Europeans no longer fear Germany. But do the Germans still fear themselves?

The need for a ‘more active foreign policy’ clashes with the deep-seated pacifism of the federal republic

13 December 2014

9:00 AM

13 December 2014

9:00 AM

In the old Death Strip between East and West Berlin, which runs through the centre of the city, there is a graveyard full of German war heroes and a few war criminals too. From the Red Baron to Reinhard Heydrich, the best and worst of the German military are buried here. There’s also a mass grave full of civilians, killed by Allied air raids, and a memorial to the 136 East Berliners who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall — which ran through this cemetery. The Death Strip is still an empty space.

Germany has been marking two anniversaries this year — one a celebration, the other a painful duty. The 25th anniversary of the Mauerfall (as Germans call the fall of the Berlin Wall) is one of those rare events in German history about which they can feel unequivocally happy. The centenary of the first world war is, naturally, a lot more awkward. There’s scant affection here in Germany for the monocled militarists who led the Second Reich to destruction, but a hundred years after Kaiser Wilhelm invaded Belgium the jackboot is on the other foot. Now the Germans are the good guys, the financial saviours of a debt-ridden continent — and Europe’s shared security looks increasingly uncertain in the face of Russian militarism. Its former foes are now wondering if she might be persuaded to flex her muscles once more.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Nato secretary general, has been among the considered voices calling for Germany to start punching its diplomatic weight. ‘Germany is a normal country today, with the kinds of rights and duties other countries have,’ he said earlier this year. ‘That is why Germany should play an important role in foreign and security policy, be it in the EU, Nato or in international politics.’ Rasmussen used to be prime minister of Denmark, one of the (many) countries occupied by Germany during the second world war, so his comments carry extra clout.

It’s well established by now that America’s attentions are turning east, towards the Pacific Rim and the looming strategic clash with China. Uncle Sam will not always have Europe’s back. The Obama administration wants Europe to take more responsibility for its own defence, but Britain has been cutting back its forces and France is preoccupied with North Africa and the Middle East. Since the crash in 2008, Nato countries have reduced their defence spending by 20 per cent. Russia, on the other hand, has increased its military budget by 50 per cent. With Putin pushing westwards, and possibly menacing Nato states, Europe needs Germany like never before — not just as an economic power-house, but as a military presence too.

Europeans no longer fear Germany. But do the Germans still fear themselves? In Deutschland, a conservative country to its core, old habits die hard. Since its foundation, in 1949, the Bundesrepublik has harboured deep pacifist instincts. Its constitution forbade the use of armed forces for anything save self-defence. The atrocities of the Third Reich, in which the army played an active role, left Germans with a profound aversion to any sort of military adventure. Throughout the Cold War, and beyond, Germany (like Japan) practised a kind of chequebook diplomacy, providing financial and logistical support instead of troops. Helmut Kohl helped to bankroll the Gulf War but sent no soldiers. The Bundeswehr didn’t engage in foreign combat until 1999 (in Kosovo). As German statesman Hans-Ulrich Klose put it, Germany had become a ‘post-heroic society’.

Things are changing dramatically, however. For a long time after the second world war, the country was a military base for Britain and America. Before the Wall fell, there were 400,000 American troops in western Europe. Today there are 67,000. At the time of the last election, Britain had 20,000 troops in Germany — by next Christmas, barely a quarter will remain. That creates a vacuum. And with Putin reportedly boasting that Russian troops could be in five Nato capitals in two days, Germany’s unwillingness to exude hard power is starting to be a cause for concern. ‘A conquering army on the border will not be stopped by eloquence,’ said Bismarck in 1867. He might have been talking about Ukraine. The principle is a basic one: as Donald Rumsfeld once put it, weakness is more provocative than strength. And Europe at the moment looks dangerously tired and weak.

Now, despite initial reservations and opposition from German business, Angela Merkel is hardening her line against Russia, leading the drive for firmer EU sanctions. ‘The annexation of Crimea, in violation of international law, the military conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s actions pose a direct danger to the European peace order,’ foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the OSCE ministerial council in Basel last week. ‘The confidence that had been built up over decades has been lost within just a few months. We are now facing the greatest challenge since the end of the Cold War.’

