May 14, 2008

Germany’s New Security Strategy

Presidendivalimiste eelhääletuste karussell hakkab lõpule jõudma. Vabariiklased on panustanud peatselt 72-aastasele John McCainile ja küsimuse all on üksnes see, kas tegemist on Ronald Reagani või Bob Dole’i klooniga. Praegu kaldub kõik viitavat rohkem Dole’i poole, kuigi Viagra reklaamis pole McCaini veel osalemas nähtud. Vabariiklastel ei ole pakkuda seda, mida omal ajal pakkus jõuliselt Ronald Reagan ja mida praegustest kandidaatidest on suutnud ainult Obama – muutusi. McCaini võidu korral korduks võimu Putinilt Medvedjevile ülemineku analoog, kus sisuliselt jätkuks George Bushi kolmas ametiaeg. Võib-olla ainult uute tegijatega. Noam Chomsky on nimetanud McCaini Bushist isegi ohtlikumaks, sest tegemist olevat klassikalise sõjardiga, kes eelistab sõjalise jõu kasutamist läbirääkimistele. Kuigi Tiit Made oli möödunud nädala Terevisioonis valmis McCaini juba järgmiseks presidendiks kuulutama, valib presidendi õnneks Ameerika Ühendriikide rahvas ja see protseduur toimub veidi teistmoodi kui NLKP peasekretäri valimine. Mina julgeks pigem väita, et Obama ja Clintoni terav vastasseis on teinud McCaini konkurentsivõimeliseks, hoolimata sellest et George W. Bushi toetusprotsendid on valitseva presidendi kohta erakordselt madalad ja kindlat pole siin hetkel veel midagi.

Demokraatidel on järele jäänud veel kuus eelvalimist. Hoolimata tugevast survest, võitis Obama Põhja-Carolinas 56%:42% ja kaotas Indianas vaid 49%:51%. Huvitav fakt, et lahtistel Indiana eelvalimistel toetas Clintonit enamus osalenud vabariiklastest. See võib viidata Russ Limbaughi üleskutsele vabariiklastele toetada Clintonit, kuna Obama olevat McCainile ohtlikum konkurent.

Presidendivalimiste eelhääletuste karussell hakkab lõpule jõudma. Vabariiklased on panustanud peatselt 72-aastasele John McCainile ja küsimuse all on üksnes see, kas tegemist on Ronald Reagani või Bob Dole’i klooniga. Praegu kaldub kõik viitavat rohkem Dole’i poole, kuigi Viagra reklaamis pole McCaini veel osalemas nähtud. Vabariiklastel ei ole pakkuda seda, mida omal ajal pakkus jõuliselt Ronald Reagan ja mida praegustest kandidaatidest on suutnud ainult Obama – muutusi. McCaini võidu korral korduks võimu Putinilt Medvedjevile ülemineku analoog, kus sisuliselt jätkuks George Bushi kolmas ametiaeg. Võib-olla ainult uute tegijatega. Noam Chomsky on nimetanud McCaini Bushist isegi ohtlikumaks, sest tegemist olevat klassikalise sõjardiga, kes eelistab sõjalise jõu kasutamist läbirääkimistele. Kuigi Tiit Made oli möödunud nädala Terevisioonis valmis McCaini juba järgmiseks presidendiks kuulutama, valib presidendi õnneks Ameerika Ühendriikide rahvas ja see protseduur toimub veidi teistmoodi kui NLKP peasekretäri valimine. Mina julgeks pigem väita, et Obama ja Clintoni terav vastasseis on teinud McCaini konkurentsivõimeliseks, hoolimata sellest et George W. Bushi toetusprotsendid on valitseva presidendi kohta erakordselt madalad ja kindlat pole siin hetkel veel midagi.

Demokraatidel on järele jäänud veel kuus eelvalimist. Hoolimata tugevast survest, võitis Obama Põhja-Carolinas 56%:42% ja kaotas Indianas vaid 49%:51%. Huvitav fakt, et lahtistel Indiana eelvalimistel toetas Clintonit enamus osalenud vabariiklastest. See võib viidata Russ Limbaughi üleskutsele vabariiklastele toetada Clintonit, kuna Obama olevat McCainile ohtlikum konkurent.

These threats are supra-national, often involve non-state actors and cross traditional national boundaries. Therefore, Germany needs to cooperate with its allies more closely and adopt a security paradigm that dissolves the traditional distinction between foreign and domestic security. The strategy paper further highlights the need for Germany to be able to preemptively minimize these security threats. It emphasizes the importance of strengthening coherence within the EU and NATO and fostering an international legal environment. Further, the new approach must be comprehensive and go beyond the traditional focus on foreign, European, defense, human rights and development policies to also incorporate domestic, economic, environmental, financial, research and education policy.

So far, there is not much contentious content in my opinion; it appears rather straightforward and sensible. Terrorism for example, which is certainly one of those supra-national threats that crosses borders easily and challenges any traditional Westphalian security paradigm, does require an approach that combines foreign and domestic policy. Terrorists dwell in places like Afghanistan, but their networks stretch far beyond these places. We have seen Germany and many other countries in Europe as a basis of operation for terrorists as well as a target for attacks. Hence, just sending the Bundeswehr to kill terrorists in Afghanistan is not sufficient; they must be fought against within the German borders as well. The paper also pays tribute to the fact that terrorism cannot be eradicated by force alone. In order to “pull the rug out” from under the terrorist networks one has to stop them from recruiting. This again will require a mix of foreign and domestic policies and a wide spectrum of instruments raging from military to police, from intelligence gathering to development and education. Accordingly, the CDU demands that Germany has the capability to address these issues.

