nuke and then smuggles it to Berlin and detonates it. I guess (any experts here?) one can find out (analyzing the radiation and so on) where this nuke was "aquired" from. So, what to do? Ok, we know that US Senator Tancredo has already thought hard about this, and has come up with an ingenious solution: In retaliation, the US should nuke Mecca... Any other ideas? Let's say the nuke is from a) Ukraine b) Russia c) Pakistan d) Iran e) ? I honestly don't have a good answer. Except for case d), that is. In any case, I don't see any point in Germany itself getting nukes.

joe on :

“What about Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Slovenia ...” Interesting target list. Japan and Australia are the only two nations on the list that are significant. But including Japan demonstrates a total lack of knowledge about Japan. I suggest you plan your next holiday there and assess just how easy a target Japan actually is. As for Australia, it is significant only because it is an ally of the US. Do you seriously believe that the US would respond to a nuclear device being denoted in Berlin with a nuclear strike? I surely do not.

Volker on :

I don't see how a big army will keep us safe from terrorists. Now more money for the police or the BND and Verfassungsschutz, that I can understand but a bigger army? And about that least defended, Germany has 250.000 active soldiers, 50k of them conscripts, the british have 200.000, the french 260.000 and the poles 215.000. I think we are as protected as everybody else in Europe, minus the nuclear component of course.

Zyme on :

Mainting a nuclear force is quite costly and might not be justified. In any case, here in Germany we should keep our research reactors, so that plutonium can be enriched in a short time, should the need arise.

Pat Patterson on :

This discussion seems a bit strained as Germany has neither the capability, the will or the legal authority to defend itself outside of the confines of NATO. The Two-Plus-Four Treaty caps the Bundeswehr at 345,000 compared to its current 250,000. Also that Germany renounced manufacture, possession or control of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons as a condition of unification. GB and France may indeed have a smaller amount of servicemen available but they seem to have prepared and equipped their military better than Germany has thus far attempted. Both the UK and France have smaller populations but both countries have air craft carriers, shoot even Brazil and Thailand have them, and Germany has only 60% of the jet fighters that the UK has and only 45% of what France currently has. And those two countries are constantly upgrading and adding to its arsenals while the only asset currently being considered are its A400 heavy lift transports. But no long range naval or other air assets to protect those transports once they are in the air or after landing. Thomas Jefferson was convinced his American System of defense would not only protect the US on the cheap (the base of the Statue of Liberty is one of the old fortifications) but would revolutionize warfare. Making the British reliance on men of war and heavy frigates expensive anachronisms. He propsed that dozens and dozens of strategic located small forts and hundreds of lightly armed frigates, sloops and cutters would outsail and outgun the British by mass of numbers and meet any challenge rapidly. But it wasn't till the heavy, and very expensive frigates, like the USS Constitution, saw service was the US capable of defending itself. No nation in the world has defended itself on the cheap. Defense is more costly than even God could imagine but to err on the side of too much seems irrational when one's fellow citizens lives are at stake.

Don S on :

"giant aircraft carrier with sausages." I somehow failed to find that phrase in the Helprin WSJ essay. Perhaps they removed it? In any case whoever said it was dead wrong. No, Germany is a giant aircraft carrier mit beir! ;)

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