It’s not just Russia which demands Germany’s attention. As the Middle East dissolves into chaos, she will be expected to play a role in the battle against the Islamic State. Steinmeier has ruled out joining Britain and America in air strikes, but he has pledged €70 million worth of arms to Kurdish forces fighting Isis in Iraq — and troops to train them. Back home, Germany has also banned public displays of support for Isis.

Combat missions are traditionally unpopular with German voters but recent polls suggest this could be changing. Surveys by German pollsters Infratest Dimap found that three in four Germans want their country to adopt a stronger diplomatic stance in international conflicts; four in five agreed that Russia was mainly responsible for the escalation of the current crisis in Ukraine. ‘Germany needs to step up and play its part,’ said Steinmeier recently. ‘Many of our international partners demand a more active foreign policy from Germany. And I think they are right.’

Steinmeier has assumed a more vigorous role in world affairs than his more cautious predecessor, Guido Westerwelle. Merkel’s new defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has made a similarly momentous start. Widely tipped as Merkel’s heir, she recently paid a surprise visit to Iraq to talk to Kurdish leaders about their struggle against Isis. Some 400 German nationals are believed to have travelled to Syria to join Isis — and if their experience is anything like Britain’s, half of them will have returned and be stirring up trouble at home. Germans are learning that isolation is not an option. You may not be interested in war, but war is sometimes interested in you.

Russia remains the main concern. Angela Merkel has always taken a tougher line towards Russia than Gerhard Schröder (who once referred to Vladimir Putin as a ‘flawless democrat’). Fluent in Russian, having grown up in the old East Germany, Merkel has often been regarded as the European leader who might understand Putin and be able to build bridges between East and West; Putin, for his part, speaks fluent German, having spent five years as a KGB officer in East Germany. Since the Crimean crisis, Merkel has hardened her position — calling for a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Eastern Ukraine.

Yet the inherent pacifism of modern Germany prevails. ‘Everyone here around this table knows that there will be no military solutions to this conflict, and no one wants such solutions,’ Steinmeier told the OSCE. ‘And so we will have to tread the difficult path of negotiation.’ When German President Joachim Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor, called for more rigorous diplomacy, he was called a ‘warmonger’. The accusation was absurd, but Willy Brandt’s 1970s Ostpolitik still resonates more than Bismarck’s 1870s Realpolitik. A recent poll found that 49 per cent of Germans want to adopt a neutral stance between Russia and the West with regards to Ukraine. The words of the Polish foreign minister (and Spectator contributor) Radek Sikorski now seem particularly apt. ‘I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so,’ he said, in Berlin in 2011, ‘but I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity.’

Wandering around Berlin, it’s hard to believe you’re in the capital of the most powerful country in Europe. Every time I come here, the city seems more laidback. ‘We won’t fight your imperialist war,’ reads a poster on a lamppost. ‘Make love not war’ reads the graffiti on a factory wall. ‘Poor but sexy’ (as Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, calls it), Berlin has become the height of counterculture chic. For young hipsters it’s terrific fun, but people aren’t so chillaxed in Tallinn or Riga. I was in St Petersburg this autumn and the streets were full of soldiers — young cadets celebrating their passing out parades. The souvenir stalls were selling T-shirts of Putin in various Action Man poses, and busts of Putin, Lenin and Stalin (and not a Yeltsin or a Gorbachev in sight). Maybe it means nothing, but the contrast with hedonistic Berlin was stark.

The Holocaust is Germany’s collective conscience, but it seems the time has come for Germans to exercise this conscience in a new way. ‘When we Germans say “Never Again!” this must not be an excuse to keep our hands off the tough conflicts out there in the world,’ Steinmeier told the Jewish World Congress. ‘Quite the reverse. When we say “Never again!” that also applies to the dangers out there, where violence and war and genocide are looming. With the means of diplomacy, and with the partners we have, Germany is willing to do its share against these dangers. That is also the meaning of “Never again!”’ This is the new German message. Is Vladimir Putin listening?

