Voltaire Network

Can Germany supplant US imperialism?

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The German Defense Minister and President of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, caught her partners and allies off-guard when, on 21 October 2019, she announced her intention to deploy an international military force in Syria. Her mentor, Chancellor Angela Merkel, was the only one in the loop and voiced immediate support.

Her tossed-off announcement gave rise to a flurry of questions: What would be its legal basis? Would it be an initiative of the European Union, NATO or the UN? Would it intercede between Turks and Kurds or between Turks and Syrians?

It would seem that after the Franco-German Defense and Security Council meeting of 16 October 2019, [1] Germany decided to rekindle the old project outlined in the book New Power, New Responsibility. Elements of a German foreign and security policy for a changing world. [2] As prescribed therein, NATO would entrust the management of Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa to the European Union under German leadership. This strategy was quietly embedded by Ursula von der Leyen in the 2016 White Paper on German Security Policy issued by the Bundeswehr. [3] Closely associated with Angela Merkel, Ms. von der Leyen became president of the European Commission where her staff is heavily sprinkled with German nationals.

The proposal for military deployment in Syria was automatically rendered obsolete on the following day, 22 October 2019, with the sealing of the Russian-Turkish agreement. [4] However, it denotes the will of some European elites to seize the imperial role which Washington is backing away from.

[1] « Communiqué conjoint du Conseil franco-allemand de défense et de sécurité », Réseau Voltaire, 16 octobre 2019.

[2] New Power, New Responsibility. Elements of a German foreign and security policy for a changing world, Stiftung Wissenschaft Politik (SWP) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) éditeurs (2013).

[3] Das Weißbuch 2016, Bundeswehr.

[4] “Memorandum of Understanding Between Turkey and the Russian Federation”, Voltaire Network, 22 October 2019.

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