‘Don’t Hide Behind Your History’


In January, German leaders lined up to proclaim a dramatic shift in foreign policy. The president, foreign minister and defense minister all came out to say that Germany’s period of self-restraint after World War II is over; the nation’s history should no longer be an excuse for inaction. That the German military should act like any other: It should be prepared to get involved in foreign conflicts just like France, Britain and the United States.

One important reason for this shift is obvious: America is in retreat, and is pushing Europe and Germany to take its place.

In recent years, Washington has consistently urged Europe and Germany to exercise more power abroad. At the 2013 Munich Security Conference, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden counseled Europe to resist “the ever present temptation to back away from commitments on defense spending.” He also said, “Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world.”

Almost every time nato gets together, America uses the opportunity to push Europe for more military commitments. At a speech in Brussels last September, nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “I believe that European nations can, and should, do more to match America’s commitment.”

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for Germany in particular to step up. In 2011, he awarded German Chancellor Angela Merkel the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Don’t hide behind your history, said the president. Act in accordance with your importance,” Die Zeit reported at the time. Der Tagesspiegel paraphrased President Obama’s view this way: “The world today does not fear a strong Germany. It is, rather, disappointed when Germany is too reserved.”

Europe and Germany are getting the message. For around a year now, leaders and think tanks in Europe have focused on the decline of America as one of the biggest global changes that the EU must adapt to.

In October, EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton said that America’s “renewed emphasis” on Asia “means that Europe must assume greater responsibility for its own security and that of its neighborhood.”

Around the same time, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), a think tank that advises the German Parliament on military and security matters, produced a paper titled “New Power, New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing World.” The analysts noted that “the United States—conscious of its reduced resources—is sending clear signals that their engagement in the world will be more selective in future, and that its expectations of partners will be correspondingly higher. This means that Europe, and Germany in particular, will have to take on a lot more tasks and responsibilities.”

These are just two examples among many. Almost every time a European think tank or leader talks about the future of European security, it is predicated on this fact: The U.S. is reducing its influence in the world, and Europe must pick up the slack.

As Germany’s leaders unveiled their new vision for a guilt-free Germany at the Munich Security Conference this year, they also referenced America’s role in pushing them to act. “At this very moment, the world’s only superpower is reconsidering the scale and form of its global engagement,” German President Joachim Gauck noted. This was the first of two reasons he listed that meant Germany can no longer “simply carry on as before.” The second reason was Europe’s “navel gazing.” In other words, America’s retreat from the world is the number one reason why Germany needs to become more militaristic, according to Mr. Gauck.

What was America’s response? To reinforce the need for Germany to follow through on its promised changes. “Leading, I say respectfully, does not mean meeting in Munich for good discussions,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. “It means committing resources even in a difficult time.”

Yet, quite bizarrely, when asked if the U.S. was withdrawing from the world, Kerry said that the idea “is flat wrong and it is belied by every single fact of what we are doing everywhere in the world.” He further said, “I can’t think of a place in the world that we are retreating, not one.”

Yet it is this widely recognized, widely reported retreat that has convinced Germany to change its strategy. America, in its weakness, actually wants Germany to forget about the two world wars it started and to amass military power once more.

Herbert W. Armstrong spoke out as America began this policy roughly 50 years ago. “In America we are prone to see only one enemy at a time,” he wrote in the August 1959 Plain Truth. “For the past 13 or 14 years, the only enemy that we have been able to see is Russia. During World War ii, the only enemy we could see was Germany, and, of course, the ally of Germany at that time, Japan. Russia was then, we thought, our ally.

“But now that Russia is our enemy and we see that enemy, we seem to think that Germany, Japan and the nations that we fought in World War II are now our allies.” This observation is all the more true today: Americans struggle to see any enemies beyond al Qaeda (and even with these radical Islamists, they think they can sit down and negotiate).

After World War II, America built up Germany in order for it to serve as a counterbalance to the rising Soviet empire, even freeing Nazi war criminals so they could help rebuild German industry. Now the U.S. is taking the process even further: Washington doesn’t just want Germany to be its ally; the U.S. wants a German-led Europe to be its replacement—at least in the Middle East and North Africa.

How will this end? We answered exactly that question in the January issue when we examined “life in the post-American world.” To see what the world will look like when Europe takes America’s place, read “The World’s Next Superpower.”