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De Maizière says Germany must pull its weight abroad militarily

The Local · 19 May 2011, 13:47

Published: 19 May 2011 13:47 GMT+02:00

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"When one looks around the world where soldiers - from New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway - are deployed and why they are there, then one comes to the conclusion that it's a privilege and honour for these countries to act as part of the international community, taking on international responsibilities," de Maizière said in a radio interview.

"We must also ask ourselves such questions even when German interests are not directly at stake," he told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

"We are a large and important country and want to be a large and important country, we want to retain influence in the world, and therefore, when it comes to it, and when we consider it right, we too should take on international responsibilities, not because we are forced to but because we want to," he added.

De Maizière on Wednesday outlined a large-scale shake-up in the armed forces which will see overall numbers slashed in a bid to improve efficiency.

But he also said that some 10,000 soldiers will in future be available on a permanent basis for intervention abroad, compared to just 7,000 today.

Jürgen Trittin, a leader of the opposition Green party which once advocated German neutrality, said de Maiziere was only saying openly what everyone knew.

Trittin warned, however, against the temptation Germany might have "to protect economic interests" abroad.

A member of the NATO western alliance, Germany long resisted foreign military involvement because of dark memories linked to World War II when German troops brief conquered much of Europe.

Over the past decade or so, however, Germany has increasingly sent troops abroad to act as peacekeepers, for example in the former Yugoslavia.

It has also taken part in UN-mandated operations, such as in Lebanon, and in NATO military operations, as in Afghanistan where it provides the third-largest foreign troop contingent.

Story continues below…

But in recent months, many of Germany's closest allies have questioned the dependability of Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition after it abstained from a UN resolution paving the way for military action against the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Facing a barrage of criticism both at home and abroad, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the undertaking was simply too risky for Berlin to get involved.

AFP/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:21 May 19, 2011 by cobalisk
Terrible mindset. We are big and important so we should throw our soldiers all over the world? This is a terrible way to see one's own service men and women. As Germany has already demonstrated for many years you can still be important without sending troops everywhere.

No need to get caught up in this kind of posturing which brings only blood and sorry.
14:38 May 19, 2011 by FredFinger
I can't understand this comment by the defense minister. What is he saying, that we should contribute to our own defense? Thats clearly deeply shocking, let the amis do it for us, thats what they're for.
15:15 May 19, 2011 by derExDeutsche
'But in recent months, many of Germany's closest allies have questioned the dependability of Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition after it abstained from a UN resolution paving the way for military action against the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. '

Will/Did those same allies question the dependability of Germany when a Republican is/was in the White House? or would/did they celebrate if/when Germany abstained? It seems to me, as long as a Democrat is in office, Europe and the UN get nostalgic for a little plundering and raping.
16:12 May 19, 2011 by ame64
If Germany expects America to "protect" them and do all the dirty work around the world, then Germany should honour that work and not whine about it and question the American morality every chance they get.

Get rid of the German army, it`s useless anyway, and put all that wasted money into the education system. How about that.

If Germany however still thinks it needs an army, then they should take an ACTIVE part where ever and when ever NATO wants them to.
16:53 May 19, 2011 by Major B
Well it looks like Westewelle is being sidelined even further. Sure the last 10 years haven't been easy as Germany has cautiously move to reestablish its sovereignty in the defense area. And we still need Germany to be a voice of Caution and Reason, as it was in the prelude to the Iraq War when the U.S. blundered into that quagmire. Still, caution and reason is no excuse for fecklessness, the position Germany put itself in over the Libyan crisis.

I wonder how power how powerful statesmen like Chancelors Kohl or Schmidt would have handled the foreign military involvement issue of the last 10 years.
16:57 May 19, 2011 by Gretl
"We are a large and important country and want to be a large and important country...some 10,000 soldiers will in future be available on a permanent basis for intervention abroad, compared to just 7,000 today."

Wow! Let me see if I have this right - 10,000 committed for a country of 82,000,000. The US has 330,000,000, so we should have 40,000 available for intervention on a permanent basis. Good luck, rest of the world!
17:08 May 19, 2011 by Thorsten
The article is a bit unclear. The 10.000 is only the actual soldiers used in UN mandates. (Balkan..)
17:48 May 19, 2011 by Louis Prince
If the Germans don't want to go to war, then they shouldn't.

