The reunification of Germany in 1990 opened the way for an aggressive expansion of the European Union. Since then the EU has effectively used nato to further its own ends. The Balkan wars are a classic example. Afghanistan is shaping up to be another.
Though Germany declined involvement in the risky Iraq war, it has committed non-combat troops to Afghanistan. Recently the German government approved the deployment of a small additional force with a potential combat role in Afghanistan. True to past form, however, Germany is publicly resisting pressure from the United States to commit even more troops to that conflict. But this is just a ploy. Germany is playing for much higher stakes than Afghanistan.
German-Foreign-Policy.com observes, “As the German defense minister, Franz Josef Jung, announced, the German ‘Quick Reaction Force,’ scheduled for deployment, could well take part in combat missions in the south of the country. But the condition is the explicit [approval] from Berlin [not nato, nor the U.S., nor the EU]. This exposes the German/U.S.-American contention, concerning the deployment in the south, to be nothing more than a power struggle, in which Berlin seeks to strengthen her influence over the way the war is being waged. Up to now this has been decided principally by the U.S. military” (February 8, emphasis mine).
The nato conference to be held in Bucharest, Romania, in early April may shape up to be one of the most crucial since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany, the most powerful nation in Europe, holds most of the aces regarding nato’s future. It may choose one of two courses of action. It can threaten a rift in nato between the EU and the U.S.—at a time when the West perceives security risks from both Islamic terror and a resurgent Russia. This ploy may persuade the U.S. to cave in and grant Berlin a greater say in strategy in Afghanistan in exchange for a stronger troop commitment from Germany and its fellow EU nations.
On the other hand, Germany has, by virtue of Berlin’s influence on Brussels, the power to really create an unmendable rift in nato between pro- and anti-U.S. European Union member nations. This rift could reach the point where nato loses relevance in military affairs, opening the way for the rise of the much-anticipated combined EU military force to replace it, with Germany at the helm.