The Moral Bankruptcy of German Pacifism
Germany has long considered itself unique, and this mindset has given rise to a wide range of irresponsible and dangerous foreign-policy positions. In the current context, the country’s reluctance to support Ukraine has come at the expense of its closest friends and neighbors, not to mention its own reputation.
BERLIN – After a prolonged pregnancy, Germany finally delivered its decision to send heavy weaponry to Ukraine. But the baby was stillborn: the Gepard (Cheetah) anti-aircraft tanks that Germany is offering are antiques that lack ammunition. The manufacturer has only 23,000 rounds available. The German Defense Ministry has since announced that it will look for spare ammunition in faraway places like Jordan, Brazil, and Qatar. While Russia lays waste to its neighbor – murdering, torturing, and raping its civilians – Germany remains mired in an inept muddle.
Both countries have rich militaristic traditions, ruling as totalitarian empires in the twentieth century. Their paths diverged after the defeat of Hitler, but continued to move symmetrically. In particular, while Germany renounced imperialism, the belief in a “special mission” (Sonderweg) in history has retained its hold.
This belief, born of imperial Germany’s position between autocratic Russia and the liberal-democratic West, has given rise to all kinds of dangerous and irresponsible foreign-policy positions, from the nineteenth-century Drang nach Osten (“drive to the East”) and vision of Mitteleuropa (German leadership of Central Europe) to Hitler’s search for Lebensraum (“living space”) and Chancellor Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik (rapprochement with East Germany and the Soviet Union). Interestingly, Ukraine was often at the heart of these stratagems.