Modern Strategy Concept (II)

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Experts, commissioned by the German defense ministry to formulate a new White Paper, have promoted Germany to the status of a global regulatory force. At a conference, discussing the basic military policy document currently in elaboration Volker Perthes of the government affiliated German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) also expressed this opinion. According to Perthes, Germany must see itself as a "responsible intermediate power" that "preserves and develops the global order." Germany's "regulatory" radius extends from its "eastern neighborhood" to Africa and the Middle East. Other SWP experts expressed similar views in a programmatic document: "Germany's periphery" has been transformed into an "arc of crisis, extending from the Baltic to the Middle East and Maghreb." According to the ministry of defense, the German concept of order is based on the EU's ongoing military integration. The establishment of a "European Defense Union" remains the "ultimate goal."

Regulatory Power in the Arc of Crisis

The "White Paper 2016 on Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr" that is currently in elaboration under the aegis of Germany's Ministry of Defense, is based on Germany being defined in the role of a global "regulatory force." During the initial presentation of the plans for a new basic military policy document, Volker Perthes, of the government-affiliated German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) declared that Germany is a "responsible intermediate power" that "preserves and develops the European and global order together with others." This concept "is not very popular in German pubic discourse," the public, however, knows very well that "the country is too important to look the other direction in face of the threatening international developments." Germany's "radius" of "regulatory responsibility" is supposed to cover not only the EU but also include its "eastern neighborhood" and the "southern periphery," particularly Africa and the Middle East.[1] Similar ideas were expressed in a programmatic document on the White Paper recently published by the SWP: Germany's "periphery" has been transformed into an "arc of crisis, extending from the Baltic to the Middle East and Maghreb." This "outside world with its crises," in turn, provides "justification for our military forces."[2]

Europe's Military Backbone

By its own admission, the SWP would like to ensure the "spectrum of military means" needed for the prescribed "regulatory policy," particularly through cooperation within the framework of the European Union. "Sovereignty in defense policy is only in reference to the decision of which area and with whom Germany will organize the European division of labor."[3] In his above mentioned speech on the new White Paper, Perthes left no doubts who would play the leading role in shaping "European security and defense policy." "We are too important and too great that our decisions will not impact upon possibilities for such a common European policy."[4] Members of the "Working Group Bundeswehr," established by the defense ministry to elaborate the White Paper, are expressing similar views. Already during the constitutive meeting, they announced that due to its "geopolitical situation" and "impact," Germany must be the "backbone of European defense." Referring to the close collaboration between the German and Dutch military, the participants declared it was time to "move from cooperation to integration."[5] The panel, chaired by the journalist Thomas Wiegold, who operates the internet blog "eyes straight ahead!" includes Lt. Gen. Heinrich Brauss, Assistant Secretary General for NATO's Defense Policy and Planning, as well as General Tom Middendorp, Commander of the Dutch Armed Forces. Just recently, the Netherlands had placed two of its combat units under the direct command of the German armed forces. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6])

Independent of the USA

The experts organized within the "Working Group Bundeswehr" to elaborate the White Paper include Henning Otte and Wolfgang Hellmich, two notorious armaments lobbyists. The CDU parliamentarian Otte is Vice President of the German Association of Defence Technology (DWT); his SPD colleague, Hellmich, is a member of the Association for Security Policy, (the former Association for Military Studies - GfW). Both are likely to welcome Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen's (CDU) recently announced decision to place greater emphasis on joint German-European developments in the acquisition of military hardware. Hence, it is planned to equip the Bundeswehr with the "MEADS" air-defense system rather then the "Patriot" air defense batteries. MEADS will be developed by a consortium of European and US-American arms manufacturers with significant German participation, whereas the "Patriot" system had to be imported from the United States. Similar tendencies of "Europeanization" in the armament industry can be seen in the area of combat drones, tanks and battleships. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]) Therefore, the minister is complying with demands for a "politically supported consolidation" of German arms industries - jointly with its partners in Europe - as the SWP demanded already in the early phases of work on the White Paper.[8]

Berlin - Center of Gravity

Minister von der Leyen confessed, at an "Expert Workshop on the White Paper" held in Brussels in late April, that the EU's "ultimate goal in its ongoing military integration is to establish a European Defense Union." According to the minister, Germany would thereby act as "center of gravity for developments and decisions" and be ready "to resort to military means also in high intensity conflicts." Von der Leyen declared that the enhancement of the EU's military capabilities would also mean "strengthening NATO's European pillar." According to reports, the "workshop's" participants gladly accepted the minister's proposals. For example, Germany could play an "important role as mediator and bridge gaps between NATO member nations," because the Russian "threat" must be countered militarily like the "instabilities in the arc of crisis extending from Northern Africa to Afghanistan."[9]

Differences with NATO

Volker Perthes, of the SWP, had already pointed out in his speech at the initial presentation of the White Paper plans, that the NATO internal "mediating role," ascribed to Germany, would most likely not be without opposition. Perthes noted that "between the USA and the European countries" a "growing divergence in priorities" was developing. "The USA is increasingly focused on the Asia/Pacific realm, while we must increasingly define means for handling the threats to the European order and those of its immediate neighbors. The more we assume the demanded leadership in Europe, the more we will have differences with our NATO partners over the choices of the courses to be taken."[10]

[1] Volker Perthes: Wissenschaft und Weißbuch. Berlin 17.02.2015. www.bmvg.de.
[2], [3] Hilmar Linnenkamp/Christian Mölling: Das Weißbuch zur Verteidigungspolitik. SWP-Aktuell 21, Februar 2015.
[4] Volker Perthes: Wissenschaft und Weißbuch. Berlin 17.02.2015. www.bmvg.de.
[5] Der Workshop Perspektiven der Bundeswehr nimmt seine Arbeit auf. www.bmvg.de.
[6] See The German Path to an EU Army (III).
[7] See Billions for European Wars.
[8] Hilmar Linnenkamp/Christian Mölling: Das Weißbuch zur Verteidigungspolitik. SWP-Aktuell 21, Februar 2015.
[9] Partizipationsphase zum Weißbuch 2016: Enge Abstimmung mit internationalen Partnern in Brüssel. www.bmvg.de 30.04.2015.
[10] Volker Perthes: Wissenschaft und Weißbuch. Berlin 17.02.2015. www.bmvg.de.