Germany’s new security strategy: Drives and aims
TRADITIONALLY, German security policy remained centripetal to its own security interests. Though its security policy did play a significant role in the security of Europe, Russia’s war in Ukraine has compelled Germany to reorient its new security policy makers to reshape its security policy in the context of the changing security dynamics of the European security reshaped by the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Thus, Germany will have a National Security Strategy (NSS) by the beginning of 2023. It will reorient the concept of security across all ministries and functions as a point of orientation for foreign and security policy in a comprehensive and holistic way which is an important step for Germany’s return to strategic action.
Generally, Germany’s foreign, security and defence policies have always been designed and indoctrinated in multilateral alliances.
Whatever Berlin thinks or is decided in relation to foreign policy, it is always shaped by the notion of collective action.
Germany’s multilateral policy orientation is most clearly reflected in Berlin’s membership of NATO and the European Union.
The newly incorporated ingredient of the NSS having a correlation with its past policy dynamics— orchestrated in the strategy development —is largely espoused by decisions made by Euro-Atlantic defence alliance.
As clearly unravelled and manifested by Germany’s new NSS that Security in the 21st century can only be guaranteed in an integrated network of all security actors and instruments thereby maintaining a balance between geopolitics and geo-economics—the “Zeitenwende”, is the pivot of German new National Security Strategy (NSS).
While speaking to the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in September, 2022, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said, ‘’military security had to once again be recognized as “a key task of this country”, a central public service provided by the state – especially in the light of the war in Ukraine and the considerable changes to Europe’s security that it had brought.
Shortly after Russia launched its all-out war in Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of the Zeitenwende that is now unfolding.
There is a growing realization in Europe, albeit the war in Ukraine ends or becomes a frozen conflict, members of the EU and NATO will need to prepare for a long-term strategy vis-a-vis Russia.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock argues that the National Security Strategy should be based on a comprehensive understanding of security.
As for Germany’s role in the war in Ukraine, Wolfgang Ischinger, former German Ambassador to the United States, who also served as Chairman of the Munich Security Conference from 2008 to 2022, explained that Germany’s Russia policy is rooted in history.
“After the end of World War-II, a large group of Germans believed that if there is stability in the country today, it is because hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the Soviet Union left German territory without firing a single shot, “ he told Al-Jazeera.
In a special address to the Bundestag, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced measures that are being called “a revolution.
” Scholz began by calling the February 24 invasion of Ukraine a Zeitenwende in the history of the continent.
The government’s official translation for that term is “watershed,” but, like with many German compound nouns, the original is a bit richer: it is a turn in the times, the change of an era.
Consequent upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ‘’Germany dramatically reversed its ban on lethal weapons exports to conflict zones by announcing huge shipments to Ukraine’’, Scholz said 100 billion euros ($113 billion) will be earmarked for investment for the army in 2022 alone.
He further advocated that Germany is hemmed in by new emerging security challenges. “We know that our security is best served if we shape security policy responsibly together with our partners and from within alliances: with a strong NATO and a Europe capable of action’’, he added.
As per the NSS’ optics, the German federal government presents its assessment of the international security situation, prioritizes threats, defines a geographic focus, sets tasks, clarifies the role of partners and allocates resources.
Moreover, the NSS provides an opportunity to discern the imperatives of the new security policy in public and to establish a legitimate basis: when and why it makes sense, whether it is necessary for Germany to become involved, and with whom and how.
Arguably,’’ The logic of military deterrence—displaying strength and determination to deter aggression—never penetrated beyond small foreign policy circles and the centre-right in Germany’’.
While successive governments recognized that NATO made Germany more secure, the public understood the commitment to NATO to be a matter of Bündnistreue (loyalty to partners) rather than of strategic security.
As a result, military spending has always been a contentious political issue and the country’s military capabilities are woefully inadequate.
Noteworthy, the NSS would not only be applicable for defence preparedness, but also the diplomatic initiatives, including a larger development compact and continuing support to the climate agenda.
These will remain German objectives, but with higher allocation now to defence spending. Nonetheless, a rapid response to the Ukraine crisis has led to the move to a new NSS—focusing on the European energy supplies while accommodating divergent preferences of coalition partners and the capability of the Bundeswehr.
As for European security, three countries—France, Germany and the United Kingdom (albeit not an EU member)— account for the bulk of Europe’s defence R&D.
Currently France spends the most (€5.6 billion), followed by Germany, which added more than €400 million to its defence R&D spending.
Nonetheless, Germany is the EU’s great economic, political and security hub, its role is increasingly emerging in the face of the Ukraine-Russia war.
The European security experts argue that NATO-EU cooperation is vital in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Berlin has already sent its version of HIMARS to Kyiv to facilitate the Ukrainian counter offensive against the Russian troops in East and Southern Ukraine.
‘’While diplomacy continues to be the European tool of choice for external action, the realization that security chiefly rests on military capability is profoundly impacting Europe’s “security and defence constitution”, that is the legal, institutional and political arrangements governing security and defence across European States’’, writes Dr.Carolyn Moser.
Thus, ‘’with a relatively sound economy, a strong commitment to the liberal order and the EU, and a functioning government’’, Germany’s new security strategy provides a boost to European security infrastructure.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.
He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.