This is what senior German military commanders are warning. In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, Chancellor Scholz has taken an unprecedented step. This year, the Bundeswehr will receive €100 billion to modernize the army, which has previously been deliberately dismantled. Will it be enough, soon enough? Analysis by Krisztina Koenen.
On the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a reporter on German state TV ZDF evening news asked Egon Ramms, a retired senior military leader, whether the Bundeswehr, the German Army, could defend the country. Ramms was the commander-in-chief of the German ground forces and, until 2010, commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command, so we can assume he knew what he was talking about. Without hesitation, Ramms simply said:
„My short and clear answer is no.”
He then gave detailed reasons for his shocking assessment: The continued reduction in the armed forces and defense investment, and the consequent shortage of ammunition and spare parts, has made the army almost unfit for deployment. The situation has improved somewhat recently,
„but we are not yet at the point where the armed forces, especially the Army, have the necessary weapons.”
He continued, „We are just barely able to fulfill the tasks NATO has imposed on us, but beyond that, we are barely doing anything.”
Eberhard Zorn, the Bundeswehr’s Inspector General, the German military’s highest active-duty position, drew attention to the critical situation of the Army a good six months ago. The Bundeswehr is currently not capable of an immediate response, which is what is needed, he wrote to the then CDU minister in charge.
All the parties in government today, and Merkel’s CDU in particular, are responsible for the situation depicted by Ramms and Zorn. The Greens, as a pacifist party, were the first to call for the abolition of the obligation to defend the country, and in 2011, the CDU-FDP government, with the support of all parties, suspended the general obligation to serve in the Army.
The aim was to reduce the number of soldiers from 255,000 to 185,000 and to radically cut defense spending
because everyone has assumed that we are living in an era of eternal peace and that only die-hard militarists insist on continuing to defend the country by military force.
This is the context of Merkel’s infamous statement in 2015, during the migrant onslaught, that there was nothing they could do about the flood because the German border could not be defended. There was probably some truth in this even then.
What happened next can only be described as deliberate sabotage.
The emasculation of the armed forces (and this word can be taken literally by the reader) is the work of Ursula von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen, now President of the European Union by the grace of Merkel, was Minister of Defense from 2014 to 2019. Her main task was to abolish command structures within the army and to make the Bundeswehr more attractive to women in particular.
Unforgettable are the press conferences at which she presented new daycares for the armed forces, new uniforms designed for pregnant female soldiers, and gender sensitivity seminars. That there has been little technical modernization or refurbishment of the military in the meantime has been revealed by the increasingly alarming news of planes, tanks and ships that are no longer fit for use. But the dismantling of the Bundeswehr was no accident:
It fitted in perfectly with the notion that the German nation’s main task is to eliminate itself, and then there would be no need for national defense.
Now, on February 27, alarmed by the crisis in Ukraine, the parliament has finally been scared into voting to increase national defense spending by an extra €100 billion (the ministry’s budget was €46.93 billion in 2021), but this will only improve the Army’s situation in the long term.
And it seems that it is not only defense that has been rendered inoperable by the fiction of eternal peace without nations. Nothing shows the total failure of state defense better than the fact that the head of BND, the German intelligence service, had to be dramatically rescued from Ukraine the day after the Russian attack, where he was unsuspectingly discussing who knows what with his Ukrainian colleagues.
This is the moment to show what a terrible mistake the German electorate made in October when they elected dreamy, unrealistic and childish middlebrow politicians. The new Social Democrat defense minister is a doddering old woman who cannot even climb out of a tank on her own, and whose first act was to strip Eberhard Zorn, the defense policy critic quoted above, of his powers. In his place will be a woman who seems to have friendly ties with the minister.
Neither of them has any defense or even technical training or experience.
The 100 billion now being injected into the army will only bring real change if the perception of defense changes, which means that urgent personnel changes in the political leadership of national defense would also be needed. At present, it is doubtful whether the coalition will be able to do this.
In his first statements, Robert Habeck, the Green energy minister, welcomed the possibility that the Russians could stop supplying gas and oil to Germany because this would give us the chance to build up renewable energy production even faster. Where does this man live?
30 percent of Germany’s primary energy comes from oil, 21 percent from natural gas and 12 percent from coal, and of this, more than 50 percent of natural gas, 42 percent of oil and even a good part of coal comes from Russia.
Part of the energy transition would be to build 50 to 60 gas power plants in the shortest possible time, which is why the Nordstream 2 pipeline was essential for the energy transition.
In the meantime, however, Habeck seems to have woken up to at least one piece of reality. On Sunday, he made two groundbreaking announcements: the introduction of a national coal reserve, i.e., the continued operation of coal-fired power stations, and an investigation into whether
the three nuclear power plants still in operation should not be shut down this year.
This will mean a serious conflict with the fundamentalist Green Party faction and the climate activists who have meanwhile turned to terrorism. The question is whether Habeck will have the strength and enough allies to implement what he is now planning.
The decisions taken under the three chancellorships of Merkel, the announcement of the energy transition, the establishment of dependence on Russian energy supplies, and the destruction of the country’s defense capabilities have now put Germany in a fatal situation. Its allies, especially the United States, are demanding decisive action against Russia, and the first logical step would indeed be to put an immediate end to the so-called energy transition.
At this critical juncture, the country needs smart, educated and sober-minded politicians who dare to make such decisions.
But unfortunately, the majority of responsible German politicians still seem to think that running a country is like playing with unicorns in a field of flowers.
On the eve of the invasion, Baerbock, the Green foreign affairs minister, negotiated with Lavrov and Zelensky about afforestation and climate warfare, but since then she has been sending Russia unrealistic threats that make any further negotiations impossible. The Free Democrat justice minister meanwhile sees his main priority at the moment as finally settling the legal status of transgender people.
The transport minister, also a Free Democrat, felt the time was right to call on people to stop driving and cycle to the nearest train station. And Christian Lindner, president of the Free Democrats, called for more windmills as a guarantee of peace, even throwing in the term „peace windmill.”