October 08, 2013 Patrick Keller | American Enterprise Institute
The “grand narrative” of German security policy since the end of the Cold War has oscillated between Germany’s reluctance to use hard power and Germany’s desire to be seen as supportive of its American and European allies. This is reflected in the varying decisions it has made during foreign military operations and in the manner in which Germany’s military has conducted those operations. At the same time, the German military has undergone a series of reforms designed to modernize German forces and to make them more flexible and deployable. But a stagnant and low level of defense expenditures has made carrying out these reforms an ongoing challenge to the German military and German defense ministry. Germany has a vital interest in a stable and liberal international order and, hence, in having a military capable of helping maintain that order. As Europe’s leading economic power and, increasingly, as Europe’s central political actor, Germany could and should take the lead in reversing the precipitous decline in European hard power.
Key points in this Outlook:
German ambivalence on the use of military power continues to bedevil German politicians and leaders.
A stagnant defense budget will be a challenge to the German defense ministry’s plan to establish a leaner, more flexible, and more deployable German armed forces.
As Europe’s economic leader and central political actor, Germany should guide the way in reversing the problematic decline in European hard power.