Just how useless and irrelevant to NATO and the European idea can Germany become? Apparently quite useless.
Deutsche-Presse reported last week that because NATO is taking over the UN mandated no-fly zone over Libya, and that NATO naval forces will patrol the coast as part of the arms embargo, Germany has withdrawn its ships from NATO command because it may be forced to fire a gun. If they are not going to use their military when requested, why don’t they just get rid of it? That would be the logical conclusion and would certainly save the German public significantly in the budget.
I know that Merkel is facing some tough elections – but this is just profoundly stupid on the part of Germany and reveals how rapidly useless they are to NATO or to their place in the West. Even the Green Party has criticized the move. What is more astounding is that Foreign Minister Westerwelle had wanted to vote against UN Security Council Resolution 1973 before Chancellor Merkel managed to convince him that an abstention was a better idea.
German politicians have been remarkably arrogant and not a little obtuse during the past year or two – from their muscle flexing over Greece to the extent suggesting that some Greek islands could be sold to pay for the economic mess and being as unhelpful as conceivably possible regarding the financial crises in the EU to slobbering over Russia and simultaneously irritating Poland and the Baltics. They want to run the EU in their (or Merkel's) image. This latest bit of arrogance should remind Poland, France, Spain and Italy just how contemptuous their neighbor can be of anything proposed by someone else.
To the extent that Sarkozy needs an election lift, comparing French initiatives in foreign affairs to those of the eternally cringing Germans can’t hurt his chances. It also indicates that perhaps other EU members take a hard look at German export centric policy and its foreign policy to the extent it affects its neighbors.