Modern Strategy Concept (III)


BERLIN (Own report) - The elaboration of the German Ministry of Defense's new White Paper is oriented on Cold War era scenarios. In her programmatic speech on this basic military policy document, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) accused Russia of following a "geostrategic hegemonic policy" and of using "military force" to "achieve its interests." Members of the panel of experts appointed by the minister, therefore, call Russia a "threat" and demand a revival of the "deterrence" policy applied against the Soviet Union by the West. The authors of the first White Paper in 1969 had already used these terms to legitimize "limited" nuclear war against the USSR, allegedly oriented toward expansion. The subsequent military policy doctrine of the mid 1980s, even included nuclear first use to "combat the enemy's potentials" on its own territory, because, in the event of war, Soviet territory would "not be inviolable."

"Eastern Threat"

Already in her first speech on the new White Paper, which is currently being elaborated for the Ministry of Defense, Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) accused Russia's leaders of following a "geostrategic hegemonic policy" and seeking to establish "military force" as a means for "achieving their interests." According to the minister, the "Kremlin" ultimately aims to replace "internationally recognized law and standards with domination in spheres of influence."[1] Referring to the Ukraine civil war, von der Leyen recently reiterated these theses. At a workshop of experts she has appointed to elaborate the next White Paper, she accused Russia of using "hybrid warfare" to "destabilize weaker countries from within using military means, economic pressure and propaganda."[2] These experts refer to Russia as "eastern threat"[3] and are calling for a revival of the "deterrence" doctrine developed against the Soviet Union during the cold war. Because the West has to pay a "price" for each weakness or inconsistency ... the geopolitical respite" is now "over."[4]

"Expansive Hegemonic Policy"

The latest statements by Germany's defense minister and her appointed experts reveal striking similarities to the White Papers published before 1990. Already the first basic military policy document of its kind, in 1969, contended that the Soviet Union was pursuing an "expansive hegemonic policy" and therefore, must be considered a "possible aggressor." To "deter Soviet aggression," NATO had to develop the "flexible response" strategy, based on the idea of a "limited war" in Europe, and stipulating "selective use of nuclear arms." According to that White Paper, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) would have to carry out its "defense," "as far forward as possible." "It is ruled out, for political, economic and military reasons, that any area of the federal territory be surrendered without a fight. Defense preparations must, therefore, be aimed at immediate and effective military reaction, to provide our country and its population the necessary level of security and confidence." The Bundeswehr must therefore be equipped with the "means of delivery for nuclear weapons." "The German contribution to the common defense would be materially and psychologically seriously affected if the German armed forces would not be able to fight on a par with its potential enemy and its allies."[5]

Nuclear Weapons

The White Paper published in 1979 also explicitly follows the concept of equally waging a conventional and nuclear "forward defense." It was declared that nuclear weapons are an "important means" for the "credible capability of gradual escalation" within the framework of NATO's "deterrence strategy." Once again the Soviet Union had been attributed the role of aggressor. Because of the upgrading of its arsenal of medium-range missiles and bombers, Russia was said to have "become a strategic threat of new dimensions to the Atlantic Alliance in Europe." The authors of the White Paper demanded that the West undertake a comprehensive "modernization of its nuclear forces."[6] Then, in the early 1980s, NATO stationed the most modern nuclear weapons on West German territory - weaponry unmatchable by the Soviet Union. Not even the massive resistance in broad sectors of the West German population was able to halt the West German government's plans.

No Renunciation of the First Use Option

The NATO doctrine of "flexible response" underwent a further radicalization in the following years, which was also reflected in the White Paper published in 1985. According to that White Paper, the Soviet Union was following an "offensive and victory strategy," with the objective of the "total annihilation of the enemy." From this, they derived a necessity of decisively broadening the "forward defense" concept. Rather than being limited to the "defensive attacks close to the border," the Bundeswehr should now carry out operations to "combat enemy potentials deep behind their lines." The objective is to delay "advancing" troops, "behind the aggressor's front lines, decisively weakening them before they reach the battlefield," write the authors of the White Paper, adding, "in this case, the attacker's territory would not be inviolable." Accordingly, the paper clearly rebuffs the West German peace movement's demands for a "structural non-aggression capability" of NATO troops. Even its demand for a renunciation of the "first use of nuclear weapons" and the establishment in Europe of a "nuclear free zone" are rejected. As was explained by the authors of the 1985 White Paper, these types of measures merely enable the Soviet Union to "bring their conventional superiority to bear." Besides, there is the danger of a "European disengagement from the USA's strategic deterrence potential."[7]

Intervene Globally

German military policy was re-oriented, in the early 1990s, once the FRG annexed the GDR and the Soviet Union disintegrated. For example, the 1994 White Paper predicted that "military security precautions" can "be no longer limited to territorial and alliance defense," but now must mean "crisis management in a wider geographical context." Accordingly, the Bundeswehr is considered an "instrument of German foreign and security policy," charged with globally "preventing conflicts, keeping them at bay, keeping them limited or bringing them to an end." As the authors write, this is why a "Crisis Reaction Force (CRF)" must be established covering the "entire spectrum" of possible operations ranging "from modern guerilla warfare to combat against well-armed combat troops."[8] Two years earlier, in the "Defense Policy Guidelines" elaborated und his authority, German Minister of Defense, Volker Rühe (CDU) had declared that the Bundeswehr not only serves the "prevention, limitation and the termination of crises and conflicts that could adversely affect Germany's integrity and stability," it also serves the "maintenance of global free trade and unimpeded access to global markets and raw materials."[9]

As Well As

Similar positions can be found in the current White Paper, issued in 2006. This paper stipulates that the German Armed Forces should insure the unhampered "access to raw materials, commodities and ideas" throughout the world, while also taking care to defend against "terrorists," "illegal migration" and globally rampant "pandemics."[10] Apparently, the current government does not intend to renounce this "comprehensive approach" to German "security policy," but rather to add the aspect of "deterrence" of Russia. Consequently, the defense ministry's appointed experts for the elaboration of the new White Paper explain that NATO should "not neglect the one (collective security) at the expense of the other (crisis management)."[11]

Read also: Modern Strategy Concept (II).

[1] Rede der Verteidigungsministerin anlässlich der Auftaktveranstaltung Weißbuch 2016. 17.02.2015.
[2] Weißbuchprozess: Arbeitsgruppe tagt zum internationalen Umfeld der deutschen Sicherheitspolitik. 14.04.2015.
[3] Partizipationsphase zum Weißbuch 2016: Enge Abstimmung mit internationalen Partnern in Brüssel. 30.04.2015.
[4] Vernetzung und Verzahnung. 19.02.2015.
[5] Der Bundesminister der Verteidigung (Hg.): Weißbuch 1969 zur Verteidigungspolitik der Bundesregierung. Bonn 1969.
[6] Der Bundesminister der Verteidigung (Hg.): Weißbuch 1979 zur Sicherheit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und zur Entwicklung der Bundeswehr. Bonn 1979.
[7] Der Bundesminister der Verteidigung (Hg.): Weißbuch 1985 zur Lage und Entwicklung der Bundeswehr. Bonn 1985.
[8] Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (Hg.): Weißbuch 1994 zur Sicherheit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und zur Lage und Zukunft der Bundeswehr. Bonn 1994.
[9] Verteidigungspolitische Richtlinien für den Geschäftsbereich des Bundesministers der Verteidigung. Bonn 26.11.1992.
[10] Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (Hg.): Weißbuch 2006 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr. Berlin 2006.
[11] Partizipationsphase zum Weißbuch 2016: Enge Abstimmung mit internationalen Partnern in Brüssel. 30.04.2015.