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Germany’s new national security strategy is big on goals, but not so much on means

Tonhe is danish do it. The Dutch do it. Even Jamaica, Honduras, and Papua New Guinea regularly state their official defense and foreign policy goals. The same is true now in Germany. While the world’s fourth-largest economy and a pillar of European stability has long been reluctant to flex its muscles, the country on June 14 bit the bullet and launched its first-ever national security strategy.

The 76-page document, which aims to bring coherence and a sense of purpose to the entire government, is not exciting to read.Predictably, it underscores Germany’s commitment to the EU and NATO, as well as relationships with key partners such as the United States and France. Understandably, it called Russia “the most serious threat to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic region.” For a country whose largest businesses rely heavily on trade with China, it has the audacity to accuse the Asian dragon of “repeatedly violating our interests and values,” although it insists that China “remains a partner without many challenges and crises.” Can’t fix it.”

However, while the strategy effectively articulates Germany’s vision and goals, it is less clear about when and how it will be implemented.For example, about a decade ago, Germany joined other countries NATO Members pledge to boost defense spending to 2% gross domestic product. In the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the most serious threat to European security since the end of the Cold War, and one that unexpectedly casts a shadow over the dire state of Germany’s military, the strategy document does little more than reaffirm its commitment to the same content. It also hedged a bit, adding that 2% should be a multi-year average and that the government would try to achieve it “at no cost to the federal budget”.

At a press conference accompanying the release of the policy paper, Finance Minister Christian Lindner carefully explained that the 2% target would not come from the regular budget for at least the next few years, but through a temporary 1000 billion euros to make up for the ($109 billion) special fund. In other words, it will depend on some future government committing to permanently strengthening Germany’s dwindling armed forces. “No party is going to agree to cut benefits to free up more money for defence,” commented Thorsten Benner of the Institute for Global Public Policy, a think tank in Berlin. “The issue is just being kicked out. “

The strategy also lacks what some have hoped to be a key component of creating a body with executive powers akin to the U.S. National Security Council. Insiders say the idea has fallen prey to debate within the ruling three-party coalition, as the Foreign Office, now controlled by the Greens, has refused to hand over influence to the Social Democrat-led prime minister’s office, where such a committee should logically be based.

The slogan of the National Security Strategy — “Robust, Resilient, Sustainable” — is also a reflection of coalition politics. The document does not detail defence, but touches on the requisite clarification of Mr Lindner’s liberal Liberal Democrats’ budget integrity and the Green Party’s commitment to climate change targets. More important than the wording of the document, however, is that it was actually written.

Since its rebirth as a Federal Republic on the ashes of World War II, Germany has backed away from bold stances. After the return in 1990, caution gave way to complacency. Prosperity seems to be guaranteed by the blessing of the Holy Trinity: American security, cheap Russian energy and a growing Chinese market. Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, however, it was clear that times were not over. When the current coalition is elected in 2021, its commitment to publish a national security strategy means it understands the signal of growing instability in Germany. The greatest perceived danger at the time, however, was America’s gradual slide into Trump-style isolation. And yet, while Trump-style isolationism isn’t a dead end, it’s not worth mentioning in commentary.

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