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

William Cook reviews Neil MacGregor’s Germany: Memories of a Nation in this issue

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Show comments
  • csthor

    Don’t get any funny ideas about Germany and hard power. As a german, one of the few who actually has an interest in defense issues, I’m thoroughly convinced that the current “foreign policy” is about as active as it will get – and that sanctions and active diplomacy will remain the maximum for the forseeable future. Why? Because german public opinion remains staunchly opposed to any “military adventures” and enhanced defense spending (as precursor to such “adventures”).
    Several politicians have tried to start a public debate about this pacifist conviction but none of the attempts have gained traction – the public as a whole considers this aspect of german political culture non-negotiable. On the other hand the only ones talking about defense issues are the specialist back-benchers who are barely known to the public as well as the Federal President (who has no decisionmaking power but is an entirely ceremonial figure). The ones that count, starting with Chancellor Merkel, haven’t said anything of substance and will continue to be absent – because of indifference, aversion, fears for career and standing within the party … You name it. So don’t expect anything to happen that goes beyond making speeches, holding meetings or slapping some sanctions on someone.
    My personal opinion: If Germany was to spend 2% of GDP on the military I’d focus on keeping it as a European field army without much “expeditionary” capabilities? Why? Because I don’t see a german interest in intervening in each and every shytehole in dark Africa or the Middle East that erupts into violence. If interventionist nations like the US, the UK or France wish to intervene they may do so of course, but they shouldn’t expect germans to jump at their command either. I’m wary of “democracy by JDAM” on principle and regard all that bombastic rhetoric as a load of hot air. Now, reassuring Poland and the Baltics vis-a-vis Russia … that’s another question.

    • Coffy

      Bet you and other Germans would change your tune when/if some of your newly returned Jihadist young people decide to bring the war home! What’s going on in Syria, it’s not happening far away, not something, especially European countries, can ignore. These are hundreds of your own countrymen (whether you see them as that or not) traveling/training in the Middle East and bringing that back to Germany, France, the UK. It’s one thing to acknowledge it and be prepared and it’s another to put your fingers in your ears and pretend things don’t pertain to you…they do.

      • csthor

        Negative. You know why? Because germans consider terrorism as a task for police and intelligence, not the military. A returning wannabe-martyr is a criminal, not an enemy combatant.

        • Lou Coatney

          Exactly right. Our (American) Unending War (on terror) and confrontation with Russia *we* have created – and the corporate-media-fanned domestic racial strife – seem intended to justify McCain and the neocons’ NDAA 2012-2014 military dictatorship – fascism – at home, and the just-passed U.S. House Resolution 758 putting us on a war footing specifically against Russia may be the mechanism to activate that.

        • Roger Hudson

          For decades ‘progressives’, often STASI stooges, used to keep (west) Germany on it’s knees and held Auschwitz under their nose like stinking fish. Now Germany needs to get a European defence system organised, dumping the US/NATO neocon crusade and put the police and verfassungschutz onto the moslem extremists.
          Cameron at Auschwitz is still promoting an anti-German message.

          • Hamburger

            I thought that his message was more directed at the Middle East. We also do not need help from Mr Cameron in holding “Auschwitz under their nose like stinking fish.” We do it well enough ourselves.

          • Roger Hudson

            Off your knees Hamburger, get the Hanseatic League working again.

    • Lou Coatney

      “Now, reassuring Poland and the Baltics vis-a-vis Russia … that’s another question.”

      AGREED, also, and the Russian FSB violating the/our NATO border to grab that Estonian operative (or criminal) was as unacceptable as it was – unusually for the Russians – *stupid*.

    • Peter Gardner

      Very sensible.

  • Richard Eldritch


  • rtj1211

    The real question you need to ask yourself is why you constantly ascribe to Russia motives which are intrinsic to the UK and the USA (conquest and military battles) but which have not seen Russia pre-emptively strike Westward in the past 300+ years??

