“Rethinking German Pacifism”

Would the Germany of today help liberate the Germany of 1944? You don’t need to tap Angela Merkel’s phone to find the answer: It’s no.

Peace

Defense-minded politicians in Berlin rail against this picture, arguing that postwar Germany has participated in major military operations. Take Kosovo! Take Afghanistan! Big missions! Don’t be fooled. It is perfectly clear by now that these interventions hardly represent the rule; rather, they are two exceptions from a convenient and holier-than-thou foreign policy attitude, one the Germans have cultivated over the past 70 years.

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

We Don’t Do Dirty Work

Yet again (this time not in Mali).

Mali

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle: “The deployment of German combat troops is not an option. And I have to mention just one more point. We Germans are highly involved in Afghanistan, where the French are hardly involved at all.”

The French are not alone in their criticism of Berlin. Political leaders in the US and Britain also find it aggravating that Germany presents itself as a peace-loving power and leaves all the dirty work to the others. Mistrust of Berlin has been especially strong since the German government abstained in the United Nations vote over the Libya intervention two years ago — the only Western country on the Security Council not to support the measure — and refused to provide its NATO allies with military aid. “As is usually the case these days, Germany … is keeping its head down,” wrote the British daily Guardian last week. Westerwelle’s “mealy-mouthed statements leave a bad taste,” commented the newspaper.

“We never explain what we want to achieve, we always talk about how we can stay out of things.”

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