Tyson Barker has written a useful review of German foreign policy, but this statement seems jarringly wrong:
Germany’s 2011 abstention from the vote on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing the protection of civilians in Libya that ultimately led to Muammar Ghaddafi’s removal from power has been almost universally maligned [bold mine-DL].
It might be fair to say that Germany’s position on the Libyan war has been maligned by some Atlanticists in America and Europe, who wrongly interpret Germany’s willingness to support and join in other nations’ wars of choice as evidence that Germany is an unreliable ally. Like its opposition to the proposed attack on Syria, Germany’s abstention in 2011 hasn’t been maligned by the other governments that opposed intervention. Most other members of NATO wanted no part of the war in Libya (or strikes against Syria), so they are hardly the ones maligning Germany for taking the same position they did. It would be much more accurate to say that Germany’s abstention greatly annoyed those few governments that wanted to intervene in Libya, but there were not very many of them. Put simply, most of Germany’s “allies and partners” weren’t alarmed by this decision, because they tacitly or openly agreed with it. Instead of asking why Germany doesn’t support allies’ wars of choice, perhaps we should ask why our government expects them to back actions that they deem unwise or unnecessary.
Barker refers to Germany’s “willingness to buck western consensus in…the Western alliance,” but this overlooks the fact that there was no real Western consensus in favor of intervention in Libya, much less in Syria. There is no consensus in the alliance on these issues, and to the extent that there is a prevailing view it is one much closer to Germany’s than to Washington’s. If U.S. policymakers are “baffled” by German behavior, as Barker says, they must also be baffled by the positions of almost every other NATO government.