Speaking this week, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said that Germany has to play a leading military role regardless of if the country wants to or not as along with Germany’s size, economic power and geography comes the status and responsibility of a significant military power. And, in the current climate, defense is more important than ever.
According to the minister:
“The war in Ukraine has shown everyone, even us Germans who are used to peace, that states need armed forces as a last resort – that is, whenever an enemy is determined to use invasion, destruction, murder and forced displacement”
Lambrecht also stressed that Germany needs to transition to maintaining a military budget which meets the NATO target of 2% GDP. Germany had already committed a 100 billion Euro (100 billion USD) special fund for new arms and modernization which was added on top of the record high 50.4 defense billion Euro budget. As Lambrecht observed, the 100 billion will be meaningless if Germany is unable to sustain and maintain the systems it acquires.
Recognizing the American shift towards the Pacific, the German defense minister also said that that Germany needs to help take off some of the defense burden of the US in Europe. Germany and America’s European allies as a whole have been showing increasing levels of commitments to the Asia-Pacific region, most notably by dispatching vessels to the region, participating in local exercises and holding defense talks with local democracies.
One explanation used to explain the European shift to the Pacific is that Europe is increasingly perceiving China and Russia as a coalition which means that defense against Russia cannot be just limited to Europe. Another potential argument is that NATO, knowing the US is looking more and more towards the Pacific, is trying to ensure that its policies can sufficiently supplement and appease the Americans. It is also worth noting that in recent years, EU-China relations have deteriorated.