No Trust In Self, No Money For Defense
It’s neither pacifism, nor a proclivity to free-riderism, nor (strictly speaking) a sense of moral certainty that leads Germans to shirk their security responsibilities. It’s actually a profound psychological sense of self-doubt that’s to blame.
In the world of security and defense, Germany presents an enigma. How can a country that has been re-unified and fully sovereign for almost 30 years, a country possessing a fully globalized economy (the fourth-largest in the world), a country with a few heavy history lessons under its belt, be so completely absent strategically? Why is it that especially in military affairs, Germany seems to be unable to play the role expected of it, given its size, strength, and geographic location?
There once was a good deal of understanding for the historic complexes on Germany’s shoulders, and this understanding had led to a more gentler approach to questions of security by Germany’s friends and allies. But this patience has been running low for a while now, and has recently run dry. Berlin is now regularly being accused of shameless free riding, of naïve pacifism, or of being a perfidious geo-economic power solely interested in its mercantile well-being. Neighbors are worried about Germany’s reliability as an ally. President Donald J. Trump has unloaded on Berlin for its reluctance to spend two percent of GDP on defense.