Modern Strategy Concept (III)

BERLIN (Own report) – The elaboration of the German Ministry of Defense’s new White Paper is oriented on Cold War era scenarios. In her programmatic speech on this basic military policy document, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) accused Russia of following a “geostrategic hegemonic policy” and of using “military force” to “achieve its interests.” Members of the panel of experts appointed by the minister, therefore, call Russia a “threat” and demand a revival of the “deterrence” policy applied against the Soviet Union by the West. The authors of the first White Paper in 1969 had already used these terms to legitimize “limited” nuclear war against the USSR, allegedly oriented toward expansion. The subsequent military policy doctrine of the mid 1980s, even included nuclear first use to “combat the enemy’s potentials” on its own territory, because, in the event of war, Soviet territory would “not be inviolable.”

“Eastern Threat”

Already in her first speech on the new White Paper, which is currently being elaborated for the Ministry of Defense, Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) accused Russia’s leaders of following a “geostrategic hegemonic policy” and seeking to establish “military force” as a means for “achieving their interests.” According to the minister, the “Kremlin” ultimately aims to replace “internationally recognized law and standards with domination in spheres of influence.”[1] Referring to the Ukraine civil war, von der Leyen recently reiterated these theses. At a workshop of experts she has appointed to elaborate the next White Paper, she accused Russia of using “hybrid warfare” to “destabilize weaker countries from within using military means, economic pressure and propaganda.”[2] These experts refer to Russia as “eastern threat”[3] and are calling for a revival of the “deterrence” doctrine developed against the Soviet Union during the cold war. Because the West has to pay a “price” for each weakness or inconsistency … the geopolitical respite” is now “over.”[4]

“Expansive Hegemonic Policy”

The latest statements by Germany’s defense minister and her appointed experts reveal striking similarities to the White Papers published before 1990. Already the first basic military policy document of its kind, in 1969, contended that the Soviet Union was pursuing an “expansive hegemonic policy” and therefore, must be considered a “possible aggressor.” To “deter Soviet aggression,” NATO had to develop the “flexible response” strategy, based on the idea of a “limited war” in Europe, and stipulating “selective use of nuclear arms.” According to that White Paper, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) would have to carry out its “defense,” “as far forward as possible.” “It is ruled out, for political, economic and military reasons, that any area of the federal territory be surrendered without a fight. Defense preparations must, therefore, be aimed at immediate and effective military reaction, to provide our country and its population the necessary level of security and confidence.” The Bundeswehr must therefore be equipped with the “means of delivery for nuclear weapons.” “The German contribution to the common defense would be materially and psychologically seriously affected if the German armed forces would not be able to fight on a par with its potential enemy and its allies.”[5]

Nuclear Weapons

The White Paper published in 1979 also explicitly follows the concept of equally waging a conventional and nuclear “forward defense.” It was declared that nuclear weapons are an “important means” for the “credible capability of gradual escalation” within the framework of NATO’s “deterrence strategy.” Once again the Soviet Union had been attributed the role of aggressor. Because of the upgrading of its arsenal of medium-range missiles and bombers, Russia was said to have “become a strategic threat of new dimensions to the Atlantic Alliance in Europe.” The authors of the White Paper demanded that the West undertake a comprehensive “modernization of its nuclear forces.”[6] Then, in the early 1980s, NATO stationed the most modern nuclear weapons on West German territory – weaponry unmatchable by the Soviet Union. Not even the massive resistance in broad sectors of the West German population was able to halt the West German government’s plans.

Intervene Globally

German military policy was re-oriented, in the early 1990s, once the FRG annexed the GDR and the Soviet Union disintegrated. For example, the 1994 White Paper predicted that “military security precautions” can “be no longer limited to territorial and alliance defense,” but now must mean “crisis management in a wider geographical context.” Accordingly, the Bundeswehr is considered an “instrument of German foreign and security policy,” charged with globally “preventing conflicts, keeping them at bay, keeping them limited or bringing them to an end.” As the authors write, this is why a “Crisis Reaction Force (CRF)” must be established covering the “entire spectrum” of possible operations ranging “from modern guerilla warfare to combat against well-armed combat troops.”[8] Two years earlier, in the “Defense Policy Guidelines” elaborated und his authority, German Minister of Defense, Volker Rühe (CDU) had declared that the Bundeswehr not only serves the “prevention, limitation and the termination of crises and conflicts that could adversely affect Germany’s integrity and stability,” it also serves the “maintenance of global free trade and unimpeded access to global markets and raw materials.”[9]

Read also: Modern Strategy Concept (II).

Full article: Modern Strategy Concept (III) (German Foreign Policy)

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