‘Lost Nation’ of Germany is NATO’s Biggest Problem (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany)
How confused and ‘dangerous’ has German foreign policy become? For the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, German Vice Admiral Ulrich Weisser [ret.] pulls no punches, as he lays out in detail how Germany has disappointed the United States and its NATO partners in Europe with its U.N. Security Council abstention on action in Libya, its refusal to allow its forces to face the same dangers as its coalition partners in Afghanistan, and its unhelpful attitude toward vital cooperation with Russia on missile defense.
Germany is untrustworthy. The expectation on the part of our most important European allies and America that we would adopt a reasonable strategic role in and for Europe was bitterly disappointed when our country sidelined itself in the face of a looming humanitarian crisis in Libya. Germany’s abstention at the U.N. Security Council has far-reaching consequences.
The German position is also diametrically opposed to the future needs of European security: With the U.S. commitment to Europe diminishing, Europeans will have to handle future crises on their own. This historical failure on the part of Germany is a result of the many caveats imposed by the federal government and Bundestag, which have tied the hands of German soldiers in action – in combat against piracy and also in Afghanistan. This has prevented our soldiers from shouldering the same risks as their NATO comrades.
And so far, the federal government has not distinguished itself in furthering an improvement in relations between NATO and Russia. The Alliance has made no substantial progress on the critically-important issue of whether and how to establish a shared missile defense system. Russia has long expressed a clear willingness for genuinely equal cooperation on the project, would be a litmus test for the Alliance’s sincerity on the issue of partnership and mutual transparency on strategic issues. The lack of willingness for cooperation that became so apparent at the summit therefore represents a failure of far more than just a project.
Inexplicably, NATO still refuses to guarantee to the Russians that the missile defense system would not be directed at its strategic response capability.
Although the U.S. repeatedly asserts that Russia has no need to worry about the issue, the guarantee Moscow demands has failed to materialize. President Obama would have to have a suitable treaty approved and ratified in the Senate, which seems impossible given the domestic political confrontation between the two parties in Congress; and Republican Mitt Romney still considers Russia America’s most dangerous enemy. This view fails to recognize that our most dangerous and threatening risks – radical Islam and terrorism – are concentrated in the Middle East, and thus right at our doorstep.
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