IS GERMANY NOW THE KEY TO THE NATO ALLIANCE?November 28, 2014
There's some rumbling in NATO, and it's coming, predictably, from Germany, or to be much more accurate, from everyone else in NATO looking at Germany:
There's two key themes here; theme one:
But there’s one more crucial change for NATO: For the first time, Germany, more than the U.S., may hold the key to NATO’s effectiveness.
With the largest population and economy in Europe, Germany has the heft to drive the alliance’s security agenda. NATO’s European members stretch from Iceland to Romania, and the U.S. has shouldered the bulk of security responsibilities since NATO’s 1949 founding. But amid budget cuts at home and an increasingly isolationist public, the U.S. is winding down its European footprint. The only other NATO country with the military size, industrial might and economic wherewithal to fill the gap is Germany.
Indeed, when reports surfaced Aug. 22 of Russians firing artillery at Ukrainian forces, the foreign leader President Barack Obama called first was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It comes amid growing pressure from the U.S. for its European allies to increase defense spending. NATO has set a threshold for country defense budgets at 2 percent of GDP, but few achieve it. Spending on Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has gone from 1.4 percent down to 1.3 percent of its GDP in recent years, according to World Bank data....
"Speaking in Riga, the Latvian capital, on Aug. 18, Merkel acknowledged that Europe needs to recalibrate its security strategy given Russia’s unexpected aggression. She sought to reassure the Baltics that Germany would come to the defense of its NATO allies. She also acknowledged that preparations for such a scenario “must be stronger than we thought necessary a few years ago.”
"Among other things, the Germans are now contributing to stepped-up air policing flights over the Baltics. Benitez says Merkel’s remarks in Riga also indicate Germany is likely to support plans for a new “alliance assurance force,” one of the top initiatives expected from next week’s summit. According to Defense News, the “force would be maintained at a high state of readiness” across the continent “and intended for rapid deployment before a conflict erupts.”
"But Merkel did not say what Latvian leaders wanted to hear most — that she supported NATO stationing troops permanently on its turf."
(Thanks to Mr. K.L. for sharing this article)