    What value is there to Putin in doing it?? He has his pipelines to Europe to sell gas. He will risk them being shut down and/or destroyed through terrorism if he invades. What value is there in trade with Germany, which has invested hugely in the Russian economy, if he invades Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine?? It just makes no sense at all economically.

    The only scenario you can imagine is that Putin is as mad as a hatter, thinking that Russia invading Eastern Europe will be his ‘Blitzkrieg without consequences’. Every sane Russian diplomat, Politburo member and journalist knows that to be nonsense. The world would unite against Russia like it did against Apartheid South Africa if he did that and Russia would go tits up bankrupt soon enough.

    Every sane Western diplomat knows that NATO has expanded eastward to Russia’s borders and the USA has installed extremely provocative weaponry in Eastern Europe, claiming to target Iran but clearly usable against Russia if desired. It is equivalent to Russia stationing Star Wars in Cuba, Nicaragua and Bermuda simultaneously to target drug villains in Colombia. I’m sure the USA would have something to say about that…..

    Yet again, the Spectator is writing articles portraying Putin as a warmonger, expecting us all to believe this propaganda as gospel truth. I see no evidence to justify it whatsoever. None.

    It is not as if Russia has not done well economically this past decade. Oil prices have been high, so has gas and Putin has amassed a huge Sovereign Wealth Fund for his people. Why would he blow it all on a futile war just to get his proverbial rocks off?? He’s not going to inherit 50 times as much oil, gas or minerals by colonising the Baltic States, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Moldova, is he?? No. There’s no economic sense to it whatsoever. If he’s going to do that sort of thing, he’d roll up in Almaty. I don’t see any evidence that he has any such intention whatsoever.

    Russia’s historical stance has always been to defend the motherland’s borders against Western aggression, notably from France and Germany. It has utilised its harsh winters to repel boarders and only invaded Eastern Europe in 1945 as a buffer zone against future German aggression. It’s not as if Russia cleaned up in the USSR with those satellite states in Eastern Europe, is it?

    Now why would the West get fidgety right now?? Could it be Russia’s new deals with China and India to trade oil and gas?? Why shouldn’t they?? It’s not as if it’s against the Free Trade principles of us lot, is it??

    Now I admit that I only have to be wrong once, but I simply can’t see the UN, the world, and more importantly, Russia’s new BRICS allies allowing any military adventurism without consequences. Russia will become completely isolated in the UN, whilst now it has quite a few friends (although the Spectator will never admit it).

    There is no cogent logical reason for Putin to invade anywhere right now unprovoked, so the case to be presented is the detailed psychological assessment that says that not only is he stark raving bonkers, but his entire Politburo, the entire Duma and all his military generals have taken the madness drug with him, presumably accompanied by about two bottles of full-strength vodka every day for a month.

    Perhaps Douglas Murray could present his psychiatrist’s qualifications as he does the necessary, as for the life of me I see no sign of Putin being anything other than a rational, sane, Russian patriot.

    Which is, of course, a very different thing to a supine, subservient Western cocksucker which is the ideal definition of any Russian leader in the Spectator’s eyes……

    • EricHobsbawmtwit

      Funny how Russian supporters completely ignore Russia’s advance into the Baltic, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and Russia’s invasion of Eastern Poland.

      300 years you say? It’s been barely 75.

      • montague_stjohn

        Even less. The Russians invaded Hungary in 56 and Czechoslovakia in 68.

        • Jules Wright

          Afghanistan. ’79. And we all know how that turned out …

    • HJ777

      Not sure that is correct.

      Didn’t Russia (in the form of the USSR) invade Poland in1941? And didn’t it invade Hungary in 1956?

      • Ahobz

        + Czechoslovakia 1968

    • Ambientereal

      Technically (can I call it so) your statement seems to me quite correct. I would only disagree with “Putin being anything other than a rational, sane, Russian patriot” because I believe he can “show” the economical and military power of Russia without boosting or menacing or even invading other countries. I even believe he did a weak favor to his motherland by using military force and provoking sanctions.

