George Freedman and Germany
Natalia MEDEN | 07.06.2014 | FEATURED STORY

George Freedman and Germany

George Freedman, the director of US think tank STRATFOR, believes some NATO countries should raise military expenditure. In case of Poland it is close to 2% of GDP and should be increased up to 5%. (1) The imagined «Russia’s threat» is used for calls to boost military expenditure within the alliance. «The Russian defense spending has grown by more than 10 percent in real terms each year over the past five years», said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a security conference in Bratislava, Slovakia (15.05.2014). He bleakly contrasted Moscow's upward investments with declining equivalents in several European NATO countries, each of which cut spending by roughly 20 percent (or even 40% - just think about it!) during that same period. (2)

Has anybody in the West become really scared of Russia? Certainly not the White House and STRATFOR. George Freedman views Russia as a regional, not global, power, while Barack Obama is self-confident teaching Russia what to do, for instance it should normalize relations with Petro Poroshenko. That’s the main thing to start with. The list of instructions goes on: 

1) All Russian troops should be withdrawn from the Ukrainian border. The US President tells Russia where its troops should be located on its own soil. 

2) The support for self-defense formations should be stopped. Nothing can shake the belief that the self-defense units are Kremlin puppets the same way nothing can undermine the support for the punitive operation conducted by Ukrainian troops that make the local population fear while its hatred of Kiev is growing. According to this logic, thousands of refugees crossing the Russian border are just visiting their next of kin in the neighboring Rostov region. The number of those who want to leave Ukraine is on the rise. People have to stay in long lines to buy a ticket for the trains passing Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Volnovakha. The fact is obvious, but the figures adduced by Russia did not convince United Nations Security Council members, except China, the draft resolution on creating humanitarian corridors in the east of Ukraine was rejected. 

3) Gas supplies. What’s behind it is a mystery. Perhaps someone believes Russia should sell gas to Ukraine at a loss. Barack Obama, the Nobel Prize winner, knows better who should do what. One of his predecessors believed that the US exceptionalism made him have a unique relationship with the divine - he alone was divinely appointed and acted as the temporal representative of God on earth.

If Americans think that Russia is no more than a regional power, then they have no reason to fear its growing military allocations. Then why make the allies alarmed over the threat that one does not take seriously? It’s easy – the Ukrainian crisis is a good reason to cement the North Atlantic unity. And what about Germany? George Freedman thinks its position is murky and fickle. He has his own reasons to think so. 

Since a long time ago Germany has been balancing between transatlantic solidarity and the reality reflecting real national and European interests. True, Germany increased the number of Eurofighters to bolster Baltics air policing and has taken a decision to send 50 additional officers to Multinational Corps Northeast (Szczecin/Poland). Germans turned a blind eye to the fact they were not consulted on the US decision to modernize nuclear munitions based on their soil. No, they cannot raise the military budget, the Chancellor and the Minister of Finance believe it should be 32 billion euro (to be increased to 55 billion euro to meet NATO requirement of 2% of GDP). They don’t believe the Baltic States are really threatened and see no reason for NATO to have permanent military presence in Eastern and Central Europe. The Germany’s example is contagious: no matter what pretest is used, the Czech Republic and Slovakia don’t want to host US military. 

A Cold War with Russia is not what German taxpayers and German elite want. Even the top military leaders, who support the idea of increasing military expenditure, oppose the idea of making Ukraine a member of NATO. (3) German well-known think tanks believe that Finlandization would serve Ukraine better. (4) Rols Muetzenich representing the German Social Democrats recalls the «Harmel Report» (1967). As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he submitted a report titled «Future Tasks of the Alliance» to the NATO of ministers. The report, which was approved by the council in December 1967, contained the so-called «Harmel Doctrine». It advocated a strong defence combined with good diplomatic relations with the countries of the Warsaw Pact. The Harmel Doctrine helped to pave the way for the East-West détente of the early 1970s which led to the 1975 Helsinki Summit and the creation of the OSCE. Harmel himself visited several Warsaw Pact countries. 

As such sentiments spread, Washington finds it difficult to hide its exasperation. Almost a year after news surfaced that the United States had been spying on German communications; Germany’s Chief Federal Prosecutor Harald Range announced a few days ago that he had launched a criminal investigation into the tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Range’s decision and his unusual candor in branding the surveillance of Merkel’s phone a crime underscored just how raw German nerves remain over the revelation that the United States had been eavesdropping on Merkel’s cellphone for years... Range said he’d contacted former NSA contractor Edward Snowden through Snowden’s German attorney to testify. Snowden, who’s been living in Moscow since he leaked hundreds of thousands of secret documents last year that revealed the extent of NSA electronic surveillance, has yet to respond. The US was not happy with the Prosecutor’s decision, it found to be out of place and taken at the wrong time. According to George Friedman, Germany is becoming a problem for Europe. (6) He makes a mistake. Germany is not a problem for Europe but is a problem for the USA with its old fashioned lust for world domination.

(1) George Friedman, Germany – a Problem for Europe:, 29.05.2014.
(2) Rasmussen’s interview published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (Rasmussen: Nato muss sich ruesten/Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung vom 04.05.2014, S. 1), Rasmussen’s remarks at NATO defense ministers session, June 3, 2014.
(3) Keine Aufnahme Ukraine in die NATO/Stuttgarter Zeitung, 14.04.2014.
(4) Kaim M. Partnerschaft Plus: Zur Zukunft der NATO_Ukraine Beziehungen. SWP-Aktuell 38, Mai 2014.
(5) Muetzenich R. Hoffentlich Allianz versichert?/, 2.06.2014.
(6) ibid - 1.
Tags: NATO  Stratfor  Germany  Russia  Ukraine