Germany removes the last restraints on its use of the armed forces, while its defense minister declares that there will be “no taboos”.
The year 1993 pivotal for the German military. Germany established its armed forces in 1956, but memories of two world wars meant that they were restricted to defensive operations within nato territory.
In 1991, this slowly began to change. Thirty German soldiers deployed in Baghdad, Iraq, to help with airlift operations. The same year, 150 medics were sent with a United Nations mission to Cambodia.
The first substantial foreign mission came in 1993, with over 2,000 military personnel deploying to Somalia as UN peacekeepers. The same year, German soldiers joined in aerial operations over Yugoslavia.
The world had no problems with these operations. In fact, the UN and United States desperately wanted the German army to do more, but to many Germans, this was too much. Germany’s main left-wing party, the Social Democratic Party (spd), and the free market Free Democratic Party (fdp) complained to the German Constitutional Court that these deployments violated Germany’s Basic Law—its constitution.
The German parliament effectively dispensed with that condition on January 29, when it voted to deploy up to 100 soldiers to help train the Kurds in northern Iraq. There is no nato, UN or EU mission in Kurdistan. It’s a small beginning, but it sets an important precedent.
U.S. President Barack Obama recognized the significance of this decision. “In a significant milestone in its foreign policy, Germany has taken the important step of equipping Kurdish forces in Iraq, and Germany is preparing to lead the training mission of local forces in Erbil,” he said at a press conference following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on February 9.
Outside of Germany, the removal of this last restraint on German military deployments has received almost no attention. Britain and America have no interest in German military restraint—instead, like Mr. Obama, those that have even commented on this news welcome it.
Within Germany, it has been discussed more widely and, in some cases, criticized. But it is far less controversial than the last time a military taboo was broken back in 1993. This time, the spd won’t be taking the case to the constitutional court—they supported it. Even the usually pacifist Greens merely abstained. The military mission was approved with 457 votes in favor, to 79 against.
Germany’s history should at least cause us to pause and think about this. After all, in the grand scheme of things, World War ii is still recent history.
Yes, it feels unfair to hold the actions of an earlier generation of people over the heads of modern Germans—actions that today’s generation had no control over. But the geography of modern Germany has not changed—with that geography comes a desire for more lebensraum, leading it to dominate Europe once again.
We assume that history does not apply today, that wars and mass bloodshed are a thing of the past. We’re sophisticated now—those things are impossible, we think.
The tv news service Tagesschau commented that we’re moving into “uncharted territory” for Germany’s Constitution. But we’re also moving into uncharted territory for modern Germany. We’ve never seen modern Germany with a military free of taboos. One could argue that we need to move into this territory and that Germany deserves another chance. But in that case, surely we should enter this new territory with eyes wide open? Instead, this new Germany is emerging, and Britain and America couldn’t care less.
The Trumpet, however, has been warning for years of what this new territory contains. To read more about this warning from history, read our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.
Full article: No More Taboos For the German Army (The Trumpet)