The problem with most of the wars lately is the lack of enthusiasm, or something. The American lose allot of soldiers and it is mostly in wars not conserning them directly and its becouse they don't finnish thier wars. Quickness and effectiveness ensures lower casualties to the attacker and it should be the only consern, not losing your own soldiers to wars that isn't yours in the first place. Value your own people for a change, people are not disposable.
17:55 May 19, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
According to the logic of Maiziere, Germany should jump on the band wagon every time there is an international "crisis" that some other country is involved in. Germans sent troops to help the U.S. after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan as revenge for the terrorist attacks, and now the Bundeswehr is expected to be at the beck-and-call of powerful nations because why? It adds validity to a conflict. Merkel certainly ruffled some feathers in France by not intervening in Libya. Good for them. They should do what they believe is right, not committ German troops to die for a cause they aren't affected by.
18:45 May 19, 2011 by ChrisRea
Fred Finger, you have indeed problems understanding the article. Mr. de Maizière talks about conflicts where German interests are not directly at stake. That means he does not refer to defending Germany.
19:14 May 19, 2011 by DOZ
Germany and the rest of Europe should stop supporting the North American objectives of World domination. If North American expansionism is for peacefull purposes, then why have they failed to secure strong Allies in Central and South America wich are their closest Neighbours. Also the North Pole does not belong to Canada and eating Seal Meat is totally discusting.
20:53 May 19, 2011 by Beachrider
Germany could pull out of NATO, UN, Interpol, EU and all international agreements, if they choose.

If you don't, then you need to support those organizations to the levels they set.

If someone doesn't think that there are 40,000 Americans in the Peace Corps ALONE, then they simply don't understand the size of the American commitment to international participation. I understand that cynical observers see America as attempting world domination, but they forget that Americans ALWAYS want to go home. It really isn't taking very long to drain the Americans out of Germany, just as both countries wished.
23:15 May 19, 2011 by ronasch
I do not think that anyone wants Germany to become a military power again. Germany dominates Europe economically and could probably do so militarily again so is the world ready to accept a Europe ruled from Berlin? Might be much more functional that the current EU, but no one wanted a Europe ruled from Berlin in 1914 or 1939 and that included much of Germany that wanted and wants still to be free of Berlin. I know that NRW did not want to be ruled from Berlin ever, but they had no say in it so my great-grandfather fled
00:04 May 20, 2011 by wenddiver
DOZ-Canada doesn't own the North Pole and eating Seal Meat is disgusting.

DOZ if you are at the North Pole and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Shania Twain, George St. Piere, or the Molsen Brewiing Company tell you to move along and keep your hands off their pole, I advise you to do just that. Canada is a NATO country and if they say they own the axis of the planet, Santa's work shop or the big patch of ice, I guess they do, because the US will back them on it. Just keep your little jihadi self moving.

Hey if Shania Twain and George St. Piere were raised on Seal meat, maybe we should all eat some. Most of the world is bugly compared to them.
00:54 May 20, 2011 by willowsdad
Let's see now--everyone complains when the Germans are too militaristic and now they're still complaining that the Germans aren't militaristic enough!
03:26 May 20, 2011 by jmclewis
De Maizière you are correct, please do it.
12:16 May 20, 2011 by michael4096
If Germany wants to be a member of the UN club, it should adhere by the decisions and put boots in where requested. And, stay out unless requested.

Same goes for every other country.
13:27 May 20, 2011 by DOZ
Germany should Neutralize and stop being a pawn of the NATO Gangsters.
15:51 May 20, 2011 by Major B
Geez, some of these infantile comments. It's like the elementary school kids are writing in.

After WWII, the FRG wasn't given the choice of neutrality. Neither was the GDR. The Soviets offerred a reunified Germany with a partial border correction, much closer to the Post WWI borders, for German neutralilty. The U.S. wisely rejected that -- this was around 1946-1948. Thus, with Marshall Plan and NATO security, the groundwork was laid for the economic wonder that developed in the FRG. The wisdom of that key decision became evident when the Berlin wall fell and Chancelor Kohl "SEIZED" that opporunity to quickly achieve unification.

Never forget the key role of the American President, George HW Bush, in making this happen. He alone overrode the French and British, who would have preferred a Swiss type arrangement or even a new Austria in the East.

Now Germans seem to have successfully integrated its Eastern half and are enjoying economic prosperity. All know they work hard.

But this wasn't achieved alone.

