How Dangerous is Germany?

Forged in the aftermath of two World Wars, the Federal Republic of Germany has risen in seven decades to become the World’s fourth largest economy, worth $35 trillion

But in 2015 it emerged that the United States was spying on the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel Wikileaks released documents proving the NSA had tapped German leaders’ communications for decades Is this just paranoid and reckless espionage on America’s part, or does Germany really pose a threat? Germany’s robust economy allows it to invest heavily in Defence The country’s military, known collectively as the Bundeswehr, has 176,000 active soldiers, hundreds of aircraft and tanks, and a handful of submarines Germany has not been actively involved in conflict for many decades after World War Two

But now it has 3,000 soldiers involved in 12 international operations in countries like Mali, Afghanistan and Kosovo At the end of 2015, the German Parliament approved the deployment of up to 1,200 fighters for the anti-Daesh campaign in Syria, in addition to supplying 6 Tornado jets and a Frigate In reaction to the perceived rising threat of terrorism, Germany has pledged to increase defence spending for 2017 by $17 billion, bringing its total to $41 billion Over the next four years, they plan to increase the budget by 30%

But Germany has ambitions beyond its own military In May 2016, secret plans from the German Defence Ministry were leaked They revealed Germany wants to take a leadership role in the establishment of a European Military Headquarters for a European Army Germany’s use of its own military has been markedly restrained It prefers to use financial and diplomatic tactics

The 2008 Financial Crisis resulted in Germany becoming a dominant voice in the Eurozone Germany is a major creditor, having contributed $652 billion to the European Central Bank to bail out Greece But in return for the bailout, Germany insisted the Greek government impose further austerity on the country This policy is blamed for shrinking the Greek economy by a quarter The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble, even threatened removing the Euro currency from Greece

The conditions of Greece’s bailout in 2015 were seen as exceptionally harsh Greece only agreed to them because Germany, among others, threatened “immediate financial strangulation” Any economist would tell you that Greece would never be able to pay back these debts with such restrictions But Germany may have been more concerned with sending a message to other volatile EU nations, and keeping Greece under its thumb Der Spiegel said this hardline and economically dangerous approach “destroyed seven decades of post-war diplomacy in a single weekend

” Germany’s preference for diplomacy has also caused tensions within NATO Germany is reluctant to tackle Russia head-on It refuses to hold highly visible military exercises on Eastern borders; and since the sanctions put on Russia after the invasion of Crimea seem to be dwindling in effect, top politicians in Germany are making moves that might lead to a ‘special relationship’ with Russia Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, is one of the most loved politicians of all time – at her peak 74% of Germans favored her, and many countries around Europe prefer her to their own leaders, with the notable exception of Greece Merkel’s reputation rests on pragmatism: she is consistently practical, achieving political deals through mutually beneficial compromise, in spite of ideological differences

So Germany definitely has soft power, but is that the limit? In August 2016, the government proposed re-introducing conscription At the same time the government instructed civilians to hoard ten days’ worth of supplies in the event of an apocalyptic scenario It even suggested water reserves could be poisoned It seems Germany is preparing for some level of instability in the near future, but will they be victims or instigators of it? Angela Merkel is at the end of her 3rd term in office and her ratings have hit an all time low It is looking less likely by the day that she will win a fourth term

Frauke Petry, leader of the far-right anti-migrant AFD party, has just beaten Merkel’s party in a state election, and could go all the way to the Chancellorship But even with an ultra-nationalist party in control, it’s questionable just how much of a threat they pose Germany still doesn’t have access to nuclear weapons and is bound by EU and other international obligations Furthermore, Germany’s influence in the EU’s Council of Ministers isn’t as strong as people often claim Professor Michael Dougan says the EU member states make decisions by consensus 90% of the time

The EU works in the interest of all the member states, and wouldn’t function if it were merely an extension of German power All in all, it really comes down to what we see as being dangerous It dominates the European economy; many European nations are heavily indebted to Germany since the Great Recession But is diplomacy and compromise more dangerous than military conflict? If the democracy of Germany becomes a major power capable of leading global decisions, is that inherently a dangerous thing? Or is anyone a threat to the USA’s global superiority? Despite its apparent overtures to Russia and it’s treatment of Greece, it is hard to argue that Germany is truly dangerous

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