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Germany's Lost Credibility at NATO

The Spiegel article "Germany's Reputation in NATO Has Hit Rock Bottom" by Ulrike Demmer and Christoph Schult is the most convincing criticism of Berlin's role at NATO I have read in a while. And there were soo many articles recently.

When reading the usual attacks on our vote on Libya, the Afghanistan mission and the low defense budget, I am often drawn to defend my country's policies. This article, however, argues convincingly with many examples that our government does not care about NATO's future. Berlin lacks the will to staff senior positions with Germans and is not committed to making Smart Defense work.

Shortly after the vote in the UN Security Council, German Defense Minister de Maizière had the German soldiers removed from the AWACS aircraft monitoring the no-fly zone over the North African nation.

Germany lost its credibility as a result, says a general with the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr. "Pulling out our soldiers from a multinational project like AWACS, especially when we were in charge, was a sign of a lack of solidarity. That won't be forgotten, not even in a few months." Germany, he adds, shouldn't even bother to propose any new multinational projects.

Since then, the defense minister has described another cooperation project as an "acid test" for the alliance. But his words were a little premature, as became clear last week when the budget committee of the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, refused to approve the German share of a joint purchase of "Global Hawk" drones that were to become part of a new ground reconnaissance system.


The next dispute is already brewing. The terms "assured access" and "guaranteed availability" are to be included in the closing document for the Chicago summit. But officials in Germany point out that assured access and guaranteed availability of military capabilities are hardly possible in a country which requires parliamentary approval for military missions.

Christian Mölling of the Institute for International and Security Affairs believes that the argument is a pretext. "The Bundestag has never rejected or refused to extend a mandate." The government, he adds, is only too happy to use the requirement of parliamentary approval as an excuse for its lack of commitment.


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