CDU Chairwoman and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gave a keynote speech on the new security policy orientation of Germany and the associated tasks for the Bundeswehr. Among other things, it is now a question of containing “China’s claim to power” in the “Indo-Pacific region” in order to defend Germany’s global economic interests. Just a few years ago this would have been a taboo break and Kramp-Karrenbauer would have triggered a storm of indignation. But today? Leaden silence. By Jens Berger.
“My assessment, however, is that, overall, we are on the way to understanding in the broadest sense of society that a country of our size with this foreign trade orientation and thus also dependence on foreign trade must also know that in case of doubt, and in an emergency, military action is necessary in order to protect our interests, for example to prevent free trade routes, for example entire regional instabilities, which will certainly have a negative impact on our chances through trade, jobs and income. All this is to be discussed and I believe we are not on such a bad path.”
No, these sentences are not from Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech, but from an interview given to Deutschlandfunk on 22 May 2010 by the then Federal President Horst Köhler. The criticism that followed these sentences was enormous. The then SPD faction leader Thomas Oppermann announced “We don’t want an economic war”. Green faction leader Jürgen Trittin said, “We need neither a gunboat policy nor a loose rhetorical deck cannon at the head of state” and found that Köhler’s remarks were no longer based on the Basic Law. There was also criticism from the then governing parties CDU and FDP. Köhler’s statement was “not a particularly happy formulation, to say the least” (Ruprecht Polenz, CDU) and “somewhat alienating” (Rainer Stinner, FDP). Even security policy hawks went too far with these statements. Michael Wolffsohn called on Köhler to correct himself publicly. The constitutional lawyer Ulrich Preuß of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin summed up: “This is an extension of the permissible reasons for a Bundeswehr mission to include economic interests, which is hardly covered by the Basic Law. There is an imperial tongue blow recognizable”.
A political debate quickly turned into a social debate and the criticism of Horst Köhler was so present that a few days later he felt compelled to resign and resigned from office. That was a little more than nine years ago. Take another look at Köhler’s remarks and compare them with the remarks in Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech …
There is broad agreement that Germany must become more active in view of the strategic challenges. […] A country our size and our economic and technological power, a country our geostrategic position and with our global interests, cannot simply stand on the sidelines and watch. Not simply waiting to see whether others act and then more or less resolutely join in or not. […] Our partners in the Indo-Pacific region – above all Australia, Japan and South Korea, but also India – feel increasingly pressured by China’s claim to power. They want a clear sign of solidarity. […] We are the trading nation that thrives on international reliability.
Besides China, we are leaders in international container shipping – and depend on free and peaceful sea routes. […] Germany, like every other country in the world, naturally has its own strategic interests. For example, as a globally networked trading nation in the heart of Europe.
In August, Albrecht Müller had already taken a stand on the fundamental question of whether it makes sense to secure world trade militarily. What is particularly striking here is that while Köhler’s remarks nine years ago were still perceived as a breach of taboo and were correspondingly controversially discussed, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech triggered one thing above all else: Silence.
Apparently it has become part of normal political discourse to formulate global power claims for economic motives and to “defend” these claims militarily, or rather to enforce them. What was perceived as a taboo break nine years ago is now the norm.
It would also be wrong to focus this on the person of Kramp-Karrenbauer. It is hardly conceivable that the CDU Chairwoman and Defence Minister did not agree her statements beforehand with the Chancellor and certainly also with her international partners from NATO and the USA. There one will have heard this thrust surely with joy, demands Kramp Karrenbauer – with support of the Kanzlerin – in its speech nevertheless also other things, which would be only a few years ago still a Tabubruch – e.g. it wants to defend Germany security in the future also in the Sahel zone and demands emphatically a substantial armament in accordance with the 2% goal.
And the reactions? As expected, the Left Party criticises the statements, and discreet criticism can also be heard from the ranks of the Greens. What is astonishing is that Green Party leader Habeck himself recently considered a military protection of the trade routes to be “conceivable”. This is understandable, as there have also been attempts in this direction from their ranks in recent months. The media even proactively defend Kramp-Karrenbauer against the non-existent criticism. The Tagesspiegel thinks it is “on the right track” and the FAZ is secondary, “Yes, we have to get involved”. And the rest is silence. It is hopeless.
An article from: Jens Berger translated by alfonso