Benjamin Weinthal is annoyed that Angela Merkel doesn’t support more foreign wars:
In sharp contrast to Thatcher’s robust interventionism and strong trans-Atlantic foreign policy, Merkel’s foreign policy has been marked by jagged lines and erratic behavior.
Take the example of Germany’s decision to join Russia and China and remain on the sidelines during the 2011 Libyan crisis. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle abstained during the U.N. Security Council vote to authorize force in Libya, which sparked a rebuke from U.S. President Barack Obama. But Merkel went farther, still, pulling German ships from the NATO contingent in the Mediterranean, lest they somehow get involved.
Readers will note that there is nothing erratic about these actions. Germany didn’t support military action in Libya, and so it made certain that it would not participate in a war that it didn’t support. Germany also didn’t want to insult its allies by voting against the resolution, especially when Russia and China were willing to abstain, but Germany wasn’t about to vote for a measure that it thought was mistaken. That may be frustrating to some hawks, but it is entirely consistent with German policy for more than a decade. Every time other Western governments raise the possibility of entering or starting a new conflict, Germany has been predictably opposed. What’s odd is that other Westerners, especially Americans, keep expecting Germany to change its position for some unknown reason. Some Americans seem to think that Germany’s lack of support for these wars must make it an unreliable ally, but then perhaps the U.S., Britain, and France shouldn’t be asking their allies to help fight unnecessary wars.
If Germany thought military action in Libya was unwise, why would it think that attacking Syria makes sense? Kosovo was the only post-Cold War exception to Germany’s consistent opposition to wars of choice waged by Western governments, and Merkel has shown no signs that she intends to change that. Unlike many American supporters of the invasion of Iraq, she has not allowed her earlier mistake of supporting the Iraq war to force her into supporting other unwise wars later on. Of course, this is what other Western nations wanted postwar Germany to be like. Now that we have a Germany that is reliably opposed to waging unnecessary wars, there is a remarkable amount of complaining in the West that Germans are too antiwar. If Germany wants to opt out of new wars of choice, most Westerners don’t see what the problem is with that.
Weinthal notes that foreign affairs were barely mentioned in the recent election campaign, but then it would be strange if they played a large role. Not only is the German public not interested in having its government interfere in foreign conflicts and crises, but as a practical matter there is not much for the politicians to say about Egypt or Syria. That is what political debate looks like in normal democratic countries whose governments don’t feel compelled to intervene and meddle in the affairs of other states all the time.