Should we get rid of nuclear weapons
Trump's nuclear bombs in Germany: reinsurance or risk?
Over 40 percent of Germans consider President Trump to be a security risk. Now the SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich is campaigning for the support of the German population for his plan to end the stationing of American nuclear weapons in Germany, arguing that the risk of escalation for Germany has become “unmanageable” with Trump. In doing so, he initiated a necessary debate, because as one of five European stationing states, Germany's voice in NATO has special weight. We should also be aware of what the topic is about at home.
German pilots who use German planes to use American atomic bombs on a battlefield in Eastern Europe - that may sound unrealistic, militarily senseless, and even like a relic of the Cold War to the ears of many. This is exactly what has been the technical core of German nuclear participation for many years. In a changing world, this too is subject to change. Many, including the federal government, are striving for a world entirely without nuclear weapons.
Does the demand for the withdrawal of American nuclear warheads from Germany point the right way to a more contemporary form of nuclear participation, even a world free of nuclear weapons? At least three weighty reasons speak against it.
Germany needs America for its long-term security
Europe and Germany - beyond the limited term of office of individual US presidents - have a vital interest in integrating the USA as firmly as possible, especially in NATO. The demand for the withdrawal of nuclear warheads would only bring the debate about the German defense contribution to extremes and lead to further alienation in German-American relations and in NATO. The EU does not currently offer a replacement.
Risk of confrontation with Russia
A majority of NATO member states perceive the presence of US nuclear weapons in Europe as a connecting element of the transatlantic risk community under Article 5. Should Germany fail as a stationing state, volunteers would certainly offer themselves as a substitute, for example Poland. However, any relocation of nuclear weapons eastwards would lead to a massive confrontation with Russia. It would be a clear violation of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. Does Germany want to trigger such a debate?
There is no integration into a resilient security policy concept
After the violent land grab in Ukraine six years ago and considerable nuclear armament efforts by Russia, the proposal does not correspond to the overall strategic situation in Europe. He lacks the convincing integration into an overarching security and arms control policy concept. It is not enough to somehow want to get rid of the bombs - and with them the risk to the stationing state. What security would Germany, NATO or Europe gain in exchange for the withdrawal and how? The question remains unanswered.
Ambassador Ekkehard Brose is President of the Federal Academy for Security Policy and tweeted at @baks_president. Previously, he was Commissioner for Civilian Crisis Prevention and Stabilization in the Federal Foreign Office and from 2014 to 2016 German Ambassador to Iraq. The author gives his personal opinion.
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