Leadership In and With Europe


BERLIN (Own report) - Germany should play "a more important global role" and assume a stronger "leadership in and with Europe," according to a German government advisor's assessment of a PR discussion of foreign policy, initiated by the German Foreign Ministry. According to the foreign minister, the discussion, in the framework of the project "Review 2014," should help to close the "glaring gap" between the Berlin establishment's global policy orientation and the population's "willingness" to condone, for example, military missions. Prepared and conducted by the foreign ministry's Policy Planning Staff, This project is part of a campaign for a more aggressive German global policy. The German President launched this campaign with a speech in celebration of the 2013 German national holiday. According to the assessment of the "Review 2014," the discussion seems to indicate a consensus that "Germany, alone, is too insignificant to affect changes in global policy." Hence, Germany needs the EU. "Europe possesses the political clout necessary for Germany to be able to effectively pursue its interests." In the future, Germany's "partnership with the USA" must be on an "equal footing."

Foreign Policy without Support

The "Review 2014" Project, as well as other measures undertaken by the German government, must be seen in the context of the gap between Berlin's increasingly aggressive global policy and the prevalent mood of the country's population. Just recently, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) pointed to a survey revealing that only 30 percent of the German population is "open" to their country "assuming more responsibility." As usual, the term "responsibility" is merely a euphemism for intensifying global activities.[1] According to Steinmeier, his foreign ministry had commissioned the survey. "A foreign policy is not good and sustainable, if it does not enjoy broad popular support," is a widespread view inside the ministry, as one of the department heads reports.[2] Berlin's foreign policy, in fact, is contested and should expect the effects of erosion. Foreign Minister Steinmeier is now calling for closing the "glaring gap" between the "willingness" of the population and the "expectation" that Berlin will play a more resolute role in global policy. The foreign ministry has been trying to close this gap for the past two years.

Lead more Often and more Resolute

The campaign, initiated and conducted by the German foreign ministry's Policy Planning Staff, began with a joint project of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Between November 2012 and September 2013, around 50 representatives of ministries, think tanks, universities, industry and the media elaborated "Elements of a Foreign Policy Strategy for Germany." In October 2013, they published their strategy paper entitled "New Power - New Responsibilities" which programmatically affirms that Germany, today, has "more power and influence than any democratic Germany in history." "Germany will have to lead more often and more resolutely in the future."[3] The paper has been widely propagated throughout the foreign policy community. Since October 2013, top-level politicians in Berlin as well as publicists, have repeatedly raised the demand for a more offensive German global policy - most prominently, German President Joachim Gauck. Gauck's biographer, Johann Legner, recently said that Gauck "is fully engaged in the policy making of the German government." "Gauck says what many are thinking, but not always willing to say, because this would make dialogue contacts, Gauck does not even have, more difficult to establish." It could really be "called a strategy."[4] It could be advantageous that, since the summer of 2013, Gauck has employed a new speechwriter, who had worked with the SWP/GMF project, and was therefore engaged in the formulation of the "New Power - New Responsibility" paper.

A Stronger Global Role

The "Review 2014" project - launched in the spring by the foreign ministry's Policy Planning Staff - is one of the measures aimed at convincing a large sector of public opinion of the necessity of a more aggressive German global policy. The idea is to raise the subject in general discourse, by way of a series of discussion programs on various aspects of German foreign policy. In addition, a separate website publishes these discussion papers, wherein experts expose their standpoints on foreign policy.[5] An SWP associate, who participated in the work of the "project group Review 2014" of the foreign ministry's Policy Planning staff, has drawn up a sort of intermediary report on the project, which was published in "Internationale Politik," the leading review on Berlin's foreign policy. According to this intermediary report, the discussion follows precisely the orientation that had been called for by the SWP/GMF project in their final document: "Germany should play a stronger role in global policy." It is a question of "more German leadership in and with Europe."[6]

The Clout Germany Needs

According to the intermediary report, many of the project's discussion papers show that "Germany, alone, is too insignificant, to be able to affect change in global policies." "Only when the [EU] member nations pull together in integration and foreign policy, does Europe have the political clout necessary for Germany[!] to effectively pursue its interests." Therefore, Germany would be "well advised to politically invest further in Europe." For example, "together with other EU member nations" this would permit it "to contribute to the 'multilateralization of America' and the 'Europeanization of Russia'." "A Germany, working through Europe, could also better take on the challenges entailed by the configuration of the digital society," quotes the author from papers treating the "question of data security," in the project - referring to the NSA scandal. "The development of a globally competitive cloud provider, search engines and other strategically important enterprises," it continues, are "only to be expected, if they - similar to the Airbus, 40 years ago - would be successively developed and promoted in Europe."[7] As was announced yesterday, Wednesday, Günther Oettinger, from Germany, has become the EU Commissioner for that new Commission.

In Equal Partnership with the USA

The author of the intermediary report of "Review 2014" points to differences in proposals made in the papers concerning relations to the USA. On the one hand, Germany is "emphatically warned not to jeopardize transatlantic ties" - especially for military reasons: "Without the USA, no NATO, no protection," writes the author of one paper, in light of the United States' still unrivaled military power. On the other, "a multitude of voices ... are calling for the German government to play a more assertive role with its own foreign policy profile." For example, it is demanded that Germany's policy toward Russia be "embedded in a comprehensive Eurasian strategy, which would include such countries as China, India and important Eurasian actors like Turkey and Iran." "Perhaps the most important lesson" to be learned from the papers in the project, according to the intermediary report, is "a confirmation of the new German self-concept and a summons to continue down this path in and with Europe, within a mature and equal partnership with the USA."[8] Even this result corresponds to the key message of the SWP/GMF "New Power - New Responsibility" strategy paper.

Not yet Arrived

In any case, this elite discussion has not yet reached the broad masses of the population, to the point that would satisfy the German establishment. An associate of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) points to a recent opinion poll about Germany's supplying weapons to Iraq. An earlier poll had indicated that approval of weapons deliveries and military missions would be at their highest, if they would serve to prevent genocide.[9] Preventing genocide at the hands of the terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS) was the justification for arms deliveries to the Kurdish military in northern Iraq, from the very beginning.[10] If Berlin thought that this would appreciably enhance popular approval for delivering weapons, it would have to think again: Sixty percent of the German population, according to the ECFR, remains opposed to arming the Kurdish military in Iraq.[11]

Other reports and background information on Germany's global policy can be found here: Sleeping Demons, The Re-Evaluation of German Foreign Policy, Domination over Europe, The Agenda 2020, The World's Expectations, Germany's "Act of Liberation", Hegemon with a Guilty Conscience and The Elite Wants More.

[1] See Außen und innen.
[2] Annegret Bendiek: Abschied von der Juniorpartnerschaft. Für mehr deutsche Führung in und durch Europa. Internationale Politik September/Oktober 2014.
[3] 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. See The Re-Evaluation of German Foreign Policy.
[4] "Wohlüberlegt und abgestimmt". www.tagesschau.de 02.09.2014.
[5] See Von Linealstaaten und pazifistischem Mehltau.
[6] See Außen und innen.
[7], [8] Annegret Bendiek: Abschied von der Juniorpartnerschaft. Für mehr deutsche Führung in und durch Europa. Internationale Politik September/Oktober 2014.
[9] See Die Weltpolitik-Kampagne der Eliten.
[10] See The Public's Keen Sensitivity.
[11] Josef Janning: Germany needs more leadership on foreign policy. www.ecfr.eu 03.09.2014.