The Re-Evaluation of German Foreign Policy

BERLIN (Own report) - About 50 - some of them top-ranking - representatives of Berlin's foreign policy establishment are calling for more German "leadership" in global politics. This is the conclusion drawn by a year-long project to work out the basic features of future German foreign policy, with the participation of the head of the foreign ministry's Policy Planning Staff. The document contends that, because the United States is showing signs of weakening, Germany, currently a "policy shaping power in waiting," should develop stronger global activities to become a leading power. This does not merely mean taking on "troublemaker" countries - such as Iran and Venezuela - but also finding the appropriate means for handling emerging countries, not unconditionally prepared to surrender to the Western leadership. This could also be achieved with the assistance of cooperative techniques - patterned along the lines of Bonn's Ostpolitik during the 1970s - ("transformation through convergence"). The members of the project take it for granted that German global policy must also dispose of military means - "including combat missions." These results are included in a paper jointly published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).

More Powerful and Influential than Ever

The analysis just published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and the USA's German Marshall Fund (GMF), is based on the assessment that today's Germany is "more powerful and influential" than "any democratic Germany in history."[1] In fact, for some time Germany has openly laid claim to the "role of leader" of the EU - a hegemonic claim, which both friends and foes of Berlin's hegemony currently more or less openly acknowledge. ( reported.[2]) "Germany's growth in power opens new opportunities for influence," according to the strategy paper, "That is cause for a re-evaluation of its international relations."

Lead More Resolutely

The authors are basically of the opinion that Germany - as a country that owes its power and prosperity above all to its global economic expansion - is interested in a global laissez-faire economic order that opens all possible terrains to trade and investments. The old West, now growing weaker, had basically ensured this global order. "Conscious of its own diminished resources," the United States, "as a global hegemon, is only conditionally willing to guarantee the international order," according to the paper. The EU, stricken by the crisis and currently at odds with itself, is "neither willing nor able to assume such a role." Germany will now have to fill that gap. Up to now "at least in comparison to its economic power, its geopolitical weight and its international reputation," Germany "has been rather selectively and hesitantly making policy shaping offers." At the moment, the Federal Republic of Germany is still "a policy shaping power in waiting." However, the authors explain that "Germany will have to lead more often and more resolutely in the future."

Integration of Challengers

With this hegemonic perspective on the world, the paper's authors have divided the countries of the world into three categories: "allies," "challengers," and "troublemakers." The paper sees "allies" as "power amplifiers." They extend the playing field, the expanse and the legitimacy of Germany's power to shape policy. This refers above all to the countries in the EU and NATO. The "challengers" are stronger, in many cases, emerging countries, who often do not see the old West as "their role model." The countries explicitly named in this category are, alongside China and Russia, also India, Brazil, South Africa (the "BRICS" countries), but also Indonesia, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. Relations to these countries will "inevitably also include competition and conflicts," the paper predicts. The authors advise circumspection in relations with these "challengers." In the future, it should be sought to "have them adequately represented" in the "international order" and its institutions, such as the UNO, the IMF and also the World Bank. This will hinder the "formation of a new block" in opposition to the West, as "is already apparent." Success will not be possible without confrontational means. "Here Germany - in cooperation with like-minded allies - will have to combine integration and containment."

Fighting Troublemakers

Finally, the authors warn against "troublemakers", pointing particularly to Iran, Syria, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. A "country with global ties, such as Germany," could have its interests seriously affected, "even by a small or distant troublemaker," according to the paper. The authors leave no doubt that - if necessary - "troublemakers" could be fought militarily: "Military operations" of the Bundeswehr range from "humanitarian aid, consultation, support, reconnaissance and stabilizing operations all the way to combat missions," the authors write. The sole controversy among the authors is whether going to war should be permitted even without a UN Security Council mandate. Some are opposed, but all agree that decisions sending the Bundeswehr into combat should be facilitated and popular resistance avoided. The authors call for "more flexibility in parliamentary decision-making involvement," a demand being more frequently raised since some time. ( reported [3]) The government should also regularly submit to parliament a "report on Germany's security situation" - to better communicate to the German public the current security challenges."

Mobilizing All Resources

It should be noted that the authors are calling for mobilizing all available resources serving Berlin's global policy. German foreign policies will not only "continue to use the entire specter of foreign policy instruments, ranging from diplomacy, development and cultural policy all the way to military force." It will also use non governmental reserves. Shaping global policy, for example, needs "better cognitive abilities," which could be transmitted by "universities, research institutions and foundations." The aim should be a "landscape of thinking," which "not only facilitates and enhances political creativity," but can also "develop political options in a rapid and applicable manner." "A more important German global role" will indeed necessitate "more resources." At the same time, popular consent must be insured: The government must learn to "communicate the aim and purpose" of its foreign policy "more effectively."

Germany's Strategic Community

Between November 2012 and September 2013, numerous members of the German foreign policy establishment - the "Strategic Community,"[4] as it is increasingly being referred to in Berlin - were among the 50 participants of the project "Elements of a Foreign Policy Strategy for Germany," jointly sponsored by the SWP and GMF. They included top personnel from the foreign policy think tank (the SWP, the German Council on Foreign Relations, DGAP), members of the Bundestag and ministry officials, representatives of the Konrad Adenauer, the Friedrich Ebert and Bertelsmann Foundations, several university professors, a representative of the Daimler AG, a member of the Executive Board of the Federation of German Industry (BDI) and the General Secretary of the German section of Amnesty International. The media was represented by an editor of the weekly "Die ZEIT" (Jochen Bittner) and the NATO and EU correspondent of the "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung" (Nikolas Busse).[5] The largest representation came from the foreign ministry and included Thomas Berger, Head of its Policy Planning Staff.

Other reports and background information on the intensification of German hegemonic policies can be found here: Potential of a World Power, Like the Post-Bismarck Era (II), A New Era of Imperialism, Europe's Chancellor and Sleeping Demons.

[1] All quotations from: Neue Macht - Neue Verantwortung. Elemente einer deutschen Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik für eine Welt im Umbruch. Ein Papier der Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) und des German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), Oktober 2013
[2] see also Europe's Chancellor and Sleeping Demons
[3] see also Mehr NATO, weniger Parlament
[4] see also Strategic Community and Umfassend - vernetzt - strategisch
[5] see also Elitejournalisten and Rezension: Uwe Krüger: Meinungsmacht