The Truth About German Defense Policy Change – POLITICO


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Berlin — Americans don’t like complicated German words. real politicscoined in the 19th century and until more recently Zeitenwendethe new dawn of German security policy declared one year ago today by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Scholz Said In the crowded parliament building three days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Zeitenwendeliterally a turning point in history.

“It means that the world afterward will not be the same as the world before it,” Scholz said in familiar monotones.

Calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “warmonger”, German leaders have nearly doubled their annual defense budget to stop starving the battered German army and revitalize modernization. It has pledged to secure the equivalent of €100 billion.

“So when will the Germans actually start spending on procurement? Zeitenwende?” an American official asked me earlier this month.

I wanted to quote my favorite New Yorker animation (“how is it?”).

Zeitenwende I told the officials, but a year later it became clear that the best way to explain Scholz’s wildly bombastic slogan was blunt Americanism, bullshit.

Germany so far Involved The government said last week that about 30 billion euros out of the 100 billion euros would be transferred only after the ordered aircraft, uniforms and other equipment were delivered. That said, the specified funds include around €13 billion for nuclear-capable fighter jets and transport helicopters that Germany had planned to buy since before the war.

Scholze and his ministers, in their rhetoric, Zeitenwende When speaking to foreigners, it is clear to most observers that the balloon has deflated.

“Everyone is talking Zeitenwendebut so far we have only seen zeitlupe,Bavaria’s Conservative Party leader Markus Soder, which means slow motion, Said last week.

Scholz’ priorities lie elsewhere.

When analysts warned last fall that high inflation would eat into a €100 billion fund if the government didn’t spend quickly, for example, instead of promising to fill the gap, the Ministry of Defense offered the following wish list: simply reduced. Two German Navy frigates. Around the same time, the government passed her €200 billion package to subsidize the German people’s energy bill.

Germany’s defense spending this year is expected to be around €50 billion, again well below NATO’s target of 2% of GDP.Sean Gallup/Getty Images

To be fair, Zeitenwende It was as much about changing Germany’s thinking on security issues as it was about spending on military spending. Under former centre-right Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin almost lured Putin to invade by sending a signal that his invasion would have no consequences. Georgiaseparatist support Donbassthe annexation of Crimea, the natural pipeline nord stream 1, nodestream 2, etc.). A year ago, Scholz wanted to prove that Berlin understood the error of his own ways.

But even here, Scholz’s rhetoric is completely disconnected from reality.

A closer look at the scholz Zeitenwende The speech makes it clear that he feared that Ukraine would collapse within hours and that Russia could soon be stationed on the Ukrainian border with Poland (many in Europe at the time thought so). as was).

Ukraine’s resilience has given Scholz a breather. Zeitenwende Front — on the issue of sending infantry fighting vehicles and tanks to Ukraine, he refused to For almost a year, in fear of “escalation”.

The main force holding Scholze back was the Chancellor’s Social Democrats. The SPD lacked a clear direction, was riddled with internal strife, and had a well-worn politics until Scholz’s astonishing success in winning (albeit by a small margin) the race for Merkel’s succession in 2021. looked like a force.

The party’s victory, perhaps more to do with the weakness of its opponents than with the party’s own charm, raised a motley crew of anti-American leftists of old. There was a certain Rolf Mützenich. get rid of germany American nuclear warhead.

of Scholz began his own political career On the streets of West Germany in the 1980s, he led protests against US plans to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe and fantasized about pulling Germany out of NATO.

That may explain his biased view of America, who recently insisted on sending M-1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine before Germany agreed to send its own Leopard tanks.

American President Joe Biden eventually yielded to Scholz’s demands to move German tanks.

The prime minister’s claim that his tank ploy, which he sold as a major political victory at home, would help ensure continued U.S. engagement with Ukraine and support for NATO is, one might think, Seemingly ridiculous. Amount Washington Already Pledged Support Kiev compared to Germany (€73 billion vs. €6 billion).

But he knew the Germans, who tend to think badly of America, would buy it anyway.Ann exhaustive research A survey released earlier this month by the prominent pollster Allensbach found that only 46% of Germans see the United States as a trusted ally. In other words, the United States has protected the Germans from Russia for nearly 80 years, but it wasn’t enough to convince many that the United States was their friend.

A man rides his bike past destroyed buildings in Irpin, Ukraine | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Last weekend in Berlin, too, thousands of anti-war demonstrators (estimates ranged from 13,000 to 50,000) took to the streets of central Berlin, protest Many of them blame the US for the war (a common argument among many leftists behind Saturday’s demonstrations is that the US has two goals in relation to Ukraine: Selling arms and destroying Russia.)

Politicians like Scholz, who don’t want Germans to know how much their country depends on the U.S. security umbrella, are the biggest reason Germany’s relationship with its most important ally is dysfunctional. is.

Like Merkel before him, Scholz is a politician who prefers to be led by polls rather than lead. When presented, he withheld such support instead of arguing as to why it was in Germany’s own best interests. Finally relented when the was gone.

Washington is slowly turning Germany’s Zeitenwende It’s a mirage. Germany’s defense spending this year is expected to be around €50 billion, again well below his NATO target of 2% of GDP.As ever, Scholz and other German politicians hopeful to reach your goals faster.

Contrast with neighboring Poland Spending Projected to jump from 2.2% to 3% of GDP this year, it won’t get any bigger.

This is one reason why the United States is accepting Poland more than ever. Biden’s centre-left government and Poland’s national conservative government are hardly allies of course. But they are united by a common enemy, and President Biden has visited the country twice in less than a year.

The US president’s only visit to Germany was because the country hosted the G7 summit last summer. Scholz is scheduled to meet with Biden at the White House on Friday in what U.S. officials described as a “working visit.”

It’s not clear what promises Scholz will make this time around.

At least Germany’s halfway Zeitenwende It forces Americans to brush up on their German. Words that will make headlines in Washington this week are: fremdschamenwhich is feeling ashamed of the actions (or omissions) of others.

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