Real Global Politics


NEW YORK/BERLIN (Own report) - The UN General Assembly voted yesterday that in 2011, Germany will have a two year seat on the UN Security Council. With an unusual challenger candidature against two other NATO allies, Berlin succeeded in returning to the highest UN body after only six years absence. The German media speaks of the opportunities afforded by Security Council membership, particularly "authorizing wars" or "imposing sanctions". Germany is being referred to as a new global power. Today, even sectors of the German elite are opposed to the German government being too obvious about its striving for power. This could "provoke unpleasant conflicts", warns an article in the foreign policy periodical, "Internationale Politik". The author recognized a new "consciousness of power," which, since the days of the SPD-Green administration, has marked German foreign policy and led to a growing disempowerment of smaller EU member nations. Berlin's power policies are being domestically flanked by a growing "national pride," that reaches new records - particularly in the younger generation.


Yesterday's decision in New York has been observed around the world. From the outset, the German candidature had provoked diplomatic irritation. Whereas the nations from Latin America, Africa and Asia had agreed on their respective candidates, Berlin prevented a unanimous solution for the Western nations. Had all gone normally, Portugal and Canada, who had announced their wishes to be candidates, as early as 2000 and 2001, would have had their turns in the 2011/2012 temporary seats on the council. But Germany announced its candidature, even though it had just recently been on the council (2003 - 2004) - later than its two NATO partners. Berlin commented Germany's rival candidacy with the more wealthy nations must have more influence. "It should hold true, even in the UN, that the ones who pay must be included in the discussions and the decisions," says former Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, pointing to Germany being the third largest financial contributor to the United Nations.[1] Germany won this merciless diplomatic struggle for support; Canada lost.

Authorize Wars

Germany still views the temporary Security Council seat as a step towards its becoming a permanent member of the council, a goal it has sought since the 1990s and which it will continue to fight for, even as a temporary UN Security Council member. Officially, the German government is still seeking a permanent seat on the council for the EU, which would be very advantageous for Germany. The EU's hegemonic power would also be able to fully bring its preponderance in the EU to bear in the UN. But an EU seat is out of the question. Neither London nor Paris is willing to submit to permanent German hegemony. Berlin is therefore continuing to campaign for a permanent seat, to formally achieve parity with Great Britain and France in New York. At home, Berlin's strivings for more influence are being promoted with the promise of attaining new global power. Members of the UN Security Council are able to "authorize wars," "impose sanctions," "deploy peacekeeping forces", the media explains.[2] Before the vote, the boulevard press raised the question: "Will we become a world power today?"[3]

"Responsibility" Means Power

Berlin's unfettered quest for power is provoking queasiness even among Germany's elite. One example can be found in an analysis recently published by the foreign policy periodical, "Internationale Politik".[4] The article expresses apprehensions that the German government's aggressive foreign policy could either "cause structural conflicts or exacerbate existing ones" at Berlin's expense. "Berlin says 'take responsibility,' but means 'exercise power'," says the author Gunther Hellmann, professor for political sciences at the University of Frankfurt/Main, who studies the transformations in the German government's foreign policies and domestic political support.

The Self-Confident Nation

According to the author, reference to "national self-confidence" signifies "a fundamental transformation of the understanding of Germany's role in Europe and the world."[5] At the beginning of the 1990s, there was but a rather "small group of dispersed right-wing intellectuals" complaining of a "ruptured national pride" of Germans and calling for a "self-confident nation". This terminology first appeared "in the midst of political discourse" at the end of the 90s. It was Chancellor Schroeder (Social Democrat) who, in his first government policy statement, spoke of the "self-confidence of an adult nation." Today, a stronger "national self-confidence" in German foreign policy is being claimed, which is merely a "synonym for a full-grown consciousness of power," which the author says is displayed not only in this most recent challenge candidature for a UN Security Council seat, but also in the strong German pressure on the highly indebted Greece to adjust or the fact that an informal EU directorate, where "important questions of EU security policy are discussed beforehand" is comprised of Germany, France and Great Britain, without the inclusion of other EU members. The new German power is being accepted at least "in some fields and by certain partners", even if Berlin is still avoiding the word "power" for historical reasons.

National Pride

As the article points out, today, measures such as seeking to become a member of the UN Security Council are seen "even by wide sectors of the German public as questions of power."[6] This is now being reflected in a different attitude in the German population. For example, approximately half of the German population considers "power," "greatness" and "prestige" as part of the "self-confidence of the German Federal Republic". More than half of the German population (56%) believe that they are "well liked in the world" today. (In 1991 it was only 39%.) In 1993, 54 percent of the population of the country found that "national pride" was important; in 2006 it had increased to 73 percent and in 2008, it was 86 percent of German youth, between the ages of 14 and 18. "National pride" is still systematically promoted, most recently during the Soccer World Cup. ( reported.[7])

Leadership Circle

The rise of a German consciousness of power, according to the author, is expressed in concrete steps taken in Berlin's policies. In the EU, for example, Germany's "earlier preferences for supra-national solutions (...) have been dropped" - in favor of rules "enhancing the influence of the larger nations." This ranges from a stronger accent on demographic criteria for voting majorities in the Lisbon Treaty; to the extension of majority decisions in the European Council; or a clear preference for inter-governmental solutions and informal leadership circles."[8] In relations with the USA and Russia, this new power consciousness is expressed "by intensifying bilateral relations, at the growing expense of other European partners." Also, since the SPD/Green government administration, military policy is no longer primarily oriented on defense, but rather on Berlin's "capacity to take foreign policy action". According to "Internationale Politik", Germany has become "aware of its rise in power". This has been confirmed by Germany's struggle for a precipitated return to the Security Council, as well as through today's jubilant reporting in the German media, seeing Germany "at the table of the mighty,"[9] telling the German foreign minister that he can now pursue "real global policy" [10] and declaring that Germany is now "a world power for two years."[11]

Please read also "Downfall or ascent to world power ", Like the Post-Bismarck Era and Potential of a World Power.

[1] Ex-Außenminister Kinkel stärkt Westerwelle; Die Welt 28.09.2010
[2] Berlin will ins Machtzentrum der UN; 10.10.2010
[3] Werden wir heute Weltmacht? 12.10.2010
[4], [5], [6] Gunther Hellmann: Normativ nachrüsten. Deutschlands neue Rolle in der Welt und wie sie zu gestalten wäre; 01.10.2010
[7] see also A Bit of Brainwashing and Bilanz der Nationalismus-Party
[8] Gunther Hellmann: Normativ nachrüsten. Deutschlands neue Rolle in der Welt und wie sie zu gestalten wäre; 01.10.2010
[9] Am Tisch der Mächtigen; 12.10.2010
[10] Deutschland zieht in den UN-Sicherheitsrat ein; 12.10.2010
[11] Deutschland für zwei Jahre Weltmacht; 12.10.2010