The problem, as the other German parties see it, lies in the prescribed solutions. The first and possibly most contentious one is that the deployment of German troops within Germany is envisioned as desirable in order to deal with natural disasters, large-scale terrorist attacks and other contingencies if they arise. This break with tradition is hard to sell, as most democracies are wary of using the military among its own civilian population for any type of enforcement activity. The US Posse Comitatus Act is a good example of this liberal tradition. There is little point to this demand in any case other than rousing public interest. The cases outlined in the paper are either given today, such as the use of soldiers in domestic disaster relief, or do not require the Bundeswehr. For example, what possible use can the army have in preventing or prosecuting terrorists on German soil? That is the job of the police and the Verfassungsschutz (German secret service). If the CDU believes them ill-suited it should attempt to secure additional funding for those institutions. The other case is a WMD attack on Germany. What could the Bundeswehr possibly do other than preventing it by attacking the aggressor preemptively, which it can, and helping in the relief effort after the attack? Again the police and other civilian institutions are much better equipped and educated to prevent a terrorist attack with WMD’s.

The next prescription the CDU wants to administer to Germany is the creation of capabilities to prevent a foreign crisis (like the Balkans for example) from escalating too far; and, should that not be possible, to deal with the conflict at its place of origin. Hence, Germany has to prepare for longer and more numerous deployments of troops on foreign soil. Any such deployment must of course happen in accordance with international law (UN mandate or NATO article 5). Here it is the government’s obligation to convince the constituency that Germany must accept the responsibility together with its partners. As we have all seen however, rhetoric is often miles from action when it comes to committing Germany to any kind of military endeavor. We can observe this very phenomenon in Afghanistan, where Germany is unwilling to answer requests to share a fairer burden in the fighting together with its allies. Again, Germany has a fairly long-standing tradition of not, under any circumstances, deploying troops abroad. This was a sensible attitude after 1945, but it has lost its virtues. Germany has recognized that, but is fighting with its self-imposed phobia. Especially the political left is opposed to almost any foreign deployment; and any such deployment can quickly become political suicide if anything major goes amiss. The need to adapt and prepare for longer and more dangerous missions abroad is however real and not overstated in the paper

The last, and possibly most controversial, demand is for the formation of a German NSC. It is envisioned to be a political, analytical, coordination and decision making tool that allows comprehensive cross-resort analysis of possible threats, is capable to coordinate federal and state resources and coordinate civil and military forces abroad. The NSC shall guarantee a unified and effective crisis management and be headed by the Chancellor and hold an interdisciplinary staff. Why is this demand so controversial in Germany? It appears to be common sense that any crisis demands strong and unified leadership and who better to lead than the chancellor? The opposition is crying about the “Americanization” of German foreign policy, fears that the Foreign Minister is being reduced to a pure representative figure and that too much power could be concentrated in the chancellors hands.

That is all nonsense! German foreign and security policy cannot be “Americanized”, because our political system is different. The chancellor is nothing like the president of the United States. In Germany only the parliament can decide on the deployment of troops. Further, a German chancellor does not appoint his ministers, but has to take whoever his/her own party or coalition partner have decided should head any given resort. In the US the NSC was created by Congress to oversee President Truman’s foreign policy decisions, who Congress believed not to be up to the task. It was also intended to unify the different branches of the armed forces (army, air-force and navy), which were all separate ministries at the time. Instead of controlling the President it has steadily increased the President’s influence over foreign policy and security decisions, but because the German system is so different the same could not happen here.

When the opponents of this proposal claim that it would render the foreign minister a mere figurehead they are also mistaken. The foreign minister is not solely responsible for formulating foreign policy and certainly not for making security policy. Focusing these competences in the Chancellor’s office would not greatly diminish the role of the MFA or the Minister.

The fact is, however, that the whole proposal is unnecessary. Germany has a similar committee already, the Bundessicherheitsrat (BSR). It is chaired by the Chancellor and also holds seven ministers and the head of the chancellery. The government could just empower this committee. The problem is German federalism, in which the states are always jealous of their prerogatives. This makes coordination between domestic forces in disaster relief, for example, often difficult, but this problem cannot be solved with a US style NSC. The chancellery also holds a foreign policy desk which the Chancellor could easily rely upon if he/she wants to be involved more deeply in foreign affairs.

In summary I must say that the paper is in large parts sensible and works in the right direction. The inclusion of the two concepts of domestic Bundeswehr deployment and the creation of a NSC are simply unnecessary. While any liberal democrat has to be wary when the government wants to deploy troops at home, the NSC is a completely benign “duck” which was probably included to gain public attention. None of this should however divert from the dire necessities of reforming the German armed forces and creating a public acceptance of the fact that Germany must live up to its potential when it comes to securing the future for itself, Europe and the rest of the world.

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