German bomb debate goes nuclear

As Germany’s foreign policy establishment becomes increasingly convinced that Donald Trump’s aggressive rhetoric toward Berlin and NATO represents a seminal shift in transatlantic relations, some are daring to think the unthinkable.

“Do We Need the Bomb?” read the front page headline in Welt am Sonntag, one of the country’s largest Sunday newspapers.

“For the first time since 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany is no longer under the U.S.’s nuclear umbrella,” Christian Hacke, a prominent German political scientist, wrote in an essay in the paper.

For Hacke, the next step is clear: “National defense on the basis of a nuclear deterrent must be given priority in light of new transatlantic uncertainties and potential confrontations.” Counting on a European solution to materialize is “illusory” because national interests are too different, he argued.

It would be easier to dismiss the article as the ramblings of an eccentric academic were Hacke not a fixture of Germany’s foreign policy establishment and a respected university professor.

That the debate is happening at all speaks to how unnerved Germany’s security community has become in the face of Trump’s threats, including his warning at last month’s NATO summit that the U.S. might “go it alone.”

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