Now, after the sacrifice of blood and capital by many, it is too much to ask for Germany to "begin to pull its fair share" of keeping this crazy world from falling apart?
18:48 May 20, 2011 by Jack Kerouac

Yeah, you're right. This was a good point you made:

"Germany could pull out of NATO, UN, Interpol, EU and all international agreements, if they choose. If you don't, then you need to support those organizations to the levels they set."

But its still complicated for Germany when her interests are at stake, like when they committ troops for someone else's war/cause. It's a tough call. What do you think?
17:28 May 21, 2011 by Curmudgeon
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
05:55 May 22, 2011 by Major B
@ Curmudgeon

You may disagree with my viewpoint but the facts I stated were very much "reality". Sir, I read your posts before and as with this one, they always seem have a rather surly slant. Perhaps that is why you use your name andif you are at a more senior stage in life, why the dour outlook?

Sure war is a racket. And? Always has been. Ancient battles. Plunder. Slaves. Territorial gain. And? One reason the U.S. Congress insisted on neutrality in 1939 was the war profitering and other crap that took place during the First World War. In a sense the same took place during the

Vietnam conflict. Big business interests helped fuel the "Soviet Threat" menance that fueled Cold War expansionism in the U.S.

I don't agree that Germany is still occupied. There are certain political paramenters in which it must operate.... but that is true for all countries.

I agree completely with your last two paragraphs.
19:05 May 22, 2011 by Curmudgeon
Major B

In my position, if I used my real name, I would be dismissed from employment because of the political correctness necessary in Canada. I lived in Europe for a few years in the mid 70s, and have visited a dozen or more times since (including the UK). The changes over that time have been profound, and not necessarily for the better. My father was in the Air Force during WWII, as were 4 uncles, one uncle was doing PR work for the war effort. Growing up, the man across the street was in the army, three houses down, the man was in the Navy (Atlantic). On the next 2 streets were veterans of the Navy and Army. In short, I grew up surrounded by WWII veterans. When the "boys" had their poker night, I would often hear chatter about their war experiences.

Later in school when studying "history" it dawned on me that their stories didn't jive with "history". When I asked about the discrepancy, I was told to "believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear". That puzzled me. Were the stories BS or was the book?

One of the vets was an alcoholic. In my teen years, I would run into him when he was drunk, and he would start telling his war stories and usually ended up crying. His stories were about the Italian campaign. He said the orders given for those captured were to interrogate, then shoot them while "trying to escape". Were his stories BS? The truth about why WWI and WWII started and what really happened will be hidden from us. There are bigger goals to be achieved by those who would control us.

My point is this. All of us have been lied to, and are still being lied to. We have our information sources managed to lead us to certain conclusions. All of the current conflicts involving NATO are bogus. Canada, Germany, the UK and all the rest have no business being in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or anywhere else. NATO is the muscle for those who really govern us. Democracy, as practised today in almost every country, is an illusion. It is a method of buying governments. The true wishes of citizens are ignored, and distractions like the war on terror obscure the real agenda.
21:52 May 23, 2011 by Major B
@ Cudmudgeon

I understand you better and thanks for the info on your background.

Sure, governments lie like hell. Always has been so. Look at Rome for example. Justice? Really? Rome was horrific. Yet the Roman concepts of justice are the blocks we built on in the WEST.

Democracy does not really give us freedom? I probably agree with you on that one too. In the U.S. it should be democracy for the Corporate interests. I don't share my background because I already say enough but through my heritage I know firsthand its(democracy's) half truths.

I know first hand many of lies in U.S. grade school history books, and the ommissions.

Yet, somehow we've created a modern world that is liveable for much of humanity. A few little changes in the last 80 years and we could be living in an "Alternate Universe".

What if Hitler had not attacked Russia?

What if Hitler had not declared war on the U.S.?

What if the American Civil War had resulted in two separate American States?(Would Canada have joined the Northern States of America?)

You mentioned the issues the WWII vets you knew had when you were growing up. Alcoholism. You bet!! Millions of men with post traumatic stress syndrome. But, they came back, built up the U.S, and Canada, and our two nations enjoy a prosperity we really didn't earn. "War is Hell" said a famous American Civil War General and both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts demonstrate it every day. Yes, we need to get out of there.

But, if the time comes for international military action by the West, you can't have a Germany continuing to sit on the sidelines and having their cake and eating it too.
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