Home/Daniel Larison/Guilting Germany Into a More Aggressive Foreign Policy (II)

Guilting Germany Into a More Aggressive Foreign Policy (II)

Walter Russell Mead hopes that Germans can be cajoled into backing more foreign wars:

Even so, it is exceedingly difficult to imagine just how Germany might go about implementing such an enlarged foreign policy vision given the constraints of public opinion. Are Germans really ready to overcome their moral squeamishness and march back into the fog of war [bold mine-DL]? Are they willing to invest in a military that is fit for the 21st century, and to send sizable troop contingents into foreign lands on extended campaigns? A poll released just before the start of the conference showed 61 percent of Germans opposed to an expansion of their country’s military involvements abroad.

Old habits die hard. It may simply take some time for Germany to grow into its new role. But before the country’s leaders can fight the good fight abroad [bold mine-DL], they must first win the war of public opinion at home.

This is a good example of trying to come up with a solution when there is no problem. German opposition to having a greater military role in the world is not something that the German government or its allies should want to “fix.” Germany has no reason or need to commit itself to more military missions overseas, and it is doubtful that most other European nations really want to encourage this. Germany has had no pretensions of being an active military power for almost the last seventy years, and the world has not suffered because of this. Yes, old habits die hard, but this is a habit that doesn’t need to be changed. Would we really prefer it if Merkel behaved more like Japan’s Abe? I don’t think so.

As for “moral squeamishness,” one might think that it would be praiseworthy that the German government is reluctant to wage wars against other countries whose governments have done nothing to Germany. Germany made a point of not participating in the Libyan war, and it was criticized sharply for this by hawks in other Western countries, but no one could ever explain why Germany should feel obliged to help bomb Libya. It is not “squeamishness” to refuse to attack people that have done you no harm. It is a reasonable aversion to starting international wars. Why we should want Germany or any country to overcome that aversion is beyond me.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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