    • davidofkent

      Re, your first paragraph, in which direction was the takeover of Poland, the present Baltic states and large parts of Germany after WW2? And don’t hide behind the word pre-emptive because Poland was most certainly not going to attack Russia, or anyone else for that matter.

    • montague_stjohn

      Russia invaded Germany in 1914, invaded Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,Poland, Russia, Ukraine in 1918, invaded Poland and the Baltic states (again) in 1939, invaded Finnland in 1939 …

    • jeffersonian

      A really good quality Putinista….they’re becoming quite rare..the quality, not the quantity sadly, I hasten to add.

  • pearlsandoysters

    That’s rather strange that the author so unambiguously promotes the idea which should have been unthinkable for those, who were actually engaged in WW2. Moreover, it goes against the plain evidence that it’s French and later German troops that invaded Russia not vice versa. I guess that German pacifism should remain intact.

  • Lou Coatney

    First of all, WE started the Ukraine Crisis – War now – with our $5 billion Kiev coup … timed to the Winter Olympics … which broke the Budapest Memorandum/treaty and destroyed Ukraine’s sovereignty – NOT the Russians! And our political and possible military aggression could well end up in mutual nuclear suicide, unless we stop it. The Russians have fairly warned us about this.

    So regardless of our guilt for Ukraine’s suffering, what this William Cook actually seems to be saying is that he wants Germany to go to war against Russia again? This kind of neocon liberal interventionism drivel isn’t just disgusting, it’s *stupid* and DANGEROUS. Is Spectator just another neocon mouthpiece?

    A wargamer friend of mine was a Navy frogman in Vietnam. (His most vivid memory of that was swimming out from a muddy river into clear seawater, looking up, and seeing a massive cloud of deadly sea snakes above his head.) He was on temporary duty to West Germany and his NATO colleagues were treating him to a drinking party. Finally, one of them swayed to his feet and said how he regretted that he wouldn’t be killing Frenchmen like his father and grandfather had. Drunken laughter all around. So Pete, to keep the line of humor going, said “And how about those *Russians*?”

    Whereupon everyone went deadly silent and sober, and the party broke up. But that was a different generation of Germans.

    I was reading Stahel’s new book about Operation Typhoon – for my (free/educational) division level boardgame Barbarossa’s Climax – about the German assault on Moscow 30Sep-5Dec41. He says the battle was over by the end of October and cuts off his book at that time, but I’ve wondered if he just became too depressed by the brutality and suffering.

    He describes two German officers who had occupied the cottage of a Russian, his wife, and their 3 children. The father objected to something, whereupon one of the Germans shot/murdered him. The wife and children were crying, so then he murdered them too.

    There are mass graves – one created in 1812 was recently discovered in Lithuania – *filled* with vicious European fools who underestimated the Russians and inflicted terrible suffering in the process. (What is this Lemming Fever that grips Europeans every few generations, to compulsively invade/attack Russia(ns)??)

    If Goebbels had been brought to trial in Nuremberg, I suspect warmongering would have been properly recognized as a punishable war crime – war being considered by Nuremberg the worst war crime, as it begets all others – and our contemporary media warmongers like this one would be put on trial and sent to prison (as though justice still exists in the West).

  • EricHobsbawmtwit

    Strange coincidence that I’ve read this article when last night I watched The Day After (1983) on YouTube. It’s a bit dated now as the back story is a Russian blockade of West Berlin, NATO tactical nuclear strike on a Russian advance to the Rhine, Russian nuclear strike on NATO HQ, followed by a full nuclear exchange.

    Putin is full of bs by the way. Russia is weak militarily. With Western dominance of the skies I doubt a Russian column would make it as far as the Oder.

    • Simon_in_London

      Russia is well aware that Russia is a minor power compared to the USA, which is why her strategy is defensive.

  • kingkevin3

    The EU and the US share a lot of the blame for the current situation in the Ukraine and this perspective is completely lacking in this article which makes it nothing but western propaganda. If the Russians started interfering in Cuba what would the Americans do?…oh wait…

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Germany needs to be German once again. Proud, strong, and nationalistic. Germans need to get over WWII. Reject the guilt-trips. Stop cowering before the Americans and Jews.

