Germany’s new leadership may increase NATO spending and see U.S. missiles stay

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On December 18, 2012, members of the German Bundeswehr prepared the Patriot missile launch system at a press conference held at the Luftwaffe Warbelow training center in Warbelow, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Germany’s new coalition government is not yet in full power, but experts have been studying its new commitments to see what they mean for Germany’s future.

Many question marks focus on Germany’s foreign and defense policies, especially considering the background of tensions between Russia and other European countries.

The center-left Social Democratic Party will be in charge of the Ministry of Defense, while the co-leader of the Green Party Annalena Belbok will take over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Belbok has previously stated that she will deal with authoritarian governments such as China and Russia through “dialogue and toughness,” but some people doubt how tough the new left-leaning, ecologically conscious minister and alliance are.

Germany finds itself in an awkward position, because although Russia is accused of planning a gas crisis with Europe and is ready for a potential conflict with EU ally Ukraine — Russia has denied these two accusations — the final contact has also been completed. Nord Stream 2 The natural gas pipeline project will send Russia’s natural gas supply to Germany.

On Wednesday, the new German coalition composed of the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party and the center-right Liberal Democratic Party announced an alliance agreement, indicating that Germany will continue to work on NATO and its nuclear sharing agreement.

The three NATO member states—the United States, France, and the United Kingdom—have nuclear weapons. Germany does not have them, but has some American nuclear weapons, and German fighter jets can deploy these nuclear weapons when necessary. This weapon is seen as a deterrent to military aggression from Russia and other countries.

NATO itself pointed out that the “nuclear deterrence of military alliances also depends on the nuclear weapons deployed by the United States in Europe and the support capabilities and infrastructure provided by allies.”

The document stated on Wednesday that the German alliance appeared to be committed to allowing these weapons to remain on German territory and stated that “as long as nuclear weapons play a role in NATO’s strategic concept, Germany is interested in participating in the strategic discussion and planning process.” .

In terms of defense spending, Germany and its NATO allies, especially the United States, have been strained for some time. According to the 2014 NATO commitment that member states should spend 2% of their GDP on defense, Berlin is slowly increasing its defense spending.

In 2021, Germany’s expenditure on defense was approximately $53 billion, an increase of 3% over the previous year, but it still did not reach the 2% standard (according to NATO estimates, it will account for 1.53% of GDP in 2021).

The famous former President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused Germany of its defense expenditure record, accusing it of “defaulting” and profiting from the US military stationed in Germany.

Trump announced last summer that he would withdraw nearly 12,000 American troops from Germany, but the proposal was shelved by President Joe Biden this year.

Daniela Schwarzer, European executive director of the Eurasian Open Society Foundation, said that the new alliance may continue to increase defense spending, regardless of whether it comes from US pressure.

“Defense spending has increased over time. For the German debate, it is very important to emphasize that it is not the request made by the US president but that the previous German government has made this commitment,” she told CNBC on Thursday, adding Say “it reminds the new government that this is an effective agreement, which is very important.”

Given the positioning of the SPD and the Green Party in defense, both seem to be inclined to engage in more military cooperation at the European level—for example, the SPD supports the European military—Schwarzer expects defense spending to continue to increase.

“This is a coalition with two left-wing parties [the SPD and Greens] Who is not the most important person in defense spending. But I think what will happen is that they will not increase Germany’s defense expenditure by a large amount, but gradually increase… [Party] The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Germany may also invest in other foreign policy areas, not just defense, such as humanitarian aid and civil crisis management,” she pointed out.

“All in all, I think we have the conditions for Germany to play a stronger role in the EU and internationally,” she said.

As far as she is concerned, the incoming Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she has no intention of adopting a laissez-faire attitude towards global geopolitics, and on Wednesday expressed the need to adopt a “proactive” and communicative approach to Germany’s foreign policy. .

“We are living at a point in time, and the crisis between China and Europe that is happening directly around us is becoming more and more serious,” she said at a press conference after announcing the alliance agreement on Wednesday.

“Look at the situation in Belarus and the situation in the periphery of Europe. We all agree to return to a more proactive European foreign policy, which depends on the power of diplomacy and dialogue, as well as values ​​and human rights-based on cooperation.”


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