BERLIN (Own report) – With the Alternative for Germany (AfD), an extreme right wing party will enter the German Bundestag for the first time since the 1950s. With 13 percent of the vote, the AfD has successfully mobilized an extreme right-wing potential that, according to a sociological study, has always existed within the German population. All parties in the Bundestag openly repudiate the AfD. However, this only obscures the fact that the AfD’s program, particularly on the important issues of foreign and military policy, show remarkable parallels to the political objectives of almost all other parties in the Bundestag. Like the CDU/CSU, FDP, SPD and the Greens, the AfD sees Germany as a global “policy-making power,” whose armed forces should be massively upgraded and made more operational. Whereas, the mainstream parties in the Bundestag are relying on the EU as the instrument for German global policy, the AfD favors a national course for Germany exercising global power. This course would probably take effect should the EU disintegrate due to the growing internal dissentions or if more and more countries opt to exit.
Third Strongest Force
Equal Footing Policymaking
In spite of the repudiation of the AfD by all of the parties in the Bundestag, the party’s program shows remarkable parallels to the political objectives of nearly all other parliamentary parties on important issues – particularly in foreign and military policies. This includes the aspiration, not only in international policy of assuming the role of a “policymaking power” (AfD) – a global policy role – but also to rise to an equal footing with the United States. “The USA is Germany’s most important ally,” affirms the AfD’s election program. “The guiding principle of an interest-oriented German foreign and security policy is the equality of both partners.” The SPD sees it similarly: Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) recently diagnosed a “mutation in the global balance of power” – and predicted the “loss of the United States, as the most important nation.” The days, “when we could completely rely on others,” are “slowly disappearing,” declared Chancellor Angela Merkel, (CDU) in late May, referring to the USA. “We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands.” “We are faced with a global competition for values and standards,” wrote the Greens’ top candidate Cem Özdemir in an online article for the specialized journal, “Internationale Politik” in early September, “in times, when these values are under attack by the United States and its president, himself, it is up to us, Europeans.”
“A Strong Bundeswehr”
Ranging from the ecology-liberal spectrum of the German establishment, through the social democrat and conservative milieus all the way to the nationalist circles of the AfD, there is an overarching consensus in the demand for significant arms buildup of the Bundeswehr. “The German armed forces” are “to be reformed,” so that their “intervention readiness includes being operational for missions of the highest intensity,” according to the AfD election program. “For years,” the Bundeswehr has been suffering “under the rigorous austerity dictate of conservative politicians,” writes the Chair of the SPD Bundestag’s Parliamentary Group, Thomas Oppermann. “Therefore, a sustained increase in the defense budget is necessary.” “Without a doubt, we, in Germany, need a powerful and operational Bundeswehr,” declared the top candidate for the Greens, Özdemir, cautiously but openly to his party’s clientele, some of whom had been engaged in the peace movement. “Our arms expenditures should be oriented on our needs.” The FDP also calls for “a modern Bundeswehr with mission-oriented structures, capable of both alliance and national defense, as well as international missions.” The Chancellor, herself, formulated the demand for a massive arms buildup for the conservative parties.
EU – Means of Influencing
Between the group ranging from the ecology-liberals to the conservative mainstream, on the one hand, and the nationalist spectrum, represented by the AfD, on the other, there is no dissension on questions of the aspiration to imperial “policy-making” in world politics, an “equal footing” with the USA, nor the demand for a comprehensive Bundeswehr arms buildup. Their differences lie mainly in questions of the strategic framework. Berlin’s mainstream continues to rely on the Germany-dominated EU, as its preferred means for implementing its global aspirations. “A strong Germany, in the long run, can only be found in an operational Europe,” predicts Özdemir. “Strengthening Europe’s capability must be Germany’s foreign policy priority.” Strengthening EU foreign and military policy and establishing pan-European military structure networks, which will allow the Bundeswehr to achieve the necessary strike capability, is the objective of the Greens, the SPD, the FDP, and the CDU/CSU parties. In the future, the Bundeswehr should “draw its force from the fact that it is a member of an operational European Defense Union,” insists Özdemir. The FDP election program observes, “the European Union needs a European Army.”