    An alliance with Russia might be a good counterweight to an increasingly non-White, anti-European America.

    The refusal among Germans to fight in “imperialist wars” is a good sign. So is the growing anti-Islamification movement, PEGIDA, which has seen thousands of German take to the streets to protest the settlement of Muslims in Germany.


    The same people who want young Germans to fight in foreign wars are the same ones who import hostile Muslims into Germany.

    What the hell is going on here?!

    • Ivan Ewan

      I agree with half of what you say. Just leave the Jews out of it – prevailing EU opinion is that Jews shouldn’t even be allowed to live in their ancient homeland without Qassams launching from next door non-stop.

  • Terence Hale

    “Europeans no longer fear Germany. But do the Germans still fear themselves?”. The other day the German CDU, Fr. Merkel’s party had the annual conference in Cologne. In an orgy of rhetoric she almost accused her coalition partner the Social Democrats, as being communists. With a balanced budget at the cost of unrepaired roads, defect bridges a defence forces equipped with things that do not work Fr. Merkel at Christmas preaches the Three Wise Men found Bethlehem with Google maps. With a differentiation of the political landscape occurring she should be worried. Bashing Russia for Ukraine, The American for NSA, the French , Italian, Spanish and the Portuguese for being brock, she hits out in all direction, medically politely called a personality disorder or in the Pub Paranoia.

  • Simon_in_London

    I’d like a ‘normal’ Germany that didn’t take the USA’s aggressively anti-Russian stance. There is absolutely no sign of Russia menacing Poland, never mind Germany. Russia couldn’t even stop the US/EU-backed overthrow of the Ukrainean government.

    • Hamburger

      It looks different here.

      • Simon_in_London

        Russia looks threatening from Hamburg? I was in Hamburg & Lubeck in 2004 after a short trip across the North Sea, and was really struck by how during the Cold War you were right up against the East German border with the Soviet tank armies massed and ready to strike. I guess that gives a different perspective.

  • beenzrgud

    Even if Germany doesn’t want to get involved in any military action it should still make its contribution of 2% of GDP towards mutual defence. Like lots of other countries in NATO it likes the idea of being in NATO but not the associated costs.

  • Hamburger

    Strangely I have just read in Die Welt an article titled “The Germans scare themselves to death” which I recommend to all German speakers. The link is:

    I heard an interesting theory the other day which goes along the lines that Germans, apart from the Prussians, were never very militaristic. Once the Prussians were taken out of the equation as in 1945 we were left with pacifistic Germans whose first reaction in times of danger is to hide until the danger goes away. While this course of action may have been sensible in the 14th to the 18th centuries when German states were weak, it is not a viable reaction today.

    • Roger Hudson

      It is interesting to see how the three western occupiers ( you do know the the FDR didn’t have full international sovereignty until 1990) bullied the Germans not to call for the end of the Kaliningrad Oblast even though there were still a lot of displaced east prussians wanting to go back. I personally heard one pathetic English politician say ‘keep them on their knees’ . I blame war films on TV.

      • Hamburger

        The FRD could not become fully sovereign until the question of the status of east Germany was resolved. Some like Herr Schäuble believe we are still not sovereign to this day. I see no reason why Kaliningrad should have returned to Germany without the return of the old eastern provinces, and that would have opened a can of worms. Klaus von Bismarck was right when he said in the early 1950s when he stated that the Germans had forfeited their right to their eastern provinces. The times are different now.

  • lpf22

    The Germans need to tool up again and get active in fighting wars because they’re so bloody good at it! Us Brits are finished when it comes trying to match the US military campaigns, so maybe its time for Germany to take up the baton??.. and hope they can do a better job against religious fundamentalists.

  • BarryObola

    “is one of those rare events in German history about which they can feel unequivocally happy.” German history goes back at least a thousand years if you start with Otto I. I am sure there are many events Germans can feel unequivocally happy about.

