BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: GERMANY SHOULD LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND AND ACT MILITARILY OVERSEAS

The London Telegraph on May 2, 2012, reported that British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond speaking in Berlin said that Germany’s “historic reluctance” to launch military action outside its own borders is now limiting its international importance. Excerpts below:

German voters and politicians should accept that the war was “quite a long while ago”, he said, suggesting that the country’s economic might should be matched with military power.

Mr Hammond used his trip to Germany – the first by a British defense secretary since 2008 – to support German ministers who want their country to play a more active role in global military affairs.

As Europe’s biggest economy, Mr Hammond said, Germany should be contributing more to international security operations, especially as the US shifts its strategic focus to China and the Pacific.

Germany has contributed troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, but its military capabilities remain significantly behind those of Britain and France.

“Because of the historic reluctance to engage and operate overseas, it is self-evident that there is still huge potential in the German defense structure to deliver more useful firepower to the alliance,” Mr Hammond told the Daily Telegraph.

“In the case of Germany and Japan, two of the worlds biggest economies, both of them spend a significant amount on defense but have been reluctant historically to engage.”

“When we look around Europe, I don’t think there would be many of our European allies who fear Germany from a military point of view or as a security threat.”

In a speech to German defence experts at the British embassy, Mr Hammond later said Germany needs muster “public support and political commitment” for an increased military.

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