German President Joachim Gauck said the German army should be more involved abroad. After WWII, Germany has been reluctant to be involved in any mission that requires troops.
Germany is America’s most important ally on the European continent and the world’s fourth-largest economy. Gauck said German involvement in military conflict is a regular question from allies.
“That’s what I want from Germany, too,” he said. “I have the feeling our country should maybe drop the reluctance that was in order in past decades in favor of a stronger sense of responsibility.”
This is not the first time he said this since he was elected in 2012. He mentioned it earlier in 2014 to criticism from many Germans. In fact, former President Horst Koehler was forced to step down after he supported “military action to back Germany’s commercial interests.” While the rest of the world might want German participation, the Germans themselves are reluctant.
“Sometimes it is necessary to take up arms in order to fight for human rights or for the survival of innocent people,” Gauck said.
German leader Adolf Hitler attempted to conquer all of Europe before and during WWII. His horrific war crimes against innocent people are still fresh in Germans’ minds, even in those who were born long after the war.
“I don’t mean the behavior that Germany put on in past centuries or in the decade of the war: a demeanor of German dominance. The opposite is what I mean,” Gauck continued. “A ‘yes’ to an active participation in conflict resolution in a bigger framework, together with those who work with us in the European Union and in NATO.”
Even if the Germans do not want to be involved, Germany’s hesitation means they are regularly mocked by other nations. It got especially bad in early June when German Defense Minister Ursula van der Leyen “announced that from now on the German army will be more family-friendly, with increased funding for crèches for soldiers’ children and postings limited to match school-term dates.”
Germany gave up conscription in 2011, and now it is struggling to find recruits. Von der Leyen, the first woman to be defence minister, said she needs to compete with business for recruits: “In a society that is changing rapidly, so do the individuals’ expectations of work. We have to react very flexibly as an employer, otherwise we will soon face empty hallways and an empty parade ground.”
While the minister ramps up the child-centred spending, Germany still lags behind its allies in defence spending. NATO wants members to budget at least two per cent of GDP on defence, but Germany, despite being the richest country in Europe, spends just 1.3 per cent.
German officers are also not happy with Von der Leyen. From Breitbart London:
German army officers are not happy, either. General Harald Kujat, a retired former chief of staff of Germany’s armed forces, told the German magazine Focus that von der Leyen’s proposals were those “of a good housewife taking care of her children who has no idea of the military.”
Other critics said that her aim of making the army “one of the most attractive employers” is “totally unrealistic.” A senior serving officer speaking on condition of anonymity told Focus they were policies for “sissies and wimps.”