    “There’s scant affection here in Germany for the monocled militarists who led the Second Reich to destruction, but a hundred years after Kaiser Wilhelm invaded Belgium the jackboot is on the other foot. ” Other countries invaded Germany a lot more often than the other way around.

    “A conquering army on the border will not be stopped by eloquence,’ said Bismarck in 1867” Bismarck always stressed the importance of having a good treaty with Russia.

  • EnosBurrows

    The longer Germans hold on to “deep-seated pacifism” the better it will be for all of us.

  • RussKent

    I found this article by John Mearsheimer extremely illuminating.

    Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault:The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin

    Google the title, it is available in Foreign Affairs Journal.

  • Pepe Turcon

    Germany needs to be German once again. Proud, strong, and nationalistic. Germans need to get over WWII. Reject the guilt-trips. Stop cowering before the World

    An alliance with Russia might be a good counterweight to an increasingly non-White, anti-European America.

    The refusal among Germans to fight in “imperialist wars” is a good sign. So is the growing anti-Islamification movement, PEGIDA, which has seen thousands of German take to the streets to protest the settlement of Muslims in Germany.

  • Terry Field

    This is a deeply irresponsible article. To pump up Germany as a military counterweight to Russia is to add to tension created by the encircling of Russia by a very expansionist NATO and the attempted expulsion of Russia from its Black Sea bases. The rulers now have not experienced the horror of the second war. Rasmussen is jingoistic and utterly irresponsible.
    The west, and Brussels in particular, is behaving without responsibility, and giving Putin the chance to play the pugilist nationalist.
    This article seems to salivate for a divided, militarised, tense Europe with hard east-west borders.
    How depressingly unimaginative. Here we go agin; the military build-up, the inflation,the reduced living standards ‘sacrified’ to military preparedness, the ‘inflation’ used to drown the debt.
    All crap; all pointless, all the product of mutual hate.
    A new nightmare begins., the West, have attacked and slaughtered Russians in ENORMOUS numbers; Germany’s guilt, France’s guilt from the Napoleon period, the violence of the Kaiser contrasts with the lack of aggression from Russia, even under Stalin. The most Stalin wanted was half of Poland as a buffer state.
    We have broken solemn promises given to Yeltsin concerning the expansion of NATO in the wake of the collapse of Russian communism.
    Any strategic asset in Russia is vulnerable to western attack; and we have reduced budgets but still bristle with hardware as an alliance. That defensive capacity is right and proper, but we make Russia fear our potential and distrust us as our behaviour since the 1990s has been poor to say the least.
    I fear Russia will link with China to confront the West. It is in their interests. Indeed, we have left them little choice.
    Finally, Russia needs to sell hydrocarbons to survive.
    The future is best if it is boring; co-operation, give and take, mutual respect, appreciation of each others fears. Not the pugilistic nonsense little Rasmussen pipes up with. Crimea has gone back to Russia. The Donbas was and always will be Russian.
    Get real.

    • Ivan Ewan

      How much do their pay Russian keyboard warriors for blatant, outrageous lying? I don’t even get a dime from the geopolitical actors I support.

      • Roger Hudson

        Didn’t the Germans invent Geopolitics, academically at least (see Haushoffer).

        • Ivan Ewan

          Nobody invented geopolitics. It is just the first thing that was discovered when the first two nation tribes first encountered one another. And continues to this day.

  • polistra24

    Nothing new about any of this. In the 1930s Germany was using the same “leveraged buyout” tactics against the Balkans and Greece. Hitler’s purpose was to turn those areas into effective colonies and forced-loyalty allies. It worked then, and it appears to be working now for Merkel.

    When she invades Russia for the third time, the result will be the same as the first two times. Maybe worse because Russia has nukes now.

    You’d think Germans would learn, but obviously they don’t. Maybe the third time, the nuke time, will finally teach them about aggression. The only way to teach peace to an alligator is to kill it completely.

  • Roger Hudson

    There are 67,000 yanks in Europe, why?
    Europe has enough power and brains to defend itself, if people thought of Russia a being ‘in’ Europe there would be less problems.
    If you ignore the old Mercator projection map and look at a globe you will see Russia is almost completely surrounded by US/NATO, the gaps in the encirclement tell us a lot about current problems, the Ukraine gap, Iran, the ‘-stans’ and China.

    • Lou Coatney

      There have *been* 67,000 of us in Europe to keep the Europeans from succumbing to Lemming Fever and dragging us all into another world war … this time terminal with nuclear weapons.

      However, Bush and Obama seem to have been/become neocon militarists.

      It looks to me like Germany is having second thoughts about possibly being used as a NATO base for a nuclear NATO vs. Russia Armageddon.

  • Peter Gardner

    ‘With Putin pushing westwards, and possibly menacing Nato states,…’

    I must have missed several years of news. Where exactly has Russia expanded westwards – apart from Crimea? Funny, but reading the EU’s External Action Service’s website it strikes me that it is the EU expanding eastwards with NATO support. Consider its target list of countries: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Georgia for starters. Did the EU intend to continue Ukraine’s agreement with Russia for the latter’s military facilities in Crimea? I don’t think so.

    Perhaps William Cook isn’t aware of the EU’s External Action Service which is formally charged with responsibility for expansion of the EU, eastwards and southwards, coordination of security, defence and foreign policies across all member states and is directed by the same people that represent the member states in NATO. Perhaps it is so obvious as to have blinded William Cook.

    The final irony would be German forces stationed in Ukraine for that country’s defence against Russia. In 1917/18 Germany defeated Russia and occupied and raped Ukraine. Just shows it is better to ask nicely and be patient than to use force.

  • The provocation is NATO’s encroachment on Russia’s western borders on the back of the EU Empire’s ambitions for the Anschluss of the whole of eastern Europe. The Kiev putsch was triggered by the EU’s dangling of monies extorted from its grossly overtaxed populations in front of Ukrainians, in a perverse modern cargo cult of baubles in place of reality. The muppets of choice in Ukraine include some extremely unsavoury national chauvinists, whose runic emblems are no accident of ignorance; against Russia, and we are blighted by idiots in politics who were prepared to bay with them. Kerry and wee Willy Hague were barkingly prominent.
    Russia has no interest in encroachment on western Europe. It has its own critical mass and all the resources it needs. It voluntarily gave up the Warsaw pact a quarter of a century ago. USA/NATO/EU just carried on with the cold war.
    Dismantling of the EU Empire poject and getting NATO out of Europe are essential for our survival in the peace and prosperity that we have enjoyed since post 1945 reconstruction. Absolutely essential.

    • Lou Coatney

      NATO is still vital as a legitimate *defensive* alliance … especially now that our neocon governments have broken the Budapest Memorandum/treaty with the Russians (and compromised Ukraine’s sovereignty) with our $5 billion Kiev coup.

      The Russian FSB coming across Estonia’s/NATO border to grab Eston Kohver was a very serious treaty violation itself.

      And the EU is economically and politically needed, unless it indeed continues to be the imperialist aggressor it has seemed to be in the case of Ukraine.

      Please see my other comments below.

  • Christian

    Putins westward expansion? Hmmm, let’s look at a map of NATO countries in 91 compared to now………

  • No

  • Jules Wright

    Czar Vlad’s mission statement: resurrect Greater Russia as a Superpower. All else flows from that. EU take note (if you can think). It’s as simple as that.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Now about Holocaust denial laws,…

    • What about them, my Japanese friend?

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Japanese, wrong
        Friend, are you kidding?
        Now for sane readers, …
        In France, were you to say that it was the Soviets rather than the Nazis that murdered those Polish officers and intellectuals in Katyn Forest, slammer time would beckon. Because this is classed as Holocaust denial, as everything decided at Nurenburg is written in stone. French jurisprudence, where the truth is no defense. Keep this in mind when selecting your host nation.
        Jack theJapan Alps Brit. Currently wintering in warmer climes. “Glad you’re not here.”

  • Stanley Broadbent

    Is it true LibLabCon are being expunged from these pages?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    During the First and Second World Wars, France was cast as the victim. However, rewind to the early 19th century … See what I mean.