Thursday, 17 May 2012

As the Chicago Summit approaches, Der Spiegel has run an interesting piece on the low opinion of Germany in NATO. the basic contention of the article is that:
Ahead of the NATO summit in Chicago, Germany's standing in the alliance has reached a low point. The country's abstention in the UN vote on military action in Libya has done lasting damage to its reputation. The Germans are now seen as unreliable partners who don't know what they want.
This criticism comes on the heel of long-standing dissatisfaction within the Alliance at the restricted role that Germany has chosen to follow in Afghanistan. NATO Monitor has been writing since the time of its founding about German caveats on the use of forces in Afghanistan, and the resentment that has caused amongst some NATO members.

Now, if an Alliance is going to work, all its members have to pull together to back agreed missions. This must certainly apply to Afghanistan, into which all NATO members entered without reservation (however unwisely).

But Libya is different, and here it seems that the criticism of the German government's refusal to play a role is wrong. France and Britain pushed an unwilling Alliance into the intervention with precious little real support. And the unfortunate ongoing unintended consequences of the toppling of Gaddhafi show that the caution was entirely justified. And, if Germany has only a small ability to project forces overseas, this is a democratic choice that it has a right to make. Many countries and many analysts have deep reservations about the idea that the US now sees NATO as an adjunct to its own global aspirations for the use of military force as part of foreign policy. Clear Der Spiegel would like to see German troops deployed across the world and is thus ready to slam the current government. Many, including NATO Monitor, see that vision as very questionable.

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