German Defence Policy in 2014 and beyond: Options for Change Note du Cerfa, No. 113, June 2014
The speeches made by several German leaders at the Munich Security Conference in early 2014, emphasized that Germany needs to be ready for greater international commitment, and without a priori excluding military instruments.
While several elements seem to indicate growing awareness that change is needed, the nature of German contributions – especially in Africa – shows the long road ahead. A basic contradiction persists between the government’s rhetoric that Germany should participate in international operations and the political limitation on its contributions toward training, advisory functions and logistical support. Apart from political support at the highest level, increased responsibility needs also to be supported by public opinion, which still lacks enthusiasm for what it often perceives as militarism. Similarly, German defence export policy is torn between the government’s willingness to support industry in exporting and the negative feedback about these exports from the public. Change may occur as a result of external developments, linked to NATO or the defence industry, but these impulses need to be taken up by national debate. It remains to be seen whether or not the direction taken will coincide with that outlined in Munich. The crisis in Ukraine must also be taken into account: it could have a catalytic effect, increasing Germany’s visibility and engagement in NATO. Through this crisis, Germany is under pressure to intensify its engagement.
Claudia Major is deputy head of the Research Division “International security policy” at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik).
Christian Mölling is Research associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik).