“We defeated the Germans twice – and now they’re back!” — Margaret Thatcher
Thirty years ago, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Margaret Thatcher warned about a return of German power. Now — after years of shoebat.com warning about this — we are seeing this, and it has been accelerated by the war in Ukraine. I wanted to write about this immediately. But, I thought, why rush writing on this when there are so many articles warning about the rise of Germany on shoebat.com, going all the way back to early 2016? We have written so much on this that I wonder, why should this even be a surprise?
As we warned back in January of 2019: “Europe will be ripped apart by war, and we have already seen a bloody image of this in Ukraine.” Now we are seeing this presaging sign deepening. Further West, we see the Germans — looking at the war in Ukraine — reviving their military. Just three days after the Russians launched their military operation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared in the Reichstag that Germany will invest more than 2% of its gross domestic product on its military. To the revival of militarism, the entire German parliament erupted in applause. In 2020 and 2021, we had covid, and in 2022, we have a war between Russia and Ukraine. The world is on a train that is traveling into a conflagration. But it is not as if this is something new. America was optimistic about the remilitarization of Germany after the First World War. And now, this same emptiness of wisdom — or the rejection thereof — is existent in the American psyche in the face of a reviving Germany. After all, was it not Donald Trump who was calling for the Germans to ‘pay their fair share’? Well, the Germans are doing what the MAGA president was demanding, but Trump is now worried about this and made the same warning that we have been making for years:
But, it is the war that has given the Germans the opportunity to revitalized its military. And this has been actually an ongoing trend in Germany for years. For example, in 2017 Ulrike Merten, the president of Germany’s Society for Security Policy, stated that it was the Ukraine conflict in 2014 that really got the Germans to begin increasing military spending, and, she hoped, that this will lead to more recruitment into the military:
“Only the Ukraine Crisis 2014 led to a rethinking and the admission that it is not the best with the Bundeswehr.… The most visible sign is certainly the significant increase in the defense budget by 8 percent in 2016. This should be started as a development that increases the number of combat vehicles again, the readiness of the material improves through better maintenance, through the ‘agenda attractiveness’ recruitment and staffing be relieved.”
So the Germans, for years, have been looking to the conflict in Ukraine as the reason for boosting military spending. And now that the conflict has escalated into a full-blown war between Ukraine and Russia, the Germans are looking to lead Europe as its military power. But Germany doesn’t just want to be the biggest military might in Europe, but wants to be so as a global power independent of America. The aspiration is the ending of the unipolar world of American global power, and the rise of a multipolar world, in which Germany can be the pole of power in Europe. In Global Trends 2040 (a report based on US intelligence) it speaks of how by the 2040s the world will be “fragmented into several economic and security blocs of varying size and strength, centered on the United States, China, the EU, Russia, and a few regional powers, and focused on self-sufficiency, resiliency, and defense.” Who will lead this future European bloc? Germany will become the dominant power in the continent. “We can’t rely on the superpower of the United States” was a statement said by Angela Merkel. “We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” was another statement of this nature, this time coming from the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas. The Germans want to create an integrated pan-European military force, in which various military units would be under the command of the German armed forces. An idea of this nature was discussed years ago, in 2017, by retired German Lieutenant General Rainer Glatz, and Martin Zapfe, a German researcher and an infantry captain in the German army reserve, when they wrote a whole report for the leading lobbyist organization that has the ears of the German parliament, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, in which they wrote on Germany’s formation of a military force integrated with units from other European countries. This concept was called by the EU, “Framework Nation Concept,” or “FNC”, and it was envisioned by Glatz and Zapfe as going beyond NATO:
“With few exceptions, neither NATO nor the EU permanently control forces. That is no downside, however. Through its long-term focus on generating a pool of principally national forces rather than standing multinational units, the FNC might contribute to European security beyond the Atlantic Alliance. While FNC units may be assigned to NATO, the FNC’s “larger formations” remain under the sovereign control of the member states – and may thus also be deployed for EU operations, thereby contributing significantly to the EU’s capacity to act.”
While these German militarists speak about these units being “assigned to NATO,” they also describe this giant military machine as “beyond the Atlantic Alliance”, and thus independent of America’s security umbrella and under the eye of Germany. As Glatz and Zapfe wrote:
“Finally, it will need continuous German leadership to fully realize the potential of the FNC and current Bundeswehr planning. This is not an empty argument. Any lack of leadership by Berlin would likely turn the FNC’s strength – its flexibility as an initiative driven by the states – into a critical weakness. In the MoD, and within NATO, the FNC has to be led with clear responsibilities and at high levels. As of today, the Bundeswehr’s plans as outlined above still float about at the lofty heights of ministerial concepts. Many questions remain open, and the Bundeswehr’s services are currently tasked with examining the manifold implications. Yet should Germany be willing to shoulder the longterm political, military, and financial costs associated with the Bundeswehr’s ambitious plans and the FNC – and should the German public support such a commitment – the MoD’s current course has the potential to leverage Germany’s capability planning for its European partners within and beyond the Alliance – especially in times of crisis.”
Reading between the lines, we can see here a plan that allows for Germany — in the right opportunity — to break free from the American security umbrella, thus shifting “beyond the Alliance” with an amalgamation of European military units under Germany, or really a German military machine with its European auxiliaries. In June of 2017, German security expert Claudia Major spoke of a plan in which weaker European countries — realizing their lack of security — must give up some of their independence to be under the protection of a German led military force:
“It is about giving up the little sovereignty states have left in defense for a greater good: jointly building a larger European capacity to act, to successfully manage real-world problems. Yet, strengthening EU defense in this way requires states to recognize that they have become powerless to address today’s challenges on their own, and that almost all the security problems they face are effectively approached only through cooperation.”
This should give us an idea as to what we see transpiring: Europeans are looking to the East and seeing Russia flattening cities in Ukraine and, realizing that they can’t just rely on the US for their protection, will look to Germany as their defense. Now, we are not emphatically affirming that every European country will be under the German yoke, but rather that there will be a boost in popularity for the idea of a German led defense, and that many Europeans will want to be under Germany in the name of security. Major points out that “for Germany, the topic above all implies collective defense in the East” — what is the east? She is speaking of the eastern front: eastern Europe and Russia, the same areas that Germany wanted to conquer in both World Wars, the same areas that were really the bloodbath of both the Nazis and the Soviets. Barbara Kunz, writing for the German Marshall Fund, wrote in the think-tank’s 2018 publication: “It is about time to envision a world in which the United States no longer upholds the liberal international order. In both France and Germany, this idea is part of official discourses.” Germany reviving its military strength is not just about Russia and Ukraine, but also about revolting and breaking lose from American control. Annegret Bendiek, writing in 2018 in an article entitled, The New ‘Europe of Security’, affirmed that Brexit and Trump’s rhetoric is what motivated the sudden enthusiasm for European militarism:
“The imminent departure of the UK from the EU and Donald Trump’s unpredictability as President of the United States are the main motives for the EU to seriously address its discussed but undefined goal of ‘strategic autonomy’ in the EUGS from July 2016.”
The Germans, for years, have been wanting to be independent of the American security umbrella, and to lead their own military bloc. One of the signs of this independence was the German-Russian project of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. For years, when Russia exported natural gas to Europe, it had to do so through Ukraine and thus pay billions of dollars in transit fees to the Ukrainians. With Nord Stream 2, Russia can export gas directly to Germany. The pipeline has been completed and only needs to go into operation (but thanks to the war this has been impeded). The US was, of course, upset with Germany for building a pipeline with NATO’s archenemy, Russia, and began imposing sanctions on all of the European companies involved with Nord Stream 2. There was a deep sense of consternation in Ukraine about the pipeline, since if Russia could export gas without having to pay Kiev, then the Ukrainians would lose their political leverage. In other words, with Nord Stream 2 in operation, Ukraine would lose its significance. It is not surprising, then, that Russia would invade Ukraine after the completion of Nord Stream 2. In 2017, Poland’s former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned: “Once Nord Stream 2 is built, Putin can do with Ukraine whatever he wants, and then we have potentially his army on the eastern border of the EU.” In 2006, Poland’s Defense Minister, Radek Sikorski, compared a pipeline deal between Germany and Russia to the Molotov-Ribbentrop deal in which the Third Reich and the Soviet Union agreed on controlling and annihilating Poland:
“Poland has a particular sensitivity to corridors and deals above our head. That was the Locarno tradition, that was the Molotov-Ribbentrop tradition. That was the 20th century. We don’t want any repetition of that”
In Poland there is an actual fear of a Russian-German collaboration against Poland, which is a legitimate fear given the history (although I believe that, ultimately, Russia will be a force for good). As the years go by, old rivalries will continue to revive, and the demons of Europe — the ones that we so commonly have thought are gone — will come back.