Rethinking German Pacifism

tags: military history, Germany



Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

Hamburg, Germany — Would the Germany of today help liberate the Germany of 1944? You don’t need to tap Angela Merkel’s phone to find the answer: It’s no.

Germany is Europe’s unrivaled superpower, its largest economy and its most powerful political force. And yet if its response to recent global crises, and the general attitude of its leaders and citizens, are any indication, there appears to be nothing that will get the German government to consider military intervention: not even a clear legal basis for action, not even an acknowledged security interest, not even an obvious moral duty.

Such adamant antipathy is actually a source of pride in Germany. The departing foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, likes to talk of a “culture of military restraint,” knowing that he describes a mainstream sentiment.

What does this “culture” mean? Has Europe’s strongest nation really chosen to become the world’s biggest Switzerland?...



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