Contributed by Ben Wilson
Worrying news reports of German military buildup are becoming more frequent. The latest is to increase its army by 5,000 soldiers, 1,000 civilian posts and 500 reservists.
Since World War Two Germany’s military had been confined within German borders. But in recent years, this has been changing. German interests were involved in the breaking away of Croatia from the former Yugoslavia. But this did not involve a direct military connection.
Sending soldiers out of Germany began with an extending role in NATO. There has been involvement in Afghanistan and Mali, thanks to a proclaimed war on terror. But the real sights are on Eastern Europe, and most importantly Russia.
Over the last Few years, Washington has been putting considerable pressure on Germany to expand its NATO commitment. American forces are overstretched in a range of wars and other military engagement around the world. The coming of Trump has not changed this.
However, it was Washington’s increased deployment to Eastern Europe late last year and set to continue in 2017 that caused a rise in tension. The German government’s response is to increase its own deployment, begin its own buildup. Only the strength of public opposition at home has prevented further expansion.
Tension is ultimately based on which power is going to be king pin in Europe. Germany happens to be the dominant economic and political power in a continent that it has been shaping around its own interests. German banks and corporations hold the greatest power in the European Union. With its economic consolidation, it has become a powerhouse that rivals American supremacy. American big business wants much greater access to the European economy. Germany does not want to lose its position.
Germany’s commitment to NATO might be only a small part of the 300,000 troops deployed or prepared for quick deployment, but it is symbolic and the beginning of a new level of involvement that is set to expand in the next few years.
Germany is also pressed by Russia. For two reasons. Russia is a power in its own right. The Americans have been involved in a process of Russian encirclement and Germany has no taste for being left out.
Consequently, more than 1,000 troops have been sent to Lithuania, to back up a regime largely composed of Neo-Nazi elements, against separatists and Russian presence in the Crimea. New tanks and armoured carriers are going to be added.
Germany is also involved in NATO deployments to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
A spokeswoman for the defense ministry said that additional 955 Euros (over $1 billion) will be spent on Germany’s military every year, till 2024. This is a time to pull back and not wave guns. It is especially foolish when the incursions occur on Russia’s border. Russia has reason to feel under threat. Militarisation and anti-Russian rhetoric also inflames ethnic Russians. The aim is to have 200,000 troops.
The reality is that despite imposed borders, large Russian populations live on the other side, who feel they are being discriminated against. In more than one place this has led to conflict and all Russians are drawing together.
Further military buildup will not secure the peace, but increase the chances for war.
The ongoing militarisation of Eastern Europe poses a serious threat of a much bigger military conflict.