Time for Germany to learn to lead

Germany has been busy with its own affairs since May, when its election campaign started in earnest ahead of a September vote that has yet to produce a new government. But once Berlin again has a governing coalition capable of conducting international affairs, it will face circumstances that have changed dramatically. The liberal world order that the United States spent seven decades building is disintegrating. The U.S., meanwhile, is withdrawing from the global stage on three different fronts: militarily, morally and a key leader of the international community. It is withdrawing from its role as a reliable guarantor of European security, as a shaper of global policy and as the leading power of the free West. What does a future hold without the U.S. at the helm? What does a future hold when the most important constant of German foreign policy is no longer there? What will a future look like if all countries seek to emulate “America First?”

For Germany, it means the end of what has essentially been a sheltered foreign policy, one in which others have often made the most difficult decisions for us. In recent years, Germany has shown a greater willingness to take on the responsibility commensurate with a country that is the most economically powerful and populous in Europe. Thus far, however, Germany has preferred reaction over (pro)action, as seen in Ukraine and the euro crisis…

 The new global situation will also mean a departure from the good Germany. When principles collide with pragmatism, when values clash with interests, Berlin will be forced to make difficult decisions. But how far should we go? What means are we prepared to employ in order to defend Europe, to bring the Middle East closer to peace or to stabilize Africa?…

If Germany wants to lead, then it also needs to have a realistic view of the world. The era of foreign policy innocence has passed.

Read The Full Article At Spiegel Online